Thursday, June 28, 2018

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!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Healthy Habits for Aging Gracefully

What kind of healthy habits do you use for aging gracefully? Or do you have any? What do you see when you look in the mirror these days? Are you aging gracefully or are you looking a little worse for wear? As we age, our bodies change causing many of our systems to function less efficiently. Many of us find our skin becoming wrinkled and saggy, we develop digestive issues, our bones grow more brittle, we develop aches and pains in the joints, lose teeth, have hearing loss, lose vision, develop circulation problems and are more prone to heart disease and other health conditions. Why do we see some people aging gracefully and others developing more or even all of these conditions? One explanation is the type of lifestyle you live. What types of healthy habits do you regularly practice? Even if you don't currently practice healthy habits for aging gracefully, it's not too late to start. Adopting some simple healthy habits can help in the goal towards aging gracefully.

Nutrition is the cornerstone for graceful aging. Obviously having a healthy balanced diet will improve your overall health. But there are also some foods to avoid and some you can eat that will help in aging gracefully. For example, foods high in sugar and processed foods with no real nutritional value can damage collagen and elastin. Those are what keep skin firm and smooth so you want to protect them. On the other hand whole foods that contain fiber and antioxidants can help with collagen production and production of new cells while fighting off free radicals that can damage cells. Using stevia, which is a natural sweetener, to sweeten foods is a better choice than sugar to protect your collagen and elastin.

You also want to make sure you are getting enough calories and essential nutrients for your individual body to keep cells regenerating. Paying attention to your fluid intake is also beneficial as dehydration does not help skin in aging gracefully. One way to get a lot of whole food nutrition and probiotics and enzymes for healthy digestion is to supplement your diet with convenient packets containing two kinds of blue green algae (with and without the cell wall), digestive enzymes, acidophilus, and bifidus.

Some of the healthiest people I know that are in their 80s and 90s are those that stay active. They regularly exercise and are involved in community events and organizations. Regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a day each day can go a long way to helping decrease the risk of colon cancer, digestive issues and give you many other health benefits. There are numerous exercise programs and you may need to consult with your healthcare practitioner to pick one that is right for you. But in general, some of the exercises that help in aging gracefully include:

-weight training or strength training to firm up saggy skin and work on muscle tone
-cardio exercises for heart health
-yoga to improve circulation, reduce inflammation and stress, and for bone health as it has been shown to increase bone density and improve balance.
-fat burning exercises help maintain a healthy weight and prevent conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
-exercises such as fast walking, weight lifting, weight bearing type exercises and flexibility type exercises are all good for bone health

Bone Support
As we age, there is a double problem that can result with bone health. First we start losing bone at a faster rate than we can regenerate and replace it. That makes our bones more fragile. Second our muscles, joints and balance can all become weaker meaning we are more likely to have falls which can lead to breakage of these more fragile bones. That is why bone health is an important area to consider in aging gracefully. Keeping muscles strong increases your ability to stop yourself if you start to fall and can reduce your risk of falling in the first place. Taking the recommended amount of calcium, Vitamin D, getting flexibility and weight bearing exercise regularly, cutting down on caffeine, and getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can go a long way to giving you the bone support needed for aging gracefully.

Fatty acids are also needed for good skincare. We want to avoid a diet with too much of the "bad" fats, but the body does need "good" fats for many reasons. One is to keep skin hydrated and smooth, prevent hair loss and prevent brittle finger and toe nails. Vitamins A, C and E are also good for keeping skin, hair and nails healthy. Vitamin D helps protect the scalp and the cells that produce hair. Some experts believe eating alkaline-forming food to balance the acid in the body can improve skin and hair health as acid strips the body of calcium, potassium and magnesium which are all good for healthy bones, hair, and teeth. Foods such as parsley, almonds, kale, pears, lemons and apples would be in this category. There has also been research showing that green tea can help prevent the breakdown of collagen meaning less wrinkles.

