Why Avocados are Amazing

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If you have read our recent blog on fat, you learned the many reasons why we need healthy fats in our diet to function optimally. Avocados are an example of a healthy fat. So go for the guacamole when seeking out a healthy appetizer!

Avocados are high in oleic acid (also known as Omega-9), a mono-unsaturated fat that research has shown to help prevent heart disease and even cancer! As if that isn’t enough good news, avocados can actually help increase the absorption of nutrients from other vegetables! This is a concept known as nutrient fusion. For instance, a salad with lettuce, carrots, some spinach, and salsa is rich in carotenoids (example: beta carotene), which are extremely health-promoting. Add an avocado in your salad, and you automatically increase your body’s ability to absorb those nutrients! Why? Because these carotenoids are lipophilic (which means they are soluble in fat, not water); if you eat them along with a healthy fat, like avocados, you enhance their bioavailability!

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Nutrition proves this point. Adding avocado to a salad increased absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these carotenoids absorbed when an avocado-free salad was eaten. Amazing stuff, isn’t it!

 

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The Lowdown on Sugar

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It seems like most major holidays are centered on sugar. Halloween is all about candy. Thanksgiving is just as much about the pies as it is the turkey and stuffing. The Christmas season is filled to the brim with cookies. And today, Easter, is a day when children everywhere become excited about the jelly beans and other candy goodies in their Easter baskets.

Did you know that it takes walking one entire football field to burn off ONE M&M?? Excessive sugar consumption is bad for you health. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Increases risk of cardiovascular disease – increases bad cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Increases risk of obesity – promotes belly fat specifically
  • Creates an addictive response to the brain
  • Causes inflammation
  • May be linked to cancer
  • Can be toxic to the liver
  • Accelerates the aging process
  • Zaps energy
  • Increases unwanted cravings
  • Promotes sleep trouble
  • Harmful to teeth
  • Can suppress your immune system

Sugars in your diet can be naturally occurring or added. Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons

4 grams of sugar = one teaspoon

The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to an extra 350 calories. Some people consume as much as 25-30 teaspoons of sugar per day and don’t even realize it! And with holiday candy in your midst, you may be consuming way more than 30 teaspoons a day.

So think twice before you reach into the Easter candy bowl.

Why Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is Amazing

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Did you know that bottle in the back of your cabinet actually has a lot of beneficial properties? I have recently learned so much about this household item. Apple cider vinegar has numerous benefits from being a phenomenal cleaning agent to making a great dressing for your salad.

One of the benefits of ACV is that it can ease an upset stomach. Are you feeling bloated? Nauseous? Stomach full of cramps? Simply add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a small glass of water can solve your discomfort. The stomach discomfort is typically because of bacteria and the vinegar contains pectin, which has soothing properties.

Another benefit of ACV is that it can eliminate hiccups. Hiccups happen when you have air trapped in your digestive tract. The hiccup is your body’s attempt to rid the excess air with muscle spasms. Having a teaspoon of ACV relaxes your muscles and in turn eliminates those pesky hiccups.

ACV can also help cure a variety of cold symptoms.  Gurgling with two ounces of apple cider vinegar mixed with two ounces of warm water will soothe a sore throat. Along with fixing a sore throat, apple cider vinegar will clear your nose of congestion and stuffiness. The potassium in the vinegar makes your mucus thinner, while the acid reacts with the bacteria. This can relieve your stuffy feeling almost instantly.

Not only can ACV help with your cold, but also, it can help in the cold months with dry scalp. You may experience dandruff, which can be embarrassing. Mixing the vinegar with water and then with your shampoo will help your dry scalp. Again, the acidity in the vinegar prevents germs from invading your skin and prevents a dry scalp.

You are probably recognizing a trend; ACV helps almost any condition that is bacterial in nature. It can even be helpful in treating acne. It kills the bacteria on the surface of your skin and leaves you with clear, smooth skin that will be sure to make you happy.

