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This Month We Celebrate Healthy Hearts, Love and Chocolate!

February is upon us, and this month we acknowledge the American Heart Month, the Chocolate Lover’s month and Valentine’s Day! It’s a great month to appreciate the good things in life, like abundant good health, strong relationships, and delicious chocolate! American’s eat 2.8 billion pounds or 11 pounds of chocolate per person in a year. The best news about chocolate and cocoa, ideally organic and non-GMO types, is that they positively impact your heart, your mood, and your relationships! Chocolate is linked to 37% lower risk of heart disease and appears to protect against high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes – all of which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, it has phenylethylamine “the love drug” that arouses feelings of attraction and excitement associated with the initial euphoria of falling in love. This chemical also acts as an anti-depressant by combining with dopamine a naturally produced neurotransmitter in the brain. The amino acid Tryptophan in chocolate is used by the brain to make the neurotransmitter serotonin which is noted for creating feelings of happiness and wellbeing. In addition to being a heart-healthy, mood enhancing food source, chocolate’s antioxidants are worth noting.

The darker the chocolate and the less processed – the higher antioxidant levels. Chocolate comes from cocoa beans which are rich in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols. Studies have shown individuals with high levels of flavonoids have a lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes. Penn State University showed that diets rich in cocoa powder and dark chocolate showed lower oxidation levels of bad LDL cholesterol, and higher blood antioxidant levels, and higher levels of good HDL cholesterol. As with all good things, moderation is the key to good health. The recommended amount is an ounce of dark chocolate a day. Select smart, wise ways to consume chocolate and always balance it with a healthy dose of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

Smart heart-healthy chocolate choices to consider include, making your own cocoa powder bars and smoothies with a nutritional product like Juice Plus chocolate complete powder. The only protein powder backed by scientific research supporting the numerous health benefits. This power gives you a health-enhancing dose of antioxidants from over 30 organic, non-GMO, dehydrated fruits and vegetables which provides you with a powerhouse of nutrition that supports every inch of your mind, and body.

One of the healthiest chocolate bar treats to share starting this month consists of – 1 mashed banana, 1 ½ cups dry oatmeal, 2 tbs ground flax seed, 2-4 scoops chocolate Juice Plus, ¼ cup organic peanut butter, ¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, ¼ cup coconut oil, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup water, ½ cup organic dark chocolate chips. Mix all ingredients and line an 8×8 inch pan with foil. Spread mixture in pan. Melt chocolate on the stove and drizzle over bar mixture. Place pan in the freezer until solid. Thaw slightly to serve. Another treat to try is a chocolate smoothie with a twist: 1 scoop chocolate Juice Plus+ complete powder, ½ frozen banana, ½ cup almond milk, 2 tsp organic peanut butter, ¼ cup water, 2 tsp unsweetened organic cocoa powder, and ¼ tsp cocoa nibs. Mix in a blender until blended, add nibs after mixing.

When we consider heart-healthy ways to consume the foods we love we feel less deprived which leads to us sticking with better, health-wise food choices. Moreover, making smarter nutritional decisions are further supported by us feeling better, looking better and performing better. Given the right nutrients, our bodies handle stress better, recover more quickly from illness and have the tools needed to fight disease. So, this month you can have your chocolate and your health. Bon appetite!

 

 

Posted in: Alzheimer’s, Health, JuicePlus, Nutrition

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January is the Month of Resolutions and Recognizing Thyroid Disease

