Cold and Flu-Fighting Breakfast…with a Twist

Cold and Flu-Fighting Breakfast…with a Twist

Maybe you are not sniffling, as yet, but cold and flu season is upon us. Just over 2 percent of Americans have had the flu so far this season and nearly 7 percent have caught a cold…typical numbers for October, according to Gallup. More like 8 to 10 percent of people will be sniffling come December and January.

However, you don’t have to be one of those Americans. Some extra-diligent hand washing and sufficient shut-eye can go a long way in keeping you healthy all season long. What’s more is an immunity-boosting diet. Simply start the morning off right with a tasty cold and flu-fighting breakfast.

First up…Citrus Fruit

Vitamin C is still a nutrient essential to staying healthy coming specifically from citrus fruits, such as the orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime. Papaya and kiwi pack even more of the crucial vitamin. You may even consider tossing in some cantaloupe, too.

Second…Red-Pepper Omelet

A cup of chopped red bell pepper contains 190 milligrams, which makes it a good source of vitamin C, as well – more than twice as much as an orange. They’re also rich in vitamin A, which aids the growth of mucosal cells, the first line of defense against bacteria trying to invade.

 

Last…Top It Off With Tea

Upping your liquid intake in general (although not from sugary drinks) can help thin mucus and a little steam is sure to bust congestion. Opt for a green variety of tea and you’ll have the added benefits of more concentrated antioxidants, in particular EGCG, which seems to fight off viruses for a stronger immune system.

4 Reasons to Celebrate Non-GMO Month

4 Reasons to Celebrate Non-GMO Month

Did you know that October is officially Non-GMO Month? For almost a decade this month, retail stores nationwide will celebrate the consumer’s right to be informed of foods and products that contain genetically modified organisms, aka GMOs.

What exactly are GMOs again?

GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, are products of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE), which creates new combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes by combining DNA from one species with DNA from another. The result: new organisms that do not occur in nature.

GMOs are often not labeled as such. In many developed nations, GMO products are heavily restricted or banned altogether because they have yet to be proven safe for people’s health and the health of the environment. However, in the U.S. there is a dearth of public awareness of the potentially harmful repercussions of GMO products.

Here are four more reasons why you should celebrate Non-GMO Month this October and empower yourself to make the right decisions for you and your family.

1. Human Health

Currently, seed companies prohibit independent research with their products, leaving very little empirical data available.

2. Environmental and Animal Health

Genetically engineered crops can cause a variety of destructive problems on the surrounding environment. Farmers who use GMO crops can spray their fields to kill everything growing in the area except the specific GMO food crop. The increased use of pesticides and herbicides often leads to superweeds, which then become resistant to the same pesticides, creating the need for stronger, more toxic pesticides (that can leach into our food and water sources!).

3. Moral and Ethical Concerns

Some people question whether genetically altered crops and species threaten and violate the natural order of an environment. Also, genetic modification may involve the creation of foods that are prohibited by certain groups (e.g., the use of animal genes may conflict with some religions, as well as the diets of vegetarians and vegans).

4. Labeling Concerns

Whether you decide to limit or restrict your consumption of GMO products, the right to know what is in our food is important. Research has shown that many Americans would choose not to have GMO products if aware and given the choice.

When shopping for food, it’s a valuable practice to stop and ask yourself the basic question: Where does it all come from? It’s time for us to be food detectives.

Here are a few ways you may be able to consume fewer GMO products:

  • Buy produce and other food items from farmers’ markets.
  • Start conversations with the people selling your food to get more information.
  • Grow your own food in a garden at home or join a community garden.
  • Join a corporate garden or co-op to know where items are coming from.

To help you choose the right foods, look for the butterfly on your favorite products when you go shopping at your local grocery store. You may, also, download the Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide iPhone App.

How will you celebrate Non-GMO month?

Adapted by Joshua Rosenthal, IIN
Don’t Do Away With the Yolk

Don’t Do Away With the Yolk

Egg whites and not the yolk, huh!?!?

For too long there has been a stigma that the yolk of an egg is high in cholesterol, even though skipping it skimps on the most nutritious part of the egg. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines allows eating up to one egg a day, yolk and all, within a healthful eating plan.

