Thursday, October 31, 2013

Flat Belly Foods to Help You Get That Flat Stomach

Having a flat stomach is about much more than just looking good and feeling good about how our bodies look. The excess belly fat that is common among many Americans creates health risks too. Belly fat leads to increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases more so than fat in other places such as our hips and thighs. No matter what we eat, the formula for a flat stomach has to include the number of calories consumed being somewhat equal to the number we burn off. Food is simply fuel for the body. If we put more in than our bodies can use up, then it stores up as fat. The alternative is to increase our activity level and use up more. There are some foods though that have been shown to be helpful in getting that flat stomach. Eating flat belly foods can help us get that flat stomach and improve our overall health. What are flat belly foods? Here are some of the types of food that can help achieve our goal of a flat stomach.

Monounsaturated Fats
It may sound strange to say that eating fat will help keep you from getting fat, but many researchers have found just that. That doesn't mean all fats, it applies specifically to monounsaturated fats. . Stay away from the greasy fast food and other foods with trans fats. The Institute of Medicine recommends that 20-35% of your calorie intake be these foods with the "good" fats.

Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Prevention and Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, former nutrition director at Prevention recommend in their book, Flat Belly Diet, that sticking with 1600 calories a day will help you get a flat stomach and still have energy, a healthy immune system, and keep muscle strong. Part of the secret of this diet is eating foods with monounsaturated fatty acid in every meal as they indicate that these types of fats actually help reduce belly fat. This is the type of good fats found in foods like peanut butter, olive oil, and avocados. They also emphasize eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, lean protein, and very little red meat and avoiding processed foods.

Fiber
There is research that reports eating foods loaded with soluble fiber can help get you that flat stomach. Eating fiber makes you feel fuller so you don't need to eat as much to feel satisfied. Less calories in of course mean less calories to burn up. Foods high in fiber include beans, fruits, whole grains and vegetables. Some of the foods with the highest amounts of fiber are artichokes, split peas, lentils, black beans, raspberries and barley.

Probiotics
Your digestive system needs healthy friendly bacteria to digest your food. If you do not have enough of these bacteria working for you, your digestion is slowed and bloating occurs as well as having undigested food causing belly bulges. Flat belly foods that are good sources of probiotics vital to this digestion process are yogurt and kefir. When buying yogurt or kefir, make sure you read the labels and get ones with live active cultures. You can also add a full spectrum probiotic supplement to your diet. Our favorite probiotic supplement has twelve key good bacteria that are microblended with bluegreen algae.

Protein
You need protein to build strong muscle and maintain muscle integrity and strength. This doesn't mean chowing down on lots of steaks and hamburgers though that have a lot of fat if you are seeking the flat stomach. Good proteins come from lean sources such as beans, soy, and dairy, and if you need a meat fix then opt for white meat chicken or seafood. Be sure to take the skin off the chicken before cooking as it contains lots of saturated fat. If you notice that you are losing weight, but not dropping in waist size, this can be an indication that you need more protein or need strength training, according to Alan Aragon, a nutritionist in Westlake Village, California (http://ow.ly/qkrkZ).

Protein powder drinks are another good source of protein. Studies such as one in The Journal of Nutrition are showing benefits of choosing whey powder over soy. In this study it is reported that those who added whey protein to their diets showed less body fat and smaller waists than those that used soy protein.

Personally, I love getting protein with smoothies. They are easy and fast to make, and easy to take with you when you are on the run. I can add in fruit or veggies for some extra fiber and antioxidants, some yogurt for probiotics and protein and my favorite organic whey protein powder for a real boost. This protein powder has bluegreen algae for extra nutritional value, sprouts, and protein digesting enzymes.

Metabolism Boosting Foods
Increasing your metabolism can also help burn fat and get you closer to your goal of a flat stomach. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that creates a sensation of heat from irritating nerve endings. It is mostly found in various types of peppers and has been found to give a boost to metabolism. Green tea is another metabolism booster. Some studies have reported an increase in metabolism of 4-10% when drinking two to four cups of green tea a day. Staying hydrated also helps keep your metabolism working at its peak. Being even mildly dehydrated can slow down your metabolism, so be sure you are drinking plenty of water.

For a natural and healthy way to keep your metabolism high and your fat content low, add enzymes to your regimen between and at meals. Enzymes help boost your metabolism. These enzymes contain amylase, cellulase, lipase, protease, and lactase for more efficient digestion to avoid the after-meal energy slump. These enzymes with an extra boost contain cayenne and other substances to increase metabolism, burn fat, digest a broad spectrum of substances, and clean up waste in the body.

Calcium
We typically think of dairy foods as being fattening, but not getting enough can actually lead to your body making more fat. This is explained in a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition as calcitriol, a compound that increases fat cell production, being stimulated by a lack of calcium. You can actually go further towards getting a flat stomach by making sure you get extra calcium.

Snack Bars
Yes, I know there are lots of snack bars out there that vary in protein, calories and overall nutrition. You really have to read labels and compare to make sure you are getting one with the right nutrients to fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied, but without adding a lot of extra calories or unnatural ingredients that you'll have to now burn off. My favorite snack bar is made with high-quality, organic ingredients, is fortified with sprouted grains, greens, and bluegreen algae so I know I'm getting good nutritional value from it. It also has almond butter for a smooth texture and is sprinkled with minced almonds which helps make it great tasting as well as nutritious and convenient when I'm busy or on the run.

