Thursday, July 16, 2015

How Inflammation Affects Your Health and What to Do

Inflammation is a word you hear a lot and probably think of with a negative connotation. At its best, inflammation is actually just the body's immune system response to infections, stress, toxicity, allergens, or injury. This type of inflammation triggers proteins in the body designed to protect the cells and tissues. But as the director of the Center for Inflammation and Mucosal Immunology at the University of Florida, Mansour Mohamadzadeh, PhD, explains when these immune cells get out of control, chronic inflammation can kick in where the body virtually starts attacking itself. This type of inflammation can start from viruses, bacteria, autoimmune disease, eating foods high in sugar and fat or stress. Chronic conditions can result when the body responds to inflammation by the C-reactive proteins getting into the bloodstream, going into other parts of the body and raising the level of those proteins too high. 

Inflammation and the Gut
Timothy Denning, PhD, associate professor and immunology researcher at Georgia State University, explains that sometimes immune cells start reacting to the beneficial bacteria in the intestines and this can lead to chronic inflammation. Immune cells can then attack the digestive tract, damage the lining of the intestines which can lead to chronic digestive conditions like leaky gut syndrome and Crohn's disease. All this serves to disrupt digestion and the body being able to absorb nutrients from food. Many problems with inflammation stem from the intestines and produce symptoms elsewhere. This means the digestive tract is often overlooked as being at the root of the problem.

Inflammation and Obesity
Being overweight can add to chronic inflammation. Along with that, a diet poor in nutrition which can lead to obesity is also a culprit for inflammation. The simple solution to this is of course to lose weight, but this type of inflammation causes metabolism to work slower and interferes with the body's hunger signals. That usually leads to more eating and less calories being burned.

Solutions to Inflammation
As you can see chronic inflammation can adversely affect just about everywhere in the body. Even skin doesn't escape as for example psoriasis. It also ages cells causing wrinkles and other signs of aging. Add in pain, dental problems, cancers, diabetes, respiratory problems, thyroid problems, migraines and heart conditions resulting from inflammation and you'll definitely want to find a way to deal with it. The approach most medical personnel take to dealing with inflammation is steroids or immune suppressive agents. These may offer you some relief from pain and other symptoms, but they don't address the underlying cause or fix damage that has been done. Finding the cause of your inflammation can be tricky and require some medical tests such as blood tests that measure your C-reactive protein level, cytokine levels and SED rate, journaling, and trial and error observation. A good place to start is to look at your diet and try removing processed foods, refined foods, fast foods, sugary foods, foods with trans and saturated fats, and alcohol. You may also need to avoid foods with gluten and casein if you still don't see a reduction in symptoms. Instead opt for high nutrient, low calorie whole foods with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats like omega-3's and other polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that reduce inflammation, and lean protein sources. This type of diet combined with regular exercise will also help in weight reduction in case obesity is at the root of the problem. Add fermented foods such as nonfat or low fat yogurt or kefir to your diet if you can tolerate dairy. Whether you can or cannot tolerate it, adding high quality probiotic supplements can help support the beneficial bacteria in your intestines. Also take a look at the types of medications you are taking. Antibiotics, antacids and various other types of medicines can destroy the probiotics in your gut, allow for free radical damage of cells and increase inflammation. Definitely include finding a way to deal with stress in your plan as stress increases the release of cortisol in the body and can result in inflammation. Take up a hobby, a sport, moderate exercise, or meditate. Whatever works for you to regularly get some relaxation time. Also look at your lifestyle for clues as to what could be causing inflammation. Do you physically overdo or over exercise? Do you not get enough sleep? Do you have problems keeping your blood sugar levels stable? Answering questions such as these may help point you in the right direction.

Adding herbs such as turmeric, boswellia, ginger, and rosemary to meals have also been found to help reduce inflammation. Enzymes like bromelain found in pineapple has also been found to be effective at reducing inflammation. An easy way to get not only bromelain, but also the enzymes papain, protease, lipase, and serratiopeptidase, and some wild AFA bluegreen algae is with this algae and enzyme supplement. To help with repairing the damage from free radicals and inflammation, there's also this antioxidant and algae supplement that provides the antioxidant nutrition stem cells need to flourish and be able to replace cell damage. And if you've got creaky, painful joints due to inflammation, consider this supplement with vegetable-based glucosamine, chondroitin, UC-II® undenatured collagen and bluegreen algae.

