My Favorite Juices for Health

Have you noticed how the entire world is focusing more on health now than seemingly ever before? If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, it’s time to! Good health is essential for overcoming illness and staving off disease. Not to mention the fact that you feel so much better when you take good care of your body and give it the nutrients it needs.

 Recently, I’ve been experimenting with different juices to see how they make me feel. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve come up with a list of juices that help me feel healthy and vibrant while giving me a little extra pep in my step. I decided to share this list with you so you can benefit from these incredible juices as well! So check out this list of my favorite juices for optimizing my health

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Watermelon Juice

Who doesn’t love the sweet, invigorating flavor of watermelon? If you like fresh watermelon, you’ll probably love watermelon juice. It’s full of lycopene and beta carotene (which are both powerful phytonutrients known to boost the immune system and help neutralize free radicals in the body). In fact, you won’t find another fruit that has more lycopene in it than watermelon.

Watermelon is also very hydrating since it’s comprised mostly of water (approximately 91%). Since most of us are dehydrated at least some of the time without even knowing it, drinking watermelon juice can help keep us properly hydrated (especially those of us who have a difficult time drinking plain water).

Spinach Juice

I thought I’d lead out with watermelon juice before talking about a juice that seems much less appealing. If you find yourself grimacing at the thought of spinach juice, just hear me out. Spinach juice is one of my very favorites to drink, though I usually combine it with other ingredients to mask its flavor.

Spinach is one of the most nutritious ingredients you can consume. It’s also very low in calories, which is a huge plus if you’re watching your weight like I am. In just 3 cups of spinach, you can get as much as 340% of your daily vitamin K content and up to 25% of your vitamin C needs.

 Usually, I put one or two cups of spinach in my blender with one cup of water, then blend it until it’s smooth. After that, I’ll often toss in a small handful of blueberries or strawberries, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a small apple and blend it all together. This makes a pleasant, but not overly sweet juice that’s packed full of immune-boosting nutrients. I prefer to drink this juice first thing in the morning, as it energizes me and helps me feel ready to tackle my day.

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Carrot Juice

If you’ve never had carrot juice made from organic, subtly sweet carrots, you’re in for a treat. I like to buy my carrot juice from my local health food store, but you can make your own carrot juice if you have a good juicer at home.

Carrots are a great nutritional choice for mature adults because they contain a lot of beta-carotene, which is important for good eyesight. Carrot juice also contains vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and many other nutrients. If you don’t think straight carrot juice is sweet enough for your tastes, try adding a small amount of stevia to sweeten it without adding harmful sugars.

 These are three of my favorite go-to juices for good health. I tend to drink the watermelon juice in the summer and the other two juices year-round. None of these juices are calorically dense enough to be a meal replacement, but you can drink them along with a meal or as a light snack to give your body the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and energetic.

Childhood Obesity: The Epidemic and Cure

More and more children are becoming obese. While alarming, the cause is not surprising. Like adults, obesity in children results from the consumption of too many calories, leading to a BMI measurement that places them into a category beyond the ideal weight classification for someone their age and height.

The rising numbers are alarming because medical professionals are beginning to see younger patients presenting with high blood pressure, liver disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and more. While medical researchers continue to dig into potential treatment options for obese children, the primary treatment remains preventative.

If parents want to protect their children against the potential health consequences of obesity, they must take responsibility and control for incorporating a healthy diet in the home. Additionally, parents can help children maintain efficient physical activity every day — a minimum of one hour per day.

Exploring the Underlying Causes of Childhood Obesity

Not all factors of obesity stem from unhealthful eating; there are also genetic and medical conditions to consider before diagnosing the underlying problem. However, despite other contributors to weight gain, most cases of obesity, especially among children, stem from unhealthy foods and a sedentary lifestyle. Understanding the lifestyle and genetic predisposition of children will help determine the cause of the growing crisis of obese children. Still, it is not as simple as saying eat less and exercise more.

To understand the problem, it is necessary to break down obesity into several factors: behavioral, environmental, medical, and genetic. Behavioral factors contributing to weight gain include eating a nutrient-poor diet, consuming more significant portions, spending too much time in front of a computer or television, and spending too little time being active. Environment factors include access to junk food over healthy food and limited access to parks or physical activity. Genes also play a role in the risk of obesity, but they do not determine the outcome. Finally, certain medical conditions can contribute to weight gain, including specific treatments and medications for those conditions.

