Thursday, February 27, 2014

Superfoods for Heart Health

Heart disease is number one killer among both men and women in the United States. And although we all realize that eating nutrient-dense healthy foods help reduce the risk, we may not know which foods are the best choices to battle this deadly disease head on. The key is stepping up fiber and choosing healthy fats. Eating healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil, can help to reduce triglycerides. Whole, natural fats such as coconut oil are also great at reducing inflammation, and provide a quick and healthy source of energy. And a diet rich in soluble fiber, which is often found in legumes and some fruits and vegetables, helps to decrease LDL cholesterol levels.

Two Juglans regia walnuts.
Heart-healthy walnuts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sardines are an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids, along with calcium and niacin. You can prepare fresh ones on the grill, or canned sardines work great in salads or sandwiches. Mackerel is another excellent source of omega-3s, and is full of selenium, which is an antioxidant mineral which may help protect the body from heart disease and cancer. (Small fish like sardines also have fewer pollutants and heavy metal content.)  Another great way to get omega-3s on the go is by grabbing a handful of walnuts for an afternoon snack. Add some to your green salad, or give chicken salad a nutrition boost by adding ground walnuts.

Kidney beans are a very affordable source of high fiber, and are high in protein for sustained energy without fat. Add them to salads, soups, and chili whenever you can, as they truly are almost a perfect health food. Since canned varieties tend to be higher in sodium, try to use the dried varieties whenever possible. Beans are easy to cook - just soak overnight in cold water with a pinch of baking soda, then drain, rinse, cover with water, and cook for about an hour. Drain and keep in the refrigerator until needed (they will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to a week).

Whole-grain barley is rich in soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, which is good for combating constipation. It’s also a good protein source and has a good supply of iron and minerals. Choose whole-grain barley cereals, or substitute whole-grain barley for rice and pasta side dishes once a week.

Oatmeal is a great way to boost your fiber content early in the morning, and it also has a low glycemic index, which helps to provide lasting energy and stave off hunger. Choose rolled oats, and add some raisins, apples, and honey for flavor. Instant oatmeal isn’t a healthy option as it’s usually loaded with sugar.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cranberries- The Superfood to Stave Off Bladder Infections

Numerous studies have shown that cranberries may help to fight off urinary tract infections (UTIs). They reduce the power of certain E. coli bacteria to adhere to and penetrate the walls of the bladder.

In about half of the cases of UTIs, the E. coli responsible have special little hairy tips called P fimbria. The bacteria use their fimbria to attach themselves to the bladder so that they can multiply and cause an infection. That's where cranberries--which contain a group of chemicals called proanthocyanidins---come in. They bind to the P fimbria of the E. coli and hinder them so they are unable to sticking to the walls of the bladder. As a result, the E. coli is flushed out in the urine instead of causing an infection. And because cranberries remove rather than kill the bacteria, there’s less of a chance for the E. coli to become resistant.

Ocean Spray Craisins brand dried cranberries
Dried cranberries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s imperative that those who are prone to UTIs eat cranberries or drink cranberry juice on a daily basis, because once the bacteria are able to adhere to the wall, the infection sets in, and the cranberries can’t help at that point. Juice products sweetened with stevia or other natural sweeteners are probably best, as sugar can actually increase the proliferation of bacteria.

It’s probably best to use cranberry products twice a day if you are prone, as the effects of the cranberries wear off after about 10 hours.

You should also be diligent about drinking lots of fluids in order to flush the bladder out on a regular basis. Citrus fruits and fresh vegetables high in vitamin C are also good, as they help boost the body’s immunity and germ-fighting abilities. Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages should be avoided, as well as alcohol. Be sure to complement your diet with plenty of foods rich in vitamin B, such as fortified cereals, lean proteins, asparagus, almonds and bananas, as they all assist the body in the digestive process and converting food to energy, which your body will need if it’s working to fend off a UTI.
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

5 Advantages of Cork Flooring

When choosing the right floor for your home there are many considerations.  You want it to be durable, to be beautiful and to fit your budget.  You may also want it to be an environmentally sound decision, having the least impact on the environment.  Weigh all your options; cork flooring may be your flooring of choice.  Here are five advantages of cork flooring. 

