Tag Archives: vitamin c

The Superfood Ginger Roasted Cauliflower (Recipe)

(cc) Michelle Cowden
(cc) Michelle Cowden

Cauliflower is one of the world’s healthiest foods and with only 26 calories per cup, this power house vegetable not only packs a nutrient punch but will also help keep your waistline slim. Cauliflower is not only low in calories but also provides you with an array of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and fiber. No wonder I was salivating when I walked by the cauliflower. My body was craving all the nutrients in this amazing vegetable. If you just allow your body to speak to you, it will tell you what it really needs in order to feel good. I’m not talking giving in to the mind’s idea of cravings but the body’s idea of cravings. You know what I’m talking about. If I listen to my mind, I would consume cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner but if I listen to my body, it tells me what I need to eat.

Since I was recovering from being sick, my body was craving Vitamin C. It wasn’t until I looked into the nutrients of cauliflower did I realize there was 86% of the daily recommended vitamin c in one cup of cauliflower! This vegetable is amazing. You can use it to make an amazing soup, substitute it for mashed potatoes or even roast it.

Want to boost your immune system even more? Pair cauliflower with ginger. Ginger is an amazing anti-inflammatory spice. A little bit goes a long way to helping you alleviate arthritis, nausea, or detox when you have the flu or cold. And so I listened to my body as it craved vitamin C and other anti-inflammatories and came up with this amazing recipe. Thanks to Wakaya, I was able to create this amazing roasted cauliflower dish.

Ginger Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4 side dishes or 2 main dishes

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of Wakaya Ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Put all ingredients in a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes

Enjoy!

5 Nutrient-Packed Foods for Healthy Hair

de5de856512394ea_shutterstock_96575575.previewMany of us assume that buying the best shampoos and conditioners will be enough to keep our hair looking healthy. These products do help to repair existing hair damage but don’t do much to promote new hair growth and cannot replace essential vitamins that we may be missing from our diet. There are certain essential vitamins and minerals that our hair relies upon, and a lack of these is often the source of many hair growth problems. Some simple changes to our diet can really make a big difference to the look of our hair.

Modern lifestyles can also have an impact – a busy lifestyle, lack of sleep, or even pregnancy can seriously make a difference in our hair health. Vitamin supplements have  been proven to help, but if you are looking for the most natural sources of these vitamins then here is a list of 5 food types foods that can help to provide those essential vitamins your hair needs.

Fish

Many sources site that salmon is the number 1 super food for healthy hair. This is because it contains a great combination of essential substances that our hair simply loves. Omega 3 oils help maintain a well hydrated scalp, and many believe this is essential to maintaining healthy hair growth. Oily fish such as herring, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3, and salmon is also rich in Vitamin D which is great for your hair follicles.

If you are someone who doesn’t like eating fish then certain vegetable sources can be a great way to get the omega-3 you need. Rapeseed, flaxseed, soya beans, walnuts, almond and even tofu are all good sources of Omega-3.

Vegetables with Beta-carotene

Beta carotene is present in many vegetables and provides us with a great source of Vitamin A. For many people who suffer from dandruff a simple addition of vitamin A to their diet can help solve the problem. Vitamin A helps to promote sebum oil which is our body’s natural conditioner for our scalp. It can also help with hair growth problems as it is said to assist with oxygenating our scalp. Sweet potatoes are known to be one of the best sources, and other vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and broccoli are also recommended.

Oysters

Oysters are also recommended to help fight scalp problems such as dandruff. A lack of zinc in your diet may even be the cause of hair loss, and oysters have a particularly high zinc content. Zinc helps promote the level of androgens in our body, and for some people a low level of androgens has been directly linked to hair loss. Crab, liver and beef are also good sources of zinc.

Eggs and other biotin rich foods

Our hair is essentially built using protein, a nutrient that has been associated with speeding up hair growth. Protein can be found in many types of foods, but eggs are one of the best sources. Another important mineral in eggs is biotin, and those who have a biotin deficiency may suffer from brittle hair. To prevent this, biotin has been proven to be effective from both foods and supplements if needed. Kidney beans and nuts such as almonds and even peanuts are also good sources of biotin.

