Boost the Benefits of Green Tea

A study done at Purdue University found that a squeeze of citrus juice in a cup of green tea significantly increased the absorption of tea’s catechins. Catechins are the antioxidants found in tea that may help battle cancer cells.  When drinking green tea on its own, your body absorbs about 20% of the catechins. But, if you squeeze in a bit of lemon juice, that absorption level jumps to 80%! So enjoy your cup ‘o tea with a squirt of citrus.

Shopping for Organic on a Budget

The biggest challenge to eating whole, clean, and organic is cost. I am unable to purchase everything I would like when it comes to buying organic and all-natural products. I must decide on certain items and against others in order to stay within our budget. Last week, Fox News Health posted 10 Secrets to Affordable Organic Foods. which includes tips such as buying from your local coop, prioritizing your organic purchases, and utilizing frozen foods.

In addition to this, check out the Johnson family’s blog –   True Food Movement -Whole Foods Thrifty Challenge. This family spent just under $490 at Whole Foods for one month’s worth of groceries. She speaks of the challenges of shopping on a budget, but also the rewards of eating whole and clean (even thought it was tough at first!). It’s always helpful to have someone in your shoes to take on a challenge such as this and share their own valuable experiences and tips.

I hope this gives you some helpful hints, and that you are able to find 2 or 3 ways to help you shop for the right foods while not going over budget.

20 Pounds Heavier

According to Gallup’s Annual Health and Healthcare Survey, today’s average American woman weighs 160 pounds. That is UP 20 POUNDS from the 1990s! This increases the likelihood of the “average” woman experiencing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases. How do we combat this epidemic?

Our Easter Basket Goodies

Our Easter Basket Goodies

Since the Easter Bunny hops all across the earth in one single night, he needs some Easter basket treats that energize him and allow him to fill every basket along the way. So, our family’s Easter bunny makes sure that the kids also have baskets filled with goodies that they deem as treats but are also not sugar and fat laden. Here are some things that will be awaiting my little ones as they head down stairs on Easter morning:

  • Annies’ Bunny Grahams
  • Annie’s Snack Mix
  • Peeled Snack Dried Fruit (Paradise Found is our favorite mix)
  • Clif Kids Z Bars- S’mores
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Dove Dark Chocolate Squares
  • Archer Farms Fruit Bites
  • Gum
  • Skittles –My Anna loves Skittles, so I bought a small box that I will divide among the 3 kids. I never want to totally restrict them, so I’m happy to indulge them just a bit. Most of the other items that I bought are things that I buy occasionally, so these will also be a welcomed sight.

Hump Day Slump

Whether it’s the Hump Day slump or that afternoon fizzle you feel, a lack of energy can be combated by exercise.

  • According to experiments conducted by Robert Thayer, PhD, at California State University, a brisk, 10 minute walk, can increase energy levels for up to 2 hours. And when the daily 10-minute walks continued for three weeks, overall energy levels stayed elevated.
  • 58% of women feel more energized after they’ve had a workout according to a poll

Yet another reason to motivate us to add exercise to our daily routine! (Oh yeah, and a cup ‘o joe never hurt either!)

Plié Squat with Biceps Curl

Plié Squat with Biceps Curl

This 2-in-1 move targets three main muscles: biceps, adductors (inner thighs), and gluteus maximus. So grab your dumbbells and follow these simple steps to tone and firm…

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed out at a 45 degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended down, palms facing out. Squat down by bending knees 90 degrees (do not let knees go over toes) while you curl weights toward your shoulders. Return back to starting position to complete one rep. Do 15-20 reps to complete one set.

Arthritis, Inflammation, and Joint Health

I recently read an article in the September issue of Fitness Magazine titled “Recovery Mission.” This article focused on inflammation and it was quite intriguing. Ironically, I would need the information I gathered from  reading it just a few days later when I pulled my hamstring. During one of my runs, it felt as though I had a tennis ball-sized mass run from the back of my knee up to the middle of my hammy. It was definitely not a pain I could run off! So I walked home and implemented what I learned. Between ice, one Advil to reduce inflammation (I take drugs ONLY when necessary and that is one of the biggest reasons why I eat the way I do), rest, and my diet, I recovered within a few days. The definition of  or the science behind inflammation was new to me:

Your body creates inflammation as a quick way to heal everything from paper cuts to the flu. Essentially, the immune system increases blood circulation to the injured area, instigates infection-fighting heat, and sends white blood cells and other chemicals to ward off bacteria and mend damaged cells. When it’s doing that job, inflammation is a good thing. The long-term harm happens when the body continuously produces low-grade inflammation; unfortunately, the odds are high that you don’t even know the damage is being done. Even doctors can’t always point to where chronic inflammation is located in the body, and what its specific causes are.

