Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Your Immune System: 7 Ways to Avoid Putting it at Risk with the Flu

Flu season is upon us again and the best way to avoid getting sick with the flu is to strengthen your immune system. If you already eat healthy, take probiotics, get enough sleep and exercise, then chances are your immune system is in pretty good shape. The trick now is to keep it strong especially during flu season. Let's look at a few things you can do to avoid putting your immune system at risk and keep it strong to help you fight off flu.

What is the Flu?
The flu is caused by a virus just as a cold is. But flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms. You generally start seeing relief from cold symptoms within a week whereas flu symptoms can last a bit longer and you don't bounce back as fast. The worst flu symptoms may show relief after a week, but you can still be lacking energy and have milder symptoms for weeks. Symptoms of flu can include a high grade fever, achy muscles, headache, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and possibly vomiting or diarrhea.

Keeping Your Immune System Strong
1. Get Rest
Not getting enough sleep reduces immune cell function and impairs the ability of your immune system to protect you from illness such as the flu. If you are feeling sick, then getting more sleep helps increase your immune system's fever response to fight off invaders. Getting extra rest also helps immune cells regenerate. Adults need to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night. This is especially important to make a priority during flu season to keep your immune system healthy.

2. Avoid Alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption can negatively affect your immune system function. Drinking too much alcohol can reduce white blood cells and prevent your body's absorption of nutrients. One study performed with mice reported those given large amounts of alcohol showed signs of the immune system being weaker. Flu season is an especially good time to hit the sack early instead of staying up late at parties or out drinking with friends.

3. Hand Washing
One of your best lines of defense against getting the flu is to wash your hands. Use soap and warm water to wash throughout the day and particularly after being out in public places where you have been touching things that could have picked up germs from others, after coughing or sneezing into your hand, after using the restroom, or touching your face. When you wash, make sure you wash thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds, then be sure to dry your hands completely. Using paper towels is also better for cutting down on germ exposure than using a cloth towel, especially if multiple people are using the cloth towel.

4. Immune Support Supplement
One way I have found to support the immune system is this supplement containing reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms with astragalus, beta glucan and bluegreen algae. Pure, whole particle beta glucan helps with inflammation by mobilizing white blood cells to areas of injury or inflammation. These white blood cells (macrophages) remove damaged tissue quickly before it has time to trigger more inflammation. Beta glucan from yeast has been known to help fight off bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics, release chemicals that support immune cells, reduce cold symptoms, and help regulate the immune system. Beta glucans are not something the body produces naturally so we have to get them from food or supplement sources. Adding a single capsule of this immune support supplement each day to your diet can help give your body the nutritional elements shown to actively defend against invading germs, viruses and antigens by stimulating the macrophages into action, which in turn triggers an entire chain reaction of defense mechanisms in the body. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms have been found to have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties as well as being rich in beta glucans. Maitake, cordyceps and Turkey Tail mushrooms have also been found to contain a variety of substances that benefit your immune system.

5. Precautions Around Other People
Since the flu is contagious, there are certain precautions to take when around other people that will help reduce your risk of getting it. Even if you are around people that don't appear sick, they can have the virus and begin spreading it. Washing your hands after coming into physical contact with another (ie. – shaking hands with them) is one way you can cut down on your chances of getting the virus. If you can't immediately wash your hands then at least be sure to not touch your mouth, nose or eyes until you can wash. I know mom told us to cover our mouths when we cough and most people cover their noses when they sneeze, but sneezing or coughing into your sleeve instead of your hand can help cut down on the spreading of flu germs. Encourage those around you to do the same. During the peak of flu season, the safest course is to avoid crowded public places since the virus can be spread over quite a distance through the air. If that is not possible, some people wear filtering masks to reduce their risk of being affected. Others just stick with being contentious about washing their hands extra and avoid anyone that is showing symptoms of the flu.

6. Drink Water
Keeping your body hydrated helps keep all the systems including your immune system functioning at their peak capacity. Not drinking enough water also distracts your immune system as it deals with toxins in the body that are not being released from the body through urination. Drinking the right amount of water for you will leave your urine a pale yellow color. If your urine is darker yellow, then you are probably not drinking enough water daily. Drinking lots of water is also important if you get the flu as it helps flush the flu out of your system.

7. Don't Worry
Anxiety and stress can also reduce the function of your immune system. Stress reduces your levels of IgA, a protein that is part of the immune system and helps fight off infections by preventing invaders from getting into the body, leaving the immune system more vulnerable. Reducing stress or learning methods of coping with stress can go a long way towards strengthening your immune system. On a spiritual or energetic level, according to the Law of Attraction, worrying about getting the flu can actually cause you to manifest it or draw it into your reality. Take the precautions listed in this article and go on about your everyday life without worrying that you might get the flu. If you do get the flu, then you'll deal with it, but worrying about getting it will definitely not keep it away. Cut down on other life stressors or find ways to cope with them during the flu season too so that your immune system has the best chance of helping you avoid the flu.

