Thursday, July 30, 2015

What's Killing Your Concentration?

Experts agree that multi-tasking is not really the best way to get a lot done as it only serves to interrupt concentration. This was a surprise to me and may be to you too. I am a master at doing several things at the same time, but studies indicate that I'd actually perform better and get more done in the long run by concentrating on one thing at a time. If you're like me, you may find that switch difficult to make, fear boredom setting in, and need some help on how to improve concentration to be able to just focus on a single project. Psychologist Lucy Jo Palladine, PhD suggests logging out of social media accounts, email accounts and either turning off cell phones or checking caller ID. If a call is not critical, let it go to voice mail. Then set up break times throughout the day to listen to those voice mails, catch up on email and check in on social media. The break times can also be used as an incentive to help you get through tasks that don't hold your attention well. Decide on some type of reward you'll "earn" if you stay on task and get the boring work out of the way. With these tasks that have difficulty holding your concentration comes an ideal time for the mind to wander. We start thinking about things we still need to do, situations that we haven't resolved, family or social obligations and so on. This mind wandering slows us down, makes it hard to focus, and adds stress to the day which only serves to put further drain on our concentration. If this is a problem for you, consider writing up a list of all these type things so you won't have to worry about forgetting something important later. Set up time during the day or the week to get these tasks and errands taken care of. That allows you to let them go for now and concentrate on the task at hand. If the thing running around your mind is an unresolved problem, use a journaling style writing to get it all out of your system and maybe plan a time into your day that you will talk with whomever you need to in order to resolve the problem. You can also write out ways that you will handle the problem or script things that you might say in the scenario. If stress is interfering with your concentration, take a few minutes to do some meditation, deep breathing or yoga. You may think that you don't have the time to spare on these techniques if you are already feeling scrunched, but the opposite is really true. By taking a few minutes to drain off some stress you will improve concentration and be able to focus better on the task you need to finish.

Improve Concentration with Food
There are many studies showing the value of eating breakfast and how it helps with improved memory and learning. For the brain to work at its best, it needs the right fuel. The brain demands a lot of nutrition to keep it working properly, but it also is protected behind the blood brain barrier which makes it more difficult to get the nutrition it needs to it. Glucose which is the brain's main source of energy, essential fatty acids and specific amino acids are all necessary brain foods. This means eating protein, healthy fats like monounsaturated and essential fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates in particular. As important as what you are eating to help out your brain function, is what you should not eat. For example, a study in the U.K. reported damage to neurons from eating a diet that was high in saturated fat. Here is a list of a few foods that are particularly good for feeding the brain.

Healthy Fat Foods
Essential fatty acids are those that we have to get from foods and the brain needs a lot of healthy fats such as these to function properly. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are a great source of getting these fatty acids. Walnuts are not only a good source of omega-3, but also of antioxidants which help maintain cognitive function as we get older. Walnuts also have tryptophan which helps in producing serotonin, the brain chemical that produces feelings of calmness and happiness and regulates mood. Monounsaturated fats from foods such as olive oil and avocado not only help feed your brain, but can help in reducing belly fat, help reduce buildup of plaque, support healthy blood circulation, keep blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels stable, and fight off inflammation and stress.

Protein Foods
Protein is another necessary component for good brain function and for raising levels of mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Eggs are not only a good source of protein which the body converts to amino acids that can pass through the blood brain barrier, but are also good sources for zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin B-12. The yolks have lecithin which is good for memory and concentration as well as iron that the brain needs to function well. Cheese is another good brain food packed with protein and nutrients for brain health as well as for healthy bones and teeth. Cordyceps mushrooms are also rich in proteins, plant sterols, polysaccharides, antioxidants, and nucleoside derivatives for a variety of benefits for brain health.

Fruits and Veggies
According to Alice Park from TIME, many studies, such as one from the Annals of Neurology, report eating berries such as blueberries and strawberries are good for your brain and help keep memory and focus sharp as we age. Fruits such as bananas, kiwi, and dried fruits help the brain with energy and have the fiber that will stay with you throughout the day to improve concentration. After all it's hard to focus if you're feeling hunger pains. Kiwi also has more vitamin C than oranges which helps us absorb iron that the brain needs from foods. Dried fruits make a great snack during the day as they are full of iron and help give you an energy boost. Beets contain natural nitrates that aid the flow of blood to the brain and green leafy veggies such as spinach which has the antioxidant lutein are reported in studies to help keep cognitive abilities sharp as we age.

