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Lack of Appetite: Four Typical Causes

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Eating delicious foods can be one of the greatest pleasures in life, and a healthy appetite is a sign of positive wellbeing.  People who develop a lack of appetite lose their desire to eat.  They either experience complete disinterest, or the idea of eating makes them feel nauseous.  While a number of factors may cause appetite loss, four in particular are worth noting.

People who develop a lack of appetite either experience complete disinterest, or the idea of eating makes them feel nauseous

1.  Chronic Disease

Lack of appetite is a common symptom of a number of chronic diseases.  These include liver disease, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, HIV, hypothyroidism, gastroparesis, and kidney or heart failure.  People with cancer of the ovaries, pancreas, colon, or stomach may also find their appetite lacking. 

Nutritious snacks high in protein and calories help people with chronic illness or cancer maintain body weight while trying to recover.  Eating small amounts several times throughout the day and supplementing with liquid protein drinks can be helpful.  Supportive family members can keep favorite foods handy and record meals in a food diary for reference.

2.  Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is most common in women from 35 to 65 years of age.  It is a condition in which the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone.  It causes a range of symptoms, including lack of appetite, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and brittle nails.

A simple blood test can determine whether people suffer from an inactive thyroid.  Doctors usually prescribe synthetic T4 (levothyroxine sodium), in the form of a daily pill, to bring the thyroid hormone into the normal range.

Related:  Three Hormonal Causes of Depression

3.  Medications

Use of certain medications can affect the appetite.  These include:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Codeine
  • Diuretics
  • Morphine
  • Sleeping pills
  • Tranquilizers

Regardless if it is listed above, people who experience a lack of appetite in conjunction with starting a new medication should consult with their doctor for solutions, which may include changing the drug or dosage.  People should not stop taking their medication without their doctor's approval.

4.  Depression

A change in appetite is one of the most common signs of depression.  For some people, depression increases appetite, and for others it leads to a lack of appetite.  When people experience appetite loss along with symptoms like sadness, guilt, disinterest in activities, digestive issues, sleep problems, or nausea, they should consult with a medical doctor or mental health care professional.

A healthy diet may help ward off depression.  According to research, a Mediterranean-style eating plan high in fruits vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fatty fish can help lower risks for depression.  Studies also show that deficiencies in vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and tryptophan can have a negative influence on mood.

While periods of appetite loss are normal, a persistent lack of appetite is not.  It can be a symptom of chronic disease, cancer, hypothyroidism, depression or a reaction to a new medication.  People should contact their health care provider if appetite loss is chronic or if they are shedding weight without trying. 

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Women’s Top Five Health Concerns

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Advancing years, the sudden onset of illness, or the death of someone close can all make us think about our own health. According to Saralyn Mark, M.D. there are five main medical conditions that top the list of women’s health issues. We look at the risk factors for each and see how experts suggest we can be proactive in reducing or preventing such health problems.

Breast cancer is one of the top five women’s health issues

#1 Heart Disease

As the leading cause of death, heart disease is responsible for around 29% of all deaths in women, according to the CDC.  Although we eventually all have to die, it is the premature death or limitations caused by heart disease that is the greatest health concern.

Regular health checks to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol can help reduce the risk along with a healthy diet, regular exercise, non-smoking and maintaining a normal body weight. Any new symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest, and shoulder or jaw pain should be reported to your doctor and investigated.

Related:  Yoga Lowers Fatigue and Inflammation in Breast Cancer Survivors

#2 Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is understandably one of the main women’s health issues as it is the most common cancer for women. Risk factors include family history, age, alcoholism, lack of children, genetics and race, with Caucasian women having a higher risk of developing the disease than African-American women.

Regular self-examination can detect lumps at the earliest stage, along with mammograms. Fear and denial can stop women going to see their doctor when a lump is discovered, and this can be crucial for the best chance of survival. 

#3 Osteoporosis

Another disease that affects women is osteoporosis, due to lower estrogen levels after menopause. This “brittle bone disease” affects 44 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

Clinical trials by the NOF show that taking 1,000 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D daily reduces the risk of hip fracture and osteoporosis. Those most at risk are small, thin women with a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, particularly Caucasian and Asian women or those with as family history of osteoporosis.

#4 Depression

Depression commonly affects women more than men, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, around 12 million women are affected each year. It may be triggered after giving birth or due to hormonal changes. Those with a family history of depression, marital problems, a stressful life or taking medications known to cause depression are most at risk. Having a purpose in life such as a job, a pet, volunteering and community work can all help. Regular exercise also releases endorphins that lift mood.

#5 Autoimmune Diseases

Disorders such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and lupus are among this group of chronic diseases. Autoimmune diseases are not widely understood and you may need to consult a specialist to diagnose and address these women’s health issues that affect three times more women than men. Worrying about your health can only make things worse. Instead, take every precaution to eat and exercise sensibly, top up with daily supplements and if anything is amiss, share it immediately with your doctor. 

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Weakness: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

by IVL Products

We can all experience physical weakness at times, perhaps after a serious illness, or when we’re tired, overworked or exhausted. Short-term weakness usually passes when the cause is rectified, whether it is lack of sleep, stress or fighting sickness. 

Weakness can affect the whole body

If you are experiencing ongoing weakness that does not seem to improve, you need to take steps to discover the cause and treat it. There are many possible causes of weakness including:

  • Poor diet
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Colds and flu
  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Low blood sugar
  • Stress

It could also be caused by more serious medical conditions such as cancer, stroke or heart attack.   

Related:  Heart Health Benefits of Meditation

Let’s first eliminate some simple possible causes of weakness:

Poor Diet causes Weakness

If weakness is due to poor diet or intense weight-watching, analyze what you are eating. You should be enjoying a balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fat. According to the Institute of Medicine, 45-65% of our daily calorie intake (2,000 calories total for men and 1800 for women) should come from carbohydrates, preferably multigrain bread, brown rice, beans and lentils. Ten to 25% should be derived from protein such as meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products, and around 30% of our daily calories should be from healthy fats which the body uses for energy or stores as glucose.

Colds and Sickness

In winter, colds and flu can weaken the body’s immune system. The after effects of any virus, sickness or surgical procedure can leave the body feeling drained and weak. Try eating well and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to boost vitamin intake and antioxidants. Consider taking a multivitamin or supplement to ensure your body is getting all the help it needs to restore itself to full health again. Another easy way to boost energy is with a green drink or smoothie to help boost immunity, provide antioxidant support and improve digestion.

Other Causes of Weakness

Try to analyze whether you are suffering from full body weakness or isolated weakness. Think back to when the weakness first began and to what it may be related. If you cannot find an obvious cause for general weakness and it does not improve, you may need to consult a doctor.

If at any time your weakness is accompanied by difficulty breathing, then you should call 911 immediately, as it could indicate a more serious medical condition. Your doctor will determine the underlying cause and treat accordingly.

In the meantime, make sure you enjoy a healthy balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, enjoy daily exercise and any weakness should soon be a thing of the past. 

