Healthy Eating

Brave Heart: Body & Soul Protection from Coronavirus

Today's video podcast not only gives advice on how to keep body and soul healthy in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, but shows that King David dealt with a terrible plague in his time that his son King Solomon knew all about, which the holy Tanna Onkolos calls "Kurhana". See for yourself, and see how King David stopped the plague as well as a 950-year promise from Rashi about how to defeat this disease...


A Happy and Healthy Chanukah

23.12.19 Chanuka Salad
We wish each other a happy Chanukah, but unfortunately for many, it's not so healthy, to say the least.

True, olive oil and cheese are traditional foods on Chanukah. Somehow, that filtered down to become a nightmarish unhealthy mixture of cheap oil, white flour and white sugar, filled with hauntingly high-sugar content jelly to make a fried donut that in Israel is called a sufganiya, literally, a "soaked ball of dough", appropriately called so because it's soaked with oil, sugar and empty carbs. Add to the fact that at many Chanukah celebrations, these donuts get washed down with banana liqueur. What a formula for high blood pressure, indigestion and weight gain! For sure, the Maccabees didn't touch these health hazards.

True, we eat cheese and olive oil on Chanukah in remembrance of the salty cheese that the brave sister of Yehuda Maccabee, Yehudit, fed the Greek King before she beheaded him. We eat foods with olive oil to commemorate the miracle of the tiny pure vial of oil burning for eight days when it only sufficed for one. But, there are many healthier ways to enjoy cheese and olive oil. Start with a Mediterranean Salad (photo, above), super healthy, easily digestible and very appropriate for Chanukah. Mix fresh veggies with olives, salt and pepper, olive oil and cubes of your favorite cheese. Add the herbs of your choice for extra taste. You'll have a healthy and enjoyable Chanukah meal, where you won't gain an ounce the whole eight days of this lovely holiday. We want your Chanukah to be just as healthy as it is happy.


Mom's Menu and Baby's Stomach Pains

Baby  23.10
Dear Coach Lazer,

My first baby is only three months old, and he's been suffering all through Succoth from stomach pains that keep him yelling and screaming much of the time. Yesterday, I went to the pediatrician, and he gave me a prescription and told me not to breastfeed any more. I read so much about the importance of nursing, and I hate to give it up. My next-door neighbor is a fan of yours, and suggested that I ask you before putting my baby on the bottle. Is there some urgent advice you can give me? I'm eagerly awaiting your answer. Thanks very much, Keren from Ramat Beit Shemesh

Dear Keren,

You're correct about the importance of breastfeeding. The value it has on your baby's healthy emotional development is inestimable. My estimation is that your holiday menu was not to your baby's liking, for whatever you ate ended up as a component in the milk he nursed. Here are a list of things - well known to our sages all the way back to Moses - that cause a baby to have gas and sharp stomach pains from mothers milk (see which of these were part of your holiday menu): Squash, garlic, onions, liver, and hearts (animal or poultry), hot peppers, highly-spiced foods, and fried foods. All these are notorious in raising the acidic content of mother's milk, and wreaking havoc on the baby's digestive system. Avoid these foods and the stomach pains should vanish, G-d willing. Hold off on the bottle and the doctor's prescription for 72 hours; as soon as you correct your diet, the baby's stomach pains will most likely disappear in a day.

If you've been eating liver for iron, then start eating beets instead. For your mother's milk to be plentiful, sweet, and digestible, eat lots of almonds, whole-grained rice, and melted cheese (natural, not processed).

One additional important point: Substances - especially tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, and narcotics destroy the quality of mother's milk and have a sorely detrimental effect on the child.

May you have all the joy in the world from your baby, and may he grow to strength of body and strength of spirit. Blessings for a healthy winter, LB


Beware: The Expanding Succoth Waistline

Succoth 10.10.19
Holiday to Shabbat to holiday, with heavy meals and tons of snacking on the way. Don't forget that a minute on the lips is a year on the hips, if you're not careful. That's why this post is so vital before the upcoming week of Succoth:

This post, if you follow it, will aid your health and save you from needless holiday weight-gain.

Parenthetically, I don't believe in dieting of any kind - a person who learns how to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle doesn't need to diet...