It is true that the egg yolk – with about 213 milligrams (mg) per serving – is one of the most concentrated sources of cholesterol in the diet. Recent studies show that the relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood levels of cholesterol, the type that causes heart disease, is very complex and highly individual. Research has failed to provide conclusive evidence that one egg a day can raise your blood cholesterol or risk for heart disease. Studies show that eating eggs may cause a small rise in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in some people – though the increase is in a subclass of larger LDLs, which are less likely to contribute to plaque in the arteries – and an accompanying rise in “good” HDL cholesterol. Still, the American Heart Association advises that if you have high LDL levels, you should cut your dietary cholesterol levels to 200 mg per day.

But there’s a lot more to egg yolks than cholesterol. Yolks contain high quality protein and essential vitamins and nutrients. One of the most powerful benefits of the yolk is the concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids responsible for its rich, golden color. They are key components in the human eye, and eating foods that contain these nutrients preserves good eyesight and prevents vision loss. High levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet are associated with the lowest incidence of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly. Tossing the yolk in favor of the perceived healthier egg white tosses out 100 percent of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D and K, as well as most of the calcium, iron and folate in the egg.

While spinach and some other foods are excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lutein in eggs is three times more available to your body, compared with an equivalent amount of cooked spinach. What better reason to get cracking on the budget-friendly, accessible egg? Just be sure to shy away from less healthy pairings, such as eggs fried in vegetable oils or served with bacon, and partner moderate amounts with vegetables in omelets, quiche and stir-fries. It is, also, more beneficial to opt for pasture-raised or organic.

Adapted from Environmental Nutrition
5 Superfoods To Taste This September

5 Superfoods To Taste This September

August is gone, and September brings in the feeling of the last of what summer has to offer. So, get excited for the freshness of fall. The following superfoods below will help you savor refreshing warm-weather flavors and look forward to the comforting tastes of autumn.

Sweet Potatoes
What Makes Them “super”: These complex carbs with four grams of fiber in each potato make this a healthy choice. The vitamin A will help build up your immune system. Plus, the beta carotene can repair your skin by boosting skin cell production.

How To Enjoy: You may bake them, however steaming them avoids heating up the entire home with the oven. You may, also, purée two of them and put it in bean dip — sort of like hummus — with cashew butter. And, you can eat them all week and it stores well in the fridge, as part of a dip.

Broccoli
What Makes It “super”: It’s a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium. The cruciferous vegetable also packs anti-cancer properties, and could possibly prevent the progression of osteoarthritis. Adding to its nutrition are folate, beta carotene and calcium which give this veggie the power to promote eye health, protect against heart disease, strengthen the immune system and build strong bones.

How To Enjoy: This versatile vegetable can be added to just about anything — grilled, roasted or eaten raw. Be careful not to overcook it, as some of the potassium and vitamin C can be lost with heat.

Beets
What Makes Them “super”: Beetroot is very high in antioxidants, calcium and potassium. The betanin and vulgaxanthin, which give the beets their deep hue, have anti-inflammatory properties as well.

How To Enjoy: Beets can be mixed into smoothies or dips to create a beautifully bright dish. They can be roasted, steamed, grated and eaten raw, or made into a dressing using a food processor.

Grapes
What Makes Them “super”: This small fruit is a good source of vitamins C and K. Plus, they’re hydrating because of they’re water content. The skin contains resveratrol (famous for giving red wine its health benefits, as well as preventing premature aging of cells) and other compounds that may reduce allergy symptoms.

How To Enjoy: They’re so convenient to eat like popcorn, but they can, also, be frozen for a delicious dessert on a warm night.

Lima Beans 
What Makes Them “super”: These beans are a good source of soluble fiber to keep you feeling fuller longer. One cup of lima beans adds 13.4 milligrams of iron and 38.2 grams of protein to your diet. All beans pack protein, but unlike meat sources, they have little to no fat and are cholesterol-free.

How To Enjoy: It’s common to buy frozen lima beans, however you may make them into a soup or dip. You can also steam limas and add them to meat dishes, or mix them with veggies for a nutritious side dish.