The flu is nothing to fool around with. In some cases it can lead to hospitalization and even death. At best, it means time missed from work or school, family and feeling miserable. Give some or all these tips a try and get your immune system in top working order to help you fight off illness this flu season.

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.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20311978,00.html?xid=healthforwomen12092013

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Natural Solutions to Stop Stress

Is your life full of stress, stress, stress? Sometimes I get stressed just thinking about all the stress we are all surrounded by in this day and age. When we experience stress our "fight or flight" response is activated. According to Ash Nadkarni, MD, an associate psychiatrist at Brigham & Women's Hospital, this gets the adrenaline going, makes the heart beat more quickly and causes a rise in blood pressure. When stress hormones are chronically present over time it increases the risk for health problems such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, increased weight, and cognitive problems. None of us can totally live stress free lives, but there are natural solutions we can employ for how to relieve stress and reduce the effects of stress on our health.

Nutrition For Dealing With Stress
Certain foods can actually physically help you deal with the effects of stress. There are foods that can increase serotonin levels which can calm the body and those that can reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline which are triggered by stress. Complex carbs are good for increasing serotonin as well as balancing blood sugar levels. This would include foods such as whole grains in cereals, breads and pastas. Vitamin C can help control levels of cortisol from spiking, boost the immune system and help maintain blood pressure levels. Black tea is also good at relieving stress and reducing levels of cortisol. Eating foods with magnesium, B vitamins and chlorophyll are good for coping with stress. When under stress, the body uses up these stress relievers so that just when you need them the most, they are the least available to you. Eating lots of leafy greens, halibut, oysters, nuts, seeds and bluegreen algae can give you the extra nutrition you need to support your body through the times you are coping with stress. B vitamins, produced in the intestines, especially B-12, help us relax, soothe our nerves and help us deal with stress. Having healthy probiotics in your gut can give your body a boost to keep producing these vitamins and help your body cope with stress as well as support overall digestive system function and gut health.

Our bodies also need more proteins when we are under stress and good proteins include those from whole grains, soy, sprouts and bluegreen algae. Good proteins support your body's ability to handle stress, both physically and mentally. Another supplement we find useful in providing nutrition for stress relief combines bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion's Mane, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni. This nutritional combination gives support to help you function when stress overwhelms you.

Exercise For Dealing With Stress
Exercise provides another natural solution for dealing with stress as it releases endorphins which boost mood. Aerobic exercise is a good way to increase oxygen circulating in the body, relax muscles, as well as increase endorphins and reduce cortisol and adrenaline. Exercise also gives you a chance to get away from work and other stressful situations giving you a much needed break and a chance to regenerate and refocus mentally. Even just going for a ten minute walk can revive you and allow you some time to de-stress.

Change Your Surroundings to Relieve Effects of Stress
Looking for a real natural solution for coping with stress? Change the colors you surround yourself with. According to Molly Roberts, MD, president of the American Holistic Medical Association, colors like blue, green and grey can help soothe and calm. Visual cues from these type colors affect the brain nerve pathways that control emotion. If you find yourself under a lot of stress take a look at changing the color of your walls, furniture, and even the screen saver on your computer. Organizing your environment can also help give you some relief from stress. Clutter and being disorganized add stress to your life. Lauren Napolitano, PsyD, a psychologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Pennsylvania, advises that organizing your physical environment can also help organize your emotions. Clear out your desk, drawers, closets and anything else you see regularly that is in disarray.

Create Balance For Dealing With Stress
Creating balance in your life is another way to naturally cope with stress. You know the saying "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Well, it also makes Jack a stressed out boy and you too. Making time in your life to spend time alone and to enjoy the company of others can help decrease stress levels. Oprah Winfrey shares her way of dealing with stress by finding a quiet place to go that she can be alone, breathe and find the stillness inside that connects her with all other living things and then she smiles at the wonder of this. Rita Eichenstein, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers in Los Angeles, recommends singing as a way of relieving stress. Chanting in meditation or singing your favorite tunes can relax the mind as the sound vibrates through the body and has been shown in research studies to decrease cortisol and lower blood pressure levels. When looking to create balance it is important to consider all aspects. Pushing yourself when you are sick, tired or hungry only increases stress. You may think you are being more productive by refusing to stop work to eat or rest, but actually you are just increasing the likelihood of burn-out and becoming sick enough that you can't ignore your body's needs anymore. A well balanced body that has optimal health can withstand more stress too so it can take on more stressors than a tired, sick or hungry body. The key to balance though is not too much of any of these either way. Too little or too much sleep can both be detrimental, so find just the right amount to stick with. The same applies to hunger – skipping meals can increase stress, but so can eating too much.

You can't banish all stress from your life, but you can learn ways of coping with stress to keep it from overwhelming you. Good nutrition and exercise that support stress relief, some lifestyle changes and awareness of what triggers your stress can all go a long way to helping you triumphant over the stress in your life.

