All posts by Allison Daughtery

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Avocados – The Perfect Food or Funky Fruit?

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Shopping for healthy foods can be confusing. Many foods products claim to be “healthy”, “all-natural”, “organic” or “low fat”. But how do you know if these words are real benefits or just clever marketing schemes? If your food comes in a box or a package, it is likely not as healthy as it claims. If you base the majority of your diet around whole foods, you will be making a much wiser investment in your health.

This Healthy Food Friday series will help you learn to identify the difference. You will also learn more about the amazing benefits of whole foods along with delicious ways to enjoy them.

Avocados have been shown to help promote heart health, help to reverse diabetes, and even fight cancer. Those are some amazing powers from a little green fruit with a hard, leather-like skin.

Before my days as a Wellness Achiever, I would walk right past avocados in the grocery store. Usually I avoided the entire produce section, actually. I wondered, what in the world would you do with that? How do you even eat an avocado? Why would anyone eat avocados?

Well, I am glad that I learned about these amazing little fruits. After discovering the delicious nutrition they provide, I now consume avocados almost daily. Once you learn about these health benefits, you will want to do the same. In fact, I will give you quite the advantage by also providing you with several wonderful ways to prepare and enjoy avocados.

Amazing Health Benefits of Avocados

Much can be said about the healthy nutrition of avocados. Here are my top five.

Heart Healthy Fats – The avocado is an unusual fruit in the fact that 85% of its calories come from fat. However, the type of fat in avocados is actually very healthy. They have about 160 milligrams of healthy Omega-3 fats per cup of sliced avocado. These fats are a big reason why avocados are very heart healthy. These fats also help you absorb other fat soluble vitamins and nutrients from your diet as well.

Fight Free Radicals – Avocados contain the highest amount of glutathione of all plants. Glutathione is powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight free radicals, prevent early aging and rid your body of toxins.

Anti-inflammatory – An anti-inflammatory diet is very important for fat loss, healing from injuries and maintaining good health. Avocados are one of best anti-inflammatory foods.

Cancer Fighting Carotenoids – Carotenoids are a group of powerful, plant-based, fat soluble antioxidants that fight and prevent cancer. They give plants many of their bright colors. Avocados are rich in many carotenoids including as lutein, beta-carotene and neoxanthin. They fat content of avocados helps your body absorb with antioxidants more effectively.

Blood Sugar Regulation – Avocados are very low in sugar and carbohydrates and very high in fiber. Avocado also contains special types of sugars that provide energy but do not affect your blood sugar levels the way that glucose and fructose do. This combination makes them great for diabetics looking to control blood sugar naturally.

How to Cut, Slice and Dice an Avocado With Ease

It may seem very difficult to prepare an avocado at first. However, it is actually quite simple. Here’s how:

5 Delicious Ways to Eat Avocados

Sliced over salad – This is one of the simplest ways to regularly enjoy avocados. They add a rich texture to your salad. They also compliment the flavor the other vegetables and the salad dressing as well.

Chopped as garnish for soups – Avocados add a delightful color and texture to a black bean soup, a spicy curry soup or butternut squash soup. Dice them and place them on top of your soup for a quick, colorful, healthy addition.

Guacamole – This is another easy way to prepare avocados. Simply cut and peel one or more avocados, place them in a bowl and mash them. You can use a an electric mixer to make a creamy guacamole or just use a fork to make it a little chunky. Then you can mix in any spices you like such as salt, garlic, or red pepper. I also like to add a little lime or lemon juice as well. It can be enjoyed with tortilla chips or sliced celery or added to other recipes. Here is a delicious, slightly more sophisticated guacamole recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse – What!? Yes, you can even use avocados to make a scrumptious, healthy chocolate mousse. This is certainly one of my favorites! Here is a quick and easy recipe for chocolate mousse made with avocado.

Avocado & Tomato Bruschetta – I love bruschetta and avocados definitely make it much healthier. Slice your avocados and tomatoes. Toast some bread – preferably a sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel Bread. Cut the toasted bread into four squares, lightly drizzle with olive oil/italian seasoning mix, then top with sliced avocado and tomato. Absolutely delicious and nutritious appetizer!

Avocados are certainly one of the healthiest foods you can buy. They pack a powerful nutritional punch. Are they the perfect food or a funky fruit? Both! Begin enjoying avocados today.

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Benefits of Vitamin D That We Should Be Talking About

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Last week we looked at a few of the supplements that might be necessary to take if you consume a plant-based diet. One such supplement that I mentioned was vitamin D; the sunshine vitamin. This fat soluble hormone is typically known for promoting healthy bones, which it does well. But there is increasing evidence to suggest that it plays many other important roles in the body, regardless of dietary preferences.