Complex Carbs
Glucose is the sugar your body makes by digesting carbohydrates and that your brain needs. Complex carbs are healthier for you than simple carbs so adding whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, beans, peas and lentils to your diet will help feed your brain. Glucose is a small enough molecule to be able to pass through the BBB, but these molecules must first be paired with the appropriate proteins before they will be allowed to pass so pairing protein and complex carbs in the same meal is especially helpful to brain function. Carbohydrates that are high in fiber also take longer to digest and it is easier for the brain to concentrate on tasks when it isn't having to direct energy for digestion. Starting the day off with healthy grains or cereals that have no or low sugar gives your brain a morning boost. Wheat germ gives you choline needed for the body to produce acetylcholine which is a memory boosting neurotransmitter. Another good source of choline is eggs.

AFA Bluegreen Algae
AFA bluegreen algae especially the form with the cell wall removed gives you the glucose, essential fatty acids and amino acids to feed the brain. Bluegreen algae is a rich source of phenylalanine, an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier faster than any other amino acid and has all 20 amino acids our bodies need for the building blocks of healthy nerve cells and neurotransmitters needed for proper brain function. It also provides a perfect ratio of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, helps maintain normal, healthy blood chemistry that feeds the brain, and provides an ideal balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, complex sugars, and fiber. In addition to AFA bluegreen algae alone, another whole food supplement that lends support to the brain is this supplement that has the added ingredients of bee pollen, vitamin A, enzymes, antioxidants, gluten-free wheatgrass juice, Hawaiian noni, eleuthero, ginkgo, and turmeric. Bee pollen is reported to have a high amino acid content useful for stimulating memory and concentration. Wheatgrass juice has been found to provide nutrients that support brain health and clearer thinking. Gingko has been used for a long time to promote increased memory and mental concentration by increasing circulation and providing increased oxygenation of brain cells. Curcumin, found in turmeric, has been the basis of much research and found to have benefit for enhancing memory, for enhancing nerve growth in areas of the brain and as an antidepressant.

Feed your brain the nutrition it needs, make some changes to how you work and approach tasks, and use whole food supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps and you'll find you get your work done faster and better, leaving you more time for play. Can't beat 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  David Castillo Dominici  /


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to Live a Longer Life

The quest for how to live longer is nothing new. People have been searching for a fountain of youth throughout the ages. There may not be a magic elixir to increase longevity, but there are certain foods and lifestyle patterns you can adopt for a healthy life and to extend your years. These actually can work on a cellular level by lengthening the telomeres found at the end of chromosomes that shorten with aging. As they become shorter you are more susceptible to disease which can shorten your life. Making some changes in your eating and exercise habits can help protect the telomeres and slow down the aging process. 

Dietary Changes For Longevity
Researchers have studied people for many years around the globe to find those that live longer healthy lives to determine what characteristics in their diets contribute to their longevity. For example, by looking at people in Okinawa, Japan, they have concluded that this population eats a lot of green and yellow vegetables and that they don't clean their plates leaving about 20% at any meal. These type of vegetables provide a lot of antioxidant value, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for protection against disease. Yellow vegetables contain carotenoids and bioflavonoids for a boost in antioxidant protection that has been found to protect against UV light from the sun, strengthen immune system function and protect against disease. Dark green leafy vegetables are high in fiber and low in fat, are loaded with phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, and are a good source for folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. Eating vegetables also helps fill you up with less calories keeping your weight down which puts you at less risk for disease from being overweight. Foods such as these with lots of antioxidants helps you fight off free radical damage to cells that can also lead to serious disease. Mediterranean people are another group found to have longevity from the diet they eat. This type of diet includes lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and olive oil, and the use of herbs and spices rather than salt for flavoring. A diet like this has been found in numerous studies to reduce risks of obesity, high cholesterol levels, inflammation, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar so you have less risk of diabetes and heart disease. Eating vegetables and other foods loaded with fiber are another way to add to your longevity as they help with weight loss, support stable blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and aid digestion. Nuts and nut butters are another good food to give you protein, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats, but they are higher in calories so while they are a healthy food to add to the diet, you do have to be careful not to eat too much.

