Valerian Root
Health & Wellness, All posts

Valerian Root: The Herbal Sleep Aid That Can Fight Anxiety and Help PMS

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Valerian Root
Many people are familiar with sleep aids as more than nine million people rely on them to get regular shuteye.

However, side effects of prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids are frustrating at best, and can cause life-altering symptoms like all-day drowsiness, reduced sex drive, and more.

Natural sleep aids often provide the desired relief without the excess side effects or risks for dependence. Valerian root is an herbal supplement that has been used for thousands of years.

Not strictly a sleep aid, it has other health benefits that make it a go-to for any natural medicine cabinet. Let’s explore the benefits, cautions, and how to take it.

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Valerian Root Basics

Officially known as Valeriana officinalis, valerian root is an herbal plant that is brewed into tea or encapsulated as a supplement. It has been used for thousands of years to address sleep problems, promote relaxation, and to tone down anxiety.

It is native to certain parts of Europe and Asia, but is now grown in many places around the world, including China and the United States.

Valerian as an herb has a strong, earthy taste that most would not consider pleasant, which is why it’s usually mixed with other herbs (like lavender) in a tea, or why it is encapsulated for taking as a supplement.

Research doesn’t thoroughly prove valerian’s efficacy as a sleep aid, showing no difference in the actual sleep quality of those who take it versus those who don’t, but participants in studies reported better sleep quality when taking it versus using a placebo.

6 Amazing and Little-Known Health Benefits of Valerian Root

While most commonly known as a sleep aid, valerian also has several other proven health benefits. Ranging from anxiety relief to addressing symptoms of menopause, there are numerous reasons why valerian might be beneficial.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Blood pressure can be a genetic problem or it can be influenced by poor sleep, stress, anxiety, and even dietary factors.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, so finding ways to lower this to healthy levels is essential for overall wellness.

Valerian root can help to reduce blood pressure levels thanks to the calming effect that it exerts on the body.

Valerian helps to tone down the anxiety-building neurotransmitters in the brain which could lead to stress-induced blood pressure problems.

By doing this, it better helps the body regulate systemic blood pressure levels and provides a breather.

Addresses PMS and Period Problems

Period pain and other symptoms associated with a monthly cycle can be hard to manage for many women, and common methods don’t always work or simply mask the symptoms (like taking pain killers for cramps).

Valerian is a little-known remedy that can help to address numerous aspects of female reproductive health.

Because valerian helps to relax muscles and calm the body, it’s effective for toning down uterine cramping, too, thanks to its antispasmodic properties.

In order to reap these benefits, valerian needs to be taken regularly, not just in the moment that cramps develop. It can also promote more restful and pain-free sleep during PMS, which is often disrupted from the pain of cramping.

Studies show that valerian not only improves physical pain associated with periods as well as PMS, but it also helps to improve overall physical, emotional, and mental symptoms associated with PMS.(source)

Regularly taking valerian root can even reduce the need for taking pain relievers during menstrual cycles.

Promotes Relaxation, Calm, and Focus

While valerian is known as a sleep aid, it doesn’t necessarily lead to sedative effects. In fact, it has the ability to promote general relaxation and calm in the brain, which leads to more improved focus under pressure.

Studies show that valerian root can take the edge off of anxious feelings and stress during tense situations. (source)

When paired with lemon balm, another herb known for improving calm and focus, valerian helps to increase acuity during challenging mental tests or exams. (source) It has even been shown to improve focus in children with ADHD.

Relieves Menopause Symptoms

Not only is menopause a major adjustment in many ways, it comes with a host of unpleasant and life-altering symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, depression, and anxiety, to name a few.

Research shows that valerian root may actually help to decrease several of these symptoms, particularly when it comes to hot flash severity and frequency.

One study showed that the severity of hot flashes was reduced by 47 percent and the frequency at which they occurred decreased by 39 percent. (source)

Another study found that regular supplementation with valerian root resulted in 80 percent of participants having less severe hot flashes, and nearly 50 percent having fewer all together.

This happened after two months of regular supplementation. (source)

Improves Sleep Problems and Insomnia

Valerian is most known for being a sleep aid and for helping to address insomnia. While it isn’t strictly a sedative, it helps to relax the brain and promote sleep thanks to the presence of a chemical known as linarin.

Linarin increases GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that inhibits excitatory effects — basically it works against the neurotransmitters that spark anxiety, stress, and problems relaxing.

Valerian primarily works by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, which is how it’s effective against insomnia. It can also help to moderately improve sleep quality.

While some might feel a little drowsy in the morning after taking valerian, overall it has a lower percentage of this side effect than standard prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids.

Some studies report improves sleep in as many as 89 percent of participants. (source) It can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by as many as 17 minutes, although other research does not show it to be as effective as prescription sleep aids.

Still, given the reduction in side effects, it is overall tolerated better and seems to be preferred by many who require sleep aids. Valerian can also help to transition patients off of sleep aids on which they’ve become dependent.

It can help to improve sleep and minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Sleep in and of itself isn’t the only important factor either, but the quality of sleep.

Humans needs a balance between rapid eye movement sleep and deep sleep, and valerian can improve the quality of deep sleep and helps adults achieve it 36 percent faster.

Over the course of two weeks of supplementation with valerian, it can also improve the amount of deep sleep that individuals get each night.

Valerian should never be used in combination with other sleep aids and if any other medications are taken, relating to sleep quality or not, it’s important to check with your doctor to be sure you won’t be prone to interactions or additional side effects.

More research needs to be done to fully understand the sleep-boosting mechanisms of valerian root. Some doctors feel there is enough research to recommend it, while others do not.

Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Valerian isn’t primarily an anti-anxiety herb, but research shows some benefits for this when taken for other reasons, like insomnia or PMS.

It is particularly effective at reducing anxiety in those who have milder cases, or when it is paired with other anxiolytic herbs.

When it comes to stress, more research needs to be done, but preliminary studies show that valerian root taken for seven days before an extremely stressful mental situation (like a big test or exam, for example) can decrease the physical effects of stress like blood pressure, heart rate, and mental stress. (source)

Ultimately, valerian promotes decreased anxiety and stress because of its suppressing effect on excitatory neurotransmitters and its ability to boost GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Most of the anxiety and stress reactions happen in the brain in response to neurotransmitter levels, and herbs like valerian root can exert a calming effect.

Because GABA levels can become elevated thanks to valerian, it not only reduces anxiety and stress, but improves feelings of calm, wellbeing, tranquility, and peace. (source)

Risks and Side Effects for Valerian Root (Plus Who Should Avoid)

While valerian root generally has few side effects, it isn’t safe for everyone.

Common side effects of taking valerian root can include headaches, stomach problems or nausea, and occasional dizziness. It might also lead to feeling drowsy in the mornings.

Occasionally people can have an opposite reaction to valerian, where instead of calm, it actually increases anxiety.

Valerian has not been tested as pregnancy safe and should not be taken when trying to conceive, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.

While some studies shown valerian root as beneficial to children, never give children herbs or supplements unless approved by their pediatrician or doctor.

While valerian root is not known for withdrawal symptoms or dependency, some research has found that these can result when it is taken for a very long time consecutively, such as for years at a time.

Don’t take supplements this long unless directed by a doctor.

Valerian root can result in feelings of drowsiness and might affect response time, so it should not be taken before driving or operating any heavy machinery or equipment.

Valerian root interacts with alcohol and should not be taken at the same time. Valerian root also interacts with certain herbs, such as California poppy, catnip, hops, kava, tryptophan, melatonin, sage, and St. John’s wort.

Don’t take these herbs separately and if taking them in a combined supplement, make sure your doctor is aware of all the ingredients it contains.

Valerian root also interacts with certain prescription medications like anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants.

Don’t take it with these and don’t stop taking medication to take valerian root instead, unless directed by your doctor to do so.

If you have liver or kidney problems, do not take valerian root as it can affect enzyme levels.

If you have other diseases, disorders, or chronic issues, always ask your doctor whether valerian root is safe and helpful for your physical needs before starting the supplement.

While research shows that valerian root doesn’t alter DNA or change the way that chemotherapy works in cancer patients, don’t take this supplement if you have been diagnosed with cancer or are undergoing treatments unless directed by your oncologist.

If you’ve determined that valerian root is safe for you to take, you can purchase it from a  health food store, practitioner, or online.

There are numerous companies and products. Choose a product from a reputable company who follows good manufacturing standards and that uses organic herbal extracts.

The following are practitioner trusted brands:

Recommended dosages for products can vary wildly. An average dose of valerian root is 450 milligrams, typically taken one to two hours before bed.

If taking during the day time, doses should be split two or three times per day of between 150 and 300 milligrams each.

When supplementing valerian root during the day, take it with meals, but if taken at night, it does not need to be taken with food.

Bottom Line

Valerian root is a natural sleep aid that also has benefits for anxiety, PMS, menopause, and mental focus. As with every supplement, there are upsides and downsides, and it’s not right for everyone.

If you start to supplement with valerian root, start small and work your way up to the recommended dose. Pay attention to side effects, like nausea or headaches, and discontinue if any present themselves.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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Valerian Root: The Herbal Sleep Aid That Can Fight Anxiety and Help PMS | HappyBodyFormula.com

References:

  1. Kuhlmann J, Berger W, Podzuweit H, Schmidt U. The influence of valerian treatment on “reaction time, alertness and concentration” in volunteersPharmacopsychiatry. 1999;32:235–241.
  2. Leathwood PD, Chauffard F, Heck E, Munoz-Box R. Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in manPharmacol Biochem Behav. 1982;17:65–71.

 

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Pescatarian Diet
Nutrition, All posts

All About the Pescatarian Diet (Plus 7 Health Benefits)

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Pescatarian Diet

There are numerous diets today that have gained rapid popularity: keto, Paleo, vegan, and even Pegan. Yet most people aren’t fully sure what these diets mean.

The pescatarian diet has been around for a long time, yet unless following it, most aren’t aware of the ins and outs of this dietary protocol.

This article will explore the basics of eating like a pescatarian along with health benefits, downsides, and recipes.

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What is the Pescatarian Diet?

A pescatarian is someone who follows a vegetarian diet, but with the addition of certain seafood and fish products added. Basically, a pescatarian diet avoids land animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs.

Proponents of the pescatarian diet state that you get all the benefits of vegetarianism plus the added boost of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that are found in seafood.

While the way of eating has been around for decades, the term pescatarian was first used in the 1990s. Combined from the Italian words for fish and vegetarian, the word pescatarian literally means “fish plus vegetarian.”

A pescatarian diet includes everything a vegetarian would eat, such as grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables along with plant-based fats. It also includes seafood for a high percentage of protein.

Most pescatarians also include dairy and eggs. While vegans avoid any product that comes from an animal, vegetarians only avoid actually eating the animals themselves. Pescatarians strike a balance and allow seafood for greater health benefits.

7 Health Benefits of a Pescatarian Diet

The pescatarian diet has many similar benefits of a vegetarian diet, but even more thanks to the added intake of omega-3 fatty acids from seafood.

Let’s explore the top proven reasons why this way of eating could boost health, lower disease risk, promote weight loss, and more.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is still the number one killer in the world. While cholesterol and saturated fat were blamed for these for many years, they’re no longer implicated, yet public opinion hasn’t yet caught on.

The real culprits behind heart disease? Sugar, junk food, and a lack of healthy anti-inflammatory fats and antioxidants.

When you examine a pescatarian diet, you find a plethora of heart healthy nutrients: vegetables, fruits, seafood, nuts, and seeds.

Research also finds that pescatarians have a 22 percent lower chance of dying from heart disease compared to people who eat a standard American diet.(source)

A large portion of this is thanks to the increased intake of EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood. These especially protect heart health and reduce inflammation which could lead to heart disease.

Research even finds that daily consumption of these nutrients can reduce the risk of death from heart disease more effectively than statin medications.

