Friday, April 11, 2014

It's Chocolate, Not Candy

It's Chocolate
not Candy
Dr. Kyle D. Christensen, DC, ND,MH

So, I'm reading a book on High Blood Pressure. (I know, I know, that is kind of nerdy, but hey, I'm a doctor - that's the kind of thing we read before going to bed).   One of the problems associated with high blood pressure is low magnesium in the body. In fact, studies have shown that 80% of the population has depleted magnesium levels in the blood. One of the common medical treatments for high blood pressure are diuretic medications. The reasoning for a diuretic prescription is that if we can decrease the amount of fluid/blood that is pushing against the walls of the arteries, the blood pressure should go down. However, far too often, the diuretic depletes even further the magnesium (and potassium) which caused the high blood pressure in the first place.
Studies have shown that the greater the intake of magnesium, the lower of risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. For many, simply getting enough magnesium in your diet (400-600mg/day) can eliminate high blood pressure.

We recently began using an Far InfraRed Sauna for cleansing and detoxifying the body. We've learned that when we sweat, one of the key minerals we lose is magnesium. Recommendations after sauna use is to replace magnesium. Which comes to my topic of discussion:

Chocolate! Chocolate is very high in magnesium (3 oz of dark chocolate contains 176- 420mg. of magnesium depending on the percentage of cocoa). Please understand, I am NOT talking about candy. I am talking about chocolate, cocoa, or cacao. Real chocolate made from fresh whole natural ingredients. Hersheys, Nestles, M&M's, Kit-Kat bars are candy, weighing in with about 11% cocoa. The FDA require a minimum of 10% "cocoa bean components" to label the product chocolate. This is candy and candy is unhealthy - not because of the chocolate content but with the sugar and plethora of other chemicals that are put into the candy. Chocolate, real chocolate made from cacao beans (pronounced Ka-KOW), then roasted to become cocoa (pronounced Ko-Ko) is the real stuff. The raw ingredient Cacao (Ka-KOW) is combined with a sweetener (ideally a healthy one such as honey, maple syrup or raw cane sugar), cocoa butter and perhaps a few spices. Dark chocolate measuring in at 60-90% cacao is truly a healthy food that has many positive medicinal qualities.
Here are some of the benefits that research as demonstrated with dark chocolate. Real chocolate, NOT candy!
  • Heart & Vascular Health.  Dark Chocolate is high in the amino acid Arginine which increases Nitric Oxide.  Nitric Oxide in the blood relaxes and dilates the blood vessel muscles and keeps plaque from forming on the artery walls thereby lowering high blood pressure. Arginine also keeps the blood thin by keeping platelet from clumping together abnormally. Dark Chocolate leaves arteries more soft and supple.
  • Inflammation.  A 2008 study showed that small amounts, one or two squares, of dark chocolate reduced inflammation, which is implicated in heart disease, arthritis and a host of other ailments.
  • Dementia and Alzheimers. The polyphenols in dark chocolate will very likely delay and prevent Alzheimers and dementia according to one recent study.
  • Appetite Suppression. 
    Dark chocolate is highly satisfying to the appetite and can actually help you to lose weight.  
  • Healthy Skin. Consumption of 2 tablespoons of high quality dark chocolate for 12 weeks resulted in skin that was smoother and more moist, which is important for a more youthful look.
  • Heart Failure Protection. One 2010 study (of women) showed substantial protection against heart failure, hospitalization or death in those who ate just an ounce of dark chocolate once or twice per week.
  • Brain and Vision.  Dark chocolate was found to significantly increase short-term memory and visual brain functions. For example, it improved choice reaction time, spatial memory, visual contrast sensitivity and motion detection for starters. In other words, chocolate is a brain booster!
  • Medicine. Yes, researchers have actually suggested that dark chocolate could be used as medicine!  As I always say, "Food is clinical" and dark chocolate is a perfect example of this.  Researchers studied people with high blood pressure (hypertension) and  found that dark chocolate actually saved lives and decreased mortality. The researchers emphasized that it needs to be dark chocolate with at least 60-70% cocoa.
  • Brain Booster.  The studies keep rolling in showing that cocoa is a brain builder.  For example, a 2012 study in the journal Hypertension, shows that older people with mild memory problems were significantly helped by consuming dark chocolate.  It is important to note that this study showed the benefit ONLY occurring with dark chocolate and that it must be of high quality and low processing.
  • Insulin Sensitivity. One of the huge battles for most men (over the age of about 40) is managing their blood sugar and insulin levels. Again, high quality dark chocolate is found to increased insulin sensitivity helping and preventing diabetes.
  • Calming Effects.
    Dark Chocolate contains significant amounts of both serotonin and tryptophan, which explains the calming effect of chocolate on many people.  The magnesium in dark chocolate also will relax tight muscles (think TMJ - jaw tightness). 
Do You Crave Chocolate? It could be that you are deficient in Magnesium (most likely), or in need of L-Arginine, Serotonin or Tryptophan. But Please, Please, remember it is chocolate you need, NOT candy. High Quality, low processed chocolate. Do not rationalize yourself into believe that poor quality chocolate -"flavored" candy will be of any benefit. And please don't confuse a sugar addiction with eating real honest-to-goodness chocolate.

Good quality chocolate can be expensive! So why not join us and learn to make your own. Delicious, Nutritious and Fun. See our Class schedule.


Dr. Kyle Christensen
April 10, 2014

Withstanding Our Trials

Withstanding Our Trials
Dr. Kyle D. Christensen, DC, ND,MH

Sometimes, I will hear someone say, in an attempt to support and comfort another, "God will not give us any challenge or trial that is greater than we have the ability to handle." The inference is "come on, hang in there, you are stronger than you may realize." 

While the sentiment to comfort may be well meaning, what a bunch of malarkey this is.  The truth and reality is:  We have had, and will have in the future, challenges and trials and heartaches that are so great, that are so overwhelming and so beyond our ability, that the only way we can survive them with any semblance of sanity is with the support, comfort and guidance of God and Christ. 

I believe that God allows trials and hardships in our lives in order to provide us with the opportunity to come to him.  As our lives seem to unravel and come apart, we cry out for help, for comfort or support.  While few of our prayers are answered with the miracles we may seek.  I have found in my own life that comfort and peace can distill upon our hearts and lend meaning and purpose to our suffering.  Sometimes we are given a more divine perspective and understanding of the eternal nature of our soul and our relationships with others which can give us the strength to carry on with a cheerful attitude. 

As the world and the society in which we live continues to decline, I anticipate that we will witness an increasing crescendo of disasters, both natural and man-made. The world before us is like no other in the history of mankind.  Evil schemes designed to rob us of health, liberty and happiness abound. I believe that it is through our faith in God we will be able to traverse the billowing storms that seek to encompass us. 

As we weather life's storms, we do become stronger.  We can also gain the experience and understanding to bless the lives of others.  Like many of you, I have found that we can become the hands of God and Christ in each others lives.  As we render quiet acts of compassion and support to those put within the circle of our influence, we can all be lifted together.  For truly, we are all in this together. 

Life is hard.  It is not just or fair.  But I promise you there can be meaning and purpose in our suffering.  I challenge each of us to make the decision to view your difficulties as part of your spiritual journey.  If any addiction (ie. Sugar) is getting the best of you, call upon strength, support or insight to conquer this demon.  Quit thinking you have to overcome everything on your own.  Draw from the deep spiritual resources that lie within each of us.

Dr. Kyle Christensen
March 25, 2014