Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Green Smoothie Recipes

I love green smoothies (I have mentioned that before on this blog!). I found this link that provides a great list of smoothies for you to try.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer is Here - 6 Tips To Keep It Healthy

visit farmers markets - Buy local! Visiting farmers markets to pick-up local produce and get to know who is growing your food. Plus often times farmers markets have different varieties of foods like golden beets or rainbow carrots (pictured right). If you are traveling out of town, check out the farmers markets in the area too, visit Local Harvest's web site and just enter a zip code to find the markets and hours for where you are traveling!

get active - Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the long hours of daylight and work in extra activities like: biking, running and swimming.

snack smart - Stock up on healthy items like trail mix, low fat Greek yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit and granola, pistachios and dried fruit, carrot slices and hummus and popcorn.

sip mostly water - Your body is 60-70% and staying hydrated is a must, sipping on water allows your body to maximize absorption. Especially when the weather gets hot, having plenty of fluids helps to keep you cool! Aim to have mostly water and save sweetened drinks like iced teas and lemonade less often!

enjoy fruits and vegetables - There are so many fruits and vegetables that are in season and at their best in the summer time! Maximize the flavors of the season by incorporating fruit and vegetables at every meal. A favorite pick of the summer so far at our house has been Driscoll's Season's Finest Blackberries - they are truly the best... so sweet, give them a try if you see them at the grocery store.

try new recipes - Look for recipes to incorporate seasonal foods like, rhubarb! Check out my Strawberry Rhubarb Muffin recipe that I shared with Men's Fitness. Search Web sites like: Rachel Ray, Food Network, Pinterest and Molly's Facebook page for recipe ideas and inspiration.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Your Questions Answered: Should I take an omega-3 supplement?

Q: Should I take a omega-3 supplement?

A: Maybe. In general, most people (children and adults) do not get enough omega-3 fats in their eating routine. Omega-3 fats come from many foods, including: fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna and sardines), walnuts, chia seeds, flax oil, fish oil and flax seeds.

Typically 1 - 3 grams (1000 - 3000 milligrams) of omega-3 is suggested per day. Although, if some is good more is not better. For example: if you're adding ground flax seeds to smoothies, if you're going to have salmon at dinner, skip the flax seed in the smoothie. Excess omega-3's can cause thinning of the blood and increase the risk of bleeding. If you do start using chia seeds, flax oil or other omega-3 supplements, be sure to let your health care provider know and if you're taking medications that increase your risk for bleeding (e.g. Coumadin, Plavix), consult your health care provider before boosting your omega-3 intake!

A personal favorite way to add-in omega-3's is with Barlean's Omega-Swirl oils like Pomegranate Blueberry and Strawberry Banana to yogurt and smoothies, click here to check out the product line.

The 9 Foods You Should Never Eat

  1. BPA is a toxic chemical linked to reproductive abnormalities, neurological effects, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, heart disease and more. To avoid this hazardous chemical, avoid canned foods entirely and stick to fresh fruits and vegetables, or switch over to brands that use glass containers instead—especially for acidic foods like tomatoes.

By Dr. Mercola
Many foods have been heavily promoted as being healthy when they are nothing more than pernicious junk foods. In the featured article, Clean Plates1founder Jared Koch shared his list of nine staple foods that are far less “good for you” than you’ve been led to believe.
Here, I expand on the selections that are mentioned in the featured article.

1. Canned Tomatoes

Many leading brands of canned foods contain BPA -- a toxic chemical linked to reproductive abnormalities, neurological effects, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, heart disease and other serious health problems. According to Consumer Reports’ testing, just a couple of servings of canned food can exceed the safety limits for daily BPA exposure for children.
High acidity — a prominent characteristic of tomatoes – causes BPA to leach into your food. To avoid this hazardous chemical, avoid canned foods entirely and stick to fresh fruits and vegetables, or switch over to brands that use glass containers instead—especially for acidic foods like tomatoes.

2. Processed Meats

As Koch warns, processed deli meats like salami, ham, and roast beef are not only typically made with meats from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
This means they’re given growth hormones, antibiotics and other veterinary drugs, and raised in deplorable conditions that promote disease, these meats are also filled with sodium nitrite (a commonly used preservative and antimicrobial agent that also adds color and flavor) and other chemical flavorings and dyes.
Nitrites can be converted into nitrosamines in your body, which are potent cancer-causing chemicals. Research has linked nitrites to higher rates of colorectal, stomach and pancreatic cancer. But that’s not all. Most processed deli meats also contain other cancer-promoting chemicals that are created during cooking. These include:
  • Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) which are hazardous compounds created in meats and other foods that have been cooked at high temperatures. According to research, processed meats are clearly associated with an increased risk of stomach, colon and breast cancers.
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): Many processed meats are smoked as part of the curing process, which causes PAHs to form. PAHs can also form when grilling. When fat drips onto the heat source, causing excess smoke, and the smoke surrounds your food, it can transfer cancer-causing PAHs to the meat.
  • Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): When food is cooked at high temperatures—including when it is pasteurized or sterilized—it increases the formation of AGEs in your food. AGEs build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
The truth is, processed meats are not a healthful choice for anyone and should be avoided entirely, according to a 2011 review of more than 7,000 clinical studies examining the connection between diet and cancer. The report was commissioned by The World Cancer Research Fund2 (WCRF) using money raised from the general public. Therefore the findings were not influenced by any vested interests, which makes it all the more reliable.
It's the biggest review of the evidence ever undertaken, and it confirms previous findings: Processed meats increase your risk of cancer, especially bowel cancer, and NO amount of processed meat is "safe." You’re far better off ditching the deli meats and opting instead for fresh organically-raised grass-fed or pastured meats, or wild caught salmon.

