In the third grade I was told I could write a paper on any topic for an English homework assignment. I chose the subject of scurvy as it affected sailors who were away at sea for long periods of time and the resulting discovery of Vitamin C as its cure. I remember the paper well for I was literally transcended from ignorance to a place of awe at the intricacies of the human body and its response to nutrients.Today, antioxidants are the word on the street. They are used to boost energy (forget caffeine - this stuff rocks!) and these antioxidants fight infection, and address a whole range of health issues.Before XanGo, Tahitian Noni, Fruta Vida, (containing, respectively, mangosteen, goji, and acai) and now Amigo Juice (a marriage of all three super foods), we had Vitamin C, E, and A. For many of us, it was all about drinking that cup of orange juice at breakfast or taking a vitamin supplement. But today, we are not talking about just a punch but a real blow to sickness and disease, taking the form of antioxidant rich health beverages that many consumers swear by in their quest for wellness.Living in today's very toxic world, antioxidants deserve a special place in the area of nutritional supplements and are certainly worth examining closer to see what they are all about and learn how we can implement them into our daily routine.Quite simply put, at the molecular and cellular levels, antioxidants serve to deactivate certain particles called free radicals. In humans, "free radicals" usually come in the form of O2, the oxygen molecule. The oxygen molecule desires to be oxidized, and this oxidation process can sometimes be carcinogenic. Free radicals are the natural by-products of many processes within and among cells. They are also created by exposure to various environmental factors, tobacco smoke and radiation. Of course, this certainly includes air quality and all the junk we put into our bodies that our immune system is forced to combat.If allowed to run amok, these free radicals can cause damage to cell walls, cell structures, and genetic material within the cell. They are the bully on the playground and need to be dealt a firm hand for the resulting damage can eventually lead to disease and ultimately death.Antioxidants play a key role in cleaning up the destruction caused by these free radicals. They clean house before free radicals get a chance to harm the body. Researchers have determined that antioxidants are useful in the prevention of carcinogenic effects of oxidation.To that end, a variety of health companies, most notably in the form of multi-level marketing, have cropped up offering antioxidant rich health drinks, as captured in the pericarp, hull, pulp, rind, basically the whole fruit, the kitchen and its sink, ground and mixed and served up in tasty 1 oz. servings. Not to mention the mangosteen fruit has introduced an entirely new classification of antioxidants, called Xanthones with professed health benefits too numerous to list, many years of research, and centuries of positive use.These antioxidant rich drinks created three distinct camps. One decided the mangosteen is their drink of choice, goji has its determined followers, and there is also acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee). It became difficult to navigate through hype and look for substance. According to numerous reports by customers, they all have their benefits.However, in March of this year, one product was introduced, integrating all three important fruits into one single product in a dried formula, omitting any need for pasteurization, cutting back on the cost of shipping, and providing the most bang for the buck. Most importantly, each of the three super foods had very distinct benefits. Now we have a marriage of all three fruits in one drink in Amigo Juice.THE BIG THREE SUPER FOODSThe following is a look at the three fruits: acai, mangosteen, and goji.ACAI:The Acai berry, or Acai Fruit grows on majestic palm trees in the Amazon Rainforest and looks like a purple marble or grape. Acai contains high levels of Antioxidants, Omega Fatty Acids (healthy fats), Iron, Amino Acids, Fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals. The people living in the Amazon region in Northern Brazil, have consumed Acai for hundreds of years and its healing and sustaining powers are legendary.Acai Berry is known to harness the following properties: Antioxidant, Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antimutagenic, Cardiovascular System. Acai berries contain very high amounts of essential fatty acids and omegas proven to lower LDL and maintain HDL cholesterol levels. They also contain a remarkable concentration of antioxidants to help combat premature