Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to Successfully Lose Weight and Keep it Off

 How to make your New Year's resolution to lose weight work for you

As the year comes to its end, many people promise themselves to lose weight in the New Year, especially after they managed to gain some during the Holiday Season. This is a time of New Year Resolutions and we all are in a festive mood. The beginning of a New Year seems to be a perfect time to make a new start and introduce some important changes to one's life. Weight loss is an issue that is becoming acute for many people. According to the latest statistics
  • 58 million people in the USA are overweight
  • 40 million are obese
  • 3 million morbidly obese
  • 400,000 people (mostly males) weight more than 400 pounds
  • the average weight of adult female in the USA is 163 pounds
  • 80 per cent of people over 25 are overweight
  • obesity among children and adolescents is on the rise
  • there is 76 per cent increase in Type 2 diabetes in adults 30-40 years old
Obesity is a major risk factor for many diseases including cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.

As we age, our metabolism often slows dawn and it is more difficult to lose weight now than it was when we were in our twenties or thirties. It is important to understand these physiological changes and to adjust our nutrition accordingly. We need to supplement with digestive enzymes to help our system digest the foods we eat. We may have to add herbs and spices that will enhance our digestion and increase metabolism. We need to exercise more and eat less than we used to if we want to keep the weight off and stay fit. We may have to evaluate our emotional relationship with food and take an honest look at our own behavioral patterns. And we need to educate ourselves not only to understand our nutritional needs, but to understand what wrong foods can do to our bodies.

There are many reasons why people become overweight. Here are some:
  • unhealthy diet
  • overeating
  • lack of exercise
  • extreme stress
  • emotional overeating
  • genetic predisposition to obesity
  • pre-diabetic state or Type 2 diabetes
  • under active thyroid gland
  • intestinal parasites
  • candida infection
  • food intolerance and allergies
Going on a radical diet may be necessary in some cases, however, I do not advocate any long term food deprivation or meal replacements. Initially you may be able to loose some weight with diet pills and drinks, but very often you will gain it back as soon as you revert to your regular daily food. Diet pills may be very appealing as they promise rapid weight loss with very little effort. They may, however, have serious side effects. One may become dependent on pills and lose the ability to properly absorb the nutrients.

If you want to lose weight permanently, you need to change your lifestyle, your relationship with food, and the way you perceive yourself. Changing behaviors that were formed over many years is not very easy and you may need support. Any drastic change is ineffective as it creates stress and resistance to change. Sooner or later you will sabotage your own resolution and return to your comfort zone where you can safely and comfortably indulge in foods that may be making you sick or overweight. The changes you need to implement must be gradual. And you will have to take them one step at the time. You should celebrate your progress and be careful not to add more stress to your life.

 Things to consider if you want to lose weight permanently

  • Make a sincere decision to lose weight and commit yourself: explain why it is important for you to lose weight. Write down your reasons for weight loss and keep them in a visible place. This will help you to stay determined.
  • Set a realistic goal: it is considered that a healthy way to lose weight is to lose about 2 pounds of fat a week. Taking this into consideration, calculate the weight you want to lose and the period of time you allot yourself to reach your goal. Be as precise as you can. It is not enough to tell yourself that you want to be slim by the time the winter is over. This is too vague. Instead, tell yourself that you want to lose 20 pounds by the 1st April. This is not only a realistic goal, but a way to devise a schedule. You can easily manage weight loss in small "chunks" and watch your progress.
  • Create a journal: this is the best way to watch your progress and write down your emotions and observations. Make a food diary and write down what you eat and how you feel about it. As you try to stay on track, you may realize that it is not always easy to lose weight or to stick to the regimen that you designed for yourself. You may experience emotions that are difficult to handle and you may want to write about them. As your appearance changes, you may want to write about your experience.
  • Make your decision public: tell your relatives and friends that you intend to lose weight and ask them for support. They will help you watch your progress. This in turn will help you stay committed and motivated on days when you feel like giving up.
  • Join a support group: many people tried to lose weight more than once. Meeting and talking to people who have the same goal will help you stay resolved. People who try to lose extra pounds will understand your "struggle". Learning about their success stories will inspire you to succeed.
  • Sign up for a gym or a yoga class. Commit yourself to some form of exercise: signing up for a gym or a yoga class will help you not only to lose some calories, but also to increase your overall fitness and cardiovascular health. If you did not exercise for a long time, you may want to start very slowly and you will need a coach who will see to it that you do not injure yourself.
  • Learn about food: it is important to reduce your daily caloric intake. Learn what foods deliver empty calories and little nutrients. Learn what the body needs in order to function properly. Learn what are the best foods to deliver these nutrients. Understanding your nutritional needs will help you to chose foods that will support weight loss and a healthy weight in the future.
  • Reward yourself: As you follow your regimen and lose weight gradually, you should celebrate your progress and reward yourself. Your rewards should not be related to food. You do not "deserve" a chocolate cake because you lost 5 pounds in two weeks. You must learn to break the pattern of emotional eating. Food is there to nourish your body and not to comfort you, even if some foods are perfect to make feel better in times of distress, for instance. Instead, give yourself an hour in a beauty salon, or an hour of a shiatsu massage. Celebrate with a weekend in a spa or give yourself a new gym outfit. Go for a walk or take another yoga class.

