Wanted: Germs

 

The word “germ” brings to my mind a mental image of the bacteria/slugs on the toenail fungus commercials. Toe fungusYou know the one where they lift up the yellow, crackling toenail, jump inside, and join their other slimy friends for a germ party. Gross! The words germs, bacteria, and bugs have become synonymous with “yucky”, however, not all bugs deserve this bad rap! In fact, going on a germ-killing mission, using products that claim to eliminate “99.9% of germs” may disable your immune system from reaching its full potential.

Today’s fast-paced lifestyle keeps the entire family active, from 3 year-old kids who already know how to operate iPads, to hard-working adults. A strong immune system is absolutely necessary in order to fight off seasonal illnesses and maintain healthy energy levels. Typically, when you start to feel “run-down,” that is your immune system trying to tell you to take it easy. A major factor in the strength of your immune response starts in the digestive tract, where about 80% of the body’s immune cells reside. I always thought my immune system was in my lymph nodes since that is usually where I fell the first signs of getting sick. But, long before your immune system triggers a response in the lymph nodes, it is either being built up or destroyed in your gut. You support your crucial immune cells in the digestive system by consuming…bacteria! Not the toenail fungus, germy bacteria, but Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria.

According to  pharmacist, author, and holistic health expert  Ross Pelton, a study indicated that people who ingested probiotics for three weeks were shown to have immune cells that were twice as effective as those who did not. The friendly bacteria help support the function of immune system cells by, among other things, crowding out unfriendly guests like bad bacteria. Probiotics also enhance digestion, which means the body better absorbs all the nutrients it needs from food and supplements. That alone equips the body to stay healthy and more efficiently fight off any bad bugs (call forth the slimy,green, toenail-bug mental picture) that come along.

“Due to overuse of antibiotics, stress, and other modern environmental and dietary issues, most people of all ages have a compromised probiotic population,” according to Dr. Fred Pescatore, author of the best seller Feed Your Kids Well. To maintain ideal health, the ratio of good to bad bacteria needs to stay at 85 to 15. However, this ratio is almost impossible to maintain without supplementing with a high-quality probiotic. Dr. Pescatore encourages his patients to look for a supplement that encapsulates both the probiotic and its nutritious culture medium, or its food, called the prebiotic. In other words, the good bugs need bugs!

“A probiotic alone will not necessarily be successful. The friendly bacteria need what is called prebiotic support,” explained Dr. Pescatore, who noted that  Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics, fit the bill. The probiotic formula is encapsulated with its culture medium, which provides the body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and pH-balancing organic acids. “This prebiotic support ensures that the probiotics take root and thrive in the digestive tract,” said Dr. Pescatore.

When relying on probiotics to help support immune response, it is vital to pick the right supplement. There are products that claim to contain “billions and billions” of bacteria, but, contrary to what many people believe, this is not necessarily a good thing. Providing too much of a single bacteria strain, can actually trigger an immune response that causes the body to treat the supplemented bacteria as a threat. Consumers should also look out for probiotic products that may have undergone manufacturing processes or shipping conditions that render them useless.

As healthy micro-ecology is restored, digestion improves and all the body’s organs and cells are able to receive nutrition more efficiently. That can have an incredible effect on whole health and energy helping the entire family to manage their demanding lifestyles.

 

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Wake Up And Smell The Coffee Addiction

 Is the thought of that first cup of coffee the only reason you get out of bed in the morning? Is one cup never enough? Would you rather drink a cup of bad coffee than no coffee? Do you turn into a morning monster without your cup of Joe? Are you really into coffee? I mean reallllyyyy into coffee?! 

 If you answered yes to these questions, congratulations, you’re a coffee addict like me! When I think of the word “addiction,” I think of  “Hi, I’m Claire and I’m a [coffee] addict (Hi Claire).”  But you fellow coffee addicts out there may be pleasantly surprised to know that your coffee addiction isn’t something you need to attend a recovery program for. In fact, your dependent relationship with coffee may be more beneficial for you than you realize. With all of the mixed opinions on the health aspects of coffee, for many of us it has turned into another “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” thing in our lives to worry about. On the rare occasion that I come across a non-coffee drinker, I begin to feel guilty about my coffee consumption and convince myself that I need to give it up… until the next morning when I realize how bad of an idea that was. But its not just my bad temper and fatigue without it that tell me its a bad idea to give up coffee; its science as well.  Here are the ABC’s of scientific research done on the health benefits of coffee:

Abnormal heart rhythms are 20% less likely to occur in people who drink 1-3 cups per day

Burns fat by as much as 10% in obese people and 29% in lean people

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing it to send signals to the fat cells to break down body fat

Diabetes (type II) risk is reduced for coffee-drinkers by up to 50%

Frequent studies show that coffee-drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s Disease

Energy levels increased

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Gallstones risk reduced by 25% after 4 cups per day

High in antioxidants, which protect against damaged cells and reduce the risk of chronic diseases

In a 2011 Harvard study, women who drank 4 cups per day had a 20% lower risk of depression

Just 2 calories in a typical cup of black coffee!

Keeps your risk of liver cancer 40% lower than non-coffee drinkers

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Lowers risk of Parkinson’s Disease by 25% (2-3 cups per day)

Minimizes chance of getting metastatic prostate cancer by 30% (1-3 cups per day)

Need a brain boost? Coffee blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine which can improve memory, mood, and general cognitive function

Only drink up to 5 cups per day

Potassium, Magnesium, Niacin, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B2, and Manganese are essential nutrients found in coffee

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Quitting your workout? No way! Coffee can stimulate your muscles and therefore increase reps

Roast matters. Go for light-roasted black coffee

Stroke risk lowered by 20% for women who drink 2 or more cups daily

Those who drank 4 cups of coffee a day were 53% less likely to commit suicide in a study of over 200,000 people

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United States’ largest source of antioxidants… more than fruits and vegetables combined!

Very helpful to drink 30 minutes before exercising

Want to boost your metabolic rate by 3-11%? Drink coffee!

X your risk of cirrhosis by 80% by drinking 4 cups daily

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Your average physical performance can improve by 11-12% on average after drinking coffee

Zest up your morning… coffee reduces fatigue

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While there are coffee-haters out there who would like to argue that coffee is bad for you, I choose to believe the evidence I have come across in my research. Call it confirmation bias, but facts don’t lie. So stop feeling guilty about enjoying your morning cup of Joe and wake up and smell the coffee, you addict you!

How To Win An Olympic Gold Medal

Has watching the 2014 Winter Olympics inspired you to take your athletic abilities to the next level? Has seeing your country stand on the medalist platform filled you with so much pride that you fantasize about winning a gold medal for your nation? Just picture it. Cameras flashing, people screaming your name, your national anthem playing as the entire crowd stands. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Surprisingly, there is an easy formula to follow to end up as an Olympic gold medalist yourself one day… be the best! Sochi-Olympic-gold-medal

OK, easier said than done. Especially for athletes at the top of their game who are often only hundredths of seconds or points away from receiving that coveted gold medal. To be the best, athletes have to be stronger, more prepared, and better trained than their competition. They must eat right to fuel their body, get sufficient rest and recovery, and, according to the International Olympic Committee, take “food supplements [that] can enhance athletic performance.” While we’ve all heard that certain supplements are good for our health, it may come as a shock to hear that they can enhance athletic performance. And no, I’m not talking about steroids, but rather legal, approved supplements. According to the IOC, “athletes know that if they don’t take certain supplements, with the tiny margins separating the gold medalists and the [others], they simply can’t win in international competition.” Dr. Barry Sears, a research scientist of lipids and their inflammatory role, supports this as well, answering the question of whether supplements can improve athletic performance with “a resounding yes.” By the way, Dr. Spears has personally worked with athletes over the last 3 Olympics, who have brought home 21 gold medals collectively. Hows that for credentials?

We know that eating right and training hard in addition to raw talent are key ingredients in making an Olympic athlete. But why supplements? A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition asked athletes this same question. Their answers included: to increase energy, maintain strength, enhance performance, maintain health and the immune system, and prevent nutritional deficiencies.The same Journal published a research article in 2011 examining the frequency of the use of dietary supplements among a large sample of elite athletes. From 2002 to 2009, the study found a decrease in the consumption of all dietary supplements by athletes except for one: Omega-3’s, whose consumption increased. Cross-country skiing, which I believe to be the most difficult of the  Winter Olympic games, had the athletes with the most frequent intake of Omega-3’s in the study.

Omega-3-and-metabolism-DHA-may-reduce-risk-of-metabolic-conditions-study-suggests_strict_xxlOmega-3 supplements are gold medals in and of themselves, offering anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, cardiovascular health, and cognitive health benefits. These essential fatty acids play a key role in allowing nearly all of our cells to function properly. While everyone needs Omega-3’s, they are especially beneficial for athletes in the following ways:

1. They are a powerful and natural anti-inflammatory that can reduce pain and stiffness that often results from hard training; they also help prevent overuse injuries that are very prevalent when athletes are going through intense training. Dr. Spear says Omega-3’s anti-inflammatory agents “work like aspirin to relieve pain.”

2. They affect our collagen metabolism by increasing collagen production in tendons and ligaments, which addresses the symptoms of common problems for athletes including strains, sprains, and overuse injuries and allow for a faster recovery time.

3. They have been shown to improve oxygen-rich blood flow to active areas of the brain during mental activities, which may boost cognitive abilities. Studies have shown that Omega-3’s can be beneficial in improving attention, focus, and concentration for long periods of time, which are key aspects in athletic performance. Positive benefits for brain and brawn!

4. They can improve body composition by increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing fat mass and can even boost lung function of athletes both during and after exercise.

So, if you’re hoping to take home a gold medal one day your to-do list includes: eat right, train hard, and take an Omega-3 supplement. I prefer a vegetarian Omega-3 supplement because I don’t like the after-taste left behind from fish oil. Chia seed oil has a higher concentration of ALA Omega-3 than flax seed, so this is my favorite way to get my essential fatty acids while dreaming of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Research: , 2, 3, 4

Beauty And The Bugs

My grandmother always used to tell me “real beauty radiates from within.” At the time, I filed this advice away in my mental archives and rolled my eyes. “What does an 80-year old woman know about modern beauty,” I thought to myself, along with “what does that even mean?” We’ve all heard some variation of the saying, but it turns out it may be true in a very literal sense and not just a matriarchal proverb.

Natural health and beauty author, Kat James, has shared an intriguing surprise ingredient for creating lasting radiant beauty: probiotic supplementskat james

It turns out that probiotics- the helpful bacteria that naturally live in the digestive tract- not only help us properly digest our food, but can also affect major natural beauty issues. From weight management to skin clarity, friendly bacteria are responsible for keeping us feeling and looking healthy.

“I learned the hard way that outer beauty suffers as inner ecology deteriorates,” said James. “Even as a professional New York makeup artist with a bag full of beauty tricks, there was no more hiding my own ravaged skin, spirit, and health, or my expanding waistline.” She explained that when probiotic balance (or inner ecology) is harmed, it affects the whole body. The digestive system may not absorb nutrients efficiently, which leaves the rest of the body nutritionally starved, even if an individual is eating well. This can lead to excessive cravings, increased appetite, and weight gain.

Because probiotics also help the body detoxify itself, poor probiotic balance can even result in dermal blemishes, rashes, and breakouts. Over time, compromised inner ecology can cause or aggravate issues that leave you feeling less than beautiful: fatigue, mood swings, and bloating. Poor energy and fatigue often show on the face, especially in under-eye area.

James was struggling with all the signs of reduced probiotic population. Her energy level and health at an all-time low, she realized something had to change. She began a quest to discover where her balance had been thrown. Researching nutrition and natural approaches to beauty enhancement, she learned about studies that have looked at the lesser-known effects of probiotics. “We’re only beginning to discover all the clinically verifiable benefits of probiotics,” she said. “If you’ve taken antibiotics or birth control, or spent a good part of your life as a sugar addict like I did, your probiotics are likely depleted.”

Motivated and ready to change, James developed her own personal dietary program focusing specifically on beauty-enhancing nutrients. “I included probiotics to help me absorb nutrients. It literally transformed me beyond recognition, first restoring digestion and then clearing my skin and renewing my relationship with food,” James said. “I have permanently dropped ten dress sizes!”

While James’ experience is quite dramatic, it is common for people to see some beauty-enhancing ‘side benefits’ when taking a probiotic supplement. “Probiotics are responsible for helping us digest food properly. So, it’s a domino effect after that. To feel and look your best, all of your body’s cells need to receive adequate nutrition from your food. Without that nourishment, you’ll see external consequences. “If probiotic imbalance is at the core of someone’s overeating or the root cause of their skin irritations, they could see incredible improvement after a few months of taking a high-quality probiotic product and eating well.”

There are a few serious considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a probiotic supplement. “I would never compromise by taking freeze-dried brands that might not be viable,” said James. “I prefer Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics ®. It contains the strongest strains of living friendly bacteria along with prebiotics, which are specific nutrients that nourish probiotics.”

Having a diverse list of probiotic strains in the supplement may be more important than having billions of one kind. “This is definitely a case where quality is more important than quantity,” says Barrows. “In fact, products advertising billions of a certain bacteria strain can actually overwhelm the body and trigger an immune response. The body might think the sudden onslaught is a threat.” A high-quality product will contain multiple strains along with prebiotic nutrition.

Apparently, the Dr. Ohhira’s product that James prefers is part of a larger product line which includes topical beauty products. Scientists have discovered that probiotics also do your body good when applied to the surface of the skin. Applied through a moisturizer or cleansing bar, probiotics can help nourish and moisturize skin without any need for harsh chemicals or irritants. That’s another refreshing alternative for anyone with very sensitive or breakout-prone skin!

Whether looking for healthy approaches to weight management and metabolism or hoping to improve dermal health, probiotics may be an overlooked but vital key to any beauty transformation program. “Feeling better and looking better, you begin to radiate a whole new energy,” said James. “Beauty really does start on the inside, at a gut level!” Finally, we have proof that Beauty is more than skin-deep!

 

It Takes Guts®… to be beautiful!!

 

Try Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics ®, Kampuku Beauty Bar ™, and Magoroku moisturizer ™

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Your Love/Hate Relationship With Chocolate

  With Valentines Day just one day away,we all have one thing on our minds…. chocolate. Well, maybe its only on the minds of us single folks who won’t be celebrating the holiday over an expensive dinner, but rather at home with a sappy movie and a large box of, you guessed it, chocolates. Like most relationships, chocolate sends us a lot of mixed messages: is it good for you, or is it not? Sometimes we love it, sometimes we vow to cut it out of our lives; it makes us feel good and it makes us feel guilty. chocolate heartWith all of these conflicts, how are we supposed to know whether or not our relationship with chocolate is worth staying in? What better way to evaluate a relationship than the tried-and-true Pro/Con List:

 

Pro: People who eat chocolate are 37% less likely to develop heart disease than those who rarely eat it, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge. Chocolate contains Arginine, which releases a substance to dilate and relax arteries.

Con: As you probably already know, chocolate has a lot of calories, which is not something you want to be collecting if you are trying to lose weight.

Pro: Dark chocolate is made from roasted cocoa kernels, which are rich in antioxidants called flavenoids. Antioxidants work to help neutralize some of the harmful chemical reactions occurring in your body due to our exposure to pollutants.

Con: Mood swings. Yes, we are still evaluating chocolate, not your girlfriend. The sugar in chocolate can cause swings in the levels of your Endorphins, which are brain chemicals that affect mood.

Pro: With ten times less the amount of caffeine than that of the average serving of coffee, soda, or tea, chocolate is a better way to decrease fatigue. In small doses, caffeine can be beneficial in improving your fat metabolism, exercise endurance, and alertness.

Con: As the saying goes, “too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing.” Similar to the brain processes with addictive drugs, receptors eventually become desensitized to the mood-lifting effect of chocolate, causing you to need more and more of it to get the same endorphin-raising effects.

Pro: The British Medical Journal found evidence showing that eating 100g of dark chocolate per day could reduce blood pressure by enough to decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke by 21%!

Pro: After consuming chocolate, your body converts its Tryptophan to Seratonin in the brain, producing a mood-lifting effect. This is also said to lower stress levels and anxiety.

 

Lucky for us Valentines Day-chocolate-eating-single people, we came out with more pro’s on our list than cons! Its really not a question of whether chocolate is healthy or not, but a matter of selecting the right kind of chocolate and in the right amount. The best kind of chocolate you can eat is dark chocolate, since it has the highest percentage of cocoa and the least amount of added sugar. Like Chia, cocoa was first discovered by the Aztecs, who believed it to increase wisdom and boost energy levels. Modern day chocolate usually contains additives like sugar or dairy. The closer you can get to the original cocoa powder of the Aztecs, the better. A good target-level is dark chocolate with 72% or more cocoa. White chocolate, containing no cocoa powder, provides none of the health benefits discussed above. Once you go dark, you never go back.

All Valentines Day and “single people” commentary aside, dark chocolate is a guilt-free treat when consumed in moderation. Although the study done by the British Medical Journal was based on a 100g intake of dark chocolate a day, the more common recommendation is about 28g, or 1 ounce, per day. We now have 2 things to thank the Aztecs for!

 

Mad At Your Metabolism? 7 Tips For Speeding It Up

We all have that one friend that, no matter what they eat, never seems to gain a pound. You watch them taking down donuts, pizza, and burgers without a care in the world while you sheepishly pick at your salad in hopes of losing weight. You’re at the gym everyday trying to get in shape, but that friend, who hardly ever works out, still looks like they are in better shape than you. Its not fair! You have your metabolism to thank for this phenomenon. Metabolism is the process of breaking down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to produce the energy your body requires for maintaining itself. However, comparing your metabolism to that of your “burger-eating-but-still-looks-amazing-friend” can be like comparing apples to… well, burgers. The rate of your metabolism depends on the interaction between the number of calories you consume, the number of calories you expend, and lastly, your individual genetic makeup. Ah there’s the rub! “Maybe shes born with it… maybe its her genetic metabolism.” However, no one is stuck with an irreversibly slow metabolism. Here is a list of 7 things you can do to get that metabolism working more efficiently:

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1. Get Strong– When most people think of torching calories, they think of doing only cardio-focused workouts. While cardio exercises are a great method for burning calories, building muscles is the only way to increase your metabolism permanently. Weight training can raise your metabolic rate by up to 15% and increasing muscle allows you to burn calories even after you are finished with your workout.

2. Fit Foods– Certain foods have been shown to speed up metabolic rates. Some of them include: grapefruit, green tea, almonds, coffee, turkey, apples, spinach, jalapenos, oatmeal, and cinnamon.

3. Hydrate– In order for your metabolism to keep burning, your body needs to be hydrated. Drinking water speeds up digestion and burns calories. For an added benefit, try drinking ice cold and your body will burn a calorie for every degree that it heats it up.

Image4. Omega-3’s– Omega-3’s balance blood sugar and can reduce inflammation, thus assisting in metabolic regulation. Resistance to the hormone leptin, which researchers have linked to how fast fat is burned, can also  be reduced by Omega-3’s. Obesity Research produced a study showing that rats who ingested large doses of Omega-3’s while exercising lost weight. Time to start taking an Omega-3 supplement!

5. Catch some Zzz’s– Researchers have found that people who don’t get enough sleep typically have a slower metabolism. It is important to let your body, including your metabolism, rest and recharge.

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6. Go Organic– According to Dr. Mark Hyman, non-organic produce interferes with your thyroid, which determines your bodies temperature and how fast it runs, therefore blocking your metabolism. However, fruits, vegetables, and grains grown without pesticides keep your fat-burning system running full-time, since your thyroid isn’t exposed to toxins.

7. Probiotics– A study published in the journal Molecular Systems Biology found that probiotics have a tangible effect on your metabolism. This research looks at how probiotics change the biochemistry of gut microbes, which live in the gut, and play an important role in a person’s metabolic makeup. Friendly bacteria may help reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs and therefore help out your metabolism.

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CHIA: Beyond The Furry Pet

Chia pets… a parent’s perfect answer for a kid who keeps asking for a pet. They don’t have to go to the vet or be exercised. They only require water every few weeks. And best of all, they are good for your health!

OK, while the potted Chia Pets themselves won’t improve your health, the seeds, responsible for growing the famous Chia Pet “Afros”, have been used for centuries as a part of healthy diets. Essential Formulas loves Chia, so today we are going to scratch the surface and talk about the history of these power-packed seeds.

Formally known as Salvia hispancia, the Chia plant is categorized under the mint family and produces white or purple flowers that contribute to a high self-pollination rate. The plant is prominently grown for its seeds and their oil, since the seeds/oil contain 60% ALA Omega-3, an essential fatty acid required by the human body for good health. While Chia is rich in Omega-3, the other nutrients in the seeds contribute to boosting your general health as well. Chia seed oil is composed of 15-25% protein, 26-41% carbohydrates, 18-30% high dietary fiber, 90-93% vitamins and minerals, and a high amount of antioxidants. Adding to their popularity, Chia seeds are vegan and gluten free!

Now that we have told you about some of Chia seed oil’s overall health benefits, lets get down to its “roots.” For centuries, Chia seeds formed a part of the Aztecs of Mexico and the Indians of Southwest America’s staple diet.

At one time, the seeds were so highly valued that they were used as currency in these cultures! When going on a conquest, the Aztec warriors were said to eat Chia seeds because of their high energy supplementation. In fact, they would eat as little as a teaspoon to sustain them when going on a full 24-hour march. Talk about a little bit going a long way! Not only was Chia a main component of the Aztecs’ diet, but also of the Pre-Columbian Mayans. Interestingly, 500 years later, modern science has concluded that the Aztecs’ and Pre-Colombians’ diets were superior to present day diets. Although Chia seeds were an obscure ingredient for several centuries, they are now making their way into modern diets, offering a new opportunity to improve human nutrition by providing a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.

Learn  more about the Essential Formula’s Chia supplements here  chia-products_BN_2013