Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Top 10 Immune-Boosting Foods

Keeping your immune system strong and healthy
is one of the essential keys to great health.
Fortunately, doing so is easier than you think.

The immune system is a complex system of organs, cells and proteins that work together to help protect us against foreign invaders, including: viruses, bacteria, fungi and other foreign substances we may come into contact with. We rarely give it a second thought until we’re burning up with a fever or fighting some form of serious infection.

There are many ways to keep your immune system strong and healthy, including:

  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting sufficient sleep
  • Reducing stress as much as possible
  • Washing hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Thoroughly cooking any meat, fish, or poultry in your diet
  • Eating a diet rich in immune-boosting fruits and vegetables

BEST IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOODS

Most fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods, boost the immune system, but some are better at it than others. Some of the best immune-boosting foods include:

Beets

Rich in the immune-boosting mineral, zinc, beets along with their leafy greens, are a great addition to your diet. Beets are also a rich source of prebiotics, the foods eaten by probiotics, or beneficial microbes, in your intestines. By eating more beets you’ll feed the healthy bacteria and other beneficial microbes that give your gut and immune health a boost. Add them to fresh juice, grate and add to salads and sandwiches, or roast and enjoy on their own.

Blueberries

Blueberries don’t just taste amazing, they are packed with nutrients known as flavonoids that give them their gorgeous color and delicious taste. Research in the journal Advances in Nutrition shows that flavonoids boost the immune system. Eat fresh blueberries on their own or atop salads or added to smoothies. Frozen blueberries that have been slightly thawed taste like blueberry sorbet and make a delicious dessert.

Blueberries

 

Citrus Fruits

Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruit are excellent sources of immune-boosting vitamin C, making them excellent choices to include in your daily diet. Juice them or add them to salads or salad dressings, or in the case of grapefruit and oranges, eat them on their own as a quick snack.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil contain plentiful amounts of the essential fatty acids known as Omega 3s that give your immune system a boost and help to keep it functioning well on a regular basis. Add flaxseeds or oil to your smoothie or top previously-cooked vegetables with a splash of flax oil and sea salt.

Garlic

Rich in immune-boosting allicin, garlic helps to stave off colds and flu by giving our immune system a boost. Cooking reduces the potency of garlic but both cooked and raw garlic are still worth eating on a daily basis. Add some garlic to your soups, stews, chili and, of course, combined with chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and a touch of salt for a delicious hummus.

Kefir

A beverage similar to yogurt but thinner, kefir comes from the Turkish word “keif” which means “good feeling” probably because let’s face it: we feel better when we’re not sick. Kefir offers immune-boosting health benefits due to its many different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Make sure the one you choose contains “live cultures.”

Kimchi

The national dish of Korea, kimchi is a spicy condiment that has been found in research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food to offer immune-boosting benefits.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain plentiful amounts of the immune-boosting fats known as Omega 3s, along with the essential immune health mineral, zinc, making them an excellent choice to include in your diet. Throw them on top of your salads, grind them and add them to flour for baking, or snack on them as is.

Walnuts

Raw, unsalted walnuts are rich sources of immune-boosting Omega 3 fatty acids. If you don’t like the taste of walnuts, I urge you to try ones that are raw, unsalted and kept in the refrigerator section of your health food store since they are typically fresher than the ones found in packages in the center aisles of the grocery store. The bitter taste most people attribute to walnuts is actually a sign they have gone rancid. Fresh walnuts have a buttery and delicious taste.

Yogurt

Yogurt and vegan yogurt contain beneficial bacteria that boost your gut health, which in turn, boost your immune system health. Make sure the yogurt you select contains “live cultures.”

 

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook            August 1, 2018

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.  Follow her on Twitter.

source: www.care2.com
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Foods That Can Suppress Appetite, Aid Weight Loss

Whether it’s turning to supplements, juices or new challenging workouts, it seems everyone is looking for the magic weight loss bullet. But sometimes, losing weight may just be a matter of tweaking your diet – and eating foods that work for you, not against you.

Though none of these foods will work magic by themselves, when they are included as part of a healthy weight-loss diet, they may give you an edge in controlling hunger and shedding unwanted pounds.

These satiety-boosting foods will keep you winning at weight loss.

Greek or Icelandic yogurt

Greek and Icelandic yogurt (both strained to remove the liquid whey) are thicker, creamier and richer in protein than their regular yogurt counterparts, making them one of the best snacks for curbing appetite.

It’s the protein that keeps us feeling full. A 5.3-ounce container of plain nonfat Greek yogurt contains 15 grams of protein; the same portion of plain nonfat Icelandic-style skyr yogurt provides 17 grams of protein. By comparison, a regular fat-free plain yogurt contains 7 grams of protein.

