Health

Diagnosing Prostate Cancer

Thanks to new blood and urine biomarkers and improvements in MRI imaging, diagnosing prostate cancer has become easier and more accurate than ever before. For most men, however, detecting prostate cancer still begins with a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test. If you are a man over 45, don’t let anyone talk you out of getting an annual digital rectal exam and a PSA test. Yes, it’s true. Both of these tests are “old school” and imprecise, but they remain the front line of defense against prostate cancer. These two tests are usually performed during a routine physical or because a man is experiencing urinary symptoms such as: Waking up in the middle of the night to pee (Nocturia) Urinary frequency (having to pee more often than normal) Urinary urgency (must pee NOW!) Low flow (weak urine stream) Painful urination (Dysuria) Difficulty peeing or emptying your bladder Itching/burning during urination These symptoms can be caused by advanced prostate cancer and four non-threatening conditions: Prostatitis (prostate inflammation/infection) Enlarged Prostate (BPH) Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (urinary sphincter) Urinary strictures (scar tissue in the urethra) It’s a doctor’s job to figure out which condition (or conditions) is causing a man’s elevated PSA numbers or any of the symptoms above. Ten years ago, if a man had a higher than normal PSA number (with or without any of the symptoms described above), he was an automatic candidate for a prostate biopsy. This type of needle biopsy involves shooting 10-20 needles through the wall of the rectum, into the prostate, to take tissue samples from the prostate. If this procedure sounds demoralizing, it feels worse. Even when the local anesthetic works correctly, a prostate biopsy feels like what it is: a bunch of needles being shot through your rectum and into your prostate — not a holiday. I’ve had three of these biopsies. During the last one, the surgeon botched the local anesthetic, so it felt like a knife fight was going on in my backside. A week after that biopsy, I developed sepsis (a systemic blood infection), which almost killed me. The ER doctor said I was 6-12 hours away from complete organ failure. So it’s easy to understand why avoiding a prostate biopsy is a good idea — unless other tests indicate a biopsy is needed. Thanks to dozens of blood and urine biomarker tests, doctors have a new arsenal of tools that pick up where PSA testing leaves off. An abnormally high PSA number tells you that something is wrong, but it doesn’t tell you what. It could be cancer or an infection or an enlarged prostate or something else.   A blood test like the 4KscoreTest identifies biomarkers for advanced prostate cancer, and urine tests like PCA3 or SelectMDx can accurately identify men who should have a prostate biopsy because of an increased risk of finding cancer during a biopsy. Multi-parametric MRI combines four different types of imaging (anatomic, metabolic, diffusion weighted, and dynamic contrast enhanced) to deliver a more accurate picture of the prostate — and any areas that contain cancer. When used before a prostate biopsy, multi-parametric MRI can accurately identify suspicious areas of the prostate for a “targeted biopsy,” which is 70-75 percent more likely to detect cancer than a standard biopsy, if cancer is present. In other words, a multi-parametric MRI does a much better job of finding prostate cancer. Both blood/urine biomarkers and multi-parametric MRI give doctors better tools to locate prostate cancer (if it is there) or rule it out (if it’s not). In the next blog, we’ll look at how to pair the right type of treatment with the kind of prostate cancer a man has.       Mark B. Saunders is a writer, editor, publisher, public speaker, and 11-year cancer survivor. As an active surveillance prostate cancer patient, Mark did not receive traditional treatment like surgery or some form of radiation. Instead, he dramatically overhauled his lifestyle and his cancer went away and hasn’t come back since. As a prostate cancer survivor, Mark has dedicated his life to sharing what he has learned about health and wellness. A journey that he calls, Inside out, round-about, and back again. Mark is the co-author of Prostate Cancer: A New Approach to Treatment and Healing and Do You Have Prostate Cancer: A Compact Guide to Diagnosis and Health 


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Prostate Cancer Prevention, Part II

