by Alena Hall
If you’ve ever said something to the effect of “I can’t imagine life without my smartphone,” have we got a challenge for you.
A digital detox is a simple, free and healthy way to reconnect with your loved ones, your physical surroundings and yourself. Not to mention the benefits from this time spent unplugged range from rediscovering balance to improving your sleep to reducing feelings ofanxiety and depression. Basically, you’ve been missing out on something truly amazing, and that should end now.
But going off of technology cold turkey can create quite a shock to the system if you’re not careful. So here’s an easy guide to preparing for your digital detox, making the process as comfortable as possible.
Step 1: Admit that you need it. First, you need to assess how significant a toll constant connectivity is taking on your mind and body. If you experience phantom cellphone vibration syndrome regularly, feel perpetually exhausted because you sleep with your phone and can’t remember the last time you took areal vacation day, face the facts that you simply need a break. Have faith that this sabbath of sorts, despite the initial discomfort in adjusting to time spent without your devices, will solve more problems than you can begin to realize in this moment.
Step 2: Plan it out. Don’t just say you’ll take a screen-free day. Commit it to your calendar. Studies have shown that if you schedule something just like you would any other priority by literally writing it down and making it public, you’ll be much more successful in sticking to it. Men are approximately 22 percent more likely to achieve goals that are recorded in specific terms, and women are 10 percent more likely to achieve them if they announce them publicly to family or friends. So go ahead and make it official!
Step 3: Let others know ahead of time. For those who are worried about experiencing uncomfortable levels of FOMO — or even just anxiety that friends might be worried by your digital silence — simply share the news in advance! Facebook status it and tweet it if you must, but days before your digital detox, make people aware that you will be unreachable (unless there is an emergency, of course). Even set an auto-reply message on your work email account to keep any colleagues (especially your boss) in the know that you will not, in fact, be responding to their queries that day. Trust us, this pre-planning will make your digital detox far more relaxing and effective.
Step 4: Start daydreaming about how you’ll spend your tech-free time. Rather than ruminating over all of the typical components of your daily routine that you’ll be skipping during your time away from technology, focus on all of the amazing things you never seem to be able to find the time to do but now magically can experience. According to a recent study, such daydreaming can actually help improve your mood and benefit your relationships with others. So start thinking about how it will feel to fully experience silence, truly savor a homemade brunch or stretch your limits in a yoga class when you don’t have your phone by your side serving as a constant distraction.
Step 5: Meditate on what you hope to get out of this experience. This step might prove the most challenging for a lot of people, but that’s what makes it all the more important. Set aside some time before beginning your digital detox to really think about what you need to gain from this experience, what you hope to achieve and whether or not those two things differ. Intention setting can be a quite powerful tool that is manifested within yourself. Just as yogis set an intention at the beginning of their practice and mindful individuals set an intention at the beginning of their day, you can set an intention before this disconnected day that will allow you to approach it with a more open and accepting mind.
Step 6: Pull that plug. You may not think so, but you’re ready! Just rip off that band-aid, leap off that diving board and go for it. You will make it out alive. Who knows — you might even be surprised to find yourself craving additional time off the grid once it’s all said and done.
Are you drinking enough water? Exactly how much water are you supposed to consume on a daily basis? Most people do not drink the minimum amount of water that their body needs hoping that their daily consumption of soda, coffee, juice, and tea will make up for the amount of water that they are missing.
About how much water are we supposed to drink anyway? 8 glasses, 10 glasses? Does that include children as well? The eating and drinking habits of the average American have increased and so has the size of our cups and glasses. In order to simplify things, everyone (children included) should consume at least half their body weight in ounces of water daily. So a person that weighs 200 pounds should drink at least 100 ounces of pure water throughout the day.
