Tuesday, September 30, 2014

5 Detox Foods Already in Your Fridge

Detox foods
Feeling a little fall sluggishness that a little fall detox could help with? Well, before you go speed-dialing a 3-day cleanse, you might want to consider opening your fridge first.
You can ditch the bloat and the sluggishness by eating fiber-filled foods that support your liver—and are probably already in your fridge or on your kitchen counter. (A ton of water doesn’t hurt either.)

When you think of your body’s detox capacities as a bucket that must be emptied—after, say, a summer of indulgence—remember there are two ways to stop the bucket from overflowing: dump the bucket (i.e., eat detox foods) or stop the flow of gunk in and take out garbage foods like processed foods, sugar, and alcohol.
Here are the five foods to help you detox this fall—and many of them are probably already in your kitchen (or on your shopping list).

1. Brassica Veggies
Many foods that are considered detoxing support the liver—meaning they aid in getting garbage transformed and packaged for elimination through the GI tract. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and kale are detox powerhouses. They’re full of fiber and contain enzymes that help metabolize toxins and excess hormones.
2. Beets
These root veggies contain betacyanin, which is a great liver detox booster. It’s one of my favorite carbohydrate sources for those avoiding processed starches and even Paleos who skip grains. 
3. Protein
Most detox plans recommend a vegan diet. But sulfur-containing amino acids found in animal protein are the fuel your phase-two liver detoxification runs on.
You can eat any kind of meat, but it’s got to be quality stuff. If it’s garbage protein then we’ll just be bringing in more stuff in to be detoxed. So think free range, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken, grass fed beef, and low toxicity or wild fish.
4. Flaxseeds
They’re a great source of fiber and help scoot out stuff your liver has already detoxed, especially metabolized hormones like estrogen. But. flax goes rancid very easily so either grind the seeds just prior to use or soak them in just enough water to cover them over night. They will be soft and slippery by morning and easily go into a protein shake or taken like a shot.
5. Apples
The pectin in apples are great for ushering out detoxed hormones and other junk. They’re also one of the highest water and fiber to sugar ratios of any fruit, making them a great high fiber, lower sugar fruit choice. Win, win.
~Thanks to Molly Gallagher and Dr. Kalanick

Thursday, September 18, 2014

From Guts to Glory

Gut Check Obstacle Course
Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”?  Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.”   First-​​responders may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”.   The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.”  Merriam-​​Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.”  It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations.  You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.  

It’s a Party

One thing is certain, when it comes to bacteria, you always have company.  While that may creep out a germaphobe, healthy bacteria play a critical role in your digestive health and a strong immune system.  In fact, your body is teaming with a chorus of creatures called microbiota — trillions of bacteria residing on your skin, in your mouth, lungs, and gut.  Here’s the one-​​two-​​three punch of healthy microbes in our gut. They:
  • -break down food
  • -supply energy
  • -fight harmful bacteria

A lack of balanced bacteria in the body, especially in the digestive tract, can lead to a number of health issues including:
  • -acid reflux
  • -constipation
  • -colitis
  • -heartburn
  • -irritable bowl
  • -reduced immunity

Contributing factors to reduced bacteria balance include smoking, drinking alcohol, eating processed and refined foods, and overuse of antibiotics.

It’s All Greek to Me

As our society has grown more hygienic and as we have shifted toward more processed foods, we have truly lost a lot of the diverse bacteria vital for health and the maintenance of our digestive tract.  The more refined our diet, the less healthy bacteria we have to break down food. The converse is also true — the more plant based and high fiber foods we consume, the more we promote the good guys of our gut. Science breaks it down this way, identifying the two major categories of bacteria:
  • Bacteroidetes — promotes a healthier gut and better weight management.
  • Firmicutes — research has found that obese individuals have a higher proportion of this bacteria over it’s healthier counterpart.  Higher amount of firmicutes may signal the body to overeat and store more fat.
This internal battle may sound more like a Greek tragedy than practical information: the key to winning the battle of the bacteria is to promote the good guys and reduce the influence of the bad guys. The champions of healthy flora are called probiotics.

