Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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The Everyday Foods Linked To Good Mental Health

The foods can offset the impact of major life events, like divorce and unemployment.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to a lower risk of depression new research concludes.

An extra four portions of fruit and vegetables per day can offset the impact of major life events, like divorce and unemployment.

The boost from more fruit and vegetables could counteract half the pain of getting divorced or one-quarter that of being unemployed.

The effect on mental well-being of eating 8 portions per day compared with none is even more dramatic.

These benefits come on top of the well-known protective effect against cancer and heart disease.

The conclusions come from an Australian survey of 7,108 people carried out every year since 2001.

All were asked about their diet and lifestyle.

The results showed that the more fruit and vegetables people ate, the less likely they were to be diagnosed with mental health problems later on.

fruits-veggies

Dr Redzo Mujcic, the study’s first author, said:

“If people eat around seven or eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day the boost in mental well-being is as strong as divorce pushing people the other way, to a depressed state.
We found being made unemployed had a very bad and significant effect on people’s mental health, greatly increasing the risk of depression and anxiety.
But eating seven or eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day can reduce that by half.
And the effect is a lot quicker than the physical improvements you see from a healthy diet.
The mental gains occur within 24 months, whereas physical gains don’t occur until you are in your 60s.”

One possible mechanism by which fruit and vegetables affect happiness is through antioxidants.

There is a suggested connection between antioxidants and optimism.

Dr Mujcic said:

“If people increase their daily intake of fruit and vegetables from zero to eight they are 3.2 percentage points less likely to suffer depression or anxiety in the next two years.
That might not sound much in absolute terms, but the effect is comparable to parts of major life events, like being made unemployed or divorced.
We tested for reverse-causality—ie whether it might be that depression or anxiety leads to people eating less fruit and vegetables—but we found no strong statistical evidence of this.”

About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. 
He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
The study was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine (Mujcic & Oswald, 2019).

 


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Organic Produce Contains More Antioxidants

Scientists look at a lot of data — including the famous Stanford analysis — and find an excellent reason to enjoy organic produce.

Kimi Harris   July 16, 2014

A Stanford study released in 2012 made headlines when it was announced that there wasn’t necessarily a nutritional advantage to eating organic produce over conventional produce. Many people felt that the uproar that followed in response to the study – with people saying that organic food was a “scam” or useless – was misguided. You can read my thoughts about other good reasons to choose organic here, and Starre’s similar opinions here from that time.

Now, a new study shows that organic produce just may have an across-the-board better nutritional value after all. This new analysis looked at more than just the Stanford study. The researchers found that while it was true that certain vitamins and minerals were the same in conventional and organic produce (such as vitamin C and E) that there was a significant difference in antioxidant levels.

Organic produce has between 20 and 40 percent more antioxidants than conventional produce. A co-author of the study, Charles Benbrook, notes that this is significant because one of the reasons we are encouraged to eat produce is for this antioxidant benefit. While research is still ongoing, antioxidants have been under scrutiny for a long time because of their anti-cancer and anti-aging effects.

But why is there any difference in antioxidant levels? Conventional produce is more likely to be highly fertilized, which can lead to faster-growing plants, which means bigger produce and more diluted antioxidants. Plants that are not protected by pesticides have to work harder at producing deterrents to insects, which translates into more antioxidants.

However, it should be noted that there is a wide range of practices in conventional and organic farming. Some organic farmers use a lot of organic fertilizer and organic pesticides too. Regardless, this study is intriguing and encouraging. While there are other reasons to choose organic other than simple vitamin and antioxidant levels, I’m thrilled when I get more bang for my buck with each bite I take, so I’ll gladly take that 20 to 40 percent more antioxidant increase any day.

source: www.mnn.com


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The Mother Of All Antioxidants

April 13, 2014 by Joe Martino

We have all heard of antioxidants, but have we heard of the mother of all antioxidants? One that is the secret to prevent cancer, heart disease, aging, neurological issues and more? This single antioxidant has been studied in great depth yet most of us know nothing about it and  many doctors have no idea how to address the epidemic of its deficiency in humans.

We are of course talking about Glutathione (pronounced “gloota-thigh-own.”) This is a powerful detoxifier and immune booster and is crucial to a healthy life. Although the body does make some of its own Glutathione, poor food quality, pollution, toxic environments, stress, infections and radiation are all depleting out bodies glutathione.

