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JA N U A RY 2017

for LIFE

energy boosters


Weight-loss supplements Acupuncture explained Tips on detoxing

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14 move out of the funk

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January 2017 vol.13 no. 1

18 10

14 energy boosters feature

Recover from the holidays.

departments 6 From the Editor’s Desk 9 Health Pulse

Omegas improve reading skills • Garlic may slow cardiovascular disease • Vitamins down, supplements gain • Green tea improves cholesterol • More

18 In Focus

The latest on acupuncture.

21 The Goods 26 Supplement Spotlight Probiotics aid weight loss.

29 Herbal Healing

Start the year off right with a healthy cleanse.

30 Postscript

Exercise physiologist Tom Holland discusses ways to maximize your workout.

Cover: Cacao beans and powder

A source for news, information, and ideas for your healthy lifestyle. www.remedies-and-recipes.com



January 2017

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from the editor ’s desk

remedies for LIFE

Energetic Living January’s a great time to catch up on reading, watch movies, play board games with friends and family, and do all sorts of other things we don’t find time for in the warmer months. But too much of a good thing is still too much, and there’s a limit to how much hunkering down we should be doing any time of year. Do you need a little energy boost to keep up your fitness regime or work schedule? Herbalist and author Maria Noël Groves offers pointers on herbal help for those whose vim and vigor have disappeared, starting on page 14. Did you know that acupuncture relies on the flow of energy as well? The places on the body where the tiny, therapeutic needles are inserted run along energetic pathways believed to transmit pain signals, among others. Writer Karen Lovett explores this care modality starting on page 18. Many of us also feel more weighed down than usual this time of year, either by literally added weight or by the sluggishness brought about by elevated toxins in our system. (Did anyone else overdo it during the holiday season?) Read up on ways to detox the body and lighten your load on page 29. And if you’re looking to actually lighten up, turn to page 30 to read fitness expert Tom Holland’s advice on what not to do at the gym. Or read about recent research pointing to the potential role of probiotics in weight loss on page 26. Enjoy your downtime during this slower-paced time of the year. When you need to get moving again, we at remedies hope these tips can help put the needed skip in your step! Warm wishes to you for a happy, healthy New Year!



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Chief Content Officer and Strategist Lynn Tryba Managing Editor Donna Moxley Contributing Editors Lisa Fabian, Rich Wallace Editorial Assistant Kelli Ann Wilson Art Director Michelle Knapp Custom Graphics Manager Donna Sweeney Business Development Director Amy Pierce Customer Service customerservice@tasteforlife.com Client Services Director—Retail Judy Gagne 800-677-8847 x128 Client Services Director—Advertising and Digital Ashley Dunk 800-677-8847 x190 Western Brand Promotions Director Shannon Dunn-Delgado 415-382-1665 Group Brand Promotions Director Bob Mucci 978-255-2062 Executive Director of Retail Sales and Marketing Anna Johnston (Anna.Johnston@TasteforLife.com) Retail Account Manager Kim Willard Founder and Chief Executive Officer T. James Connell

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FASN, FACN, CNS, professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University; Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director, American Botanical Council, editor/publisher of HerbalGram, senior editor, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs; C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, research geochemist, author, Natural Asthma Relief and Prevent, Treat, and Reverse Diabetes; Steven Foster, photographer, herbalist, and senior author of three Peterson Field Guides, author of 101 Medicinal Herbs, A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine and more, associate editor of HerbalGram, the journal of the American Botanical Council; John Neustadt, ND, founder of Montana Integrated Medicine, coauthor, A Revolution in Health Through Nutritional Biochemistry; Lisa Petty, RHN, RNCP, holistic nutrition consultant, author of Living Beauty and host of the health talk radio show Lisa Live; Dana Ullman, MPH, author of The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy and other titles on homeopathy; Marc Ullman, partner at Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, chairman, Legal Advisory Counsel, Natural Products Foundation; Amber Lynn Vitse, CN, is certified in Integrative Nutrition, a fusion bodyworker, and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and writes on health issues. remedies is published monthly by Taste for Life, 149 Emerald Street, Suite O, Keene, NH 03431, 603-283-0034 (fax 603-283-0141); ©2017 Connell Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. This magazine is not intended to provide medical advice on personal health conditions, nor to replace recommendations made by health professionals. The opinions expressed by contributors and sources quoted in articles are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Advertisers and advertising agencies assume liability for all content of advertising and for any claims arising therefrom. Information appearing in remedies may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express permission of the publisher.