Falling asleep during work? Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee, try grabbing some ACV. Having one tablespoon of vinegar gives you the same amount of energy as a cup of coffee.

Did you learn something new? I know I sure have had my eyes opened to this common household item. Next time I have an issue, I’ll be grabbing my apple cider vinegar first!

Fix your Gut Health and Thrive

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probioticsChances are, at some point in your life, you have experienced digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation). And you are not alone! Over 100 million Americans have intestinal health problems, ranging from chronic constipation to Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS). These discomforts are signals that you need to improve your gut health and get this? If you mend your gut (intestinal) health, you are doing way more than aiding your digestion—you are improving your overall health! How?

Your gut is actually responsible for 70-90% of your immune system. You need your gut to be healthy in order to assimilate the nutrients you need to be healthy overall. And do you realize that a healthy gut can improve your mood? Consider your gut as your “second” brain; its nervous system actually has more neurotransmitters (mood boosters) than your brain!

Your intestinal tract is home to 100 trillion microorganisms—there are 10 times more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your entire body! In order to establish a healthy gut, you need to make sure that the healthy bacteria in your intestines are thriving and the unhealthy bacteria are not. Sadly, many factors in today’s lifestyle contribute to the production of unhealthy bacteria, including: antibiotics, stress, processed food (particularly refined grains and sugars devoid of fiber).

So the first step to improving your gut health is to improve your diet. Try the 90/10 rule, making sure that 90% of your food is wholesome and nutritious and allowing yourself some not-so healthy treats from time to time. A diet comprised of plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruit will make your digestive flora happy. Fermented foods will even further boost your healthy gut flora; try kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi (a delicious Korean delight), or sauerkraut. Also, keep your stress levels in check; consider yoga, tai chi, or meditation. And the best way to assure that your healthy gut flora thrive is to take a probiotic along with your healthy, wholesome food plan.

My favorite probiotic is Just Thrive. Many of the probiotics on the market do not survive in your intestinal system so they aren’t all that helpful. With Thrive, 100% of the healthy flora, in their capsules, survives and hence, you thrive quite literally. Since I have been taking Just Thrive probiotics, I feel more energetic and ready to take on any challenge! I have also noticed that I rarely catch colds, even when I am surrounded by people who have nasty bugs that are swarming around.

Get your gut health in order and you will thrive!

Let’s Talk About Fat

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These are GOOD fats!

 

Fat is often deemed the enemy; people fear that the fat they consume will end up on their midsection.  However, the truth is that not all fats are bad. In fact, we all need fat for survival; it is essential for brain, nerve, and skin cells to function properly and grow.

Did you know that you also need fat to surround your organs as a protective layer that insulates and holds them in place? Without this surrounding fat, you experience more pain and discomfort and you may develop other health issues. Also, fat is used to regulate your overall body temperature. This is something that most people don’t really think about, but your body is focused on keeping you alive and healthy; fats help you in this process.  And fat is responsible for giving you energy as well! You need to simply become aware of what types of fat are good for you and what fats are bad for you.

You want to avoid saturated fats and trans fats. These two fats are solid at room temperature. Butter is an example of saturated fat. Most people have butter sitting on their counter all day and night, year-round. Notice how the shape of the butter stays the same no matter how long it stays out of the refrigerator. Crisco is an example of trans fat. Many people use this in baking; it stays solid in their cupboard for years.  Consuming these types of fat will raise your bad cholesterol levels and lower your good cholesterol levels. In doing this, your chances of having a stroke or developing heart decrease greatly increase.

The two types of fats we need in our diets to survive are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These two types of fats are liquid at room temperature. Olive oil and canola oil are examples of these beneficial fats. The good fats increase your good levels of cholesterol and lower your bad levels of cholesterol, lowering your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Some other helpful examples of good fats are avocados, nuts, seeds, and oily fish like tuna or salmon.