3. Margarine

The unfortunate result of the low-fat diet craze has been the shunning of healthful fats such as butter, and public health has declined as a result of this folly. There are a myriad of unhealthy components to margarine and other butter impostors, including:
  • Trans fats: These unnatural fats in margarine, shortenings and spreads are formed during the process of hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oils into a solid fat. Trans fats contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormonal imbalance and skin disease; infertility, difficulties in pregnancy and problems with lactation; and low birth weight, growth problems and learning disabilities in children. A US government panel of scientists determined that man-made trans fats are unsafe at any level.
  • Free radicals: Free radicals and other toxic breakdown products are the result of high temperature industrial processing of vegetable oils. They contribute to numerous health problems, including cancer and heart disease.
  • Emulsifiers and preservatives: Numerous additives of questionable safety are added to margarines and spreads. Most vegetable shortening is stabilized with preservatives like BHT.
  • Hexane and other solvents: Used in the extraction process, these industrial chemicals can have toxic effects.
Good-old-fashioned butter, when made from grass-fed cows, is rich in a substance called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is not only known to help fight cancer and diabetes, it may even help you to lose weight, which cannot be said for its trans-fat substitutes. Much of the reason why butter is vilified is because it contains saturated fat. If you're still in the mindset that saturated fat is harmful for your health, then please read the Healthy Fats section of my Optimized Nutrition Plan to learn why saturated fat is actually good for you.

4. Vegetable Oils

Of all the destructive foods available to us, those made with heated vegetable oils are some of the worst. Make no mistake about it--vegetable oil is not the health food that you were lead to believe it was. This is largely due to the fact that they are highly processed, and when consumed in massive amounts, as they are by most Americans, they seriously distort the important omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Ideally, this ratio is 1:1.
Anytime you cook a food, you run the risk of creating heat-induced damage. The oils you choose to cook with must be stable enough to resist chemical changes when heated to high temperatures, or you run the risk of damaging your health. One of the ways vegetable oils can inflict damage is by converting your good cholesterol into bad cholesterol—by oxidizing it. When you cook with polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as canola, corn, and soy oils), oxidized cholesterol is introduced into your system.
As the oil is heated and mixed with oxygen, it goes rancid. Rancid oil is oxidized oil and should NOT be consumed—it leads directly to vascular disease. Trans-fats are introduced when these oils are hydrogenated, which increases your risk of chronic diseases like breast cancer and heart disease.
So what's the best oil to cook with?
Of all the available oils, coconut oil is the oil of choice for cooking because it is nearly a completely saturated fat, which means it is much less susceptible to heat damage. And coconut oil is one of the most unique and beneficial fats for your body. For more in-depth information about the many benefits of coconut oil, please see this special report. Olive oil, while certainly a healthful oil, is easily damaged by heat and is best reserved for drizzling cold over salad.

5. Microwave Popcorn

Perfluoroalkyls, which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), are chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers, are being ingested by people through their food and showing up as contaminants in blood. Microwave popcorn bags are lined with PFOA, and when they are heated the compound leaches onto the popcorn.
These chemicals are part of an expanding group of chemicals commonly referred to as "gender-bending" chemicals, because they can disrupt your endocrine system and affect your sex hormones. The EPA has ruled PFCs as "likely carcinogens," and has stated that PFOA "poses developmental and reproductive risks to humans." Researchers have also linked various PFCs to a range of other health dangers, such as:
  • Infertility -- A study published in the journal Human Reproduction3 found that both PFOA and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), dramatically increased the odds of infertility. PFOA was linked to a 60 to 154 percent increase in the chance of infertility.
  • Thyroid disease -- A 2010 study4 found that PFOA can damage your thyroid function. Individuals with the highest PFOA concentrations were more than twice as likely to report current thyroid disease, compared to those with the lowest PFOA concentrations. Your thyroid contains thyroglobulin protein, which binds to iodine to form hormones, which in turn influence essentially every organ, tissue and cell in your body. Thyroid hormones are also required for growth and development in children. Thyroid disease, if left untreated, can lead to heart disease, infertility, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis.
  • Cancer -- PFOA has been associated with tumors in at least four different organs in animal tests (liver, pancreas, testicles and mammary glands in rats), and has been associated with increases in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers.
  • Immune system problems -- Several studies by scientists in Sweden indicate that PFCs have an adverse effect on your immune system. As described in a report on PFCs by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), PFOA was found to decrease all immune cell subpopulations studied, in the thymus and spleen, and caused immunosupression.
  • Increased LDL cholesterol levels – A 2010 study in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine5 found that children and teens with higher PFOA levels had higher levels of total cholesterol and LDL or "bad" cholesterol, while PFOS was associated with increased total cholesterol, including both LDL cholesterol and HDL or "good" cholesterol.
I strongly recommend avoiding any product you know contain these toxic compounds, particularly non-stick cookware, but also foods sold in grease-proof food packaging, such as fast food and microwave popcorn. Clearly, if you're eating fast food or junk food, PFCs from the wrapper may be the least of your problems, but I think it's still important to realize that not only are you not getting proper nutrition from the food itself, the wrappers may also add to your toxic burden.