Fruit and vegetables with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is great for both our hair and skin. Vitamin C helps keep our blood vessels oxygenated, which in turn keeps our hair follicles healthy. Super fruits such as blueberries have a very high level of Vitamin C, and strawberries and citrus fruits are also good sources. Many vegetables such as green beans, spinach and broccoli are good sources, and the old-fashioned rule of eating colorful vegetables can give you a good indication of a high vitamin C content, as well.

You may have identified that one of these essential sources of vitamins is missing from your diet, and that may well be the cause of a particular problem. If you are concerned and believe you may have a nutrient deficiency then simple tests at your doctors can identify what vitamins and minerals you may be lacking. This Women’s Hair PDF can also help you to diagnose any hair health problems you may have!

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins (Part 2)

Amor Sin Remedio Hopeless Love Hoffnungslose LiebeClick here to read Part 1!

Why Most Vitamin Studies Are Flawed

There is another important thing to understand about clinical trials that review the utility of vitamins in the treatment of disease. The studies that show harm are often designed like drugs studies. For example, a study may use a high dose of vitamin E and see what happens. This is actually a prescient example also explored in recent media.

Studies recently found that high doses of vitamin E and selenium didn’t prevent prostate cancer and may increase risk. What this study didn’t explore properly was the true biochemical nature of vitamin E and selenium. These nutrients work as antioxidants by donating an electron to protect or repair a damaged molecule or DNA. Once this has happened, the molecules become oxidants that can cause more damage if not supported by the complex family of antioxidants used in the human body. It’s sort of like passing a hot potato. If you don’t keep passing it, you will get burned. Many studies simply fail to take this into account.

Nature doesn’t work by giving you only one thing. We all agree that broccoli is good for you, but if that were all you ate, you would die in short order. The same is true of vitamins. Nutrients are not drugs, and they can’t be studied as drugs. They are part of a biological system in which all nutrients work as a team to support your biochemical processes.

Michael Jordon may have been the best basketball player in history, but he couldn’t have won six NBA titles without a team.

Obesity Is Linked To Malnutrition

The tragedy of media attention on poor studies is that they undermine possible solutions to some of the modern health epidemics we are facing today, and they point attention away from the real drivers of disease.

Take the case of obesity, for example. Paradoxically, Americans are becoming both more obese and more nutrient deficient at the same time. Obese children eating processed foods are nutrient depleted and increasingly get scurvy and rickets–diseases we thought were left behind in the 19th and 20th centuries. After treating over 15,000 patients and performing extensive nutritional testing on them, it is clear to me that Americans suffer from widespread nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, folate, and omega 3 fats. This is supported by the government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on our population. In fact, 13% of our population is vitamin C deficient.

Scurvy in Americans in 2013? Really? But if all you eat is processed food–and many Americans do–then you, like the British sailors of the 17th century, will get scurvy.

Unfortunately, negative studies on vitamins get huge media attention while the fact that over 100,000 Americans die and 2.2 million suffer serious adverse reactions from medication use in hospitals when used as prescribed is quietly ignored. Did you know that anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen kill more people every year than AIDS or asthma or leukemia?

In short, these studies often confuse rather than clarify, and they only serve up doses of media frenzy and superficial analysis. They leave the consumer afraid, dazed, bewildered, and reaching for their next prescription drug.

Please, be smart; don’t stop taking your vitamins. Every American needs a good quality multivitamin, vitamin D, and omega-3 fat supplement. It is part of getting a metabolic tune-up and keeping your telomeres long!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

5 Stress-Reducing Foods to Add to Your Diet

oatmealThere are several ways to attack stress, and the symptoms of stress in our bodies using food. The trick is getting all the nutrients we need to fight stress, without eating excessive calories. This is easy to do, by substituting unhealthy foods with these options, and watching your portions. So instead of eating a super-sized burger and fries, then gobbling carbs and nuts, and stressing over weight gain, simply replace meals and snacks during the day with healthier, stress-reducing alternatives.

1. Boost Serotonin Levels With Whole Grains

Serotonin is the chemical in our brains that tells us we’re happy and content. Lots of foods boost our serotonin levels, including comfort foods like complex carbohydrates and milk. You can get healthy complex carbs from whole grain cereals, breads, pastas, and oatmeal. Whole grains are also filling, so these foods help prevent over-eating.

