Heat Yoga Blog
Heat Yoga Blog
This is the Blog for Heat Yoga Studios.
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8:00 am

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

Summer 2014: Sharks, Poo, and Spaghetti Squash… OH MY!

By:  Maria Kasdagly in MAKwellness

This summer has been full of learning experiences…

  1. I am still afraid of the water…there may be a shark (even in a lake).
  2. The pretty yellow flowers produced by broccoli plants means you were too late…boo.
  3. Your dog is not rolling in the grass because they are happy to be outside, but rather they are coating their bodies in some stinky poo.
  4. Sugar Snap Peas don’t like their feet wet for prolonged periods of time.
  5. Wild Turkeys look awkward running down stairs.

Yes, summer 2014 is providing some epic memories and the great news is that it is STILL summer!  One thing you learn as an Minnesotan is to cherish each day of the warmer months as you literally could get snow any day.

garden (2)The Garden!

As many of you know, my tiny garden has provided much joy and healthful nourishment this summer…I have had more kale and cherry tomatoes then I know what to do with it!


Soon to be Spaghetti SquashSoon to be Spaghetti Squash

This morning I found this little beauty growing into one extraordinary Spaghetti Squash.  So in honor of my soon to be ripe Spaghetti Squash here is a delectable recipe combining homemade pesto, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, and chicken (optional)!

Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash & Tomato Tapenade

pesto spaghetti squash

Serves 4

Chicken Pesto Spaghetti Squash Ingredients:
• 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
• 4 cups of fresh spinach OR arugula leaves, packed
• ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ cup of pine nuts or almonds
• ½ cup of plain fat-free Greek yogurt
• 3 garlic cloves, peeled
• Juice of ½ a lemon
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• Special equipment needed: food processor
• 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise
• 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil for squash
• 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional- could replace with baked tofu)
Tomato Tapenade Recipe:
• ½ red onion, diced
• 2 Tbsp capers
• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
• ½ cup kalamata olives, cut in halves
• 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Split the squash in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.
2. While squash is cooling, add basil, spinach (or arugula), oil, nuts, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in your food processor. Pulse to combine ingredients—consistency should be creamy. Set aside.
3. Lightly pound out chicken breast, rub all sides with ¼ of the pesto mixture, and place chicken in an oven tray. Cook chicken for 25-30 minutes until fully cooked.
4. Meanwhile, combine red onion, capers, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, red vinegar, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Toss until mixed.
5. When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin. Toss the spaghetti squash in a pan with the remainder of the pesto mixture for just long enough to get hot.
6. Serve chicken on top of pesto spaghetti squash and top with a few spoonfuls of the tomato tapenade. Enjoy!

5:21 pm

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

It’s not about how we fall…it’s about what happens next…

By:  Maria Kasdagly IN MAKwellness

...so we keep moving forward

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Like many 20 something but nearly 30 year-olds I change my mind a lot.  I started my academics wanting to learn about Roman and Greek Theatre and Latin, but then my passion shifted to business…then communications…then business & communications & dance…then nutrition…and I finally settled into nutrition & cancer biology.  Oh yeah, then my professional career went from a corporate sales at News Corp in NYC, to being a group fitness/yoga instructor,  to working in retail at lululemon athletica (which might I add the greatest company to ever work for), and now to owning MAKwellness, so you’d think by now I would be fully confident in myself to move forward without fear.  WRONG!  I am petrified and I start to think about “what if I am no good?” “what if people don’t like me?” what if I am of no value?”.  As these many questions bounce through my head I immediately start the downward spiral of self defeat and for a while I will feel “stuck”.  As I continue to comply with stagnation my same thought patterns, worries, and troubles continue to mold into my future. Sometimes  it feels as if the risk of picking myself back up and going forward feels like a far worse plan than sticking with the current state.

Then I realized for me to move forward without fear I must let go, forgive myself, forgive others, forgive the situation, and truly realize the situation is over. Moving forward requires courage, compassion, and patience. It’s not that we must forget the past; the past helps us discover who we are as individuals and helps us determine our self worth as we continue our journeys. However, we need to forgive and let go of the past and detach emotion to it so that we can create space for our future. Think of our minds as a filing cabinet, we can only fit so many pieces of information into that filing cabinet until it is completely full. When full, we are then stuck with a choice: buy another filing cabinet or lighten your load so you can file new information.