6. Non-Organic Potatoes and Other Fresh Produce Known for High Pesticide Contamination

Your best bet is to buy only organic fruits and vegetables, as synthetic agricultural chemicals are not permissible under the USDA organic rules. That said, not all conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are subjected to the same amount of pesticide load. While Koch focuses on potatoes, as they tend to take up a lot of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals present in the soil, I would recommend reviewing the "Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce"6 by the Environmental Working Group.
Of the 48 different fruit and vegetable categories tested by the EWG for the 2013 guide, the following 15 fruits and vegetables had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grow organically:
ApplesCeleryCherry tomatoes
CucumbersGrapesHot peppers
Nectarines (imported)PeachesPotatoes
SpinachStrawberriesSweet bell peppers
KaleCollard greensSummer squash

In contrast, the following foods were found to have the lowest residual pesticide load, making them the safest bet among conventionally grown vegetables. Note that a small amount of sweet corn and most Hawaiian papaya, although low in pesticides, are genetically engineered (GE). If you’re unsure of whether the sweet corn or papaya is GE, I’d recommend opting for organic varieties:
CantaloupeSweet corn (non-GMO)Eggplant
MushroomsOnionsPapayas (non-GMO. Most Hawaiian papaya is GMO)
PineappleSweet peas (frozen)Sweet potatoes

7. Table Salt

Salt is essential for life—you cannot live without it. However, regular ‘table salt’ and the salt found in processed foods are NOT identical to the salt your body really needs. In fact, table salt has practically nothing in common with natural salt. One is health damaging, and the other is healing.
  • Processed salt is 98 percent sodium chloride, and the remaining two percent comprises man-made chemicals, such as moisture absorbents, and a little added iodine. These are dangerous chemicals like ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate. Some European countries, where water fluoridation is not practiced, also add fluoride to table salt
  • Natural salt is about 84 percent sodium chloride. The remaining 16 percent of natural salt consists of other naturally occurring minerals, including trace minerals like silicon, phosphorous and vanadium
Given that salt is absolutely essential to good health, I recommend switching to a pure, unrefined salt. My favorite is an ancient, all-natural sea salt from the Himalayas. Himalayan salt is completely pure, having spent many thousands of years maturing under extreme tectonic pressure, far away from impurities, so it isn't polluted with the heavy metals and industrial toxins of today. And it's hand-mined, hand-washed, and minimally processed. Himalayan salt is only 85 percent sodium chloride, the remaining 15 percent contains 84 trace minerals from our prehistoric seas. Unrefined natural salt is important to many biological processes, including:
  • Being a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid, and even amniotic fluid
  • Carrying nutrients into and out of your cells
  • Maintain and regulate blood pressure
  • Increasing the glial cells in your brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning
  • Helping your brain communicate with your muscles, so that you can move on demand via sodium-potassium ion exchange
While natural unprocessed salt has many health benefits, that does not mean you should use it with impunity. Another important factor is the potassium to sodium ratio of your diet. Imbalance in this ratio can not only lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) and other health problems, including heart disease, memory decline, erectile dysfunction and more. The easiest way to avoid this imbalance is by avoiding processed foods, which are notoriously low in potassium while high in sodium. Instead, eat a diet of whole, ideally organically-grown foods to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium.

8. Soy Protein Isolate and Other Unfermented Soy Products

Sadly, most of what you have been led to believe by the media about soy is simply untrue. One of the worst problems with soy comes from the fact that 90 to 95 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered (GE), and these are used to create soy protein isolate. Genetically engineered soybeans are designed to be "Roundup ready,” which means they’re engineered to withstand otherwise lethal doses of herbicide.
The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle. What's more, glyphosate is toxic to the placenta, which is responsible for delivering vital nutrients from mother to child, and eliminating waste products. Once the placenta has been damaged or destroyed, the result can be miscarriage. In those children born to mothers who have been exposed to even a small amount of glyphosate, serious birth defects can result.
Glyphosate’s mechanism of harm was only recently identified, and demonstrates how this chemical disrupts cellular function and induce many of our modern diseases, including autism. Soy protein isolate can be found in protein bars, meal replacement shakes, bottled fruit drinks, soups and sauces, meat analogs, baked goods, breakfast cereals and some dietary supplements.
Even if you are not a vegetarian and do not use soymilk or tofu, it is important to be a serious label reader. There are so many different names for soy additives, you could be bringing home a genetically modified soy-based product without even realizing it. Soy expert Dr. Kaayla Daniel offers a free Special Report7, "Where the Soys Are," on her Web site. It lists the many "aliases" that soy might be hiding under in ingredient lists -- words like "bouillon," "natural flavor" and "textured plant protein."
Besides soy protein isolate, ALL unfermented soy products are best avoided if you value your health. Thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility—even cancer and heart disease.
The only soy with health benefits is organic soy that has been properly fermented, and these are the only soy products I ever recommend consuming. After a long fermentation process, the phytate and "anti-nutrient" levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system. To learn more, please see this previous article detailing the dangers of unfermented soy.