Drinking water in isolation may sound pretty boring to most people but it is necessary for our bodies especially since we’re made up of at least 70% water. We are constantly exposing our bodies to toxins. In order to eliminate those toxins, we must flush our system out with a sufficient amount of H2O. Drinking 1-2 room temperature glasses of water first thing in the morning does two of many other things:flushes the toxins out of you body that were stored the previous night aids the kidneys in removing wastes carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells through the blood aids in weight loss reduces digestive problems helps to keep you regulated
If that list doesn’t make water look sexy to you, here are a few ways that you can jazz up your water:Add a thin slice of your favorite fruit into your water (strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc) A fresh squeeze of citrus juice (lime, lemon, orange, etc) Small pinch of salt or baking soda Spring of your favorite herb such as lavender, rosemary, basil Small pinch of sugar (Refrain from adding lemons to make lemonade. That would defeat the purpose.)
To your health!
Buying fruits and vegetables from the grocery store can be an unsightly experience. In most cases you are getting produce that is covered with germs and pesticides. In addition to that, our foods are covered with “food-grade” waxes including petroleum. Simply rinsing your fruits and veggies with plain water will not reduce the number of germs and pesticides that are lurking. Listed below are effective yet inexpensive ways of reducing the bad while maintaining the good.
Fruit and vegetable washes such as Fit are available and sold in grocery stores. I found it to be too pricy for me. After doing a little research, I found a few homemade recipes that seem to be just as effective as the commercial vegetable washes. Vinegar is usually the main ingredient commercial washes anyway. In addition to the veggie wash, you can also use a vegetable brush on produce with tougher skins such as squash, carrots, cantaloupe, etc.
Homemade Veggie Washes
Just before use, place produce in sink or bowl, spray all sides with veggie wash. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and rinse under running water.
Apple Cider Vinegar Wash1 part water to 3 parts apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle (I use Braggs) For a deeper clean: sprinkle baking soda on produce and give it a good rub down then rinse.
Baking Soda Wash1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda
Lemon Juice Wash1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice Whether using fresh or bottled lemon juice, please refrigerate mixture and use within 1 week.
Your love for avocados is oh-so right, according to a new study that finds that eating an avocado a day can improve bad cholesterol levels — at least in overweight and obese people.
Avocados have gotten a bad rap in the past because they’re high in calories and fat. But it’s their richness in monounsaturated fat that researchers say gives avocado its ability to lower bad cholesterol.
Researchers asked 45 overweight or obese participants to eat an average American diet (51 percent of calories from carbs, 34 percent from fat and 16 percent from protein) for two weeks to establish a common baseline for testing their cholesterol and other measurements. Then they assigned the participants to complete a series of three diets in a randomized order: a low fat diet (24 percent of calories from fat) without avocado, a moderate fat diet (34 percent of calories from fat) without avocado and a moderate fat diet with a daily serving of a whole avocado. Each diet lasted for five weeks, with two-week breaks in between to control for any carryover effects. The participants were also provided with food for each phase of the study, making the meals uniform.
The researchers found that all regimens helped participants lower their levels of two types of cholesterol associated with cardiovascular disease risk: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and non-high density lipoprotein (non-HDL).
It’s important to note that these diets often work simply because researchers have a high level of control over participants’ food choices. Nutritionist and lead author Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D. of Penn State University noted that readers shouldn’t simply start adding an avocado to their diets, especially if it’s a typical American one that takes a significant number of empty calories from grain-based desserts like cookies and cakes. That’s a recipe for weight gain, according to Kris-Etherton, because an avocado has about 200 calories. If you want to incorporate avocados into your diet, try them as a substitute for junk food.
Because of how expensive and rare avocados can be in different parts of the country during certain times of the year, Kris-Etherton also emphasized that there are many other sources of unsaturated fat in addition to avocados, like nuts, seeds and other oils. Still, her research showed that the avocado diet proved to be a better diet for cholesterol than even the moderate fat diet, which also supplied dieters with monounsaturated fat in the form of sunflower and canola oil. Kris-Etherton is intrigued about what sets avocados apart from other sources of good fat.
“We don’t know what it is. It could be the fiber, but it could be some other bioactive components in the avocado that are also in other plant foods or fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Or they could be unique to avocado.”
