Friday, March 27, 2015

Don't Snooze on Nutrition: See How Foods Affect Sleep

Huffington Post Healthy Living | Posted: 

We all know nutrition provides our bodies with fuel for the day, but what we eat also affects how we power down at night.
Research has found that certain nutrients in food can affect sleep, from how easy it is to fall asleep at a reasonable hour to the quality of rest we get throughout the night. See what you should munch on for better nights and what foods to skip.
Dietary Habits and Your Sleep
Have you ever caught yourself napping after a big meal or wishing you wouldn't have had that post-dinner coffee? What we consume and when can affect our sleep in a variety of ways.
One obvious avenue is by stimulating biological systems that keep us awake. Sugars, caffeine and other stimulants work on hormones and neurotransmitters to keep you wired. In the evening hours, they can delay your body's normal routine and keep you up hours later than usual.
Other foods like peppers, spices and even dairy can cause indigestion for some people. This can lead to discomfort when trying to fall asleep, and less restful sleep during the night.
It's common for people to eat their biggest meal for dinner, but large meals and snacks eaten in the evening, particularly those high in fat, can impair sleep quality, according to one Brazilian study. In contrast, another study found higher carbohydrate meals consumed in the evening may help improve sleep onset but are best consumed four hours before bedtime.
Though a big meal can make you feel drowsy, food takes energy and time to digest, and digestion can slightly elevate body temperature. Body temperature is important, as it appears that the body's natural drop in temperature during sleep plays an important role in deep sleep quality.
More recently, studies have found that too much or too little of specific nutrients and vitamins in the overall diet also relate to sleep quality.
Effects of Nutrition on Sleep Duration
University of Pennsylvania researchers conducted a large-scale study using data derived from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In the study, researchers sought to determine which dietary factors could be statistically correlated with self-reported sleep habits, finding several interesting connections.
Findings were grouped by sleep duration, with people sleeping under five hours classified as very short sleepers, five to six hours as short sleepers, seven to nine hours as normal sleepers, and longer than nine hours as long sleepers.
Nutritional factors that appeared to have the biggest impact on rest include: theobromine, vitamin C, water, lutein and zeaxanthin, dodecanoic acid, choline, lycopene, carbohydrates, selenium, and alcohol.
Very short sleepers showed less dietary variation, and they had the lowest total calorie intake, consumed less protein and carbohydrates, and were more likely to be on a low-sodium diet. Their diets were associated with lower intake of lycopene, thiamin, total folate, folic acid, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium and tap water.
Short sleepers had diets high in overall moisture (but less tap water) and lutein + zeaxanthin, but low in vitamin C and selenium.
Long sleepers showed less dietary variation and consumed less total calories and overall carbohydrates. They consumed less theobromine, dodecanoic acid, choline, selenium, lycopene and phosphorus, but more alcohol.
Normal sleepers consumed the widest variety of foods, drank more tap water, consumed the most theobromine, and consumed more dodecanoic acid.
Effects of Nutrition on Sleep Complaints
Other research based on the same data looked at dietary effects on reports of difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, non-restorative sleep and daytime drowsiness.
Difficulty falling asleep was associated with fewer total calories, lower levels of alpha carotene, selenium, dodecanoic acid and calcium, and higher levels of hexadecanoic acid.
Difficulty staying asleep was associated with less varied diets, special diets and higher sodium use. This was also associated with diets low in carbohydrates, butanoic acid, dodecanoic acid, vitamin D, and lycopene, and high in hexanoic acid and overall moisture.
Non-restorative sleep was associated with diets low in calcium, vitamin C and plain water, and high in fat/cholesterol, butanoic acid, and moisture.
