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Healthy Recipes: Watermelon Slushie

by Nancy Maneely

Is there anything more refreshing on a hot summer day than an icy-cold wedge of watermelon? And lucky for us, we can enjoy this wonderful summer treat without guilt, because it’s low in calories, high in dietary fiber, and contains lots of antioxidant nutrition.

Healthy Recipes: Watermelon Slushie

Watermelon is a friend to the “healthy aging” crowd as well as weight-loss aficionados. That pretty pink color? It’s from lycopene. Watermelon contains higher levels of the antioxidant lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable (15 to 20 mg per 2-cup serving) and is part of a healthy diet.

Watermelon also provides Vitamin A for eye health, Vitamin B6 for immune system support, Vitamin C (another antioxidant powerhouse), and potassium.

When I was a kid, watermelon was regarded with some suspicion by health-conscious moms. How could something this tasty and fun be … GOOD for you? It was a fabulous summer indulgence at picnics and barbecues. But why wait for a special occasion?

At this time of year, watermelon prices are at their lowest and there’s an abundance of varieties everywhere you look. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t get too much of a good thing! Enjoy it alone or in a fruit salad. 

Healthy Recipes: Watermelon Slushie

There are also lots of recipes on the Internet for smoothies, cocktails … even gazpacho with watermelon as the star ingredient. Go for it!

Here’s an easy, delicious recipe for Watermelon Slushie. Enjoy it with friends or family and make some extra to have on hand, in case the neighbors drop by.

Watermelon Slushie

  • 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 10 ice cubes (or you can substitute frozen strawberries!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 tbsp. sweetener, adjust to taste (sugar, stevia, honey, or agave syrup)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Place watermelon and ice into a blender. Pour in lime juice, sugar, and salt. Blend until smooth.

Yield:  5 servings

Nutrition Information Per Serving:  70 calories, 0.2g Total Fat, 0mg Cholesterol

Sources:

National Watermelon Promotion Board
Self Nutrition Data

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Green Tea: Food For The Brain

by Nancy Maneely

What’s not to love about a soothing hot cup of fragrant green tea?

It’s China’s favorite drink, and thanks to modern scientific research, we know it contains health benefits from its abundant antioxidants – making it the preferred beverage for healthy aging.

It’s long been established that green tea is a powerful agent for protection against cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related health concerns. In fact, many people concerned with cardiovascular health have started adding green tea to their diet as a high blood pressure natural treatment.

Green Tea: Food For The Brain

Now, new research from China suggests that drinking green tea may help boost the production of new brain cells – offering cognitive support for those of any age.

The studies with mice, published in the August issue of the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, found that epigallocatechin-3 galate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in green tea, boosts production of neural progenitor cells. These progenitor cells can help promote neurogenesis - the formation of new brain cells (neurons) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that transfers information from short term to long-term memory.

Related Article: Green Tea: A Promising Anti-Cancer Superfood

The new cells appear to sharpen memory, improve learning and ward off degenerative diseases. The research also noted that the mice treated with EGCG and trained to run mazes could accomplish this task faster than mice that didn’t receive EGCG. They found that, in mice, the new cells appear to improve memory, learning and combat degenerative diseases.

If you’re not a tea drinker, now is the time to start! Create a “green tea ritual” and view it as a few minutes of your day when you take the time to slow down, take a few deep breaths and treat your body well. The simple act of preparing the hot water and steeping the tea can provide that moment of quiet and calm in the midst of a hectic day. Soon you will find yourself looking forward to your daily tea ritual!

Talk to your doctor to see if taking green tea supplements as a high blood pressure natural treatment is right for you.

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Knock down bad cholesterol with these 4 foods

by Nancy Maneely

Improve your heart with these high blood pressure diet foods.It seems there are countless studies pointing to “heart-healthy” versus “non-heart-healthy” foods we should consider incorporating into our daily diet. Most of us understand that certain foods – fatty red meats, trans fats in processed foods, cured meats such as bacon – are not good for us. So what’s the point of this continuous stream of information?

The fact is that science is narrowing the field of information to the point where certain foods, in certain combinations, have been shown to have exponentially beneficial health effects. We can, if we choose, design our own daily eating plans in accordance with this information – using the results of well-designed, reputable studies as guidelines. In this way we can up the odds in our favor that we’ll ultimately enjoy longer, more active lives. Some people are even dubbing these food guidelines “The High Blood Pressure Diet.”

One such study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (Aug.24/31, 2011). Researchers found that subjects who followed a largely vegetarian diet that included “portfolio” of cholesterol-lowering foods did a better job of reducing low-density lipoprotein — the so-called “bad” cholesterol — than a low-saturated-fat vegetarian diet.

All participants in the study followed a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Basically, all were “eating healthy.” But those in the portfolio group were told to emphasize four specific types of cholesterol-lowering foods in their diets — soluble fiber, nuts, soy protein, and margarines enriched with plant sterols — while those in the other group were told to avoid these foods.