Dental Care
According to research, more people are willing to spend more to protect their teeth as they age than for any other aging conditions, such as body shape, hair, vision, wrinkles or varicose veins. For strong teeth, calcium is a must and Vitamin D is needed to help the body be able to absorb the calcium. An Edgar Cayce product called Ipsab can help contract gums, remove bacteria and neutralize acids that erode tooth enamel. This is a natural product that contains salt, soda, prickly ash bark, and peppermint.

Waiting 30 minutes before brushing teeth after eating or drinking something acidic can also help tooth enamel as brushing immediately after tends to wear the enamel off the teeth. Green tea has a compound shown to kill bacteria in the mouth that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Taking at least 2 capsules of high-quality coenzyme Q10 daily can help rebuild both gum and heart tissue, as well as rejuvenate the metabolic function for every cell in the body. Our bodies need more CoQ10 as we get older, and especially if we suffer from gum or heart conditions. Coenzyme Q10 is an integral part of energy production in every cell and has the added benefit of boosting the immune system and contributing to heart health. It is found naturally throughout the body, but as we age our ability to manufacture it is reduced. That is why supplementation is important especially as we age.

Digestive Health
Getting the right amount of fiber in the diet helps not only with regularity, but also with varicose veins since irregularity or straining to have a bowel movement is one of the biggest causes. I say getting the right amount though because too much fiber can keep you from absorbing nutrients that your body needs. High fiber foods include fruits and veggies, whole grains and beans. These also have a lot of needed nutrients and are low in fat and can help reduce the risk of constipation which is another digestive concern for older people. As we get older, we are more prone to constipation and research has shown that 40% of seniors have at least one digestive problem every year that is related to aging. This is due to the slowing down of the digestive process in which food is not moved along through the digestive tract as fast as when we were younger. That causes more water to get absorbed from food waste and then constipation. Constipation can also result from many different prescription and over the counter medications which we tend to take more of the older we get. Staying active, exercising and keeping hydrated can also help you stay regular as you age. If you take medications that cause constipation, gas, bloating, cramps or other digestive issues, check with your health care provider to see if you can take them with food and what the lowest effective dosage you can take is.

Stem Cell Support
Getting support for your adult stem cells is another way to help your body with aging gracefully. Adult stem cells are already in our bodies and are not controversial like embryonic stem cell use is. They maintain and renew body tissue, help in maintaining a healthy immune system as well as with other health conditions. As we get older, we don't produce as many adult stem cells and they don't regenerate themselves as fast as when we were younger. This is where supplementation can help. Research has shown that certain nutrients such as are present in a stem cell support supplement can help promote the renewal of stem cells. It provides nutrition that supports the growth of stem cells and provides antioxidants that protect existing stem cells from free radical damage. Using this type of supplement can help counteract the reduction in the body's ability to regenerate stem cells as we age. When a stem cell divides, it can either remain a stem cell or become a red blood cell, muscle cell, skin cell or any one of the many other cells in our bodies. These new cells can migrate to the areas they are needed most as we age and where problems are occurring to repair damage.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

5 Simple Strategies for a Naturally Good Mood

Are you one of the over 20 million Americans with a mood disorder or the 40 million with an anxiety disorder or just find yourself struggling a lot of the time to stay in a good mood? If so, here's some natural ways to boost your mood with lifestyle changes and nutrition.

1. Exercise For Good Mood
According to Henry Emmons, MD, a psychiatrist with the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, research shows that exercise for depression can be as good as depression medications. He often prescribes walking, biking, jogging and other rhythmic type exercises to combat depression. In support of this position, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study in January 2005 finding that 3 hours a week of moderate activity can have a positive impact on mood. Other studies report finding benefits of running and bike riding regularly after a 12-week period reduced symptoms of depression by almost 50% and that exercising workouts can provide a mood boost for as long as 12 hours.

