Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2009

If you have always been warned about the pitfalls of this tasty treat then it is time to think again- chocolate and good health are connected.

What, are you believing this?! Chocolate could actually be good for you! Whoo hoo!

This is amazing news for chocolate lovers everywhere! Research studies have proven that chocolate can benefit the heart. Some studies even go so far as to suggest that chocolate can work in the same capacity as aspirin when it comes to preventing heart attacks and reducing blood clots.

It is important to stop here before you get too excited and let you know that the health benefits of chocolate extend only to dark chocolate and not to milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has more of a bitter “grown-up” taste to it than milk chocolate but can be equally as tasty (and no longer is it a sinful treat to indulge in!).

Before we proceed further with the discussion of dark chocolate’s benefits, bear in mind that chocolate is still chocked full of fat and sugar and therefore should always be eaten in small quantities, and should not become a daily habit!

Studies and Research Findings

For the past 20 years it has long been recognized by scientists that dark chocolate is rich in a chemical known as flavonoid. It is this very special ingredient that helps to lower blood pressure as well as increase the flow of blood from the heart to the brain. Flavonoids contain a compound known as epicatechin. It is epicatechin that is instrumental in preventing cholesterol from building up in the blood vessels. It also helps to reduce the responses from the immune system that can then lead to the clogging of the arteries.

Early studies into the benefits of dark chocolate showed that a high percentage would have to be consumed daily in order for it to be of benefit to the heart. However researchers now say that a few small pieces of dark chocolate (which could equal a few squares from a chocolate bar) can be useful in terms of the health of your heart.

Researchers have delved even further into the dark chocolate and heart connection. What they have discovered is quite amazing. The chemical found in the cocoa bean has a biochemical effect that greatly resembles the effect that aspirin has in reducing the clumping of platelets in the blood that can prove deadly if a clot forms and then narrows or even worse, completely blocks a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack

Heart Healthy Chocolate Consumption

Some studies suggest that to effectively get the beneficial heart healthy effects of eating dark chocolate it is advisable to consume two tablespoons of dark chocolate on a daily basis. The best kind would be the purest form such as dried extract of roasted cocoa beans. If that is not for you, then a small bar of chocolate in the area of 1.6 ounces is another option to keep your heart and your blood vessels functioning at their optimum best. One example of a dark chocolate bar chocked full of high-cocoa content (which means it is loaded with flavonoids) is the Dove Dark Chocolate bar. However other brands such as Cadbury or Hershey can yield benefits as well.

The reason that dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate in respect to your heart is because of the manufacturing process it goes through. Dark chocolate is processed differently than milk chocolate and has much higher levels of flavonoids in it than does the latter. The flavonoids are destroyed during the process of making milk chocolate.

You may have heard the word flavonoids in relation to other foods such as black tea, green tea, blueberries and red wine. While flavonoids can be found in these foods, they are much more plentiful in dark chocolate.

In small quantities chocolate is good for your health. It can lead to a healthier and better functioning heart. If that is not something to smile about then I don’t know what is!

Becca

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Learning how to brush and floss your teeth properly are both important elements of having healthy teeth and gums.

Eating a nutritious well balanced diet is a good start towards having healthy teeth and gums but it is only the beginning. To maintain your oral health you need to brush and floss your teeth on a regular basis. You also need to visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. It is advisable that you see your dentist at least every six months.

Brushing Your Teeth

Would it surprise you to know that proper brushing takes a good two minutes to complete from start to finish? It does! That is 120 seconds. However the average person brushes for no more than five to six seconds at a time. That means that you may not be getting the job done as well as it is supposed to get done.

Always buy a soft bristle toothbrush and place it at a 45-degree angle to the tooth you are cleaning. Use a gentle massaging action that includes small circular strokes. First you should clean the outer surfaces of your top teeth and then the outer surfaces of your bottom teeth. Then clean the inner surfaces of the top and then the bottom. Then clean the parts of the teeth where you chew. To insure that your breath is as fresh as possible, brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth as well.

Do not brush too vigorously as you can wear down the enamel of teeth. Instead apply light pressure only. In particular, pay close attention to the teeth at the back that are hard-to-reach, as well as the gumline. Also carefully clean around fillings, crowns and other dental work you have had done.

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, morning and night. It is preferable that you brush after every meal.

Flossing Your Teeth

Flossing is something that does not get done nearly enough by so many people! No one really enjoys it but it is an important aspect of oral hygiene. Why is it so important you wonder? Flossing is important because it loosens food that has become trapped between teeth that can lead to plaque build-up and the development of cavities. Flossing once a day should be sufficient. The best time to do so is at the end of the day before bedtime.