“If one wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.”    — Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine (460-375 bce) The four areas of prevention discussed in this blog (proper structural alignment, reduced environmental toxins, healthy hormone balance, and having a reason to live) all play a big part in living a vibrant and vital life — not to mention having a healthy prostate. Proper Structural Alignment One of the keys to a happy prostate is having a healthy lower back. From your prostate’s prospective, the best way to have a solid structural alignment in your pelvis begins with a healthy lower back and sacrum (the bone at the base of our spine). Good posture, supportive discs, strong yet supple muscles and connective tissues all play important roles in keeping your pelvis in a “neutral” position with minimal stress and strain on your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is the “hammock” of muscles and connective tissue that hold all the organs of your pelvis in place. If your pelvic floor is too tight, too lose, or too tight in some places and too loose in others, then you’re going to have prostate problems. It’s as simple as that. If you’ve ever hurt your lower back or if your lower back feels “temperamental,” then you probably have a misaligned pelvis and an out-of-balance pelvic floor, which often results in an unhappy prostate. What’s the best way to improve the health of your pelvic floor, and therefore your prostate? A knowledgeable physical therapist or personal trainer who understands the right exercises to strengthen and open your lower back and pelvis is your best bet. Reduced Environmental Toxins Environmental toxins are everywhere, so how do you protect yourself from them? Simple: Don’t let them into your home. Get rid of the Round Up, dispose of any cleaning products that contain chemicals you cannot pronounce, remove all cleaning solvents, stop using insecticide sprays, and quit bleaching your sheets. It’s also a good idea to see if your shampoo, conditioner, soap, or lotion contain parabens or phthalates. If they do, throw them out and get new ones. Also, stop using insecticide “house bombs.” Those chemicals remain in your home for months (or years), which is good for killing bugs, but bad for your overall health — and your prostate.   Healthy Hormone Balance A healthy testosterone level for men is in the “sweet spot” (500-900 ng/dl) right in the middle of the normal range (300-1050 ng/dl). Unfortunately, a man’s testosterone levels peak when he is about 20, and slowly decline by about 10 percent per decade — which can lead to a lower sex drive and loss of libido. What also leads to a lower libido is having a low testosterone/estrogen ratio. Yes, men have some estrogen in their bodies. That’s normal. What you want to avoid is when your testosterone levels fall and your estrogen levels rise. Men with low “T” and high “E” tend to have difficulty in the bedroom and also develop the most aggressive kinds of prostate cancer. How can you raise your T levels and lower you E levels? Stop eating soy foods (soybeans, tofu, tempeh, miso, edamame, soy milk, and soy protein in all sorts of vegetarian foods) Stop drinking beer (The hops in beer is highly “estrogenic.”) Avoid flax, flax seeds, and flax meal (Also, highly estrogenic.) Cut out sesame seeds, tahini, and hummus Go easy on the beans and peas (legumes) Stop drinking beverages in plastic bottles (The drinking water and other beverages in plastic bottles leach the estrogenic compounds into the liquid.) Having a Reason to Live Passion is the difference between “surviving” and “thriving,” “fun” and “fantastic.” What’s your passion? Is it your partner, your children, grandchildren, family, hobbies, work, friends, sports, a cause, your pets, making music … Whatever it is, hang on to it. Everyone needs a daily hit of that passionate feeling of being vibrant and fully alive. If you don’t have that feeling of passion in your life today, I invite you on a journey to find it. Chances are, you won’t have to look too far.   Mark B. Saunders is a writer, editor, publisher, public speaker, and 11-year cancer survivor. As an active surveillance prostate cancer patient, Mark did not receive traditional treatment like surgery or some form of radiation. Instead, he dramatically overhauled his lifestyle and his cancer went away and hasn’t come back since. As a prostate cancer survivor, Mark has dedicated his life to sharing what he has learned about health and wellness. A journey that he calls, Inside out, round-about, and back again. Mark is the co-author of Prostate Cancer: A New Approach to Treatment and Healing and Do You Have Prostate Cancer: A Compact Guide to Diagnosis and Health  September is National Prostate Health Month. Do what you can to stay healthy.  