Now that you know some flat belly foods to get you on the way to a flat stomach get started on burning away that belly fat for a healthier you.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.
 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Sources:
http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/health/flat-belly-diet#slide-1
http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/flat-belly-diet
http://www.oprah.com/health/3-Rules-to-Eat-By
http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/core-health

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Best Energy Foods and Supplements for a Mood Boost

Whether you have consciously thought about it or not, you probably know on some level that there are some foods you eat that give you a mood boost and others that leave you feeling tired and weighed down. You also know that some foods are better energy foods than others. Think about the times you have eaten a heavy lunch or grabbed fast food only to find yourself drowsy in the afternoon and unable to concentrate. Then think about the times you have eaten a lighter lunch with good proteins, fruits and veggies and how different your afternoon went. Scientific study is supporting the results that we intrinsically know, that mood and energy can be influenced by what we eat. For example, a study in Public Health Nutrition reported people eating junk food regularly as being 51% more likely to have depression than people who hardly ever or never eat junk food. (http://ow.ly/qhPP1)

The Science Behind Energy Foods for a Mood Boost
Certain chemicals in the brain affect our moods. According to Gary Wenk, PhD, psychology and neuroscience professor at Ohio State University, foods are chemicals and are very like the chemicals in our brains (http://ow.ly/qhPP1). This is the reason foods can have a powerful influence. For example, since serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates mood, eating foods with the nonessential amino acid tryptophan which helps in producing serotonin, can give you a mood boost. Here are some components that make up the best energy foods and supplements for a mood boost.

Tryptophan – As mentioned in the above example, tryptophan helps in producing serotonin. Nuts such as pistachios, almonds and cashews are high in tryptophan. Tryptophan levels can also be increased by eating "good" carbohydrates. This would include whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

Omega-3 – Fish oil high in omega-3 fatty acids has been found through research studies to help prevent depression by affecting the brain's neurotransmitter pathways. Omega-3 is vital to brain function and can be found in bluegreen algae, walnuts, fatty fish, and flaxseed.

Vitamin D – Serotonin levels are also increased by vitamin D. Getting 600 IU a day from foods has been shown to help with depression. Vitamin D can be found in fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel and raw fish is higher in vitamin D than cooked fish. If you are not a sushi fan, then look for vitamin D fortified cereal, dairy and soy products, white button mushrooms and possibly consider a cod liver oil supplement.

B Vitamins – The B vitamin folate, vitamin B9 to be precise, has been shown in research studies to reduce symptoms of depression. Folate aids the brain in producing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which are all brain chemicals affecting mood. Folate can be found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and in Brussel sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, lentils and sunflower seeds. Vitamin B6 deficiencies have also been identified as contributing to depression. Foods high in vitamin B6 include papaya and oranges, which are also high in folic acid, tuna, chicken, turkey, rice and wheat bran, garlic, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

PEA - PEA, which stands for phenylethylamine, is a naturally occurring substance in the human body that is linked to energy, mood, and attention. PEA is a vital part of your brain function and is responsible for feelings of pleasure as well as mental acuity. In one study, adding 10-60 mg per day decreased depression symptoms in study participants by 60%. In another study, PEA was shown to elevate mood and increase the quality of life. Not getting enough PEA can make it difficult to learn new things, make quick decisions, form new memories, stick to a diet, find pleasure in life and be in a good mood. According to the Natural Research Council of Canada, two foods very high in PEA are AFA blue-green algae and cheddar cheese.

Selenium – There have also been studies linking a lack of selenium as negatively affecting mood. One such study reported that adding 200 micrograms daily of selenium for seven weeks to the diet improved mild and moderate depression. The normally recommended amount of selenium to get a day is 55 micrograms (http://ow.ly/qi456). Too much selenium can be bad for you so it is better to get this from foods such as oysters, clams, crab, sardine and fish, nuts and seeds, lean meats, whole grains, beans and legumes than from supplements.

Chocolate – Dark chocolate has been known for quite a while give one a mood boost. While it is not exactly clear how this works, there are theories that it has to do with the antioxidant polyphenols in it, that it has carbs that boost serotonin, that it contains chemicals that can boost dopamine levels or that it is high in PEA. Whatever the reason, dark chocolate is a tasty way to get your mood boost. Just don't overdo it since it also has more calories than other mood boosting alternatives.

St. John's Wort – This plant based herbal supplement has been used for many years in alternative medicine for a mood boost. A 2009 review of 29 different studies done internationally on this herb found it to be effective in treating mild and moderate depression and to perform as well in these cases as many prescription antidepressants. This is thought to be due to the herb's ability to stop reabsorption of chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin by the brain's nerve cells. There are some medications that do not react well with St. John's Wort, so be sure you consult your healthcare provider before using it.

Ginseng and Edible Mushroom Supplement – One of our favorite energy foods for a mood boost is this supplement full of powerful natural ingredients that support regeneration and mental clarity. Ingredients that make this supplement a "natural" in energy foods and for a mood boost include:
  • Cereboost®, Standardized American Ginseng, long used in improving cognitive function, preventing fatigue and increasing energy.
     
  • Resveratrol, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties, found in skin of red grapes, some berries and peanuts. 
  • Lion's Mane, a mushroom that has been called "nature's nutrient for the neurons" due to NGF (nerve growth factor) being found in it. Scientists currently are interested in its benefits for stimulation of nerve growth, neuropathy, age related memory function, mental clarity, and the neurological system.
     
  • Agarikon, a rare polypore or tree-based conk mushroom commonly found in the old growth forests of Oregon and Washington, revered by the ancient Greeks as an "elixir of life." Research today revolves around uses with inflammation, age related memory function, immune system, oxidative stress and cellular support.
     
  • Cordyceps, a mushroom rich in proteins, plant sterols, polysaccharides, antioxidants, and nucleoside derivatives. It has been used in extracts and formulas for health benefits throughout history.
     
  • Bluegreen Algae, rich in phytonutrients, plant-based proteins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, as well as a wide spectrum of micronutrients, making it a nourishing whole food that provides a broad range of benefits.

Hopefully you now have some new ideas on energy foods that can give you a mood boost and how they work with your body. Many of these are just common sense healthy eating. Add in a few specialized supplements, vitamins and minerals and you'll be on your way to keeping your mood and energy levels up and working for you.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.
 