Partners For Life

The tag team for better bacterial health include a trio of heroes in the form of Prebiotics, Probiotics‚ and Polyphenols.
  • Prebiotics — are non-​​digestible fiber compounds. Their effectiveness is their ability to pass through the stomach undigested until they reach the lower intestine. There, they help increase bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria to help improve digestion and elimination. Leeks, raw onion, garlic, bananas and kiwifruit are excellent sources as are multi-​​source fiber supplements.
  • Probiotics — live microorganisms/​cultures that help feed and promote good bacteria. Found in fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and pickled fruits/​vegetables. You may also supplement with beneficial probiotics like bifidobacterium and lactobacillus.
  • Polyphenols — are chemical compounds found in plants that feed Bacteroidetes and help suppress Firmicutes for better bacterial balance. That may explain the weight-reducing properties of fruit (especially raspberries, strawberries & blueberries), green tea, red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar.

Now that you’ve accepted the fact that you are not alone, be sure to maintain the proper care and feeding of your microbiome — that’s the best kind of gut check for a long, healthy and fit life.
~Thanks to Christine Toriello

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 Ways Mindfulness Can Change Your Life

Mindfulness Meditation is a simple yet powerful practice that has been practiced for thousands of years, and despite it’s solid reputation to improve quality of life, most still allow its possibilities to slip under our radar. It’s a classic case of thinking a simple answer can’t possibly be the remedy to a complex problem.  But it is.
The concept of mindfulness is defined as: “The nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.” Mindfulness invites us to pay attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. And the scientific community’s interest in mindfulness has exploded over the last several years, with most major Universities adding mindfulness centers on their campuses. And the number of research papers on it’s benefits is now limitless. Here are 10 research highlights of the benefits you can reap from incorporating just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation into your day:
1. It lowers stress — literally. Research published just last month in the journal Health Psychology shows that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed, it’s also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
2. It lets us get to know our true selves. Mindfulness can help us see beyond those rose-colored glasses when we need to really objectively analyze ourselves. A study in the journal Psychological Science shows that mindfulness can help us conquer common “blind spots,” which can amplify or diminish our own flaws beyond reality.
3. It can make your grades better. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that college students who were trained in mindfulness performed better on the verbal reasoning section of the GRE, and also experienced improvements in their working memory. “Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences,” the researchers wrote in the Psychological Science study.
4. It changes the brain in a protective way. University of Oregon researchers found that integrative body-mind training — which is a meditation technique — can actually result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness. The meditation practice was linked with increased signaling connections in the brain; something called axonal density, as well as increased protective tissue (myelin) around the axons in the anterior cingulate brain region.
5. It makes you a better person. Sure, we love all the things meditation does for us. But it could also benefit people we interact with, by making us more compassionate, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities found that meditation is linked with more virtuous, “do-good” behavior.
6. It could help the elderly feel less lonely. Loneliness among seniors can be dangerous, in that it’s known to raise risks for a number of health conditions. But researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that mindfulness meditation helped to decrease these feelings of loneliness among the elderly, and boost their health by reducing the expression of genes linked with inflammation.
7. It could make your health care bill a little lower. Not only will your health benefit from mindfulness meditation training, but your wallet might, too. Research in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows that practicing Transcendental Meditation is linked with lower yearly doctor costs, compared with people who don’t practice the meditation technique.
8. It lowers depression risk among pregnant women & teens. As many as one in five pregnant women will experience depression, but those who are at especially high risk for depression may benefit from some mindfulness yoga. “Research on the impact of mindfulness yoga on pregnant women is limited but encouraging,” study researcher Dr. Maria Muzik, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “This study builds the foundation for further research on how yoga may lead to an empowered and positive feeling toward pregnancy.”
It also lowers depression risk among teens. Teaching teens how to practice mindfulness through school programs could help them experience less stress, anxiety and depression, according to a study from the University of Leuven.
9. It supports your weight-loss goals. Trying to shed a few pounds to get to a healthier weight? Mindfulness could be your best friend, according to a survey of psychologists conducted by Consumer Reports and the American Psychological Association. Mindfulness training was considered an “excellent” or “good” strategy for weight loss by seven out of 10 psychologists in the survey.
10. It helps you sleep better. We saved the best for last! A University of Utah study found that mindfulness training can not only help us better control our emotions and moods, but it can also help us sleep better at night. “People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress,” study researcher Holly Rau said in a statement.
We each have our own time when we are ready to go from “hearing about” something to actually incorporating it into our daily lives. When you’re ready, it’s there for you.
~Thanks to Nikki Eisinger

