Beating Allergies the Natural Way

Beating Allergies the Natural Way

After this long winter, many of us are welcoming the end of March with open arms. We’re eager for the sun, warmer temperatures, and all of the new growth signaling that spring has finally arrived. Unfortunately, for many, this time of year also signals the arrival of seasonal allergies.

Seasonal allergies can make life miserable for those who suffer from them, causing itchy eyes, runny noses, and constant sneezing fits. These reactions are often caused by the explosion of pollen produced by budding trees and flowers, causing our bodies to produce histamines that “attack” the pollen and clear it out of our systems.

The conventional treatment for spring allergies consist of anti-histamines to calm our overworked immune systems, as well as steroid nose sprays to help clear the nasal passages of inflammation and any offending particles. However, these can cause side effects, including marked drowsiness, which won’t make you feel any better.

Thankfully, there are a number of natural remedies you can turn to when the pollen count gets too high to handle: Continue reading

The Sweet Health Benefits of Maple Syrup

The Sweet Health Benefits of Maple Syrup

Though many of us associate maple syrup with the autumn months, it’s actually early spring when the sap begins to flow. So all this month, maple trees throughout the Northeastern states are being tapped to cultivate the thick, sweet goodness that we call maple syrup.

The process will continue over the next few weeks when the sap is boiled until most of the water evaporates, and it eventually becomes the concentrated syrup we know. During this time, the chemical changes that occur will develop the color, flavor, and nutritional benefits of the syrup.

First discovered by the Native Americans and early European settlers in the mid 1500’s, maple syrup has come to be an American household staple. Best known for being drizzled over a hot stack of pancakes, or used to naturally sweeten baked goods, maple syrup can be found in pantries throughout the country.

In the United States, maple syrup is divided into two major grades, Grade A and Grade B, and Grade A is further divided into three subgrades: Continue reading

7 Fruits and Vegetables to Enjoy During National Nutrition Month

7 Fruits and Vegetables to Enjoy During National Nutrition Month

This month March, is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward.” While of course, it is important to eat foods that are nutritious, taste is a key reason why people choose to eat what they do. Pairing good nutrition with great taste creates a win-win situation. National Nutrition Month, created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is a nutrition education campaign which focuses on the importance of making good food choices.

One way to “put your best fork forward” is to include a colorful diet. My suggestion, when choosing fruits and vegetables, is that you choose a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables as different antioxidants exist in the different color spectrums. The deep orange color found in cantaloupe and sweet potatoes contains beta carotene. The dark blue color of blueberries contains polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The deep red pigment found in tomatoes and watermelon contains the antioxidant lycopene.

Below (in alphabetical order) are several nutrition powerhouses, of varying colors and nutrients that I love to include in my diet and highly recommend. Continue reading

How To Naturally Treat a Cold

How To Naturally Treat a Cold

Let’s admit…no one likes being sick. So, when it comes to treating a cold, there are way too many cold medicines at the drugstore that are filled with potentially harmful ingredients. Have no fear…enter natural cold remedies to get us feeling better again quickly—and no, I’m not talking about vitamin C!

While most people reach for vitamin C when the sniffles come on, extensive research shows us that it doesn’t actually shorten the length or decrease the severity of a cold. It’s certainly useful for supporting the immune system to prevent a cold, but once you have one, it won’t be much help.

Additionally, keep in mind that the common cold is a virus, not a bacterial infection, so it can’t be treated effectively with antibiotics. Instead, when you’re starting to feel under the weather, try one of these natural remedies to shorten your cold’s duration and severity:  Continue reading

8 Reasons Why This Beverage May Be the World’s Healthiest

8 Reasons Why This Beverage May Be the World’s Healthiest

Did you know that next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world?

The story of tea begins in China, thousands of years ago. But, it’s only now that we are discovering how powerful and health-giving tea really is. And, when it comes to tea, I’m referring to the green leaves of the camellia sinensis plant—not herbal teas, like peppermint or chamomile, which have their own distinct health-giving properties.

There are 4 types of tea: green, white, black, and oolong. All of these can be derived from the same plant, and all are being studied for their considerable health-giving properties. Of the 4 types, it’s green tea that seems to be the most healthful. Dried green tea leaves are about 40% polyphenols by weight.  Both green and white teas contain the most EGCG, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Here are eight reasons why tea, and particularly green tea, could be one of the healthiest beverages in the world:

1) Fighting Prostate Cancer

Researchers have known for years that rates of prostate cancer are considerably lower in Asian countries. Many scientists believe this is because of the high consumption of plant foods among Asian populations. But some also think the consumption of green tea — the most popular tea in Japan, China, and other Asian countries — could play a role.

2) Burning Fat

Green tea contains catechins, which increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, leading to improved muscle endurance.

3) Bone Strength

Green tea has been found to help improve body composition and fight osteoporosis by enhancing bone strength.

4) Cardiovascular Health

Studies have found that drinking tea can help to protect against cardiovascular disease, and may reduce the risk of heart attack.

5) Linked to Lower Rates of Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, & More

Tea consumption has been linked to reduced rates of Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, infections, malaria, and even AIDS.

6) Antioxidants to Fight Cancer

The antioxidants in tea are believed to help protect against a broad range of cancers, including cancers of the breast (one study found that 3 cups a day of tea reduced the risk of breast cancer by a third), colon, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, and more.

7) Reduced Rate of Parkinson’s

When a team of scientists monitored 29,335 Finnish men and women over the course of 12.9 years, they came to the conclusion that drinking tea was linked to a meaningful reduction in the risk of Parkinson’s disease. This was true in both men and women, even after factoring for other variables like smoking, physical activity, age, and body mass index.

8) Caffeine (Yes, that’s a good thing!)

Of course, unless it’s been decaffeinated, tea has caffeine (more in black and oolong than in green or white). The health effects of caffeine are a controversial topic. But, a considerable body of evidence shows that the caffeine in tea may increase memory, help to ward off Alzheimer’s, protect against skin cancer and cataracts, prevent weight gain, help with asthma – and even be good for virility.

Enjoy Tea

Keep mind that many bottled tea products are mostly sugar-water. For example, Lipton’s Lemon Iced Tea comes with 31 grams of added sugar. If you’re going to buy pre-bottled tea, it’s best to check the label to be sure it’s either unsweetened or only lightly sweetened. And if you brew it yourself, try it plain, or with a squeeze of lemon, or brewed with some ginger or other herbal teas – or with just a dab of your favorite sweetener. Enjoy your teatime!

Adapted from Food Revolution