Sunday, March 26, 2017

Can Super Foods Equal Super Performance?

“Superfood” has been a buzzword for years, but it’s really more of a marketing term than an official food-industry classification. Still, superfoods generally have one thing in common: They pack a significant nutrient punch. They may be high in one nutrient in particular, or they might contain several phytonutrients, antioxidants, other vitamins, and/or minerals. And since these perks come in a small volume of mostly low-calorie food options, they have an even greater appeal in our weight-obsessed culture. Some superfood all-stars of the recent past include blueberries, dark chocolate, oats, pistachios and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach.  .
Superfoods can carry many health benefits. They may play a role in preventing serious conditions (like cancer and high blood pressure), decreasing inflammation (common in heart disease and stroke patients), increasing energy, reducing joint pain, and maintaining a healthy weight, to name just a few. (8) In this article, we’ll be shining some light on three superfoods that may play a role in enhancing athletic performance and recovery, while providing additional health benefits. First, though, a few words of caution.

Superfoods are great to add to an overall balanced diet. However, if all you consumed were the latest and greatest superfoods, you would be at risk for nutrient deficiencies, as well as potential toxicity from the large amounts of certain nutrients (particularly vitamins K and A) found in some of these foods. People most at risk for toxicity are those with health conditions such as thyroid disorders. A few more pointers about adding superfoods to your diet.
Vary your selections. With some things, more is better. But with most foods, even “super” ones, more is just more. Excluding, limiting, or avoiding specific foods may decrease your nutrient variety and intake. Aim for a variety of produce, and you will take in a wider array of nutrients, not to mention flavors.What’s a healthy approach to incorporating superfoods? Figure out how you can add them to your rotation of wonderful foods. For example, when having salads you do not need to “all hail to kale” and shun other leafy greens. Instead, try mixed greens that include kale, arugula, and (a personal favorite) bibb lettuce for salads.
Rethink supplements. As a general rule, try to consume the majority of your nutrients from food, and use supplementation to fill in gaps where increased need is indicated due to deficiency, health complications, or a desire for improved performance. Always know where your supplements come from; make sure you purchase them from certified and regulated companies. Look for those whose label indicates “USP Verified” or NSF/ANSI 173 certification. Supplements taken by athletes may also be labeled “NSF Certified for Sport,” which assures that they do not contain any ingredients that have been banned by major athletic organizations. (9)
Do some research. We advise caution when any food—or diet, type of exercise, etc.—touts itself as the cure-all for your weight, health, or performance concerns. Look at study results on reliable websites (ending in .gov, .edu, or .org, for instance), or talk to a registered dietitian or healthcare professional before you buy (or buy into) a particular claim, especially if it sounds too good to be true.
Açai berries, beetroot juice, and curcumin are the focus of this blog. Let’s look at what the research says about these three superfoods and what benefits they may offer to athletes.

Açai berries, which come from the açai palm (typically found in South America), are a reddish-purple grapelike berry. These fruits may have more antioxidants (particularly anthocyanins) than other berries such as blueberries and cranberries. Antioxidants are important in fighting free radicals—harmful compounds that damage healthy cells and may increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.
The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2) states that consuming the berries does have a beneficial impact on performance, as well as on health and prevention of disease. However, more research is needed to determine to what extent the impact directly relates to the açai berry.
According to the Mayo Clinic, açai berries are associated with many health claims such as weight loss, an improved cholesterol profile, increased immunity, decreased joint pain, and even improved skin appearance. Research findings regarding these claims however, are inconsistent, so further investigation is needed.
The great thing is that when açai berries are consumed as a food and not in supplement form, there is very minimal risk and possibly many potential health benefits. To incorporate them into your diet, try adding a handful of açai berries into your smoothie for a tasty and a nutritious treat.

