Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for February, 2011

What Your Face Says About Your Health

What Your Face Says About Your Health

“This face you got, this here phizzog you carry around, you never picked it out for yourself at all, at all—-did you?” from Phizzog, by Carl Sandburg

Your body’s unique intelligence has a way of telling you when something is wrong and it needs help. Not understanding this language makes it difficult to know when your body is talking to you. In Eastern medicine a doctor will read what is written in your face, tongue, eyes, skin, and pulse. The signs of depletion are all there and may have been for some time.

Visual diagnosis is an ancient tool used by traditional healers to discover the strengths and weaknesses, and health (or lack of health), within the body. Once awareness of what’s happening inside the body becomes evident, it can be used to diagnose an illness or prevent an illness from fully manifesting. Awareness of your body is the key to figuring out the necessary diet and lifestyle adjustments to obtain vibrant health. In Oriental diagnosis each organ is seen in relation to all the others, with energy flowing in one continuous circuit.

This energy, called ki (Japanese), chi (Chinese) or prana (Indian), runs through the body in pathways called meridians that are associated with each organ: liver, gallbladder, heart, small intestine, stomach, spleen/pancreas, lung, large intestine, kidney, and bladder. Your face is the most revealing part of your body and provides insight into the larger internal body systems. According to Oriental diagnosis each area of your face manifests a corresponding organ and how it is functioning in the body. For example:

  • The mouth is the entrance to the digestive tract.
  • The nose is the entrance to the respiratory system.
  • The eyes are connected to the optic nerve, brain and nervous system.
  • The ears are the auditory system.

 
How this looks on your face:

  • Your cheeks represent lungs and their condition.
  • Tip of the nose is heart.
  • Nostrils represent the bronchi of the lungs.
  • Middle part of the nose is stomach.
  • Upper part of the nose is pancreas.
  • Under the eyes reflect your kidneys.
  • Between the eyebrows shows liver condition.
  • The temples reflect your spleen.
  • Your forehead represents small intestines.
  • Peripheral forehead the large intestine.
  • Upper forehead shows the bladder.
  • Ears can reflect kidney function.
  • Your mouth reflects the condition of your entire digestive tract.
  • Around the mouth indicates the condition of your sexual organs.

You can easily apply these guidelines to your personal health:

  • Women tend to break out under their lower lip when approaching their monthly menstruation or with hormone fluctuations.
  • Gum and tooth infections are related to the condition of the intestines and much of this can be resolved by improving your diet and allowing the organs to detoxify naturally.
  • Someone with a large bulbous nose shows a heart straining against clogged arteries.
  • Swollen under-eyes reflect kidneys unable to work properly, and a retention of fluid from eating too much salt and fatty foods.
  • The classic lines between the eyebrows shows your liver working hard to keep up with your lifestyle.
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes can indicate liver jaundice.

Basically, the condition of your health is all right there, each morning, in front of your eyes. Your face never lies. It shows us when energy becomes blocked in any part of the body, it affects us both internally and externally. According to visual diagnosis every blemish, mole, and discoloration has a deeper meaning. Pay attention, watch and listen to your body and it will let you know when your health condition changes from day to day.

Recommended books for learning more about Self-Diagnosis include:

Reading the Body by Ohashi
Your Body Never Lies by Micho Kushi
The Five Elements of Self Healing by Jason Elias L.Ac., and Katherine Ketchum

By Delia Quigley
 
Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia’s credentials include author, holistic health counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia’s blogs: brcleanse.blogspot.com and brokenbodiesyoga.wordpress.com. To view her website go to www.deliaquigley.com

27 Top Cancer-Fighting Foods

27 Top Cancer-Fighting Foods

 

One of the easiest and most effective ways to promote good health and to help protect against cancer is with your diet. The American Cancer society estimates that one third of all American cancer deaths might be diet-related. The conclusion is really pretty simple: kick cancer-loving food to the curb; embrace healthful food. The foods on this list, prepared by the Cancer Cure Foundation, have the ability to help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size. The list is not complete–there are other anti-cancer edibles–but this features the all-stars and is an excellent starting point. (Click through to the last page for a printable quick-list.)

Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower have a chemical component called indole-3-carbinol that can combat breast cancer by converting a cancer-promoting estrogen into a more protective variety. Broccoli, especially sprouts, also have the phytochemical sulforaphane, a product of glucoraphanin–believed to aid in preventing some types of cancer, like colon and rectal cancer. Sulforaphane induces the production of certain enzymes that can deactivate free radicals and carcinogens. The enzymes have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors in tests. However, be aware that the Agriculture Department studied 71 types of broccoli plants and found a 30-fold difference in the amounts of glucoraphanin. It appears that the more bitter the broccoli is, the more glucoraphanin it has. Broccoli sprouts have been developed under the trade name BroccoSprouts that have a consistent level of sulforaphane–as much as 20 times higher than the levels found in mature heads of broccoli.

Carrots contain a lot of beta carotene, which may help reduce a wide range of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder, prostate and breast. Some research indicated beta carotene may actually cause cancer, but this has not proven that eating carrots, unless in very large quantities–2 to 3 kilos a day, can cause cancer. In fact, a substance called falcarinol that is found in carrots has been found to reduce the risk of cancer, according to researchers at Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS). Kirsten Brandt, head of the research department, explained that isolated cancer cells grow more slowly when exposed to falcarinol. This substance is a polyacethylen, however, so it is important not to cook the carrots.

Kale has indoles, nitrogen compounds which may help stop the conversion of certain lesions to cancerous cells in estrogen-sensitive tissues. In addition, isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in kale, are thought to suppress tumor growth and block cancer-causing substances from reaching their targets.

Mushrooms: Shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity. They are a source of Beta Glucan. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. They also contain Thioproline. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body.

Seaweed and other sea vegetables contain beta-carotene, protein, vitamin B12, fiber, and chlorophyll, as well as chlorophylones–important fatty acids that may help in the fight against breast cancer. Many sea vegetables also have high concentrations of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and iodine.

Sweet potatoes contain many anticancer properties, including beta-carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer-causing chemicals outside the nuclear membrane.

Avocados are rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body by blocking intestinal absorption of certain fats. They also supply even more potassium than bananas and are a strong source of beta-carotene. Scientists believe that avocados may also be useful in treating viral hepatitis (a cause of liver cancer), as well as other sources of liver damage.

Chili peppers and jalapenos contain a chemical, capsaicin, which may neutralize certain cancer-causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers such as stomach cancer.

Figs apparently have a derivative of benzaldehyde. It has been reported that investigators at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo say benzaldehyde is highly effective at shrinking tumors. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says figs, which contain vitamins A and C, and calcium, magnesium and potassium, may curtail appetite and improve weight-loss efforts. Fig juice is also a potent bacteria killer in test-tube studies.

Grapefruits, like oranges and other citrus fruits, contain monoterpenes, believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping carcinogens out of the body. Some studies show that grapefruit may inhibit the proliferation of breast-cancer cells in vitro. They also contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid.

Grapes, red grapes contain bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that work as cancer preventives. Grapes are also a rich source of resveratrol, which inhibits the enzymes that can stimulate cancer-cell growth and suppress immune response. They also contain ellagic acid, a compound that blocks enzymes that are necessary for cancer cells–this appears to help slow the growth of tumors.

Oranges and lemons contain Iimonene which stimulates cancer-killing immune cells (lymphocytes, e.g.) that may also break down cancer-causing substances.

Papayas have vitamin C that works as an antioxidant and may also reduce absorption of cancer-causing nitrosamines from the soil or processed foods. Papaya contains folacin (also known as folic acid), which has been shown to minimize cervical dysplasia and certain cancers.