Seafood can also help to reduce the formation of clots in the blood by keeping it more slippery, helping to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Lowered Chance for Type 2 Diabetes

According to the CDC, more than 100 million Americans now have type 2 diabetes.(source) While this disease complicates things in its own right, having diabetes is also a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Research finds that pescatarian eaters had a nearly five percent reduced chance of developing diabetes, which is nearly three percent more than those who eat more animal products.(source)

Glucose and insulin regulation are crucial in diabetes, and when the signaling between them gets disrupted, type 2 diabetes ensues.

A diet rich in vegetables and fruits helps to improve insulin sensitivity and lowers glucose levels, largely due to the higher intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, seafood helps cut the inflammatory pathways that drive the disease.

While all seafood contains protein and some healthy fats, the best fish for diabetes are salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.

Might Help Protect Against Certain Types of Cancer

Cancer is a disorder driven by DNA damage and improper cell replication. While it’s found in many different parts of the body or body systems, the primary driver of cancer is inflammation.

Regular intake of seafood, vegetables, and fruits all help to reduce the body’s inflammatory load, which is why the pescatarian diet might help to protect against certain kinds of cancer.

Vegetarian diets in particular are associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer, and following a pescatarian plan reduces this risk even further.(source)

For those who’ve already been given a cancer diagnosis, a pescatarian diet can also help to slow the growth and progression of the disease because of the omega-3 fats.(source) 

Chemotherapy treatments can also be rendered more effective when eating a pescatarian diet because the omega-3 fatty acids can help to spare muscle mass, control inflammation, and preserve immunity.

Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is a necessary health process, designed to promote healing. But when it continues in a chronic pattern, the heat of inflammation can damage tissues, lead to immune disorders, and result in various types of disease.

A little bit goes a long way, and in this case, too much of a good thing is definitely a bad thing.

Seafood, particularly the omega-3s found in fish like salmon and mackerel, helps to fight inflammation in the body. It is especially helpful when trying to prevent or address systemic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory allergies, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Improved Weight

While weight loss research might frequently differ on the “best” diet, nearly all research agrees on one thing: when diets are void of healthy omega-3 fats, obesity and weight gain result. (source)

Overall, a pescatarian diet promotes weight loss because it contains fewer calories than the standard American diet, is higher in fiber, and promotes better appetite satiety (or feelings of fullness).

Research finds that women in particular can benefit from eating a pescatarian diet. One study showed that women eating this way gained 2 and a half fewer pounds over the course of each year compared to women who ate meat in their diet. (source)

This is applicable for men, too, as other studies show that an overall reduction in animal products can lead to less weight gain.

However, research is mixed, and studies showing animal product intake can also demonstrate weight loss.

Ultimately, it’s about the right diet that works for you, and when you’re eating in a way that jives with your lifestyle and body type, that also provides high intake of nutrients, a better weight balance will follow.

Healthy Brain Function and Improved Mood

Brain health is complicated, but the nutrients that it relies on for healthy function are not. Without plenty of healthy omega-3 fats, brain health will suffer, including cognition and mood.

Aging naturally causes a decline in both, yet even proper intake of omega-3s can seemingly pause the effects of aging on the brain and can help to reduce the risk of developing brain-related disorders, like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Omega-3 fats are so vital for brain health that when a pregnant women is low in intake, the child she is carrying could suffer from lifelong learning disabilities, reduced IQ, poorer test scores, and other brain-related problems.

This is because as the brain is literally being formed in utero, it relies on omega-3 fats for construction. A shortage in top notch building materials results in permanent changes.

Depression is a complicated disorder that can’t simply be fixed by one aspect, but low levels of healthy fats can lead to inflammation in the brain, which has been implicated as one major cause of depression.

The same is true for anxiety and ADHD.

Ethical Reasons

Some people follow a vegetarian or pescatarian diet for ethical reasons, because they want to avoid eating animals, or because they don’t support the inhumane factory practices that are also causing damage to the environment.

Additional reasons can include protesting the lack of fair wages and job support for factory farm workers, the concern over the high levels of antibiotics and other medicines used in feedlot operations, and more.

Ultimately a person’s diet must nourish their bodies and their souls, so when someone finds it distasteful to eat certain foods due to ethics or religion, it’s essential to find a dietary plan that supports their convictions, beliefs, and needs.

For many, a pescatarian diet does this.

Who Shouldn’t Eat a Pescatarian Diet (Plus Downsides)

A pescatarian diet seems great on nearly every level, but as with anything, there are some downsides and it’s also not appropriate for everyone.

Here are the biggest concerns.

Nutrient Restriction

Any diet that eliminates entire categories of food for preference, and is not necessitated by allergy, can result in certain nutrient deficiencies, and the pescatarian diet is no exception.

While pescatarians often eat dairy, eggs, and seafood, choosing not to eat any animal meats or poultry products can still result in a shortage of amino acids, B vitamins, zinc, iron, protein, and more depending on the variety of seafood consumed.

All of these nutrients can produce symptoms and disorders even when just at low levels, and not deficiency.

These nutrient shortfalls are of special concern during pregnancy and breastfeeding, childhood, teenage years, and the years over age 60, as these groups are more susceptible to problems from a lack of animal-based nutrients.

When following any dietary plan, it’s important to consult with your doctor and nutritionist, to ensure that you’re getting what you need whether from diet or high-quality supplementation.

Mercury Contamination

One of the biggest downsides of seafood is mercury contamination, which is a neurotoxin and can cause serious brain damage when the body takes it in at levels that are too high.

This could happen if a high amount of higher-mercury seafood was regularly eaten, so it’s important to be mindful of on a pescatarian diet.

The highest mercury fish to avoid or to very rarely eat are swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark. Tuna should be limited to no more than twice per week.

Pescatarian Recipes for Anyone to Try

If you’re curious about the pescatarian diet, you’ll find that there are several recipes that are easy to try. Many of them wouldn’t be known as “pescatarian” to begin with, but are actually friendly to many different ways of eating.

If you want to incorporate more vegetables and seafood, and less animal products in your diet, give one of these recipes a try.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos: Give taco night a pescatarian twist with these meat-free dishes.

Shrimp-Stuffed Avocado Boats: Whether you need an easily packed lunch or a quick dinner at the end of a long day, this dish is perfect for anyone who loves shrimp and avocado, pescatarian or not.

Sheet Pan Honey Sesame Tofu and Green Beans: Never given tofu a try? This pescatarian go-to isn’t for everyone, but prepared this way, even a meat-lover would be intrigued.

Mason Jar Tuna Nicoise: An easy-to-pack twist on this classic dish, everything gets an upgrade when it’s in a mason jar.

Skillet Shrimp with Lime Curry: Skip the skewers, this shrimp dish is a zesty, spicy pan dish that you’ll want in the regular rotation.

Curried Cauliflower Quinoa Salad: You don’t have to have meat or seafood in a recipe to make it satisfying, savory, and filling. Prep this one ahead of time for an easy meal.

Mediterranean Chickpea Harissa Frittata: Chickpeas are a great way to feel full without the meat-based protein, and this dish is packed with flavor, texture, and tons of nutrients.

Bottom Line

The pescatarian diet is a healthful way of eating that promotes dietary intake of omega-3 fats, vegetables, fruits, fiber, and more. While no diet is perfect for everyone, this diet has much to offer with several health benefits and only a few drawbacks.

Ultimately, when choosing a dietary plan, it’s most important to get feedback from your doctor and nutritionist, to ensure that there are no nutrient deficiency risks for your health.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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All About the Pescatarian Diet | HappyBodyFormula.com

References:

  1. Larson C.L., Johansson G.K. Dietary intake and nutritional status of young vegans and omnivores in SwedenAm. J. Clin. Nutr. 2002;76:100–106.
  2. Devriese S., Huybrechts I., Moreau M., van Oyen H.The Belgian Food Consumption Survey 1-2004.Epidemiology Unit, Scientific Institute of Public Health; Brussels, Belgium: 2006.

 

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Benefits of blueberries
Nutrition, All posts

Could Blueberries Be the Most Underrated Superfood?

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Benefits of blueberries

Blueberries are one of the most popular fruits thanks to their palatable taste, easy accessibility, and ability to blend well into several popular dishes.

Considered to be a superfood thanks to their rich nutrient profile, blueberries are so healthy that some experts think you should be eating them on a daily basis.

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Where Do Blueberries Come From?

As with most other berries, blueberries are grown on bushes. The shrub that blueberries are harvested from is known as Vaccinium Cyanococcus.

While most think that all berries are related, blueberries are in the same family as cranberries and huckleberries but are not similar at all to strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries.

Blueberries start out green when they first bloom on the shrub but deepen to a darkish purple-blue as they ripen. Their distinguishing feature, a crown-like flare on one end, sets them apart from other berries.

Blueberries are commonly seen in grocery stores year-round, but their normal growing season is between April and the end of September in the United States.

The freshest blueberries can be found when you pick them yourself at a blueberry farm or by purchasing them directly from a farmer’s market.

Nutrient Profile of Blueberries

One serving of blueberries, which is one cup, contains the following:

  • 85 calories
  • 0.5 grams of fat
  • 1.1 grams of protein
  • 21 grams of carbohydrates
  • 3.6 grams of fiber
  • 15 grams of sugar

It also contains several important vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin E
  • Copper

Blueberries are 85 percent water and help to promote natural hydration.

9 Research-Backed Health Benefits of Blueberries

There are numerous health benefits of blueberries. These are the ones that research proves. There’s never been a better time to start adding blueberries to your diet regularly.

Antioxidants

If you read anything about blueberries, you can’t escape without seeing reference to antioxidants. But this frequently used word has lost some meaning. Antioxidants are compounds which fight oxidative stress or damage in the body.

Imagine your cells as well-oiled  machines, but eventually, they give way to damage from everyday stress and start to rust. This is like oxidation in the body. You don’t want rusty cells.

Antioxidants are like regular infusions of oil to keep things running smoothly, without rust or break down.

Oxidation and free radicals not only cause damage to cells but can lead to other health problems like cancer, disease, disorders, and physical pain. It can also lead to more rapid signs of aging.

Blueberries and other fruits are especially rich in antioxidants, but blueberries are considered to have one of the highest antioxidant levels per serving.

Among antioxidants, there are different types, and blueberries are especially rich in a type known as flavonoids. Eating blueberries has been demonstrated by research to directly raise antioxidant levels in the body. (source)

This is why some experts will counsel patients who are sick, chronically ill, or fighting cancer to eat blueberries every day.

Aging

Thanks to their antioxidants, blueberries protect cells on the inside and outside of the body from experiencing premature signs of aging or break down.

This includes reducing early signs of aging and even helping to slow down natural aging processes. Blueberries can promote youthful looking skin, reduce wrinkles, and even improve the tone of skin, leading to a brighter appearance.

This is all because blueberries help to protect DNA in cells from being damaged from oxidation. In as little as four weeks, blueberries can help reduce oxidative damage by 20 percent or more.(source)

Over time, this can have a dramatic effect on aging and reduction in common signs.

Weight Loss

People are always looking for the best and quickest way to shed unwanted weight. While there is no magical cure-all, blueberries have an excellent nutritional profile to help promote natural weight loss.

This is because they’re rich in fiber, which can promote intestinal health, and they’re packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients that help to address underlying causes of weight problems to begin with.

Fiber helps promote natural weight loss because it also helps to keep you feeling fuller longer. The sweetness of blueberries also helps to take the edge off of sweet cravings without blowing up your day’s macronutrient intake.

Research even supports blueberries as an excellent food for natural weight loss. Although mostly done on animals, some research found that blueberries led to a reduction in belly fat in obese rats. (source)

Of course, no food alone will replace a healthy overall diet with regular movement, but blueberries each day might be a good start to reduce belly fat and overall body weight.

Inflammation

Inflammation isn’t always a bad word. In fact, the inflammatory process was designed to help the body heal when it does get injured. It becomes problematic when it goes unchecked and results in chronic heat in body tissues. This can cause a breakdown, disease, and physical pain.

Excessive inflammatory processes are often blamed for many chronic health issues and diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmunity, and even depression. (source)

Blueberries have a potent anti-inflammatory impact on body cells. Research finds that they can inhibit the inflammatory response in cells and reduce inflammatory markers.(source)

Whether you’re dealing with autoimmune disease or excess weight, reducing inflammation in the body is an essential part of finding your way back to health. Blueberries are a simple way to boost your daily antioxidants and decrease inflammatory markers.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections can happen in men or women, but they can be a frequently recurring problem for some women.

