NEWS: Mindfulness May Change or Improve Your Genes

Mindfulness meditation has been around for centuries. You’ve probably already heard it’s an effective tool for staying calm and relaxed. Now, a recent study shows it could actually have an affect on your genes. It may even help to reverse some of the stress-related damage to your health.

Here’s a look at how this form of meditation might play a bigger role in wellness than first thought:

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation has been around for more than 2,000 years. It’s a way to focus the mind so that you concentrate on the current moment, rather than thinking of the past or the future. Beginners usually practice this type of meditation for about 20 minutes per session. More advanced practitioners may meditate for up to an hour.1 Many people believe mindfulness meditation is great for the soul. Some also believe it can help heal both the body and mind.

Everyone has the quality of mindfulness, but not everyone realizes its value … or that it should be actively cultivated.

Advocates believe practicing mindfulness meditation can lead to a fuller, more enriched life.

How? Because practicing this type of meditation can help you live in the moment. Instead of putting your mind on “auto pilot” and going through the motions day-to-day, you’re appreciating your life as it unfolds… moment to moment.

There are several other types of meditation as well. Here are some of the most popular:

· Spiritual meditation

This is somewhat like prayer, in that you are trying to establish a deeper connection with your God. It’s used not only in Taoism, Hinduism, and other religions of the East, but in the Christian faith as well. Many people use certain essential oils to enhance their experience, such as cedar, frankincense, and myrrh. You can practice spiritual meditation either at home, or at your house of worship.

· Movement meditation

Most people associate movement meditation with yoga. But, you can incorporate it with any form of gentle motion. This includes working in your garden or taking a walk through the woods near your home.2

· Mantra meditation

Have you ever seen someone sitting in the “lotus” (cross-legged) position on a mat repeating a phrase such as “Om”? More than likely, they were practicing mantra meditation. It involves the use of a repetitive word or phrase to help clear the mind. It’s supposed to help you become more in tune with the environment that surrounds you.

· Transcendental meditation

“TM” is the most popular type of meditation worldwide. Over 5 million people practice transcendental meditation.3 It’s good for people who are serious about meditation but are just starting out. Practitioners usually have two 20-minute sessions each day.

Common Reasons People Practice Meditation

There are several reasons people turn to meditation. They may practice it because it helps them manage anxiety or stress. They might meditate to help increase their focus, so they can be more productive in their jobs. Some people use it to help eliminate unhealthy habits, such as overeating or smoking. Still others meditate to get past some sort of difficult life event. People may meditate to gain a better understanding of their purpose in life.

Meditation and the Genes

Researchers analyzed 18 studies that involved nearly 850 participants. They wanted to see what kind of effects different forms of relaxation can have on the body. These included meditation as well as Tai Chi, breathing exercises, yoga and Qi gong. They came to the conclusion that these methods of connecting the mind with the body help to suppress gene expression. They do so in a way that can inhibit certain processes that can be harmful to our health.

For example, the researchers focused on the effect meditation can have on inflammation. This is an important process that lets us know when we’re sick or we’ve been injured in some way. But inflammation can also hurt us both mentally and physically. They believe meditation can reverse some of this damage because it inhibits the expression of certain genes.

What is Gene Expression?

Gene expression is where DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) gets the information it needs. It then takes this information and makes proteins. It not only controls when a protein is made, but also the amount that is made.

When a gene is turned off, it’s considered dormant. When it is activated, gene expression occurs. The epigenetic process involves mechanisms that basically act as an on/off switch for genes. Some of the most important epigenetic mechanisms are what make us different from other people. For example, epigenetic mechanisms control the color of our skin and hair, and why some of us love okra while others can’t stand it.4

Factors such as lifestyle and environment can have a major effect on whether different genes are expressed. These genes, in turn, can play a large role in determining several important things. These include how long we will live and whether we’ll be at risk of developing certain diseases. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can help reduce stress-related changes. These changes signal genes to produce proteins associated with inflammation.

According to the study, people who practice meditation on a regular basis experience a reverse in some of the effects of stress. This is because of a decrease in activity of genes that are involved in the inflammatory process.5 As a result, they were at a lower risk of illnesses caused by inflammation.

The Takeaway

Research into the physiological effects of meditation is still in its earl stages. This study supports the idea that meditation can be beneficial. They may improve not only your mood, but your health as well.

For more helpful health and wellness news, keep reading:

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Sources
1.https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/07/mindfulness-meditation-empathy-compassion/398867/
2.https://www.gaia.com/article/which-type-meditation-style-best-for-you
3.http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-maharishi6feb06-story.html
4.https://www.whatisepigenetics.com/what-is-epigenetics/
5.http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670/full

Is Drinking Coffee the Secret to Longevity?

If you’re a coffee drinker, you might just think that your beverage of choice tastes great and gives you a nice pick-me-up after a good night’s sleep.

But research indicates that drinking coffee on a regular basis might actually help extend your life.

Two studies show that coffee consumption could provide benefits you might not have previously considered possible.

What the Science Says

In one study, researchers found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death than those who don’t drink the beverage. The authors of the study conducted a survey involving more than 500,000 people in countries throughout Europe.1

According to the results, there is an inverse relationship between drinking coffee and suffering from problems such as circulatory and digestive illnesses, cancer, suicide and liver disease. Even though people in different countries prepare and drink coffee differently, the relationship between the beverage and a lower risk of death due to certain health issues remained consistent.

Coffee Drinker’s Advantage

Coffee drinkers, according to the European study, tend to have a higher level of healthy fats, show better control of glucose levels, and have less inflammation. Certain compounds in coffee, the researchers said, have properties that can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and other illnesses. However, further studies will be needed in order to determine which specific compounds provide specific benefits.

It appears that the benefits of drinking coffee go across racial lines. While the European study involved mainly caucasians, another study involved more than 185,000 coffee drinkers who were primarily African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. The results were very similar to the European study, providing yet more evidence that coffee consumption can lower a person’s risk of death.

According to the results of this study, people who consume two to four cups a day are 18 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who avoid coffee.

While both of the studies involved smokers as well as nonsmokers, one surprising result was that smokers who drink coffee tend to live longer as those who don’t. But researchers are quick to point out that there is absolutely no evidence that drinking coffee can counteract the health effects of smoking.

Yet another study showed that people who drink 3-5 cups of joe each day are about 15 percent less likely to die prematurely than non-drinkers. This study had even more good news – according to the results, people who prefer decaffeinated coffee can also enjoy substantial health benefits.

Drinking coffee has been associated with other health benefits as well, such as reducing the risk of developing tinnitus, a condition characterized by buzzing or ringing in the ears.²

Coffee might also help improve workouts, increase your safety behind the wheel and lower your risk of developing depression.3

How Much is Too Much?