Don't let inflammation get you down. Take steps to understand and find out what is causing your painful symptoms caused by inflammation. Then employ some dietary and lifestyle changes to see which give you relief. Working with your healthcare provider or a skilled naturopath can help you get to the bottom of your inflammation and get real relief instead of just covering up the symptoms.

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  /


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Chocolate Heaven: Good and Good for You

Next time you reach for a chocolate bar when you're stressed forget about the guilt and enjoy it. It turns out that chocolate is actually good for you. That doesn't mean you can eat chocolate to your heart's content since it does have extra calories, but eating equal to one square of a dark healthy chocolate bar daily can give you a lot of benefits.

How Chocolate is Good For You
Cocoa beans and some cocoa powder has Phenylethylamine or PEA which comes from the amino acid phenylalanine. PEA occurs naturally in the body and aids with energy, mood, feelings of well-being and pleasure, attention, and mental acuity. PEA triggers hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine that elevate feelings of pleasure. Some research indicates that PEA stimulates the same feelings we get from falling in love. PEA can also be found in cheddar cheese and AFA bluegreen algae or in supplement form. Getting Phenylethylamine from supplements has been reported to have more consistent benefits and can help lower stress, boost mood and boost metabolism for fat burning. 

According to experts like Mauro Serafini, PhD, from the National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome, dark chocolate has antioxidants that help fight free radical damage. Free radicals are molecules in cells that weaken to the point that they lose an electron. This weakness results from things such as toxins in the body, exposure to UV rays, chlorinated water, pollution, and overcooked, fried and processed foods. These free radicals then take electrons from other molecules and create more free radicals causing damage in the body, including cells, enzymes, and DNA. This shows up in the body in ways like pain, inflammation, and chronic diseases such as heart disease. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals before they cause cell damage by replacing the missing electron of free radicals. Dark chocolate has flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, that helps fight off free radicals and the effects of inflammation and the resulting diseases. These antioxidants also help protect skin and give protection from skin damaging UV rays from the sun.

Dark chocolate is also a rich source of fiber which according to Yale University's Prevention Research Center's director, Dr. David Katz, can help make you feel full and not eat as much. So while you may think chocolate should be banned from your weight loss plan, it actually may help you lose weight by keeping you from seeking out less healthy snacks between meals.

Heart Healthy Chocolate
Antioxidants help fight off the damage from free radicals that can lead to heart disease, but there are other benefits for the cardiovascular system that healthy chocolate can provide. Research from 2011 done in Sweden found that women eating more than 45 grams a week were at 20 percent less risk of stroke, than those eating less than 9 grams. Eating chocolate with its cocoa phenols regularly has also been found to reduce blood pressure levels and LDL cholesterol levels. And according to Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald cocoa works much like aspirin in thinning blood and protecting from blood clots.

Alternatives to the Chocolate Bar
When you can't get your hands on some high quality chocolate bars, try this snack bar as an alternative. Made with high-quality and organic ingredients, it is fortified with sprouted grains, greens, and bluegreen algae. These ingredients give you the PEA from AFA bluegreen algae as well as the antioxidant benefits from sprouts. If you have a good quality unsweetened cocoa powder you can also get your chocolate benefits from drinking chocolate like they do in Europe. Just add nonfat milk, sugar or natural sweetener and cornstarch together in a pan and cook while stirring with a whisk until it boils.

Forget the bad things you've heard over the years about chocolate and let yourself enjoy a square daily. About 6 grams of chocolate a day on a regular basis will lift you up, and give you all the health benefits we've talked about here. The darker the chocolate the better and 70% or more cocoa content is optimal. What a great way to treat yourself and get an extra nutritional bang.

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  /


Thursday, July 2, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Youthful

We'd all like to keep out youthful glow going as long as possible, but there are so many things working against us in our modern world that contribute to aging. Stress, environmental toxins, fast food, chlorinated water, exposure to UV rays, and overcooked, fried and processed foods all contribute to free radicals running rampant causing damage to body cells and stripping away a youthful appearance. But did you know that eating just four fruit servings a day can make you look around six years younger? And research from Harvard Medical School reports snacking on healthy foods throughout the day can actually reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer. Here are five diet changes you can make to help reclaim your youth.