Research suggests that protein is even more satiating than fat or carbohydrates. Therefore, it can be a strategic nutrient player in terms of appetite control and weight loss.

In one study, when individuals were given the same number of calories (and the same percentage of carbohydrates), they reported feeling less hungry when the percentage of protein was increased from 15% to 30% of calories. Even more interesting is the fact that when they were allowed to eat as many calories as they wanted on the 30% protein diet, they ended up consuming a total of 441 fewer calories than when they started, and they lost an average of 11 pounds.

Other foods that pack protein include cottage cheese, milk, eggs, fish, lean poultry and meats, peanut butter, lentils and soybeans.

Avocados

You may know that avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy fats. And with 9 calories per gram – more than double the calories per gram of carbohydrates or protein — fat fills us up fast, which can be beneficial in controlling hunger.

Avocados are rich in a fat known as oleic acid, which offers an added benefit in terms of the fruit’s effects on appetite.

Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid also found in high quantities in olive and canola oils. In the body, it is converted into a compound known as OEA (oleoylethanolamide).

Weight loss can be tied to when, not just what, you eat

One recent study found that when individuals consumed high-oleic-acid vegetable oils with their meals, their levels of OEA increased, and this ultimately decreased hunger and reduced calorie intake at the next meal.

“Freshly formed OEA travels to the nerve fibers that lie beneath the gut lining and tells them to send a satiety signal to the brain,” said Daniele Piomelli, professor of anatomy and neurobiology, pharmacology and biological chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, who has studied OEA’s role in appetite reduction.

“OEA reduces appetite and lowers body weight in obese animals and possibly people,” she explained. “But obese people cannot make it, so it has to come from outside.”

Aside from avocados and certain oils, top sources of oleic acid include olives, nuts and seeds. Just be sure to watch portions of these high-fat foods.

Red chili peppers

Capsaicin is the plant compound in red chili peppers that gives them their “hot” sensation. But the burn can work both ways, as these heat-packed peppers can keep calories in check, which is key to weight loss.

Research suggests that capsaicin may help curb hunger. In one small study, when individuals consumed red pepper with their breakfast, they experienced a decrease in appetite before lunch and consumed less protein and fat during lunch. Another study found that adding red pepper to an appetizer significantly reduced the total amount of calories and carbohydrates consumed during lunch and during a snack served hours later.

On the other hand, the beneficial effects may be greatest when one first starts consuming red pepper, as its effects may decrease over time. Another study found that those who don’t consume red pepper regularly experienced a decrease in their desire to eat fatty and salty foods when they do.

How does it work? “Spicy red peppers turn on receptors in our mouths that cause us to feel burn. This gives a ‘kick’ to the system that triggers our bodies’ fight-or-flight response,” said study author Mary-Jon Ludy, associate professor of clinical nutrition at Bowling Green State University Activating the sympathetic nervous system in that way increases satiety and energy expenditure.

Interestingly, when you remove the taste response part (by swallowing the pepper in a capsule, for example), the weight management effects aren’t as big, Ludy explained.

If spicy foods seem a bit intimidating, start slowly. One of the easiest ways to incorporate red chili peppers into your diet is to add red pepper flakes to chicken dishes, pasta, pizza or other foods you may be inclined to overeat.

Barley

Though it’s rich in carbohydrates, barley is another natural appetite suppressant, as the grain contains a unique combination of dietary fibers that make it extra filling.

In one study, individuals ate bread made out of barley kernels for three days at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Researchers found that the participants experienced improved appetite control and a boost in metabolism for up to 14 hours after their last meal, along with a decrease in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Barley can be enjoyed in soup or as a hot cereal for breakfast. You can also use it in place of rice in risottos and pilafs.

Are potatoes healthy?

“Test subjects experienced higher satiety and less hunger and willingness to eat,” said study author Anne Nilsson, an associate professor in the Food for Health Science Centre at Lund University in Sweden.

According to Nilsson, when the fibers in barley – specifically betaglucans and arabinoxylans – reach the gut, they are metabolized by gut bacteria, and this increases levels of hormones that regulate appetite.

potatoes

Soup

When soup is eaten as appetizer, it can decrease hunger, increase fullness and reduce the total calories consumed for the entire meal.

In one study, participants got four soups with the same ingredients in different forms: separate broth and vegetables, chunky vegetable soup, chunky-pureed vegetable soup and pureed vegetable soup.
Researchers found that varying the form of soup did not significantly affect satiety or food intake: As long as soup was eaten before an entrée of cheese tortellini, individuals consumed 20% fewer calories for their entire lunch compared with when skipping soup.

What’s so special about soup? Thanks to its high water content, it’s got low energy (calorie) density. That means you can fill up on a big portion and feel full without consuming the heavy calorie load that typically comes with large portion sizes.

