Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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I Changed My Fuel And It Changed My Health’s Trajectory

All calories are not equal. Yet we continue to count them in hopes of managing weight and health. Correcting this flawed thinking will forever change your relationship with food, calories and your weight. Changing your fuel just may change your health trajectory.

Consider the significance of changing the fuel you use in your body. It could make the difference between getting promoted, being injury and illness free, lean and healthy, and even finding romance (or not). It can, and I am living proof. When I began to think of calories as more than just a number, I lost 84 pounds, reclaimed my health and looked years younger. When I only counted calories, not considering their source, I was obese and unwell.

Many know the value of this truth about calories. Professional athletes serve as ideal evidence for this argument. The difference between first and last place is often seconds of strength, endurance and power. Having the correct balance of healthy fuel in the body can change a non-medalling effort to a gold medal day. The rituals of professional athletes on competition day extend beyond wearing lucky underwear to consuming the exact meal at the perfect time to fuel their success.

Still not sure?

Think about your own body. When we ingest junk food full of empty calories and quick-burning sugar, we get an immediate high followed by a sweat-soaked crash that sends us looking for a comfy place. Productivity grinds to a halt, our focus and attention is compromised and our body is unable to regulate blood sugar, spiraling us on a roller coaster of sugar cravings and crashes. Weight gain is often the result.

Now think about your body on a good day. A day where you started with a nourishing breakfast loaded with protein, fibre, good fat and healthy carbohydrates – maybe it was a vegetable omelet with a side of salsa and avocado, and a glass of water. Your breakfast is followed by a healthy snack before lunch, a well-balanced lunch and a clean snack mid-afternoon, and then a small but nutritious dinner. Your day was productive, your focus outstanding, you were accomplished and others noticed. You were mentally fit, but your body felt different, too. Energized, supported and able to meet your physical and mental needs for the day, your body reigned supreme.

Follow these five simple nutritional tips that will change your day from mediocre to outstanding.

1. Eat 6 small meals daily.

Our body runs best when it can not only predict its next meal, but receive nutritious support. Every meal should be comprised of quality foods that represent protein, good fat and nutritious carbs. I find that my own body works best on complex carbohydrates like leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds – I encourage you to try it out for yourself.

2. Always include good fats in each meal/snack.

Every cell in the body, including the brain, is made of fat, yet we often avoid fat because we think it will make us fat. Fat however, is critical in keeping the body healthy. Without sufficient fat, the metabolic rate slows, the brain begins to shrink and our ability to repair the body is jeopardized. Good fats are easy to consume once we know what they are. These include healthy oils such as olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and nutritious fruit such as avocados. Including a handful of almonds with your meal or snack, allows you to get protein, healthy fat, fibre and complex carbohydrates in one place.

probiotics yogurt

 

3. Eat breakfast daily.

A nutritious breakfast is not coffee paired with pastry made from processed flour and sugar. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets the tone for the entire day. Would you drive to work without gas or leave the house without shoes? The answer to both of those questions is likely no. I ask then, why would you make your body starve for nutrition first thing in the morning and ask it to do work, be productive and help you achieve success? Easy breakfast ideas can include smoothies or leftovers from the night before. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it has to be fuel.

4. Drink two to three litres of water daily.

Water is the number one deficiency in the world – we are constantly losing water not only from the obvious things like sweat, but also from the not so obvious: stress, processed foods, sugar, juices, caffeine, and all the work our brains are doing to keep us moving each day. The most abundant, accessible nutrient in North America is the one that we often forget about but is critical to our success. A dehydrated plant doesn’t grow and repair, and neither does a dehydrated body.

5. BYOS – Bring Your Own Snacks.

I get you, hunger sets in and the choices around you aren’t ideal so you reach for whatever seems to be the healthiest and hope for the best. Instead of hoping, change your trajectory and your outcome by packing your own snacks. My cooler/lunch bag contains portable items I can rely on to give me excellent fuel – hard-boiled eggs, hummus and cut veggies, or sliced apples and almond butter. Some people like to make a large lunch and break it into two portions, one for lunch and the other for an afternoon snack. Find a system that works for you and start today.