One of the problems in our society that leads to disease and a shortening of life is the type of foods we eat. With our busy lifestyles it is often hard to get enough healthy foods every day. Adding wholefood supplements to the diet can help with this. To get the nutritional basics these convenient packets of wholefood supplements provide you with two forms of AFA bluegreen algae, probiotics and enzymes. AFA bluegreen algae is one of the most nutrient dense foods on earth being loaded with essential fatty acids, phytonutrients, proteins, complex sugars, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and essential amino acids. Acidophilus is a form of friendly bacteria or probiotic that lives in our small intestine and is necessary for proper digestion and a healthy immune system. When we don't have enough acidophilus our immune system doesn't function at its peak and allows us to contract everything from the common cold to indigestion, skin problems and allergies. Bifidobacterium, or bifidus is another friendly bacteria that is in the large intestine and helps with digestion as well as producing the calming and soothing B-vitamins that can help you relax and deal with stress. Acidophilus and bifidus are among the most important friendly bacteria and provide a barrier between the intestines and the bloodstream, as well as helping us fully digest our food. Digestive enzymes help with digestion too so that we are able to get the most nutrition out of the foods we eat. When taken with food, enzymes help ensure proper digestion and prevent food particles from entering the bloodstream. When taken separate from food, the enzymes are able to pass through the intestinal barrier to digest the food particles that get into the bloodstream. In addition to the basic nutritional support from these wholefood supplements, this stem cell support supplement can give you an extra boost of antioxidants. As antioxidants have been found to protect and repair cells from free radical damage, they also support our own natural adult stem cells that can become any other type of cell and replace damaged cells. Then for immune system support to help the body function at its peak for protecting against disease, this immune support supplement gives you the immune boosting power found from reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms with astragalus, and beta glucan.

Lifestyle Changes for Longevity
Making changes in diet to include foods that keep weight down, support the immune system and help reduce the risks that lead to heart disease and diabetes is one of the most important things you can do when searching for how to live longer. But there are also changes in your lifestyle that can make a big difference in longevity too. According to research done in Australia, people who maintained good social relationships were found to live significantly longer than those who didn't. But other research indicates that it is important to pick those friends wisely as the type of lifestyle your friends lead can spill over to you. For example if your friend is overweight, the chances of you gaining weight is increased. Choosing friends that lead a healthy life will help you keep to that type of lifestyle. Of course relationships with other people are not always cordial and smooth and studies also indicate that it is important to use the forgive and forget method when becoming angry with others. Whereas anger can contribute to conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and reduction in lung functioning, forgiving can lower blood pressure, support breathing function, and reduce stress and anxiety. So when you get mad or have a disagreement with friends or family just think, do you want to be right or be healthy and live longer? 

Research also indicates that taking naps can help increase your longevity. One study of 24,000 people concluded that nappers showed a reduced risk of 37% of dying from heart disease. And you know that exercise is vital to staying healthy, but studies report that it also is a big contributor to longevity as it reduces that risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and some types of cancer as well as helps in keeping the braining functioning well as we age. Along with napping, make sure you get the right amount of quality sleep that you need for your body to rejuvenate. Lack of sleep can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, mood disorders, and stress. And speaking of stress, it is important to find a way to cope with the stress that we have in our lives in order to live longer. Try out a variety of stress reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, a hobby, or some type of activity that helps you relax.

When it comes to how to live longer making some of these dietary changes and lifestyle changes can help you get the edge. No matter how long your life in years ends up being, these changes can definitely help those years be more productive, active and healthier.

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 23, 2015

Not Sure Why You're Gaining Weight? Some Common Reasons

Are you watching what you eat, exercising and still find yourself gaining weight? It's frustrating, but there are other reasons for that unexplained weight gain and things to do about it. Here are some of the common culprits that can explain why you're still gaining weight.

Hidden Calories
We often count calories of all the foods we eat during the day and stay within the guidelines for our build, but forget about what we are drinking. You probably know that alcoholic beverages can add on calories quickly and avoid soda for the same reason, but forget that juices, sports drinks, and other liquids also have calories. They also don't give us the same bang for our caloric buck as food of the same amount of calories does. I know many people think that if they drink a diet soda with low or no calories then that is totally acceptable when trying to lose weight. But as Terry Davidson, PhD, director of the Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue University in Indiana, explains this confuses the signals to the body that let it know how much it needs to eat. Studies have shown that drinking diet drinks can actually lead to weight gain and interfere with your metabolic process.

When it comes to food, even if you stick to a diet of healthy foods they still have calories and you have to watch overdoing it. For example, many people think eating nuts make a great healthy snack, but they have fats and calories so eating too many will add to your calorie intake. According to Bob Wright, Director of Education Hilton Head Health, studies report people who think they eat healthy foods were found to eat more. Then we have the problem of adjusting how many calories we need as we are losing weight. The less you weigh, the less fuel your body needs to perform. One of the biggest culprits of hidden calories though is sugar. Many foods that you wouldn't imagine have sugar do have it in some form. For this reason it's important to read labels and look for ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup or sugars. A diet doesn't really work if you find yourself hungry all the time so eating small healthy snack sized meals throughout the day with lean proteins, fruits, veggies, complex carbs and healthy fats will keep you from reaching for snacks with extra calories, keep you from being hungry and feeling deprived and stressed and help you get those extra pounds off. When planning for those snacks, pick something that will give you lots of good nutrition for the least amount of calories. This wholefoods snack bar with algae and sprouts is a good way to get all the nutritional benefits of bluegreen algae with the added bonus of antioxidant power of sprouts and some healthy fats. 