The red beet, more specifically the beetroot juice made from it, shows promise for increasing performance and reducing blood pressure. The juice specifically has been used in many studies to determine its health and performance benefits. Beetroot juice has been studied for potential benefits in improved performance by lowering the muscles’ oxygen demand and increasing muscle efficiency, specifically in endurance exercise. Also, beets are naturally high in nitrates, and increased nitrates in the body have been shown to reduce blood pressure. This has many potential benefits for overall heart health.
Beets are high in fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals such as folate and potassium. The rich coloring of beets comes from betalains, pigments with powerful antioxidant potential.
There are some potential safety concerns regarding the amount of nitrates consumed, however. Nitrates may combine with other dietary nutrients to form nitrosamines that may be carcinogenic. More research is needed for this to be definitive. The World Health Organization recommends an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 3.65 mg/kg/day.
Dosing concerns reinforce consuming this superfood in food form first (over supplements). Approximately ½ cup of beetroot juice or 15-ounce can of beets, or 1½ cups of roasted beets. Add some roasted beets to your mixed greens for a start to a delicious and nutritious salad.

Curcumin is a bright yellow compound found in the spice turmeric, as well as in ginger. This substance has been touted for its anti-inflammatory benefits for exercise recovery, as well as its ability to decrease joint pain and prevent some types of chronic disease.
In particular, curcumin is being studied for its benefits on decreased post-exercise muscle soreness, improving recovery between training sessions. Research is also being conducted regarding curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties, which may play a role in cancer prevention, heart health, autoimmune diseases, and digestive disorders. Curcumin is believed to inhibit inflammatory enzymes and therefore mediate the inflammatory response. 

To add curcumin to your diet, try a South Asian dish made with turmeric, such as curry. If you are not a fan of curry, you can use the spice in smoothies, sprinkle it over eggs in an omelet, or mix it into hummus. . Research has found that 1½ teaspoons of turmeric is safe for consumption for anti-inflammatory properties. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

How To Adjust To Daylight Saving Time

Time change dangers
In some cases, the time shift can be dangerous. If your sleep cycle is out of whack, driving can be a bad idea. A 2001 National Institutes of Health study showed fatal traffic accidents increase the Monday after both time changes.
“According to some studies, by the time you recognize you’re tired, you might’ve already had a micro-sleep,” Dr. Waters says. “And, if you’re going 60 miles an hour on the highway, that’s unsafe. Or on a side street, a child or a ball could dart in front of you. It’s much more serious than feeling tired at your desk.”
A 2012 study also reported a 10 percent increase in heart attacks following time shifts, particularly the spring time change Sundays and Mondays.
For your health and safety, Dr. Waters offers these four tips for dealing with the time change:

1. Make gradual shifts as needed
In autumn, Dr. Waters says, changing your sleep schedule isn’t necessary. Fall asleep at your normal time, and your body will feel the same when you wake. Roughly two weeks before springing forward, though, go to bed and wake up 10 minutes to 15 minutes earlier daily. This helps your body slowly adjust.

2. Keep your schedule
Whether it’s fall or spring, try to manage your schedule accordingly, she says. In autumn, keep things as close to normal as possible. If you usually wake at 8 a.m., do it the morning of the time change, if you can (although the clock says 9 a.m.).
“Yes, it’ll be an hour later, but you’ll gain that hour of sleep,” she says. “That’s beneficial for most people.”
[Tweet “Maintain schedule to reduce #timechange sleepiness”]
Be consistent with eating, social, bed and exercise times, too. Raising your body’s core temperature can make it harder to fall asleep, so avoid heavy workouts within four hours of bedtime.

3. Have a nighttime ritual
Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids. You don’t need to do things in a certain order, but you should make a habit of slowing your body down. Dim your lights, Dr. Waters says. Take a warm – not hot – shower. Put your phone, computer or tablet away. Turn off the television and pick up a non-suspenseful book.
Also, avoid screen time close to bedtime. Electronics’ high-intensity light hinders melatonin, a hormone that triggers sleepiness. It stimulates your brain and makes sleep difficult the same way sunlight does.

4. No long naps
Shutting your eyes mid-day is tempting, especially if you’re feeling sluggish. But it could backfire, Dr. Waters says. Longer daytime naps could make it harder for you to get a full night’s sleep.
“One sleep model drives us to want to sleep and another keeps our sleep cycle coordinated. We want them in alignment so we can actually fall asleep,” she says. “Napping re-cues the body’s drive to sleep, so you won’t be as tired at night as you need to be if you’ve taken that nap.”
Instead, step into the sun to stimulate your body and help retrain your inner clock.

No matter what, Dr. Waters says, work the hour change into your schedule. The closer you stick to your normal routine, the faster your body will adjust to the clock.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

101 Uses For Essential Oils

Essential Oil Uses for Cleaning and Home

All-purpose cleaner: Add three drops each of lemon oil and tea tree oil to a few ounces of warm water, then spray countertops to naturally disinfect.