Usually, people enjoy breads with butter, and pasta with a rich sauce. Up the nutritional value, and lower the calories by enjoying bread with sugar-free jam, and pasta with a tomato based sauce flavored with oregano, and other herbs and spices.

2. Cut Stress Hormones With Citrus and Black Tea

Cortisol and adrenaline are stress hormones. They make us feel horrible, and over time eat away at our good health. Black tea is a great way to lower these hormones, and unlike coffee and some other peppy drinks, it don’t raise our heart rate or blood pressure. Foods containing high levels of vitamin C also cut cortisol and adrenaline, such as citrus fruits.

Fortunately, black tea has no calories, and citrus fruits are very low in calories. Read about other foods that reduce cortisol and adrenaline at the Best Drug Rehabilitation Manistee blog.

3. Lower Blood Pressure With Nuts and Seeds

One of the most serious effects of stress on our system is high blood pressure. Even if you don’t ordinarily have high blood pressure, the effects of constant spikes in blood pressure through the day, in response to stressful situations takes its toll. You can lower blood pressure by avoiding too much salt, and adding foods like nuts and seeds to your diet. Pistachios are another good choice. Keep portions to a single handful, because nuts pack serious calories.

4. Stock Up on Magnesium in Spinach and Salmon

Low magnesium is linked to frequent headaches and fatigue, both of which add to stress levels. Spinach is packed with magnesium, as are soybeans, and salmon. These foods also have many other nutrients, some of which are healthy for the heart, such as Omega 3 acids in salmon.

5. Boost Your Immune System With Omega-3 Rich Foods

The vitamins in spinach also help boost the immune system, which takes a brutal hit in times of stress. You can also give your immune system a boost with the vitamins A and E found in almonds. Substitute two, or three servings of red meat per week with Omega 3 rich fatty fish, such as salmon, or tuna. These have the added benefits of lowering stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and improving heart health.

When you can’t eat your way through a stressful situation, consider other ways to calm your nerves. A brisk walk, cuddling with a pet, enjoying the outdoors, and engaging in a calming activity like painting all help relieve stress. When it’s time to eat, grab one of these healthy alternatives to candy bars and potato chips.

Fun in the Sun: 4 Natural Oils to Add to Your Skin Care Regimen

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Summer just wouldn’t be summer without plenty of fun in the sun. This is the season of picnics, parades, barbeques, and beach days, when most people are wearing the least amount of clothing they’ve been in all year. Everyone knows that too much sun exposure can lead to not only sun burns, but skin damage, wrinkles, sun spots, and even cancer – but does that stop us?

There is only one way you’re going to make it through this sunny season – as well as the many summers to come – and that’s by adequately protecting and caring for your fragile skin. The most exposed areas of your body (the face, ear, neck, lips, etc) are also at the highest risk of developing skin cancer from over-exposure to ultraviolet rays. So it is particularly important to take precautionary measures to protect these areas.

These 4 naturally occurring oils, though not enough sun protection on their own, provide amazing skin benefits to bolster your skin care regimen this summer season:

1. Dilo oil: The nut of the Dilo tree, native to the island of Fiji, produces an oil known for its healing properties. Dilo oil contains calophyllic acid, which is scientifically proven to stimulate healing, reduce inflammation and promote the growth of healthy new skin cells. Wakaya Perfection (the same people who produce that amazing, natural ginger powder we’re always raving about) sell a Dilo Cream that restores and regenerates skin, contains antioxidant vitamins and is a natural sun protector.

2. Argan oil: Naturally harvested in Morocco since ancient times, Argan oil contains high levels of fatty acids, anti-oxidants, and vitamin E, all known to help protect and repair skin cells. Nowadays the oil is harvested largely by all-female collectives, providing a major source of income to many Moroccan women. Healthy and socially responsible!

3. Coconut oil: Similar to Argan oil, coconut oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E. And even better, you can put it on your skin and eat it! Just be sure to get virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil, as opposed to the hydrogenated variety, which is much higher in saturated oil.

4. Acai oil: You’ve probably seen this berry all over the place recently – it’s the health fad of the last few years. What you might not know is that the oil extracted from these super-berries provides for a natural, nutrient-rich skin care product high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and essential fatty acids.

