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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarian Essays/Vegan Essays

Benjamin Griffes lives in Thousand Oaks, California with his wife and three children. He practices chiropractic in both Tarzana and in Thousand Oaks. He has coached AYSO soccer, youth track and field, lacrosse, and gymnastics and has been the team chiropractor for high school volleyball, basketball, track, and for collegiate cycling.

His background includes a Master's Degree in Physical Education with a minor in sports medicine at California State University Northridge (CSUN). He graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic from Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles and began practicing in 1991 in Tarzana. He has given numerous lectures, written articles, and taught courses in sports medicine, posture, health and stretching.

He produced and later hosted the cable TV show "Chiropractic and You" for the San Fernando Valley Chiropractic Society for 3 years. His first book is Stretching for Life, a compilation of stretching exercises, and is "the easiest book on stretching you will ever use." His new DVD 10 Minutes to a Healthier Back, demonstrates the best stretching and strengthening exercises to do daily.

We are grateful to Dr. Griffes for permission to print portions of his newsletter that we felt would be of interest to our readers. More information about Dr. Griffes and his work in health, fitness, and stretching can be found on his webite Stretching for Life

Going Bananas for Good Health

By Dr. Ben Griffes

Bananas contain three natural sugars--sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber--giving them an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. However, energy isn't the only way a banana can help you keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to your daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by the journal MIND, people suffering from depression felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood, and, generally, make you feel better.

PMS: Forget the pills--eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat [high] blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of [high] blood pressure and stroke.

Constipation: High in fiber, bananas in your diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Editors' Note: Vegans would substitute soy or rice beverages and use maple syrup or agave nectar for sweetening.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief. (Forget the Tums and Rolaids)

Dr. Ben Griffes Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and stressed out at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that to avoid panic-induced food cravings, you need to control your blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods like bananas every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral that helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain, and regulates your body's water balance. When you are stressed, your metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing your potassium levels.These can be re-balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death from strokes by as much as 40%!


  1. Take control of your eating. If you end up with constipation or indigestion after some serious partying, try eating only fresh fruit and vegetables and nongluten grains like brown rice, barley, quinoa and kamut, which are easy to digest. Drink lots of water and herbal teas. Eliminate sugars, animal protein, and saturated fats from your diet for one to three days. Include 2 tablespoons of olive oil in your daily diet, either straight or cooked in with your veggies.
  2. Get moving. Don't spend all your time indoors watching TV or lounging around. Get outdoors and play some ball, take a walk or go to the gym. If the weather is lousy, walk up and down your stairs 10 to 15 times.
  3. Engage in mentally stimulating activities. Sometimes you feel letdown or lethargic during or after the holidays, so engage your brain. Go see a movie, visit a museum, play board games with your kids or friends. Do things that are interesting and mentally challenging to help improve your mood.


Last month I mentioned both the Lunge stretch to lengthen your hip flexors because you sit too much, and the "pre-skiing" exercise of bending your knees and imitating the action of skiing. Keep doing them. You may find yourself standing for longer periods of time due to an increase in holiday parties, and wearing dress shoes with high heels (you ladies, that is). So stretching your feet would be a good idea. The first way is to stand in bare feet and move one foot behind you, bend the knee and lift your heel off the floor, leaving your toes on the floor. You should feel a stretch along the bottom of your foot and the toes. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then switch feet. Remember to breathe.

The second way to stretch the bottom of your feet is with a tennis or rubber ball. While standing, place the ball under one foot and gently lean to that side, applying some pressure onto the ball with your foot. Gently roll the ball up and down the foot from your heel to the toes, pausing at the tight spots. You should feel a "good hurt" as you release the tension in the foot. Do this for 30 to 60 seconds and then switch feet. Remember to breathe.


"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -- Bill Watterson

"One out of four people in this country is mentally unbalanced. Think of your three closest friends; if they seem OK, then you're the one." -- Ann Landers

"If you have the same ideas as everybody else but have them one week earlier than everyone else then you will be hailed as a visionary. But if you have them five years earlier you will be named a lunatic." -- Barry Jones

"It is energy, the central element of which is will, that produces the miracles of enthusiasm in all ages. It is the mainspring of what is called force of character and the sustaining power of all great action." --Samuel Smiles

Click here for past Words from Other Birds Articles

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