What is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a simple molecule produced naturally in the body at all times. It’s a combination of three building blocks of protein or amino acids — cysteine, glycine and glutamine.

The best part of glutathione is that is contains sulfur chemical groups that work to trap all the bad things like free radicals and toxins such as mercury and heavy metals in our body then flush them out. This is especially important in our current world of heavy metal bombardment.

Where Can You Get Glutathione?

The body makes it, but it’s often not enough in our strenuous environment. Here are some food sources that either contain glutathione or its precursors to help the body produce more.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocados
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric (Curcumin)
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Red peppers

Notice they are all healthy foods we often don’t get enough of? This is another big issue with our diets. We consume a lot of junk, meat, dairy and processed foods, items that clinically have been proven to be the number one causes of heart disease and illness yet we consume  them in huge quantities. The key is to limit these and eat a lot of fresh, lively foods that provide nutrients and don’t ask the body to perform a mega job to digest.

You can also increase your exercise as glutathione production increases when you exercise. Breathing and sweating are also great ways to get rid of toxins in the body.

cinnamon

Glutathione Protects Against Chronic Illness

What makes glutathione so important and powerful is that it recycles antioxidants. When your body is dealing with free radicals, it is essentially passing them from one molecule to another. They might go from vitamin C to vitamin E to lipoic acid and then to glutathione where they are cooled off. Antioxidants are recycled at this point and the body can now regenerate another glutathione molecule to go back at it again.

Glutathione is crucial for helping your immune system fight chronic illness as it acts as the carrier of toxins out of your body. Like a fly trap, toxins stick to glutathione and they are carried to the bile into the stools and out of the body. Glutathione is also powerful enough that it has been shown to help in the treatment of AIDS greatly. The body is going to get in touch with oxidants and toxins, the more we can deal with those the better our body will be at staying strong, this is why glutathione is so important.

9 Final Tips

Dr. Mark Hyman has given 9 tips to increase your Glutathione levels. Check them out!

1. Consume sulfur-rich foods. The main ones in the diet are garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.).

2. Try bioactive whey protein. This is great source of cysteine and the amino acid building blocks for glutathione synthesis. As you know, I am not a big fan of dairy, but this is an exception — with a few warnings. The whey protein MUST be bioactive and made from non-denatured proteins (“denaturing” refers to the breakdown of the normal protein structure). Choose non-pasteurized and non-industrially produced milk that contains no pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Immunocal is a prescription bioactive non-denatured whey protein that is even listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference.

3. Exercise boosts your glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body’s own antioxidant defenses. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day of vigorous aerobic exercise like walking or jogging, or play various sports. Strength training for 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.

One would think it would be easy just to take glutathione as a pill, but the body digests protein — so you wouldn’t get the benefits if you did it this way. However, the production and recycling of glutathione in the body requires many different nutrients and you CAN take these. Here are the main supplements that need to be taken consistently to boost glutathione. Besides taking a multivitamin and fish oil, supporting my glutathione levels with these supplements is the most important thing I do every day for my personal health.

4. N-acetyl-cysteine. This has been used for years to help treat asthma and lung disease and to treat people with life-threatening liver failure from Tylenol overdose. In fact, I first learned about it in medical school while working in the emergency room. It is even given to prevent kidney damage from dyes used during x-ray studies.

5. Alpha lipoic acid. This is a close second to glutathione in importance in our cells and is involved in energy production, blood sugar control, brain health and detoxification. The body usually makes it, but given all the stresses we are under, we often become depleted.

6. Methylation nutrients (folate and vitamins B6 and B12). These are perhaps the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione. Methylation and the production and recycling of glutathione are the two most important biochemical functions in your body. Take folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate), B6 (in active form of P5P) and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin).

7. Selenium. This important mineral helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione.

8. A family of antioxidants including vitamins C and E (in the form of mixed tocopherols), work together to recycle glutathione.