You are only one meal away from being a healthy eater

It takes some time to modify behavior. Your goal is to develop healthy eating habits and to move and exercise more. It is believed that it may take about 21-28 days to recondition and form a new habit. You have to reinforce your new behavior constantly and support it with a new set of beliefs about food and about yourself. Counting calories alone will not help you very much. Remember that you eat to nourish yourself. Choose your food accordingly. Your food must deliver energy, proteins, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, enzymes, and other nutrients that will help your body function properly and stay healthy. Add fruit and vegetable to your diet and eat them raw as often as you can. Choose fish and poultry over red meat and pork, olive oil over butter, whole grain over white bread, an apple over potato chips, frozen yogurt over ice cream. Reduce sugar and fat consumption. Learn about food to understand your dietary needs. Increase your physical activity. Chose to walk more often and spend some active time outdoors. Exercise does not only help you burn excess fat calories. It also works on cellular level. Increased physical activity improves insulin sensitivity. This in turn helps you lose weight gradually as the body is regaining its capability to utilize energy.

Healthy, balanced nutrition and sufficient physical activity are essential if you want to reduce your weight. However, if you objectively feel that even after implementing all these lifestyle changes you are not loosing any weight at all, you may be suffering from an under active thyroid or hormonal imbalance. Women with estrogen dominance have sluggish metabolism, suffer from bloating, and water retention. Another cause of weight gain are intestinal parasites, including candida. You may also have undetected intolerance to some foods that causes systemic inflammation in your body and consequently, weight gain. You may suffer from undetected Type 2 diabetes. Since you cannot determine the cause by yourself, you may have to consult your health care provider who will conduct some tests. It is very important to find out the reason for your weight gain and understand why it is difficult for you to lose weight. Unless you do, you will struggle unnecessarily from one diet to another without much success, but with a serious damage to your health.

You may also want to consult a certified health care provider before you set out on an exercise or a diet plan. Regular monitoring of your health may be necessary if you are very obese or have some health issues. A certified dietitian will help you to determine your metabolic type and your nutritional needs. He or she will devise a nutritional plan for you and help you with your shopping lists. This will take the uncertainty and the stress out of your daily routine. In short time you will be able to develop your own intuition and make your own judgments about the foods you should avoid. A gym or a yoga instructor will devise an exercise program and make sure that you do not injure yourself.

