Fall Squash Soup

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Chinese Medicine considers winter squash such as kombucha, delicata, seminole pumpkin, and butternut to be some of the healthiest foods around. They have special properties to balance the blood sugar, and taste great!  Here is one of my favorite recopies for squash soup.  It is very easy, and you can use any variety of winter squash you like.  My favorite is the Seminole Pumpkin because it is grown locally and organically by my friend Jim Hunter over at South Seminole Farm and Nursery.  I hope that you enjoy!

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 medium shallots, minced (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 3 pounds butternut squash, kombucha squash, or seminole pumpkin (about 1 large), unpeeled, squash halved lengthwise, seeds and stringy fibers scraped with spoon and reserved (about 1/4 cup), and each half cut into quarters
  • 6 Cups water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until foaming; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash scrapings and seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and butter turns saffron color, about 4 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, place squash cut-side down in steamer basket, and lower basket into pot. Cover and steam until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes. Off heat, use tongs to transfer squash to rimmed baking sheet; reserve steaming liquid. When cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape flesh from skin into medium bowl; discard skin.
  2. Pour reserved steaming liquid through mesh strainer into second bowl; discard solids in strainer. Rinse and dry Dutch oven.
  3. In blender, puree squash and reserved liquid in batches, pulsing on low until smooth. Transfer puree to Dutch oven; stir in cream, brown sugar, and optional seasonings if desired, and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add salt to taste; serve immediately.

Source:  Silky Butternut Squash Soup, from Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required)

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Research shows that Artificial Sweeteners increase blood sugar, May lead to Diabetes

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The journal Nature has recently published an article that shows that artificial sweeteners increase blood sugar, and may lead to type 2 diabetes as directly as eating sugar does. The use of artificial sweeteners has been a contentious topic for decades. The new research, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, finds that differences in gut microbes may explain why some people can handle artificial sweeteners just fine while for others the sweeteners lead to blood sugar problems.

The human digestive system is home to millions of microbes, largely bacteria, that help digest food and play a major role in one’s health.

Eran Elinav, who studies the link between an individual’s immune system, gut microbes and health at the Weizmann Institute admitted that his research has soured him on sweetening the coffee he needs to get through his day.  “I’ve consumed very large amounts of coffee and extensively used sweeteners, thinking that they were at least not harmful and perhaps even beneficial,” Elinav said at a telephone news conference Tuesday. “Given the surprising result we got in our study, I made a decision to stop using artificial sweeteners.”

Artificial sweeteners are not digested, so it was assumed that there would be no way for them to lead to diabetes. Microbes commonly found in the human gut, however, seem to be affected by these indigestible sugars.  In a series of experiments in mice and people, the researchers examined the interaction between gut microbes and consumption of the sweeteners aspartame (found in NutraSweet and Equal), sucralose (found in Splenda) and saccharine (found in Sweet’n Low). Depending on the types of microbes they had in their intestines, some people and mice saw a two to fourfold increase in blood sugars after consuming the artificial sweeteners for just a short time. These increased levels of blood sugar can easily lead to diabetes over time.

Researchers began by testing the three widely used sweeteners in mice. Some mice got one of the artificial sweeteners in their water, and others got sugar water or just water. After 11 weeks, researchers gave all the mice a dose of sugar and monitored the response in their blood sugar levels.

“The magnitude of the differences were not just a few percentages. These were very dramatic differences,” said Eran Segal, a study co-author who is a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute.

A diet study of 400 people found that those who consumed the most artificial sweeteners were more likely to have problems controlling blood sugar.

In another part of the study, researchers gave seven individuals a high dose of saccharin, 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, the Food and Drug Administration’s maximum daily intake, for 6 consecutive days.  Four of these individuals also began showing signs of glucose intolerance.  The researchers report suggested that artificial sweeteners “may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact [diabetes] epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”

So next time you want a diet drink reach for a water and add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando? Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

sources: Karen Weintraub,  USA TODAY 9/18/14  Nature.com

Hidden Health Risks in Beauty Products

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Europe’s regulatory system bans close to 1,400 ingredients in cosmetic products, including carcinogens like parabens and toxic chemicals that can cause reproductive and developmental-health risks. The United States bans 11. Here are the top few on the watch list from Consumer Reports, found in their publication, ShopSmart.

