Special Report: Top Tips to Avoid Flu and Colds This Winter

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A Practical Guide to Avoid Catching the Flu This Winter 

When we think of winter we have visions of skiing, snowboarding, making snowmen, drinking hot chocolate, warm fires in the evening and many other comforting thoughts are welcomed. Winter also brings a chance of illness that are not so much fun; colds and flu.

If you want the fun without the glum, then listen up. Some people think that colds and flu are just a fact of life and expect to have them overtake them like a thief in the night. Statistics say that adults contract around seven colds a year. But, you don’t have to be a statistic. Colds and especially the flu lead to lost wages and medical bills.   

Who would want to endure that for any length of time? If you want to increase your odds of beating cold and flu season this year, keep reading. You will find out how to distinguish colds from flu symptoms and also how to do your best to avoid getting either during the peak season. So, put aside the tissues and let’s get started.

A LITTLE INFORMATION…
When you are feeling bad, have the sniffles, you may think that you only have a cold but do you really? And, if you think you have the flu because you wake up with a stuffed up head, is that really the reason? Colds and flu strains do share a few commonalities but knowing the difference can aid in faster recovery times and also proper medical care.

What is a cold?
A cold is caused by a virus; specifically the rhinovirus. Like many viruses it mutates. There are hundreds of strains of the common cold and any one can be roaming around at one time.

Viruses have no cure. However, you can treat the symptoms.  Even though treating the symptoms won’t actually help the cold to go away faster, it will help you feel relieved.  Actually, letting a cold run its course can help your body build the immunity to more colds.  So, how do you know that you have a cold?

One distinction is the severity of the symptoms. A cold may start with a sniffle and progress but usually you can still work and function in your life each day. You may feel miserable going through those daily rituals but you don’t feel bad enough to stay home and barricade yourself in your bedroom.

Here are some of the most common symptoms you might experience with a cold:
Congestion (head and/or chest)
Runny nose (stuffiness too from swollen sinuses)
Watery eyes
Coughing (dry cough or one that is productive, moving congestion out of your body)
Headache
Tiredness
Itchy nose, eyes and throat
Fever (more common in children)
Sore throat

If you have any one of these symptoms, start right away treating them.

What is the flu?
Flu is short for influenza. It is also caused by a virus. There are many strains and researchers work to try to identify which virus is active at any one time. Unlike the cold, certain strains are more prevalent each year.

The flu, like the common cold, is a respiratory illness but with more severe symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms that they share:

Coughing (productive or dry)

Congestion

Headache

Fever (always)

Chills

The flu generally comes on more quickly than a cold. The symptoms seem to hit you all at once. Some symptoms that the flu doesn’t share with colds:

Fever and chills
Body aches and pains
Exhaustion (you really feel worn out and like you have to rest; hard to get up)

With the flu, sufferers always present with a fever and it is much higher than the low grade fever that may be seen in those with a cold. The symptoms are strong right from the beginning, running their course in about a week. If you are healthy, you may experience a lesser duration. If you are older, immuno-compromised or a child, the effects may last longer.

Those who have contracted the flu are also likely to have some nausea and vomiting from time to time. If any of these symptoms are present see your doctor. They can diagnose your condition and offer a course of treatment for you based on your medical history and symptoms.

PREVENTION

Natural remedies
Sometimes the simplest ways to treat a cold or the flu is the best. For one they cost less, are milder to your system and are readily available. You might have many of these items in your kitchen or pantry right now but didn’t know how helpful they can be for those colds and flu symptoms.

Honey – This is the bees knees so to speak. It is created by the black and yellow beauties and the honey itself contains the bees immunity as well. At the start of cold and flu season, taking a teaspoon full (or a tablespoon if you really like it) every day can help. It has been revered for centuries for germicidal, antiseptic, and immune boosting properties.  Raw honey is the best but make sure you never give raw honey to a child under 1 year of age.

Herbal tea – Herbs have long been used for medicinal purposes. Many of our modern medicines came from studying the effects of herbs on the body. For prevention of colds and flu, try: green tea, Echinacea and any tea that contains vitamin C and zinc. All of these are known for their effects in boosting immunity. Vitamin C and green tea are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce the oxidative stress on the body caused by free radicals. To increase the effects and reduce the calories, sweeten your tea with honey or nothing at all.  You don’t want to add sugar which can have negative effects on your immune system and artificial sweeteners are not good for your body.  

