QUIET YOUR MIND

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In the midst of the constant hustle and bustle of life, how do you just quiet your mind and escape from reality for a few seconds? No, there’s no magic pill. But it’s close enough- yoga. Yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. You see pictures of people doing beautiful yoga poses on mountain tops, the beach, or in other exotic charming places. Peaceful, serenity. Silencing the world. Nothing more than being in the moment, then and there. Concentrating on each breath you take. Inhale a deep breath of fresh air, rib cage expanding, exhale and release stress, worry, and tension.  

Aside from building strength, muscle definition, and increasing flexibility, yoga has many positive benefits on the mind, body, and soul, as a whole. Quieting the mind is one of the most important things yoga can do, along with energize the body, improve digestion, and even be therapeutic.

 

Health benefits yoga has to offer:

  • Improved circulation

  • Regular yoga practice has been shown to normalize blood pressure

  • Improve joint mobility and flexibility

  • Improve posture

  • Ease muscle tension

  • Reduce stress/ anxiety

  • Increased feeling of calm

  • Improves balance

  • Gives you inner strength

Meditation can be a big aspect of yoga for some. The idea of meditation is mental stillness, quieting the mind. This is achieved when the body, mind and senses are brought into balance. The nervous system relaxes. Yoga sequences can be done for relaxation, to reduce pain, increase flexibility, and even energize.

Yoga pose for meditation:

Quarter Lotus Pose

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Yoga pose to calm and relieve stress:

Downward Dog

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Yoga pose good for low back health:

Cat Cow

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Yoga pose to improve concentration:

Mountain pose

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If you haven’t given yoga a try, it’s definitely something to consider. Whether it be at home following a yoga video, or attending a yoga class. Yoga has so many great benefits to offer and very much impacts the body in a positive way.

TRY THIS MEDITATION!

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is so common that it's likely you know at least one person with this functional disorder. It primarily affects women, in fact, studies show that 2 out of 3 cases of IBS are women. An estimated 12% of people in the United States suffer from IBS. The month of April is IBS awareness month, aiming to educate and inform the public on this functional gastrointestinal disorder.

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What is IBS?      

Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional GI disorder affecting the large intestine. IBS is a chronic condition and symptoms vary person to person. Functional GI disorders means the intestines don’t work properly resulting in a group of signs and symptoms including:

  •         Cramping

  •         Abdominal pain

  •         Bloating

  •         Gas

  •         Diarrhea

  •         Constipation

There are different types of IBS: IBS- C (with constipation), IBS- D (with diarrhea), IBS- M (with mixed bowel habits).

What causes IBS?

Though the cause is unknown, doctors have some ideas of what might be the culprit. Functional GI disorders refer to problems with the gut- brain interaction. This can cause the food to move too fast or too slow through the digestive tract, resulting in a handful of the symptoms described above. Stress, mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, bacterial infections in the gut, SIBO in the small intestine, and food intolerances are all possible causes of IBS as well.

How can you keep IBS under control?

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While there are medications, depending on what type of IBS you have, medication alone sometimes isn’t enough to keep symptoms as bay. It’s important to know what triggers your IBS so you can avoid it. Common triggers include:

  •        Stress

  •         Processed foods

  •         Carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee

  •         Dairy products

  •         Gluten (For some people, not all)

  •         Eating large meals/ eating too quickly

  •         Fatty/ fried foods


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Tips for keeping symptoms under control:

  •         Don’t stress! Easier said than done, I know. During times of high stress, find something relaxing to do to help reduce your stress.

  •         Keep a journal and log what you eat and any symptoms, that way you can find what food may be triggering your symptoms.

  •         Practice healthy habits and eat a well-balanced diet, cutting out processed, fried, sugary foods.

  •         Drink plenty of water

  •         Eat slowly

  •         Exercise regularly

  •         Get adequate sleep



 

Inflammation and Food

When you hear the word inflammation what comes to mind? The redness and swelling that can occur around a cut finger? External inflammation can be easy to spot, but what about the inflammation that goes on internally?

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Inflammation is our bodies way of protecting itself against harm, it’s a response that the immune system is in charge of. From a splinter in your toe to germs in the body, signals are sent out that there is a harmful irritant invading the body and the immune system goes to work.

Inflammation sounds all good and helpful, right? Well not always. In some cases, the immune system actually mistakes the body’s own cells as foreign invaders and attacks them. When this persists, the chronic inflammation is harmful and can result in disease. Chronic inflammatory diseases can last anywhere from a few years to a lifetime. A few examples of diseases associated with inflammation are: diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

While yes, as with anything there are medications to control inflammation, but is that the only way? What if the answer to controlling your inflammation wasn’t just a bottle of pills, but also in your kitchen? That’s right, we’re talking about food!

Just like the foods that are unhealthy for us such as fried foods, sugar loaded beverages, excessive red meat, and refined carbohydrates, those too create an increased risk for chronic diseases and inflammation. These unhealthy foods also create weight gain, leading to obesity, which is a risk factor for inflammation.

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Now to the good part, let’s talk about anti-inflammatory foods. In order to reduce inflammation, you want to consume a healthy diet. Aim for a diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and health fats.

Top anti-inflammatory foods:

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  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)

  • Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries)

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)

  • Olive oil

  • Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies)

  • Turmeric

  • Ginger

  • Flaxseed

  • Chia seeds

  • Dark chocolate

While the list of anti-inflammatory foods can go on and on, it’s best to load up on these beneficial foods and replace the refined, processed, fried foods you consume. Your body will thank you!