9. Milk thistle (silymarin) has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels.

Sources:
http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/12/what-is-glutathione-and-how-do-i-get-more-of-it/
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/10/can-you-use-food-to-increase-glutathione-instead-of-supplements.aspx
http://glutathionepro.com/what-is-l-glutathione/
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-717-GLUTATHIONE.aspx?activeIngredientId=717&activeIngredientName=GLUTATHIONE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hufj2AIPxQ


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Hats Off to Maple Syrup For Its Many Health Benefits

by Heather Dale    SEPTEMBER 2, 2011

When you need a sweetener, what do you turn to? Honey, agave nectar, or maybe just plane ole sugar? I’m far from being this “freaky” eater, but my sweetener of choice is organic, Grade A maple syrup. Aside from smothering pancakes and waffles in this delicious brown syrup, maple syrup is a very versatile sweetener. I like adding it to yogurt, oatmeal, or apple sauce, but you can also use it in dressings for salads, in fish or chicken dishes, or in a granola parfait, or roast some almonds in maple syrup and spicy cinnamon for a light, healthy snack. These maple syrup recipe ideas are sure to inspire you.

Pure maple syrup tastes great, and it offers a myriad of health benefits. Here are just a few:

It’s an antioxidant powerhouse. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that maple syrup is filled with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may help prevent several chronic and inflammatory diseases like diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s. It also comes packed with phenolics — the beneficial antioxidant compounds in maple syrup — that may help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels balanced since phenolics inhibit the enzymes that are involved in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar.


Here are more reasons why it’s good for us.

It settles digestion issues. Try swapping out sugar in baked-good recipes for maple syrup, and you may find that the usual gas and bloating you normally experience after consuming processed sweeteners is no longer an issue. If you do replace sugar with maple syrup, just be sure to reduce the amount of liquid the recipe calls for by about a half-cup.

It helps with muscle recovery. Real maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, which helps repair muscle and cell damage; it also keeps bones strong and blood sugar levels normal.

It is filled with important nutrients. Maple syrup contains essential nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium. Zinc not only supports reproductive health, but it also helps to keep your white blood cells up, which assist in the protection against colds and viruses.

As sweet as all of this sounds, keep in mind that at the end of the day, maple syrup is still just liquid sugar. Too much sugar intake can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, unhealthy blood levels of fat and cholesterol, and high blood pressure, so regardless of its health benefits, be sure to use maple syrup in moderation.


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10 Benefits and Uses For Miso

a Care2 favorite by Delia Quigley

I often introduce miso in my cooking classes or recommend its use for healing diets. As it is not a common American food staple, I often find that people are reluctant to pay for a tub of miso that will sit in the back of their refrigerator for most of eternity. Coming to embrace the benefits of serving miso soup on a daily basis can take time for some, unless it is a necessary part of a diet meant for healing purposes. Otherwise, what to do with the soybean paste with Japanese credentials?

Miso is a paste made from soybeans, sea salt, and koji (a mold starter), and often mixed with rice, barley or other grains. The mixture is allowed to ferment for 3 months to 3 years, which produces an enzyme-rich food. The binding agent zybicolin in miso is effective in detoxifying and eliminating elements that are taken into the body through industrial pollution, radioactivity and artificial chemicals in the soil and food system.

Miso has been a staple in Chinese and Japanese diets dating back approximately 2,500 years. Today, most of the Japanese population begins their day with a warm bowl of miso soup believed to stimulate the digestion and energize the body. When purchasing miso, avoid the pasteurized version and spend your money on the live enzyme-rich product, which is also loaded with beneficial microorganisms.

The 10 scientifically researched benefits of eating miso

1. Contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.

2. Stimulates the secretion of digestive fluids in the stomach.

3. Restores beneficial probiotics to the intestines.

4. Aids in the digestion and assimilation of other foods in the intestines.

5. Is a good vegetable-quality source of B vitamins (especially B12).

6. Strengthens the quality of blood and lymph fluid.

7. Reduces risk for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.

8. Protects against radiation due to dipilocolonic acid, an alkaloid that chelates heavy metals and discharges them from the body.

9. Strengthens the immune system and helps to lower LDL cholesterol.

10. High in antioxidants that protects against free radicals.


Miso has a wonderful sweet/salty flavor that can be used in a wide variety of recipes. The color of miso can vary from light yellow, good to use in a sweet miso soup during warm weather, to a deep dark brown with earthy tones and hearty flavor, which can be cooked with cubed root vegetables, wakame sea vegetable and dark leafy greens during the colder months. When cooking with miso use just enough to enhance flavor and avoid overpowering the dish with a strong salty taste.