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Seven Keys to Lasting Weight Loss

by Health News

More than two in every three adults in the USA are overweight or obese—so says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). If you are one of the 66% majority, you may be wondering what is the best diet to lose weight? 

The best diet to lose weight includes plenty of green vegetables

There are plenty of diets to choose from: The South Beach Diet, the DASH Diet, the TLC Diet, the Flexitarian Diet and others, so why aren't we all skinny and healthy? These so called "fad" diets unfortunately fail to deliver long-term results.

Related:  What is the DASH Diet?

Instead, those serious about adopting the best diet to lose weight need to adjust to a whole new way of eating. By consuming whole, fresh foods your body will gradually shed those excess pounds and your heart, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels will all be healthier too. With this diet, it’s not a list of things you can’t eat, but a list of things you must include, such as:

1. Fruits and Vegetables

Aim to include 4-5 cups of fruit and vegetables in your daily diet in smoothies, salads and sides. Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that help prevent disease and keep your body fit and healthy.

2. Whole Grains

Whole grains such as quinoa, whole wheat (including flour), wild rice, whole-grain corn, oatmeal, popcorn and brown rice deliver protein, fiber, B vitamins and trace minerals to reduce heart disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity. Avoid terms such as "refined wheat", "brown bread" (made from refined wheat and colored with molasses), "multigrain" and "stone ground" unless they specify they are "whole grain.” 

3. Legumes

Beans, peas and lentils (pulses) make up the legume family. These edible seeds are crammed with protein, fiber and minerals, making them excellent ingredients to include as part of the best diet to lose weight.  

4. Raw seeds and Nuts

Raw seeds and nuts should be included in your diet in small amounts. Although unsaturated fats are high in calories, the body needs omega-3 fatty acids for brain function, supporting healthy red blood cells and fighting inflammation.

5. Cold-water Fish

Another excellent source of Omega-3 is cold water fish such as salmon and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends we eat oily fish at least twice a week, so make sure you include them in your new weight loss diet.

6. Free-range Poultry

Organic chicken is a low-fat source of high quality antibiotic-free protein with plenty of flavor. Protein helps dieters to feel full for longer, helping fight hunger pains and the urge to snack between meals.

7. Water

Drinking eight glasses of water per day is important to stay hydrated, flushing out toxins and helping you lose weight faster. Drinking a glass of calorie-free water with each meal helps you eat less and it slows down the digestive process so you feel satiated for longer.

These seven food groups comprise the best diet to lose weight and keep it off, so you can stay slim and healthy without resorting to the latest "wonder" diet. 

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The Effects of a Poor Diet on Your Heart

by Cindy Gray

“You are what you eat,” is as true now as it was generations ago when the saying became popular.  A poor diet wreaks havoc on your entire body, but one area in particular that takes a beating is your heart.  

A poor diet can negatively impact the health of your heart.

First there was the low-fat diet craze, followed by the low-carb diet.  Despite all the natural fat in many foods being replaced by partially hydrogenated oils, also knows as trans fats, heart disease continued to top the list as the number one killer of men and women.  We all went on a low-carb diet to reduce our cholesterol and lose weight since fat-free didn’t seem be working and suddenly steak and bacon were back on the menu.  Little did we know, until now, that diet fads would cause more harm than good.

Research over the past decade has found that trans fats, the kind used in most processed foods, is the real killer.  All those low-carb foods were loaded with sugar so we could choke them down. Now we know the combination of highly processed foods loaded with sugar and trans fats are literally killing us.

Related:  Heart Health—The Benefits of Meditation

A nutrient poor diet high in trans fats, lots of sugar that send blood glucose levels soaring and copious amounts of sodium is linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.  Notice this theme:  poor diet leads to weight gain, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, which all increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Eat Hearty Meals

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent these illnesses from happening in the first place.  What you eat can have a profound effect on your heart in a simple and delicious way.

Replacing fast foods and highly processed foods with healthy fats and foods with abundant vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will help stave off high blood pressure, bad cholesterol build up and prevent strokes and heart disease from developing.   Opt for fish like salmon, cod, herring or trout twice a week.  Choose lean cuts of chicken, pork and beef over those marbled with fat; keep portions sizes to about the size of your fist, and only eat them once or twice a week.

Nature provides in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only do these foods have a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they are low-fat, contain healthy glucose that does not lead to sugar-spikes and then crashes, and are full of fiber. Eating them instead of processed foods will help you keep your weight in check. You will not only feel good, but look that way too.

Heart Supplements

It is nearly impossible to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need to keep your ticker in tip-top shape.  A combination of a healthy diet and taking supplements is necessary to meet your dietary health goals each day.  Choosing a supplement with fish oil, Resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and quercetin is an easy way to get these heart healthy substances into your body every day.

Trading a nutrient poor diet for one that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but low in trans fats and carbs, will help promote longevity and a healthy heart. 

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Perimenopause and Mood: Understanding the Connection

by Health News

The “change of life” or menopause is a natural part of aging for most women when menstruating ceases. Around age 40, women may begin to notice irregular periods, increased feelings of anxiety and stress, have trouble focusing and even suffer from panic attacks. These mood changes are the result of declining progesterone levels, the phase that precedes menopause known as perimenopause.  This can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years and can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional wellbeing. 

The connection between perimenopause and mood.

Progesterone and estrogen live in harmony in a woman’s body after she goes through puberty and begins menstruating.  If these two hormones work harmoniously during the menstrual cycle, it promotes a feeling of balance and well-being.  If you become pregnant, progesterone levels increase and you experience feelings of contentment and happiness. After giving birth, estrogen and progesterone levels plummet and can cause post-partum depression until the hormones rebalance again.

It’s no secret to the medical community that progesterone has a profound effect on your mood.  There is plenty of clinical research documenting the increased rise in perimenopausal symptoms in women when they reach their late 30s and 40s, the time progesterone production begins to decline.  Most women only experience mild symptoms, but an unlucky few can be nearly incapacitated by the abrupt mood swings, stress and anxiety, sleep problems and have trouble focusing, making things difficult for them at home and work.

Take the Perimenopause Quiz

Take this brief quiz to determine if you may be experiencing perimenopause:

1.  Do you feel anxious or irritable more easily and more frequently than usual?

2.  Do you sometimes have difficulty focusing on the task at hand or suffering from occasional memory loss?

3. Are you experiencing sleep disturbances such as taking longer to fall asleep, difficulty remaining asleep, and not feel rested in the morning?

4. Are you experiencing physical changes, like weight gain even though your eating habits have stayed about the same?  Is your skin drier or oilier than usual?  Do feel more fatigued after your normal daily activities?

5. Are you experiencing feeling suddenly hot or waking up in the night with night sweats?  Do you feel palpitations in your heart for no apparent reason?

