Physical Exercise is Good For Your Brain

Physical Exercise is Good For Your Brain

Physical Exercise is Good For Your BrainWhen it comes to our physical bodies, most of us know we have to “use it or lose it”.  But did you know that what you do with everything below the neck keeps you healthy above it, too?

Hey, you awake?  Feeling hazy?  Misplacing your keys?  Does everyone seem like they’re speaking a strange, alien tongue?  You need to sharpen that mind!  If you want to be able to think on your feet, get good quality rest when you’re off them.  Exercise during the day brings better sleep – and better sleep helps keep your brain functioning at its optimal level.

“Error: Not Enough Working Memory.”  Your brain has a lot in common with your computer.  They both require working memory to multi-task and keep on humming.  But how often do you feel like your brain is “crashing”?  If you’re having trouble focusing, exercise can help.  Physical exercise activates neurons in the brain that generate, receive and interpret rapid-fire messages from the nervous system.  All this activity up inside your head has a direct effect on how your body works.  All those little imagined lightning bolts shooting around your brain are helping to coordinate your muscle contractions, for organ function, your balance, vision…and keeping all the various departments working in harmony with each other.  Studies have shown that physical exercise feeds back into our brain, helping keep the whole communications system in tip-top shape.

Mood enhancers in your muscles.  When you tighten your muscles during exercise, you’re triggering the release of “happy chemicals” in the brain.  Not only do these chemicals act as nature’s anti-depressant, but they reduce anxiety, too.  So think of your muscles as big squeeze bottles of happy juice and get moving!

Your brain works when you do.  Researchers have examined what happens to our memory when we stop exercising suddenly.  For instance, let’s say you play tennis regularly – then, you get sucked into a big project at work that keeps you late in the office for three weeks, not a tennis ball in sight.  After just one week, the memory benefits of exercise begin to decline.  After 10 weeks, you’ve essentially got the brain of someone who’s never picked up a racket.

To be at your best, both mind and body, move.  Even some gentle stretching is better than nothing.  Love your body, love your brain!

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Natural Remedies for Arthritis and Joint Pain

Natural Remedies for Arthritis and Joint Inflammation

Natural Remedies for Arthritis and Joint InflammationSome of us may think of arthritis as an old person’s disease, but in fact, arthritis refers to a huge spectrum of rheumatic diseases that affect young and old alike.  They include osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, bursitis, gout, and even lupus.  Arthritis can cause stiffness, pain and swelling of the joints, often to a chronic degree, making life unpredictable for sufferers.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a rheumatic condition and you believe in natural healing like we do, we’d like to share with you some drug-free approaches to treating joint inflammation.  Instead of turning to the pharmacy for relief, arthritis sufferers can make simple adjustments to their diets.

 

 

 

 

 

Eat MORE:

  •         Fresh pineapple
  •         Brown rice
  •         Flax oil
  •         Olive oil
  •         Black or tart cherries
  •         Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

East LESS:

  •         Beef
  •         Peppers
  •         Eggplant
  •         Corn
  •         Pork
  •         Wheat
  •         Eggs
  •         Coffee
  •         White sugar
  •         Cola
  •         Rye bread
  •         Oranges
  •         Paprika

Additionally, some herbs that aid joint inflammation include:

-        Nettle

-        White willow

-        Ginger

-        Feverfew

Many herbs can be ingested as a tea.  Alternatively, herbal tinctures are bottled concentrations that can be ingested with a medicine dropper under the tongue.  Herbal tinctures, found in your local health food store, typically have dosage instructions on the label.

When mainstream medicine fails to alleviate the misery of arthritis, isn’t it worth giving nature’s medicine cabinet a chance?

We’d love to hear about natural remedies that have worked for you.  Please share with us on our Facebook page!

 

 

Getting Plenty of Calcium, Iron and B12 from Raw Foods

Calcium from Raw

Getting Calcium, Iron and B12 from Raw FoodsWe’re big fans of a raw foods diet.  Our daily goal is to keep 75-80% of our diet raw.  Why?  Raw foods offer unparalleled nutrition and extraordinary health benefits.

That’s why it saddens us when some people argue for steering clear of a raw diet because they think it doesn’t provide enough of the key nutrients a body needs.  Some fear a raw diet will come up short in calcium, iron or B12.

This simply isn’t true.  Let’s take a closer look:

Calcium

Calcium is an important mineral involved in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. For optimal absorption, consume adequate amounts of vitamin D and magnesium. Many wonderful raw food sources provide calcium.