Water – It is the simplest remedy yet. The body is composed of 60% water. Our bodies need to maintain a certain level of hydration inside and out to remain healthy and functioning properly. Drink as much water as you can each day (calculate the amount by taking your body weight divided in half and using that number in ounces to figure the need for your individual body) to flush the body of toxins and promote total health.  Sip room temperature water throughout the day.

Supplements – First, a word of warning: As with all supplements consult your medical professional first before taking them. There is such thing as too much of a good thing. The supplements you are looking to choose are those that are instrumental in boosting the immune response in your body: Vitamin A, C, Zinc (may be in the form of lozenges). Your medical professional can give you the correct dosages.

Essential oils – An essential oil is a concentrated form of an herb or plant. They can be found in health food stores. Creating a steam inhalation from essential oils can help to keep the sinuses and nasal passages open and clear. You might use it after a long day out in the cold or if you feel a sniffle coming on.

Foods

You are what you eat, in more ways than one. Teas and herbs may work but they work better if your body is healthy and that means choosing the right foods. A body that is full of fast food, processed foods, additives and preservatives is not going to fight off an invasion by cold or flu viruses as well as one that has received the necessary proteins, vitamins, fats and minerals each day to boost the body’s defenses.

Here are some foods to add to your diet to help fight and remedy the cold and flu symptoms.

Vegetables, especially those in the onion family: garlic, leeks, onions, green onions. They all contain a compound called allicin. They are known for their anti-infectious properties. Garlic has also been known to reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Foods that contain vitamin C boost immunity. These include most citrus fruits, bell peppers, kale and cauliflower. The fiber found in cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts also help to detoxify the body.

Here are some tasty ideas that you can make to enjoy these benefits without having to take too many supplements.

Chicken soup – Good old fashioned chicken soup really is a good way to  help with a cold or flu.  According to the Mayo Clinic, “

“Chicken soup might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.”

Making your own chicken broth is easier than you think.  Take a chicken carcass, add it to a soup pot, cover it with water.  Add some chopped onions, celery and carrots.  Simmer for several hours.  You can also use your crockpot.  Afterwards, remove the carcass, strain off the vegetables, pick any left over meat and add to the broth.  You can either freeze the broth for later use or make your soup by adding your ingredients.  

Tomato soup – Make your own by adding organic strained tomatoes to organic vegetable or chicken broth with some spices. If you prefer the thicker creamier version, add some organic whole milk or cream.  Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene that will help boost immunity.

Vegetable soup – Make your own; add veggies such as onion,garlic, leeks, bell peppers, kale, broccoli or cauliflower.  Use a homemade vegetable or chicken broth base for a satisfying and healthy soup.

Onion soup – Can be quite tasty. Add sliced onions and spices to beef, vegetable or chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Simmer for a couple of hours.  Add grated Parmegiano-Regianno cheese.  

Soups and stews are big during the winter because they are filling and warm but don’t add a lot of calories. Since you are moving less in winter that is good for weight management as well as fighting off colds and the flu.

There are also some foods that you might want to avoid if you want to successfully stay away from winter illness. Unhealthy foods can increase your chances of illness. We all have comfort foods or things we like to eat. Reduce how often you eat them and the portion size to enjoy them.

Refined sugars – baked goods, anything made with white flour; foods high in sugars provide empty calories and lead to unstable blood sugar levels.  Additionally, these foods fill you up without the necessary nutrients you need to keep your body working at optimal levels.  

Fats – Foods made with Trans fats or Hydrogenated oils should not be eaten at all because of the risk of heart disease.  These fats also harm your body and it’s ability to fight off germs.  

Cleanliness

Germs can’t invade your body if they are dead. Cleanliness is one preventative measure that everyone can manage. Germs live on surfaces and in the air. Keeping clean is not easy but necessary so that one person who is sick doesn’t infect the entire office or home. Public places are also big on germs so be careful and prepared.

Hand washing – This is the number one single best thing that you can do to prevent illness. After all activities, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Make it a rule for yourself and your family to wash hands as soon as you are home from school, office, shopping and other activities.  For proper hand washing, place a dollop of soap on your hands. Wash for twenty seconds, cleaning under nails and between fingers. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Disinfecting – When someone is sick in your home, clean surfaces with an approved disinfectant. Spray and wipes work well. Wipes are good for surfaces and spray is good for surfaces and air. Be sure to allow a certain amount of kill time (according to cleaner directions) on the surface.