In addition to good fat, avocados are also packed with potassium (it has almost twice as much potassium as a banana) and have among the highest levels of proteins for a fruit. The superfood even has the ability to lessen the inflammatory properties of other foods that are eaten alongside it; a 2012 UCLA pilot study found that eating a hamburger with half of an avocado significantly cut down on the production of an inflammatory compound normally associated with the consumption of red meat.
For tips on how to incorporate more avocado into your life, check out HuffPost Taste’s Avocado Recipes That Go Way Beyond Guacamole.
The study was funded with a grant from the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), an industry group that promotes research about the health benefits of eating avocados. Kris-Etherton is also a member of the Avocado Nutrition Science Advisors (ANSA), a group of nutrition researchers focused on cardiovascular health, weight management and type 2 diabetes. ANSA scientists are nutrition advisors and spokespeople for HAB.
Chi Chi Chi Chia!
Chia seeds are much more than the Chia Pet that we remember from back in the day. Although flax seeds receives much of the spotlight, chia seeds provides many more benefits than flax seeds. Chia seeds come from a plant related to the mint family and is typically grown in the southwestern part of the United States and Mexico. The Mayan word for chia is strength. Which should now come as no surprise that they are recognized as being one of the most powerful superfoods around. Yes, these little seeds pack an amazing punch by being great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, proteins, greatest source of Omega-3, an loaded with antioxidants.
Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds are easily digestable providing with those EFA’s, fiber, antioxidants minerals, protein, and fiber that we need. Chia seeds have relatively no taste so it can be sprinked on foods such as salads, cereal, yogurt, smoothies.
One to four tablespoons of dry chia seeds daily will offer you these benefits:
Weight loss: Chia seeds can act as an appetite suppressant making you feel full before consuming an entire meal. This happens because when chia seeds are exposed to water, the size and weight of the seed expands.
Diabetes Control: slows the conversion rate of carbohydrates into sugar. This ensures constant and steady energy throughout the day. Is also known to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes as well.
Excellent source of fiber: Each chia seed is covered with a layer of soluble fibers that aid in its gelling action. The external of the seed consist of insoluble fiber, which is not digested in the body and so does not add to the calorie content. This fiber helps in the smooth movement of food through the digestive tract and aids in its complete digestion. The soluble fiber and gel coating aids in keeping the colon hydrated and also ensures the effortless movement of food.
Order your chia seeds on our website HERE.
It seems it is almost stylish for people to have a long list of foods they avoid. Some act as if the more foods you avoid, the better informed you must be. This approach is savvy when it comes to packaged items that should not even be called foods, but within the list of natural foods, diversity is best. In my practice, I have observed that limited diets lead to nutrient deficiencies, weaker digestive function and emotional stress.
Beans are a great case in point. Many either intentionally avoid them or do not think to include them in their diets. This is too bad, because research has shown that beans:Slow aging Contain powerful antioxidants Lower blood pressure Prevent cancer Lower cholesterol Reduce food cravings Raise energy and help weight loss Improve the intestinal flora Kill fungus
If you are not eating beans, I’d like you to reconsider. In this blog, I’ll explore each of these claims in some detail. In the next, I’ll address some of the popular objections against beans.
Beans Can Help Slow Aging
Have you heard about red wine and the French’s longevity? It turns out that an ingredient found in wine, called resveratrol, might prevent the DNA damage that leads to aging. Some beans have resveratrol in amounts comparable to wine. Black beans and lentils are among the highest. 
Beans Are Powerful Antioxidants
Free radical damage takes its toll on your skin, immune system and brain. You may know that antioxidants from foods like blueberries, green tea, turmeric and pomegranate can help prevent this damage. Beans have as much or more antioxidants than these other foods. They also have unique antioxidants that can block enzymes, called α-glucosidase and pancreatic lipase, that lead to weight gain and diabetes. Beans highest in these antioxidants include mung and aduki beans. 
Beans Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
Over eight studies have been carefully done to see if adding beans to the diet could improve blood pressure. All studies showed that bean intake significantly lowered systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure.  The types studied included pinto, navy, northern, peas and black beans.