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
–Paulo Coelho

Our happiness is not the absence of our trials and tribulations; but, rather our ability and personal responsibility to deal with them. We will fall time and time again…but at least falling is in the right direction of moving forward. To move forward is to be grateful, to be vulnerable, to be humbled, and to be alive.

Today, I challenge you to close a door and move forward. I cannot promise you that you won’t fall, but know the your legacy is not about how you fall it is about what you do after you fall.

10:56 pm

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

From Purple to Orange- The Mysterious Carrot

By: Maria Kasdagly in MAKwellness

Carrot Trivia (True or False):
  1. Carrots are better for you raw than cooked.
  2. The first cultivated carrot is believed to originate from the mountains of Afghanistan before the 900s and exhibited purple or yellow roots.
  3. Mel Blanc, the voice of cartoon character Bugs Bunny, reportedly did not like carrots.
  4. The orange carrot that we know today is orange for entirely political reasons.
  5. Carrots have lots of vitamin C and that is why they are orange.
  6. Bear and Vinny (my two dogs) hate carrots. Every time I peel a carrot they run under the bed.

Ohhhh a carrot


  1. False- Cooked carrots helps to break down their tough cellular walls. It’s hard to properly chew carrots and optimally benefit from the beta-carotene content. In the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which is beneficial for bone health, the immune system, and vision. According to a 2008 report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, cooked carrots made its antioxidants, most notably carotenoids, more ready available to the body.
  2. True- The first cultivated carrot did not have orange roots, but rather purple and yellow (often referred to as white). The orange carrot didn’t appear till the 17th century.
  3. True- Apparently, Mel Blanc was allergic to carrots.
  4. True- In the 17th century, Dutch growers are thought to have cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange – who led the the struggle for Dutch independence – and the color stuck.
  5. False- The orange pigment comes from Vitamin A, more specifically the phytochemical beta-carotene. One medium sized carrot provides more than 200% of your daily requirement of vitamin A. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a natural chemical that the body changes into vitamin A. The deeper orange the carrot, the more beta-carotene you’re getting.
  6. False- My dogs are obsessed with carrots. As soon as they hear the peeler hit the carrot they are lined up waiting for their little treat.

Dogs and Carrots


Tri-colored Roasted Carrots with Fresh Herbs

roasted carrots







  • 12 carrots (I found a bag of Tri-colored at Trader Joes, but orange will do as well!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Grape Seed Oil
  • A pinch of Sea Salt
  • A pinch of Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Approximately 1/4 cup of loosely packed Fresh Herbs (I have Rosemary, Basil, and Thyme growing on my deck so I used those for this recipe)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut carrots into 3 inch sticks (should look like french fries) and arrange in a large glass baking dish.  Toss the carrots with grape seed oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh herbs until well mixed.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes covered, and an additional 5 minutes uncovered.  Serve warm!

9:53 pm

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

Good Luck Runners! Endurance Banana Bread Recipe.

By Maria Kasdagly IN MAKwellness


Grandma’s Marathon Weekend starts today!  It is an annual road race held each June in Duluth, Minnesota, in the United States. The course runs point-to-point from the town of Two Harbors on Scenic Route 61 and continues along Lake Superior into the city of Duluth.  Grandma’s Marathon weekend features the 16th largest Full Marathon, the GarryRunning Quote Bjorklund Half Marathon, and the William A. Irvin 5K.

In honor of all those running the Grandma’s Marathon this weekend in Duluth, MN, I whipped up a healthy batch of Banana Bread that has a great combination of carbohydrates and protein sure to keep your feet movin’.  Marathon runners and athletes in general should eat a diet high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat.

Importance of Carbohydrates:

The body’s preferred fuel for running (or any endurance sport) is muscle glycogen.  Glycogen is excess carbohydrates that our body stores in tissues like muscle.  When muscle glycogen catabolism exceeds its replacement, glycogen stores become depleted.  This can lead to fatigue and the inability to maintain the endurance event.  To keep energy high and maintain an adequate endurance level, runners must have a diet that is carbohydrate rich.   Carbohydrates should provide 60-70% of total daily calories.

