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Jan 29, 2014

5 Foods for Natural Detoxification

Detoxifying foods offer many benefits to our overall health. Rich in antioxidants, these foods can reduce the ageing of cells within the body.

Due to our toxic environment cleansing can provide rejuvenation from common symptoms of toxic exposure we experience. Read here for more about common symptoms of toxicity.

1.      Leafy greens: namely spinach and kale are full of beneficial nutrients. Spinach is rich in Vitamin K, Iron, Vitamin E for skin health, and Vitamin C which supports a healthy immune system. Get more greens into your day not just in salads- try juicing, sautéing, or blend them in a smoothie.

2.      Beets: beets support liver health, one of the main organs included in the process of daily detoxification by the body. Beets are known for their fiber content which supports healthy waste elimination by the digestive system.

3.      Artichokes: artichokes contain high amounts of Magnesium which contributes to healthy sleep patterns, moods, and handling stress. Artichokes are also a diuretic due to their Potassium content.

4.      Fennel: fennel is a bulb vegetable that is high in fiber. Fiber provides a feeling of fullness when consumed. The leaves and seeds of this plant are often used in herbal teas as they support an ease of digestion.

5.      Tomatoes: tomatoes contain a beneficial pigment called Lycopene which is known for helping to reduce the risk of cancers such as prostate and stomach cancer. Tomatoes are also highly acidic which stimulates the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach.

For more information on Detoxification and cleansing the body read about what a good cleansing program includes here.

Jan 27, 2014

February is National Heart Health Month!

Love, Relationships, Family and The Heart

February is national heart health month with Valentine’s Day on February 14th signifying love, relationships, family and the heart.  With all this celebration centering on the heart I would like to discuss how we can take better care of our heart given that cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in U.S. adults.

Heart disease should be a concern no matter what your age given that I see high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis in children today.  Yet, the majority of cardiovascular disease is preventable and treatable with dietary changes, physical activity and targeted nutritional supplementation.  Lifestyle interventions along with supplementation have a broader benefit than pharmaceuticals because they address the dysfunctions that underlie chronic disease rather than treating the symptoms.

In treating cardiovascular disease everyone is different since there are many causes such as stress, insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity etc. This is why an individual approach is best.

A Simple Gluten-free Breakfast Recipe for Heart Health

"An overnight version to make breakfast as quick and beneficial as possible."

Steel cut oats are a delicious way to start your morning not to mention they can lower cholesterol and are a great basis to add additional healthy toppings to. Compared to instant oats steel cut oats do take longer to prepare, that’s why this recipe includes an overnight version to make breakfast as quick and beneficial as possible.

*Oats are naturally gluten free, however read facility production information to avoid cross contamination before purchasing.

Yield: 4 servings


   Steel cut oats, 1 cup
   Water, 4 ½ cups
   Fresh berries, your choice of blackberries,
   raspberries, goji berries, blueberries, or elderberries
   Cinnamon, ½  tsp
   Nutmeg, ½  tsp
   Nuts, your choice of walnuts, pine nuts, almonds,
   peanuts, or cashews
   Almond milk, to taste


In a medium saucepan bring water to a rolling boil. Add steel cut oils to the water, leave to cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Once oats have cooked for 1 minute remove from heat, cover, and let sit overnight. The next morning portion oats you are not going to eat immediately into an airtight container to place in the fridge for later. Reheat remaining oats for 2-3 minutes over low heat. Pour oats into a serving bowl. Add almond milk optional. Top with cinnamon and nutmeg. Cinnamon is known for blood sugar regulating which helps with heart disease as it also decreases inflammation. Add nuts and berries of your choice. Nuts are full of ommega3 fatty acids and berries are high in antioxidants.

Fish Oil and Prevention of Fatty Liver Disease

"DHA benefits healthy organ function

mainly the brain, heart, and liver."

It is estimated that twenty five percent of the United State’s population have non alcoholic fatty liver disease. According to new studies however, fish oil has an even more significant impact on the prevention of fatty liver disease than prior knowledge. DHA is a constituent of omega 3 fatty acids mostly found in fish oil. DHA benefits healthy organ function, mainly the brain, heart, and liver. 