Beans Can Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is second only to heart disease when it comes to adult death. The most common types of cancer for adults include breast, liver, colorectal, prostate and gastric. Not only do beans dramatically reduce the risk of all of these types of cancers [4, 5] but an extract of beans, called IP6, is being studied as a possible medicine to combat cancer. 
Beans Can Help Lower Cholesterol
Adding as little as one serving of beans daily can lower the dangerous LDL-C enough to decrease the risk of heart disease by up to 25 percent. 
Beans Can Help Reduce Cravings
Ever struggle with cravings for sweets or snack foods? Beans can help reduce cravings and cause you to prefer healthier foods.
In a study, 42 people had roughly four ounces of chick peas added to their daily diets for four weeks. By the end of 12 weeks, participants were spontaneously eating less food from all sources, especially snack foods made from flour products, like chips and crackers. Bowel regularity and overall digestive symptoms improved significantly for the group. 
Beans Can Help Raise Energy and Help Weight Loss
In another recent study, 35 obese men were randomly assigned to one of four diets for eight weeks, one of which was high in beans. Their weight, body composition, cholesterol levels and metabolic rate were all measured before and after the dietary change. The group on the high-bean diet saw health improvements, such as substantial fat loss, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and a higher rate of energy production over the eight-week period. 
Beans Can Help Improve the Intestinal Flora
You likely know how good bacteria are important to good immune function, skin repair and regular digestion. These organisms help because they produce short chain fats that heal our intestinal lining and lower the risks of colorectal cancer. We get tiny amounts of short chain fats from foods like coconut and butter; however, the vast majority, like butyrate, acetate and propionate, are made by intestinal bacteria when they are given the types of fiber found in beans. One of the easiest ways to keep your good flora strong is to eat beans regularly. 
Beans Can Help Kill Fungus
Processed food, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and stress can all lead to intestinal yeast. Yeast is bad because it can weaken your immune system and create toxins that raise inflammation. Compounds found in beans have been shown to kill fungus and prevent yeast infections. 
Bonus: You likely know how important getting your 5-10 servings of veggies can be. Did you know that beans count as a vegetable? 
The next installment in this blog will discuss the paleo concerns about beans, how to eat them without getting gas and some new ways to work them into your diet. If you want to get started right away, here is a trick you haven’t heard before: Try adding ¼ – ½ cup of cooked and rinsed navy beans to your morning smoothie. I know it sounds weird, but just try it. You won’t taste them, and they make the texture rich and creamy. Beans in the morning are especially powerful to rev up your metabolism for the whole day.
(TRFW News) Apple cider vinegar has been long-touted to help lose weight and keep it off, but does this tart drink really work? Apple cider vinegar is a fermented beverage made from apples and a specific yeast culture beneficial for our gut health. It’s been recommended for everything from indigestion, to bloating, and even detox. (1) But what about weight loss? Does Apple Cider Vinegar Really Help You Lose Weight? Several studies say that apple cider vinegar does, in fact, help people not only lose weight, but also helps them stop overeating. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has been proven to lower body mass index by suppressing body fat accumulation.
During a twelve-week study, those who took at least 15 milliliters of apple cider vinegar a day lost more weight, had a lower BMI, and had a reduction in the inches of their waistline, compared to those who did not use apple cider vinegar. All subjects in the study were the same size, age, and height. (2) Another study also showed that apple cider vinegar lowers the glycemic index, which helped individuals eat at least 200-300 calories less per meal. (1) The study goes on to say that those who ate a higher carbohydrate meal and supplemented with apple cider vinegar before-hand ate significantly less and had a lower glycemic response as a result. (4)
Making the Best Decision for You…
So, the question many of you may have, is should you use apple cider vinegar for weight loss? Though that’s obviously a personal decision, this ancient drink does contain beneficial bacteria that may help improve digestive health and also aid in immune health. (1) It’s normally recommended to pour 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of room-temperature water and drink it before your meals, however, you could also use it as a salad dressing or perhaps dilute it with water and add lemon and stevia to silence the strong taste of the vinegar. Keep in mind that apple cider vinegar is not recommended for drinking straight, since the acidity can be abrasive to teeth enamel. Once inside the body, however, it produces an alkaline response that can reduce inflammation and possibly help remove headaches, heartburn, candida overgrowth, blood pressure issues and various stomach problems. (3,4)
Buying the Right Kind of Apple Cider Vinegar…
Be sure to buy apple cider vinegar that is raw, organic, and contains the “mother” which is the beneficial yeast culture responsible for its health benefits. (1) Most commercial apple cider vinegars sold in stores are not organic and raw unless they specifically say so. Keep this tart miracle vinegar in your cabinet as a raw food staple and see what it can do for you!