What sunshine activities are you enjoying most this summer? Are you making sure to protect your skin against sun damage?

 

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mailing_diloWakaya Perfection Ginger Powder has been featured in the LA Times, New York Times Gift GuideOprah’s favorite things and many more!

Summer is finally here, and now is the perfect time to stock up on Wakaya Perfection’s 100% organic dilo cream to use in your skin care regime! Visit WakayaPerfection.com to find more healthy recipes (like the Ginger Lime Creme Brulee or Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Chops) and stock up on Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger to use in your kitchen. 

Use the promo code THRIVE and receive 15% off your next purchase!

Antioxidants: The Superheroes of the Food World (Plus Recipes!)

chocolateWho loves chocolate? The best thing about dark chocolate is that it’s very rich in antioxidants. You’ve probably heard a lot about antioxidants, and many of you know what they do – but I wanted to take a closer look at why they are so essential to good health.

What is an antioxidant?

It may sound more like politics than nutrition, but antioxidants are like the superheroes of the food world, rounding up and shutting down the bad guys. The bad guys are called free radicals.

So what exactly are “free radicals” and why are they the bad guys? Simply put, “free radicals” are partial, destructive molecules. Molecules are supposed to be made up of pairs of electrons, but when a molecule has been damaged as a result of pollution, poor nutrition, pesticides, infection, stress, or just plain aging, it loses one of its electrons. These incomplete molecules wreak havoc on your system. They race through your body trying to steal an electron from complete molecules in order to complete themselves. The free radicals do an enormous amount of damage on their rampage. This is called oxidation.

Antioxidants are complete molecules that fly through your system with their little red superhero capes on, donating electrons to the incomplete molecules and stopping the free radicals in their path of destruction. No matter how many electrons these antioxidants give away, the remain stable, complete molecules. Is that a cool superhero power or what?

Think of an apple slice. It turns brown when it is exposed to the air. That is naturally occurring oxidation. If you squeeze some lemon juice on the apple slices the browning process slows down. That is because lemons contain a lot of Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidants significantly slow down the oxidation process.

Where are antioxidants found?

Antioxidants are present in varying degrees in all fresh fruits and vegetables as well as meats, dark chocolate, whole grains, nuts, and even red wine. The more variety you eat, the greater your antioxidant levels will be. Eating a wide variety of foods including different  colors of fruits and vegetables will give you the best array of antioxidants.

Avoid dairy when eating antioxidant-rich foods; it can interfere with antioxidant effectiveness. Dairy is like kryptonite to antioxidants; it binds with them and reduces their potency. To ensure you get the full benefit of antioxidants, it is best to eat antioxidant rich foods away from any dairy. Have lemon or almond milk in your tea instead of milk, combine your fruit with a coconut kefir instead of dairy yogurt, and use a non-dairy milk in your smoothies to make sure these powerful little molecules have a clear and healing path.

Here are 3 antioxidant-loaded recipes – Enjoy!

 

Originally published on my blog, Tapp’s Tips.

The Best Way to Detox After Swimming in a Hotel Pool

keep cool on the swimming poolWhether you’re going on a quick getaway, a fun family vacation, a sightseeing adventure, or visiting family or friends, traveling can be both fun and therapeutic. If you’re staying at a hotel with a pool, it might seem as if the pool is calling your name. While lounging at the hotel pool can definitely be a form of mental detox (no meetings, no computer, no deadlines), it’s important to remember that your skin and hair aren’t feeling that same relaxation.

It’s essential that hotel pools are kept disinfected and clean; we’re all grateful to not share a stranger’s germs or be exposed to harmful bacteria. However, to keep water born bacteria and germs out, most hotel pools rely on chlorine (as well as monitoring PH levels, which affect the disinfecting power of chlorine). If this makes you think of household bleaching products known for “whitening your whites”, you’re on the right track. An active ingredient in both chlorine disinfectant for pools and bleach for household use is sodium hypochlorite. However, they are not interchangeable (they contain different amounts of sodium hypochlorite and pool chlorine contains calcium). While the Health Department regulates the amount of chlorine allowed for use in pools since it is a toxic chemical, many people still experience negative effects of the chlorine after only a short time in a swimming pool.

