Thursday, June 26, 2014

Worried Your Children Might Not Be Getting Enough Nutrition? Simple Solutions with Real Proof

We all know that we can fix the most nutritious meals possible, but getting our children to eat them is often another story. That causes many parents to worry if their children are getting enough nutrition. What do children really need to maintain good health? Basically nutrition for children is the same as for adults. We all need vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. The difference for children is the amount of these needed at different ages. As children get older they require more calories and larger amounts of food from each of the healthy food groups. If you really have a picky eater and are worried about the nutrition he or she is getting, you may want to consider a good quality multi-vitamin designed for children.

The Essentials for Children's Nutrition
Part of making sure your children are getting the right nutrition is in what they don't eat. Just as for adults, refined sugars, processed foods, unhealthy fats and simple carbs are not healthy choices. They do need fats, but it should be healthy fats, like monounsaturated. Nuts, olive oil and avocados are good fat choices. Essential fatty acids are necessary for growing bodies and brains. Omega-3 is a very important essential fatty acid for growing brains, hearts, nervous systems, skin, joints, tissues and the immune system. Foods such as coldwater fish, nuts, seeds, healthy oils and AFA bluegreen algae are good omega-3 sources. Protein is also important for growing bodies either from meat sources such as grass-fed beef, chicken, pork and turkey or non-meat sources like milk, eggs, tofu, and beans. Another basic for child nutrition is calcium and vitamin D for strong bones, teeth and immune system health.

Other Nutrition Concerns for Children
Since children spend a lot of their time in school, they are exposed to a variety of childhood illness and germs. A strong immune system can help cut down on school absences due to illness and help children fight off many bacteria and viruses. Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus not only help with digestion and nutrient absorption, but also support immune system health. Getting extra vitamin C and zinc when "bugs" are present at your child's school can help boost their white blood cells which are another important part of the immune system.

Just as for adults, eating AFA bluegreen algae is another way to make sure children get enough of the right nutrition. AFA bluegreen algae provides:
  • all 20 amino acids, providing a complete source of protein in an amino acid profile nearly identical to human breast milk
  • essential fatty acids, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 in the right balance 
  • phenylethylamine (PEA), the mental energy activator 
  • powerful antioxidants, such as chlorophyll, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and phycocyanin
  • dozens of essential vitamins (including B12), minerals, and trace elements
  • an ideal balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, complex sugars, and fiber.

AFA Bluegreen Algae for Children
For proof that AFA bluegreen algae supplements give children the nutrition they need for physical growth and cognitive development, consider a study done with malnourished children in Nicaragua. This study began by looking at the fact that malnutrition affects a great many children and families in Nicaragua. More than half of the deaths of children there are due to malnourishment. Malnourishment in children also causes school problems such as lack of ability to focus, poor attendance, participation and performance. The Nicaragua Report from 1995, reports the effects of AFA bluegreen algae on the nutritional status and school performance of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders in Nicaragua. 1 gram of an AFA supplement was given to a group of these students every day for six months. The study observed and charted physical appearance, nutritional status, school attendance, behavior and academic performance. At the end of the six month period, the children being fed AFA bluegreen alage showed significant improvement in all areas, while the children in the control group continued to show worsened conditions.

Making sure your children get the nutrition they need doesn't have to be all that hard. The internet is full of fun recipes and ideas that will appeal to children to encourage them to eat fresh fruit, vegetables, complex carbs and healthy fats. Do a little research to find ones you can make for your children or that they can help make themselves. You can also just not buy sugary soft drinks, chips, candy and other unhealthy snack foods to have around the house all the time. Save things like that for an occasional treat instead of a regular part of your child's diet. Finally do a little research or check with your health care provider to learn how much of each food group your child should be getting for his or her age and if you find the diet lacking consider adding a dietary supplement like a multi-vitamin or AFA bluegreen algae.

