6 Amazing Places on Your Body That Can Relieve Stress

According to traditional Chinese medicine, certain pressure points help restore balance to the body's natural energy flow. In the West, health professionals think that these points may alleviate muscle tension and tell your brain to release endorphins, natural feel-good hormones that help with pain and stress. Here's how to find them.

1. Your Temples (Taiyang)

Many people automatically massage their temples when their head throbs. This point is also used in alternative medicine for helping with anxiety and relieving tension headaches.

Press your index and middle finger gently against one of your temples. Slowly breathe in and out while rubbing this point in a circular direction for 10–15 seconds. At the end, hold your fingers in the center of the temples for a minute and slowly release.

2. The Middle of Your Chest (Shanzhong)

This stress-relieving point is in the middle of your sternum, or breastbone. Both men and women can find it by tracing a line directly from the nipples to the center of the chest.

Use three fingers to press and hold this point. Use firm-but-gentle pressure, taking care not to bruise. Hold this point for three minutes and breathe deeply the whole time.

3. Your Foot Arch (Yong Quan)

In traditional Chinese medicine, this point is called Bubbling Spring. It’s in the middle of the sole of your foot, near the base of your big toe. Put your thumb right where the foot arch begins, about one-third down from the toes and two-thirds of the way up from your heel.

Apply firm pressure and gently move your thumb in a circular motion. This point is believed to provide calming effects and help with blurry vision and dizziness.

4. Between Your Eyebrows (Yintang)

Finding this point is easier if you look in the mirror. It’s located directly between your two eyebrows. Hold this point or massage in a circular motion for 3–5 minutes.

Yintang can calm you down when you’re feeling irritable or worried. It’s also commonly used to help with pain.

5. Your Forearm (Neiguan)

This is one of the most used pressure points for stress. It’s located on your forearm, on the outside of the wrist. Measure about three finger widths from your wrist, tracing a point down from the largest tendon. Neiguan is between the two large tendons.

Gently breathe and hold this pressure point with your thumb for several minutes. Take 10 deep breaths as you move your thumb in a circular motion. This pressure point is easy for anyone to master (it’s one of my favorites), so don’t be surprised if you use it a lot.

6. Between the Thumb and Index Finger (Hegu)

Another easy pressure point to master, Hegu is one many people have heard of but get wrong. You can find it in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, but to get relief you need to reach a little further down, to the point right in front of where you feel the bones meet. Hold this point for three minutes.

The best way to find out which pressure points help you personally is to try them! It only takes about 10 minutes and you can keep track of the ones that give you the most stress relief. To boost the effect, give these points a gentle massage while listening to calming music or relaxing with positive scents.

5 Surprising Ways You Can Use Ginger in Your Health and Beauty Routines

I just recently learned that ginger is one of the best-kept secrets for your skin and immune system. It’s very effective at minimizing inflammation (which we all know is one of the most common causes of skin blemishes, joint pain, and premature aging). And the best part is that it won’t cost you a fortune as some top-of-the-line beauty products will.

It’s one thing to know that ginger is a great health and beauty ingredient, but it’s another thing to know how to use it. So I’ve put together this guide of five surprising ways you can start incorporating ginger into your health and beauty routines, starting today.

1. Anti-Inflammatory Skin Cream

To get the skin-healing benefits ginger has to offer, try creating your own anti-inflammatory skin cream. To make it, peel two, 2-inch pieces of fresh ginger, then place them in a pot with 2 teaspoons of apricot kernel oil and 2 teaspoons of light sesame oil. Add ½ cup of cocoa butter and 2 teaspoons of vitamin E. Warm on low heat just until the cocoa butter softens and all the ingredients blend together.

Pour the mixture into a lid-sealed container, then put it in a cool, dry place where you can use it often! I recommend applying it after you wash your face. The ingredients are very moisturizing and soothing.

2. Ginger Massage Oil

We all know how quickly excessive stress can cause us to look and feel much older than we really are. But a good massage has a way of melting all our troubles away as it restores our vitality and sense of well-being. To enjoy the relaxing benefits of massage as well as the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger, recruit someone you love to massage your back, neck, or feet with diluted ginger oil. Your skin and mood will feel so much better!