The new secret to losing weight? Water

“Binding water into foods slows down gastric emptying, which means your stomach stays fuller for longer,” said study co-author Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University and author of the “Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.”

And as an ingredient, few that are more waistline-friendly than water. “The most effective way to reduce calories is to bulk up food with water. You get lots of volume without calories,” Rolls said.
Still, the total amount of calories in soup counts. A lobster bisque may sound delicious, but the calories add up quickly, so a smaller portion may be necessary to keep calories in check.

“If you’re filling up with soup first, you don’t want it to have many calories,” Rolls said. “A soup that is less than 150 calories works well.” Chicken vegetable, red lentil or chilled cucumber soup are all good choices.

Here’s more soup for thought: Research has suggested that eating soup as a snack can help keep hunger at bay. “If you choose soup rather than energy-dense snack foods like chips and crackers, you’ll do better with your weight management,” Rolls said. “Aim for 100 calories if you are just a little hungry or 200 calories if you have a big case of the munchies.”

Vegetable salad

Similar to soup, eating a salad before a meal has been associated with increased satiety and decreased calorie intake.

One study showed that when the first course of a meal is a large portion of a low-calorie salad – with iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, fat-free dressing and light mozzarella cheese – people are more satiated and eat fewer calories for the entire meal compared with when skipping the salad.

Is sushi healthy?

Specifically, when individuals ate three cups of salad before having their pasta, they ate 12%, or 107, fewer calories for the entire meal compared with when they skipped the salad.

Another study found that eating a low-calorie salad with a meal also helps reduce the amount of calories consumed – though people ate more vegetables when the salad was consumed before the meal.

Salads promote satiety because vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers have a high water content. Plus, you’re getting a healthy dose of fiber, which contributes to fullness. And though it may sound counterintuitive, fat-free dressing is not necessarily the best choice, as fat is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

“A salad should be primarily vegetables. … You can use regular salad dressing, but don’t have it swimming in it,” Rolls said.

To keep your salad calories in check, Rolls suggests avoiding fatty meats and instead sprinkling some nuts along with some beans to boost protein and fiber. You can also try topping your salad with popcorn in place of oily croutons.

Spinach

Spinach is a source of thylakoids, the chlorophyll-bearing parts of green leaves. But aside from their role in photosynthesis, research suggests that thylakoids may be helpful in reducing the amount of food we eat.

One study found that when individuals consumed a high-fat meal with the addition of thylakoids, their levels of the satiety hormone CCK increased, along with levels of leptin, the hormone that signals you to “stop” eating. They also experienced a decrease in levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite.

Fill your plate with superfoods

Another study found similar results when thylakoids were added to carbohydrate-rich meals.”They suppress the urge for sweets and the urge for snacking,” said study author Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, professor of appetite control at Lund University in Sweden.

Erlanson-Albertsson’s research has also shown that consuming thylakoid-rich spinach extract contributes to weight loss. “For those who got thylakoids, it was much easier to abstain from snacking, and they therefore lost more body weight,” she said.

The amount of thylakoids used in the study corresponds to 100 grams of spinach, or about three cups of raw spinach. For a more concentrated source of spinach, include the leafy green as smoothie ingredient, or puree it to make a blended spinach soup.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is rich in two natural appetite suppressants: omega-3 fats and fiber. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed has 3 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of healthful fat; one tablespoon of ground flaxseed has 2 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of beneficial fat.

Fiber from flaxseed can keep us satisfied and full without contributing any calories. One study found that when individuals consumed flaxseed fiber as part of a drink or as a tablet after an overnight fast, it significantly suppressed appetite and reduced calorie intake during lunch.

Fiber offers a “bulking” effect, which contributes to its effects on satiety. This may help explain why high fiber intakes are associated with lower body weights. Additionally, the fat in flaxseed can help slow the rise in blood sugar when flax is consumed with carbohydrate-rich foods. Unlike the hunger and irritability that can follow rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes, steady blood sugar levels can have beneficial effects on appetite.

For a fast way to include flax in your diet, try adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your morning cereal or smoothie, or sprinkle it on top of yogurt. You can also use ground flaxseed to replace some of the flour in waffle or pancake mixes.

Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and health journalist.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN     Fri July 21, 2017
 
source: www.cnn.com


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9 Seeds You Should Be Eating

Chia Seeds

Chia has come a long way since it first sprouted out of funny pottery in TV commercials. Today, these seeds are best known as a super food, and with good reason. Just 1 ounce (that’s 2 tablespoons) has nearly 10 grams of fiber. Ground in a blender, chia seeds make the perfect crunchy topping for yogurt or vegetables. When you soak them in a liquid, such as juice or almond milk, they get soft and spoonable: a smart swap for pudding.