Importance of Protein:

In order to maintain regular physical performance protein is needed for muscle growth and repair.  During any type of training our body will breakdown muscle, so that is why it is crucial to have protein in the diet to help rebuild and repair our tissues.  However, when muscle glycogen stores become depleted due to inadequate calories from carbohydrate intake, protein can be used for energy instead of muscle repair.  Using protein as energy is very expensive and inefficient to the body, so that is why appropriate amount of carbohydrate intake is crucial for an endurance athlete.  Protein should contribute 12-15% of total calories/day (or multiply your weight in pounds by 0.6 to calculate the number of grams of protein you should consume per day).

Endurance Banana Bread


Serves 10 slices



  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I used Trader Joe’s Whey Protein Powder)
  • 1 scoop of Mila® Chia Seeds (see below for more information on Mila®)
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (My favorite brand is Savory from Fort Collins!!!  My old stomping ground)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp vanilla greek yogurt (I like Chiobani or Fage)
  • ⅓ cup oats
  • Optional: ⅓ cup chocolate chips (I didn’t use them in this recipe, but if you wanted a little something special add them in!)

For Topping (optional)

  • ⅓ cup oats
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon



  1. Preheat oven to 350.photo (6)
  2. Mix dry bread ingredients in a medium size bowl.
  3. Add bananas, egg whites, and Greek yogurt, and mix well.  I always feel bad wasting the yoke of an egg, so I got creative…
  4. Spray a bread pan with nonstick spray, then pour mixed ingredients into the pan.
  5. In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients with clean hands. Sprinkle topping over the bread mix.
  6. Put in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  Note: time varies each time for myself…typically it is around 39-42 minutes.


Mila® by Lifemax ®

My friend Sarah introduced me to Mila® by Lifemax®.  Mila® is an exclusive proprietary blend of the world’s finest variants of the most potent grains of chia.  It is naturally gluten-free, trans-fat free, sugar-free, non-GMO and is a superior plant-based source of protein and fiber.  It is a whole, raw food that contains the highest and safest plant-based combination of antioxidants, protein, fiber, phytonutrients, and omega-3s.  It is odorless and will conform to the flavor of any meal.  It is by far my favorite brand of chia and I completely feel revitalized and sustained for longer periods of time than my grocery store bought brands.  Please visit TheBlissfulSeed.com for more information.

8:00 am

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

Have you fed your microflora today?

By Maria Kasdagly IN MAKwellness

Those that know me know that I am oddly fascinated by the colon.  An organ often ignored by many individuals and so under appreciated, and I think it is mainly because it is associated with “poop”.  Yep…I said it “poop” and once you say it a few times it doesn’t sound too bad.  Many people hate to talk about or even think about their routinely domestics, but everybody poops and it’s vital for our health and survival.  So now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss our extraordinary colon!

The large intestine (colon) is comprised of the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and sigmoid colon. Its primary function includes the absorption and secretion of electrolytes and water, as well as the storage and excretion of waste materials. The human large intestine can be described as a complex microbial ecosystem. It is thought that at least 50 genera of bacteria reside in the colon, and is comprised of several hundred species. The large intestine is by far the most heavily colonized region of the digestive tract, with trillions of bacteria often referred to as probiotics (Pro= encouraging, Biotic=life). There is a whole other universe in all our colons!

Did you know that 60-70% of their immune system is located in the gut? A vast network of lymph tissue referred to as GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue) and the probiotics in our gut are constantly interfacing with the GALT and essentially priming the immune system for contact with other bacteria. They serve as a way for the body to learn how to respond to bacteria without actually having to suffer an infection.  I know, the colon is so cool!  

Most people have heard of probiotics and how important they are to incorporate in our diets to maintain optimum health, however, few know that we need to consume prebiotics too!  Think about your good bacteria as a pet and you must feed your pet, that is exactly what prebiotcs do; essentially prebiotics are food for your probiotics.  Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system to benefit health.  Most prebiotics are found in foods rich in oligosaccharides or fructo-oligosaccharides, i.e. plant foods (fiber).  They are naturally sweet and often are added to other foods as the sweetener.  So what foods are rich in prebiotics, you ask?  