Creative and Sales Offices: 149 Emerald Street, Suite O, Keene NH 03431 603-283-0034 Printed in the US on partially recycled paper.

The inks used to print the body of this publication contain a minimum of 20%, by weight, renewable resources.

Products advertised or mentioned in this magazine may not be available in all locations.

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healthpulse certain supplements on the rise

The use of multivitamin/minerals has declined nationally, but individual supplements have shown gains, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Fish oil, vitamin D, coenzyme Q10, and green tea extracts are among the supplements that have risen in popularity. Researchers pointed to numerous studies that have shown the health benefits of those supplements and others. The new report was based on surveys completed in 2012. The surveys determined that more than half of American adults were taking nutritional supplements. “Americans Are Changing Their Supplements of Choice,” https://MedlinePlus. gov, 10/11/16 ● “Trends in Dietary Supplement Use Among US Adults from 1999-2012,” JAMA, 10/11/16

did you know?

Seventy percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 use dietary supplements, according to a survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). “Every industry is talking about the millennials and the impact this generation will have,” said CRN’s Judy Blatman. “Our data show the impact is already being made on the dietary supplement industry as young adults are increasingly incorporating dietary supplements into their health regimens.” “Confidence, Trust in Supplements Stay High as Younger Consumer Usage Grows: CRN Data” by Stephen Daniells, www. NutraIngredients-USA.com, 11/1/16

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omegas can help with reading

Kids may see improvements in reading skills after taking supplements of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, according to a new study. Children with attention problems may gain even bigger benefits. Children ages 9 and 10 were tested for reading speed, ability to read nonsense words, and vocabulary. They then received the supplements or a placebo for three months. After that time, all of the participants took the omega supplements for three more months. “Even after three months, we could see that the children’s reading skills improved with the addition of fatty acids, compared with those who received the placebo,” said Mats Johnson, MD, PhD. He added that the cell membranes of the brain are largely made of polyunsaturated fats. “Our modern diet contains relatively little omega 3, which is believed to have a negative effect on our children when it comes to learning, literacy, and attention.” In a similar study, Finnish researchers found reading-skill benefits in kids who ate a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fats, and lower in sugary products. “Healthy Diet Boosts Children’s Reading Skills,” University of Eastern Finland, 9/13/16 ● “Omega-3 and Omega-6 Supplement Improves Reading for Children,” University of Gothenburg, 9/14/16

garlic for the heart

More than a dozen recent studies published in The Journal of Nutrition supported the idea that aged garlic extract (AGE) may help prevent the progression of cardiovascular disease. The studies cast light on AGE’s ability to lower blood pressure, regulate cholesterol levels, slow the progression of arterial calcification in people with coronary artery disease, reduce non-calcified plaque buildup in arteries, and thwart platelet aggregation. The supplement was also found to stimulate a healthy immune system. “Aged Garlic Extract Reduces Low Attenuation Plaque in Coronary Arteries of Patients with Metabolic Syndrome in a Prospective Randomized DoubleBlind Study” by S. Matsumoto et al., 2/16; “Aged Garlic Extract Suppresses the Development of Atherosclerosis . . .” by N. Morihara et al., 2/16, J Nutr ● “Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Shown to Reduce Arterial Plaque Buildup and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors,” Wakunaga of America, 10/1/16


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tea extract lowers cholesterol Taking a green tea extract for 12 months significantly improved cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women. The 936 participants in the study saw drops in circulating total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and non-HDL cholesterol. The women received a daily placebo or a supplement containing 1,315 milligrams (mg) of catechins from green tea, including 843 mg of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Their blood lipid levels were tested at the beginning of the study, after six months, and after a year. Those who took the supplement saw a 2.1 percent average reduction in total cholesterol and a 4.1 percent drop in LDL, while those who received the placebo saw small increases. The effects were stronger in women who had higher average levels of those blood lipids at the start. The supplement increased triglyceride levels by about 3.6 percent, but the increase was seen mostly in obese women who used statins. “Effects of Green Tea Catechin Extract on Serum Lipids in Postmenopausal Women . . .” by H. Samavat et al., Am J Clin Nutr, 11/2/16

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In January we recuperate and reset after the indulgence of the holidays. You might be feeling drained from late nights, booze, and cookie binges. Instead of slugging a pot of coffee, consider these more restorative energy boosters.