Of course, it can be pretty easy for a coffee drinker to go overboard with his or her favorite beverage – if you love coffee, you might even be more inclined to overdo it after learning the potential benefits. Over-consumption of coffee can make it hard to sleep and leave you feeling jittery all day long. It can also increase your risk of suffering from heartburn.

Taking most things in moderation is usually the best way to stay healthy. Drinking coffee is no exception. According to one study, about 200 mg of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) is the best amount for helping your cognitive functioning.4 However, not all coffee is created equal, of course. A 16-ounce cup could contain anywhere from 250-500 mg of caffeine. Before you buy anything in the Starbucks drive-thru, find out just how much you’ll be ingesting.

The Bottom Line

While these studies don’t necessarily prove that if you start drinking coffee you’ll live longer, the research does indicate there’s an association. There are a lot of nutrients in coffee beans but researchers haven’t yet determined exactly how they affect a person’s health.

Nevertheless, it seems that drinking coffee on a regular basis not only does no harm, it can actually provide substantial health benefits. Coffee consumption – as long as it is in moderation – can be a major component of not only a healthy lifestyle, but also a healthy diet. If you’re not a coffee drinker and you’re thinking of starting, talk to your doctor first to make sure it will be safe to do so.

Read More:

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Sources:
1.http://annals.org/aim/article/2643435/coffee-drinking-mortality-10-european-countries-multinational-cohort-study
2.http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(14)00198-3/abstract
3.https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/02/24/i-dont-drink-coffee-should-i-start/
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12424548

NEWS: Can Ibuprofen (NSAIDs) Increase Risk Of Heart Attack?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are on just about every store shelf in America. Millions of people use them whenever they feel the slightest bit of discomfort. But even though these medications are seemingly everywhere, that doesn’t mean they don’t carry with them potentially major risks.

Why People Use NSAIDs

People turn to NSAIDs for a lot of different problems, some relatively minor and some that are chronic. Motrin, Advil, Aleve, and other NSAIDs can bring temporary relief of pain caused by issues such as toothaches, headaches, sore muscles, and backaches, but they can also help people suffering from issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and others.

Study Produces Shocking Results

Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs like celecoxib and naproxen are generally safe – as long as you follow the directions for use, and only use them once in awhile. But if you use them on a regular basis, and at high doses, you could be setting yourself up for some major problems, according to a study that appeared in the May 9, 2017, issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

According to the study, people can be at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack after taking NSAIDs for just a few days. If you take 750 mg of naproxen (about four Aleve tablets) per day, or 1,200 mg (six Advil tablets) each day, you could face as much as a 20-50 percent higher risk.1

The study that appeared in the BMJ was substantial, consisting of analysis of several other studies that involved nearly 450,000 people – more than 61,000 of whom had suffered a heart attack.

The result showed that people who used NSAIDs for seven days straight had a substantially higher risk of suffering a heart attack, and the risk was even higher for those who took the medications for a month or more.

The BMJ study also took into account other factors that could result in a link between NSAID use and an increased risk of heart issues, such as a previous history of heart problems, high levels of cholesterol, and diabetes. Researchers adjusted their findings for these factors, and they still showed a substantial connection between NSAID use and heart attacks.

Previous Findings

This isn’t the first study conducted on the potential effects of NSAID use on heart health. Others have also shown a heightened risk. But the number of people involved in the BMJ study, along with the detailed analysis that was performed, goes a long way toward validating earlier findings.

In 2016, the BMJ published another study that focused on a specific class of NSAID medication known as COX-2 inhibitors, which are stronger than over-the-counter drugs such as Aleve or Advil. This study showed that people using COX-2 inhibitors such as rofecoxib and etoricoxib were at a 19 percent higher risk of suffering heart failure.2

Again, the higher the dosages of the drugs, the more significant the risk.

nsaids | Princeton Nutrients

FDA Warning

The growing body of evidence linking NSAID use to an increased risk of heart problems resulted in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing an updated consumer warning in 2015.3 The agency announced that it was strengthening its warning for both prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDs to include not only an increased risk of heart attack, but stroke as well. According to the FDA, people who use NSAIDs for even just a few weeks could be at a higher risk – the longer they take them, the higher the risk. However, the warning did not apply to aspirin, even though it’s in the NSAID class.3

Those who already have developed cardiovascular problems, such as people who have had cardiac bypass surgery or suffered a prior heart attack, are at the greatest risk, according to the FDA. The agency announced that people who have had a heart attack and take NSAIDs are at a higher risk of either having another attack, or of dying from a related cause.

What You Need to Do

According to the FDA, NSAIDs are still very effective in treating problems such as fever, inflammation, and pain. You can still take them, of course, but you need to make sure you follow the directions for use, take the smallest dose that is still effective, and take it for the shortest amount of time possible. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, it’s very important that you talk to your doctor first before using any kind of NSAID. Weigh your options carefully, taking into account the benefits as well as the potential risks. If you’re already taking aspirin as a part of your regular regimen of protecting yourself against a stroke or heart attack, naproxen, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs may counteract that protection.

NSAIDs are still an effective way to get temporary relief from pain, as long as you use them correctly. Taking NSAIDs in moderation and reducing risk factors such as smoking and high cholesterol will go a long way toward lowering the chances that you will have heart problems.

Want more helpful health tips? Keep reading:

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Sources:
1.http://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1909
2.http://time.com/4512169/painkillers-ibuprofen-heart-problems/?iid=sr-link2
3.https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm453610.htm

Fatty Liver: What Is It? How Do You Get It? And How to Fix it.

As a whole, the United States is becoming more overweight. And as obesity increases across the country, more people are developing a fatty liver as a result. Researchers believe that liver fat, rather than belly fat, is the main indicator for a lot of different health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and others.1 While the bad news is a lot of us are storing far too much fat in our livers, the good news is that the condition can be reversed.

How the Liver is Supposed to Work

The liver is located just above the stomach, in the upper right hand portion of the abdominal cavity. It’s an incredibly important organ, performing somewhere around 500 functions that are critical to maintaining our overall health. Two of the more vital functions include processing the fat we take in through our diet as well as producing HDL, or “good” cholesterol. In addition, the liver produces bile, which is then stored in the gallbladder. Bile works by breaking down the fat we eat into tiny molecules so we can digest it.

These are just some of the other jobs the liver performs:

· Assisting in the clotting of blood
· Controlling our supply of amino acids
· Helping us process medications we take
· Eliminating toxins produced by those medications
· Producing substances that help the body fight infections
· Storing excess sugars

There are a lot of contributing factors to liver issues, including obesity, alcoholism, certain medications, excessive levels of triglycerides in the blood and several others

What is Fatty Liver?

The body stores most of its fat under the skin, which is also known as subcutaneous fat. Only about 10 percent of the fat in the body is belly fat, with the rest found in muscle tissue and organs such as the liver.

