Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Treating Chronic Kidney Disease with Food!

“In the United States, approximately one in three adults aged 65 years and older has chronic kidney disease (CKD),” but the “majority of patients with CKD do not progress to advanced stages of CKD because death precedes the progression to end-stage renal disease…” Following about a thousand folks 65 years or older with chronic kidney disease for about a decade, only a few had to go on dialysis because most died. The scariest thing for many kidney patients is the fear of dialysis, but they may be 13 times more likely to die than go on dialysis. With heart disease killing more than nearly all other causes combined, decreasing kidney function can set one up for heart attacks, strokes, and death.
That’s why it’s critical that any diet chosen to help the kidneys must also help the heart. A plant-based diet fits the bill, providing protection against kidney cancer, kidney stones, kidney inflammation, and acidosis, as well as heart disease. (See below for links to my videos covering these very topics.) That is, “blood pressure control may be favored by the reduction of sodium intake and by the vegetarian nature of the diet, which is very important also for lowering serum cholesterol,” which may not only help the heart but also the kidneys themselves.
In 1858, Rudolf Virchow, the father of modern pathology, was the first to describe the fatty degeneration of the kidney. In 1982, this idea of lipid nephrotoxicity—the possibility that fat and cholesterol in the bloodstream could be toxic to the kidneys directly, based on data showing plugs of fat literally clogging up the works in autopsied kidneys—was formalized.
Since the notion was put forth, it has gained momentum. It appears high cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream may accelerate the progression of chronic kidney disease through direct toxic effects on the kidney cells themselves. Given the connection between cholesterol and kidney decline, the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs has been recommended to slow the progression of kidney disease. Of course, “[s]erious adverse effects on muscle and liver must be kept in mind.” This is why plant-based diets could offer the best of both worlds, protecting the heart and the kidneys without drug side effects.
The two potential drawbacks are the amount of phosphorus and potassium in plant foods, which ailing kidneys can sometimes have a problem getting rid of. It turns out, however, that the phosphorus in meat is absorbed at about twice the rate, not to mention the phosphate additives that are injected into meat. So, eating plant-based can significantly lower phosphorus levels in the blood. The concern about potassium is largely theoretical because the alkalinizing effects of plant foods help the body excrete potassium, but it is not theoretical for those on dialysis or with end-stage disease who need to be closely followed by a dietician kidney specialist.
Special protein-restricted vegan diets have been used successfully to slow or stop the progression of kidney failure. One study showed the declining kidney function of eight diabetics for one to two years before switching to the plant-based diet, which appeared to stop the inexorable decline in most of the patients. This led the researchers to proclaim it as the treatment of choice for diabetic kidney failure.

Strictly plant-based diets may also help delay dialysis by one to two years and, after a kidney transplant, may improve the survival of the kidney and improve the survival of the patient. Most of the papers, though, are just pilot feasibility studies. It doesn’t matter if it’s effective if we can’t get people to stick to the diet. But while we’re waiting for more definitive studies, existing data support offering these kinds of plant-based diets as an option for all patients with advanced or progressive chronic kidney disease.
“Even if the effects of such diets on the progression of renal failure are still debatable, the unquestionably favorable effects [of plant-based diets] on some of the most deleterious cardiovascular and metabolic disorders usually associated with renal failure,” such as hypertension and diabetes, “provide rationale for recommending a predominance of proteins from a vegetable source” for patients with failing kidneys.
Yet, diet is still underutilized, in part because some people find changing their diet is difficult. Yet, we know foods rich in animal protein lead to metabolic acidosis. Our diets “are largely acid-producing because they are deficient in fruits and vegetables and contain large amounts of animal products.” So, what did doctors do? They gave people baking soda. Instead of treating the cause––the dietary acid load from too many animal products and too few fruits and vegetables––they treated the consequence by saying, “Oh, too much acid? We’ll just give you some base: sodium bicarbonate.” And it works. Neutralization of dietary acid with sodium bicarbonate decreases kidney injury and slows kidney function decline, but sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) has sodium, so doctors may be just adding another problem.
If patients are not going to cut back on animal products, they should at least be eating more fruits and vegetables. They tried that, and it worked, too, and did so without leading to too much potassium in the blood. In fact, it may even work better because fruits and vegetables have the additional advantage of helping to lower blood pressure. The study that examined this is important because it illustrated a simple and safe way to treat metabolic acidosis: with fruits and vegetables. So, the key to halting the progression of chronic kidney disease might be in the produce market or the farmer’s market, not in the pharmacy.
In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.
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Monday, 16 October 2017

The magic of spirulina on your skin!