Here are a few prebiotic rich foods easily found in our grocery stores:

  • Chicory root
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Sorghum (my grandma put this into her meatballs…and only had 1 bathroom)
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • All onions
  • Endives
  • Dandelion Root
  • Bananas (the inside of the peel [stringy pieces] are given to children with diarrhea in third world countries to help stop the diarrhea and rejuvenate their small & mighty colons)

So take care of your colon and your health by providing a healthy, thriving, and nurturing environment for your probiotics!  The more you love them the more they will love you back!

Here is a great recipe combine probiotics and prebiotics!  Enjoy!

Pesto Quinoa with Apple, English Peas, and Endives 

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  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach OR arugula leaves, packed
  • 1 tbsp cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts OR almonds
  • 1 cup of plain fat-free Greek yogurt (probiotic)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Special equipment needed: food processor
  • 1 red apple, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced (prebiotic)
  • 1 cup lightly steamed English peas (or just regular frozen peas)
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 10-15 endive leaves (prebiotic)
  • Sundried tomatoes, diced (optional)



  1. Boil water (or broth), add quinoa, lower heat, and let quinoa simmer until fully cooked.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine basil, spinach, oil, nuts, yogurt, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper into your food processor or blender.  Puree until smooth and set aside.
  3. Add apple, onion, English peas, and almonds to cooled quinoa.  Toss pesto into quinoa mix until thoroughly combined!
  4. Spoon green-wah into endive leaves and top with sundried tomatoes!

10:02 pm

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

“There are two types of people; those who eat kale and those who should.” ~ Bo Muller-Moore

By Maria Kasdagly IN


Is kale on your menu yet? If not, here is a long list of kale nutrients that should persuade you. One cup of kale (36 calories) includes:
• 1327% vitamin K
• 206% vitamin A
• 134% vitamin C
• 27% manganese
• 9% calcium
• 6% iron
Cruciferous vegetables, including kale, have the most powerful anti-cancer effects of all foods.  Most of the bioactive compounds, or extra-nutritional health-benefiting compounds, in kale function as antioxidants in your body, meaning they quench or neutralize free radicals making them harmless to your body and reducing your cancer risk.  Also these compounds increase enzyme function that are important in the detox process.

Vegetables, in general, all have powerful levels of bioactive compounds that can prevent age-related diseases.  For example, kale contains high amounts of carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and these two compounds have been shown to help significantly decrease macular degeneration.  Also, research has found that people with high levels of lutein have the healthiest blood vessels, with little or no atherosclerosis.

Kale Chips Recipe:

• 2 bunches of kale, washed and thoroughly dried
• 2 Tbsp grape seed oil
• 1 Tbsp sea salt
• ½ Tbsp dried garlic
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
2. Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces. Place on cut kale in a large bowl and toss with oil, salt, garlic, and cayenne.
3. Spread kale out evenly on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, turning leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.
4. For even baking, use a dehydrator instead of oven. This will take longer (~1 hour), but every leaf with turn out just perfect!


  1. Bernstein PS, Delori FC, Richer S, et al.  The value of measurement of macular carotenoid pigment optical densities and distributions in age-related macular degeneration and other retinal disorders.  Vision Res. 2010 Mar 31;50 (7):716-28.
  2. Carpentier S, Knaus M, Suh M.  Associations between lutein, zeaxanthin, and age-related macular degeneration: an overview.  Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Apr;49 (4):313-26.
  3. Dwyer JH, Paul-Labrador MJ, Fan J, et al.  Progression of carotid intima-media thickness and plasma antioxidants: the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study.  Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004 Feb;24 (2): 313-19. 

4:06 pm

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

Calories!  Everyone is talking about them and everybody is counting them!