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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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Get Enough Nutrients if You Are Vegan or Vegetarian

With a vegan diet or only eating vegetarian food you get plenty of antioxidants, fiber, some essential fatty acids, flavonoids and other good nutrients, but there are nutritional elements that may be lacking from these diets. Whether you follow a vegetarian food plan or a vegan diet on principles related to animal rights or just because you believe it is healthier, you can get all the nutrition you need with a little planning and attention. First it makes a difference what type of vegetarian you are. Some people refer to themselves as vegetarian if they eat a mostly plant based diet but also include dairy products. Then there are those that include dairy with the exception of eggs. Vegans on the other hand do not include any dairy and don't include eggs or any other foods from animal sources. There are also people that fall somewhere in between the definitions by eating mostly vegetarian with or without dairy and eggs and occasionally include fish or poultry in their diets.

What Nutrition You May Be Missing
Whichever diet you follow, there are certain deficiencies that can exist in a mostly plant based diet to be aware of. You can find plant based alternatives for most of these including possible dietary supplements as long as you know there may be a chance you are not getting the amount needed for good health. Here are some of the nutritional elements to consider when looking at your diet to make sure you are getting adequate amounts. You may also want to consult your health care provider or nutritionist for advice on the diet you adhere to and any nutritional deficits it may have. 

The kidney and liver produce some amounts of creatine that is needed for cells to store energy for when the body needs it, and for certain brain, muscle and bone functions. Food sources for creatine are usually meat, eggs and fish. If you do not have these foods in your diet, then you may not be getting the creatine your body needs. There are opinions and research that advocate the use of creatine supplements if a vegetarian diet is followed because the body does not make enough on its own and there are those that report the body makes enough for normal activity. Creatine is a necessary amino acid and this may be a case where consulting your healthcare provider or nutritionist can help you decide if you need more than you are getting from your diet or not.

Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is of course needed for bone health and teeth and usually comes from dairy foods. If dairy foods are not included in your diet, there are other sources for calcium including dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, rhubarb, AFA bluegreen algae, turnip greens, cereals, tofu, and juices that are fortified. There are also alternative milk sources that contain calcium such as soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. Vitamin D is also an important nutrient for bones. Vitamin D gets the calcium from the intestines and kidneys into the bloodstream. Without this nutrient, even if you get enough calcium, it can just end up leaving the body as waste and not being used to strengthen bones. Our bodies create Vitamin D mainly from our exposure to sunshine so getting outdoors a little bit every day is important. Vitamin D is available in cow milk, but there are also soy and rice milks and some cereals that you can get it from. Check the labels of foods for vitamin D or check with your health care provider to see if you need a vitamin D supplement.

Animal products are one of the best food sources for iron which is needed for red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Plant based sources include dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, AFA bluegreen algae, enriched cereals, Swiss chard and tofu. Iron from plant sources is not as easily absorbed by the body however so it is often recommended that vegetarians need twice as much as meat eaters. Along with iron, foods rich in vitamin C are needed to help the body convert the iron into a form it can use. Vegans and vegetarians probably are already eating foods rich in vitamin C such as strawberries, citrus, tomatoes, and broccoli. Just be sure to eat some of these at the same meal with your iron sources.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is important to health for energy production (red blood cell production), a healthy nervous system, a strong digestive system, vibrant hair, skin and nails, brain functions and antioxidant protection. Unfortunately B12 is also one of the vitamins that is very difficult to get from plants. If your diet is exclusively a plant based diet, chances are that you are not getting enough B12. Just taking a B12 supplement isn't necessarily a solution either because your body can only absorb B12 in the biologically active form of cobalamins. So taking any random store-bought B12 pill may not help you much. There are natural sources of vegan food plants that have high levels of biologically active B12 easily absorbed by the body. One of these sources is blue-green algae, specifically AFA (aphanizomenon flos aquae) blue-green algae from Klamath Lake. Compared to spirulina and chlorella, this AFA algae has a higher content of biologically active B12. There are also vitamin enriched cereals and fortified soy products that have vitamin B12 or if you do dairy in your diet then milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs are good sources.

