Kale, Glorious Kale!

I think we can all agree that kale is a step ahead most vegetables in terms of nutritional content.  From the immune support to visual benefits, kale has been keeping people healthy for centuries.  In this list, I will give you my top five reasons you should incorporate kale into your diet and a few different ways to prepare it!

Reasons to Eat Kale:

  • Kale Fights Cancer: It is so rich in antioxidants that it has the ability to fight against the growth of cancer and Alzheimer’s.  It is also packed with vitamin K, another contributing factor to stopping the development of deadly diseases.
  • Kale Lowers Cholesterol: It has been proven to lower high cholesterol levels and support healthy cholesterol levels, an intricate component to cardiovascular health.
  • Kale is a Detoxifier: It is laden with vitamins and minerals that support a healthy immune system and detoxifies your body of different toxic, harmful chemicals.
  • Kale and Calories: Eat as much as you want!  In one cup there are only 33 calories, .6 grams of fat, 329 grams of fat, and over 130% of your daily value of vitamins A and C.
  • Kale Helps Visually: Because it contains coratenoids, it can help protect your eyes from ultraviolet light.

How to Prepare Kale:

  1. Smoothie: Put one bunch of kale in any smoothie to give yourself that extra boost. But be aware if you suffer from thyroid dysfunction, as kale contains goitrogens that inhibit thyroid function.  Before adding to your smoothie, make sure you blanch your greens to deactivate the goitrogens and still get all the nutritional punch.
  2. Soup: Use kale in  soup to increase the nutritional value of the broth and add a different texture and taste.
  3. Pizza: Who doesn’t love pizza?  Put kale on any your pizza to give your pizza some color.

 

References

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/food-cocktails/a5558/best-kale-recipes/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-health-benefit-of-kale-diet-cautions.html

 

The Health Benefits of Berries

Berries are known as one of the best natural sources of antioxidants that help with everything from memory loss to heart health.

Eating berries just a few times a week can help you mentally as you age.  According to research in Annals of Neurology, it has been proven that women over 70 who eat two servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries a week experience less mental decline than those who don’t.  Compounds in berries have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the part of the brain with learning and memory centers.

Blueberries go a step further in age prevention and help delay all eye related aging.   From disease prevention to helping with loss of vision, blueberries are the most effective berries for anti-aging.

Berries are also helpful in combating high blood pressure and heart disease.  Working berries into your diet will help promote healthy blood flow.  Compounds found in berries get rid of bad cholesterol in your system, as well as strengthen cardiac muscles.  All of these benefits stem from the overwhelming amount of anti oxidants found in berries.

Consuming berries can help contribute to weight loss.  With fewer than 100 calories in a full cup, blueberries are especially helpful.  They are so low in calories because they are mainly made of up liquid.  Eating berries as a snack or with a meal leads to feeling more satisfied and satiated after eating, which is enormously helpful when trying to lose weight according to dietitian Nancy Coperman.  Rich with fiber and vitamin C, berries can make up dietary deficiencies that would otherwise be missed.

Certain berries, such as raspberries and blueberries, have been linked to cancer prevention.  The berries’ compounds are attributed to the death of cancer cells in the colon cancer and ovarian cancer.

What’s your favorite berry?

References

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition-pictures/amazing-health-benefits-of-berries.aspx#01

http://www.womenfitness.net/top10/blueberries/

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/blueberries-nutritious-things-come-in-small-packages_

 

Healthy Habits Challenge 1

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Drink Your Greens!

Green smoothies are all the rage.  From celebrities to athletes, people love green smoothies and the effects it has on the mind and body.  In this article, I am going to show you why you should start drinking your greens every day!

Green smoothies are smoothies made from primarily greens such as kale, spinach and Swiss chard, mixed with other assorted fruits to even out taste.  Many people like to add strawberries, mango, kiwi or blueberries because of their sweetness.  You can also add protein powder and other powdered supplements to kill two birds with one stone.