Spirulina is a dark green algae that grows on the surface of lakes. Here in Kenya, it grows on Lake Victoria, therefore it is readily available in many supermarkets and health food shops. It contains 65 percent protein and is packed with vitamins, iron, amino acids, and omegas, thus, it is extremely nourishing.
The antioxidants found in spirulina are four times the amount found in berries. The rich green colour comes from chlorophyll which helps to eliminate toxins from our body, while also boosting the immune system. This powder can be taken with water, smoothies, or sprinkled on food.

It is highly alkaline therefore it is beneficial when ingested or applied to the skin. It is available in powder, tablet or flake form. Some of the many benefits of spirulina for the skin include:

· Reducing dark circles
· Fights inflammation
· Detoxes the body
· Fights acne with its antibacterial properties
· Anti-aging
· Helps the skin retain moisture
· Encourages cell turnover

The best way to use spirulina topically is by applying a face mask. This mask works for all skin types and is soothing, hydrating and brightens the skin. Spirulina can stain, therefore watch out for any dripping.


1 teaspoon spirulina powder
½ teaspoon raw honey
½ teaspoon water or aloe vera juice

Step 1 - Mix ingredients

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth.

Step 2 - Apply

Apply to a clean face, avoiding the eyes, nostrils and mouth. You can apply with your fingertips or a brush.

Step 3 - Dry

Allow drying for 10 – 15 minutes.

Step 4 - Rinse

Rinse off with warm water.

Step 5 - Moisturise

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7 Reasons to Incorporate Weights Into Your Fitness Routine!

When you think of weight training, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Is it a bodybuilder? Or maybe an Olympic athlete with chiseled thighs and a neck the size of a tree trunk?
Most of us are very familiar with the benefits of aerobic exercises like running, cycling or swimming, assuming that strength training is on the other end of the spectrum (one keeps you thin and heart healthy and the other makes you muscular). But the truth is, in terms of overall health benefits, the two overlap more than they differ.
Curious? Let’s take a look at ten reasons you should start incorporating weights and resistance training into your fitness routine today.

1) It will keep your bones dense and healthy.

Did you know that bone density naturally decreases by 1 percent every year after the age of 30? Women in particular struggle with the loss of bone density (called osteoporosis) and make up 80 percent of cases in the United States. Weight training helps increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and breaks among adults.

2) It will help you sleep better.

Besides the physical benefits, weightlifting has been proven to positively affect how we feel and how clearly we think. Need to clear your head? Take a trip to the gym. You’ll sleep so much better – waking up less often throughout the night and falling into deep sleep more quickly.

3) It will improve your posture, reducing the risk of back pain.

Do you work a job that keeps you sitting or standing for long periods of time? Odds are you need to work on strengthening your posterior chain – the mass of muscles designed to keep your spine and lower back in check. Deadlifting in particular works wonders for this area of the body, ensuring your spine stays straight and protected from daily wear and tear.

4) It will help regulate your glucose levels.

Along with improving posture and sleep, strength training will help you burn through glucose and keep your blood sugar levels more steady. Great news for the 14 million Americans dealing with type 2 diabetes.

5) It will help you lose weight and keep it off.

Weightlifting boosts metabolism and fat loss by building dense, calorie-hungry muscle mass. Why? Because muscle is an active tissue, it burns more muscle compared to fat so your hard work will stretch farther over time.

6) It may stave off chronic diseases.

Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and even cancer, all seem to shrink in the presence of a strong, weightlifting body. They say cardio is great for your heart. Well, that applies to weight training too! In the grand scheme of things, the stronger you are, the more resilient you will be against disease.
7) It will help you gain confidence in life.
Weightlifting has an amazing ability to boost self-esteem, mental health and self-confidence. Feeling discouraged? Prove what you’re made of in the gym. Feeling tired or anxious? Harness the boost of energy and endorphins that comes with exercise.
And you don’t even have to go to the gym to get the benefits. Look at starting with body weight exercises like squats, lunges or even push-ups. You just might learn to love it.

