Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good Mood Foods That Make You Smile!

You may think that good mood foods are those fatty comfort foods like chocolate donuts that seem to make you happy... for a while. But on some level you know that those type of fattening, processed, refined sugar filled foods are not really good mood foods. You know they are not healthy for you, add weight, clog arteries, kill off your healthy intestinal bacteria and that smile on your face is short lived. Real good mood foods are those superfoods that increase your energy level, help you moderate your weight and/or stimulate the release of "feel good" chemicals such as serotonin that regulates mood or epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine that influence energy and mental focus. Real good mood foods feed your body the nutrition it needs to be strong and healthy. When you feel good and look good, your mood naturally gets a boost. But even more than that, there are foods that interact with the body to produce the chemicals that produce a happy feeling. Here are some tips for superfoods to add to your diet to keep you feeling good. 

Magnesium Rich Foods
Magnesium is an essential ingredient for muscle relaxation, overall body calm, and has a soothing influence on mood. The body also needs magnesium to convert sugars into a form the body can use for energy. Many of us lack magnesium in our diets. Magnesium rich foods include green vegetables such as spinach, cereals and grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and bran, peas, beans, peanuts, lentils, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, cashews, almonds, halibut, and fruits such as bananas and figs. Don't overdo the magnesium though since once your body has absorbed enough magnesium it will release the rest via your colon, usually in the form of diarrhea.

Keep Blood Sugar Stable
Eating foods with carbohydrates from whole grains that are rich in fiber such as wheat bread, brown rice, and cereals can help increase levels of serotonin and are absorbed slowly by the body which means they help keep blood sugar levels stable. Go with complex carbohydrates rather than simple carb foods to keep your energy level up throughout the day and avoid the fatigue from blood sugar crashing. Quinoa is a great grain for complex carbohydrates and also has all the amino acids your body needs (and can't make) for protein synthesis which builds muscle mass. According to Darryn S. Willoughby, PhD, director of the Exercise and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, building muscle mass increases your reserves of energy and increases your stamina. Cinnamon has also been shown to be effective in balancing blood sugar levels.

Not getting enough of the enzyme amylase can also result in unbalanced blood sugar levels and mood swings. The cooking processes often used in preparing food kill off many of the natural enzymes in foods. A high quality enzyme supplement can help you get the digestive enzymes your body needs.

Serotonin is the brain chemical that produces feelings of calmness and happiness and regulates mood. Eating foods with tryptophan helps in producing serotonin. Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews are high in tryptophan. Tryptophan levels can also be increased by eating "good" carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Walnuts are also high in antioxidants, have vitamin E which helps nourish the skin, selenium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. 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. 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. Folate can be found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and in Brussels sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, lentils and sunflower seeds.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function. Specifically, the brain needs two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. The best sources for omega-3 are coldwater fish like cod, mackerel, tuna, herring and salmon. These cold-water fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids because they, in turn, eat a lot of blue-green algae. 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. If you are not a fish lover, then you've probably guessed that taking AFA bluegreen algae supplements will also get you the omega-3s you need. Other food sources for omega-3 are flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil, edamame, wild rice, soybean oil, spinach, kale and chia seeds.

Good Mood Foods Supplements
One of our favorite energy superfoods for a mood boost is this ginseng and edible mushroom 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.

Another supplement we love for supporting the production of neurotransmitters to support mood and provide all the brain health benefits of algae is this supplement  that combines nine colorful algae giving you a unique richness of minerals and phytonutrients from the lake and sea. It is made with dulse, kelp, fucoidan, Ecklonia cava, bladderwrack, Dunaliella salina, spirulina, chlorella and pure wild bluegreen algae from Klamath Lake. Here is a breakdown of the whole food nourishment each of these ingredients is known for:

Dulse - A dark red sea algae rich in phytonutrients and pigments, high in plant-based protein, with important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B6, B12, and A, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese.

Ecklonia Cava - A rich source of bioactive derivatives, mainly phlorotannins, including triphlorethol-A. These phlorotannins are strong antioxidants as well as a source of other benefits for supporting healthy living.

Fucoidan - A seaweed compound derived from brown sea algae and is a sulfated polysaccharide.

Kelp - A wild algae that occurs naturally in all the oceans of the earth and is a rich source of micronutrients and minerals including vitamins C and E, calcium, magnesium, boron, and trace elements that are necessary for strong bones and muscle function.

Bladderwrack - A brown algae found in the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans that is rich in vitamins and minerals and contains the sulfated polysaccharide fucoidan.