January is the month of resolutions; renewed commitments to fitness, nutrition, nontoxic products, diet and taking better care of ourselves, are a few of many improvements we commit to annually. This month is a great time to look at making positive health changes. As we look inward, we may ponder areas we want to change or improve from last year. Some accomplishments we are proud of, and some, we feel could be improved, so we make big plans to make positive changes for the New Year. While our effort may be on target and our actions on the right path, some still struggle with seeing and feeling the results of major lifestyle improvements through diet, exercise, good nutrition, and nontoxic products. Often, mainstream or fad diets are only temporary solutions and they don’t get to the heart of the matter and searching for nontoxic products that won’t encourage disease and alter our hormones is challenging. Really, who can even pronounce half of the ingredients we need to avoid! Our health is unique with each of us carry DNA from our parents and previous generations which create our distinctive genic code that might carry alternations that impact our health. One of these alternations may well impact our thyroid. This disease is brought to our awareness in January, as millions of individuals are newly diagnosed with the disease and learn how to best manage it through medication, diet, alternative treatments, and lifestyle modifications, among other changes.
The thyroid gland is located below our Adam’s apple and wraps around the trachea (windpipe) and is controlled by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. Thyroiditis means “inflammation of the thyroid gland” and includes different variations of the disease such as” Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, postpartum thyroiditis, and subacute thyroiditis to name a few. Thyroiditis consists of an immune (antibody) attack on the thyroid causing inflammation and damage to the cells. Thyroid disease can be overactive (Hyperthyroidism) or underactive (Hypothyroidism). Our energy, weight, bone density, hair, skin and nail quality, among other things are impacted by this disease. The thyroid uses iodine to produce critical hormones, namely, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which are produced by the gland. When the thyroid hormone levels are low, the hypothalamus in the brain produces a hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TSH), which stimulates the thyroid gland to release more T4. When you have the disease your body either produces too much or too little of the hormones needed for proper function.
Thyroid function benefits from good nutrition as do all diseases. Non Genetically Modified Organisms (non-GMO), and Organic whole foods provide your body with nutrients to assist it in performing at optimal levels. Look for foods known to reduce inflammation, such as fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil. Some of the best foods include leafy greens which are packed with nutrients like vitamin A, C and K, potassium, and fiber. Fruits such as apples have skins that are rich in pectin and detoxify our body by sticking to toxic compounds like mercury and excreting them through our urine. Pectin also can limit the amount of fat our cells absorb, so it’s diet friendly. Seaweed is rich in iodine which feeds the thyroid with what it needs to function properly. Yogurt protects the thyroid because it’s rich in vitamin D which helps with weight maintenance, and provides good bacteria that support a healthy gut balance which positively impacts our weight. Salmon is one of the best fish for metabolism because of its anti-inflammatory properties from the omega-3 fatty acids. Also, studies suggest that fish fatty acids may signal thyroid cells in the liver to burn more fat. With all fish, it’s best to purchase wild-caught versus farmed to avoid contaminants that may impact your thyroid function. It’s difficult to get the recommended daily allowances of fruits and vegetables and omegas from fish and olive oil, so finding a supplement that is backed by scientific research that bridges the nutritional gap is vital to good health.
Another area that needs some mention is your skin. Your skin is also impacted by your thyroid so maintaining healthy skin begins with good nutrition and a healthy thyroid begins with removing products with toxins from your skin care and makeup. Look for those products that provide proof that they omit the hundreds of toxins currently in many of the products on the market. Skincare and makeup products aren’t regulated by the government, and self-regulation has its limits, so look for products that provide clear information that they clean from harmful ingredients. Your body will thank you.
New Year’s resolutions are easier to keep when you build your knowledge on what can help your body perform at its best through good nutrition and nontoxic products. Taking small steps towards changing bad choices and replacing them with good choices will help you age better, look better and feel better. Are you up for the challenge to feel and look your best?