Daytime sleepiness was associated with special diets, high calorie diets, and diets high or low in fat/cholesterol. Also associated were diets low in potassium and plain water and high in overall moisture and theobromine.
What Can You Eat for Better Sleep?
While both studies used self-report data and looked at possible correlations rather than definitive causation, this information could be helpful when considering your own diet. Certain nutrients consistently stood out as beneficial for sleep, so incorporating more into your diet could be a smart move. The dietary sources of the nutrients below comes from the USDA Nutrient Database.
  • Lycopene is an antioxidant primarily found in red fruits and vegetables. Top sources include guava, watermelon, cooked tomatoes and products with tomatoes, papaya, grapefruit, red peppers, red cabbage, asparagus and parsley.
  • Theobromine is an alkaloid similar to caffeine. Top sources include cocoa powder, dark chocolate, guarana, and yerba mate tea.
  • Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential for many bodily functions. Top sources include lentils, beans, asparagus, avocado, spinach, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables.
  • Phosphorus is a mineral important for energy metabolism, cell repair and more. Top sources include pumpkin seeds, cheese, fish, shellfish, brazil nuts, lean meat, low fat dairy, tofu and lentils.
  • Selenium is a mineral with antioxidant properties. Top sources include brazil nuts, fish, shrimp, turkey, chicken, beef, and whole grains.
  • Vitamin C is important for renewing and repairing tissues, iron absorption and other functions. It's abundant in many fruits and vegetables, with top sources being bell peppers, guava, leafy greens, kiwi, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes and peas.
  • Vitamin D is necessary for absorbing other minerals, protecting bones, and it may even play a role in circadian rhythms. Direct sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but it is also found in fatty fish, fortified dairy and grains, mushrooms, tofu and eggs.
  • Butanoic acid is thought to contribute to a healthy colon. It's found in butter, cheese, and milk (particularly from goats and sheep).
  • Dodecanoic acid is a saturated fat also known as auric acid, with possible good cholesterol benefits. Top sources include coconuts, coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
  • Choline is important for the nervous system and liver health. Top sources include shrimp, eggs, fish, turkey, chicken, soy, and dark green vegetables.
  • Alpha carotene is an antioxidant and vitamin A precursor. Top sources include pumpkin, carrots, orange peppers and chili powder, squash, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
  • Calcium is a mineral crucial for healthy bones and tissues. Top sources include dark leafy greens, milk, cheese, fish, fortified soy, okra, almonds, and black eyed peas.
  • Potassium is an important mineral for cell function. Top sources include white beans, spinach, potatoes, apricots, squash, yogurt, salmon, avocados, mushrooms and bananas.
Other research supports links between tart cherry juice and kiwifruit, but a few commonly-touted sleep promoters like warm milk and turkey for tryptophan facelimited clinical support.
Things that may best consumed in moderation include hexadecanoic acid (found in palm oil, butter, cheese, milk, meat) and hexanoic acid (found in animal fat, butter, milk, cheese and coconut oil). Alcohol is also a sleep stealer. It can make you drowsy initially, but it impairs your sleep cycles later in the night.
Consistent habits of good sleepers include getting the right amount of calories, eating a balanced diet with enough carbohydrates and lean protein but keeping fats in moderation, drinking plenty of plain (preferably tap) water, and eating a wide variety of foods.
Ultimately, the greater variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains you eat, the better your chance of getting diverse minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that help promote overall health and good sleep.
Do you notice changes to your sleep depending on how you eat, or does the research match your experience? Share in the comments.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