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-food-affects-your-moods
http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/5-foods-make-you-happier
http://www.oprah.com/health/Foods-That-Boost-Your-Mood-Food-That-Improves-Your-Mood

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is Stress Messing with Your Immune System?

Is stress messing with your immune system? If you are under chronic stress, then it most certainly is. Stress is one of the factors that can have a very negative impact on your immune system which leaves you vulnerable to disease. Your immune system reacts to stress hormones, but once the stress passes the immune system backs off. The problem with this is that chronic stress increases your level of cortisol and cortisol reduces the amount of prostaglandins your body produces. Prostaglandins are supposed to support immune function, but when their production is slowed down the opposite happens and they contribute to inflammation and a suppressed immune system. In a scenario such as this, prostaglandins, lipids in the body that among other things regulate inflammation, have been shown to contribute to migraines, cancer, arthritis and heart disease. Chronic stress can lead to reduced performance by macrophages, reduction of natural killer cells and slow down killer T cells which all negatively affect the performance of you immune system. 

There is no one solution to dealing with stress. What works for one person may not work for another. It is important for your immune system and overall health to find what works for you in relieving stress. Try a variety of stress reducing remedies to see what works for you. Whether it's some type of physical activity like exercise or jogging, starting a new hobby, meditation, massage or whatever, just find what helps you wind down and relax. In the meantime, if stress is messing with your immune system, here are some ways you can fight back.

Pace Yourself
According to Marc Schoen, PhD, an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, when you are coming from a stressful state don't go straight into full relaxation state. Instead slide gradually into it. He recommends 5 to 6 times a day doing short exercise periods, playing games or word puzzles and going into what he calls "slow relaxation" mode for a couple of days before hitting full relaxation mode (http://ow.ly/q8asL). 

Socialize
Studies have shown that if you have lots of connections with other people, you are less anxious and your immune system is stronger. That means take the time to stay in touch with friends and attend social functions. If you find yourself in a situation without friends or family to engage with regularly, join a hobby club, sports team or volunteer at a non-profit. Find ways to get yourself out of the house and interacting with others.

Eat Your Stress Away
Don't take this to mean sit down and eat a gallon of ice cream when you are stressed. That's not at all what we're talking about here. We're talking about eating foods that have stress relieving vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, B vitamins, coenzyme Q10 and chlorophyll. These type of foods are stress relievers, but when you are under stress, your body uses them up more quickly. So just at the time you need them the most, you don't have enough of them. Making sure in times of stress to eat foods such as oysters, halibut, spinach and other leafy greens, nuts and seeds and bluegreen algae will help in relieving stress and giving a boost to your immune system.

Our bodies also need more proteins when we are under stress. Be sure to get the "good proteins" though, as in the type from whole grains, soy, sprouts and bluegreen algae. Good proteins support your body's ability to handle stress, both physically and mentally. If you can't get all the extra protein you need from your food, consider taking this supplement with bluegreen algae and sprouts. Another great supplement to add to your diet is this one with nine different algae rich in minerals and phytonutrients, combined for full-spectrum nutrition.

Stay Physically Fit
Nothing makes you feel stress more than various aches, pains, and chronic health conditions. To avoid aggravating these conditions, take antioxidants. These "scavengers" literally go around your body cleaning up the toxins and substances that make your aches and pains worse during stress. Eating bright colorful fruits and vegetables will add antioxidants into your diet or you can take antioxidant-rich supplements such as sprouts, coenzyme Q10, and vitamin C.

Exercise is also important in staying healthy and for some people can work as a stress reliever. Whether it's going for a bike ride, working out at the gym, or taking a leisurely walk in the park, being active and moving your body can help reduce stress helping to strengthen your immune system.

Sleep It Off
Not getting enough sleep can lead to your body being stressed and a reduction of your immune system's killer cells. One study done at the University of Chicago reported men getting only 4 hours of sleep a night for a week showed only half the number of antibodies in the blood for fighting off flu as compared to men who got 7 ½ to 8 ½ hours of sleep.

The quality of sleep is also important. Good quality sleep requires entering the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep If you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep eat a healthy light snack before bed and avoid heavy meals right before bedtime, develop a bedtime routine to train your body for sleep time and start getting it ready for bed, avoid doing other activities such as work or watching TV in bed, and make sure any exercise you do is at least 3 hours before bedtime.

Using these tips to reduce stress can help support your immune system function and get you in good condition for cold and flu season. Chronic stress can wreak all kinds of havoc on your body so get started now finding what works for you to get your stress under control.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.
 
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Sources:
http://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/top-10-worst-habits-your-immune-system
http://www.oprah.com/health/Dont-Let-Stress-Make-You-Sick-Stress-and-Immunity

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

7 Tips for Healthy Aging

There are plenty of bottles lining the shelves at your local drug store that promise to pep you up, get rid of your wrinkles, lines and spots and make you appear and possibly feel more youthful, but for true healthy aging you've got to work from the inside out. When I say the inside, I mean not only good nutrition, but also attitude, stress level and other healthy life habits.

There are basically three major causes of aging. Cell and tissue damage from free radicals, enzyme depletion and reduced immune response in the body. But remember that our body cells don't really age. They are always being replaced by new cells. As far as these causes are concerned, there is plenty you can do to combat them on your trip to healthy aging. Here are a few tips to help you battle these causes of aging and to help work on yourself from the inside out.

Healthy Aging Tip #1 – Control Stress
Chronic stress increases levels of cortisol. Cortisol can affect bone density, add fat buildup in the tummy area and lead to reduction of lean body mass. Stress can also be tied to a variety of diseases linked to aging such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer's. Stress also reduces your level of IgA, a protein that is part of the immune system and helps fight off infections by preventing invaders from getting into the body.