A recent podcast interview with biomedical scientist Dr.Rhonda Patrick brought to light some of these benefits, many of which are rarely talked about. Dr. Patrick’s latest study showed that vitamin D plays a key role in the synthesis of serotonin [1], the hormone responsible for mood regulation. Low levels of serotonin are also linked to Autism, and the study concludes that vitamin D supplementation may be a practical solution to help prevent the disease and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Having optimum vitamin D levels has also been linked to a slowing down of the ageing process, and an overall lower risk of mortality [2]. A 2007 study compared the serum vitamin D levels in a large population based cohort of twins, and found that those with higher vitamin D levels also had a longer Leukocyte telomere lengths (LTL) [3]. Longer LTL is associated with slower ageing, and lower rates of inflammation. This is supported by the fact that the subjects in the study with the lowest amounts of serum vitamin D also had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.

A slowing down of the ageing process brings with it a reduced risk of developing age related disease. A 2008 study showed that a vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease [4]. A pooled analysis study in 2007 also showed that vitamin D could play a role in preventing breast cancer [5], and a paper published in 2001 showed a potential for vitamin D to reduce the risk of developing type-1 diabetes [6].

It is clear that vitamin D plays an important role in the in maintaining lasting wellness, and it will be interesting to see what future research will unveil. Vitamin D is thought to be involved in expressing over a thousand different genes throughout the body, so having the right levels in your blood is crucial. A 2009 review study concluded that blood levels of vitamin D between 35 to 40 ng/ml may be optimum for preventive health [7].

As I mentioned last week, I take a vitamin D-3 supplement as it is more bio available than vitamin D-2. The amount you need to take for optimum levels in the blood will vary however, as many factors can affect the amount of the vitamin you can absorb (such as body fat percentage). I recommend getting your blood levels checked before using any supplements, to verify what is personally right for you.

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Dietary Supplement Users are More Likely to Receive Necessary Nutrients, Make Better Health Decisions

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Often enough, especially recently, Natural News has been fending off mainstream medical attacks on supplements. The mainstream media supports whatever biased and bogus reports mainstream researchers release, probably because a lot of advertising money comes from Big Pharma and the rest of the Medical Mafia.

And also because of what Mike Adams said in a December 17, 2013, Natural News article: “Mainstream media reporters are, by and large, outrageously ignorant about nutrition, isolated nutrients, whole foods, the games Big Pharma plays, the corruption of the science journals and so on.”

The most recent supplement and multivitamin attacks got a lot of favorable press. And they gave the ghoulish Dr. Paul Offit of “babies can tolerate 1,000 vaccinations at the same time” fame another platform for promoting his new book that rails against vitamin and mineral supplements, herbs and Linus Pauling.

Although not with same impact as the attacks on supplements that were featured in several major mainstream outlets, a counterattack has been launched and recently published as a study in the peer-reviewed Nutrition Journal.

Naturally, the lamestream media hasn’t run with the story and probably won’t even walk with it.

Here’s what the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) published

The study was titled “Health Habits and Other Characteristics of Supplement Users.”

CRN conducted a mega-study of 20 different peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and found that, “overall, the evidence suggests that users of dietary supplements are seeking wellness and are consciously adopting a variety of lifestyle habits that they consider to contribute to healthy living.”

CRN noted that over half of US supplement users were covered in the 20 studies they reviewed. Contrary to the notions spread by supplement naysayers, most of those surveyed used supplement-based strategies to bolster better food choices instead of using supplements to replace the nutritional void from poor food choices and sedentary lifestyles.

In other words, supplement users were not ignoring food for nutrition. The mega-study determined that those who took supplements also made better nutritional choices with foods than their non-supplement consumer counterparts, who usually made poorer food choices.

The study revealed that enriching or fortifying foods helped increase nutritional values, but combining supplements with whole foods had more impact toward increasing nutritional intake. There was no mention of organic food comparisons in the CRN press release.

But the study’s bottom line that supplement users were more concerned about taking responsibility for their health and were doing so successfully could be what the medical mafia doesn’t want others to know. Ya think?

The most ignored supplements are the most important – minerals

In 1936, journalist Rex Beach covered a maverick MD’s agricultural research in a lengthy article published in Cosmopolitan magazine. The MD, Dr. Charles Northen, had turned to soil science, because he realized that nutrition is the basis of health, and our crops, even in 1936, were lacking minerals due to poor top soil mineral balances.

He advocated doing what small organic farmers are discovering now, ways to balance the soil’s mineral composition so that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides wouldn’t be necessary, and the crop foods would be more nutritious.

“Bear in mind that minerals are vital to human metabolism and health [emphasis added] – and that no plant or animal can appropriate to itself any mineral which is not present in the soil upon which it feeds,” asserted Dr. Northen. “Lacking vitamins, the system can make some use of minerals, but lacking minerals, vitamins are useless.”

The article was entered into the U.S. Senate archives as Senate Document 264, 74th Congress, 1936. Of course, it went nowhere. Big Ag flourished with the “Green Revolution” in the mid-1940s, and things only got worse until the organic food movement accelerated after the 1960s.