For someone eating 2,000 calories per day, this “portfolio diet” include the following amounts of these high blood pressure diet foods:

  • Soluble fiber: 18 grams per day of fiber from foods such as oatmeal, oat bran, barley, peas, beans, lentils, psyllium, and vegetables such as okra and eggplant
  • Nuts: 1 ounce, or about a handful, per day
  • Soy protein: 42.8 grams per day from soy-based foods such as soy milk, tofu, and soy meat substitutes (4 ounces of tofu contains 9.4 grams of soy protein; 8 ounces of regular soy milk contains 6 grams of soy protein)
  • Plant-sterol-enriched margarine: 1.8 grams per day (1 to 2 tablespoons, depending on the product)

After six months, LDL levels dropped an average of 13-14 percent in the “portfolio” group, compared with 3 percent in other group. Researchers reported that the portfolio group also had an 11 percent reduction in their calculated 10-year risk of having a heart attack (based on the Framingham Heart Study risk assessment tool). On the other hand, the control group had a mere 0.5 percent drop in calculated risk.

Each of the above foods has been the subject of past studies, and each has been touted as an important addition to a healthy diet. This study, however, gives a specific recommendation for a certain combination that could possibly save your life over the next 10 years.

Studies such as this will, over time, add to the accumulated body of knowledge as to the optimal human diet for healthy aging and longevity. Most of us may never actually follow that optimal diet, but with some tweaks and changes along the way we can come closer to the goal of enjoying a longer, more active life.

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Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

by Nancy Maneely

Many people will experience balance problems as they age.

Common symptoms of balance problems include:

  • Occasional feelings of unsteadiness or sudden dizziness are not uncommon
  • Vertigo, the feeling that you or the things around you are spinning, is another often-reported symptom
  • Disturbances of the inner ear are a common cause of these events

Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON TYPES OF BALANCE DISORDERS:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)– In BPPV, you experience a brief, intense feeling of vertigo or sudden dizziness when you change the position of your head, such as when rolling over to the left or right, upon getting out of bed, or when looking for an object on a high or low shelf.  In BPPV, small calcium particles in the inner ear become displaced and hit the inner ear balance sensors, causing dizziness. A doctor or specialist can treat BPPV by carefully moving the head and torso to dislodge these particles. For some people, one session will be all that is needed. Others might need to repeat the procedure several times at home to relieve their dizziness.
  • Labyrinthitis – Inflammation of the vestibular system, the part of the inner ear responsible for balance. To maintain your body's position, the labyrinth interacts with other systems in the body, such as the eyes, bones and joints. The cause is usually a viral infection, or less often, a bacterial infection.
  • Ménière's disease – This is a balance disorder that causes a person to experience vertigo, hearing loss that comes and goes, tinnitus (a ringing or roaring in the ears), and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Ménière's disease is caused by changes in fluid volumes in the inner ear. People with Ménière's disease can help reduce its dizzying effects by lowering the amount of sodium in their diets. Limiting alcohol and caffeine also may be helpful.

 

 

 

TOP NATURAL REMEDIES

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Omega-3 (fish oil)
  • Ginger root extract
  • Turmeric
  • Boswellia

NATURAL EXERCISE PRACTICES

  • Yoga
  • T’ai Chi
  • Qi Gong

IMPACT OF FALLS ON AN AGING ADULTS LIFE

Natural Remedies for Balance Problems

One of the biggest health risks to elderly adults may surprise you. Most would guess heart disease, cancer or other medical disorders. These certainly are a concern for senior citizens, but one of the most dangerous health hazards the aging population faces is falling.

More than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths. More commonly, falls can lead to a prolonged period of rehabilitation, diminished function, depression and declining health. And in many instances, people become more isolated after a fall.

Are you concerned about you or a loved one falling while getting up from a chair or sofa? Give yourself, and them, the security needed to live safely and independently.

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Healthy Recipes: Ginger Salmon

by Nancy Maneely

Many people want to know how to gain energy. Eating healthy meals is one way to give your energy levels a boost. Check out this Ginger Salmon recipe that’s packed with good-for-you nutrients to keep you energized and feeling great.

Ginger adds a lovely, distinctive flavor to many recipes, but it’s the anti-inflammatory properties of this ancient root that makes it an indispensable addition to the kitchen pantry.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, in addition to its benefit as an anti-inflammatory agent, ginger provides relief of nausea, chest congestion, and  joint pain from arthritis and bursitis.

Dr. Weil recommends:

For inflammatory conditions, 1 or 2 g of powdered ginger a day. For nausea and prevention of motion sickness, take 1,000 mg as a preventive and 500 mg every four hours as needed, or eat two pieces of crystallized ginger or take ginger syrup or tea. For cold relief, brew tea with one-inch piece of peeled and grated ginger root per two cups of water; bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for five minutes; add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and simmer one minute more. Remove from heat. Add two tablespoons fresh lemon juice, one or two cloves of mashed garlic and honey to taste. Let cool slightly and strain. that is the real miracle.

This recipe for Ginger Salmon combines the anti-inflammatory power of fresh ginger with the omega-3  goodness of salmon and antioxidant-rich olive oil, for a delicious and nutritious main course. Bonus: it’s incredibly quick and easy to prepare. Add a tossed salad and a glass of wine and you have a light, elegant summer supper fit for company!