9. Artificial Sweeteners

Contrary to popular belief, studies have found that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain. In one of the most recent of such studies8, saccharin and aspartame were found to cause greater weight gain than sugar.
Aspartame is perhaps one of the most problematic. It is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol.
You may have heard the claim that aspartame is harmless because methanol is also found in fruits and vegetables. However, in fruits and vegetables, the methanol is firmly bonded to pectin, allowing it to be safely passed through your digestive tract. Not so with the methanol created by aspartame; there it’s not bonded to anything that can help eliminate it from your body.
Methanol acts as a Trojan horse; it's carried into susceptible tissues in your body, like your brain and bone marrow, where the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme converts it into formaldehyde, which wreaks havoc with sensitive proteins and DNA. All animals EXCEPT HUMANS have a protective mechanism that allows methanol to be broken down into harmless formic acid. This is why toxicology testing on animals is a flawed model. It doesn't fully apply to people.

Guidelines for Healthy Food

Whatever food you’re looking to eat, whether organic or locally grown, from either your local supermarket or a farmer’s market, the following are signs of a high-quality, healthy food. Most often, the best place to find these foods is from a sustainable agricultural group in your area. You can also review my free nutrition plan to get started on a healthy eating program today:
  • It’s grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some non-organic foods)
  • It’s not genetically engineered
  • It contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs
  • It does not contain artificial anything, nor any preservatives
  • It is fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh conventional produce, the latter may still be the better option as freshness is important for optimal nutrient content)
  • It did not grown in a factory farm
  • It is grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
  • It is grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

13 Tips for Living Happy, Wild, and Free

By Dr. Mercola
We all strive for happiness and a sense of joy in life. Like many, you probably think achievements such as education, marriage, family and social/financial status can make you happy.
However, studies of happiness have found that these achievements have little to do with your happiness. And for millions of people, happiness remains a rather elusive goal...
Happiness can be identified as “whatever gets you excited.” Once you’ve identified that activity, whatever it is, you can start focusing your mind around that so you can structure your life to do more of it.
A sense of adventure and freedom can also ignite that elusive feeling of happiness. This doesn’t require expensive tickets to some far-flung destination—a walk in the woods can do the trick, or simply taking a different route on your way home from work.
More often than not, it’s the small, simple things in life that bring the most joy and are the most invigorating. In the featured article, Lynn Newman writes about what gives her joy:1
“When I attune to the simple things that give me joy, my body and spirit ignites! I feel truly alive and wildly happy. I feel free of the heavier burdens, beliefs, and complicated constructs that kept me stuck by focusing only on the 'storms' within me.”

13 Simple Tips to Live Happy, Wild, and Free

In her article, Newman lists 10 simple tips for living “happy, wild and free.” I’ve also added a couple tips of my own at the end.
  1. Review the Happy List
    I recently published a list of 22 things that happy people do differently. It was widely appreciated and commented on. So please be sure and review that list to find some novel additional behaviors that aren’t listed here.
  2. Write a list of simple things that give you pleasure... and do them at least a few times a week
    Writing down the things that bring you a sense of pleasure and happiness, and reviewing your list on a regular basis, can help you remember to carve out the time to do those simple little things that reinforce your belief that life is indeed good.
  3. Get moving
    Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Rather than viewing exercise as a tool merely for losing weight and preventing disease – all benefits that occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress, and feel happier.
    One of the newest recommendations I have based on NASA scientist Dr. Joan Vernikos, who I recently interviewed, is simply to set a timer when you are sitting and stand up every 10 minutes. I even modified further by doing jump squats at times in addition to standing up. This will help counteract the dangerous consequences of excessive sitting.
  4. Eat light—and right
    What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels in both the short and long term. Whereas eating right can prime your body and brain to be in a focused, happy state, eating processed junk foods will leave you sluggish and prone to chronic disease. Ditto for over-eating, which can leave you feeling bloated and sluggish. My free nutrition plan is an excellent tool to help you choose the best foods for both physical and emotional wellness.
  5. Take a cold shower
    Exposure to cold temperatures via cold water may offer health-boosting benefits for virtually everyone. Taking a cold shower increases your circulation and helps minimize inflammation. It also tends to leave you feeling energized and invigorated, so it’s great first thing in the morning, or right after a workout.
  6. Talk less - listen more
    Talking less and listening more can help increase heart-centered communication. Listening helps you soak in the wisdom of others and allows you to quiet your own mind at the same time, allowing you to feel content while helping you gain different perspective.
  7. Get some sun every day
    Have you ever noticed how great it can feel to spend time outdoors on a sunny day? Well, it turns out that getting safe sun exposure, which allows your body to produce vitamin D, is great for your mood.
    While I don’t agree with the author’s recommendation to slather on just any sunscreen, getting regular sun exposure is a critical factor for optimal health, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Remember, if you use sunscreen, you are effectively blocking the sun’s rays, which means your body cannot produce any vitamin D. If you are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, a non-toxic sunscreen may be necessary to prevent burning certain areas of your skin.
    Getting a little bit of sun on bare skin each day is far better than spending hours outside on the weekends only, as overexposure could certainly be harmful to your skin. You always want to avoid getting burned. A better alternative to topical sunscreen is making sure you’re getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet from fresh fruits and vegetables. The carotenoid astaxanthin is particularly effective as an internal sunscreen to help protect you against UV damage.
  8. Turn off the TV
    Evidence shows cutting back on TV time can add years to your life. According to one study, every hour of TV you watch equates to a 22-minute reduction in life expectancy. Watching TV also has a major impact on your brain chemistry. In fact, the longer you watch, the easier your brain slips into a receptive, passive mode, meaning that messages are streamed into your brain without any participation from you. So, rather than turning off your brain, why not turn off your TV and mindfully engage in something from your list of pleasurable activities instead?
  9. Create
    As the author states, you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. Creativity can take any form, from gardening to cooking, to dancing and singing, to taking up a new hobby.
  10. Enjoy nature
    Spending time in nature is an excellent mental health “prescription.” And while you’re at it, take off your shoes (as long as it’s safe to do so). Walking barefoot, grounding yourself to the earth has a wide range of health benefits over and above the simple feeling of connecting with the Earth.  Take up gardening, even if you have little room there is always enough space for a few plants.
  11. Know the simple truth about yourself
    Positive self-talk, affirmations and mantras can play a role in cultivating more happiness. I like the author’s take on this:
    “With enthusiasm and confidence, state what you know to be true about your authentic self. Ask yourself, 'What is true about myself right now in this moment?' For example, I am enough, I am worthy, I am good, I am loved, I have what I need, or I am a success. State this affirmation out loud a few times to embody the essence of who you really are in this very moment. Take it in! Believe this and you are free!”
  12. Express gratitude
    People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, and have more positive emotions. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health. Remember, your future depends very largely on the thoughts you think today. So think positive thoughts of hope, confidence, love and success. A simple habit to start is to express appreciation at every meal, either out loud or silently, whichever works for you.
  13. Laugh it up!
    Laughing causes your body to release beneficial chemicals called endorphins, natural “pain killers” that contribute to your sense of well-being and may counteract the effects of stress hormones and cause blood vessels to dilate. Researchers have even found that just anticipating laughter can increase your endorphin levels, whereas laughing may help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation in your body, which is linked to a variety of diseases. So, if you’re going to watch TV, why not make sure it’s something really funny?