Key Nutrients

Various nutrients help you make energy on a cellular level: They include several B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. Meanwhile, low-level and overt deficiencies in B vitamins, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin C can manifest as fatigue and brain fog. A study of elders found that nutritional deficiencies are relatively common, with protein and vitamins C, D, E, and folate deficiencies being independently associated with increased frailty. Supplements generally work best if you’re initially deficient, whereas megadoses may be inappropriate and even harmful, as we are finding with iron and calcium. Consider a daily food-based multivitamin and co-enzyme B complex, and ask your doctor to check for nutrient deficiencies such as anemia and low vitamin D. Elders and women tend to be particularly low in key nutrients. Of course, eating a diet rich in high-nutrient foods such as dark leafy greens, a rainbow of colorful produce, fatty fish, liver, nuts, beans, and cooked mushrooms is also ideal, and the new year is a great time to clean up your diet.

Adaptogenic Herbs

A broad class of herbs known as adaptogens decreases fatigue, improves energy, and helps the body adapt to and resist the effects of stress. These are some of the most revered herbs worldwide. If you’re sluggish with brain fog or mood funk, or feel like you need a kick of energy, consider rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea). Rhodiola is one of our more stimulating adaptogens, with benefits for mental energy and cognitive health. Lowdose rhodiola capsules or tincture taken daily or as needed work well, though rhodiola may agitate someone who has insomnia, anxiety, or mania. If you’d prefer calm energy and deep vitality, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is more appropriate.

Ashwagandha is a nervous system tonic with the reputation of giving you the vitality of a stallion when taken daily for several months to a full year. Studies support its ability to improve mood, reduce fatigue, and improve physical strength. It also offers other benefits: Ashwagandha modestly boosts thyroid hormone function, eases anxiety, improves cognition, decreases inflammation and pain, and boosts libido, fertility, and sexual function. The classic dose is 1⁄4 to 1 teaspoon in hot milk or fatty milkalternative taken daily, though capsules, tinctures, and teas are also available. Use caution in hyperthyroid disease or nightshade sensitivity.

Caffeine with Benefits

Even though coffee has its perks, consider some other more broadly beneficial caffeine-containing drinks. Green tea offers small amounts of caffeine alongside robust antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and the calming amino acid theanine. It has been shown to improve cognition, and it’s less apt to disrupt sleep and aggravate irritability compared with coffee. Studies show that the simple ritual of enjoying a warm cup of tea can boost your mood. If you’d like something more rich and creamy, opt for hot cocoa, with pure cacao powder or dark chocolate, prepared traditionally. Chocolate’s antioxidant polyphenols have primarily shown benefits for cardiovascular health, but other research supports its feel-good effects on mood, mental energy, and possibly cognition. Maria Noël Groves, RH (AHG), is a registered clinical herbalist and freelance health journalist nestled in the pine forests of New Hampshire. She is the author of the book Body into Balance. Learn about herbs, distance consults, online classes, and more at www.WintergreenBotanicals.com.

Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston and Steven Maimes ($18.95, Healing Arts Press, 2007) ● Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism: Elite Herbs and Natural Compounds for Mastering Stress, Aging, and Chronic Disease by Donald Yance ($50, Healing Arts Press, 2013) ● “Consumption of Cocoa Flavanols Results in Acute Improvements in Mood and Cognitive Performance During Sustained Mental Effort” by A.B. Scholey et al., J Psychopharmacol, 10/10 ● “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study” by S. Dongre et al., Biomed Res Int, 2015 ● “Examining the Effect of Withania somnifera Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Recovery: A Randomized Controlled Trial” by S. Wankhede et al., J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2015 ● “Low Nutrient Intake is an Essential Component of Frailty in Older Persons” by B. Benedetta et al., Journal of Gerontology, 2006 ● “Metaphysics of the Tea Ceremony: A Randomized Trial Investigating the Roles of Intention and Belief on Mood While Drinking Tea” by Y.J. Shiah and D. Radin, Explore, 11/13 ● “Neural Effects of Green Tea Extract on Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex” by S. Borgwardt et al., Eur J Clin Nutr, 11/12 ● “Randomized Placebo-Controlled Adjunctive Study of an Extract of Withania somnifera for Cognitive Dysfunction in Bipolar Disorder” by K.N. Chengappa et al., J Clin Psychiatry, 11/13 ● “Understanding Anemia—Symptoms”; “Vitamin B12 Deficiency,” www.WebMD.com