The body needs protein for healthy organs, muscles, skin, and bones. If you are not getting protein from meat sources, but do include dairy in your diet, then eggs and dairy products can also be good protein sources. Plant based sources of protein include lentils, legumes, nuts, AFA bluegreen algae, seeds, soy products, whole grains, broccoli, kale, spinach, and squash. Protein powder drinks are another alternative for those on a mainly plant based diet. If you include dairy in your diet, this whey based protein smoothie mix gives you 22 grams of protein in a serving as well as bluegreen algae for extra nutritional value, sprouts, and protein digesting enzymes.

Zinc is important for cell division, aids in the development of white blood cells that are a part of your immune system that destroy foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, forming proteins, and strengthening the intestinal lining. If you are a meat eater, then eating lean beef, pork, oysters and poultry will add zinc to your diet. Vegetarians can get zinc from lima beans, AFA bluegreen algae, Swiss chard, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oats, wheat germ and miso. Miso, a soybean paste, is an especially good choice because it also has protein and B12. If you include dairy in your diet then milk and yogurt can also be sources of zinc for you.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are needed for your brain to function, help hydrate skin, aid in healthy hair growth and retention, supporting heart health and nervous system health, reducing inflammation and may improve blood pressure. If you include seafood in your diet, the best food sources are coldwater fish like cod, mackerel, tuna, herring, lake trout and salmon. These cold-water fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids because they, in turn, eat a lot of blue-green algae which is high in omega-3s. If you do not include seafood in your diet then you can get omega-3 fatty acids from fresh fruit, dark-green leafy greens like spinach and kale, AFA blue-green algae, seeds and nuts, edamame, wild rice, chia seeds, flaxseeds, flax oil, soybean oil and olive oil.

After considering these possible nutritional deficiencies in your diet, you may want to re-think the type of diet you currently follow. In the past if you did not include dairy, meat or seafood you may want to define why you made that decision and see if current research or sustainable food sources available in your area may make a difference. Many types of processed meats are full of things you don't want and the animals they come from treated inhumanely, but there are animal food products that have certifications assuring animals have been treated humanely and grass-fed or wild meats do have some nutritional value that is hard to get from plants alone. If you feel strongly about not including animal sources in your diet, then just make sure you are getting the nutrients that are often lacking in that type of diet. Whatever you decide works best for you physically, mentally and spiritually, find the highest quality food sources available in the area you live in and research what food supplements you might need to add to your particular diet to fuel your body for optimal health.

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, June 19, 2014

Food Certifications: The Meaning of Words Like Kosher, Organic, GMP, Halal, and More

Do you read food labels before you buy and are there certain certifications for food that you look for? Or are all the certification claims and food label verbiage pretty much Greek to you? We've done some looking into the various certifications and claims you will often find on food labels and here's what we found to share with you. Some of the actual definitions may surprise you.

GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulations for facilities that process food, drugs and dietary supplements. These are designed to protect consumers from the risk of contaminated products and let them know that products with a GMP certification are of high quality. The entire manufacturing process starting with raw material all the way through the steps leading to a finished product are regulated. This includes testing of equipment, worker training, and how the facility is maintained. Dietary supplements fall under guidelines developed by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). This program protects consumers by testing for harmful levels of contaminants and certifying that supplements contain the ingredients listed on the label and nothing else. Dietary supplements that have the GMP certification assure the consumer that every ingredient is thoroughly tested for possible pollutants or contaminants and verified 100% pure. Supplements that are specifically intended to be used by athletes have additional guidelines to be adhered to in order to be NSF Certified for Sport. For sports supplements, over 165 substances that have been banned by sports organizations are included in the testing. This includes stimulants, steroids and narcotics to name a few.