There are numerous ways to deal with chronic stress and you need to try a variety until you find what works for you. One of the simplest is laughing. People who have more enjoyment out of life tend to show less signs of aging. Laughter can decrease stress hormones, increase immune cells, release endorphins and increase blood flow by improving blood vessel function. Laughing, social activities, music, yoga, meditation, sports, exercise, deep breathing, and massage are a few things to try out to reduce stress. Reducing stress or learning methods of coping with stress can go a long way towards healthy aging.

Healthy Aging Tip #2 – Enzymes
The food we eat needs to be properly digested for the body to get the nutrients it needs from it. When this happens, all the body organs and cells get the nutrition they need to stay healthy. To get enzymes from our foods, we need to eat lots of raw or lightly cooked vegetables and fruits and chew them completely. Overcooking and processed foods that so many of us have in our diets do not provide the enzymes we need for proper digestion. If this is the case for you, using a high quality enzyme supplement may be in order.

Healthy Aging Tip #3 – Nutrition
Yes, this is a biggie. From the types of food you eat, to the amount and everything in between, good nutrition is a key ingredient in healthy aging. Food is where we get our energy and nutrients to keep the body working optimally, to keep skin looking youthful and elastic, to keep our brains properly nourished and sharp; all things important when it comes to healthy aging. You probably know already the types of foods to be eating, whole grains for fiber, fruits and vegetables for antioxidants, lean protein, and essential fatty acids for healthy brain function. What you may not know is that as we age it is better to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day than to have the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is because of changes in hormone levels and our metabolism is slower. Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps keep the metabolism stable.

Antioxidants in the diet are especially important in healthy aging. Foods high in antioxidants include bright colorful vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, blueberries, carrots, and leafy greens. Antioxidants are the body's protection from free radical damage. Particular antioxidants do even more for us as we age. For example, the antioxidant vitamin C can help reduce the chances of macular degeneration which can lead to blindness in older adults and helps skin look more youthful. Another antioxidant, resveratrol, found in grapes and red wine, can help in reducing risk of cancer, heart disease and premature aging.

When choosing the best anti-aging antioxidants you can look at the ORAC value of each antioxidant. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, and measures the ability of an antioxidant to slow aging and neutralize free radicals. Blueberries, for example, have an ORAC value of about 26. Bluegreen alage has an ORAC value of 128! Blue-green algae is also effective at very low concentrations, so you don't have to add huge quantities to protect your cells. To make sure you are getting all the antioxidants you need to help with healthy aging, you should absolutely eat enough fruits and vegetables and in a perfect world that would be enough. But very few of us live in a perfect world and the truth is we don't get enough antioxidants from our foods. That is when supplementing with bluegreen algae can really help out. Our favorite bluegreen algae comes in a whole complete algae supplement for overall physical well-being and a version with the cell wall removed which is especially helpful for brain functioning.

Healthy Aging Tip #4 – Exercise
Exercise on a regular basis such as walking or aerobics can slow down muscle decline, and increase balance and coordination according to a study reported in the British Daily Mail in 2008. Other types of exercise useful for healthy aging include:
  • weight training or strength training to firm up saggy skin and work on muscle tone
  • cardio exercises for heart health
  • yoga to improve circulation, reduce inflammation and stress, and for bone health as it has been shown to increase bone density and improve balance.
  • fat burning exercises help maintain a healthy weight and prevent conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • exercises such as fast walking, weight lifting, weight bearing type exercises and flexibility type exercises are all good for bone health
Ideally, we should get 30 minutes of regular exercise a day for circulation, strength and flexibility. If you can't do that, then at least do something that involves movement every day. Moving the body filters down to creating movement on the cell level. Exercises, such as particular yoga exercises, can help keep the digestive tract in good working order, tone up the arms, flatten the stomach, improve muscle tone, increase energy, and increase flexibility. Don't wait until you start to see signs of aging though. Start now before the signs of aging kick in.

Healthy Aging Tip #5 – Attitude
The internet and social media sites are full of stories of people in their 80's and 90's doing remarkable things such as complex yoga routines, bicycling long distances and dance routines requiring a lot a flexibility. I have a 93 year old friend who bustles around doing fundraising and a variety of work for area non-profits that I have a hard time keeping up with him. With age often comes a better understanding of who we are and a letting go of limitations and inhibitions that once prevented us from doing certain things. Often it brings an increased sense of confidence. It's a time when how we look and what others think of us is not as important as it used to be and we've learned to set boundaries. Having the attitude of "you're only as old as you feel" can help keep us active and youthful. Seeing aging from this perspective instead of as a downward slope to decline goes a long way toward keeping us active, alert, happy and productive.

Healthy Aging Tip #6 – Skincare
The state of our skin is a reflection of the state of our general health, so some doctors can literally tell the quality of your diet based on the condition of your skin. Plus, how our skin looks often is our first sign of aging when looking in the mirror and realizing that age is catching up with us. Dehydration is one of the major causes of aging skin. If you want healthy skin, drink plenty of water. In addition to keeping skin healthy and rejuvenated, drinking enough water also supports the body in flushing toxins, preventing water retention, and keeping our internal organs functioning at top efficiency.

Eating foods rich in essential fatty acids helps skin stay elastic rather than sagging. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are the most important essential fatty acids for our skin. To have healthy skin, you need foods that have 3 to 4 times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Most Americans get just the opposite--eating foods that give them 10 to 20 times as much omega-6 fatty acids as omega-3 fatty acids! You can get the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs by eating seafood (especially deep-water fish like salmon and tuna), fresh fruit, dark-green leafy greens, micro-algae, seeds and nuts, and flax and olive oil. Adding just a little of each of these foods to your diet can make a significant difference to the appearance of your skin. AFA bluegreen algae has the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it one of Earth's perfect foods for healthy skin!