Lemon Ginger Detox

Detox is a process in which the body gets rid of unhealthy and toxic substances. Our body strives to maintain a balanced, healthy environment and the liver is the vital organ in charge of our natural digestion, metabolism, hormone production and detoxification. There are times, due to the excess of environmental toxins from pesticides, bad air, unfiltered water, our liver becomes unable to successfully perform its 500 or so duties. And that’s when we need a little detox solution.
Infused waters are an effective way to detox because the inherently healing properties of the ingredients are exposed. 
Ginger is a naturally powerful detoxifier that strongly boosts metabolism. Lemons are great detoxifiers - the most alkaline substance for balancing pH - and they are a diuretic food, helping to release toxins from the body. And pure water is the quintessential detox element. 
What do we need to make a lemon ginger detox water?Lemon Ginger Detox Infused Water
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 inches of ginger root (1 tablespoon of freshly sliced ginger)
  • 2 cups of pure water
  1. Bring to boil the water. Remove from heat.
  2. Cut the ginger root into slices and add it to the water.
  3. Leave infusing and cooling down for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the juice. Mix and drink.

Lemon Ginger Detox infused water
  • You can prepare the lemon ginger detox water a night before, so the next day is ready to drink.
  • Drinking it with an empty stomach multiplies its effects.
  • You can also make a jar to drink throughout the day.
  • Do it everyday for one week or two if you feel you need a better detox.
~Thanks to Andrea Roa

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10 Foods For Happiness

1. Purple Cauliflower
When you see it at the farmer's market, buy two! Cauliflower is full of vitamin B6 and folate, which your body uses to make neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.

Essential fact: Neurotransmitters are how brain cells communicate with each other, so they underlie all mood and cognition, including memory, sex drive, pleasure and attention. For example, low levels of serotonin are often found in depressed patients.

Bonus: the purple color comes from antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the brain.

2. Walnuts
Nuts are “nature’s multivitamins” because of all of the trace nutrients they contain.

Walnuts, in particular, are high in oleic acid, which has been clearly linked to decreased risk of depression.

They also have lots of digestion-promoting fiber, and a healthy gut is essential in making sure the nutrients in your food make it to your brain.

3. Oysters
These supposed aphrodisiacs come with a whopping serving of vitamin B12, which protects myelin, a material that insulates brain cells. It's essential for neurons to communicate with each other, and healthy neuron communication is the basis for thinking and decision-making.

Oysters also contain zinc and a high dose of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Red Beans
A little known fact: Red beans are the top antioxidant containing food (According to the USDA)! Even more potent than blueberries.

They’re also a near-complete protein, and those all-important neurotransmitters are made of the amino acids in protein.

Finally, they have lots of iron. Iron deficiency is the biggest preventable cause of brain disorders.

5. Blue Potatoes
It’s both the healthy carbs and the skin of a blue potato you want. The skin contains vitamin C, which helps protect your brain fat, and lots of iodine, which is needed for healthy thyroid function. Thyroid problems lead to significant mood and energy issues and weight gain.

And the bright blue color equals beaucoup antioxidants.

6. Beets
Beets contain betaine, a cousin of folate, which is really helpful in keeping your neurotransmitter factories humming.

And don’t throw out the greens!
They’re packed with magnesium and uridine, a substance that Harvard University researchers found could prevent depression.

7. Anchovies
Anchovies are a seriously fabulous source of DHA, the most abundant omega-3 fat in your brain. The brain uses it to make hormones that combat harmful inflammation and to protect brain cells when you’re stressed.
Low levels have been associated with depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

Bonus: They’re low on the food chain, so you’re not going to have to worry about mercury.

Using anchovy dressing to drizzle on salads is an easy to consume these.
8. Sweet Potatoes
These orange tubers have more beta-carotene than carrots. This vitamin is linked to a decreased risk of dementia.

They’re also high in B6, which belongs to a group of compounds that are increasingly used to threat mood disorders.

