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Bon Vie is a unique source of health and wellness advice, inspiring information and motivation for a healthy, balanced and abundant life.

In addition to our focus on nutritional wellness and quick, effective weight loss you will find great insight from our specialists offering you vital information on mid-life women's health, fitness & activity, style & beauty, home & garden and lots more to make your life the best!

Founder Sharon Kitzhaber’s passion for wellness and living ones’ life to the fullest began during her practice years as a licensed Physical Therapist, and has grown into a life long dedication to helping others be their best. Her experience as an entrepreneur, community activist and “connector” lends to collaboration with great people dedicated to helping you live life with vitality and balance.

*Save your brain – eat fewer carbs

Fear dementia? Your diet, weight more important than genes, experts say

January 24, 2012|By Marni Jameson, Orlando Sentinel


Anyone who has a close relative with Alzheimer’s shares the same worry: Am I next?

However, a growing body of research indicates that our lifestyles — particularly what we eat and whether we’re obese — play a greater role than our genes in determining our brain health as we age.

“For years, scientists thought that Alzheimer’s was primarily genetic,” said Gary Wenk, professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University. “We now believe that, while there’s a genetic component, Alzheimer’s is primarily a lifestyle disease.”

People do carry genes, including APOE-4, that predispose them toward the disease, but whether they activate those genes depends heavily on their lifestyles, said Dr. Stuart Lipton, professor at Sanford-Burnham Research Institute, where he’s scientific director of neuroscience, aging and stem-cell research.

“A myth exists that if the Alzheimer’s gene is in your family, you’re going to get it. But that only affects 1 percent of cases,” Lipton said. “What matters most is how you superimpose your lifestyle on top of your genetic background.”

A degenerative brain disorder that causes progressive loss of memory and intellectual and social skills, Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, affecting 5.4 million Americans, nearly half a million in Florida alone, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Though no cure exists, medications can slow progress.

Good, bad news

Although Americans may have more control over whether they develop Alzheimer’s than they thought, the primary risk factors are all on the rise.

“Looking at the rising rate of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, we’re in a bad state of affairs,” Lipton said.

Obesity is linked to Alzheimer’s because it’s a risk factor for diabetes, and diabetics have a two to three times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s, said Ira Goodman, a neurologist at Orlando Health. “We believe that’s because their impaired ability to use or make insulin contributes to neurodegeneration” —in other words, brain breakdown.

Goodman, like other neuroscientists, recommends eating fewer carbohydrates, which keeps insulin levels down.

He cited a study out of the University of Cincinnati that found that carbohydrate restriction helped participants who had mild cognitive impairment regain mental function. Researchers divided the 23 participants into two groups. One group went on a typical diet consisting of 50 percent of calories from carbohydrates for six weeks. The other group went on a low-carbohydrate diet, where fewer than 10 percent of calories came from carbohydrates.

Afterward, cognitive function stayed about the same in the first group, while in the low-carb group, function improved, according to the 2010 study, published in the Neurobiology of Aging.

Brain experts also recommend a diet high in protein and rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. The latter are strong in polyphenols and anti-oxidants, which have proven to boost brain health.

Role of stress

Controlling stress is also important for optimizing brain function. Stress increases cortisol, a hormone, in the blood, which increases blood sugar, which increases insulin, Goodman said. The neuroscientist also does research at Compass Research in Orlando, where studies are under way looking for medications to prolong brain health and slow mental demise.

In a recent study at Yale, scientists found that stressful events appeared to cause gray matter — the brain tissue that contains dendrites, which transfer information between brain cells — to shrink. The cumulative effects of stress lead to cognitive impairment and probably to memory loss, said researcher Rajita Sinha, professor of psychiatry at Yale Medical School and director of the Yale Interdisciplinary Stress Center.

Yale researchers asked 103 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 48 to fill out questionnaires to quantify the amount of stress they’d had in their lives. Then participants underwent brain scans.

Subjects who had experienced recent stressful events, such as loss of a job, house or loved one, showed markedly lower amounts of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, according to the study published in a recent issue of Society of Biological Psychiatry.

“The dendrites shrink with high levels of stress,” Sinha said. “But all is not lost. The brain is dynamic and plastic. If the stress is dealt with in a healthy manner, dendrites grow back.”

A healthful manner includes all the behaviors that help keep Alzheimer’s at bay: keeping blood-sugar levels steady, exercising, building good personal relationships and engaging in positive activities, Sinha said.

Of course, another primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s is getting older. Today, the chances of having Alzheimer’s by the time a person reaches age 85 is 50 percent, Goodman said. That risk rises to 75 percent by age 100.

“Even if you do carry a genetic predisposition, lifestyle modifications in midlife can greatly reduce the risk and delay onset,” Goodman said.


