Monthly Archives: March 2016

Avocados: The Good Kind of Fat

Ever since fat has been exonerated as the sole cause of weight gain (and other health problems), avocados have boomed in popularity. For many, they’re a go-to healthy fat source; for others, they can be a bit intimidating, especially if you don’t know how to choose and prepare them. This week, we’re going to give you the avocado run-down: different types, why avocados are earning their rightful spot on the health conscious person’s plate; and how to choose a perfectly ripe one. We’re also going to share a couple of our favorite, simple recipes that make it a breeze for you to include this healthy fat in your diet.

avocado

Avocado Basics

The avocado, which is also referred to as the alligator pear, is actually a fruit – and it belongs to the laurel family, Lauraceae. There are several dozen avocado varieties, but only three major categories: Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian. The most popular type of avocado – and the one you’re probably most familiar with seeing in the grocery store – is the Hass avocado. It has a brownish black skin and a pebbled appearance (when ripe).

Why You Want to Eat Avocados

Avocados are most well-known for being rich in monounsaturated fats. They’re particularly rich in a certain type of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which can increase good cholesterol levels and promote heart health. They’re also a rich source of vitamin K, which is important for proper blood clotting, and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Avocados also provide vitamin E, vitamin C, fiber, and folate.

Because they are a rich source of unsaturated fat, avocados are also extremely filling. A few slices of avocado on your salad or a dollop of guacamole on your rice will fill you up faster, and keep you full longer, than a meal that contains no fat at all.

Selection Tips

When choosing avocados, we always like to go with an array of ripeness so we can eat them throughout the week and they’ll be perfect every time. If we’re using the avocado right away, we make sure it’s ripe and ready to go. If it’s going to be a few days until we get to it, it’s best to choose an avocado that’s not quite ripe yet. Here’s how you know the difference:

A ripe avocado will be dark in color and slightly soft with no visible sunken areas or cracks in the skin. Avocados that are not quite ripe will be lighter in color – looking more green than black – and be very firm to the touch.

Because avocados ripen quickly, it’s best to purchase unripe avocados if you’re planning to store them for a later time. On the other hand, if you need to speed up the ripening process, you can store an avocado in a brown paper bag at room temperature. Once the avocado is ripe, you can delay the ripening process by refrigerating it until you are ready to eat it. If you’re only using a portion of the avocado, squeeze a small amount of lemon juice on the unused portion, wrap it in plastic or put it in a plastic bag, and store it in the refrigerator.

Now that you know HOW to choose an avocado and WHY you should be adding it to your daily diet, check out our next blog post for some of our favorite recipes. Spoiler alert: they will be quick, easy, and delicious!

Everybody (Should) Poop: Relief for Constipation

Yes, we all do it, but that doesn’t make the subject any less taboo. People rarely talk about it, yet research shows that 74 percent of Americans are living with problems with it. If you haven’t guessed it by now, we’re talking about poop.

VM Bathroom

We know that the word probably makes you cringe. It’s something that you don’t often discuss with others, but your digestive health is one of the major keys to your health. If you’re not eliminating properly, it’s impossible for you to feel your best. Digestive issues can vary, but one of the most prevalent is constipation – a complaint that affects up to 42 million Americans.

Constipation comes in different forms. You may have hard stools, or have to strain during bowel movements. You may not be able to go at all. The Mayo Clinic defines constipation as having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week, but in theory, a healthy digestive system allows you to eliminate at least after every meal – up to 3 times per day.

There are many things that can cause one to feel constipated – a low-fiber diet, lack of exercise, not drinking enough water. For many of you, the issue is probably a combination of all of the above. We know it’s hard to feel your best when you’re stopped up, so we put together this list of things that you can do to get things moving again.

Tip 1: Eat a diet high in fiber. Fiber helps the body form a soft, bulky stools that are easier to pass. If your diet is lacking in fiber right now, increase your intake gradually. It takes time for your body to get used to excess fiber, and if you increase your intake too quickly, it can result in other digestive complaints like painful bloating and gas. Aim for a goal of 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat. If you’re on a 1,500 calorie diet, this means you need 21 grams of fiber each day. Choose whole-grains, fresh fruits, dried fruits, beans, bran cereals and vegetables. Avoid white flour, processed foods, cheese, meat and dairy, which are lacking in fiber and can actually contribute to constipation.

Tip 2: Make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, which help soften the stool. Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day and stay away from soda and fruit juices, which contain large amounts of sugar and can contribute to weight gain. If you drink caffeinated beverages, like tea or coffee, add an extra cup of water for every caffeinated drink.

Tip 3: Exercise regularly. You may not associate exercise with your bowels, but exercise helps to stimulate intestinal activity, making it easier for the stool to move through the digestive system. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like walking, biking, swimming, or stair climbing, per day.

Tip 4: Never ignore the urge for a bowel movement. We know that life gets busy and sometimes you may feel like you have to go at an inopportune time, but do your best to go when you feel like you have to go. Ignoring the urge to pass a bowel movement contributes to constipation so when you feel that urge, find a restroom right away.

