Tasty Tuesday

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It’s almost Fall again! Get ready for football, family and fun! Try out this delicious recipe for a healthy side!

 

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes

5 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider
salt and pepper, to taste

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 2″ slices; place in crockpot. Whisk together brown sugar, maple syrup, cider, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes. Cover; cook on low 7-9 hours.



Wellness Wednesday

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Surviving breast cancer with a sense of humor: One mom’s story

Stupid Cancer by:
Michelle Maffei
As hard as the fight must be to beat breast cancer, one mother has chosen to “be a survivor, not a victim,” for herself and her family — all while keeping the sense of humor she is well known for. Read the story of Stephani J., a courageous mother, sister and wife who discovered that life does not stop once you are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Putting it in Perspective

Stephanie J. from Costa Mesa, California is a dedicated worker, a good friend, a sister, a wife, and a mother. Hearing the news on May 30, 2008 that her tests came back positive for breast cancer left her mind reeling about the journey that lay ahead. But, “I refuse to let this cancer define who I am. It is something that is happening to me, that’s all,” reassures Stephanie. And, to support her position, she even sported a shirt that read, “Stupid Cancer,” flavored with her silly humor and her refusal to let Breast Cancer bring her down.

History Repeating Itself

Two years prior, Stephanie had experienced a breast infection, but after a round of antibiotics, a mammogram, and an ultrasound which came back negative, the infection was given the all clear. All was well until a second breast infection appeared in the same area about two months prior to her diagnosis, which brought on the same round of treatment and tests, this time accompanied with a fine needle biopsy. With an inconclusive result and the infection seemingly healed, Stephanie was given a follow-up ultrasound. Five “nodules” were identified as suspicious, two of which a core needle biopsy was performed.

When both sites came back as Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Stephanie was scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy in June 2008, in which both breasts were scheduled to be removed. 

Family Focus

“One of the most difficult moments was when I was diagnosed and I was worried about how it was going to affect my three-and-a-half-year-old son. I had a really hard time struggling with the concern.” After speaking with a therapist, Stephanie was reassured that the plans she and her husband were making about post-op treatment were just an extension of his normal routine, which helped subdue some of the stress she was feeling.

“At his age, he doesn’t really comprehend it as much. In some ways it’s a lot better. He puts it in his own perspective, as “Mommy’s sick.” What’s important at this age is to give him every single piece of information he asks for, allow him to process it on his own, and most importantly, not to force him how to deal with it. My job is to be here to help manage it,” says Stephanie.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

To help thank the strong circle of support she had been receiving and to share the positive attitude she is carrying with her pre-surgery, Stephanie used her love of humor to threw herself a “Ta ta to the tat as” party. It was an upbeat affair, adorned with appropriately-shaped cakes and cupcakes and supporting the fight against breast cancer.

Post-Surgery TLC

After a successful surgery, it was determined that she would receive Chemo every three weeks for four and a half to five months, which she began in July. Now approaching the end of her Chemo treatments, she will begin radiation treatment, five days a week for three weeks.

As Stephanie can tell you, Chemo is no walk in the park. But, the loving support from her husband, family, friends, and work, and the sweet gestures from her now four-year-old son help her keep her spirits up and her humor strong.

“He knows I have ups and downs, when Mommy is sick and when Mommy is okay. Asks me, “How can I make you feel better?” and does something sweet.” Although it is rough on Stephanie seeing how her post-surgery and Chemo was rough on him, she acknowledges that, “he’s been handling it pretty well. We’ve been handling it all okay because we’re handling it as a family unit, and it helps that [my son is] younger.”

Work Support

Stephanie returned to work in mid-August 2008, where her circle of support was stronger than ever. Her boss is a cancer survivor, and just two years ago, Stephanie supported her boss through the entire process at that time. “When I was diagnosed, I knew I was in a supportive environment, knew a little bit of what to expect, and had a strong example and a great source of advice to follow,” shares Stephanie.

Family Future

Some people take for granted the decision whether or not to have more biological children, but with Breast Cancer survivors, the decision is made for them. The risk is very high that pregnancy can cause the cancer to return, but the option to expand their family is not a closed case. Stephanie adds, “I was adopted, so we are very open to the option, but for now, we have peace of mind knowing our family will remain a family of three.”

As Stephanie begins her radiation treatment, she continues to use her strong spirit and great sense of humor to help her remain another one of the more than 2.3 million women in the U.S. who have survived breast cancer or are living with breast cancer today, according to the National Cancer Institute’s research for 2007. Although Breast Cancer is no laughing matter, if you or someone you know is facing the fight, take a look through Stephanie’s perspective and come up with a list of your own 20 positive things that you can find about Cancer…it may just be the little light-hearted lift you needed.