Wild Rice

Surprise! Wild rice isn’t rice at all — it’s actually a grass seed. It’s higher in protein than other whole grains and has 30 times more antioxidants than white rice. It also provides folate, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, and niacin. It cooks up tender and fluffy in a rice pilaf, and the warm grains are a hearty addition to green salads.

Pumpkin Seeds

If you’ve ever roasted a batch of these after carving your annual jack-o’-lantern, you know they make a great snack. And a healthy one, too. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, an important mineral that boosts your heart health, helps your body make energy, and powers your muscles. Eat them year-round as a soup or salad topper, with cereal, or in homemade trail mix.

Pomegranate Seeds

Also called arils, these are the sweet, jewel-like beads you strip from the inside of the fruit. They’re high in vitamin C and antioxidants. A full cup of pomegranate seeds has fewer than 150 calories, making it good for a light snack. Tossed in a salad or whole-grain dish, they add a juicy pop of flavor and color to your dinner plate.

Quinoa

If you’re looking for healthy sources of protein, quinoa has you covered. The grain-like seed packs 8 grams per cup. It cooks up like rice and can fill in for pasta and other grains in many of your favorite dishes. You can also use it as a gluten-free breading for dishes like chicken fingers. Make a batch instead of oatmeal for a breakfast porridge that will start your day with more protein, fiber, and iron.

Flax Seeds

Humans have been eating these for good health as far back as 9,000 B.C. If you don’t eat enough fish, adding flax to your diet can help you get omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats that are good for your heart. It’s the best plant source of this important nutrient, and it gives you a good dose of fiber, too. When the seeds are ground into flax meal, they may help lower blood pressure. Flax has a nice, nutty flavor. Add a scoop to oatmeal, your pancake batter, or salads.

Hemp Seeds

Their mild, nutty flavor pairs well with savory dishes. They also have plenty of protein: 2 tablespoons has 10 grams, even more than flax or chia seeds. Hemp is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. You can use the seeds whole, sprinkled on salads or whole-grain dishes, or look for hemp milk to replace your usual dairy.

Sunflower Seeds

These tender kernels are every bit as good for you as they are tasty. A 1-ounce serving has about half your daily vitamin E. They’re also high in healthy fats. Add them to your next batch of veggie burgers for extra flavor and nutrition. Sunflower seeds also make a great addition to your morning smoothie. And, of course, you can just keep snacking on them right out of the bag.

Sesame Seeds

Those little white dots on your hamburger bun aren’t just there for decoration. The sesame seed is one of the most versatile ingredients out there. Sesame oil, a smart pick for salad dressing, is high in a kind of fatty acid that may lower the bad type of cholesterol. Ground to a paste, they turn into tahini, a peanut butter sub for those with nut allergies. (It’s also a main ingredient in hummus.) The whole seeds are rich in fiber and protein. They add crunch and flavor to vegetable stir fries.

source: www.webmd.com


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Top 12 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Diana Herrington    May 3, 2015

Inflammation is an important immune system function. But, when out of control, it can cause serious damage. Inflammation has been linked to major diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and signs of aging. (To learn more about inflammation, read Inflammation: The Slow Silent Killer.)

There’s good news: many foods are naturally anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants found in foods protect your cells from the effects of free radicals and can help reduce an overabundance of inflammation in your body.

12 Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods

1. Beets, with their wonderful red color, are a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Beets can boost your energy and lower your blood pressure. A single serving of 500 ml. beetroot juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure by 10.4/8 mm. Beets are high in nitrates; this study showed that a serving of beetroot juice boosted athletic performance by 1-3 percent.

2. Blueberries have been found to reduce inflammation in many studies on animals; there are yet to be more studies done on humans. Studies do indicate that blueberries are good for brain health. It is best to eat organic berries since pesticides on berries are hard to wash away due to their size.

3. Broccoli is loaded with detoxifying antioxidants. Broccoli is a particularly rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, both anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. Broccoli even has a significant amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which is a well known anti-inflammatory.

4. Flaxseed oil has a balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  The omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. Research studies show lignans can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. It was also found that lignans may play an important role in increasing breast cancer survival. Three studies following thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer were published at PubMed Central®.

Tea

5. Green Tea contains many  anti-inflammatory flavonoids.  A 2002 study found the most abundant catechin of green tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) to be a potent anti-inflammatory compound with therapeutic potential. The antioxidant properties of green tea are so effective that studies have shown a 22 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, a 48 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer and an amazing 57 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

6. Garlic can help reduce inflammation. At Washington State University they found garlic to be 100 times more effective than two antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium — one of the causes of intestinal illness.

7. Ginger: Ginger helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Ginger tea is a great addition to any diet. A study published in the National Library of Medicine compared ginger extract to common pain killers and found ginger to be very effective in reducing pain.