3. Mint and Ginger Mouthwash

As we age, our bodies become more susceptible to gum disease and other oral issues. While regular mouthwash can help rid our oral cavities of unwanted bacteria, it can also leave our mouths feeling dry. That’s why I prefer making my own mint and ginger mouthwash. Both mint and ginger are known for their antibacterial properties, which make them a great duo for oral health.

Here’s how to make my surprisingly refreshing and effective mint and ginger mouthwash recipe. Start by pouring about 1 ½ cups of filtered water into a pot, then adding approximately 10 fresh peppermint leaves and one sliced 3-inch ginger root to the water. Bring the mixture to a light boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add about 35 drops of peppermint essential oil to the mixture, then cover the pot and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a sealed jar. You can store this mixture at room temperature for about a month, or put it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life.  

4. Natural Pain-Reliever

Would it surprise you to hear that ginger is a natural pain-reliever? Some research shows that it’s very effective at relieving migraines. So the next time you feel a headache coming on, sip ginger tea or try munching on some candied ginger.

5. Ginger Detox Bath

Ginger is known to help the body fight off bacterial infections. So if you feel like your immune system is fighting something off, grate about ½ cup of fresh ginger and sprinkle it in your hot bathwater. Soak for at least 15 minutes to get the full effects of this detox remedy.

So, what do you think about these unusual uses for ginger? I’d love for you to give them a try and see if they work for you!

The Significance and Advantages of Stress Journaling

Stress is a constant companion. Nearly every day, the body and mind find something to tense up or worry about. Understanding how and why stress affects you is an insightful exercise, but the only way to get to the bottom of your anxiety and worry is to track it like you would steps.

Obviously, tracking stress is not as straightforward as tracking steps. While wearable devices can alert you to stress waves in your body or increased heart rates, those tools do little to help you understand the moment.

The most beneficial tool you can use to track your stress is a journal. However, do not treat it like a regular journal. You want to come at the writing process more stoically, analytically. For example, write down the date and time of your stressful experience, even as it is happening. Take note of how you are feeling; try to be specific. Additionally, write down everything that is happening and did happen before the start of the stress attack.

By restricting emotional responses, you can begin to look at your problem logically. Most likely, as you continue stress journaling, you will notice one or several recurring characteristics of the events, providing a potential diagnosis or cause of the stress events. Having such realizations provides a roadmap to managing stress and can offer several distinct advantages.

Improved Self-Awareness

Stress and anxiety often separate the individual from experiences. For example, if hit with a significant amount of pressure or an anxiety attack at work, the individual often feels unable to focus or continue with work. The same can happen if stressed outside of work at a family event. Your mind locks in on the stress and does not allow you to enjoy or interact with family or the occasion.

By committing to a stress diary or journal, you can free up space in your mind, allowing yourself to take charge of your feelings and life. After some experience with your journal, you will likely find you are more in-tune with your emotions and aware of your surroundings.

Release of Trauma

A stress journal is a safe place to acknowledge hard truths. Many experts recommend using such journals to write about traumatic events, fully exploring all emotions.

The writing process engages both hemispheres of the brain. In doing so, journaling helps to integrate the experience in the mind, making it more palatable for the individual without overwhelming them.

Proven Health Benefits of Stress Journaling

Researchers are only now beginning to scratch the surface of the many health benefits of journaling. For example, many experts already suspected writing could counteract the adverse effects of stress. Still, through more studies, researchers are showing incredible proof of improved cognitive functioning, strengthened immune system response, and decreases arthritis, asthma, and other health condition symptoms.

Various Journals and Track Methods

You are not only limited to tracking stress and anxiety. While stress journals are excellent tools, many experts also recommend gratitude journals, emotional release diaries, and personal planning or bullet journals. But, primarily, any diary or writing exercise that allows you to vent and focus on your life has shown significant benefits for mental health and growth.

Have you ever used a stress journal or any other mindfulness practices? Leave a comment below explaining what worked and didn't for you.