Your skin cares about what you feed it, whether it's nourishment from the inside out or from the outside in. With its powerful antioxidants and immune support, this antioxidant lotion helps provide natural plant-based topical protection from the challenging elements you encounter every day.

Healthy Aging Tip #7 – Bone Support
As we age, there is a double problem that can result with bone health. First we start losing bone at a faster rate than we can regenerate and replace it. That makes our bones more fragile. Second our muscles, joints and balance can all become weaker meaning we are more likely to have falls which can lead to breakage of these more fragile bones. That is why bone health is an important area to consider in healthy aging. Keeping muscles strong increases your ability to stop yourself if you start to fall and can reduce your risk of falling in the first place. Taking the recommended amount of calcium, Vitamin D, getting flexibility and weight bearing exercise regularly, cutting down on caffeine, and getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can go a long way to giving you the bone support needed for healthy aging.

There you have it. Seven ways to help you keep feeling and looking young as you age. Healthy aging can help make your elder years an enjoyable experience instead of the dreaded decline into health problems and uselessness. If you are only as old as you feel, then it pays to feel the best you can and be your healthiest no matter what age you are.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.
 
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Sources:
http://www.oprah.com/food/Eating-and-Secrets-to-Healthy-Aging-Aine-McAteers-Blog/1
http://www.prevention.com/beauty/beauty/new-rules-aging
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/anti-aging-diet


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Healthy Living with Leaky Gut Syndrome

If there is anything the medical communities can agree on about leaky gut syndrome it is that not enough is known about it. Time was when the majority of doctors did not even recognize leaky gut syndrome as a real condition. The alternative medical community recognized the seriousness of leaky gut syndrome before traditional medical personnel and came up with some treatments to reduce symptoms. Even though the condition is becoming more accepted by doctors of all kinds, the dilemma still exists that there is just too much still not known and too broad a spectrum of causes and manifestations to have one simple sure-fire treatment. If there is a second thing that the medical communities all can agree on about leaky gut syndrome, it might be that healthy living habits such as diet and stress reduction are the best first lines of defense.

What Do We Know About Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Whereas there is some controversy and varying opinions and theories about what causes leaky gut syndrome, we're not totally in the dark about it. Here are some things that are generally accepted about it:
  • the intestinal lining which normally acts as a filter, only allowing very small particles through to the bloodstream, becomes more porous
     
  • larger molecules of undigested food, toxins, yeast and other waste are not being filtered properly by the intestinal wall and get into the bloodstream
     
  • the immune system identifies these extra particles as foreign bodies and reacts to them as such
     
  • the immune system cannot keep up with the extra stress put on it trying to fight off all these extra foreign bodies and they are able to pass into various body organs resulting in inflammations
     
  • the immune system becomes weakened and less able to fight off other types of bacteria, viruses and germs that cause sickness
     
  • symptoms include chronic diarrhea, constipation, skin rashes, headaches, brain fog, poor memory, food intolerances and fatigue and can lead to conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Celiac Disease, MS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, and Fibromyalgia

Immune System and the Gut
You may be asking yourself at this point what your gut has to do with your immune system. The intestinal system is actually the largest immune system organ. Dr. Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, sums it all when he says:
"A well functioning gut with healthy gut flora holds the roots of our health. And, just as a tree with sick roots is not going to thrive, the rest of the body cannot thrive without a well-functioning digestive system."
The lining of the intestines with its millions of cells plays a huge role in immune system defense. Simply put, ideally as food is digested and nutrients extracted, the intestinal system exercises a screening process. Those particles that are ready to be passed along through the bloodstream to feed parts of the body are allowed through the tight junctions of cells making up the intestinal wall. These same tight junctions hold back particles that should not move on into the bloodstream or that are not yet ready to pass along. Micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and macronutrients, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, need to be broken down in order to be absorbed and used by the body. Proteins break down into amino acids, carbohydrates break down into sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose and fats break down into fatty acids and glycerol. Until they are broken down into these small molecules that the body can use, they should not be allowed to pass through the intestinal wall.

In leaky gut syndrome, this process does not work ideally and toxins, undigested food molecules, yeast and other pathogens that should not be getting into the bloodstream are. Once these particles enter the bloodstream the liver jumps into action and attempts to filter out what the intestinal lining failed to. As the liver becomes overwhelmed fighting off all this extra overflow, other parts of the immune system jump in to help fight them off. At this point most of the immune system resources are being used to fight off these invaders and there are not as many immune resources left to attend to "normal" business. There are also so many of these invaders floating down the bloodstream to various body organs that the immune system cannot usually fight them all off. It releases white blood cells to help in fighting them. These white blood cells release chemicals that induce swelling and inflammation. As the invaders are absorbed into body tissues, the immune system's attempts to destroy them results in inflammations in whatever tissues and organs they have entered. The immune system in turn becomes overworked and stressed which can lead to a variety of autoimmune conditions.

You can see now why there are so many ways that leaky gut syndrome can manifest in such a variety of conditions and symptoms and where the controversy comes in for the medical communities. It is a problem for sure, but since there is still a lot of information lacking as to why this all happens and there are so many different locations in the body that can be affected and so many different results or reactions a body can demonstrate, it is often hard to pin down a diagnosis and treatment.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and Healthy Living
Now that you understand a bit about the problems leaky gut syndrome can cause and how it comes about, you might think you are doomed to living with it. Not true. And if you are living with leaky gut syndrome, you are probably a lot less interested in the causes and conditions than you are in getting relief from your symptoms. Having a basic understanding of how it all works though will give you insight into how these natural solutions can help.