Most diets are unhealthy fads that lead to short-term, unhealthy weight loss and long-term frustration, metabolic and/or nutritional imbalance, ailments of all kinds and weight gain. The extremes go from Paleo/Primal on one end that tells you to eat all the meat and fat you want but stay away from carbs, to total vegan on the other end that tells you that an egg, sardine or chicken breast will kill. Neither extreme approach is in accordance with Torah and the Rambam's timeless advice on nutrition. But, let's save that discussion for another time. Meanwhile, the best advice is what I call "Ivri", eating just the way our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did. That means eating foods as close to the way Hashem created them, with no interference from food manufacturers and genetic modifiers. With that said, let's talk about Succoth...

In Judaism, Succoth is the annual "joy harvest", where we gather happiness for an entire year. The problem is that with multiple daily festive meals, visiting friends and relatives in their Succas and partying all week long, most people gather pounds in addition to the joy. And, the excess weight eats away at the joy…

Today's "Strength and Serenity" advice might save you from adding two inches to your waistline this Succot. None of us want to go the route of gaining needless weight, so let's do a little holiday-eve preparation with this food for thought:

The perennial post-holiday problem of many Jewish people is the added calories, pounds, flab, and cholesterol of a week of eating and rejoicing in the Succah. As Brodyhealth.com is committed to the health of body, mind, and soul, we've composed a few guidelines to combat the expanding Succoth waistline.

Beware of empty calories: empty calories come from nutrient-scant foods, especially manufactured products, fast food and junk food. Stick to what I call nutrient-dense foods, where you get the most nutrients from each calorie consumed. Here, the winners are fresh vegetables, fresh foods and naturally dried (not roasted or salted) seeds and nuts. Nutrient-scant foods (cakes, pastries, sweets, soft drinks and liquor) are outright dangerous to the body.

Beware of the cakes: Many people want to make a blessing on the Succa every time they enter it. But, one really shouldn't make a blessing unless he eats something. For that reason, many folks eat cake ("mezonos", at a minimum amount of a little over and ounce) so they can say the "Leshev B'Succa" blessing, the blessing to sit in the Succa. If a person eats 2 ounces of cake 3 times a day, that adds another 840 calories to his daily intake. The Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a says that one should make a "Leshev B'Succa" blessing only when eating a proper meal that includes washing your hands and breaking bread. So, don't eat cake for the purpose of making a blessing to sit in the Succa. If a person eats 3 average-sized portions of cake a day for the 9 (outside of Israel, 8 in Israel) days of the Succoth/Simchat Torah holiday, he'll gain more than two pounds. We suggest eating sliced fresh carrots or sliced green apples instead of the cake.

Beware of the liquor: Many people make a "Lechayim" every time they visit the Succa of a friend and relative. In Israel, quite a few people that barely touch alcoholic beverages all year long keep them on hand to serve guests, and end up toasting glass-per-glass with the guest. A one-ounce shot of vodka or 86-proof Whiskey is 70 calories, while an ounce of a 72-proof liqueur such as Kahlua or Banana Liqueur is a hefty 117 calories. 3 "Lechayims" a day is enough to pick up another half pound during the week of the holiday. Adding that to the cakes (see above), you've already gained 2.5 pounds during Succoth. Putting the weight on is so much easier than taking it off.

Beware of sweet beverages: Succoth is a time when parents allow the Pepsi and the Coke to flow freely all week long. Now hear this - an 8-ounce glass of Coke Classic is a whopping 97 calories, just as caloric as the equivalent amount of beer or of a slice and a half of bread. A person that drinks 6 glasses of cola a day will gain almost a pound on Succoth, plus wreck his/her teeth and gall bladder in the process. We suggest that you reach for the mineral water, sparkling water, or herb tea instead, for they have zero caloric value.

Beware of snacks: People like to munch in the Succa. We all know that you can't eat one Frito or potato chip - therefore, those plastic bags empty fast. One ounce of fritos, potato chips, or our Bamba and Bisli add another 160 calories to your calorie-galore score. If a person drinks two glasses of cola and consumes two ounces of snack foods a day, he'll gain over a pound during Succoth. Again, fresh carrot and cucumber sticks are a virtually non-caloric and healthy replacement for the junky snack foods. And, if you want something sweet, try Madjool dates or dark chocolate that's 85% cocoa or more, but limit yourself to 2 dates or 2 chocolate squares a day.

So, with the cakes, the l'chayims, the cokes and the snacks alone - without the heavy meals that include kugel and fat meats, you've already gained close to 5 pounds. And, if you drink diet beverages and use artificial sweeteners, you might not gain the weight but you'll be likely to suffer from headaches and anxiety.