Why I Love Cold-Pressed Salad Dressings

A normal juicer generates heat, which ends up destroying many nutrients in fruit and veggies.  A cold press juicer is different. It “squeezes” and grinds ingredients, so the juice keeps its vitamin content. You can use this to create delicious salad dressings that are packed with nutrients.

Cold Pressing Is Amazing

Cold-pressed juices and smoothies give you way more benefits:

  • More vitamins and minerals
  • More enzymes and prebiotics
  • More juice
  • More fiber
  • More flavor

Cold-pressed juice has more pulp, too, so it’s thicker and creamier. Homemade salad dressings made this way taste incredible, and they do your body good.

Cold-Pressed Salad Dressings Are Really Healthy

Many scientists suspect that the secret to why people in Mediterranean cultures seem to live longer and stay healthier is their diet, especially fresh olive oil. Cold-pressed olive oil is rich in antioxidants that protect your heart and help to prevent diabetes and cancer.

In fact, the antioxidants in cold-pressed olive oil can even reduce inflammation and improve immune health. That helps sore muscles recover faster and painful joints feel less pain. It also has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels.

Cold-pressed juices make a great addition to healthy salad dressings, too. They have prebiotics and enzymes that benefit your digestive health.

My Favorite Cold-Pressed Salad Dressings Are Easy To Make

1. Miracle Mediterranean Vinaigrette

Bring the healing power of the Mediterranean diet to your table:

  • 1 cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup raw, organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary, oregano, basil or any herb you like
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

Just mix the ingredients and let them chill in the fridge for a few hours or days. This vinaigrette is a great salad dressing base that you can add to with many different fruit or veggie combinations. For example, add a pop of orange with some grated orange zest.

2. Vegan Ceviche Dressing

Looking for a punch of flavor from South American cuisine? Follow the vinaigrette recipe above, but add cold-pressed orange juice and a generous squeeze of lime. Instead of other herbs, use a pinch of fresh cilantro for a Latin twist. I love using this dressing with salads that have some chopped avocado.

3. Tangy Apple & Ginger Dressing

I make this dressing when I’m having company over and everyone goes crazy. 

  • 1 lb. red apples
  • 1/3 cup peeled orange
  • 1 tbsp ginger root
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar

First, put the fruit and ginger into the juicer. Then, add the honey and apple cider vinegar. Mix well and serve! Personally, I like using this dressing with Asian-inspired carrot/lettuce/cabbage salads, sprinkling some crushed peanuts on top.

4. Winter Beet Vinaigrette

Think outside of the box with your cold-press juicer! Get creative with seasonal ingredients: fennel, beets, carrots, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and more!

  • 1 lb. beets
  • 1/3 cup fennel
  • 1 cup peeled orange
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Handful of fresh parsley

Beets are naturally sweet, so I pair them with fennel, orange, parsley and balsamic vinegar to balance them out. Add 1 cup plain yogurt (or ½ cup buttermilk and ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise, but you didn’t hear that from me) for a creamy version with probiotics for your tummy.

Whether you like smoothies for breakfast, fresh juice for an afternoon treat or cold-pressed salad dressing to spice up meals, you have a lot of ingredients to choose from. Go wild and benefit from the vitamin boost!

Prescribing Nature? Why Some Experts Say That Nature Is the Key to Staying Healthy

Everyone loves vacation. Some families prefer tropical getaways and others adore the Rocky Mountains. My favorite memory is a time our family visited the Amazon rainforest, swimming in a cove with lush plants and waterfalls. These trips all have something in common: beautiful nature.

What Are the Health Benefits of Nature?

The effects of nature are so positive that doctors are starting to write prescriptions for ecotherapy, or nature trips:

  • Fighting stress and depression: One of the biggest benefits of being in nature is that it improves your mood. Stress, anxiety and depression practically disappear. You feel relaxed, positive and energized.
  • Increasing your sense of wellbeing: Studies show that people who spend time in nature are more likely to feel deep satisfaction, meaning and joy in life.
  • Protecting your body: People who spend time outdoors every week have a lower risk of heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes and overweight.
  • Strengthening your immune system: An excursion into the woods or a weekend at a national park can boost the effectiveness of your immune system, helping you stay healthier.
  • Relieving pain: When you get plenty of sunlight, it can trigger pain relief for your entire body. In fact, these rays may even increase healing, curing cuts and some injuries more quickly.