Most of us associate liver disease with drinking too much alcohol, but non-drinkers who are overweight are at a risk of developing liver problems as well. As many as 20 percent of people in the U.S. could potentially have an issue known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.2 While having fat in the liver isn’t particularly dangerous, if there’s an abnormal accumulation of fat, that can be a problem.

For example, too much fat in the liver can increase insulin resistance in the body, which can lead to diabetes. Insulin resistance is dangerous because it affects the body’s ability to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is an essential substance that provides energy to our cells. If someone has insulin resistance, however, the cells aren’t able to absorb glucose. As a result, it stays in the blood and greatly increases the risk of diabetes.

Studies about Liver Fat

One study performed by nutrition researchers showed that liver fat is a more reliable indicator of metabolism problems – ones that can lead to diabetes – than belly fat. Researchers compared the amount of liver fat in a group of obese people and found that the ones who had greater concentrations were at a higher risk of developing insulin resistance.

They also found that people with fatty liver issues had lower levels of a protein known as CD36 in their fat tissue, and higher amounts of the protein in their muscle tissue. This is significant, because the researchers believe that CD36 moves fatty acids from fat tissue and into the tissues of the liver as well as muscles. These proteins are then converted to triglycerides, which are a form of fat. The more fatty acids that get into the tissue, the greater the chance for developing metabolic issues.3

Other Issues Associated With Fatty Liver

A fatty liver can also lead to a greater risk of heart problems. When there’s too much unprocessed fat in the liver, it can enter the bloodstream and clog arteries, increasing the chances of a stroke or a heart attack. An excess of fat can lead to several other health issues as well.

Fatty liver disease can also result in inflammation due to the accumulation of fat molecules inside the cells of the organ. This is a form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that is even more dangerous, and it is known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

This condition will typically develop gradually, over several years or even several decades. Some people with NASH might not ever develop symptoms, while others suffer serious problems. For example, NASH often results in fibrosis, a mild scarring of the liver that occurs when the organ tries to regenerate in response to the condition. When scarring becomes severe it becomes a condition known as cirrhosis, which is even more serious.

These are just a few of the symptoms associated with cirrhosis:

· Hardening of the liver
· Intestinal bleeding
· Liver cancer
· Liver failure
· Muscle loss
· Retention of body fluid

Who is at Risk for NASH

NASH will typically affect overweight and obese people age 40 and older, but there is conflicting evidence as to how often the condition turns into cirrhosis. Some studies show that only about 3 percent of people with NASH develop cirrhosis, while others show that up to 26 percent of patients develop the disease.4 Unfortunately, there’s no way that a doctor can predict whether or not NASH will eventually lead to cirrhosis. What is known, however, is that someone with NASH has a much better outlook than someone who develops steatohepatitis due to excessive consumption of alcohol, a condition known as alcoholic steatohepatitis.

The more serious threats posed by NASH could actually be stroke and heart disease rather than further liver damage. The New England Journal of Medicine published an article suggesting that inflammation associated with fatty liver could play a role in causing atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is a condition that often leads to the development of blood clots that can result in a stroke or heart attack.

The article referenced a study that showed people who have NASH are two times more likely to die from a stroke or heart attack than people who don’t have the condition. In addition, NASH may also make it riskier to be overweight. Obese people with NASH, according to the article, have higher levels of fibrinogen, which makes the blood more prone to clotting. They also have higher levels of C-reactive protein, which has been linked to inflammation.5

fatty liver | Princeton Nutrients

What Happens When the Liver Doesn’t Function Properly?

Ironically, NASH and other conditions associated with fatty liver disease can actually lead to weight loss. Other symptoms linked to liver problems include fatigue, abnormally colored bowel movements, nausea, abdominal pain and others.

If fatty liver develops into NASH, you might notice a sudden loss of appetite as well as vomiting and nausea. Other indications include yellowing of skin and eyes and severe pain in the upper abdominal area.

Diagnosing Fatty Liver Disease

Someone with a fatty liver will often times not show any symptoms, even if fatty liver disease turns into non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or even NASH. They might sense a dull ache in the upper portion of the abdomen or feel fatigued, but that’s about it. In the majority of instances, fatty liver disease or NASH are discovered basically by accident during a blood test.

This test might show that a person has a higher liver enzyme levels than normal, which would then necessitate further testing. One method often used is an ultrasound image test, which is usually used to monitor the development of a fetus. When an ultrasound takes a picture of the liver, fatty liver disease shows up as bright white spots. A CT scan can also be used to take an image of the liver.

However, both ultrasound and CT scans have limitations when it comes to making a diagnosis of fatty liver problems or NASH. The reason is that while the fat will show up in the image, inflammation associated with NASH will not. There are other tests in development that use a combination of blood tests, liver enzyme readings, inflammation markers and certain hormones to help produce a reliable diagnosis, but these are all in the very early stages.

The only truly reliable method to diagnose fatty liver problems such as NASH is to take a biopsy of a portion of the organ. In a biopsy procedure, a surgeon will insert a long needle into the liver and extract a small piece. The doctor will then place the piece under a microscope for examination. As you would expect, a liver biopsy is considered an invasive surgical procedure, and as such comes with the risk of complications. But technology has progressed to the point to where a patient can go home the same day in most cases.

There are a lot of factors that will go into determining whether a doctor will recommend a biopsy to check for fatty liver or other problems. The most important ones are whether the person is showing signs of liver trouble, is obese or has diabetes.

What You Can Do About Fatty Liver

As a result of the uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of certain medications to treat fatty liver, most experts believe that weight loss is the best way to address this problem. Weight loss through increased exercise and changes in diet can result in a substantial reduction in the amount of fat in the liver. However, it’s very important that patients avoid any sort of crash dieting, because immediately losing weight can actually hurt the liver.6

Instead, follow a sensible plan to help reverse the damage that fatty liver can do. Whatever your strategy may be – either through exercise alone, a combination of physical activity and diet or surgery – it will be critical that you find the weight loss program that works best for you and stick with it.

Scientific studies show exactly how effective a weight loss program can be when it comes to reducing fatty liver. In one study, researchers found that obese people who consumed 500 fewer calories a day than normal lost an average of 8 percent body weight, leading to a substantial reduction in fat accumulation in the liver.7 According to the results of another study, it appears that reduction in both liver fat as well as insulin resistance can be sustained even if a person regains a portion of the weight he or she lost.

Dietary Fixes

Another way to reduce fatty liver is to reduce your intake of carbohydrates – specifically refined carbohydrates. According to research, only a small percentage of fat (16 percent) of liver fat in people who have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease comes directly from their food. Almost 30 percent of that fat accumulates due to de novo lipogenesis (DNL), a process in which the body converts excess carbohydrates into fat. 8 The more high-fructose beverages and foods you consume, the higher the rate at which DNL occurs. 9

Research also shows that people who consume a “Mediterranean diet” (which is primarily high in plant-based foods, nuts, whole grains and “good” fats such as those found in canola and olive oil) tend to lose more liver fat than those who follow a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fats.10

fatty liver | Princeton Nutrients

See Your Doctor

Whether or not you have a reason to believe you have a fatty liver, you should see your doctor on a regular basis for a checkup. Periodic blood tests can give you an indication that you might have an issue that needs to be further explored. But even if you’re diagnosed with fatty liver disease or even NASH, just remember that your prognosis should be good if you follow a sensible, safe diet plan.