Why are people raving about green smoothies?  Well for one, green smoothies are extremely versatile.  You can drink them to both gain and lose weight.  Adding certain components to green smoothies can make them meal replacements, something more common when incorporating green smoothies into a cleanse.  Green smoothies can also be used to gain weight, as they are an easy way to take in extra calories that provide an abundance of nutritional value.

Green smoothies can also play a role in clearing your head.  The more fried, processed junk food you eat, the foggier your head can become, impairing your ability to concentrate, stay alert and work diligently.  By replacing the junk food with a green smoothie, it will clear your head and get you ready for anything you need to do throughout the day.  Opting for the green smoothie can also dampen those cravings for junk food!

Introducing green smoothies to your diet can also help your physical appearance!  The smoothies will not only help you lose weight, they can rid your skin of acne and wrinkles.  Because the contents of the smoothie have detoxifying properties, blemishes will disappear.  The extra skin hydration will also keep your skin tight and free of wrinkles.

Do your research.  Go online and find green smoothies that work and sound tastiest to you!  There is something for everyone, and the health benefits are limitless.  By incorporating green smoothies into your diet, you could be feeling and looking better than ever.  I’ve included a recipe for you to try 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

http://www.greenthickies.com/health-benefits-of-green-smoothies/

 

6 ways to lose weight this summer

Are you looking to lose a few pounds this summer?  Here are 6 ways to get started.

Eat Healthy:

Most of the people that are losing weight stop eating properly or cut out their food intake which is a wrong approach. You don’t need to starve yourself. This will make you weak rather than help you lose weight. If you are looking to burn some calories this summer, you need to eat well. Eat Clean. Ditch processed foods. Eat the rainbow daily.

Choose your drink wisely:

You need to careful what are you having with your drinks. You need to remain hydrated during summer, but your drink can contain many calories that can push you away from your fitness goals. You have to ditch your sweet drinks such as soda, energy drinks and sweet coffee and tea. Cutting out these sweet drinks can result in few pounds of weight loss. But do remain hydrated throughout the day. Drink 8 glass of water, and you will eliminate the need of these sweet drinks.

Cut out Alcohol Intake:

Alcohol also contains sugar, and it sets of the insulin resistance which can result in weight gain. So, if you are looking to lose some weight, you need to have a break from alcohol. There is no nutritional benefit in drinking alcohol, and if it is taking you away from your healthy goal, then it is better to leave it.

Burn calories in fun way:

Summer can get you with its hot weather, so you need to do add such activities in your routine that you enjoy the most. For example, you can go for a swim or walk on the beach. This way you can turn your daily routine into a workout.

Exercise:

You don’t have to train insane in the gym but do start with some fat burning activities.  Walking, running, cycling, rowing, and swimming are all great things to try.  This will help you to achieve your desired toned body quickly.

Sleep well:

Don’t compromise on your sleep. As you are working out your body in the day time, you need to give it proper rest. In summer people often feel a bit lazy. Proper sleep will help you to feel balanced and refreshed all day. Plus, when we are tired we often reach for junk food.

It’s time to embrace change.  Most people resist changing their habits. If you continue with your current routine, you are probably not going to have any change in your weight.   Make some positive and healthy changes to your habits and have an awesome summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Hydrated!

Everyone knows that is it important to drink water and stay hydrated, but just how important is it, and what can the consequences of dehydration be?  In this article, you will learn why staying hydrated is imperative to your health and how to stay hydrated, even on the hottest of days.

Are you dehydrated right now?  Here are a few signs to tell if you are dehydrated: dry mouth, headache, dizziness or fatigue and little to no urine.  If you have experienced any of those symptoms, go grab yourself a glass of water!  For most people, drinking water when they are thirsty is enough to keep them hydrated, but most have learned that the average person should drink 6-8 8 ounce glasses of water a day.