Raspberries contain many vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and antioxidants known as anthocyanins that may protect against cancer. According to a recent research study reported by Cancer Research (2001;61:6112-6119) rats fed diets of 5 percent to 10 percent black raspberries saw the number of esophageal tumors decrease by 43 percent to 62 percent. Research reported in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in May 2002 shows black raspberries may also thwart colon cancer. Black raspberries are rich in antioxidants, thought to have even more cancer-preventing properties than blueberries and strawberries.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also have vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons, carrots, and red peppers also contain these substances, but in lesser quantities. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes. Scientists in Israel have shown that lycopene can kill mouth cancer cells. An increased intake of lycopene has already been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancer. (Note: Recent studies indicate that for proper absorption, the body also needs some oil along with lycopene.)

Flax contains lignans, which may have an antioxidant effect and block or suppress cancerous changes. Flax is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to protect against colon cancer and heart disease.

Nuts contain the antioxidants quercetin and campferol that may suppress the growth of cancers. Brazil nut contains 80 micrograms of selenium, which is important for those with prostate cancer. (Note: Many people are allergic to the proteins in nuts, so if you have any symptoms such as itchy mouth, tight throat, wheezing, etc. after eating nuts, stop. Consider taking a selenium supplement instead or work with someone on how to eliminate this allergy.)

Garlic has immune-enhancing allium compounds (dialyl sultides) that appear to increase the activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help break down cancer causing substances. These substances also help block carcinogens from entering cells and slow tumor development. Diallyl sulfide, a component of garlic oil, has also been shown to render carcinogens in the liver inactive. Studies have linked garlic–as well as onions, leeks, and chives–to lower risk of stomach and colon cancer. Dr. Lenore Arab, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the UNC-CH (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) schools of public health and medicine and colleagues analyzed a number of studies and reported their findings in the October 2000 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. According to the report, people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly face about half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colorectal cancer as people who eat little or none. Their studies didn’t show garlic supplements had the same effect. It is believed garlic may help prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there.

Rosemary may help increase the activity of detoxification enzymes. An extract of rosemary, termed carnosol, has inhibited the development of both breast and skin tumors in animals. We haven’t found any studies done on humans. Rosemary can be used as a seasoning. It can also be consumed as a tea: Use 1 tsp. dried leaves per cup of hot water; steep for 15 minutes.

Tapioca (I know, not a spice, but listed here for your shopping convenience) is derived from the cassava plant. It is one of the many plants that manufactures cyanide by producing a chemical called linamarine which releases hydrogen cyanide when it is broken down by the linamarase enzyme. Spanish researches have been studying the cassava and attempting to clone the genes from the plant which are responsible for producing the hydrogen cyanide and then transfer it to a retrovirus.

Tumeric (curcuma longa), a member of the ginger family, is believed to have medicinal properties because it inhibits production of the inflammation-related enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), levels of which are abnormally high in certain inflammatory diseases and cancers, especially bowel and colon cancer. In fact, a pharmaceutical company Phytopharm in the UK hopes to introduce a natural product, P54, that contains certain volatile oils, which greatly increase the potency of the turmeric spice.

Red wine, even without alcohol, has polyphenols that may protect against various types of cancer. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, compounds that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals. Also, researchers at the University of North Carolina’s medical school in Chapel Hill found the compound resveratrol, which is found in grape skins. It appears that resveratrol inhibits cell proliferation and can help prevent cancer. However, the findings didn’t extend to heavy imbibers, so it should be used in moderation. In addition, alcohol can be toxic to the liver and to the nervous system, and many wines have sulfites, which may be harmful to your health. Note: some research indicates that alcohol is considered a carcinogen, you can switch to non-alcoholic wines.

Soy Products like soy milk and tofu contain several types of phytoestrogens–weak, nonsteroidal estrogens that could help prevent both breast and prostate cancer by blocking and suppressing cancerous changes. There are a number of isoflavones in soy products, but research has shown that genistein is the most potent inhibitor of the growth and spread of cancerous cells. It appears to lower breast-cancer risk by inhibiting the growth of epithelial cells and new blood vessels that tumors require to flourish and is being scrutinized as a potential anti-cancer drug. However, there are some precautions to consider when adding soy to your diet. Eating up to 4 or 5 ounces of tofu or other soy a day is probably ok, but research is being done to see if loading up on soy could cause hormone imbalances that stimulate cancer growth. As a precaution, women who have breast cancer or are at high risk should talk to their doctors before taking pure isoflavone powder and pills, extracted from soy.