True, tradition is important; that is, as long as it doesn't ruin your health. At the Brody homestead, whole-grained rice, buckwheat groats and quinoa have replaced fried farfel and oil-dripping kugel. We don't fry, but broil and bake. We eat loads of veggies and fresh fruit, and drink local mineral water. Fish and lean poultry have replaced the lamb and veal, and we eat beef sparingly. Dessert is homemade applesauce, fresh cantaloupe cubes, a square of 85% (minimum) chocolate or an almond-stuffed fresh date. Our bread is home-baked and whole-grain, preferably spelt with minimal or no yeast. We want to control what enters our bodies; the manufacturers care about making money, not about our health. That's why we don't buy their products. Our bodies weren't designed to digest the myriad of chemical additives and preservatives that they force-feed us. By the way, we do male a l'chaim over a glass of a fine Land-of-Israel dry red wine, which is rich in rich in many antioxidants that contribute to cardiovascular health and other perks for the body, including fighting inflammation and blood clotting, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

The Rambam gives an important reminder - don't eat until you're full. The stomach resembles a washing machine - if you overload it, it can't do the laundry. By the same token, an overloaded stomach can't digest, resulting in indigestion, another common Succoth ailment.

A great way to combat the the expanding Succoth waistline is to walk for an hour a day. Better yet, while you're walking, talk to Hashem in personal prayer. That way, your body gets its exercise and your soul gets its nourishment, that is none other than connecting with Hashem. What could be better? BrodyHealth.com wishes you a happy and healthy Succoth with no indigestion and no expanding waistline, amen. If you need further advice, feel free to contact us.


Ten Tips for an Easy Yom Kippur Fast

Easy Fast YK
Fasting doesn’t necessarily mean suffering. There’s quite a bit we can do to alleviate the bodily and mental stress that normally accompanies a fast. Today, the day before the fast, follow the following guidelines:
 
1. Cut down your caffeine intake to minimize headaches. That means stop drinking coffee, tea, and cola at least eight hours before the fast, and preferably twenty-four hours before the fast.
 
2. Avoid salty, spicey, and fried foods on the day before the fast.
 
3. Avoid white sugar, white flour, and white rice. Eat whole-grained foods such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread or challa.
 
4. Drink a lot of water all day long.
 
5. Eat a good breakfast that includes fruits, veggies, eggs or sardines, and whole grains.
 
6. The pre-Yom Kippur meal (se'uda mafseket) should include baked or broiled fish, a veggy salad, consomme, a small portion of chicken or turkey, and a side dish of complex carbohydrates such as kasha or quinoa. Substitute sweet deserts with watermelon or other water-retaining fresh fruit, and a cup of herb tea with a whole-grain cookie.
 
On Yom Kippur:
 
7. The more you immerse yourself in prayer, the less you'll think about food.
 
8. Rest between prayers. Don’t run around outside, especially in the hot sun. Save your voice for prayers. Idle talking will make you thirstier, and will detract from the holiness of the day.
 
After the fast:
 
9. Drink two glasses of water, and then eat solids gradually, so as not to shock the digestive system. Begin with fruit, like plums or grapes. The worst thing people do is to consume pastries and soft drinks, or “lekach un bronfan” (cake and liquor) right after the fast (these are unhealthy anytime, all the more so right after the fast when they give your body a shock of glucose).
 
10. Forty-five minutes to an hour afterwards, one can eat a balanced meal with protein, complex carbohydrates, and vegetables. After eating, relax for an hour with your favorite book (preferably Gemara of the laws of Succoth from Shulchan Oruch) and your favorite beverage, then begin constructing your Succa.
 
Attention diabetics, heart patients, folks with high blood pressure, and people whose health depends on regular medication - you must be especially careful to ask your doctor if you are capable of fasting, and then consult with your local rabbi, giving him the doctor's exact opinion. For many such people, it is a mitzva not to fast on Yom Kippur.
The Israel Cancer Association recommends that cancer patients not fast without approval from their physicians. Fasting could cause considerable discomfort in cancer patients, who need a lot of liquids to alleviate side effects of chemotherapy. Again, first consult the doctor and then the rabbi. Give the rabbi all the details that you received from the doctor.
Don't let children (boys under the age of 12 or girls under the age of 11) be overzealous. Make sure they eat on time.

With G-d's blessing and the above guidelines, you'll have an easy fast. May all of us be signed and sealed in the Book of Long and Happy Lives for the best year ever, amen!