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  • 1 packed cup baby kale
  • 1 cup Vanilla Organic Nut Milk 
  • ½ cup frozen mango chunks
  • ⅓ cup sweet potato puree
  • 2 dried, pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds

In a blender combine kale, milk, mango, sweet potato, dates, matcha, and salt. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass, and top with hemp seeds.

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Tips for raising healthy kids as obesity rates skyrocket!

This week, a comprehensive study published in the Lancet revealed that the number of obese children, aged five to 19, worldwide has skyrocketed tenfold over the past 40 years.
The study, led by the Imperial College of London in collaboration with the World Health Organization, involved height and weight data on nearly 130 million people. While childhood obesity rates are on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, the rise appears to have leveled off, at least temporarily, in high-income countries such as Canada.
Good news perhaps, but our national childhood obesity numbers remain dismal and alarming. According to Statistics Canada, in 2015 nearly 15 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls – aged five to 17 – were considered obese, numbers that have nearly tripled since the 1970s.
Kids with obesity are at a higher risk for asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. They're also more likely to be bullied than their peers who are at a healthy weight.

Obesity in childhood also increases the likelihood of becoming an obese adult and developing the health problems that come with it – diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
As a parent, it's not always easy to recognize that your child has a weight problem. Kids grow at different rates and changes in body fat differ among girls and boys.
Ask your family pediatrician to review your child's growth charts with you. At annual check-ups, they should assess your child's body mass index (BMI) for age.
This information shows how your child's measurements compare with other kids of the same gender and age and will indicate whether he is overweight or obese. Your doctor will look at the pattern rather than an individual number.
If your child is carrying an unhealthy amount of weight, your pediatrician may recommend a weight-loss diet with the help of a registered dietitian. It's important that your child follow a healthy plan that provides all the nutrients he needs for growth and development.
For overweight children who are still growing, the goal is to maintain their weight or slow their rate of weight gain while they grow taller. Older teenagers can safely lose one to two pounds a week.
If you're concerned that your child is overweight, or heading down that path, the following tips can help keep him healthy and prevent him from gaining excess weight.
Start with a low glycemic breakfast. Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) such as oatmeal, stone ground whole wheat bread, yogurt, milk, fruit and nuts help kids feel full longer, making them less likely to overeat. Low GI foods are digested slowly and lead to a gradual, sustained rise in blood sugar.
Include a good source of filling protein at breakfast, too. Greek yogurt, eggs, cheese, even leftover chicken, are good choices.
Ditch sugary drinks. Cutting back on sugary drinks such as 100-percent fruit juice, soft drinks and sports drinks can make a big difference in a child's daily calorie intake and, for some kids, will promote weight loss. Encourage water instead.

Rein in their sweet tooth. Serve a sugary treat only once or twice a week as part of your family's menu. Offer nutritious, naturally sweet desserts and snacks such as banana "ice cream," frozen grapes, yogurt and fruit parfaits or a peanut butter and banana milkshake.
Avoid sending cookies, gummy bears or sugary granola bars in your child's lunch every day. Pack fresh fruit instead.
Follow the plate model. Fill one-quarter of your child's plate with protein (e.g., chicken, fish, lean meat, tofu, beans), one-quarter with healthy carbs (e.g., brown rice, sweet potato, pasta, whole fruit) and the rest of vegetables (cooked or raw), which add volume to meals with fewer calories.
If you feel your child's portions are too large, serve smaller amounts of food and let him ask for more if still hungry.
Plan family meals. Research shows that kids eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer unhealthy foods and are less likely to be obese when they regularly eat family dinners.
If your family's weekday schedule prevents you from sharing dinner together, other shared mealtimes can also help foster healthy eating habits.
To get children used to sharing a family meal, cook one meal for everyone instead of becoming a short-order cook.
Get everyone on board. Don't single your child out. Use the same healthy-eating approach for the whole family. Kids learn their habits from their parents, so model healthy eating and exercise practices.
Get kids involved. Enlist your child's help in meal planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, even setting the table and clean up. Children who help prepare healthy meals are more likely to eat them.
Prepare meals that give young kids a role such as mixing ingredients, shredding lettuce, chopping vegetables (if age-appropriate) or dressing the salad.
Ensure adequate sleep. Mounting evidence suggests that kids who get too little sleep are more likely to become overweight or obese. They're also less likely to eat a healthy diet.
Children aged three to five need 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night, school-aged kids need nine to 11 hours and teenagers, ages 14 to 17, should get eight to 10 hours.
Limit screen time. Too much time in front of the television, computer or tablet has been linked to obesity, irregular sleep schedules and shorter sleep duration. Infants, aged 18 months and younger, should not be exposed to digital media. For children, ages two to five, limit screen time to one hour a day.
For older kids, determine restrictions for your child and enforce those daily and weekly limits and curfews. Prioritize physical activity and sleep over screen time.
Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan.