Don’t be afraid to eat some fat in your everyday lives. Become aware of the type of fats in your go-to snacks and meals and see if you can mix it up to be healthier! Try making your eggs with olive oil instead of butter. Look to nuts and dried fruit for a snack instead of cookies and candy, which are often laden with saturated fat and trans fat. Once you become aware and knowledgeable about what you are putting in your mouth, the rest will fall into place!

 

 

Push-Up Your Life

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Pushups. Quick, what’s the first thing you think of when hear the word pushups? Your mind probably wanders off to some scary memories of being forced into doing them in gym class. Don’t  worry; it is completely okay to admit that you laid on the floor when the gym teacher turned their back. We were all there at one time in our lives, no need to be embarrassed. You’re probably a little curious as to why I’m stirring up memories from gym class. Well, your gym teacher wasn’t completely crazy.

Pushups actually make for a great full-body workout.You know that familiar burn you feel when you lower your body down to the floor? That’s created by the use of multiple muscles. Pushups are one of the only simple workouts that targets all of these muscles. You feel the burn in your biceps, core muscles, triceps, anterior deltoids, and your lower body muscle groups. All of these groups are activated to stabilize your body during the up and down movements. Targeting all of these muscles makes pushups known as a compound exercise. Doing pushups also stretches your muscles. When you lower your body down to the floor, your back muscles are stretched and when you push yourself back up, your biceps are stretched. This improves your flexibility, helps prevent injuries, and gives you the toned appearance you desire.

Pushups also enhance your cardiovascular system because you heart has to work harder to pump blood to all of the muscles being used. In doing this, you support your heart and work on reducing your stored fat.

Did you know that pushups can protect your from obtaining shoulder injuries? I know nobody wants to talk about getting old, but it’s inevitable. As you age, a common injury rotator cuff damage Doing pushups regularly is one of the most effective waysto protect and prevent your shoulder joint from injury. In today’s society, everyone has their nose stuck in a tablet or on their cellphone. With the advances in technology comes bad posture. Pushups are known to improve your posture. In order to have proper posture, your core muscles need to be strong and stabilized to support vertical positions. When pushups are properly executed, your core muscles are strengthened and fine-tuned, increasing your posture in the long run because your body will want to be more in line.

So the next time someone mentions doing pushups, take a moment and remember all of the benefits it has for you before you roll your eyes and pass!

 

Powerful Pomegranates

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Pomegranates are one of the top a super foods you can consume; super foods contain an abundance of nutrients with superior health benefits. These red, round fruit are tricky. You don’t want to bite into them; you want to break them open and consume the seeds. I know it’s weird; we’ve been taught to not eat the seeds of the majority of fruits, but you have to trust me on this one. Pomegranates have an eye-opening amount of benefits for your body. For starters, pomegranates are packed filled with fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Another good thing about pomegranates is that they are filled with powerful antioxidants that contain anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is known to cause heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even obesity.

Eating pomegranate seeds contain the necessary components to aid with the reduction of inflammation to help you live a healthier life. Pomegranates help fight against prostate and breast cancer as well! Pomegranate juice can inhibit cancer growth and lower the risk of death. Having trouble with maintaining your blood pressure? Adding pomegranates to your regular diet can lower your blood pressure, which can reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Gaining years in your life can lead to becoming wiser, but it also leads to arthritis and joint pain. No fun! Consuming pomegranates has been shown to reduce arthritis and joint pain. Also, they contain an antibacterial property that can be used to fight off germs and disease within your mouth. If these aren’t enough reasons to start eating pomegranates, then how about the benefit of increasing your memory? This benefit is great for any age. Do you ever get that 2 o’clock slump? Don’t grab that cup of coffee, reach for your pomegranate seeds because they can wake you up just as much. Healthy is kind of the new trend nowadays. So why not jump on the bandwagon and be a healthy version of yourself? Eating pomegranates will be the right start to improve your health.