*Plastic Wrap Safety ~

Published November 1, 2011. From Cook’s Illustrated.

Is it safe to place plastic wrap directly on the surface of still-warm, fatty foods such as puddings or pastry creams?

For an answer, we consulted Daniel Schmidt, an associate professor in the Department of Plastics Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He explained that in the past, plastic wraps were made with one of two types of plastic—polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC)—along with compounds known as “plasticizers” that enhanced their clinginess and stretchiness. However, health concerns associated with these plastics as well as many plasticizers have led most manufacturers to switch to polyethylene, which requires no plasticizers, at the expense of some clinginess. That said, if plasticizers or additives were present in a plastic wrap, they would indeed be more likely to migrate into warm, fatty foods. Not only are many plastic additives more soluble in fats and oils than in water, but small molecules in general migrate at much higher rates at elevated temperatures.

The bottom line: While there is no evidence to suggest that the newer, reformulated plastic wraps leach harmful compounds into food, keeping the wrap at least 1 inch from food surfaces will eliminate any potential risk. Another solution is to use parchment paper for direct surface contact, as we do in the test kitchen for puddings and custards.

*“If there was just one more day in the week”

Have you ever said that to yourself?

Well here it is – that odd occurrence: Leap Day!

Now, the question is, how do I use it? – do I cram more into this theoretically “free” day – is it only a day to get more work done – or – might it be a day for reflection and creativity and replenishment? Perhaps it is a day wherein Work (of domestic or business type) can fit into Life rather than Life fitting into Work?

Or perhaps, we can make every day just a bit more of a leap into balance …

*Make winter weather work for you ~



While  we would love to hop a plane to a sunshine-kissed, warm-sand, tropical Island beach …  most of us need to make the best of the winter in which we live and work, and hopefully play. Here are a few suggestions to help avoid the winter blues.


1. Get light and sun every day.  Expose yourself to daylight early in the morning to keep your body’s internal clock on track. It could be as simple as dragging yourself out from under those cozy covers to open the shades, or sitting by a window with your tea or coffee.

2. Spend time outdoors. Even though wintery grey skies, especially in the Northwest, can seem sun-less, you are still receiving some filtered sun and light to help you feel better and elevate your mood. Fresh air is a fantastic elixir. Even if an effort of heroic proportions to take that first step out the door when it’s raining, you’ll always feel better afterwards – and you’ll feel so cozy returning home. Hats, gloves, scarves keep you extra warm and are fun to wear.
Light Boxes can also help give you mood-lifting rays with faux sun. Be sure to get one that filters out UV rays.

3. Head for the hills! In the Northwest we are gifted with mountains and beaches within a few hours drive. The mountain ranges unto themselves are exquisite to drive through, and once there, you will be amazed at how time in the snow or on the beach will elevate your mood and make you sparkle with energy.

4. Work it out. Exercise is always key in improving mood and maintaining a healthy body, but in winter it’s especially important to get up and move 3-5 times a week.
It may not be your cup of tea to run in the rain or cold but there are tons of other activities: Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, Barre, aerobics, dance classes, walking a high school track or out on our beloved Wildwood trails.

5. Put down the bread. When the temperature drops, our bodies tend to crave carbohydrates to give us that warm and full feeling. Temper your cravings and experiment with foods and tastes and recipes that you haven’t tried before. Use spices to heat up the cuisine. And of coarse, there is always dark chocolate:-)

6. Take your vitamins. Sunlight does a lot of work to keep our bodies balanced and working right. Plus, your body is no doubt missing all those fresh fruits and veggies you ate all summer. Taking a quality multi-vitamin can help supplement the nutrients you may be missing.

Perhaps the most important  supplement in winter is Vitamin D—this all-star vitamin helps keep your bones strong and keeps your morale sunshiny.

7. Set the scene. Warming up your spaces can help you enjoy the cold weather from the comfort of your home. Color it up with bright tropical hues, pull out the extra rugs, pillows, blankets – and when is the last time you cozied up to a hot water bottle?

8. Get social. If you’re feeling the winter blues, your friends are likely going through the same thing. Being engaged in conversation with good friends or in an activity or cause that you like is a fantastic distraction and energizer, and you’ll feel better knowing you aren’t alone in the winter gray days.



*Five Hidden Dangers of Obesity ~

By Christine Gorman  | Scientific American January 10, 2012 |

Excess weight can harm health in ways that may come as a surprise

By now it is common knowledge that being severely overweight puts people at increased risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke and diabetes and that obesity—defined as weighing at least 20 percent more than the high side of normal—is on the rise.

Check out this graphic article and ladies, please see the previous post on tomorrow, Wednesday 11th,Women’s Wellness Day at Spa at the Avalon Hotel

IP Sc American Hidden Dangers of Obesity

*Live a great New Year!