According to the USDA, natural products are those that don't have artificial ingredients, added color and a minimum of processing. The food label should have a statement explaining how the product is claiming to be natural. This term applied to meat just signifies that it is fresh meat, but does not apply to the conditions under which animals are raised or whether antibiotics or hormones have been used.

Organic is a certification with standards created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program. A third party must insure that the USDA criteria is being met. If a product has this certification, the consumer knows that the food has not been preserved through irradiation, no synthetic or chemical fertilizers were used and it has not been genetically modified. Meat and poultry with this certification comes from animals raised without the use of hormones or antibiotics and have only been given feed that is grown organically. These animals have also been raised having outdoor access and/or pasture room.

Cage Free
Cage free is often seen on poultry and egg packaging, but this does not necessarily mean the product has been certified. As the name implies, it does mean hens have not been raised in cages and usually that they have been allowed space to engage in behaviors natural to their species, ie. – pecking and scratching at the ground. You may think because of this that cage free means that they have outdoor access, but that is not always true. If this is important to you, then look for cage free eggs that are actually certified with an American Humane Certified food label.

Free Range
Free Range refers to how poultry have been raised according to USDA guidelines. A food label listing free range means the animal was raised with access to the outdoors. What that actually means can vary however as it is not specified how long they have outdoor access, the quality of the outdoor conditions or the size of the outdoor space.

IFANCA (Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America) gives this certification to products that have been found to be in accordance with the dietary laws observed by Muslims according to the Quran. For a product to receive this certification, it must also pass inspection of its facilities and procedures. In the case of meat products, the animal must be slaughtered in a specific way, but it is not specified how the animal was raised and if antibiotics were used or not.

Kosher Certified
A Kosher certification is given to a product that has been found to be in accordance with the dietary laws observed by the Jewish faith according to the Torah. The product must pass inspections of its processing facilities and procedures for standards of cleanliness. This certification for meat assures that a shochet used a specifically defined manner in the slaughter of the animal. This food label does not assure that hormones, antibiotics or organic feed was used in raising the animal.

Certified Humane, American Humane Certified and Animal Welfare Approved
Humane Farm Animal Care is a non-profit that developed the Certified Humane food label with the endorsement of humane organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Meat products with this certification assure that the animals have never been raised in cages or crates, have not had growth hormones administered, have only been given antibiotics if prescribed by a vet for illness, and that they were slaughtered according to specific guidelines ensuring minimal suffering. This label however does not mean that animals were given pasture or range access. If that is important to you, then you'll want to look for the Animal Welfare Approved certification provided by the Animal Welfare Institute which is a non-profit certifying family farms. This certification shows that animals were raised outside in pastures or range, the animals were allowed to engage in natural behaviors for their species, antibiotics were only given as directed by a vet for illness, no growth hormones were used and before being slaughtered the animal was treated to no longer feel pain. In the case of meat products there is also an American Humane Certification that is older than these other two. The American Humane Association created the standards for this certification which requires a third party to audit the company. It does allow animals to be contained in cages if the size allows for natural instinctive behaviors for that species and allows de-beaking in some instances for poultry. It does not allow for animals to be raised using growth hormones and use of antibiotics can only be used according to guidelines put out by the FDA.

Grass Fed
There are several food labels that certify a meat product as grass-fed. These include certifications from the USDA, the Food Alliance and the American Grassfed Association. Grass fed means the animals were raised on a diet of natural grass and forage instead of grain. The USDA certification does not assure that the animals were always kept in pasture, just that they have access to pasture during growing seasons. Some animals with this certification are confined part of the time. The certification from the American Grassfed Association and the Food Alliance are only given when animals have never been raised in confinement and have never been treated with hormones or antibiotics.