What in-season produce do you like to indulge in? Let us know in the comments below!

6 Steps To Reset Your Sleep Patterns For Fall

6 Steps To Reset Your Sleep Patterns For Fall

While Monday, Labor Day, is known as the unofficial end of summer, many people find it more difficult to adjust their sleep schedule back to what it was before the laid back summertime schedule began. Although it is especially true for children who go back to school in August or September, adults can also suffer the consequences from shifted summer sleep schedules.

Once fall arrives, in about three short weeks, we might find that we are still doing many activities in the evening and nighttime, making it more difficult to fall asleep at the earlier desired time. I, for one, can attest to this. And, I will have to wean my way back into the school/work schedule. Some fortunate people find that they can just change their sleep timing to go to bed earlier and wake earlier without any issue. If you’re one of those people, the sooner you start keeping a steady sleep-wake schedule seven days per week, the better! If you aren’t one of those people (my hand raised), here are some suggestions that can help:

1. Power Down
Avoid any screen time (i.e. computers, cell phones, TVs) at least one hour before your new desired bedtime (but ideally two hours before). Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced in our brains and it comes out when the sun starts to set. Melatonin helps to induce sleepiness and keeps us asleep throughout the night. Bright light can limit melatonin production, and blue light (especially from all the electronics screens) is an even bigger offender.

2. Wind Down
Practice winding down your body and mind as well. Find relaxing activities and hobbies that are calm, quiet and soothing. This is not the time to return emails, finish work and be active. Sleep isn’t an on/off switch — it is more like a dimmer switch where you turn down the lights and your body.

3. Light Bright
Do the opposite in the morning. When you wake up, get up and open all the curtains in your house. Get as much natural light as you can. Eat breakfast in front of a window. Bright light stops melatonin production, wakes us up and helps us keep a more consistent bed and wake schedule.

4. Stay The Course
Keep a steady sleep-wake schedule seven days a week. For some, this may be a challenge. However, our bodies don’t have a “weekday” switch and a “weekend” switch. We need to keep things steady. If you sleep in on the weekends, you may only make it harder to go to bed at a more normal time come Sunday night.

5. Slow And Steady
If you’re really struggling with adjusting, some people find that gradually adjusting to a new schedule can help. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier (and wake up 15 minutes earlier) every day until you reach your target bed and wake times. This also means that you should dim the lights and wind down at home 15 minutes earlier every night.

6. Eat For Sleep
Get back on a healthy overall diet. We often loosen up our diet rules over the summer in favor of the ice cream and pie. Limit sugar at night, and avoid anything with caffeine (soda, coffee, tea, chocolate) after noon. Avoid alcohol within three hours of bedtime since it can disrupt sleep even further.

If you’ve tried the above suggestions and you are still struggling with sleep issues, talk with your doctor or a sleep specialist since there are other treatment options that can be quite useful.

What This Does for Your Head AND Your Heart

What This Does for Your Head AND Your Heart

We drink it, we swim in it, the steam from it eases congestion and the conversion to ice reduces swelling. Water is all around us (and even in us). “Water makes up about 2/3 of who we are, and influences 100 percent of the processes in our body,” says CamelBak hydration expert Doug Casa, PhD. That probably explains why we feel better when we’re drinking enough of it. Here’s why you should go hydrate right now because of what it does for your head and your heart:
Continue reading

5 UV-Fighting Foods for Inside Out Sun Protection

5 UV-Fighting Foods for Inside Out Sun Protection

Did you know that UV rays from the sun can damage skin cell’s deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA? This can lead to wrinkles, rough skin, skin sagging, brown spots, and skin cancer. You may seek out topical sunscreens as one way to protect the skin from UV damage, but not only do they not provide complete protection, many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals that can actually increase your risk of cancer. The safety of natural mineral sunscreens even cause some concern. Fortunately, eating certain foods can increase your skin’s defenses against the sun in a safe way. “Sunscreen foods” contain antioxidants that neutralize the effects of UV rays, preventing skin damage, and can actually help repair existing skin damage. By eating the right foods, you can look younger and have healthier skin. Here are the top 5 foods to eat to protect your skin:

Green Tea: Green tea is rich in polyphenols (potent antioxidants). Research has shown that people who drink green tea have less skin color changes after sun exposure, softer skin, better skin elasticity, and better blood flow to the skin versus people who do not drink green tea. And, a 2011 study published in the Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications journal found that EGCG (a type of catechin) in green tea prevents a type of skin cancer called melanoma by inhibiting genes that activate inflammation.Drink at least a cup of green tea a day to get skin protection benefits.