You don’t need to go it alone to improve your health. An enjoyable outing with friends or family members can actually increase the mental, physical and emotional benefits you receive.

Why Is Nature So Good for You?

Think back to the last time you visited a park, beach or forest. First, imagine the sights. Do you see gorgeous fields of wildflowers, colorful hummingbirds or majestic mountains?

The reason beautiful vistas are calming is because they interrupt the negative thoughts that stress makes you replay over and over in your mind. Nature captures your attention and gets you to focus on something positive, interesting and wonderful instead.

Now, remember the scents. Do you smell a salty ocean breeze, fresh green plants, delightful roses or irresistible cedar?

These aromas do more than tempt your nose. They contain natural aerosols, tiny bits of essential plant oils, that can trigger certain hormones in your body. That’s one reason why pine forests are so calming.

What about the sounds? Can you remember the chirping of birds, the gentle rustling of leaves or the smooth crashing of waves at the ocean?

Nature sounds are proven to have a soothing effect on your brain, making you feel relaxed and helping you sleep better at night. Even the absence of sound is enjoyable, that total peace and quiet you only find in nature. 


Where Can You Go?

Going outdoors doesn’t have to be complicated. The important thing, according to studies, is to get at least two hours of ecotherapy every week. The two hours can be split into 20 minutes every day or a full morning on the weekend.

Go for a walk in the park or plan a bonfire with friends in the country. National parks are the purest form of nature, but not everyone lives close enough to go regularly. If you have woods near your house, enjoy a hike through nature trails. Take a trip to the beach or the lake.

Get as far away from the noise pollution and air pollution of the big city as possible. You can even get benefits by working in your garden or watching hummingbirds on your patio. Don’t plan too much — just do it!

Do you have a favorite nature getaway you want to share? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Cold or Allergies: Learning How To Tell the Difference

The spring is just around the corner, and with the flowers and trees in bloom, it is prime allergy season. Unfortunately, people often catch colds this time of year too. With both problems resulting in similar side effects, it is challenging to determine whether you have an allergic reaction to your environment or caught a virus. Thankfully, allergists and physicians make things a little easier for people by providing symptom comparison lists and explain the difference between allergies and colds.

Defining Each Issue

The definition of an allergy is a chronic condition resulting in an abnormal response to ordinary and typically harmless stimuli. Common allergens include pollen, pet dander, bee venom, etc. While some allergic reactions are minimal, others require immediate medical intervention, needing an injection of epinephrine, stimulating the heart and lungs, and simultaneously improving blood pressure and swelling.

A cold is a viral infection. Often affecting your upper respiratory tract, the illness is typically harmless, resolving itself in seven to 10 days. However, while the virus is potentially harmless, patients must stay hydrated, sticking primarily with water. Dehydration can lead to more problems.

Allergy Symptoms

While allergies and colds do share some symptoms, there are several differences. One definitive way to determine allergies over a cold or something else is that symptoms only appear at specific times or during particular situations. For example, if you are sneezing every year in early fall or late spring, you are most likely dealing with allergies.

Additionally, if you are sniffing or sneezing for over a week, you are most likely dealing with allergies. Another telltale sign you are coping with allergies and not a cold is the color of your mucus; clear and watery mucus indicates allergies and not an infection.

Finally, itchy and watery eyes are a sign of allergies. When staving off a viral infection, your body will not produce itchy or watery eyes.

Cold Symptoms

There is a common misperception that colds only occur when it is coldest. While it is true that colds are most prominent in late fall and through winter, adults and children can get them throughout the year, with most people experiencing multiple colds per year.

When you have a cold, your mucus tends to change color from clear to yellow or green. The texture will also change, becoming thicker. The color change is a reaction to your immune cells fighting back against the virus.

If you notice that your symptoms change throughout the week — every few days or so — you likely have a cold. Like any virus, a cold has a progression of symptoms, starting with a low-grade fever.

Finally, if you are experiencing a cough, body aches, headaches, or a fever, you most likely have a cold. Allergies do not typically cause any of these symptoms, so diagnosis is unlikely.