Cranberry juice is a common go-to for fighting these infections, but most don’t know that blueberries are equally as effective.

Blueberries are from the same family as cranberries, and contain the same active substances that fight bacteria in the kidneys and bladder.(source)

UTIs, as they’re commonly known, are most often caused by E. coli bacteria that makes it way into the bladder, igniting an uncomfortable infection from there.

When left untreated, urinary tract infections can become serious kidney infections, so it’s important to address them when symptoms present themselves.

Eating blueberries regularly can help prevent the occurrence of UTIs, although they cannot necessarily remove an infection once present.

If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take them as directed, and don’t stop before the full course of antibiotics is complete.

Eating blueberries while you’re being treated for a UTI can also help to reduce the unpleasant impact of antibiotics thanks to the fiber in blueberries that can help provide bulk to the stool.

Brain and Memory

Everyone is on the lookout for the best brain foods that fight inflammation and protect memory. Alzheimer’s and dementia are major concerns of aging that are related to oxidative damage and how the brain responds to glucose.

Blueberries can support a healthy brain and can improve overall memory and the ability to process thoughts and memories. Even when blueberries are used in older adults, research shows that memory can improve after just 12 weeks of use. (source)

The brain ages just like any other tissue in the body and can be subject to oxidative damage. Blueberries fight aging in the brain and protect brain cells by improving how neurons signal and communicate. (source)

Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

Heart disease and heart attack are still major problems across the world, with more than 30 percent of all deaths in the U.S. due to a problem with the heart or related cardiovascular problems. (source)

The heart, as with the lungs and brain, are so vital for bodily health that problems can result in severe consequences.

Numerous factors can contribute to heart disease, heart attack, and related disorders, including high triglyceride levels, oxidized cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure.

Most people experience two or more of these problems at the same time, creating a perfect storm of heart disease.

Research shows blueberries to be protective of heart health and able to reduce serious risk factors for heart disease. Regular consumption of blueberries can result in reduced blood pressure (up to 6 percent in just eight weeks) and can keep cholesterol from becoming oxidized and clogging up arteries. (source, source)

Still more research shows that regular intake of blueberries might be able to reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 32 percent. (source)

Blueberries can’t cure heart disease if you have it, but it can do a lot to reduce risk factors before you develop it. Even if you have heart disease, regularly eating blueberries is still a healthy part of a diet and could further reduce risk factors.

 Cancer

Cancer is a scary word that isn’t a special disease in and of itself, but rather, is the process of cells replicating incorrectly from DNA damage.

Cancer is more of a breakdown process that occurs in organ or body specific areas, and not a mystical disease that suddenly appears.

Every day, our cells experience oxidative damage and stress on our DNA. It is so common that it happens tens of thousands of times on a daily basis.

This perpetual onslaught of issues, however, is what can eventually lead to disease or cancer, when we no longer have the nutrients or cell support to regulate it. (source)

In order to help fight off the damage that can result from constant and unchecked oxidative damage, we need a steady intake of antioxidants. Blueberries contain some of the highest levels bite-for-bite, and help to restore DNA to its proper condition.

Diabetes

While blueberries contain some amount of natural sugar, like all fruits, they have a low glycemic impact, making them a great fruit choice for people with diabetes or high blood sugar.

The antioxidants in blueberries actually help improve insulin sensitivity and how the body takes in glucose, making them an important part of a diet that is fighting diabetes. (source)

How to Buy Blueberries

Blueberries can be found locally in the United States from April through September. If you cannot find them from a farmer’s market, chances are they ones in your grocery store are fresh and somewhat local, since it’s often less expensive to get produce from close proximity when it is in season.

Blueberries should be dark blue and firm. If they’re mushy or nearly black, they’re likely past their prime, and if they’re lighter blue or lighter purple, they are not ripe enough and will be too sour to enjoy.

Blueberries should be stored in the refrigerator after purchase and should always be washed thoroughly before eating.

Best Blueberry Recipes

Blueberries can be eaten raw and fresh, but you can also use them in a wide variety of dishes. The next time you have a pint of blueberries that you aren’t sure what to do with, get creative and try one of these tried and true recipes.

Paleo Blueberry Muffins: This grain-free twist on a classic recipe is a great way to amp up your breakfast.

Fresh Blueberry Crisp: Put a summery twist on the typical crisp dessert with this sweetly satisfying dish.

Grilled Salmon Steaks with Blueberry Sauce: Think blueberries are only for dessert? Think again with this delicious seafood sweet-and-savory dish that tastes far more gourmet than it is.

Blueberry Onion Jam: Take your chicken dinner to the next level with this sweet and spicy jam that is better than any barbecue sauce.

Blueberry Cucumber Salad: Double your fruit and veggie intake by adding blueberries to your next salad. The slightly sweet profile pairs perfectly with the savory addition of vegetables.

Blueberry Brie Bacon Burger: Keep burger night from getting boring by opting for this creative dish that is the perfect example of sweet-and-salty.

Bottom Line

Blueberries are a nutrient-dense fruit that is easily accessible and widely versatile for dietary intake.

Not only can you reduce the impact of aging and numerous chronic health conditions, but you can protect your DNA and cells while getting a daily dose of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. There’s no reason not to add more blueberries to your daily diet!

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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Could Blueberries Be the Most Underrated Superfood? | HappyBodyformula.com

References:

  1. Devore E, Kang HJ, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol. 2012;72:135–43.
  2. Kalt W, Ryan DAJ, Duy JC, Prior RL, Ehlenfeldt MK, Vander Kloet SP. Interspecific variation in anthocyanins, phenolics, and antioxidant capacity among genotypes of highbush and lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium section cyanococcus spp.). J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49:4761–7.
  3. Cho JM, Howard LR, Prior RL, Clark JR. Flavonoid glycosides and antioxidant capacity of various blackberry, blueberry and red grape genotypes determined by high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. J Sci Food Agric. 2004;84:1771–82.
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Dirty Dozen Foods
Nutrition, All posts

Dirty Dozen Foods List: Should You Be Buying These 12 Foods Organic?

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Dirty Dozen Foods

Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases an updated list of “dirty” and “clean” foods. These lists refer to how much pesticide exposure non-organic crops get.

This list is used by many to help prioritize how to grocery shop and where a little money can be saved in the produce aisle.

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The 2019 Dirty Dozen Food List

Each year the Dirty Dozen food list is updated, but there are often many repeats from one year to the next. The foods on this list are ranked with the dirtiest at the top.

But before you read this list and assume you can never eat these foods again, be sure to check the nutritionist-approved recommendations below.

Here is the 2019 Dirty Dozen foods list:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

Why do these foods make the list of the dirtiest produce grown in the United States?

According to the Environmental Working Group’s report, each has been analyzed and found to have the most pesticide residue per item. Here’s more detail about the most common repeat offenders on the Dirty Dozen list each year.

Strawberries

Perhaps the most popular fruit in the country, strawberries are consumed year-round thanks to the convenience of modern greenhouses.

The average American eats around eight pounds of strawberries per year — but if those are not organic, they’re also getting a chemical cocktail of toxins that are banned in some countries, like Europe.

Strawberries contain an average of nearly 8 pesticides per sample and that they’re still likely to contain a majority of these even after being picked, rinsed, packed for the store, and rinsed again at home before eating.

Testing from the United States Department of Agriculture revealed that 99 percent of all strawberries contained at least one pesticide and more than 30 percent had 10 or more. The worst sample found 23 different pesticides to be present.

Consumers often wonder if it should be illegal to essentially poison crops and allow them to retain residues when sold for public consumption, but the agricultural laws in the U.S. are some of the weakest in the world.

Because each individual pesticide is found in small amounts, it’s allowable. This doesn’t take into consideration the collective presence of all of the different pesticides found on each individual sample.

Spinach

Another popular produce item, spinach is a common vegetable choice for Americans because it’s relatively inexpensive and it easily goes into things like smoothies and casserole dishes to “hide” the presence of vegetables.

Most of the pesticides found on spinach in the U.S. fall under categories that are banned in the European Union altogether, for the neurological effects they can exert.

For every spinach sample that was tested, more than 7 pesticides were discovered, with as many as 19 different pesticides found on a single sample.

Kale

Much like spinach, kale has become a popular go-to leafy green. Yet it’s just as contaminated as spinach, having jumped several spots higher on the Dirty Dozen list in 2019.

Testing kale samples revealed that each one had at least 5 different pesticides, with as many as 18 on a single one. More than 90 percent of all samples tested had at least two different pesticides.

Apples

Apples are another extremely popular fruit in the U.S., partly because they’re easy to prepare and kid-friendly. Testing finds that the average non-organic apple contains at least 4 pesticides, with some of them at higher concentrations than other produce items.

Americans consume approximately 10 pounds of raw apples per year, per person. This volume means that the collective toxin exposure over the course of a year could have health consequences, especially in children, who are more vulnerable.

What Happens If You Eat Foods on the Dirty Dozen List?

In the U.S., food insecurity is on the rise, and even middle class Americans can find the burden of purchasing only organic produce to be greater than their budget can bear.

Additionally, in many communities across the United States, organic options for produce are limited at best.

So what is a consumer to do if they can’t find or afford all organic produce? What are the health consequences of eating “dirty” produce?

Googling the subject reveals 139 million different hits, many of them from non-research based sources. Depending on who you ask, non-organic produce will cause devastating health effects. However, experts on the matter conclude the following:

Journal of Toxicology: Swapping organic versions of produce from the Dirty Dozen list doesn’t dramatically improve health or decrease risks. In fact, the difference is negligible in the big picture. (source)

Mayo Clinic: There is limited information showing how an organic-only diet influences health over someone who eats some organic and some non-organic produce, or all non-organic produce. Even organic produce can contain some pesticide residues, and this is allowable by the USDA. (source)

Journal of Environmental Health: The differences between organic and non-organic produce is of “marginal nutritional significance” and pesticides aren’t even the biggest concern identified by this study, but rather, antibiotics.

Choosing organic and pastured animal products improves health more than worrying over organic vs. non-organic produce. Even organic crops use pesticides, and according to these scientists, a pesticide is a pesticide. (source)

Many other experts conclude that, in the big picture, making this the only issue about health vs. disease is pointless. Eating only organic produce won’t erase any potential for pesticide exposure since many organic crops have some level of residues.

Additionally, dairy products, meat, seafood, grains, and other food categories account for a big percentage of overall diet, and unless everything you eat is completely organic, you’re still getting some pesticide exposure.

Beyond that, even if your diet is 100 percent pristine, you still live on a planet that has pollution and environmental exposures to various chemicals. But this doesn’t mean that your future is bleak.

It means that perspective is necessary when framing the discussion of “dirty” or “clean” produce items. There are many ways to protect health, and obsessing over only clean produces and getting no pesticide exposure is impossible.

Is It Better to Skip Produce If You Can’t Buy Organic?

Fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber and antioxidants, as well as other cancer-fighting compounds.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is said to promote longevity, fight disease, and even help reverse health problems.

But what happens if you eat produce from the “dirty” list? Are you still getting the health benefits?

Absolutely. Many people wonder if they can’t afford to buy organic produce for the items on the dirty dozen list if they’re better off avoiding altogether.

The answer is no. Even with pesticide exposure, fruits and vegetables are still some of the healthiest foods on earth, and avoidance will produce more nutrient deficiencies and risks than eating them.

Besides, many experts conclude that the differences between an all organic produce diet to a non-organic one are negligible in the big picture of all the foods eaten by someone.

The best rule of thumb is to purchase the best quality produce that you can afford. If you can’t always purchase organic, you have a better chance of scoring lower pesticide food by shopping locally, direct from farmers or at a farmer’s market.

Mass-farming operations like those that supply big chain grocery stores tend to use the highest volume of pesticides.

What Is the Best Way to Wash Produce?