Tip 5: Set aside time for bathroom use. Giving yourself enough time to pass a bowel movement is an important factor in alleviating constipation. Train your body to use the restroom at approximately the same time every day by giving yourself some time in the bathroom at certain hours. Following a set schedule can help regulate the body’s digestive cycle.

Tip 6: Take probiotics. Probiotics help balance the ratio of bacteria in your gut, regulating your digestive system and boosting your immune system. All probiotics are not created equal, though, so make sure you choose a high-quality probiotic.

Caution: Use laxatives only as a last resort. While laxatives may provide some immediate relief, the results are temporary and they are not without side effects. Laxatives can be habit-forming and overuse may decrease the body’s ability to have an unassisted bowel movement. If you must use a laxative, choose bulk-forming laxatives, rather than stimulant laxatives, which work by adding water and bulk to the stool so that they can pass more easily through your digestive system.

 

5 More Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

Last week, we discussed some of the most common roadblocks to weight loss. You know, those things that sneak in under the radar even when you’re “doing everything right”. If you’ve gone through that list and haven’t had your “ah-ha” moment yet, keep reading. Here are 5 more things you might be doing to sabotage your weight loss, without even realizing it.

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1. You Skimp on Veggies

Veggies are chock-full of nutrients that keep you healthy, but that’s not the only reason we love them. Veggies are also low in energy density. This means that they are both extremely filling, but very low in calories, so you can eat enough of them to keep you full without adding a lot of extra calories to your day. Start your meals with a green salad and make sure that at least half of your plate is covered with non-starchy vegetables, like spinach, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and green beans.

2. You Never Cook

Eating out can be a gamble, even if you’re choosing “healthy” options. The problem with eating out is you have little to no control over the finished product. Even a healthy meal may be cooked with ingredients you’re trying to avoid, like certain oils or butter, which can contribute unwanted calories and fat. If you’re eating most of your meals out of the home, try to spend a little more time in the kitchen. We know that you’re busy, but if you can commit to a few hours in the kitchen a week – and you spend some time meal-planning – you can make a major difference in your diet for the week.

3. You Eat Meals “Family Style”

Eating “family style” means that when you cook a meal, you bring everything over to the table – a roasting pan full of chicken, a bowl full of mashed potatoes, and a pan full of green beans – and allow everyone to serve themselves. The problem with this is that when the food is easily accessible, you tend to eat more. Instead of eating this way, leave everything in the kitchen and fix your plate there (paying attention to your portion sizes). Research shows that doing this may help you eat up to 19 percent fewer calories.

4. You Eat Too Close to Bedtime

Eating too late at night can increase body temperature, blood sugar, and insulin levels, which makes it more difficult for your body to burn fat, both while you’re sleeping and the next day. Try to eat at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you have to snack, choose a slow-digesting carbohydrate, like an apple, which doesn’t spike blood sugar and is loaded with fiber that can help keep you full.

5. You Have an Un-diagnosed Medical Issue

If your only issue is an inability to lose weight and you have no other symptoms, this probably doesn’t apply to you, but we thought it was worth mentioning anyway. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and up to 60 percent of those affected don’t even know they have a problem! In addition to other symptoms, like fatigue and brain fog, hypothyroidism, or an under-active thyroid, can prevent you from losing weight. If you’ve checked off everything on this list and the list from last week and you’re still not seeing results, ask your doctor to check your thyroid to make sure it’s functioning properly.

5 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

When you’re eating healthy and following a regular exercise routine, there is nothing that’s more frustrating than a scale that refuses to budge. Sure, you may be experiencing other benefits, like increased energy, less bloating, and a happier mood, but let’s be honest here, one of the things that keeps you motivated is seeing your weight drop. If you’re not seeing the results you want, it’s going to be harder and harder to stick to your plan.

weight

We’re going to assume that you’re doing everything “right”, yet still having trouble dropping those pounds. By “doing everything right”, we mean that you’re staying within your calorie needs, avoiding excess sugar, and exercising regularly. If you’re doing all three of those things and still not seeing results, read on. If you’re NOT doing those three things, revamp your plan and revisit this article if needed down the road.

1. You Don’t Drink Enough Water

We had to put water first on the list because it does so much for you that you could probably see better results just by upping your intake, even if you changed nothing else. Not only does water keep you hydrated, which helps reduce bloat, it also has been shown to slightly speed up your metabolism. Some studies found that drinking water before meals may even help you eat fewer calories during those meals. Aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces. So if you’re 200 pounds, you want to drink 100 ounces of water per day.

2. You Overeat

Just because a food is “good for you” doesn’t mean you can eat an unlimited amount. Calories still add up, whether they come from grilled chicken or a piece of cake. If you’re regularly over-eating healthy foods, it’s going to hinder your progress and may even contribute to weight gain. Another thing you have to be mindful of is that some healthy foods, like nuts, olives, and avocados, are high in both fat and calories. Because of this, the recommended serving size is fairly small. Make sure you’re paying attention to portions and not overdoing it.