By:  Maria Kasdagly IN



Calories!  Everyone is talking about them and everybody is counting them!  A few years ago I wanted to join the calorie counting fad, so I downloaded one of the trendy apps on my phone and started logging all the foods I ate.  I was so incredibly overwhelmed with the amount of work that went into each meal, maybe if I just didn’t eat it would be easier.  I rarely eat the same thing day to day and I usually make up some weird “salad “concoction from whatever fruit, vegetable, legume, or even nut I have laying around. However, I am a stubborn and determined girl, so I was going to keep counting!  Since logging my calories was so time consuming, I decided to get crafty and only eat the same things for breakfast and lunch and plan out a few rotating dinners just so I can count those darn calories easier.  What happened next was devastating…I ended up only eating protein bars and maybe a banana for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner, I became obsessive over everything I ate, I stopped listening to what my body needed, and completely lost the pleasure of eating food!  Well, what the heck I thought counting calories was supposed to help me feel better.  Totally not the case!

Food is more than just Calories!

For those of you who do count your calories I must ask, are you more concerned with the number of calories or the amount of nutrients consumed?  Sadly, when we merely count calories we aren’t thinking about nutrient density.  Yes, calories are important as they give us the energy we need to live.  However, I can eat 1000 calories/day of nutrient worthless garbage, be as skinny as a rail, and feel like absolute hell everyday.  Counting calories only gives you a number not your health.  In addition, when we count out every calorie we ignore our bodies needs.  For example, what if you just had one hardcore workout at the gym or were feeling a bit lazy and skipped the gym, but allowed yourself the same amount of calories for both circumstances?  Your body will ebb & flow each day depending on your output or lack their of, and being mindful to what your body truly needs will help guide you to optimal health.

So calories AREN’T Important?

NO!  I am not saying that calories aren’t important, but use them as a general guideline for optimal health.  For example knowing the amount of calories in different types of foods and where the calories are coming from (protein, carbohydrates, or fat) will help you make overall healthier food selections.  Over time you will learn that foods that are incredibly beneficial to your health are lower in calories naturally and you can eat a lot more of them.

How do I keep track and hold myself accountable?

I encourage all my cleanse participants and clients that their focus should be more on the quality of food than the amount of calories that are in the food.   However, foods can be mischievous as they can just pop into our mouths without us even noticing.  Those sneaky chocolate covered raisins!  Eating can often be a subconscious habit due to stress, boredom, or anxiety.  I tell all my clients to keep a food journal and to log foods eaten throughout the day, but don’t be too concerned about counting calories.  I also have them write down the time of day the food was consumed, how hungry were they before they ate, how full they felt afterwards, and how that particular food/meal made them feel emotionally and physically.  We can learn a lot about our dietary patterns by simply understanding when we are physically hungry or emotionally craving food.

So again, I encourage you to EAT FOOD!  Eat a lot of really good, nutrient dense, health promoting food!  If you eat for your health calorie counting won’t matter.

8:00 am

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

Carbohydrates 101: Why a High Carbohydrate Diet May Benefit You, Part Six

By:  Maria KasdaglyIn MAKwellness

For the longest time I always considered myself a “low carb” kind of girl, but now I know my diet is quite the opposite.  Actually, I don’t think I am on a “diet” at all…I just eat food!  The goal of this article is not to bash “low carb” diets at all, but rather to empower you to be a proactive participate in your health and not fall victim to another diet scheme.

What Defines a Low Carb Diet?

A low carb diet limits or restricts carbohydrate consumption and is often used for weight loss.  In general, low carb diets focus on proteins, including meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, and some non-starchy vegetables.  Foods high in easily digestible carbohydrates (i.e. sugar, bread, pasta) are eliminated and low carb diets limit most grains, beans, fruits, starchy vegetables, and sometimes nuts and seeds.  Not all low carb diets are the same and some diet plans allow certain fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  The typical low carb diet includes less than 20% of your total daily calorie intake from carbohydrates (400 calories daily from carbohydrates*).   Whereas the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45-65% of your total daily calorie intake from carbohydrates (900-1,300 calories daily from carbohydrates*).