10 Ways to Use Miso in Recipes

1. Use light colored miso as a dairy substitute in place of milk, butter, and salt in creamed soups.

2. Puree with tofu and lemon juice in place of sour cream.

3. Blend light miso with vinegar, olive oil and herbs for salad dressing.

4. Use unpasteurized miso in marinades to help tenderize animal protein and breakdown vegetable fiber.

5. Use the dark rice or barley miso, thinned with cooking water as a sauce for water sauteed root vegetables or winter squash.

6. Use dark miso in a vegetable-bean casserole to supply plenty of high quality protein.

7. Make cheese for pizza and wraps with yellow miso and firm tofu.

8. Make a spread using white miso, peanut butter and apple juice to thin.

9. Make a pate with tofu, garlic, white miso, tahini, lemon juice and dulse flakes.

10. Add miso to dipping sauce for spring rolls, norimake rolls or raw vegetables.

Be careful not to get carried away and use miso in everything. Your body will respond to the excess salty taste with cravings for sweets, liquids and fruit. It is suggested that the amount of miso used should not exceed 2 teaspoons per person per day.

source: www.care2.com

 


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Chia Seeds – The Miracle Food

Posted By admin On Sunday, September 29, 2013  

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is a blooming plant that belongs to the family Lamiaceae ( mint ).

It is believed to have originated in southern Mexico and Central America, where the seed played an important role in the diet of the Mayans and Aztecs .

Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts

Nowadays, the popularity of chia seeds grows due to its high nutritional value. Chia seed is a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber.

Chia contains 5 times more calcium than milk, three times more iron than spinach, 3 times more antioxidants than blueberries  and 2 times more potassium than bananas.

In addition to that, chia seed is the richest source of essential fatty acids such as omega -3 and omega – 6.

By adding just two tablespoons of chia seeds into your daily diet you will provide about 7 grams of the recommended daily dose of fiber, 4 grams of proteins, 5 grams of omega -3 fatty acids, 18 % of the recommended daily dose of calcium, 35 % phosphorus, 24 % of magnesium, and 50 % of manganese.


Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

As partof the healthy diet regime, Chia seeds can help encouraging the immune and reproductive system, preventing cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol, triglycerides and high blood pressure.

A study done at the hospital St.Mihail in Toronto showed that participants who regularly ate chia seeds have a significant reduction of the blood pressure. Chia seeds can help patients with diabetes to utilize insulin more efficiently.

Eating Chia before meals reduces appetite, gives a feeling of satiety, increases the level of energy, which is the main reason why the seed is so popular for people who try to lose weight.

Incorporating chia seeds into your diet (on a regular basis), helps not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Studies show that chia seeds help patients with bipolar disorder and also in reducing depression and other negative feelings.

Chia seeds doesn’t have taste, but if you combine it with other food products you will get not only delicious, but also a visual delight.

It can be consumed raw or sprinkled on smoothie or juice, cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables.

Here is one healthy and natural energy Chia drink that you must try!

Chia Fresca

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 fresh lemon (squeezed) or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
  • healthy sweetener to taste

Mix well the lemonade and the stevia, add chia seeds and stir nicely. Then allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Chia seeds will absorb the water and become jelly-like.
Relax and enjoy ! 


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10+ Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati    October 9, 2013
  
October, November and December are all prime pumpkin months in the U.S. and soon enough, people will be carving up pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, homemade pies and pumpkin bakes! But before you prepare your pumpkin as a decoration, dessert or dinner, remember to save your seeds. If you simply scoop out and compost your pumpkin/squash seeds you could be throwing out a heap of great nutrients and their inherent plant-based health benefits.

Vitamins, minerals and other important phytonutrients in pumpkin seeds*:

–   Manganese
–   Tryptophan
–   Magnesium
–   Phosphorus
–   Copper
–   Zinc
–   Iron

* Pumpkin seeds are either an excellent or very good source of all of these nutrients and vitamins. There are many other nutrients, minerals and vitamins present in pumpkin seeds that are not listed here.

 

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:

Tryptophan: Helps fight depression (converted into serotonin and niacin).

