The Sweet Truth about Chocolate

Health Benefits of Chocolate

“Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate is a salad.”

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That saying is true, technically, chocolate IS a plant. However, it doesn’t contain quite the same benefits as salad. It’s not typically low calorie like salad either (unfortunately). Believe it or not, chocolate does have some positive health benefits of its own!

The Theobroma cacao, a tropical tree mostly found in Africa, grows cacao pods. First, the pods are harvested which involved breaking them open to get the beans inside. Next, the beans are fermented, which changes them to a dark brown color. Finally, the beans are dried and then shipped to factories.

In the factory, the cacao beans are roasted at high temperatures then cracked open, which turns into cacao nibs. An edible form of chocolate, but super bitter! From there, the cacao nibs are crushed down into a thick paste and combined with cocoa butter, milk, vanilla, sugar, and soy lecithin. Finally, after running the chocolate mixture through a series of machines, heating it, cooling it, and melting it into molds, you have chocolate!

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Let’s back up to the cacao nibs. Organic, raw cacao is known as a superfood due to it being nutrient dense and rich in phytonutrients and flavonoids such as sulfur, magnesium, and phenylethylamine. This mood boosting superfood is known to improve focus and alertness. Consuming pure cacao can be a source of fiber and iron as well, promoting bowel regularity and preventing anemia. This is not true however with just any chocolate bar at the grocery store, only cacao nibs and pure cacao.

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Now, onto good ol’ chocolate. That delicious sweet, smooth, rich chocolate doesn’t only taste good, but in small amounts is also good for you! We aren’t talking about just any chocolate, we’re talking about dark chocolate- the higher the percentage the better. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants that aid in protecting our bodies from disease and damage by neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants aren’t the only ones that deserve the spotlight in dark chocolate, flavonoids deserve it as well! Dark chocolate, rich with flavonoids, have been shown to improve heart health. Studies have shown that the consumption of flavonoid rich chocolate has a positive effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, and circulation. (1)  

As always, consume dark chocolate in moderation along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. So next time you’re at the grocery store, find yourself some dark chocolate, and enjoy a sweet treat and positive health benefits as well!

             
             


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Psst…Speaking of those good for you flavonoids found in dark chocolate…resveratrol, the most studied flavonoid of all is now available in supplement form in a highly absorbable, concentrated form! Check out all the heart, brain and anti-aging benefits of Nature’s Edge ResveraGel™ HERE!

Autoimmune Diseases and Inflammation

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What is an autoimmune disease?

An autoimmune disease results when the immune system gets out of control and mistakes the body’s cells as foreign invaders, attacks them as it would a virus, and causes damage to healthy tissues. The job of the immune system is to protect you from disease and fight off infections, but when it starts attacking its own healthy cells it becomes a real problem. Researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have noticed that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and aren’t sure why. In particular: lupus, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes. Studies in the past have shown that factors such as environment and genetics play a role in autoimmune disease development. Our rapidly changing environment may be to blame for the increasing rates.

Who can develop an autoimmune disease?

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Anyone can develop an autoimmune disease at any time in their life. Genetics has been shown to play a role, therefore some people may be more prone to developing certain diseases than others. In other situations, a viral infection such as mononucleosis, may be enough to trigger the onset of an autoimmune disease.

There are over 80 autoimmune diseases and one variable that nearly all of them have in common is inflammation. Controlling inflammation is so important and aside from prescription medication, nutrition can play a huge role. Anti-inflammatory diets typically consist of fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids), healthy fats (oils), fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits (full of antioxidants). Foods to avoid include: processed foods, foods high in saturated fats and sugars.