The most common effect of pool water is drying of the skin and hair. Since water itself is drying on your body (as it evaporates it takes with it your natural oils), when your skin and hair absorb the chlorinated pool water, your body hydration really takes a hit. You’re likely to notice itchy, dry skin and hard to comb, dull looking hair.

Some people also experience skin rashes, eye irritation, the lingering “pool smell”, and increased acne (although other people claim their acne clears up due to chlorine’s drying effect). Pool water can also get into your hair shaft and cause changes in hair color. This can be especially noticeable if you color your hair – think the greenish or brassy look. Nobody wants that! But if you’re like me and have a lot of hair coloring experience (I’ve been almost every shade in the book), you can probably relate to this one.

Now that you know the not so pleasant side effects of chlorinated pool water, you might be surprised to know that the best way to detox after swimming in a hotel pool is very simple: thoroughly rinse your whole body (skin and hair) immediately after getting out. This rinse washes away the chlorine that is stuck on your skin, eyes, ears, and hair so less gets absorbed by your body.

Have you noticed that some hotels have freestanding shower-heads by the pool or a changing room with a shower? It’s for you to rinse off both before and after swimming. If your hotel doesn’t have a shower by the pool, go directly to your room for a shower. Don’t make your shower steaming hot though, as too much steam can open your pores and let some chlorine into your body through your skin.

vitamin-cSome hotels are even utilizing Vitamin C showers to help wash away the chlorine on your body and remove any chlorine in the shower water. Delos Living, a new company that’s combining cutting edge discoveries in medical research, engineering, and technology to create a new standard of “wellness real estate,” recently partnered with MGM Grand Hotels in Las Vegas to offer a number of Stay Well rooms. These rooms have shower water infused with vitamin C to neutralize chlorine and promote healthy hair and skin, as well as a number of other amenities designed to promote personal health and wellness.

I experienced the dreaded hotel swimming pool effects first hand last week on vacation. The hotel I stayed at had a roof top pool with a bar (see how pools can call your name), so I had to check it out! While I only stayed in the pool for a short time and didn’t get my hair wet, I immediately noticed when I got out that my skin was dry and I had a bit of the pool smell. My hotel didn’t have a shower by the pool, but I quickly went to my room to rinse off and apply lotion.

Besides detoxing with a thorough rinse immediately after you swim, shower with a natural soap, be sure to put plenty of conditioner on your hair, use a moisturizing lotion on your body, consider showering or rinsing off before you swim (this creates a protective barrier from the chlorine), and always, always stay hydrated with good quality water.

Now that you know how easy it is to detox after swimming in a hotel pool, go enjoy that much needed (and deserved) vacation!

 

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18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

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photo by: Julien Haler

How Seth Godin Reminded Me Why Calories May Not Count…and Tim Ferriss Confirmed It


Over the last year and a half, I’ve become a fan of all things Seth Godin.  Although he has been a popular and well known author, blogger and marketing guru, for many years, I confess I found him late.  I am, however, committed to playing catch up and I’m absorbing all he has written, as fast as I can.  In Godin language, I’ve become a true enthusiast.

I admit that at first, I found myself a bit intimidated by his constant reminders about being “remarkable”.  Godin says in Small is the New Big, “Working hard doesn’t make you remarkable.  Doing a good job doesn’t make you remarkable.  What makes you remarkable is being amazing, outstanding, surprising, elegant and noteworthy!”  Gulp!  Okay.  Am I putting myself out on a limb; setting myself up for serious scrutiny?  No matter what, after reading that, I’ve been taking the leap.

After all, I’ve always thought that being ordinary, normal and average were not things to aspire to anyways.  Somehow reading Godin confirms for me that I was right to think that way all along.  He also continues to remind me that fear of change, not by me alone, but by the population in general, has led to a persistent belief in what he calls “lies that people tell to maintain the status quo.” Of the ten he lists in his rant “Mail…the check is in the”, and as I’ve been traveling more recently, I relate to the one that affects all of us frequent flyers. “A bottle of Evian is dangerous to airline security and must be surrendered.”  We have accepted this as truth, or at the very least an imposed truth.  He goes on to say, “…people will embrace patently false ideas if it helps them deal with their fear of change.”