Glutamate (needed to create GABA): Anti-stress neurochemical, helps relieve anxiety and other related conditions.

Zinc: Boosts immune function and fights osteoporosis.

Phytosterols: Reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and raise HDL (the good kind). May also be effective in the prevention of cancer.


Rich in Antioxidants: Pumpkin seeds have a diverse range of antioxidants in them. These include, but are not limited to:

-Vitamins: Pumpkin seeds contain E in a variety of forms: Alpha-tocomonoenol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol and gamma-tocomonoenol. Having so many forms of Vitamin E in one food is beneficial because some of the forms of Vitamin E are more bioavailable than others.

– Minerals: Pumpkin seeds also contain mineral antioxidants like zinc and manganese.

– Phenolic antioxidants: Pumpkin seeds include phenolic antioxidants like the following acids: hydroxybenzoic, ferulic, protocatechuic, caffeic, coumaric, sinapic, vanillic, and syringic acid.

– Other antioxidant phytonutrients: Pumpkin seeds contain beneficial lignans including: lignans pinoresinol, lariciresinol and medioresinol.

Antimicrobial Properties: According to whfoods.com, “Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial—and especially anti-viral— properties.”

Diabetes Support: Preliminary studies have suggested that ground pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil may improve insulin regulation and help protect the kidneys of those with diabetes.

Cancer Prevention: Because of pumpkin seeds’ rich antioxidant profile (and thus their potential to reduce oxidative stress) they may help decrease our risk of cancer. Preliminary studies have focused specifically on the lignans in pumpkin seeds, and their potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.


Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): Pumpkin seed extracts and oils are used in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) (A non-cancer enlargement of the prostate gland). U.S. Studies have shown a beneficial link between nutrients in pumpkin seeds (pumpkin seed oil extract), and treating BPH. These nutrients include phytosterols, lignans, and zinc, among others.

Protein: Along with all the beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants in pumpkin seeds, they are also a rich source of protein! One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 9.35 grams of protein.

How to use pumpkin seeds:

–   With any nut or seed a little goes a long way (remember it contains the building blocks to create a whole new plant!)
–   Enjoy the whole kernels on their own, raw or lightly roasted. (This way you get the complete package of nutrients.)
–   Sprinkle some seeds on top of your cereal or granola in the morning.
–   Enjoy them with your evening salad.
–   Throw shelled seeds into a smoothie (as long as you have a good blender.)
–   Take a small handful of pumpkin seeds mixed with some dried fruit along for a hike.
–   Sprinkle on top of your homemade bread (or mix it into the dough) before baking.

There are many ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds, so experiment and enjoy!

Sources:   whfoods   Huffington Post   Wikipedia


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5 Natural Ways To Reduce Inflammation In Your Body

By Margaret Wertheim   May 3, 2013

Inflammation is associated with some of the worst health problems out there including heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. While acute inflammation is a helpful process for the body when you have an injury such as cutting your finger or spraining your ankle, chronic inflammation is detrimental. Here are some easy ways to adjust your diet to decrease inflammation and improve your overall health:

1. Make sure to get your omega-3 fatty acids.

EPA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, fish oil, and algae-based supplements along with DHA, has anti-inflammatory properties. Unfortunately, plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed and walnuts provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which does not have anti-inflammatory properties until it’s converted by your body to EPA and only a very small amount of ALA gets converted. To truly reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s best to consume EPA directly by eating fish, taking fish oil, or an algae-based EPA and DHA supplement.

2. Avoid omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats.

Omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation in the body through the production of inflammatory compounds. Most people eat way too many omega-6 fats, which you will find in corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils. Another type of pro-inflammatory fats are trans fats, found in any products with “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list. They are usually found in baked goods, shortening, and margarines.


3. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates contribute to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels, which may cause and exacerbate inflammation. In addition, sugar and refined carbs also contribute to weight gain and can make it more difficult to lose weight. Excess body fat is another major contributor to inflammation.

4. Eat antioxidant-rich foods.

Free radicals are highly reactive compounds that can damage the cells of your body and create and contribute to chronic inflammation. Antioxidants are able to neutralize these free radicals to reduce inflammation. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E as well as the colorful pigments of fruits and vegetables.