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/diet/ss/slideshow-diet-for-stress-management?ecd=wnl_wmhC_091114_tempC&ctr=wnl-wmh-091114-tempC_promo_4&mb=Xenvmz6dAtHtkRjp7Is6CeHnVev1imbCfXusP2Lh3sM%3d
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20843057,00.html?xid=healthyliving09032014
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Oprah-Appreciates-the-Challenge-of-Growing-OWN
http://www.oprah.com/health/Reduce-Your-Vulnerability-to-Stress



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Simple Ways to Eat Healthy During the Holiday Rush

To many people the holidays mean food and to eat healthy is often a challenge. It's estimated that on the average most of us gain a pound over the holidays. I'm pretty sure in my case that is a low estimate. While that pound may not sound too bad, if you eat that way regularly those pounds add up. According to Dr. Oz, instead of paying attention to your waist size over the holidays it's better to concentrate on building muscle so that losing that weight afterwards is not as hard. Here are some holiday tips on eating to build up muscle, eat healthy and incorporate some fat burning foods into your diet.


  • Getting enough sleep helps curb craving for comfort foods and snacks and supports building muscle. 
  • Use spices, herbs, fruits and nuts to flavor dishes instead of butter and other fats. Garlic mashed potatoes are a great example and replace fatty sour cream dips with hummus. 
  • Eat a healthy protein or healthy fat snack before going to holiday parties so you are not as likely to overeat, especially if the party includes a buffet table. 
  • Substitute healthier snack choices that meet your food cravings. For example, if you crave a creamy sweet like ice cream have a cup of yogurt with fruit instead or at least go for a smaller amount of slow churned ice cream that doesn't have as much fat and can be half the amount of calories. If your food craving leans more towards the chips category because of the salt and crunch you get, you can easily rack up 1230 calories by eating an eight ounce bag. Carrots, celery, or baked whole grain crackers with a hummus dip can give you the crunch in a more healthy way without sacrificing flavor. 
  • Protein foods satisfy hunger longer and burn up more calories in digesting them than other types of foods. Quinoa makes a great side dish with a cup having 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber and fish is a good protein that is also low fat and gives you omega-3 fatty acids. Most adults need 45 – 56 grams of protein daily and more if they get regular exercise so food sources are usually adequate to provide the protein needed. If you have a really strenuous or active lifestyle or just don't take the time to eat right, protein drinks can help. To lose fat the best are the ones with not many carbs and mostly protein with only a touch of fat. Jose Antonio, chief executive officer and co-founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition advises having a drink that is over 50% protein to lose body fat. I prefer this drink mix that is made from pure organic whey protein from rBGH-free cattle, AFA bluegreen algae, all-natural Whey Low®, sprouts and protein-digesting enzymes with 22 grams of protein per serving. 
  • Traditional holiday fare is always a temptation. We all have family favorites that maybe we've had since childhood bringing up fond memories. Instead of depriving yourself of these type goodies, limit the amount you'll eat. One bite of that chocolate fudge savored slowly can satisfy the craving so that you don't have to gobble up several pieces.  
  • Nuts are a food often served at parties and just sitting around as a snack food during the holidays. While nuts are a healthy snack, they also are a fatty snack so too much can put on the weight. A single cup of mixed nuts can be over 800 calories. Get nuts with shells that have to be cracked. That will take longer to eat than already shelled nuts that you can wolf down by the handful. 
  • Many people get a blood sugar drop in the middle of the afternoon and reach for a carb filled or sugary snack to regain energy. That adds on calories and the body burns those types of calories quicker. A snack with protein and complex carb will stabilize blood sugar and last longer. I like this snack bar that contains a healthy balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and micronutrients from whole-food sources of sprouted grains and grasses, almond butter, and AFA bluegreen algae, with no chemical additives or dairy. Healthy snacks to have around are ones that have less than 200 calories like yogurt with fruit, boiled eggs, and veggies with bean dip or hummus.  
  • Stress is abundant during the holidays so be careful of emotional or stress eating. Try going for a walk, meditation or a relaxing soak in the tub before turning to food to relieve stress.
  • A study in Appetite reported workers taking a 15 minute walk were 50% less likely to eat chocolate back at their desks than those that rested for those 15 minutes. So getting some exercise not only burns off some of those extra calories, but also can curb your craving for sweets.
  • When snacking on yogurt, pick Greek yogurt as it has double the protein of regular yogurts to help build muscle and keep you full longer. Your body also burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting carbohydrates. 
  • Foods that have a high water content are great for curbing appetite as they make you feel fuller, are full of nutrients and are low calorie. Raw veggies and fruits fit in this category and also provide you with antioxidants and fiber. Oatmeal not only has a high water content, but is also rich in fiber, filling, and hot. Hot foods take a longer time to eat. Filling up on salad before a meal can also help you avoid overeating more fatty foods with the main meal. 


Here's to healthier eating over the holidays this year! Just being aware of ways to cut down your calorie intake can help you avoid overeating and make it easier to burn off those extra calories after the holidays.

