Archive for July, 2010

Seafood Safety Guide – Good Morning America Health

This spring, a confluence of events has exponentially increased my passion for saving our oceans, and those that inhabit them. I was invited to Monterey Bay Aquarium (if you’ve never been, run there asap!) (www.montereybayaquarium.org) for their annual media conference on Sustainable Seafood (Cooking Solutions). I learned so much about the innovative and intensive efforts that chefs, food companies, and farmers are doing to save and improve our waters. In April, I held a panel for the media on Fish Oil / Omega 3 supplementation as a means to explore what’s good (purity), what’s different (wild Alaskan salmon oil versus Peruvian anchovy and sardines), and how should we define “sustainable.” Did you know that 30 percent of fish caught today goes to making fish meal / fish oil – which largely goes to feeding farmed fish and livestock. In May, I attended an evening (more…)

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New York Times Article “What Do You Lack? Probably Vitamin D

I enjoyed seeing this article in the NY Times on the importance of adequate vitamin D. I am a proponent of checking these levels annually (at least) and working with your health care practitioner to improve your levels.

However, the information on food sources was a bit off and I want to clarify it as well as discuss some of the ways to improve vitamin D levels. While wild salmon and other “oily fish” are good food sources of vitamin D3 (the active form), the fortified foods mentioned (like most milk, juices etc) and mushrooms contain vitamin D2 which requires conversion in the body.  And what’s more, (more…)

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This weekend the X games hit Los Angeles and Ashley Koff Approved (AKA)is helping to make sure that VIP attendees, the media and athletes have healthIER choices to snack on, drink, and maintain their optimal energy (while enjoying every bite or sip). Just like with the AKA Craft Services Makeover Project, AKA worked with X Games to exchange food and beverages for ones that packed more nutrition into their products. Companies like Nature’s Path, Sea’s Gift, Late July, GoMacro, Perfect Foods Bars, Pure Bars, and more will be available for these lucky attendees and athletes to sample.

What’s your favorite healthIER product? Is it Ashley Koff Approved? Let’s find out – send us (facebook: Ashley Koff Approved fanpage; Twitter: ashleykoff) your favorite product and why and we’ll be choosing a few lucky winners to get some AKA sample kits later this month.

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AKA regularly evaluates cosmetics and skincare products because we know that it’s not just what we eat / drink, but what we put on our skin and in our air that affects our health. I rely on tools like the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” database and my friend, eco-makeup artist guru, Christy Coleman www.christycoleman.com or what’s okay and NOT for us and our environment…oh yeah, and how to get camera-ready or out-on-the-town ready with win-win-win looks. Wanted to pass on this latest blog from www.healthychild.org – take action people!

Watch and share The Story of Cosmetics and tell Congress it’s time for SAFE cosmetics!

What are all those chemicals in your shampoo? your lipstick? your aftershave? And what do they have to do with asthma, breast cancer and learning disabilities?

Learn, share and help change this toxic mess: Watch The Story of Cosmetics, a film exposing the ugly truth about personal care products – brought to you by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff Project and Free Range Studios.

Let’s make a huge splash with this new video: if we all share it with our friends and community, we can reach millions of people and really inspire change!

This video is just in time to build momentum for groundbreaking safe cosmetics legislation – the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010! For the first time in 70 years, we have a real chance to pass a bill that would eliminate chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems from the products women, men and children put on their bodies every day.

We need all hands on deck: Urge your elected officials to co-sponsor common-sense safe cosmetics legislation that ensures everyone has access to safe products!

Thanks for watching and sharing The Story of Cosmetics and for asking Congress to get behind safe cosmetics legislation. Together, we’re going to make sure cosmetics are safe for everyone.

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There’s a lot of talk about certain omega fatty acids today – like omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids – and the need to consume them in our diet (or even to supplement the diet with them). Why? Some omega fatty acids –linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – are “essential” meaning that our bodies don’t make them so we rely on food sources to provide the building blocks for these fatty acids. Additionally, omega 3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory power helps balance our bodies in favor of appropriate inflammation. Omega 9, olive oil is a notable dietary source, receives great popularity with the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. But when talking about omega fatty acids and their health benefits, who says we should be count by threes (3,6,9) – in doing so we might just leap frog over some omega fatty acids with health benefits themselves (5,7).

Omega 7, known as palmitoleic acid, may appear to have ‘minor’ status in the world of monounsaturated fats but its health benefits are hardly such. Omega 7 helps regulate fat and blood sugar metabolism (in adipose tissue and in the pancreas). In vitro studies suggest that omega 7 helps improve the function of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. And when it comes to the skin, omega 7 is no ‘minor leaguer’…it is a major fatty acid in epithelial cell membranes – this means skin, blood vessels and mucous membranes. The presence of omega 7 in the epithelial cell membrane plays a protective role including inhibiting bacterial growth, as well promoting tissue recovery and healing. Research specifically on sea buckthorn oil, (which contains 30-40% omega 7), shows its role in improving eczema, acne, oral and stomach ulcers, and vaginal irritation / dryness. Dietary sources of omega 7 fatty acids include wild salmon, macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn berries.