January 2017

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in focus

acupuncture A complementary medicine

Chronic-pain sufferers may be growing a little sick and tired of traditional treatments. Pills, patches, ointments, injections—for some, these provide only partial relief, or they open the door for a parade of uninvited side effects. And as health officials prioritize drug-free pain-management options, doctors’ orders may be evolving. A new study examining 50 years’ worth of pain research supports the use of complementary medicines for some debilitating conditions. These include massage for neck pain and relaxation techniques, such as meditation, for migraines. The “complementary” lineup also includes a centuriesold pain-treatment staple in traditional Chinese medicine: acupuncture. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health used their review to determine that more often than not, acupuncture—the strategic practice of placing needles at specific body points to release energy—offers relief for people


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when combined with other treatments. The math behind the science suggests acupuncture plus yoga helps people with severe back pain, and acupuncture plus t’ai chi (an ancient Chinese meditation technique) may help people suffering from arthritis of the knee. Adding acupuncture to the standard menu of treatment options may be welcome news to doctors and patients alike, especially given the current opioid addiction crisis. And although small sample sizes and lack of participant diversity within the reviewed studies did reveal gaps that warrant further study, one lead researcher said the conclusions should serve as a starting point for doctors and patients to more seriously consider integrative treatments when tackling their pain-management planning.

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Here are some ways acupuncture is working in conjunction with other therapies. ■ Depression Researchers in the United Kingdom studied the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating moderate to severe depression in hundreds of men and women. Patients who underwent acupuncture or counseling—in addition to a regimen of traditional antidepressants—reported a significant reduction in average depression scores within the first six months of combined treatment, in comparison with the group that just took medication. Patients in another study, all of whom identified as having anxiety disorders or major depressive disorders, underwent auricular acupuncture (using needles to stimulate the outer ear) to compare its effectiveness to progressive muscle relaxation (a technique for systematically tensing and relaxing muscles). After four weeks of auricular acupuncture treatments, participants reported significant decreases in tension, anxiety, and anger or aggression. The data showed no real difference in the effects of the two treatments, and that both could be useful interventions for mood disorders. ■ Cancer Acupuncture may also be an effective complementary treatment for cancer patients. It has been recommended by the American Cancer Society to combat conventional therapy side effects, which include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anxiety, and nerve damage. Another study showed the effectiveness of electroacupuncture (the use of acupuncture needles carrying a


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mild electric current) against hot flashes, a common side effect for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. After two months, women reported 25 percent fewer and less severe hot flashes when compared with other participants who took more traditional drugs, or a placebo, or underwent simulated acupuncture. ■ High-risk pregnancy Women who are hospitalized following a high-risk pregnancy and delivery are subject to anxiety and stress that may be relieved through acupuncture and related integrative therapies, such as guided imagery, healing touch, massage, and reflexology. An analysis of studies on this topic shows women reporting up to 85 percent decreased pain and up to 91 percent decreased anxiety following therapy. ■ Stroke Some stroke sufferers have to battle mild problems with brain function after their episodes. To improve cognitive impairment, patients were given an antihypertension drug in combination with acupuncture treatments, which was found to be more successful in preventing vascular dementia and improving overall patient health than either treatment alone. ■ Other treatment While there is increasing evidence that acupuncture can be a valuable integrative treatment, there is research showing it may be an effective alternative therapy on its own.

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the goods don’t miss these products!