Green Tea and Black Tea contain certain antioxidants known as polyphenols (catechins) which appear to prevent cancer cells from dividing. Green tea is best, followed by our more common black tea (herbal teas do not show this benefit). According to a report in the July 2001 issue of the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, these polyphenols that are abundant in green tea, red wine and olive oil, may protect against various types of cancer. Dry green tea leaves, which are about 40 percent polyphenols by weight, may also reduce the risk of cancer of the stomach, lung, colon, rectum, liver and pancreas, study findings have suggested.

by Melissa Breyer

( Leesa also recommends Chews4Health! Chews4Health is a chewable antioxidant!  Visit www.chews4health.com/Leesa to learn more about this vital supplement!)

6 Foods That Weaken Bones

6 Foods That Weaken Bones

 

What you eat plays a big role in whether you’re getting the  nutrients you need to build strong bones. What might surprise you, though, is that your diet can also play a role in sapping bone strength. Some foods actually leach the minerals right out of the bone, or they block the bone’s ability to regrow. Here, the six biggest bone-sappers:
 

1. Salt
Salt saps calcium from the bones, weakening them over time. For every 2,300 milligrams of sodium you take in, you lose about 40 milligrams of calcium, dietitians say. One study compared postmenopausal women who ate a high-salt diet with those who didn’t, and the ones who ate a lot of salt lost more bone minerals. Our American diet is unusually salt-heavy; most of us ingest double the 2,300 milligrams of salt we should get in a day, according to the 2005 federal dietary guidelines.
What to do: The quickest, most efficient way to cut salt intake is to avoid processed foods. Research shows that most Americans get 75 percent of their sodium not from table salt but from processed food. Key foods to avoid include processed and deli meats, frozen meals, canned soup, pizza, fast food such as burgers and fries, and canned vegetables.

2. Soft drinks
Soft drinks pose a double-whammy danger to bones. The fizziness in carbonated drinks often comes from phosphoric acid, which ups the rate at which calcium is excreted in the urine. Meanwhile, of course, soft drinks fill you up and satisfy your thirst without providing any of the nutrients you might get from milk or juice.

What to do: When you’re tempted to reach for a cola, instead try milk, calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice, or a fruit smoothie made with yogurt. Or just drink water when you’re thirsty, and eat a diet high in bone-building nutrients.

3. Caffeine
The numbers for caffeine aren’t as bad as for salt, but caffeine’s action is similar, leaching calcium from bones. For every 100 milligrams of caffeine (the amount in a small to medium-sized cup of coffee), you lose 6 milligrams of calcium. That’s not a lot, but it can become a problem if you tend to substitute caffeine-containing drinks like iced tea and coffee for beverages that are healthy for bones, like milk and fortified juice.

What to do: Limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee in the morning, then switch to other drinks that don’t have caffeine’s bone-sapping action. Adding milk to your coffee helps to offset the problem, of course.

4. Vitamin A
In the case of vitamin A, recent research is proving that you really can get too much of a good thing. Found in eggs, full-fat dairy, liver, and vitamin-fortified foods, vitamin A is important for vision and the immune system. But the American diet is naturally high in vitamin A, and most multivitamins also contain vitamin A. So it’s possible to get much more than the recommended allotment of 5,000 IUs (international units) a day — which many experts think is too high anyway.

Postmenopausal women, in particular, seem to be susceptible to vitamin A overload. Studies show that women whose intake was higher than 5,000 IUs had more than double the fracture rate of women whose intake was less than 1,600 IUs a day.

What to do: Switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products only, and eat egg whites rather than whole eggs (all the vitamin A is in the yolk). Also check your multivitamin, and if it’s high in vitamin A, switch to one that isn’t.