Washing produce can also help to decrease pesticide residues on produce before it’s eaten. While this won’t remove all of it, it can decrease the levels and also remove harmful substances like bacteria, that can lead to sickness.

Organic or not, you should always wash produce after purchasing and before eating.

Is it necessary to purchase vegetable and fruit wash sprays or soaks?

Experts say no. You can achieve the same results by thoroughly washing under cold, running water for a minute or two, or by soaking other produce in a diluted solution of white vinegar and water.

However you do it, just be sure that you’re consistently washing your fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking. Even fruits that need peeled, like oranges, should be washed before consumption.

The Clean 15 List for 2021

The Environmental Working Group also lists the fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticide residues. If you’re concerned about pesticide exposure, you can buy these non-organic produce options with more peace of mind.

The Clean 15 list for 2021:

  1.  Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Frozen sweet peas
  5. Onions
  6. Papaya
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwi
  10. Cabbage
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew melon

Bottom Line

Each year, the Environmental Working Group provides an updated list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. While some vegetables and fruits will change spots or be added or removed from the list, it seems a majority of them will stay put.

Apples and strawberries have been on the “dirty” list for years, while avocados and broccoli have been on the clean list for just as long.

These resources are just one tool for helping to gauge which foods are the best quality and will serve your health and dietary needs best.

Worrying over pesticide exposure is not the only important issue in the food industry, and in fact, is less concerning than the excessive use of antibiotics and medications in animal foods. You can still get a healthy diet even if you cannot purchase all or even some organic produce.

Buying produce locally, along with any other sustainable products, not only furthers your goal of purchasing the best quality food that you can afford, but also helps to boost the local economy, supports small farmers, and gives you the best nutrient bang for your buck.

Nutrition is about much more than organic versus non-organic produce, so be sure to aim for a well-rounded diet, and eat a rainbow of produce that gives you all of the different nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.

Organic or not, this is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re not deficient in critical nutrients.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Dirty Dozen Foods List: Should You Be Buying These 12 Foods Organic? | HappyBodyFormula.com

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Endometriosis
Health & Wellness, All posts

The Natural Care Guide to Endometriosis

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a gynecological disorder that impacts as many as 10 percent of all women. (1)

Symptoms range from pain to fertility problems, and many issues in between. Research continues to search for a cure, but in the meantime, many women who have this painful disorder look to medical and natural treatment options to find relief.

This article will explore the causes and symptoms of endometriosis, as well as treatments and lifestyle changes that can help.

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What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disorder that impacts women. It occurs when the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, begins to grow where it should not, including the outside of the uterus, other pelvic tissue, and even the intestines.

Because this tissue is still affected by a normal menstrual cycle, endometriosis can cause significant pain wherever tissue has spread before and during a woman’s period.

Endometriosis can result in scar formation and adhesions, pain, and infertility.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis can present with no symptoms, or there can be many. The most common symptoms associated with endometriosis are:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Painful periods
  • PMS
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Heavy cramping before and during the menstrual cycle
  • Infertility or miscarriage
  • Pain during or after sexual intercourse
  • Painful bowel movements or intestinal cramping
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation (or both)
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive bloating not associated with food intake
  • Nausea
  • Lower back pain

Risk Factors and Causes of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is an autoimmune disorder that has multiple risk factors and potential causes. No single known cause exists, much like no cure has yet been found.

Endometriosis is most often diagnosed in the 30s or 40s, and often the symptoms naturally resolve after a woman enters menopause.

Symptoms of endometriosis are driven by too much estrogen or too little progesterone, or both, and when hormone levels decrease and balance out after the end of menstruation, the disorder tends to go dormant.

Women who have endometriosis and do get pregnant will typically experience a complete disappearance of symptoms during pregnancy thanks to the higher levels of progesterone.

Likewise, some doctors use progesterone to treat symptoms of endometriosis and provide more balanced hormones.

Causes of endometriosis are not definitively proven, but many theories exist. Of them, the common ones include:

  • Retrograde menstruation, where particles from menstrual blood back flow and leave remnants outside of the uterus, in the pelvic cavity
  • Endometrial cells transferring or appearing outside of the uterus, for various unknown reasons
  • Leakage from the endometrium through cesarean or other surgical scars on the uterus
  • Genetics, that a woman is born with the proclivity to develop endometriosis
  • Environmental exposures, such as toxins, that can trigger the development of the disease from genetics, hormone problems, or other reasons

While the exact cause of endometriosis is not known, risk factors are more certain. A risk factor does not guarantee that someone will develop the disorder, but simply increases the risk that they could have the right conditions to develop it.

Risk factors for endometriosis can include:

  • Being a woman in the 30s or 40s
  • Being a woman who has not yet had a child or had their first child after age 30
  • Having short menstrual cycles, less than 27 days, or having a short luteal phase
  • Having autoimmune problems of any kind, such as another autoimmune disorder
  • Having increased inflammation in the body that could be a precursor to autoimmunity
  • Exercising infrequently or not at all
  • Estrogen dominance

How Endometriosis Is Diagnosed and Treated

Endometriosis is diagnosed by either laparoscopy or ultrasound. It is almost impossible to diagnose without one or both of these methods.

Typically when symptoms present, your doctor will order these tests to confirm a suspected endometriosis diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, there are a few different treatment approaches. These typically depend on what stage of endometriosis you are in.

The different stages of endo include:

  • Stage 1: only small lesions are found around the ovaries or pelvic cavity.
  • Stage 2: implants that are shallow have started to appear on the ovary, pelvic lining, outside of the uterus, etc.
  • Stage 3: implants are deeper and increase in amount.
  • Stage 4: implants are deep and the location has expanded to include fallopian tubes, intestines, and elsewhere in the body.

Treatment for endometriosis can range from pain medication to hormones to help ease symptoms to, in more extreme cases, the recommendation for hysterectomy.

Treatment plans are individualized based on the stage of endometriosis a patient is in as well as her personal health goals, age, and severity of symptoms.

It is possible to be in stage one and have extreme pain or to be in stage four with minimal symptoms or pain. Whether or not a woman hopes to become pregnant can also alter the treatment approach.

How Endometriosis Can Cause Problems

Endometriosis is not life-threatening but it can have long-term complications.

It is particularly problematic for fertility. If you’re trying to conceive and have been diagnosed with endometriosis, working with a fertility expert or reproductive endocrinologist could be important to preserve fertility options since as many as 40 percent of women with endo will have trouble conceiving. (2)

The pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis could impact the quality of life and could even interfere with the normal ability to work or socially function.

Working with a physician to manage pain through medication or medical procedures could improve one’s quality of life.

Natural Care for Endometriosis

Natural Care for Endometriosis

While there is not yet a cure for endometriosis, there are many natural care approaches that can ease symptoms and make the condition more bearable.

Some of these work in conjunction with traditional medical treatment and others are able to be used instead. Always check with your medical provider before using alternative or natural methods to ensure that they don’t interact with or interfere with medical treatments or prescriptions.

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, don’t assume that natural therapies or safe or advised unless your OBGYN has said so.

The following are natural methods that can be used to ease potential symptoms of endometriosis.

1. Diet

Much has been written about the “endo diet,” but research does not definitively offer a single way of eating that could help. Still, nutrition science and research do offer some eating protocols that could help.

An important first step is to remove junk and processed foods because they don’t offer nutritional value and could be causing digestive problems. Next, it’s important to make sure you’re hydrated and drinking plenty of water.

Beyond that, some other basic principles of anti-inflammatory eating apply, such as:

  • Boosting intake of vegetables, especially leafy greens
  • Eating cruciferous vegetables to promote natural detox
  • Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake, especially in fatty fish like salmon
  • Decreasing the intake of sugar (even “healthy” ones like honey) and artificial sweeteners
  • Decreasing intake of red meat, ham, pork, and bacon
  • Eating more fresh fruits, especially berries and citrus
  • Eating eggs, since they’re rich in folate
  • Eliminating alcohol entirely, primarily because it dramatically alters the microbiome balance
  • Adding fermented foods or probiotics for gut health
  • Reducing caffeine intake and limiting coffee
  • Quit dairy products with the exception of fermented, like kefir or unsweetened yogurt (unless allergic)
  • Stop eating soy products
  • Increase bone broth and collagen in the diet
  • Eat enough food each day since calorie restriction can actually worsen inflammation and health problems

Losing weight can benefit women with endometriosis and can contribute to better hormone balance, but weight alone is not a causative factor or the cure.

A healthy diet can reduce inflammation and result in natural weight loss, but eating to only lose weight tends to result in calorie restriction and not taking in enough healing nutrients.

2. Acupuncture

An ancient TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) treatment, acupuncture has successfully been used to alleviate pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis and has also been used to improve fertility and conception. (3)

For the best results, try weekly treatments for six to 12 weeks, and then afterward, get treatments for maintenance as needed. For example, getting acupuncture for one or two weeks before a period could help to reduce pain and increase comfort as well as contribute to overall hormone balance.

3. Supplements

Some herbal or other supplements can provide relief for certain aspects of endometriosis. More research needs to be done to evaluate whether results can consistently be replicated, but the following supplements may be beneficial: (4, 5)

  • Resveratrol: antioxidant that may slow the progression of endometrial growths
  • Calcium: bone and hormone balance
  • Magnesium: bone and hormone balance
  • Vitex: an herbal supplement that can support a healthy estrogen to progesterone balance
  • Red raspberry: helpful for cramps and uterine tone
  • Turmeric or curcumin: fights inflammation and serves as natural pain relief while promoting natural hormone balance
  • Ashwagandha: reduces stress, promotes hormone balance, and helps lower inflammation levels
  • Probiotics: to support health gut bacteria, immunity, inflammation levels, and hormones

4. Heating Pad

Whether you’re having pain from menstrual cramping or low back pain, heat can help to relieve tension and ease the pain when associated with endometriosis. Use a re-heatable rice (or similar) heating pad, not one that uses electricity.

You can also use warm baths or hot water bottles, too.

5. Massage

Massaging the muscles in the pelvic area can help relieve pain associated with menstruation or endometriosis. This can be effective with or without other pain-relieving methods but might work best when paired with other options.

Add some essential oils, like clary sage, which can help relieve pain and support balanced hormones. Always use a carrier oil with essential oils and do not apply them undiluted to the skin.

To successfully massage, gently work the area for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. You can repeat every few hours as needed for relief and comfort.

Massage is most effective in the days leading up to menstruation and may actually worsen symptoms if done during the first few days of the cycle. Determine what is comfortable for your symptoms and focus on that for the best results.

6. Essential Oils

While we’re talking about massage, essential oils, in general, can be beneficial for providing relief from some aspects of endometriosis. These can include cramps and other pain, hormone problems, headaches, depression and mood swings, and fertility.

The best essential oils to use for endometriosis are:

Research finds that combining one or more of these oils and pairing with a carrier oil can be an effective way of addressing some aspects of endometriosis when used in a topical massage. (6)

You can also gain several benefits from diffusing or inhaling.

Bottom Line

Endometriosis is a chronic condition with no cure, but that does not mean that it has to ruin your quality of life. Your health goals will determine the course of treatment, and typically a mix of traditional and natural care can work to help ease or downgrade the severity of symptoms.

No two cases of endometriosis are alike, so it is important to work with your medical provider for a personalized treatment plan.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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The Natural Care Guide to Endometriosis | Happybodyformuls.com

References:

  1. Eskenazi B, Warner ML. Epidemiology of endometriosisObstet Gynecol Clin North Am
  2. Simoens S, Hummelshoj L, D’Hooghe T. Endometriosis: cost estimates and methodological perspectiveHum Reprod Update
  3. The American Fertility Society. Revised American Fertility Society classification of endometriosisFertil Steril. 1985;43: 351–352
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shutterstock 450817834
All posts, Health & Wellness

Are Colon Cleanses Safe? We Reveal The Truth (Recipes Included)

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Are Colon Cleanses Safe

When you’re suffering from poor digestive health or chronic constipation, it’s hard to feel healthy. Constipation can lead to an overall feeling of sickness, lethargy, pain, and poor appetite.

We often think of the intestines as one organ, but they’re two separate ones with distinctly different functions. The small intestine is longer and is where most of the body’s digestion and absorption takes place.