8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil helps fight inflammation.

Olive oil is full of polyphenols which protect the heart and blood vessels from inflammation.

9. Onions contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant that can help your body fight inflammation.

Onions stimulate the respiratory tract and help expelling sputum (phlegm). The onion is also a proven antioxidant and may be helpful in treating certain cancers. To learn more about the supporting research done on onions, read: Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research.

10. Seaweed contains a complex carbohydrate called fucoidan that studies have shown to reduce inflammation. Seaweeds contain 14 times more calcium by weight than milk. Kelp, kombu, wakame and arame are good sources of seaweed.

11. Spinach is one of the highest nutrient-dense foods. It contains a unique mixture of phytonutrients, is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components which help protect against cellular damage.

12. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to be more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway at the molecular level.


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Top 10 Plant-Based Proteins To Add To Your Daily Routine

BY MEGHAN TELPNER    JANUARY 10, 2015

We all know protein is important. But even if we’re vaguely aware that we need to watch our protein intake, it’s easy to write it off as something only body builders or people on strict diets need to worry about. For women especially, it’s not uncommon to go without a good source of protein until the evening meal.

Protein is about more than building muscle. Each and every body part requires protein to function, from red and white blood cells to hair and skin (all made of protein.) Eating protein at every meal stabilizes our blood sugar levels, helping with everything from mood to weight management to nervous system health.

So how do we boost our protein intake without resorting to a big hunk o’ steak? It’s easy to get more protein in your diet without sacrificing your favorite meals. Power up your existing favourites with these easy-to-use plant-based sources of protein.

1. Fermented Protein Powder

Health Benefits: While regular vegan protein powders can sometimes be difficult to digest, the fermented variety supports healthy gut bacteria.

How To Use: Blend it in with your morning smoothie.

2. Ground Flaxseeds

Health Benefits: On top of being high in protein, flaxseeds are also a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Their fiber content and mucilaginous nature also make them great for gut health.

How To Use: Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto oatmeal or cooked veggies for a nutty flavour. You can also add ground flaxseeds to homemade baked goods. Recent studies have found that cooking flaxseeds leaves the omega-3 content intact.

3. Chia Seeds

Health Benefits: Like flaxseeds, chia seeds are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Because they can absorb so much liquid (becoming a chia “gel”), they can also help prevent dehydration.

How To Use: Chia seeds can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on porridge, used to make puddings, or even as a grain-free “breading” for chicken or fish (if you eat it!).

4. Sunflower Seeds

Health Benefits: High in protein, sunflower seeds are also anti-inflammatory, which can help with symptoms of conditions like asthma and arthritis.

How To Use: Sunflower seeds can be sprinkled on salads and porridge. Ground sunflower seeds can also be used in place of flour to dust meats or added to grain-free baking recipes.

Sesame Seeds – Ten Amazing Health Benefits Of This Super-Seed

5. Nut Butters

Health Benefits: High in healthy fats and protein, nuts are wonderful for balancing your blood sugar levels, and using all-natural nut butters is a great way to get them in your diet.

How To Use: Add a scoop of almond butter to your green smoothies, spread some cashew butter on a homemade gluten-free muffin or replace the maple syrup on your oatmeal with a spoonful of your favourite nut butter variety.

6. Spirulina

Health Benefits: While “green” isn’t normally the color you’d think of when it comes to protein, this algae is actually a 65% highly-digestible protein. It’s also incredibly high in calcium, making it great for bone health.

How To Use: Spirulina makes for awesome addition to a green smoothie. It can be strong-tasting, so start slow!

7. Hemp Seeds

Health Benefits: Hemp seeds are packed with protein. They also contain the ideal balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

How To Use: Hemp seeds can be added to smoothies or sprinkled on top of salads. They are soft and don’t need straining, so they’re great for making dairy-free seed milk, too.

8. Alfalfa Sprouts

Health Benefits: Sprouts are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, and alfalfa sprouts are made up of as much as 35% highly-digestible protein.

How To Use: Sprouts are an awesome salad-topper or great addition to any green smoothie. These are an easy one to grow yourself. Check out this handy sprouting tutorial.

9. Chickpea Flour

Health Benefits: Baked goods aren’t exactly the first thing protein source you’d think of, but swapping your usual flour for a high-protein, gluten-free one is a great way to add a protein boost to your day. Since chickpea flour is made of dried, ground chickpeas, it contains all the health benefits of these nutrient-packed beans, including antioxdiants, digestive support and blood sugar regulation.

How To Use: Chickpea flour works best in gluten-free baking recipes when it makes up no more than 25% of the total flour content, so mix and match it with other flours for best results.

10. Pumpkin Seeds

Health Benefits: Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, which key to nervous system health and is necessary for more than 300 chemical reactions in the human body. They’re also high in, you guessed it, protein!

