How to Make Healthy Habits Stick

You cut out sugar one month, only to find yourself snacking on donuts the next. You decide to work out every morning, which then becomes every other morning, then once a week and then finally not at all. You plan on meditating for 20 minutes, but your boss keeps calling, so you settle for ten. That turns into a few moments of deep breathing every once in a while. Does this—or something like it—sound familiar? If the answer is yes, you’re in good company. When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, 80 percent of them fail by February. Why is it so hard to stick to our great healthy expectations? We know it’s good for us and in our best interests, but we struggle to make these healthy habits stick. One of the most effective ways to start and sustain healthy habits is to add them into your existing routine, instead of making drastic and dramatic changes. This is especially powerful for busy people with packed calendars, such as working parents, focused college students, driven professionals, jet set travelers and social butterflies. It’s hard to keep these changes going if they halt or impede your lifestyle. That’s why, when trying to make healthy habits stick, you should explore:   15-minute activities that can be squeezed into any schedule. You may have to wake up a little earlier or multitask on a few projects to carve out the time, but 15 minutes a day for some deep breathing, quick cardio or relaxing self-care is easier to sustain than trying to block out an hour or more. Plus, if you miss your 15-minute cardio session in the morning, it’s not like your whole exercise plan for the day is ruined. You can squeeze it in during lunch or at night.   Planning ahead for vacations and other routine disruptions that might tempt you to skip a run or eat pizza every night. Stay at a vacation rental instead of a hotel, so you have access to a full kitchen where you can prepare healthy meals. Unlike hotels, these types of homes are often in neighborhoods, making it easier to take a jog or brisk walk before you get the day started. Even if you are planning a staycation, a vacation rental can help you escape the daily grind and see the city like you never have before. Turnkey notes that you can choose a neighborhood that’s close to attractions and activities you want to see and do, whether you want to stay by the beach in Malibu, dine in Koreatown, or explore another L.A. neighborhood.   Meal prep recipes that give you access to wholesome, healthy foods when you’re in a hurry. All too often, we pull into the drive-thru because we’re behind in our schedule. Devote a rainy afternoon to chopping, dicing, roasting, baking and storing meals and snacks that only require a quick reheat to enjoy. You can get the whole family involved by [...]

2019-06-11T17:15:30+00:00 By |

5 Vegan Calcium Sources

How to Find Calcium Rich Vegan Foods People who are beginning to implement more vegan foods into their diet are usually concerned with the nutritional give-and-take that happens when you exclude certain types of food. Specifically, when it comes to cutting out dairy, most people are concerned with how that will affect their calcium intake. The good news is that vegan sources of calcium certainly do exist and, whereas dairy products may offer calcium in spite of other health concerns (fat content, hormones, production methods), most vegan sources of calcium have few, if any downsides and contain a large volume of other essential vitamins and nutrients that makes your body happy. As a side thought, it needs to be said that this information isn’t just for vegans. It’s been reported that over 75 percent of Americans are actually deficient in calcium. This is a problem that has serious consequences and will continue to have serious consequences. Did you know that within the next decade the surgeon general has projected that half the population over age 50 is going to be at risk for osteoporotic fractures?. Hello! America has a nutrition problem and that includes calcium, don’t be one of the statistics! Here are five sources of calcium that are friendly to all, including vegans. Even if you’re not vegan, making a conscious effort to include these foods on your plate can make a serious difference in your calcium intake and probably even get you higher than persons who consume dairy (with an added bonus of vitamins C, K, and a truckload of minerals): 1. Kale In addition to being a great food-based protector against radiation, kale also happens to offer up 180 mg of calcium per cup. Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska analyzed the calcium absorption in women who drank milk and compared it to women who consumed kale. The women who consumed kale had higher calcium levels than the milk drinking group and researchers advised of the excellent absorbability of calcium from kale. [1] 2. Collard Greens Collard greens pack a very strong calcium punch, with 1 cup alone containing 350 mg. With the established recommended intake between 1,000 and 2,000 mg daily for an average person, it only takes a relatively small serving of collard greens and other vegan alternatives to meet this criteria. Research has suggested that the bitter taste of some vegetables, like collard greens, is an indication of high calcium content and some animals can pick up on this. In fact, when given the choice between a low calcium vegetable like broccoli, and a high calcium vegetable like collard greens, calcium deprived mice and rats will choose the collard greens. [2] 3. Almond Butter If the bitter taste of collard greens leaves you unfulfilled, perhaps almond butter will be your answer. In addition to its great taste and raw quality (when purchased in its raw form) just 2 small tablespoons of almond button contains 86 mg of calcium. Almond butter [...]