In one study, patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (which includes conditions such as emphysema and severe asthma) received acupuncture treatments in an effort to test the effect on walking distance and their overall quality of life. After eight weeks of needling, patients reported that they could breathe easier and had a feeling of improved health. And for some patients suffering from fibromyalgia, which stiffens muscles, tendons, and ligaments, acupuncture reduced their pain and depression; still others undergoing acupuncture for fibromyalgia reported improved vitality and mental health. ■ What’s next Clinical trials to discover even more possibilities for acupuncture are underway. There are positive signs that it may be a treatment for memory loss related to severe alcoholism, or even reduce symptoms associated with autism. —Karen Lovett “Acupuncture: Could it Become Everyday Practice in Oncology?” by A. Kilian-Kita et al., Contemp Oncol (Pozn), 2016 ● “Acupuncture for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) . . . ” by J. Feng et al., Medicine, 2016 ● “Acupuncture for Depression,” 12/9/13; “Acupuncture for Hot Flashes,” 9/5/16, www.DrWeilBlog.com ● “Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia” by Andrew Weil, MD, www.DrWeil. com, 8/1/16 ● “Acupuncture Reduces Memory Impairment and Oxidative Stress and Enhances Cholinergic Function in an Animal Model of Alcoholism” by N. Phunchago et al., J Acupunct Meridian Stud, 2/15 ● “As Opioid Epidemic Rages, Complementary Health Approaches to Pain Gain Traction” by J. Abbasi, JAMA, 11/2/16 ● “Auricular Acupuncture Versus Progressive Muscle Relaxation in Patients with Anxiety Disorders or Major Depression Disorder . . . ” by L. de Lorent et al., J Acupunct Meridian Stud, 9/16 ● “Efficacy and Safety Assessment of Acupuncture and Nimodipine to Treat Mild Cognitive Impairment After Cerebral Infarction . . . ” by S. Wang et al., BMC Complement Altern Med, 9/13/16 ● “EvidenceBased Evaluation of Complementary Health Approaches for Pain Management in the United States” by R.L. Nahin et al., www.MayoClinicProceedings.org, 9/16 ● “Integrative Therapies for Women with a High Risk Pregnancy During Antepartum Hospitalization” by M.L. Schlegel et al., MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs, 11-12/16 ● “Laser Acupuncture Improves Behavioral Disorders and Brain Oxidative Stress Status in the Valproic Acid Rat Model of Autism” by J. Khongrum and J. Wattanathorn, J Acupunct Meridian Stud, 8/2015 ● “Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Acupuncture,” www. WebMD.com, 3/8/16

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probiotics seen to reduce body mass

As the holiday season recedes in the rearview mirror, some of us are concerned about what all that celebrating has done to our own “rear view.” If you’ve added a few pounds, consider upping your intake of probiotics—the beneficial bacteria that can improve our gut health and help us shed weight. A new study determined that the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis ssp lactis 420 (B420) helped reduce body mass, waist circumference, and eating in overweight adults. Participants took the 10-billion-CFU supplement daily for six months and saw an average weight loss of three pounds compared to those who received a placebo. When paired with a prebiotic fiber supplement, the combination led to improvements in lean body mass as well. Several other recent studies have highlighted the slimming effects of healthful bacteria. Overweight individuals on a weight-loss diet achieved better results when eating yogurt that included strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and Lactobacillus casei. And women who took two capsules per day of Lactobacillus rhamnosus for 12 weeks lost significantly more weight and fat compared to a control group. Research has shown that consuming multiple species of probiotics can lead to greater weight-loss and body-mass effects. —Cameron Hendrix “Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 Supplementation on Weight Loss and Maintenance . . .” by M. Sanchez et al., Br J Nutr, 4/28/14 ● “Effect of Probiotics on Body Weight and Body-Mass Index . . .” by Q. Zhang et al., Int J Food Sci Nutr, 8/15 ● “Probiotic With or Without Fiber Controls Body Fat Mass . . .” by L.K. Stenman et al., EBioMedicine, 10/26/16 ● “RCT Supports B420 Probiotic’s Weight Management Benefits in Overweight Adults” by Adi Menayang, www.NutraIngredients-USA.com, 11/8/16

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herbal healing

cleaning up a new year detox

Looking to start off the year “clean”? We’ve just come off the season of overdoing: parties, family gatherings, buffets, tasty drinks . . . and our bodies, especially our livers, are probably screaming for us to stop.

But we can do better than that. In addition to returning to a healthier, steadier way of life in January, we can help our bodies recover from what we did to them in the last months of 2016 with a detox, or cleanse. Most cleanses concentrate on the liver, because it’s responsible for a great deal of the body’s own cleansing/ purging jobs. In addition to the detox suggestions below, consider these general tips as well: ■ Exercise enough to sweat. The skin is also a detox organ and eliminates toxins from the body by sweating. ■ Consume lots of fiber. This will help move bodily waste through the digestive system more quickly and thoroughly.

