Three ways to make 2014 your healthiest year!

Is it time to think about the New Year already? Yes, we’re just a few weeks away from 2014. If you’re like the tens of millions of people who make health-related New Year resolutions each year— such as to start exercising, lose weight, or eat right— let me congratulate you on wanting to change for the better. However, be warned: over 90 percent of people fail in their New Year’s resolutions. In this article, I want to arm you with three tips to greatly increase your chances of success:

Picture your future healthy self!— Imagine the things you’d be able to do if bad health wasn’t preventing you. Having energy to play ball with your children or grandchildren? Fitting back into some of your prettiest clothes? Getting off of some of your medications? List three things your healthy self can make possible for you. Spend time really fantasizing about it to give you a strong motivation for sticking to your resolutions.

Imagine the other future— The one you get if you don’t stick with your healthy resolutions. For example, are you in danger of losing your foot because of uncontrolled diabetes or irreversible lung disease because of your smoking habit? A few years ago when I was suffering from a chronically painful foot condition, I thought of the prospect of spending the rest of my life with daily pain. I decided that if a bag of raw carrots in place of a bag of cheese curls could help reduce the pain, it would be well worth it. Take a few minutes and get a clear vivid picture of your future if you don’t change. And bring this picture back every time you’re tempted to drop your newly adopted goals.

Create your support system— You need friends— the kind of friends who are going to help you out and maybe even join you in your healthy efforts. Your chances of success are severely diminished if your closest friends are insisting, “girl, you deserve those doughnuts” or if they keep bringing you pizzas and burgers when you’re too sick to even get around on your own! You don’t necessarily need new friends; just let your current friends know what you really need from them.

Start with these three tips, and get a head start on making 2014 your best year ever!

Teresa Fuller M.D., Ph.D. is double board-certified in pediatrics and integrative holistic medicine, and holds a Ph.D. in physiology. Prompted by an explosion of chronic illness rates in children and adults, Dr. Fuller has become a strong advocate for improving the health status of her patients and the wider pediatric community.

Beyond breast cancer awareness: It’s time to fight back!

Last year I had a breast cancer scare. I felt a lump in my left breast, which I was absolutely sure, was a cyst. My doctor wasn’t so sure though, and insisted that I get a mammogram and an ultrasound. That led to a biopsy.

While I waited several days for the results, I had to consider the very real possibility of facing breast cancer. Fortunately, I was right— it was only a cyst. However, that experience made me more determined than ever to learn about true breast cancer prevention.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but we can do a lot more than simply get annual mammograms and hope for the best. The best strategies for breast cancer prevention lie in our hands. It turns out that less than three percent of all breast cancer cases can be attributed to family history. A far greater percentage is directly attributed to diet and lifestyle.

So, here are three things that you can do to drastically reduce your risk of breast cancer:

Eat cancer-fighting foods One of the most exciting things I’ve learned is that foods can fight cancer. For example, cruciferous vegetables, which include cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower, contain powerful cancer fighting nutrients. So do mushrooms, onions, beans and green tea. Some of these foods in combination can reduce your breast cancer risk by as much as 90 percent. These are the foods that should dominate our daily diet.

Get cancer-causing foods out of your diet On the other hand, some foods actually contribute to cancer development. Simple carbohydrate foods like white flour and sugar cause spikes in your blood sugar level, which may actually promote the growth of cancer cells. Also, foods that are laden with hormones, such as meat and dairy that come from animals injected with extra hormones to make them grow, are actually cancer causing. These foods should be eaten in only limited quantities.

Get Your Levels Right Do you know your vitamin D level? How about your thyroid levels? Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Low thyroid function is also associated with increased risk of breast disease and cancer. These are levels that can be checked by your physician, so that you can take proper supplementation if needed.

Armed with this information, we can stop simply hoping not to become another victim of breast cancer. Instead, we can fight back by giving our bodies the powerful cancer-fighting nutrients they need. And by the way, it’s never too late! Even if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, these three steps will go a long way in helping you to regain your health.

Teresa Fuller M.D., Ph.D. is double board-certified in pediatrics and integrative holistic medicine, and holds a Ph.D. in physiology. She has been a practicing pediatrician in the Maryland area for the past ten years. Dr. Fuller has become a strong advocate for improving the health status of her patients and the wider pediatric community.

A healthy brain starts with a healthy plate

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Dr, Teresa Fuller

Now that our kids are back in school, they’ll need all the brain power they can get. Would it surprise you to know that our brain function is vitally connected to what we eat? In fact, psychiatrist Dr. Scott Shannon says:

“In order to ensure that your child’s brain is able to function well…you must first ensure that it is being properly nourished.…Poor diet is without a doubt one of the major reasons we’re seeing such an incredible spike in the number of kids diagnosed with and medicated for mental and emotional disorders.”

More and more studies are showing just how powerful food is in the function and growth of the brain. “Brain food” has been shown in studies to improve concentration, creativity and cognition.

So here are three great nutritional brain boosters for your child’s brain (and yours too):

Lots of fruits and vegetables

Our children need at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. But most children eat less than two servings! Being the parent of a picky eater myself, I’ve had to be very creative about getting the fruits and veggies in, such as smoothies and sauces doctored with hidden fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables boost brain power by:

• providing healthy complex carbohydrates for the brain to work optimally

• supplying an abundance of antioxidants which are powerful chemicals that your body uses to fight oxidative stress, thus protecting the brain.

• providing fiber, a detoxifying agent that protects the brain by removing toxic chemicals.

A healthy dose of essential fatty acids

Not all fat is bad; in fact, some fats are essential for good body and brain health. Two are especially important: DHA and EPA.

DHA helps support nerve cells while EPA is responsible for signaling and communication inside and between nerve cells. Good sources of essential fatty acids are:

• fatty fish, such as wild salmon

• nuts (such as walnuts and almonds) and

• seeds (such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds)

In his book, The Brain Diet, Dr. Alan Logan states “dietary and supplemental omega-3 fatty acids may be the most significant brain insurance policy you can purchase.”

Breakfast and Healthy Snacks

Do your children often want to run out of the house without having eaten a decent breakfast? That sets them up for fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration. Breakfast is a must to kick start the brain, and then the rest of the day should include regular snacking on nutritious foods, such as mentioned above.

You’ll find that strengthening your child’s diet in these ways will boost his/her brain performance and overall health!