Want to know how to gain energy? Eat healthy meals!

Ginger Salmon
(4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 pound salmon fillets

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, blend olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard and ginger

3. Brush salmon fillets evenly with the olive oil mixture. Place in a medium baking dish. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Nutrition information per serving:

249 calories, 14.7g total fat, 67mg cholesterol

 

Sources:
Allrecipes.com
Drweil.com: Herbal Remedies

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5 Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Healthy Foods

by Nancy Maneely

Effectiveness of Healthy Foods“Eat healthy food” is advice we hear at least once a day. It comes from everywhere: TV, magazines, our doctor, well-meaning family and friends. So, we make smart selections at the grocery store and feel very good about choosing an orange for a midday snack rather than, say, a donut.

That’s a great start … but really, how do you know your body is getting the benefit of the healthy foods you eat? Unfortunately, your body doesn’t issue an itemized receipt every time, listing the calories and nutrients that were effectively utilized. In fact, you might be surprised at how little of the valuable nutrients actually reach their goal – that is, being absorbed and put to work doing what they are meant to do: keep you functioning at an optimum level.

Here are five simple ways you can increase the effectiveness of the food you eat:

  1. Take a digestive enzyme supplement. What are digestive enzymes? Our bodies make their own digestive enzymes that break down food in the mouth, stomach, and small intestine into smaller, absorbable molecules. However, while all fresh food contains enzymes, our modern habits destroy them. We grow fruits and vegetables in depleted soil, gas them to prolong shelf life, and cook them at high heat. All of this reduces their enzyme levels.
  2. Take a probiotic to increase friendly flora. Friendly bacteria help produce the enzymes we need to break down food. They also support immune health and help protect the vulnerable cells along the linings of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines.
  3. Chew your food! Mom’s advice was sound. Chewing produces amylase that breaks down carbohydrates and stimulates digestive juices.
  4. Slow down. The chemicals needed to for healthy digestion are produced when we are relaxed. A calm, quiet atmosphere signals the digestive system to kick in.
  5. Avoid taking antacids. In the stomach, high levels of acid are necessary to break down food (and kill off bad bacteria like H. pylori that can lead to stomach cancer). There are natural ways to reduce the problems of heartburn and acid reflux. Drinking enough water, reducing salt, eating fewer fats, and taking digestive enzymes and probiotics can take care of the problem.

Do you take probiotics or digestive enzymes? What benefits have you experienced?

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Healthy Recipe: Chicken Strawberry Spinach Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

by Nancy Maneely

There are so many great things about this recipe, it’s hard to know where to begin!

Healthy Recipe: Chicken Strawberry Spinach Salad | Institute for Vibrant LivingThe basics are lean, high-protein chicken breast and one of our favorite nutritional superfoods, spinach. The fats, which you can adjust to your taste and dietary preference, consist of just enough oil to sauté the chicken and a little mayo or yogurt for the dressing. Strawberries bring additional antioxidant-rich nutrients, as well as color and flavor. Toss in some almonds for essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and heart-healthy phytochemicals. And, the lime juice, garlic, ginger and black pepper not only contribute unbeatable flavors to this wonderful salad, they provide an extra antioxidant boost as well!

This is a tasty summertime treat your whole family will love. And not even the kids will suspect your real motive for serving this is to offer them a healthy alternative to fat and sugar laden, overprocessed meals. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half - cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or yogurt)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, stems removed
  • 4 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place chicken in skillet, season with garlic powder and cook 10 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, lime juice, ginger and milk.

3. Arrange spinach on serving dishes. Top with chicken and strawberries, sprinkle with almonds and drizzle with dressing. Season with pepper to serve.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 242
Total Fat: 17.3g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 117mg
Total Carbs: 7.5g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4g
Protein: 15.8 grams

Source: Allrecipes.com

 

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High Blood Pressure Diet: Antioxidants for Heart Health

by Nancy Maneely

High Blood Pressure Diet: Antioxidants for Heart HealthHave you ever seen an old bicycle or one of those metal patio chairs that has been lovingly reconditioned to look new? The key to this process is scrubbing off the old accumulated rust and applying a couple of coats of rust-resistant paint. The new coating resists oxidative damage from the elements and keeps the object looking shiny and new for years.

Think of an aging heart as an aging, well-used bicycle. There’s potentially a lot of good years of life left in it, but it needs some care and protection. Regular activity and healthy foods can extend the life of this heart, and the key to this protection is the application of “rust-resistant paint” – well, the organic equivalent, which is antioxidant nutrients.

Antioxidants are found mainly in plant foods in the form of polyphenols. The science is complex, but a simple way to protect your heart is by eating foods with antioxidants as part of a high blood pressure diet. This includes eating a colorful array of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

When it comes to heart health, certain foods contain anti-coagulants and antioxidants that act as protective factors and anti-inflammatory agents. Here are some of the biggest nutritional superstars:

Blueberries – The blue in blueberries comes from the anthocyanin pigment. Anthocyanins are called phytochemicals (phyto is the Greek word for plant) or nutraceuticals because they act as antioxidants protecting the body’s cells against undesirable oxidative changes.