A Healthy Lifestyle Naturally Enhances Happiness

In many respects, a lifestyle that will optimize your health will also help you achieve a happier, more joyful state of mind. You cannot separate your physical health from your mental or emotional health. Once you adopt a happiness mindset, and even before you do, embracing healthy habits will help keep your mood elevated naturally even in the midst of stress. Happy people tend to be healthy people, and vice versa, so in addition to the tips offered above, the following lifestyle strategies will also help you achieve greater levels of happiness.
  1. Use an effective stress-management tool, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
  2. Drink plenty of clean water
  3. Limit your exposure to toxins
  4. Consume healthy fats
  5. Eat plenty of raw food, ideally organic and/or locally grown
  6. Optimize your insulin and leptin levels by cutting out sugar/fructose and grains from your diet, and adding high intensity interval training to your exercise regimen
  7. Exercise regularly
  8. Get plenty of high-quality sleep

Visit for more great health articles.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Your Questions Answered - Do I Need a Sports Drink During Exercise?

Q: Should I drink a sports drink during exercise?

A: Maybe. Intense, continuous exercise lasting longer than one hour requires refueling from foods and/or fluid (e.g. sports drinks). Per hour, the body burns up about 30 - 60 grams of carbohydrates -- sports drinks can deliver easy to digest carbohydrates to sustain intense exercise.

Or if you rather stick with water and add some carbs with food - look for quick digesting carbs like: 1/4 cup raisins (30 grams carbs), 1 package Honey Stinger energy chews (29 grams carbs), 12 Rold Gold Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks (33 grams of carbs) or 1 medium banana (27 grams carbs).

Another time that can make a sports drink worth your while is when exercise is less than 60 minutes and is in extreme heat or if there are multiple training sessions or games in a day (e.g. tournaments). Otherwise, water will do the job!

When it comes to what you're drinking, how much your are drinking is as important as what you are drinking -- plan to sip fluids throughout your workout to stay hydrated, here are some general guidelines to follow:

Start your workouts hydrated, sip on mostly water throughout the day and monitor your urine, the gal: have pale lemonade color urine. During exercise, children and teens: have 4 - 6 ounces of fluid every 15 - 20 minutes during exercise; adults have 6 - 8 ounces of fluid every 15 - 20 minutes during exercise. After: refuel with 16-24 ounces of water for each pound of weight (aka sweat) lost!

Keep active!

"Watch Out: This Popular Vitamin May Actually Deplete You of 7 Vital Compounds"

These supplements only focus on about 12% of the healthy compounds available in its natural form – and if high levels of the one they contain flood your system, they can potentially deplete the other 7,
wreaking havoc on your body. Buyer beware…

It is very clear to me that the best possible nourishment you can get comes from the foods you eat.

If you eat a balanced unprocessed diet, full of high-quality raw and fresh organic foods, you'll provide your body with the vital nutrients it needs for reaching or maintaining optimal health.

The challenge is not only following this sound dietary practice, but also getting the diversity of nutrients you need from a wide variety of wholesome foods. Generally speaking, this is where I believe certain types of supplements can complement your diet and provide some insurance when you might unknowingly come up short.

But with all this said, I do raise a caution flag with supplements. Why?

First of all, I certainly do not support using supplements as a way to justify poor food choices. Secondly, I believe that in order to optimize any supplement, you must invest the time to carefully analyze each formula's ingredients.

One of my main concerns is, to save time, you might simply go out and buy the least expensive one you can find. There's nothing wrong with trying to save money, but the risk with 'cheap' supplements is that you are frequently better off not taking any supplement at all. Cheap supplements may compromise your health.

