Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I've been eating poorly and sleeping poorly, which results in me functioning poorly and having a much shorter fuse with my little ones than I should, so here are some tips on food (from the SF Chronicle website) and sleep (from some pamphlet i proofread for work) that will hopefully help me get my shit back together.

Top 10 Superfoods

According to "SuperFoods Lifestyle" author Dr. Steven Pratt, different varieties of apples have different phytonutrients, but they all have tons of antioxidants, including flavonoids and other polyphenols, and fiber.

Avocados have the same thing going for them that olive oil does: healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. These are the "good fats," and they appear to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate and antioxidants up the ante. And Pratt cites research showing that avocado helps the body absorb more nutrients from other foods -- the tomato in the same salad, for instance.

They haven't gotten the same media buzz as blueberries, but some beans have even more health-promoting antioxidants. They also have as much cholesterol-lowering fiber as oats, and lots of lean protein. All of that is good for your heart. They also are rich in B vitamins and potassium. This category includes both dried and green beans.

Frozen do the trick as well as fresh, and they're easier to find in winter. For such tiny fruits, they deliver a huge wallop of antioxidants of many kinds, including anthocyanins and other polyphenols, and carotenoids. They also have fiber, folic acid and vitamins C and E. And they taste good with very few calories.

Dark chocolate.
The magic word here is flavonoids, the same kinds of antioxidants that make tea so potent a health brew. Research shows flavonoids have a role in helping lower blood pressure and in keeping your arteries from clogging -- both good news for your heart. Only dark chocolate does the trick, not milk or white. And the more cocoa solids the better -- look for the percentage on the label.

Vitamin C, vitamin C, vitamin C -- kiwis are loaded in this antioxidant, which also makes oranges a superfood. Kiwis rival bananas in potassium, pound for pound. And flavonoid antioxidants abound in the skin, which is edible but best if you rub the fuzzy stuff off first.

Kings o' fiber, oats also deliver protein, potassium, magnesium and other minerals, and phytonutrients, including antioxidants. Their cholesterol-lowering powers are well known, and all that fiber is also believed to help stabilize blood sugar. Oats' combination of nutrients appears to have more healthy effects than if each nutrient were consumed separately -- which seems to be true of all whole grains. And, they're inexpensive.

What doesn't spinach have? It's loaded with lutein (great for eyes) and many other carotenoids, which are healthful antioxidants; plus other antioxidants like coenzyme Q, in serious doses; plus several B vitamins plus C and E; plus iron and other minerals; plus betaine, a vitamin-like nutrient research suggests is good for your heart. And with almost no calories, you can eat as much as you want. Also good for similar reasons: kale, chard and other dark leafy greens.

All nuts have been rehabbed as good-for-you foods, for their healthy fats and micronutrients. A few go a long way, though, as they are calorie bombs. Walnuts' main claim to stardom are their omega-3 fatty acids, which fight heart disease. Other goodies: plant sterols, which lower cholesterol, and lots of antioxidants.

Nutritionist Jo Ann Hattner says if she could pick only two superfoods, they would be yogurt and tea, because their health-giving attributes have been known for centuries. Yogurt's claim to fame is live cultures, also called probiotics or beneficial bacteria. They are what turns milk into yogurt (but some commercial yogurts are heated to kill the cultures after they do their work, so be sure to read the label). In your gut, they fight bad bacteria, aid digestion, help metabolize food and generally tune your system up. Yogurt also is a good source of calcium and protein.


Sleep tips

1. avoid caffeine 5 hrs before bed time.
2. lower temp at bed time for better sleep.
3. eat meals at same time everyday, 7 days a week.
4. don't go to bed hungry, have a glass of milk or dairy or something.
5. make your sleep area dark, or wear a mask.
6. go to bed at the same time every night*

*i made this one up, it seems logical