Green tea – Research studies show that green tea is a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood clotting damage to arteries. One cup of green tea has more antioxidants than a serving of strawberries.

Fresh oregano – The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks fresh oregano the highest per gram of any herb, fruit, or vegetable in antioxidants – four times as much as blueberries!

Fresh garlic – This lowers blood pressure, may help lower total cholesterol, acts as a blood thinner, and functions as an antioxidant.

What is your favorite heart-healthy dish incorporating these nutritional superfoods?

 

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Healthy Recipes: Brain-Boosting Berry Salad

by Nancy Maneely

One of the best things about summer is looking forward to the bounty of fresh berries. Whether you grow them in your garden or harvest them at the grocery store, it’s the time of year to enjoy them in quantity at lower Healthy Recipes | Superfoods | Institute for Vibrant Livingprices.

Two of our favorites, blueberries and strawberries, recently made news headlines with a study that found that they are brain-boosting superfoods!

Blueberries and strawberries, which are high in flavonoids, appear to reduce cognitive decline in older adults, according to a study recently published in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society. The researchers reported that cognitive aging could be delayed by up to 2½ years in elderly who consume greater amounts of the flavonoid-rich berries.

Flavonoids are compounds in plants that contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Health experts say stress and inflammation contribute to cognitive impairment, and increasing consumption of flavonoids could alleviate the harmful effects.

Fruit salads are always enhanced with the addition of fresh berries. But if you to really power up those brain cells, try this berries-only fruit salad. Serve as an appetizer, summer side dish or dessert. Whether served alone in elegant stemware glasses or with your favorite shortcake recipe, it’s a can’t-miss combination.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Mix strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries together in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar.  Delicious just like this – you simply can’t go wrong with this combination of berries! Or, for a special treat, drizzle with a high quality balsamic vinegar, toss and let rest for a few minutes. Then serve over vanilla bean ice cream or frozen yogurt.

What is your favorite way to enjoy fresh berries?

Source:
Science Daily: Eating more berries may reduce cognitive decline in the elderly

 

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The Benefits of Amaranth

by Nancy Maneely

Congratulations! You’ve expanded your dietary horizons to venture past the ubiquitous wheat pasta to include other whole grains into your daily menus. Maybe you enjoy brown rice with your chicken … toss a handful ofThe Benefits of Amaranth barley into simmering soups … perhaps even checked out the new recipes for quinoa in your favorite magazine?

Now it’s time to add another “superfood” to your life: amaranth.  Like quinoa, this one’s considered a superfood due to its densely packed nutritional profile. But unlike quinoa, amaranth isn’t technically a grain, but rather, a seed.

Why Amaranth is Considered a Superfood:

Nutrition profile of a 1-cup serving of amaranth (cooked):

  • 9 grams protein, 5 grams dietary fiber
  • Low-sodium – 15mg (1% Daily Value)
  • Estimated glycemic load of 21 (target total is 100 or less per day)
  • Percent Daily Values of the following essential nutrients: 105% manganese, 40% magnesium, 36% phosphorus, 29% iron, 19% selenium, 18% copper, 12% calcium, 14% Vitamin B6, 14% folate.

You can find amaranth at most health food stores and natural/gourmet grocery shops. It can be a bit pricey, but considering how concentrated the nutrition is – it’s worth every penny! 

Amaranth is delicious when combined with other grains such as millet and quinoa to make a light and fluffy pilaf. Try it in tabouli as a replacement for couscous. Stir it into soups or stews for a protein boost. You may have even seen amaranth sold in puffed form, as a cereal or granola ingredient, but this is very easy to make yourself at home. Simply heat a skillet on the stove, add a couple tablespoons of uncooked amaranth, place a lid on top and swirl the pan until the seeds pop. You can combine puffed amaranth with nut butter and honey to make a delicious and simple energy bar. 

For easier digestibility, soak amaranth seeds for 8-10 hours in cold water prior to cooking. You don’t need to do this but it may enhance absorption of nutrients.

To cook amaranth seeds:

Boil 1 cup seeds in 2 1/2 cups water for 18-20 minutes. Don’t overcook them as they will become gummy!

Amaranth has a mild, sweet, nutty flavor and you can enhance the flavor by gently sautéing the cooked seeds, as with quinoa.

Do you have a favorite recipe using amaranth?

Easy Healthy Recipes

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Healthy and Delicious Pasta Alternatives

by Nancy Maneely

If you're watching your weight (and overall health) you’ve probably ditched the white-flour pasta along with white bread as part of your everyday fare. And that’s a good thing. Still, once in awhile you may miss those steaming bowls of pasta from your childhood. Who doesn’t?

Pasta is one of the ultimate comfort foods.