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/diet/ss/food-cravings-diet-wreckers?ecd=wnl_lbt_091014&ctr=wnl-lbt-091014_nsl-ld-stry&mb=Xenvmz6dAtHtkRjp7Is6CeHnVev1imbCfXusP2Lh3sM%3D
http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-fat-fighting-foods?ecd=wnl_wmhA_082614&ctr=wnl-wmh-082614_nsl-ld-stry&mb=Xenvmz6dAtHtkRjp7Is6CeHnVev1imbCfXusP2Lh3sM%3D
http://www.webmd.com/diet/protein-shakes?ecd=wnl_day_072814&ctr=wnl-day-072814_nsl-ld-stry_2&mb=Xenvmz6dAtHtkRjp7Is6CeHnVev1imbCfXusP2Lh3sM%3D
http://www.oprah.com/health/Dr-Ozs-Holiday-Secrets_1
http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/foods-weight-loss-and-prevent-cold-and-flu


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Winter Allergy Symptoms and Natural Solutions for Relief

Most of us associate our allergy symptoms with Spring when everything is turning green and blooming, but winter can have its own triggers for allergy symptoms. With the cold weather causing us to stay indoors more, there are a variety of triggers that bring on winter allergy symptoms. Even the winter holidays come with allergy pitfalls. Being aware of what causes these winter allergy symptoms can help you plan and find natural solutions to minimize or avoid the misery allergy symptoms can cause. Here are some things to do to keep your allergy symptoms from ruining your winter.

Indoor Allergies
Pollen allergies aren't as prevalent in the winter when the temperatures are colder. Instead allergy symptoms can be a reaction to mold spores, dust mites, and animals. When you start using your heating system, there can by dust, mold and even parts of insects released into your air. When it is very cold and the pets have to come inside, you may discover an increase in allergy symptoms if you are sensitive to pet dander. Another wintertime culprit is the fireplace. Ash and smoke can trigger asthma attacks so be aware if you have guests or family members with asthma. If you find yourself coughing, having a runny or itchy nose or eyes, or sneezing, you may think you are catching a cold, but it could be that you are showing allergy symptoms. If you are not sure whether your symptoms are cold or flu related or allergy related, see if you have a fever or body aches and pains. These symptoms are not usual with allergic reactions. Another clue is how long your symptoms last. A cold is usually gone in 10 days or less whereas allergy symptoms can remain longer. If you still are not sure, then you can have allergy testing done with a skin test or blood test.

If you do find that you have allergy symptoms related to dust or mold, get rid of anything that could be harboring mold such as shower curtains, rugs or carpets, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 50% and a HEPA air filter to clean the air. If your symptoms are related to a pet that needs to be indoors in the winter, keep the pet in a separate room from where you sleep. If you have more severe symptoms due to pet dander you may have to confine the pet to a separate room for more times than just sleeping or in the most severe cases, find a new home for the pet. Extra cleaning of furniture, carpets and bedding during times you are showing symptoms can also help cut down on allergens in your indoor environment.

Holiday Related Allergies
For those who celebrate Christmas, a live Christmas tree can cause allergy symptoms according to Marilyn Li, MD, an asthma and allergy specialist with the Los Angeles County & University of Southern California Medical Center. She explains that trees cut early are often kept in humid places and this causes spore growth. There may also be pollen on the tree or a reaction can come from the sap. An artificial tree may be the solution for some people, but artificial trees that have been stored away all year can have dust and mold too. Don't worry though, you don't have to give up your holiday tree. You can wear gloves when handling the tree, shake it off outside and spray it off with water before bringing it in the house. Leave it outside in a covered area to dry off and you may get rid of some of the allergens without bringing them inside. For an artificial tree, take it outside and give it a good shaking or dusting before bringing it back in. The same is true for decorations that have been in storage all year. They are often dusty and need cleaning before use. If you stored your decorations last year in airtight containers and dusted them good before storing then you'll be ahead of the game. If you didn't then consider doing it this year. Also using glass or plastic ornaments instead of cloth ornaments can help cut down on allergy symptoms as they don't hold dust as well and are easier to wash or dust off.

Another holiday irritant can be the scents used. Whether it is from candles, sprays or potpourri, some of these scents can cause allergy symptoms. If you really need to have the scents of Christmas around you, use natural herbs and spices that you can hang in room decorations or boil in water on the wood or pellet stove. Baking bread or cookies can also fill the house with wonderful Christmas smells. The poinsettia is another holiday tradition that can cause problems for some people. If you are having guests for the holidays or have a family member with an allergy to latex, then poinsettia is not a good decoration choice. Find another type of red flowers or an artificial poinsettia to brighten up the room.

Natural Solutions for Winter Allergies
There is help for winter allergies with natural solutions to your allergy symptoms. Here are a few you can explore to see which work well for you.

1. Neti Pot – You can find these at just about any drug store. This is a natural solution to wash out your nasal cavity with saline water by pouring water from the small pot into one nostril and letting it flow out through the other nostril. If you just can't bring yourself to do the neti pot, then a saline solution spray may help flush out your nose.

2. Homeopathy – Homeopathic remedies can change how your body responds to allergy triggers rather than just suppress allergy symptoms. The premise behind homeopathy is that if you introduce a small amount of what is causing your symptoms into the body, your body will start recognizing it and not attack it as a foreign invader. You can get help in using this approach from a professional homeopath or find remedies that match your symptoms in your local health food store.