How To Use: Pumpkin seeds can be added to your morning smoothie (use pumpkin seed butter if you don’t have a high-speed blender), used in baked goods or sprinkled on porridge. Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds also make an awesome salad topper!


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8 Best Superfoods To Boost Your Mood and Energy Levels

BY PAULINE HANUISE    JANUARY 3, 2013 

Discovering superfoods has changed my life and was one of my first steps towards my recovery from eating disorders, and becoming healthier and happier. Now, I have them every day and that’s helping me to stay healthy and have great energy.

But what are superfoods, exactly?

Superfoods are basically foods that are much richer in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, electrolytes and phytonutrients, but also much poorer in calories than any other usual foods. They nourish your body on a very deep level.

Here are my 8 favorite superfoods to boost you mood and energy levels:

1. Maca powder

Maca is a root that comes from Peru. You will mainly find it as powder because it doesn’t grow in all climates So, it is dried and powdered to be exported in the rest of the world.

Maca is amazing for balancing hormones and is beneficial to both women (relief of PMS symptoms and menopause) and men (enhanced fertility). Maca is also a great adaptogen that helps decrease stress levels, enhance strength, stamina and libido as well as providing great energy and endurance. It works with the rhythms and needs of your own body.

Maca is rich is calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vit B1, B2, C, E and iron. It contains lots of trace minerals like zink and selenium and is great for menstrual imbalances, lack of libido, infertility, menopausal symptoms and stress but also for conditions such as anemia, fatigue, depression, poor memory, tuberculosis and malnutrition.

I usually add maca powder to my breakfast muesli, smoothies, juices, chocolate, desserts, etc.

Try adding maca into your diet and notice the benefits. (You can find more recipes here.)

2. Pure, raw organic cacao

YES, chocolate is a superfood! But I am not talking about the sugary, packaged chocolate bars you find at the supermarket. I’m talking about the real, original, raw, pure cacao. You can use the beans, which are quite bitter or you can find it in powder in any health food store to make amazing desserts like my wonderful Love Chocolate Pie or Sour Cherry Fudge.

Pure, raw, organic cacao is just amazing and to be honest, I am enjoying it every single day in healthy, sugar free desserts or smoothies. Because what’s bad about chocolate? It’s actually sugar, dairy and other additives that have been added to packaged chocolate you buy in supermarkets.

Cacao itself is great for your health and is nature’s number-one weight loss and high energy food, according to David Wolfe, the cacao master (watch his TEDx talk about chocolate here).

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, copper, vit-C, phosphorus and more. It’s also rich in tryptophan, which is a powerful mood-enhancer, crucial in the production of serotonin, which diminishes anxiety and has the same impact as love in our brain. That’s why chocolate is often associated with love and Valentin’s day.

Add more raw, pure and organic cacao into your diet and start feeling amazing effects.

3. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a complete protein rich in fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and manganese. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5 grams of fiber. So adding a tablespoon of chia seeds to your breakfast (cereals, smoothies, juices, etc.) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

But chia seeds are also very rich in vitamin C, Omega 3 and 6 and antioxidants. They absorb lots of water (about 10 times their weight). When you soak chia seeds, they will absorb lots of liquid and create a gelatine-like substance, which will clean your digestive and immune systems by moving all the toxins and impurities to the bowels.

Soaking chia seeds in coconut water or mashed fresh fruit for breakfast is great and chia puddings are also delicious and great for your health.

chia

4. Coconut (water, flesh/meat, oil and butter)

This is one of my favorite foods and drinks ever. The water inside the young coconut is an isotonic drink full of electrolytes and can even be used in blood transfusions. It is rich in potassium, is ideal for proper rehydration and has strong antiviral properties.

It also contains kinetin, which keeps the coconut young despite the fact that it’s under the sun all day long. Kinetin has the exact same effect on our body and keeps you young.

(Amazing isn’t it?)

Coconut meat is high in protein and fiber and is a great saturated fat (essential to our body). It’s been proven that the saturated fat in coconut oil supports the immune system, thyroid gland, nervous system and skin.

Coconut oil and butter are also a very healthy saturated fat and are perfect for cooking as it’s the only oil/butter that stays stable when you heat it (even olive oil is not perfectly stable when you heat it). Thus, using coconut oil for cooking is much safer and healthier than any other oils.

Personally, I only use coconut oil for cooking. I still use olive, hemp and flax oil, which are all amazing oils, but only for dressings. I also use coconut oil on my skin, as moisturiser as coconut oil is actually a top beauty product… and at a very cheap price!

5. Spirulina

Spirulina is a Blue-Green Algae, which thrives in alkaline lakes. It contains over 65% of complete protein (300% more than fish, meat or poultry, with 0 cholesterol). Spirulina is also very rich in chlorophyl, iron (about 58 times more than spinach), antioxydants, beta-carotene and essential fatty acid Omega 3 and 6.