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Studies have been done on meatless diets such as vegan and vegetarian, and the effectiveness in reducing inflammation, pain, and morning stiffness. In a small study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2015, on a vegan diet, the C-reactive protein was greatly reduced in participants after only three weeks. In another study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2010, 53 participants followed a vegan diet for three and a half months. The participants experienced improvement in tender/ swollen joints, morning stiffness, and grip strength compared to the control group. Even after a year, and transitioning to a lacto-vegetarian diet, they continued to see improvement in symptoms. One downfall to vegan and vegetarian diets are deficiencies in vitamins such as B-12, which is plentiful in meat. It’s important to mention to your doctor if you do decide to cut meat out entirely, so they can monitor your B-12 levels if needed.    

Supplementation:

So, you’re implementing an anti-inflammatory diet and want to add in something extra to fight inflammation, here are a few options!

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Boswellia

  • Supports joint health and mobility

  • Natural anti-inflammation support

  • Supports healthy immune function

  • Assists in curbing joint pain

  • Supports a stronger metabolism

Curcu-Gel® (curcumin)

  • Helps maintain healthy joints

  • Supports cardiovascular health

  • Supports a healthy immune system

  • Helps neutralize damaging free radicals

  • Assists the body's natural response to inflammation

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Omega-Gel® (fish oil)

  • Omega-3 from wild caught fish

  • Highly purified Omega-3*

  • High potency - 400mg EPA and 200mg DHA

  • Promotes heart health

  • Supports brain cell function

  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties

  • Assists healthy cholesterol levels

  • Promotes healthy immune function

 

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
— E.E. Cummings

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Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others and keeps you grounded, focused and alert. It also helps you to release anger and be more forgiving. With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free and easy to use.*

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells - improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect against cardiovascular problems.

Laughter may help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.**

*Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Helpguide.org, Sept 2018.

**Cancer Treatment Centers of America® currently uses Laughter Therapy in their treatments.


LAUGHING IS CONTAGIOUS SO LET’S LAUGH MORE

  • Smile - smiling is the beginning of laughter.

  • Count your blessings - they will make you smile.

  • When you hear laughter, move towards it.

  • Spend time with fun, playful people.

  • Bring humor to conversations.

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously - lighten up.


Scientifically Speaking…

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“Laughter therapy gives our body various physiological changes, and has an influence on the physical temperature, blood pressure, lung capacity, heart rate, muscles in the musculoskeletal system, and brain activity, so it can have an overall effect in promoting health (Hayashi et al. 2007; Bennett and Lengacher 2009). Mentally, laughter therapy helps reduce unpleasant feelings such as tension, anxiety, hatred, and anger, alleviates feelings of depression, aids better interpersonal relationships, and improves insomnia, memory failure, and dementia (Takeda et al. 2010; Bains et al. 2015) … Laughter is a positive sensation, and seems to be a useful and healthy way to overcome stress. Decreasing stress-making hormones found in the blood, laughter can mitigate the effects of stress (Farifteh et al. 2014) … Therefore, it is effective and scientifically supported as either a single or adjuvant therapy. - from Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review 


 
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Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
— Mark Twain

FRIENDLY FATS AND YOUR HEART

Yes! We are talking about the all important Omega-3 fatty acids!

We can get high amounts of omega-3 fats from fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies; also from several high-fat plant foods such as flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds and soybeans and in dietary supplements: Nature’s Edge highly purified and wild caught Omegagel® Fish Oil capsules.

Today we are focusing on CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH and the extensive research that has been done on EPA and DHA of Omega-3s specifically and their benefits.

“Most Americans (95.7%) are below the cardio-protective levels of omega-3 fatty acids – without even knowing it. A 2017 publication reported that low omega-3 intake was estimated to contribute to 54,626 cardiometabolic deaths.” [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5852674/pdf/nihms946949.pdf]

The many benefits that have been concluded through clinical studies and research are listed below with their substantiated research links for further reading.