#1.  Cork flooring is a renewable resource.  Instead of having to cut down a tree, cork is harvested from a tree without causing it any harm.  The harvesting process is actually pretty interesting; cork, made from the bark of oak trees, is only harvested from a tree once every ten years.  And it’s biodegradable, which means you don’t have to feel guilty when your flooring has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced

This image shows some varnished cork bathroom ...
Varnished cork bathroom tiles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#2.  Cork flooring is excellent for people with allergies and sensitivities.  Unlike carpet, which can collect pollen, pollutants and dust mites, cork is naturally hypoallergenic and mold-resistant. 

#3.  Cork also contains suberin, a natural insect repellent.  Why would you want your floor to repel insects?  Think termites…enough said, right?  What’s better than a floor that repels termites rather than attracting them? 

#4.  Cork flooring is extremely durable.  Not only does it resist the dents and scratches most wood floors easily incur, it’s also lightweight which means you can install it on any type of subfloor.  It is important to note that while cork is very durable, it isn’t kryptonite - you can gouge it.  Additionally, it is water resistant which means it won’t suffer water damage as easily as other types of floors.

#5.  Cork flooring is economical.  Basic cork tiles start around $4.00 per tile or plank and vary depending on stain choice and size of plank or tile.  And because it’s fairly easy to install, do-it-yourselfers can save a lot of money on installation.

Cork flooring has the ability to be customized to fit every lifestyle and d├ęcor choice.  It can be stained, and be installed as tiles or planks, which creates a variety of pattern options.  It’s durable, mold and mildew resistant and perhaps best of all, a renewable and sustainable product.  If you’re looking to replace the flooring in your home, consider cork.  It’s an economical and environmentally friendly option.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Linoleum: A Surprisingly Natural Flooring Option

Did you grow up in a house with a linoleum kitchen floor? Many of us did, but did you know that linoleum is considered a "green" flooring option? Many people use "linoleum" as a generic term for all flooring that is not wood, carpet, or tile. But true linoleum should not be confused with vinyl flooring, which is often called linoleum. Vinyl flooring is made from petroleum products and synthetic materials. True linoleum is made from the following natural ingredients.

- Linseed oil
Pressed from flax seeds, linseed oil does not outgas toxic vapors or involve environmentally questionable practices to manufacture. It is abundant and renewable.

- Resin
linoleum (Photo credit: farmalldanzil)
Also known as rosin, this sticky substance is tapped from pine trees. Like tapping maple trees for their sap, when pines are tapped for their resin it does not affect the life or health of the tree. Resin gives linoleum its flexibility.

- Wood flour
This is simply finely-ground wood, and is used to bind the pigments in the linoleum. It makes the color last longer and resist fading. Conscientious linoleum manufacturers do not use tropical or endangered woods to make wood flour; they use plentiful, renewable sources.

- Cork flour or powder
Cork flour, or powdered cork, improves durability, flexibility, and color-fastness. It is made from the bark of the cork oak, but is harvested so as not to harm the tree.

- Limestone
Ground to a fine dust, limestone is added to linoleum to increase hardness and durability. Limestone is abundant and economical, and is found in many parts of the world. 

- Jute
Jute is used as a flexible, durable backing to linoleum. A giant, tropical herb, jute has a rapid growth cycle, and can be grown (and re-grown) within weeks. The jute for flooring and linoleum comes from the inner bark of the plant.

Linoleum's various colors come from mineral pigments and penetrate the entire product, making damage less visible.

Linoleum is durable, but it will need replacing after thirty years or so. The good news is, it's recyclable! Linoleum can even be painted as long as it is first coated with a primer.

While it can be more expensive than vinyl flooring, linoleum is worth the extra cost. Because it lasts so long, it is a good economical investment, and its natural ingredients make it a good environmental investment as well. You are also investing in your health and the air quality of your home when you choose a natural flooring option like real linoleum.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Get Rid Of Mold Naturally

Mold is a nasty household problem. Not only is it unsightly, but mold can aggravate allergies and cause respiratory distress and structural damage. Yet some of the chemical-based cleaners on the market for getting rid of mold can also cause an allergic response and other respiratory problems.

Here are some natural, healthier alternatives for fighting mold in your home.

- Grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seed extract, or GSE, is an effective anti-fungal product and it's odorless. Most health food stores carry GSE - just be sure to get the liquid kind that comes in a dropper bottle (not tablets). Mix 20 drops with 2 cups of water to make an anti-fungal spray, and do not rinse after spraying.

Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Tea tree oil
Also an anti-fungal, tea tree oil can be added to water in a ratio of one teaspoon per cup of water, then put in a spray bottle. It does have a pungent odor, but it goes away after about a day. Don't rinse.

- Vinegar
Used straight from a spray bottle, vinegar is especially effective against mildew. Yes, it is rather smelly, but the smell goes away in a day or so. Don't rinse this treatment, either. You can also use vinegar in the washing machine - wash moldy shower curtains and add a bottle of vinegar to the machine. Floors can be mopped with a vinegar and water solution to keep mold at bay.

- Store-bought natural cleaners
Some stores carry natural mold fighters, such as Ecover and Naturally Clean brands. These are generally quite effective but can be expensive.

Here are some things you can do to keep mold from returning.

- Dehumidifiers
Consider investing in a dehumidifier. While it does use electricity, the water collected in its tank can be used to water plants or flushing toilets. Many dehumidifiers have a connection to which you can attach a hose, and the hose can be directed into your garden, providing a continual drip of moisture to the outdoors, where it belongs!

Run your bathroom's exhaust fan during and after your shower. If you don't have a fan, open a window. Air conditioning (or heating) your home also dries the air.

- Keep things dry
Watch the drips from your shower curtain and kitchen sink. Wipe up even small amounts of spilled water and make sure there are no leaks where moisture can get into your home. Keep your home's gutters clean and make sure water from downspouts is directed away from the foundation.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get rid of household mold without resorting to toxic cleaners.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How To Have A Clean & Healthy Home With Feng Shui

Feng Shui is a means by which people can feel more peaceful, healthy, and content in their personal space. If you would like to bring Feng Shui into your home for a cleaner, healthier and happier place to live, here are some tips on how to get started.

Feng shui wind chime
Feng shui wind chime (Photo credit: UnnarYmir)
1. Clean Up & Simplify - Part of Feng Shui is being surrounded by things you love, but only the things you love most. Everything else needs to go. Donate whatever you can instead of throwing it away. A good rule of thumb for getting rid of things is to ask yourself if you have done anything with a particular object in a year. If you haven't touched it in a year, you probably won't miss it when you give it away. Simplicity brings peace and lessens stress, which can be toxic to your health.

2. Let In the Light - Feng Shui is about energy, and opening things up to a good flow of energy. Light is an important component of this. Emphasize natural lighting wherever you can, and use energy-efficient bulbs that have a daylight type of spectrum. In the evening, soft lighting is recommended. Light candles and use low-wattage bulbs in lamps.

3. Bring In Fresh Air - In addition to natural light, natural, fresh air is also helpful is bringing good energy flow and healthy air into your home. Whenever weather permits, let outside air in. Consider a quiet air purifier and toxin-absorbing houseplants to make your indoor air even cleaner.

You can also purify the air by using natural essential oils. In Feng Shui, essential oil of rose, lavender or jasmine is recommended for the bedroom; peppermint or lemon for rooms where you want to be awake and energized. Don't use oils or air fresheners with synthetic fragrances, as these can be bad for your health.

4. Include Water - Having a water feature in the home is an important aspect of Feng Shui. Water in the home's entryway is especially beneficial. A wall or tabletop fountain can fill this need. The water should be running; just a bowl of water won't do.

Feng Shui Designs 006
Feng Shui Designs (Photo credit: IDEAleemade)
5. Arrange Attractive Objects - Of course you still have objects in your home. Arrange these in a decorative, organized manner so that it is pleasing to the eye. On your desk, place a small plant or desktop fountain. The color red is recommended for the desktop work space, as it is associated with wealth. In your home, make sure the entryway is clear of clutter and especially shoes. Consider placing small objects in decorative boxes that can be neatly stacked.

6. Consider the Wall Colors - Soft pink is considered ideal for the bedroom. Soft shades of purple are also good for promoting relaxation. Use red in rooms where a lot of activity occurs and you want an energized atmosphere. (Red is not recommended for a wall color, however, or use only as an accent color.) Yellow is good for intellectual stimulation and promoting happiness.