The 4 most confusing things about sugar


Nowadays, when people meet me and hear that I'm a dietitian, the first thing they want to know is: What's the deal with sugar? No doubt, sugar is the diet villain du jour. You've probably seen some scary headlines calling sugar toxic and pointing to it as the source of all our health woes. But the real story is far more complex.

Sugar in large quantities is, in fact, a big threat to your health. For years, experts have been saying that eating too much of any food can up your diabetes risk because overeating leads to obesity, which is the real culprit behind skyrocketing rates of the disease. But recent research suggests that the sweet stuff may have a more direct impact: For every additional 150 calories of added sugar downed per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes rose by 1 percent, even after controlling for obesity, physical activity and calories from other foods, according to a large study looking at international data. When it comes to heart health, excess sugar is also suspect. People who ate the most added sugar more than doubled their risk of death from heart disease, a JAMA Internal Medicine study found.

Adding to the problem, sugar is hiding in many surprising products, such as oatmeal and peanut butter, and confusing food labels make it hard to know how much of it you're getting. So what's a girl to do?

Before you swear off everything from ice cream to strawberries, read my ground rules to satisfying your sweet tooth in the safest way possible.

Truth #1: Some kinds are better than others

It's key to know the difference between the two main types of sugar.

Naturally occurring sugar is found in whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products. These foods tend to be better for you because they deliver fiber (in the case of produce), as well as protein and calcium (in dairy) and other important vitamins and minerals.

Added sugars are anything sweet put into a food for flavor, from the sugar in store-bought ketchup to the honey you spoon into your tea. (Yes, "natural" sweeteners count.) These sugars are concentrated and mostly devoid of nutrients. Although honey, maple syrup and the like have some healthful antioxidants and minerals, they still pack hefty doses of sweetener per spoonful. This means you get a lot of pure sugar—and calories—in a small portion, making it easy to go overboard and cause big problems. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), increases in sugar intake over the past four decades parallel our expanding waistlines, and studies have connected added sugar, not the naturally occurring kind, to heart disease and diabetes.

Truth #2: You have to read labels carefully

A lot of packaged foods contain both naturally occurring and added sugars. But the Nutrition Facts label lumps both kinds together, giving you one combined total. Last year, the FDA proposed separating the two to make it clearer how much of each type you're getting, but until those changes take effect, the easiest way to tell if sugar has been added is to scan the actual ingredients list. If you see sugar grams but no sweeteners listed, then none were added. If you do see any type of sweetener—including brown sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, maltose or fructose—make sure it's not the first thing listed. By law, ingredients must be in descending order of weight, so the higher up the added sugar, the more there is per bite. Also check for multiple types of sugar, which is a sneaky way food companies make something supersweet without telegraphing it on the ingredients list.

But you can automatically slash your sugar load by ditching sweetened drinks, eating mostly whole foods instead of sugary snacks and buying more unsweetened versions of packaged foods.

Truth #3: The limits are low but doable

According to the AHA, women should have no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons). Yet the average woman gets 18 teaspoons a day! Most of our added sugar comes from sweetened drinks and packaged foods, and the Nutrition Facts label lists sugar in grams, not calories or teaspoons, so it's easy to lose track. Fortunately, there's a simple formula for counting up sugar from any source: Just remember that 1 teaspoon equals about 4 grams of added sugar. So if you add a teaspoon to your morning joe and later have a chocolate protein bar with 12 grams (3 teaspoons) of sugar, you have 2 teaspoons (8 grams) left for the day.

Truth #4: Natural doesn't mean free-for-all

Hardly any of us are inhaling too many servings of whole fruits and vegetables. But juices, smoothies and dried fruits are another story. Recently, a client was confused when I pointed out that her 15-ounce bottle of green juice contained more than 53 grams of sugar (and nearly 270 calories!). It's all fruits and veggies, she reasoned, so why care? One problem when you gulp your produce is that you're getting natural sugar without fiber (and it's fiber in fruit that slows down digestion and gives your body time to metabolize the sugar). As a result, you store the excess calories as fat. Fiber also prevents blood sugar spikes that can raise your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Dried fruit can be tricky, too; without water, the natural sugars become more concentrated. You can still enjoy it, but right-size your portion: One cup of fresh fruit equals 1/2 cup of 100 percent juice equals 1/4 cup of unsweetened dried fruit. Now you're in control of your sugar calories.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

20 Reasons You Should Drink Lemon Water in the Morning

 Living Traditionally | Posted on January 31, 2014

Adding lemon to water not only quenches thirst better than any other beverage, but it also nourishes our body with vitamins, minerals and trace elements which we absolutely need. Lemon with water can be considered the best natural energy booster. When we wake up in the morning, our bodily tissues are dehydrated and are in need of water to push out toxins and rejuvenate the cells. In other words, this homemade “lemonade” helps eliminate internal toxins, regulating proper kidney and digestive tract functions by forcing them to work as smoothly as possible.