This kind of modern day myth permeates all areas of our lives.  Once they take hold they seem virtually impossible to dislodge.  Which brings me to the title of this article.  In the areas of health and weight loss, this kind of popular “lie” has without much effort, been ingrained into the mass consciousness relating to the part calories play in healthy weight loss or weight gain.

Although there is much research over many decades to the contrary, like a recent piece I read in the N.Y. Times, about what makes us fat, I would bet that most people when asked, would confirm that if you eat fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight.  Simple, right?

Even though there has been increasing evidence that not only is the kind of calories important, but that calories, if they count at all, are merely a small and maybe insignificant piece of the overall complex weight puzzle.  Yet, the idea persists that if you cut your calories and do more exercise, you will lose weight.  The old calories in – calories out theory.

Enter Tim Ferriss.  Reading his latest book The Four Hour Body confirmed that the weight gain, weight loss issue has little, if anything, to do with calories.  I must admit I’ve also become an enthusiastic fan of Ferriss’ and luckily for me, he only has two books, so I’m pretty much on track with all he has written.

In very succinct Ferriss style, in explaining the subject of calories, Ferriss says, “as usual, the focus is on the least important piece of the puzzle.  But why do scientists harp on the calorie?  Simple.  It’s cheap to estimate and it is a popular variable for publication journals.”  He then goes on to call this “parking lot science” and I suggest you read the detailed explanation, in what I think is a very thoroughly researched and informative book.

I personally have understood for a very long time that calories don’t really count.  In my ongoing search for ways to continue to improve my health, (which at times has been so bad that it was feared I might die of malnutrition and at other times I was so heavy no matter what I did the weight didn’t come off), I have read many, many books and tried even more programs.  I have faithfully counted calories and could never explain the lack of significant results.  Yet, the widely held calorie myth is hard to dislodge.

It appears on food packages and we are constantly reminded about calories and their relationship to weight, seemingly everywhere we go.  I personally have often chosen to go against the popular belief of the moment.  The recommended daily dose of vitamins and minerals has never resonated with me either.  For example, I take 3,000-4,000 mg of vitamin C daily, thanks to what was once controversial research by Linus Pauling.  This is much higher then the suggested RDI which is between 60-75 mg, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt me in any way.  Dare to explore what works, I say.

So I’ve taken the leap and given myself a challenge; to question some of the widely and long held “truths” that just may not work anymore and in fact, may not have ever been true at all.  Each new day brings us all an opportunity to be open to make changes, and even small changes can result in making big differences in our own lives, and can inevitably have an impact on those around us.

Personally, I am ready to give up the lies I have bought into over the years.  I am committed to being remarkable and an enthusiastic enthusiast as Godin suggests and to becoming superhuman and having incredible sex, if I learn from Ferriss.  If I can do this, life as I once lived it, might become more than I dared to imagine!  In advance, I thank Seth Godin and Timothy Ferriss for challenging me to be better and to do better.  What change challenge are you willing to take?

Visit me at: www.beverleygolden.com

Weekly Health Tip: Functional Foods – How Do You Separate the Hype from the Health?

 

 

If you’re concerned with eating healthy, you may have heard about “functional foods.” Nutritionists and marketers use this term to describe foods that go beyond the basics of supplying nutrients to the body and appear to help ward off and combat certain chronic illnesses.

In a way, these foods are misnamed–they are far more than simply functional. The New York Times calls them “foods with benefits.” While many functional foods deliver real potential health benefits, consumers need to be aware of packaged foods that use the term mostly as a marketing tool. To make smart choices, you have to distinguish the products that offer more hype than health from the foods that may really make a difference.

 Traditional healthy choices are now healthier than ever. Your whole life you’ve probably been told that you need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to stay healthy. Now researchers believe these foods are even better for you than initially thought. Fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in color, are among the top functional foods. Fruits such as blueberries and red cherries come loaded with antioxidants called flavonoids; and carrots, spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants called carotenoids. These antioxidants play a role in reducing the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease by neutralizing free radicals, which are unstable atoms or molecules in the body that cause cell damage.

 Vitamins A, C, and E in many of these fruits and vegetables also act as antioxidants. Tomatoes, especially those made into processed tomato products like sauce or ketchup, have the added bonus of lycopene, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to bolster prostate health. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, have been linked to lowering cancer risk, and garlic and onions have demonstrated detoxicating effects on the body. Whole grains seem to offer protection against coronary disease.