Adjust Your Exercise
If you are on a regular program of exercise, good for you. Exercise is definitely part of a healthy lifestyle. But your exercise program could be one of the reasons you are still seeing weight gain. Not all weight gain is from fat, muscle also has weight. If you are doing exercise that builds your muscle mass, you may be seeing weight gain from it. And according to Wayne Westcott, PhD, senior fitness executive at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, your muscles can become over familiar with the same exercise routine done each day. This means they are not as challenged and don't have to work as hard at them. Less work, less calorie burn. Try shaking up your routine and finding different exercises that will meet your fitness goals. Many people also use exercise as a trade-off for consuming more calories. While it's true that if you just burned off a few hundred calories with exercise, you could eat extra, but that just puts back on the calories you burned off so you are back where you started on the calorie scale. And it's a whole lot easier to not eat those extra calories in the first place than it is to burn them off later.

Inadequate Sleep
If you are not getting enough good quality sleep, this can explain why you are still gaining weight. Not getting adequate rest affects hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. So the next day our bodies may think they are hungry when they are really just tired. Lack of sleep can also affect the metabolism so that we aren't burning calories efficiently. Being up late at night often leads to extra snacking too.

Poor Digestive Health
Many of our foods don't have the digestive enzymes we need to fully digest all our food. As a result undigested food sits in the gut and shows up as belly fat. Eating raw and lightly cooked veggies and fruits and/or taking a high quality enzyme supplement can help get more digestive enzymes working for you. Your digestive system also 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. Eating fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir can help you get some of these probiotics, but you can also take probiotic supplements such as acidophilus and bifidus.

When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol which increases appetite. You probably have a favorite comfort food that you crave when you are stressed and this is why. Most of the times these cravings are for unhealthy and high calorie foods. According to Dr. Elissa Epel research shows that people often turn to eating to relieve chronic stress. Finding activities to deal with stress such as hobbies, meditation, sports or whatever helps you relax can help you avoid turning to food for relief.

There are certain medications that can be responsible for extra weight gain. These include steroids such as prednisone, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and medications to treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It is never a good idea to just stop any of these to avoid the weight gain however. Work with your healthcare provider to see if there is an alternative that will treat your condition without the weight gain. In some cases it may just be that the medication is causing you to retain fluid and eating less salty foods can give some relief. In some cases it may be that the weight gain is a short term symptom that will get better as your condition improves. Just don't get stuck in the trap of thinking if you are going to be gaining weight anyway from medication then you can indulge all you want. The more you put on now, the harder it will be to get it off later. So keep to eating a good healthy diet with the recommended calories for you.

Medical Conditions
There are medical conditions that can also lead to extra weight gain. Hypothyroidism and Cushing's syndrome are two examples. If your thyroid is not working correctly, your metabolism works slower. There are prescription medications and other alternative treatment options for thyroid conditions, so check with your healthcare provider or a good naturopath or holistic medicine practitioner if you suspect you have a problem of this type. With a condition like Cushing's there is too much cortisol being produced and weight gain can result. This is another instance where working with your healthcare provider can be helpful. There are other medical conditions that can cause weight gain too, so getting a thorough physical to rule out any serious health concerns may be something you'll want to consider if you are having trouble finding the source of your extra weight gain.

Aging Metabolism
As we age, our metabolisms slow down. This is especially common for women as they begin menopause. Harriette Mogul, MD, associate professor and director of research of adult endocrinology at New York Medical College in Valhalla, presents research results that contribute this to a rise in insulin levels. If this is a cause for your weight gain, there are medications and dietary changes that can be used for treatment. Since insulin levels are not something doctors regularly check, you may need to request this test done to confirm a diagnosis. Remember too that metabolism can also be slowed down by dehydration. So be sure you are drinking plenty of good quality water throughout the day. Dr. Jackie Buell also cautions that dieting can lead to not getting enough calories for the body to function properly and that includes how your metabolism works. So if you are dieting and cutting down on calories, make sure you are getting enough calories from nutritious food sources to keep your body fueled and working properly.