On Wednesday January 11th the sumptuous and serene Spa at the Avalon Hotel (south waterfront) is hosting a Women’s Health & Wellness Day.

AND – if you are interested in learning how to quickly and safely shed those extra holiday pounds, please join Sharon Kitzhaber for the evening reception at 6:00 P.M. to learn about effective, safe, rapid, and most importantly, lasting weight loss and nutritional wellness; and why insulin regulation through healthier food choices is at the heart of successful weight loss. When individuals stabilize blood sugar levels while maintaining muscle, they burn fat, and, can lower cholesterol, high blood pressure and significantly reduce (dangerous) “belly fat.” The evening reception also features wine and appetizers, seated chair massage, moisturizing hand treatments and hair and makeup consultations.

The day-time events include women’s circuit training beginning at 12 noon, power yoga beginning at 1:30 p.m. and nutrition & wellness consultations throughout the day. I hope you will come!

Please RSVP to Carrie Burns

503-802-5910 or cburns@avalonhotelandspa.com

Valet Parking is Complimentary

*After Christmas…

Please enjoy and share this poem by W.H. Auden ~


Well, so that is that

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,

Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes –

Some have got broken – and carrying them up to the attic.

The holly and mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,

And the children got ready for school.


Left-overs to do, warmed up, for the rest of the week

Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,

Staying up so late, attempted – quite unsuccessfully

To love all our relatives, and in general

Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again

As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision

and failed

To do more than entertain it as an agreeable

Possibility, once again we have sent Him away

Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,

The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.


*How to not gain weight over the “Happiest Time of the Year”

The holiday season is immensely fun and festive and full of wonderful treats and consumptions of all kinds – testing our will-power around food and beverage perhaps more than at any other time of the year. And then there are the stresses: shopping, decorating, gift wrapping, family, travel, social occasions…   So let’s say that our goal this holiday season is to not GAIN weight (we can save the “losing weight” for the bright New Year ahead). Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Know your foods and minimize the carbohydrates. Carbs turn into sugar (glucose) in your blood stream which activates the pancreas to do two main things: release insulin and store fat. And it’s not just the obvious sugar laden treats; many of the carbs we consume are loaded with hidden sugar – think of those mini carrots on everyone’s crudité tray (and the dips), or the delicious beautifully colored winter squashes like yams and sweet potatoes on the dinner table. Grab one of those little calorie/nutrition-content booklets you can find at most grocery check-outs and become familiar with the carb/sugar content. Try to reduce consumption of the highest carb/sugar foods (of coarse if it comes between a choice of cookies and carrots, you know which one).
  2. Taste rather than consume whole portions. Forgo the items you can live without and choose those that look so good you just can’t resist. Have a bite, savor the taste, take your time. You can have lots of little tastes and not overwhelm your body with excessive food to digest (and metabolize as fat).
  3. Be prepared. Eat protein and low-carbohydrate vegetables before you go to a social event. You won’t be nearly so tempted if your body is satisfied with healthy food. Schedules can be erratic so keep a protein/low-carb bar stashed in the car and in your purse at all times so that you have something at the ready to stave off hunger cravings. Remember to eat 4-5 small portions a day – and be sure to have breakfast so you are not in “fasting” mode. Do not skip meals! That only snowballs the cravings.
  4. Resist social and family pressures to eat more, more, more… This is one of the hardest challenges over the holidays. When you are caring for your health, just because mom or grandmas’ special dish is on your plate doesn’t mean you have to eat the entire portion – taste, savor, appreciate. Your loved ones want you to be healthy.
  5. Measure your water intake. Some people know they don’t drink enough water; others think they drink plenty, but in fact do not get the necessary 64 oz a day needed for optimum metabolism and to have that glowing skin under the Mistletoe. It’s too hard to keep track of the number of individual glasses of water you drink so start each day by filling a measured container with water (a pitcher with a specific number of ounces or a 1 or 1/2 liter (50 oz) water bottle). From that fill your drinking glass or portable water bottle throughout the day. When you empty one of the larger containers and refill enough to get to 64 oz, you will easily know you’ve had enough – and drinking all that water will help you resist urges and cravings for food. And drink (water) while you drive – you can actually get through a lot of water while in the car (since we aren’t texting anymore…).
  6. Cocktail time! Know the calorie count of mixed drinks. Check in your calorie count booklet what certain choices contain – margarita – Wow! Punches – Yikes! Try to avoid mixed drinks that have added sugar. Alternate each alcoholic beverage with a soda or Perrier with lime but have the host or bartender or yourself pour the non-alcoholic drink into a wine glass or whichever style cocktail glass you would have had for your alcoholic drink – it tricks the brain (and reduces your perceived social pressure)

We would love to hear your ideas on how to not gain weight over the holidays!

Have a most wonderful and joyful celebration of the season!