As you can see there is a lot to consider when looking at the food label certifications of the products you buy. This applies to dietary wholefood supplements too like our AFA bluegreen algae products. We are pleased to note that these algae products start with the finest grade of raw ingredients such as certified organic wild-harvested bluegreen algae, mushrooms organically grown from wild spores, plant based enzymes and high quality botanicals. They include products with certifications of Kosher, Halal and the USDA organic certification provided by Pro-Cert Organic Systems. You can see all the individual product certifications HERE. These products are also manufactured at on-site NSF Good Manufacturing Practice and GMP for Sports registered facilities. Harvesting, cooling, cleaning, water removal, freezing and storage is all done is less than 5 hours of time to protect nutritional quality with attention given to minimal environmental impact and preserving the unique sustainable ecosystems the raw ingredients are obtained from.

The bottom line is to decide what is important to you in how your food sources are raised, harvested and processed. Then look for the logos on the food label for any product you buy to be sure you are getting just what you want.

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, June 12, 2014

Does Your Food Have a GMP Certification? (and why you should care!)

Why should you care if your food or dietary supplements have a GMP certification? Well, if you don't want to be one of the estimated 50 million Americans that becomes ill from unsafe food, then the GMP certification should be important to you. Over 100 thousand people require hospital care and around 3000 deaths occur each year from consuming unsafe food. GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices and refers to a set of guidelines established to ensure that food, drugs and dietary supplements are safe for people. Various agencies are responsible for the overseeing and regulating of these practices to promote food security. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) defines food security as being "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life." ( It takes into consideration not only the quality of food, but also the distribution, use, access to and how stable the food supply is. 

Why Do We Need GMP?
Food that comes from industrialized farming practices and manufacturing not only has a lot of the nutritional value of the food stripped away, but often develops bacteria such as E. coli or Salmonella that make us sick. If you buy foods with the USDA organic label then you can be assured that antibiotics, pesticides and chemical fertilizers were not used for growing it, but these are standards and not safety regulations. Since organic products have become more and more popular they are often being produced on larger farms and imported from other countries. This can also put them at risk for safety. The best way to be sure you are getting the healthiest, freshest and safest food is to buy from local, sustainable food sources. Buying from local farmers allows you to see for yourself the growing conditions and talk to the farmers about their farming practices.

How GMP Works
To be GMP certified a company must follow practices that meet guidelines for the manufacturing and selling of food, drugs, or pharmaceutical products. These guidelines apply to manufacturing and testing to make sure the products are safe, high quality and do not pose health risks. In the United States GMPs for food and drugs are enforced by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). A company that is GMP certified has established a facility that is designed with appropriate current technology and practices to control the design and manufacturing of food and drug products. Part of what is required by GMP regulations is well maintained and calibrated equipment, trained and qualified workers, and systems and processes in place that can be reproduced and shown to be reliable. These are not a set of rules or regulations that are set in stone because companies need some flexibility to account for their various products and locations, but the guidelines give enough guidance to ensure safety of any food, drugs or dietary supplement products and have an agency overseeing them.

In the United States there is a division of responsibility for the safety monitoring of different products. The USDA covers meat and poultry whether domestic or imported and any processed foods that have meat or poultry in them as well as any products from processed eggs. Animals are inspected before and after slaughter, manufacturing plants are inspected and samples are tested by this agency.

Products not containing meat are overseen by the FDA. This agency inspects facilities that produce foods and reviews safety procedures put in place for any new products. If a product is found to be unsafe, they can order a recall just as the USDA can for meat products.

If a disease is identified as coming from a food source, then the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) becomes involved. They investigate theses occurrences and track them. Products for seafood and dairy products are the responsibility of state agencies working in conjunction with federal agencies to oversee safety.

Dietary supplements have their own specific GMP certification program for products and testing standards that were developed by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). This program protects consumers by testing for harmful levels of contaminants and certifying that supplements contain the ingredients listed on the label and nothing else. Dietary supplements that have the GMP certification assure the consumer that every ingredient is thoroughly tested for possible pollutants or contaminants and verified 100% pure. Supplements that are specifically intended to be used by athletes have additional guidelines to be adhered to in order to be NSF Certified for Sport. For sports supplements, over 165 substances that have been banned by sports organizations are included in the testing. This includes stimulants, steroids and narcotics to name a few.