aging.Acai Berry is a dense source of a particular class of flavonoids called anthocyanins. The ORAC value of Acai Berry is higher than any other edible berry in the world. Acai Berry is also an excellent source of dietary fiber. Acai is extremely rich in organic vegetable protein which does not generate cholesterol during its digestion and is more easily processed and transported to your muscles than animal protein (such as what is found in milk or meat).Besides its outstanding content of protein and unsaturated lipids, Acai is also rich in carbohydrates, providing your body with the necessary energy while working or practicing any kind of sport.There is also an amazingly high concentration of antioxidants useful in combating premature aging. The proanthocyanidine contents in Acai Berries contain 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins (these are the purple colored antioxidants) of red wine per volume. Although the French consume a high fat diet, they have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease compared to the western countries. They contribute this factor to their consumption of red wine. Acai Berries can help promote a healthier cardiovascular system and digestive tract, because of its synergy of monounsaturated fats (these are the healthy fats), dietary fiber, and phytosterols.They provide the body with an excellent source of fiber. Fiber promotes a healthy digestive system. Research studies suggest soluble fibers may help lower blood cholesterol. The insoluble fiber may help to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Essential amino acid complex along with trace minerals, which are vital for proper muscle contraction and regeneration.MANGOSTEEN:The mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical evergreen tree, believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. The tree grows from 7 to 25 meters tall. The edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. In Asia, the mangosteen fruit is known as the "Queen of Fruits." The outer shell of the fruit (pericarp) is rather hard, typically 4-6 cm in diameter, resembling a spherical, black cartoon bomb.Health benefits:Mangosteen has compounds with antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-tumor activity. Laboratory testing thus far indicates that extracts of mangosteen have activity against several cancer cell lines including breast, liver, and leukemia. Mangosteen also appears to have anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties. Most notably, the mangosteen provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits which play an important role in numerous health conditions.For hundreds of years, the people of Southeast Asia have used the mangosteen, especially the rind, to ward off and treat infections, reduce pain or control fever, and treat various other ailments.Most of the studies with mangosteen have focused on the pericarp, or the dark, woody rind as opposed to the fruit inside the woody rind. The pericarp contains the active xanthone compounds. The fruit itself probably has some beneficial compounds but the compounds within the mangosteen fruit have not been studied as well as the mangosteen rind.Several compounds in mangosteen appear to be active, particularly xanthones. Some of these xanthones include mangostin, mangostenol, mangostenone A, mangostenone B, trapezifolixanthone, tovophyllin B, alpha- and beta-mangostins, garcinone B, mangostinone, mangostanol, and the flavonoid epicatechin.There are numerous studies available for review at www.pubmed.com. Just enter the word "mangosteen" to access a list.GOJIGoji berries have the highest concentration of beta-carotene among all foods on earth. Beta-carotene can be transformed into vitamin A under the influence of human liver enzymes. Therefore, vitamin A ultimately plays a major influence in Lycium's actions. Lycium's function on the eyes is related to this factor.Lycium's vitamin B1 and B2 contents are significant and the vitamin C content of freeze-dried Lycium has been measured to be 73 mg/100 grams. The fruit also contains vitamin C, beta-sitosterol (an anti-inflammatory agent), linoleic acid (a fatty acid), sesquiterpenoids (cyperone, solavetivone), tetraterpenoids (zeaxanthin, physalin), and betaine (0.1%).Lycium contains 18 kinds of amino acids, of which 8 are indispensable amino acids for the human body (such as isoleucine and tryptophan). 