Seeing a Doctor

For allergies and colds, treatment options vary. In most cases, the symptoms eventually go away on their own. However, if you experience trouble breathing, skin rashes, swelling, or symptoms that go beyond 10 days, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan.

Have you ever confused allergies for a cold or vice versa? Leave a comment below to start a conversation and participate in the Smarter Science of Slim community.

These Are the Colors You Should Be Eating

Did you know that natural foods get their colors from vitamins? These healthy nutrients that come from plants are called phytochemicals. “Phyto” means “plant.” Phytochemicals protect your thyroid, heart, liver, joints, eyes, and other organs. Just by taking a quick glance at the color of a fruit or vegetable, you can tell exactly what type of antioxidants you’re getting!

The Best Colors for Your Body

1. Red

This is one of the best colors for your health. Intense red fruits and veggies get their color from lycopene and other antioxidants. These superstars help increase your defenses against heart disease, prostate cancer, color cancer and other cancers. If you want to have a strong, energized heart for your entire life, definitely eat more red fruit and veggies.

2. Purple and Blue

These gorgeous colors are a sign that you’re getting lots of cancer-preventing, disease-fighting anthocyanins. People who tend to get urinary tract infections can benefit a lot from eating more blues. These colors also take great care of your brain, increasing memory and concentration while helping prevent strokes.

3. Green

If there’s one color people think of for healthy eating, it’s green. And with good reason — leafy green veggies are packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, folate and fiber. They can prevent osteoporosis, reduce joint inflammation, take care of your gut and help you lose weight! An antioxidant called lutein is so powerful it can prevent age-related eye problems and keep your mind sharp.

4. Yellow and Orange

Do you remember your mother telling you to eat more carrots for your eyesight? She was right. Yellow/orange fruits and veggies contain antioxidants called carotenoids. They rejuvenate eye tissue, keep your vision healthy and improve your immune system. Any time you need vitamin A or vitamin C, turn to yellows and oranges — they’re the best sources.

5. White

In the plant world, white is a color, too. White fruits and vegetables get their color from anthocyanins. These antioxidants are the reason garlic is so good for you. They don’t take the place of antibiotics, but they do help your body fight diseases more effectively, protecting against bacterial, viral and fungal infections. They also lower your cholesterol levels.

Eating Your Way Across the Rainbow

Including more colors in your diet gives you lots of vitamins. It also makes your meals look more exciting and appealing:

  • Green: kiwi, lime, cabbage, spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, celery, asparagus, green peppers, peas, green beans, avocados

  • Blue/purple: Blueberries, blackberries, grapes, figs, plums, dates and prunes

  • Yellow: Sweet corn, grapefruit, yellow peppers, yellow tomatoes, pineapples and apricots

  • Red: Rhubarb, pink grapefruit, red peppers, beets, radishes, tomatoes, apples, cranberries, strawberries, cherries and watermelons

  • Orange: Carrots, papayas, oranges, peaches, mangoes, pumpkins and sweet potatoes

  • White: Cauliflower, garlic, onions, potatoes, bananas and pears

Trust me, adding more colors to your diet is a smart investment. You can feel the difference right away, from your energy levels in the morning to the quality of your sleep at night.

Tips for Getting More Color

Having trouble getting fresh fruit? Too busy to prepare fresh veggies with every meal? A good compromise is to choose frozen fruit and vegetables. They contain many of the same nutrients as fresh.

Another of my favorite tips is to follow the seasons. This guarantees you the freshest fruits and veggies, and it also gives you more variety of nutrients. Feast on tangy strawberries in summer, juicy oranges in winter, tasty sweet potatoes in fall, and crunchy asparagus in spring!

Colonics: Does This Odd Practice Really Work?

Let’s talk about a subject that might make a few of us a little squirmy. Colonics (also known as colonic irrigation) is a procedure that involves irrigating the colon using water or a combination of water and other safe liquids. This practice is typically done by a hydrotherapist or colon therapist. Though it may seem strange to allow someone to clean out your digestive system through your rear-end, it’s a fairly common practice that may offer some impressive benefits.