  • Formaldehyde releasers and 1,4 dioxane, both possible carcinogens, may be found in some anti-wrinkle creams, mascaras, makeup removers, hair conditioners and body washes. They can contain preservatives that release formaldehyde over time when mixed with water. Avoid products with quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin listed as ingredients.
  • Phthalates. Diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is found in fragrance, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a plasticizer in nail polish, have both been deemed toxic by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Steer clear of products with ingredients lists that include the word “fragrance,” and look for nail polishes that do not have DEP or DBP in the ingredients lists.
  • Triclosan and Triclocarban. Found in hand and body washes, deodorants, toothpastes, and some cosmetics, these antibacterial agents can affect reproductive growth and developmental systems. Choose products that do not list triclosan or triclocarban on their ingredients list.

 

Solution: Lisa Freeman, the editor of Consumer Report’s ShopSmart Magazine, says the easiest way to avoid phthalates, formaldehyde, nanomaterials and other potentially harmful chemicals is to shop for health and beauty aids at Whole Foods Market.Toxic Chemicals

Meaningful Labels

The terms “natural,” “dermatologist tested,” and “hypoallergenic” aren’t meaningful because they aren’t independently verified. Below are some examples of terms and seals that are legit according to ShopSmart’s safety experts:

  • USDA Organic. Requires that at least 95 percent of the ingredients be organically grown and prohibits the use of all potentially harmful synthetic ingredients.
  • Natural Products Association Certified (NPA) and Design for the Environment (DfE).Standards include bans on triclosan, phthalates, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde releasers.
  • Non-GMO Project Verified. The product contains no genetically engineered ingredients. 

Beauty Product Shopping Apps

When shopping for beauty products, ShopSmart recommends using these free apps to evaluate ingredients and help narrow down choices: Think Dirty, Skin Deep Cosmetics, and GoodGuide.

 

Sources: http://www.courant.com/business/connecticut/hc-bottom-line-cosmetics-hazards-20140721,0,7142273.column – The Courrant – 7/21/14, http://pressroom.consumerreports.org/pressroom/2014/07/my-entry-2.html – Consumer Reports – 7/15/14

Acupuncture keeps Pitchers in the game

Acupuncture Pitcher
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As acupuncture becomes more mainstream even the Texas Rangers are going with acupuncture to keep pitcher Yu Darvish in the lineup. Davish was Scratched from baseball due to neck pain and stiffness, but he used acupuncture to get back on the mound. There is plenty of research that explains why acupuncture is so popular among professional athletes. A study of 60 patients with cervical spondylosis responded with a 98.3% total effective rate as a result of acupuncture treatment. A total of 43 of the 60 patients were completely cured. Another 16 patients demonstrated significant improvement. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and is both “reliable” and “worthy of promotion.”

Acupuncture has been found to improve muscle mass. Research demonstrates that acupuncture “recovered the skeletal muscle mass” and “ameliorated skeletal muscle atrophy by affecting mRNA” Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish is following a time honored sports tradition and is staying ahead of the competition by using the most appropriate medicine possible to keep his arm in shape. He is not the only pitcher to get the acupuncture advantage.

A.J. Burnett waited to sign with the New York Yankees until they agreed to hire a team acupuncturist. Burnett knows how to protect an investment – his arm! He went from from one of baseball’s most injury-plagued players into one of its most reliable, a drastic change he attributes to his use of acupuncture. On a pitching staff that featured renowned grinders such as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, Burnett was the only member of the Yankees rotation who didn’t miss a single inning to injury. “I found that I responded really well to the acupuncture, how that treated my body and my nerves, and the release of stress,” Burnett said.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Randy Johnson had one of the longest baseball careers in history and received acupuncture from the team acupuncturist. Morten Anderson, former field goal kicker for the Atlanta Falcons, received two acupuncture treatments per week as part of his ongoing healthcare program. He retired from professional football at age 48 as the NFL’s leading scorer. How many people can last that long in the NFL? Acupuncture helped to maintain the integrity of his priceless foot.