Hand sanitizers – They are all the rage these days. They are great in a pinch when there is no soap and water around but they are not a replacement for it. These sanitizers actually strip the oil from your hands and can leave bad bacteria behind which is what you don’t want. Use them sparingly and wash your hands as soon as you can.

Physical activity

Get moving this winter to boost your immunity, detoxify your body and stay healthy overall. Winter is not a time to stop activity for the winter but to keep it going so that you can fight off colds and the flu. Here are some suggestions.

Stay active – When it is extremely cold outside, pop in a DVD and have a vigorous workout inside. Be sure the air is not too warm and there is adequate ventilation. Get involved in outdoor activities specific to winter: snowboarding, skiing, snowball fights, ice hockey and ice skating. Before going outside, prepare by warming up indoors. Do your stretching and a few jumping jacks or running in place to warm your body before you get going in the cold weather.

How to Dress – If you are going to be outside, stay warm. Layer your clothing. Keep a wicking layer close to your skin to keep moisture away. Next, try a layer of insulation like fleece to block out the wind. On top, use a waterproof layer that won’t soak up snow, rain, sleet or anything of the elements. You still want to be able to move around freely so don’t wear too much heavy apparel.

De-Stress

Stress. It lowers your immune response and can also lead to engaging in unhealthy habits that further lower your body’s defenses. Combat stress before it gets to the point where it is endangering your health. In winter, the incidence of cold and flu increases when stress is involved.

Sleep – Pulling all-nighters in college was one thing but even then you felt the consequences. But now that you are older, a lack of sleep is detrimental. The body doesn’t have time to repair itself for the next day. Adequate sleep allows restoration and repair within the body and brain to help you are better handle the stresses of job and family without all the negative side effects.

Meditation – Sometimes, our response to situations can increase or decrease our stress level. Practicing meditative techniques is one way to manage stress. Using deep breathing exercises and repetitive phrases can help you reach that level of relaxation that only meditation provides. Set aside time each day to set your mind and body for the day.

Alternative therapies – Ancient Oriental medicine believes that each person has a vital life force called qi (pronounced Chee), that flows through every area of their body. The cause of illness is a blocking of the ‘qi’ at different junctions in the body. Acupuncture and massage therapy can help unblock the flow of energy and help the body to heal itself.

Stay Away from Germs

Avoid sick people whenever you can. You can’t stop coworkers with colds from coming to work anymore than you can keep your kids outside if they get sick. But, you can take steps to see that you are not infected.

At work – Disinfect surfaces. Stay away from those who have colds or the flu. Germs do travel in the air so use an air purifier in your office or cubicle. Spend time outdoors getting fresh air.

At home – You will care for your family members when they are sick but that doesn’t mean that you have to catch it. Confine them, if you can, to certain rooms of the house.  Keep the air and the furniture sprayed down with disinfectant. Wash surfaces, clothing and sheets regularly to avoid the spread of germs. Wear a mask if you have to when tending to sick people so you can limit your exposure to the germs.

Shots – Flu shots have come under such controversy. Should you take one or not? It is an individual decision based on you overall health and the health of your family.  

 

Colds and flu are a fact of life but it doesn’t have to be a fact of your life. Reduce your chances of getting infected by using these suggestions for protection. There is no guarantee that you won’t get sick but you can arm yourself with a healthy body and mind to reduce the duration of your symptoms. Taking precautions on your part can also help prevent the spread of the virus to others.

 

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Getting Enough Nutrition? KISS Yourself

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You’ve heard of the acronym K.I.S.S. It stands for Keep It Simple Sweetie (or Stupid, it’s up to you). Everyone makes getting the proper levels of nutrition hard. No matter what fad diet is out there, they over complicate it so that everyone is confused. No one knows what to eat anymore. It’s just all so confusing.

One person says eat 30 bananas a day. Another person says avoid all wheat products. The next says you can only eat 1200 calories per day. The list goes on and on. It can get downright frustrating trying to be healthy. But, the truth is, nothing is more simple than getting enough nutrition so that your body can benefit and become healthier than ever.

