Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Simple Steps for Healthy Vision

Think of all we do and enjoy in the world through our eyes when we have healthy vision. If you started losing your sight how much would you be missing or how much would your lifestyle change? I know it definitely frustrates me to have to find my reading glasses to read food labels or recipes that I used to have no problems reading. This is definitely something to consider as we age since our eyes undergo changes that affect our vision as we get older. Even if you are not at risk genetically for certain eye diseases, your vision doesn't always stay as sharp once you hit middle age.

Eye Conditions
The older we get the less flexible the eye lens is and that makes it harder for the eyes to focus. This is a condition called presbyopia that commonly starts around middle age and is the reason we have to hold print at arm's length sometimes to read it. Glasses or even just reading glasses may help when you start noticing this happen. Another condition that often comes with aging is dry eyes since as we age our eyes don't produce tears as easily as they once did. Left untreated, this condition can harm your vision because our eyes need the moisture to remain healthy. Artificial tear type eye drops may help, but if the condition continues you may need to seek help from an eye care professional. Floaters are another common condition that can occur as we age. This happens when eye fluid starts breaking down as we get older and we see specks floating around. This is usually not a condition to worry about unless the floaters start increasing and may also have light flashes with them. Floaters can sometimes be an indication of a tear in the retina which an eye exam could determine. More serious eye conditions include cataracts resulting from a buildup of protein on the inside of the eye's lens and cause vision to be cloudy, AMD (age-related macular degeneration), and glaucoma from optic nerve damage. If you have diabetes that is not under control, you can have additional eye problems as a result since the blood vessels in the eyes can become damaged by high blood sugar.

Nutrition for Healthy Eyes
Many of the conditions mentioned above come with aging and since we can't stop getting older we have to look for other solutions to help keep our vision healthy. There are many foods that have been found to support vision health. If you are looking for ways to naturally keep your eyes working the best you can, be sure to get regular eye checkups and try adding some of the following foods and nutrients into your diet.

Omega-3 Foods
If you have dry eyes, or suspect cataracts or macular degeneration are affecting your vision, then adding in foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help. They are also good for keeping your retinas healthy. These types of foods would include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and mackerel, fish oil supplements, nuts like walnuts, almonds and pistachios, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, black currant seed oil and AFA bluegreen algae.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These two carotenoids naturally occur in the retina area of the eye and absorb UV light and blue light that can negatively affect the macular part of the eye. Eating foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin can help cut down on free radical damage in the eyes, and lower the risk of macular degeneration, and cataracts. You'll find them in foods like eggs, leafy green vegetables like spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, collard greens, and turnip greens, avocados, peas, and yellow and orange vegetables and fruits like papaya and squash. When you can't work all the veggies you need for antioxidant protection, this program of wholefood supplements can help you get not only lutein and zeaxanthin and other antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, fiber and proteins, but also the omega-3 fatty acids that support eye health.

Whole Grains
Whole grains help lower your glycemic index which lowers your risk of age-related macular degeneration. They also have the vitamin E, zinc and niacin that help support healthy eyes. Quinoa, brown rice, whole oats, and whole wheat breads, cereals and pastas are some of the foods to include in your diet to get more whole grains.

Antioxidant Vitamins
Vitamin C foods can help lower your risk of getting cataracts and macular degeneration and can be found in foods such as kiwi, oranges, grapefruit, berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and Bell Peppers. Vitamin A is another important vitamin for eye health and can be found in carrots, pumpkin, apricots, mangos, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and cantaloupe, as is vitamin E found in almonds, peanut butter, broccoli, spinach, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds. Just one of the great things these antioxidant vitamins do for the body is to provide protection from the damage to cells by free radicals and to repair damage already done. They also help nourish your natural adult stem cells which have the unique ability to become other types of cells and go to where there are damaged cells to replace them. This is such a vital reason to make sure your diet includes lots of fruits and veggies, but if you just can't work them all in then this antioxidant algae wholefood supplement may be your answer. Since parts of the eye are particularly susceptible to free radical damage, getting antioxidant protection and nourishing your stem cells to replace damaged eye cells is all part of eating for good eye health.