Gymnast Nastia Liukin took home a gymnastics women’s all-around Olympic gold medal after using acupuncture for the treatment of an ankle injury. Other athletes using acupuncture during their professional careers include: Joe Montana, Michael Strahan, Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Kidd, Vladimir Radmonovic, Fred Couples, Gary Player, Kevin Johnson, Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, Hot Rod Williams, Jeff Hornacek and Grant Hill.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando? Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Sources: India Song-Jie. “Analysis acupuncture shoulder and neck muscles to treating the starting and ending point.” Clinical research 6 (2014).
Li. “Vertebral artery type cervical spondylosis clinical observation 60 cases electro-acupuncture treatment.” TCM Clinical Research 7 (2014).
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Volume 410, Issue 3, 8 July 2011, Pages 434–439. Acupuncture ameliorated skeletal muscle atrophy induced by hindlimb suspension in mice. A. Ondaa, et al
http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1319-texas-rangers-back-with-acupuncture#sthash.2ohOepFi.dpuf
http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2010/05/yankees_starter_aj_burnett_cre.html

Yet Another Hospital adds Acupuncture to their cancer protocol

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I was so excited to read this article about another hospital adding Acupuncture to their facility that I had to put it on my Blog.

Everyday more doctors are recommending acupuncture therapy to their patients for more than just pain relief. One of the most common uses of acupuncture in Western Medicine arena has been with cancer patients. Another hospital, this one at the University of Colorado, has included acupuncture as part of their treatment protocol for cancer patients. This represents a merging the ancient medicine with the latest modern medical techniques. Other University hospitals that integrate acupuncture and conventional treatments include the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State, the University of Texas, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Miami, and Stanford University.

Joseph VanZale is receiving acupuncture on a regular basis as part of his cancer treatment. He says it is already helping him to cope with the side effects of chemotherapy. “My energy and my weight was going down at an incredible level.” But after weeks of acupuncture treatment by Dr. Ban Wong things have improved. VanZale says, “I’m walking without a cane, longer distances, the other day I got on a treadmill.” VanZale says acupuncture is crucial to relieving stress and the interaction with Dr. Wong lifts his spirits. Many say creating innovative medicine has been a long time coming. It’s something that gives the patient the best of both worlds.

Dr. Wong, a University Of Colorado Hospital Chinese medicine specialist, says acupuncture increases blood circulation, which can have a rejuvenating effect for patients battling nausea and other side effects of conventional cancer treatments. He says, “Studies using functional MRIs show when we do acupuncture our brain actually responds and different areas of the brain light up.” Jordan Mann, who works in the Integrative Medicine branch of the hospital says, “Traditional ancient medicine with western current medicine are bringing people the best chance they have to get well and stay well and prevent illness in the first place.” Joseph’s wife Monica says she can’t believe the difference in her husband of 48 years and is grateful that the University Of Colorado Hospital is “modern” enough to bring these two practices together for the good of patients. She says, “We have a really good normal life. Our new normal is great.”

Source: Shaul Turner, Fox 31 KDVR, 3/13/14 http://kdvr.com/2014/03/13/cu-hospital-uses-accupuncture-as-part-of-cancer-treatment/

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Western Medicine catches up to 3,000 year old Chinese Wisdom that Ice delays healing.

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In 1978, Gabe Mirkin, MD coined the term RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Health care practitioners and laypersons alike are quick to recognize RICE as the ‘gold standard’ treatment for acute injury. All of my patients know that in Chinese Medicine we seldom recommend Ice for any injury. Now the very same physician who coined the term RICE, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, is admitting that there is a lack of evidence to support the therapeutic use of Ice.