By following these tips, you'll find your home is a healthy and peaceful place where you love to be!

Remember to also make sure to remove toxic elements from your home first! If you're sick, you won't be able to appreciate the peace and beauty you've created.

Click here for a FREE checklist to help you cleanse and detoxify your home...

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Video: 20-Minute Detox Yoga Routine

As we discussed on Tuesday, exercise is imperative in your detoxification efforts. Exercise should be done daily as well - not just during a cleanse! This will keep your body healthy, strong, and rid it of toxins on a regular basis. Yoga is a great way to detoxify your body - it detoxifies your lungs, your muscles, relieves stress, calms digestion, and even removes toxins through your skin if you do it hard enough to sweat!

This 20-minute yoga workout is designed to encourage detoxification and improve digestion, as you flow through a relaxing series of poses that will stretch, strengthen, and relax your entire body.

(Note: Remember to consult your healthcare provider or personal trainer before beginning any new workout routine, especially if you are at a low fitness level.)

Detox Yoga | 20 Minute Yoga Flow for Detox and Digestion
Join Adriene for this sweaty cleansing Yoga For Detox practice! This detox yoga sequence is designed to make you sweat as you build strength and twist it out...

 For lots more fun yoga workouts and more, visit our Fun Ways to Exercise page!

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

7 Exercises to Detoxify Your Body

A thorough detoxification program must include exercise.  Exercise that causes you to sweat aids detoxification as sweat helps remove poisons from your body.  Exercise also promotes healthy circulation and overall fitness.  No matter what method you are using for bodily cleansing, exercise can augment it.

Here are some good exercises for cleansing and detoxification:

1. Walking

Walking in Shilda
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is a basic, gentle form of exercise that is good for those doing a cleanse for the first time, or just undergoing an overall change toward a healthier diet.  Walking works most of the major muscle groups, and increases heart rate and circulation. It also increases your breathing, leading to increased detoxification through the lungs. Plus it's an easy and fun exercise to do with friends - so you can socialize while getting healthy together!

2. Stretching

Stretching is very good for muscle health.  It helps prevent the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.  Do you know that sore feeling your muscles can get the day after a workout?  That is from lactic acid accumulation.  Stretching, simply put, gently opens up the muscle fibers and allows toxins to move out.

3. Yoga and Pilates

More than just stretching, yoga involves specific stretches and exercises that promote relaxation and balance.  Pilates consists of many movements that help relax and rejuvenate muscles while toning as well.  Yoga and Pilates can both help reduce stress, which is important in body cleansing, because constant stress can cause toxins to accumulate in the body.

4. Martial Arts

Like yoga, martial arts include the movement of body energy as part of the exercise program.  From slow, smooth, stretching types of martial arts like tai chi to more active arts like taekwondo, martial arts include meditation, discipline, balance, and technique with the benefits of exercise.

5. Swimming

Swimming is easy on the joints, and is a wonderful way to get a full-body workout without jarring joints or feet.  See if you can swim in fresh water, or in a pool that uses ozone rather than chlorine to clean the water, so that your body is exposed to less harmful chemicals. Remember that your skin is porous, and can absorb toxins easily, so swimming in chlorinated water can actually cause more harm than good.

English: Biking
English: Biking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
6. Bicycling

Going for a bike ride exercises more than just the legs; the core muscles in the trunk also benefit from strengthening.  If you are outdoors (rather than on a stationary bike), breathing fresh air helps cleanse the body and relieve stress.  Like swimming, bicycling is easier on the joints than walking or jogging. And it can be done with friends or family as well.

7. Bouncing on a trampoline   

Who would think something so fun could aid cleansing and build healthy body tissues?  The secret is in the force - when you come down onto the trampoline, the gravitational force that your body experiences increases.  The higher you bounce, the more force when you come down.  The body responds to this increased gravitational force by building stronger tissues and cells.  All organs and muscles can benefit from being strengthened.

To conclude, exercise is an important part of cleansing your body of impurities.  These are just a few different ideas of exercises that can be used to help with detoxification. For more fun and beneficial ways to exercise, plus free weekly workouts, visit our exercise blog at:
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