But most pastas are made with refined wheat flour which is stripped of its essential nutrients. It’s filling, but mostly empty calories. Here’s the good news: If you want to know how to increase energy levels and still get your pasta fill, there are some delicious and healthy pasta options to explore. Try these with your favorite tomato sauce or just a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

How to Increase Energy Levels: Healthy Pasta Alternatives

  • Spaghetti Squash – Slice in half and bake, then shred the inside with a fork into noodle-like strands. Ultra-low in calories, squash is high in vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium for heart health.
  •  Zucchini – Shred with a peeler and steam for a quick spaghetti substitute.
  • Quinoa – This superfood from the Mayans is high in protein, vitamin B and delicious in salads as a pasta substitute.
  • Soba Noodles – These heart healthy Japanese noodles are made from buckwheat and are high in protein.
  • Black Bean Spaghetti – If you can get past the notion of eating black pasta, this stuff is wonderfully high in protein – more than 20 grams per serving! – and fiber.
  • Rice Pasta – Asian markets are the place to shop for these inexpensive noodles made from whole grains.
  • Whole Grain Wheat – If you really must have wheat pasta, choose this kind. It is rich in vitamin B and isn't stripped of its fiber and minerals.

What’s your favorite pasta dish? Share with us!

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Green Drink Smoothie Recipe

by Nancy Maneely

Here is a quick and easy basic green smoothie recipe that you’ll love.Best Green Drink Smoothie Recipe

Afternoon Energy Boosting Smoothie

  • 1 scoop energy greens powder
  • One whole banana
  • One whole pear
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries
  • Two cups of purified or filtered water

First, add 1 scoop of energy greens powder to blender. Secondly, peel and smash the banana, then add. Follow with the pear, halved and seeded. Next, add the berries. In the case of strawberries, you might wish to remove the heads, and it should be noted that raspberries contain small seeds that may not disintegrate entirely during the blending process.

In the last step, add the 2 cups of purified water. The amount of water should barely cover the top of the fruit. If 2 cups is not enough, you can always add a little more. Once all of the ingredients have been added, adjust the blender to a high setting and run for 2-3 minutes, or until the smoothie concoction has achieved a creamy consistency.

Feel free to create your own recipes. Try experimenting with different fruits and vegetables to find the mixture you like best. Many people prefer other leafy greens such as kale. When it comes to green smoothie recipes, there is no right or wrong combination of ingredients!

Superfood Smoothie Recipes

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Regulate Digestive System: How Common Medications May Cause Digestive Problems

by Nancy Maneely

Regulate Digestive SystemIf you suffer from occasional digestive upsets – and who doesn’t? – do you reach for the contents of your medicine cabinet? If so, you may be doing more harm than good.

The best way to eliminate digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, excessive gas, or bloating, is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This we can do by drinking lots of water; eating smaller, more frequent meals; avoiding sugary sweets and drinks (the body has trouble processing sugar overloads); and making sure to replenish the “good” bacteria of the gut with probiotics (either in foods or a daily supplement).

In fact, many medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – can ramp up digestive problems. And ironically, some of the drugs we look to for digestive relief can be the worst offenders. Here are some medications to avoid when you are experiencing digestive upset:

  1. Antacids – The powerful acid blockers on the market today are effective at reducing stomach acid. The problem is, you need that acid to help digest and absorb the nutrients in food. And you also need it to destroy bad bacteria that invade your system. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, Oct. 4, 2007) found that people who took antacids had four times more pneumonia, because they didn’t have enough stomach acid to protect them against bacteria and viruses.
  2. Laxatives – These may seem to work at first, but there are two downsides: Many people experience irritation of the bowel as a result of the harsh ingredients in most products, and the relief is temporary which can lead to dependence.
  3. NSAIDS and aspirin – These can upset and even damage your intestinal lining.
  4. Antibiotics – There’s no question that antibiotics can be necessary and effective at destroying harmful bacteria, but they also kill off the friendly flora that live in your digestive tract. Antibiotics encourage the overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans, which can damage the lining of the small intestine and lead to digestive problems.
  5. Other drugs – Some medications tend to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to back up into the esophagus. These include antihistamines, beta-2 agonists for asthma, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, nitrates for angina, and tricyclic antidepressants.

Most of us know our bodies well enough to predict which foods cause the most trouble internally. In general, it is best to avoid the worst offenders like trans fats, processed meats, sodas, and low-fiber foods such as white bread and pasta). Many people are lactose intolerant and need to avoid dairy products, which can bring on painful bloating and gas. Other common food allergies include soy, peanuts, eggs and wheat. The best way to test for food sensitivities is to eliminate the suspected foods completely from your diet for several weeks and then add them back in. Keep a daily food journal while you are doing this.

Try incorporating foods that are good for digestion into your daily diet. These include: yogurt or kefir, sweet potato, winter squash, banana, apples, berries, whole grains, sauerkraut, peas, beets, and celery.

What’s your favorite natural remedy for problems related to digestive upset?

Read More:
EverydayHealth.com: Digestive Health

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6 Tips for Achieving Better Digestion

by Nancy Maneely

A healthy digestive system is an important part of a healthy body and as we age, most of us will experience digestive troubles on occasion. For some of us, the occasions add up enough to become annoying or downright alarming. Eating meals trigger a host of unpleasant symptoms ranging from vague abdominal discomfort to bloating, gas, nausea or heartburn.

Sometimes the discomfort begins during a meal, other times about half an hour later. A a medical workup often finds no physical or anatomical cause for it.