The large intestine is shorter and houses the microbiome and the colon. While some nutrients are produced here, a large portion of the large intestine’s job is a healthy bacterial landscape and elimination of waste.

With a healthy colon and elimination, the entire digestive system suffers.

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What Is a Colon Cleanse?

Because digestion and elimination is so critical for total body health, many claim that you need to regularly cleanse your colon to keep it healthy. What is meant by a “colon cleanse” and is it backed by research?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a large body of studies done showing whether colon cleanses are helpful or safe. However, there are aspects that are backed by research or common sense.

Are Colon Cleanses Backed By Research?

Constipation is a common health problem. Certain types of colon cleanses can be healthy ways to address constipation without resorting to laxatives that might be dependence forming. Ensuring regular bowel movements is also protective against certain types of colon cancer.

Some sources have claimed that colon cleanses can rid the body of toxins, chemicals, heavy metals, and parasites — these claims are not only unproven, but could be dangerous.

Who Should Not Do a Colon Cleanse?

Before you start a colon cleanse of any type, it’s important to check with your doctor first. Some health conditions can make colon cleanses unsafe.

Never do a colon cleanse if you have any type of chronic or autoimmune disorder, especially one that involves the digestive tract, including the colon. You should also avoid colon cleanses if you have kidney disease, including a history of kidney stones, or problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or liver.

If you are pregnant or could be pregnant, never do a colon cleanse. Constipation is a natural side effect of pregnancy but should never be addressed by forcing a colon cleanse. Bowel movements slow down because the body is optimizing nutrient absorption for fetal development. 

Side effects of colon cleansing can include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal cramping or pain
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances

If you experience any negative side effects of a colon cleanse, it’s important to check in with your doctor right away and stop any methods you’re using.

Overuse of colon cleansing can lead to chronic bowel disorders and even injury of the large intestine or colon, leading to long-term problems with elimination.

Use extreme caution when choosing herbal laxatives or teas, as these can cause severe symptoms and force the colon to eliminate, which is not a gentle protocol. These can also be habit-forming and lead to higher levels of dehydration and nutrient losses.

Possible Health Benefits of Colon Cleansing

While there isn’t definitive research proving the benefits of colon cleansing, those who use them do often notice positive results. Colon cleanses might offer the following health benefits.

Better Detox

When the bowels are not eliminating properly, the entire detox system gets backlogged. By supporting proper elimination, the liver, the primary detox organ, is able to more efficiently flush toxins from the body.

Improved Energy Levels

When you’re constipated, it’s hard to feel energetic about anything. By helping the body to naturally eliminate waste, overall digestion will improve, leading to better blood sugar and energy levels.

Better Gut Health & Immunity

The colon is home to the microbiome, where all of the good and bad bacteria live in the gut. A majority of the immune system lives here, too, and when the colon is backed up, sluggish, and toxic, the microphone can become unbalanced, too.

Foods that support healthy elimination also support good bacteria in the gut, making it doubly healthy.

Improved Weight Loss

When the body can’t eliminate waste, it can easily be carrying extra weight simply from the colonic backlog. It’s also hard to shed other weight if your digestive and detox systems aren’t working optimally.

Many of the foods that support colon health also fight inflammation and promote healthy digestion, which are other factors that also lead to natural weight loss.

Fewer Digestive Symptoms

When digestion starts off on the wrong foot, it can often end up in constipation or other uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, intestinal cramping, and gas.

Colon-friendly foods like ginger, lemon, and apple cider vinegar all support better digestion and reduce these unwanted symptoms.

How to Do a Colon Cleanse At Home

If you want to do a colon cleanse and have been given the go-ahead from your doctor, there are several different types you can try. It’s always important to follow the instructions and not to do colon cleanses too often.

Water Cleanse

Dehydration is a common cause of constipation. Sometimes the best remedy is the simplest. To do a water cleanse, you focus on thoroughly hydrating your body over the course of a day. This is very safe and backed by research for numerous health benefits.

In order to do a water cleanse, you need to flush your body with water throughout the day. This means drinking eight or more glasses of lukewarm or warm water, spread evenly throughout the waking hours.

You can also eat hydrating foods like bone broth, soup, vegetables, and fruit.

Juice Cleansing

Similar to the principle of a water cleanse, a juice cleanse supplies lots of liquid to the body and promotes hydration. Typically done by juicing vegetables and fruits, a juice cleanse can last from one to three days.

Juice cleanses are widely considered to be riskier than a water cleanse, however, because they’re severely calorie restricted and they are also high in sugar since juicing removes the pulp and fiber of the produce.

Research does show that higher levels of vitamin C are protective of colon health, but this isn’t only obtained from juicing.

Smoothies are actually more healthy for the colon, providing plenty of fiber, vitamins, and liquid. The benefits of drinking smoothies are also gained just by adding more to the diet, so you don’t have to only drink smoothies or be on a cleanse.

Prunes

Another way of promoting regular bowel movements is to eat prunes or drink prune juice. If you’re especially constipated, doing both in one day can produce a bowel movement within 10-12 hours.

Prunes contain vitamins and fiber that help gently encourage a bowel movement, without a harsh laxative response. Prunes can also help to soften stool for less painful passage.

Saltwater Cleanse

If you’re suffering from more extreme constipation or grossly irregular bowel movements, using saltwater might be an effective way to induce a bowel movement.

To do a saltwater cleanse, also known as a saltwater flush, combine eight ounces of warm water with two teaspoons of Himalayan sea salt.

Stir and drink first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. This could stimulate the urge to go within a few minutes.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t do this unless your doctor has okayed it, and it’s not safe for people with kidney issues or blood pressure problems.

Fiber Boost

Sometimes all you need to boost elimination is an increase in fiber, which promotes transit through the intestines and colon. The average American needs 25 grams per day, but gets less than 10.

Fiber is naturally found in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. It can also be found in supplement form, like psyllium husk, which supports healthy elimination and the proliferation of good bacteria in the gut.

Probiotics

Speaking of good bacteria, probiotic foods and supplements can also encourage healthy elimination.

You can get probiotics from fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and more. Probiotics supplements also supply healthy bacteria for people who struggle to eat fermented foods.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Popular for many reasons, apple cider vinegar is rich in good bacteria and boosts digestive function, too. While there is little research on apple cider vinegar, many practitioners use it for digestion and colon health and it comes with few negative side effects.

Rich in healthy acids and enzymes, apple cider vinegar is an overall health supportive food. For colon health, add a tablespoon to a glass of lukewarm water.

5 DIY Colon Cleanse Recipes

If you want to do a colon cleanse, you can also combine several ingredients to make tasty drinks that help promote colon health. Try these DIY recipes at home.

Lemon, Ginger, & Apple Cider Vinegar

Not only does this combo promote colon health but it also naturally boosts digestion.

Mix 8 ounces of lukewarm water with the juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Pulse in a blender or bullet briefly to blend together and drink immediately.

Apple Juice, ACV, & Raw Honey

This mix helps gently deal with constipation while providing a deliciously palatable drink that even the pickiest eaters will like.

Mix 8 ounces of organic apple juice or apple cider with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey. Drink immediately.

Turmeric, Ginger, & Coconut Latte

This soothing drink does lots more than support a healthy colon, but an added bonus is that it fights inflammation and supports a healthy intestinal lining.

Warm 8 ounces of full fat coconut milk. Whisk ½ tablespoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of ginger into it. Add a pinch of black pepper, which helps with turmeric absorption. Optional, add a teaspoon of raw honey or coconut sugar.

Warm Ginger Tea

Keep things simple by brewing ginger tea, which is perfect for boosting digestion, addressing nausea, and helping promote healthy elimination.

Make your own ginger tea by grating a root of ginger. Bring 8 ounces of water to boil and add 6-8 slices of ginger. Allow to simmer for 4-6 minutes, strain, and allow to cool a bit before drinking. Add a teaspoon of raw honey and the juice of half a lemon for taste.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint is a natural digestive aid that helps reduce symptoms like heartburn and bloating while promoting healthy intestinal function. Drinking warm peppermint tea daily can help to improve digestive health while also supporting natural colon function.

Bottom Line

While digestive and colon health is important for overall health, there aren’t definitive studies on the practice of colon cleansing. Research backs lots of nutrients involved in typical colon cleanse protocols but haven’t proven whether or not the colon actually gets cleansed in the process.

As long as your doctor approves, using colon cleanse protocols to help relieve constipation can be healthy and part of a regular digestive wellness routine.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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Are Colon Cleanses Safe? | HappyBodyFormula.com

References:

  1. Detoxes and cleanses. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
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Benefits of Bone Broth
Nutrition, All posts

15 Health Benefits of Bone Broth (Plus How to Make)

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

benefits of bone broth

Bone broth has been a long-standing staple of wellness, but in recent decades, we lost the art of making it.

Thanks to the Paleo diet and ancient food trends making a comeback, bone broth is once again becoming a nutritional staple.

[toc]

What is Bone Broth?

Bone broth looks like soup stock, but is more nutritionally dense. While stock is made from vegetables or meat, bone broth is made from slow simmering bones for 12 or more hours, extracting nutrients from the bones that are health promoting.

Made by boiling and simmering bones in water with an acid, like apple cider vinegar, bone broth tastes a lot like soup stock but contains bone nutrients like amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and more.

Bone broth can be made from nearly any animal bones, but most popularly it is made from chicken, beef, or fish. You can also use chicken feet and beaks, a whole chicken carcass, and other parts of the animal that you have on hand.

What Nutrients Are Found in Bone Broth?

While all bone broth contains more nutrients than basic meat or vegetable stock, each batch will have slightly different nutrient profiles depending on the bones or parts used, how long it was cooked, and what type of animal it is sourced from.

Generally speaking, bone broth contains the following nutrients:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Silicon
  • Sulfur
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Boron
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin A
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Glucosamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Collagen

15 Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth has numerous health benefits thanks to the many nutrients that it contains. These are the top reasons to make it a regular part of your health routine.

Fights Inflammation

Rich in glycine, an amino acid that fights inflammation in the body, bone broth has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. (source, source)

Many chronic and autoimmune conditions end up having their roots in inflammation that the body can’t get under control. Bone broth is a gut health superfood that can help to tame inflammation, right at the source.

Protects Bone and Teeth

While many people view bones as brick-like structures in the body, bones are living material that is constantly in a state of being broken down and rebuilt.

When the body lacks the proper nutrients, bones are rebuilt weaker, and the necessary minerals end up being distributed elsewhere in the body. Bone broth is rich in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous that support healthy bones.

Bone broth is also a therapeutic food for conditions like osteoporosis and osteopenia, conditions where the bone has become brittle, could break easily, and lacks proper nutrients.

Helps with Weight Loss

Weight loss can be tricky for a number of reasons, but bone broth is a supportive food for shedding pounds. It’s low in calories and contains protein, healthy fat, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

It can promote feelings of fullness, and can be a great meal-replacement drink or snack option. Plus, balancing the bacteria in the gut also helps to shed weight, and bone broth contains collagen and glycine, two nutrients that help repair a leaky gut and promote health.

Boosts Immunity

Bone broth supports natural immune system function by protecting and repairing the gut. A majority of the immune system lives in the gut, and is regulated by the microbiome.

When the immune system is not healthy, it’s response either becomes exaggerated or downgraded, and either way, the result is an improper immune response.

In order to be healthy, the immune system needs to function correctly. Bone broth fights inflammation and provides nutrients needed to keep the gut healthy.

Promotes Healthy Joints

Joints facilitate movement in the body, yet joint pain and problems are common. Bone broth is loaded with nutrients that are often taken in supplement form to help promote healthy joints: glucosamine and chondroitin.

These nutrients can reduce painful symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and can help to improve overall mobility.(source) Collagen, also found in bone broth, helps to support healthy ligaments and tendons.

Gelatin, which collagen is found in, acts like padding between bones, supporting healthy joints, and preventing bone-on-bone grinding and pain.

Protects Healthy Brain Function

The nervous system is run by the brain, but involved a wide network of nerves, neurotransmitters, and other chemical components. Bone broth is rich in nutrients that support a healthy nervous system.