Nutritional supplements for effective weight loss

While you are gradually losing weight and your body is learning to utilize nutrients, you may want to support your weight loss program with natural supplements that will help you enhance your metabolism. Here some supplements you may want to consider:
  • Digestive enzymes, especially Lipase, Amylase, and Protease to help digestion of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) to help convert food into energy
  • L-tyrosine to support the thyroid gland and enhance metabolism
  • 5-HTP to restore serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin deficiency is associated with carbohydrate cravings.
  • Chromium polynicotinate to improve the sugar and fat metabolism
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) to help decrease body fat
  • L-carnitine to assist in energy conversion and speed up metabolism
  • CoQ 10 to assist in energy production
  • 7-keto DHEA to increase metabolism
  • Omega-3 hexane-free fish oil to maintain the production of hormones that are responsible for regulating major body functions, such as digestion, insulin production and the storage of fat in the body.
  • Medium Chain Triglycerides (MTCS) to increase metabolism
  • Thermogenic herbs such as Garcinia cambogia or green tea to boost metabolism
  • Hoodia gordonii to suppress appetite
  • Dietary fiber to help digestion and elimination
  • L-glutamine to prevent muscle deterioration while on diet
  • DMAE to enhance firmness of skin during weight loss
Two very important aspects of a successful weight loss are your determination and motivation to lose weight. If you think you will not be able to do it all by yourself or if you live in an unsupportive environment, you may have to look for a health coach, sign up for a supervised weight loss program, and join a support group. Having the certainty that there is someone who can help you in the moments of self-doubt will help you enormously to stay motivated. You may want to join an exercise group or a healthy-cooking class to get all the support you need. It may also be necessary to seek help from a certified psychotherapist who could help you understand your emotions and your relationship with food. You may even want to consider a hypnotherapy. But whatever you decide to do, promise yourself to make the next year the healthiest year of your life.

By Dominique Allmon

No need to feel helpless about your weight!

*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease. Remember to consult a certified health care practitioner before embarking on a weight loss program.

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How to Successfully Lose Weight and Keep it Off by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a tropical perennial plant native to Southeast Asia that is also cultivated in West Africa and the Caribbean. The Latin name is derived from the Sanskrit word shringavera which means "horn shaped" and pertains to the horn-like protrusions on the rhizome.


For centuries rhizome of the ginger plant has been used as a spice in Asian cooking. Its healing properties did not go unnoticed in China and in India where ginger is used to this day to cure various ailments and health disorders. Ginger was described in the Classic of Herbs, a compilation by the Chinese around 3000 BC. Confucius (551 - 479 BC) praised its many benefits. The Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides (circa 40 - 90 AD) wrote about ginger's ability to soothe the stomach. Ginger was also valued by the Arabs and in the Ancient Roman Empire which imported it from Asia. The Romans introduced ginger to various parts of continental Europe and to Britain. The Vikings used it to prevent sea sickness.

Health benefits

Traditionally, ginger has been used to alleviate such health problems as nausea, infections of the upper respiratory tract, digestive disorders, and migraines and was even considered to be an effective aphrodisiac. Applied topically, ginger was used to cure rheumatism, arthritis, minor sprains, and burns.

Ginger contains powerful compounds such as shogaols, zingerone, and gingerols, that are potent antioxidants responsible for the remarkable healing properties of this spice. The rhizome is rich in protein, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. The ginger rhizome has a firm, but striated texture and a characteristic pungent and hot taste. Its flesh is either white or yellow in color and is quite aromatic.

Modern scientific research confirmed the ancient knowledge making ginger one of the most versatile medicinal plants. Healing benefits include the ability to alleviate or cure following health issues:
  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach ache, indigestion, diarrhea, and dyspepsia - active compounds in ginger increase the production of bile, reduce inflammation, and help detoxify the digestive tract.
  • Motion sickness and vertigo - various studies demonstrated that ginger is as effective as many over-the-counter drugs. The exact mechanism in not yet well understood, but it is believed that ginger increases stomach acidity balancing at the same time the pressure in the inner ear canal.
  • Morning sickness during pregnancy - for thousands of years ginger has been safely used for morning sickness that accompanies pregnancy. Ginger has no side effects and does not cause any birth defects. Practitioners of the Traditional Chinese Medicine, however, advise to use ginger rather sparingly during pregnancy and only to treat the morning sickness.
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea - studies conducted on cancer patients demonstrated that those who drank high protein shakes infused with ginger reported fewer episodes of nausea after their chemotherapy treatments.
  • Inflammation - the active compound in ginger called gingerol is characterized by a very strong anti-inflammatory activity. Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies demonstrated that patients suffering from arthritis who took ginger over a longer period of time experienced less pain than those who did not. These patients also reported improved mobility.
  • Cancer of the colon - in a study conducted at the University of Minnesota, gingerol exhibited a strong anti-tumor activity. It inhibits the action of a protein involved in the genesis of the cancer cells in the colon, thus preventing the growth of tumors.
  • Ovarian cancer - gingerol has the remarkable ability to kill ovarian cancer cells. It induces apoptosis or a programmed cell death of these cells, as well as their self-digestion or autophagocythosis. The studies conducted at the University of Michigan also demonstrated that the ovarian cancer cells do not become resistant to ginger.
  • Weak immune system - ginger stimulates thymus gland and increases body's own ability to fight infections. It also has anti-microbial, anti-candida, and anti-parasitic properties.
  • Common cold and flu - ginger reduces inflammation, eases congestion, and induces sweating, which helps speed up recovery from infections.
  • Pathological blood clotting - studies conducted in Denmark and at the Cornell University demonstrated that ginger is a very potent anticoagulant and is, therefore, valuable in preventing cardiovascular disease. The active compound gingerol has a chemical structure that resembles that of aspirin. 
  • Elevated cholesterol - taken therapeutically over a longer periods of time, ginger has the capacity to lower the "bad" cholesterol and reverse the damage caused by diet high in fat, thus reducing the chance of stroke.