The doctor would call this “functional dyspepsia.” We usually just call it “indigestion” and deal with it as a “normal” part of aging, often trying a variety of over-the-counter medications or home remedies.

If you suffer from functional dyspepsia, you're not alone. Roughly 25% of the population is affected, and it hits men and women equally. While it's frustrating that the cause of functional dyspepsia is unknown, it's even more frustrating that there is no single cure.

But there are some simple things you can to do avoid an upset stomach, achieve digestive relief and maintain a healthy digestive system. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. You know your personal troublemakers: dairy products, spicy sauces, hard-to-digest vegetables, fizzy drinks.
  2. Eat small portions and be sure to chew food slowly and completely.
  3. Avoid activities that can result in swallowing excess air such as smoking, eating quickly, chewing gum, and drinking soda.
  4. Reduce stress. Try relaxation therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, or exercise (but don’t exercise right after eating).
  5. Don’t lie down within two hours of eating.
  6. Avoid gaining weight, and you might want to consider losing a few pounds.

Follow these simple tips and you will be well on your way to creating a healthy digestive system.

Free Guide: Healthy Aging and A Healthy Digestive System

 

Source:
Harvard Health Blog: Digestive Disorders

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Smart Choices in Seafood: Benefits vs. Risks

by Nancy Maneely

If you want to gain the health benefits of fish, the experts recommend eating at least three servings a week. But what about the risk of mercury and other toxins contained in some kinds of seafood?

You shouldn’t worry if you avoid eating fish with high levels of pollutants, because the benefits far outweigh the risks, according to a group of researchers at Umea University in Sweden who reported their findings recently after years of weighing the risks of mercury content against the advantages of healthful fatty acids.

Seafood contaminants include metals (such as mercury, which affects brain function and development), industrial chemicals (PCBs and dioxins) and pesticides (DDT). These toxins are most often found on land and make their way into the ocean food chain through the smallest plants and animals. Then, as the smaller species are consumed by larger ones, these pollutants are concentrated. That’s why large predatory fish, like shark and swordfish, end up with the most toxins.

We can minimize the risks by making smart seafood choices. One of the best resources for information is the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which has identified seafood that is "Super Green," meaning that it is good for human health and does not harm the oceans. The Super Green list highlights products that are currently on the Seafood Watch "Best Choices" (green) list, are low in environmental contaminants and are good sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

As an example, take canned tuna – one of the most popular fish consumed in the United States. Media reports have caused much confusion about the safety of eating canned tuna due to varying levels of mercury. Here’s what Environmental Defense, a partner organization with Seafood Watch, has to say on the subject:

The two most popular types of canned tuna – white and light – vary greatly in their average mercury content. Overall, it’s best to exercise caution in how much tuna you (or especially your children) consume.

  • Canned white tuna consists of albacore, a large species of tuna that accumulates moderate amounts of mercury, but it also contains high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Therefore, Environmental Defense recommends that both adults and children limit their consumption of canned white tuna.
  • Canned light tuna usually consists of skipjack, a smaller species with approximately one-third the mercury levels of albacore. Therefore, it is generally recommended only that young children (ages 0-6) limit their consumption of canned light tuna.

The following fish varieties constitute the healthy “Super Green List”:

  • Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
  • Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
  • Oysters (farmed)
  • Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
  • Rainbow Trout (farmed)
  • Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)

 

Other Healthy "Best Choices" include:

  • Arctic Char (farmed)
  • Barramundi (farmed, from the U.S.)
  • Dungeness Crab (wild-caught, from California, Oregon or Washington)
  • Longfin Squid (wild-caught, from the U.S. Atlantic)
  • Mussels (farmed)

Do you have a favorite recipe for a fish from the “Super Green List”?

 

Sources:
Science Daily
Monterey Bay Seafood Watch
Environmental Defense

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Sorting Eggs: How To Make The Right Choice

by Nancy Maneely

Worried about the cholesterol in your morning omelet? You shouldn’t be. You can eat one or two eggs a day without raising your cholesterol, according to nutrition experts. A statistical analysis of 224 studies over the past 25 years with over 8,000 people found that eating foods high in cholesterol, like eggs, did not raise blood levels of cholesterol.

Eggs provide choline and selenium. Choline is a nutrient shown to reduce inflammation and support healthy brain cells. Selenium is needed in the body’s manufacture of selenoproteins, which prevent cellular damage from free radicals.

New research reveals that the healthfulness of an egg may depend largely on what the hen eats.  One recent study showed that hens raised on a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids results in eggs with a healthier antioxidant profile. The downside: This omega-3-rich chicken feed – favoring wheat, barley and milo over the cheaper ingredients of soy, maize and and sunflower – translates into higher prices at the grocery store.

It’s easy to become confused while looking over the variety and cost of eggs on the store shelves. Is it worth paying more for eggs that are organic? What what’s the difference between “cage-free” and “free-range” hens? The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides the following guidelines for consumers:

Organic eggs are derived from hens raised, housed, and fed in compliance with the regulations of the National Organic Program administered by  the USDA.

To qualify as organic, eggs must come from chickens that are fed only organic feed, i.e., feed that is free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemical additives. No genetically modified foods can be used. Additionally, organic eggs must come from chickens that are given antibiotics only in the event of an infection; commercial chickens, on the other hand, are given antibiotics on a routine basis. No hormones or other drugs can be used in organic egg production.