Is Childhood Obesity Really a Problem, or Is It Overblown?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 19.3% of children and adolescents or 14.4 million young individuals are considered obese by BMI measurements. While that number might not sound too jarring, it has tripled in the past 30 years and continues to grow.

Even among two to five-year-old children, the number is growing and is currently sitting at 13.4%. The percentage increases to 20.3% for children ages six to 11. These numbers are not overblown, and if they are anything, they are a favorable estimate, meaning real numbers are likely higher than these estimates. Additionally, those numbers only worsen when factored into the socioeconomics, with lower-income and minority communities showing a greater presence of obese children.

Something has to be done to curb the numbers and improve the health of children. Without intervention, children are sure to experience negative symptoms and consequences throughout their lives.

Symptoms and Consequences of Childhood Obesity

Children will suffer psychologically and physiologically from poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. In many cases, children begin to suffer from depression as they hit their teens. They may suffer from body-image issues. Additionally, they will experience greater health risks, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and reproductive problems later in life.

Prevention is the most effective tool to prevent childhood obesity, meaning healthy eating and exercise. Parents must instill their children with a nutritional foundation to make the best choices as they get older.

Do you have any advice for concerned parents?

Why I Am a Fiber Enthusiast

There always seems to be some new discovery in the world of health and nutrition, doesn’t there? Every so often, we hear about a new and exotic ingredient that can solve all our healthcare woes and help us finally slim down and enjoy optimal health. But what if the most effective solutions aren’t new at all?

I assert that fiber is one of the familiar ingredients we’ve highly underestimated in our society. While we’ve been searching for the newest and greatest health-promoting ingredients, fiber has been waiting around and hoping we’d slow down and notice its incredible health qualities. Unfortunately, 95% of Americans don’t get enough fiber in our daily diets. In fact, few of us come close to the recommended 20-30 grams of fiber we should be eating every day.

If you don’t know what fiber can do for your health and weight goals, you’re in for a surprise! Here are a few of the top reasons why I am now a fiber enthusiast.

Fiber Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight

Who doesn’t want to have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight? The battle of the bulge is a challenging one for many of us, which is why we should try to consume the recommended amount of fiber every day.

Foods that are high in fiber tend to fill us up more effectively than foods with little to no fiber. So if your current diet leaves you feeling famished all day long, the secret may be as simple as eating more fiber! High-fiber foods also tend to have fewer calories than the same volume of low-fiber foods.

Fiber Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels

It’s no secret that keeping your cholesterol within a healthy range can be challenging as you grow older But fiber can help. Studies reveal that foods high in soluble fiber (such as flaxseed, beans and oats), may lower “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and total blood cholesterol levels. It may even help reduce inflammation and blood pressure while it’s at it!

Fiber Normalizes Bowel Movements

Nobody likes to talk about their bowel habits, but if you struggle to stay regular, it’s time to eat more fiber! Dietary fiber softens the stool and increases its weight and size so it passes more easily. Eating sufficient fiber can also help you out if you tend to get diarrhea often because it absorbs the excess water.

Fiber Helps Control Blood Sugar

If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic, eating high-fiber foods can slow down your body’s absorption of sugar and help control your blood sugar levels. If you don’t have diabetes, eating a healthy diet that includes sufficient insoluble fiber may help prevent you from developing the disease in the first place!

Fiber May Prevent Certain Diseases

We are all destined to die sometime, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for greater longevity. Consuming dietary fiber (especially cereal fiber) is associated with a reduced risk of death from certain diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular disease).

How Much Fiber You Should Take

Here are daily fiber intake recommendations for adults (as provided by The Institute of Medicine):

  • Men (ages 50 or younger): 38 grams/day
  • Men (Ages 51 and older): 30 grams/day
  • Women (Ages 50 or younger): 25 grams/day
  • Women (ages 51 or older): 21 grams/day

You can determine how much fiber you’re getting each day by looking at food labels and looking up the nutrition information of foods that aren’t prepackaged (such as produce).

Good Sources of Fiber

There are a lot of delicious sources of fiber you can turn to if you need to increase your intake. They include:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole-grain products
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Peas, beans and other legumes

It’s best to get your fiber from whole foods whenever possible. If you’re ready to start experiencing the many health benefits fiber can offer, start digging in to healthy, fiber-rich foods today!