For more tips on having a healthy, well-balanced life, keep reading here:

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Sources:
1.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19706383
2.http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/when-the-liver-gets-fatty
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19706383
4.http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/when-the-liver-gets-fatty
5.https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/590d/7084f2176d449028452649ff4300387b3441.pdf
6.http://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/when-the-liver-gets-fatty
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23273500
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15864352
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027077
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23485520

Why You Should Start Lifting Weights (plus, beginner safety tips)

Strength training doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the weights so hard that you wind up looking like a muscle-bound bodybuilder. Even working light dumbbells can provide major health benefits. Yes, you’ll build up your muscles, but the main purpose of strength training is to help your overall well-being for the long term.

How Important is Strength Training?

Whether you call it resistance training or strength training, it’s one of the best things that you can do for your body. As we get older, we lose bone tissue at a faster rate than we produce it. This is especially the case among people who live a mainly sedentary lifestyle. The loss of bone mass or density not only leads to issues with posture, but also general weakness.

Strength training helps to offset your loss of bone through what is known as “bone remodeling.” It helps develop cells known as osteoblasts, which help rebuild bone. Many people perform aerobic exercises to stay fit. While these are good for your overall health, and can also help stimulate the production of osteoblasts in the lower body, weightlifting is the recommended method to help ensure that the bones throughout the body remain healthy and strong.1

What Does the Research Say?

There is solid scientific evidence that increasing your muscle mass by lifting weights can do much more than improve your physique – this form of exercise can also deliver critically important health benefits. Here are just a few of them:

· Control Insulin – According to a study published in the medical journal Diabetes Care, lifting weights on a regular basis can increase sensitivity to insulin in people who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes as well as diabetes. It showed that performing a strength training regimen two times a week could help control insulin swings.2

· Inflammation – We need a certain amount of inflammation to warn us that we’ve suffered some sort of injury or are developing an illness, but too much can lead to a lot of different problems, including heart disease. One study showed that regular strength training can help increase the production of cytokines – proteins which can help to quell an overabundance of inflammation.3

· Fat loss – You may think that aerobic exercise and dieting are the only ways to shed pounds and keep them off, but you might want to think again. Researchers at Penn State conducted a study consisting of three groups of people who were on a diet. One group didn’t perform any exercise, the second only did aerobic exercise, and the third combined aerobics with strength training. At the end of the study, the researchers found that all the participants had lost an average of 21 pounds, but the group that combined aerobics with strength training lost six more pounds of fat than the others. According to the results, the participants who were lifting weight were shedding mainly fat – while the others were losing fat and muscle.4

· Heart healthThe Journal of Applied Physiology published a study showing that resistance training not only increases muscular strength, it also lowers blood pressure when resting. The researchers concluded that strength training could be used as a medical intervention method to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.5

Other Reasons to Consider Strength Training

Strength training is one of the most effective things we can do to help ensure our muscles stay strong and we have the best chance of staying healthy as we get older. These are just a few of the other benefits that have been linked to lifting weights on a regular basis:

· Increasing bone strength – Hip fractures are a serious matter at any age, but they can prove deadly to older people. Additionally, bone loss can lead to not only rounded shoulders but also the possibility of developing a hump. One study found that men who followed a strength training regimen for four months not only increased the density of their hip bones by nearly 4 percent, they also raised their levels of osteocalcin – an indicator of bone growth – by almost 20 percent.6

· Increasing flexibility – You could lose 50 percent or more of your flexibility by the age of 70 – and it’s possible that by the age of 30, most of us become 20 percent less flexible. This can ultimately wreak havoc on your joints. But strength training may help fix this problem. The International Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that showed that a four-month resistance training regimen could increase shoulder and hip flexibility by more than 30 percent. Participants in the study showed an 11 percent flexibility increase during a sit-and-reach exercise – a common test to measure flexibility in the lower back, hips, and hamstrings.7

· Regulating insulin levels from carbohydrates – If you tend to take in a lot of carbohydrates such as rice, white bread, and potatoes, you might not realize that your level of insulin (which helps regulate the amount of sugar in the blood) rises substantially as a result. This can be a major problem, because when your insulin numbers are elevated on a regular basis, your risk of heart disease and diabetes goes up. Researchers studying insulin levels and exercise analyzed two groups of men. One followed only an aerobic exercise program, while the other worked out with weights two times a week in addition to following an aerobic regimen. They found that the insulin levels of men who combined strength training and aerobics were 25 percent lower after eating a carb-rich meal than the men who only did aerobics.8

· Increasing your metabolism – Researchers conducted a study and found that men who followed a strength training regimen for six months saw their resting metabolism rate increase by 7 percent. According to the researchers, strength training tends to have a more pronounced effect on metabolism in men than women.9

lifting weights | Princeton Nutrients

· Benefits for older adults – Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Carroll University found “overwhelming” evidence that strength training can benefit older people. It not only increases power, strength, and muscle mass, it also helps make performing daily, routine tasks much easier. In addition, according to the researchers, older adults who lift weights are more likely to participate in other types of spontaneous exercise. They suggest that older people train two days a week, on average.10

Safety Tips for Starting a Strength Training Regimen

If, after learning more about the potential benefits of resistance training, you’re inspired to begin your own strength training program, that’s great. You’ll enjoy the benefits of a slimmer appearance, but more importantly, you’ll enjoy significantly improved health as a result. Keep in mind, though, you shouldn’t immediately head over to your nearest gym and start pumping iron. If you don’t have a careful plan, you could seriously hurt yourself.

The first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor, to make sure this type of regimen will be right for you. If you get the go ahead, your next conversation should be with a trainer at a gymnasium. He or she will help you determine the best way to get started.

Quality not Quantity

At the beginning of your program, focus on technique. It’s understandable if you want to get through the workout as quickly as possible, but if your form isn’t sound, you could be setting yourself up for a major injury. No matter what type of exercises you’re doing to build your muscles, listen closely to your instructor and follow his or her directions to the letter. Start with basic moves, and then expand your horizons.

It might also be tempting to ditch your new workout routine if you feel sore, or if you don’t see results after a few weeks. Just remember that the more you stick to a regular routine of lifting weights, the more coordinated and stable you’ll feel. Eventually, you’ll get more and more comfortable as your routine begins to feel more natural.

Take it Easy!