Lastly, because I know that these tips are going to make you feel fantastic, I want you to do something before you start. Take a pen and a paper (or take out your mobile phone) and write down how you feel today, what you ate, what your sleep was like, how you feel about your body, how you fit into your clothes, how productive you were at work and what your vision for the future is. Then follow these tips for three weeks and revisit what you wrote.

07/19/2016        Tosca Reno        NYT Best selling author, founder Eat Clean revolution and motivational speaker.
 
Follow Tosca Reno on Twitter: www.twitter.com/toscareno
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7 Brain Boosting Foods to Eat More Often

Patricia Jurek, RD, MBA     May 3, 2016

For decades, scientists have viewed food as fuel, but the latest research suggests what you eat impacts your brain, too. In fact, study after study suggests adding certain foods to your plate can sharpen your mind, build new brain cells and may even help you remember where you left your keys.

With that in mind (pun intended), researchers at Rush University in Chicago developed the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which is basically a combination of the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet. The main difference: MIND stresses the importance of brain-boosting power foods, including nuts, berries and fatty fish. And research shows it’s remarkably effective.

According to the study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, seniors who closely followed the MIND diet slashed their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 53 percent. Even those who only did a so-so job of following the plan had a 35 percent lower Alzheimer’s risk.

So, consider stocking up on these 7 brain-boosting staples to gain the MIND advantage:

1. Fish: This nutrient powerhouse boasts high-quality protein, important minerals, including iron and zinc, and heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show these powerful fats help reduce inflammation, increase blood flow to the brain and build new brain cells.

2. Olive oil: Thanks to a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats, olive oil is a simple and tasty way to boost brain cell activity and slow down an aging brain. A bonus: monounsaturated fats also help reduce plaque buildup on the inside of the arteries, ensuring your brain gets the blood it needs to perform at its best.

brain

3. Nuts: Like olive oil, nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, but they also contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant linked to improved brainpower.

4. Berries: An anti-aging superstar, berries are loaded with disease-fighting compounds that improve brain function. Blueberries in particular seem to slow down the memory loss that goes with aging.

5. Leafy green veggies: Research shows people who load up on produce, especially those with deep, rich colors, have better focus and mental sharpness compared to those who skimp on fruits and vegetables.

6. Wine: Don’t drink? There’s no reason to start. But if you enjoy an occasional glass of wine, go for red—it packs greater brain benefits than white. Just be sure to resist a refill. People become more susceptible to the toxic effects of alcohol with age.

7. Beans: Loaded with fiber and protein, beans provide sustained energy and keep blood-sugar levels on an even keel. That not only keeps hunger pangs at bay, but improves mental focus, too.

On the flip side, foods to limit or avoid due to their potentially harmful effects on your brain function include fatty red meat, butter or stick margarine, cheese, sweets, and fried or fast foods.

The takeaway? The MIND diet is similar to other successful, healthy eating plans in this important way — eating whole, minimally processed foods, free of added sugar, sodium and harmful fats, is key to both a healthy mind and body.

Patricia Jurek, RD, MBA, is the manager for Henry Ford Macomb Hospital’s Center for Weight Management. Passionate about preventive disease management, Pat became a registered dietician to help people live long, healthy lives.
For more tips on healthy eating and more, visit our health and wellness blog at henryfordlivewell.com and subscribe to receive a weekly email with our latest posts.


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12 Foods to Help You Focus

by: Emily Holland

Staying focused in today’s world can be a challenge. Technology presents countless distractions. The constant ping from your smartphone—alerting you to the latest social media notification or text message—can cause even the most focused individual to become scattered.

But technology isn’t solely to blame. Stress can add to the challenge. Aging can also play a role as your ability to ignore distractions can decline as you get older.