Enzymes to Break Down Foods
Some sources we consulted indicate that if you show sensitivity to more than a dozen foods you can assume you have leaky gut syndrome. Undigested foods getting through into the bloodstream are seen as foreign invaders causing the immune system to put up defenses against them. Once the immune system recognizes these as "unfriendly" it will continue to do so anytime these same foods are introduced into the system. Increasing your intake of digestive enzymes can help break foods down into nutrients that will be used by the body. In other words, the problem isn't necessarily the foods you are eating, it is that they are being allowed into the bloodstream before they have been properly digested. It is also cited that those with leaky gut syndrome have low stomach acid. Since digestion begins in the stomach with hydrochloric acid breaking down foods, this can get the digestive process off to a bad start. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement can help facilitate the digestive process. Enzymes help in breaking down food into smaller particles, but they also go through the intestinal system removing toxins, bacteria and damaged cells. Bromelain and papain enzymes are also useful in reducing inflammation in the intestinal lining as well as other body tissues. Using enzymes to help fight off inflammation can give some relief to the overworked immune system.

Because many of the foods we eat lack the enzymes necessary for digestion, we have to take extra enzymes to help digest our foods. While raw organic foods usually have enough enzymes to digest themselves, so our bodies don't have to provide extra enzymes, most of the foods we eat are cooked, packaged, or otherwise enzyme-light. Taking enzymes with each meal helps ensure that your food is properly digested in the stomach before it goes into your intestines. Taking enzymes between meals also helps with digestion, since these enzymes roam the body and "digest" toxins, extra fecal matter, and even proteins that have slipped into the bloodstream through the stomach wall.

Healthy Eating
When dealing with leaky gut syndrome, it is helpful to be aware of the types of foods you are eating. The less ammunition, the shorter the battle. If you eat a lot of processed foods, foods high in refined sugar and preservatives, for example, you are adding fuel to the fire. These types of foods bring chemicals into the body that are identified as toxins. Sugar also feeds yeast and can lead to an overgrowth of them getting into the bloodstream and adding damage to the intestinal wall. In a system that is already overwhelmed with toxins and fighting them off, it can be helpful to eat foods that don't introduce more. To help the gut heal, eat food without any sugar, avoid foods with gluten, processed foods, dairy foods, alcohol, caffeine and simple carbs that break down into sugars. Instead eat whole foods that are high in fiber, essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, and are nutrient rich.

De-Stress
Stress is another factor that can lead to a weakened immune system. Finding a way to cope with stress can take another burden off the immune system that is already overworked. Exercise, meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage, sports or hobbies can all be stress relieving tools. Making sure you get enough good quality sleep can also help with stress. Various herbal teas and Rescue Remedy can be helpful in relieving anxiety associated with stress. Try a variety of different things to see what works for you to reduce stress.

Zinc
Zinc is a vital mineral for strengthening the intestinal lining. It can also help strengthen a weak immune system and helps in the building of 100 different enzymes. Calf liver, crimini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and spinach are all foods high in zinc. Other foods that are good sources of zinc include shellfish such as crab, lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters and mussels, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, wheat germ, and yogurt.

Clean Your Digestive Tract
There are many ways to cleanse your body, but the simplest one I know of is to do a castor oil pack on your abdomen once a week for 4 weeks. Castor oil packs are an old Edgar Cayce remedy and they work really well to help your body get rid of any kind of waste. They work equally well on anything from clogged up intestines to unwanted bone spurs. Castor oil literally dissolves any kind of unnatural material in the body.

You can buy full castor oil packs (which include a wool flannel cloth, castor oil, and a heating pad) at most health food stores. You can also order these supplies online at the Heritage Store. You will also need to have some baking soda on hand for cleaning up after you have done the pack.

A short version of how to do the castor oil pack are as follows:
  1. Soak the wool flannel with castor oil, and place the flannel in an ovenproof dish.
     
  2. Warm the wool flannel in the oven, until warm to the touch. Meanwhile, plug in the heating pad and warm it. Also, mix the baking soda with water so it forms a paste.
     
  3. Once the wool flannel is warmed, place it directly on your abdomen, and then place the heating pad on top. Leave the "pack" in place for 1 1/2 hours.
     
  4. Once you are done with the pack, wipe your entire abdomen with the baking soda paste. This converts the toxins released by the pack into harmless salts that can be washed out of your body through the lymphatic system. This step is very important so don't skip it. If you do, your body will not be able to excrete the toxins released by the pack.
After cleansing your system with the castor oil pack, be sure to replenish the probiotics that live in a healthy intestine.

Probiotics
Probiotics are the "friendly bacteria" in your intestines that are necessary in the digestive process after food has passed out of the stomach and to fight off the bad bacteria and yeast. The probiotics acidophilus and bifidus are especially important. They can help in the healing process of the intestinal lining, help in the absorption of nutrients, and the normal movement of food through the intestines. Eating yogurt "beefed up" with probiotics can help, but to fully replenish your supply of healthy intestinal bacteria, oral supplements are your best bet. Yogurt tends to not have enough density of probiotics to truly replenish.

Hopefully you have some ideas now that will lead you to seek help with your symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. If you need more help, seek out a doctor or nutritionist that will be willing to help you work through the process. Including some or all these healthy living tips into your lifestyle are definitely a good place to start whatever other routes you take. Eating right, reducing stress, and supporting a healthy immune system will never lead you in the wrong direction on the path to healthy living.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.
 
Image courtesy of John Kasawa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/leaky-gut-syndrome
http://scdlifestyle.com/2010/03/the-scd-diet-and-leaky-gut-syndrome/
http://www.naturalnews.com/038709_leaky_gut_syndrome_healing_solutions.html
http://www.jigsawhealth.com/resources/leaky-gut-probiotics

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to Get a Flat Stomach, Finally!

Do you struggle with how to get a flat stomach? Does belly fat seem to be impossible to get rid of? Are you one of the 62% of women that report the body part they are most self-conscious of is their belly? If the answer to any of these questions for you is yes, then read on. We have a compilation of tips for how to get a flat stomach with all natural solutions.