3. Plan your day – Check out weather forecasts on TV or the internet that give pollen counts for your area and plan your day or week according to when counts are low to do outdoor activities. Pollen is usually higher in the morning so doing outdoor activities may be best planned for afternoons.

4. Butterbur - Phytotherapy Research is one of numerous sources reporting studies showing that butterbur leaf extract can work as well as an antihistamine for allergy symptoms. You should consult your healthcare provider before using an extract with butterbur because it has alkaloids that can affect the liver. These alkaloids can be extracted, so you want to make sure your extract has used this removal process. An extract called Ze 339 has been reported as effective for allergy symptoms. Butterbur is related to ragweed so there have been questions raised as to its use for people with ragweed allergies, but studies have not indicated this to be a problem even for ragweed sufferers.

5. Acupuncture – Numerous studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving allergy symptoms. Traditionally acupuncture needles placed in specific points around the nasal area can help ease allergy symptoms or completely get rid of them. A newer acupuncture technique, Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) works by exposing the person to the thing they are allergic to while applying acupressure and acupuncture to reprogram the body's immune system to not view the allergen as an invader to attack.

6. Supplements – There are supplements that have been found effective in dealing with allergy symptoms. You want to make sure if you are on medications or have health conditions, that you check with your healthcare provider to ensure they are safe for you. Quercetin and tinospora cordifolia, often used in Ayurvedic medicine, are two of these. Tinospora cordifolia has antioxidant properties which can help increase immune system activity. Quercetin is a flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Probiotics can help strengthen your immune system and help in this way with allergy symptoms. Good probiotics to add to your diet include a full spectrum probiotic, acidophilus and bifidus. Another way to add super antioxidant nutrition to boost your immune system is with a supplement of red beta algae, kale sprouts, red clover sprouts and wheat sprouts. This supplement is loaded with chlorophyll, glutathione, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients giving you the extra antioxidant protection to fight off free radicals. Another way to give your immune system a boost is through a supplement that harnesses the power of medicinal mushrooms and beta glucan. This supplement combines reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms with astragalus, beta glucan and bluegreen algae. Based on extensive published research, it is widely accepted that the beta 1,3 glucan derived from baker's yeast is a potent anti-infective beta glucan immunomodulator. Add in this combination of bluegreen algae and mushrooms and you have a powerful immune system friend on your side.

Winter can be a great time of year, but not if you suffer with winter allergy symptoms. We hope you have a great winter season, a happy holiday season and an allergy-free season. Try out some of these natural solutions to winter allergy symptoms for yourself and find what works for you.

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


Sources: 
http://www.oprah.com/health/Dr-Oz-Natural-Ways-to-Ease-Allergies
http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/second-allergy-season
http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/avoid-allergies-7-surprising-holiday-triggers
http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/stop-seasonal-allergiesnaturally
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/winter-allergies
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/allergy-relief-without-drugs

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Good Digestion for Even the Worst Junk Food Junky

I know and I'm sure you do too what is involved in healthy eating, but sometimes situations come up that get us off this track and we end up eating some kind of junk food. It may be a really hectic day where we drive through a junk food or fast food restaurant or a special family event or a party with lots of sweets, unhealthy fats and simple carbs. Whatever the reason, we can still balance out those times when we splurge. Extra calories in means taking the time to get in a little extra exercise to burn them off. The bigger problem is what junk food does to the digestive tract and the friendly bacteria that supports good digestion, immune system functioning, and helps us handle stress.

Digestion
Our digestive system is responsible for taking the foods we eat and breaking them down into forms the body can absorb and use to fuel itself and stay healthy. It starts in the mouth with enzymes in saliva that start breaking foods down in the chewing process and lubricating it for swallowing. The esophagus then takes the food you swallow and passes it on to the stomach where more enzymes help break down foods over about an hour. At that time hydrochloric acid comes into play in the stomach for more break down. The small intestine comes next and the pancreas supplies alkaline to neutralize the acid and digestive enzymes protease, lipase and amylase. In the small intestine nutrients are extracted, absorbed and passed on through the blood stream to various parts of the body. The food has now been broken down with proteins becoming amino acids, fats becoming fatty acids and carbs becoming glucose. The large intestine then absorbs water from food and passes out any remaining waste products.

Junk Food and Digestion
Junk food not only interferes with this digestion process with its extra fat, salt and sugar, but also doesn't give you the necessary digestive enzymes to help breakdown foods. It also doesn't have the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy and according to the Mayo Clinic can leave you feeling bloated, slow the digestion process down and contribute to gaining too much weight which is definitely unhealthy. The extra salt in these types of food are damaging to kidneys and increase the risk of high blood pressure. One study reported by ABC News found participants developed liver damage eating fast food two times a day for a month. Junk food and fast foods are also damaging to the friendly bacteria that live in the intestines and fight off disease as well as supply B vitamins that help us with stress. In addition to the bad things that junk food does to the body, it also doesn't do much good. The vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients the body needs to perform well just aren't available from junk food.