To insure you are getting the highest quality food, medicines and supplements, look to see if the company that manufactured them holds a GMP certification. For food, look for local farm sources that you can buy from or grow your own home garden or patio garden. Our bodies need food for fuel. Our food shouldn't make us sick or not have the nutritional value we need. Between finding good sustainable food sources and supplementing your diet with high quality supplements, you can get all the nutrition you need to stay healthy.

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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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to Ensure That Your Wild Foods Are Harvested Sustainably

If you are looking for good sources of sustainable food, wild foods are a good choice, but most of us don't have the skills or time to go out hunting and foraging for ourselves. That's when I turn to wild wholefood supplements that I know are sustainably grown and harvested.

Wild Foods
Wild foods from the earth, forest, lakes and oceans are an easy convenient way to get nutrition from the wild elements of nature.

Sustainable Food from the Lakes
AFA bluegreen algae from Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon is grown in an ecosystem that supports recurrent growth in mass quantities. Within this lake's 594,000 acre feet of water, 200 million pounds of AFA are grown. Much of this is left creating a sediment that is nutrient rich on the floor of the lake. This helps the algae to regenerate. The rich minerals and nutrients that nourish this AFA also partly come from the volcanic soil in the Klamath basin. This algae is so sustainable in this environment that if all the algae were harvested it would only take a few days to regenerate itself. Since AFA bluegreen algae is a delicate, free swimming organism it takes special technology to harvest, cool, process and dry the algae without harming it or damaging the nutritional value or enzymatic activity. The entire process of harvesting, cooling, cleaning, water removal, freezing and storing using specialized equipment that respects this ecosystem takes less than 5 hours. The process used for harvesting is sustainable and ecologically sensitive to ensure minimal environmental impact and the highest purity standards in the natural foods industry. All this is done to prepare the AFA for sale as whole food supplements.

Sustainable Food from the Forests
From the forests come whole food products made with mushrooms organically grown from wild spores. Since 1928 when penicillin was developed from a fungus, scientists have been studying over 100,000 fungi species. The fruit of the fungi, mushrooms, have been found to have many properties that offer health benefits.

Sustainable Food from the Earth
Sprouts and grasses have been reported to provide more nutritional value than ungerminated grains. Studies also have indicated that vitamin C, iron and zinc from sprouted sources are absorbed more readily by the body. Phytonutrients, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, folate and fiber are also benefits of sprouts. Kale sprouts, red clover sprouts, wheat sprouts, and Dunaliella salina algae are combined to make this whole food sprouts product loaded with antioxidants that help protect the body cells from free radical damage.

Sustainable Food from the Oceans
Seaweeds and algae from the ocean also are wild foods with unique nutritional properties. Seaweed research became popular in the 1990s when scientists became curious as to why Asian populations that eat edible seaweeds like dulse, kelp, and bladderwrack live longer and have fewer chronic diseases than Westerners. This whole food seaweed and algae product combines dulse, kelp, fucoidan, Ecklonia cava, bladderwrack, Dunaliella salina, spirulina, chlorella and AFA bluegreen algae for a wide array of rich minerals and phytonutrients.

NSF Good Manufacturing Practice
Independent testing standards and product certification for dietary supplements were developed by NSF. Testing standards ensure that supplements have only what is listed on the product label and tests for any harmful contaminants. All the wild food products mentioned above are manufactured in an onsite NSF Good Practices registered facility and are USDA certified organic by Pro-Cert Organic Systems which is the number one food certifier in North America. Besides organic certification, products from this same company have certifications of Kosher, Halal, Vegan, Vegetarian and Paleo-Friendly.

Wild sustainable food doesn't have to be difficult to get. Super nutrition from nature all in convenient capsule form can give your body a wild food experience.

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 Sura Nualpradid  /