This article was found on www.sheknows.com. Be sure to check out their website to find more stories just like this one!



Tasty Tuesday

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I was at a wedding shower this weekend and was blown away by this strawberry almond salad that they had for us to eat. It was simple and loaded with flavor! I have looked up a recipe for you all to enjoy as much as I did! Let me know what you think!

 

Strawberry Almond Salad

Prep Time:
10 Min
Ready In:
10 Min

Servings  

 Original Recipe Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced honey-roasted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, honey and sugar; shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Footnotes

  • Nutritional Analysis: 3/4 cup equals 74 calories, 4 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 98 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1/2 fat.


Fitness Friday

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Are you stressed and looking for a way to relax?  Here is a great article about exercise and stress brought to you by www.mayoclinic.com

Exercise and stress: Get moving to combat stress

One way to take control of the stress in your life is through physical activity. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.

By Mayo Clinic staff

You know that exercise does your body good, but you’re too busy and stressed to fit it into your routine. Hold on a second — there’s good news when it comes to exercise and stress.

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to weightlifting, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re downright out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief — and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan.

Exercise and stress relief

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Put exercise and stress relief to work for you

A successful exercise program begins with a few simple steps.

  • Consult with your doctor. Begin any new fitness program by consulting with your health care professional, especially if you have any medical conditions or are obese.
  • Walk before you run. Build up your fitness level gradually. Excitement about a new program can lead to overdoing it and possibly even injury. Plus, if you begin your program slowly, chances are better you’ll stick with it. If you’re new to exercise, aim for about 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three to four days a week and increase gradually. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (think brisk walking or swimming) or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running) — preferably spread throughout the week. It also recommends strength training exercises at least twice a week.
  • Do what you love, and love what you do. Don’t train for a marathon if you dislike running. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming.
  • Pencil it in. Although your schedule may necessitate a morning workout one day and an evening activity the next, carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.

Sticking with it

Starting an exercise program is just the first step. Here are some tips for sticking with a new routine or reinvigorating a tired workout:

  • Set some goals. It’s always a good idea to begin or modify a workout program with a goal in mind. If your primary goal is to reduce stress in your life and recharge your batteries, your specific goals might include committing to walking during your lunch hour three times a week or, if needed, finding a baby sitter to watch your children so that you can slip away to attend a cycling class.
  • Find a friend. Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up at the gym or the park can be a powerful incentive. Working out with a friend, co-worker or family member often brings a new level of motivation and commitment to your workouts.
  • Change up your routine. If you’ve always been a competitive runner, take a look at other less competitive options that may help with stress reduction, such as Pilates or yoga classes. As an added bonus, these kinder, gentler workouts may enhance your running while also decreasing your stress.

Whatever you do, don’t think of exercise as just one more thing on your to-do list. Find an activity you enjoy — whether it’s an active tennis match or a meditative meander down to a local park and back — and make it part of your regular routine. Any form of physical activity can help you unwind and become an important part of your approach to easing stress.



Wellness Wednesday

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written by:

Dr. Soram Khalsa

Board certified in internal medicine, Medical Director for the East-West Medical Research Institute

October is breast cancer awareness month. By this point in time all of us are fully aware of the impact of breast cancer upon our families and our society. The American Cancer Society has estimated that in 2011, there will be over 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed and 70,000 new cases of DCIS (localized breast cancer), with 40,000 women dying of breast cancer.

I am looking forward to the day when October is renamed “Breast Cancer Prevention Month”. Integrative medicine doctors have an increasing toolbox of tests and natural treatments in our armamentarium that can reduce the risk of breast cancer or the recurrence of breast cancer, and I see new patients every week who want this extra help.

Prevention is the hallmark of the approach to breast cancer. Even with a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, once she has completed her treatment of surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, she is back in breast cancer prevention mode. At that point, she is trying to prevent a recurrence of her breast cancer.

In the integrative medicine doctors’ toolbox there are many approaches to help prevent breast cancer. These range from correcting estrogen dominance imbalances to detoxification of environmental estrogens from her body, using the techniques of naturopathic medicine.

At the present time, there is no integrative medicine modality for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, with more data and research than vitamin D. There is so much information showing that this vitamin, which is really not a vitamin but a hormone, in sufficient daily doses can help protect against breast cancer.

Because for the last year I have been focusing my work in integrative medicine through the lens of vitamin D, I would like to review in this article several of the studies showing the importance of sufficient vitamin D to protect against breast cancer.