Eating nutritionally and being healthy boils down to this:

  • Avoid Processed Food
  • Avoid GMO Products
  • Avoid Added Hormones
  • Eat As Close to Nature As Possible
  • Drink Plenty of Filtered Tap Water
  • Move Around Every Day
  • Rest

In truth if you are always eating as close to nature as possible the first three are easily taken care of. Then you just need to stay hydrated, move, and rest. How easy is that? Nothing can be easier than eating highly nutritious foods. And, nothing is simpler for your body than digesting those healthy foods and getting the nutrients out of those foods. Your body is designed to do that. Nothing at all complicated about it.

The other fact is that you don’t even have to be perfect to reap the rewards of a nutritious lifestyle. If you just do the right thing 90 percent of the time, you’ll pretty much get close to reaping 100 percent of the rewards. That means that 10 percent of the time you can indulge, in moderation, in so called off limit foods and be fine.

Deprivation is a thing of the past when you focus on abundance, adding in things instead of subtracting, and not making it difficult. You don’t have to be a 5 star chef to put nutritious healthy meals on the table each night and to offer an abundance of healthy snacks. You also don’t have to be rich.

Keep It Simple Sweetie.

Smoothies

berries-2558_150 Ah!  Smoothies!  I love a good smoothie!  Lately, I’ve been obsessed with pumpkin smoothies that actually give me a feeling of eating pumpkin pie.  Yesterday I made a green smoothie with spinach, pumpkin, avocado, coconut milk and pumpkin spices.  It was soo  delicious and full of important fats, vitamins, minerals and protein.  Kept me full from lunch until dinner.

In keeping with the theme of quick meals, the smoothie may be the best way to get those fruits, veggies and protein in all at once.  If you’re pressed for time, you can pull a few items, throw them into your blender and voila!  Instant meal!

In reading about smoothies, I came across a post by Running To the Kitchen.  I love this blog and  Gina always has something yummy posted like her Blueberry Coconut Chia pudding.  But I digress.  Gina blogged about the ingredients to make the perfect  smoothie.  You’ll find recipes for some great smoothies as well.

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?  Share with me if you will.  Thanks.

juice-114628_150Enjoy!

Healthy Meals In A Flash Part 2

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The next part in this series “Healthy Meals In A Flash, we will move onto that mid-day meal – lunch!

Eating in the middle of the day, several hours after breakfast, re-energizes your body and can raise blood sugar levels especially when your focus and concentration are dwindling. Even if you only eat a small lunch, you can renew your energy.  Eating lunch can help you feel refreshed and ready to finish your workday.  In addition, eating lunch keeps your metabolism active, especially if you have a moderately sized meal and a snack before and afterward. “Extended periods of starvation between large meals creates gaps which keep metabolism from staying active,” says Dr. Kurt Hong, the Center for Human Nutrition director of Huntington Medical Foundation.

As much as you need to eat lunch, you also need variety.  Lunch can be one of those meals that allows people to fall into a rut.  My girls would get stuck on peanut butter and jelly for lunch for what seemed liked months on end.  But lunch can be so much more with a smorgasbord of ideas.

So what are some good options for your mid-day meal?  There are quite a few that don’t have to include a stop at the fat (oops, meant fast) food chain of your choice.  Again, making a plan is key.  As I would pack my daughters’ lunches each night, I wasn’t as prepared when deciding what I would eat at work the next day.  Without a plan, your best efforts for healthy eating can be sabotaged.

Start with some simple items you can keep on hand and remember that lunches don’t need to have sandwiches in them all the time either.  Use a variety of items packed in single servings for your family.

Leftover are a great quick meal.  Leftovers from dinner are usually better the next day anyway.  Pasta, soups, meats, roasts, and chicken make great lunches.  Pack them in containers where they can be reheated but don’t use plastics with BPA’s.  Children can also take those leftovers.  If they can’t reheat them, wrap up some chicken from the night before, a piece of fruit, grapes or fruit sliced up, and some carrots, zucchini, pepper strips or broccoli pieces and you’re set for a nutritious lunch that’s easy to eat.

Any of the foods listed for breakfast can also be used for lunch.  You can make a smoothie the night before and put it in a drink container.  When you’re ready to drink your smoothie, give it a good shake or stir and you’re set! Image

Wraps are a great way to include veggies and meat from the left over dinner findings.  You can use lettuce to wrap up any ingredient you like.  Use your imagination and try different combinations.