3. You’re Not Incorporating Strength Training

Many people avoid strength training and do only cardiovascular exercise for fear of “bulking up” rather than slimming down. If you’re one of these people, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Strength-training increases muscle mass, which helps you burn more calories and fat, even long after you’re done exercising for the day. Strength-training also strengthens the bones and joints, making you more limber and helping to prevent injury.

4. You’re Not Utilizing a Support System

It doesn’t matter how strong or determined you are, weight loss is typically harder when you lack a support system of some kind. If you don’t have a partner or a group of friends that support what you’re doing – and may even have the same goals – it can be detrimental to your weight loss success. Find a buddy to take the health journey with you. If you don’t have someone at home you can lean on, we at Valley Medical would be happy to provide you with the support you need.

5. You Don’t Sleep Enough

Sleep is incredibly important for weight loss. Sleep not only helps balance the hormones that are responsible for making you feel hungry or full, it also helps energize you so that you’re able to get through your workouts more efficiently. You’re also more likely to make healthier choices when you’re well-rested.

Doing all of these things and still feel like you’re hitting a wall? Check back next week for 5 more reasons you can’t lose weight.

Healthy Recipe: Taco Stuffed Peppers

We’re always looking for healthy, weeknight dinners that offer a little variety without taking FOREVER to prepare. These taco stuffed peppers are quick and easy and use ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. Feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking by adding extra veggies to the turkey mixture or swapping out the meat for black beans.

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What You Need:

  1. ½ cup quinoa
  2. 1 cup chicken stock
  3. 1 TBSP chili powder
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp ground black pepper
  6. 5 tsp ground cumin
  7. ½ tsp paprika
  8. ¼ tsp dried oregano
  9. ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  10. ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  11. ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  12. 1 TBSP olive oil
  13. 1 small onion, minced
  14. 1 lb. ground turkey
  15. 1 cup spinach, chopped
  16. 3 orange bell peppers (or any color peppers of your choice)
  17. 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

What To Do:

  1. Thoroughly rinse quinoa and combine with chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Combine all seasonings in a bowl and mix until incorporated.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and seasoning mixture to onions and cook until meat is no longer pink. Add chopped spinach and stir until spinach is wilted.
  4. Remove from heat, add salsa and quinoa and stir until combined.
  5. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and arrange cut side up in a 9 x 13 in. baking dish. Scoop filling into each pepper and sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 400°F, and continue cooking for another 30 minutes.
  7. Top with cilantro, if desired.

Product of the Month! Pure Encapsulations Liver GI Detox

In like a lion, out like a lamb! March is here and that means that spring and summer are right around the corner. We know what you’re thinking, it crept up on us too, but there’s still time to feel great and get in shape before we officially welcome the warmest months of the year.

As always, our monthly special includes:

Physician Consult & Weekly Weigh-ins
Meal Plans
FDA Approved Medications
MetaBlast Supplements
Craveaway Supplements
Weekly Upgraded Injection of B-12
Bi-Weekly Injection of Lipo X
Full Body Analysis on our BODYCOMP Scale

And for the special product for March: PURE ENCAPSULATIONS LIVER GI DETOX!

VM Liver

With this special you receive 4 WEEKS of everything listed above for only $295 (that’s a savings of over $200) – and we’ll throw in the Liver GI Detox for FREE!

At this point, you may be thinking “What is Liver GI Detox and how can it help me get summer ready?” We’re glad you asked!

Your liver is one of your body’s major detoxification pathways. It cleans and filters your blood, breaking down substances like ammonia, alcohol, chemicals, medications, and metabolic waste products, so that your body can eliminate them.

Your gastrointestinal (or GI) tract is another major pathway for detoxification. It allows you to absorb the good stuff (like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals) and then prepares the waste products for excretion (we won’t go into further detail here, but you can probably guess what we’re talking about).

When either of these detoxification pathways isn’t working properly, toxic waste can accumulate in your body. Over this, this toxic buildup can actually stall your weight loss. The Pure Encapsulations Liver-GI Detox helps to stimulate both liver and gastrointestinal detoxification so that your body is properly removing toxins as it should. The supplement contains N–acetyl–l–cysteine and alpha lipoic acid — two antioxidants that help bind heavy metals and boost the production of glutathione (another antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage). The supplement also contains:

  • Sulforaphane — a compound that comes from broccoli sprouts and helps maintain healthy colon function.
  • Glycine, taurine, and methionine — amino acids that help neutralize toxins.
  • L–Glutamine — an amino acid that helps you absorb nutrients and keeps your intestinal tract healthy.
  • Artichoke extract — promotes healthy flow of bile, supports liver cells and blood flow in the liver, and helps move things along the digestive tract for elimination.
  • Chlorella — a green “superfood” that helps clean and purify the blood.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of this special offer and signing up for our monthly special, drop in or call us at either one of our locations to find out more!

Phoenix: 602-374-3374
Tempe: 480-968-5673