*Based on a 2,000 daily caloric intake

Carbohydrate Refresher

As previously discussed, carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and beverages, and naturally occur in plant-based foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes).  However, some food manufacturers do add carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of starch or added sugar, which can be harmful to our overall health and waistline.  Our bodies use carbohydrates as our primary energy source.  Simple or complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, absorbed into the bloodstream (blood glucose), and then with the help of insulin the glucose enter our cells.  Glucose can either be used by our body for energy, stored in our liver, muscle, or other cells for later use, or is converted to fat.

The Low-Carb Theory:

The theory behind the low-carb diet is that by decreasing carbohydrate intake our insulin levels are reduced, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately helps you shed excess weight and reduce risk factors for a variety of health conditions.  Some low carb diets are ketogenic, meaning that they restrict carbohydrate intake sufficiently to cause ketosis (i.e. the Induction Phase of the Atkins Diet).  Simply, ketosis  means that our bodies are using fat for energy.

Weight Loss:  Everybody is Doing it!

Two-thirds of Americans and an estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide are either overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2) or obese (≥ 30 kg/m2), and this epidemic is not getting any better.  Unfortunately, many weight-loss programs don’t work or only offer temporary benefits.  Our market is bombarded with so many diet plans, diet pills, high-protein programs, shakes, and other diet trends that claim your success in weight loss, or at least provide you with temporary benefits.  Sadly, the term “diet” has turned into a fad and the pleasure and enjoyment of eating because something makes you feel good has long been overlooked.  These mass produced weight loss “diets” aren’t sustainable long-term, and some are very dangerous.  Truthfully, what good is a diet plan that helps you lose weight but now your health is at risk?

A High Carbohydrate Diet for Your Health:

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” Since ancient times, plant-based foods, herbs, and spices have been used in the prevention of ailments and chronic diseases, including cancer. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated the correlation of fruit and vegetable consumption and the reduced risk of various diseases.  So my question to you is why would we want to limit these extraordinary fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole-grains, seeds, and legumes simply because their carbohydrate content is higher than lean proteins?  Studies have shown that high-protein diets, or diets rich in animal products and low in fruits and unrefined carbohydrates, are positively associated with colon cancer risk.  Are animal products the enemy?  Not necessarily, but they must be consumed in moderation and accompanied by an abundant amount of unprocessed  plant-based foods.  Dr. Fuhrman has a health equation that I live my life by:

H = N/C (Health = Nutrients/Calories)   

“Your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your intake of calories.” Dr. Fuhrman

Don’t limit your health by the amount of carbohydrates in your food, rather enhance your health by eating plentiful amounts of nutrient dense foods.  Please note that I am not recommending you to stuff your bellies full of worthless carbohydrate crap, like cakes, sweets, pastries, and over processed refined grains.  My goodness friends, eat food–real, raw, nutrient loaded, juicy, health-benefiting, wonderful, amazing, and delicious food!  Your life and waistline will thank you!


  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Weight Loss.” Low-carb Diet: Could It Help You Lose Weight? Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
  2. Zeng H, Lazarova DL. Obesity-related colon cancer: dietary factors and their mechanisms of anticancer action. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology. 2011:1-20.
  3. Li YY, Wicha MS, Schwart SJ, Sun DX: Implications of cancer stem cell theory for cancer chemoprevention by natural dietary compounds. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2011, 22(9):799-806.
  4. Erdelyi I, Levenkova N, Lin EY, Pinto JT, Lipkin M, Quimby FW, Holt PR: Western-style diets induce oxidative stress and dysregulate immune responses in the colon in a mouse model of sporadic colon cancer. The Journal of nutrition 2009, 139(11):2072-2078.
  5. Gonzalez CA, Riboli E: Diet and cancer prevention: Contributions from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. European journal of cancer 2010, 46(14):2555-2562.
  6. Aparicio T, Kotelevets L, Tsocas A, Laigneau J-P, Sobhani I, Chastre E, Lehy T: Leptin stimulates the proliferation of human colon cancer cells in vitro but does not promote the growth of colon cancer xenografts in nude mice or intestinal tumorigenesis in ApcMin/+ mice. Gut 2005, 54(8):1136-1145.
  7. Newmark HL, Yang K, Kurihara N, Fan K, Augenlicht LH, Lipkin M: Western-style diet-induced colonic tumors and their modulation by calcium and vitamin D in C57Bl/6 mice: a preclinical model for human sporadic colon cancer. Carcinogenesis 2009, 30(1):88-92.
  8.  Fuhrman, J. Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustainable Weight Loss.  (2003) Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY.