There will always be the question if drinking sports drinks like Gatorade or energy drinks like Red Bull will keep you hydrated.  For the record, those are two totally different drinks that have different effects on your body.  Sports drinks can be very beneficial to those who exercise regularly because of their electrolyte and carbohydrate content, but if you are not exercising, sports drinks are just additional sugar and carbs that are unnecessary to your diet.  Personally, I prefer coconut water when I am exercising.  It’s low sugar, carb and calorie and naturally replenishes lost electrolytes.

Energy drinks, on the other hand, are not at all good for you.  Sure, they may give you a boost when you need it, but the negative effects they can have on your body far outweigh the benefit of a boost of energy.  Most energy drinks contain massive amounts of caffeine and added sugar that are just flat out not good for you.

Here are some of my tips to stay hydrated in a healthy way throughout the day:

  • Bring a reusable steel or aluminum water bottle with you during the day.  It will be a constant reminder to hydrate and helps to avoid the negative effects of plastic water bottles.
  • Drink a large cup of water before any meal.  It is not rare for our bodies to confuse thirst with hunger.  If you down a glass before a meal, you will eat a smaller, more appropriate portions.
  • Drink one or two glasses of water when you wake up and when you go to sleep.  This helps you start and end your day with hydration and creates a routine.

Reference

http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/hydration-why-its-so-important.html

What is an Anti -Inflammatory Diet?

While inflammation is a natural sign that your body’s immune system is aware and ready to fight off infection, it has become clear over the years that inflammation can have devastating effects on the body when it is unnecessary.  It is important to do everything you can to avoid chronic inflammation and in this post, I will show you how you can do that with something as simple as your food choices.

Including a wide variety of fresh, unprocessed foods into your diet is an important first step.  It’s important to get every color of the rainbow on your plate each day in order to cover all your bases and get all of those essential vitamins and minerals.

Anti-inflammatory foods are  high in antioxidants, minerals and essential fatty acids.   Although many of these foods are fresh produce, there are others that may surprise you.  One of the best sources of Omega-3s you can eat is salmon.  The Omega-3s and other vitamins and minerals can help prevent heart disease, cancer and even arthritis.

Bone broth is another extremely helpful anti-inflammatory option.  It is rich in highly absorbable calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other vitamins and minerals.  Sipping a cup or two each day is a wonderful and delicious way to decrease inflammation.

Incorporate chia seeds and flaxseeds into your diet as well, for great anti-inflammatory benefits.  These seeds are an excellent source of fiber and omega-3s while also helping to reduce oxidative stress.

Dr. Axe’s top 15 anti-inflammatory include:

  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Bok Choy
  • Celery
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Salmon
  • Bone Broth
  • Walnuts
  • Coconut Oil
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger

It really isn’t difficult to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.  All you need to do is make sure to keep a fiber-rich, omega-3 laden diet that include a variety of fruits and  veggies.  Go experiment and see what you can come up with.  You will be surprised by just how delicious broadening your horizons can be!

 

References

https://draxe.com/anti-inflammatory-foods/

http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/health-centers/aging-gracefully/dr-weils-anti-inflammatory-diet/

My Tips for Getting Better Sleep

Everyone wants a restful, uninterrupted nights sleep.  There are few things in the world that bring the joy of waking up knowing the last night’s sleep has prepared you to conquer the day.

Here are my  tips on how to get a better nights sleep!

  1. Get in a Routine:  Do your best to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day.  Your body’s clock will get in the routine of knowing when is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up, making it much easier to fall asleep at night and get up in the morning.
  2. Get off the Couch:  By regularly exercising, your body will benefit more from the sleep you get each night.  Exercise will also increase time spent in deep REM sleep, which is the most important part of the sleep cycle.
  3. Clean Up Your Diet:  By avoiding alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and large meals before bed, your body will thank you with a more restful sleep.  It will help you fall asleep faster and have a more regular sleep cycle.
  4. Meditate Before Bed:  By clearing your head of the distractions of everyday life, your body will be more at ease when you go to sleep.  Take a moment to yourself and focus on nothing.  It will relax you and prepare you for a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.
  5. Sleep in the Right Environment:  Make your bedroom a place of rest.  That means eliminating anything that makes unnecessary sounds, having a bed that fits your needs, whether it be firm or soft, and keeping your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
  6. Avoid Long Naps:  Extended naps during the day can seriously mess with your sleep schedule.  Cap your nap at 15-20 minutes.  Those short power naps will energize you without causing you to still feel awake at bedtime.
  7. Kick Out the Pets:  When you let your bed sleep in your bed, you invite all kinds of obstacles to a good nights sleep.  You could react to pet allergies or have to deal with their movement throughout the night.
  8. Late Night Drinks:  Enjoy a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk before bed.  Both of these contribute to either the production of or releasing of serotonin or melatonin, both crucial factors when falling asleep and staying asleep.