From the inside Signs that we’re overloaded with toxins might include headache, fatigue, indigestion, or insomnia. Longer-term issues may include, according to Elson M. Haas, MD, “frequent colds and flus, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and allergies.”

Haas recommends tapering off the junk food, coffee, alcohol, and processed sugar, and drinking warm water with lemon juice in the morning. Then, in addition to eating lots of organic and raw veggies, drink detox teas that may contain one or more of the following: dandelion, burdock root, fennel, and ginger.

Botanicals Milk thistle extract (Silybum marianum) is an antioxidant that can help heal the liver. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has also been researched for its role in liver detox, and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) can aid in the cleansing actions of the kidneys and gallbladder. Yellow dock acts as a liver purifier and toner, and Oregon grape root proves helpful against liver-connected skin conditions (think acne or psoriasis). Nutrition expert Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, also considers cranberry a powerful assistant in cleansing. She suggests drinking unsweetened cranberry juice with ginger, citrus juice, and filtered water while detoxing. Cranberry supplements are also available. —Jane Stoddard

Find the juice recipe at www.remedies-and-recipes.com/detoxjuice

The Fast Track Detox Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS ($12.95, Morgan Road Books, 2006) ● “Flaxseed Dietary Fiber Supplements for Suppression of Appetite and Food Intake” by S. Ibrugger et al., Appetite, 2012 ● The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse by Andreas Moritz ($14.95, Ulysses Press, 2007) ● The New Detox Diet by Elson M. Haas, MD ($16.95, Celestial Arts, 2004) ● The New Fat Flush Plan by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS ($25, McGraw Hill, 2016) ● “Silymarin Ameliorates Metabolic Dysfunction Associated with Diet-Induced Obesity . . .” by M. Gu et al., Front Pharmacol, 9/28/16 ● Whole Body Cleansing by Gaetano Morello, ND ($15.95, Active Interest Media, 2009)

January 2017

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3 Gym Mistakes to Avoid

Having spent the better part of my life inside the gym, I can tell you that the vast majority of people are not coming close to maximizing their time while working out. Here are three top things people do at the gym that prevent them from achieving their best body:

Too many crunches Yes, the pursuit of flat abs is, and will always be, at the top of many fitness goal lists. Far too many people spend too much of their workout time rolling around on the mat doing an endless number of ab exercises, however. You are paying for the expensive exercise equipment at the gym— use it. Focus on strength training and/or cardio and do the majority of your abdominal exercises at home. I use a 10 percent rule when it comes to gym ab exercises: No more than 10 percent of the workout time should be allocated to crunch-type exercises while at the gym. Exercising for an hour? You have six minutes to focus on flattening those abs. No more.

Too much cardio Tom Holland is an internationally known exercise physiologist and author of books including “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat! The Complete Guide to Fueling Your Triathlon” and “Beat the Gym.” He is the host of the Bowflex radio show “The Burn.” He has hosted numerous best-selling fitness DVDs, and completed 22 Ironman triathlons and 60 marathons.


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Let me preface this by saying that cardio is an extremely important component of our exercise routines. It burns calories, it increases our mood state, and it helps strengthen our most important muscle, the heart. Too many people spend the majority if not all of their time at the gym performing relatively low-level cardiovascular exercise, however, resulting in just a few hundred calories burned at the end of their workout. Strength training builds valuable lean muscle, which leads to a higher resting metabolic rate, meaning more calories burned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Doing a mix of cardio and weights is a great way to get the most out of your time in the gym.

The exact same routine It’s a scene right out of the movie “Groundhog Day” at most gyms: The same people doing the exact same exercise routines, day in and day out. It should come as no surprise that they look exactly the same—our bodies adapt very quickly to our workouts, generally within four weeks or so. If we don’t change the stimulus, we don’t change. Doing a completely new workout routine every few weeks will not only ensure you avoid the dreaded exercise plateau, but also that you stay mentally stimulated. Take a strength training routine for example: It can be as simple as doing all machines for four weeks, switching to free weights for the next month, performing bodyweight-only exercises for four weeks, then doing a mix of all three for the next cycle. Mix it up. Make these simple changes to your gym routine and you will be sure to see big changes in your body!

January 2017

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