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Prostate Cancer Prevention, Part I

By Mark Saunders “A healthy prostate cannot exist in an unhealthy body.” — Dr. Jesse Stoff, M.D. “Prevention is bunk!” That’s what a prominent urologist shouted at the presenter during a prostate cancer symposium I attended recently. The audience chuckled politely, but I wanted to stand up and shout back, “No, it’s not.” But I was a guest at this symposium, and I’m not a doctor, so it wasn’t a level playing field. As an 11-year prostate cancer survivor who has co-written two books on the topic, however, I do have a few words to say about prostate cancer prevention. Basically, the same 8 things that keep your entire body healthy also keep your prostate healthy. Here they are: Diet & Nutrition Exercise Stress Management Rest & Sleep Proper Structural Alignment Reduced Environmental Toxins Healthy Hormone Balance Having a Reason to Live Diet & Nutrition Approximately 80 percent of your health begins with what’s on the end of your fork. If you are eating a low-inflammatory diet that is full of fresh vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables), lean protein, and healthy fats (olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil) — and low on sweeteners, desserts, grains, dairy, bread, pasta, crackers, legumes, and most nuts — then you’re off to a good start. If not, it’s time to make some changes. Exercise Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said, “Walking is the best medicine.” He was right. James Brown sang, “Get up offa that thing, and dance ‘till you feel better.” He was right too. Whether it’s at a desk, in a car, on a bus, in front of the TV … we all sit way too much. (I’m sitting right now as I write this blog.) Human beings were meant to move. Our ancestors were hunter/gathers, which cannot be done from a seated position. If you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods at a time, set an alarm and get up and move every hour for at least five minutes. Even better, take a walk for 30 minutes during your lunch break. Better yet, get 30 minutes of strenuous exercise every day — the kind that makes you breathe hard. Stress Management If you want to pack on the fat, have your doctor inject you with insulin or hydrocortisone (cortisol). Cortisol is a steroid hormone that your body naturally releases during periods of stress. If you’re under stress, you body is releasing a lot of cortisol, which signals your body to store fat. The easiest way to reduce any kind of stress is deep breathing. Try it. For the next two minutes, I invite you to breathe deeply. At the end of two minutes, ask yourself if you still feel stressed. Rest & Sleep Study after medical study show that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night think their brains are functioning normally, but they consistently score lower on cognitive test than they do when they get 8 hours of sleep. The scores on these tests are even worse for people have consecutive nights of less than 6 hours of sleep. Coincidence? I think not. In order to have a healthy body, mind, and prostate, you need a full night’s sleep — that’s more than 6 hours. In other words, turn the TV off, put the novel down, say “good night” to your Facebook friends, and go to bed. I will cover Points 5-8 in Part II of this blog.   Mark B. Saunders is a writer, editor, publisher, public speaker, and 11-year cancer survivor. As an active surveillance prostate cancer patient, Mark did not receive traditional treatment like surgery or some form of radiation. Instead, he dramatically overhauled his lifestyle and his cancer went away and hasn’t come back since. As a prostate cancer survivor, Mark has dedicated his life to sharing what he has learned about health and wellness. A journey that he calls, Inside out, round-about, and back again. Mark is the co-author of Prostate Cancer: A New Approach to Treatment and Healing and Do You Have Prostate Cancer: A Compact Guide to Diagnosis and Health  September is National Prostate Health Month. Do what you can to stay healthy.


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September Is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