6. Are you experiencing vaginal dryness and a decreased interest in sex?

7. Are you urinating more frequently, even though you are not drinking significantly more liquids?

8. Is satisfaction and happiness with your life seeming decrease, even though nothing has change significantly in your career or relationships? Do you feel depressed sometimes without being able to explain why?

9. Have your periods become irregular, sporadic, or has your flow changed from what was once normal for you?

10. Are you in your late 30’s and early to middle 40’s?

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, then you are most likely entering into the life stage of perimenopause.  No two women will experience it the same. Some will have say yes to all of the above while others may only be experiencing two or three changes from the norm.

Sometimes perimenopause can last for several years or more; but the good news is, there are ways to help ease the transition. 

Related:  Is There Such a Thing As Early Menopause?

Diet

Combat weight gain, stress and anxiety by cutting out high carbohydrate sugary foods, limiting the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume and stay away from spicy foods that can trigger hot flashes. Filling up on vitamin and mineral loaded fruits and vegetables will help keep your weight in check, provide hydration to your skin, and help you avoid sugar crashes that will be more extreme with the fatigue that accompanies perimenopause.

Stress

Finding ways to relieve stress are critical when you are going through perimenopause and menopause.  Regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight, provide an outlet for anxiety and stress, and promote better sleep. Nothing is more stressful than insomnia and the severe fatigue and loss of mental focus that comes with it.  Keeping stress at bay will also help with symptoms of depression, which is common for many women going through perimenopause.

Supplements

It is especially important to get the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients in your diet to help ward off perimenopause and mood swings that are a result of radical hormonal changes. Getting plenty of vitamins C, E, and the complex B’s can improve cognitive function and are helpful to reduce symptoms.

Herbs like evening primrose oil can help relieve hot flashes and calm anxiety.  Ginkgo biloba has been linked to improved mental concentration, stimulates the libido and promotes blood flow to the brain.  St. John’s Wort is helpful for reducing insomnia, calming anxiety, relieving depression and also stimulates the libido.

Always be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements to avoid unfavorable and dangerous drug interactions.

Perimenopause and mood swings are an unavoidable phase of life for most women, but it does not have to be miserable.  Take charge of your symptoms with a few dietary changes, supplements to increase your progesterone levels and increased exercise. These changes can help you sail through the change to a positive new phase of life.

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Three Effects of Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise

by IVL Products

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight or obese.  In addition to genetics, a large body of scientific research points to a poor diet and lack of exercise as key factors.  A sedentary lifestyle paired with a diet high in processed foods and low in nutritious ingredients can lead to obesity and an array of other physical problems.  These include premature aging, poor bone health, and high blood pressure to name a few.

Three Effects of Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise

1.  Premature Aging

The effects of poor diet can be seen in the physical appearance.  A diet high in processed foods generates a surplus of free radicals.  These harmful compounds wreak havoc on skin cells, causing wrinkles, sagging, and age spots.  A sedentary lifestyle also adds years to the appearance.  A study from the University of St. Andrews reveals that lack of exercise enhances visible signs of aging, making faces look heavier and older.

2.  Poor Bone Health

When it comes to bone health, exercise and a nutritious diet go hand in hand.  Because it strengthens bones and muscles, physical exercise reduces the risks for osteoporosis.  As for nutrition, two key ingredients help promote strong bones:  calcium and vitamin D.  Calcium helps support bone structure, and vitamin D boosts the absorption of calcium and plays a role in bone growth.  

People with osteoporosis may slow the progression of the disease and prevent fractures by consuming adequate levels of these two nutrients.  Foods that offer rich sources of calcium and/or vitamin D include milk, eggs, sardines, salmon, collard greens, spinach, and fortified cereals.

Related:  Are You Malnourished?

3.  High Blood Pressure

Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle also affect blood pressure.  Processed foods and fast foods contain significant amounts of sodium and sugar, both of which contribute to higher blood pressure.  A sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to higher risks for high blood pressure

Prevention Magazine recommends adding foods to the diet like white beans, plain yogurt, tilapia, kiwi fruit, peaches, nectarines, bananas, kale, and red bell pepper.  Also recommended is regular cardiovascular exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, cross-country skiing, or jumping rope to reduce chances for high blood pressure and to strengthen the heart.

People see the effects of poor diet and lack of exercise across many areas.  To ensure a healthy body weight, youthful appearance, strong bones, and normal blood pressure levels, it helps to clean up the diet and get adequate amounts of exercise.

  • Eliminate processed and fast foods
  • Add more healthy fruits and vegetables to the shopping cart
  • Replace saturated fats with healthy fats
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days a week

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The Healthy Aging Guide to Blue and Purple Superfoods

by IVL Products

When it comes to healthy aging, anthocyanins and antioxidants play a critical role in keeping your cells healthy and warding off cancer, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.  

Healthy aging with delicious blue and purple superfoods

Anthocyanins are a group of compounds in the flavonoid family (flavonoids, isoflavones, etc.) and are what give foods like grapes, red cabbage and berries a blue, red or purple hue.  They are thought to be powerful antioxidants that help damaged cells repair themselves.  They also appear to reduce arterial stiffness and lower blood pressure to help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

While researchers cannot pinpoint exactly how anthocyanins prevent cancer cells from reproducing, the fact that they do is reason enough to be eating blue and purple foods regularly.

Antioxidants are generous nutrients that give molecules missing an electron (known as free radicals) one of their own. This has the effect of neutralizing the cell-damaging molecules and keeping cells healthy.  Getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet helps reverse sun damage, dampen inflammation and contribute to healthy aging.

Put Out the Fire

Chronic inflammation due to environmental pollutants, an unhealthy diet of high fat, high carbohydrate junk foods and even daily life stressors can be a major cause of disease in this country.  Inflammation damages your heart, and makes you more susceptible to cardiovascular disease. In the brain, inflammation over a long period of time leads to cognitive decline like short-term memory loss and dementia. The compounds in purple and blue superfoods douse the flames like water by lowering levels of C-reactive protein in the blood, a common marker for acute inflammation, and allow the body to heal.  

Related:  Inflammation Testing--a Valuable Predictor of Cardiovascular Risk

The Ultimate List of Blue and Purple Superfoods

Lucky for us there are many rich sources of anthocyanins and antioxidants in a wide variety of blue and purple foods. Below is a list of the best ones to add to your meals for healthy aging:

  • Berries –blue, red, black or raspberries these sweet juicy little fruits are good and good for you. They are rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E as well as good sources of fiber and other nutrients.
  • Grapes – also of the berry family, the purple variety has been linked to living longer. This is thanks to a compound called resveratrol.  Sweet and juicy but very low calorie, eating grapes, nature’s candy, is a good way to slow down the aging process.
  • Plums- they are not as popular as berries and grapes, but they should be if you are interested in health aging. Plums have a long list of healthy compounds and nutrients including vitamins A, C, beta-carotene, potassium and iron.  They are also low in calories and high in fiber so put a few in your grocery cart.
  • Bilberry – these European cousins to the blueberry are known on this side of the pond as huckleberries. For decades they have been taken to improve eyesight, fight inflammation and lower blood pressure.  The potent flavonoids in them support cardiovascular health too.