Supporting Digestion Through a Junk Food Binge
Even if we eat healthy most of the time, there are always times when we are likely to slip. Eating out with friends or family, stress eating, parties or family get-togethers are all places where it's hard to avoid some type of junk foods that don't have the good nutrition of your normal meals. A good way to help counteract those times when you know you will be attending a function where you are likely to encounter less than healthy foods is to stock up on digestive enzymes. This means eating a lot of raw foods before and after the event and possibly taking a digestive enzyme supplement. You can also make sure that beforehand you are extra conscientious about the other types of foods you eat and stick with a wholefoods healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. Plan to continue this after the event too. According to San Francisco nutritionist, Michelle Davenport, junk food is addictive and once you start indulging it's hard to beat the cravings for more. To stick with your good nutrition diet, develop the mindset that junk food is merely a treat to indulge in occasionally sort of like Christmas. Most of us love Christmas but we can't have it all year round. We have to wait for it to come around again next year. To help ward off the junk food cravings you can also make sure you have lean protein and fiber with meals to slow digestion down in a healthy way and stabilize insulin, increase exercise to reduce stress hormones that increase cravings, and get enough good quality sleep which also reduces production of hormones that contribute to cravings. You can also support your body's nutritional needs during these times by taking these convenient packets of daily supplements that give you the all the necessary amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements from AFA bluegreen algae, probiotics for healthy digestive support and digestive enzyme.

Don't spend time beating yourself up when you slip off your healthy eating diet. Life is meant to be enjoyed and sometimes that means eating a little junk food with family or friends. Just don't make it an everyday habit and use some of these tips to help your body still get what it needs to function at its best.

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.livestrong.com/article/166549-fast-food-digestion/
http://kellythekitchenkop.com/counteracting-the-effects-of-junk-food/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/self/diet-and-nutrition_b_4683091.html

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

5 Natural Weight Loss Strategies

Are you ready to get off the diet roller coaster and keep the weight you lose off for good? If so then you're not the only one as 50% of women that have lost weight report they gain it back in six months or less. Extra weight puts stress on your organs, bones and joints; it slows you down, can contribute to diabetes, and reduces your energy level. If you are already eating a healthy diet, watching your calorie intake and getting enough exercise, then these 5 ways to lose weight may help you raise the bar to get those few extra pounds off and keep them off.

1. Ways to Lose Weight: When and How to Eat
If you have been trying to lose weight then you probably concentrate more on what you are eating, but when you eat and how you eat can also be a factor. With our busy lives demanding so much of our time, we usually eat too fast, don't chew our food enough and end up eating more than we would if we slowed down. Not only does slowing down give your stomach time to tell the brain when it is satisfied, but according to Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, chewing triggers peptide hormones in the intestines that suppress appetite. One study showed participants chewing a bite of food forty times ate around 12% less than those chewing only fifteen times. Another tip on how to eat for weight loss comes from Pamela Peeke, MD and author of The Hunger Fix who advises eating small meals or snacks every three or four hours. This keeps your body from getting to the hungry state and makes you more likely to be able to resist unhealthy snacks or overeating. And if you just can't say no to dessert then follow the advice of JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet, who says go ahead and get dessert, but just take three small bites and then stop. This will let you get a taste of the sweet stuff to satisfy cravings and leave you feeling like you haven't deprived yourself of anything, but still avoid the calories of a full portion. When snacking or having a dessert, go for the healthiest ones you can find with the least amount of sugar, simple carbs and transfats. I like to take my own healthy snack bar along to substitute for dessert. This bar tastes great and has the nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae, sprouted grains and greens. Make sure you stop eating anything about three hours before going to bed for the night as according to Mark Hyman, MD, author of UltraMetabolism, your metabolism is naturally slower during sleep so anything you eat too close to sleep time will end up being stored as fat instead of being burned off. Other tips on how and when to eat for losing weight include taking lunch from home instead of eating out as studies from 2012 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics report you can lose as much as 5 extra pounds this way and lose six extra pounds by keeping track of what you eat in a food journal.

2. Ways to Lose Weight: How to Exercise
To lose weight you have to burn off the extra calories that you put on and that means movement and exercise. The more muscle you have the faster your metabolism will work so exercise that builds muscle is important. You can work all your muscles and trim down just by doing exercises that use your body weight and gravity. So even if you sit a lot during the day, get up periodically and do some jumping jacks, squats or lunges. Walk around any chance you get and just get your body moving. Bob Wright from Hilton Head Health spa recommends walking for 15 minutes after eating to burn off 100 calories right away. Aaron M. Cypess, MD, PhD suggests getting one type of fat, brown fat, to work for you in losing weight and you can activate this type of fat with exercise. Since brown fat is loaded with mitochondria that create heat, you can burn up 20% of your calories just by getting two ounces of this fat activated. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard found that exercise triggers the release of irisin which is a hormone that turns nasty white fat into brown fat. Taking just 30 minutes five days a week to exercise can get your brown fat going and working for you on weight loss.