Minerals are even more important than vitamins. For example, most Americans are magnesium deficient, yet magnesium is involved in over 300 cellular metabolic processes. And vitamins don’t perform as well without minerals.

There are macrominerals, measured in milligrams, and trace minerals, measured in micrograms. Both types are essential, because the body doesn’t manufacture them. They should be taken from food, but most food coming from depleted top soils are lacking. So mineral supplements are necessary.

Just what types of mineral supplements are most effective is covered very well by the iconoclastic chiropractor Dr. Tim Shea of the Doctor Within.

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Sufficient Sleep is Essential to Fuel Weight Loss Efforts

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We all understand the importance of sleeping seven to nine hours each night to allow for adequate cellular housekeeping, as the body metabolizes and synthesizes enzymes and proteins that are critical to our survival. In the past, a sound sleep has been shown to lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes and dementia in direct relationship to the number of hours slept each evening.

Canadian researchers publishing the Canadian Medical Association Journal have released the result of a study showing that adequate sleep is an important part of a weight loss plan and should be added to the recommended mix of diet and exercise. In addition to lowering caloric intake and increasing physical activity, the research team led by Dr. Jean-Phillippe Chaput of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa has provided sufficient evidence to show that inadequate sleep is an independent risk factor for overweight and obesity.

Scientists determined that lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones. Dr. Chaput explained “The solution to weight loss is not as simple as eat less, move more, sleep more… however, an accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity.”

Seven to nine hours of sleep are needed daily to aid weight loss efforts

Many different factors affect body weight including predisposition to handling stress, depression and genetic individuality. Adequate and sound sleep can improve or eliminate each of these risk factors, and can also regulate the hormones leptin and ghrelin to lower food cravings and naturally promote a normal weight range. Naturally, reducing or eliminating insulin-producing processed carbohydrate foods and cutting sugar from the diet are necessary to stimulate weight loss in many people.

The authors of this study did not provide an exact mechanism to explain how adequate sleep assists weight loss, but they did explain that a lack of sleep affects the parts of the brain that control pleasure eating. Further, the scientists indicate that levels of the hormones leptin, ghrelin, cortisol and orexin, all of which are involved in appetite or eating, are affected by lack of sleep.

Dr. Chaput concluded “An accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity.” Continuing research studies validate the critical importance of a sound night’s sleep of between seven and nine hours each night to protect against chronic disease and to aid weight management efforts.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917123926.htm
http://www.calgaryherald.com
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-09/cmaj-ash091112.php

 

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Replace Mood Busters in Your Diet with Mood Boosters

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Remember the joy swell up inside when you simply went to the ice cream shop for your favorite cone on a hot sunny day? Isn’t it funny how you suddenly feel at peace when you sit back and let pure milk chocolate slowly melt on your tongue?

It may sound silly, but junk food could actually be contributing to your bad moods and even be a factor in depression. Yep, even though it makes you feel so good right then, while you’re in the moment, you might wanna consider not enjoying that sweet next time.

There have been multiple studies conducted that cited there are links between eating junk food and depression. And the evidence just seems to be adding up. Researchers are actively trying to pinpoint exactly how and why it happens, but here’s what we already know…

Anu Ruusunen, from the University of Eastern Finland, brought forward her analysis on the Kuipio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. She believes that the participants in this population based study who strived to eat plenty of berries, fish, low fat cheese, veggies, fruit and whole grains were at a lower risk of depression. Not only for the time being or immediate future, but throughout the entire follow up time. Those who ate junk food such as high-sugar treats, hot dogs and chips weren’t so lucky.

It really was no surprise, though. Then, last year the Public Health Nutrition Journal published another study. This time, they actually gave definitive numbers. According to their findings, if you eat junk food then you have more than a 50 percent chance to develop symptoms related to depression. The more junk food you choose to eat, the higher the risk you have for depression.

To be fair, you need to keep in mind that these studies do not show a definitive link, a specific cause and effect reaction. They don’t know the how or the why – only the fact that it’s obvious something is going on here.

So for now, we think it’s a good idea just to start looking for alternative feel good goodies… those that will actually help you feel good all the time and overall instead of just for a few moments.

Here are just a few ways you can be proactive and start using mood-boosting foods instead of bringing yourself down with junk food that will almost certainly contribute to depression:

Get Enough Vitamin B

Other studies have clearly shown that a diet rich in Vitamin B can help prevent depression and mood-related disorders. Where do you get this from? Lean poultry and fish. If you prefer not to eat meat, then eat plenty of leafy green veggies like spinach.

Get Nutty

The majority of the time, nuts have lots of magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that contributes to the production of serotonin: the good mood chemical in your brain. The best nuts to choose are almonds, peanuts and cashews (yum!)

Keep Vitamin D on Hand

Vitamin D supplements are one of the best ways to get this vitamin. Yes, you get it from the sun, but let’s be honest… most of us aren’t in the sun that much anymore.