In order to get the most out of your sleep, you need to make it a priority.  When you make sleep your priority, you will end up feeling more refreshed throughout the day and will be more productive overall.  Here are just a few things you can do to make sleep a priority.

  • Take the time to look at how you sleep.  Is your bedroom a dark, safe, relaxing place?   Are your mattress and pillows comfortable?  Do they give you enough support?  If you find yourself saying “no” to any of these questions, it may be time to reevaluate your sleep environment.  On average, a mattress should be replaced every seven years and pillows should be replaced every year.
  • Look around your bedroom.  What distractors are there that keep you from getting the sleep you need?  Take out anything work related, especially things that create stress.  You should also avoid using your smartphone, laptop, tablet or television for at least an hour before bed as well.  The backlight in those objects lead to the release of chemicals that tell your body it is daytime, making it significantly harder to fall asleep.
  • Make sure that if you are going to drink caffeine, you don’t do it later in the day.  I try not to have any caffeine after lunch to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact my sleep.
  • While many think it’s no big deal to have a couple alcoholic drinks in the evening, alcohol can actually have a huge negative impact on the quality of sleep.
  • Take shorter naps!  It has been shown that taking 20-30 minute naps during the day can seriously increase your work productivity and alertness without disrupting your sleep schedule in any serious way.  So close that office door and kick back for a few minutes every afternoon!

There are many more ways to help improve sleep quality, but these are some of the most important.  If you are serious about improving sleeping habits, do more research to find out other ways you could be getting better, more effective sleep!

 

References

http://www.bettersleep.org/better-sleep/how-to-sleep-better/sleep-tips/

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-tips-to-get-better-sleep

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm

Ingredients to Limit on Food Labels

It is super important to read food labels.  You need to know what is really in the food that you’re eating.  My biggest piece of advice is to try to purchase foods that don’t have a lot of ingredients, maybe less than 10, or no labels at all like fresh produce.  Another tip is to see how many unfamiliar words there are on the label.  Do you really want to eat something you can’t pronounce?  I don’t!!!  At first it may seem overwhelming to buy foods this way.  Remember that moderation is key.  If it is too hard for you to limit all of the items, try cutting back on a few.  We are looking for progress, not perfection.   Little changes do add up.

Here are my top fifteen ingredients you should watch out for on food labels.