Color Your World

It’s important to have a colorful diet for healthy aging to lower your risk of many age related diseases like heart disease, arthritis, stroke, and cancer. Eating blue and purple superfoods is one easy way to brighten up your diet and keep you feeling healthy.

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The Dummy’s Guide to Super Foods that are Indigestion Remedies

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Most uncomfortable, unmentionable, stomach and gastrointestinal issues that have you searching for indigestion remedies can be helped by eating a diet of superfoods. These foods are nutrient-dense, filled with vitamins and minerals, and in your neighborhood grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

The world around us consists of fast food menus, vending machine fare, and highly processed diet disasters full of fat, sugar, preservatives.  Yet, the term “superfoods” often conjures up images of acai berries and sardines. What is an acai berry anyway? Sardines every day? No way!

If you are looking for indigestion remedies that are easy and natural, you most likely won’t find them in the corner convenience store, but in abundance throughout your local grocery store.  Many easy to find, delicious and common household food items can ease your tummy troubles and help you be healthier all around.

The Super 7

  1. Berries – blue, straw, black, and raspberries are nature’s candy. These sweet and simple fruits are full of antioxidants that will seek and destroy cell-damaging toxins from preservative-laden fast food meals.  Berries are also packed with fiber to keep your digestive tract humming along to reduce gas and bloating. They are also a great way to increase your fluid intake everyday, which is critical for keeping the GI tract functioning properly.
  2. Oranges – with almost a day’s RDA of vitamin C and antioxidants, these sweet juicy orbs are a must for every healthy diet. Skip the sugar-laden juices and slice up the entire fruit for a delicious snack with lots of fiber and folate.
  3. Broccoli – it’s just good for you! The green spears are full of healthy compounds that fight aging; and fiber that keeps you feeling full and regular. It also has a unique compound called sulforaphane, which stimulates detoxifying enzymes that may ward off cancer.
  4. Beets – these dark purple beauties not only liven up the looks of many dishes, they are mmm, mmm good for you!  The potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C make them “un-beetable” when it comes to keeping a healthy belly.  Beets also boast a good amount of fiber and are a plant source of iron for the vegan and vegetarians in your family.
  5. Spinach – Popeye knew it! Spinach makes you strong and healthy from the inside out. You can eat it raw or cooked in a variety of salads and dishes and the mild taste won’t sour your stomach. These dark green leaves offer vitamin B6, which helps the body metabolize fats and proteins and convert food into energy.  It also boasts a good-sized helping of iron and vitamin C to make it a super food all-star.
  6. Beans – another excellent source of plant-based iron, beans in all colors (kidney, black, pinto, navy) are good for the body. They are rich in soluble fiber to help keep you feeling satisfied longer so you eat less, and lower your cholesterol.
  7. Sweet potatoes –these bright orange potatoes are for more than a sugar-laden casserole at Thanksgiving. Bake them in the oven and top them with a touch of butter and cinnamon for a delicious side dish full of fiber, beta-carotene (aka vitamin A), vitamins B1, B2, and B6. Minerals like copper and manganese are also in the colorful flesh so roast one up today.

Related:  Alternative Protein Sources and Links to Fighting Heart Disease

Eat to Your Heart’s Content

If you are looking for indigestion remedies, the superfood seven is tops on your menu items. They are all mild on the GI tract, will help keep your metabolism humming along, and they are rich in vital nutrients. The best part about eating these superfoods as they are all low in fat, low in sugar, and a source of high quality carbs, so you can eat them every day, as much as you want!

To get the most health benefits eat the entire rainbow of colors these foods come in from red, purple, and black to orange and green. Your stomach and your entire body will thank you for it.

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Antioxidants and Vision Health - Three Factors That Could Affect Your Vision

by IVL Products

What you eat may have a significant effect your vision. Research by the National Eye Institute (NEI) found eating foods and supplements with antioxidants and vision health are very closely related.

Antioxidants and vision health are very much connected

Here are some of the different foods and supplements loaded with antioxidants to help assist the body for improved vision health.

1. Taking Supplements

Losing visual acuity is a normal and largely unavoidable result of natural aging.  Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes nearly 10 million Americans to suffer permanent vision loss. Approximately two million cataract extractions (surgery) are performed annually. In some people, AMD causes a slow loss of vision over a long period of time, while for others it can cause a rapid loss in vision.

 In the NEI study, antioxidant vitamins and zinc supplements “reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25% in the study subjects who were at a high risk for developing the advanced stage of this disease.”

The study went on to say that those in the high-risk group for AMD taking the supplement also reduced vision loss by approximately 19%.  The researchers concluded that taking supplements with high doses of antioxidants could be a very effective way to could delay progression of AMD, especially those who are already at a high risk for developing it like:

  • Those over the age of 55
  • Anyone who has a family history of the disease
  • People who have high blood pressure
  • Those who are obese
  • Smokers

If you are at risk for age-related macular degeneration or cataracts, eating a diet rich in antioxidants could save your sight!

2. Free Radical Exposure

It should come as no surprise that eating foods with antioxidants and vision health are related.  The research and medical community has long known that antioxidants are the number one way to slow down the aging process from deep inside the body to the outer most layer of the skin.

Free radicals, those cells that made up of a molecule with an oddly-unpaired electron, are very unstable molecules that have lost an electron. They then attack the nearest stable molecule with a full set of electrons in its outer shell, stealing an electron, and rendering the mugged molecule unstable.  This can cause a chain reaction that eventually disrupts the viability of a living cell.  Free radical damage accumulates with age and is sped up by lifestyle factors like smoking, excessive sun exposure, and environmental pollutants.

Antioxidants are nutrients that neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons and ending its electron-thievery.

Eye cells are delicate and years of free radical exposure can cause them to begin dying off, leading to vision loss and even total blindness.

RelatedThe Eyes are the Mirrors of your Health

3. Proper Diet

There are three main antioxidant vitamins: vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, which are converted by the body into vitamin A.  Many fruits and vegetables contain these vital nutrients that could greatly reduce your chances of AMD and other eye-related diseases.

Berries

Blue, black, raspberry, cranberry, and strawberries are a sweet way to get a healthy dose of antioxidants everyday.  Besides vitamins C and E, they also have other health benefits to benefit the entire body, so toss them in your breakfast cereal, salads and yogurt and you could be seeing “berry” well into your golden years.

Prunes

These are not just something your grandmother eats to stay regular anymore. These dark purple gems ranked the highest in antioxidants according to a Kansas State University Study. They may not look pretty, but if you are not eating them regularly, you won’t be able to see them anyway.

Walnuts and Pecans

A mere ounce of these tree nuts has an ample amount of antioxidants in cholesterol- and sugar-free bite-sized portions that are great companions alongside the aforementioned berries in many dishes. You would be nuts not to add them into your diet on a regular basis.