Easy ways to sneak anti-inflammatory foods into your meals:

  • If you’re having grilled chicken, fish, or whatever meat it may be, try placing it on a bed of greens such as spinach.

  • Fruit smoothies are a great way to get a variety of fruits in, try adding some flaxseed or chia seed to your smoothie, or simply top your yogurt with some flax or chia seed.

  • Sautee some vegetables, including some leafy greens, in olive oil.

  • Add turmeric to rice, vegetables, soups, smoothies, and even tea.

  • Eat dark chocolate- any time! It’ll make your taste buds happy, boost your mood, and reduce inflammation!


 
 

Colorectal Cancer: the more you know…

 
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The month of March is known as colorectal cancer awareness month. The goal is to raise awareness and talk about prevention. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer related deaths. Risk increases with age, therefore it’s important that men and women 50-75 years old are regularly screened. Those under 50 who feel they have an increased risk, should talk to their doctor about early screening. Many deaths resulting from colorectal cancer could have been prevented with regular screening.

What is colorectal cancer and what are the symptoms?

The colon is the large part of the intestine, the end of the digestive tract. A majority of colon cancer cases begin with noncancerous polyps in the colon. They can be in the colon for years before becoming cancerous. Screening can catch precancerous polyps and they can be removed before turning into cancer. In the early stages, colon cancer may present few to no symptoms at all. Possible symptoms include:

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⦁ Change in bowel habits

⦁ Rectal bleeding, or blood in stool

⦁ Unintentional weight loss

⦁ Persistent stomach pains, aches, or cramps

⦁ Weakness or fatigue

⦁ A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely

 

What are risk factors for colorectal cancer?

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⦁ 50 years and older

⦁ Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)

⦁ Family history of colorectal cancer

⦁ Low fiber/ high fat diet

⦁ Sedentary lifestyle

⦁ Diabetes

⦁ Obesity

⦁ Smoking

⦁ Excessive alcohol use

Is a colonoscopy the only way to be screened?

While colonoscopy is one way to be screened for colorectal cancer, there are other options as well. Talk to your doctor to decide which test is best for you.

⦁ Stool test- checks stool for blood or cancer cells.

⦁ Flexible sigmoidoscopy- checks for polyps/ cancer in the rectum and lower third of the colon.

⦁ Colonoscopy- checks for polyps/ cancer in rectum and entire colon.

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⦁ CT Colonography- a virtual colonoscopy that uses computers to produce images of the entire colon.

Finally, how can I lower my risk for colorectal cancer?

⦁ Cancer screening

⦁ Consume a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

⦁ Get plenty of physical activity

⦁ Maintain a healthy weight

⦁ Stop smoking

⦁ Drink alcohol in moderation

Spread the word about colorectal cancer to friends and family, not just during the month of March, but all year round! Encourage loved ones 50 years and older to get screened.

For more information check out:

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20353669

Vitamins: Myth vs Fact

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Do you take a daily vitamin? If you have kids, do you give them a daily vitamin? Even your pets?  

The word vitamin is thrown around all the time, but just what are vitamins?!

They are a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition in the human body. There are two groups of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins- A, D, E, and K dissolve in fat. Since these vitamins are stored in the body, extremely large amounts of them can potentially be toxic. Water soluble vitamins on the other hand- B and C, dissolve in water and are excreted in urine, therefore aren’t stored in the body and the body needs B and C vitamins replenished each day.

Vitamins are a popular topic and surrounding the topic of vitamins are a lot of misconceptions!

Let’s tackle a few of the most popular ones:

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“I only need vitamins when I’m sick.”

Ever feel a cold coming on, get a stuffy nose, sore throat, feel miserable, and people say, “drink orange juice!” Why? Because it’s rich in vitamin C! While vitamins do help boost the immune system, especially vitamin C, it’s more important to regularly nourish your body with vitamins to strengthen the immune system rather than loading up on the vitamins trying to fight a virus off after it already hits!

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“The more the better.”

More is better, yes in some cases, not when it comes to vitamins though! The body only needs vitamins and minerals in small amounts, it’s not advantageous to take more than the recommended dose, in fact, it can even be harmful. Fat soluble vitamins for example, such as vitamin A, in large excess can lead to dizziness, nausea, headaches, even death in extreme cases. High amounts of vitamin D, another fat soluble vitamin, can lead to nausea, vomiting, constipation, and kidney damage. While yes, water soluble vitamins aren’t stored in the body, but megadoses can be harmful. Vitamin C for example, the recommended daily amount is 65-90 milligrams, the upper limit is 2,000 milligrams a day. A megadose of vitamin C can cause symptoms such as: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heart burn, abdominal cramps, headache, and insomnia.   

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“I get everything I need from food.”

If you eat a very healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, then yes you probably get a good number of essential vitamins and minerals. But, did you know that still a wide variety of these nutrients are hard to come by through modern diets alone? This is due to many environmental factors, not least of all is the nutrient depletion in today’s soil and water. In addition, the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis also attack our body’s nutrient supply. This has led to a wide variety of health deficiencies in which vitamin supplementation has been recommended. Also, a lot of people are deficient in vitamin D, especially during the winter months. It is also worth noting that those following specific diets such as vegan or vegetarian, need to be sure they’re getting appropriate amounts of B12, D, along with omega’s, from sources other than meat, or consider taking a good vitamin.

It’s always good to talk to your doctor before starting any new vitamins or supplements.

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