Glycine, an amino acid found in bone broth, helps to protect brain cells from death, and is also instrumental in promoting healthy brain development for fetuses in utero.

Bone broth also contains nutrients that help to nourish the brain, protecting against depression and a lack of ability to focus, and boosting the brain’s ability to learn and remember. (source)

Boosts Gut Health & Integrity

Gelatin, a major component of bone broth, supports the lining of the gut wall. When taken, it helps prevent and heal leaky gut, and can even help to address gut-related issues like autoimmune disorders, decreased immunity, and food allergies.

A healthy gut is also essential for a well-balanced microbiome, which is the collection of good and bad bacteria that live in the colon. Without a diverse blend of bacteria, neither the gut nor overall immunity will be balanced.

Bone broth is a soothing food for the digestive lining, which makes it especially therapeutic for chronic disorders like IBD, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Promotes Healthy Skin & Fights Wrinkles

Collagen is one of the primary components of skin and tissue, and it naturally decreases with age. It is one of the main reasons why skin retains elasticity, so as natural aging occurs and collagen levels decrease, the skin gradually starts to sag and wrinkle.

Consuming collagen daily, including in bone broth, helps to fight skin dryness and promotes a healthy, vibrant, youthful appearance. It can also decrease the formation of cellulite since it typically forms in areas where collagen has been lost.

Regular, daily intake of collagen can improve skin appearance in as little as four weeks. Proline is another amino acid in bone broth that helps promote firm skin.

Supports Natural Detoxification & Liver Health

Modern living has brought with it a significantly increased daily exposure to toxins, chemicals, and pesticides, all of which can contribute to the body’s toxic load.

The liver is the primary detox organ which rids the body of these chemical exposures, but in order to do that efficiently, the liver needs nutrients to keep it healthy.

Bone broth not only supports a healthy liver, but contains nutrients that improve the body’s ability to use antioxidants for protection.

Bone broth also contains other nutrients, like glycine, glutathione, and potassium, that protect liver cells and keep cellular pathways functioning as they should.

The amino acids and other nutrients in bone broth can also protect the liver from damage, such as in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as damage from excessive alcohol intake. Bone broth can even be helpful in supporting a body after a liver transplant.

Boosts Heart Health

The heart is a muscle the supplies the body with blood and oxygen. Without a properly functioning heart, the entire body is at risk for serious complications. Bone broth is rich in amino acids that support a healthy heart.

Glycine can nourish the heart and reduce the risk of serious heart attacks. 

Supports Healthy Metabolic Function

Blood sugar is an essential source for energy in the body, but numerous factors can influence how it’s used.

When the body’s response to insulin is decreased, blood sugar levels can remain elevated, leading to a number of metabolic problems like diabetes and heart disease. Bone broth is rich in glycine, an amino acid that helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Helps Improve Sleep Quality

Glycine, an amino acid, can help to improve sleep quality. Without a healthy sleep routine, neurotransmitter levels will change, decreasing mood and leading to problems like anxiety, blood sugar problems, immune dysfunction, and more.

Bone broth is an excellent way to promote a healthy sleep routine.

Improves Digestive Function

Digestive problems are common in our fast-paced, modern culture. Eating too quickly, not thoroughly chewing food, and a diet too high in “fast” foods can all cause digestive disorders like acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, and constipation.

The amino acids in bone broth prep the stomach for healthy digestion by stimulating the production of gastric juices, the acids that break down food for absorption.

Protects Eye Health

The eyes are often something we take for granted, but healthy vision and eyes are largely dependent on getting the right nutrients in your diet. Vitamin A is an essential nutrients for eye health, and with too low levels, night blindness can occur.

The eye has three distinct layers, and the hyaluronic acid found in bone broth protects epithelial cells that protect the cornea, and replaces collagen that makes up the middle layer of the eye.

Glycine has also been found to protect against the formation of cataracts, which can often form in response to diabetes or the aging process. 

Supports Mood & Mental Health

Glycine is an amino acid but also functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that promote balance and proper brain and mood function.

Glycine in particular helps to lower anxiety levels, increase feelings of calm in the brain, and support healthy sleep cycles.

How to Make Your Own Bone Broth At Home

You can make your own bone broth to save money, and it’s extremely easy. You can follow a recipe or you can just wing it with what you have on hand.

The basic principles of making bone broth are as follows. You’ll need to gather:

  • Bones, cartilage, a carcass, marrow, etc. as the nutrient source. You an ask a butcher for these items and sometimes they’re provided free of charge with your meat order.
  • A large stock pot, the bigger, the better.
  • Apple cider vinegar, around a ½ cup
  • Water, enough to cover the bones, plus more to make a nice big batch
  • Salt, pepper, or other spices are optional, but can make the broth taste better. Use at least 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Optional other add-ons: garlic cloves, whole or halved; herbs like rosemary and thyme; onions, peeled and halved; carrot, celery, or other vegetable scraps

To get your bone broth going, you have a few options.

On the Stove: If you make your bone broth on the stove, add all ingredients to a stock pot and bring to a boil. After that, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 12-24 hours.

Slow Cooker: Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 12 hours, reducing to low heat for the next 10-12 hours.

Pressure Cooker: Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker, seal, and set to “soup” for 120 minutes. When the cook time is done, leave on the keep warm setting for 2-4 hours.

Once the broth is done cooking, you’ll need to let it cool for a few hours. After that, strain it, remove the solids, and store in the refrigerator in glass jars or containers.

It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, and for up to 3 months in the freezer.

The Bottom Line About Bone Broth

Bone broth is an ancient superfood that is filled with nutrients that the body needs. These include amino acids like glycine, proline, and glutamine, as well as vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats.

Bone broth can easily be made at home and is safe to be consumed on a daily basis. Drinking bone broth or using it for cooking supplies the body with many critical nutrients for numerous aspects of health.

Bone broth can be made from chicken, beef, fish, or other animals and can be used in soups, stews, cooking grains, and more.

Making bone broth a daily part of your wellness routine can boost skin, digestive, neurological, cardiovascular, and gut health, among many others, and can even support healthy weight loss.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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15 Health Benefits of Bone Broth (Plus How to Make) | HappyBodyformula.com

References:

  1. McCance RA, Sheldon W, Widdowson EM. Bone and vegetable broth. Arch Dis Child.
  2. Saketkhoo K, Januszkiewicz A, Sackner MA. Effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance.
  3. Palacios C. The role of nutrients in bone health, from A to Z. Crit Rev FoodSciNutr
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Lion's Mane Mushrooms
Nutrition, All posts

10 Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

lion mane mushroom benefits

Mushrooms have been widely reputed for their health benefits, and lion’s mane mushrooms are no exception. Known as Hericium erinaceus, lion’s mane mushrooms are native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and are part of the tooth fungus group.

Named for its appearance of long, hair-like spines, lion’s mane is a common ingredient in Chinese medicine thanks to its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting benefits. (source)

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Nutritional Components of Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane mushrooms have a unique taste, something similar to seafood, and a traditionally spongy texture. They can be eaten raw, dried, cooked, or powdered, and can even be made into tea.

No studies have been done on humans specifically examining how lion’s mane interacts in the body or with other substances, but there are no strong warning signs either. However, if you are allergic to other mushrooms, avoiding lion’s mane is also a good idea.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are nutritionally dense, containing 32 different bioactive components and nutrients, and is especially rich in the following:

  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Polysaccharides

10 Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Lion’s mane mushrooms have numerous health benefits. The following are the most common.

Protects the Brain & Defends Against Dementia

Lion’s mane mushrooms contain compounds that stimulate the growth of new brain cells. As aging naturally occurs, some brain cells fail to regenerate, but in dementia, too many brain cells die without new cells replacing them.

Animal studies show important benefits from lion’s mane of being able to reduce memory loss and prevent neurological damage, leading to reduced risk of both Alzheimer’s and dementia. (source)

Apart from dementia and Alzheimer’s, lion’s mane can also boost general cognitive function, helping to offset brain impairment that is sometimes a part of aging.

Promotes Mental Health & Relieves Anxiety, Depression

More than 30 percent of adults experience depression, anxiety, or both. Many factors can lead to these, but underlying levels of inflammation can often contribute.

Lion’s mane has potent anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown in studies to relieve mild symptoms of depression and anxiety by helping improve the way the hippocampus functions, the area of the brain that is associated with emotions.

Research shows that consuming lion’s mane can reduce feelings of irritation, anxiety, and other mood disturbances. (source)

Lion’s mane is such a potent brain booster that it has also been shown to help the brain recover from stroke and neurological injury, like brain trauma.

Protects the Digestive System & Boosts Gut Health

The digestive system includes the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, but numerous other organs are involved in healthy digestion. Because of the complex interplay between the digestive process, complications can come into play.

One major problem associated with digestion are ulcers, which can occur in the stomach or small intestine and can be very painful.

Research on lion’s mane mushrooms show that they can protect against ulcers and even help address existing ones by reducing inflammation and providing protective polysaccharides, which change the way the gastrointestinal lining responds to the bacteria that causes ulcers.

Lion’s mane can also help address gastritis and acid reflux, as well as large intestine complications like inflammatory bowel disease.

Because it can significantly reduce inflammation, it can protect the entire lining of the digestive tract and can even have healthy benefits for conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Research shows that taking lion’s mane extract can reduce symptoms of IBD, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease in as little as three weeks. (source)

Not only can lion’s mane protect digestive health and improve the intestinal lining, but it’s also helpful for reversing and healing leaky gut.

The intestinal wall has a complex system of gateways to prevent unauthorized particles from entering the bloodstream, but when this gateway breaks down, toxins, chemicals, and undigested food particles enter the bloodstream and lead to inflammatory and immune issues.

Lion’s mane supports a healthy mucosal lining of the gut and maintains a healthy gateway and barrier function in the gut.

Protects Cardiovascular Health & Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

The cardiovascular system is sensitive to a number of factors, including blood pressure, triglyceride levels, the presence of oxidized cholesterol, and the thickness of the blood.

Lion’s mane can naturally help to lower triglyceride levels in the blood. It can also help lead to weight loss, which can also reduce triglyceride levels.

Cholesterol in and of itself isn’t bad, but when LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized, it can lead to the hardening of arteries and the risk of heart disease. Research done in test tubes shows that lion’s mane can prevent cholesterol from becoming oxidized. (source)

When blood becomes too thick or clots inappropriately, the risk can be thrombosis or stroke. Lion’s mane mushrooms contain a compound which helps promote normal blood clotting and reduces the risk of thick blood, decreasing the risk for heart attacks and stroke. (source)

Decreases the Risk for Certain Kinds of Cancer & May Help Fight Cancer in the Body

Cancer is a terrifying word that most people associate with a nefarious disease. However, cancer itself occurs when normal cells in the body begin replicating incorrectly.

Cancer cells have the ability, because they’re damaged, to divide and replicate uncontrollably, which is why the diseased cells can overwhelm the healthy ones.

Promising research suggests that lion’s mane mushrooms can fight cancer by inducing death in cancer cells, specifically in liver, stomach, and colon cancer as well as leukemia. (source)

Not every study shows these results, and more research needs done to understand the potential benefits and underlying mechanisms.

Lion’s mane can also slow the replication of cancer cells, slowing progression of the disease, especially when it comes to metastasis. (source)

It can slow or reverse the spread of cancer in certain types, including:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Stomach cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer

While lion’s mane doesn’t yet replace traditional cancer treatment, it can treat it side-by-side, and has very little side effects. More research is needed to determine how to use lion’s mane for cancer prevention and treatment.

Naturally Manages Diabetes & Blood Sugar Issues

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, a hormone responsible for helping the body take glucose into the cells. When the body doesn’t respond to insulin, blood sugar levels remain higher, leading to a number of problems.

When blood sugars remain high for too long, brain, eye, kidney, and nerve problems can occur, as well as weight disorders.

Research in animals shows that lion’s mane can improve blood sugar control and reduce some of the worst complications of diabetes. It helps block an enzyme that breaks down carbs, reducing the glycemic load of higher carb meals and lowering blood glucose levels.