 Fish, another functional food, also wards off heart disease and lowers blood pressure. Salmon, sardines, and tuna deliver high doses of Omega-3, also known as the “good” fat. The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish have hypotensive properties due to their stimulation of hormone-like compounds called “prostaglandins” which regulate the balance of salt retention and water excretion. This hypotensive effect is especially pronounced in individuals with hypertension, atherosclerosis, and hypercholesterolemia. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation in the body that can damage blood vessels. When it comes to eating sea creatures, however, there is a catch. Many contain high levels of mercury and other contaminants, so follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation and try to eat fish at least two times a week, but don’t go overboard. For alternative sources of Omega-3, try beans, walnuts, and flax seed.

 Some “treats” pack an unexpected health punch. While you might expect fish, fruit, and veggies to be extra healthy, it may come as a welcome surprise to find that some “indulgences” are considered functional foods as well. Yogurt, red wine, and coffee have all been found to contain ingredients that appear to give the body a boost.

 Yogurts are creamy, versatile treats jam-packed with health benefits. It’s a great source of calcium, which is known to prevent osteoporosis and promote bone health. Yogurts also contain probiotics – the “good bacteria” we all need in our bodies to maintain our immune and digestive health. Probiotic foods can also help in the treatment of urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, and diarrhea.

 When it comes to red wine, you may now think of enjoying a glass at night as a way of helping your heart. Red wine is rich in flavonoids, as well as resveratrol, an antioxidant that some researchers believe offers protection from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Resveratrol comes from the grape skins, and since red wine ferments longer with its skins than white wine, it has more of this palliative ingredient. Too much alcohol can be harmful to your health, so don’t overdo it. Try keeping your red wine consumption to a glass with dinner. For those who don’t drink at all, grapes and grape juice may offer similar benefits. Pomegranate juice, with its deep red color, is another alternative, offering more antioxidants than many other types of juice.

 Doctors have long warned about the risks of consuming too much caffeine, but recent studies have shown that drinking modest amounts of coffee may actually help fight cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Note that drip coffees are thought to be healthier than unfiltered coffee drinks like lattes because the paper captures elements in the coffee that may raise cholesterol levels.

 The antioxidants in black tea also promote better health, and green tea is highly regarded as a major functional food. Green tea contains high levels of catechins, which are potent antioxidants shown to help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption from the gastrointestinal tract as well as promoting its fecal elimination.

 Functional foods with “health” added.   You’ll also find the term “functional foods” applied to products that have ingredients added to them to increase their healthful potential. While marketers use this as a selling point, some of these products can have genuine benefits. Buttery spreads with added Omega-3 may promote better heart health than unfortified butter. Orange juice fortified with calcium may help fortify bones and fight osteoporosis, and the vitamin C naturally found in oranges may inhibit cancer. But don’t always believe the hype. Do your own research on packaged foods that tout better heart health or claim to fight cancer, and weigh the nutritional value against their unprocessed counterparts.  The actual orange fruit, for example, is still going to provide more nutritional value than most fortified orange juices, which are much higher in sugar and do not contain fiber to slow down absorption.

 Overall, functional foods that are unprocessed and unpackaged have more potential to improve your well-being. Also take a closer look at the labels on those “health”-added products to make sure you know what ingredients you’re actually eating and how much the product contains. Keep up with the latest studies and consumer reports to know which foods will truly help your body function at its best.

  For more about healthy food choices:

 

 

The Most Effective Way to Get Vitamin C Into Your Diet (and What to Avoid)

Everyone knows that vitamin C is an important antioxidant that’s good for preventing colds, the flu and other illnesses.
 
What you may not know is that unlike many animal and plant species, the human body is unable to make it’s own vitamin C, and unable to store much of it. So it’s extremely important to eat a diet that provides a continuous source of fresh vitamin C.
 

Benefits of Vitamin C
 
There are many reasons to include vitamin C in your diet. 

Vitamin C:

  • Is an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage and aging caused by toxins and pollutants in your environment.
  • Helps in the development of collagen, an important structural component of bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and skin.
  • Helps manufacture norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood
  • Has many important functions in the metabolism of nutrients and may even help with weight loss[i].
  • Assists adrenal and thyroid functioning
  • May reduce the toxicity of heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic. 