Dieting Myths
First, there are a few myths that need to be corrected when planning your strategy in the battle of the bulge. We all know there are some foods that are more conducive to weight loss and to weight gain, but according to Alan Aragon, a Westlake Village, California nutritionist, your total calorie balance is what really matters (http://ow.ly/pEUXG). Burning more calories than you ingest keeps unused calories from turning into that unwanted belly fat no matter what types of foods the calories are coming from and is the key to how to get a flat stomach. Many people still believe that dieting means eating less food and that will lead to weight loss, but in actuality these type of diets cause the body to go into starvation mode. A body in starvation mode stores fat instead of burning it and the storage place of choice seems to be the belly area.

Another weight loss myth is to stay totally away from carbs and fats. But the right kinds of carbs and fats can actually help with weight loss. Stick to complex carbs such as in whole grains, vegetables and fruits as they provide fiber that can help you feel fuller with eating less than processed refined carbs. Since carbs need water for metabolizing which can leave you feeling bloated it is best to go with foods that have a lot of fiber and are have more starch. This would be foods such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, oats and legumes. These types of carbs also take longer to digest, so whereas you don't have to stop eating them altogether, you should limit them to some extent.

Numerous studies show that eating monounsaturated fats can actually help you with weight loss. One such study in the British Journal of Nutrition from Johns Hopkins University researchers reported that people consuming a diet with lots of these type fats lost small amounts of weight and took fewer days to lose weight than those on diets with lots of carbs. (http://ow.ly/pEV77) Good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, nuts, olives and oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and canola oil. Monounsaturated fats can also help you feel fuller, thus eating less and add a lot of flavor so that your meals are still enjoyable and you don't feel as deprived as you do on bland diet type foods. Just don't go overboard with adding fats to your meals as all fats are high in calories.

Natural Solutions for How To Get a Flat Stomach
Now that we have cleared up some of the diet myths and misconceptions, here are some tips that will help you with how to get a flat stomach.

Read Labels –
Even those of us who strive to eat healthy need to be aware that processed foods quite often contain sugars. Of course the biggest culprit to watch for is high fructose corn syrup, but sugar can appear in various forms so check those labels before choosing anything you are buying at the grocery store. Sugar increases insulin production thus slowing your metabolism and making it harder to burn off calories. Many so called diet foods contain sorbitol and mannitol for sweetening. These are sugar alcohols that produce intestinal gas which cause bloating.

Deal With Stress –
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by stress and anxiety. It also signals the body to store up fat, usually as belly fat. Using deep breathing, yoga and meditation to deal with stress and anxiety can help keep down the production of cortisol.

Exercise –
You didn't really think you were going to get away from exercise in striving to lose weight did you? Surprising many people still believe that if they just eat less or just eat certain foods or don't eat certain other foods they can lose weight without having to exercise. This may be true in some cases, but most of us find this type of weight loss short-lived and that it doesn't address the stubborn belly fat issue. Remember earlier in this article we said the key is to balance calorie intake with burning off calories. Exercise is a key ingredient to burning off fat. This includes muscle building exercises because the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism works and the more calories you are able to burn. Workouts that focus on firming up your abs can help you in your quest for how to get a flat stomach. You can find a good 10 minute workout that concentrates on your abs and flattening out your belly at http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/abs/express/get-a-flat-belly/?

Support Body's Digestion -
Your digestive system needs healthy friendly bacteria to digest your food. If you do not have enough of these bacteria working for you, your digestion is slowed and bloating occurs as well as having undigested food causing belly bulges. Yogurt and kefir are good sources of probiotics vital to this digestion process. When buying yogurt or kefir, make sure you get the ones with live active cultures. You can also add a full spectrum probiotic supplement to your diet. Our favorite probiotic supplement has twelve key good bacteria that are microblended with bluegreen algae.

Digestive enzymes are crucial in helping break down all types of foods including fats, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, for improved digestion and optimal nutrition. Our diets alone don't give us the amount of digestive enzymes our bodies need for effective digestion, so adding a high quality enzyme supplement to your diet can help. Our favorite enzyme supplement is microblended with sixteen different natural, plant-based food enzymes, and a small amount of bluegreen algae to give the enzymes specific vitamins and minerals that help the body break down and assimilate a complete range of nutrients from your food. 

Protein Up –
Another tip for how to get a flat stomach is to use protein powder. Powders that contain whey protein rather than soy show better results. The Journal of Nutrition reported one study of people adding whey protein to their diets for 23 weeks which resulted in less body fat and smaller waist sizes than those using powders with soy. Our favorite powdered protein supplement not only gives you 22 grams of protein from whey, but includes bluegreen algae, sprouts and protein-digesting enzymes. Adding protein powders to yogurt or to create your favorite smoothie drink after working out can help drop fat.

I hope these tips give you some new ideas on how to get a flat stomach naturally. Getting rid of belly fat not only increases our self-esteem every time we look in the mirror, it also more importantly makes us healthier by giving us the motivation to eat better and exercise. There's no down side to that. 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.
 
Image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Sources:
http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/30-greatest-flat-belly-tips-all-time
http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/core-health?
http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/abs/express/get-a-flat-belly/?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Flu Vaccine - To Vaccinate or Not?

When flu season comes along many people are faced with the dilemma of whether to vaccinate or not with the flu vaccine. We hope to provide you with the information here to make an informed decision to vaccinate or not.