Spirulina really helped me to have more strength and energy to recover from bulimia. It also fixed my anemia and I was able to get rid of my unnatural iron supplements.

Today, I am taking 3 to 6 grams of spirulina every morning. You can choose to use powder – which is the most powerful way as it’s directly absorbable by your body – and add it to your juices and smoothies. If you don’t juice or blend every day, you can use tablets (I personally find that the taste is too strong to mix spirulina powder with water only). You can change your dosage regarding your levels of energy, activity and your diet.

Spirulina is also great for people who have digestive issues as it helps improving the absorption of nutrients by your body.

As you can see, I love spirulina and I really recommend you to give it a try. I am pretty sure you will notice great improvements in your energy in just a few days 😉

6. Goji berries

Goji berries are a berry-fruit found in Asia and America. They are usually dried before being exported elsewhere in the world.

Gojis are probably one of the most nutritious berry-fruit found on the planet. They are a complete source of protein and amino acids, contain lots of trace mineral as well as vit B1, B2, B6, E and C. They are extremely rich in antioxidant, which protects you from the ageing process and free radical. They are also well-known to improve vision, boost libido, sexual function and immune system. Sounds great, right?

You can consume them in many different ways. Add them to your smoothies, breakfast, salads or use them in your trail mix or in your awesome chocolate desserts 😉

7. Hempseeds and oil

Hempseeds and oil are one of the rare complete source of protein (33% to 37% of its weight) and are packed with life-force energy and enzymes. They are rich in Omega-3, 6 and 9 which are all very important for brain functions and considered a quality beautifying oil.

Hempseeds and oil are great to boost your immune system and bring balance in your essential fatty

acids, thus are also decreasing inflammation. They deliver a balanced array of amino acids and are rich in minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, sodium, silicon, copper and many others.

Use the oil in in your dressings and sprinkle the seeds on your cereals, fruits, smoothies or salads, they are delicious!

8. Flaxseeds and oil

Flaxseeds (or linseeds) and their oil are one of the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health as our body doesn’t produce them on its own. The problem in our societies is that the big majority of people consume too much Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough Omega-3. However, the balance between both is absolutely vital to be healthy. Flax seeds and oil is one of the rare food that contains Omega-6 and 3 (EFAs – essential fatty acids) in perfect balance for the human body.

EFTAs are vital for brain function, energy production, oxygen transfer and strengthen immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids help to fight and prevent inflammation and many degenerative conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, etc .

They are many other superfoods great to try and add to your diet such as acai, bee products (bee pollen, royal jelly, honey and propolis), marine phytoplankton, aloe vera, wheatgrass or any seaweed, but here are the ones I am using the most to boost my mood and energy levels!


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4 Surprising Foods Packed With Estrogen — The Chemical Linked to Obesity and Sexual Dysfunction

Many otherwise healthy foods contain high levels of estrogen.

April 10, 2014 

It is no secret that our bodies and our environment are swimming in estrogen. Puberty is occurring as early as eight years old in children and recently babies in China have developed breasts. Frogs and fish are becoming “intersex” and losing their male characteristics from excreted estrogens in the environment and waterways. In England, the Daily Mail ran a feature on the phenomenon of women’s bra cup sizes increasing independent of their weights, likely because of environmental and livestock chemicals. The website Green Prophet speculated that women in the Middle East are not yet experiencing cup inflation because their environments have not become similarly estrogenized.

While many people are fans of big boobs, the larger issue of feminized women, men and wildlife should be a wakeup call. Estrogen is blamed for everything from breast and prostate cancer and other hormone-linked conditions to obesity, sexual dysfunction, dropping sperm counts and depression and mood disorders. In studies of women given prescribed hormone drugs, estrogen was linked to lung cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, gall bladder cancer, cataracts urinary incontinence and joint degeneration.

Most of us know we unwittingly get synthetic estrogens (endocrine disrupters) from plastics like BPA, petroleum based products, detergents, cosmetics, furniture, carpeting, thermal receipts and on our food from agriculture chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (a good reason to buy organic). But we also get a lot of “natural” estrogens from foods we may eat every day. While these “phytoestrogens” are not as bad as synthetic chemicals, women who are plagued with PMS, fibrocystic disease and water retention, or who are at risk for breast cancer and men who do not want to be feminized may want to use them moderately.

Here are some “good” and “bad” foods that have more estrogen than you may realize—or want.

1. Flax

Flax and especially flax meal has the image of being a healthy superfood. But when you look at a list of the top phytoestrogen-containing foods, flax and flax products are at the very top. A hundred grams of flax packs an astounding 379,380 micrograms of estrogen compared with 2.9 micrograms for a fruit like watermelon. Flax is now widely found in baked goods like bread, bagels and muffins, snack foods, cereals, pasta, drink mixes and used in poultry, swine, beef and dairy cow feed.