The 5 Best Vitamins for Your Joints if You’re an Active Senior

Often, I hear people say they’re surprised I’m so “active for my age.” I have to admit, there’s a big part of me that’s proud when I hear such things, and a small part of me that feels a little indignant. Why do people automatically expect the seniors in their lives to become fragile and immobile? I certainly don’t subscribe to that idea!

But I have to be honest. Within the past few years, I’ve noticed more joint pain than usual. So I decided to look into supplements (specifically vitamins) and learn which nutrients can help minimize my joint pain. I found out that these are the best vitamins for the active senior to take for joint support.

1. Vitamin D

I like to call Vitamin D the Captain America of the vitamin world. I mean, this guy is no lightweight! Vitamin D is touted to help all kinds of things, from general immunity to your mood. It turns out that taking a vitamin D supplement can also help relieve joint discomfort.

Vitamin D is great for bone health because it reduces inflammation in the joints and it helps your body absorb calcium (which is one of the most important components in your bones). If you’re not a fan of supplements, try getting more of this important vitamin from fish, whole milk (or fortified milk), cod liver oil, mushrooms, eggs and cheese.

2. Vitamin K

You’ve probably heard of vitamin D and how important it is for your health, but when’s the last time you heard someone say you should increase your consumption of vitamin K? Though it’s talked about much less than most other vitamins, vitamin K is essential for good bone formation.

This unassuming vitamin helps to make bones strong by activating proteins that help with bone mineralization and formation. It’s important to note that vitamin K deficiencies aren’t very common. Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets. Foods such as spinach, broccoli, eggs, liver, and strawberries are all high in vitamin K.

If you think your body could use a boost of this important bone-health ingredient, try supplementing with it. There are no known risks of taking too much vitamin K, but it is best to carefully follow the recommended daily intake instructions on your vitamin K supplement packaging.

3. Vitamin C

Scientists have done some research on vitamin C and its role in bone health, and the results are very interesting. It appears that vitamin C stimulates the cells responsible for building bone. It also enhances the effects of vitamin D on bone metabolism and aids calcium absorption. Who knew?

Vitamin C also plays a role in forming collagen (an important component of bones). Research also shows that this lovely vitamin may help prevent osteoporosis. So load up on these foods that are packed full of vitamin C: bell peppers, cruciferous vegetables, Guava fruit, kiwifruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

4. Vitamin E

You probably already know that vitamin E is really great for your skin, but did you know it can help reduce oxidative stress on joint cartilage as well? Some studies show that vitamin E helps reduce joint pain more than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs!

Foods high in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, nuts, avocado, salmon, mango, kiwifruit, and wheat germ oil. Add these foods to your diet or supplement with vitamin E to boost joint comfort and health.

5. B Vitamins

B vitamins are great for energy, and they can also help reduce joint pain. Vitamin B12, in particular, reduces the amino acid homocysteine (which is usually high in people with rheumatoid arthritis). You can get vitamin B12 from organ meats, fortified cereal, beef, and tuna.

So there you have it! A list of delicious, natural foods that are packed full of joint-healthy vitamins. Try to incorporate these foods into your diet and consider supplementing with the above-mentioned vitamins if you think you’re deficient.

Red Meat: Should You Include It in Your Diet?

Red meat is constantly portrayed as poison to a healthy diet. People are continually being advised to avoid red meat, to eat lean proteins instead. Sometimes, the advice is warranted and comes from medical professionals; other times, the nitpicking voice comes from the community “expert” with no medical training or nutritional knowledge. 

Regardless of the loudest voice in the room, as a society, people understand that too much red meat is not good. Still, should you eliminate it from your diet? While there might be many relevant and valid reasons to limit your red meat intake, there are also reasons to enjoy it in your regular diet.

Understanding the Dilemma

Much of the red meat dilemma stems from its legitimate connection to increased cancer risks. According to several studies, people who average 76 grams of red and processed meat per day develop a 20% increased risk of bowel cancer compared to those consuming 21 grams. The research suggests every 50 grams of red meat per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.  

While the threat of cancer is scary enough, other studies also found a link between red meat consumption and other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. The research suggested that replacing one serving of red meat with a healthier protein could reduce mortality risks by seven to 19%.

Advantages of Red Meat

Despite the overwhelmingly negative research and study conclusions, red meat does present some benefits or advantages. For instance, vitamins D and B12 are essential to proper bodily function, and red meat is an excellent source of both. Additionally, red meat is a tremendous source of protein, which is also crucial to a healthy diet. 