Lion’s mane can also help to reduce serious complications of diabetes, like diabetic neuropathy, where numbness and tingling pain occurs in the hands and feet. It can also improve the body’s response to insulin in as little as 28 days.

Protects the Body from Inflammation & Reduces Oxidative Damage

Inflammation is meant to be a healthy type of response, providing the ability for the body to heal. But when inflammation continues unchecked, it can lead to a host of problems, including heart disease, autoimmunity, cancer, and other chronic disorders.

Lion’s mane mushrooms can help to reduce the inflammatory and oxidative processes because they act as potent antioxidants within the body.

Animal research has found that it can reduce inflammatory markers in the body, and is especially good for reducing the symptoms of IBD, liver problems, and even stroke.

When the body carries excessive fat, these cells can produce inflammation throughout the body that leads to disease processes.

Research shows that lion’s mane mushrooms can directly influence how inflammation is formed in response to fatty tissue. This effect might be able to help reduce metabolic syndrome, heart disease risk, stroke, and diabetes.

Lion’s mane also has potent antioxidant properties, which is how it fights free radicals in the body. Free radicals are what leads to oxidative damage in cells and tissues and can be caused by nutrient deficiencies, chemical exposures, environmental toxins, stress, and more.

Not only can lion’s mane improve the body’s response to inflammation, but it also promotes better wound healing both on the surface and internally. Research shows that liquid lion’s mane extract can promote better wound healing in animal studies. (source)

Antioxidant benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms also extend to other chronic health conditions and disorders. It can be beneficial for the following:

  • Slowing signs of the aging process
  • Protecting liver cells from damage
  • Reducing the risk of osteoporosis

Improves Immune Function

Without a healthy immune system, the body is unable to properly fight off the infections and bacteria that we come in contact with every single day. Lion’s mane can boost immune function by making it more sensitive to invaders.

Research in animals shows that lion’s mane mushrooms can increase immunity by sensitizing the immune system to the presence of invaders. This allows the immune system to more quickly respond to pathogens that enter the body and need destroyed.

The positive effects are partly because of how lion’s mane can influence the gut, as well as how it can decrease inflammatory processes in the body.

While most immune research has been done in animals, studies show that lion’s mane is so potent that it can more than quadruple the lifespan of a mouse that was injected with lethal doses of deadly bacteria. (source)

More research needs to be done to fully understand how lion’s made affects immunity in humans, but the results of studies so far are promising.

Boosts Sleep Quality

A good night’s sleep is essential for health, yet numerous factors conspire to disrupt sleep. Lion’s mane mushrooms can help boost sleep quality and even reduce mental health issues that can disturb sleep, too.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides that help fight fatigue, promote normal circadian rhythms, and even prevent brain patterns that can result in risk factors for dementia.

Research also shows that lion’s mane can help to naturally decrease factors that rob the body of healthy sleep, like anxiety and depression.

Increases Natural Energy Levels & Metabolism

Lion’s mane and other mushrooms have the unique ability to boost natural energy levels without the jittery effects that are typical of caffeine. People even drink mushrooms that have been ground into powder as coffee, so similar are the energizing benefits and even the taste profile.

How does lion’s mane boost energy levels? The high levels of antioxidants fight oxidation in the body that are often a cause of fatigue and low energy levels at the cellular level.

Lion’s mane mushrooms can also decrease the levels of lactic acid in the blood, which is produced after physical exertion or exercise. By reducing this, it allows for a faster rebound after physical activity and can promote more stable energy levels.

It also helps the body better utilize glucose for energy fuel.

Bottom Line

While many mushrooms have health benefits, lion’s mane has a unique set of health protecting qualities and nutritional support. Lion’s mane mushrooms can protect brain health, cardiovascular health, digestive function, and can fight chronic diseases and even cancer.

Thanks to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, lion’s mane mushrooms have significant health-promoting benefits and can even reduce the serious effects of diabetes and associated complications.

If you want to try lion’s mane mushrooms, be sure to check with your doctor before starting them. Never take them if you’re allergic to other mushrooms, and if you experience any side effects or signs of allergic reactions, discontinue immediately.

Research shows many promising benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms and it certainly warrants consideration as a potential superfood for total body health.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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10 Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms | HappyBodyFormula.com

References

  1. Poppe J. Use of agricultural waste material in the cultivation of mushrooms. In: van Griensven LJ, editor. Science and Cultivation of Edible Fungi. Rotterdam / Brookfield: A.A. Balkema; 2000.
  2. Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, Azumi Y, Kinugasa S, Inatomi S, et al. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cellsBiol Pharm Bull. 
  3. Chang ST, Buswell JA. Development of the world mushroom industry: Applied mushroom biology and international mushroom organizations. Int J Med Mushrooms.
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Benefits of coconut water
Nutrition

7 Amazing Health Benefits of Coconut Water

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Benefits of coconut water

Coconut milk has been all the rage for years and now coconut water has stepped up to be the next great coconut fad. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

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What Is Coconut Water?

Coconuts are associated with tropical parties and the white flesh that is often sprinkled on desserts. Coconut water is the clear liquid that is naturally inside of young coconuts and, as they mature, turns into the coconut “meat” or flesh.

Coconut water is richer in nutrients than coconut milk or flesh. It is so high in electrolytes that it has been used, in cases of emergency, as supplemental IV fluids because it is sterile when extracted directly from the coconut.

With a slightly sweet and earthy taste, coconut water is sold nearly everywhere now, sometimes with flavors or sweeteners added. The healthiest form is straight from the coconut, and second, would be without anything added to it.

The nutritional stats for one cup of coconut water are as follows:

  • 46 calories
  • 10 grams of sugar
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 1.7 grams of protein

It also contains numerous minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients, with higher levels of the following:

  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese

7 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

Coconut water is used for many health reasons, but these are the top research-backed ways that this beverage can support health and provide benefits.

Promotes Hydration and Supplies Electrolytes

Coconut water is high in electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, making it a great way to hydrate the body and prevent dehydration.

When compared with sports drinks, it is also significantly lower in added sugars, artificial sweeteners, artificial food coloring, and synthetic vitamins.

For athletes and people working out, coconut water is a great post-workout beverage. Research shows that coconut water works equally as well as any other hydrating beverage of sports drink to restore electrolyte levels after working out or heat exposure.

Coconut water was superior, however, at fighting exertion-related nausea or feelings of being waterlogged after drinking the beverage.

Naturally Lowers Blood Pressure & Protects Heart Health

Coconut water is protective of heart health and can even decrease the risk for developing heart disease. This is because regularly drinking it can lead to lowered levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, while also reducing fat deposits in the liver. (source)

It even rivals the effects of statin drugs, which are used to lower cholesterol levels in people at risk for heart problems.

Coconut water is also excellent for helping to reduce blood pressure in people who have higher levels. This is because blood pressure is largely regulated by the kidneys, which rely on a balance of electrolytes.

Since coconut water is rich in electrolytes, it can regularly supply these vital minerals and lead to lower levels of blood pressure, improving levels in 71 percent of people, according to research. (source)

Not only does coconut water protect the heart by decreasing cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, but it also has anti-clotting effects in the body, which can decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke.

If a patient does have a heart attack or stroke, the nutrients in coconut water have been shown to promote a faster recovery thanks to the high levels of potassium and magnesium.

Supports the Body’s Natural Detox Outlets

The body rids itself of toxins thanks to the work of the liver, kidneys, intestines, and skin. But in order for these detox organs to do their jobs, they have to have the right nutrients and have to be properly hydrated.

When the body gets dehydrated, toxins are less efficiently eliminated because it relies heavily on water and fluid balance to complete the process.

Coconut water has such a unique nutrient profile that it’s actually very similar to the nutrient balance found in human blood, making it an ideal way to quickly replace lost fluids and nutrients.

In order for the liver and kidneys to eliminate waste, water balance must be restored, which isn’t as simple as just drinking water. Electrolyte minerals are also needed to facilitate the transport of nutrients in and out of cells.

Promotes Healthy Muscles & Supports the Body After Intense Exercise

Muscles are constantly in a state of contracting, which is how we are able to walk and how the heart can regularly beat. Muscles don’t do this automatically, however, and they rely on nutrients to supply them with the ability to do their job painlessly.

When the right nutrients are lacking, muscle aches and pains can develop, including cramps and even irregular heart rhythms.

After exercise or any physical exertion, nutrients need to be replenished so that the body’s muscles can go on contracting as normal.

Magnesium and calcium, two electrolyte minerals found in coconut water, also help to relieve muscle tension and can even address irritating muscular disturbances like restless legs or Charley horse muscle spasms.

Coconut water can even help to reduce stress-induced muscular tension, such as in the neck, head, or back. Magnesium in particular is associated with relaxation and is even used to promote better sleep, by helping the body unwind and calming the nervous system.

Supports Healthy Antioxidant Levels in the Body

The body is subject to a constant barrage of factors that can cause oxidative stress and damage in cells.

Free radicals are molecules in the body that lead to oxidative damage, and they’re typically produced in response to stress factors, inflammation, or injury. In order to protect the body from damage, you need antioxidants to counteract the effects of free radicals.

Coconut water is rich in antioxidants that can reduce free radical damage in the body, according to animal studies. (source, source)

While more research needs to be done to evaluate exactly how coconut water antioxidants work in the human body, studies so far have been promising, and coconut water’s numerous other benefits certainly make it a healthy beverage to consume regularly.

Protects Against the Effects of Diabetes

While coconut water contains a small amount of natural sugars, its high antioxidant and electrolyte levels make it a therapeutic drink for diabetes. In fact, coconut water has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels and other markers in animal studies.

It can improve the body’s usage of glucose and insulin sensitivity, leading to more balanced glucose levels over time. It can also improve hemoglobin A1c, another lab test that is often run to assess blood glucose levels. A1c gives a snapshot of average blood glucose levels over a three-month period.

Diabetes isn’t only about blood sugar. It’s also associated with inflammation and oxidative stress in tissues and cells, and coconut water has been shown to improve these other markers of diabetes. (source)

More research is needed to confirm these long-term effects in humans, but with a low carb count, it’s safe to include in any diabetic or blood-sugar friendly meal plan.

Electrolytes, especially magnesium, promote a healthy and normal response to insulin, too, which can also improve blood glucose levels in anyone with pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes.

Protects Against Kidney Stones

The kidneys are responsible for fluid balance in the body and for excreting waste via the bladder. But when the body becomes dehydrated and runs too low in fluids, the waste that accumulates in the kidneys can result in painful crystallizations that are known as kidney stones.

Research shows that coconut water is as good or better than drinking water to prevent the formation of kidney stones from dehydration. In order to prevent the formation of crystals in the urine, regular hydration needs to be maintained.

While some are genetically prone to getting stones, others will develop them as a result of being too dehydrated for too long.

How to Buy Coconut Water

You can purchase coconut water in a number of ways.

Fresh from the coconut: Instead of choosing something packaged, select a whole, young coconut from the produce section. It might be a little more work, but the purity of the product will be well worth the effort.

To open a fresh, young coconut, all you need is a corkscrew and a hammer.

At the tip of each coconut are three darker looking spots that look like eyes, or holes on a bowling ball. Use the corkscrew to puncture two of the eyes, using the hammer to drive it in if extra force is needed.

Once the two holes have been opened, turn the coconut upside down over a bowl to collect the coconut water. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Cold pressed coconut water: This is the next closest thing to fresh coconut water. Look for an organic version that is packaged with no other ingredients besides “young coconut water.” Fresh and cold pressed coconut water both retain the highest levels of nutrients.

Pasteurized coconut water: This type of coconut water has been processed with heat, meaning it has retained less vitamins and minerals. Still, if this is your only option, it’s better than nothing. Make sure it’s organic and free from other added ingredients.

Coconut water from concentrate: Avoid purchasing this type, as it is the most processed and the least rich in nutrients and health benefits. It often contains additional ingredients, flavorings, or sweeteners, too.

If coconut water tastes too bitter or unpalatable, it hasn’t come from young coconuts, but instead, has been harvested from mature coconuts. This coconut water would be lower in nutrients and would need more flavor additions to make it less bitter.