It does not matter whether you buy waxed or unwaxed dental floss, scented or unscented, thick or thin. Try different kinds and decide upon the one that suits you the best. When you floss use approximately 18 inches of floss and wind the majority of it around the middle finger on one hand and the remainder of it around the middle finger on the other hand.  It is the second middle finger that will be taking the floss once it has been used. With care make sure you floss between each tooth but never be rough.

To learn more about maintaining healthy teeth and gums, please visit these websites:

http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/teeth/healthy.html
http://www.ada.org/public/topics/cleaning_faq.asp
http://www.perio.org/consumer/smileforlife.htm

Samantha

Read Full Post »

Having healthy teeth and gums is an important aspect of overall good hygiene.

Who does not want to have a beautiful smile and a mouth that is glowing with health and wellness? What many people fail to realize is that oral health goes far beyond having a lovely smile and being able to properly chew your food. Having good oral health contributes to a better quality of life for you.

Reasons Why Oral Health is so Important

Here are a few of the reasons why oral health is so significant. First of all, every tooth has a reason and a purpose. Each tooth plays a role in proper alignment of all of your teeth and each one plays a role in terms of chewing and talking. Individuals who have loose or missing teeth may be limited in what they can eat because biting into certain foods may cause them pain and discomfort. Examples of this include a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not getting enough of these foods can lead to a poor diet and malnutrition. This is also the case for many people who wear dentures.

Most adults report that having a nice smile lends itself to a more appealing physical appearance overall. When looking at a person’s face the focus is often the smile. If the smile is pleasing to the eye then all the better!

Recent research studies have discovered that periodontal disease has been linked to many serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and stroke. For those who are not aware of what periodontal disease is, it is a chronic bacterial infection that when left undetected destroys both the supporting structures of the teeth as well as the gums. Tooth decay and periodontal disease are the number one causes of tooth loss in older individuals.

Nutrition for Healthy Gums and Teeth

Diet plays an integral role in the health of your teeth and gums. Eating a well balanced diet of nutritious foods can help to reduce the potential that you will develop any number of problems in your mouth. Here we describe some essential nutrients for your oral health.

Vitamin C

One of the most important nutrients for healthy teeth and gums is vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to stimulate the immune system in order to fight bacteria. It also reduces inflammation and helps to heal the gums. According to the Institute of Medicine, everyone needs to consume approximately 60 mg of vitamin C a day which works out to be equal to one orange (or thereabouts).Besides oranges, the best sources of vitamin C include berries, melons, broccoli, and spinach.

Calcium

Calcium is an important mineral that helps to keep the teeth and gums healthy. Not getting enough calcium can serve to weaken the teeth as well as the bones that hold them in place. Taking in enough calcium especially in your developing years is very important as it helps to build density in the alveolar (jaw) bone. Consume more calcium by eating more dark leafy green vegetables and low fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that works in tandem with calcium to keep both the bones and the teeth as strong as possible. To make sure you are consuming a plentiful supply of magnesium eat such things as leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.

To learn more about how to have healthy teeth and gums continue on to part two of this post.

Samantha

Read Full Post »

Garlic is beneficial for the body because it will strengthen the immune system, lowers bad cholesterol and helps to prevent heart disease.

Garlic also has antifungal abilities which mean that fungus and many types of bacteria do not stand a chance when this wonder drug of natural healing is in the nearby vicinity.

What is Garlic?

Garlic is a bulbous plant that is in the same family as onions, leeks and scallions. It is most often used as a seasoning or flavoring ingredient but it can also be eaten in the same manner as all other vegetables. In the family garlic belongs to, it is often thought of as king while the onion is its queen!

Garlic can be purchased as fresh in the produce department of your grocery store or it can be purchased in its dried form. Dried garlic is the most often used of the two for recipes and it can be found in pink, purple or white varieties. When garlic is roasted or sautéed it has a decidedly mild and sweet aroma. On the other hand, raw garlic is pungent and bitter (and lives up to its stinky reputation all too well!)

There are many cultures throughout the world that use garlic in cooking, including our own. Garlic provides a welcome addition to many dishes as it provides a tasty, savory flavoring for casseroles, stews, soups, meats, sauces, salad dressings, marinades and vinaigrette. Garlic is also commonly used to make garlic butter, which can then be spread on bread to make garlic bread or garlic toast. If you do not want to buy fresh garlic for a recipe then bear in mind that a 1/8-teaspoon of garlic powder is roughly the same as a medium fresh clove of fresh garlic.