A major issue with many cheap supplements is they tend to be made from inferior synthetic ingredients. But I'll be the first to admit that identifying synthetic ingredients is not always easy. I can tell you from personal experience that frequently the label on a supplement bottle doesn't always disclose everything you should know about the ingredients.

To help you better understand this, let's focus in on one particular supplement that is now part of my daily supplement regimen. I'll share with you the steps I've taken to make sure I avoid any synthetics and other potentially risky ingredients… and why I recommend you do the same.

Avoid Synthetic Forms of This Vital Nutrient

If you take synthetic forms of some types of vitamins, not only will your body risk being deprived of the nutrient benefits, you could actually cause more harm than good.

Let's take synthetic vitamin E as an example. So what are the issues with synthetic vitamin E and how could it create such a negative impact?

Here are a few key points on vitamin E you should be aware of…
Synthetic Vitamin Supplements
You're better off not wasting your time and money on synthetic forms of vitamin supplements. And vitamin E is no exception.
  • Natural vitamin E is a family of eight different compounds: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols…
  • If you eat certain wholesome foods, all eight of the different vitamin E compounds are naturally available…
  • When it comes to a synthetic vitamin E supplement, only one of the eight compounds is available (alpha-tocopherol). The other seven compounds are not typically available in a chemically-derived form…
  • Synthetic vitamin E supplements only focus on about 12% of the healthy compounds available in naturally-occurring vitamin E found in certain foods…
  • Many clinical studies evaluating vitamin E have only observed results using synthetic vitamin E and the single compound alpha-tocopherol, and often ignored the other seven health-boosting compounds…
At this point, you should understand why I don’t recommend taking synthetic forms of vitamins… especially vitamin E. But first, as I already mentioned above, finding a non-synthetic form of vitamin E is not always an easy ‘slam-dunk.’ And here’s something to watch out for…

Health Risks Associated with Soy You Need to Know About

Even so-called 'natural' forms of supplements may not be all they're cracked up to be if they contain ingredients like soy--which is typically used in most vitamin E supplements.

Soybean oil is simply not a healthy oil. The majority of soy grown in the US is genetically engineered (GE). As a result, it contains the potent herbicide glyphosate.

Whether it is organically grown or not, soy also contains a number of problematic compounds that can potentially wreak havoc with your health, such as…
  • Goitrogens – These are found in unfermented soy, whether it's organic or not. These substances can block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism.
  • Isoflavones: genistein and daidzein – Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, which is a plant compound resembling human estrogen. Even more worrisome, there's evidence isoflavones may disturb endocrine function and potentially cause infertility.
  • Phytic acid – Phytates (phytic acid) bind to metal ions, preventing the absorption of certain beneficial minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. This can be particularly problematic for vegetarians, because eating meat reduces the mineral-blocking effects of these phytates.
These are some pretty compelling reasons why I recommend you avoid soy in any food you eat, and in any supplement you take. Wouldn't you agree?

Why a Balance of All Eight Nutrients Is Key

Remember natural and organic ingredients need to be closely scrutinized when considering any supplement.

There's also another key factor that must be considered. And that is… how do the ingredients within a formula react with one another? How well-balanced is the formula to help you benefit the most?

When it comes to natural vitamin E, you may remember that there's more than one compound other than just alpha-tocopherol. There are a total of eight natural compounds… more specifically…
  • Tocopherols:
  • Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta
  • Tocotrienols
  • Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta
If you're serious about supplementing with vitamin E and avoiding synthetic formulas, it is vital to get a balance of all eight nutrients in a vitamin E supplement you take to complement your healthy diet.

Unfortunately, the majority of research studies and supplement manufacturers have only focused on alpha-tocopherol. To me, they have totally missed the boat on the importance of a balanced vitamin E formula.

You see, if the vitamin E supplement only contains alpha-tocopherol (synthetic or natural), there's another major issue. If high levels of alpha-tocopherol flood your system, they can potentially deplete the other tocopherols and tocotrienols from your body.

How an Antioxidant Blend Works in Your Favor

Astaxanthin Free Report
Antioxidants are generally classified into two broad categories… water-soluble (hydrophilic) and fat-soluble (hydrophobic).

Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble antioxidant that helps fight pesky free radicals. Having a balance of all eight vitamin E compounds (tocopherols and tocotrienols) only helps this antioxidant 'force' perform at its best.*

Your body needs both water- and fat-soluble antioxidants because each one targets different types of cells and tissues for free radical scavenging…
  • Water-soluble antioxidants – These are present in aqueous fluids, such as blood and intracellular and extracellular fluids. They react with oxidants in the cell cytosol (fluid portion of cytoplasm) and blood plasma. Examples of water-soluble antioxidants include vitamin C, glutathione, and catechins.
  • Lipid-soluble antioxidants – These are localized to your cell membranes and lipoproteins. They protect your cell membranes from fat peroxidation.* Examples of fat-soluble antioxidants include vitamins E, A, and astaxanthin.
The bottom line… to fight and help neutralize pesky free radicals, you need a blend of both types of antioxidants from as many sources as possible.* When taken together, the efficacy of water- and fat-soluble antioxidants is enhanced even more.

And when it comes to fat-soluble antioxidants, I believe vitamin E is very important in your daily dietary regimen.

Wholesome Foods Packed with Vitamin E

Raw Nuts and Seeds
Many raw nuts and seeds offer good sources of vitamin E.
As you probably already know, when it comes to taking supplements, I view them as taking in addition to, not in place of, a healthy diet. Without eating plenty of unprocessed and preferably organic foods, supplements will not provide healthy meal replacements.