The “organic” label means molting cannot be induced in chickens. Molting -- when birds shed their older feathers to make room for new ones -- is sometimes induced in commercial egg and chicken production by withholding food, water or by other means. Molting extends the productive life of laying chickens.

Organic eggs must come from chickens that live in cage-free environments and have access to the outdoors, even if their outdoor area is just a small pen or enclosed yard area.

Cage-free eggs are from hens that are allowed to move freely within their house either on a combination of litter and slat flooring or in an aviary structure. In both of the housing systems, feed and water is provided continuously. Nests are provided for the flock from which eggs are collected either manually or on a mechanical belt.

Cage-free means the hens can roam around in a very large building, but do not have outdoor access like free-range hens. The hens are allowed to move freely within their house either on a combination of litter and slat flooring or in an aviary structure. In both of the housing systems, feed and water is provided continuously.

Free-range chickens. Actually, the USDA does not recognize the term “free-range” as applying to eggs, only to chickens, turkeys and other poultry.

Unlike the term "USDA Organic," which can only be applied to foods that meet exacting USDA guidelines, use of the term "free-range" is less strict. Any chickens that have regular access to an outdoor area -- a patch of cement or a small, fenced gravel yard -- can be called free-range. Even if a bird gets just five minutes of outdoor time a day, she qualifies as a free-range chicken.

The take-away from all this? If you're looking for a healthier product, it makes sense to choose the eggs labeled organic. These are the only ones that have strict, well-defined criteria for feed, antibiotics and processing, as well as the built-in assurance that they’re from “cage-free” hens.

From the standpoint of freshness, flavor and humane treatment of animals, one sure bet is to gather eggs from your own backyard flock. As more cities and towns across the U.S. amend their zoning laws to allow backyard chicken coops, this is becoming a more commonplace source of our favorite high-protein breakfast food.

 

Sources:

World’s Healthiest Foods

Science Daily

USDA

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Menopause and Weight Gain: Myth Vs. Fact

by Nancy Maneely

Menopause and Weight GainMenopause itself doesn’t cause women to gain weight, contrary to widespread belief. But the hormonal changes of menopause are associated with a change in the way a woman’s body fat is distributed, leading to more belly fat.

That’s the conclusion of a comprehensive study conducted by the International Menopause Society, which is calling for women to be more aware of the problems associated with excess weight, and to take early steps to prevent weight gain during menopause.

The key finding was that the way fat is deposited changes in menopause; studies indicate that this is due to the drop in estrogen levels. Whether or not women gain weight at midlife, after menopause women experience a shift in their fat stores to their abdomen.

"It is a myth that the menopause causes a woman to gain weight,” says Professor Susan Davis (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia), the review leader. “It's really just a consequence of environmental factors and aging which cause that. But there is no doubt that the new spare tyre many women complain of after menopause is real, and not a consequence of any changes they have made. Rather this is the body's response to the fall in estrogen at menopause: a shift of fat storage from the hips to the waist."

IMS President, Tobie de Villiers (Cape Town, South Africa), said: "Weight gain is a major risk factor for a variety of diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is by far the number one killer of postmenopausal women, and this risk is increased by excess weight. Women need to be aware of this, especially at the menopause when estrogen levels drop. A woman may need to adjust her lifestyle to ensure a healthier life after the menopause. In fact, I would say that a woman should consider using the menopause as a marker, a reason to review her overall health, with her doctor, so that she can take her own decisions on how her life moves forward."

So, the take-away is that if you haven’t been paying attention to your health – particularly your weight – prior to menopause, this is the time to start. Be more aware of what you’re eating, cut down calorie-laden sugar and fats, and be more active every day.

Have you changed the way you manage your weight at midlife?

Source: Science Daily

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GABA Study Offers Hope For Treatment Of Metabolic Syndrome

by Nancy Maneely

Metabolic Syndrome GABA Natural SupplementGABA, or gamma aminobutyric acid, is a fascinating little amino acid-like molecule with certain properties researchers are finding are super-beneficial to human health. As a component of the brain, it works to inhibit the neurotransmission of certain chemicals, notably those responsible for producing anxiety.

Recently, UCLA researchers demonstrated that GABA may help inhibit development of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, conditions that are involved in the development of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

In this early preclinical study, GABA was given orally to mice that were obese, insulin resistant and in the early stages of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that GABA suppressed the inflammatory immune responses that are involved in the development of this condition.

In the study, GABA improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, and even helped to halt progression of Type 2 diabetes in mice. Researchers noted that GABA taken as a supplement may be effective in the treatment of obesity-related Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The GABA study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of adverse features including inflammation, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and insulin resistance that are linked to an increased chance of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

According to the American Heart Association, five main markers determine metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X). It only takes the presence of three of these five markers to generate a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome:

  • Low levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol
  • Elevated triglyceride levels
  • Waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women
  • Elevated fasting blood glucose levels, and
  • Elevated blood pressure.