What many people may not realize is that diet can influence their ability to focus. Certain foods provide the brain with the necessary nourishment to help you concentrate. Many people are quick to turn to coffee for a cognitive boost. However, a variety of other options can enhance your ability to focus, while also providing a wealth of other health benefits.

Walnuts

A 2015 study conducted by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found a positive association between walnut consumption and cognitive functioning in adults, including the ability to concentrate. According to the findings published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, consuming a handful of walnuts per day can lead to cognitive benefits, regardless of age. Walnuts, in comparison to other nuts, contain the highest-level of antioxidants, which help to promote brain function. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain health and development. Because walnuts are relatively high in fat and calories, no more than an ounce per day is recommended.

Blueberries

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve cognitive brain functions. Blueberries make for the perfect snack since they are low in calories, but high in nutrients such as fiber, manganese, vitamin K,  and vitamin C. When they aren’t in season, opt for dried or frozen blueberries.

Salmon

Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that may slow cognitive decline and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2005 study conducted by Rush University in Chicago. It also helps fight inflammation, which has been associated with a decrease in cognitive function.

Avocados

In addition to salmon, avocados are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain monounsaturated fats, which support brain function and healthy blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for optimal brain health that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, studies show. Like walnuts, avocados are fatty and contain a lot of calories. The recommended serving is about 1/5 of a regular-sized avocado (or 1 oz.).

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is loaded with antioxidants, which have been shown in mice to improve memory and learning deficits that occur as a result of aging and disease. EVOO can also reverse damage in the brain caused by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. EVOO is great to use as a healthy alternative to processed salad dressings.

Olive oil

Pumpkin Seeds

Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases, according to research conducted in 2001 by the University of Shizuoka in Japan.

Leafy Greens

A 2015 study by researchers at Rush University found dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards, might help slow cognitive decline. Over a five-year span, they examined diet and cognitive abilities in older adults. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline in those who consumed larger amounts of dark, leafy greens. In fact, those who had one to two daily servings were found to have the cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger. Researchers also found that the nutrients, vitamin K and folate were most likely responsible for keeping the brain healthy and preserving functioning.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein, are rich in omega-3s, and contain choline, a vital nutrient for brain development. A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinic Nutrition found a high-level intake of choline improved cognitive performance. Eggs also contain B12, a vitamin that keeps the brain and nervous system healthy. So beat, scramble, poach, and flip to eat those eggs and reap the rewards.

Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics, often referred to as the “good” bacteria that help promote digestive health, which can lead to a healthier brain. A 2013 UCLA study found that women who regularly ate yogurt exhibited improved brain function while at rest or in response to completing a task. Yogurt is also high in B12 and magnesium, two essential nutrients for brain health.

Oatmeal

Whole grains provide energy. Oatmeal—slow-cooked whole oats, not the ready-cook kind from a packet—not only makes for a healthy breakfast, it also leaves you feeling full, which is important as hunger can diminish mental focus. For maximum clarity, try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and blueberries.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate, which is a stimulant, can provide you with an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee. A 2015 study by researchers at Northern Arizona University found participants who consumed 60 percent cacao content chocolate to be more alert and attentive. Chocolate is also high in antioxidants accounting for many of its health benefits. Just remember to choose dark chocolate over a milk chocolate candy bar filled with sugar.

Peppermint Tea

The herb peppermint may improve cognitive performance and increase alertness as well as calmness, according to a 2012 study by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. Enjoy the health benefits by brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea or by simply smelling the herb.

Add five drops of peppermint essential oil to a warm bath or rub it lightly into your skin.

About the Author
Emily Holland
Emily is a certified Health Coach with a focus on stress and anxiety management. A combined interest in healthy living and human behavior led Emily to pursue a certification in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a master’s degree in General Psychology. She’s a freelance writer; you can find more of her work on her website, http://www.mindfulmotives.com.


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13 of the Most Anti-Inflammatory Foods

What to eat to reduce inflammation and feel better.

By Franziska Spritzler / Authority Nutrition February 25, 2016

Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury.

But on the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.