Overweight, Lustful Eating and Self-Image

Overeating 16.9.19
Let's define "lustful eating": lustful eating means that we eat when we don't need to, either out of boredom, compulsion, as a means of trying to console ourselves or as source of recreation, when we strive to satiate our bodily appetites with no regard to our spiritual and physical health. Lustful eating is the opposite of healthy eating. The three main types of lustful eating are eating unhealthy foods, overeating and binge eating. Lustful eating is not only detrimental to the body, but to the soul as well, as we'll soon see.

According to the Rambam, lustful eating the #1 cause of all disease, even the nasty big C, the disease that won’t don’t even like to mention by name. Lustful eating also creates an iron curtain between a person and Hashem. So, a person can’t possibly get close to Hashem until he or she overcomes their lust for eating. These are not my words, but the words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev.

Western society’s preoccupation with pleasure seeking and appetite fulfillment is fertile ground for lustful eating, but it's not the root of it. The root, as many psychotherapists will tell you, is a low self-image. A person who can't see his or her own self worth will suffer from being overweight and out of shape, but they won't go past a mere one-time paltry effort because they don't believe that they are capable of succeeding in getting into shape. I see this time and again in my clients; just as important as teaching them healthy eating habits and exercise, I work with them on their self image. Nine out of ten people with weight and fitness problems, in my experience, had or have an abusive parent who robbed them of their feeling of self worth from a tender age. Let's go deeper. 

In Likutei Moharan, Part 1,Torah 47, Rebbe Nachman says: “One who is entrenched in the lust for eating is far from the truth, and severe judgments hover over him."  

The lustful eater encounters Rebbe Nachman's above teaching and protests vehemently: "What, is Rebbe Nachman calling me a liar, just because I'm into the cookie jar more than I should be or just because I down a pizza with a couple cans of cola?" Cherished friend, if you eat like that, you can't possibly care too much about yourself. What's even worse is that you're unaware how much Hashem cares about you, loves you and wants to be healthy. What's worse yet is that you don't believe how much Hashem cares about you, loves you and wants to be healthy. Sorry, but in that respect, the lustful eater is far from the truth.

Hashem loves you - guaranteed - and He wants you to love yourself. All the negative comments that the abusive person in your life made when you were little were the biggest lies in the world. Tell yourself over and over how much Hashem loves you; say it to yourself a thousand times a day. Once you internalize it, the distance between you and looking and feeling your best is much much shorter. Hashem loves you - I promise. G-d bless for your good health!


The Ten Commandments of Healthy Bones

Healthy Bones 26.8
Your skeleton is your frame; any sturdy structure needs a healthy frame and the human body is no exception. Strong bones, the components of a strong skeleton, are determined by their density: the higher the bone density, the stronger the skeleton. Weak bones are the result of osteoporosis, a condition where the bones ("osteo" in Latin) become progressively more porous ("poros" in Latin). Osteo + poros = "osteoporosis", much of which is triggered by a poor diet, lack of exercise and lack of exposure to sunlight.

Not only karate experts who smash bricks and cinderblocks with their fists and elbows need high bone density. We all do. Strong bones can mean the difference of weathering a slip on a wet floor or breaking a hip, Heaven forbid. Seniors and expectant mothers are two populations that must especially pay attention to bone health, but with the increase of sugary beverages and junk food, more and more children are coming down with juvenile osteoporosis. 

It's our responsibility to ourselves and to our families to do all we can to promote healthy bones and bone density and to prevent osteoporosis. With that in mind, here are some myth-free do's and dont's of healthy bones:

The Five Do's of Healthy Bones:

  1. Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods - sardines, almonds, leafy greens, yogurt, yellow cheese and chia seeds are great sources.
  2. Soak your beans before cooking them, then cook them in fresh water. That will rid the beans of the phytates that bleed calcium.
  3. Eat plenty of protein - I suggest 0.8 gr/kg body weight for people with a non-vigorous lifestyle, and 1.0 gr/kg body weight for athletes and people who perform heavy labor.
  4. Engage at least three times a week in weight-lifting or other resistance training. The more pressure we put on our bones, the more we build bone density. Kneading dough with your hands is an example of a wonderful exercise for bone density. In bodyweight training, pushups are the king, especially doing pushups on your fists.
  5. Get plenty of Vitamin D and expose yourself to sunshine frequently; 30 minutes a day is lovely for people with average skin color; those with lighter skin color bust do less, and those with darker skin color will need more.