2. Nutrition For Good Mood
People that are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acid in their diet are more susceptible to depression according to the results of a study at the University of Pittsburgh. Fish oil high in omega-3 fatty acids has been found through research studies to help prevent depression by affecting the brain's neurotransmitter pathways. Omega-3 is vital to brain function and can be found in bluegreen algae, walnuts, fatty fish, and flaxseed. Omega-3 also is available in supplement form and at least 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams is the amount Henry Emmons, MD recommends to help with mood enhancement. Fish and in particular raw fish, are also a source of Vitamin D which can increase serotonin levels. If you don't like raw fish then you can also get Vitamin D from fortified cereal, dairy and soy products, and white button mushrooms. Serotonin is the brain chemical that produces feelings of calmness and happiness and regulates mood. Eating foods with tryptophan helps in producing serotonin. Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews are high in tryptophan. Tryptophan levels can also be increased by eating "good" carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Another vitamin important to serotonin production is B9 or folate. Folate aids the brain in producing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which are all brain chemicals affecting mood. Folate can be found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and in Brussel sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, lentils and sunflower seeds. Low Vitamin B6 levels can also contribute to depression. Foods high in Vitamin B6 include papaya, oranges, tuna, chicken, turkey, rice and wheat bran, garlic, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

3. Supplements For Good Mood
You have probably heard of St. John's Wort as an herbal supplement used for anxiety. It has also been shown helpful for sleep disorders, mood stabilizing and mild forms of depression. Research has not shown it effective for severe depression. There are some medications, such as blood thinners, antidepressants and birth control pills, which do not react well with St. John's Wort, so be sure you consult your healthcare provider before using it.

Another supplement you may not be as familiar with for mood boosting is SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine) that comes from an amino acid. It is usually produced naturally by the body, but production decreases as we get older and therefore supplementation may be called for. 28 studies have reported results showing SAMe supplementation making improvements in depression symptoms. This is another supplement however that you should check out with your healthcare provider for safety especially if you have diabetes, low blood pressure or anxiety disorder.

4. Social Interaction For Good Mood
Social interaction helps with good mood in several ways. First, having places to go to interact with others gets us up and out in the world instead of sitting home alone and isolated. We are also more likely to stay active, make the effort to look and feel our best, and be mentally alert when we have activities on our social calendars. Studies report you can increase your chance of being in a good mood by 9% just by being around happy people. If you are in a low mood, stay away though from others that are in negative states as that can add to your low mood.

If you have restrictions that prevent you from getting out much, you can still stay social and connected to others. Have visitors over to your house, stay connected with friends and family through the computer with Skype, email or chat rooms. Don't completely depend on computer or phone time for your interactions though. A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says you need human touch as it can release serotonin and other endorphins to improve mood. If you absolutely have no way to get that type of human intimacy on a regular basis, then get a pet. A University of Missouri–Columbia study found that 15 minutes petting your dog or cat releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, as well as lowers cortisol which is a stress hormone.

5. Algae - A Good Mood Food
We've all heard fish referred to as brain food and that's not just an old saying, it's true. Essential fatty acids make up the majority of our brain and nerve cells and we don't naturally produce these ourselves. They need to come from food and guess what food is really rich in these fatty acids... yep, fish. Now take that a step further. Why are fish so high in EFAs? Because they eat algae which is a natural source of fatty acids. Eating coldwater fish and/or taking AFA bluegreen algae supplements gives you the fatty acids needed for stabilizing mood and staying upbeat. The form of bluegreen algae that is the heart of the algae with the cell wall removed is particularly useful for enhancing brain activity and feeding the blood that feeds the brain.

Then there is this supplement that combines bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion's Mane mushroom, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni which all help contribute to brain health and function and was created especially for high-performance athletes and those with active lifestyles who depend on concentration and mental clarity. This combination means support to help you function when stress overwhelms you and put your mood back on an even keel.

If you find your mood suffering give these natural solutions a try. You'll find life so much more enjoyable when you feel good and upbeat.

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 at wholesale prices on our website.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

How to Relax No Matter How Much Stress You Face!