20 Unbelievable Reasons To Start Your Day With Water and Lemon

  1. Water with lemon provides the body with electrolytes which hydrate your body. As lemons contain good amount of electrolytes such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
  2. Water with lemon is good for the joints, reducing pain in the joints and muscles.
  3. Warm water with lemon helps digestion as lemon contains citric acid. It interacts with other enzymes and acids which easily stimulate the secretion of gastric juice and digestion.
  4. The liver produces more enzymes from water with lemon than from any other food.
  5. Water with lemon cleanses the liver. Lemon juice stimulates the liver to release toxins.
  6. Water with Lemon helps fight infections of the respiratory tract, sore throats and inflammation of the tonsils. This is due to the anti-inflammatory properties of lemon.
  7. Warm water with lemon helps regulate natural bowel movement.
  8. Water with lemon is indispensable for the normal work of metabolism. Since lemon is a powerful antioxidant, it protects the body from free radicals and strengthens the immune system.
  9. Water with lemon aids in proper functioning of the nervous system (as lemon has a high content of potassium). Depression and anxiety are often the result of low levels of potassium in the blood. The nervous system needs a sufficient amount of potassium to ensure sustainable signals to the heart.
  10. Water with lemon cleanses blood, blood vessels and arteries.
  11. Water with lemon can help lower blood pressure. A daily intake of one lemon can reduce high blood pressure by 10%.
  12. Water with lemon creates an alkalizing effect in the body. Even if you drink it immediately before a meal, it can help your body maintain a higher level of pH. The higher the pH, the more your body is able to fight diseases.
  13. Water with lemon is good for the skin. Vitamin C in lemon, improves our skin by rejuvenating the body. Drinking water with lemon regularly (every morning) will improve the condition of your skin.
  14. Water with lemon helps to dilute uric acid, the built up of which leads to pain in the joints and gout.
  15. Water with lemon is beneficial for pregnant women. Since lemons are loaded with Vitamin C, it acts as an adaptogen helping the body cope with viruses such as colds. Furthermore, vitamin C helps the formation of bone tissue of the unborn baby. At the same time, due to the high content of potassium, a mixture of water with lemon helps forming cells of the brain and nervous system of the baby.
  16. Water with lemon relieves heartburn. For this, mix a teaspoon of lemon juice in half a glass of water.
  17. Water with lemon helps dissolve gallstones, kidney stones, pancreatic stones, and calcium deposits.
  18. Water with lemon helps with weight loss. Lemons contain pectin fiber, which helps suppress hunger cravings. Studies have proven people with a better alkaline diet have lost weight faster.
  19. Water with lemon helps with tooth pain and gingivitis.
  20. Water with lemon prevents cancer. This is due to the fact that lemons are a highly alkaline food. Multiple studies have found that cancer cannot thrive in an alkaline environment.

How and when to drink water with lemon:

For this purpose, use warm purified or spring water. Take half a Cup of warm water without sugar and squeeze in there at least half of lemon or lime. Better to use a special juicer (to get the most juice with minimal effort). You can also use lemon essential oil.

You need to drink water with lemon first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Some recommend a drink of water one hour before meals for maximum results.

So, when life gives you a bunch of lemons, make water with lemons.

This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet. PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Three cups of tea a day can cut your risk of diabetes... even if you add milk

  • Natural ingredients in black tea could lead to reductions in blood sugar
  • Glucose-lowering ability could help prevent and control type-2 diabetes
  • Antioxidants found in black tea block enzymes that increase blood sugar
  • Other research suggested adding milk does not reduce health benefits

PUBLISHED: 19:02 EST, 27 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:43 EST, 3 March 2015

Drinking three cups of tea a day can cut the risk of diabetes, says new research.

Two studies show that black tea has a glucose-lowering effect that could help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes, which affects 2.3 million Britons.

Experts say the findings suggest around three cups a day might help the body control blood sugar levels more effectively.

In the studies US and Japanese scientists investigated extracts from black tea in the laboratory.

They discovered the action of natural ingredients in black tea could lead to reductions in blood sugar.