Good plant sources of calcium, which is absorb-able by the body, are the following:

  • Vegetables such as kale, dandelion greens, garlic, arugula, collard greens, parsley, and watercress
  • Nuts and seeds such as flax seeds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin seeds
  • Fruits such as oranges, dates, limes, figs, and persimmons, and berries (including raspberries)
  • Dried/dehydrated fruits such as figs, apricots, prunes, and dates
  • Sprouted grains such as quinoa and wheat berries
  • Sea vegetables such as kelp, kombu, and wakame

Many vegetables contain calcium in high quantities, but the levels of oxalate and phytates present in some vegetables (spinach, beet greens, and Swiss chard, for example) prevent the body from absorbing much of the calcium present.

NOTE: People prone to kidney stones or gallstones should be mindful of their oxalate intake from fresh foods.

Iron

Now to address the myth that people on a raw food diet cannot get enough iron. Iron is an important mineral in the blood that is incorporated in hemoglobin – the protein responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is essential in the structural binding site for oxygen. If blood iron levels are low, fatigue normally results due to lowered oxygen transport.

Plant-based foods contain a form of iron (a.k.a. nonheme). The body is less able to absorb when compared to heme iron found in animal proteins, the incidence of iron deficiency in vegetarians is the same as nonvegetarians.

A wide range of raw foods contain iron. Check out these iron-rich raw foods:

  • Dried fruits – apricots, raisins, dates, prunes, peaches, and more
  • Vegetables – spinach, broccoli, lettuce, Jerusalem artichokes, Swiss chard, asparagus, and green bell peppers
  • Nuts – peanuts, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios
  • Fruits – lemons, limes, and persimmons
  • Seeds – sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin

While the iron from plant sources is harder to absorb because of the presence of phytates in the food, iron absorption is enhanced by consuming foods/drinks high in vitamin C (i.e., fruit juices, citrus fruits) at the same meal. This bodes well for those eating raw because fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamin C.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and the health of the nervous system. It’s found in bacteria and other microorganisms in the soil, but mostly in animal products. It’s also stored in the body. The amount of B12 you need is very small, and the body can store it for years.

Because vitamin B12 can be present in bacteria in the soil, some recommend eating vegetables from an organic garden with fertile, nutrient-rich soil. This may not be reliable as a sole source of B12, so supplementation is often recommended.

There is great debate on how best to meet your vitamin B12 needs on a raw diet, because the vitamin is limited in plant foods. Trace amounts of B12 are present in foods such as sea vegetables, blue-green algae and in other fermented products, but further study is needed to determine whether this is in a form the body can use.

One of our favorite ways to increase your B12 levels is nutritional yeast, which is rich in amino acids and vitamin B12. When transitioning to a raw food diet, you might want to consult with a nutritionist who can evaluate your diet and make a recommendation for a natural supplement if necessary.

This blog post was derived from a chapter of our forthcoming book, The Raw Lifestyle Guide.

Got any good raw recipes incorporating any of these nutrient-rich options?  Please share with us on Facebook!

 

 

Raw Food Nutrition for Newbies: Your Questions Answered

Raw Foods Nutrition for Newbies: Your Questions Answered

Raw Foods Nutrition for Newbies: Your Questions AnsweredIf you enjoy reading about health and wellness, you’ve probably stumbled upon articles, blog posts and even recipes mentioning “raw” foods.  What does it all mean?  Why are so many health-conscious people “going raw”?

Raw foods are foods that have not been cooked over a specific temperature and contain high levels of enzymes and vital nutrients.  Enzymes are proteins that accelerate the rate of chemical reactions, including those involved in digestion and metabolism.  They’re essential for our body to be able to utilize the good nutrition of the food we eat.

While there are some people who actually stick to a 100% raw diet, many more people simply make an effort to work raw foods into their diets as often as possible.  How raw do you need to be to feel the benefits?  Well, we believe every little bit helps.  Start by including a few more servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily regime.   We recommend at least 50% of your diet include raw food.  Our personal goal is to eat between 75-80% raw on any given day.  Ultimately, you should eat as naturally as you can, and always feel good about your choices.

You might also have come across the terms “live food” or “living food” to describe a raw food diet.  The terms are all interchangeable.  Living foods are the raw foods that contain the enzyme and nutrients that feed the body.