2018-06-18T17:57:01+00:00 By |

Turmeric and Black Pepper: A Winning Combination

How Turmeric and Black Pepper Work Together to Help Digestion and More Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice held in high regard for its bountiful health properties and its culinary uses. It’s a favorite herb of Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine, and its therapeutic uses date back thousands of years. Numerous studies have found that turmeric root can have a significant positive effect on neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic, immune system, and cellular health. It may even help support your thyroid and promote longevity. Turmeric owes its many health-promoting qualities to curcumin, the natural compound that gives turmeric its rich golden color.[1, 2] The Trouble With Turmeric For all its miraculous health benefits, turmeric does have one weakness. The golden spice has very low bioavailability. This means that your body can only use a very small portion of the turmeric you consume. As the absorption levels of curcumin are very low, your body cannot harness the full healing properties of the spice. Fortunately, there is a simple way to enhance bioavailability. Just add black pepper to unlock the full potential of turmeric. Black Pepper Can Boost Bioavailability by 2000% Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is one of the most commonly consumed spices on the planet. In many parts of the world, you can find it on nearly every dinner table, right next to the salt. It’s usually just called “pepper,” but it also bears the nicknames “black gold” and “the king of spices.” It has a phenomenally long shelf life. Properly stored, black pepper can maintain its taste and aroma for many years. Black pepper also has many health benefits of its own. It’s been used to relieve nausea, headaches, poor digestion, and sore throats.[3] Much like how turmeric owes its healthy properties to curcumin, black pepper gets both its health benefits and its pungent flavor from a natural alkaloid compound called piperine. Taking turmeric with black pepper may boost its bioavailability up to an astonishing 2000%. This is because piperine acts as an excellent bio-enhancer. Put simply, it can improve the bioavailability of other substances in the body.[1] The serving needed is quite small. You only need a pinch of pepper to enhance the absorption of turmeric. The Powerful Potential of Piperine When you consume a nutrient, your digestive system can only absorb a certain portion of it. The proportion of a nutrient that your body can digest, absorb, and utilize is its bioavailability. For example, the bioavailability of protein is very high. Most people use over 90% of the protein they consume. After it moves through your digestive system, your body eliminates the rest as waste. For a nutrient to be absorbed into your body, it must pass through a membrane in your gut into your bloodstream. Large molecules have a more difficult time getting through this barrier. Piperine may help relax your intestinal membrane, allowing larger particles, like turmeric, to pass through.[4] The effect of piperine on the liver may play another factor. As part [...]

2018-06-18T18:49:42+00:00 By |

What Is Calcium?

Learn How Calcium Increases Bone and Teeth Health Calcium is, quite simply, an essential element that is highly important for living organisms to survive. This includes humans and 1.5 to 2% of a human’s overall body weight consists of the element calcium. Represented by the elemental symbol of ‘Ca’, a certain amount of calcium is required each day in order to avoid a deficiency and subsequent disease. Calcium is most well known for its ability to optimize and boost the health levels of bones and teeth, but it is also responsible for certain communications between the brain and other parts of the body. It is also particularly important when it comes to protecting against bone degenerating diseases like osteoporosis, which leads to the breakdown of bones and subsequent fractures. Calcium in the Body Up until the age of 20-25, calcium even builds upon the strength of the bones within the human body. After this age, when the bones reach what’s known as their ‘peak mass’, the element then goes further and assists in the maintenance and upkeep of the bones as well as helping to slow down bone density loss. While bone density loss is considered a ‘natural’ part of the aging process, an adequate and high quality form of calcium intake can help to defeat this issue through the adequate supply of calcium infusing the body with bone-enhancing properties. Upwards of 99 percent of the calcium within our bodies is stored within the bones and teeth, however other areas that utilize calcium also store at least small portions of the element. This includes the muscles and the blood in order to regulate muscle contraction, normal heartbeat, and proper blood coagulation. Hormone and enzyme release is another key characteristic of calcium, and is perhaps one of the most notable. Calcium directly helps blood vessels travel around the body as they should while being responsible for the release of many important hormones and enzymes. These hormones and enzymes help to regulate bodily functions, aid in proper assimilation of nutrients, and much more. Calcium Protects Against Obesity, Disease Calcium has even been found to be a major ally in the fight against unwanted fat. It was found in a 2010 study performed by North Carolina State University, in fact, that adequate calcium early in life can protect against obesity. The information brought awareness to the many functions of calcium outside of simple bone and teeth maintenance. According to one of the scientific researchers from the study: “While the importance of calcium nutrition throughout childhood and adolescence is well-recognized, our work suggests that calcium nutrition of the neonate may be of greater importance to lifelong bone health, due to its programming effects on mesenchymal stem cells.” Calcium Deficiencies A calcium deficiency can trigger life-threatening diseases over time, or generate symptoms such as as seizures and neck pain. Most popularly, osteoporosis has been linked time and time again to an inadequate calcium supply within the body. In the event [...]