The US research led by Lisa Striegel from Framingham State University analysed black tea leaves after being immersed in hot water.

Scroll down for video
Healthy cuppa: Two studies show that black tea has a glucose-lowering effect that could help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes, which affects 2.3 million Britons

They extracted a number of polyphenols – antioxidants – all of which were shown to block enzymes that push up blood sugar from the digestion of carbohydrates.

They had 'significant activity' against the enzymes, alpha amylase and alpha-glucosidase. 

This suggests that black tea extract may reduce levels of glucose normally associated with these digestive enzymes, says a report in Frontiers of Nutrition. 

In a second study from Japan, a freeze dried powder extract of black tea leaves was found to have a similar effect on the two enzymes.

The study from the Hokkaido Pharmaceutical University School of Pharmacy was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Although black tea was analysed in the study, other research in humans suggests adding milk does not dilute the benefits.

Dr Catherine Hood from the industry backed Tea Advisory Panel (TAP) said 'Diabetes is a condition of disordered glucose metabolism.

'The main source of glucose in the body comes from the digestion and hydrolysis of dietary carbohydrates.
Diabetes: Experts say the findings suggest around three cups a day might help the body control blood sugar levels more effectively

'The digestive enzymes pancreatic alpha-amylase and the intestinal alpha glucosidases are responsible for digesting carbohydrates to form glucose.

'Inhibition of these enzymes and hence the inhibition of glucose formation could contribute to the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.'

Previous reviews involving almost 300,000 people found those who drank three to four cups a day enjoyed a 25 per cent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those drinking tea occasionally or not at all.

Australian researchers ruled out the effects of caffeine, saying other ingredients such as magnesium and antioxidants may be responsible.

Dr Tim Bond from TAP said the studies provided additional evidence that around three cups of tea a day might produce anti-diabetic benefits.

He said 'Tea is a very popular beverage in the UK and these latest findings together with many other published studies continue to suggest that Britain's' favourite beverage is good for our health including our heart and vascular system.'

Almost 80 per cent of Britons are tea drinkers and they get through an estimated 165 million cups every day.

The British tea industry is estimated to be worth more than £700 million a year.

Antioxidants known as flavonoids found in tea are thought to control inflammation, reduce excess blood clotting, promote blood vessel function and limit furring up of the arteries.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Things to Know About the New Food Guidelines


A panel of nutrition experts recruited by the Obama administration to help develop the next set of dietary guidelines released its long-awaited recommendations this week. The panel addressed everything from red meat to coffee, unveiling a 570-page report that will be used by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to craft new diet guidelines later this year. The guidelines, which form the basis of the MyPlate icon (formerly the food pyramid), represent the government’s final word on what constitutes a healthy diet. They’ve been published since 1980. They influence billions of dollars of government funding for nutrition programs, including school lunch standards and the Defense Department’s menu guidelines.

1Americans are eating poorly.

About two-thirds of all adults, or 155 million people, are overweight or obese. Roughly half have at least one preventable disease, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Poor eating habits and physical inactivity are playing a major role. The situation is forcing the U.S. health care system to focus on treatment rather than prevention, the committee said. So what to eat? The panel suggests more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts. What to limit? Red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened food and drinks, and refined grains.

2Consider the environment.

The advisory committee took a controversial step by asserting the government should consider the environment when determining what Americans should eat. Generally speaking, this means promoting a diet that’s limited in meat but contains lots of fruit and vegetables. It also means eating seafood whose stocks aren’t threatened. According to the panel, the global production of food accounts for 80% of deforestation and 70% of fresh water use. The government has to focus on sustainable diets if it wants to ensure an adequate food supply will be available for future generations, it said. The meat industry says the panel has strayed too far from its mission. The beef industry, in particular, is accused of being tough on the environment, in part because it generates greenhouse gas emissions.

3Ditch the cholesterol limits.

Current dietary guidelines suggest Americans limit their cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day. That’s less than what’s found in a couple of eggs. This time around, the advisory panel said it’s ditching that recommendation because it can’t find evidence of an “appreciable relationship” between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood. The American Heart Association has also said that limiting dietary cholesterol will not lower the artery-clogging LDL (bad) cholesterol.