Here is a list of healthy lunch ideas for you to try.  Some do need a little prep but most are grab and go!

1.  Hard boiled egg, avocado and tuna mixed.  Can eat in a wrap of lettuce.
2.  Yogurt and banana
3.  Hummus, avocado, carrots and spinach wrapped in lettuce
4.  Asparagus and salmon wrapped in lettuce
5.  Stack cucumber, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and greek olives for Greek Salad bites.
6.  Tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayo.
7.  Tuna salad on tomato or cucumbers
8.  Avocado with sunflower seeds.
9.  Make ahead meatballs, freeze and pull out what you need for lunch.
10.Almond butter with apples and bananas.
11.Bake or poach chicken breasts.  Cut into strips and refrigerate in separate bags to grab and go,
12.Chicken salad – avocado, cilantro, salt and lime juice.
13.1 cup of vanilla greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup of blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.
14.Salad with veggies and hard boiled egg,
15.Turkey, avocado and hummus wrap.
16.Chicken, berries and avocado salad.
17.Baby spinach, raw apple, sliced toasted almonds, raspberry vinegarette and feta cheese salad
18.Egg salad – mix hummus with eggs instead of mayo.
19.Turkey wrap – sliced turkey, avocado, mustard, tomato wrapped in lettuce.
20.Salmon salad – can of salmon over lettuce with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Whether you make an elaborate meal or pick a few items as you run out the door, you can make a lunch that will give you that pick-me-up until your next meal.  Be sure to plan ahead so you can keep those goals you are working so hard toward achieving.
Do you have any favorite lunch recipes?

Healthy Meals In A Flash

In this rushed and busy world it’s tough to find the time for a proper meal. Our attention is divided in so many directions!  When kids call,  school,  activities and work calls, we usually grab anything we can get our hands on just to keep the hunger pains at bay.
But today is a new day! Here are some suggestions for healthy breakfast meals that won’t take too much time and energy.The first step of eating healthy is planning. With a plan in place, you’ll begin to see how healthy eating can be easier for you and your family.
BREAKFAST
Of course you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Not to belabor the point, but it is!  Your body needs some type of nourishment since you haven’t eaten a substantial meal since the night before.  Additionally, you need to have the energy to get through the morning.  It is also a proven fact that individuals who eat a good protein based breakfast eat less throughout the day.  There are a dozen more reasons but suffice it to say that eating breakfast will give you the start to your day to keep you running.
Preparing your breakfast and lunch the night before can be a great start to eating healthy foods. When you oversleep that can blow all your well meant healthy food plans. There is no time to fix your breakfast or lunch so you grab a donut or bagel on the way with less nutritional value.  Taking a little time the night before to gather everything together can go a long way. You’ll be glad you did when you are in a rush the next morning. Here are some ideas for healthy breakfast meals in a flash.
SMOOTHIES – These look just like glorified shakes but they are power packed with good nutrition. Be sure to add fruits such as banana, strawberry, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple, or pumpkin. You can also add a cup of full fat yogurt,  (greek yogurt is a great way to get good protein) protein powder, flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds as well as, hemp, coconut or almond milks to boost your vitamin, mineral and nutrition intake. Mix your ingredients together in a bowl the night before. In the morning, put them in the waiting blender and in a minute or two, you’re ready to go. You could make your smoothie even healthier by adding spinach, kale or chard.  These items will add vitamins and minerals to your smoothie not to mention the antioxidants you glean from these vegetables.

EGGS – Eggs are quite versatile. If you are in a hurry (as most of us are!) boil them! You can boil them the night before and have them ready to go. Eat one before going out the door to work or cut it up on whole grain toast for a quick sandwich.  Wrap them.  Scramble some eggs in some grass fed butter and wrap them in a whole grain tortilla.  If you have the time, make an omelet with spinach, chard, kale, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms or other veggies you prefer.  Eggs are full of protein and not the cholesterol culprit they were once touted as being.  Make sure you eat pastured eggs, which means the hens have been raised out of doors and eat a natural diet of bugs, seeds, and vegetation.  This also means they have been exposed to more Vitamin D which is then passed on to you.