Tomato Paste: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, the phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their bright red color. This phytonutrient protects tomatoes from shriveling up under the sun while on the vine, and it also protects human skin from UV damage. You can get lycopene from eating raw tomatoes, but you get a higher concentration of it by eating tomato paste. Although research has found that people who eat 5 tablespoons of tomato paste a day have 33 percent increased protection from the sun versus people who do not eat tomato paste, I do not know of anyone who will find this appetizing. Therefore, it may be more pleasing to the palate to simply take lycopene supplements, found in health food stores, to boost your daily intake. Eating all-natural ketchup and spaghetti sauce will, also, do the trick.

Raspberries: As mentioned above, UV exposure leads to wrinkles, skin roughness, and a reduction in skin elasticity also causing the production of MMP (matrix metalloproteinase enzymes), which breaks down collagen in the skin. Raspberries contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which blocks the production of MMP enzymes. These vitamin C-rich berries help fight off DNA damage to skin cells.

Dark Chocolate: Not milk chocolate! Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols that protect the skin from UV damages. Researchers found that people who ate dark chocolate could stay in the sun twice as long without sunburn than those who did not eat dark chocolate. The key is to look for dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa for the most skin protection.

Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the skin after exposure to UV rays and help preserve the body’s ability to fight off skin cancer. It is best to eat a handful of raw, organic walnuts a day to boost your body’s skin cancer fighting abilities.

For best results, eat some of these sun-damage-fighting foods on a daily basis. Besides the UV protection benefits, they also contain nutrients and antioxidants that benefit your entire body, so it’s a win-win!

Have you found a natural alternative to protect your skin from the sun? If so, please share in the comments, below.

7 Must-Have Foods for Natural Beauty Treatments

7 Must-Have Foods for Natural Beauty Treatments

Harsh chemicals and unnatural ingredients do not have to be included when treating yourself to a nourishing spa treatment! Skin problems, such as dry skin or acne, can be treated with some of the most effective and natural remedies created at home with just a few ingredients from your kitchen.  I’m constantly mixing up some concoction of foods in the kitchen to use in the bathroom for any part of my skin! The best part is, these foods are not expensive, they are not hard to find, they are the most beneficial for your skin, and you most likely already have on them on had because of their very common ingredients.

So, the next time you make a trip to the grocery store, add these 7 foods to your shopping cart for some at home pampering! Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Summer Is Good For Your Heart

5 Reasons Why Summer Is Good For Your Heart

The lazy, hazy days of summer are good for your heart — but not because we tend to be lazier or hazier. Quite the opposite. Seasonal changes bring changes to our lifestyles, and summer just happens to be the season where we live a bit healthier. Here are 5 reasons why summer is especially good for aging hearts.

The Vitamin D we get from the sun improves our cholesterol.

A study from Brazil found last year that our “bad” cholesterol levels, known as LDL, trend about 8 percent higher in the winter than the summer and our “good” cholesterol, called HDL, tends to increase by about 5 percent. Seasonal cholesterol changes vary in parts of the United States and Europe where there are more dramatic seasonal weather changes (read: Californians may be on to something here.)

Here’s why: Continue reading

4 Ways to Naturally Cure Allergies

4 Ways to Naturally Cure Allergies

Early summer is one of my favorite times of year. With all the sunshine and greenery, it’s hard not to be in a good mood! Unfortunately, with spring flowers come spring allergies. If you’re all too familiar with the itchy eyes, sneezing, and stuffiness that are the telltale signs of spring allergies, there may be a way for you to reduce your symptoms without taking prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Before you stop taking allergy medications to give these natural remedies a try, be sure to have your doctor run a test to see what you are allergic too. This will help you determine the best way to treat your symptoms. Continue reading