Healthy Blood Vessels

Omega-3s support healthy blood vessels by decreasing arterial stiffness and increasing endothelial function.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=22317966

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23029372

Reduce Blood Pressure

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An analysis of randomized controlled trials found statistically significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, a risk factor for coronary heart disease. This is as effective as lifestyle changes, like increasing physical activity, and restricting alcohol or sodium intake.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054797/pdf/hpu024.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24610882


Lowers Triglycerides

Studies have demonstrated a 20-40% reduction in serum triglycerides with increased intake of EPA and DHA omega-3s.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875260/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9571330

Reduces Heart Disease Risk

A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that EPA and DHA omega-3 consumption may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, particularly in higher risk populations – a 16 percent reduction in those with high triglycerides and a 14 percent reduction in those with high LDL cholesterol. These findings are particularly relevant for the management of coronary heart disease risk.

https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(16)30681-4/pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5183535/pdf/nihms833377.pdf

Reduction In Atrial Fibrillation

While the role of omega-3s in the prevention or treatment of atrial fibrillation is not yet fully established, there does appear to be strong evidence suggesting a role in reducing post-operative atrial fibrillation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22681963

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27293143


Omega-3s and Healthful Eating

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People should get most of their nutrients from food, advises the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. 



STATEMENTS ON THIS WEBSITE HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.







NEWS FLASH: Studies Show That We Can Grow NEW Brain Cells Later in Life!

It was previously believed that the brain cells you had in your 20s were all you were allotted. New research shows the exact opposite! Adults with healthy brains are capable of growing new brain cells much later in life through a process called neurogenesis. These new neurons grow in the hippocampus and contribute to improved mood and better memory formation. They also help stop the decline in memory function and mood that traditionally come with aging. FASCINATING! Basically, this process helps you stay youthful into your later years!

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So how do we make sure we are well-positioned to generate these new cells into our later years?

Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret gave the following tips in a recent TED talk[1]:

·      Stimulate your brain! Exposing your brain to new and novel ideas, travel, continued learning, mnemonic devices, reading, etc. all help to stimulate the hippocampus and generate new neurons.

·      Decrease stress! Stress hinders the neurogenesis process, so any ways you can find to decrease or handle better the stress in your life will assist in your efforts to generate new brain cells.

·      Prioritize sleep! This is prime time for the body to take care of itself. This includes the brain. Getting proper sleep (a recommended 7-9 hours per night) is so important to keeping the body AND the mind energized, healthy and happy…do not skimp on sleep.

·      Get busy in bed! And when you aren’t sleeping…Sex can stimulate neuron growth by increasing blood flow to the brain. Yippee! Sex also releases happy chemicals (endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin) and can be great for aiding sleep and decreasing stress.

·      Exercise! Moderate to vigorous exercise gets your blood flowing and releases happy chemicals (endorphins, serotonin, dopamine). People who exercise are proven to be sharper, happier and more energetic.

·      Make healthy food choices! Keep calories down, eat flavonoids (berries, dark chocolate), consume omega 3 fatty acids (fatty fish, nuts, seeds, etc) decrease alcohol consumption (best choice is red wine because of resveratrol makes this “neurogenesis neutral” choice) and avoid foods with trans-fat. Also, according to Japanese research, a soft diet impairs neurogenesis. It is better to choose foods that require chewing or crunching to increase neurogenesis.

·      Choose supplements carefully! Many supplements on the market today are promoted specifically for their brain health benefits. Of course a great multi-vitamin will benefit your whole body. But also, Nature’s Edge® offers several different supplements that have huge brain benefits:

o   Omega-gel – Highly purified, wild caught omega fish oil with a high DHA content, which is great support for the brain.

o   Curcugel – This turmeric supplement is specially formulated for maximum absorption. Studies suggest that turmeric can support the connections between brain cells and supports the production of a protein in the brain responsible for cell survival, maturation and maintenance.

o   QGel® - CoenzymeQ10 supports the cellular energy production process in both the heart and the brain. QGel® is a highly bioavailable form of coenzymeQ10, proven to have a 3x the absorption rate in the body of other coenzymeQ10 supplements.

 

[1] Taken from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/neurogenesis-how-to-grow-new-brain-cells_us_56253c16e4b0bce347019a2c


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