Vitamin C Prevents Allergic Disease

In addition to all of the above, it’s extremely important for mothers who are breastfeeding to make sure they’re getting enough natural sources of vitamin C in their diets. 
 
This is because maternal intake of vitamin C in the diet was shown to increase the concentration of vitamin C in breast milk. In turn, infants of these mothers were shown to have a reduced risk of atopy.
 
Atopy is the genetic predisposition to the development of hypersenstivity to environmental or dietary allergens, and it can manifest as atopic dermatitis, hay fever, food allergies, or asthma. 

What’s most important is that this effect was seen only when mothers’ vitamin C intake was in their diet, not via supplements [ii]
 
Since the incidence of allergies and atopic dermatitis[iii]  appears to be increasing, early intervention is key, and the results of this study, particularly the importance of natural sources of vitamin C, can not be ignored. 
 
Fermented Vegetables for Vitamin C
 
You already know that we should always look for a healthy, natural diet and whole foods so the results of the above study are not a surprise. This is exactly what we offer you in the Body Ecology Diet. When you eat as we suggest you are obtaining all the nutrients your body needs to thrive.
 
Citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, are great and probably the most popularly known source of vitamin C, but they’re not the only source.
 
You may not know that long before vitamin C was identified, Dutch seamen and the famous Captain Cook carried cultured vegetables on long trips in order to prevent scurvy, which is caused by a vitamin C deficiency.
 
Fermented foods, like cultured vegetables, especially those made with cabbage, kale and collards, are incredible sources of vitamin C. In fact, cultured vegetables help you get the most out of the vitamin C you consume.

This is because fermenting significantly increases nutrients and nutrient availability in vegetables, while providing your body with the good bacteria (microflora) necessary to digest your food.
 
So in effect, fermented vegetables give you a one-shot double whammy: vitamin C, and microflora which help you better absorb not just vitamin C, but all the nutrients your body needs!
 
Incidentally, having a healthy inner ecosystem teaming with beneficial microflora is also an important deterrent in the development of many childhood diseases and allergies. 
 
For important information read: What Every Girl and Woman Needs to Know NOW if They Ever Want to Have a Baby
Dark Green Veggies

Most people think of oranges and lemons when you mention vitamin C, but the best source of vitamin C actually comes in many different colors, mostly shades of green!

Ferment Your Own Vegetables!
 

Culture Starter

Want to boost your dietary vitamin C? Make your own fermented foods! Body Ecology’s Culture Starter is just what you need to you’re your own cultured vegetables. Just shred some cabbage, follow the instructions in the box and you are well on your way to creating delicious, nutritious fermented foods!  Learn more about Culture Starter and buy yours today!

Have you ever had the Korean staple and superfood, kimchi? If not, you’ve surely heard of sauerkraut, right? 
 
These are the most popularly known types of fermented foods, and with Body Ecology Culture Starter, you can easily make your own kimchi, sauerkraut, or other delicious raw fermented vegetables. (NOTE that the sauerkraut you typically find in grocery stores is mass produced and not traditionally fermented, so to get the benefits of fermentation you have to either do it yourself or find it in “old world” type delis … if you know of one, ask them how it is made.)
 
To make your own, all you have to do is start with the freshest seasonal organic vegetables you can find, and follow our easy instructions and cultured vegetable recipes .
 
In addition to getting the most vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals possible from your vegetables, you and your family will begin to enjoy:

  • Better digestion
  • Stronger immunity and resistance to disease
  • Reduced cravings for sugar and processed foods
  • Increased vitality and energy 

And most importantly, the biggest reward that comes with good health: happier and fuller lives!
 
 
 
 
 
Sources:
 


[i] <#_ednref> Vitamin C could lower body fat levels, Nutraingredients.com, April 2006.

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?id=66922

[ii] <#_ednref> Moyer, Paula, “Higher Concentration of Vitamin C in Breast Milk Linked to Lower Rate of Infant Atopy”

http://cme.medscape.com/viewarticle/511119?src=mp

[iii] <#_ednref> Allergy Statistics

http://medicineworld.org/medicine/allergy/allergy-statistics.html 

 

 

 

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