3. Ways to Lose Weight: Get Your Sleep
Getting enough good quality sleep is also important for weight loss. If you aren't getting a good six to eight hours of sleep each night then you may be producing too much ghrelin. This is a hormone that increases appetite. When we don't get enough rest we also tend to be more stressed and this can lead to an increase in cortisol that can contribute to belly fat storage. The author of Eating Free, Manuel Villacorta, RD, recommends combating this by finding time to work in some stress reduction techniques like short periods of deep breathing or meditation.

4. Ways to Lose Weight: Supplements
According to a study at the University of Minnesota, participants that had more vitamin D in their systems were able to lose more weight than those with lower levels. This could be due to vitamin D stimulating leptin which is a hormone that lets the brain know when you are full. Digestive enzymes are another supplement that you may find helpful in your weight loss program as undigested food sits in the gut and shows up as belly fat. They help break down food so you absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat and have also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties according to the Cleveland Clinic. Make sure the enzymes you take have lipase which are the digestive enzymes that digest fat. I like these enzymes that have high quality ingredients and include amylase, cellulase, lipase, protease, and lactase to help break down fats, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber and have the extra nutritional punch of AFA bluegreen algae. Probiotics such as acidophilus, bifidus, or a full spectrum probiotic supplement can also help keep your digestive system working at its best so you get the most nutrition from the foods you eat for your body to use and avoid having undigested food sitting in the gut.

5. Ways to Lose Weight: Drink Off the Pounds
EGCG found in green tea has been found through a study at Penn State to decrease fat absorption and according to Joshua D. Lambert, PhD it also helps your body eliminate more fat. Green tea also gives a boost to your metabolism and has antioxidants to help with cellular repair for damage from free radicals. Drinking between three and five cups daily can help you shed some extra weight and keep your body fit for exercising. Water is another great thing to be drinking for weight loss. By drinking cold water your body burns up more calories by having to warm the water up to body temperature. Drinking water throughout the day helps you feel fuller which keeps you from eating between meals and drinking before you exercise releases hormones that help in muscle building to help you get the most out of your exercise regimen.

There you have it! Five extra ways to boost your weight loss plan up to the next level. All of these are simple to do and easy enough to find time to work into any busy schedule. So if you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off, make sure you are eating a healthy diet with lots of veggies, fruits, healthy fats, lean protein and whole grains, getting in your exercise and adding in these extra tips. Nothing to lose by giving it a try..... other than that extra weight!

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.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20645166,00.html
http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/weight-loss/tips/how-to-lose-fat-for-good/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/277532-how-to-use-digestive-enzymes-for-weight-loss/

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How a Healthy Brain Equals a Quiet Mind

Sometimes I pity my poor brain as I fear I overwork it with all the things I have to remember, but usually it is able to keep up with me. In fact, sometimes it seems to work even harder than I do and I find it hard to turn it off. This is particularly inconvenient at times when I'm trying to relax or go to sleep. Whether you call it mind chatter, mind babble, or as a friend in a 12 step program refers to it "the committee has convened", we need to be able to have some times when our minds aren't running like a hamster on a wheel. Quiet, solitude, and silence are also necessary. Not only for the body to get rested and refreshed, but also the brain. Finding this balance of work and rest for the brain comes much easier to a brain that is healthy and well nourished.

Nutrition for A Healthy Brain
The brain is responsible for voluntary and involuntary body functions, including movement, personality, heart rate, emotions, mood, thoughts, and storing knowledge. It acts like our control center sending out signals to the body on how to react to situations and conditions. Like most other body cells, brain cells have mitochondria and about a third of these in the brain move on axons aiding neurotransmitters to pass on signals. The strength of these signals and good brain function depends on mitochondria being healthy. This means getting a balance of amino acids which produce about 10 to 15% of our metabolic energy. Amino acids are made when proteins are broken down making them able to pass through the blood brain barrier. Researchers have found that one of the highest and most balanced sources of amino acids is from bluegreen microalgae. Human brains need around 10 times more energy than other land mammals and in addition to the right balance of amino acids, they require fatty acids to maintain healthy brain function, especially DHA (docosahexanoic acid), which is the fat found most abundantly in the brain and absolutely necessary for neurons to function properly. It also requires that we get AA (arachidonic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) in the diet. These fatty acids are hard to come by in many foods, but are easily obtainable through marine and coastal food chains – that means food chains that start with microalgae. This is the reason fish is such a good brain food – fish eat algae. You too can eat algae with high quality supplements such as one that is produced with the cell wall removed to allow its nutrients to more easily cross over the blood brain barrier. In addition to a balance of amino acids and fatty acids, the brain also needs glucose which is its main source of energy.