Omega 5, otherwise known as myristoleic acid, is less common in nature – found primarily in the seed oil from plants in the Myristicaceae genus where nutmeg is the most well known; the oil is also extracted from saw palmetto. Myristoleic acid extracted from saw palmetto has shown to effectively combat cancer cells in prostate and pancreatic cancers. Additionally, omega 5 may play a key role in the inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase, a mediator of inflammation, thus, by acting in this anti-inflammatory capacity it helps to promote appropriate inflammation in the body. Food sources of omega 5, beyond extracting myristoleic acid from the aforementioned plants, include the fat of marine animals (wild Alaskan salmon), beavers, and bovines.

So, omega 5 and 7, are they in you? Seems like they should be. How? Consider that whole food sources – plant and animal – contain an array of omega fatty acids thus they are your best insurance to get all of these nutrients. But what if you don’t eat fish, macadamia nuts or what if you are trying to treat one of the symptoms or diseases noted above and want to try omega fatty acid supplementation?  One key takeaway from this omega story is that rather than picking one or two favorites – Mother Nature doesn’t – think of your omega consumption like an orchestra – all the different omegas playing together make the sweetest music. Whether food or supplement, consider making the choice that provides an array of omega fatty acids. Afterall, a whole food approach to nutrition will help ensure you get omegas 5, 7 and 3, 6, 9 in you for optimal health.

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This month sees the update of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list – and there are some important changes we should all be aware of.

Why do I use Seafood Watch as my tool of choice? It combines recommendations about what’s safe for us as well as what’s sustainable – as in, will be around for future generations.  After my recent trip to Alaska, seeing how Mother Nature intends our waters to be plentiful and clean, I am on a mission – and intending to bring you all with me – to make sure we protect our waters and the aquatic life.

Download the right Seafood Watch card for you – and remember to get the sushi one too if you consume sushi – and there’s also an Iphone application…

NO excuses

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I’m a huge fan of Natural Calm magnesium and the other products from Peter Gillham (Organic Life Vitamins (OLV), OsteoCalm, Natural Calm Sport (was called Calm+Calcium), NutraRev, Energy28, and their Kid’s Multi) for their high quality ingredients and proven results. While I don’t work with as many pro-athletes today as I did earlier in my career, I still work with many athletes and with  individuals who train at levels close to professional athletes as well as individuals who are battling stress and illness that’s taking a significant toll on their bodies (just as training can). So I loved getting this recent email from the owner of Peter Gillham, Ken Whitman, updating me on the benefits that athletes are seeing in their bodies in part due to the use of these products. What’s good for a pro athlete in training, indeed, could be good for your body too.

Hi Ashley,

I just got a report from Dr. David Pascal who specializes in working with elite track and field athletes:

The latest status of our athletes using the Natural Vitality products:

Khadevis Robinson, 8 time USA 800 meter National Champion and 2004 Olympian
“Actually the supplements have really been the reason I have been able to get healthy so quickly and stay fit. I was injured at the beginning of the season and I have had to do so much extra to try to catch up, the Natural Vitality supplements have allowed me to up the load on my body without breaking down.“

Jamaal Torrance, USA 400 meter Bronze medalist
“The Natural Calm Plus Calcium helped my muscles to recover enough to run three races in four days. In the 3rd race I just ran the fastest time of my career to win the 400 meter bronze medal at the U.S Track & Field Championships.”

Yvette Lewis, 100 Hurdles
“When I had surgery on my foot a few months ago I did not think that I was going to be able to compete this season. I feel that the Organic Life Vitamins and NutraRev helped me heal in time to compete last weekend in the U.S Track & Field Championships.”

Fredrick Norris, Long Jump
“I just returned for the U.S. National Track& Field Championships. The Calm Plus Calcium and OLV are my favorites, they keep my body regular and much less sore. Body functions better now and since I have been struggling with injuries I would have had to cut season early without this nutritional support.”

Lex Gillette, Paralympian
“Since I been taking the Natural Vitality products I feel as though my body responds better to workouts. I’m able to go out to the track and warmup, and be totally ready for a workout. Sometimes in the past before the vitamins, I would warmup and still feel a little sluggish. This season I broke two indoor American records, in the 60 meter sprint and the long jump.”

Barry Nobles, BMX Racer
“My season is going great. I won two national back to back. The PGNV products have made my recovery time faster. I am lasting longer through a weekend of racing. I like the OLV the best. I take them just one just and I know I’m getting everything I need for the day. I have competed three weekends in a row, two races a weekend. I have come home with 4 wins out of 6 races!”

These athletes are our “proving ground.” If our products perform under this kind of stress they will certainly do well for the kind of stresses we face in daily living.

All best,


Ken Whitman
Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality

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