2:43 pm

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

Carbohydrates 101:  Fiber as a Super Food, Part Five

By:  Maria Kasdagly
In MAKwellness

Fiber has become an everyday term used when talking about anything nutrition.  Even though it is not considered a nutrient, food labels now show fiber content and many health professionals claim that Americans don’t consume enough fiber on a daily basis.  The goal of this section is to discuss the physiological effects of fiber and how those effects help your colon health while also aiding in one epic bathroom session sure to make any speedo or two-piece feel amazing on.

What is Fiber?

Plant cell walls contain more than 95% of dietary fibers.  Dietary fiber is found only in plant foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes).  There are two types of dietary fiber–soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber dissolves in hot water and insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water.  Soluble fiber are gums, pectins, some hemicelluloses, and beta-glucans and can be found in foods such as berries, any beans, any peas, flax seeds, plums, apples, and oats.  Fiber from psyllium seed, an ingredient in some over-the-counter laxatives, is also in this group.

On the other hand, insoluble fibers, which provide structure to plants are primarily lignins, cellulose, and some hemicelluloses.  Insoluble fiber can be found in vegetables, brans, nuts, seeds, and the skins of fruits and vegetables.   Most foods contain mixtures of both types of fibers, but generally vegetables and wheat, along with most grain products, contain more insoluble fibers than soluble fibers.  Both soluble and insoluble fibers are important to your health for different reasons, which are discussed below.

Health Benefits of Fiber:

The physiological and metabolic effects of fiber vary based on the type of ingested fiber but in general fiber is vital for good health.  Although fiber is not digested, it is bulky and therefore increases satiety.  Soluble fiber is viscous, meaning it is able to pull water from the body.  Think of soluble fiber as a dry sponge, so as it moves throughout the digestive tract it soaks up water and digestive juices.  Soluble fiber will also delay the stomach from emptying into the intestines, which is partly why soluble fiber tends to decrease theglycemic effect of the meal.    Fiber is also sticky, so on it way through the digestive tract it helps to pick up harmful chemicals, potentially carcinogenic chemicals, that find their way into the intestines.   Mechanisms in which dietary fibers prevent disease are multiple and varied, but the outcomes can include avoidance of constipation-based diseases such as colon cancer, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.

Fiber’s Preventative Role Against Colon Cancer

Often we think of our colon as the place where we hold our human “waste” until that waste makes it grand adventure down the toilet.  But there is so much more to our colon than just are “poop holding tank”.  As previously discussed, 70% of our immune cells reside in the lining of our intestinal walls, thus it’s important to eat a diet that will nurture and  support the health of our colon.

Many fibers once they reach the colon are fermented by the good bacteria, and can produce favorable effects for the body.  Fermentable fibers, predominantly from soluble fibers, stimulate the production of bacteria and can also generate short-chain fatty acids for use by the body.  Short-chain fatty acids are hard to get in the diet, so our body depends on our mighty colon to make these fats.  Research is showing that these fats help keep the colon cells healthy and thus prevent diseases, such as colon cancer.  Also, fiber fermentation creates an acidic environment in the colon, which decreases the synthesis of secondary bile acids.  Decreasing secondary bile acids has been shown to decrease the generation of tumors.  Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fibers resist fermentation (degradation).  This allows insoluble fibers to bind carcinogens, which thereby minimizes the chances of the carcinogen interacting with the colon cells.

Other Benefits of Fiber:

Besides increasing satiety and contributing to overall colon health, fiber may benefit us in other ways.  It has been shown to decrease triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels, increase frequency and volume of defecation (making you feel like a super star), and may even help prevent diabetes, heart disease, ulcers, and other types of cancer.


  1. Gropper, SS, Smith, JL, Groff, JL (2008) Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Belmont, California: Wadsworth.
  2. Campebell, CT and Campbell, TM (2006) The China Study:  Startling Implication for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books, Inc.

