7 Fertility-Boosting Foods (And 2 Baby-Busting Foods!)

By: Stephanie HeinoFertility-Diet

You probably know that eating a nutritious diet and living a healthy lifestyle (which includes exercising, keeping your weight under control, and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, among other things) is a great way enhance the chance of conceiving and prepare your body for pregnancy. And if you’re already taking those steps, you are on the right path. What you may not know, however, is that researchers have found that beyond eating a generally healthy diet, there are some foods (fertility foods) that may be particularly helpful when trying to conceive. In addition to that, there are some unhealthy foods that may be especially harmful when trying to conceive. So while there is no one food that will guarantee pregnancy, there are definitely some foods you should you dig into (they’re good for you, and that’s a good enough reason) and other foods you should ditch.

There’s no need to feel deprived when you’re trying to get pregnant though, it is actually quite the opposite. Check out these foods that taste great and can help keep your body in top baby-making condition!

low-glycemic-grains1. Whole Grains. You don’t have to give up carbs, just choose the right ones and you are fine. Complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads, brown rice, stone-ground cornmeal, and oatmeal don’t affect blood sugar and insulin as dramatically as refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, bleached flour, etc). And anything that’s good for insulin function is good for fertility.

2. Plant Protein. Protein from plant sources like beans, peas, and nuts have been associated with increased fertility, as opposed to protein from meat and poultry. Beans are also high in iron, another fertility-helper. There is no need to become 100% vegetarian while trying to have a baby, but do try to eat mostly seafood if eating protein from animals.

fruits+and+veggies+border3. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. It is possible to explain how healthy and important fresh produce is for fertility? There are just so many reasons! First of all, it’s full of antioxidants, which promote general and reproductive health. Plus many fruits and vegetables like oranges and citrus fruits, strawberries and, green leafy vegetables are very high in folate (water-soluble B vitamin) which is an important nutrient to load up on before pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

4. The “Healthy” Fats: Monounsaturated, Polyunsatured, Omega-3 Fatty Acids.healthy_fats
Always remember this: Say no to trans fats and saturated fats and yes to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. That is the rule of thumb when it comes to health! These fats reduce inflammation and insulin sensitivity. You’ll find them in avocados, nuts, sesame and pumpkin seeds, sardines, and salmon.

You can combine these foods in all sorts of ways to magnify the fertility-boosting impact of any meal or snack. Instead of a plain salmon sushi roll, order the one with avocado; add almond butter to your morning smoothie or switch to brown rice. It doesn’t have to be hard, those small changes will be very fertility-boosting!

YAM5. Wild yams. Some experts think that this yummy Thanksgiving staple contains a substance that may help stimulate ovulation (amazing!). In fact, populations that eat a lot of wild yams have a high rate of twins. When it comes to fertility foods, this one may have double the effect!

6. Berries. Blueberries and raspberries are particularly packed with antioxidants, which help prevent damage and aging to your body’s cells, and this includes cells in your reproductive system–meaning your eggs. So a diet that’s rich in berries may help keep your eggs healthy and increase their shelf life.

oyster.sflb7. Oysters. The oyster is famous for being an aphrodisiac because it contains zinc, which is crucial for conception. Zinc deficiency can disrupt the menstrual cycle, as well as iron, and slow the production of good-quality eggs, but if you are not sure if you get enough through your diet you can get zinc from a good prenatal vitamin.

And the foods you should ditch:

1. High-mercury fish. Mercury has been linked with infertility. It’s also known to be harmful to the development of your baby, so you’ll want to avoid eating any high-mercury fish while trying to conceive, especially swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, tuna steak, and shark.

2. Trans fats. Researchers have found that the more trans fats in a woman’s diet, the greater the risk is to develop ovulatory infertility. Trans fats (also called hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, check the labels!) are found in processed and fried foods (packaged snacks and doughnuts, and millions of other items!). So read nutrition labels carefully to avoid trans fats, and stick to polyunsaturated fats (in fatty fish, walnuts, and sunflower seeds) and monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil).

Other natural ways to improve your fertility include:

The-best-way-to-Increase-your-Fertility1. Tracking Fertility. There are a number of natural family planning methods that can also help you to become pregnant. Keeping track of your cervical mucus, and using the Fertility Awareness Method will help you to become more aware of your body’s natural cycle (Try the cervical mucus method). Try keeping a fertility chart – this will raise your fertility awareness, allowing you to know exactly when you are actually ovulating (Many couples have difficulty getting pregnant because they are having intercourse at times when the woman isn’t ovulating. It is important to have sexual intercourse just before an egg is released, in order to maximize your chances of becoming pregnant!). You may also want to look into purchasing a fertility monitor, which can help you keep track of your conception calendar and dates. Good investment for you who want a little one! There are also lots of free tracking apps, like FemCal that track your fertility signs and let you know your peak times for conception b

Six-Simple-Steps-to-Improving-Fertility-for-Men-Women-RMACT-Infertility-CT-NY2. Sexual Positions. If you are having difficulty becoming pregnant, you and your partner may want to experiment with different conception positions during intercourse. In order to become pregnant, your partner must deposit his sperm as close as possible to your cervix. Certain positions will allow this to happen more easily. Avoid having sex while standing, sitting, or with you on top, as this can cause semen to leak out of your body. Instead, try the missionary position, which allows for deeper penetration. Rear entry intercourse is also effective, as it allows your partner to deposit semen closer to your cervix. To keep any extra semen from leaking out of you, try elevating your hips for fifteen minutes or so after your have sex.