2018-06-18T18:51:57+00:00 By |

The Top Nutritious Foods High in Fiber

Learn Which High Fiber Foods Help with Weight Loss and More Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. This essential nutrient is found only in plants; you can’t get it from animal products. Although fiber passes through your gut undigested, it’s a very important nutrient for maintaining health. The Benefits of a High Fiber Diet A high fiber intake supports your health in a number of different ways, but it’s best known for promoting regularity. Fiber adds bulk to your stool, preventing constipation and making bowel movements easier. Fiber’s benefits don’t begin and end in the bowels. Eating fiber helps you feel fuller faster, which supports healthy weight loss. It reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, obesity, constipation, and breast cancer.[1, 2] Unfortunately, most of us simply do not get enough fiber in our diets. Experts recommend that people should eat between 21 and 38 grams of fiber every day. The average American only consumes 16 grams.[3] Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber There are two varieties of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel in your digestive tract. Soluble fiber is good for controlling cholesterol and supporting heart health. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water; it passes essentially unchanged through your digestive system. It aids digestion and helps relieve constipation.[3] What Are the Best High Fiber Foods? Because the average American diet contains so little dietary fiber, it’s important to plan your meals accordingly. Fiber supplements are readily available, but the best way to add fiber is always through food. Here are some of the best food sources of dietary fiber. All measurements are based on 100 gram servings unless otherwise stated. Vegetables Your mother knew what she was talking about when she told you to eat your veggies. A diet high in greens can lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and balance blood sugar. Vegetables are also an excellent source of fiber.[4] These are a few of the best veggies you can eat to increase your fiber intake. Brussels Sprouts When cooked, Brussels sprouts contain 2.6 g of fiber. They are also an excellent source of folate, manganese, and vitamins C and K.[5] Broccoli Chopped raw broccoli contains 2.6 g of fiber. Cooking actually concentrates this slightly to 3.3 g. Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies are loaded with health-promoting compounds called phenolics, which are associated with lower risks of coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, asthma, and other serious conditions.[5, 6] Artichokes Artichokes are the immature flower head of a type of thistle, and they are way more delicious than that makes them sound. One medium artichoke contains 6.8 g of dietary fiber, which is about 5.7 g per 100 g.[5] Fruit Fruit is cholesterol-free and naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Many fruits are also an excellent source of fiber. Here are a few of the best fibrous fruits. Prunes There’s a reason they call prunes “nature’s [...]