Scientists from Oregon State University conducted an analysis on “metabolomics”, one of the first of its type to study how metabolites reflect the biological effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the liver. This study also covered the effects of the “western diet” on the liver as this diet is namely low in omega-3 consumption.

The study found that surprisingly, many biological pathways were benefited when DHA supplementation was included in the diet. This includes a decrease in inflammation, The results surrounding the focus of this study were also statistically significant.

As research surrounding the prevention of fatty liver disease has remained controversial, these new findings on DHA are contributing greatly to this area of study. One researcher stated “DHA supplementation reduced the proteins involved in liver fibrosis by more than 65 percent”. This evidence supports much research to follow on the prevention of fatty liver disease progression

For more information please visit:

5 Ideas for Gluten-free Snacking

“Healthy” and “snacking” can be tough words to use together, especially when your favorite food groups are sweets and pizza.

Here are five snacking ideas easily found at the grocery store that will leave you satisfied and happy, and of course gluten-free.

1.       GF crackers- crackers can be derived from many different foods such as baked apple chips, sweet potatoes, kale, or nuts. Try Nutiva Raw Coconut Chips- also delicious as dessert

2.     Frozen grapes (pictured above)- freezing fruit provides a refreshing alternative for snackers who love sweets. Choosing whole fruit options are also a great way to avoid reading food labels for ingredients.

3.      Roasted chickpeas- another whole food option. Chickpeas are a great source of protein and are a very versatile choice. Add spices after roasting such as curry powder, curcumin, basil, thyme, oregano , or cracked pepper

4.      Rice cakes with almond/sunflower/peanut butter. This option is great for on the go as it is quick to prepare and does not require utensils to eat. * Be sure to read labels on spreads as they may contain additional allergy information about facility cross contamination during production.

5.      Snack bars. KIND is a company that specializes in fruit and nut bars. Choose from a wide variety of choices as they are all gluten-free.

An easy way to avoid gluten is to avoid grain based products all together. This can be easy when whole foods are the base of the snack such as fruits and vegetables, which are naturally gluten free.  

Jan 24, 2014

Heart Disease and Cancer-Related Mortalities Raised with Consumption of Processed Red Meat

"Distinctions in research was not that all meat should be eliminated from the diet, but that processed meats in particular should be avoided"

After a long-term study of twenty-two years, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have concluded that consumption of red meat increases risk for total, cardiovascular, and cancer-related deaths.  Mortality risk was found to go down with substitution of other types of protein sources, including fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes.  The study has been published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Data was reviewed from two separate studies, and included a total of over 37,000 men and 83,000 women.  At the beginning of each study period, chosen participants were without cardiovascular disease or cancer.  Every four years, questionnaires were given to assess the participants’ diets.  At the end of both studies, nearly 6,000 deaths occurred as a result of cardiovascular disease, while over 9,000 were due to cancer.  Regular red meat consumption, especially of processed meats like sausage and hot dogs, was found to be correlated with significant risk of mortality.  Daily consumption of one hot dog, or another processed red meat equivalent, was associated with a twenty percent increased risk of death.  A daily 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat correlated with a thirteen percent increased risk of death.  Lead author of the study, Dr. An Pan, stated, "Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies."

One of the important distinctions the research team made was not that all meat should be eliminated from the diet, but that processed meats in particular should be avoided.  This is due to the fact that processed meats contain high concentrations of nitrites, which are unhealthy in any amount. 

Dr. Shana McQueen


Jan 20, 2014

AYURVEDA: the science of life

"Ayurveda is the traditional healing system of India and the sister science of yoga.  It is considered the first form of medicine in the world and has been practiced continuously for over 5,000 years."

Ayurveda is the traditional healing system of India and the sister science of yoga.  It is considered the first form of medicine in the world and has been practiced continuously for over 5,000 years.  The word “ayurveda” literally means the science of life.  It is not only a system of medicine in the conventional sense of diagnosing and treating a disease.  It is a way of living.  It is a unique blend of science and philosophy that teaches us how to balance the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects that are necessary for optimal health.