However, while red meat is an excellent source of some essential nutrients, it is not the only source of such nutrients. You can find the same nutritional benefits in lean proteins like chicken and fish. Therefore, while red meat can provide some health benefits, you need to weigh the advantages against the known risks.

Disadvantages of Red Meat

There is a long list when it comes to what is wrong with red meat. Red meat is often high in saturated fat and cholesterol. While the body needs certain fats, saturated fats can lead to health complications, like clogged arteries. New research into cholesterol suggests it may not be as bad as initially thought, but that doesn’t mean you need to actively pursue it. 

Red meat and processed meats can also include chemicals that are not good for the body. Sometimes, harmful compounds are created when cooking certain meats at high temperatures. Aside from potentially harmful compounds, it is necessary to consider the known correlation between health problems and red meat. 

Even knowing the increased risks of consuming red meat, you must put the research in context. All studies point to the overconsumption of red meat. No study seems to say that you must eliminate red meat from your diet. Instead, most research suggests limiting your intake. Therefore, if you enjoy your burgers and steak, it is Ok to enjoy them occasionally. Still, it is best to avoid daily consumption of red meat and other processed meats. Moderation is the key to health and happiness.

4 Herbs To Add to Your Diet for a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life

Here’s the thing: The human body is not designed to live for 150 years. However, that doesn’t stop many people from wishing they could be the anomaly so long as they were promised a high quality of life in the next century. In reality, the decline of physical health is a normal and inevitable process. Though the science behind it is complex, gradual health decline occurs largely because of oxidative stress and inflammation. What this means is that, though you are never promised another day, there are several things you can do to preserve your physical and mental health for years, if not decades, to come. One simple step you can start taking today involves changing your diet to incorporate these four herbs for longevity.

1. Ginger

When it comes to “food medicine,” ginger is one of the most potent, easily accessible and tasty remedies you can find in local grocery stores. Ginger has several outstanding benefits, including antioxidative properties, anti-inflammatory properties and cancer-fighting agents. Each of these benefits, when they come together, means one thing: Increased longevity. You can reap the benefits of ginger simply by adding it to your meals a few times a week, shaving off a piece into a hot cup of tea, grating it onto your food or eating it as a fresh extract.

2. Chili Peppers

Though not an herb, chili peppers are often ground up and jarred to be used as spices, which warrants them a spot on this life. Chili peppers of all kinds — including jalapenos, cayenne and red peppers — contain capsaicin, which is the compound that makes them spicy. That compound is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It’s so powerful, in fact, that a 2015 study of over half a million Chinese people found that people who regularly eat spicy foods are less likely to die of all causes than people who rarely or never eat spicy foods.

So, how often should you hit the hot sauce? Because the benefits of capsaicin are cumulative, researchers recommend eating spicy foods as many as six to seven times per week to gain the most benefit.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric has become a trending ingredient in recent years among groups that promote herbal remedies. However, Asian civilizations have been using turmeric as a natural medicine for millennia due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One of the main compounds in turmeric — curcumin — is also an antioxidant. Together, turmeric and curcumin boast several health benefits, including improved memory, better brain health and a reduced risk for chronic conditions. Though it doesn’t hurt to cook with turmeric (it’s what gives curry its flavor), you will need to take a supplement to realize the full health benefits.

4. Ginseng

Ginseng is not called the “king of herbs” for no reason. Ginseng is one of the few plants that is considered an adaptogen, which is a substance that increases the body’s resilience to stressors of all kinds. It does this by acting as a “micro-trigger” to the body, helping it grow stronger to emotional, physical and environmental stressors. Though ginseng cannot help you become impervious to stress, it can improve your ability to react to it in a healthy way and recover more quickly. Considering stress is a major contributor of inflammation and an immunosuppressant, ginseng is one of the best herbs you can add to your diet for increased longevity.

As a bonus, ginseng also boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. As if that’s not enough, a growing body of research suggests that the herb contains cancer-fighting and immunomodulatory properties as well. Moreover, research suggests it can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels and improve memory and learning.

To truly reap the benefits of ginseng, you need to consume it daily. You can take it in capsule form, drink it as an herbal tea or spice your food with it.

Improving your life and lifespan does not have to be hard. Simply by adding the aforementioned herbs to your diet, you can take several leaps in the right direction.