Foods for a Quiet Mind
When we are stressed as a result of conditions such as anxiety, anger, or depression, cortisol is released in the body which raises blood sugar levels and blood pressure. This reaction can interfere with getting to sleep, can decrease our energy levels, cause memory problems and interfere with cognitive functions. A healthy brain is a well-functioning brain. Not only do we want our brains to stay sharp and working well, we also want to be able to shut them down at times and stop thinking. These are times to rejuvenate, get a break and reduce stress reactions. B vitamins, especially B-12, help us relax, soothe our nerves and help us deal with stress. When we are stressed, we tend to use up our body's supply of B vitamins just when we need them most and need to replace them. Having healthy probiotics in your gut can give your body a boost to keep producing these vitamins and help your body cope with stress. Good food sources for B vitamins include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, potatoes and peanuts. Vitamin D is another good vitamin to help with relaxation, sleep, and turning off a chattering mind. Research has shown that vitamin D can help in producing serotonin, melatonin and in regulating your circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight is a good way to get the vitamin D we need, but for those who don't get out enough you can also get vitamin D from fortified dairy products, salmon and other fatty fish, eggs, and fortified cereals.

Magnesium can also help you relax as it is a natural muscle relaxant. Whole grains, maca root powder, seaweed, almonds, dark chocolate, spinach and bananas are some of the foods you can add to your diet for magnesium. Bananas not only have magnesium to help your muscles relax, but also trigger melatonin and serotonin to be released to help you relax and get to sleep. Next time you are having trouble getting your mind to shut down so you can relax and get to sleep, try a cup of chamomile tea or a glass of warm milk. Milk has tryptophan, an amino acid which helps in producing serotonin and can help make you sleepy. You can also get tryptophan from almonds, pistachios, cashews, whole wheat bread, and turkey. Adding a baked potato to the mix helps get rid of acids known to interfere with tryptophan. Or have a bowl of oatmeal to help you sleep as oats increase your melatonin level to help you get drowsy.

Lion's Mane mushroom, also known as Hericum erinaceus, has substances such as erinacines that stimulate production of nerve growth factor and that will pass through the blood brain barrier. Research on Lion's Mane has shown it can help not only protect the nervous system and keep it healthy, but also can boost cognitive processes. An easy way to get Lion's Mane into your diet is with this algae and Lion's Mane supplement. Not only do you get the brain boosting power of Lion's Mane mushrooms, but also lots of antioxidant nutrition from noni and wheatgrass juice, bee pollen reported to have a high amino acid content useful for stimulating memory and concentration, and Gingko biloba which has been used for a long time to promote increased memory and mental concentration by increasing circulation and providing increased oxygenation of brain cells, as well as AFA bluegreen algae to feed the brain with essential fatty acids and other nutrients a healthy brain needs.

Quieting the Mind
Not getting enough sleep or quiet rest time can cause the brain's emotional centers to be 60% more reactive. This explains why we get grumpy, cranky and are more likely to snap at others when we are not well rested. We also have less energy leaving us less able to focus, solve problems, and make decisions that affects memory, and causes us to be less productive in general. Food is only one way to help your brain turn off and allow you to relax or go to sleep. There are other ways to quiet your mind. If you find your mind racing thinking of everything that happened during the day, try getting it all out before going to bed. That could mean journaling or talking to someone. Just get it all off your chest so you can put it aside for the night. If your problem is more thinking about everything you have to do the next day or week, spend some time making a list and possibly putting it on a timeline. With this written reminder you don't have to worry about forgetting everything you have to do and you'll have a plan of action waiting for you.

You can also work on training your body to know when it is time to be active and when it is time to relax and prepare for sleep. Set up your environment with signals such as dimming the lights at a certain time each evening, turning off the TV or any other stimulating activities, and you might include a mediation time or sitting in silence for a few minutes around the same time each night. Experts find that having a set bedtime and wake up time every night is also helpful. That includes the weekends. Include a routine of relaxing activities before going to bed and your brain can learn it and start signaling the body to get ready for sleep. Your routine might include a bedtime snack if you find hunger pains often keep you awake. If so, stay away from anything heavy, sugar filled or that has caffeine. A snack that includes complex carbs and dairy like cereal and milk or cheese and crackers make an excellent choice as they have nutrients that help bring on sleep.

You can't force sleep, but you can at least give your body some rest. If you find you can't go to sleep, don't turn on the TV or computer. If you can't fall asleep after around half an hour, try going to another space in your home and just sitting in silence for up to 20 minutes. Then go back to bed and start over. If you still can't go to sleep after another half hour, try again. This gives you a chance to disrupt the frustration and start the night over so to speak and if nothing else, at least your body physically gets some rest if not sleep. Another alternative from international speaker and author, Deborah Deras, is to take 60 seconds to close your eyes and breathe deeply to shift your mind from its chatter. She also advises paying attention to any negative chatter and look for the lesson in it instead of fretting and obsessing over it. Observe it, own it, learn from it and move on.

A healthy brain does equal a quiet mind and you need that quiet mind to get the sleep necessary to rejuvenate the body. So the next time your mind starts chattering away, give some of these foods and natural solutions a try. You'll find it's not as hard as you thought to turn down the mind noise so you can get the rest you need.

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.deborahderas.com/2012/07/quiet-the-monkey-min/
https://indigolifecenter.wordpress.com/2008/01/02/tips-for-foods-that-help-slow-down-and-quiet-the-mind/
http://www.quietmindsolutions.com/11-tips-for-a-better-nights-sleep-2/
Bruno, PhD, Jeffrey, Eat Light and Feel Bright