Sources for this article include:
Pepitas offer an abundance of nutrients including amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and a wealth of minerals such as calcium, potassium, niacin, and phosphorous. They are high in most of the B vitamins, and vitamins C, D, E, and K. They are rich in beta carotene that can be converted into vitamin A as needed by the body, and also rich in the eye protective carotenoid lutein.
Snacking on just one handful of pepitas, about one ounce, provides a whopping 9 grams of body building protein, along with manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, copper and zinc.
Pepitas are chocked full of monounsaturated oil that has been shown to interrupt the triggering of prostate cell multiplication by DHT, a product of testosterone conversion. The omega-3 fats found in pepitas are also being studied for their potential prostate benefits. The significant amounts of carotenoids in pepitas are of interest to researchers because men with higher amounts of caroteoids in their diets have a lowered risk for prostate enlargement. The high zinc content of pumpkin seeds adds to their prostate protective virtues.
Another reason for men to eat zinc-rich pepitas is their effect on bone mineral density. Although osteoporosis is usually thought of as a women’s disease, it can affect older men, a group that suffers 30 percent of the hip fractures.
Pumpkin seeds offer powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The addition of pepitas to the diet was shown to work as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in reducing symptoms of inflammation. And they did this without any unwanted side effects or threat to the liver.
In fact, pepitas have recently been shown to be protective of the liver. In a recent study reported in the December, 2008 journal Food Chemistry and Toxicology, mice fed a mixture of pumpkin seeds and flax seeds showed their lipid parameters decreased significantly compared to controls. Plasma and liver fatty acid composition showed an increase of alpha linolenic acid and linoleic acid, monounsaturated acids, and a decrease of stearic fatty acids. Plasma and liver toxins decreased, and the efficiency of their antioxidant defense systems was improved.
Phytosterols are compounds found in plants with chemical structures similar to cholesterol. When the diet contains high levels of phytosterols, blood levels of cholesterol are reduced. Phytosterols also enhance the immune system response, and can help reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. They are present in high amounts in seeds and nuts. Pistachio nuts and sunflower seeds are the richest in phytosterols, with pepitas coming in third of all the nuts and seeds usually eaten.
The oil in pepitas has an excellent ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. This ratio is important for cellular function and oxygenation. It is also why pepitas make hair glossy, skin clear, and energy levels high.
The last time you had something to eat, did you give any thought to how long you chewed? Most likely not, as chewing is done, for most people, almost as a habit or unconscious reflex. As soon as a piece of food enters your mouth, you chew and swallow, probably far too quickly (especially if you’re in a hurry or eating on the run).
The chewing process, also known as mastication, is actually extremely important, however, and serves as the first step in your digestive process. The way you chew, including how long you chew, can significantly impact your health in ways you likely never knew…7 Reasons to Chew Your Food Properly
1. Absorb More Nutrients and Energy From Your Food
Chewing breaks your food down from large particles into smaller particles that are more easily digested. This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through.
This also prevents improperly digested food from entering your blood and causing a wide range of adverse effects to your health.
Recent research presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago showed, in fact, that when participants chewed almonds longer, the smaller particles were better and more quickly absorbed by the body.