The Lappe Prospective study of Vitamin D and cancer prevention

In this study, Joan Lappe PhD, RN and colleagues looked prospectively at more than 400 postmenopausal women over a four-year period of time. In one group the women were given 1100 IU of vitamin D and 1000 mg of calcium daily. The control group did not receive this. The results of the study were that the women who took the vitamin D and calcium over the ensuing four years reduced their rate of cancer by an amazing 60%. In fact the authors looked in more detail and found that for every 10 ng/ml increase in a woman’s vitamin D blood level, the relative risk of cancer dropped by 35%. These data were not limited to breast cancer but included all cancers.

Goodwin Study

In this study originally presented in 2008, Pamela Goodwin, M.D. and colleagues, retrospectively looked at more than 500 women over a period of 11 years. What she and her colleagues found was that those women who had been deficient in vitamin D at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis were 73% more likely to die from breast cancer than those with sufficient vitamin D at the time of diagnosis. In addition those that were deficient in vitamin D at the time of their diagnosis of breast cancer were almost twice as likely to have recurrence or spread over those years.

My wife and I had the pleasure to listen to an interview of one of the authors of this article. Much to our shock and chagrin the author pointed out that because the study was retrospective they would never recommend that a woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer take more than the minimum daily requirement (RDA) of vitamin D. They specifically said that they would never recommend additional vitamin D until more randomized placebo-controlled prospective studies were done. This will take an additional 5 to 10 years.

When I presented this information to my staff of mostly women they too were shocked that in light of the data the researcher was not recommending newly diagnosed breast cancer patients take additional vitamin D.

In my own practice of medicine, I have never had a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient who came to me for integrative medicine support of her breast cancer diagnosis, have a vitamin D level measured by her oncologist. What is wrong with this picture?

Epidemiological Study about breast cancer

In a major epidemiological study by Cedric Garland PhD and others, the researchers exhaustively reviewed the medical literature on the relationship between breast cancer and vitamin D levels. According to the analysis done in this article, if women kept their vitamin D blood levels at approximately 52 ng/ml, we could expect a 50% reduction in the risk of breast cancer.

In light of this study I endeavor to keep all of my patients who have a high risk for breast cancer or who have had breast cancer already above a blood level of 52 ng/ml.

So what should we do?

The gold standard for medical decision making is the randomized placebo-controlled double-blind prospective study. The study I presented above by Dr. Lappe is one of the few such prospective studies that have already been published using vitamin D. Of course more are on the way.

So the question arises should a woman raise her blood levels higher than the current national average, and will she be harmed by taking a dose of vitamin D that allows her to do this?

My position, and the position of many vitamin D researchers is that because vitamin D is so inexpensive and because the relative risk of overdose of vitamin D is very small, what is the harm in raising women’s blood levels to protect against breast cancer? We would only be raising her level into what is now recognized in the medical literature to be optimal. In my opinion, given that vitamin D overdose does not begin until blood levels of 100 ng/ml and more probably 150 ng/ml, what is the harm in women taking doses of vitamin D high enough to get their blood levels up this high, as long as they monitor their blood on a regular basis to assure there is no overdose?

The data is so strong and every year getting stronger. Why don’t we take action now? How many more women need to get breast cancer or die from it before we make a move?

As written about in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn, it takes many years or even decades, for new findings in science and medicine to take hold in a way that the population as a whole can benefit. In many cases this is because of an unreasonable need for certainty.

Arthur Schopenhauer, the famous philosopher, said this best when he stated: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

I believe we are in transition between the second and the third stages of Schopenhauer’s description in regards to vitamin D. Appropriate (higher) levels of vitamin D are being opposed but not violently so at this point in time. But just the same, these higher levels of vitamin D are still not yet encouraged by the majority of physicians.

Unfortunately I believe it will take another 5 to 10 years until the prospective studies are strong enough to convince the most conservative physicians of the benefits of this amazing vitamin, so that all Americans and all people of the world can benefit from what many of us see as a necessary dose of this very important vitamin.

But ask yourself if you need to wait that long?

I invite your comments and thoughts.

To your improving health!

Soram Khalsa, M.D., has practiced integrative medicine and been a member of the medical staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center for over 30 years. He is a clinical professor of medicine at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a member of the Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council for the state of California.

He is the author of The Vitamin D Revolution and writes a blog on the newest findings about vitamin D.

You can follow him on Twitter. Or become a fan of his on Facebook.



Thought for Thursday

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Hello all! It’s the first day of football pre-season, yay! I hope that everyone is making the best of their Thursday. Here is a great life quote to hopefully put a smile on your face and make your day a little brighter!

Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told:  “I am with you kid.  Let’s go.”  ~Maya Angelou