However, “live” sometimes denotes soaked, sprouted, or cultured foods. Culturing is a simple process involving the introduction of natural bacteria to create enzymes and natural fermentation, which promotes the growth of healthful bacteria in the digestive tract.

So know we know what raw foods are.  But what foods aren’t?  Besides the obvious ones like pasta, baked goods, and junk foods, anything pasteurized is not considered a raw food. This covers all juices, drinks, milks, and most other products that are commercially processed.  Also, animal proteins are not considered raw.

So why go raw?  What’s the benefit?

A raw food diet is naturally high in fiber and is one of the many reasons eating raw helps you improve your health. A diet high in fiber helps increase transit time of foodstuff through the digestive tract, lowers blood cholesterol levels, and promotes less hunger due to the bulk it provides.

To promote eating more fruits and vegetables, the National Cancer Institute created the “5 a Day for Better Health” program. This program recommends at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day for optimal health. A recent study — the largest review of thousands of studies — was published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and confirmed fruits’ and vegetables’ roles in protecting against certain cancers and heart disease.

This blog post was adapted from a chapter in our forthcoming book, The Raw Lifestyle Guide.  Hope it was helpful!  If this post helped answer your questions about raw foods, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Winter Brings Kids Indoors – Where the Allergens Are.

Winter Brings Kids Indoors -- Where the Allergens Are

Winter Brings Kids Indoors -- Where the Allergens AreWhen the weather gets as cold as it’s been lately in much of the United States, you’ll find kids playing indoors more often.  (This may be the one time of the year when you aren’t leaning on them to “go outside and get some fresh air!”)

While most of us tend to think of springtime as the season for allergies, winter can be just as threatening.  Now, it’s the indoor allergens we have to worry about.

If you or anyone in your family has been complaining of allergy symptoms and you’re convinced it’s not a cold or flu, indoor allergens like these may be to blame:

  • Dust Mites.  According to a Harvard University study, more than 45% of U.S. homes have enough dust mites in their beds to trigger asthma symptoms.  Dust mites are microscopic creatures you can’t see with the naked eye, but they tend to live in our sheets and mattresses, and they can cause allergies.   What to do about them?  Wash your bedding regularly.  And after you’ve stripped the bed, try running your vacuum across the surface of the mattress using a hand-held attachment.  Finally, invest in a mattress cover that locks dust mites in, where they can’t irritate your skin or lungs.
  • Toxic Chemicals.  If you haven’t made a special point to avoid soft goods made with toxic chemicals, there’s a good chance your home is full of them – and they can cause unpleasant, allergy-like respiratory symptoms.  Your carpet, for example, could be manufactured with flame-retardant chemicals that are unfriendly to the human body.  Your draperies, the clothing hanging in your closet, and even your mattress itself could be loaded with toxins, too.  Consider phasing out these dangerous goods and replacing them with non-toxic products made from safe organic materials.
  • Mold.  Do you send the kids down to the basement to play?  Basements are the areas of our homes closest to the ground, so they are most vulnerable to moisture.  Where there’s moisture, there’s always the threat of mold, and mold can really wreak havoc on your health.  Mold can grow on walls, in carpeting, and even in the padding underneath the carpeting.  Inspect your basement for water leaks and mold on a regular basis.  This is especially important after a period of wet weather.  Mold can be cleaned using a mixture of one cup of bleach and one gallon of water.  Thereafter, make the necessary repairs to keep the area warm, dry, and ventilated.
  • Pets.  Maybe your child loves cuddling up with the family pet at bedtime, but what if pet dander is causing her to sneeze, wheeze and cough?  It may be time to develop some new, healthier habits.  Keep pets out of the bedroom.  And when weather permits, allow animals to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Have you had difficulty convincing your child – and your pet – to sleep apart?  What works, what doesn’t?  We, and our readers, would love to hear about your experience.  Please tell us in the comments section below.

Sleeping Well and Our Health: Finally, We’re Getting It.

Sleeping Well and Our Health: Finally, We're Getting It

Sleeping Well and Our Health: Finally, We're Getting It. According to a recent article from The Huffington Post, the number of sleep centers in the United States is at its highest ever.  In fact, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited its 2,500th sleep center just last week – and that’s double the number of sleep centers in existence since just five years ago.

So finally, Americans are getting it: the link between good health and getting a good night’s sleep.  And while this increase in sleep centers shows we’re taking our sleep more seriously, it also suggests that no small number of us need help.