In those who chewed less, the larger particles were passed through the body, while also providing opportunistic bacteria and fungi with a source of fuel during their transit. Purdue University professor Dr. Richard Mattes explained:1
“Particle size [affects the] bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.”
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal, and research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, to avoid weight gain or even lose weight. For example, chewing your food twice as long as you normally would will instantly help you control your portion sizes, which naturally decreases calorie consumption.
It takes time (generally about 20 minutes) for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full, and this may explain why one study found people reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly.2 They also ended up consuming about 10 percent fewer calories when they ate at a slow pace, and presumably chewed slower, as opposed to when they were rushing.
3. Your Food Gets More Exposure to Your Saliva
Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on your stomach and small intestine. One of these enzymes is lingual lipase, an enzyme that helps break down fats, for example. Saliva also helps to lubricate your food so it’s easier on your esophagus.
4. Easier Digestion
The chewing process predigests your food into small pieces and partially liquefies it, making it easier to digest. Digestion is actually a very demanding task for your body, requiring a great deal of energy, especially if forced to digest improperly chewed food. Chewing properly allows your stomach to work more efficiently and break down your food faster.
5. It’s Good for Your Teeth
The bones holding your teeth get a ‘workout’ when you chew, helping to keep them strong. The saliva produced while chewing is also beneficial, helping to clear food particles from your mouth and wash away bacteria so there may be less plaque buildup and tooth decay.
6. Less Excess Bacteria Lingering in Your Intestines
When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach, it may remain undigested when it enters your intestines. There, bacteria will begin to break it down, or in other words it will start to putrefy, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.
7. Enjoy and Taste Your Food
If you rush through your meal with hardly any chewing, you’re also not really tasting or enjoying the food. When you take the time to properly chew your food, it forces you to slow down, savor each morsel and really enjoy all the flavors your food has to offer.How to Chew Your Food Properly
The way you chew is unique to you and is probably deeply ingrained by this point in your life. In other words, you’ll likely need to make a conscious effort to change the way you chew, but the good news is you can start with your next meal. There are many theories about how many times you should, ideally, chew each piece of food. The Times of India recently highlighted Horace Fletcher, a late-1800s health-food guru (also known as “The Great Masticator”) who was famous for chewing each bite 100 times before swallowing (and to this he attributed his good health, strength and endurance).3
You needn’t be this strict, however, as the amount of chewing a food requires will obviously vary depending on its type and texture. Here’s a guide to ensure that you’re chewing in a way that will support your health. Generally speaking, you’ll want to eat in a relaxed, non-distracted environment; eating on the run or while you’re working or watching TV is not conducive to proper chewing.Take smaller bites of food to begin with (it’s easier to chew smaller morsels) Chew slowly and steadily Chew until your mouthful of food is liquefied or lost all of its texture Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food Wait to drink fluids until you’ve swallowed The Dangers of Chewing for No Reason…
While chewing is essential when you eat, chewing without eating food can be counterproductive. When you chew gum, for instance, you send your body physical signals that food is about to enter your body. The enzymes and acids that are activated when you chew gum are therefore released, but without the food they’re intended to digest.
This can cause bloating, an overproduction of stomach acid, and can compromise your ability to produce sufficient digestive secretions when you actually do eat food.
Besides this, chewing gum can cause jaw muscle imbalances (if you chew on one side more than the other) and even TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder in your jaw, which can be a painful chronic condition. I generally recommend avoiding gum chewing, but if you do chew gum, do so only occasionally or right before a meal when the acid and enzyme stimulation may actually be beneficial.
by Dr. Mercola
One of the first steps to eating healthier is understanding how to read food labels. It is important that you start looking at the ingredients label of everything (and yes, I mean everything) that you buy or eat. Sometimes we don’t know or even want to know so they may not alarm us as they should.
In our webinar, Food & Nutrition 101: How to Read Food Labels, we will guide you in understanding everything that is on the back of food packaging from nutrition facts, food origination, and ingredients.
Click HERE to view all of our FREE upcoming webinars.