50% of Lycium's amino acids are free amino acid. Lycium contains numerous trace elements, of which the main ones are zinc, iron and copper. Mature fruits contain about 11 mg. of iron per 100 grams. Ning Xia Lycium contains 45% glucose, 7% fructose and 5.5% glucose.HEALTH BENEFITS:Goji Berries have been used in Tibet for at least 1,700 years. Tibetan medicine includes these berries in the treatment of kidney and liver problems. They are also used in Tibet to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and cleanse the blood. Goji Berries have a long history of use in the treatment of eye problems, skin rashes, psoriasis, allergies, insomnia, chronic liver disease, diabetes and tuberculosis. Goji Berries are used by the people of Tibet to increase longevity and as a general health strengthening tonic.Science has shown that this bright red berry not only contains extremely high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but also contains many unique phytochemicals, polysaccharides, and complex compounds that scientists are only beginning to understand.Goji Berries contain the following complex compounds:Betaine, which is used by the liver to produce choline, a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth, and protects against fatty liver disease.Physalin, which is active against all major types of leukemia. It has also been used as a treatment for hepatitis B. Solavetivone, a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound.Beta-Sitoserol, an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been used to treat sexual impotence and prostate enlargement. It also lowers cholesterol.Cyperone, a sesquiterpene that benefits the heart and blood pressure. It has also been used in the treatment of cervical cancer.These compounds as found in the Goji Berry are used in the following manner: Betaine, which is used by the liver to produce choline, a compound that calms nervousness, enhances memory, promotes muscle growth, and protects against fatty liver disease. Physalin, which is active against all major types of leukemia. It has also been used as a treatment for hepatitis B. Solavetivone, a powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial compound. Beta-Sitoserol, an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been used to treat sexual impotence and prostate enlargement. It also lowers cholesterol. Cyperone, a sesquiterpene that benefits the heart and blood pressure. It has also been used in the treatment of cervical cancer.When navigating through the myriad of choices in determining which product to choose in today's antioxidant saturated market, it is important to consider the following criteria: quality of product; quantity and source of ingredient; reputation of manufacturing company; and cost.At one time, health products did a little bit of this and a little bit of that. As someone who used to pop about 30 vitamins each day to get what I felt my body needed for good health, it is exciting to see a number of products offering profound results. These results are allowing individuals to drop their pharmaceutical drug habit, or at the very least drop the dose, giving the body what it craves most, all things natural. We can do much to combat the ill effects of toxins and poor diet by the choices we make with regards to nutritional supplementation.
For most of us, eating healthfully means cutting down on salt. Even if cutting down your salt intake won't reduce your waist measurement, it'll make you a healthier person, better able to follow your weight management programme.But it's not that simple. Have you ever been confused by the nutritional labels on food? Salt or sodium, what's the different?Salt is the general name given to sodium chloride. 6g of salt contains about 2.5g of sodium. It's the sodium in salt that can lead to health problems. For example, sodium can lead to higher than recommended blood pressure.It's important that you educate yourself to avoid over indulging on salt. You may feel that by reducing your calorie intake and cutting out rich creamy sauces and refined sugars you have all the bases covered. Not necessarily. Sometimes to compensate for reduced fat, you or the manufacturer may add extra seasonings. Salt is one the ways flavour can be added into a low fat diet. Be careful and read food labels carefully.When cooking:Add fresh natural herbs such as basil, coriander, rosemary, mint and thyme to lean protein options such as chicken, tofu and fish.Don't add salt when cooking. Taste the cooked food, then decide how much you need - if any!Chop fresh mint onto salads and add fresh basil to tomatoes.When eating out:Don't add salt until you've tried your food. It's so easy to add it automatically!Go easy on salt, and add more pepper instead!Is Sea Salt Better For You?There are minute traces of minerals in sea salt, which you don't find in ordinary salt. Although these might be beneficial, it's just as important that you cut your intake of sea salt.How does salt creep into our food?Processed foods - watch the labels carefully, you might be amazed!Salt we add when cooking or at the tableSalt found naturally in most foodsWhen shopping:Replace unhealthy salt-laden snacks such as crisps with crunchy soy nuts for an oven-roasted flavourCut down on sauces. Soy sauce is particularly high in salt.Choose lower salt stock cubes for cooking, or instead make your own stock with herbs and spices for flavour to casseroles and soups.Choose tinned vegetables that are labelled 'no added salt'.Check nutritional labels before your by.Note: Average salt intake should be 6g a day as an adult (Source: FDF)