The wisdom of Ayurveda comes from the Vedas, the oldest and most authoritative sacred texts coming out of India.  The basis of Ayurvedic philosophy is the belief that everything, living and non-living, is composed of the great five elements- namely space, air, fire, water, and earth.  In the human body, these five elements combine into three life-forces called doshas- namely vata, pitta, kapha.  Each of us is born with a unique combination of these doshas that make up our physical and psychological constitution.  When the dosha pattern is balanced, we experience health and well-being.  When the dosha pattern becomes aggravated or imbalanced (due to poor diet, stress, wrong lifestyle, climate changes, etc.), the end result is dis-ease in the body.

The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to detoxify the body and to rebalance the doshas or life-forces within the body.

The first step is to determine a person’s specific constitution and dosha imbalances.  This is accomplished by taking a complete history, doing a full physical exam (including tongue and pulse diagnosis), and running lab tests as necessary.  With this knowledge, specific herbs, foods, vitamins, exercises, and daily routines, along with cleansing and rejuvenation programs, can be prescribed to restore health to the body, mind, and spirit.

Ayurveda is an invaluable daily practice for creating health and harmony in your body and in your environment.  Once you begin to incorporate Ayurvedic principles into your daily activities, you will begin to see positive benefits in every aspect of your life.

Feature Article in SneakPEAK "Sleep Better this Year"

"In most people’s daily schedule, sleep seems to get the shortest shrift. When work, a social life or other commitments 

assume priority, most people cut back on sleep in order to meet the demand. However, sleep is a crucial ingredient for a productive, creative and fulfilling life."

This article covers common reasons for sleep deprivation,  determining your own personal sleep quotient, and the benefits of a good night's sleep on your well being.

Please follow the link here:

Jan 15, 2014

Vitamin D is Crucial for a Healthy Heart.

"Vitamin D is beneficial for healthy bones, immunity, preventing cancer and is crucial for a healthy heart."

Vitamin D is beneficial for healthy bones, immunity, preventing cancer and is crucial for a healthy heart.  Vitamin D is one of the most frequently deficient vitamins and one of the most important nutrients for cardiovascular health.

A study published in October 2010 in the American Journal of Cardiology linked the wide spread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency to high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, myocardial infarction and other conditions.  Researchers at Salt Lake City’s Heart Institute in 2009 found that of 28,000 adults over the age of 50 with no history of heart disease and low vitamin D levels 77 percent were more likely to die, 45 percent were more likely to develop coronary artery disease, 78 percent were more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal vitamin D levels. Too little vitamin D can increase the risk of calcium build up in the arteries which can lead to atherosclerosis and potentially a heart attack or stroke.

I recommend getting your vitamin D 25-hydroxy (D3) levels checked and than getting on an appropriate dose.  I recommend between 1,000 to 2,000 mg and higher if your deficient.

Omega 3's Can Decrease Inflammation Around the Heart.

"Fish oil is packed with omega 3 fatty acids."

Fish oil is packed with omega 3 fatty acids.  The EPA and DHA in fish oil work with the cellular membranes decreasing inflammation in the cells which causes most cardiovascular disease. Fish oil can reduce blood pressure, lower triglycerides, improve insulin resistance, prevent and treat metabolic syndrome and reduce arrhythmias.

The key is taking a good quality fish oil with no PCB’s, lead or mercury because if you take poor quality fish oil this can actually cause heart disease. Manufacturers should be able to prove product purity.

A good dose would be 2-4 grams a day.

Vascular Function Improves with Laughter

“Laughter is the best medicine.”  

Many people have heard the quote, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  There may be some truth to this, according to research done at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Dr. Michael Miller, Professor of Medicine and lead investigator into the study, expressed how “The idea to study positive emotions, such as laughter came about after studies had shown that mental stress caused blood vessels to constrict.”     

Researchers at the University of Maryland found that vascular function was positively impacted when individuals experienced laughter by watching funny movies or shows.  In an initial study that took place over 10 years ago, 300 men and women with or without heart disease were given questionnaires used to determine an individual’s ability to respond to situations with humor.  Interestingly, participants who had heart disease were 40% less likely to find humor in particular situations.  The results from this study led to a number of other studies looking at more direct effects of laughter on blood vessel health.  