Spinach

This dark leafy green is not only a great source of antioxidants (fresh or cooked) but it also boasts a dose of iron, too.  In addition, kale, Brussels sprouts and even broccoli are rich in antioxidant power for healthy peepers.

Artichoke Hearts

These weird looking plants don’t resemble anything edible, but dig deep to get at the heart of the matter and you will be getting a good dose of antioxidants, along with fiber and other vitamins and minerals.

Green Tea

Tea for two, please—your left and right eye, that is.  This light, mild tasting beverage that is delicious served hot or cold is an easy way to sip a few antioxidants into your diet. If tea is not your thing, good old-fashioned coffee runs a close second in the category of best beverages with antioxidants for the eyes.

Eye Heart Supplements

The NEI study found that most Americans’ diets fall far short of the levels of antioxidants necessary to slow down age-related macular eye disease.  It can be difficult enough to include the abundance of fruits and vegetables needed to get the necessary antioxidants to be effective against vision loss, but with such strong research linking antioxidants and vision health, adding a supplement to your daily routine just makes good sense. See?

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Antioxidants and Heart Health

by Health News

Oxygen is necessary for important body functions like respiration and metabolism, but when oxygen reacts with some body tissues, it creates harmful free radicals.  These unstable molecules steal electrons from other molecules, which can result in tissue damage.  An overabundance of free radicals has been associated with a number of health problems including heart disease.  Fortunately, potent antioxidants like vitamin C and resveratrol help neutralize free radicals and keep body tissues healthy.  Learning more about antioxidants and heart health may result in a few new additions to the grocery cart and a healthier body. 

Because antioxidants and heart health go hand in hand, people may want to load up on citrus fruits and red grapes.

Vitamin C offers a number of benefits to heart health.  The powerful antioxidant helps keep blood pressure under control and is linked to lower levels of lipoproteins associated with stroke.  By neutralizing free radicals, vitamin C helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, and contributes to lower cholesterol by helping to repair damaged arterial walls.

Studies on antioxidants and heart health show excellent results for vitamin C.  One study found that men who consume at least 300 mg of vitamin C daily lower chances of dying from heart disease by 40 percent.  

Related:  Natural Weight Loss Supplement: Resveratrol

Resveratrol

Certain foods like red grapes contain a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol.  Experts suggest that it may help reduce chances for heart disease by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or what many people refer to as "bad" cholesterol.  A review study published in Cardiovascular Drug Review links regular consumption of resveratrol to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, healthier blood vessels, and fewer blood clots in animals, but more human studies are needed. 

Conclusion

When it comes to antioxidants and heart health, two in particular appear to offer preventative benefits:  vitamin C and resveratrol.  People can obtain vitamin C from dietary supplements or from fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, cantaloupe, pomegranates, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.  In addition to red grapes, other foods that contain resveratrol include blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts.  People can also get daily doses of resveratrol through dietary supplements. 

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

 

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Four Healthy Living Habits for Feeling Good Now and Later

by Health News

In a fast-paced world, it can be hard to maintain optimal health, but people who have experienced both sides of the coin prefer feeling fit and healthy to the alternative.  Developing healthy habits helps people feel good right now and protects them from disease and disability that come with aging.  Four healthy living habits in particular offer great benefits now and years into the future. 

Regular exercise benefits balance, muscle mass, and bones and helps people maintain a bigger brain.

1. Adopt a Plant-Based Diet

Emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and legumes, a plant-based diet offers a rich source of nutrients and fiber and may help prevent disease.  Populations who eat plant-based diets show very low incidence of heart disease, and this type of diet may help lower cholesterol.

Researchers from Stanford University's Department of Medicine followed 125 subjects who were randomly assigned a low-fat, plant-based diet or a standard low-fat diet to determine the effects on cholesterol levels.  Results after four weeks showed significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol for people consuming the plant-based diet compared to those consuming the standard low-fat diet.

2. Take a Daily Multivitamin

Multivitamins help compensate for missing nutrients, promote overall health, and may lower risks for cancer according to the Physicians' Health Study II, which tracked roughly 15,000 male doctors.  Researchers found that subjects who followed a multivitamin regimen showed an eight percent lower risk for developing any type of cancer when compared to subjects who did not take a daily multivitamin.

Related:  Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Benefits Linked to Preserving Memory

3. Eat Plenty of Leafy Greens

Chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals, leafy greens offer a host of health benefits.  Adding more leafy greens to the diet can help encourage a healthy body weight and reduce chances for heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.

In a review study published in The British Medical Journal, researchers looked at six prior studies examining the effects of vegetable consumption on risks for diabetes in 220,000 adult subjects.  While eating more vegetables in general did not appear to lower risks for diabetes, consuming at least 1 ½ servings of leafy green or cruciferous vegetables lowered risks for diabetes by 14 percent.

4. Get Regular Exercise

Perhaps one of the best healthy living habits, regular exercise provides benefits for balance, muscle mass, and bones, but it also helps people maintain a bigger brain.  A study published in Neurology involved roughly 700 people who answered questions about their leisure and physical activities at age 70 and received brain scans at age 73.  Subjects who reported the most physical activity showed more healthy brain matter and less atrophy than people who were not physically active.  They also showed less white-matter lesions, often linked to poor thinking and memory.  For optimal health, most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, five times per week.

Everyone wants to feel good well into their golden years, and healthy living habits can help.  Making a few simple changes can offer immediate effects that only expand with time.  Adopting a plant-based diet with plenty of leafy greens, taking a daily multivitamin, and getting regular exercise offer a healthy foundation for a longer, happier life.

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Here's a Quick Way to Get Soy-Free Protein

by Cindy Gray

Most vegetarians and vegans following an animal-free diet understand the importance of including protein in their diet to ensure healthy bones, skin and tissue. The easiest source of vegetable-based protein is soy. However, soy is thought to be highly genetically modified (GMO) and is high in phytoestrogens;  hardly suitable for eco-warriors and those seeking a more down-to-earth way to satisfy their protein needs without consuming ‘flesh foods.’ We suggest some of the best soy-free protein sources and what makes them so special.

best soy-free protein sources

Protein-rich Seeds

Seeds are the origin of natural nutrition and the embryonic symbol of life itself. They are also one of the best soy-free protein sources for vegetarians and meat-eaters but they must be eaten raw. If seeds are exposed to heat or roasted, the vitamins, minerals and essential oils are lost and they become a dead food.

Chia seeds are particularly high in protein, containing 2.5 times more protein than kidney beans while delivering eight times more omega-3 than salmon. They also have more fiber than rice, more vitamin C than oranges and more magnesium than broccoli!

Hemp seeds are also high in nutritional content delivering all 20 amino acids as well as being one of the best soy-free protein sources. They are also nature's highest botanical source of essential fatty acids, exceeding even the high levels found in flaxseed and nuts, so they are a key ingredient for anyone following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet.