Remember to take a few days off, and not to try to hit the weights like a maniac every day. That might work if you’re trying to make it in the NFL, but that’s about it. If you don’t give yourself a break every once in awhile, you won’t be giving your body time to make the changes it needs for you to enjoy the benefits to not only your health, but also your appearance.

And finally, don’t think you can keep piling on the junk food just because you’re embarking on a strength training regimen. You might be making great progress in the gym, but that won’t mean anything if you’re not eating healthy. Make sure you get enough protein in your diet to support your increased muscles, but don’t forget to include carbs for energy as well as healthy fats. A good training regimen is nothing if you don’t support it with a sensible nutrition plan.

For more health news you can use, keep reading:

Boswellia Serrata Extract – Reduce Pain with Tree Sap?
3 Detox Drink Recipes (that actually taste delicious!)

Sources:
1.http://time.com/4803697/bodybuilding-strength-training/?cid=2017012&XID=time-health-hub
2.http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/21/8/1353
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933442/
4.http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/12/02/what-best-for-weight-loss-cardio-or-strength-training.html
5.https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/de44/40ee59d7777afa4b682e865183e1069a8945.pdf
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8335581
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11842358

8.https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/61/5/480/630015/Effects-of-Aerobic-and-Resistive-Exercise-Training
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15107011
10.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8598201_Effects_of_Resistance_Training_on_Older_Adults

Eat This, Do This, AVOID THAT to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Life’s tough. You spend most of it figuring out what it is you need to do just to get through it. And, by the time you’re nearing retirement, your habits are pretty much set in stone. You’ve earned them, right?

But, does it always pay to be stubborn? To stick to your regular patterns? It might not … especially when it comes to heart health. The truth of the matter is, your body is changing – so adjusting your habits to accommodate these changes is a must.

When it comes to caring for your heart, you really want to do everything you can to keep the flow of blood to it constant, to make sure it doesn’t decrease. Diminished blood flow can cause several health issues.
And frankly, nobody wants to have their life interrupted if they can prevent it. By now, you must be wondering if there is anything you can do to up your chances of avoiding heart trouble?

Of course there is.

These eight helpful hints that can lower risk of heart disease. If you try to incorporate them into your lifestyle, you can walk proud knowing you’re taking an active role in caring for yourself long-term.

1. Eat a heart healthy diet

Foods high in dietary fiber (e.g. vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts) are great for the heart. Dietary fiber can be found naturally in a variety of whole foods. It can also help reduce bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) – otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol. 1

So, let processed foods sit on the shelf and stock up on single-ingredient foods that come to you directly from Mother Nature herself (that means plant or animal foods only).

Make sure oily, skinless fish like salmon and mackerel find their way to your plate about two times each week. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which could help when it comes to keeping your heart healthy.

High fat foods and high cholesterol foods like cheese, red meats, and eggs should be consumed in moderation. While red meat is a great source of iron and vitamin B12, too much can cause certain health issues. 2 Diversify your sources of protein with other meats like chicken, pork, and fish – you’ll end up in better shape.

2. Move your body

According to The American Heart Association, nearly 50 percent of people living in the U.S. fail to get the recommended 2 ½ hours of mild to intense exercise they should. 3 The human body is meant to move. Like making sure you take your car out for a spin instead of letting it sit in the garage, you’ve got to keep your body running. In fact, exercise can often help you prevent numerous health issues.

Physical activity boosts “good” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides (one of the major building blocks of fat in the human body). Whether it’s a walk, a swim, dancing, or lifting weights, exercise keeps blood flowing, diminishing the risk of cardiovascular health concerns. 4

3. Manage your weight

Of course, eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising will help you feel better and look better. But, a good diet and active lifestyle are also necessary if you want to have the best chance at fending off health issues as you age. Even if you get out and move and eat well (for the most part), if you’re overweight, there could still be cause for concern. Managing your weight is also important for your heart.

There’s lots of ways you can help manage your weight. Make sure you read nutrition labels, look carefully at ingredients when you order at restaurants, and study appropriate portion sizes.

According to the Office of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, a sedentary male over the age of 51 should be eating approximately 2000 calories a day, whereas a moderately active male of the age of 51 can afford a couple hundred more calories a day. 5

 heart disease | Princeton Nutrients

4. Be a quitter

No one likes a quitter, unless … you’re quitting smoking.

Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. In fact, there are a number of immediate health benefits to quitting smoking.

You’ll look and feel younger
Your sense of smell and taste improve
Your lung capacity improves by up to 10% in the first 9 months
You’ll lower your stress levels (a common symptom of nicotine withdrawal) 6

Reports by the Surgeon General have proven smokers who quit live longer than those who don’t stop. And the statistics are dramatic. A smoker who quits by the time he’s 50 has only half the risk of passing away in the next 15 years, compared to smokers who choose not to quit. 7

5. Regulate your blood pressure

Everyone should regulate blood pressure, making sure to keep it below 140/90 mmHg.8 This is especially important for people over 50 years of age.

Low blood pressure could be a sign of a deeper issue, and it can cause poor blood flow to the heart. Tips 1 – 4 above will help a great deal when staying on top of your blood pressure, but you’ll also want to make regular visits to your doctor for routine monitoring.

6. Decrease blood sugar

If you’re blood sugar levels climb, you’ll want to eat foods that are lower on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a system that rates carbs on how quickly they become glucose once digested. Blood sugar levels rise or fall based on how many carbs you eat and the type of carbs you eat. You really can do your part to keep your blood sugar levels lower. 9

You’ll want to focus on the following foods:

  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Certain low sugar fruits (cherries, grapefruits, apricots)
  • Leafy greens
  • Low starch vegetables

7. Keep your cholesterol in check

Cholesterol gets a bum rap. Not all cholesterol is bad. Turns out, testosterone and vitamin D work together to build cholesterol in your body. And cells work to make their own cholesterol in order to form protective barriers around themselves. But, you add extra cholesterol when you eat. So, you want to make sure not to overproduce cholesterol and keep levels in check.

You can raise your HDL levels (HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, and that’s the “good” cholesterol as opposed to LDL mentioned above) by using olive oil when you cook, or to dress pastas and salads.

You might want to have your toothbrush ready for this next bit of advice. To help lower your LDL levels (the “bad” cholesterol), cook with plenty of onions and garlic. The sulfur found in onions and garlic may help to detox your arteries. 10

lower risk of heart disease | Princeton Nutrients

8. Lower your sodium intake

Salt makes everything taste better, but you can reduce your blood pressure by lowering your sodium intake. And when your blood pressure is lower, the risk of various heart health issues declines as well. 11

Instead of salt, you can use a variety of spices, onions, herbs, and garlic to create savory flavor in your favorite dishes – and they’ll still be delicious.