5. Alcohol
Think of alcohol as a calcium-blocker; it prevents the bone-building minerals you eat from being absorbed. And heavy drinking disrupts the bone remodeling process by preventing osteoblasts, the bone-building cells, from doing their job. So not only do bones become weaker, but when you do suffer a fracture, alcohol can interfere with healing.

What to do: Limit your drinking to one drink a day, whether that’s wine, beer, or hard alcohol.

6. Hydrogenated oils
Recent studies have found that the process of hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oil into the solid oils used in commercial baking, destroys the vitamin K naturally found in the oils. Vitamin K is essential for strong bones, and vegetable oils such as canola and olive oil are the second-best dietary source of this key nutrient, after green leafy vegetables. However, the amounts of vitamin K we’re talking about are tiny here — one tablespoon of canola oil has 20 micrograms of K, and one tablespoon of olive oil has 6 micrograms, as compared with 120 micrograms in a serving of spinach.

What to do: If you’re eating your greens, you don’t need to worry about this too much. If you’re a big lover of baked goods like muffins and cookies, bake at home using canola oil when possible, and read labels to avoid hydrogenated oils.

By Melanie Haiken, Caring.com senior editor

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

Foods that Boost Brain Power

Foods that Boost Brain Power

Can some foods really make you more intelligent, have smarter kids, improve your memory, help you think more clearly, and perhaps even forestall the onset of those so-called “senior moments”–or worse, dementia?

The answer is yes, provided you take a balanced, holistic approach to nutrition and don’t get hung up on magic-bullet thinking–the belief that eating specific foods–or even supplements of isolated components found in some foods–is going to instantly boost your brain power or make your kid a genius.

“It’s all about balance and moderation,” says Patrick Sullivan, PhD, Associate Professor, Geriatrics, at Duke University’s Department of Medicine. Sullivan says that so-called brain foods also deliver nutrients that are good for your heart, liver, and kidneys. “The body was designed to use a variety of building blocks in foods to maintain optimal health overall–not to use one for the brain or heart or one specifically for the kidney,” he explains. “You really need to regularly eat a variety of foods that are good for you.”

Another important message: Start early. “Much of the discussion of nutrition and brain health is linked with infants and kids–the sooner good nutrition comes into play in a person’s life, the better the payout,” says Susan Moores, RD, a nutrition expert in St. Paul, Minnesota. She stresses the importance of good nutrition even before a woman becomes pregnant. It’s never too late to improve your diet, says Moores. However, if you don’t adopt a healthy diet until you’re 65, you probably won’t get “nearly as big a benefit as if you had started earlier.”

Antioxidants against aging


When you talk about getting “rusty” at certain tasks, you may not be far off. Oxidation, the process that causes metal to rust, can also damage your brain cells. And that’s not all. “Every major disease you can think of with respect to aging has an oxidative stress and inflammatory component–dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s–you name it,” says James Josephs, PhD, chief of the neurosciences laboratory at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Antioxidants–vitamins C, E, A, and other compounds in foods–can help curtail the damage by disarming potentially harmful free radicals.

Josephs’ research shows that some antioxidative compounds in the foods we eat have a direct affinity for specific areas of the brain: Ellagitannins in raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are found in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory control area. Proanthocyanins in blueberries, purple grapes, red grape juice, and red wine gravitate toward the striatum, which is more closely associated with spatial memory. The implication? These compounds may enhance the performance of those specific parts of the brain. And, indeed, much of Josephs’ research focuses on how these food types improve cognitive and motor skills in animals.

Another encouraging animal lab study showed that quercetin might play a role in maintaining our brains by reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. So get your apple a day, as they say.

In the spice category, curcumin, a component of the curry spice turmeric, also has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may even prove useful in treating Alzheimer’s: One recent study showed a reduction in beta-amyloid deposits, the plaques associated with the disease, in the brains of rats fed curcumin-enhanced food.

What to eat: Increase your intake of a wide variety of different color fruits and vegetables to five to 10 servings a day. Drinking your quota can help, too. In one study, people who drank fruit and vegetable juices at least three times a week reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 75 percent. Sip antioxidant tea (green or black without milk, according to the latest research), or treat yourself to a moderate amount of very dark chocolate or hot cocoa, one of the richest sources of powerful antioxidant flavonoids. Sprinkle some turmeric-rich curry powder on vegetables. Mix the spice into spreads and dips for veggies, or enjoy a curry dish at your local Indian restaurant.