In some cases, study participants watched alternating portions of funny movies like “There’s Something About Mary” and stressful movies like “Saving Private Ryan.”  After viewing stressful movie segments, the blood vessel linings of participants were found to vasoconstrict, resulting in reduced circulation or blood flow.  This served to confirm conclusions made in other studies, supporting the idea that blood vessel narrowing can be linked with mental stress.  Along the same line, funny movies were found to correlate with expansion or dilation of blood vessels in study participants.  

The measured differences in blood vessel diameter when experiencing laughter versus some form of mental stress was astonishing.  "The magnitude of change we saw in the endothelium after laughing was consistent and similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic exercise or statin use" says Dr. Miller.  Over 300 measurements revealed a 30-50% difference in blood vessel diameter, depending on whether the phase experienced was laughter or mental stress.           

Knowing some of the important roles that the endothelium (the cells lining the walls of our blood vessels) plays, including regulation of blood vessel tone, blood flow, coagulation, and injury repair, it is easy to acknowledge how endothelial health can influence the development of cardiovascular disease.  Dr. Miller stated, "The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, so it is very possible that laughing on a regular basis may be useful to incorporate as part of an overall healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease.”  His advice is to “eat your veggies, exercise and get a good belly laugh every day."

More studies are clearly needed to develop a more complete understanding about the connection between laughter, mental stress, and cardiovascular disease.  But then again, can any of us seeking optimal health and enjoyment of life really go wrong by creating more laughter-rich environments?  Probably not!

This research was shared in Paris at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in August of 2011.

Dr. Shana McQueen

Dark Chocolate and it's Benefits on the Heart.

"Dark chocolate is loaded with flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory effects"

Since it is Valentine’s month I don’t want to for get about dark chocolate meaning 60-70% cocoa beans and its benefits on the heart.  Dark chocolate is an antioxidant therefore preventing our cells from free radical damage.  It is loaded with flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory effects.

Chocolate can help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure.  So give the gift of dark chocolate for Valentine’s or any other holiday.

You only need small amounts to impact your health.

Simple and Deliciuos Dark Chocolate Nut Brittle

"This easy recipe is high in antioxidants and is high in protein with the many nuts that can be added. Enjoy this recipe with your family and friends or a great option to give as a gift too!"

Yield: 5 servings


     70% Dark chocolate morsels, 2 cups
     Assorted nuts may include: pistachios,
     walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans,
     cashews, and almonds
     shaved toasted coconut flakes, optional


Before starting line an 8x8 cookie sheet with wax paper and spray with a nonstick cooking spray. Warm dark chocolate in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Slowly pour dark chocolate onto wax paper until evenly covered. Immediately start to sprinkle nuts of your choice over the top of the newly poured chocolate. Last, add coconut flakes over the top if desired. Place tray into the freezer for 20 minutes. Removed tray from freezer and place an additional piece of wax paper over the top of mixture. Using a spatula lightly pound to break chocolate into brittle size pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Regular Tai Chi Practice Improves Arterial Compliance and Muscle Strength in Older Adults

"The widely-practiced traditional Chinese mind-body exercise known as Tai Chi has been scientifically validated for its health benefits."

The widely-practiced traditional Chinese mind-body exercise known as Tai Chi has been scientifically validated for its health benefits.  In a study recently published online in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 65 older adults from Hong Kong were recruited.  Just less than half of them were practitioners of Tai Chi for a minimum of 1.5 hours weekly for 3 years.  The control group had no experience with Tai Chi.  Between the groups, there were no differences in age or defined levels of physical activity (light, moderate, or heavy).

Researchers found that the practitioners of Tai Chi experienced better blood pressures, vascular resistance, and pulse pressures in comparison to non-practitioners.  Both large and small artery compliance, predictors of cardiovascular health, were substantially higher (40-44%) in the Tai Chi group.  Those in the Tai Chi group also demonstrated better average muscle strength in knee extensors and flexors.  

Known for its aerobic benefits and ability to lower blood pressure, Tai Chi has been proven to improve cardiopulmonary function in individuals with heart conditions like chronic heart failure and myocardial infarction.  New research findings coupled with a significant historical record of use supports the notion that Tai Chi may be an excellent exercise strategy for improving cardiovascular health and muscle strength in older adults.   

Dr. Shana McQueen