Natural mosquito repellent: Combine one drop each of lemongrass oil, citronella oil and eucalyptus oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil to make natural bug spray and rub on exposed skin. Reapply as needed.

Sports gear: If your kids play sports, add two drops each of tea tree oil and lemon essential oil to one quart of warm water; next add four tablespoons of baking soda and mix. Use to clean ripe jerseys, cleats and sports gear.

Clean air: Diffuse cinnamon essential oil in the air and enjoy its anti-microbial properties.

Homemade peppermint patties: Use peppermint oil, coconut oil, dark chocolate and raw honey to make real peppermint treats.

Washing machine: Add 10-20 drops of your favorite scent per load.

Vacuum cleaner: Add 5-10 drops of your favorite oil in your vacuum bag or dust container.

Homemade sunscreen: Mix coconut oil, zinc oxide, shea butter, helichrysum oil and lavender essential oil, then store in a squeeze bottle to make homemade tax-free sunscreen.

Eliminate shower curtain scum: Using a 16-ounce spray bottle, use four drops of eucalyptus essential oil and four drops of tea tree oil (melaleuca) with warm water; spray onto your shower for natural mold killing action.

Clean burnt pans: Use a few drops of lemon oil and some boiling water to help remove burnt food from pots and pans.

Wonderful smelling home: Diffuse clove, rosemary and orange essential oils when guests come over, and they will talk about how amazing your house smells.

Carpet cleaner: Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with Borax for homemade carpet powder.

Kill pests: Spray orange essential oil and clove oil to kill pests on contact.

Lavender cake: Mix coconut flour, raw honey, organic eggs and lavender essential oil and bake at 350 degrees.

Eliminate mold: Add tea tree oil to your diffuser to kill mold and other pathogens in the air.

Christmas scent: Add a drop of pine, sandalwood or cedarwood oil on a fire log about 30 minutes before burning.

Reduce anxiety: Diffuse lavender essential oil around your home to reduce feelings of stress and tension.

Spiritual enlightenment: Diffuse frankincense essential oil while praying, meditating or reading to increase spiritual awareness.

Bathtub scrub: Mix one-half cup of baking soda, one-half cup of vinegar and five drops of bergamot or lime oil; use as a scrub for a sink or bathtub.

Freshen trash can: Put a cotton ball with two drops each of lemon oil and tea tree oil at the bottom of the trashcan to help decrease the odor and detoxify.

Wash produce: To clean fruit and vegetables, add two drops of lemon oil to a large bowl of water then wash.

Clean kitchen smell: Add a few drops of clove, cinnamon or citrus essential oil to a simmering pan of water to get rid of cooking odors.

Bathroom freshener: Put a cotton ball soaked in lime or lemon oil behind the toilet for a bathroom refresher.

Purify fridge: To freshen up the fridge or freezer when cleaning, add a few drops of lime, grapefruit or bergamot oil to the rinsing water.

Mint tea: Use 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil in your favorite tea for a hint of mint.

Eliminate smoke: To remove cigarette smoke, put four drops of rosemary, tea tree and eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle and spray around the house.

Detoxify the air: Add peppermint and eucalyptus oil to a gallon of paint to dispel fumes.

Get rid of shoe smell: To remove the smell from shoes, add a few drops of tea tree oil and lemon oil to freshen them up.

Bridal shower gift: For a cute bridal shower gift, create a “love potion” with essential oils. Use 20 drops of sandalwood, and four drops of cocoa, vanilla and rose oil to unscented lotion.

Baby shower gift: Give a wall diffuser with a lavender scent to calm the mom and baby.

Flavored lemon water: Use 2-3 drops of lemon oil in water for a delicious citrus flavor.

Cleaner dishes: Add a few drops of lemon oil to the dishwasher before washing for a spot-free rinse.

Physician kit: Makeover your medicine cabinet and create a family physician kit with essential oils of lavender, lemon, peppermint, tea tree, oregano and frankincense.

Essential Oil Uses For Spa and Relaxation

Improve sleep: Lavender oil can alleviate insomnia. Sprinkle a few drops on your pillow to help you fall asleep.