Protein is an essential nutrient, and is vital to your health. It is used to build muscles, skin, hair and nails. However, many people put their health at risk by eating too much protein. The typical American diet already provides plenty of protein and there is no point in adding any more, unlike fat cells, there is no place in the body to store protein so the excess is eliminated or is seen as fat rather than muscle.So what you need to do is to consume just enough protein to allow your muscles to be healthy, perform work and grow. But how much is just enough?You only use protein for about 15% of your energy use, the majority of energy comes from fats and carbohydrates. Exercising doesnt necessarily mean that you require more protein but more carbohydrates to stop your body breaking down protein and using that for energy.Try to make sure that 70% of your protein comes from sources such as meat, fish, eggs or poultry. The complete protein provided by these foods combines with incomplete protein consumed from other food sources. So your body makes the best of all the protein that you consume. If you are consuming too much protein, you are probably consuming too many calories over your maintenance levels and this will show as an increase in your body fat levels. And with the advent of the latest fad high protein diets, not enough carbohydrates are being consumed so the protein is converted to glucose and not converted into muscle growth.What is needed for muscle growth is not more protein but high intensity strength training with the required amount of time for rest and recovery between sessions. Because that major bodybuilding star you saw in the latest magazine requires 300 grams of protein a day doesn't mean that you have to. What he won't tell you is that taking Steroids is behind his muscle gains and not his diet.High intensity strength training and not food stimulates muscle growth.Consuming excessive amounts of protein is not only bad for your liver and kidneys but also promotes vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It is also linked to osteoporosis and some forms of cancer.One way to overcome the need to eat large quantities of protein is to increase the consumption of protein in stages until a maximum efficiency point is reached and then to drastically reduce it again. This obliges the body to over-compensate by increasing the efficiency for the absorption of protein into the body. An example of a Protein Loading diet is found below.Week OneBreakfast: Poached egg on toast, cereal with fruit and milk.Snack: Fruit and protein shake.Lunch: Chicken, potato, and vegetables. Fresh fruit salad.Snack: Nuts, fruit, and biscuits with cheese.Dinner: Fish any style, rice, vegetables, whole meal bread and fruit salad.Week TwoBreakfast: Two poached eggs on toast, cereal with fruit salad and milk.Snack: Nuts, fruit, protein shake.Lunch: Chicken with potatoes and vegetables (any style)Snack: Nuts, fruit, biscuits with cheese.Dinner: Roast Beef with vegetables, brown rice, whole meal bread.Week ThreeBreakfast: Three eggs any style on toast, cereal with fruit and milk.Snack: Nuts, fruit, and protein shake.Lunch: Turkey with potatoes and vegetables, brown rice, whole meal bread.Snack: Nuts, fruit, protein shake.Dinner: Chicken, potatoes, veggies, brown rice, whole meal bread.Before Bed: Protein shake.Week FourBreakfast: Four eggs any style on toast, cereal with fruit and milk.Snack: Nuts, fruit, protein shake.Lunch: Spaghetti with meat sauce, potatoes, brown rice, whole meal bread.Snack: Nuts, fruit, protein shake.Dinner: Roast Pork, potatoes, brown rice, whole meal bread.Before Bed: Protein shake.After week four of this protein loading diet, move from the max intake of protein to the lowest. So in the fifth week go back to week one menu, in the sixth week, week two menu and so on. This protein loading diet provides a balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates and combined with high intensity strength training will be very effective in increasing muscular bodyweight without the need to ingest large quantities of protein.