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Healthy fats for mental fitness
No health-promoting diet would be complete without an adequate supply of healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids in particular may be instrumental in maintaining brain health throughout life.

“Omega-3s, particularly a component called DHA, are present in the brain, so having them in your diet will be beneficial to your brain,” explains Moores. Fatty fish is a particularly good source of DHA, she adds. “Components of fatty acids in fish go straight to the synapses of nerve cells,” says Duke University Medical Center Professor H. Scott Swartzwelder, PhD, who is also a senior research scientist with the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs. That means they help neurons communicate with one another, which may have a positive effect on learning and memory.

What to eat: Because your body can’t make these essential fatty acids, you have to get them from what you eat. The best source of omega-3s is cold-water fish like wild salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna (limit your intake of albacore, however, because of the mercury content). Plant options include walnuts and flaxseeds. Avocados, other nuts and seeds, as well as healthy oils like olive and canola, are beneficial for other reasons, too, since they play a part in lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood and help promote blood flow–another important factor in brain health.

Brain-boosting Bs
Researchers have long known that sufficient intake of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin, by pregnant women can help prevent some brain and spinal cord birth defects. But new research shows that folate may benefit everyone else, too. Elderly people deficient in B vitamins can suffer cognitive decline, including memory loss. On the other hand, people who consume higher levels of the B vitamins (folate, B12, and B6) may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Folate also seems to play a role in decreasing homocysteine levels in the blood, which may improve cardiovascular health. And that means good blood flow to all organs, including the brain.

What to eat: Whole grains, green, leafy vegetables, and legumes such as dried beans, lentils, and peas.

Minerals for better concentration
If your mind wanders or you have memory lapses here and there, you may need more zinc and iron in your diet. A lot of research has linked decreased iron and zinc levels with poorer mental performance in children, but new studies on adults suggest these same elements help keep grown-ups’ minds sharp as well. Marginally low iron reserves reduced adults’ ability to concentrate, and lower levels of zinc slowed test participants’ ability to recall words.

What to eat: Good sources of iron include red meat (preferably lean), oysters, fortified cereals, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, tofu, and blackstrap molasses. (For better iron absorption from plant foods, pair them with good sources of vitamin C, such as orange juice.) For zinc, choose red meats, oysters, dark-meat poultry, pork, pumpkin seeds, soy nuts, and wheat germ.

 

Grab and Go Brain Foods

Your brain is your body’s gas-guzzler. In other words, it needs a steady supply of nutrient-rich calories with a good balance of healthy fats, protein, and carbs to function at peak performance. Try these healthy mini-meals and snacks on the run.

* Homemade trail mix: whole-grain cereal squares mixed with nuts and dried fruit
* Apple slices spread with peanut butter
* Low-fat yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, sprinkled with nuts or seeds
* Fruit smoothies made with low-fat yogurt or milk blended with fresh or frozen fruit and a little honey
* Baby carrots to dip in salsa or hummus
* Whole-wheat pita stuffed with garbanzos or edamame, shredded carrots, and a few raisins, moistened with yogurt flavored with a little curry powder
* Mini fruit pops: freeze juice in an ice-cube tray stuck with popsicle sticks
* Celery stuffed with almond butter and raisins or hummus 

By Pamela Harding, Natural Solutions

Pamela Harding is a New-York based freelance writer covering topics of health, food, and pets.

Dog Sniffs Out Cancer

Dog Sniffs Out Cancer

Dog Sniffs Out Cancer

Does a dog’s nose know best? Recent research suggests yes! In a Japanese study conducted last month, a trained canine successfully detected early signs of bowel cancer in more than 9 out of 10 cases. Previous studies have yielded similar results with dogs sniffing out prostate, skin, bladder and lung cancer.