  1.  Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG is commonly found in  processed foods, everything from canned goods to potato chips.  When you ingest MSG, it damages nerves by “overexciting” them, as well as harming brain cells and sparking your appetite, causing you to eat more.
  2. Artificial Flavors: Found in a majority of foods today, artificial flavors can have serious negative effects on your health.  These effects include reproductive complications, neurotoxicity and cancer causing tendencies.
  3. High Fructose Corn Syrup: High fructose corn syrup can be found in just about any sweet processed food.  Aside from it being made from genetically modified corn, high fructose corn syrup can cause accelerated weight gain, insulin resistance and even diabetes when consumed in large quantities over a long period of time.
  4. Table Salt:  We are not talking about sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, we are talking about man-made table salt.  Table salt contains over 30 chemicals and is bleached, causing spikes in blood pressure and is detrimental to the liver and kidneys.
  5. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Products:  Low-fat or fat-free products are a sham.  Because there is less fat in the product, manufacturers compensate by adding massive amounts of sugars and artificial sweeteners to give the taste of a full-fat food.
  6. Hydrogenated or Fractionated Oils: These two types of oils are toxic.  Hydrogenated oils, in effect, are used for preserving products.  When you consume the hydrogenated oils however, it is like pouring “plastic sludge” into your blood stream.  Fractionated oil, on the other hand, is the almost solid fat product extracted from oil and has extremely harmful effects on the body.
  7. Artificial Coloring: Artificial coloring has been linked to cancer.  Different colorings, such as Blue 1 and 2, as well as Red 3 and Green 3, are connected to cancers ranging from the thyroid to the bladder.
  8. Soy:  Marketed as a healthy product to consume, soy can have serious effects on health, especially for women.  It can disturb estrogen in women, cause early puberty in girls, and contribute to a reduced sex drive.
  9. Canola Oil:  Aside from being an effective insect repellant, canola oil has no benefit whatsoever to the human body.  It is extracted from plants that have been genetically modified and extensively bred.
  10. Potassium Sorbate:  Potassium sorbate began a revolution in food preservation.  While it will successfully keep food fresh, it is a carcinogen known to cause cell mutation in animals and have “toxic” effects on organs.
  11. Enriched Wheat: You should avoid anything that is labeled “enriched,” but especially enriched wheat.  Enriched wheat has added niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid and iron after they had already been removed while the wheat was being processed.  While these have been added back, the wheat now holds little to none of the nutritional value it started with.
  12. Sugar: Sugar is in almost every single processed food you can buy today.  Such a massive intake of sugar can influence an irregular metabolism, high blood pressure and eventually have a negative impact on the liver.
  13. Sucralose: Normally found in little yellow packets, sodas and protein shakes, sucralose is extremely dangerous.  Also called chlorinated sugar, sucralose contains chlorine, which is prevalent in bleach and disinfectants.  Chlorine does not at all work with your metabolic process and can even damage it if you consume enough.
  14. Aspartame: While aspartame is 200 times sweeter than conventional sugar and only has four calories per gram, it is considered a “multi-level carcinogen.”
  15. Polysorbate 80: Normally found in ice cream and vaccines, polysorbate 80 can have severe negative effects on your health.  Toxicology reports have found that polysorbate 80 weakens the immune system, can cause anaphylactic shock, can cause infertility, bring on premature puberty and even damage parts of female reproductive organs.

 

References

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2013/03/04/20-ingredients-to-memorize-and-avoid-in-any-food-you-consume/

http://www.skinnymom.com/food-labels-translated-part-1/

The Importance of Leafy Greens in Your Diet

Many people know that eating your leafy greens is important to a balanced diet, but WHY is it so important?

Green vegetables are one of the cornerstones of any healthy diet because they contain so many nutrients that benefit your body in a multitude of ways.  They are the perfect food to keep you full because greens are so high in fiber, which is great for weight loss.

Leafy greens, especially kale and collards, are full of calcium.  The calcium you get from consuming greens can lead to stronger bones, healthier muscle function and better overall blood pressure.

Vitamins E and C, found in many green vegetables, support healthy, glowing  skin and protect it from sun damage as you age.  These nutrients can also decrease risk of cataracts or macular degeneration.

Another essential vitamin prominent in leafy greens is vitamin K.  It prevents multiple age related conditions, as well as cardiovascular disease and kidney calcification.  The good news is that in just one cup of most green vegetables, there is at least your recommended daily value in vitamin K.

Incorporating at least five servings of green vegetables, especially leafy greens, into your diet every day, will support optimal health and vitality.  The age prevention qualities and benefits to your overall health are truly significant and can make an impact on the aging process.

Either raw or prepared, green vegetables can liven any dish with their bright green color and taste great with their soft, sometimes earthy taste and texture.  Expand your horizons and try new leafy greens whenever possible…..your body will thank you!

What is your favorite leafy green vegetable?

 

References

http://www.joybauer.com/food-articles/leafy-green-vegetables/

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/healthy-eating/6-health-benefits-of-leafy-greens/3/