For those on a calorie budget, the holiday season can seem like a dietary minefield. Cookie platters, office parties, holiday buffets - how to survive without going up a size? Trade fattening, empty-calorie treats for "holiday superfoods" - traditional seasonal offerings that are low in calories and packed with nutrients. Most holiday superfoods are also high in fiber to fill you up, making it easier to resist temptation. * Sweet potatoes: This holiday superfood has a beta-carotene content that is off-the-charts - providing 377 percent of your daily vitamin A needs per 103-calorie serving. In addition to promoting eye health, some research shows beta-carotene may help prevent cancer both by neutralizing free radicals and by promoting communication between cells.* Brussels sprouts: A top source of glucosinolates, "indirect" antioxidants activate the body's own natural detoxification systems. Brussels sprouts also contain other phytonutrients, like indole-3-carbinol, which helps protect against breast cancer. Containing just 36 calories, one serving of four brussels sprouts provides 100 percent of your daily vitamin C. This promotes skin cell turnover and collagen formation, helping to enhance your "holiday glow."* Cranberries. At just 44 calories per cup, cranberries are high in fiber and help lower levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and may even help boost levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cranberries rank sixth in total antioxidant capacity (the amount of antioxidants in a serving) out of more than 100 commonly consumed foods. Cranberries also supply procyanidin, a phytonutrient that protects against urinary tract infections.* Baked apples: Three different varieties of apples - Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Gala - made it into the top 20 of the USDA's antioxidant capacity ranking. In fact, apples provide the main supply of polyphenols - powerful antioxidants that may help inhibit cancer cell proliferation and prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol - in the American diet. Fiber content also contributes to apples' cholesterol-lowering effect.One medium apple contains 80 calories.* Pumpkin: In addition to serving as an excellent source of eye-healthy vitamin A, pumpkin also serves as a top source of alpha-carotene, an antioxidant linked to lower lung cancer risk in several studies. Beta-cryptoxanthin, another pumpkin carotenoid, was also found to have potentially protective benefits against lung cancer in a recent research review by the Harvard School of Public Health.One cup of pumpkin, sliced into cubes, contains 30 calories.* Pecans: Though usually overshadowed by nut headliners like almonds and walnuts, pecans actually come out on top in terms of antioxidant activity. Like other nuts, pecans contain healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which may contribute to their heart health benefits. But pecans are unique in their high amounts of naturally occurring gamma tocopherol - a unique form of vitamin E that may promote prostate and intestinal health.But don't go overboard. Pecans, like all nuts, are high in calories, containing 196 calories per ounce.During meal preparation, don't negate the health benefits of superfoods by drowning them in butter. You can cut fat content by partially substituting with applesauce or pureed plums.Put a brake on the gravy train by letting fat congeal in the fridge, skimming it off then reheating the rest before serving. You can also turn stuffing into a health food by adding extra onions (a top source of an anti-Alzheimer's antioxidant called quercetin), carrots, beans, wild rice or dried fruit.
Do you feel like you are fighting a loosing battle when it comes to burning fat and getting into shape? Maybe you purchased a few books, videos or workout equipment claiming to be the magic bullet to make you look thin in 30 days. Well I think that you are not alone and many of us have been down this road. One suggestion I have is that if you want all these things to work you should be direct with yourself. Being blunt with your self is a powerful thing. I believe it helps people have a change of heart. Having a change of heart is key when it comes to fat loss and maintaining your health because you have to let go of the bad habits and acquire healthy habits. Everything starts from within and you are ultimately responsible for executing your nutrition and exercise plan. Here are a few things to look at to help you take responsibility for your self. Accept that it takes hard work and persistence to reach your fitness goals. Dont look for instant gratification. Its not in your best interest to think that eating right and working out is a temporary action. Think about trying a different routine. The one you are doing now is not working for you, so try something different for the next month. You may find a routine you enjoy more. Stop making excuses for every little thing that keeps you from exercising and eating right. The excuses we allow ourselves to not be healthy should be entirely unacceptable to you. If you feel you do not have enough time to take care of your self, think of this: Everyone that works or has responsibilities is pressed for time. Yet some people rise above their daily grind and make fitness a part of their life. Ultimately they stay healthy. If they can do it, you can do it. Another thing I would like to discuss is that you should accept the fact that there are things in our society that we cannot control. One example is the food industry. We live in a world surrounded by large portions and greasy food. These foods will stay on the market because people will buy them. Think about how to work around these things and how to make healthier choices when eating. Dont give in if you want to follow a healthy lifestyle. Finally, the trends of today demand us to take the time to take care of ourselves. One trend I know of is that more people have sedentary jobs now as opposed to the past, when we had more jobs available that required physical exertion. Also, with all these new drugs that have been launched in the recent years, it seems like we depend on modern medicine to keep us healthy and alive. While modern medicine is great and has made some advances to make our lives longer, we still need to allow ourselves to take responsibility for our health. Even though you feel like you are fighting a loosing battle to stay healthy and lean. There are many diet and nutrition programs out there to help you achieve your goals. However, you must accept the responsibility to find the path that is right for you and execute. Or these things will not help you achieve your best health.