5. Make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with several inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis, though it’s specific role has not yet be elucidated. The two main sources of vitamin D are the sun and food. Many people, especially those who live further away from the equator, don’t get much sun exposure especially during the winter. When you aren’t making enough vitamin D in your skin from sun exposure, make sure to include food food sources of vitamin D like fish and egg yolks and foods that are fortified with vitamin D like almond or coconut milk.


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Foods that can fix your health problems

By Sarah Richards, Health.com     Fri August 30, 2013

A regular breakfast of 100% whole grain cereal with fruit and low-fat milk is great. for maintaining mood balance.

(CNN) – Can’t sleep? Got the PMS blues? Before you open your medicine cabinet, step into your kitchen.

“Real, whole, fresh food is the most powerful drug on the planet,” says the author of “The Blood Sugar Solution” cookbook, Dr. Mark Hyman. “It regulates every biological function of your body.” In fact, recent research suggests not only what to eat but when to eat it for maximum benefit. Check out the latest smart food fixes.

Problem: I’m bloated

Food fix #1: Dig in to juicy fruits and vegetables

When you’re feeling puffy, you may not want to chow down on watery produce, but consuming foods like melon, cucumber and celery is an excellent way to flush out your system, says the author of the book “Food & Mood,” dietician Elizabeth Somer.
5 foods you should never eat

“We need sodium to survive,” she explains, “but because we often eat too much of it, our bodies retain water to dilute the blood down to a sodium concentration it can handle. Eating produce with high water content helps the dilution process, so your body can excrete excess sodium and water.”

Food fix #2: Load up on enzymes

Bloating can also be a sign that your intestines are out of whack. “If you’re irregular or experience gas right after eating, papaya can help,” explains the author of the book “Food as Medicine,” Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa. “Eating 1 cup several times a week helps rejuvenate the gastrointestinal system, thanks to papaya’s digestive enzyme papain, which breaks down protein.”

The fiber also helps push food through your intestines, improving regularity. Try a smoothie with papaya, pineapple (it also contains digestive enzymes), protein powder, ice and almond milk.

Problem: I’m on an emotional roller coaster

Food fix #1: Say yes to breakfast

“People who eat within an hour or two of waking up have a more even mood throughout the rest of the day and perform better at work,” Somer says. British researchers found that study participants who skipped their morning meal did worse on memory tests and were more tired by midday than those who had eaten.

The optimal breakfast includes a whole grain to supply glucose for your brain to run on, protein to satisfy hunger and keep your blood sugar levels steady and one or two antioxidant-rich fruits or vegetables. Somer’s suggestion: a 100% whole-grain cereal that contains at least 4 grams of fiber and no more than 5 grams of sugar, eaten with fruit and low-fat milk.

Food fix #2: Stock up on selenium

A lesser-known trace mineral, selenium – found in Brazil nuts, tuna, eggs and turkey – helps keep you on an even keel. Women whose diets are deficient in the mineral are more prone to feeling depressed.

Why? Selenium is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones, which govern metabolism and mood. You don’t need much, though: The recommended daily allowance for selenium is 55 micrograms, and you can get that amount by eating one 3-ounce can of tuna.

Problem: My skin is acting up

The food fix: Eat your onions

Battling breakouts? The antioxidants in onions and other sulfur-rich veggies tamp down the inflammation that leads to acne, says Dr. Valori Treloar, a dermatologist in Newton, Massachusetts, and co-author of the book “The Clear Skin Diet.” The sulfur in onions, leeks and scallions helps produce a detoxifying molecule called glutathione, which a 2011 study found to be lower in the skin of people who were prone to breakouts.

This antioxidant is most potent when eaten in raw or lightly cooked foods. Try adding chopped scallions to your salad or stirring diced onions into your salsa or stir-fry. Taking folate and vitamin B6 and B12 supplements may also boost glutathione levels.


Problem: I get crazy-bad jet lag

The food fix: Don’t snack on the plane

It’s no fun spending the first days of your vacation trying to acclimate. One surprising secret to avoiding the headaches, irritability and upset stomach of jet lag is to fast for several hours before arriving at your destination. That’s because when you eat influences your circadian rhythms, in much the same way that exposure to light and dark does.

