Alyssa Giacobbe

Alyssa Giacobbe

Posted on April 3rd, 2012 by in Medical Insights, Nutrition

Vitamins and Antioxidants, with a Grain of Salt

Living in the Information Age means that we’re constantly bombarded with data—much of it contradictory—about our health. A recent example: In a University of Paris study conducted among 2,500 men and women, researchers found that taking fish oil supplements was linked to a higher incidence of cancer in women. But wait: Haven’t we been told for years that fish oil supplements were good for us, acting as antioxidants to reduce the risk of breast cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease?

It’s certainly not the first time a new study has challenged our established way of thinking—and that’s not always a bad thing. But it’s important to keep in mind that many new studies that are released—and reported on—are not complete, says Kripalu’s Healthy Living Director of Medical Education Lisa B. Nelson, MD. A recent study that reported calcium supplements increase the risk of heart disease in women older age 50 had many women eliminating their calcium intake entirely, while other reports about the benefits of certain vitamins or antioxidants, like vitamin D and beta-carotene, have led to dangerous overconsumption.

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Posted on March 26th, 2012 by in Nutrition

DIY Detox

A gentle seasonal detox can leave you feeling more energetic, less stressed, and physically refreshed.

Detoxes are showing up everywhere these days—from the lemon juice-maple syrup-cayenne pepper fast, to increasingly popular juice cleanse programs. While a cleanse typically focuses on one area of the body, a detox is considered a system-wide reboot. And done wisely, say many health experts, a detox can provide serious benefits. “Many minor ailments, such as headaches, fatigue, poor concentration, and insomnia, are caused by a buildup of toxins,” says Kay, an integrative dietitian who leads Healthy Living immersion programs at Kripalu.

While the body naturally eliminates waste through the skin, kidneys, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and simply by breathing, sometimes it could use a little assistance. By targeting the liver, where toxins and mood-altering hormones can build up, as well as the colon, where waste is held, detoxes provide a mind/body housecleaning of sorts. And though spring is a great time to do it—as the weather gets warmer, that warmth helps support organ function, allowing impurities to flow out more easily—detox is something that can, and should, be incorporated any time of the year.

The first step is to pick a three-day period that works with your schedule, one during which it’s easy for you to eat on your own terms and get a lot of sleep. “A detox should include quiet time, away from work and intense social interaction,” says Conzo. (Note that people with conditions such as diabetes, cancer, kidney or liver disease, as well as women who are pregnant or nursing, should consult their doctors or schedule a one-on-one with a Kripalu nutritionist before embarking on any detox program.)

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Posted on February 29th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Medical Insights, Nutrition

The End of Illness?

Alyssa Giacobbe, Guest Blogger

In his new book, The End of Illness, California oncologist Dr. David Agus argues for an immediate shift in the way we view healthcare. Americans are losing the war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other major illnesses, he writes, and standard Western treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and pharmaceuticals are both misdirected and way too late. Instead, we should be aiming to prevent disease from occurring in the first place. “We have become a country that treats disease but does not prevent it,” he recently told The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. “Cancer is not from without. It’s from within… [Mine] is a whole different way of thinking about health.”

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