3:56 pm

Wellness Friday with MAKwellness

Carbohydrates 101: Why Not All Starches are Created Equal, Part Four

By:  Maria Kasdagly
In MAKwellness

My goodness!  Can you believe how complex carbohydrates are?!  (note to self: must work on corny nutrition jokes)  But seriously, we now understand the basics of carbohydrates, that food labels are our saving grace when selecting not only breads but all foods, and oligosaccharides are truly the bomb.   In this next section we will discuss why not all starches are created equal and how you can change your health by selecting the right carbs!

What are Complex Carbohydrates (AKA Starches)?

As previously discussed, starches are the most common digestible polysaccharide (long complex chains of simple sugars) in plants.  It is the major glycemic carbohydrate in foods; meaning that the type of polysaccharide will determine the amount of glucose in the blood post consumption.  Its nutritional property is related to its rate and extent of digestion and absorption in the small intestine.

Naturally, starch contains amylose and amylopectin.  Starches that are relatively high in amylose content tend to be more resistant to digestion than starches with higher amylopectin content.  So considering this, starches can be broken down into three categories:

  • Rapidly digestible starch (RDS)-It is digested and absorbed in small intestine leading to a rapid elevation of blood sugar.  RDS have a high glycemic index and have the tendency for subsequent episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose and therefore the urge to eat again).  Food types include:
      • White Potatoes, cooked
      • Instant Rice, cooked
      • Corn Flakes
      • Bagel
      • Some fruits are considered high glycemic foods, but when looking at their glycemic load they are low.  (refer to glycemic index post)
  • Slowly digestible starch (SDS)- It is much more cumbersome to breakdown in the small intestines, and it can take up two hours before the starch is broken down into its smaller sugar units.  SDS have a lower glycemic index.  Food types include:
      • Barley, cooked
      • Bulgar wheat, cooked
      • Brown Rice, cooked
      • Quinoa, cooked
  • Resistant starches (RS)- It is not digested in the small intestine but is fermented by bacteria in the colon. This can produce short chain fatty acids, like butyrate, that are beneficial to colon health.  Food types include:
      • Banana, raw, slightly green
      • Oats, rolled (uncooked)
      • White Beans (cooked)
      • Green Peas, frozen (cooked)
      • Lentils (cooked)
      • Cold Potato (uncooked)
      • Oatmeal (cooked)

Why Knowing your Starches Can Save Your Life:

The rising prevalence of obesity, not only in adults but also in kids and teenagers, is one of the most important public health problems in the United States.  Two-thirds of Americans and an estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide are either overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2) or obese (≥ 30 kg/m2).  If those statistics don’t startle you then maybe these from the CDC will…

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
  • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
  • In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

A recent review article published in Nutrients (2011), addressed this concern.  They looked at the relationship between different types of dietary carbohydrates and appetite regulation, body weight, and body composition throughout the scientific literature.  They found that intake of starchy foods, especially those containing slowly-digestible and resistant starches are beneficial to maintain body weight, regulate appetite, and lower the insulin response.  Whereas, rapidly digestible carbohydrates pose potential detrimental effects on the body.  This research supports the intake of whole grains, legumes, andvegetables.

Shopping Note:

When you’re shopping for any whole-grain product, look at the ingredient label and make sure the whole grain is at or near the top of the list. Each serving should contain at least 2 or 3 grams of fiber.  Once again make sure the label says “100 percent whole wheat”, “whole oats”, or “whole-grain barley”. Terms like “multigrain” and “wheat” just don’t cut it.  Watch out for additives, enriched flour, degerminated (in cornmeal), bran, wheat germ, or added salt!

Figure 1:  Carbohydrate classification and their main role after meal consumption.  Please refer to reference #1 for the original article.


  1. Aller, EEJG., Abete, I, Astrip, A, Martinez, JA, and van Baak, MA. Starches, Sugars and Obesity. Nutrients. 2001: 3, 341-369.
  2. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association 2014;311(8):806-814.
  3. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2011: With Special Features on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Hyattsville, MD; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.
  4. Zeng H, Lazarova DL. Obesity-related colon cancer: dietary factors and their mechanisms of anticancer action. Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology. 2011:1-20.