It became a popular alternative to fish oil which had been promoted to improve mood, the immune systems and to prevent heart attacks and strokes, especially as concerns about mercury risks in some fish surfaced. A tablespoon of flaxseed oil, which contains alpha-linolenic acid (also found in walnuts and some oils) is “worth” about 700 milligrams of the omega-3 found in fish oil says the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. Flax also provides fiber, a substance lacking in our over-processed diets. But there is another reason it may not be the superfood it appears besides its estrogen wallop. Like so many edible plants today, genetically modified versions of flax are rampant, spreading and rarely labeled. Buyer beware.

tofu and soybeans

2. Soy

What is the second highest phytoestrogen-containing food in most lists? Soy, which packs 103,920 micrograms of estrogen per 100 grams. Low in calories and with no cholesterol, soy has been a mainstay protein of many cultures for centuries and is considered nature’s perfect alternative to meat by many vegetarians and vegans. It has been hailed as a “good” estrogen that could prevent breast cancer and serve as an alternative for hormone replacement therapy, traditionally made from pregnant mare urine.

Yet the bloom has partially fallen off soy’s rose. Its possible cancer prevention properties were called into question after some animal studies and groups like the American Cancer Society found themselves defending its moderate use. Like flax, unlabeled GMO soybeans dominate the market and have been linked to sterility and infant death in hamsters.

3. Other Legumes and Common Health Foods

Other “healthy” foods like flax and soy may have more estrogen than you think. Legumes like chickpeas (garbanzo beans) red beans, black-eyed peas, green peas and split peas are also estrogenic and black beans pack 5,330 micrograms of estrogen per 100 grams. Hummus (from chickpeas) has 993 micrograms of estrogen per 100 grams. How about the “healthful” seeds we think of as mingled in trailmix? Sesame and sunflower seeds are among the highest of all estrogenic foods. While their seeds are not a staple of most people’s diets, their oils are widely used in processed and prepared foods. A site for women suffering from the estrogen-linked endometriosis advises against sunflower oil as well as safflower, cottonseed and canola oils and recommends only olive or grapeseed oil.

Other ingredients that can amount to a side dish of estrogen are alfalfa sprouts, licorice and the flavorings red clover and fennel, sometimes found in teas. Food ingredients in personal care products can also have estrogenic effects. Tea tree oil found in some shampoos, soaps and lotions can enlarge the breasts of boys reported ABC news. And sore and tender breasts have also been reported from using a shampoo with pomegranate.

4. Animal Products

On most lists of products containing estrogen, animal products like milk and beef are at the very bottom. Milk, for example, is said to provide 1.2 micrograms of estrogen per 100 grams. Unfortunately, most “research” that assures the public that hormones used in meat production or milk production (like Monsanto’s  rBGH) result in less estrogen are funded by Big Ag. Two features betray the Big Ag-funded research —it claims there is no difference between hormones that occur “naturally” in the human body and synthetic hormones, and it claims there are no residues of the latter. If synthetic hormones are so safe, why would we mind residues? The European Union disagrees about the dangers and boycotts US beef, which is swimming in the hormones oestradiol-17, trenbolone acetate, zeranol and melengestrol.

As for “no residues,” a scientific paper called “Detection of Six Zeranol Residues in Animal-derived Food by HPLC-MS/MS,” disputes the claim. Zeranol, an estrogen-like drug widely used in US livestock production is especially controversial. “Our laboratory has reported that long-term exposure to either Z [zeranol] or E2 [estradiol-17β] can induce transformation of human breast epithelial MCF-10A cells,” says a 2009 paper in Anticancer Research.Translation: it can contribute to breast cancer: “The proper evaluation of the safety of Z [zeranol] is of both public health and economic  importance.”Another paper reports “breast irritation” in people exposed to nothing but the clothing of those working around zeranol. This is an ingredient used in US meat?

A paper which appeared in Science of the Total Environment examines the outbreak of precocious puberty and breast development of children in Italy and Puerto Rico in the late 1970s and 1980s and attributes the symptoms to zeranol-like “anabolic estrogens in animal foods.” In both occurrences, the symptoms disappeared when the hormone-laced food was removed. Zeranol is found in meat, eggs and dairy products “through deliberate introduction of zeranol into livestock to enhance meat production,” says the paper. It is “banned for use in animal husbandry in the European Union and other countries, but is still widely used in the US. Surprisingly, little is known about the health effects of these mycoestrogens, including their impact on puberty in girls, a period highly sensitive to estrogenic stimulation.”

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter and the author of “Born With a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Random House).”