2018-06-18T18:57:45+00:00 By |

12 Powerful Gratitude Practices That Bring Joy

Learn How Practicing Gratitude Improves Your Life “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A. A. Milne Gratitude didn’t come naturally to me. If there had been a championship for complaining, I would have been a serious contender. For years I felt entitled to everything, including the kindness of others. This didn’t make me very happy, since it was always easy to find something or someone to complain about. The more critical I grew, the less appealing life seemed and the worse I got on with others. The weather seemed awful, supermarket queues too slow, bosses too unappreciative, children too rowdy and messy, winters too cold, summers too hot, health too unsatisfactory, work too stressful, prices too high, quality too low, TV too boring, politicians too self-serving, traffic too slow, drivers too inconsiderate, and so on. If I had continued living like that, I might have ended up complaining that water was too wet and the sky too blue. Fortunately, I came across countless research studies about gratitude. How it reduced anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, and even suicidal thoughts, while boosting happiness and satisfaction with life. How it lowered blood pressure, boosted immunity, and encouraged healthy habits while improving sleep. Research even suggested that gratitude improved the quality of romance and marriage! Now that seemed like an irresistible offer. I started collecting practical tips for living in a more grateful way, and started trying them out. Warning: these ways of practicing gratitude could seriously damage your unhappiness! 1. Tell your partner exactly how a recent episode made you love them even more. Be very specific and detailed. For example, “I love that you thought about what I would really like for our anniversary, and that you made all the bookings because you know it takes me ages to pick a hotel.” It doesn’t have to be in connection with an annual event, such as an anniversary. It could be something as small as the way they hug you to cheer you up when they see that you’ve had a hard day. But tell them exactly what it is you loved about that, and why. This detailed expression of gratitude signals your responsiveness to your partner. It tends to make them more responsive too. Romance thrives on mutual responsiveness. 2. If your relationship is going through a rough patch, imagine the disappearance of your partner. This is counter-intuitive, but it makes you more grateful for all that is good in the relationship. People who suddenly lost their partner often tell of how relatively insignificant their petty disagreements now seem. They often say they would give anything to have their loved one back. If I even think about trying this, it immediately makes me way more grateful for my partner. It makes me realize how lucky I am. 3. Look beyond a gift. Think consciously about the trouble that somebody took to bring something [...]

2018-06-18T19:04:41+00:00 By |

Do Probiotics Have Side Effects?

Your gut is populated with “good” and “bad” bacteria. All these microorganisms make up what’s called the microbiota, and a healthy balance of all that good and bad bacteria in your gut can make a big difference in your health. But there are other factors like stress, toxins, and antibiotics—that can affect the diversity of the microbiota and balance of “good” bacteria. [1] What Are Probiotics? These good bacteria are also called called probiotics, and more and more people are taking them for the health perks. Studies suggest they can aid in digestion, boost the immune system—even regulate mental health. [2] [3] And if heart health is a concern, a probiotic might even help with that. [4] There’s also recent evidence suggesting probiotics can help you maintain a healthy weight. [5] Possible Side Effects of Probiotics Probiotics are far from perfect; there are side effects you should consider. For the most part, those side effects for healthy individuals are mild issues—things like gas or bloating. One study suggests, though, that probiotics could shorten diarrhea symptoms or help discourage much more severe gastrointestinal problems (such as Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome), so perhaps those slight side effects aren’t that bad after all. [6] Whenever someone is taking live bacteria, though, there’s always a possibility of danger. Those who are critically ill shouldn’t take probiotics for this reason. For example, a Dutch study suggests a higher death rate among acute pancreatitis patients when drinking a probiotic blend of six active cultures. [7] In this case, “good” bacteria is seen by the already weakened immune system as harmful and attacked as invaders. What Probiotics Can’t Do But, while they can certainly help supplement a healthy lifestyle, don’t think of probiotics as a miracle drug. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon without doing your research. After all, probiotics are something of a big business right now, with the latest research suggesting they could be worth about $45 billion by 2018. [8] So, yes, while there are a few things to consider when taking probiotics, if you’re healthy and think they’re right for you, try them! The probiotics market is currently flooded with hundreds of competing products, so you may feel a bit overwhelmed finding the right one for you. While needs differ from person to person, there are a few good rules of thumb to keep in mind. Look for a probiotic supplement with multiple bacterial species and a large number of CFUs (colony forming units). If you want to keep it very simple, give Floratrex™ a try. The standard formula contains 50 billion CFUs. Floratrex contain 23 distinct bacterial species, making Floratrex the most complete and comprehensive probiotic on the market today. Have you tried probiotics? What was your experience? Tell us about it in the comments! If you’re looking for a supplement that can improve your gut health, check out FLORATREX at the AlrightStore. References (8) David, L. A. et al. Host lifestyle affects human microbiota [...]