9. Grass-Fed Beef
Meat gets a bad rap, and often it's justified.

While the Happiness Diet is primarily plant-based, farm-fresh meat that comes from grass-fed cows (free of antibiotics, steroids, etc.) is healthy to eat occasionally, say, about once a week.

You get a better mix of fats for the brain [than in factory-farmed] —more omega 3s and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).

10. Full-fat yogurt
Your Greek yogurt addiction, justified!

Along with your healthy dose of probiotics, yogurt has been shown to reduce the activity of brain cells linked to anxiety.

And while you might want to reach for a low-fat version, he recommends keeping the fat in. As long as it comes from a grass-fed source, the fats will act like healthy brain boosters. And you're getting less sugar (always higher in low-fat items).

~Thanks to Drew Ramsey, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Herbal Remedies for Digestion

Herbs have long been used medicinally to treat stomach conditions and to maintain a healthy digestive system. While digestive issues can take many forms, one thing seems to remain constant for any condition – getting relief comes from treating the underlying condition instead of just treating the pain. This is where herbal medicine is superior to conventional medicine. Herbs provide a whole body healing approach, helping the body to thrive and function from a place of wellness instead of simply putting a band-aid on the problem.
There are many herbal remedies for digestion!

Peppermint Leaves_freedigitalphotos.net-paytaiPeppermint is one of the most studied herbs for digestion, and the research proves its effectiveness for people with indigestion, gas, nausea, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Several tests conducted by The University of Maryland Medical Center confirm that peppermint helped 75% of people with IBS. Compounds in the peppermint plant seem to activate the anti-pain channel in the colon, and they calm the muscles of the stomach, improving the flow of bile and allowing gas to pass. For people with heartburn or GERD, however, peppermint should be avoided.
How can you take peppermint as an herbal remedy for digestion?
Try hot tea that has peppermint in it, like Naturally Calming Tea or an herbal supplement that contains peppermint, like Erba Vita Digest, which also includes many of the other herbs we have listed below, or Erba Vita Gastro, which is includes peppermint in its unique formulation.

Fennel Seeds_freedigitalphotos.net-Supertrooper

Fennel has traditionally been used by many cultures to relieve gas in adults and children alike. It works by soothing the stomach muscles, stimulating the production of digestive enzymes, reducing inflammation in the stomach and intestines, and it even helps the body absorb the nutrients from our food. Fennel seeds are carminatives, which means they help treat and/or prevent gas. Fennel helps not only with gas, but also indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and it may also help fight off intestinal bacteria and fungi. Fennel is often used to treat colic in infants.
How can you take fennel as an herbal remedy for digestion?
Try an herbal supplement that contains fennel. For kids, try Erba Vita Gassy Kids Syrup, which contains not only fennel, but also chamomile, lemon balm and linden. You can also add fennel seeds to your meals to add flavor and help with digestion.

Anise_freedigitalphotos.net-cbenjasuwanAnise helps to promote digestion and relieve gas, indigestion and bloating. It is antispasmodic, allowing relaxation of the stomach and intestinal muscles, and it can even help prevent bacterial infections in the intestines.

Ginger Root and Tea_freedigitalphotos.net-Praisaeng

Ginger has been highly studied by the medical community. It has been proven to stimulate the release of digestive enzymes in the body, helping the body break down food and absorb the nutrients from it. It is effective at treating nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness, gas, diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion and stomachaches. Just remember that less is more in the case of ginger because too much can backfire and actually cause heartburn, bloating and gas.
How can you take ginger as an herbal remedy for digestion?
Try hot tea that has ginger in it, like Green Chai Tea or an herbal supplement that contains ginger, like Erba Vita Digest, which also includes many of the other herbs we have listed in this article.

Chamomile Tea_freedigitalphotos.net- Serge Bertasius Photography

Chamomile is a wonderfully calming herb, especially when it comes to the stomach. It is antispasmodic so it helps to relax the stomach and intestinal muscles, making it an effective treatment for stomach cramps, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, colic and irritable bowel syndrome. It is also anti-inflammatory, helping to heal the intestines and stomach after an infection.
How can you take chamomile as an herbal remedy for digestion?
Try hot tea that has chamomile in it. For kids, try Erba Vita Gassy Kids Syrup, which contains not only chamomile, but also fennel, lemon balm and linden.

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