FRUIT – Fruit is a great way to start your day.  You can make a fruit salad the night before using any fruit such as apples, pears, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, mango and bananas.  Make sure you know which fruits are best to buy organic to eliminate your intake of pesticides. See the EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list HERE. Sprinkle some lemon or lime juice on the salad the night before and then mix your fruit with some Greek yogurt in the morning.  Greek yogurt contains the highest number of protein grams so you have a vitamin rich, whole protein meal.
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Bananas make a great base for any type of nut butter.  Spread your almond or peanut butter on your banana and you’re set.  Make sure you use nut butters without sugar.  There are several good brands of organic nut butters all made without sugar or sweeteners.

YOGURT – Organic plain greek yogurt mixed with fruit, nuts and seeds can make a complete meal.  Mix yogurt with some flax seeds or sunflower seeds, some walnuts and almonds (use raw) or granola.  Greek yogurt has about 14 grams of protein in just 5.5 oz.

TOAST – Toast is just the beginning. Try choosing whole grain and multi-grain breads with seeds. From here, you can add a little protein to help feed your hunger and also stop mid-morning cravings. Add a piece of sliced turkey and cheese, or peanut butter or any type of nut butters such as almond butter, or scrambled egg. The eggs can be scrambled ahead of time and reheated in the morning for a few seconds. You can also pack the turkey or cheese separate from the bread and make a mini sandwich in the morning.  Make sure you add some good healthy fats such as avocado to your breakfast sandwich or cook your egg in butter or coconut oil for a complete meal.
These are just a few ideas to get you started.  What is your favorite breakfast on the run?  Use the suggestions above to help get you moving on the right track even if you are already moving fast.
Stay tuned for more ideas and recipes for meals on the run!

Benefits of Green Tea

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It is said that the body is a temple. How are you handling yours? To treat your own body a little better and increase your health, you might want to consider the benefits of green tea.

Green tea has been used as a standard drink in Asian countries for years. It is believed that this type of tea will maintain youth and vitality. Now, it has come to the attention of the Western world and more people are discovering how it can enhance their lives as well.

Green tea is still grown and manufactured in Asia. It is cultivated, dried, pressed and processed from a variety of different trees. Some companies still do the work by hand. It is shipped around the world so others can enjoy the benefits that Asian nations have known for years.

Why you may benefit from drinking it. Keep reading.

* Antioxidant protection – Green tea contains antioxidant substances called polyphenols. This tea actually contains a higher concentration of polyphenols than other teas such as black or oolong. Polyphenols are antioxidants that can help neutralize free radical action in the body and may reduce or prevent the damage caused by free radicals.  Free radicals are molecules that damage the body and can lead to health issues such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and joint issues.

* Weight loss – This usually gets everyone’s attention! It has been shown that green tea extract led to increased weight loss in subjects participating in studies. Drinking a cup a day can help increase your metabolism so you burn more calories even at rest.

* Dental health – Drinking green tea might be good for your body beginning with your mouth. It has been reported that substances in green tea actually neutralize the bacteria in the mouth that can lead to tooth decay and dental plaque. Drink it regularly for the benefit.

* Disease prevention – Studies are being conducted that show promising results for those with Parkinson’s disease. Drinking green tea can help prevent and slow the progression of the condition. Green tea can help prevent the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain leading to a depletion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for movement in the body

* Infection management – If it can work on the bacteria in the mouth, it can help in other areas of the body as well. Green tea has been shown to help reverse sepsis in laboratory mice. Drinking green tea can boost your immunity to fight off infections so sepsis does not become an issue.

* Heart disease/Cholesterol – Regularly drinking green tea may help you control your risk of heart disease such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.  Additionally, it has been shown that properties of green tea help to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood by blocking its oxidation. Not only that, but it also helps to improve levels of HDL cholesterol and keep the arteries pliable and clear.

This is just the tip of the iceberg with a sampling of the ‘found’ benefits of green tea.

If you are looking for ways to improve your health, try drinking your way to better health in the form of green tea. Have you tried it yet?