Stress, unhealthy inflammatory foods and low activity levels can make this risk even worse.

However, some foods can actually help fight inflammation.

Here is a list of 13 anti-inflammatory foods that are supported by science.

1. Berries

Berries are small fruits that are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Although there are dozens of varieties, some of the most common berries include:

  • Strawberries.
  • Blueberries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Blackberries

Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce the risk of disease.

Your body produces natural killer cells (NK), which help keep your immune system functioning properly.

One study found that men who consumed blueberries every day produced significantly more NK cells, compared to men who did not.

In another study, overweight men and women who ate strawberries had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers associated with heart disease.

Bottom Line: Berries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These compounds may reduce inflammation, boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease.

2. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are a great source of protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fish are the best sources:

  • Salmon.
  • Sardines.
  • Herring.
  • Mackerel.
  • Anchovies

EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease, among others.

This occurs after your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds calledresolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

In clinical studies, people consuming salmon or EPA and DHA supplements had decreases in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).

However, in another study, patients with atrial fibrillation who took EPA and DHA daily showed no difference in inflammatory markers when compared to those who received a placebo.

Bottom Line: Fatty fish contain high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is extremely nutritious.

It’s a cruciferous vegetable, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale.

Research has shown that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.

This may be related to the anti-inflammatory effects of the antioxidants they contain.

Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which drive inflammation.

Bottom Line: Broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Avocados

Avocados are a true “superfood.”

They’re packed with potassium, magnesium, fiberand heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

They also contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which are linked to reduced cancer risk.

In addition, one compound in avocados has been shown to reduce inflammation in young skin cells.

In one study, when people consumed a slice of avocado with a hamburger, they showed lower levels of inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6 than participants who ate the hamburger alone (23).

Bottom Line: Avocados contain various beneficial compounds that protect against inflammation and may reduce the risk of cancer.

5. Green Tea

You’ve probably already heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.

It’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and other conditions.

Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells.

Bottom Line: Green tea’s high EGCG content reduces inflammation and protects cells from damage that can lead to disease.

6. Peppers

Bell peppers and chili peppers are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

Bell peppers contain the antioxidant quercetin, which has been shown to reduce one marker of oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis.

Chili peppers contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which may reduce inflammation and lead to healthier aging.

Bottom Line: Chili peppers and bell peppers are rich in quercetin, sinapic acid, ferulic acid and other antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory effects.

7. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are an incredibly healthy type of fungus, and thousands of varieties exist throughout the world.

They’re very low in calories and rich in all of the B vitamins, selenium and copper.

Mushrooms also contain lectins, phenols and other substances that provide anti-inflammatory protection.

A special type of mushroom called Lion’s Mane may potentially reduce the low-grade inflammation seen in obesity.

However, one study found cooking mushrooms decreased a large portion of their anti-inflammatory compounds, so it may be best to consume them raw or lightly cooked (38).

Bottom Line: Mushrooms contain several compounds that may decrease inflammation. Consuming them raw or lightly cooked may help you reap their full anti-inflammatory potential.

8. Grapes

Grapes contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation.

They may also decrease the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and eye disorders.

Grapes are also one of the best sources of resveratrol, another compound that has many health benefits.

In one study, people with heart disease who consumed grape extract daily experienced a decrease in inflammatory gene markers, including NF-kB.

Also, their levels of adiponectin increased, which is a good thing because low levels are associated with weight gain and an increased risk of cancer.

Bottom Line: Several plant compounds in grapes, including resveratrol, can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce the risk of several diseases.

turmeric

9. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with a strong, earthy flavor that’s often used in curries and other types of Indian dishes.

It has received a lot of attention for its content of the powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient curcumin.

Turmeric is effective at reducing the inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes and other diseases.

When people with metabolic syndrome took 1 gram of curcumin daily, they experienced a significant decrease in CRP when compared to placebo.

However, it may be hard to get enough curcumin to have a noticeable effect from turmeric alone.