Buying Garlic at the Store

Garlic is not a seasonal vegetable and for that reason should be available at your grocery store all 12 months of the year. When choosing fresh garlic, always choose bulbs that are firm and plump and ensure that the paper-like skins of the garlic bulbs are intact and are not falling away. Stay away from garlic bulbs that exhibit bruises, blemishes or nicks. Also avoid any that show signs of mildew or ones that have soft spots or sprouting. If you cannot find fresh garlic then the second best choice is to buy garlic powder, or garlic puree. Some select grocery stores and health food stores might sell garlic juice in a spray form and garlic is sometimes also made into salt as well as granulated garlic.

Storing Garlic

Always store fresh garlic in a place in your home that is well ventilated. The area should be cool, dark and dry at all times. If stored properly, garlic can remain worthy of use for a period of four to six months. It is recommended that once purchased, garlic should be used up within a couple of weeks for optimum freshness. If the cloves have been removed from the garlic bulb they can easily be frozen for a number of months and should remain perfectly fine to cook with. If garlic has been prepared in any way such as by chopping or mincing then the parts that were not used must be refrigerated. It is essential that you store the garlic in an airtight container so it will not smell up your refrigerator and any food containers that are sitting close by.

We have demonstrated that garlic is good for so much more than warding off vampires! Next time you make up a grocery list put garlic at the top of the list and start reaping all of its many health benefits!

Samantha

Read Full Post »

In the world of alternative medicine and natural healing, garlic is often known as a wonder drug because of its many beneficial abilities for the body.

Why a wonder drug? Garlic may be stinky but oh how it can heal the body! Garlic can be used to prevent everything from heart disease to a variety of respiratory conditions such as the common cold and the flu. In the past raw garlic was used to treat the symptoms that caused skin disorders such as acne and rashes.

Garlic has been shown through research studies to be instrumental in strengthening the heart and in lowering the bad kind of cholesterol that does harm to the arteries (also known as LDL cholesterol). It may sound funny but it has also been shown to work well at repelling mosquitoes! It is thought to be more than the smell that sends mosquitoes in the opposite direction!

Garlic Does Your Body Good

The fact that garlic has many benefits to health is not simply something that people choose to believe nor is it a type of old wives tale. The benefits of garlic have been borne out in a number of research studies. Garlic may be smelly and somewhat of an acquired taste but it is a natural form of a natural antibiotic in a broad spectrum kind of manner.

The human body does not build up an immunity to garlic which means that the positive health benefits that come from garlic continue to work as time passes. This is such good news for all garlic lovers and soon-to-be garlic lovers! In particular, aged garlic has intense antioxidant qualities. It is antioxidants that help to protect the body against what is known as free radicals. You have probably heard of the term free radicals as the health and medical community often keep talk of them front and center in the media. Free radicals are defined as “highly reactive molecules capable of causing damage in brain and other tissue.” Antioxidants are good and free radicals are bad. Garlic is full of the former. Enough said?

The Two Important Ingredients in Garlic

There are two ingredients in garlic that are medicinal in nature and are to thank for garlic’s many health benefits. The two ingredients are allicin and diallyl sulphides. Allicin is the more intense of the two and it provides the greatest of the health benefits. It is important to point out the fact that allicin is not found in garlic per se but is produced when garlic is either crushed or chopped into fine pieces. The more intense it is crushed and the finer the pieces are chopped, the more allicin will be created and therefore the stronger will be the medicinal benefits.

Allicin is antifungal in nature and is commonly used to treat many fungal infections of the skin such as athlete’s foot. Be aware that being in direct contact with an ample portion of crushed garlic can cause the skin to blister. This is rare but garlic allergies do occur in some people.

On the other hand, diallyl sulphides exhibit less medicinal benefits than allicin but this ingredient is still of use for health. While the sulphides are of no use in the antifungal department, they are useful for the circulation of blood and they help to keep the circulatory system working at its very best. Diallyl sulphides are beneficial to the immune system because they give it a much-needed boost. They also help to lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. Just the same as allicin, garlic needs to be crushed or chopped to bring out the diallyl sulphides.

Read next post to learn some more important information about garlic.

Samantha

Read Full Post »

A detox diet provides a method of both cleansing the body as well as allowing the natural healing process to take over.

Detox diets are not necessarily one size fits all. They vary from person to person based on gender, age, individual fitness level and whether or not the person has restrictions to observe in terms of their diet. For the most part the foods you need to include in your diet are whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and yogurt with probiotics in it. You also need to include ample sources of protein such as beef, salmon and nuts. Drinking plenty of water is essential as is the consumption of fruit juices, such as acai berry. It is important that color and variety are well represented in your detox diet. All four food groups need to be eaten each and every day.

Detoxing your body can support both your physical and mental well-being in being the absolute best that it can be. Taking the time to detoxify can also provide an incentive to improve your diet on a more permanent basis. If your body is functioning the way that nature intended then everything will be in synchronicity. This means that not only will your body work better, but you will feel better and look much better as well.