As you can see, even if you eat healthy, watch your calories and exercise regularly there is still room for weight gain to sneak in. Hopefully some of these tips will help you discover where your extra weight gain may be coming from. Whether it's from medication or a medical condition that you need to consult with your healthcare provider about, from hidden calories that you can take control of, or your exercise routine needing a tweak, you don't have to give up on losing those extra pounds.

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  Surachai  /



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 9, 2015

Got Bad Breath? Simple Natural Solutions

The only thing worse than being stuck in a close knit conversation with someone with bad breath or halitosis is wondering how your own breath is stacking up. There are many contributing factors to bad breath such as having just eaten certain foods like garlic and onions which go through the bloodstream and come out in air from the lungs, but it can also be caused by poor oral health, diseased gums, and cavities. We have lots of bacteria naturally occurring in our mouths and sometimes they get trapped in teeth and diseased gums becoming smelly. Infections, disorders in the intestines, respiratory infections, decaying food particles trapped in between teeth, plaque, deficient nutrition, and diabetes can all be culprits when it comes to bad breath. For many people this is a temporary condition that some mouthwash, a mint or gum can cover up. But these type of solutions only work for about half an hour to two hours. Around 30% of the people in the world have bad breath chronically or halitosis. This means there is an underlying cause that just covering up won't fix or prevent. If you maintain good oral health by regular brushing, flossing, dental checkups and cleanings and rinse with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and still have problems with halitosis, the first place to start may be with your healthcare provider to see if there is an underlying condition that needs to be treated. Beyond that here are some other natural solutions to help with halitosis and with shorter-term bad breath problems.

Natural Solutions for Halitosis and Bad Breath

Friendly Bacteria to the Rescue – The intestines can become overrun with toxins and yeast if you don't have enough friendly bacteria taking care of them. This can result in several conditions and bad breath can be one of the symptoms. Natural solutions for this problem include getting more probiotics (friendly bacteria) in your system working for you. That could include eating more foods rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented foods or taking a high quality probiotic supplement that has live active cultures. According to a 2011 study in the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, taking probiotic supplements to introduce more friendly bacteria into the diet helped get rid of oral bacteria that produced odors. You can also get rid of stinky bacteria by getting more digestive enzymes either with a supplement or by eating more raw foods which also help keep teeth clean. Enzymes not only help digestion by breaking foods down into smaller particles, but also go through the intestinal system removing toxins, bacteria and damaged cells. Other natural solutions for dealing with bacteria that causes bad breath include replacing your toothbrush every few months, scraping your tongue daily, or chewing herbs such as parsley, basil, mint or cilantro that all have chlorophyll that can help reduce odors or spices such as cloves, cardamom, fennel seeds, and aniseeds that have antiseptic properties or cinnamon with antimicrobial properties to reduce bad breath odors.

Beef Up Your Zinc Intake – A diet lacking in zinc can be a cause of halitosis as this mineral aids in cleaning bacteria from the mouth with its antimicrobial properties. According to Heather Caruso, author of Your Drug-Free Guide to Digestive Health, making sure you get the proper amounts of zinc can help with halitosis resulting from oral disease. Foods rich in zinc include lean beef, pork, oysters, poultry, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, milk, yogurt, and miso.

Hydrate For Saliva – Microbes in the mouth exist on food particles they find in the mouth and are often responsible for bad breath. One of the jobs of saliva is to get rid of these bacteria. This doesn't happen if you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva to do the job. Saliva has enzymes that help in producing antibodies to fight off these bacteria and has oxygen which makes it harder for these bacteria to thrive in. Natural solutions for increasing saliva production include drinking lots of water without fluoride during the day and eating raw, crunchy veggies and fruits. Foods such as carrots and celery help prevent plaque building up that can contribute to bad breath and create more saliva. Apples not only help fight off plaque, but have pectin that fights off odors from foods, and can help make more saliva. Citric acid that you can get from chewing on citrus fruit rinds like lemons or oranges also help produce more saliva. 

Detox Your System – Halitosis can result from toxins building up in your system and detoxing these can help reduce mouth odors. Stinging nettle tea is one of the natural solutions that can help with getting rid of toxins in the body, as well as cleaning blood, helping the kidneys flush out uric acid, and increase adrenal function.

Next time you wonder how your breath is affecting others, cup your hand or a cloth to do the exhale and smell test. If you find your breath may be offensive try out some of these natural solutions to clean it up. If you find you still have problems with halitosis, be sure you make an appointment with your healthcare provider to see if you have an underlying medical cause. It could be something simple and treatable that will get you back to having clean smelling breath and more pleasant to be around.

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


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