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Pregnant mothers around THIS could be increasing kids’ risk of growths!

Expectant mothers could be putting their kids’ health at risk by being exposed to pesticides, particularly insecticides, according to researchers. 
Childhood brain tumours can lead to learning difficulties, difficulties with balance and partial or full loss of sight.
Pesticide exposure increased the risk of childhood brain tumours by 1.4 times, said the researchers from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research. 
They warned pregnant women to limit their exposure to pesticides to avoid increasing the risk of the growths.
The lead author of the study, Nicolas Vidart d’Egurbide Bagazgo├»tia, said: “Although such retrospective studies cannot identify specific chemicals used or quantify the exposure, our findings add another reason to advise mothers to limit their exposure to pesticides around the time of pregnancy.”

Wash Off Pesticides On Vegetables

The researchers reviewed data from 3,539 French mothers, of which 437 had children that developed brain tumours.
The mothers had phone interviews, followed by one-to-one interviews, to find the results.
They found pesticide exposure significantly increased the risk of developing the tumour, while insecticides increased the risk by 1.6 times.

Future investigations were needed to confirm the findings, the researchers said. 
Further studies would also help scientists to better understand the link between pesticides and childhood brain tumours.
About 560 people, under-19, are diagnosed with brain tumours in the UK every year, according to The Brain Tumour Charity.
Brain tumour symptoms include persistent vomiting, seizures, recurring headache, and double-vision. But, symptoms vary from person to person and depends on the exact location of the tumour on the brain.
They can be treated by radiotherapy, chemotherapy or proton-beam therapy.

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Achieving complete fitness!

Close your eyes and think of the word "fitness." What is the image that conjures up in your mind? A man or a woman who is lean, muscular and athletic. That is definitely one dimension of fitness but not the complete package. Complete fitness encompasses both the body and the mind; that is, being physically fit as well as mentally calm and peaceful.  
What is mental fitness? Which gym membership does one have to enroll in, to get mentally and emotionally fit? This is the secret that the East has to offer in the form of meditation practices and breathing techniques (Pranayamas). A prayer is also a form of mental fitness, as it gives us peace of mind.  
Most of the time, one of these dimensions is neglected. There are those who focus on physical fitness and are regular with their exercise and gym attendance, yet neglect the mind. While there are others who are very regular in their meditation practice and prayer but neglect having a regular workout routine. 
The benefits of a regular exercise routine are well known, but the knowledge of how the breath and meditation impact our mind is still a little vague. Before I started meditating, I was like a volcano, ready to burst at the slightest provocation. I was living on the edge and was emotionally very charged. This had a significant impact on my health and relationships. After I started meditating, things started transforming slowly. A realization dawned on me and I was not blowing my fuse at the drop of a hat. Over time, my reactions turned to response, which helped me tremendously in my personal and professional life.  
Seekers who are on the spiritual path sometimes forget about the value of health and physical fitness. Swami Vivekananda once said, "You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita." He did not mean that one does not need to read Bhagavad Gita, but he extolled us to be physically strong. He went on to say "What we want is vigor in the blood, strength in the nerves, iron muscles and nerves of steel, not softening namby-pamby ideas."

Whether it in the realm of the body or the mind, workout requires discipline. We need to dedicate time in our schedule to our physical fitness as well as to the practices of breathing and meditation. These practices will enrich our lives and make us truly healthy.
Fitness reminds me of a saying from the Sikh tradition, "Sant Sipahi" (a saintly warrior).  You are calm and peaceful inside with a clean heart and fit and dynamic as a fighting soldier.  
Physical fitness brings about confidence and courage, while mental fitness brings out empathy, centeredness, and dynamism.  
Let us all strive to be "completely fit."

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