With vitamin E, there are some excellent food choices that can provide you some good natural sources. I strongly recommend you include some of these in your diet prior to ever considering a supplement.

Here are a few examples of wholesome vitamin E foods with approximate concentration per serving size...

FoodServing SizeVitamin E (milligrams)
Wheat germ oil1 tablespoon20.3 mg
Sunflower seeds1 ounce7.4 mg
Almonds1 ounce6.8 mg
Sunflower oil1 tablespoon5.6 mg
Hazel nuts1 ounce4.3 mg
Avocado (sliced)½ a whole avocado2.0 mg
Broccoli (boiled/steamed)½ cup1.2 mg
Mango (sliced)½ cup0.7 mg
Spinach (raw)1 cup0.6 mg

What the above chart shows is that you have quite a few natural food choices to get vitamin E. Most nuts and seeds are good sources. And eating as many of these foods raw is best because cooking will deplete some of the natural nutrients.

The question here is do you eat enough of these foods on a regular basis to get a good balance of vitamin E? Remember, I believe balance is important with all eight of the healthful compounds (four tocopherols and four tocotrienols).

One of the issues with balance is that there's very little information available to help you determine how much of the eight vitamin E compounds can be found in foods. The focus for years has been primarily on alpha-tocopherol… with little mention of the other seven healthy compounds. Things are starting to change in this area but data is still somewhat sketchy.

So, one of the reasons I recommend you consider a high-quality vitamin E supplement to complement your diet, is to help ensure you get that balance. But this is easier said than done because very few supplements I've found contain the proper balance.

That's why I put together a thorough checklist to help you scrutinize and find the best vitamin E supplement…

Your Checklist for a Top-of-the-Line Formula

Here's a checklist you can use when searching for a high-quality vitamin E supplement. If you look at the label on a vitamin E bottle and it doesn't clearly spell out the content you're looking for, I recommend you avoid it and continue searching.

A vitamin E supplement I would consider recommending…
  • Is free from synthetic vitamin E – This is a tricky issue in identifying synthetic vs. natural vitamin E. It may not always be apparent. But the way to tell is synthetic is most-often listed with a "dl" (dl-alpha-tocopherol), while non-synthetic uses a "d" (d-alpha-tocopherol).
  • Does not contain soy or soybean oil derivatives – Due to the potential health risks from soy (detailed above), avoid vitamin E supplements that contain this.
  • Avoids incorporating any genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in the formula – This is a bit challenging because supplement manufacturers are not required to list specifics on GE ingredients. Since vitamin E is naturally formed in a variety of plants and many of these plants are now genetically modified (particularly in the US), I recommend you avoid a supplement made from corn, soybeans, or cotton seed.
  • Has a balance of all four tocopherol nutrients – If it's a synthetic form of vitamin E, it most likely will not contain any of the other tocopherols (beta, gamma, and delta). I believe these are important to your overall health and should be included in the formula.
  • Has a balance of all four tocotrienol nutrients – Rarely do you find these important compounds listed on any vitamin E label. That's mainly because if the formula is synthetic, it won't contain healthy tocotrienols. They're a must-have for me.
  • Keeps alpha-tocopherol dosage low – Due to potential risk factors and to avoid depletion of the other tocopherols and tocotrienols in the formula, my preference is for a daily serving size of less than 300 IU for alpha-tocopherol.
  • Employs a reliable delivery system from a high-quality manufacturer – Once you find a formula that fits all of these very tight requirements, you certainly don't want it compromised by potential leakage or inconsistent quality.
Now, you can search yourself for a high-quality vitamin E supplement. Or, you can save a bunch of time and take advantage of the thorough effort my research team put in. I put my team to work to find what I consider the best of the best of vitamin E supplements…

So, why do I believe this vitamin E supplement is so great?

Balance of Tocopherols and Tocotrienols = Priority One

First of all, one of my main focal points was that the formula must provide a balance of tocopherols and tocotrienols.

It's important to remember that if a formula only contains alpha-tocopherol (natural or otherwise), then this compound taken by itself may deplete the other tocopherols and tocotrienols from your body. That's why the balance is so vital.

Here's how my Vitamin E supplement provides a fantastic balance of all four tocopherol and tocotrienol compounds…
  • Vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol) – 200 international units (IU)
  • Tocopherol complex – 150 milligrams (mg) with alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and delta-tocopherol
  • Palm and Rice Tocotrienol – 35 mg with alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienols
There are very few formulas I've run across that come close to this type of balance. And when it comes to tocotrienols, there are even fewer choices available.

But I've not touched much on tocotrienols and how they might benefit you. Let's take a closer look at…

How Tocotrienols Could Give Your Health a Boost*

With tocotrienols, the challenge is that despite potentially healthful benefits, scientific literature on these compounds only accounts for roughly 1% of the total vitamin E literature.

But despite all that, the scientific community has started to wake-up to the potential benefits of tocotrienols. Here are just a few examples of potential healthful benefits and why I made sure tocotrienols were included in my Vitamin E formula.

Tocotrienols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma) potentially…
  • Help support normal cholesterol levels*
  • Protect against free radical damage and the normal effects of aging*
  • Promote brain health (in combination with tocopherols)*
With all four of the tocotrienol nutrients in my Vitamin E supplement, you can be assured this formula is one of the best my team could find… I wouldn't have it any other way. That's why it's now part of my daily regimen and why I recommend you consider it for yourself.