Zinc Foods
Zinc is an important mineral for maintaining good eye health as it can reduce the risk of macular degeneration, night blindness, and cataracts, and support the health of the retina. Good food sources for zinc include sunflower seeds (which also are good for vitamin E), oysters, turkey, beef, pork, shellfish, eggs, peanuts, sesame seeds, yogurt, miso, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, chickpeas, and whole grains.

Now that you know what your vision is facing as you age, take steps now to protect it. Adding some of these foods that support eye health will help you protect your precious vision and keep your eyes healthy at whatever age you are.

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



Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/healthy-vision-as-you-age-14/default.htm
http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/foods.htm
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/top-foods-to-help-protect-your-vision

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Natural Solutions for Focus and Attention

We all have trouble focusing and giving our full attention in situations at times, but if you find this happening more and more, it could be your brain isn't getting all the brain food it needs to perform at its best. We often expect that our cognitive faculties aren't going to be quite as sharp as we get older, but according to research reported in the British Medical Journal we can start showing reduced memory and the capacity to reason as young as 45. Our brains use a majority of the nutrients we eat and use a great percentage of our energy. Even though the brain in an adult is only about 2% of our body weight it uses around 20 to 25% of our energy and that's just when it's at rest. According to the CDC Second Nutrition Report In 2012 American adults and children are severely lacking in the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients that the brain needs to function. For a healthy brain that will support focus, attention, concentration and memory here are a few brain foods that can help.

Seeds and Nuts
Nuts and seeds in general are rich in vitamin E that can help keep you sharp as you get older and have the amino acids and essential oils that help you be able to focus better. Almonds in particular make a great brain food snack as they give you vitamin E and magnesium that can help give you a boost in energy and concentration when you are feeling drained. Adding flaxseeds to your cereals, salads and yogurt is a good way to get some extra magnesium, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber for a brain boost. All these nutrients help the brain stay mentally sharp and able to focus clearly. AFA bluegreen algae is another good source for the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that the brain craves including the perfect ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. This form of AFA with the cell wall removed allows the nutrients to cross the blood brain barrier more easily.

Blueberries
You probably know that blueberries are high in antioxidants which are good for brain health because they fight off damage from free radicals which the brain is particularly susceptible to. But did you know that the anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol and tannins antioxidants all found in blueberries are reported to keep your brain sharp and focused by helping get more blood and oxygen to the brain. In fact some research has found eating blueberries can boost concentration and memory for as long as 5 hours. For an added bonus they also help with protection against heart disease, dementia and cancers.

Wholefood Algae Booster
When you really need to be focused, sharp and able to concentrate, here's a winning combination - the wholefood nutrition of organic wild bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion's Mane, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni. Ginkgo biloba has long been used to enhance memory, bee pollen has a high amino acid content for stimulating memory and concentration, and wheatgrass juice has been reported to have nutrients that support brain health and clearer thinking. All these along with the wholefood nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae are available in this algae supplement. For a super easy way to get a wide variety of nutrition for body and brain, this blend of marine and freshwater algae, tonic mushrooms, and sprouted grasses and grains, give you some of the most nourishing foods on the planet; combined with probiotics and digestive enzymes.

Water
You probably know how important staying hydrated is for your body and that the body can go for much longer periods of time without food than it can water. But do you know how important drinking water is for your brain? All your thought, memory processes, and brain functions depend on the energy production for which water is vital. Research shows drinking water can help your focus, mental clarity, and help you think faster.

Protein Foods
Orexin neurons are cells in the brain that keep you awake and protein can stimulate these. You can give your brain a protein boost with lean meats, dairy, eggs and fish. For an extra brain boost go with fatty fish like salmon as research has shown that the DHA essential fatty acids have a positive effect on memory and can protect against disease that affect cognitive abilities such as dementia. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to mood swings, depression, lack of energy and poor memory and your fatty fish being full of this fatty acid makes it a great brain food.

Leafy Green Vegetables
Another category of great foods for antioxidant protection as well as carotenoids is leafy green vegetables. One study done in 2006 reported findings in Neurology showing that eating a minimum of 2 servings a day of leafy green vegetables can increase mental focus to that of someone 5 years younger than your current age. They also are a good source for B vitamins that are good for memory and focus and have folic acid for mental clarity.

Green Tea
While on the subject of antioxidants that protect the brain, green tea deserves a mention. It can also be a pick-me-up and give you improved focus and attention because it has caffeine and l'theanine that helps release that caffeine slowly instead of in a single burst that leaves you spiking then crashing later.