By Mark Saunders As a prostate cancer survivor and co-author of two books on the subject, I think it’s important to bring a little “awareness” to National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The art and science of prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment are changing rapidly. For example, in July of this year, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article stating that the 10-year mortality rate for men with low-risk, low-volume, prostate cancer who elected to “observe” their cancer (In this study, observation ranged from doing nothing to making drastic lifestyle changes.) and those who had a “radical prostatectomy” (surgery) had statistically similar outcomes. In other words, approximately the same number of men died in both groups. Fifteen years ago, that information would have been considered heresy, and any doctor who prescribed “observation” to their prostate cancer patients would have been sued for malpractice and drummed out of the profession. Today, it’s state-of-the-art information. The general consensus on PSA testing has flip-flopped from “heaven sent” to a test that promotes too many invasive procedures like prostate biopsies and surgeries (which can leave men with lifelong “harms” such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction) to a good first line of defense against prostate cancer that signals there’s a problem going on in the prostate — without identifying what the problem actually is. Today, there several new highly specific biomarker tests that pick up where PSA testing leaves off (PCA3, SelectMDx, and 4Kscore). These blood and urine tests can identify whether a man is likely to have prostate cancer or not; eliminating the need to jump straight from an elevated PSA test to a prostate biopsy. If you or someone you know recently had a higher than normal PSA test, please let them know about these recent advances in biomarker testing. There are also several new tests that enhance a prostate biopsy’s ability to detect the presence of prostate cancer — especially if the biopsy results come back negative (25% of negative biopsies are “false negatives”). Even if the biopsy comes back positive for low-grade, low-risk prostate cancer, there are additional tests to determine if the cancer really truly is “low-grade, low-risk” — or if it is more aggressive (a wolf in sheep’s clothing). This type of leading-edge information provides men (and the people who love them) with the ability to make smart prostate treatment decisions. Without this kind of information, people are likely to make their treatment decisions based on whatever the first doctor they see tells them to do. In my opinion, National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month ought to begin with helping men become aware of their treatment options based on the kind of cancer (or other prostate condition) they have.   Mark B. Saunders is a writer, editor, publisher, public speaker, and 11-year cancer survivor. As an active surveillance prostate cancer patient, Mark did not receive traditional treatment like surgery or some form of radiation. Instead, he dramatically overhauled his lifestyle and his cancer went away and hasn't come back since. As a prostate cancer survivor, Mark has dedicated his life to sharing what he has learned about health and wellness. A journey that he calls, Inside out, round-about, and back again.


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Calm Yourself with Calming Foods

Calm Yourself with Calming Foods Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout your brain and body. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted many ways. It is estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. Stress, poor diet--protein deficiency, poor digestion, poor blood sugar control, drug (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine can deplete them. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is found in the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and blood platelets. It helps to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, and also supports memory and learning. Studies show an association between serotonin levels and mood. The good news is you can naturally increase your serotonin levels with food instead of drugs. • Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa allow your brain to process more serotonin. • Eating protein and healthy omega-3 fats, found in fish, walnuts and flax, will also improve mood. • B vitamins, which are abundant in fresh leafy greens and in chemical-free, pasture-raised meat, are another important factor because they're needed for serotonin production. • Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collard greens, are high in folic acid, a B vitamin. Low levels are linked to depression. • Bananas contain vitamin B6. They are high in potassium, an important electrolyte for a happy and calm mind. • Other foods rich in vitamin B6: turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens celery, fish, poultry, and lean beef. • Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin; these foods are high in tryptophan: turkey, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, miso, and Kombucha, pickled foods (beets, radish, Korean kimchi) assist in digestion and assimilation of the important nutrients you need for serotonin. So try some of these foods and notice if you feel more relaxed and uplifted. Bon appetite! To receive more helpful tips for caregivers, pick up your copy of Barbra's book Calmer Waters. You can also visit Barbra at her website: https://barbracohn.com/     This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services.


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Seasonal Strawberry Recipe with a Wow Factor!

Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. It’s strawberry picking time! I LOVE fresh berries, and I’m always motivated to make a delightfully delicious berry dessert whenever fresh strawberries are available at the market! This luscious pie provides the perfect showcase for seasonal organic strawberries. The filling is so creamy you will not believe it’s based in raw cashews and tofu. Easy to assemble and super yummy! Here is the seasonal strawberry recipe with a wow factor!  Strawberry Mountain Pie Makes 6 to 8 servings CRUST 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegan cookie crumbs or vegan graham cracker crumbs (see note) 3 to 5 heaping tablespoons sesame tahini 1½ tablespoons nondairy milk FILLING 16 ounces extra-firm regular tofu 8 ounces soft silken tofu 1⁄3 cup raw cashews 1⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegan white sugar or your preferred dry sweetener TOPPING 16 ounces organic strawberries 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves 2½ teaspoons filtered or spring water Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To make the crust, put the cookie crumbs, 3 heaping tablespoons tahini and 11⁄2 tablespoons nondairy milk in a medium-sized bowl and combine using a large fork or dough blender. Add more tahini until the crumbs are moistened, but still crumbly in texture (up to 5 heaping tablespoons of tahini in all). Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes. Put the pie plate on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. While the crust cools, put the extra-firm regular tofu, silken tofu, cashews and sugar in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the tofu mixture over the cooled crust. Spread in an even layer and smooth the top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the pie is slightly firm to the touch (center of the filling will still be very soft). Put the pan on a wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. While the pie bakes, trim 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch off the wide end of each strawberry. Then, when the pie is out of the oven but still warm, arrange the strawberries, flat end down, in a pleasing pattern on top of the pie, gently pressing the end of each strawberry into the filling so it stands upright. Put the preserves and water in a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Spread the preserves evenly over the top of the strawberries using a pastry brush or small spoon. Refrigerate 4 to 8 hours before serving. Carefully cut the pie into slices (the filling will be soft). Stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, leftover pie will keep for about 2 days. Chef’s Note: To make cookie crumbs, put 11⁄2 to 2 cups of broken-up vegan cookies in a blender, and process to coarse crumbs. Add more cookies, as needed, to make the amount of crumbs needed for this recipe. Photo credits: David Kaplan This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services


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Easy and Festive Warm-Weather Salad

By Laura Theodore Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. If you are looking for an easy and fabulous warm-weather salad, this tasty recipe makes a lovely addition to any festive springtime meal. Spooned into tiny parfait or champagne glasses, this colorful combo provides a refreshing change to a green salad. With a pretty presentation, and delicious flavors, Avocado Salad Parfaits are sure to please all the diners at your table throughout the spring and summer months! Avocado Salad Parfaits 1 or 2 small tomatoes or 12 to 14 grape tomatoes, diced 1½ medium avocados, peeled, pit removed and diced 1 small clove garlic, minced Juice from ½ medium lemon 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, optional Put all of the ingredients in a small bowl and gently stir to combine. Season with more salt, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes before serving. To serve as a fancy first course, spoon in to pretty glasses, displayed on a decorative salad plate. This warm-weather salad is easy and fabulous!       Laura Theodore is an award-winning public television personality and host of the Jazzy Vegetarian, presently available in 88% of US households. She is a vegan chef, radio host, jazz singer, and the author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics 9781937856939 and Jazzy Vegetarian 9781570672613. In 2014, Laura was honored with a “Special Achievement Taste-Award” along with the likes of Martha Stewart and Emeril; she has also been recognized by VegNews magazine with a “Totally Tubular Veggie Award.” Laura hosts the popular podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio, now in its 7th year, and has appeared on every major TV network. She writes a weekly food column for Mother Earth Living and has been featured in many highly respected news, food and lifestyle-related journals. A critically acclaimed jazz singer and songwriter her CD, Tonight's the Night, received a “Musician Magazine Award.” Laura has appeared in many plays and musicals, including the Off Broadway hit show Beehive, earning her a coveted “Backstage Bistro Award” and was honored with the Denver Critics Drama Circle Award as “Best Actress in a Musical” for her starring role as Janis Joplin in the world premiere production of Love, Janis. Photo credit: David Kaplan          


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Spring Has Sprung with Healthy Recipes

