Natural Ways to Ease Seasonal Allergies

Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With spring comes allergies. Here are some natural ways to ease your allergic reactions. 

1. Avoid Mucous Producing Foods: Ideally starting a couple months before your allergy season, eliminate mucus producing foods from your diet. These foods include wheat, gluten, and dairy containing foods such as milk, cheese, bread, pastries, cereals, etc. This will help lessen the burden on your body as well as decrease the amount of mucous your body produces.  Our health coach Shayna has had clients who used to go through a box of tissues a day due to their allergies. By cutting dairy, they have gone down to just a few tissues a day! 

2.  Bromelain & Quercitin:  Bromelain is a compound found in pineapples, especially the crunchy center, and quercitin is a compound found in various fruits, vegetables, and also turmeric. These antioxidant compounds combat congestion in the nasal cavities and chest by stabilizing immune cells and reducing inflammation. You can get both of these in capsule form.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Increase Your Fiber: The average American eats only 15 grams of fiber per day where our predecessors were getting upwards of 120 grams of fiber per day. Fiber assists in regular bowel movements and also binds to toxins for excretion. Increasing your daily intake of vegetables, seeds, and whole grains improves detoxification, lowering the burden on the body so that it can better handle the allergens that it is exposed to.

Image courtesy of khumthong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of khumthong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. Hydrate: When drinking plenty of caffeine-free fluids, your body is better able to flush toxins from your system. The general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Herbal teas can count towards your daily water goal.  For every cup of caffeinated beverage you consume, it’s best to add an extra cup of water to compensate for dehydration.

5. Sweat: Our skin is our largest organ and sweat is a great way to excrete toxins. Aside from exercise, dry saunas are another wonderful detoxification option if you have the access.

The Skinny on Chocolate

Not all chocolate is created equal!

Image courtesy of m_bartosch at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of m_bartosch at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Quality is so important in order to take advantage of chocolate’s MANY health benefits.  The secret behind chocolate’s nutrition punch is cacao. This super food is packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine. Cocao is bitter and chalky on its own, though it is a great snack with something that adds some sweetness to it. For example, try mixing gogi berries with cocao nibs for a great power snack!

However, because of cacoa’s bitter taste, ingredients like milk, sugar, and butter are added to create a sweeter, more rich flavor. This is the aspect that is not always great for your health. Besides adding calories, these can dilute the benefits of the cacao. Therefore, to enjoy the health benefits while treating yourself, stick to healthy chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form). As long as the content is that high, you can reap the benefits from eating only small amounts.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for Iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for Manganese.It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium!

100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily, especially as this also includes 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

11 Benefits of Cinnamon

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cinnamon is best known as a spice, something that adds flavor to breakfasts, pastries, and teas, to name just a few, but there are great health benefits to cinnamon. It can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors, and much more!

However, not all cinnamon is created equal. The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses. Unfortunately, most cinnamon found in supermarkets is this cheaper Cassia variety. On the other hand, Ceylon (true cinnamon) has shown that it is significantly lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety, making it safer. You can purchase organic ceylon cinnamon on Amazon here.

Therefore, make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, or stick to small doses and perhaps avoid daily use if you’re using the Cassia variety.  This will help you take most advantage of the health benefits and minimize your risk.

Here are some of the amazing benefits of cinnamon:

1. Antioxidants/Cancer Fighting: Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This is especially important for preventing cancer, for example. It also reduces the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors, and appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

2. Anti-inflammatory: Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties helping the body fight infections and repair tissue damage, thus potentially lowering the risk of disease and pain.

3. Neurodegenerative Disease Fighting: are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types. Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. In a study looking at mice with Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon helped to protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels, and improve motor function. It is also suggested that it is a cognitive enhancer.

4. Reduction of Heart Disease Risk: According to research, in people with type 2 diabetes, 1/5th of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day has beneficial effects on blood markers. Cinnamon reduces levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL cholesterol remains stable. More recently, a review study concluded that a cinnamon dose of just 120 milligrams per day can have these effects. In this study, cinnamon also increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. And in animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure. When combined, all these factors could drastically cut the risk of heart disease, and it tastes so good to boot!

 5. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels/Metabolism: The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oil, which is very high in cinnamaldehyde. It is this that is responsible for most of the powerful effects on health and metabolism. Cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this important hormone to do its job. In this way, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels. It has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal. It does this by interfering with a number of digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates. Also, a compound in cinnamon can act on cells by mimicking insulin. This greatly improves glucose uptake by cells. Numerous human trials have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 10-29%. The effective dose is typically around 0.5-2 teaspoons per day.

 6. Antifungal/Antibacterial: Cinnamaldehyde has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which may reduce infections and help fight tooth decay and bad breath. Further, if you have a bad stomach bug or food poisoning, cinnamon can help!  In particular, viruses such as E-coli and salmonella can be cured using cinnamon. Further, a cup of cinnamon tea can help to prevent or speed up recovery from a cold.

