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Heart Healthy Plant-Based Diet Can be Tasty

By Jana Nalbandian, ND

February is heart healthy month and the article “A heart-healthy diet can include flavorful foods” is the first step in jump starting a healthy diet for 2014.  Most of us know that eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits, complex grains including quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat, legumes along with lean proteins will lower blood pressure, obesity and help prevent Diabetes and heart disease.  What we don’t realize is how tasty these foods can really be after years of over sensitizing our taste buds to high salt, fat and sugary processed foods.

Let’s focus on the plant sources for adding healthy delicious foods to a heart healthy diet.  Fiber in fruits, vegetables, mucilage containing grains and seeds along with legumes is the best way to help manage high cholesterol outside of removing saturated fats from diet.  We should be eating at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.  Fiber, specifically soluble fiber binds with cholesterol in the digestive track and helps remove excess cholesterol out through the bowels.  Along with binding cholesterol, fiber slows down digestion; helps with satiety and the rapid release of sugar into the system.  The problem is most people do not know how to prepare these foods or only think of Cheerio’s and oatmeal as the only fiber source, thanks to a high profile marketing campaign.  Instead of processed cereal try my Muesli recipe of rolled grains (2 c), oat bran (1 c), ground flax (1/2 c), lecithin (1/2c), walnuts or almonds chopped (1/4 c), you can add dried fruit, seeds or chia seeds if desired.  A half a cup of this cereal soaked overnight in water, add fresh fruit and your favorite “milk” beverage and you will have eaten a third of your fiber for the day.    This is great with fresh apples and cinnamon!

High saturated fats, hydrogenated oils and salted foods can be damaging on so many levels including the vascular system and the heart.  Removing hydrogenated oil completely from diet is a must along with removing processed foods from diet that contains high sodium (sodium chloride, sodium benzoate, msg and etc.).  Switch to unprocessed sea salts, they are many flavorful salts to try along with herbs and spices to create great tasting foods.  Refined, purified table salt contains almost pure sodium chloride.  Sea salt, on the other hand, contains only about 85 percent sodium chloride by weight with other minerals, including magnesium and calcium that make up the remainder.

Try one of the recipes in this article; they are all delicious with plenty of fiber, protein and fun ways to add vegetables to the diet.  Go for the Super Raspberry Protein Brownies with added black beans for protein and instead of wheat flour try almond flour instead for a wonderfully rich chocolate brownie.  Bon Appétit!


An Olive A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Written by Jana Nalbandian, ND

More great news about the Mediterranean diet!  We know a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds along with fish lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes.  Now cancer prevention can be added to the long list of health benefits with eating a nutrient rich Mediterranean style diet.  A recent meta-analysis (combining 16 studies) indicates that olive oil in high amounts can decrease the risk of breast cancer.  They have identified a component of olive oil that can cause the death of cancer cells and inhibits cancer growing pathways. 

avante photo25We already know that a diet high in fruits and vegetables, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, provide a rich source of cancer preventing nutrients including lycopene in tomatoes, glucosinolate and indol-3-carbinol in cruciferous vegetables and the anthocyanins in fruits to name a few.  Along with fruits and vegetables, the major source of protein in the Mediterranean diet comes from fish high in omega-3 oil, with minimal intake of agricultural red meat.  The diet tends to be low in refined carbohydrates including sugars and processed foods. 

So what does this mean for the average Alaskan?  We have an abundant source of omega-3 rich seafood, especially wild Alaska salmon, along with seasonal, locally grown vegetables including greens.  Instead of your typical clear/polyunsaturated oil (they are carcinogenic), switch primarily to olive oil for cooking and dressings.  Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruit a day along with 1-2 servings of complex whole grains or yams/sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds (unroasted and unsalted) and lean proteins with a focus on seafood.  To top it all off, resveratrol found in red wine is a strong anti-oxidant that may reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting cancer cell growth when drank in moderate amounts. Bon Appétit


The Importance of A Healthy Gut- Kimberly Kubick, ANP

Did you know you carry approximately 100 trillion microorganisms in your intestines?  These microorganisms make up a complex, interdependent ecosystem.  They can be both helpful and/or harmful.  The “good” bacteria perform beneficial functions such as enzyme production, extracting energy and nutrients from food, interaction with the immune system, and prevention of pathogens.  Your gut also hosts “bad” bacteria that release toxins that are released into the bloodstream.  These toxins are associated with a number of illnesses.

More recent research indicates that your gut “flora” has many systemic effects.  It not only affects your digestive health but it may also affect sleep patterns, mood, weight gain, and even rheumatoid arthritis (see link below for a study published by NHI).  

avante photo25The foods you consume feed these microorganisms.  A diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables encourages a healthy flora.  Probiotics are also a great way to encourage a healthy gut.  Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are found in kefir, yogurt, and supplement form, help to foster and feed a healthy flora.  Diets high in sugar and processed foods will feed the “bad” bacteria rather than promoting the “good” bacteria.  In addition, frequent use of broad spectrum antibiotics can wipe out the gut flora and cause an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria.  While antibiotics serve a purpose, it is often at the expense of your intestinal health.

Protect your gut and overall health by optimizing your diet, minimizing stress, and ensuring plenty of sleep.  A balance gut flora will dramatically help your overall health and well being.

Check out some recent research on gut flora:



URGENT! Support Naturopathic Medicine

Avante Patients,

avante photo36We need your help TODAY!  

The Alaska Dept of Regulations has submitted proposed changes that would limit the scope of practice for naturopathic doctors in the State of Alaska.  This would limit NDs' ability to "prescribe" many dietary supplements that are the basis of many treatment plans.  This is a giant leap backwards and we need to let the Department of Regulations know how we feel.

Read more ...

Myofascial Trigger Point Demystified

Myofascial Trigger Point Demystified

What the heck are myofascial trigger points, what do they do, how do you get them, and what can you do about them?

avante photo13What it is? 
• Myo – Prefix denoting a relationship to muscle.
• Fascia – A sheet of connective tissue that connects every cell, tissue, and structure in the body. It is in and around every muscle, bone, organ, and nerve. This is the shiny white fiber you see when you pull the skin away from chicken. It supports, stabilizes, and cushions the body. It separates the vessels, organs, bones, and muscles.
• Trigger Point – Hyperirritable spots in the muscle that are associated with nodules in a taut band of muscle fiber.

What do they do?
• Cause Pain
• Restricted or Distorted ROM (range of motion)
• Muscle Weakness
• Stiffness
• Mimic other Diagnosed Pain Syndromes (ex: carpal tunnel, sciatica, bursitis, headache)

How do you get them? (Short List)
• Direct Trauma
• Repetitive Motion
• Lack of Movement
• Inflammation
• Stress
• Other Trigger Points

Please make sure to receive treatments from a Board Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist. They can be found at http://www.myofascialtherapy.org/find-a-therapist/index.html

Avante has three myofascial triggerpoint therapists here to help you feel your best.  Call to schedule an appointment today!


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