So, to recap, help your heart by following these 8 tips:

  1. Eat a heart healthy diet
  2. Move your body
  3. Manage your weight
  4. Be a quitter
  5. Regulate your blood pressure
  6. Decrease blood sugar
  7. Keep your cholesterol in check
  8. Lower your sodium intake

In the end, nobody is going to take care of your heart the way you can. So do yourself a great service and keep these healthy habits to lower risk of heart disease. You’ll give yourself a better quality of life (and perhaps even live longer so you can enjoy it).

A Bad Memory May Actually Be A Good Thing (here’s why)

Quick – who was named Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl 50? What was the name of your third grade teacher? If you don’t remember, that’s probably not a bad thing. It’s actually quite positive in most instances, because research suggests it could help you make smarter decisions. Here’s some information on why you shouldn’t feel irritated, annoyed, or embarrassed if you have a hard time remembering relatively trivial details.

Your Memory is Your Friend

The brain has been called the body’s computer, but it doesn’t have a built-in hard drive that has seemingly endless memory storage capacity. It’s also not a tape recorder, storing each and every detail of each and every day so that it can be played back on demand. A brain’s memory is great at storing the “meat and potatoes,” if you will, of events that happened many years back.1

But for most of us, this is an extremely good thing, helping to protect us from a lot of the bad experiences we’ve suffered in the past.

In a recent study involving a group of college students, researchers asked them if they could recall the grades they made in various classes back when they were in high school. There was no incentive to lie, the researchers told the participants, because they could easily find out what those grades actually were. The participants actually did a surprisingly good job – on average, they were able to correctly recall about 80 percent of their grades.

What was interesting about the results, however, was that the students did a much better job of remembering the good grades they made, compared to the not-so-good ones. They were also more likely to remember their grades as being better than they actually were, rather than being worse.2

Another study consisted of two groups of adults who listened to a story about a man who won more than $18 million in a lottery drawing. One group heard that the man was not only lazy, but he also complained all of the time. The other group heard a different version of the story – they were told that the lottery worker was an extremely kind man who was also an incredibly hard worker.

Afterward, the participants were asked how much money the man won. The group who heard the positive story said that he had won about $300,000 more than the group who heard the negative story.3

These studies are an indication of how the memory acts as sort of a shield, protecting us from unflattering gossip or bad news. Whenever a person decides to let you know exactly what he or she thinks about you, it’s likely you’ll remember the good things much more vividly than the bad ones. Our happier memories are usually a lot more detailed than the sad ones. As a result, the memory’s picture of what actually happened many years ago will usually be somewhat distorted.

You would think that most people, if given the choice, would permanently eliminate all unpleasant memories from their brain. However, one study indicates that the opposite is true. According to the results, more than 80 percent of survey respondents said they wouldn’t take a medication that could erase bad memories if such a drug existed.4

Bad memory | Princeton Nutrients

How the Memory Works

It’s not completely clear just how the memory works, but we do know that there are three ways in which the brain stores information – short-term memory, working memory, and long-term memory.

Short-term memory has a fairly limited storage capacity, as well as an “expiration date” of sorts. In fact, according to a scientific theory that dates back to the 1950s, short-term memory can only store seven pieces of information at a time, such as seven numbers.5

Researchers have since discovered that we’re not necessarily locked into that “seven” number. In fact, depending on the person storing the information, the particular situation and the type of information, our short-term memory storage capacity can vary.

Working memory is somewhat similar to short-term memory. When you’re introduced to someone at a party, their name is stored in your short-term memory. But when you try to remember the name later on that evening, that’s when your working memory takes over. Once you leave and you try to remember a detail about the party, such as how many people were at the gathering, you’ll be using your working memory.

Long-term memory works mainly through repetition. When you get the same messages over and over, that lets you know it’s important. Take, for example, a phone call from the same number. You might ignore it at first when it comes across your caller ID because it’s unfamiliar. But if you keep getting a call from that same number every day for a week, there’s a very good chance it will eventually find a place in your long-term memory.

Forgetting Trivialities is Good

Canadian researchers found that the brain helps us adapt to new situations by replacing old memories with new ones. If the brain were to constantly bring up memories that conflict with one another, that could make it incredibly difficult just to be able to handle basic, day-to-day tasks. And it would definitely play havoc with our ability to make good decisions.6

According to the researchers, instead of being preoccupied with remembering all of the details of events that occurred several years ago, the brain helps us prioritize important things that are happening at the current time. While it won’t completely erase our memories, it helps us gain perspective from past events so we can apply our experiences to new situations. You might be a trivia master and know all kinds of irrelevant facts. But that’s not what your brain is designed to do. Your brain is actually better off forgetting trivialities so that you can make the best possible decisions.

Bad memory | Princeton Nutrients

The Takeaway

It can definitely be annoying to forget the name of someone you were introduced to 15 minutes ago, or to walk out the front door without your car keys. If this happens a lot, of course, then you’ll need to talk to your doctor to see what’s wrong. But if it only happens every once in awhile, don’t worry about it. That’s actually an indication that your brain is working properly.

In fact, having a bad memory can often help enhance your wellbeing and help preserve your self-esteem. Try to keep that in mind the next time you can’t remember where you put the remote control.

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Type-2 Diabetes Prevention: 7 Steps You Can Take to Avoid it

Sources:

1.http://theconversation.com/remember-a-bad-memory-is-actually-good-for-you-55721
2.http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9280.1996.tb00372.x
3.https://davidenko.sites.ucsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/210/2015/06/Callan_2009_Journal-of-Experimental-Social-Psychology.pdf
4.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227710262_Attitudes_About_Memory_Dampening_Drugs_Depend_on_Context_and_Country
5.http://www.musanim.com/miller1956/
6.https://www.utoronto.ca/news/why-forgetting-really-important-memory-u-t-research

How To Build A Mason Jar Salad (And What To Put In It!)

Mason jars are a popular trend these days. Just do a quick search on Pinterest or Google and you’ll find them filled with many things, such as candles, sand, flowers, cocktails, and (brace yourself) even salad ingredients! That’s right…They’re called Mason jar salads.
Convenient to take to work or school, these ‘salads in a jar’ are gaining popularity. There are loads of super-delicious and unique recipes ideas for these fun DIY packaged salads. But, we’ve got a few of our own, too…

Who Should Eat Mason Jar Salads?

Mason jar salads are a simple way to help maintain a healthy lifestyle when you’re on the go, but they are also ideal for weight loss, meal planning, and for those who are serious about eating right. If you are ready to take your diet to the next level by incorporating more raw foods, and live active cultures into your regimen this could be your new thing!

No matter who you are, you can fall in love with these cute pre-packaged superfood salads. For anyone looking to avoid junk food, processed foods, and the drive-through, Mason jar salads can be a great way to substitute fresh produce for processed foods.

How-To Make a Mason Jar Salad for Beginners

While many Mason jar salad-making pros apply different ingredients to the creation of these trendy DIY salads, let’s start with the basics:
The very first ingredient to add to the Mason jar is the dressing. While store-bought dressing often gets a bad rap due to its high fat content and artificial preservatives, there are some decent options if you are not quite yet an alchemist in the dressing department. Pick your favorite dressing with the most natural ingredients, and add 1-4 tablespoons per 32-ounce Mason jar.

Once the dressing is added, the ingredients will go from thickest at the bottom to thinnest at the top. Start with grains, or legumes for a good source of protein and fiber. These include everything from kidney beans, teff, millet, amaranth, and lentils. Decorate your Mason jar salad with lima beans or black beans beans, chickpeas, or any of your favorite foods in this category. Then you can add the topping ingredients to the salad.

mason jar salad | Princeton Nutrients

Salad Toppings

Some of the best vegetables to add into a Mason jar salad include carrots, beets, radishes, bell peppers, and celery. Due to their thickness, coming into contact with dressing won’t affect these veggies during storage in the Mason jar.

The next category is a protein source from animals you may want to add. Keep in mind, if you are intending to eat your salad within 24 hours of packing it, then the meat, cheese, egg, or vegetarian protein substitute goes next. It’s best to add these items the same day you eat the salad. So, if you plan to do your food prep for the week, add these in last.

On top of this protein selection you may add fruits, and softer vegetables. This is where goodies like tomatoes, avocados, dried fruit (cranberries, raisins etc.), or any other juicier produce item can go. This is also another item that can be added at the last minute — if you are prepping for the week — to ensure the crispness of your salad. These items bring vibrant color, and life to your Mason jar creation!
If you want to add lighter grains to your salad such as quinoa, barley, or rice, you can add them to this second-to-last layer. This is also a great time to add nuts such as cashews, sliced almonds, or walnuts to the jar for a satisfying crunch, and a dose of fat-burning omegas.1

Finally, it’s time to add in your salad greens. Any variety of leafy green veggies such as romaine, iceberg, spinach, parsley, dandelion, or kale go here. You can easily add them to the top of your jar, and feel free to chop these ingredients finely for optimal digestibility.

Now it’s time to toss the salad! If you are on-the-go, you can eat your salad straight out of the jar by shaking it up, and down 3-5 times before removing the lid. Just remember to leave some additional space open in the jar during the canning process. Once the top is off, you can dump the jar’s contents out into a bowl, and do some light tossing as well if you are in a more formal eating setting. You can also add any additional toppings here like fresh feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, additional greens, or more dressing.

How-To Make a Mason Jar Salad for Advanced Cooks

For those who are more savvy with canning, this second approach to the Mason Jar salad creates a fermented meal rich in digestive probiotics, and enzymes— similar to kimchi. With this methodology, you will be making a custom salad dressing from scratch, and applying it to your ingredients before it goes into the jar.

If you are new to the idea of fermented raw food canning, there are many resources to help guide you through the art of Mason jar probiotic foods including books, and online magazines. Although the process may sound intimidating at first, it becomes second nature after just a few attempts. We promise!

To start, take one large bunch of kale rinsed, chopped, or hand-shredded. Massage the kale vigorously with a tablespoon of olive oil, and a ¼ teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt to help break down the fibers in the leaves. If you like a variety of greens in your salads, add some shredded cabbage, or other greens into the mix.

Once the greens foundation of your salad is ready, you can begin decorating it with peelings of root vegetables such as beet, carrot, or daikon radish. These colorful shavings can be made with any peeler, and are more easily digestible than their cubed counterparts. If you are competent in pickling, this is a good time to add a relish of apple cider vinegar drenched favorites such as celery, jalapeños, ginger, and red onion to name a few.

mason jar salad | Princeton Nutrients

How-To Make DIY Mason Jar Salad Dressing

A good raw dressing to try out has a citrus base (orange, lemon, lime). Apple cider vinegar is a good complement, or substitute for the citrus.

Next, add in a thickener such as avocado, or a cultured nut, or seed butter (macadamia, hempseed, almond, walnut, etc.) to give your dressing some body.

Finally, season your dressing with any of your favorite herbs such as cilantro, dill, or rosemary, and spices like cumin, dulse, paprika, or black pepper. All of these ingredients can be combined in a high-speed blender to make a thick, and creamy Mason jar salad dressing. Add a dash of sugar if you plan on fermenting the jar for over 48 hours.

Pour this creamy goodness into your salad bowl, and mix until all the contents are in contact with the dressing. From here, you are ready to jar up your superfood ensemble for a slow-refrigerated ferment. Ingredients such as citrus, and apple cider vinegar can keep your salad alive for over a week, only increasing the power of the digestive probiotics.

Recap: 5-Step Layering Technique for a Mason Jar Salad
Here’s a recap of what we discussed above. And it’s in an easy-to-print format so you can laminate and place it on your fridge or in a favorite cookbook for reference.

Here is a 5-step layering technique for any type of Mason jar salad:

1. Dressing. You always want to add the salad dressing in first, so that when you empty the Mason jar it is on top of the rest of the ingredients. As a general recommendation, you can cover the entire bottom of the Mason jar with dressing, and then just add more later if you want to. Just remember that dressings are a source of added sugars, and calories so it’s best to error on the side of less, rather than more.

2. Grains. There are many different grains you can add to your salad for a healthy dose of protein, fiber, and other phytonutrients. They include quinoa, amaranth, farro, millet, and teff for starters, but the options are endless. When added into the Mason jar, this salad ingredient goes second. This is because it’s generally a heavier layer, and you don’t want it to damage the other layers. Not to mention that it soaks up dressing well for even distribution once you open the Mason jar.

3. Everything Chunky. This is the layer that includes anything you want to top the salad with like fruits, vegetables, cheeses, spices, and other add-ons. Use this layer to blend any toppings of your choice. It’s all up to you!

4. Leafy Greens. This is the foundation of your salad, but it doesn’t have to be one dimensional. Mixing textures here can be really fun! Use any combination of leafy greens you like. Iceberg lettuce, romaine, spinach, and kale work well at this top, and final layer. Chop up a combination blend, and place it just below the lid of your Mason jar to get that deep green color you expect from a great salad.

5. Nutrient Boost. You can add freshly chopped herbs, ground spices, and vegetable oils like olive oil, or hempseed to boost the nutrient value. Also, this is a great time to add in detoxing ingredients, like apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice. With these flavorful nutrient boosters, you can cut back on any extra calories from dressing.

mason jar salad | Princeton Nutrients

The Takeaway

Mason jar salads are a fun, and ultra-convenient way to eat more raw foods. As an incredible source of essential nutrients, raw foods make an ideal meal no matter where you go. So, practice packing Mason jar salads to eat at work, while you travel, or even when you just want a fast grab-and-go meal idea. These DIY salad recipes are just a start, but once you get the hang of it…sky is the limit!

Sources:
1. Emilio Ros. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Nutrients. 2010 Jul; 2(7): 652–682.