Metabolic syndrome is estimated to afflict about one-quarter of adults ages 20-70, and fully half of elderly adults.

Source:
PlosOne Journal

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10 Superfoods For The Holidays

by Nancy Maneely

When you’re a kid, the holidays are a time to anticipate Santa, toys and treats. But let’s face it: Most of us grownups are looking forward to the food! This is THE time of year when indulgence is permissible – even expected.

While a certain amount of gastronomic revelry is OK, remember to indulge in small portions or you will pay the price after the New Year. And sampling foods that would be off-limits any other time of year is fine, too, within limits.

Superfoods Health Recipes Holiday

Still, there’s no reason to skip smart, healthy food choices when they can be part of your seasonally scrumptious menus. Here are the nutritional superfoods that deserve a place of honor at your holiday table.

  1. Sweet Potatoes – These contain Vitamin A as beta-carotene, more than any other fruit or vegetable ... plus, a unique combination of heart healthy nutrients: potassium, fiber, and Vitamin C.
  2. Cranberries – High in overall antioxidant capacity per gram. One cup contains up to 18% of the recommended Daily Value of fiber, 20% manganese and 18% Vitamin C.
  3. Pumpkin  – Your favorite squash pie packs a healthy dose of Vitamin A as beta-carotene, as well as the eye-healthy phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin.
  4. Tangerines and Apples – Add some to your salad! They contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps you feel fuller and may protect your heart by supporting healthy blood cholesterol levels.
  5. Nuts – Make your green beans almondine! Sprinkle walnuts over your salad or dessert! Walnuts, almonds and other nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids: They help lower your cholesterol when eaten as part of a balanced diet. Add them to recipes, and leave a bowl of whole nuts (along with a festive nutcracker) on display for holiday guests.
  6. Wild Rice, Quinoa – If you are feeling adventurous, substitute these protein-rich whole grains for bread in stuffing. Here’s a great recipe you may want to try.
  7. Carrots – With a simple yogurt dip, these will be a hit with all ages. Rich in beta-carotene, a sweet/savory side dish featuring carrots (add a little lemon juice, salt, butter and sugar substitute) will add color and nutrition to your holiday table.
  8. Acorn Squash – A good source of Vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Cut in half, bake add a dash of maple syrup and sprinkle with crushed nuts.
  9. Cauliflower and broccoli – High in Vitamin C, low in calories, these cruciferous vegetables also contain compounds known as isothiocyanates, which inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Broccoli is also high in beta-carotene and calcium.
  10. Red Wine – Polyphenols, specifically the antioxidant resveratrol, support heart health. If you drink alcohol, health experts recommend limiting yourself to moderate levels (a glass or two a day). 
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9 tips For a More Effective Workout

by Nancy Maneely

So you’re hitting the gym, running a few miles or even just walking around the neighborhood every day to enhance your health. Good for you! Regular exercise, regardless of intensity, will contribute to cardiovascular health and a healthy brain function. Recent studies show that movement also goes a long way to ward off depression and boosts overall mood and well-being.

But everyone can benefit from fine-tuning their exercise routine to get the most from their workout and protect joints and muscles from injury. Here are a few simple points of advice from the fitness experts:

Walking:

Think about your feet – Instead of moving through the standard heel-to-toe step, lead with your heel and roll through your entire foot before pushing off with your toes. This can turn a stroll into a power walk and engage your shins.

Related Article: Want To Be More Active - Nature's Joint Health Formula That Helps You Live An Active Lifestyle At Any Age.

Pump your arms – Making your stride more energetic and purposeful will pick up your pace, which will burn more calories giving you a better cardio workout. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle and punch them forward and back, rather than across your body.

Go backward – This will build your coordination and work your quadriceps while alleviating any shin pain. First, practice on a flat surface like a running track before trying it on a treadmill. Gradually increase your speed.

Walking Tips For a More Effective Workout

Running:

Take longer strides – Many runners try to go faster by taking more steps more quickly, but this is tougher on knees and lower back. Longer strides will support healthy joints. You’ll feel more of a gliding motion instead of pounding the pavement.

Increase the incline – Running on a treadmill is easier than running outdoors on real terrain. Start by setting it at a 1 percent gradient, which mimics outdoor conditions. Over time, you can increase the incline. This will make you work harder and increase your speed for when you go back to the outdoors.

Try walking – Slowing down now and then doesn’t make you a wuss. For every mile you run, slow down and walk for a minute. It will enable you to run farther.

Weight Training:

Don’t slouch – Good posture is crucial to injury-free and effective strength training. Tuck hips slightly forward, engage your lower abs, and keep your ribs lifted. This will allow you to work more muscles and give you more stability. With a stable body you’ll be better able to lift weights with a controlled, fluid motion, avoiding jerky moves which can lead to injury.

Weight Training tips For a More Effective Workout

Take it slowly – Slower is more effective because it uses movement of muscles rather than momentum to move the weight. This will lessen stress on the joints. Take two seconds to lift the weight and four to lower it.

Full range – Be sure to take every exercise through its entire range of motion, avoiding shortcuts. You’ll work the entire range of the muscle.

What is your favorite tip for a safe and effective workout?

Source:
Real Simple