Body butter lotion: Mix coconut oil, shea butter, magnesium oil and essential oils for moisturizing body lotion.

Homemade lip balm: Combine coconut oil, beeswax and lavender oil for an amazing healing balm for chapped lips.

Relieve tension: Help to relieve anxiety by using a single drop of lavender oil on your hands, rub together, and cup your hands to your nose and let the smell flood your senses.

Massage therapy: Use a few drops of cedarwood or lavender oil, mixed with an unscented lotion during a relaxation massage.

Immediate relaxation: Apply 2-4 drops of chamomile, lavender and peppermint essential oil to your temples for a cooling effect and immediate relaxation.

Detox bath: Mix lavender oil, epsom salts and sea salt to a warm bath to cleanse and rejuvenate the body.

Sauna therapy: Add two drops of your favorite essential oil into two cups of water in a sauna.

Calm upset child: Help sooth and calm children by adding lavender or chamomile to their stuffed animals.

Foot bath: Add a few drops of lemon or eucalyptus oil to a large bowl of warm water to help soothe the feet.

Improve depression: To boost mood and relieve depression, add rose oil to baths, inhalations and diffusers to improve mood.

Yoga and Pilates: To relax during yoga or meditation, inhale lavender or sandalwood before class. Also, mix clove and citrus essential oil to clean yoga mats.

Mint chocolate cocoa: Add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to hot cocoa for instant minty chocolate!
Essential Oil Uses for Skin and Beauty

Reduce cellulite: Mix five drops of grapefruit essential oil with two teaspoons of coconut oil and massage into dimpled areas.

Natural perfume: Use 1-2 drops of jasmine essential oil on your wrist as a fresh natural fragrance. Lavender and vanilla also agree with most women, while cypress and clove work well for men’s cologne.

Acne face wash: To get rid of acne, make a homemade face wash by mixing tea tree oil (melaleuca) with raw honey and rub on your face. Then rinse off with water.

Freshen breath: Use a drop of peppermint essential oil for a natural way to freshen breath.

Homemade shampoo: To make homemade shampoo, mix lavender oil, rosemary oil, aloe vera gel and coconut milk. Use as you would regular shampoo. It lasts 2-4 weeks.

Homemade deodorant: Combine coconut oil, beeswax and your favorite essential oils like cedarwood and clove oil for men and lavender and tea tree oil for women.

Sugar scrub: Mix a few drops of an essential oil with almond oil and rock salt or sugar to make your own salt or sugar scrub.

Homemade toothpaste: Combine sea salt, baking soda, coconut oil and xylitol with peppermint essential oil to make  homemade remineralizing toothpaste.Then brush.

Body spray: Add 5-10 drops to four ounces of water and use as a fragrant body spray.

Itchy scalp: Add lavender, cedarwood or basil essential oil to shampoo to reduce itching.

Thicken hair: Add rosemary to shampoo to naturally thicken hair and increase volume.

Strengthen nails: Mix 10 drops of frankincense, myrrh and lemon essential oils into two tablespoons of vitamin E oil, then rub on cuticles.

Reduce wrinkles: Mix 3-5 drops of sandalwood, geranium, lavender and frankincense essential oils with an unscented lotion and apply to face. Avoid applying to eyes.

Teeth whitener: Combine lemon essential oil, coconut oil and fresh strawberries, then rub on your teeth. Rinse after two minutes.

Cure dandruff: Mix five drops of rosemary and lavender essential oils with three tablespoons of unscented oil. Massage into your scalp and leave on for 10 minutes. Shampoo mixture out.

Reduce stretch marks: Mix five drops of frankincense, myrrh and grapefruit essential oils with coconut oil and apply to stretch marks.

Facial scrub: Mix one-fourth cup yogurt, one-fourth cup cornmeal, and five drops of patchouli, grapefruit and lavender oil. Apply to face and wash off.

Natural skin toner: Mix eight ounces of water with two drops of lavender, geranium and frankincense.

Deep hair conditioner: Mix 15 drops of rosewood with five drops of sandalwood and lavender into unscented oil. Place mixture in a small plastic bag and dunk into warm water to heat up. Apply to hair and wrap for 20 minutes. Shampoo as usual.

Reduce age spots: Put on frankincense essential oil three times daily directly on skin to improve sun spots and age spots.