Bottled vs Tap Water: Choosing the Healthiest Water?

It’s 100 degrees in the shade, and you’ve just come in from walking the dogs. Do you grab a bottled water from the fridge or a glass from the cabinet and fill up from the faucet? Is there such a thing as the ‘healthiest water’?

We’ll examine these questions and more…

Regulating Water

Water is regulated in the U.S. by a few different agencies, each with a different mission. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency keeps a close eye on the water that comes from the tap, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration looks out for safety and truthful labeling of bottled water water.

Both agencies have their work cut out for them. Environmental pollutants are seemingly everywhere, and they may also be lurking in your water. These may include pathogenic microbiota, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, and even known toxins not closely regulated by U.S. governmental agencies.

And don’t think that the water you’re drinking from a bottle is any safer. In many cases, bottled water might be more harmful to your health. You see, in many cities, tap water must be filtered, and tested for bacteria and viruses. But government regulations don’t require the same rigorous testing of bottled water manufacturers.

So … which is safer?

Each state and city has different regulations on tap water; you may want to check reports from your city government to find out what’s in your water. These annual reports can help you to determine whether the drinking water in your area is safe. But what about bottled water? Let’s take a closer look at both tap and bottled waters …

choosing healthiest water | Princeton Nutrients

Bottled Water Basics

Whether it is spring sourced, distilled, mineral, or sparkling, one thing is for certain: Water packaged in plastic bottles is something to avoid – at all costs. In addition to the tremendous environmental impact of discarding millions of non-biodegradable plastic bottles into landfills, bottled water that comes in plastic also poses a slew of potential health risks.

It’s not that the water itself is bad for you. It’s that the plastic that contains it could be more harmful than the water coming out of your tap. A recent study published in the journal Food Chemistry confirmed that drinking or storing water inside plastic bottles can cause toxic chemicals to seep into the water, and ultimately, into your bloodstream. The study reported these chemicals include phthalates, diethylhexyl adipate, alkylphenols, and bisphenol A.1

You may have already heard about toxic industrial chemicals found in some food containers, like canned foods. One of the most common, known as bisphenol A, or BPA, can also be found in plastic bottles. This chemical, used as a hardening agent in the production of plastic, has remained on the shelves since the 1960s. And, since its introduction into the food packaging industry, some studies suggest BPA can be found lurking in our bodies. In the early 2000s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that detectable levels of BPA were found in 93 percent of the over 2500 urine samples of people ages six and older.2

Why is this so alarming? This hormone disrupting chemical has potential links to brain and heart problems, obesity, and diabetes – and it is especially disruptive to young children.3,4

Plastic is photodegradable, meaning it can decompose when exposed to light, particularly sunlight. Because of this, any extra heat or light exposure may cause a water bottle’s constituents to leach into its contents. In addition, It is virtually impossible to know where the bottles have been before they hit the shelves, as well as how much exposure they have had to environmental elements. It is also common for water to be added into the plastic bottle immediately after the bottle is formed – allowing little to no time for the plastic to cure. While this is an efficient manufacturing process, it neglects the fact that at such a hot temperature, the byproducts of plastic may be delivered into the water at its inception.

When shopping for a bottled water, always aim to purchase a BPA-free plastic variety. You can also purchase water in a glass bottle to avoid these potentially harmful health effects.

choosing healthiest water | Princeton Nutrients

Terrible Tap Water

Tap water contamination is a growing concern. In one 2016 study on the quality of tap water, scientists found that supplies for 6 million U.S. residents exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies lifetime health advisory for poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs. If these substances sound scary, it’s because they are. Studies have shown that these industrial chemicals have seeped into water supplies from military fire training areas, industrial sites, and wastewater treatment plants in some cities. The study concluded that tap water PFAS contamination poses risks to the developmental, immune, metabolic, and endocrine health of consumers.5

Chlorine is also commonly used in city water systems to improve the odor and color of the end product that comes out of your tap. Unfortunately, this chemical is a major acid producer in the body – one which has the potential to damage our cells on contact and harm balanced pH. Chlorine is also known to interact with organic compounds in the body, leading to the development of trihalomethanes – environmental pollutants which can destroy healthy cell tissue.6

Fluoride: Is it Good or Bad?

Fluoride is another chemical commonly added into tap water to improve water quality, but it too may pose health risks when consumed over time. Studies have shown that fluoride toxicity is linked to a variety of different health problems, including brittle teeth, cognitive impairment, hypothyroidism, dental and skeletal fluorosis, and enzyme and electrolyte imbalances.7

The steam distillation process kills bacteria by boiling water, allowing the steam to collect in a glass container. It is a water filtration method known to remove all fluoride and chlorine from water. Other processes, such as reverse osmosis, are also effective in cleaning tap water from your household water supply for drinking and bathing.

Steamed distillation is one of the best ways to clean up the water in your home, making it suitable for drinking. The goal of this process is to reduce the number of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the water as much as possible. Total dissolved solids include all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid. Although bottled water tends to be lower on the TDS scale, it is still possible to reduce potential pollutants in tap water even lower than bottled water by using a distiller with an activated charcoal filter.

choosing healthiest water | Princeton Nutrients

A Final Note on Choosing the Healthiest Water

No matter what type of water you choose, having a high-quality water filter is always a good idea. There are many options, including tap filters you can put right on your faucet, steam distillers, water bottle drop-in filters, and even activated charcoal sticks you can drop into any glass (even at restaurants) that also remove heavy metals and other contaminants.

This all may sound pretty scary, but not to worry. There are a few steps to ensure you and your family have the healthiest water:

1. Pick up a pitcher with a quality water filter from your local grocery store.
OR
2. Install a water filter in your house.
OR
3. Subscribe to a monthly water delivery service — just make sure the water comes from a natural source, such as spring. Otherwise, you’ll be spending a lot of money on filtered water…something you can do at home by following suggestion #1.

After all, it’s worth the effort to choose the healthiest water possible—it is one of the most vital nutrients your body needs for good health, and longevity. Drink up!

Sources

1. Albert Guart, Francisco Bono-Blay. Effect of bottling and storage on the migration of plastic constituents in Spanish bottled waters. Food Chemistry 2014 August 1, 156: 73-80.
2. Bisphenol A (BPA). National Institute of Environmental Health Services. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Dog Owners Are Healthier! (6 reasons why)

So you’re one of the millions of dog owners in the world? Congratulations! You already know how much fun you have with your four-legged friend, but you might not be aware of the health benefits you’re enjoying. Sure, it’s great when he sees you at the end of your workday, with his tail wagging and his bark that tells you how happy he is that you’re back home. But there’s a growing body of scientific research that indicates your beloved pet could actually be making you healthier. The research into this area is relatively new, but the early indications show that being a pet owner can help you in many different ways. These are just a few:

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