Spring has Sprung with Healthy Recipes By Laura Theodore Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. Spring is here! As weather permits, I love to grow my own herbs in containers on my deck. Herbs are also easy to grow in a small garden patch, or if you live in an apartment, a sunny window box will do. Growing your own herbs offers fresh cuttings to cook with all spring and summer long, adding depth of flavor and pizazz to your recipes. I grow herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme, chives oregano, basil, sage, and spearmint from late April or May to early October. Using fresh herbs in your daily recipes adds great nutrition, while making your food taste delicious! This inviting Grape Tomato, Avocado and Fresh Herb Salad, was inspired by bountiful herbs from my deck garden to create a refreshing salad. Fresh basil and parsley are my “go-to” choices all season, and they are featured front-and-center in this hearty and substantial main dish salad offering. Have a happy, healthy spring! Grape Tomato, Avocado and Fresh Herb Salad Makes 2 to 4 Servings Ease-Factor: Level 1 1 cup cooked and chilled black beans, drained and rinsed (canned are fine!) 8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved 2 medium avocados, seeded, peeled and cubed ¼ cup lightly packed chopped fresh basil 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1 clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste Several grinds of freshly ground pepper, to taste Put all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss very gently to combine. Let stand 15 minutes to marry the flavors. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve. Photos by David Kaplan "Spring has Sprung with Healthy Recipes" has been brought to you by CPG News & Information.            


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The Real Science for Younger Skin That Cosmetics Companies Don’t Want You to Know

The Real Science for Younger Skin that Cosmetics Companies Don't Want You to Know ~ Michelle Lee, author of The Young Skin Diet, Salut Studio, April 2016 $2 billion. Every single year. That’s what Americans spend on anti-aging treatments, according to market research by Mintel Group. $2,000,000,000. Each and every year. To put that number into perspective, consider that the total economic output for the Central American country of Belize - that is, all the goods, services, government programs, investments and international trade generated by the country in an entire year - is a bit less. Given how much we spend on all these creams, serums, ointments and pills, most of which are aimed at resolving skin issues, you’d think all our concerns over fine lines, wrinkles, pores, dryness, discoloration and sagging would be long gone. For the overwhelming majority of us, that simply isn’t the case. Why is it that billions of dollars each year can’t solve skin aging problems that are seemingly inevitable? For one, it’s because the creams and pills don’t really address the underlying causes of skin aging. At best, they cover things up or engage in a sort of horse trading: short-term “results” at the expense of long-term skin health. Lots of so-called anti-aging products simply don’t work. Some are entirely ineffectual, and some can even damage your skin. Take products containing tea tree oil, for instance. Tea tree oil seems to be everywhere these days, touted as hydrating, soothing and natural. Well, natural it may be. But soothing it most certainly is not. Tea tree oil is actually a noted skin irritant that can lead to swelling, blistering and redness. I know. I’ve been there with tea tree oil. It’s something best avoided altogether for youthful skin. So where does this leave us? We want our skin’s youthful glow back. We want a clear complexion, smoothness and suppleness. We want to look younger and healthier. My research for The Young Skin Diet revealed the very best way to rejuvenate skin. It’s not commercial creams or prescription drugs. It’s the simple, elegant biochemistry of a strategically assembled diet. So let’s connect the two threads: Are there foods we can eat that give us access to the same “active ingredients” that expensive and risky commercial or prescription products do? Absolutely. And, in fact, the foods do it much better. There are chemicals found in common anti-aging serums and creams that can be important parts of a regimen for younger skin if - and only if - consumed internally as food, and not if applied externally. Hyaluronic acid is one. Hyaluronic acid is a featured active ingredient in products being hawked by several big-name cosmetics companies that promise their creams will hydrate your skin and leave it smoother and younger looking. The products are chic and expensive and very likely to leave you wondering why you didn’t just spend all that money on a tropical vacation to Belize. Or, if not a vacation, then at least a can or two of chickpeas. Chickpeas naturally provide hyaluronic acid, and they do so in a way that allows the chemical to work for your skin - rather than against it. When eaten, hyaluronic acid helps build collagen. And, when eaten, it does promote sustainable, long-term skin hydration. Articles outlining these processes appear in scholarly journals including Wound Repair and Regeneration, detailing the biological impacts of hyaluronic acid in skin. The best results for skin occur with hyaluronic acid when it’s ingested. Here’s why. The hydration effect of hyaluronic acid is brought on because the chemical is a humectant that draws moisture from its environment toward it. This property is excellent for skin when hyaluronic acid arrives internally via the diet since it ushers water toward the inner layers of the skin and plumps skin’s appearance. When applied to the skin externally, though, hyaluronic acid can pull moisture away from the deeper skin layers toward the skin’s surface. That moisture quickly evaporates, leaving only a transitory skin-smoothing benefit that ultimately dries out the skin’s inner layers. Which paves the way for redness, inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles over time. So hyaluronic acid is a great example of why it’s simply better to eat good foods than slather on costly creams. Plus, when derived from chickpeas, the hyaluronic acid gets delivered to the skin along with a dose of silica that boosts collagen-building efforts. There are other chemicals found in costly - often prescription - treatments that also can be obtained from foods to produce great results for skin. Arbutin is a good example since both blueberries and expensive creams are rich in the chemical. Arbutin is a powerful skin lightener that reduces skin pigmentation inconsistencies. As detailed in a 2015 paper published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, arbutin is similar in structure (and convertible) to hydroquinone, the active ingredient in various skin-lightening creams. Of course, arbutin consumed courtesy of blueberries entails none of the preservatives or additives found in cosmetic creams, and the amount of arbutin/hydroquinone put to work in the skin when ingested is carefully regulated by your body’s individual biochemistry (i.e., you won’t overload your skin and suffer unintended side-effects that can result from the creams). Blueberries taste a lot better too. The point of all this is that the right selections of foods can provide many of the same “active ingredients” as costly ointments and treatments - only with better results and no nasty side-effects. More broadly, the right foods, when used, combined and prepared strategically, can accelerate exfoliation, build collagen and elastin, soften lines and wrinkles, brighten the complexion, undo UV damage and prevent further sun damage, rebalance hormones that affect skin, and provide alpha-hydroxy acids that peel away unattractive and aged skin, among many other things. They do all this holistically, naturally, without side-effects, inexpensively and in a way that builds great overall health along with more youthful skin. Rather than slather your skin in risky and expensive commercial anti-aging treatments, just sneak a few great-skin foods into your diet. Save your cash. And jet off to Belize for some snorkeling.   To receive more information on how to have and maintain younger skin, pick up a copy of Michelle's newest book, The Young Skin Diet today! Young Skin Diet