Related:  Flax Seed Meal: Unleashing the Health Bounty of a Wonder Seed

Flaxseed has numerous health benefits.  One cup (168 grams) delivers 31 grams of protein as well as 46 grams of fiber. Ground flaxseed has more nutritional benefit than the whole seeds, so pulverize them in a blender and sprinkle on cereals, fresh banana pieces, baked goods and smoothies.

Munchy sunflower seeds have slightly less protein content than flaxseed but they are high in vitamin E to counter harmful free radical damage.

30 Days to Rethink How You Take Supplements

Nuts for Soy-free Protein

Although nuts are generally higher in calorific content than seeds, they are a staple for any non-meat-eater.

Almonds top the list for the best soy-free protein sources, delivering 20 grams of protein and 43 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat from a one cup (95 grams) serving, according to the USDA. They are also high in vitamin E, fiber and many essential minerals.

Walnuts are another good source of protein with 15 grams per 100 grams which is 30% of your daily requirement. 

The USDA recommends adults should consume between 5 and 6 ½ ounces of protein per day and should get up to 35% of their calories from protein. We hope we have provided some new ideas for the best soy-free protein sources to help you enjoy a healthy and balanced diet.  

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Choosing Foods that Reduce Stress Improves Your Health

by IVL Products

When feeling stressed out and anxious, people often reach for vending machine junk food, huge, sugary coffee drinks, or head for the drive through of the nearest fast food joint.  That is the absolute worse thing you can do because highly processed, high fat, sugar-loaded foods can actually increase your stress levels.  Learn to easily reduce this by eating foods that reduce stress. This simple change can greatly improve your health.

Stress Mess

Caffeine found in coffee, sodas and energy drinks are a stress bomb.  The caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which responds by flooding your body with cortisol. The sugar in highly processed foods and drinks sends your blood glucose levels soaring, which causes more cortisol to start zipping through your body.

Sugar can have another wicked effect on the body by shutting down the adrenal medulla, the adrenal gland that helps your body cope with emotional and physical stress.

Related:  Does Stress Impair Memory?

Next time you are feeling tension or a little anxious, head off a full blown stress mess by avoiding the vending machine or trendy coffee shop and selecting foods that reduce stress.

Fruits and Vegetables

Asparagus - rich in folate, B vitamins in asparagus convert to folic acid and have a calming effect on the nervous system

Swiss chard – full of magnesium, chard can help the body balance cortisol levels in the body.

Bell Peppers – especially red, orange or yellow in color, these stress busters are rich in vitamin C, which helps produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, the feel good hormones

Spinach – rich in folate, spinach also contains iron and helps with keeping your immune system strong

Berriesberries are ideal foods that reduce stress, as they are full of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will give you a natural energy boost without an ugly sugar crash

Avocados –their creamy texture is a great source of heart healthy fat that keeps you energized and feeling full with vitamins and minerals to boot

Oranges – have vitamin C, folate and vitamin B6, all nutrients that help elevate your mood and keep you calm and relaxed

Dried apricots- they are rich in magnesium, which helps keep cortisol levels in check

Fruits and vegetables will boost your mood by providing hydration and nutrients that won’t send blood sugar levels soaring only to crash in about an hour.  The filling fiber staves off hunger so you can maintain focus and manage problems without sending you running for the nearest vending machine.

Additional Foods that Reduce Stress

Many other foods can help you manage stress and keep cortisol levels in check. Avoid fast food burgers and fries in favor of salmon, lean chicken or lamb, all of which have calming B vitamins.

Bread labeled multi-grain does not always contain whole grains and can cause your glucose levels to rise dramatically. Optimally, go for the gluten free grains like quinoa, millet, or rye because gluten is known to stimulate cortisol secretions in the body.

If you want to sweeten your green or chamomile tea, two natural stress-reducing beverages, reach for xylitol of stevia based sweeteners instead of chemical based ones.

Chocolate is actually one of the best foods that reduce stress. It can actually help you reduce your stress levels. A mere ounce of the dark organic kind provides potent antioxidants to help the body fight off stress damage.

Food for Combat

In the war on stress choose your weapons wisely.  Highly processed, sugary caffeinated drinks and foods that are low in fiber but high in white sugar calories are your enemies. They cannot be counted on to save you from a stress meltdown and are traitors once inside the body.

Instead, call a truce: go au natural. No, not naked, but with foods in their most natural state like raw fruits and vegetables. 

Nuts like almonds and cashews can help calm cravings and relieve stress, so keep a small pack of them around with an ounce of dark chocolate and you’ll stay cool as cucumber.

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Natural Remedies for Depression Include Three Healthy Foods

by IVL Products

Depression affects nearly 19 million people across the United States.  While a number of factors contribute to depression, many people fail to consider daily nutrition.  What we put in our mouths plays a big role in mood as well as mental focus and energy levels.  According to experts, some foods that reduce depression include garbanzo beans, turkey, and yogurt.  Each of these nutritional foods contains mood-enhancing properties and a few extra health benefits, making them must-haves for the shopping cart.  

Add foods that reduce depression like garbanzo beans, yogurt, and turkey to the shopping cart.

Garbanzo Beans

According to a 2004 study published in "Human Psychopharmacology," people with depression show high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can hinder recovery and endanger the heart.  Folic acid helps keep homocysteine levels in check, and garbanzo beans make a rich source of this valuable nutrient.  Studies also show that folic acid may enhance the effectiveness of prescribed antidepressants, but people should consult with their doctor before using folic acid supplements.  Garbanzo beans also provide a rich source of fiber for better digestive health.

Turkey

People looking for natural remedies for depression should consider foods rich in protein, particularly turkey.  Many lean sources of protein provide amino acids that help improve mood as well as support the immune system, repair body tissues, and boost energy.  Turkey goes one step further with high levels of tryptophan, a chemical that stimulates the production of serotonin, a mood-enhancing and sleep-promoting neurotransmitter in the brain.  This might explain why people feel so drowsy and content following Thanksgiving dinner.  Other dietary sources of tryptophan include cottage cheese, milk, brown rice, peanuts, beef, and soy products.

RelatedWays to Lower Risk of Depression

Yogurt

Low-fat dairy products like yogurt contain calcium, vitamin D, and protein as well as specific peptides that support wellbeing.  In addition to these healthy ingredients, yogurt offers a rich source of probiotics ─ microorganisms that help maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines.  Some depressed people have an overgrowth of 'bad' intestinal bacteria, which can cause problems with the absorption of micronutrients.  These compounds are directly involved in the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.  To get the most health benefits, people should purchase plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or lemon juice and stevia.

In light of all their healthy properties, it makes sense to add these three foods that reduce depression to a dietary plan.  People who don't like the texture of garbanzo beans might try a smooth and creamy hummus spread with fresh veggies, crackers, or chips.  Natural turkey lunch meat makes a good alternative to a big roasted bird, and probiotic supplements make a good replacement for plain yogurt.