We see ads on television for pharmaceutical sleep aids, and we cringe.  How many of us are turning to drugs before trying effective natural remedies?

Here are a few drug-free steps you can take to improve the quality of your sleep:

Cut the Caffeine at Night.  Avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening, including coffee, certain teas and soft drinks.   They’ll likely wind you up and leave you tossing and turning.  Try a soothing caffeine-free herbal beverage instead.

Have a Mangosteen Smoothie for Dessert.  Certain foods are known to aid sleep, including bananas, pineapple and especially mangosteen.  Mangosteen is sold in powdered form and it can have a pungent flavor, but the good news is, it blends great in smoothies.  Load up the blender with this trio and be sent sweetly off to sleep.  (We get our mangosteen powder from Sunfoods.)

Ditch Your Toxic Mattress.  Nothing keeps us up at night like the health effects of toxic chemicals – and did you know that the very mattress you’re sleeping on could be saturated with them?  When you’re ready to replace your old mattress, opt for one made with organic materials.  Toxins in mattresses can cause asthma-like symptoms in some, which can lead to snoring.  If you snore, you may not be getting the quality rest you need.

Stick to a Pattern.  For many people with erratic sleep patterns, the solution to more vitality and clarity is simply to stick to one healthy sleep regime.  Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  If you’re not getting it, adjust your schedule so you do.  Establish a regular waking time and a time when you retire, and stick to it without fail – even on weekends.  Your body will respond immediately to the regularity.  And when we say retire, we don’t mean getting into bed and reading or watching TV.  Lights off, eyes shut, ready to sleep.  Anything else doesn’t count!

Take a Warm Shower or Bath.  Bathing in warm, relaxing water has the effect of relaxing the body and mind, especially at the end of the day.  Try a steamy shower thirty minutes before turning in.  But if at all possible, filter your shower water free of chlorine, which can aggravate the respiratory tract.

After trying these methods, if restful sleep still eludes you, by all means – look into visiting a sleep clinic where your sleep habits can be studied, and where specialists will be able to identify any sleep disorders from which you may be suffering.

What helps you get to sleep?  Tell us on Facebook.  We look forward to having you as part of our community!

YHUF’s Cathy Goldstein in Realize Magazine: Why Goji Berries Rock

YHUF's Cathy Goldstein in Realize Magazine - Why Goji Berries Rock

YHUF's Cathy Goldstein in Realize Magazine: Why Goji Berries RockWe’re thrilled to announce that our very own Cathy Goldstein can be found in the current issue of Realize magazine with her article, “Why Goji Berries Rock”.

Realize has a mission: to reconnect the “boomer” generation to its inherent hipness – to keep it as smart, able and healthy as possible.

It’s no wonder they asked Cathy to educate their readers on the most super of superfoods, the goji berry.  Read Cathy’s article to find out why goji berries should be a regular part of your diet, and collect two new recipes while you’re at it!

(P.S.  Not sure where to find goji berries?  You can order them online from Sunfoods.)

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Ward Off the Common Cold with Camu Camu Berries

Ward Off the Common Cold with Camu Camu Berries

Ward Off the Common Cold with Camu Camu BerriesWhen we think of boosting our immunity to keep the common cold at bay, we often think of increasing our vitamin C intake with citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines and grapefruit.  But as much as we adore citrus, once in a while, we like a little something different.

Have you heard of camu camu berries?  If not, it’s time you did.  They’re extraordinarily high in vitamin C — the most vitamin C of any known plant in the world!  They’re also an excellent source of the amino acids serine, valine, and leucine, plus beta carotene, calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin and thiamin.

Camu camu berries are typically sold in powdered form.  The fresh berries, which grow in Amazon rainforests, are carefully harvested, then washed and dried in an organic processing facility.  The finished product is a 100% pure dehydrated powder.

And this is impressive: fresh camu camu fruit contains 30 – 60 times more vitamin C than a fresh orange.  And when it’s consumed in powdered form, camu camu delivers up to 600 times more vitamin C than oranges!

So once you get your hands on this nutritional powerhouse, what can you do with it?  Dehydrated camu camu can be used creatively in smoothies, and will give your morning orange juice an immunity boost.  Try experimenting with blending camu camu powder with a combination of juices and water.

We get our powdered camu camu from Sunfoods.

Camu Camu Powder, 100g/3.5oz, Organic, Raw

We’d love to hear YOUR recipes and suggestions for incorporating dehydrated camu camu berries into your diet.  Leave a comment below, or share with us on Facebook!