 7. IBS Relief: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating and constipation. Cinnamon can effectively kill the bacteria and infections that are a common culprit to those with IBS. On top of that, it can even reduce gas caused by IBS!

8. Increased Blood Flow/Weight Loss: Cinnamon can increase the circulation of your blood stream. This makes your metabolism more active, which is ideal when it comes to weight loss. Increased blood flow has more benefits beyond weight loss, including increased blood circulation, which is important for overall heart health.

9. Good Nutrients: A serving of cinnamon contains minerals such as manganese, iron, and calcium. In each serving, you’ll find almost 20% DV manganese. You’ll also find 2% of calcium and 4% of iron.

10. Insect Repellant: Cinnamon’s antibacterial properties can be used as an insect repellant! The leaf oil can be used for the treatment of head lice. The oils can also be used to get rid of bed bugs, black ants, and even keep mosquitos away! It may be time to keep some cinnamon oils available!

11. Reduce Odors: Effective at neutralizing odors, just a few drops of cinnamon bark oil and some water you have an all natural cleaning solution. Wipe down whatever is causing the odor and the nasty smell should disappear within an hour.

5 Mood Boosting Foods

Nutrition impacts how well the brain functions on a day-to-day basis. Some foods will make your brain work wonderfully, contributing to a person’s good mood and ultimately productivity. If you have a case of the blues or you struggle with a mood disorder, the importance of a well-balanced, nutrient dense diet can not be underestimated. Try adding these five foods to your diet to improve overall mood!

 

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Oily Fish – Some excellent choices are salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, and lake trout. What do all of these fish have in common? High levels of omega-3 fatty acids! Omega-3’s are extremely important nutrients, especially for those suffering with a mood disorder. In fact, omega-3’s actually make up a very large percentage of our brain tissue. Studies have shown deficiency of omega-3’s can contribute to depression and poor mood.

 

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lean Poultry – Chicken and turkey breasts are filled with the amino acid tryptophan, which the body utilizes to make serotonin, the key neurotransmitter in mood regulation. Those suffering with depression benefit from the increase in serotonin production. Additionally, lean poultry contains tyrosine, another amino acid that helps reduce depression as it is used to make adrenaline. Low levels of adrenaline are also associated with depression.

 

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Image courtesy of Viacheslav Blizniuk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Spinach – Leafy greens are all really good for the body and brain! Spinach is particularly good for obtaining B vitamins. Deficiencies of B vitamins have been linked to depression as well.  Spinach is full of many other vitamins and a large amount of fiber in addition to being low in fat and cholesterol. Buying organic whenever possible is highly recommended. Make sure you are getting your daily dose of greens!

 

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bananas – Comprised of many mood-boosting elements, bananas should be added to your diet! Tryptophan is also present in bananas as well as a variety of vitamins, fiber, potassium, iron, and phosphorous. Additionally, bananas have healthy carbohydrates that help tryptophan absorption in the brain. Since tryptophan helps create serotonin, this will improve mood and also improve sleep!

 

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Brazil Nuts – Many people who show symptoms of depression, irritability, anxiety, and fatigue are often low in the mineral selenium. Brazil nuts happen to be an excellent source of selenium! Brazil nuts are slightly larger than the average nut, so a person only needs about three nuts to get your daily dose of selenium.

5 Ways to Avoid Overeating During the Holidays

During the holiday season, many people experience weight gain due to overeating. Avoid this by following these five ways to avoid overeating this holiday season, written by Advanced Neurotherapy’s very own health coach Shayna Strickland!

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Chew. When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat, but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted—over the holidays that generally means talking—and we swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.

There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food. Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets. Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food. More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings. Chewing is also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more able to feel when we are full. In fact, chewing can promote healing and circulation, enhance immunity, increase energy and endurance, improve skin health, and stabilize weight.

2. Drink water a half hour before eating. By drinking a glass or two (8-16 oz) of water a half hour before you eat, you are filling your stomach but not diluting digestive enzymes.  Your stomach will be fuller, which will help prevent you from eating too much.

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Minimize or skip the sides. Side dishes often have more sugar, fat, and calories than the main portion of the meal, so try to focus on that turkey and minimize the maple sweet potato and green beans drowned in butter. Opt for steamed or fresh sides when possible.

4. Skip seconds. Fill your plate once. You can even pile it on if you feel the need! You can only fit so much food piled onto one plate, where as you can fit a whole lot more on 2 plates. Start with one plate and stop there. This goes for desserts too, though I certainly do not recommend piling desserts on your plate.

 

5. If you must have dessert, small portions are key. If you are someone who can not go without eating desserts, especially when there is an abundance, then acknowledge this to be true going in, and eat less dinner to leave room, and calories, for those desserts. If you are not generally a dessert person or are trying to avoid them, eat enough dinner that you are full and your body doesn’t want/need dessert. If you are going to have dessert, small portions are key! Also, try to pick healthier sweet options, like fruit, rather than high sugar, high calorie options.