4Coffee and alcohol? Those can be okay.

The panel said “moderate” amounts of coffee – three to five cups a day – has been found to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For some people, even more coffee could be better. One study found the risk of Type 2 diabetes was 37% lower for people drinking 10 cups a day. But it warned against consuming too many calories from the cream and sugar that are often added to coffee. As for alcohol, the panel said a moderate amount could also be part of a healthy diet. But it also said no one should start drinking alcohol just because of potential health benefits. And booze is still off-limits for pregnant women.

5Beef. It’s not necessarily what’s for dinner.

Americans should eat less red and processed meat, the panel said. Diets that high in those types of meat, along with french fries and sweets, are associated with a greater risk of colon and rectal cancer, it said. Red and processed meat is also associated with age-related cognitive impairment. In other parts of the report, the panel excluded lean meat from a list of foods that make up a healthy diet. It added in a footnote that said lean meat could be okay but researchers haven’t yet come up with a standard definition for what qualifies as lean meat. The meat industry pushed back against what it perceives as an anti-meat agenda. “Lean beef is one of the most nutrient rich foods, providing high levels of essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and protein, as opposed to empty calories,” said the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Four food preparation methods to maximize nutrition - healthier than cooking

 Monday, January 12, 2015 by: Derek Henry
(NaturalNews) Due to poor agricultural practices and excessive food processing, the food that ends up on our plate is typically a shadow of its former self in regards to nutritional content. To make matters worse, we tend to cook these nutrient deprived foods and further destroy their nutritional value.


To ensure you get the most nutrition out of your food, focus on buying clean, whole foods, and use these 4 methods to expand their nutritional benefits.


Fermenting foods could be one of the most economical and powerful ways to introduce incredible nutrition to your body. Fermenting is simply a culturing process that produces beneficial bacteria that are very important in maintaining a healthy gut flora balance. Introducing them to your diet will improve the function of your digestive and immune system, your liver, and your brain!

As an example, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) is a source of many nutrients including:

- Vitamin B1, B6, and B9
- Vitamin C and K
- Manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron

However, even more important is the amount of live probiotics and enzymes in unpasteurized sauerkraut, which makes these nutrients highly bioavailable to the human body.


Another great way to get more nutrition on a daily basis is by juicing fruits and vegetables. Although this doesn't provide more nutrition, it does allow you to eat more fruits and vegetables and reach the recommended amount of servings each day with relative ease.

Not only that, but juicing makes the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in produce much easier to assimilate, as they go straight into your system without having to be broken down. With the sad state of digestive systems today, there are varying limitations on what the digestive system can absorb, but juicing helps bypass that problem by liberating key nutrients from the tough plant cell walls for you so you get the most out of your fruits and vegetables.


Sprouting is something very few people do, but it is another exceptional way to deliver a concentrated source of nutrition that is different from eating the plant in its mature form. To highlight this point, analyze the nutritional profile of wheat grass compared to the full-grown wheat plant, and you will get an idea of the nutrition that the sprout of a plant can deliver.

Sprouts are ideal for improving your health because they are a highly digestible source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, beneficial enzymes, and phytochemicals. Sprouted foods have five to ten times higher B-vitamins, and twice the vitamin A, C, zinc, calcium and iron content of their non-sprouted counterparts.

Per calorie, sprouts may be arguably the most efficient form of nutrition, and they are very easy and economical to produce in your home.


Blending doesn't necessarily get you more nutrition out of your food, but it does allow you to combine more beneficial ingredients that don't otherwise go together to create an incredibly nutritious snack or meal. For example, creating a superfood smoothie can deliver a massive array of nutrients (even more than juicing) in about 5 minutes preparation time.

Blending also allows you to make incredibly nourishing and easily digestible vegetable soups, so your body can easily assimilate all the beneficial nutrients.

Out of all these practices, the most economical (for food costs, time invested, and long term storage capabilities) solution would be fermenting. To learn more and to get an easy recipe, visit The Healing Benefits of SauerkrautTo make sure you're getting the all of the nutrition your body needs, check out .