The latest study, reported in the journal Gut, involved breath and stool samples from people with bowel cancer. Marine, an 8-year-old Labrador, was presented with five samples, one with cancer cells and the other four without. She correctly identified the cancer sample 33 out of 36 times when smelling the patients’ breath, and 37 out of 38 times when smelling the stool samples.

Researchers say it may be difficult to use dogs to find cancer in clinical practice, due to the expense and time necessary for training. However, they hope the studies will help identify cancer-specific organic compounds that create the smell that dogs notice. Once that organic compound is determined, scientists could potentially create an electronic equivalent to a dog’s nose to test for early signs of cancer.

As of now, human science lags behind canines, when it comes to detecting cancer. “Only the dog knows the true answer,” says Dr. Hideto Sonoda from Kyushu University to a BBC reporter. “The specific cancer scent indeed exists, but the chemical compounds are not clear.”

by Megan Zehnder

7 Weird Energizing Foods Runners Swear By

7 Weird Energizing Foods Runners Swear By

Sure, there are tons of energy drinks out there promising to boost your endurance, quicken your pace, and keep you on point for anything — test taking or race. But really… do you want to soup up your body with chemicals and questionable ingredients that you can’t pronounce, have zero idea what they are, and may have actually read about on the “do not consume” list? I didn’t think so.

Thankfully there are tons of Bites with Benefits foods that really do benefit your body… naturally. But when it comes to athletes, there are certain expectations around what’s beneficial and what’s not. Your mind automatically goes to protein shakes, egg whites, sports drinks. But here are some out of the ordinary alternatives that runners swear by:

BEET JUICE
Beet Juice! No, not Beetle Juice. Beet juice is what one marathon runner swore got him through a 24-hour event. Two studies found that bicyclists who drank the purple potion before an event rode 20 percent more than those just given a placebo. Basically this beneficial beverage lets your muscles take it easy. The nitric acid makes it so your muscles don’t need to exert as much energy while working, which greatly increases stamina.

COCONUT WATER
This next one isn’t only for Iron Man marathons in Hawaii. I’m talking about Coconut Water. This foggy refresher embodies the perfect balance of muscle-supporting potassium and sodium that commercial sports beverages aim for, but without that sugary, highly processed taste.

SALTED POTATOES and RICE BALLS
One sports dietitian advocates baking fingerling potatoes, salting them, and wrapping them up to stuff in your pockets. This way they are easily accessible every 30 minutes or so when your energy depletes. This same carb/sodium combination can be found in small rice balls. Cook sticky rice, add soy sauce, and form small balls to also pocket for a workout.

HARD CANDY
Make a stop at the candy shop before a run. Here’s one that will completely go against your idea of nutritious, energizing food… hard candy! One sports nutritionist advocates sucking on hard candy during a long workout. The fast-acting source of glucose will keep your energy up.

TART CHERRY JUICE
Pucker up! I’m not talking about kissing your loved ones before a marathon (although, do that too!) I just mean that when you drink Tart Cherry Juice, you won’t be able to stop yourself from making a funny face. But researchers suggest the antioxidants found in Tart Cherry Juice reduce the production of enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.

PICKLE JUICE
A marathon-master and Anesthesiologist rave about pickle juice for its ability to reduce pain. And let’s face it; a man in that profession knows a thing or two about turning down the torture! He reported that his muscle knots virtually disappeared after incorporating pickle juice into his workout prep. Scientists suggest this could be because pickle juice replaces the sodium and fluid lost through sweat, and that the acidity of the vinegar conquers the cramps.

CHOCOLATE MILK
Sports drinks only WISH they were chocolate milk! It contains protein to repair muscles post workout, carbs to re-fuel, and fluids to replace the sweat you lose during a workout. Another part of this sweet deal is sodium, potassium and magnesium—crucial for strenuous activity—as well as the Vitamin D for healthy bones. What’s NOT to love?!

(Leesa recommends choosing organic when available!  She also recommends Chews4Health, a powerful, chewable antioxidant that tastes like a raspberry/cranberry sweet tart!)

By Laurel House, Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

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