Dark Chocolate
When looking for a healthy treat, you can satisfy your taste buds and give your brain a boost with dark chocolate. It has some caffeine to wake you up and has antioxidants for protecting from free radical damage. But the extra brain boost comes from the magnesium you get from the chocolate that helps fight off effects of stress and helps trigger endorphins and serotonin, the feel good hormones. The flavonols it contains also improve circulation which means help getting more blood to the brain. You won't get the same results from regular milk chocolate candy bars that are full of sugar though. Those just give you a short lived rise in blood sugar that wears off quickly leaving you worse off than before. Look for dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa. As long as you are getting the real cocoa, you don't have to stick with bars either. A study from Northumbria University in England used cocoa in shakes with students and reported findings of better performance on math tests after drinking these shakes.

Avocados
Avocados are a good brain food for several reasons. One, it is a good source of healthy fat and the brain needs lots of good fats to function properly. Two, they support blood flow to the brain and three, they have fiber that can help you from getting distracted by feeling hungry.

You depend on your brain and all its functions for so much. Make sure it can depend on you in return to give it the nourishment it needs to work at its best. You and your brain can make a great team and as long as you give it what it needs, your brain will help you by keeping you alert, attentive, focused, sharp and able to depend on it to remember all you have to remember.

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.


Sources:
http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/4_foods_to_help_you_focus_better
http://alifeofproductivity.com/9-brain-foods-that-will-boost-your-ability-to-focus/
http://www.medicaldaily.com/brain-boosters-foods-can-help-improve-your-intelligence-alertness-focus-and-memory-289182
Bruno, Jeffrey PhD, Eat Light and Feel Bright

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The X Factor in Health: Are You Missing Colors in Your Diet?

Take a look in your closet at all the different colors you put on the outside of your body. Chances are you have a lot of different colors there and not just one or two. Did you know that putting a wide variety of colors on your inside can help you take your health to the next level? For many people a variety of colors of food is the X factor that is missing from their diets. Too many people stick with brownish and tannish colors on their plates as in meats, potatoes and simple grains. If your plate isn't as colorful as your wardrobe it's time to make a change by adding a wide variety of colorful vegetables and fruits to your meals.

It may help you to know why creating a rainbow on your plate is beneficial to your health and the most simple answer is phytochemicals, but Creative Nutrition Solutions owner, Molly Morgan, RD, CDN, warns that you don't need to get caught up in all the scientific data about what colors give you what types of nutrition. Instead just go for a wide variety of colors. For example if you are partial to fruits and veggies of a particular color, shake it up a bit. If your shopping cart is full of lettuce, spinach and kale, that's great, but add in some carrots, beets, squash, and as many other colored foods as you can. The X factor and the next level to strive for erasing it is to start trying new foods and go for many different bright colors.

Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet
There are so many advantages to adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. They are low calorie, have only natural sugars, don't have much fat or salt if any and give you complex carbs, fiber and lots of other healthy nutrients. Fruits and vegetables get their colors from the group of phytochemicals known as flavonoids. Flavonoids have been found to decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer as well as being good for protecting the lungs. There are several different varieties of flavonoids including flavonols such as myricetin that you find in berries, grapes, and spinach, and quercetin found in onions, apples, and broccoli; flavones such as apigenin found in lettuce and parsley and luteolin found in beets and Brussels sprouts; flavanones such as hesperetin and naringenin found in citrus; flavan-3-ols such as catcehin found in tea and dark chocolate and epicatechin found in teas and legumes; and anthocyanidins found in blue, purple and red veggies and fruits. The main thing to remember about this, as many experts including the Produce for Better Health Foundation will tell you, is that these types of phytochemicals have antioxidant properties to protect the body from free radical damage and oxidative stress. If you already eat a lot of fruits and vegetables then you are of course getting phytochemicals in your diet and some antioxidant protection. But experts such as Kathy Hoy, EdD, RD advise using color as a guide to getting a variety of phytochemicals as many of them work together to provide us ultimate protection.