*http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea

Source: Green tea | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea#ixzz2n1xbv6hE

 

 

The Broccoli Boost

 The Broccoli Boost – A Super Food For Every Body

In our home, broccoli is one of our favorite vegetables.  Even when my daughters were little, they loved broccoli.  There’s just something about those little power ‘trees’ as my girls called them.  But when former President George W. Bush made his shocking proclamation that he didn’t like broccoli and that he wasn’t about to eat any, you could almost hear parents across the country gasping. While some kids might have praised the proclamation as an excuse to justify their own broccoli beliefs, the popularity of broccoli has really never wavered. Parents still are finding ways to get broccoli on their kids’ plates by using any means possible, even by pretending they’re trees! We’re going to peek inside and see what this versatile vegetable has to offer on the nutritional level.

What’s In It for Me

Today, broccoli remains one of the best selling vegetables in America for many reasons. This low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetable has been praised for some miraculous health benefits. This list of benefits includes fighting cancer, boosting our immune systems, building stronger bones, and lowering the risk for cataracts. Broccoli earns its distinction as one of the top super foods in diets around the world.

Broccoli is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B6, folate, potassium and manganese. We’re familiar with most of these, of course, but did you know that folate is linked to reducing birth defects and heart disease? Along with these nutrients, broccoli is also a good source of protein, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, and iron.

The words super-food and antioxidant often go together, and broccoli is no exception. Rich in antioxidants, those damaging free-radicals don’t stand a chance against broccoli. One of those antioxidants is Q10 which helps the body produce energy. Another specific component of broccoli’s superpower status involves a compound called sulforaphane which triggers potent anti-cancer enzymes. These enzymes are also effective in eliminating bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers. 

And, you don’t have to eat a lot of broccoli to get all these super nutrients. Just one cup of broccoli provides over 40 milligrams of calcium and almost 80 milligrams of vitamin C. That even beats milk as a nutritional food source. All this nutrition is available in only 25 calories, plus broccoli is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Choosing the Right Bunch

Selecting fresh broccoli isn’t difficult. Look for sturdy stalks with compact, dark green florets, and avoid wilted specimens with yellowing buds, as these stalks are already past their prime. Broccoli stores well in the refrigerator for up to three days before losing its vitamin content. In some supermarkets, you will even find hybrids like broccoflower or broccolini, which combine kale or cauliflower with broccoli. 

Trim any leaves from the stalk and trim the woody end of the stalk off the bottom. If you prefer to eat only the florets, or your recipe calls for just the florets, cut the broccoli florets off the stalk, rinse under running water, and drain. Save the stalks for another recipe if desired.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Broccoli is one of the more versatile vegetables you can eat, holding up well in a number of recipes and cooking methods. Of course, the closer you keep your broccoli to its raw state, the more nutrients you will maintain.

If you are cooking your broccoli to serve as a side dish, you should only cook it for a few moments, until the florets turn bright green. Cooking broccoli for more time than necessary causes the nutritional benefits to deteriorate. If the broccoli becomes mushy during steaming or boiling, it’s cooked too long. You may choose to flash-cook the broccoli in a microwave to keep the cooking time short and to maintain more of the nutrients. Although, the microwave debate still goes on about whether it reduces or destroys nutrients in broccoli. You decide.

Broccoli can be used in anything from stir-fry to casseroles, omelets, soups, and salads. The florets are a pretty, and nutritious, addition to many dishes. The stalks can be chopped and sauted, roasted, or cooked and pureed for a creamy broccoli soup. You’ll find thousand of recipes using broccoli once you start searching.

Of course, we can’t talk about broccoli and kids without talking about broccoli trees. My grandsons call them dinosaur trees. Raw broccoli florets look like little trees, so use this to your advantage when trying to get kids to eat their broccoli. With a bit of creamy dressing for ‘snow,’ make a little forest of broccoli trees and your kids will be tempted to gobble them up in no time.

It should also be noted that sprouts from broccoli have the same healthful benefits as the plant itself. Toss a handful of sprouts on top of a salad for a real boost of flavor and nutrients. Or, tuck a pile of broccoli sprouts into a tortilla wrap sandwich for a crunchy treat. Anywhere you want to add crunch, add broccoli sprouts.

No matter how you serve broccoli – raw, blanched, steamed as a side dish, or as an ingredient in a main dish, you can’t go wrong with this powerhouse vegetable. Besides the boost broccoli gives your immune system, and your overall health, broccoli is just plain tasty. This is one super food you don’t want to skip.

 
What is your favorite way to eat broccoli?