Stress is inevitable in our lives, but we can find ways of managing stress to reduce the impact it has on our health. Not dealing with stress affects our immune system's ability to work properly, can lead to weight gain, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, lead to gastrointestinal problems, interfere with sleep, cause a lack of energy and poor memory, and can be linked to skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne. One of the problems in managing stress is that in an already stressful, full scheduled day, it sometimes causes more stress trying to find the time to relax which of course makes it impossible to relax. After all who can relax knowing that there is a whole list of things still on the to-do list for the day. And since stress can affect cognitive function, the more stressed we are the harder it is to concentrate on those coping skills we may have developed. The first step for many therefore in managing stress has to be developing a different perspective and attitude about taking the time to relax. This is going to be an individual process so give it some thought and see what philosophy you can adapt that will make sense for you and your life. Some of the reasons people find to start making managing stress a higher priority include:
  • health concerns
  • weight gain
  • negative attitude (all work and no play...)
  • interference with relationships (as in quick to anger or as in no time to spend with others)
  • why make lots of money working constantly if don't have time to spend any in enjoyment
  • no family time (ie.- missing out on your children's milestones or activities)
Look over this list and see if any of these reasons resonate with you or see what you can add to the list that does resonate. Lifestyle changes aren't always easy. Having a reason that makes sense to you and is important enough to you to make a change will go a long way towards how successful you will be.

Managing Stress
After you have found the motivation to make managing stress in your life a priority you'll need to try out a variety of strategies for dealing with stress to find what works for you. Take a look at how you typically deal with stress currently. Do you skimp on sleep, grab a candy bar or coffee in the afternoon to push your way through the rest of the day, skip breakfast in the morning, hardly ever take any time for yourself, drive through a fast food place to get dinner or find other ways to try to reduce your load? Write down a list of the ways you are dealing with stress now. Then you can start developing a plan to keep anything on the list that is a healthy way of dealing with stress and substituting something healthier for those ways that aren't so healthy.

Coping With Stress
Here are some ideas of healthy alternatives that we can substitute for some of the unhealthy ways we currently are coping with stress.

Change Comfort Foods
When we are under stress cortisol is released in the body. This causes a rise in blood sugar levels and blood pressure. That is why often when we are stressed we crave sugary and fatty comfort foods. Trudy Scott, author of The Antianxiety Food Solution, warns that eating foods with refined sugar and carbs gives us a spike in blood sugar, but then it quickly crashes which can lead to anxiety, nervousness and being irritable. We certainly don't need that on top of all the stress we are dealing with. But many dieticians are advising that when we get the comfort food cravings to go ahead and have them in moderation or with changes to them. Joy Short, MS, RD, assistant professor and head of undergraduate nutrition and dietetics at St. Louis University recommends that you make small changes to your comfort food by making it healthier and something that will have a longer lasting effect on your mood. The optimal foods to accomplish this would be lean proteins, healthy fats, leafy vegetables and starches with high fiber. The internet is full of recipes that no matter what your comfort food is, you should be able to find a healthier alternative. For example, if your comfort food is pizza, look for a recipe that uses a light, thin crust made with whole grains, a pesto sauce or light tomato sauce and loaded with good veggies. If cookies are what comfort you, change to an oatmeal, nut and cranberry recipe and use a natural sweetener instead of refined sugar. If you don't have time to make cookies yourself, read labels and find one that is the lowest in sugar and higher in fiber like oatmeal raisin. Another strategy is to just concentrate on maintaining stable blood sugar levels to keep an even mood throughout the day. Instead of eating the typical 3 meals a day, eat smaller meals or snacks every 2 to 3 hours that have a protein source and either fiber, veggie or healthy fat. For example, a small amount of tuna and some brown rice. If you reach for the coffee pot when you are stressed, work on changing that habit to drinking decaf tea instead or switch to decaf coffee. Caffeine causes a surge in adrenaline which is the exact thing you don't need when you are stressed.