Let’s say you’re headed to France. On the plane, steer clear of most food (but drink plenty of water), set your watch to Paris time and eat a high-protein breakfast at 7 a.m., no matter where you are on your trip.

“The fast depletes your body’s energy stores, so when you eat protein the next morning, you get an extra kick and help your body produce waking-up chemicals,” explains Dave Baurac, spokesperson for the Argonne National Laboratory, a research institute based in Illinois.

Problem: I’m tossing and turning

Food fix #1: Have a late-night morsel

We’ve all been told to avoid eating too close to bedtime, but applying this rule too strictly could actually contribute to sleep woes. As anyone who has tried a fast knows, hunger can make you feel edgy, and animal studies confirm this.

“You need to be relaxed to fall asleep, and having a grumbling stomach is a distraction,” explains Kelly Glazer Baron, an instructor of neurology at Northwestern University and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “It makes it hard to get to sleep and wakes you up at night.”

The trick is to tame the munchies 30 minutes to an hour before bed with a small snack that includes complex carbohydrates. “Since you metabolize sugars more slowly at night, a complex carb like whole wheat is a better choice,” Baron says. “It keeps your blood sugar levels even.” Try cheese and whole-wheat crackers or almonds and a banana.

Food fix #2: Add cherries

You can boost your snack’s snooze power by washing it down with a glass of tart cherry juice. A recent study of folks with chronic insomnia found that those who downed 8 ounces of juice made from tart Montmorency cherries (available in most grocery stores) one to two hours before bedtime stayed asleep longer than those who drank a placebo juice.

These sour powerhouses – which you can eat fresh, dried or juiced – possess anti-inflammatory properties that may stimulate the production of cytokines, a type of immune-system molecule that helps regulate sleep. Tart cherries are also high in melatonin, a hormone that signals the body to go to sleep and stay that way.

Problem: I have wicked PMS

The food fix: Keep an eye on iron

You might be more susceptible to the monthly blahs if you have low levels of iron, according to a new study. Researchers looked at the diets of 3,000 women over 10 years and found that those who consumed more than 20 milligrams of the mineral daily had about a 40 percent lower risk of PMS than those who ingested less than 10 milligrams.

You can get almost your full daily dose by eating 1 cup of an iron-fortified cereal; other great sources include white beans (4 milligrams per one-half cup) and sautéed fresh spinach (3 milligrams per one-half cup).

The beta-carotene found in carrots is one of the most potent carotenoids and protects your skin from the sun.

Problem: I’m so sensitive to the sun

The food fix: Pile on protective produce

While you still need the usual sun protection (SPF 30 sunscreen as well as a wide-brimmed hat), you may be able to bolster your skin’s own resistance to UV rays with what you eat. The details: Micronutrients called carotenoids in fruits and vegetables protect the skin against sunburn, recent science shows.

“Most topical sunscreens work by filtering out the UV component from the solar light that reaches the skin,” explains researcher Wilhelm Stahl, a professor of biochemistry at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. “But these micronutrients, if you have enough in your system, actually absorb UV light and prevent damage.”

The most potent carotenoids are the beta-carotene found in carrots, endive and spinach – and the lycopene in watermelon and tomatoes. Keep in mind that the effect isn’t instantaneous; you would need to eat a carotenoid-rich diet for at least 10 to 12 weeks in order to get the full benefit, says Stahl. Still, there is a reward for your patience: skin fortified to fend off sun damage and wrinkles.


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Fruit Isn’t Making You Fat, and Here’s Why

June 27, 2013    By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

Sugar has been making headlines as of late, with celebrities and trainers alike singling it out as one of the key culprits in America’s obesity crisis. Trouble is, fruit–because it contains natural sugar–sometimes gets lumped in with foods like baked goods, candy, and sugary drinks, and as a result, unnecessarily shunned. But in my private practice, I still recommend eating fruit–even for clients trying to lose weight.

Here are five important reasons to continue to enjoy cherries, berries, melon and other juicy gems, as part of a healthy weight loss strategy.