3. Herbs. If you are having difficulty becoming pregnant you and your partner may want to look to herbs for fertility (Very effective!). Herbs have been used to promote fertility for thousands of years and can be considered to be a form of natural fertility medication. Because herbs can be very potent, it is important to speak with a registered naturopath, herbalist, or holistic practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.

- Vitex (Chasteberry): This herb works to increase fertility by stimulating the pituitary gland. This is the gland responsible for producing sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Chasteberry should help fertility by balancing the sex hormones. It is great for women with irregular cycles, a short luteal phase, or PMS.

- Dong Quai: Dong Quai is a Chinese fertility herb, long-used to solve menstrual difficulties. It also helps to balance estrogen levels in the body and improve chances of implantation.

- Maca Root: Maca has been used as a fertility supplement for thousands of years! Maca contains over thirty different minerals and over sixty different phytonutrients. While Maca itself does not contain hormones, it can help to affect hormones in both men and women, making it a valuable supplement. Maca supports the balance of hormones in the body and also supports the thyroid, and normal sexual function. Maca is also able to increase stamina, energy and mental clarity, making it a very valuable supplement indeed. It has been shown to help with a lot of the essential body processes that are necessary for fertility, such as supporting the function of the pituitary gland and other vital body processes.355390-43118-14

- Red Raspberry Leaf: Red Raspberry Leaf Tea has become one of the most popular herbal “fertility teas” that women are using to help them conceive. The red raspberry leaf is the green leaf that is found on the raspberry plant. It has been used for thousands of years, starting long ago with the ancient Greeks and Romans to cure various sicknesses and ailments. These days, it is a popular herbal treatment for fertility and can help with various problems throughout pregnancy since it prepares your uterus, as well as boosting overall nutritional intake since the leaves are high in carotenoids, citric acid, tannins, vitamin A, B complex, C, and E. They also have an easily assimilated form of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and silica.

benefits-of-yoga-for-female-fertility4. Exercise. This one seems to work on every single condition, but yes people, moderate exercise can also be a good natural fertility treatment. When combined with a balanced and nutritious diet mentioned above, exercise can help you to maintain a healthy body weight. Excess body fat can increase the amount of estrogen in your body, throwing the female fertility cycle out of balance. Exercise helps to burn off this excess body fat, allowing hormone levels to return to normal. It is best not to overdo exercise since over exercising can actually impair fertility. Try low impact aerobic workouts like walking, swimming, cycling, pilates and yoga (Check out the amazing benefits of yoga for women’s fertility here!) Balance within is everything!

Good luck! If you need any help getting that right balance in life, don’t hesitate to schedule your free consultation with holistic health counselor Natasha Uspensky!

The Last (and Best) Diet You’ll Ever Need

Thai Sweet Potato Soup

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

The traditional Ayurvedic approach to eating emphasizes when you eat as well as what you eat, and it is literally the best and healthiest key to permanent weight loss, lifelong weight management, and optimum health and digestion.  It points to the body’s ideal time for consuming the biggest meal of the day.. and it’s certainly not when most Americans think it is.

Our bodies are designed to consume the majority of the day’s calories before 3pm, when digestion is the strongest.  This means a balanced breakfast that is nourishing and filling enough to get you through to lunch without feeling hungry (and without needing that mid-morning cup of coffee or snack!).  Our bodies function best when lunch is the biggest meal of the day.  Midday is when our digestion and metabolism are the strongest, and our system is in need of nourishment and healthy calories.  So guess what?  That soup or salad just aren’t going to cut it.  Your typical light lunch is what’s responsible for your late afternoon energy crash, your high hunger levels in the evening, and your struggles with weight!  Making your lunch healthy and dinner-sized is the biggest secret for longterm weight loss, and the end to dieting forever.  This big lunch keeps you full and energized throughout the day, and keeps you from overeating in the evening, which is when calories eaten go directly to your problem areas and contribute to weight gain.  Dinner, or better yet “supper” (sharing the root of “supplemental” or “soup-like”), should be the lightest meal of the day.  Soup is the absolute ideal supper, although a salad is also great.

This way of eating certainly has history and culture on it’s side, being the traditional way of eating for many Eastern cultures, and even much of Western Europe, before eating habits and work cultures were Americanized.  But now, there is also cold, hard scientific evidence supporting it!  A new study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity proves once and for all that eating your main meal of the day in the evening contributes to weight gain.  In the study, a group of 420 overweight men and women were evaluated over five months.  During that time, half the group ate their biggest meal of the day before 3pm, while the other half ate it after 3pm.  Both groups had the same amount of exercise, ate the same amount of calories throughout the day, and got the same amount of sleep throughout the study.  Over the course of the 5 month study, the early eating group lost an average of 22 pounds, while the late eating group lost only 17 pounds.

Further supporting this evidence is a study from the University of Alabama last year, showing that eating higher fat meals in the first half of the day, and a lighter low-fat meal in the second half of the day (see The Key to Sustained Weight Loss) support longterm weight loss.  So here’s how to eat:

  • Eat three meals a day, and don’t snack.
  • Make lunch the biggest meal of the day.
  • Make breakfast big enough to get to lunch without feeling hungry.
  • Make dinner light and “supplementary.”