Protect Your Friendly Bacteria
There are many studies showing that chronic stress has a negative impact on our gut health. It can cause a multitude of problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Leaky Gut Syndrome. Taking high quality probiotic supplements such as acidophilus, bifidus, or a multi-spectrum probiotic supplement can help keep the intestines in tip top shape and functioning properly by supporting the friendly bacteria in the gut. One of these functions is producing B vitamins. 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. Taking probiotics can give your body a boost to keep producing these vitamins and help your body cope with stress.

Unblock Energy Flow
Stress is held in the muscles of the body which blocks the body's natural energy flow. You can test this easily for yourself. When you feel stressed, scan throughout your body and see which parts of the body you are holding tightly or clenching. Is it in your jaw, your neck, shoulders, or back? Those are typical places for most people. When the body energy flow is blocked, the body's natural healing abilities are cut off and not functioning properly. Strategies such as yoga, deep breathing, tai chi and meditation are good relaxation techniques that many studies report beneficial results for coping with stress. One study in support of this showed those meditating regularly for a 6 week period had less emotional distress when in a stress situation. A study at the University of Wisconsin reported that participants undergoing 8 weeks of meditation showed an increase of electrical activity in their left frontal lobe which is the area of the brain more active in optimists. If these type of practices are something you have put off doing because you "don't have the time", reconsider. Get up just 5 or 10 minutes earlier in the morning to make meditation or yoga a part of your day and that time will pay off big time in stress reduction and health benefits. Whatever time you can squeeze in is certainly better than the nothing you are doing now, so don't stress out if you don't' get it in every day.

Stress Support Supplement Recipe
Try this recipe daily when you feel especially stressed:

In addition to making some of these lifestyle changes for coping with stress, be sure to get enough sleep, especially when under heavy periods of stress. Experts suggest getting 7 to 8 hours a night, waking up without an alarm if possible, getting in the habit of a regular sleeping schedule, and doing something relaxing in the evenings before bed. Stress can really take its toll on your health, so start now developing a game plan for coping with stress to stay healthier and get more enjoyment out of 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 at wholesale prices on our website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Healthy Aging - 6 Ways to Keep Your Bones Healthy

Part of healthy aging is keeping our bones healthy. Our bones have increased risks as we age since as we get older, our balance suffers which can lead to falling down and thus to breaking bones. Around midlife, bones become thinner making it easier for them to break. Osteoporosis becomes a concern as we grow older also. In fact, 55% of the people over 50 are at risk for developing osteoporosis. The good news is that it is never too late to improve your bone health and get on a program of healthy aging.

Nutrients for Healthy Bones
We learned way back in elementary school that we need calcium to keep our bones healthy and strong. Remember the films with the talking milk carton telling us how much milk and other dairy to eat a day? It's not quite that simple though, especially as we get older because calcium alone is not enough. Vitamin D is also an important nutrient for bones. Vitamin D gets the calcium from the intestines and kidneys into the bloodstream. Without this nutrient, even if you get enough calcium, it can just end up leaving the body as waste and not being used to strengthen bones. Our bodies create Vitamin D mainly from our exposure to sunshine so getting outdoors a little bit everyday is important. If you are unable to do this, a Vitamin D supplement may be required. Be sure to check with your health care provider to see if this type of supplement is right for you. You can get Vitamin D from some foods.

Ideally, we get enough calcium and Vitamin D as children to get a good start on building strong bones. Bones go through a natural process called remodeling. This is a process in which old bone is constantly being broken down and replaced with new bone. When we are young the body is able to produce more new bone than it breaks down. This is the time of life when bones are able to grow the most and become strong. Making sure children get a good start on bone health will give them a head start towards healthy aging.