2018-04-28T02:31:04+00:00 By |

The Role of Oxygen in Healing the Body

“Healing” is a word that gets thrown around a lot and it’s important to understand exactly what it means. Healing means getting your body back into a balanced, functioning state. Think of it like balance scales – the kind you might see at a courthouse. When you’re sick, one side hangs lower than the other. When you’re healthy, they’re level. Your body wants to be in balance and will seek to heal itself if it’s out of balance. Or, at least, it will try to. What’s the deciding factor? Oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for healing in injured tissues. [1] Researchers at Ohio State University found that wounded tissue will convert oxygen into reactive oxygen species to encourage healing. [2] What Are Reactive Oxygen Species? Reactive oxygen species, also known as oxygen radicals or pro-oxidants, are a type of free radical. A free radical is a molecule that lacks an electron but is able to maintain its structure. To most people, that doesn’t mean much. We just hear from marketing messages that free radicals are bad. Which is true… when your body is not in control of them. When in balance, your body actually uses free radicals to heal. It has everything to do with the nature of oxygen. Oxygen is an element with eight protons and eight electrons. In this state, oxygen is completely neutral. Oxygen likes to share its electrons; that makes it reactive. Sometimes when it shares an electron or two, it doesn’t get them back. When that happens, oxygen becomes an ion, meaning it’s missing an electron. Ionized oxygen wants to replace the electron it’s missing. In this form, oxygen becomes singlet oxygen, superoxides, peroxides, hydroxyl radicals, or hypochlorous acid. These forms of oxygen try to steal an electron anywhere they can, this can be destructive. Forms of Reactive Oxygen Species Singlet Oxygen This radical form of oxygen can act in one of two ways. It can trigger the genes inside a cell to start cell death. Or, if it encounters a lipid or fatty acid, it will oxidize the lipid. [3] Think of it like corrosion. Superoxides We’re still learning about superoxides but it seems they affect how the body destroys cells and manages wound healing. [4] Peroxides Hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorite help heal tissue. [5] Oxygen radicals form when hydrogen peroxide interacts with reduced forms of metal ions or gets broken down and produces hydrogen radicals. Hydrogen radicals are destructive. [6] Hypochlorous Acid Hypochlorous acid contains oxygen and chloride. It can affect tissue through chlorination or oxidation. [7] Effects of Reactive Oxygen Species in the Body Every time your muscles contract, you produce and use reactive oxygen species. High-intensity exercise causes reactive oxygen species levels to increase, leading to fatigue and muscle failure. [8] The energy created by mitochondria creates reactive oxygen species. Exposure to tobacco smoke, alcohol, toxic metals, pollution, chemicals, germs, and stress also creates reactive oxygen species. [9] When your body can keep up with and remove [...]

2018-04-28T03:33:05+00:00 By |

3 Ways to Prevent Senior Isolation

Social isolation in seniors is a lot more common than we’d like to think. Our families are more spread out than they used to be, and with the life expectancy growing longer and longer, surviving spouses go longer stretches on their own. Not only is isolation impacting a senior’s emotional well-being, but it has physical ramifications, as well. If you or a loved one are dealing with loneliness and isolation, life can start to feel meaningless — but nothing could be further from the truth. Making even one change isn’t easy, but it can have a profoundly positive impact on your life. If you’re looking to take control of your physical and mental health, here are a few ideas to try out today.   Join an Exercise Class for a Better Mood When it comes to social isolation, making fitness a priority benefits mental health in addition to physical health. Working out boosts your production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that make you feel good and help you manage stress. Plus, joining classes offered by the fitness coverage in your Medicare Advantage plan gives you the chance to work out with other seniors. That means you’re building a community and making friends with people who understand where you are in life. Aetna offers Medicare Advantage plans that cover free gym memberships, along with other areas Medicare misses, like dental and vision.   Take a Walk with a Loving Companion Animal Some seniors hesitate to own a pet, wondering who would care for them if something happened. While that is a valid concern (and one that should be addressed before getting a dog or cat), there are so many benefits to pet ownership that seniors should also consider. First, getting a dog or cat provides you with some loving company, which many doctors say can keep depression and anxiety at bay. The simple act of petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure. Plus, playing with your pet and taking them for walks can keep both of you active. On top of that, taking a dog to an off-leash park or to a training class lets you interact with other people who love their pup as much as you do.   Volunteer for a Cause You Believe In Some seniors report that living alone doesn’t just make them feel depressed, but it also makes their lives feel somewhat meaningless. You’ve worked or raised a family (or both), and now that those two major roles are over, it’s hard to know what your purpose is. That’s where volunteering can make a big impact on your physical and mental well-being. Giving back is one of the most cherished purposes we have in life. Knowing someone is relying on your generosity and compassion can be even more meaningful than other roles you’ve held. Not only does volunteering combat social isolation — by getting out into the community to meet and work with new people — but it can [...]

2019-03-07T20:18:06+00:00 By |