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Top Ways to Use Chia Seeds

by IVL Products

We've had buckwheat, kamut, faro and quinoa, and now it seems we can add the benefits of chia seeds to our ever-growing list of wholegrain foods.  Although ‘chia’ is technically a seed, health advisors are going crazy about the health benefits, diversity and ways to use chia seeds.

What are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica which grows mainly in South America. The word "chia" comes from the Mayan word meaning "strength."  Ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and the Mayans used the seeds as a source of energy and power.

Chia seeds are a rich source of nutrients and healthy fats. Just one ounce (28 grams) of these seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of Omega-3s. In addition, it delivers 18% of your recommended daily amount (RDA) of calcium, 30% of manganese RDA, 30% of your magnesium RDA and 27% of phosphorus RDA; along with zinc, potassium and B-vitamins—all in only 137 calories.

Further benefits of chia seeds include their ability to help fight inflammation.  Chia seeds are gluten-free, and they are high in antioxidants which fight free radical damage.

If you are going to be stranded on a desert island, a supply of chia seeds could be your salvation!

Related:  Flax Seed--Unleashing the Health Bounty of a Wonder Seed

The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

We've already covered some of the health benefits of chia seeds, but they have many more uses. Those on a weight-loss program will find chia seeds are high in quality protein which reduces the appetite and temptation to snack. They are high in fiber which slows down digestion and leaves you feeling fuller for longer which can all help you lose weight.

As the chia seeds pass through the digestive tract, they feed the good bacteria, yet another boost to health. Brimming with omega-3s, another benefit of chia seeds is that it has more omega-3, gram for gram, than salmon! With all these positives, it’s no wonder that chia seeds are promoted by healthy specialists for being heart healthy, lowering triglycerides and the risk of diabetes.

Ways to Use Chia Seeds in Your Diet

Ways to use chia seeds are almost as numerous as the benefits of chia seeds.  Grind one tablespoon in a food processor and add 3 tablespoons water to replace one egg in baking recipes. Blend the seeds with coconut milk, natural sweetener and cocoa powder then leave in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to make a delicious thick pudding.

Use chia seeds to thicken soups and gravies. Just sprinkle on top, or use ground chia seeds in place of breadcrumbs. Finally, eat in salads like beansprouts or just chew on them whole as a snack.

With so many excellent ways to use chia seeds, you'll wonder how you ever managed without them. 

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Three Antioxidants for Anti-Aging

by IVL Products

Extending our life spans to enjoy more of those “golden years” is the goal of almost all societies. There are never ending studies being conducted in hospitals, clinics and research laboratories around the globe to find the most effective anti-aging products that will turn back the clock. 

Anti-aging compounds called antioxidants neutralize free radicals to preserve the longevity of cells, and thus our lives.

The Three Anti-Aging Amigos

What are the best anti-aging compounds that should be in your diet?  Vitamin C and E are widely known as powerful free radical erasers, but there are other lesser-known compounds that are quickly rising to the top of the list of most powerful antioxidants.

Resveratrol

This polyphonic compound is found naturally in peanuts, grapes, red wine and many berries.  Since resveratrol is easily absorbed and metabolized by the human body, it can quickly begin neutralizing cell damaging free radicals. 

Research is showing that resveratrol significantly helps to slow down the spread of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. In animal studies for years, and now in human studies, resveratrol has been shown to reduce the narrowing of blood vessels lessening the risk of heart attacks (the number one killer of men and women in this country!) and strokes.

Most of its anti-aging benefits come from resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation has long been linked to diseases of the cardiovascular system, the gums, joints and other organs.

Related:  For Healthy Aging: A Toast to Resveratrol

Astaxanthin

This is a carotenoid pigment found in trout, microalgae, yeast, crab, lobster and is highly concentrated in Pacific salmon. It is what gives the fish flesh its pinkish hue. New research over the past decade has been slow because it is very expensive to obtain, but the medical community is finding out that this is one very powerful antioxidant!

Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-ZAN-thin) is a potent anti-inflammatory and pain blocker. It reduces the inflammatory compounds that are the source of many chronic diseases and works like prescription analgesics (pain relievers) but is completely natural.  It is especially effective at suppressing levels of C reactive protein, a known cause of heart disease.

Some researchers theorize that astaxanthin is highly concentrated in Pacific salmon to give them the muscular endurance to swim upstream when they migrate.  It improves blood flow to muscles and reduces the amount of oxidative stress they suffer when working hard and helps increase endurance.

Finally, when applied topically, astaxanthin helps smooth out wrinkles and diminish age spots.

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 helps converts food into energy and is found in almost every cell of the human body.  The reason CoQ10 is as important as an anti-aging compound lies in its ability to lower blood pressure, help control blood glucose levels and neutralize free radicals ravaging cells.

Studies have shown that patients who took CoQ10 after a heart attack were less likely to have another one and had less chest pain than those who did not take it. Smaller studies involving people have also shown it to lower blood pressure.

Those with high cholesterol tend to have low levels of CoQ10 in their bodies. Though sufficient research has not been done to link this to improving cholesterol levels there has been some studies done showing taking it with prescription statins reduces the pain associated with statin treatment and restores normal cholesterol levels in the body. 

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Healthy Foods That Taste Better Than Junk Foods

by Health News

Ice cream sundae or sugar-free jelly?  Chocolate brownie or granola bar?  Kettle chips or green salad?

It's often very difficult to stick to choices from your healthy foods list, since junk food, snacks and sweet treats invariably look and taste better than a healthier low-calorie option.  But just to prove that wrong, here are 10 foods that somehow manage to taste even better than junk foods—plus they help teach your body how to reduce food cravings.

Fruits rank high on the healthy foods list

1. Strawberries

Brimming with antioxidants and phytochemicals, it’s hard to beat the taste of a fresh sun-ripened strawberry. These lush summer fruits are high in vitamin C, carotenes, calcium, fiber and minerals yet are low in calories. Eating three or more servings a week of strawberries and blueberries is certainly no hardship, yet they provide a 32% lowered risk of heart attack.

2. Watermelon

Lycopene is normally associated with tomatoes, but it's present in watermelon, too. On a hot day there's nothing more refreshing than biting into a crisp triangle of juicy water melon—and that's a great tip for how to reduce food cravings too!

3. Mangoes

Mangoes are so versatile. Add them to fruit salads, eat fresh in slivers or make a delicious sugar-free dessert with them. They contain calcium, iron and lots of trace minerals as well as 17 of the 20 amino acids in the human body.

4. Almonds

Did you know that almonds are an excellent source of protein? The skins are high in antioxidants that are normally associated with fruits and vegetables. In fact, a one-ounce serving of almonds has the equivalent quantity of polyphenols as a cup of broccoli, but their calorie content is five times higher, so portion-size is the watchword!

5. Avocados

Another food where a little goes a long way is avocado. Low in fructose and high in healthy monounsaturated fats for energy, avocadoes are particularly high in potassium and B-vitamins.

6. Blueberries

Packed with fiber and antioxidants, blueberries contain high levels of nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure safely and naturally. What better fruit to add to your healthy foods list?