For oily hair: Mix 10 drops of ylang ylang, lime and rosemary oil with two ounces of unscented oil. Massage it scalp 2-3 times per week. Wash out as usual.

Heal dry cracked feet: Add three drops of lavender oil to two tablespoons of coconut oil. Apply to the feet at night and put on some socks.

Relieve nausea: Breathe in peppermint oil through your nose to alleviate nausea, and also apply to your neck and upper chest. Ginger and lavender may also help.

Essential Oil Remedies and Natural Medicine

Migraine headache relief: Try combining a few drops of lavender oil and peppermint oil and apply to temples to help with headaches and migraines.

Reduce cough or sinusitis: Eucalyptus oil is known for its powerful ability to fight coughs and open airways. Add a few drops into steaming hot water or diffuser. Inhale to help clear nasal passage.

Repair broken bones: To support healing of broken bones, apply helichrysum, fir and cypress essential oils.

Heal burns: Mix lavender oil with aloe vera to treat burns.

Soothe bug bites: Use lavender oil for bug bites and stings.

Improve digestion: Take ginger oil, peppermint oil and fennel essential oil to support digestion and healing leaky gut.

Bronchitis and asthma remedy: Make a homemade vapor rub by combining eucalyptus, peppermint and coconut oil. Rub on your chest and neck.

Treat bruises: Use essential oils as a hot compress to treat bruises or other wounds. Add five drops of lavender and five drops of frankincense to four ounces of hot water and soak. Apply to affected area.

Improve concentration: Inhale bergamot, grapefruit or peppermint oil to increase concentration during the day.

Sore feet soak: Add 10 drops of peppermint oil with a tablespoon of Epson salt and add to a warm-water foot bath.

Reduce teeth grinding: Massage 1-3 drops of lavender on the bottom of the feet and behind ears before bed.

Relieve PMS: Mix two drops of sage, basil and rosemary, then apply to a warm, moist hand towel and apply to abdomen.

Eczema and psoriasis cream: To treat eczema, psoriasis or red dry skin, apply a mixture of lavender essential oil with shea butter.

Improve circulation: Add 8-10 drops of grapefruit essential oil to warm bath water.

Relieve hangover symptoms: Add six drops each of juniper berry, cedarwood, grapefruit, lavender, rosemary and lemon oil into a warm bath.

Curb food cravings: Inhale peppermint and cinnamon oil to reduce your appetite and balance blood sugar.

Energize your workout: Inhale peppermint oil before a workout to reduce fatigue.

Reduce fever: Add 1-3 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender to a cool cloth and sponge the body.

Relieve motion sickness: Use peppermint, lavender and ginger oil to reduce motion sickness.

Arthritis relief: Mix two drops of wintergreen, cypress and lemongrass into an unscented lotion. Massage into affected areas.

Treat ringworm: Combine three drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and massage over the affected area twice a day.

Head lice cure: Mix three drops of thyme, lavender and eucalyptus oil with unscented oil and apply to scalp. Cover head with a shower cap and leave on for 30 minutes. Shampoo out.

Heal blistered skin: Mix two drops of tea tree oil with two drops of unscented oil and apply to the blistered area up to five times per day.

Soothe a sunburn: Combine lavender or chamomile oil with one tablespoon of coconut oil and apply to the skin with a cotton ball to reduce swelling and pain.

Treat poison oak or poison ivy: Mix three drops of peppermint oil with unscented oil and apply to affected area.

Lose weight: Combine grapefruit, ginger and cinnamon oil and take as a supplement three times daily to support metabolism.

Boost immune system: Mix one drop of oregano oil with four drops of carrier oil and rub on the bottom of your feet before flying on a plane.

Achy muscle rub: Mix eucalyptus, wintergreen and cypress with an unscented lotion or coconut oil and apply to muscles.

Reduce morning sickness caused by pregnancy: Add a few drops of wild orange, lemon or ginger oil to a handkerchief and inhale.

Improve allergies: Rub frankincense and lavender on your palms and inhale deeply to relieve itchy eyes and throat.

Kick a cold fast: Take three drops of oil of oregano and frankincense three daily for one week.

Reduce back and neck pain: Combine peppermint, cypress and ginger oils with cayenne pepper and coconut oil for a homemade pain relieving muscle rub.