About the author:
Derek Henry, B.Kin, is a highly revered holistic health coach and world renowned natural health blogger and educator who created Healing the Body to help people understand the fundamental principles to exceptional health so they can overcome their own health challenges. 

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Monday, February 16, 2015

5 Key Nutrients You're Probably Not Getting Enough of

Greatist | Maya Dangerfield @MaADanger February 15, 2015

Unfortunately the Standard American Diet, also known as “SAD,” is, well, pretty sad. Over the last 100 years, the majority of Americans have gone from eating “normal” portions and home-cooked whole foods (after all, the processed foods we see lining store shelves today didn’t’ exist), to consuming high levels of over-processed simple carbohydrates and refined sugars. With this shift in eating habits, there's been a huge increase in diet-related chronic diseases, which represent the largest cause of obesity and death.

Luckily improving the situation could be pretty easy: Eat more whole, unrefined foods—fruits, veggies, whole grains, and other natural products that go through little processing.

What’s the Deal?

This sad Standard American Diet is lacking in essential nutrients that can easily be provided by eating more healthy whole foods. Unrefined foods—fruits, veggies, grains, and other natural products that go through little to no processing—provide high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients (since they arrive to you in the form nature intended). They’re also nutrient-dense, meaning they pack in beneficial nutrients and minerals and contain no added sugars, fats, starches, or sodium, making every calorie worth something very useful for the body.

These healthy, natural foods are packed with essential nutrients such as potassium and fiber, which can protect against chronic diseases, aid in digestion, and even improve muscle development and physical performance . According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the average American diet lacks the appropriate intake of these powerful nutrients (and a few others) and the under consumption of potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D has become a ‘public health concern.’ Adding these nutrients to your diet (or making sure you’re getting enough of them) can help your body recover from exercise better, improve digestion, and just be healthier overall. 

Your Action Plan

1. Potassium

Why We Need It: Potassium is one nutrient we literally cannot live without (seriously, it keeps our hearts beating). Increasing potassium consumption has been linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, as well as decreasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease . The body also needs potassium to help regulate water balance and to keep the nervous system and our muscles functioning properly. Not consuming enough potassium can lead to some pretty uncomfortable results such as muscle cramps, constipation, and fatigue.

Why We Miss It: The recommended intake of potassium for adults is 4,700mg per day, but currently only 56 percent of American adults reach this goal. One big reason why is that sodium often takes the place of nutrients like potassium in processed foods like cheese, packaged meats, fast food, and pastries.

How to Get It: 1 small baked potato with skin (738mg), 1 medium-sized banana (422mg), 1 cup cooked spinach (740mg), 1/2 cup cooked beets (259mg)

Or try this easy potassium-rich smoothie recipe: Blend ½ cup carrot juice (344mg), ½ cup orange juice (248mg), 1 medium banana (422mg), and ½ cup ice for a snack or breakfast containing 1,014 mg of potassium (and a healthy dose of vitamin C).

2. Fiber

Why We Need It:
Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that moves throughout our bodies, helping promote digestion and prevent constipation, as well as potentially reducingcholesterol levels . There are two types of dietary fiber: Soluble fiber can help lower glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood, while insoluble fiber helps food move through the digestive system properly. Consuming enough soluble fiber (found in oats, beans, lentils, and some fruits) can reduce risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and protect the arteries, while the consumption of insoluble fiber (whole-wheat, brown rice, legumes, vegetables) is recommend to help treat digestive problems ((Dietary fiber for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis. Post, R.E., Mainous, A.G., King, D.E, et all. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2012 Jan-Feb; 25(1):16-23)).

Why We Miss It: The recommended daily intake of dietary fiber is 25g per day for women and 38g per day for men, but according to a 2010 report, only 40 percent of Americans reach the recommended intake (more recent estimates decreases the number to only three percent) . Dietary fiber isn’t found in processed grains (like white flour), so anyone following a “typical American diet,” which is typically high in processed grains that have been stripped of their fiber and low in whole grains, are missing out.