Here are the culprits:

Saturated fat is found mostly in animal-based foods like red meat and whole-fat dairy products. “It’s bad both for the old-fashioned reason that it raises LDL [bad] cholesterol and also because it promotes inflammation throughout the body,” says Linda Antinoro, RD, a dietitian at the Nutrition Consultation Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where much of the research on inflammation has been done.

Trans fats — chemically altered fats often found in crackers, cookies, and other baked goods — send bad cholesterol soaring and promote inflammation even more than saturated fat does. That’s why doctors recommend cutting trans fats out of your diet completely. They’ve been clearly marked on nutrition labels since a new law requiring this went into effect at the start of the year.

Omega-6 polyunsaturated fat may also have inflammatory components and is probably not even on your radar. That’s because food labels don’t list omega-6 specifically; it’s included under the umbrella of all polyunsaturated fats. Omega-6 is found in corn, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils; it’s also in packaged goods that list these oils as ingredients — and the grocery-store shelves are full of them.

Until very recently, omega-6 has been viewed as healthier than saturated and trans fats, because it may improve cholesterol levels. However, research now suggests that in the fight against heart disease, and possibly other ailments, lowering cholesterol may not be as beneficial as lowering inflammation. And that’s where omega-6’s dark side comes into play: It appears to boost inflammation. In one study, people who consumed more omega-6 fat had higher blood-sugar levels and less insulin sensitivity — two risk factors for diabetes.

The body needs a certain amount of omega-6 each day to function properly — about that found in a tablespoon of Thousand Island dressing or a 1-ounce bag of reduced-fat potato chips. But because it’s so prevalent in packaged foods, the typical American consumes far more than this, says Davis — and to the exclusion of inflammation-fighting fats.

Sugar and other simple carbs can make your blood sugar spike; this has been linked with higher levels of inflammation. A high sugar intake may not trigger inflammation on its own, says Davis, but it may worsen the effects of unhealthy fats.

Here are some of the cures:

Fish, Walnuts. Ground flax seeds, Chia seeds. These foods are high in omega-3, another type of polyunsaturated fat, which, unlike omega-6, can help counteract inflammation. In fact, in a 2004 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people placed on a Mediterranean diet that included foods high in omega-3 had less inflammation, lost more weight, metabolized insulin better, and had healthier blood vessels than people who ate just as healthfully but weren’t on this diet. Most Americans don’t get nearly enough omega-3 in their diets. Aim for more than two grams of omega-3 a day, from both plant and fish sources. A three-ounce serving of salmon has 1.2 grams and one ounce of walnuts contains 2.6 grams.

Olive Oil, Peanut Oil, Nuts, Avocados. These foods are rich in monounsaturated fat. Monos on the whole appear to be anti-inflammatory and are already associated with improving the body’s cholesterol balance. But olive oil may have some unique anti-inflammatory powers as well, according to research at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Taste experts there noticed that extra-virgin olive oil produces a “bite” in the throat similar to that of ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. In tests, they discovered a compound in olive oil called oleocanthal that may fight inflammation in a way similar to that of NSAIDs.

Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains. These foods provide a different inflammation defense: antioxidants, which may affect inflammation in the same way that closing the damper affects a fire. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as phytonutrients like carotenoids (found in orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes) and flavonoids (found in red and purple fruits such as apples, berries, and grapes). Look for produce with deeper or brighter colors, which tend to contain the most antioxidants. According to government recommendations, you should eat two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables every day, choosing from a variety of colors throughout the week.

Herbs, Spices, Teas. Cinnamon, curry, dill, oregano, ginger, and rosemary are all concentrated sources of antioxidants that can fight inflammation. Most teas are also chock-full of them, including the green, black, white, and oolong varieties.

And since it happened to me again two days ago, I am doing what I did once before. However, this time I was given spousal approval to get a sports massage. So at 4:00 on Thursday you can pray for me as I am receiving “treatment” 🙂


All Natural Health and Beauty Products

Delicious Living has just put out their 2011 health and beauty awards list. I have fairly recently begun to change from using typical beauty products to natural ones. The main reason I switch is because of the potential health hazards of the chemicals found in the average product. I avoid using anything that contains parabens and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates. You can google these substances and find out the origin of them and some of the safety concerns they present. While the jury is still out on the effects of these chemicals within the body (you will find evidence going both ways), the one thing we do know is that they are engineered substances that permeate the skin.  I would rather play it safe, and use soaps, lotions, etc. that have natural-based ingredients.

I know some of these products can be on the pricey side. Whenever I go to Whole Foods, I stock up on their store brand (365) shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and lotion. They are a great deal! I also forgo typical facial moisturizer. I was using just a bit of olive oil, but now I use grapeseed oil on my face. Since a little goes a long way, this is a lot cheaper than buying a commercialized lotion. My theory is that most products out there have way too many ingredients in them that I am unfamiliar with, so I would rather just go with those ingredients that I know actually exist in a plant (God’s creation) rather than those processed in a plant (man’s creation).