1. Antioxidant Foods To Combat Aging
Antioxidants are your powerhouse weapon to fight free radical damage that destroys your body cells and brings on signs of aging. Adding antioxidant foods to your diet can help you keep your youthful appearance. When you think antioxidants, think bright colored fruits and veggies. There are some that have other benefits as well to get the most nutritional bang for your buck. Blueberries are high on the list of antioxidant foods and according to the author of Age-Proof Your Body and Eat Your Way Sexy: Reignite Your Passion, Look Ten Years Younger, and Feel Happier Than Ever, Elizabeth Somer, RD, give you the added bonus of reducing the risk of memory loss and other diseases, fill you up with fiber to help in weight loss, and just one cup gives you 25% of the vitamin C needed daily. One of the antioxidants it provides is anthocyanins which helps protect you from cancer. Another powerhouse antioxidant food that gives you lots of other nutritional benefits is prunes. Not only do you get antioxidant phytochemicals and vitamin A with prunes, but also potassium, fiber, and iron. Oranges are another good choice for antioxidants like vitamin C and it is a source of collagen which helps firm up skin and keep it youthful looking. Broccoli is another good source of vitamin C giving you two-thirds of the daily recommended amount in just a half cup and it has sulforaphane that helps detoxify the liver. According to Paula Simpson, beauty nutritionist, toxins in the body lead to dry and dull skin, hair and nails and at least 80% get neutralized by the liver so detoxing it is important to keep that youthful look. If you don't get all the antioxidants you need from foods, consider adding this antioxidant algae wholefood supplement  to your diet to help out. With a blend of ubiquinol, the active and bioavailable form of Coenzyme Q10, organic flaxseed oil, olive biophenols (Hidrox®), organic reishi and oyster mushrooms, and wild bluegreen algae, you can easily get antioxidant protection to help protect cells from free radicals.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids To Stay Youthful
Omega-3 fatty acids not only help protect your heart from disease and inflammation, but are also good for keeping youthful looking skin. Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 and gives you vitamin B-12 which is good for the heart, protein, and vitamin D good for blood pressure. Other fish that are a good source of omega-3 include herring, halibut, tuna and other coldwater fatty fish. If you're not a fish eater, you can get your omega-3's the way the fish do, from algae. AFA bluegreen algae gives you the perfect ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids you need. Nuts are another way to get omega-3's and protein as well as magnesium, vitamin B and vitamin E. To avoid getting too many calories from nuts stick with about a fourth a cup a day. You can also get omega-3's from flaxseeds, flaxseed oil and olive oil.

3. Vitamin and Mineral Foods for Healthy Skin
Dark green leafy vegetables and orange vegetables are definite superfoods when it comes to maintaining a youthful appearance and they pack in a lot of nutrition. Green foods such as spinach, chard, kale, and dark green lettuces give you fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folic acid, lutein, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. Orange veggies such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash give you the beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A to protect your skin from damaging rays of the sun, help fight off cancer and infections. Sweet potatoes also have copper that aids in producing collagen to keep skin healthy and firm. Caryn J. Roll, dietitian from Montreal Nutrition advises that to get the most antioxidants, vitamins and minerals from vegetables look for the darkest colors available. Besides adding more vegetables to your diet, make sure you are getting whole grain foods in too. Whole grains give you fiber, magnesium, zinc, chromium, iron, protein, vitamin E, and vitamin B-6 and give you 96% more of these nutrients than processed or refined grains do.

4. Add Lean Protein for a Healthy Diet
Lean protein is another important component of an anti-aging diet to keep skin healthy. One great source of lean protein that gives you lots of other nutrition to support a youthful look is yogurt. Look for low-fat or non-fat yogurt to keep the calories down and one with live active cultures and you'll be getting probiotics, B vitamins, and calcium as well as protein. Another way to get the lean protein you need is from poultry and you'll also get zinc and selenium to help produce collagen and protect body cells from free radicals.

5. Hydrate and Moisturize Skin
Since the human body is over 70% water, keeping it hydrated is a must for good health and keeping skin youthful. Drinking plenty of water is of course the best way to stay hydrated, but other non-sugar drinks and fruits with lots of water can help out too. Green tea is a good choice as you also get antioxidants, and it has been found to reduce inflammation, boost the metabolism, lower the risk of diabetes and dementia, and reduce cholesterol levels. Hydrating your skin from the outside is also important and this antioxidant moisturizing lotion can give you a good start. It doesn't have the parabens, synthetics, and petrochemicals that you don't want on your skin and does have food grade nutrients such as vitamin E, organic bluegreen algae, and wholesome oils that help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, activate the skin's immune system and fight off free radical damage.

Adding these types of foods for healthy skin can help you keep your youthful appearance and help you age gracefully. Looking your best is a bonus to what a healthy diet can do for your health and keeping you active as you age.

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