Many people confuse colonics with enemas. These are two very different things. An enema is just a one-time infusion that can be done at home. Colonics involve more than one infusion done in different sessions. Each session typically takes anywhere between 45 minutes and one hour. During the procedure, up to 16 gallons of water and other fluids are pumped into the body through the rectum. I know, it sounds extremely unpleasant, but here’s why I am thinking about giving it a try.

Benefits of Colonics

There are a variety of reasons people choose to do colonics. Here are a few of the health advantages this procedure may offer.

  • Improved digestion. When you remove toxins that can get caught in your digestive system like sludge, you can improve your digestion. One study shows that gastrointestinal symptoms can, indeed, be improved after colonic irrigation. This is specifically in patients who have irritable bowel syndrome. Since IBS can be very challenging to treat effectively, some patients may choose to try alternative treatment methods such as colonics.
  • Weight loss. If you feel like you’re stuck and can’t seem to lose weight no matter what you do, colonics may be able to help. It does this in a couple of ways. It removes weight immediately by getting rid of toxic sludge (i.e. excess waste) caught in your body. It also helps with weight management by improving digestion s your body runs more efficiently and processes food more effectively.
  • Increased energy. Though it seems strange that washing out your colon could lead to increased energy, that’s exactly what some people report after receiving a colonic treatment. This benefit may be due to the release of pent-up toxins inside the body. Once these toxins are physically removed, your body doesn’t have to put so much effort toward trying to push the waste out when it’s sticking to your intestinal walls. Some people who receive colonic treatments claim that they experience improved energy, more restful sleep and better blood circulation.
  • Supports regularity. If you’re like me and struggle sometimes with constipation, you may find that colonics helps. This is one reason why I am considering trying this practice myself. Some people report that cleaning their colons out leads to improved regularity and fewer side effects of constipation (which include fun things like varicose veins and hemorrhoids).

These are just a few of the top benefits people report after receiving colonics treatments. Other touted benefits include improved concentration, better absorption of nutrients, and improved whole-body wellbeing.

How the Procedure Feels

Colonic irrigation may seem like a highly unpleasant procedure. However, those who do it regularly explain that it really doesn’t hurt. Instead, it causes mild side effects such as minor cramping and a feeling of fulness in the lower abdomen. These feelings typically subscribe as soon as the treatment is complete. The tube is small enough that it only causes minor discomfort when it’s inserted and removed.

Given the fact that the procedure isn’t painful as I first supposed and that it can offer a variety of health benefits, I’m seriously considering adding it to my list of things to do this month. At the very least, I’m interested in learning more about this ancient procedure and its potential effects on the human body.

Unique Ingredients That Are Good for Your Health

Are you trying to eat healthier but running out of creative ideas for nutritious meals that actually taste good? You’re not alone. It seems like I make a resolution every year to eat healthily, but I get bored of my options about a month in and give up. This year, however, I’ve decided to make sure I don’t fall for this same mistake. Since I know that eating healthy is so important if I want to maintain a good weight, avoid illnesses and just feel better about myself, I figured out a way to stick with my resolution this year.

To help me keep my meals exciting and interesting, I decided to make a game of healthy eating. Instead of eating broccoli and chicken every night, I am challenging myself to use a variety of ingredients in my meals each week. Here are some unique ingredients I decided to try. They’re very healthy, and they might just make things interesting enough that I’ll meet my goal of eating healthy all year. You should try it with me!  At the very least, it will be an educational adventure, right?

Spirulina

OK, I have to be honest here. I’ve heard about the incredible benefits of spirulina for a while, but I tasted a tiny bit of it plain once and I never wanted to eat the stuff again. But then I found out that it’s best to mask the flavor of spirulina (which is slightly fishy because it’s a seaweed) with other ingredients. It’s especially helpful to throw a teaspoon of spirulina into fruit smoothies. You won’t even taste it, but you’ll benefit from it.

Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods in existence. It’s full of things like protein, vitamin B3, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, copper and iron. It’s also quite an energy booster (as I can attest to!)

Kudzu

No, I didn’t just sneeze. Kudzu is a root that’s native to Japan and is also commonly called kuzu. It has a thick consistency, which makes it a great thickener for sauces or soups. Kudzu tastes a little bit like spinach, but it’s easy to mask the flavor with other ingredients.