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Chocolate Chip, Raisin and Oatmeal Loaf Cake

A great way to celebrate National Pound Cake day is with this vegan alternative by Laura Theodore; an inviting vegan chocolate chip, raisin and oatmeal loaf cake. For more delicious vegan recipes pick up a copy of “Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease.” CHOCOLATE CHIP, RAISIN and OATMEAL LOAF CAKE Makes 12 slices Need a treat, but want it to be filling too? This lively loaf makes a wonderful treat when you're seeking something sweet, but you want health benefits too! With a pop of chocolate nestled in a batter of whole wheat flour, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and raisins, this quick loaf will truly satisfy. Serve slathered with your favorite preserves or bit of nut butter for a satisfying snack. 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 1 cup plus 1½ tablespoons rolled oats 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/3 cup vegan white sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 cup raisins 1/3 cup vegan (dairy free) dark chocolate chips, (70% or 85% cacao) 1/3 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds 1½ cups nondairy, coconut milk beverage, (or your preferred nondairy milk) plus more as needed Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper, leaving a 1½ -inch overhang on the two long sides of the pan. Put the whole wheat flour, 1 cup rolled oats, and baking powder in a large bowl, and stir with a dry whisk to combine. Add the sugar and cinnamon, and stir with the whisk to combine. Stir in the raisins, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds, and stir to combine. Add the coconut beverage and stir until well blended, adding a bit more coconut beverage, as needed, if the mixture seems dry. Batter will be thick. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle 1½ tablespoons of rolled oats evenly over the top of the bread. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top of the bread is firm, slightly golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Put the bread on a wire rack and let cool for five minutes. Using the parchment paper “wings,” carefully lift the bread from the pan and put it on the wire rack. Carefully peel back the paper from the sides of the bread and let cool an additional 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm, or wrap tightly, refrigerate, and serve cold. Wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator, bread will keep for 3 days. Photo by Laura Theodore. Recipe taken from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease. Reproduced by kind permission of Laura Theodore. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.


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