How the Flu Vaccine Works
The flu vaccine is different from other types of vaccines in that it has to be re-created every year because there are different strains of flu. Each year the people that make the vaccine have to try to figure out which strains will be dominant that year and design the vaccine accordingly. This is tricky, since without a crystal ball there is no way to guarantee that the vaccine they create will cover all the strains that will show up for the season. Then there are other factors that influence whether or not the vaccine will work for you or not. Age plays a role. Health officials predict the current vaccine to be 56% effective for children and adults up to age 64. For adults over 64, it is reported to be only 9% effective. For seniors however, the vaccine can prevent them getting a more severe version of the flu which reduces the chance of having to be hospitalized by as much as 70% and reduces the risk of death by as much as 80%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that overall getting the flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting the flu by 70-90% and they especially recommend the flu shot for anyone with a weakened immune system such as those with HIV or cancer. It is also recommended that children under the age of 6 months do not get the flu vaccine.

Generally, the flu vaccine works best in healthy adults. The older you get, the weaker your immune system can become. The flu vaccine is made with a dead or weakened virus that doesn't give you the flu, but rather alerts the immune system to recognize it. Then if you are exposed to the flu, your immune system recognizes it as a threat to be fought off.

Your Immune System's Role
Since the vaccine is alerting your immune system to identify and fight off the flu virus strains in the vaccine, obviously the stronger your immune system is, the better able it is to combat the virus. Older adults often have weaker immune systems either because they don't produce as many immune cells as they did when they were younger or their nutrition doesn't contain enough of the nutrients they need for a healthy immune system. When deciding whether to vaccinate or not with the flu vaccine, also consider how you can boost your immune system. That way whether you decide to get the flu shot or not, your immune system will be in tip top shape to fight off not only viral infections like the flu, but also bacterial infections that also go around during flu season.

Natural Solutions for a Healthy Immune System
The immune system is a combination of cells and organs that fight off foreign chemicals, bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, parasites and other invaders that make us sick. You have cells that block intruders and those that track down intruders to fight them off. Your body produces antibodies that can kill off intruders such as viruses and bacteria that make us sick. Keeping your immune system healthy and strong starts with eating a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep. Here are some other things that can help you in strengthening your immune system.

IgA -
IgA is a protein that is part of the immune system and helps fight off infections by preventing invaders from getting into the body. Stress reduces these levels leaving the immune system more vulnerable. Levels of IgA can be increased by activities such as laughing, social activities, music, and sex. Reducing stress or learning methods of coping with stress can go a long way towards strengthening your immune system.

Exercise –
Too much exercise can actually weaken the immune system. Exercising 3 times a week for 20 minute sessions can help strengthen the immune system.

Wash Hands -
Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to beat germs. Wash with soap and warm water periodically during the day especially before touching food, after interacting with someone who is sick, being out in public and after using the restroom.

Diet –
Antioxidants fight off the damage created by free radicals which age our bodies and weaken the immune system. Flavonoids in fruits and vegetables as well as Vitamin C, E and A are all antioxidants. Green tea is another good source of antioxidants. Zinc is also an important nutrient for a healthy immune system in the development of white blood cells that help fight off infections and is lacking in most of our diets. Eating foods such as lean meats, seafoods such as crab, oysters and lobster, peanuts, cashews, almonds, dairy products and wheat germ are all ways to get zinc in your diet. Avoid saturated fats and instead add the healthy fats such as omega-3 to your diet. Drink at least 2 quarts of pure water daily.

Intestinal Support –
The digestive tract is a large part of the immune system and healthy probiotics in this system are necessary to support good digestion and aid in the elimination of waste from the body. Lifestyles that include chlorinated water, environmental toxins, stress, and diets high in processed and refined foods as well as foods with many of the nutrients cooked out of them contribute to reducing our probiotic population. Taking supplements of acidophilus and bifidus can support the digestive system and the repopulation of these necessary intestinal flora. Acidophilus helps absorb nutrients in food, strengthens the intestinal wall, activates vitamin production and helps with overall food digestion. It also produces Acidophilin which is a natural antibiotic and inhibits growth of 23 toxic producing microorganisms. Bifidus helps absorb water from food, helps reduce bloating and gas and helps with elimination of waste from the body.

Immune Support Supplement –
To help fortify the body's immune system, you can also add a dietary supplement that contains WGP beta glucan. Beta glucan is a complex carbohydrate of glucose that can come from yeast, bacteria, fungi or cereals like oats, barley and rye. In the 1960s, scientists discovered the immune boosting properties of beta glucan. Numerous studies have shown WGP beta glucan to be able to activate macrophages which are a type of white blood cell in the immune system that help fight off invaders.

As you can see your immune system is the key to defending yourself against illness. When flu season comes around it's up to you whether you decide to vaccinate or not, but building a healthy and strong immune system is a must. I hope you now have the information you need to make the decision on whether to vaccinate or not when it comes to getting the flu shot and also have some ideas on changes you can make to your lifestyle to strengthen your immune system. Flu season comes around every year, make sure you are ready for it.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products  on our website.
 
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Essential Nutrients for Animals

For thousands of years, animals in the wild thrived on a diet of natural raw foods. These foods provided all of the nutrients, vitamins, organic minerals, trace elements, chlorophyll and antioxidants, as well as the beneficial bacteria and enzymes their bodies are designed to use. But today, whether animals live in our homes, on our farms, or are otherwise under our care, their diets are often dramatically different.

Many essential nutrients are heat sensitive; therefore, critical nutritional properties are destroyed by modern processing and storage methods. They are often replaced in animal feeds with synthetic minerals and vitamins, or vitamin isolates that do not provide the same benefits to the body that whole foods do. If these nutritional needs are unmet for an extended period of time, animals will develop an impaired immune system, evidenced by any number of symptoms, including allergies, dry skin, dull hair coat, and increased susceptibility to parasites.

In your quest to find holistic, natural answers for the health of your animal you can find great natural solutions in our online store. This product line, originally developed for humans, offers superior nutritional support for animals. Supporting the health and immune system of your animals with high quality nutrition is the best and most cost-effective choice for their bodies.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader. Also, check out the free health resources or order blue-green algae products at wholesale prices on our website.
 
Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net