In one study, overweight women who took 2.8 grams of turmeric per day had no improvement in inflammatory markers.

Eating black pepper along with turmeric enhances the effects. Black pepper containspiperine, which can boost curcumin absorption by 2,000%.

Bottom Line: Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Eating black pepper with turmeric can significantly enhance the absorption of curcumin.

10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.

It’s rich in monounsaturated fats and a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which provides numerous health benefits.

Many studies have analyzed olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.

It’s been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, brain cancer and other serious health conditions.

In one Mediterranean diet study, CRP and several other inflammatory markers significantly decreased in those who consumed 1.7 oz (50 ml) of olive oil daily.

The effect of oleocanthol, an antioxidant found in olive oil, has been compared to anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

However, it’s important to note the type of olive oil. Anti-inflammatory benefits are much greater in extra-virgin olive oil than in refined olive oil.

Bottom Line: Extra-virgin olive oil provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other serious health conditions.

11. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa

Dark chocolate is delicious, rich and satisfying.

It’s also packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation. These may also reduce the risk of disease and lead to healthier aging.

Flavanols are responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects, and also keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy.

In one study, smokers showed significant improvement in endothelial function two hours after eating high-flavonol chocolate.

However, make sure to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa (more is even better) in order to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.

Bottom Line: Flavanols in dark chocolate and cocoa can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce the risk of several disease.

12. Tomatoes

The tomato is a nutritional powerhouse.

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium andlycopene, an antioxidant with impressive anti-inflammatory properties.

Lycopene may be particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds related to several types of cancer.

One study found that drinking tomato juice significantly decreased inflammatory markers in overweight women. However, these markers did not decrease in obese women.

In a review of studies analyzing different forms of lycopene, researchers found that tomatoes and tomato products reduced inflammation more than lycopene supplements.

Lastly, it’s interesting to note that cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb.

Bottom Line: Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which can reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.

13. Cherries

Cherries are delicious and rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation.

Although the health-promoting properties of tart cherries have been studied more, sweet cherries also provide benefits.

In one study, when people consumed 280 grams of cherries per day for one month, their CRP levels decreased and remained that way for 28 days after they stopped eating cherries.

Bottom Line: Sweet and tart cherries contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and the risk of disease.

14. Anything Else?

Even low levels of inflammation on a chronic basis can lead to disease.

Do your best to keep inflammation in check by choosing a wide variety of these delicious, antioxidant-rich foods.

P.S. If you are looking for the foods to avoid to reduce inflammation, then read this:Top 6 Foods and Ingredients That Cause Inflammation.

Franziska Spritzler has a BSc in nutrition and dietetics. She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with expertise in carbohydrate-restricted diets for diabetes and weight management.


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5 Foods are Essential for Longevity

110-Year-Old Man Says These 5 Foods are Essential for Longevity

Secrets to a long, healthy life

A man named Bernardo LaPallo is over 110 years old, although most would think he is younger. Like many living to be his age, LaPallo credits his long life with eating a lot of organic fruit and vegetables, while avoiding other foods like the plague. He especially recognizes these 5 foods, a secret passed down to him by his father which he believes is the key to his longevity.

So What Are the 5 foods?

1. Garlic – If you aren’t already a fan of garlic, you will likely load up your kitchen with the food after reading all it has to offer. From preventing cancer to detoxifying the body, to treating ailments like a toothache or cough, here are some of the health benefits of garlic.

2. Honey – Honey has long been among the top superfoods used to treat countless health conditions and boost overall health. This amazing bee-product possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties – making it one of the most beneficial foods to consume.

3. Cinnamon – Particularly rich in fiber, manganese, and calcium while being used for thousands of years as a flavorful spice and medicine, cinnamon truly has made it’s mark in numerous cultures. It can be especially helpful in aiding with diabetes, preventing cancer, and halting arthritis.