There is no established daily dose of ginger. The suggested dose is 150 mg of full spectrum ginger extract taken three times a day.

Ginger can also be taken in the form of tea or added to freshly made fruit and vegetable juices and, of course, added to many Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes.

A powdered, dried ginger can be used to make a detoxifying, hot bath. Essential oil of ginger may be used topically as analgesic.

When buying ginger, fresh rhizome should be chosen over the dried one. Fresh ginger not only has a better aroma and taste, but it also contains higher levels of the active compound gingerol.


Like any other plant, ginger may cause allergic reactions. A caution is also advised for those who suffer from gall bladder disease as ginger increases the production of bile. As mentioned before, ginger has blood thinning properties. A caution is advised for those who take blood thinning medication.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What to Do If You Contract Influenza

Most articles about the flu tell us how to prevent or avoid an infection, but there is very little information on what to do when we actually get infected. Common sense tells us that we ought to see a doctor and most of us heard about Tamiflu®. This article describes the flu symptoms and suggests a few simple steps to ease the discomfort of infection.

Every year tens of thousands of people die from the influenza infection. Most victims are either very young, or very old. People with compromised immune system also succumb to the disease. Currently two strains of influenza are circulating in the United States - the seasonal flu and the H1N1 also called the swine flu. A third, highly lethal H5N1 influenza, also known as the bird flu, is being closely monitored in Asia.

Flu symptoms

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection affecting the respiratory tract - the nose, throat, and the bronchial tubes. The symptoms can range from mild to deadly and include:
  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion or running nose
  • headache
  • overall body ache
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • in some cases diarrhea and vomiting - symptoms that may be severe if it is a swine flu virus infection
These symptoms may also occur with the common cold which, although as uncomfortable as the flu, is much less threatening. A person infected with the flu virus may experience a combination of these symptoms. Not everyone who has the flu will develop fever. The flu symptoms may get worse at night and disrupt the normal sleep pattern. The symptoms usually persist for about two weeks and most people recover without complications.Some people, however, may develop very serious and life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia.

The incubation period takes two to five days. It spreads very fast in the body of an infected person until the person starts to experience the symptoms. An infected person can pass the flu to others as early as one day before he or she developed the symptoms and up to seven days after the outbreak of disease. Children and people with suppressed immune function remain contagious for a much longer period of time. Because influenza is highly contagious, an infected person has to take special measures to prevent infection of others.