The Five Dont's of Healthy Bones

  1. Avoid low-calorie and fad diets. A body starved of calories will bleed out calcium and lose bone density and strength. If you want to lose weight, do it by increasing your exercise and making the right food choices, and not by starving yourself.
  2. Avoid salt! Sodium is calcium's public enemy #1. That means avoiding salty foods such as manufactured foods, fast & junk food, and restaurant foods.
  3. Carbonated soft drinks, especially colas, contain phosphoric acid which increase the calcium that's secreted in one's urine. Stick with water and seltzer, both of which will save your calcium and save you loads of calories. Don't forget, the diet colas might have zero calories, but they're horrible for your bones.
  4. Cut your caffeine/coffee intake way back - you lose about 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of  caffeine you ingest. Since an 8-ounce cup of black coffee has about 150 milligrams of caffeine, it'll rob your body of 9 milligrams of calcium. Don't forget that many soft drinks (infamous #3 directly above) also contain high amounts of caffeine.
  5. Do not buy processed or smoked meats, period! In addition to a load of unhealthy chemicals they contain, manufacturers inject them with loads of calcium-bleeding phosphates.

Follow the above "Ten Commandments" the best you can, and you'll be much stronger. We want you to be able to dance in good health at the weddings of your great-grandchildren. A bottle of cola with a smoked meat sandwich isn't worth losing your bone health over. Swap it for  a vigorous workout followed by a green smoothie with almonds and chia seeds. Let's all say a resounding "No to osteoporosis!" Every blessing, LB 


Tips for a Safe and Healthy Fast Day

Bayit Shlishi 6.8.19

Above image - dreaming of the Holy Temple, which we all lament for on the fast day of Tisha B'Av

This year, Tisha B'Av - the day of the worst calamities that befell the Jewish people - falls on sundown, August 10, and continues until the stars appear on Sunday evening, August 11, 2019.

Since this is a fast day during the year's warmest weather, it's a challenge. A person could be especially susceptible to headaches, extreme weakness, dehydration and hypoglycemia, when blood-sugar levels fall dangerously low. With a few precautions and proper preparation for the fast, the dangers can be avoided and the fast can actually be safe and healthy.

Before the fast:

  1. Beginning with Friday morning, 36 hours before the fast, try drinking a glass of water every hour.
  2. On Thursday night and Friday, eat salty foods (this is no mistake!) such as pickles, olives and goat cheese. These are all the foods that people with edema avoid, for they help retain fluid and therefore prevent dehydration. To avoid thirst, stop eating these foods on the day that the fast begins, namely all day Shabbat (Saturday).
  3. Avoid sugary and starchy foods this Shabbat, for they have a high glycemic index (GI) and therefore cause a deeper GI Levelsplunge in blood sugar levels shortly after eating (see adjacent graphic).
  4. Eat plenty of good quality protein - eggs, fish and high quality pasture-fed (organic, if available) beef and poultry - protein is satiating and will provide slow-release energy during the fast, since they are complex food stuffs that require longer time to digest.
  5. Stay away from coffee and caffeine for 24 hours before the beginning of the fast. Drink herb tea instead.
  6. My favorite rule of thumb is to focus on eating foods that are as unprocessed as possible, not only making the coming fast easier and healthier but promoting better blood sugar balance and better digestion, both of which lead to better weight control. 

After the fast:

Be careful, for after the fast, your blood sugar levels are at their lowest. The worst thing you can do (a cardinal nutrition sin that many congregations commit) is to dive into the coke, fruit juices and pastries the moment the fast is over. This drives blood sugar through the roof and creates a shock to the body; this could actually trigger diabetes, Heaven forbid. What's more, drastic rises and falls in blood sugar cause headaches, nausea and fatigue. In order to avoid this, takes the following precautions:

  1. Break your fast with a glass of ice-water and high-fiber foods such as celery sticks or whole grain/bran crackers.
  2. Add to the above a portion of protein, such as cottage cheese or goat cheese, which will also slow the rise of your blood sugar level.
  3. Avoid all sugary substances, soft drinks, fruit juices, cakes and pastries - these are downright dangerous at the end of a fast.
  4. Drink at least 2 glasses of water an hour for the first 4 hours after the fast. This will replenish the body's fluids and slow the increase of blood sugar levels.
  5. Don't eat a heavier meal until at least an hour after breaking your fast in the above manner; preferably, do some light exercise (like a 30-minute walk) before having a heavier meal.

Feel free to pass the above advice along to friends and family. Even better, send them this link so that they can subscribe to our weekly newsletter. We have no doubt that the above tips will not only make your fast more bearable, but safe and healthy as well! Every blessing, and may we soon see our rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, speedy and in our day, amen!