Creating a Rainbow on Your Plate
David Heber, MD, PhD and Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD are among the nutritional experts that divide plant based foods into groups according to color and the phytochemicals they provide. Instead of getting too caught up in the various color and color mixes though, the main thing to remember is to go for a wide variety of colored fruits and veggies on your plate. Just so that you know what different colors of foods are best for, here is a short list of some colors to consider, what they are helpful with and what foods fall in each category.

Blue and Purple – Color comes from the anthocyanin pigments they have. Rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and particularly good for heart, blood pressure, memory, reducing inflammation, and according to Gloria Tsang, RD, can help reduce chance of blood clots forming and reduce risk of some cancers. Foods in this group include blueberries, grapes, purple potatoes, prunes, plums, eggplant and pomegranate.

Green – The green color comes from chlorophyll and these foods are full of phytochemicals called isothiocyanates that help promote enzymes produced in the liver. This phytochemical and one called indoles also found especially in green cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage have been reported to help protect against cancer. Clinical dietician Susan Kasik-Miller, MS, RD, CNSC also applauds green veggies for their vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids. Your eyes also get benefit from green foods that have lutein and zeaxanthin and you get vitamin C and vitamin E. Other particularly good green foods include Brussels sprouts, spinach, avocado, kiwi, pistachio nuts, asparagus, arugala, artichoke, honeydew melon, celery, kale, and bok choy.

Red – Red fruits and vegetables get their color from the pigment lycopene which is a carotenoid antioxidant known to be good for lowering the risk of cancer and for heart health. They also have flavonoids giving you antioxidant protection and that help reduce inflammation as well as anthocyanins, vitamin C and folate. Foods in this group include tomatoes, cranberries, watermelon, guava, pink grapefruit, red cabbage, cherries, strawberries, beets, red peppers, apples, red onion, and kidney beans.

Yellow and Orange – Rich sources of beta-carotene antioxidants, beta-cryptoxanthin, omega-3's, folate, and vitamin C that have been found to be helpful with immunity, eye health, skin, regulating blood sugar, and bone health. Foods in this group include carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apricot, cantaloupe, mango, oranges, lemons, papaya, and pineapple.

Other Phytochemicals – Not all your good phytochemicals have bright showy colors. There are many flavonoids that are considered colorless or white fruits and vegetables, but that have lots of antioxidant properties to help fight off damage from free radicals. Some may have an outer peeling only with a brighter color and then be white inside like apples, pears, and bananas. Don't discount these though because of their white coloring. They are good for dietary fiber that can reduce the risk of stroke and lower cholesterol levels. In fact one study in 2011 done in conjunction with the American Heart Association and Dutch scientists reported a 52% reduction in risk of stroke for people eating large amounts of these white fruits and vegetables. Also in this group is cauliflower, onion, potatoes, parsnips, garlic and mushrooms.

The Color of Algae
When it comes to color, AFA bluegreen algae can give you a rainbow in itself as algae is known to have some of the most effective antioxidants in the plant world. Microalgae contains a rainbow of antioxidant pigments including cholorophyll that provides the green color and has been found to stimulate liver function and excretion of bile, strengthen immunity, and detoxify chemical pollutants. Studies indicate that chlorophyll has anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties as well as antioxidant effects that combat damage from carcinogens. Phycocyanin, the blue pigment in blue green algae, provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and is particularly effective working with chlorophyll. Phenylethylamine, or PEA, comes from the deep blue pigment in algae and has been shown to elevate the mood, decrease appetite, act as a natural mental energy activator and help biomodulate emotions and mood swings. Bluegreen algae is reported to have a wider variety of antioxidant pigments and carotenoids than most other plant based foods and than just green algae. For a wider variety of algae and seaweeds all in one capsule take a look at this algae supplement with 9 colorful algae for superfood nutrition. So if you can't get all your colorful veggies in during the day, you have another way to still get your colorful foods.

Next time you go grocery shopping, think colors. Start filling your basket with as much variety to put inside your body as your closet has in clothes for the outside of your body. It's time to up your health game to the next level and get rid of those drab colors. Get creative and try new foods by adding a rainbow to your plate and it will pay off in taking your health to the next level.


Sources:
http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/110308p34.shtml
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-multiple-colored-fruits-vegetables-4676.html
http://www.healthline.com/health-blogs/diet-diva/health-benefits-colored-food
Bruno, PhD, Jeffrey, Eat Light to Feel Bright