When you start experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, stay home and do not get tempted to go to work. On the one hand, your coworkers will be very grateful for not infecting them as well, on the other, you will have time to rest and recuperate. Your immune system has been weakened by the infection and needs all your support right now. Rest as much as you possibly can and cut all the sugar from your diet.
  • To eradicate the virus from your body you have to act immediately as soon as you experience your symptoms. This is the time when it is still possible to stop the virus from spreading in your body. Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu® and Relenza® are usually very effective within 24-48 hours from contracting the infection and must be taken in high doses. Tamiflu® helps reduce the severity and the duration of your infection. The advised dose of Tamiflu® is 75 mg twice a day for five consecutive days. In cases of the swine flu infection, the dose should be doubled. In many cases these medications may remain ineffective. 
Natural remedies
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) a popular herb, sometimes underestimated, can bring a great relief to an infected person.The blossoms contain high amounts of healing essential oils and have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-spasmodic properties. Chamomile can be drunk as an infusion or used for inhalations to ease respiratory problems during the infection. The chamomile infusion may also help with the gastrointestinal problems during the infection.
  • Olive leaf extract (Olea europaea) or Oleuropein, contains a compound called calcium elenolate which is a natural antibiotic. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrated that this compound is lethal to all viruses, including the influenza virus, as well as other microbes it was tested against. Olive leaf extract inhibits the replication of viruses and helps to shorten the duration of flu. It also enhances the activity of the immune system. The suggested dose is 500 mg twice daily at the onset of flu symptoms.
  • Andrographis (Andrographis pinaculata), a herb native to Asia, helps to reduce the severity of flu symptoms and the duration of illness. Studies have shown that this herb has antiviral, antipyretic, and analgesic properties. Moreover, it is a powerful immune system stimulator. The suggested dosage is 400-500 mg of dried extract containing 6-10 percent andrographolides, three times a day to be taken within 48 hours after the first sign of the flu symptoms. Andrographis can be taken alone or in combination with Eleuthero root (Siberian ginseng).
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has a long tradition as a remedy for cough and the common cold. Recent research demonstrated that an active compound called Antivirin has the capacity to prevent the flu virus from invading the membranes of healthy cells. The elderberry extract was clinically proven to reduce the flu symptoms and to speed recovery. It also stimulates the immune system. Suggested dose is 500 mg a day. Elderberry can be also drunk as a syrup.
  • Linden flower tea also known as Lime flower tea (Tilia americana) is an effective herbal remedy. The blossoms are used as infusion to reduce fever and induce sweating. Pour a cup of boiling water over a table spoon of dried blossoms. Cover your cup and steep it for 10 minutes. You may want to use raw manuka honey to sweeten your tea. Because the tea induces sweating, it is suggested to dress warmly and stay in bed.
  • Oscillococcinum is a time-tested homeopathic remedy that helps reduce the severity of the flu symptoms and the duration of disease. It works very fast and does not cause any side effects. For best efficacy, Oscillococcinum should be taken as soon as symptoms of infection are experienced. It comes in prepared doses. The suggested dose is to take the entire dose every six hours between the meals.
  • Zinc is a mineral that assists the body in the formation of a strong immune system. When taken right at the onset of symptoms it can shorten the duration of infection and minimize the severity of the symptoms. Zinc should be taken in a form of Zinc gluconate or glycinate together with its co-factors Vitamin C and amino acid Histidine. The suggested dose is 15 mg twice a day with up to 1000 mg Vitamin C and 500 mg Histidin.
  • Acerola berry extract is a natural source of vitamin C that your body needs to fight off the infection. Acerola berry contains whole spectrum vitamin C with its co-factors the bioflavonoids.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms you will have to take a break from your daily routine. Get enough rest, drink plenty of water, and change your diet to a lighter, easily digestible fare. As mentioned before, the flu symptoms may disturb your sleep pattern. Sleep is essential as during the night our immune system restores itself. A calming infusion made with chamomile, passion flower, and valerian root, drunk about 30 minutes before bed may help you unwind to a restful night sleep. Use nasal spray and sore throat lozenges made of Icelandic moss to ease your symptoms before you retire for the day. You may want to use a humidifier in your bedroom.

Contact your health care provider when:
  • your fever lasts longer than three days
  • your symptoms persist for more than ten days in spite of all the medication and rest your are taking
  • when you develop new symptoms such as pain in your chest, disorientation, high fever, difficult breathing
Your physician will have to conduct tests to determine the virus that is causing the symptoms and make sure that you did not develop a pneumonia.

A strong immune system is the best way to avoid infections. There are some very effective immune system boosting strategies you may want to apply in the future. A healthy diet, moderate exercise, stress control, and adequate sleep are necessary if you want to stay infection free during the next flu season. Right now, I can only wish you a quick recovery.

By Dominique Allmon

This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Creative Commons License
What to Do if You Contract Influenza by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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