Bone Loss
As we reach our 30's we stop producing as much new bone and as we get older we begin losing more bone. In women, after menopause when estrogen levels drop, bone loss increases to a point where bone is breaking down much faster than new bone can be built to replace it. When this happens, osteoporosis can result. In fact women can lose 25%-30% of their bone density during the first 10 years after menopause. That's a lot of bone loss! It is recommended that women who are past menopause get 1200 mg. of calcium a day. Before menopause only 1000 mg a day is recommended. There are several factors that can influence the speed at which you lose bone. Some of these are how active you are, how much calcium your body gets, family history and for women, how old you are when menopause starts. There are certain medications that can also affect bone loss, so be sure to ask your health care provider about any new medications or ones you are already taking to see if they can affect your bone health.

6 Ways to Keep Bones Healthy
Basically we can develop good bone health with many of the same healthy habits that keep the rest of the body healthy. This includes eating a variety of good foods, exercising, avoiding smoking and alcohol as well as getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Here are 6 specific ways you can increase your bone health which will lead to healthy aging.

1. Exercise –
Muscle strengthening exercises not only help some with bone loss, but also strengthen muscles which improves balance and decreases the risks of falls that can damage and break bones. 30 minutes of exercise a day is ideal or if you can't manage that, break it up into shorter sessions throughout the day that equal up to 30 minutes total. Exercises such as fast walking, weight lifting, weight bearing type exercises and flexibility type exercises are all good for bone health. Yoga is another good exercise for bone health as it has been shown to increase bone density and improve balance.

2. Know How Much Calcium You Need –
Make sure you are getting enough calcium for your age group. It is recommended that adults get 1000 mg. a day before the age of 50. After 50, it is recommended that adults get 1200 mg. a day. Teens need more calcium than adults and have a recommended amount of 1300 mg. a day. The best way to get the calcium you need is from foods. You can take calcium supplements, but must be careful not to overdo it as taking too much calcium from supplements has been shown to cause higher risk of kidney stones. Food also has other nutrients your body needs and that help the body get the benefits from calcium. If you check the labels on your foods, you should be able to add up the amount of calcium you get in a day. Food labels that are marked as 10% or more of daily recommended calcium, high in calcium or fortified with calcium can help you get the most calcium for the calories that you can. Low fat dairy products are what we normally think of as calcium sources, but if you are not a big dairy fan or have allergies or intolerances to dairy, you can also use spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, sardines, fortified cereals and juices, beans, tofu, and fish as sources of calcium.

3. Get Enough Vitamin D -

Recommendations from The Institute of Medicine for the amount of Vitamin D to get daily are 600 IU for adults under the age of 70 and 800 IU after the age of 70. Women may also need up to 800 UI after menopause. People with specific bone problems may need even more. Your healthcare provider can help you asses how much Vitamin D you need for your particular circumstance. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and aids in bone remodeling. The body naturally produces Vitamin D with exposure to sunlight. You can also get Vitamin D from foods and supplements. Cod liver oil, fish such as tuna and salmon, milk fortified with Vitamin D, and egg yolks all are sources for Vitamin D.

4. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol –
Alcohol has been shown to have a negative affect on bone health. That doesn't mean you can't have an occasional alcoholic beverage, but using alcohol in excess does not promote healthy aging. Nicotine can damage the cells in the body that make new bone and some studies have shown smoking to increase the risk of fracturing bones. Other studies have shown though that bone density can improve fairly quickly after quitting smoking so don't think it's too late if you've been smoking for many years.

5. Add Omega-3 Fatty Acid to Your Diet -
Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids may also have an effect on bone health. Omega-3s are good for heart health and skin health, but there is also some research that these fatty acids have an effect on increasing or maintaining bone density. Olive oil, edamame, walnuts, blue green algae, wild rice, flax seeds, fish such as tuna and salmon and chia seeds are all high in omega-3.

6. Cut Down On Caffeine -
Limiting your caffeine intake can also lead to increased bone health. Don't worry, you can still have your morning cup of coffee, but cutting down your caffeine consumption to around 300 mg. a day can reduce risks of bone fracture and to general bone health.

Whatever age you are now is the right time to get started improving your bone health. Give one or all of these 6 tips a try to get a start on good bone health today. It can make your life easier as you approach your senior years and help give you a foot up on healthy aging.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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