4. Chocolate – The real, unadulterated form of chocolate, derived from the Theobroma cacao tree, is a heaven-sent super food that can keep us healthy even as we indulge in its delectable taste. Real chocoalte is packed full of plant-derived flavanols, full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory constituents and health-boosting ingredients that do all sorts of amazing things for our bodies and minds.

5. Olive oil – Olive oil is rich in beneficial fats which keep both your heart and brain healthy, preventing cognitive decline and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Of course there are other longevity secrets shared by the most elder. Lifestyle is the most important factor in determining not only how long you live, but the quality of your long life. It turns out the people from a small island off the coast of Japan, Okinawa, have figured out a secret recipe for living to be more than 100 years old. Some of their secrets:

vitamin-e

 

8 Other Longevity Secrets

1. Exercise both physically and mentally.

2. Consume a diet low in salt, high in fruits and vegetables, and contain plenty of fiber and antioxidants.

3. Don’t overeat. Practice what is called hara hachi bu, which means “8 parts out of 10, full,” and never eat so that they are stuffed, but just mostly sated.

4. Consume a diet high in vitamin E, which helps keep the brain vital.

5. Drink Herbal Tea. The Ikarians, who also live long, fruitful lives, love herbal tea. The health benefits of green tea are amazing, so this may be your first choice.

6. Take a Nap. Something as simple as an afternoon siesta can reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems including heart attack, and it can help you feel more energized and well-rested in the afternoon.

7. Eat fresh Vegetables. Among the obvious secrets of longevity, consuming vegetables is key, whether they be full vegetables or the more healthful microgreens. Ikaria boasts over 150 varieties of greens.

8. Relax. Reducing stress is becoming more well known among the secrets of longevity and good health. Stress can greatly increase your risk of numerous diseases as well as dangerous behavior. Ask Ikarians what time it is. They probably won’t know—or care.

Mike Barrett       DECEMBER 23, 2014

About Mike Barrett:
Mike is the co-founder, editor, and researcher behind Natural Society. Studying the work of top natural health activists, and writing special reports for top 10 alternative health websites, Mike has written hundreds of articles and pages on how to obtain optimum wellness through natural health.


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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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Simple Food Tips for Improved Brain Function

By Deane Alban    Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

The average North American shockingly gets 70% of their calories from just three foods — corn, wheat, and soy. Virtually none of this is in a form that can be considered real food.

Corn is used to make high fructose corn syrup (in reality, few of us are eating that much corn-on-the-cob!) Wheat is ubiquitous and almost always stripped of all nutritional value. Soy has been touted as a health food, but not the way now we eat it. Asian cultures eat fermented soy as a healthy condiment, not highly processed soy burgers and refined soy oil.

We consume a lot of corn and soy indirectly, too, since they are used to feed factory farm animals. Neither of these are natural food sources for livestock, but are used because they’re cheap and fatten up the animals fast. The same happens to humans when they eat a lot of these foods.

But it’s not just our weight that is affected. Your brain uses a disproportionate amount of energy — there’s a lot going on up there! That’s why it’s vital you give your brain the best food you can find, and that means eating real food.

Sources of healthy fats and foods high in antioxidants are considered top brain foods. Let’s take a look at why these nutrients are essential to brain health.

Antioxidants

Free radicals are unattached oxygen molecules that attack your cells much in the same way that oxygen attacks metal. Your brain is highly susceptible to free radical damage because it uses so much oxygen — approximately 25% of your body’s intake.

What goes on in your brain is not dissimilar to what happens when an old car rusts. When you can’t remember how to do something and you say you are “rusty” at it, you’re actually closer to the truth than you realize!

Antioxidants render free radicals harmless. You get antioxidants almost exclusively from plant-based foods in your diet. The best sources are fruits and vegetables, with all kinds of berries at the top of the list.

Other excellent antioxidant sources are green tea, red wine, and dark chocolate. Yum!

Healthy Oils

Your brain is largely made of fat — 60% by volume. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the quality of your brain largely depends on the quality of the fats you eat. That is why your diet should include foods high in good fats such as avocados, olives, nuts, healthy vegetable oils, grass-fed butter, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel.