Fruit eaters tend to weigh less
Even I, a nutritionist, was surprised by the research, which has found that people who eat more servings of fruit have lower BMIs, even more so than veggie eaters. Scientists aren’t sure why, but it may be because fruits tend to replace higher calorie goodies and treats, whereas veggies tend to be add-ons. In other words, you’re much more likely to choose an apple (rather than broccoli) instead of a cookie. And that swap-out strategy can result in significant calorie savings over time. Even just once a week, reaching for one cup of fresh blueberries rather than a blueberry muffin would save 19,552 calories in a year’s time, enough to shed at least five pounds of body fat. In addition, emerging research indicates that consuming more produce is tied to smaller waist measurements, and lower body fat percentages, even without taking in fewer calories, meaning that the quality of your calories is key.

Fruit is packed with water and fiber
Apart from impressive nutrients, fresh fruit is high in water and fiber, so its naturally occurring sugar is less concentrated than other sweet foods. For example, one cup of whole strawberries naturally contains about 7 grams of sugar, compared to about 13 grams in one tablespoon of maple syrup, 17 in a tablespoon of honey, 21 grams in 17 gummy bears, or 30 in a 12 ounce can of cola. And even in fruits that pack more sweetness per bite, the sugar is bundled with valuable protective substances. Mango, for example, has been shown to prevent or stop the growth of breast and colon cancer cells.

Fruit has awesome antioxidants
While you’ll find some of the same vitamins and minerals in both veggies and fruits, eliminating the latter altogether would cut out a broad spectrum of antioxidants that are unique to specific fruits or fruit “families.” In other words, the antioxidants found in stone fruits (cherries, peaches, plums) differ from those found in pomes (apples, pears), citrus (oranges, grapefruits, tangerines), melon (honeydew, cantaloupe), berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries), and tropical fruits (banana, mango, papaya). That’s key, because different types of antioxidants do different things. One study, in female volunteers, found that eating a wider array of the exact same amount of produce for two weeks resulted in significantly less oxidation, a marker for premature aging and disease. In other words, even at the same quantity, a greater diversity offers more benefits. If you think of antioxidants as “cell defenders,” it just makes sense–smaller numbers of troops from a larger number of armed services–each with distinct abilities–offer more overall protection. To reap the rewards, the smartest strategy is to not only eat fruit, but mix it up–rather than munching an apple every day, alternate the types of fruit you buy, as well as the colors.


Fruit has beauty benefits
More good news about those aforementioned antioxidants–the rewards of consuming a wider assortment can literally be seen in your skin. One recent study tracked the diets of 35 people, took photos of them, and asked others to rate the pics. Those who ate an average of 2.9 more portions of produce daily, including both veggies and fruits, were rated as healthier looking, and those who downed an extra 3.3 portions per day were ranked as more attractive. Researchers say antioxidants are the explanation–in addition to affecting skin pigment, they also improve circulation, which boosts blood flow to the skin surface, imparting a natural glow. Antioxidants also fend off compounds that damage skin from the outside in, including free radicals produced by sun exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke.

Fruit provides endurance-boosting energy
If you’re active, consuming fruit pre-workout is a great way to fuel exercise and energize your cells. One study, which compared bananas to a sports drink during intense cycling, found that in addition to providing antioxidants and nutrients not found in sports drinks, bananas triggered a greater shift in dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in movement and mood (some research also indicates that a low dopamine level may be tied to obesity). Other studies, that compared raisins to sports supplements, found that shrunken grapes were just as effective at supporting endurance, but raisins provide bonus nutrients. These include antioxidants, as well as boron, a mineral that helps keep bones strong, and inulin, a fiber-like carbohydrate that acts as a prebiotic, a substance that helps support the growth of probiotics, the “good” bacteria in your GI tract that boost immunity and keep your digestive system healthy. I guess what I’m getting at here is there’s far more to fruit than sugar alone. And if you’re active, a moderate amount of fruit sugar will fuel your cells, not fatten them.

Bottom line: with so many benefits, fruit is definitely worth including in your daily diet. But that doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited quantities. Because fruits do pack about three to four times as much carbohydrate as veggies, your daily intake should be based on your body’s energy needs. For most women, a healthy goal is two daily servings, with one serving being one cup fresh, about the size of a tennis ball. In my newest book S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches, I include one serving of fruit in each breakfast meal and one in every snack. For most of my clients, this is the perfect amount to reap fruits’ nutritional and health rewards, without interfering with weight loss.

Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.