Dunaliella Salina - A sea microalgae with high carotenoid content (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein), antioxidants, and important vitamins.

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) - A variety of bluegreen microalgae that is rich in chlorophyll, phycocyanin, a broad spectrum of minerals and phytonutrients, and vitamins A and K, and provides a complete protein profile.

Chlorella - A strain of green microalgae grown through freshwater aquaculture that is rich in nucleic acids, amino acids, peptides, polysaccharides, and minerals.

Bluegreen Algae - A bluegreen algae that is the only edible freshwater bluegreen algae in the world that grows abundantly in the wild, and is considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. This algae is rich in phytonutrients, plant-based proteins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, as well as a wide spectrum of micronutrients.

If you find yourself at the mercy of your mood swings or just plain unhappy a lot of the time, take a look at what you are eating. Adding in some of the foods in the above tips can help give you a mood boost and get you smiling again.

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.
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Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to Slim Down with Smart Beverage Choices

When looking for how to slim down, we usually look at the foods we eat and the amount of exercise we engage in. But what are you drinking? That is something else to consider. Did you know that one fifth of our calories each day come from what we drink?

How to Slim Down: Drink Water
The best drink is of course water. Water doesn't add calories to your diet, helps flush toxins out of the body, keeps skin hydrated and youthful looking, keeps internal organs functioning properly, helps prevent constipation, increases circulation, replaces fluids lost through sweating and lots more. If drinking straight water doesn't sound good to you, try adding a little salt or lime to your water. Both salt and lime improve the taste of water, and a slice of lime tends to remove any chlorine that might be in it. Drinking water also helps in how to slim down by making you feel full if you drink before eating, thus you don't feel the need to eat as much.

How To Slim Down: Cut Out All Carbonated Soft Drinks
You probably know that carbonated soft drinks have hundreds of calories and should not be included on a how to slim down diet. But many people think switching to diet soft drinks makes a difference and is OK when trying to lose weight. This switch will cut down on some calories, but research hasn't confirmed that switching to diet soda makes a significant difference in weight loss. You still have to look at how many calories you take in each day versus how many calories you burn each day. Ask yourself is that soft drink really worth the extra exercise you'll need to do or would you rather switch to a totally non-sweetened, non-carbonated drink?

How To Slim Down: Drink Coffee and Tea Straight Up
Another tip for how to slim down is to drink coffee or tea without adding fattening sugar and cream to it. The caffeine found in green tea or black coffee does boost your metabolism for a short period of time, and can help you lose weight. To get the most benefit out of green tea, drink it hot and drink several cups per day. Coffee, like green tea, has no calories and has been found to reduce the risks of Type II diabetes, improve mental concentration and mood swings. Both these beverages have antioxidants that help the body fight off damage from free radicals. If you can't take your coffee straight black, stick with adding some skim milk or unsweetened almond milk to avoid adding too many calories to it.

How To Slim Down: What's Good and Bad About Juices
Fruit juices have vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants that are good for you, but read the labels on the juices you buy. Many of them have added sweeteners. To get the nutrition and keep calories low, go for labels that show 100% juice or invest in a juicer and make your own. Vegetable juices have much less calories than fruit juices, but usually have more sodium. Making your own green smoothies with fruits and vegetables is another way to make sure you know exactly what you are getting in your juices. Adding some juice to a glass of water will give you an even lower calorie drink with some of the juice's nutrition added in. 

How To Slim Down: Make a Smoothie for Meal Replacement or Snack
Making your own smoothies or green drinks gives you the power to add in the ingredients of your choosing that you know will help you in how to slim down. Since milk has been found to help in losing weight, you can add skim milk or low fat yogurt into your smoothies to get a protein boost without the calories. Juicy fruits alone can be blended into a smoothie if you don't want to add in the extra calories of milk or fruit juice. Another tip for how to slim down is to use protein powder to make a smoothie drink that can be a snack or even a replacement for a meal. Powders that contain whey protein rather than soy show better results. Our favorite powdered protein supplement not only gives you 22 grams of protein from whey, but includes bluegreen algae, sprouts and protein-digesting enzymes as well as the omega-3 and omega-6s and all the other amino acids and whole food nutrition from blue green algae. Blending this powdered drink supplement with yogurt, fruit juice, milk or your favorite smoothie can help you stay away from fatty foods and satisfy hunger to combat overeating.

If you are looking for how to slim down, get enough exercise to burn off the calories you consume, eat low calorie meals with lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and watch what you drink. What you are drinking may be putting on that extra weight that you just can't seem to take off. Making smarter beverage choices may just be the key 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 zirconicusso /