Foods to Eat for a Successful Detox

There are plenty of foods that make for a successful detoxification. Leafy green vegetables are one of the best. Your liver can be helped tremendously by consuming these types of vegetables because they contain an abundant supply of chlorophyll. Some examples of the types of vegetables that will work well on a detox diet and beyond include broccoli, collard greens, Swiss chard, kale, romaine lettuce and spinach.

Any of these vegetables can be eaten raw or can be steamed and eaten that way. You can easily incorporate them into your diet by way of casseroles, soups, salads and gravies. If you like you can even juice these vegetables. For getting rid of toxins that have built up in the system nothing works better then leafy green vegetables.

If you are not used to eating sesame seeds then it is about time you did. Sesame seeds are composed of a substance called tahini and this substance is extremely effective at correcting chemical imbalances in the body and getting rid of harmful toxins. Sesame seeds also provide a sufficient amount of protection and safety for liver cells in terms of alcohol consumption. For centuries sesame seeds have been an integral part of the Chinese culture. If the thought of eating sesame seeds does not appeal to you then try something a little smoother such as sesame seed oil. Sesame seed oil can be included in cooking and recipes such as a shrimp stir fry.

You have probably heard about all of the many benefits that garlic brings to the body. It is excellent for the heart while it also helps to detoxify the liver and works well in terms of flushing toxins out of system. It also works as a liver stimulant. Find as many ways as possible to incorporate garlic into your daily diet.

Cleaning out your system by detoxing would not be complete without green tea (and a little lemon thrown in for good measure!).Green tea is an antioxidant that works well as a detoxifying agent as it helps to eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Drinking green tea with lemon is a smart choice as you double your detoxifying benefits by two. Double the effort, double the efficiency! Just remember, there is no milk, cream or sugar allowed.

Cleaning out your system by detoxing can improve your overall quality of life and make you feel like you are on top of the world. Following a detox diet can also pave the way for a healthier and brighter future!

Get more information on body detoxing here.

Now what are you waiting for? It’s detoxing time!

Samantha

Read Full Post »

Detoxification is a way to clean out your system when it is overloaded by toxins and it also acts as a means of improving your way of eating.

Are you feeling stressed out, starved for proper nutrition and just generally yucky? Do you lack energy? Has your hair lost its sheen? Is your skin looking a little worse for wear and your eyes are no longer glowing with good health? If yes, then it may be time to look at a nature form of cleansing for your body.

What does that mean? In a word- detoxification!

Detoxification (or detoxing for short) is the process whereby the body gets rid of toxic substances that have built up over time in the cells and organs. Toxics can exit the body by way of urine, feces and sweat. The toxins that accumulate in the body can cause inflammation and illnesses to occur.

Toxin build-up takes place as a result of many of the foods we eat. In particular, processed, fatty and fried foods can leave a trail of harmful food chemicals in the body. Pollutants also enter the body by way of the water we drink, the air we breathe and the environment at large.

The liver and colon are the two organs that are at the center of the detoxification process. While they do the best they can, keeping up with a barrage of new toxins all of the time can cause these organs to need to work harder and harder. The more help we can provide them by the way we live, the better.

The digestive system and the kidneys get rid of whatever toxins they can. Whatever is left goes into the bloodstream and from there finds its way to the liver. The liver then does its part to flush the toxins out of the body at as rapid a rate as possible.

The Purpose of Detoxing

Detoxing provides the body with a break in order that it can work better in terms of absorbing nutrients and getting rid of waste. It is also a method of getting rid of extra pounds that have crept up. A body detox will cleanse the body and help to facilitate the process of healing. It can provide relief for problems such as sluggishness, frequent headaches, aches and pains, and an overall feeling of malaise. If you feel that your body is being dragged down and your energy is not what it once was then detoxing might be exactly what you require to get back on the track of glowing and vivacious health!

What to Do and What Not to Do

When most people think of detoxifying the body, thoughts of deprivation and dietary extremes come to mind. While you can go the route of fasting, such as going on a water or juice fast, experts says that it is healthier and gentler on the body to not do anything drastic. Being too drastic puts undue pressure on your heart and can be a shock to the system.

Think of a detox instead as a much-needed nutritional break. A detox should last for an average of a week. During this time you need to consume a diet that is nutritious and as well-balanced as possible. Make sure all of the foods you eat are high in antioxidants, essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. It is important that you drink lots of water and plenty of clear natural juices. Get plenty of rest while detoxing as your body is going through a transition and fatigue can  be a common side effect. Exercising while detoxing is a good idea but keep your physical activities to a moderate level.

Read my next post for some more information on detoxing the body in part two of this series.

Samantha

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »