Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Superfoods for Super Bones

For the past couple of weeks, we have been discussing how the nutrients found in certain foods can help combat some of today's deadliest diseases. One disease that many people don't consider - but which has been shown to severely shorten the lifespan of elderly people afflicted with it - is osteoporosis. This degenerative bone disease leads to falls, broken bones, decreased mobility, and ultimately, increased mortality.

Many people believe that the primary cause of osteoporosis is a lack of calcium in their diet.  However, in the overall picture, calcium is only a small piece of the puzzle.  Though calcium supplements may sometimes help, there are other dietary concerns that need to be examined.

Soft drinks on shelves in a Woolworths superma...
Soft drinks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Actually, the primary dietary cause of osteoporosis is now believed to be the eating foods that are highly acidic in nature, such as refined white sugar, refined white flour, high-fructose corn syrup, soft drinks, cookies, candies, sweets, desserts, and anything containing processed sweeteners. The over-consumption of these products causes the pH level in your blood to become very acidic. In an attempt to counterbalance this, your body reaches out for any calcium and magnesium it can find, and releases those into your bloodstream in an attempt to keep the pH level at a healthy balance. 

Therefore, with every soft drink, candy, cake and goodie you indulge in, you are robbing your skeleton of its bone density. The calcium and magnesium the body harvests in an attempt to counteract this acidic environment gets passed through your kidneys, (where it can also contribute to kidney stones) and exits your body through your urine. To prevent losing your bone mass to dietary causes, simply avoid consuming any white flour, processed sugars, added sugars, soft drinks, sweets, candies, breads, or any other ingredients that are made with refined carbohydrates (which your body typically treats as sugars). 

cabbage rolls
Cabbage rolls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In addition, certain superfoods, like broccoli, cabbage, celery and other dark green leafy vegetables help keep the pH balance in a healthy equilibrium.  You need to get plenty of calcium and magnesium from healthy sources such as organic, plant-based vitamins (don't overlook the magnesium - it's just as important as calcium for bone health, if not more so). You should also consider supplementing your diet with various sea vegetables, which are naturally alkaline. Those include seaweed, kelp, and many others. Sprouts are also an awesome superfood choice.

By now you've probably noticed some common themes; eat lots of naturally healthy fruits and vegetables - particularly green and brightly colored ones, as well as other healthy whole foods, and avoid processed foods - particularly processed oils and sugars. By making just these few simple modifications in your daily diet, you can significantly reduce your odds of succumbing to some of today's deadliest diseases. Remember - your health is up to you! Make healthy choices for a healthier you. And be sure to keep an eye on our main blog for lots of helpful tips on living a healthy, holistic lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Superfoods to Help Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and the ability to think and reason. Recent estimates show approximately 4 million people in the U.S. have dementia, most with Alzheimer's disease. By 2050, that number could be as high as 16 million. This disease is devastating not only for those that are stricken with it, but for their families and loved ones. And it is one of the fastest growing diseases in the modern world.

However, there is hope. In fact, just by making some simple adjustments in your diet to include foods high in folate, you can help reduce your risk. According to recent research, older adults whose diets were high in folate reduced their risk of Alzheimer's disease by half compared with those whose diets contain less than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).

Folate has also been shown to lower blood levels of homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease. High homocysteine levels, as well as decreased folate and vitamin B-12 levels, have also been associated with stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

Ambersweet oranges, a new cold-resistant orang...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A healthy, well-balanced diet is your best option to get the folate you need.  Be sure it includes at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Foods rich in folate include oranges and bananas, dark leafy green vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, liver, and many types of beans and peas, including lima, lentil and garbanzo, as well as some fortified whole-grain breads and cereals. 

The antioxidants in apples could help protect the brain from the type of damage that triggers Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, according to recent research. But it’s estimated that on average Americans only eat approximately one-seventh of an apple per day, nowhere near enough. If you have a good-quality juicer, try juicing fresh apples. The fresh, unpasteurized juice is delicious and full of vitamins. (You can even add some heart-healthy fiber to your diet by using the leftover apple pulp from your juicer to make breads and muffins.) 

Blueberries are an awesome food choice as well to arm your body to combat declining mental capacities.  It’s also imperative to avoid processed vegetable oils and choose healthy natural fats instead so your circulatory system stays healthy.  Research shows that oxidized fats (such as hydrogenated oils) cause inflammation that damages blood vessels and cell walls. Healthy blood flow and blood vessels lessen the chance of brain damage due to strokes or compromised circulation. 

For more information on Alzheimer's disease, and some natural ways to combat it, visit our main blog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cancer-Fighting Super Foods

As we discussed last week, eating raw, healthy foods can really help cleanse the body of toxins and improve your overall health. However, certain foods, which we like to call "superfoods," are especially good for specific areas of our health. This week, we're discussing the nation’s second most deadly disease, cancer.

There are certain nutrient-rich foods that are known to help reduce cancer risk.  For example, a diet rich in fiber, vegetables, and fruits, including juices made from 100 percent fruit juice, can make a big difference in your cancer risk.

Studies show that broccoli may help in the pre...
Studies show that compounds found in broccoli may help in the prevention of cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Foods rich in phytochemicals, which are found in beans and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kale, are strong choices. So are dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens, which are packed with fiber, lutein, and carotenoids - all cancer-fighting substances.

Focus on choosing foods that have abundant amounts of vitamins C, E, and A, all antioxidants themselves. These help protect you from cancer by preventing the growth of free radicals in your body.

Tomatoes are an awesome cancer-fighting superfood. Not only do tomatoes contain lycopene, the antioxidant phytochemical that also helps prevent heart disease, but they're a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, all which do battle against cancer-causing free radicals.  Add them to your salad or use as a topping on your homemade pizza. They’re also a great way of adding some zest to your favorite sandwich.

Watermelon is also stuffed full of antioxidants, and includes a high percentage of vitamin C. It is also a great source of vitamin A, or beta carotene. And like tomatoes, it also contains lycopene.

Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, which helps reduce the risk of colon and rectal cancer. Plus cabbage is rich in fiber and has almost 50 percent of daily requirement of vitamin C, making it a well-rounded superfood with cancer-fighting power. Carrots are also a wonderful source of fiber and beta carotene, and they have about three times the daily requirement of vitamin A.

Several types of common "berries" ar...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Strawberries and blueberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber. They’re quick and simple finger food, and can easily be added to your favorite whole grain cereal oatmeal or yogurt for a healthy and delicious breakfast.

Did you know that one-quarter cup of kidney beans has the same amount of fiber and protein as two ounces of red meat? Whole wheat pasta is also a good source of fiber, and broccoli will tip the daily scales for your daily vitamin A and C needs. Toss them all together with your favorite Italian dressing with real olive oil, for a simple dinner with great cancer-fighting properties.

You can lower your risk of diseases like cancer - just by choosing the right foods to eat. Your health is in your hands - take control, and make easy, delicious healthy choices that improve your odds of living a long, healthy life. Next week, we'll discuss some super-foods that may help combat another of the most deadly modern diseases - Alzheimer's disease.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Detoxifying Benefits of A Raw Foods Diet

One of the most popular diets for cleansing and detoxifying your body is the raw foods diet. There are actually many variations of the raw foods diet - from eating mostly raw foods, with some lightly cooked thrown in, to eating entirely raw fruits and vegetables only. This extreme diet may not be all that healthy, as you may not be able to get all of the protein you need, but for sure, throwing some raw foods into your diet can definitely be a healthy way to eat. Often raw food diets are used for a defined period of time, such as a week or two, as a cleansing and detoxification program. The Total Wellness Cleanse, for example, incorporates lots of raw foods into the 30-day program, while also including some healthy cooked foods.

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish
Raw foods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The benefits attributed to a raw foods diet seem nearly endless: lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, eliminating cravings, preventing overeating, purging the body of accumulated toxins, balancing hormones, maintaining blood glucose levels and reversing degenerative diseases are just a few of the purported benefits.

Followers of a raw diet cite numerous health improvements, including increased energy levels, improved appearance of skin, improved digestion, weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease, just to name a few. Proponents believe that enzymes are the life force of a food and that every food contains its own perfect mix. These enzymes help us digest foods completely, without relying on our body to produce its own cocktail of digestive enzymes.

There can be some side effects when you are first starting a raw foods diet. Some detoxification effects may be experienced as your body attempts to shed some toxicity. This may include occasional headaches, nausea sensations and mild depression. If these symptoms persist, you should seek the help of somebody who is experienced with detoxification symptoms.

Following a raw food diet means that you have to carefully plan your meals to make sure you don't fall short of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In some instances it might be appropriate to consider taking dietary supplements, especially when just starting out.  You'll need to invest in some appliances so that you are able to prepare the food, if you don’t already have them available.  A durable juicer, a blender, and a large food processor make raw food preparation a breeze. You may also want to look into purchasing large containers to soak sprouts, grains and beans, as well as for storage.
The smoothest way to begin a raw foods lifestyle is to slowly transition into it. Try starting off by eating approximately 70 to 80 percent raw foods in your diet. Have fruit and salads throughout the day and a cooked vegetable meal with a salad in the evening. This should help make the transition easier on your body and hopefully lessen side effects associated with detoxification. This is an emotional time as well, so you should allow yourself plenty of time to make the switch.  Journaling during the process can help. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling the positive effects of a healthy, detoxifying raw foods diet. 

Want more guidance or help with the transition? Try the Total Wellness Cleanse for a step-by-step program that will ease you into eating more raw foods, and also naturally and gently cleanse and detoxify all of your bodily systems.