How to Get It: ½ cup black beans (6.1g), 1 medium pear (5.5g), ½ cup fresh raspberries (4g), 1 medium sweet potato baked with skin (3.8g)

Try this simple, fiber-rich lunch recipe: Roast ½ cup artichoke hearts (7.2g), ½ cup Brussels sprouts (2g), and ¼ cup sliced parsnips (1.4g) for a delicious dish that provides almost half of the recommended daily intake of fiber. Or, check out our other high-fiber recipes

3. Calcium

Why We Need It: Calcium is an important nutrient that helps maintain healthy bones, assists in nerve transmission, and helps our blood clot . Our bodies need a lot of calcium to properly function (it’s the most abundant mineral in the body) but our bodies also doesn’t naturally produce the element, meaning we need to get all we need from our food (and supplements). Not getting enough calcium can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Why We Miss It: Seventy-five percent of Americans consume the daily recommended intake of calcium of 1,000mg per day for adult men and women—that’s not bad! And most Americans consume their calcium through dairy and dairy byproducts. However particular groups (including young adults, young women, and those over 51) require a higher dose of calcium, so even if they meet the general recommendation of 1,000mg per day and they’re often still not getting enough .

How to Get It:
1 cup collard greens (357mg), ¼ cup diced Swiss cheese (261mg), 1 cup 2% nonfat milk (293mg)

Want to get some more calcium in your diet? Consider whipping up an omelet with 2 largeeggs (56mg), one slice of monterey cheese (209mg), and ¼ cup kale (25mg).

4. Vitamin D

Why We Need It:
Vitamin D is special: It’s the only vitamin we can both consume (by eating a variety of whole foods) and make ourselves—our bodies create Vitamin D in the form of a hormone when we process sunlight. In addition to protecting our bones, vitamin D is a powerful player in regulating cell growth, and decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. . Even more, vitamin D helps out body maintain the correct levels of calcium. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for athletes too—it can reduce inflammation and pain, reduce the risk of fractures, and increase muscle protein . In addition to helping athletes perform, vitamin D can help reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure .

Why We Miss It:
The recommended daily amount of Vitamin D for men and women is 18mcg, but only 28 percent of Americans meet this goal. The major dietary source of vitamin D for many Americans is milk (milk is fortified up to 25mcg of vitamin D per ounce). However since most Americans don’t consume the recommended amount of calcium (which is most commonly consumed through milk), the nation falls behind in vitamin D consumption too.

How to Get It: 3oz light canned tuna in water (3.8mcg), 1 cup fortified milk (2.9mcg), 1 cup fortified orange juice (3.4mcg)

Consider introducing more fish—such as stockeye salmon (19.8mcg per 3oz)—to your diet. A single fillet can easily meet the daily requirement!

5. Iron

Why We Need It:
We couldn’t live long without iron: It’s an essential protein building block, involved in everything from carrying oxygen through the body to building muscles. Not getting enough of this element can cause fatigue (also known as anemia), memory loss, muscle loss, and difficulties regulating body temperature.

Why We Miss It: The recommended daily intake of iron for adult women is 18mg daily and 8mg for men. Women are more likely than men to suffer from iron deficiency (sorry, ladies), since women between ages 18 and 50 require more of the nutrient. Not getting enough iron can be a problem for those with particular diets like vegans and vegetarians. Iron from meat, poultry, and fish is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than iron from plants (how much iron your body absorbs from plants also depends on other foods eaten at the same time).

How to Get It: 10 clams (2.62mg), ½ cup edamame (2.25mg), ½ cup lentils (3.3mg), 4oz beef sirloin steak (2.4mg), 1 cup cooked broccoli (1.5mg)

Looking for an iron boosting snack? Consider munching on ¼ cup cashews (2mg) and ¼ cup dried apricots (1.9mg) to increase your daily iron intake.

*Unless otherwise noted, all nutrition information above came from
Originally posted February 2014. Updated February 2015.

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The Naturally Botanicals Team