The Sunny Healthy Alternative to Soy

Sunflower seeds and oil
Sunflower seeds and oil come from plants that are not genetically engineered, and are excellent sources of vitamin E.
When looking for a good alternative, I wanted to not only avoid soy but also wanted to make sure whatever natural source of vitamin E was used was not genetically engineered (GE). This was another one of my top priorities.

As you can see in the 'food' section above, sunflowers are an excellent natural source of vitamin E. And when compared to soy, here are some unique points you should be aware of about the overall processing that takes place with the source I discovered…
  • Sunflower seeds and oil are derived from plants that are not genetically engineered…
  • Unlike soybean oil, the sunflower oil in my vitamin E supplement is naturally sourced because…
  • The alpha-tocopherol molecule does not go through a transformation process… it is the true molecule without modification…
This is such an important point because soybeans must go through a transformation process that can chemically change the alpha-tocopherol molecule… this is not the case with sunflower seeds.

Just to give you a feel for how involved the process is to produce the sunflower oil that goes into my Vitamin E formula, here are some interesting points provided by my manufacturer of choice…
  • 1 acre is composed of about 20,000 sunflower plants
  • It takes almost a fifth of an acre (0.18 acres) of sunflower plants to produce a single bottle of the supplement (30 of our Licaps® capsules)
  • For every single 200 IU capsule, approximately 120 sunflower plants are required

Why a Reliable High-Quality Delivery System Is a Must

Vitamin E Capsugel Licaps
Licaps® is an extraordinary innovation in liquid-filled capsule technology that uses a thin shell for fast release of nutrients.
Just like all the supplements I offer on my site, I only wanted the best delivery system for my Vitamin E supplement. And with the astonishing Licaps® capsule technology from Capsugel, you can have peace-of-mind knowing each capsule is of the highest quality.

Here are just some of the benefits the 'liquid-filled' Licaps® capsule technology brings to the Vitamin E formula...
  • Delivers a capsule shell matrix that is highly impermeable to atmospheric moisture and oxygen for superior degradation protection…
  • Incorporates a thin shell (without plasticizers or preservatives) for rapid and complete shell disintegration for fast release of nutrients…
  • Provides optimal containment with a robust sealing zone for formula integrity…
Plus, the Licaps® capsule is not only visually appealing, it also helps to mask taste and unpleasant odors often found in other capsule technologies.

With the superior Licaps® technology, the possibility of a Vitamin E capsule leaking has virtually been reduced to zero. I believe this is by far the best high-quality delivery system available and I've personally visited the manufacturer, Capsugel, to closely observe their incredible Licaps processes.

Supplement Report Card – Why This Nutrient Is Part of My Daily Regimen

So, where does my Vitamin E formula stand with my selection checklist outlined above, and how does it generally stack up with other formulas available?

Here's a summary chart that should provide you with all the assurance you need that this is indeed one outstanding vitamin E supplement.

Checklist criteriaDr. Mercola’s Vitamin EOther available formulas
  • Is free from synthetic vitamin E?
  • Yes – no synthetic tocopherols or tocotrienols are in the formula.
  • Many formulas use synthetic ingredients, particularly, dl-alpha-tocopherol.
  • Does not contain soy or soybean oil derivatives?
  • Yes – my formula is free from soy or soybean oil by using sunflower oil instead.
  • Most formulas (even so-called 'natural' ones) incorporate soybean oil.
  • Avoids incorporating genetically engineered (GE) ingredients?
  • Yes – no GE ingredients are used in the formulation whatsoever.
  • Some vitamin E supplements use GE ingredients in their formulas.
  • Includes a balance of all four tocopherol nutrients?
  • Yes – all four tocopherol nutrients are balanced in my formula (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma).
  • Not all manufacturers incorporate all four tocopherols in their formulas. Most only use alpha-tocopherol and many employ the synthetic form.
  • Includes a balance of all four tocotrienol nutrients?
  • Yes – the formula provides a balance of all four tocotrienol nutrients from palm and rice sources (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma).
  • Very few vitamin E supplements even address these nutrients and the synthetic formulas rarely include them.
  • Keeps alpha-tocopherol daily serving size low.
  • Yes – to avoid risk factors and depletion of other tocopherol and tocotrienol nutrients, 200 IU is serving size.
  • Some vitamin E supplements provide a serving size of 400 IU or more of alpha-tocopherol (synthetic or natural).
  • Employs a reliable delivery system from a high-quality manufacturer?
  • Yes – with the use of the phenomenal Licaps® capsule delivery technology, a very reliable and high-quality delivery system is employed.
  • Many 'cheap' alternatives may have to cut corners on the delivery system and quality of processes to keep costs low.

Consider Making This Part of Your Daily Regimen, Too

By now, I would think you're as excited as I am about my new Vitamin E. I believe this supplement is the best on the market.

If you've been searching for a high-quality vitamin E, my formula certainly fits the bill.

And despite all the complex processes needed to produce sunflower oil, the supplement is a relative bargain at only $24.97 for 30 Licaps® capsules and a 30-day supply.

So, order today, and receive one of the most balanced vitamin E antioxidant formulas available.* Join me in adding this exclusive formula to your daily regimen, and receive my unconditional guarantee at the same time (