How to Drink Coconut Water

You can drink coconut water plain, but there are also other ways to make delicious homemade beverages with coconut water as the base.

Coconut water tastes great with fruits and can be used to make smoothies, kefir, or other health-boosting drinks.

The best fruits to mix with coconut water are:

  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Blueberries

To make a coconut water smoothie, start with 8-12 ounces of coconut water and add to a blender or a bullet with fruit, vegetables, and protein powder, if preferred.

For a refreshing summer treat, freeze coconut water into ice cube trays and use them in homemade juice drinks.

You can also make coconut water popsicles by blending it with strawberry or your favorite fruit, and freezing with popsicle sticks.’

Use coconut water as a natural electrolyte beverage for fever or illness, instead of store bought beverages that rely on artificial ingredients.

Bottom Line

Coconut water is a nutrient-dense, highly nutritious beverage that is health-supportive in many ways. Not only does it support heart and kidney health, but it also helps balance blood sugar, defends against kidney stones, and even helps promote muscle relaxation.

While more research is needed to further verify all of the health benefits that coconut water has to offer, studies done so far are extremely promising.

When purchasing coconut water, don’t be afraid to try extracting it yourself from fresh young coconuts, or be sure to purchase an organic, cold pressed alternative for the best nutritional benefits.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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7 Amazing Health Benefits of Coconut Water | HappyBodyFormula.com

References:

  1. Von Duvillard SP, Braun WA, Markofski M, Beneke R, Leithäuser R: Fluids and hydration in prolonged endurance performance. Nutrition. 2004, 20 (7-8): 651-6. 10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.011.
  2. Von Duvillard SP, Arciero PJ, Tietjen-Smith T, Alford K: Sports drinks, exercise training, and competition. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2008, 7 (4): 202-8.
  3. Chavalittamrong B, Pidatcha P, Thavisri U: Electrolytes, sugar, calories, osmolarity and pH of beverages and coconut water. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 1982, 13 (3): 427-31.
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anti-aging tips
Beauty & Skin Care, All posts

10 Simple Anti-Aging Tips & Foods to Slow Down Aging

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Anti-Aging Tips & Foods

Everyone gets older, that’s a given. But how the body ages has little to do with time and everything to do with lifestyle and health. There are several natural ways to keep your body, cells, and skin young, even as you naturally move forward in years.

Harness the natural power of foods, nutrients, and lifestyle hacks to keep your cells functioning optimally and to lower your risk of developing age-related health problems, like dementia and diabetes.

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The Physical Impact of Aging

Aging isn’t as simple as just getting older each year. Our cells replicate thousands of times daily, and each time a new copy is made, information must be transferred over, including the DNA from each cell.

As we get older, this replication process can start to have errors in it — little bits of information get left out, or DNA gets replicated incorrectly.

The result is what we know as a natural process of aging, but what we don’t always realize is that this process is highly dependent on factors that have nothing to do with how many candles are on our birthday cake.

The cells need certain nutrients to do their job, and when those nutrients are lacking, regardless of age, “aging” signs set in.

Other elements of modern culture can make us prematurely age, too, like junk foods, chronically stressful lifestyles, poor digestion, too little sleep, and too many hours of work.

The good news is that you can turn back the clock on how your cells are working and help halt the signs of aging. Between some dietary shifts, some lifestyle adjustments, and a few biohacking secrets, you can be well on your way to a younger-feeling version of yourself.

10 Things To Start Today to Slow the Signs of Aging

These are the top 10 anti-aging tips you need to know. Before implementing any dietary or lifestyle changes, it’s always vital to speak with your doctor first.

Drink Dark Roast Coffee

Whether you choose caffeine or decaf, dark roast coffee helps fight the aging process by maintaining DNA integrity. What does this mean?

As DNA is copied from one cell to the next, the antioxidants and other compounds in dark roast coffee help to decrease oxidative stress which is responsible for breaking DNA as it is replicated. Oxidative stress is a key sign of aging, so the lower levels you have, the more youthful your cells behave.

Coffee starts protecting your DNA immediately, literally within hours of drinking it. (1) In order to reap the benefits, you’ll need to drink it daily, with some research showing that two or three cups is the ideal daily intake.

Remember, you don’t have to drink caffeine to get these benefits, but if you choose decaf, be sure you select a water-processed version to avoid the chemicals sometimes used to strip caffeine from the beans.

Get More (and Better) Sleep

If you’re not sleeping seven or eight hours a night, or you toss and turn a lot when you’re in bed, it’s time to put some effort into fixing your sleep issues.

Research shows that a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality decreases health, reduces immunity, increases signs of aging, and can even impact how quickly your skin wrinkles. (2) Yikes!

If you’re having trouble sleeping, troubleshoot it a few ways:

  • Set a sleep routine. If you’re habitually staying up late and watching Netflix or surfing social media on your smartphone, it’s time to put the devices away and turn the TV off at least an hour before you need to be sleeping (two hours before is better). Spend time reading a real paperback book, talk with your partner or loved ones, or handwrite to-do lists for the next day. Whatever your activity, stay away from the blue light of tech devices. If you can’t, get blue-blocking glasses to help reduce the effects of technology on your brain’s sleep cycle.
  • If you’re tired but can’t fall asleep easily, ask your doctor about some natural anti-anxiety and sleep aids, like theanine or valerian root. Magnesium is also great for helping promote muscle relaxation and restful sleep.

Healthy sleep — both in enough hours and in quality of rest — is a key to not only staying young but staying healthy in every other aspect of life.

Try Collagen

A super popular supplement in the health world, collagen is renowned for the health benefits it offers for the gut, hair, and skin. These include slowing down the signs of aging on skin, but also on cells in the body.

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body, and as we age, we naturally make less.

Supplying it from dietary sources or supplements can help to maintain the elasticity of skin and the integrity of the gut wall, reducing the chances of premature aging or developing chronic disorders that can increase oxidative stress and cellular damage in the body.

Collagen peptides are a popular supplement that can be found in most health food and even grocery stores now. Collagen is also found in food sources like bone broth and bone broth protein powder.

Try HIIT Workouts

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a fast-paced but shorter duration style of exercise that uses higher intensity workouts to keep your heart-rate up higher versus walking or resistance training.

While HIIT workouts might not be for everyone, many styles of exercise can be modified to use HIIT principles.

HIIT comes with an anti-aging bonus: the higher rate of working out comes with benefits that keep cells younger, longer.

Telomeres, which are the structures at the ends of chromosomes, grow shorter as you age, but HIIT workouts can help them maintain their length and even get longer.

Practice Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting differs from true fasting because you’re still eating food, you’re just leaving longer gaps between meals. Intermittent fasting, sometimes referred to as IF, is a 12 to 18 hour gap between meals where you don’t eat any food and you only drink water, tea, or black coffee.

Most people who practice intermittent fasting begin after dinner, say around 7 PM, and then skip breakfast. If they eat lunch around noon, then they’ve just completed a 17-hour fast.

How can this be beneficial if breakfast is supposed to be the “most important meal of the day?”

IF isn’t for everyone, but research shows that it can be highly beneficial in some cases. Benefits of intermittent fasting include: (3)

  • Decreasing the risk for heart disease and diabetes, which are commonly increased with aging
  • Improving energy levels
  • Boosting brain function, memory, and ability for cognitive thinking
  • Improving insulin function and glucose levels
  • Supporting neurological health and decreasing the risk for degenerative diseases that are associated with aging

Fill Your Diet with Anti-Aging Foods

While there are many foods that are good for you, certain foods help to protect cells from oxidative stress, damage, and a faster aging process.

Eating more of these foods can help infuse the body with nutrients that slow down the results of aging, and have a lot of other benefits too, like reduced inflammation, protection from chronic disorders, and healthy hormone levels, too.

If you want to eat for anti-aging benefits, add these to your regular weekly rotation:

  • Salmon
  • Watercress
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bone broth
  • Pomegranate
  • Seaweed

Get Plenty of B Vitamins

Associated with a healthy nervous system, B vitamins have a calming presence in the body. But they’re also associated with numerous chemical and biological processes that can turn genes on or off, affecting inflammation levels, cellular health, mental health, cognitive function, and so much more.

B vitamins work best when they’re synergistically taken as a family, so if you’re supplementing, choose a B-complex that contains all of the nutrients: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, folate, and B12.

Also, make sure to choose a methylated or active form supplement since half of the population or more has a genetic mutation that makes activating the cheaper versions more difficult.

Methylated versions of B12 and folate are most important, respectively known as methylcobalamin and methylfolate (or L-5MTHF).

You can also get B vitamins from food sources. Foods that are rich in one or more B vitamins include:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Citrus fruits
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Dairy products

Focus on Hydration

We know water is important, but sometimes in the busyness of life, staying hydrated falls through the cracks. Hydration is essential for digestive, kidney, and liver health but it’s also vital for healthy skin and cells — which is how it influences the aging process.

All cells contain water, and in fact, the human body is about 60 percent water. When we run low on fluids, cellular replication processes are not as effective, the skin becomes dried out and more prone to wrinkles, and digestion can suffer, leading to a decreased absorption of the nutrients the cells need.

Dehydration or low fluid levels can also decrease the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can lead to signs of aging, too, and oxidative stress.

How much water you need can vary, but a general rule is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need to drink 75 ounces of water.

This is just a rule of thumb though, and if you’re highly active, you could need more, or you might not need quite that much. Another gauge to determine hydration level is to check the color of your urine. As odd as that sounds, if it’s almost clear or very pale yellow, you’re taking in enough fluids.

If it’s darker yellow or amber, you’re dehydrated and need more water. You can also hydrate by drinking herbal teas. While coffee, black tea, and green tea contribute to fluid intake, relying heavily on these isn’t the best since they contain caffeine, and for some, caffeine can have a dehydrating effect.

Use Anti-Aging Essential Oils on Your Skin

While a large part of the aging process occurs inside the body on a cellular level, the skin needs some extra love too if you’re going to downgrade the impact of aging.

Certain essential oils can be therapeutic for the skin and can help to nourish, hydrate, and even prevent wrinkle formation.

Some essential oils have antioxidant and skin-supporting benefits. Choose a carrier oil, like jojoba or almond, that has skin-nourishing benefits, and add your favorite combination of essential oils.

The following oils are all associated with anti-aging benefits when used topically:

  • Rosemary: improves circulation and decreases inflammation
  • Rose: antioxidant and promotes cellular renewal
  • Sandalwood: anti-inflammatory and moisturizing
  • Geranium: moisturizing and skin renewing
  • Ylang-ylang: antioxidant and damage repair
  • Frankincense: evens skin tone and decreases wrinkles
  • Lavender: antioxidant and skin brightening

Meditation and Yoga

If you want to reverse the aging process, turn to meditation and yoga. Research shows that these can so effectively reduce stress in the body, both physical and mental, that it can reverse damage in the DNA and cells that results in health problems, anxiety, and depression. (4)

Meditation and yoga both work to soothe the nervous system, cooling the “fight or flight” response that can set off a chain reaction of stress, oxidation, and DNA damage.

We live in a chronically stressed out society, which is partly why yoga and meditation can be so therapeutic: slowing down, breathing deeply, and refocusing the mind has far-reaching benefits that go so far as to optimize how cells function.

In order to reap the benefits of yoga and meditation, you need to practice them regularly. Working them into a regular part of your daily or weekly routine can lead to improved mental health, physical health, and yes — decreased signs of aging and DNA damage on a cellular level.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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10 Simple Anti-Aging Tips & Foods to Slow Down Aging | HappyBodyFormula.com

References

1. Cevenini E, Invidia L, Lescai F, Salvioli S, Tieri P, Castellani G, et al. Human models of aging and longevity. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2008;8:1393–405. doi: 10.1517/14712598.8.9.1393. [PubMed]

2. How to select anti-aging skin care products. American Academy of Dermatology.

3. Wrinkle treatments and other anti-aging products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

4. Saluja S, et al. A holistic approach to anti-aging as an adjunct to anti-aging procedures: A review of the literature. Dermatologic Surgery. 

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