Kudzu is thought to strengthen the circulatory and digestive systems. It may also help relieve hangovers and minimize headaches while having a general calming effect on the mind and body. Kudzu has long been used in Chinese medicine for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. I’m planning to make a Kudzu pudding this week and experience the benefits for myself.

Maca

Maca is a well-known superfood from Peru. It’s a cruciferous root vegetable that’s often made into a powder that can be sprinkled in oatmeal, smoothies or lattes. It has an earthy taste that lends itself well to many different dishes.

Maca provides caffeine-free energy that can help you get through your day without the typical afternoon energy crash. It may also balance hormones and enhance fertility (which is not something I need, but may be great for you younger ladies!)

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a type of nutritional mushroom that has a wide variety of health benefits. It’s easy to add it to stir-fries, stews and salads. It also comes in powder form that makes it easier to add to smoothies and lattes.

Some studies show that cordyceps can lower inflammation and support heart health. There is even research that suggests it can help slow down cancer growth! It’s also thought to reduce fatigue and help improve sex drive. Heaven knows I could use that last benefit!

Get Healthy With Me!

These are just a few of the unusual but incredibly healthy ingredients I plan to rotate into my regular meals this year. Why not join me? Let’s experience firsthand how fun and energizing healthy eating can really be.

What Everyone Gets Wrong About Turmeric

I’m a big believer in the healing power of turmeric, mainly because I’ve experienced its effects for myself. Turmeric delivers natural pain relief that’s just as powerful as extra-strength Tylenol or Advil, but without any dangerous side effects. So, what’s the problem?

Well, with all the hype going around, most people don’t actually understand how turmeric works, so they end up using it wrong. This cancels out pretty much all of the benefits you should be getting, so it ends up being a complete waste. If you follow the instructions I’m going to tell you, I promise you will see a night and day difference.

The Real Power Behind Turmeric

When you see fantastic news articles and TV shows raving about the power of turmeric, they’re not wrong. What they don’t often explain, however, it that it’s not the yellow powder on its own that has such a huge effect. The real secret is actually a tiny antioxidant in turmeric called curcumin. This medicinal compound only makes up about 3% of turmeric.

Curcumin is the real powerhouse that shines when it comes to relieving pain. This tiny antioxidant packs a huge punch, fighting inflammation in every part of your body, from joints and muscles to veins and nerves. There are a lot of scientific studies that back up the great effects of turmeric, but most of them focus specifically on curcumin.

The Idea Most People Have

Most people think that it’s enough to add a little turmeric to meals and they’re going to magically get all of the benefits that curcumin offers. They may find a spicy banana smoothie recipe that calls for sprinkling some turmeric on top and think they’re good for the day. Unfortunately, that’s not even close to true.

To enjoy the phenomenal anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric, you need around 500–1,000 mg of curcumin a day. So, how much curcumin is in 1/2 teaspoon (1,000 mg) of turmeric? Just 50–100 mg. That banana smoothie suddenly needs a LOT more turmeric to give you any anti-inflammatory benefits.

The Right Way To Take Turmeric

Don’t get me wrong, if you want to add turmeric to curry, or drink golden tea, or stir some turmeric into a smoothie, there’s nothing bad about it. Your food will have some extra flavor and you’ll get a small amount of antioxidants, which is better than nothing.

To really experience the benefits of this amazing Indian spice, however, you need to take a supplement. Before you buy, look at the amount of curcumin on the supplement’s label. It should have concentrated turmeric with at least 95% curcuminoids added.


One More Thing

The final thing that most people don’t know is that the body isn’t very good at absorbing turmeric on its own. Most of its antioxidants and vitamins get lost. Adios curcumin and pain relief.

I told you I was going to share all of my secrets, though, so here’s a great one that makes a huge difference: use black pepper extract, or piperine. When you pair turmeric with piperine, suddenly your body can absorb 2,000% times more nutrients! High-quality turmeric supplements should have piperine or BioPerine.

Trust me, just take a supplement. It’s so much easier than trying to think up ways to add a teaspoon of turmeric to everything. And it works!