The subject of culinary oils is particularly confusing. The commonly held beliefs about which oils are healthy are largely wrong. The two best vegetable oils to stock in your brain-healthy kitchen are olive oil and coconut oil.

olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil:

A key part of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is great to use as-is on things like salads. But olive oil should not be heated. Olive oil is unstable and easily burns at very low temperatures which causes unhealthy trans fat formation.

Unfortunately, there is a huge market in fake olive oil. A University of California study found that 69% of extra virgin olive oil sold in the US is not what the label says. Some of these aren’t extra virgin and many aren’t even olive oil! They are cheap adulterated oils colored and flavored to appear as olive oil.

Olive oil is a case where buying local is definitely best. California olive oils are much more likely to be high quality than Italian brands. If you are lucky enough to live near a local olive oil producer, get your olive oil there.

Coconut oil:

Coconut oil s a very brain-healthy fat with an undeservedly bad reputation. While it is 90% saturated fat, that’s not a bad thing – as I’ll explain. It’s this property that makes it extremely stable for cooking.

Coconut oil contains 50% lauric acid. This fatty acid is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It lowers risk of heart disease by increasing good cholesterol and boosts the immune system. Lauric acid naturally occurs in human breast milk, but coconut is the only food source.

Coconut oil contains medium chain fats which enable it to supply energy directly to the brain with no insulin spike. It’s this property that makes it a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. Some people have had great success with stabilizing and even reversing Alzheimer’s symptoms by taking it in therapeutic doses. There is already a prescription-only “medical food” called Axona that works on the same principle as coconut oil. Of course this product costs many, many times more than coconut oil. The drug companies never skip a beat if there is money to be made.

Vegetable oils:

One of the most widespread and damaging myths about dietary fat surrounds vegetable oils. Vegetable oils like soybean, safflower, sunflower, sesame, corn, and canola are not the health foods they’ve been made out to be. These kinds of oils are a main source of unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids which contribute to inflammation, a root cause of a veritable “who’s who” of chronic health conditions.

These oils are in everything, even in many foods sold as ‘health’ foods. The best way to avoid them is to eat mostly unprocessed foods.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon, if it’s wild-caught, is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that is the single most important brain nutrient. The Harvard School of Public Health states that essential fatty acid deficiencies cause up to 96,000 preventable deaths per year.

Our ancestors got omega-3s from the game they hunted, the wild fish they caught, and the plants they foraged. But factory-bred animals that aren’t given access to their natural food supply no longer have omega-3s in their meat. Most cattle now spend their days in feed lots and are given hormones designed to get them fatter faster. This change has been responsible for a hidden epidemic of this essential fatty acid deficiency that affects 99% of the population. So, to ensure you get these essential fatty acids in your diet, eat grass-fed beef, bison, and wild-caught salmon which are amongst the few reliable sources of omega-3s.

Be careful when you buy salmon though; according to the Environmental Defense Fund, most salmon sold in US is farm-raised then incorrectly labeled “Atlantic salmon”. Farm-raised salmon is fed fish feed made from “undesirable” fish and “chicken pellets”. Chicken pellets are made from chicken parts of all kinds including feathers, beaks and even chicken poop! It takes up to 15 pounds of feed to grow one pound of farmed fish, so contaminants get concentrated. The fish are fed antibiotics to help them survive their crowded and toxic environment.

Know Where Your Food Comes From

Get the best quality food you can, then prepare it and store it properly to retain maximum nutrition.

The best way to know you are getting what you pay for is to know your farmer. If you aren’t sure where to shop, visit the EatLocalGrown.com directory. Just enter in your town or city to find farmers’ markets, farms, ranches, co-ops, and artisan food producers in your area. The food you find there will generally be fresher, healthier, and less expensive than supermarket food, and you’ll be supporting local agriculture and supporting your brain health at the same time!

Giving your brain the nutrients it needs is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall quality of your life.

Updated August 2014