Related:  Healthy Eating Habits

7. Sweet Potatoes

It’s the beta-carotene antioxidant that gives sweet potatoes their healthy color. As well as countering the aging effects of free radicals, sweet potatoes also support the immune system.

8. Cherries

Sweet cherries are high in quercetin, the most potent type of antioxidant, along with fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins which are important for cancer prevention. These glossy fruits should be top of your healthy foods list when they are in season.

9. Pistachios

Containing the same healthy oleic acid found in olive oil, pistachios are known to naturally help lower blood pressure.  High in lutein and beta-carotene (both good for ophthalmic health), pistachios are a good snack for dieters as they take time to shell and nibble slowly.

10. Dark Chocolate

Eating high-quality dark chocolate in small portions (1-2 squares per day) can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. It helps control hypertension and fasting glucose levels and is a great snack choice for those looking for how to reduce food cravings. 

So maybe it’s not so difficult after all to stick to choices from your healthy foods list!  Choose a delicious and healthier low-calorie option from this tasty list of 10 foods that really do taste even better than junk foods!  

28 Superfood Recipes for Everyday

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Six Strategies for Healthy Aging

by IVL Products

Aging gracefully and healthily may take some effort, but knowing what to avoid and what to include in your life should be a vital part of your healthy aging plan, whatever your age.

Here are some anti-aging tips to ensure that optimum healthy aging is achieved.

Exercise is an important part of healthy aging.

1. Avoid Sugar

Not only does sugar introduce "empty" calories into your diet, it is also a trigger for inflammation. Eat fruits in moderation and swap sugary drinks for low-calorie drinks; or better still, drink plenty of water. Top your breakfast cereal with antioxidant rich berries rather than sugar and you are well on your way to establishing a healthy aging, sugar-free regimen.

2. Avoid Food!

Intermittent fasting has been found to be an important part of longevity. As well as being natural detoxifying, fasting decreases excess body fat, boosts mental clarity, and controls blood sugar levels. Restricting calories has been shown in studies to be very effective at extending lifespan.

3. Avoid Stress for Healthy Aging

Stress is the biggest enemy of healthy aging. It negatively affects general health, lowers cognitive ability, and unnecessarily triggers the release of stress hormones.

4. Include Omega-3s

Omega-3s are essential for older adults. As well as improving joint and heart health, these fatty acids appear to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's by reducing brain inflammation. Omega-3s are found in oily fish, nuts and olive oil, but the only way to be sure of your daily intake is by taking an Omega-3 supplement.

Related:  Five Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Healthy Foods

5. Include Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise is essential for healthy aging as it improves muscle strength and counters the loss of stamina that is part of the aging process. Exercise also improves balance and supports stronger bones.

Checkout what high intensity anti-aging exercises you could incorporate into your life as part of your healthy aging plan. The American Heart Association advises doing 8-10 strength-building exercises and repeating them for 10 to 15 repetitions to build and maintain strength. Use hand weights to increase the effectiveness of simple weight training exercises such as biceps curls, lunges and squats.

6. Include Vitamin D for Healthy Aging

Scientists have found that higher levels of vitamin D can help slow the aging process and protect against age-related disease. It is thought to extend the telomeres responsible for cell regeneration. Studies indicate that people who have higher levels of vitamin D live significantly longer than their counterparts.

Sunshine is a natural source of vitamin D, but it also ages the skin, so enjoy the sunshine, but protect yourself from the sun.  Wear a hat when outside in the sun; wear a loose, gauzy shirt to protect your arms; wear sunglasses to protect your eyesight; and use a natural sunscreen when getting your vitamin fix. Taking vitamin D in supplement form or eating plenty of oily fish also boosts vitamin D levels, helping the body metabolize calcium for strong bones as well as protecting against heart disease.

It's never too early to starts a healthy aging plan, so consider these six strategies and get started!

Free 30-Day Vibrant Living Challenge

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Seeing Green for Anti-Aging

by Cindy Gray

An anti-aging diet must contain a lot of greens.  Immediately you might think about broccoli, lettuce, peas, green beans, etc. Well, these are all great green foods to have in your diet, but there are a few others you might be interested in that are nutritional powerhouses and should also be a part of your regular diet.

Alfalfa

Called the King of Grains, alfalfa’s not just for cows anymore. This remarkable plant shoots its roots 20 to 30 feet down to draw out minerals from the soil not available near the surface.  It is a rich source of vitamins, A, B1, B6, C, E and K, which are critical to maintaining a health immune system.

Alfalfa also helps prevent heart disease, the number one killer in this country, by preventing the absorption of cholesterol in the gut.  That makes it a good green to toss into your next salad.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It also has long been known for its skin healing and softening effects as a treatment for sun burns, eczema and psoriasis, just to name a few.

Recent clinical evidence suggests that this gel-filled plant is highly effective at fighting tumors that can cause colorectal cancer.  Its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to lower cholesterol and relieve constipation make it a good green to add to your diet. Since aloe vera does not occur naturally in foods, you will need to enjoy it juice or gel form, or take it in supplement form.

Spinach

Spinach is a unique plant; chock full of iron and vitamin C.  Iron is more readily absorbed into the body when accompanied by vitamin C, so it is perfectly packaged to deliver maximum anti-aging compounds.  Research shows that in addition to the powerful antioxidants it contains, spinach also helps protect the lining of the intestinal tract. This makes for a healthier immune system to help fight off colds and quickly rid the body of toxic bacteria.

Men, take note: Spinach also helps reduce the risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer, so add this dark leafy green cancer fighter to your anti-aging diet.

Related:  Seven Green Super Foods with Cancer Fighting & Heart-Healthy Benefits

Astragalus

Astragalus is known as an adaptogen.  An adaptogen is something that helps the body “adapt” to the damage of physical, mental and emotional stress more quickly, before it can harm your cells and overall health.  Astragalus contains antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory compounds to help you avoid getting frequent colds, bladder infections and it helps to stimulate the immune system.

As a powerful antioxidant, astragalus also lowers cholesterol, improves heart function and protects the kidneys from disease.  Look for supplements made from the root of the plant, where all the medicinal properties are contained.

Seaweed

Compounds in seaweed so closely resemble human plasma that it is a great blood purifier. It also has chelating properties, meaning it converts heavy metal pollutants in our bodies to harmless salt that we can easily excrete.  Compounds found in seaweed called lignans have been shown to help treat and prevent certain types of cancers.

Seaweed is high in iodine, which stimulates the thyroid to help keep your metabolism humming along, making it a good weight loss green. The minerals in seaweed act as electrolytes to break the chemical bonds sealing fat cells, allowing excess fluids and waste trapped there to escape and be excreted from the body.

Since seaweed can be hard to find in standard grocery stores, here is a quick list of the types you should be adding to your anti-aging diet:

  • Nori
  • Kelp
  • Dulse
  • Arame
  • Kombu

Seeing green is a smart way to take charge of your health and add variety to your diet and lifestyle!