Wool Clothing: Smart for Planet and Pocketbook

Wool Clothing: Smart for Planet and Pocketbook

Wool Clothing: Smart for Planet and Pocketbook Trying to make more eco-friendly buying decisions?  So are we.  That’s why we’re such big fans of clothing made from wool.

Typically, mass-produced clothing that’s only made to last one season is manufactured with toxic chemicals that wind up dumped into our water supply, poisoning wildlife and having adverse health effects on people.  Plus, the fast-food version of fashion becomes garbage when it’s no longer useful.  And do we really need to be adding to our landfills with every fickle shift in popular style?

Wool is a smart choice for the planet and your pocketbook.  Here are just a few reasons why:

  • It’s a natural fiber – not man-made, so no manufacturing chemicals are necessary
  • When disposed of, it’s biodegradable
  • It’s sustainable – made from a simple combo of sheep, sunshine, water and grass
  • It requires significantly less fossil fuel in fiber production
  • It’s hard-wearing – lasts for years
  • It’s wicks perspiration away from your body, so it keeps you warm and dry
  • It’s naturally flame retardant
  • It’s hypoallergenic
  • It resists dirt and stains
  • It’s water resistant

Wool garments can also be easily repurposed.  For example, an adult sweater can be unraveled and turned into gloves, socks, soft toys, or a child’s sweater.  And recycling is always good for Mother Earth!

When shopping for wool clothes, you may see terms like “organic wool” and “virgin wool”.  What do they mean?

Organic wool is wool that is produced in accordance with federal standards for organic livestock production.  Sheep are not treated with synthetic hormones or genetically engineered, and they are not dipped in insecticides.

Virgin wool is wool that has never been used before by anyone other than the sheep that produced it.  In other words, it was never part of any other garment.  Virgin wool is considered the softest and finest wool produced.

Hey, as long as we’re talking shopping, check out the gorgeous wool offerings from Hessnatur.

We’d love to see some of your favorite wool purchases, as well as your recycled wool projects.  You’re invited to post them on our Facebook page.

Toxic Plastic: Into our Food Supply and Breastfed to Infants

Toxic Plastic: Into our Food Supply and Breastfed to Infants

Toxic Plastic: Into our Food Supply and Breastfed to InfantsBisphenol A, also known as “BPA”, is found in most plastics, and it’s not a friend to living things.

In 2006, Congress requested a review of BPA research by the Chemical Heritage Foundation.  The foundation’s report concluded that “New research on very-low-dose exposure to BPA suggests an association with adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer, obesity, neurobehavioral problems, and reproductive abnormalities.”

Great news, huh?

But how exactly do people get exposed to BPA?  Yes, you may be buying products in plastic packaging that contains BPA.  But BPA reaches us in other ways, too.  For example, plastics get dumped into the environment.  Sometimes this is in the form of everyday garbage like plastic beverage containers.  But BPA is also a common byproduct of manufacturing processes and is used in building materials and epoxies, and it winds up in our soil and waterways.  Particularly in marine mammals and fish, BPA “bioaccumulates” and migrates up the food chain.  We eat the food with the BPA, and the BPA winds up inside of us.

In a recent study out of Sweden, researchers tested 100 women and found that 76% had detectable levels of BPA in their blood.  They also concluded that the most prevalent BPA sources were dietary: from fish, meat, potatoes, and dairy products.

Now, a study from the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons College in Boston finds that BPA is being transferred to infants through their mothers’ breast milk.  In fact, 93% of children tested were found to have “significant” total BPA levels – without having been exposed to BPA in their environment or through solid foods.

So how can we protect our families and ourselves from BPA?

We can minimize our exposure.  Here’s how:

  • Stop microwaving food in plastic containers.  Use glass or ceramic instead.
  • Avoid washing plastic containers in the dishwasher.
  • When purchasing baby bottles or water containers, look for BPA-free products.
  • Learn to “read” your plastics. Ever notice a tiny stamp on the bottom of a plastic container that looks like arrows following a triangle, with a number in the center?  This number can tell you what kind of plastic that container is made from.  If you want to avoid BPA, steer clear of any container marked “1”, “6”  or “7” inside that triangle.  (See image above.)

What containers do you use in lieu of plastics for microwaving and food storage?  We’d love to hear what works for you.  Please leave a comment or tell us on our Facebook page.