 

Posted in: Alzheimer’s, Health, JuicePlus, Nutrition, Uncategorized

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Let Food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

The cold and snowy weather is upon us, and this is the time of year when our bones, muscles, and joints are more sensitive to the elements. For those with Rheumatoid Arthritis the soreness, stiffness, and achiness are even more pronounced. There is not a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but diet can help with reducing the symptoms.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” Hippocrates. This quote still rings true. The key to maintaining good health and minimalizing the symptoms of all chronic diseases is a well-balanced diet. Plant-based nutrition from a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, along with lean protein sources rich in Omega-3 fatty acids will give your body what it needs to battle AD and other diseases.
Consuming fish and fish oils have been shown to relieve inflammation that results in morning stiffness which leads to tender joints. Fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, Albacore tuna, and salmon are rich in Omega-3s. The omegas in fish oil come from the algae fish eat. Omegas can also be obtained from plant-based sources such as Chia seeds, Brussels sprouts, Hemp Seed, Walnuts, Flaxseeds, and oils namely, Perilla Oil and Algal Oil among other sources.
Joint pain and stiffness can also be improved by increasing fiber intake from a variety of sources. Fiber helps lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, which is an indicator of Inflammation. Some of the best sources of fiber to lower CRP are oat bran, rye bran, and sugar beet fiber.
Including extra-virgin olive oil in your diet can also help reduce inflammation, similarly to that of ibuprofen or Aspin. It contains a compound called oleocanthal that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation. Despite it taking about 3 ½ tablespoons to equal the anti-inflammatory properties of ibuprofen, it has other health benefits so it’s a better alternative to your diet than other oils.
Other food sources that reduce inflammation are green tea, green tea extract, and resveratrol, cocoa, and dark chocolate, to name a few. Consider adding these food sources to your diet.
On the flip side, there are foods that increase inflammation in the body which should be avoided. Grilled meats, such as hamburgers, chicken, and other grilled meats can raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the blood. Higher AGEs have been detected in the blood of those with the AD. Other foods to avoid are those with omega-6 fatty acids as found in corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean oils, and many fried foods. These have been linked to increased inflammation in the blood.
Overall the best defense to fighting inflammation is a good diet. The Mediterranean diet which naturally includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetable and whole grains, among other goodies like red wine has been observed as the best diet for improving one’s overall health. What we eat matters at all stages of life, so as the New Year begins, now is the perfect time to improve your health with better food choices so you can have a great quality of life for years to come.

Posted in: Alzheimer’s, Health, Nutrition

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Bifidobacteria’s Role in a Healthy Gut.

With the New Year comes some food for thought..and health!

Our gut microflora (microbiome) holds trillions of microorganisms that regulate our immunity, endocrine system, digestion, and metabolism.

Recent discoveries link our gut microbiome with mood, cardiovascular health and the ability to fight disease. It appears that restoring optimum gut-flora balance may promote long-term health.

The most important gut microbiome is in the bifidobacteria group. Bacteria in this association appear to fight allergies, high cholesterol levels, respiratory diseases, diabetes, stress, and anxiety among other benefits. Unfortunately, as we age our bifidobacteria decline. Children have the highest levels, but over time – age, poor diet, and antibiotic use reduce our levels. According to the research, we start life with about 60% of healthy bifidobacteria, and by adulthood, we decline to 30%-40%, which falls to about 10% in late middle age to a low of 5% in old age.
It’s important as we age to provide bifidobacteria with the right food sources to grown and flourish in our guts. The number one source for this healthy bacteria is prebiotic soluble fiber. It’s worth noting that all prebiotics are fiber, but not all fiber is prebiotic. To be classified as a prebiotic food fiber must, 1) resist gastric acidity, enzymatic hydrolysis, and upper gastrointestinal tract absorption, 2) be fermented by intestinal flora, 3) stimulate growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria.

There are several prebiotics that aid in shifting the microbial in our gut, but one stands out from the crowd, xylooligosaccharides (XOS). XOS are found in Bamboo shoots, Chicory Root, Jerusalem artichoke, Dandelion Greens, Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Asparagus, Wheat Bran, Banana, and honey, among other fruits, vegetables, and additional sources. There are also supplements of XOS, but be careful to check the brand to ensure quality and consistency. Several brands can be researched on consumerlab.com to verify excellence.