Even if you change nothing else about your diet, just this shift alone will give you some results!  But of course, for this to be the last and best diet you’ll ever need, you’ll want to make some changes to what you’re eating as well.

  • Eat less meat and dairy, and more low-mercury fish and healthy plant-based fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and healthy oils.
  • Eat more vegetables!!!  Better yet, eat mostly vegetables!  They are nature’s perfect foods.
  • Eat less processed grains and flours, and more whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet and oats.
  • Eat less sugar.  If you need a little sweetness, get it from fruit and healthy sweeteners like stevia or raw honey, all in moderation.

Doesn’t sound so hard, does it?

Want some healthy meal ideas?  Check out What Do I Eat? Healthy Eating is Easier Than You Think!, and our Healthy Recipes database.

Reference:
Garalualet M. International Journal of Obesity, Jan 2013.
Bray M. International Journal of Obesity, Mar 2010

10 Weight-Loss Hormones You Should Know About!

By: Stephanie Heino

hormones11It might sound counterintuitive, but calorie counting is not everything when it comes to weight loss. It has been discovered that there is a hidden key to shedding pounds, and it’s got little to do with calories or willpower, ladies (although this still plays a big role, of course!). It is time to talk about your hormones, and the surprising effect they have on your weight. Whether it’s your period, menopause, stress or pregnancy, women have felt vulnerable to hormonal cravings and sluggish metabolisms for years. Now science is uncovering several links between female hormones, hunger, weight loss and fat metabolism. And in fact, evidence suggests that taking advantage of female hormones may help you to manage your weight, shape, and appetite. Hormones are the chief executives of the body, managing everything: our sex lives, our stress lives, our immune response. Research has implicated hormonal imbalance in everything from breast cancer to short-term memory loss — as well as what we eat, why we eat it, and what happens to the body once the food is in our body. Which means that when you picked up that oreo, you weren’t just having a weak moment, you were actually a slave to your internal managers – the hormones.

“The neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects mood and appetite, needs proper estrogen levels to be optimal. Low testosterone has been associated with a worsening of memory and mood, and more fat on your belly.” So it is very important to optimize hormone levels through daily exercise, balancing insulin, sleeping well, and lowering stress, in order to create balance within, let us educate you on the 10 most essential fat-loss hormones you should be familiar with:

Ghrelin. Ghrelin is your hunger enemy. It is produced in your stomach and, like many fat-loss hormones, works with your brain to signal that you are hungry. Reducing calories, in an effort to lose weight, causes an increase in ghrelin. Even after 12 months of a reduced-calorie diet, research shows that ghrelin levels stay elevated. In other words, your body never adapts to eating less and constantly sends the “I’m hungry” signal, which is why maintaining weight loss is often harder than losing it in the first place. Make sure to increase your exercise since it decreases ghrelin levels, making it a key component to fat loss and weight maintenance. Eat a diet rich in healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and low-mercury fish to give your system the good calories it needs to stay full. Also, make sure to eat three meals a day (with dinner being the smallest and lunch the biggest), so keep your blood sugar stable, and ghrelin in its place!

imagesLeptin. Leptin is a type of hormone called an adipokine that is released exclusively from fat cells. Leptin interacts with your brain to get your body to eat less and burn more calories. Its the hormone that tells your body it’s full. The more body fat you have, the more leptin your fat cells will release. However, too much body fat leads to too much leptin being released—a condition called leptin resistance. When this occurs, your brain becomes numb to leptin’s signal. To maximize leptin sensitivity, get adequate sleep and pack your diet full of antioxidant-rich berries and green and red vegetables. Losing weight also enhances leptin sensitivity and gives you some momentum, as the more weight you lose, the more effective leptin will become in your body.

Adiponectinhealth_benefits_of_2_tablespoons_avocado_2. Adiponectin is another adipokine, but unlike leptin, the leaner your body is the more adiponectin your fat cells will release. Adiponetin enhances your muscle’s ability to use carbohydrates for energy, boosts your metabolism, increases the rate at which your body breaks down fat, and curbs your appetite. You can maximize your adiponectin levels by moving more during the day (getting leaner) and replacing simple carbohydrates in your diet with complex carbs (whole grains and legumes) and monounsaturated fats (nuts, avocados, etc).

Insulin. Insulin plays a very important role in your body and is key for recovering from exercise, muscle building, and maintaining optimal blood sugar levels. However, when carbohydrate intakes are high and insulin is left to run wild in the body, it can inhibit the breakdown and burning of stored fat. Insulin and carbohydrates are very tightly linked. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin will be released. To optimize insulin for fat loss, aim to get most of your carbohydrates from vegetables and some fruit. Limit processed grains, sugar and starches. Keep it to whole grains and have a little fruit if you need a sweet fix. “When insulin is secreted in higher amounts, you feel hungrier and you eat more. Willpower does not exist when insulin is high.”

Glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that acts directly opposite to insulin. While insulin stores carbohydrates and builds fat, glucagon is responsible for breaking down stored carbohydrates and fats and releasing them so your body can use them for energy. Eating healthy proteins with meals is the best way to maximize glucagon release.

CCK. Short for Cholecystokinin, this hormone is released from the cells in your intestines whenever you eat protein or fat. But Catalonian-Spanish-Greens-with-Raisins-and-Pine-Nuts-ForkFingersChopsticksCCK doesn’t just stay in your gut. Instead, it communicates with your nervous system to flip the satiety switch while simultaneously working with your stomach to slow the rate of digestion. The end result is that you feel fuller longer. Take full advantage of CCK by making sure you have healthy protein and fats at every meal.

Epinephrine. Known as a fight or flight hormone, epinephrine drives the burning of fat and its release for energy in the body. Epinephrine can also aid in appetite suppression. Exercise is the best way to turn on epinephrine release in your body, interval training in particular cranks up epinephrine.

Growth Hormone. Considered to be the fountain of youth by many, growth hormone also helps with fat loss. Growth hormone interacts with fat cells and coaxes them to break down and burn stored fat for energy. Growth hormone can be increased through intense exercise like intervals or circuit training and sleep. To maximize the fat-burning effect of growth hormone, train hard and sleep well.

Cortisol. If you’re like many people, you’ve got a demanding job, a family who needs you, and a never-endingoriginal to-do list. No wonder you feel tired or depressed, anxious or irritable. Do you have insomnia, or a non-existing sex life? All are those are symptoms of chronic stress. Stress activates the fight-or-flight response, the body’s involuntary response to a threat that makes our hearts pound and our breath shorten. Chief among the hormones released during this response is the stress hormone cortisol that increases glucose in the blood so we have more energy to fight and deal “dangerous” situations. Cortisol automatically kicks up your appetite, prompting you not only to want to eat huge quantities but especially to want sweets and simple carbohydrates-foods that make insulin levels spike and then plummet, leaving you feeling hungrier than ever-and eating again. And this “stress fat” is also placed in the worst possible place – your belly. Lower your cortisol levels by exercising and doing yoga, sleeping well, meditating, keeping blood sugar stable with regular meals, and eliminating caffeine.

Thyroid Hormone. The most influential for weight loss is the thyroid hormone, which helps regulate metabolism, and insulin, which allocates sugar in the bloodstream. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism. To regulate these hormones it is important to follow all of the other tips above.

4 tips for regulating your hormones:

Eat Whole Foods620-best-cancer-fighting-foods-prevent-nuts-berries-greens.imgcache.rev1355167418396
Think a diet high in fiber, complex carbs, and low-glycemic-index foods like whole grains and fiber-rich vegetables and fruit, as well as unsaturated fats, which will take longer to metabolize and help you stave off cravings.

Move
By exercising (even if you just walk, bicycle, run, do yoga, run after your kids at the playground) 40-60 minutes per day, five days a week, you can combat hormonal weight gain. Strength-training can also help with hormonal balance since it alters the cortisol level, helping you burn calories and fat. Even at rest, muscle burns calories, which fat doesn’t.

Check Your Stress
For most people, basic stress-relief measures, such as getting a massage or seeing a life coach, will lead to better hormonal balance. Or why not engage in some yoga? People who practice yoga three times a week tend to gain less weight according to a research.

Get Plenty of Sleephappy-runners-460
According to a research in 2004, people that slept less had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin. Other research has shown that just three days of sleep disruption increases insulin resistance in humans!

Raise Those Endorphins
We are all familiar with with eating to make ourselves feel better. To get that natural high, exercise is the way to go (but not the only way!) Let it be finding a new hobby that makes you happy, listening to music you love, dancing while no one is watching, taking a class and learning something new, laughing, and making love, often. I assure you that all these steps may lead you toward feeling more whole as a person, while also shedding those extra pounds on that beautiful body!

Take control of those hormones and lose that weight! If you need help, schedule a free consultation with holistic health and nutrition counselor Natasha Uspensky for guidance! You can do it!

Let Deepak and Oprah Teach You to Meditate!

Meditation is one of the most powerful techniques you can employ to decrease stress and pain, manage anxiety and depression, increase longevity and optimum health.  Not only does it lower blood pressure and clear your head, but it can help with weight loss and motivation to exercise!

But starting to meditate can be really hard.  I’ve been working on it for years, and even I have trouble just sitting, focusing on my breath.  Luckily, there’s an easier way.  Guided meditations start you off with some thoughts, insights, or a mantra, and then lead you into a short solo meditation that is much more manageable and user-friendly for novices.  And who better to lead you down this healthy and enlightened path than everyone’s favorite gurus, Oprah and Deepak Chopra!

The 21 Day Meditation Challenge is an easy, effective, and really powerful way to start a regular meditation practice, and best of all, it’s free!  You just sign up online, and starting March 11th you’ll receive an email every morning with a short guided meditation to start your day with.  The theme for this particular challenge is Perfect Health, with inspirations, visualizations, and mantras geared toward helping you reach that perfect place of balance, well-being, and happiness that does indeed lead to optimum health.  Plus, the daily practice helps you build the habit of meditating, so you can continue your practice after the program is over.

The digital program includes:

  • Daily welcome from Oprah Winfrey
  • Daily guided meditations by Deepak Chopra
  • Inspirational messages, images, and centering thoughts
  • Sanskrit mantras and their meanings
  • Daily reflection questions with a private, online journal to save responses and additional notes
  • Mindful Moments – daily takeaways showing you how to incorporate daily lessons into your life right now

Now you have no more excuses about not being able to meditate or not having the time!  This easy to follow, 21 day challenge helps you to develop your practice with help from the experts.

Click here to sign up!

To Juice Or To Blend? That is the question…

By: Stephanie Heino

juicingversusblendingLately, it seems juicing and blending are on every health fanatic’s lips, and we wanted to weigh in.  For a long time I was wondering what the actual difference was between blending and juicing foods, and I know that I am not alone so let us clear this confusion by listing the pro’s and con’s of each so you can see what fits you best. First of all, it’s important to note that just because it is a smoothie doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Buying pre-made smoothies in stores is probably not a good idea if you are looking for optimal health benefits. Often times they are loaded with sugar and preservatives to be kept fresh (a major no-no!).

Let’s start by defining juicing to clear the confusion. “Juicing is a process in which a machine, either through centrifugal force, grinding or mastication (chewing), extracts juice from its source. The juice will contain most of the nutrients, but not all of them, despite what ardent juicers claim. This process removes the insoluble fiber and some of the soluble fiber from the juice, which contains healthy colorful antioxidants. According to studies, juicing delivers 80% to 90% of the antioxidant potential of a veggie or fruit. Blending provides close to 100%.”

After extraction, it is best to consume the juice or blended foods within 10 to 15 minutes because antioxidants are activated and used as soon as air and liquid hit the food. There are some juicers that claim a vacuum extraction, however that doesn’t totally stop the loss of antioxidants.

Some also say juicing and blending gives the body more energy than solid food because the only nutrient that is quickly available for energy is sugar. Remember, with blended foods the sugar absorption is slower and steadier (which is a good thing), but even juice requires some form of digestion.

Benefits of Juicing

  • green_juice_smoothies_recipes_apple_cucumber_Broccoli_spinachVery fast delivery of nutrients to the blood stream. Only a small amount of digestion is required.
  • Gives the digestive system a break. Primarily the stomach, pancreas and colon.
  • Because of the lack of fiber, a lot of plant juice can be consumed. You can effectively drink more, consuming more nutrients.
  • Helpful for people sensitive to fiber since there is no insoluble fiber content. Juice does have some soluble fiber, but only a small amount.
  • Provides 80% to 90% of the nutritional value of the food being juiced.

Negatives

  • Allows very fast delivery of sugars to the blood stream.
  • Removes most of the fiber and some antioxidants from the juice.
  • Not as filling or satisfying for most people.
  • More time consuming and more difficult to clean.
  • Good juicers are expensive.

Meanwhile, blending is a process in which the whole foods, along with some liquid, are put in a machine and blended to form a puree. You get everything the whole food has to offer: vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber.

tofu-banana-strawberry-smoothieBenefits of blending

  • Fast delivery of nutrients to the blood stream. Only a small amount of digestion is required.
  • Gives the digestive system a break. Primarily the stomach and pancreas.
  • Because the food is blended, it takes up less space than a full meal would. This allows for more nutrient intake at one time.
  • The natural fiber slows the release of sugars into the blood stream.
  • More nutrient availability due to the whole plant being consumed.
  • More filling due to the fiber.
  • Very fast to make a smoothie (or Blast) and clean up.
  • Blenders are less expensive than juicers.

Negatives

  • If someone is sensitive to fiber, it could make a person bloated and a little gassy.
  • You can’t consume as much liquid as you could juicing.
  • Some blenders can create too much heat if you let them blend too long. The heat will kill the naturally occurring enzymes. (This is not the case with NutriBullet, as it doesn’t heat to the point of destroying enzymes.)

In the body, nutrients work together and support health through their interaction. For example, when the pulpy white part of the orange is removed in the processing of orange juice, the flavonoids in the orange are lost. This loss of flavonoids is one of the many reasons for eating the orange in its whole food form. The skin on a apple contains other antioxidants that you are not going to get in the juice and skins of vegetables and fruits contain some of the highest concentrations of nutrients and juicing is not as efficient as the body at extracting those nutrients.

There’s a jungle of blenders and juicers out there, but here is a few great ones to help you chose the best one for you!

Nutribullet ($90-$120)

The praised blender has taken the health market by storm and it truly takes blending to a whole new level by enhancing the absorption of nutrients. It has been called the superfood nutrition extractor since this powerful blender is used to grind up all types of foods into drinks yet keeps all the nutrition. Not only can you use it to make health shakes and juices, but you can also make soups, dressings, desserts, flour, and peanut butter.  We’ve been using this amazing kitchen tool for almost a year and love it.  At under a hundred bucks, it’s an amazing value and is the easiest way to start making super healthy smoothies at home right away!  You get 4 convenient to-go smoothie cups that you can take with you anywhere. (Click to read our full review of the Nutribullet.)  Get it here!

Ninja Mega Kitchen System ($160-$220)

If you’re ready to take your blending up a notch, and want the option for higher capacity blending and food processing, this is the blender for you.  It has a super high powered motor, and is an all-around great blender, because of the combination of the patented Ninja technology and powerful pulsing action. It comes with two to-go sized blender cups (like the Nutribullet), a full-size blender, and a food processor, making it a truly indispensable kitchen tool. At less than half the cost of the Vitamix, this puppy does pretty much everything it’s big expensive brother can do, but at a much friendlier price point.  We recently upgraded to this blender and couldn’t be happier! (Click to read our full review of the Ninja.)  Get it here!

Vitamix ($330-$650)

This healthy kitchen favorite not only makes perfect smoothies, but Vitamix machines are also built to stand up to years of demanding use in commercial kitchens and decades of daily use in your home. Impressive!  It can liquify almost anything, making blended soups and smoothies a cinch.  The high powered motor also warms blended soups without cooking them, which is essential for raw foodies in the colder months!  Get it here for less!

Breville Juice Fountain Compact ($99-$139)

This juicer is one of the best! It collects all the pulp and extracts 8 oz of yummy, refreshing juice in less than 5 seconds. Amazing.  Plus it’s nice and compact, which makes it much more flexible a kitchen tool than many of the bulkier juicers out there.  An awesome value!  Get it here!

Check out these delicious blended soup recipes, perfect for a cold winter day!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is delicious, and did you know they’re low in calories and fat and packed with vitamins A & C as well? This soup makes a fabulous, nourishing soup.

Ingredients:bowlcloseup

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 2½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ cup of coconut milk or soy milk
  • ½ cup of cashew puree
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

Directions:

Sauté onions and apples in a stockpot with olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, except coconut milk, cashews and quinoa. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Add batches of mixture to the blender, add coconut milk, cashews, and quinoa, and puree until smooth. Add a crispy green salad and you have a complete, healthy dinner!

Delicious Tomato Soup

This tomato soup recipe really gives you the nutrition your body needs thanks to the Nutribullet. It’s a great way to heat up on those cold winter days, and in addition to that it is so easy to make.

Ingredients:Tomato-Soup-1

  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can Italian tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup brown rice or quinoa (cooked)
  • ¼ cup of cashews
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (optional)

 Directions:

1.      Place tomatoes, 1 cup of broth, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes in a pot.

2.      Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until potatoes are fork soft.

3.      Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

4.      Place cashews in blender and grind.  Add to soup.

5.      In small batches add soup and puree with extractor blade until smooth.

6.      Add brown rice or quinoa to soup and finish with coconut milk.

Happy blending everyone!

Don’t forget to check out our delicious Nutribullet smoothie recipes!

March is Giveaway Month on The Organic Beauty!

The-Organic-Beauty-March-GiveawaysMarch is Giveaway Month on The Organic Beauty!

We’ll be reviewing tons of amazing products this month, with huge giveaways all month long for our amazing readers.  Enter to win amazing natural beauty products from Avitalin Skincare, Yes to Blueberries, and Sunny Girl Organics.

Keep checking back all month long for chances to win!

 

Tips For Younger Looking Skin

5-tips-to-younger-looking-skin-262x300By: Stephanie Heino

Forget the fountain of youth, and simply take a look on what goes into your grocery bag. This is a guide on how to increase the foods that you should consider your anti-aging staples. Fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids and carotenoids, two powerful plant-based antioxidants, are given since they will remove the free radicals from your skin and body that cause you to age prematurely. Overall, a well-balanced diet can help you lose weight, live longer and feel fitter. But it can also help you look younger. It doesn’t have to be so hard. Stop looking for expensive, unnatural products being advertised on TV promising you younger-looking skin by the morning. Instead load up a plate at the feel-better buffet and turn back the clock on a full (and happy) stomach. Exercise and a healthy diet are the best (non-surgical) ways to keep you looking years younger. But certain foods possess qualities that will improve your skin, boost your energy, and even fight of disease.

Spinach. This leafy green is a true nutrient powerhouse, and it’s easy and tasty to use as the base of a salad, or even in your Spinach_2337460bsmoothies. Spinach is rich in lutein, which has been shown to have anti-aging properties.

Cinnamon. Research shows that cinnamon may decrease the post-meal insulin spike. And the more controlled the spike, the less likely you are to store body fat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in your smoothie for great taste, but also to help slim your waistline. And, it’s a powerful antioxidant too!

Sweet Potatoes. They do more than to fill out the table at Thanksgiving, ladies. Sweet potatoes contain lycopene, which protects your skin from UV damage. It also is loaded with vitamin C, which produces collagen for healthier skin.

Green Tea. It keeps showing up in many of my posts, but it is truly a miracle drink. Whether you drink it hot or cold, or use it as a refreshing base for soups or stews, green tea might help you look younger. In fact, Chinese researcherimages-2s found that people who drank 3 cups of green tea per day slowed down the aging process. And the reason is that green tea might improve your DNA structure and slow the shorten of cells that results during aging. Great!

Watermelon. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. Carrots are filled with beta-carotene. And watermelon is loaded with both vitamins, which help protect your skin and repair cells that are damaged by sunlight.

Hemp. Most people know that salmon is a strong source of omega-3s, but so is hemp. Hemp seeds and oils are a natural moisturized, which helps your skin retain moisture and counteract the effects of aging. Eat the seeds raw, or add the oil to your favorite smoothie.

Pistachios. These little green nuts are not only high in nutrition, but they also have a major pistachiosbenefit over other nuts since they come in shells. According to a study published in the journal Appetite, subjects consumed 41 percent fewer calories when in-shell nuts are offered compared to those already shelled. Those who eat nuts gain, on average, an extra two and a half years. Nuts are rich sources of unsaturated fats, so they offer benefits similar to those associated with olive oil. They’re also concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals, including antioxidants.

Blueberries. These colorful little berries are high in fiber, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and a great soorganic-olive-oilurce of antioxidants that may help protect the brain and skin.

Olive Oil. Four decades ago, researchers from the Seven Countries Study concluded that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil were largely responsible for the low rates of heart disease and cancer on the Greek island of Crete. Now we know that olive oil also contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent age-related diseases.

I also want to share 5 easy beauty steps you should follow in order to achieve younger looking skin:

1. Choosing the correct skin care products for your skin type is an essential part to younger looking skin. Either if you are having problem skin or not you should go for all natural skin care products since products that containing harmful ingreBeautiful woman with purifying facial mask keeping her palms by her facedients can increase your chance of premature ageing. Natural ingredients will help your skin remain wrinkle free for as long as possible.  Remember, less is more!

 2. Always use a good eye cream that contains vitamin A. They will soften the fine lines that appear under your eyes by boosting the collagen production. Never use your face moisturizer as your eye cream as these creams weren’t meant for such skin areas. Using a suitable eye cream will also help with under eye puffiness, wrinkles and dark circles.

3. Your face cream must always contain SPF 15 sunscreen which will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. UVA rays from the sun can damage the collagen, which can result in premature aging and wrinkles.

4. You know it is important to cleanse your face daily, but don’t forget to exfoliate regularly. This will eliminate dead skin cells and giving you younger and more glowing skin. rec-woman-using-a-hula-hoop-credits-thinkstock-04-03-12-md

 5. Believe it or not, but exercise can contribute in a great way to get younger looking skin. Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes a day by going for a walk, go running or even chasing your kids around the local park. Exercise gets your blood flowing, and an increase in blood flow will carry more oxygen to the skin. The boost in blood flow and oxygen to the skin cells also carries nutrients that improve skin health, supporting all the effort you make with moisturizers and other skin care products.

9 Herbs For Weight Loss

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By: Stephanie Heino

Today we are drowning in supplements available to promote weight loss; most of them being dangerous and unhealthy. What people don’t know is that herbs can do wonder for weight weight loss, and they are all natural. Many are safe and effective in helping you lose weight without causing any side effects such as depression or other things that might occur with the processed pills available in the drugstore. But don’t think that solely consuming herbs will help you lose weight; they should be taken in conjunction with a nutritious diet and a sensible and regular exercise plan in order to succeed. Natural weight loss herbs contain tonics that boost your nervous system which makes you more capable of coping with stress and prevents you from emotional eating (one of the biggest culprits of obesity). Herbs make you feel positive and also give you the strength to exercise. They keep you feeling sated because of their high fiber content and since you don’t feel hungry, you aren’t tempted to indulge in snacks and junk food all day. Herbs therefore help you lose weight safely and effectively. Sounds amazing, right?

Check out this list of 9 natural herbs promoting weight loss to start your journey towards that beach body:

ImageGuarana. Guarana is a diuretic that’s useful in helping you lose weight. It also stimulates the nervous system and helps you fight depression and cope with stress. Guarana thus helps you to avoid emotional eating, one of the chief causes of weight gain, but make sure to also include some meditation in your everyday life to deal with the actual cause of your stress and depression.

Guar gum. Guar gum is obtained from the Indian cluster bean. Since it contains lots of fiber, eating guar gum gives you a feeling of fullness that prevents you from overeating. It also decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) and helps control diabetes (amazing!). Make sure to pick up some Guar gum powder next time you go to your natural food store.

Ginseng. Ginseng increases stamina and helps you to treat fatigue. ImageIt increases your capacity to do physical activity, so you can no longer use the excuse that you’re too tired to exercise when using Ginseng. It’s also responsible for reducing blood sugar levels and helps you lose weight by increasing the leptin levels (the hormone that helps regulate body weight) which will lead to loss of body weight and decrease in blood glucose levels. Take a look at this guide on how to buy the best supplements.

Flaxseed. The seed of the flax plant has a coating that swells when exposed to water. If you soak whole flaxseeds in water and eat them, they act as bulking agents in your stomach and give you a feeling of fullness. They are neither digested nor absorbed by the body when soaked whole. By giving you a feeling of fullness, they prevent you from overeating and help you lose weight.

ImageGinger. Ginger (yes, it is an herb!) cleanses the body by reducing the stomach’s acidity and helps getting rid of the food stuck in the digestive system. This lodged food can cause weight gain, and the purging helps you lose it. I like to start my day with a lemon, ginger and cayenne shot to really get my body going!

Cinnamon. Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels and cholesterol. The ability to regulate blood sugar levels makes cinnamon an important tool in the fight against fat. It also helps speeding up your metabolism!

Glucomannan. Glucomannan delays the absorption of glucose from the intestines and helps you lose weight. Glucomannan is a sugar (a healthy one!) made from the root of the koImagenjac plant that has been used for centuries in traditional Japanese cooking as a thickener agent. Glucomannan creates a sense of fullness by absorbing water and expanding to form a bulky fiber in your stomach. The “bulky fiber” is then expelled from your body via the natural route. This cleansing effect has been said to help with a host of medical issues like reducing cholesterol, helping control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, and constipation. I would recommend using Glucomannan powder which is practically tasteless, thus great for mixing into smoothies and other foods.

Laminaria. Laminaria regulates the thyroid gland and helps you lose weight that you may haveImage gained due to malfunction of the thyroid gland. Laminaria is a type of seaweed that is native to Japan. Laminaria contains iodine, an element that the body needs to make thyroid hormones. It is also a rich source of iron and potassium. Laminaria is used for weight loss, high blood pressure and as a bulk laxative for constipation. It is also used for preventing cancer. Laminaria forms a thick, sticky gel when it comes into contact with water, and can also be placed inside the cervix to expand the cervix and speed up the onset of labor.

To figure out which herbs are best for your body, talk to your holistic healthcare practitioner, or schedule a session with Natasha!

The Power Of Dark Chocolate (and the Beauty of Cocoa!)

By: Stephanie Heino

ImageThis time of year, people take the opportunity to indulge a little (a lot!) extra in chocolate. You don’t necessarily have to say no to that delicious piece of chocolate, but make sure it is 70% or darker in order to get the maximum health benefits. In fact, if you are looking to lower your blood pressure or boost your mood, a bite of dark chocolate might be the perfect answer. The cocoa found in some of your favorite desserts contains many super powers that can help improve your health such as cardiovascular system (mainly in the form of flavonoids). You might have noticed that chocolate often gives an instant feeling of happiness—this is due to the rush of dopamine that triggers the brain’s pleasure receptors, and endorphins which provide a natural high kind of feeling. But as with any sweet treat, even this one should be eaten in modest portions because it is high in calories, but at least you can go to the dark side in a delicious, healthy way. If you, like us, don’t buy the chocolate sold in stores, try making those easy, raw and delicious desserts from Valentine’s Day!

Discover 5 reasons why you should add dark chocolate to your diet for better health:

Flavonoids. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a type of chemical found nImageaturally in plants. These phytochemicals are known to help fight a wide array of diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Make sure you’re getting all of the benefits of flavonoids by buying dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. If you aren’t sure, look for bars with “pure,” “dark” or “unprocessed” on the label. Flavonols (the type of flavonoid found in chocolate) help your skin look its best. Those antioxidants help your skin protect itself from UV damage (hello, fewer wrinkles) fight free radicals (so long, sun spots) as well as improving skin hydration and thickness – which both are important for young-looking skin. Read more about this later in the article!

Lowering Blood Pressure. High blood pressure can be combated with a small daily dose of dark chocolate. We now know that the flavonols found in cocoa can thin blood and relax blood vessels. If you are worried about high blood pressure, even a small amount, like a sprinkle of cocoa or raw cacao on your quinoa porridge every day, can help lower your numbers.

Mood Booster. When you’re feeling down, sometimes there’s nothing better than eating chocolate (hello, PMS!). And as it turns out, there is a scientific reason why chocolate is so often the perfect answer for a case of the blues. This miracle food contains hundreds of compounds that boost endorphins and serotonin, two of the best-known chemicals that are responsible for making us feel happy. Next time you need a quick mood boost, try making yourself a cup of organic hot cocoa (sweetened with stevia, of course), and your day is sure to turn out more delicious.

Stress Reducer. Dark chocolate also helps combat beauty’s public enemy number one: Stress. Cocoa helps reduce stress hormones, which means less collagen breakdown in the skin, and fewer wrinkles.

It helps boost your immune system. Dark chocolate may help suppress T-cell activity in your immune system, making it an amazing fighter against certain conditions such as psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome.Image

Cocoa for Beauty

When it comes to beauty; cocoa butter (the cream-colored fat that’s extracted from cocoa beans) is widely used in cosmetics, soaps, lotions, and other skincare products thanks to its moisturizing properties (the most stable, highly concentrated fats). So if you are looking for a moisturizer that’s affordable, naturally sweet-smelling and easily absorbed by the skin (melting at body temperature), make sure to pick up some beauty products containing cocoa butter next time you go shop for beauty products!

Here is 6 reasons why you should use cocoa butter in your beauty regiment:

Help Reduce Skin Conditions. Cocoa butter has been known to treat eczema and dermatitis. Thank the cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP) in cocoa butter: CMP inhibits the production of immonu globulin, which tends to worsen the symptoms of dermatitis and asthma.

It may help prevent cancer. Studies have shown that CMP helps inhibit the growth of cancer cells. CMP inhibits cancer cell and tumor growth by preventing the oxidation of good cholesterol and the production of inflammatory cells.

Prevent Stretch Marks. Ever wonder why pregnant women reach for cocoa butter-enriched products to rub on their bellies? Cocoa butter is loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E. Paired with its ability to moisturize like no other, cocoa butter is said to be the best ingredient to prevent stretch marks. While cocoa butter can’t entirely erase them, it is able to reduce their appearance remarkably!

Anti-aging Properties. Cocoa butter is rich in antioxidants, which help in fighting off free radicals. Free radicals destroy healthy skin cells, damaging your skin and making it age faster. An added bonus: cocoa butter may also protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.

Skin Softener. As mentioned above cocoa contains antioxidants that work toward repairing damaged skin. This will make your skin softer, especially when paired with other homeopathic skins cures like raw honey. Next time you are giving yourself a manicure, use a homemade cocoa lotion made out of yogurt, honey and cocoa powder, works wonder for Imagewinter-dry hands!

Hair Moisturizer. The benefits of using cocoa butter on hair are increased manageability and moisture. Cocoa butter can help prevent hair loss due to breakage or extra fine texture. It can also help alleviate scalp itching and irritation. Another benefit of using cocoa butter on hair is the prevention of chemical damage.

I will make sure to invest in some beauty products containing cocoa butter next time I go shopping, you should too!