Dr. Mirkin describes how ice delays healing in his 3/2014 Article, Why Ice Delays Recovery. “Inflammatory cells rush to injured tissue to start the healing process. The inflammatory cells called macrophages release a hormone called Insulin-like growth Factor (IGF-1) into the damaged tissues, which helps muscles and other injured parts to heal. However, applying ice to reduce swelling actually delays healing by preventing the body from releasing IGF-1.” He goes on to say that, “anything that reduces your immune response will also delay muscle healing. Thus, healing is delayed by: cortisone-type drugs, almost all pain-relieving medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, immune suppressants that are often used to treat arthritis, cancer or psoriasis, applying cold packs or ice, and anything else that blocks the immune response to injury.”

Why is Ice therapy recommended so often if there is little evidence that it works? Well old habits die hard people, physicians, therapists, and laypersons alike are used to the RICE protocol, and so they continue to use it. The science supports the 3,000 year old Chinese theory that blood flow is the key to health and injury healing. Activities that increase blood flow such as acupuncture, stretching, and exercise improve tissue healing and repair, speeding up healing. Things that that limit blood flow, such steroid and non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications, ice, and compression impair or slow the healing process.

Even the National Athletic Trainer’s Association August 2013 position statement on the management of ankle sprains states that there is “limited” clinical evidence for ice therapy. However, they found stronger evidence that functional rehabilitation, proprioception, and balance exercises improve healing.

So, yes, it seems like “everybody” other than your Acupuncturist recommends ice for injuries. Now you know that “everybody” might not have read the research.

Sources: RICE: The End of an Ice Age, April 4, 2014 by Joshua Stone stoneathleticmedicine.com/2014/04/rice-the-end-of-an-ice-age/ http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/ankle-sprains.pdf

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Exercise is better than drugs for 3 of the top 4 causes of Death in the US

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It is obvious and amazing at the same time.  Obvious because we all know that exercise is “good for us”.  Amazing because prescription drugs are often the first thing prescribed for most of these conditions, and not exercise.  The kicker is that not only does the exercise work as well if not better, the potential “side effects” of exercise are pretty much all good ones, more energy, less stress, improved physical appearance, etc.  Whereas, most prescription medications have many possible negative side effects.  I thought this was a great study when it came out in Oct, 2013 and below is a copy of the Health Report I put out in my clinic about it.

Exercise is as effective as medications for preventing diabetes and repeat heart attacks, and it is potentially better than medication for averting additional strokes, according to an analysis published in 2013. The large-scale investigation found doctors had a better chance of preventing death in patients recovering from a heart attack or stroke by prescribing light fitness instead of pills. It is the first time scientists have compared the benefits of exercise with heart medication such as statins and beta blockers. Examining data on 340,000 patients who had been diagnosed with heart disease, chronic heart failure, a stroke or diabetes, the findings published in the British Medical Journal have been touted as revolutionary.

Researchers analyzed previous studies and found no marked change between the outcome of exercise and drugs for people who have diabetes or heart disease.  For stroke victims, the research swung overwhelmingly in favor of exercise, showing it was far more likely to prevent death than drugs. The study leader Huseyin Naci, of LSE Health and Harvard Medical School, said more people are consuming prescription drugs but far fewer are exercising. “Exercise is a potent strategy to save and extend life in coronary heart disease and other conditions,” said Mr. Naci, “We think exercise can be considered or should be considered as a viable alternative or in combination with drug therapy.”

The results showed that in three of the four conditions studied, exercise was as effective as, or possibly more effective than, drug treatments. This wasn’t the case for heart failure, a progressive weakening of the heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of body. Exercise has also been shown to be helpful in the short term in a number of other conditions, including depression, cognition, blood pressure and cancer treatment. Mr. Naci and his colleagues plan to study some of these other diseases in future work. He cautioned that patients with existing health conditions should talk to their doctor before stopping medication.
Sources: New York Times online, Wall Street Journal Online, and CDC.gov  http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5577   – BMJ study.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando?  Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com