As you review your New Year resolutions for positive healthy habits, pay close attention to your inner body and the relationship your gut has with your overall health. What you put in and on your body matters. Consider adding XOS to your diet in a form that makes sense to you. Improve your microbiome with a diet high in prebiotic soluble fiber, and you may find that your health, mood, and ability to fight disease will improve.

 

Posted in: Health, Nutrition

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Food and Alzheimer’s prevention

What we eat every day is a main source of health, and our natural disease killer.

The best way known to prevent Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases is to have a healthy lifestyle. It includes great nutrition (with nutrient-dense foods- high in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, low in sugar and toxins); regular aerobic exercise (especially when you enjoy it); good sleep (in a routine and truly restful); and being happy (doing what you love, building healthy relationships, and managing stress).
It is essential to be aware that lifestyle is constant, habitual, and built throughout our lives. Thus, start with one of its areas and improve – you will definitely see results with consistency.
On this post the main goal is to share information about how to use food in our favor. As the father of medicine Hippocrates said once: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Today, learn about some foods that are great for the body and for the mind. These are exceptional foods, great for Alzheimer’s disease prevention but also for overall health.

 

 

The Brain Foods

1.Blueberries

The anthocyanins and flavonoids found in blueberries are polyphenols that act as powerful, natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, so they help protect the entire body from free radicals and inflammation. Studies have shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats. It is not fully understood how these plant nutrients affect the brain, but it is likely that the polyphenols improve nerve connections and stimulate cell repair. Make sure you implement your diet with some blueberries.

 

2. Wild Salmon

This and other deep water fish (mackerel, sardines) are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are an essential part of brain structure and function. This fatty acid can lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, a protein related to Alzheimer’s. A Columbia University study found that the more Omega-3 fatty acids a person eats, the lower their blood beta-amyloid levels. The recommended is about 8oz per week.

 

3. Nuts and Seeds

There are so many different options of flavors,presentation and ways to use these amazing foods that no one can get bored! Walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, flax seed, as well as nut butters (without sugar) and tahini. Almonds and Hazelnuts are two of the most concentrated sources of vitamin E available, and vitamin E intake is generally associated with less age-related cognitive decline. Walnuts are the top nut for brain health. They have a significantly high concentration of DHA, a type of Omega-3, which has been shown to protect brain health in newborns, improve cognitive performance in adults, and prevent or ameliorate age-related cognitive decline. DHA is also related to neurogenesis, the regeneration of neurons.

 

4. Avocado

Healthy unsaturated fats in avocados help keep your brain cell membranes flexible, according to Kansas State University. A study published in the October 2012 issue of the “Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology” found that monounsaturated fatty acids helped protect nerve cells in the brain known as astrocytes, which provide support to information-carrying nerves. Its monounsaturated fats also help in lowering the blood pressure, associated with brain health. Enjoy it in your guacamole, a green avocado smoothie or as a side.

 

5. Spinach, Kale, and other Leafy Greens

Full of antioxidants and fibers. The antioxidants protect your cells against free radical damage, either the naturally produced in our bodies or the one obtained from external stresses. Fibers are essential for the gut microbiome health (known to influence in all processes of the body), and they help in maintaining blood sugar levels, strongly related to brain diseases. There are many creative ways of including these great vegetables in your diet, and they do taste delicious!

 

 

6. Cocoa or Dark Chocolate

Research already shows that the cocoa in dark chocolate, which contains flavonoids (a plant compound that helps with the body’s circulation), can help combat heart disease. Also, flavonoids may help slow down the effects of dementia. Its is known to have powerful antioxidant properties, and it stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood. Always prefer chocolate 70% or more in cocoa. Enjoy with moderation for anything that has sugar or just freely enjoy it in unsweetened recipes!

 

Implementing good foods not just as part of a diet, but as part of a routine and leisure is the key to the healthy lifestyle we all look for. Start with small steps and build the best version of yourself!

 

Resources

Web MD 

Huffpost

BrainHQ

SFGate

Posted in: Alzheimer’s, Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized

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