If it were up to your kids, breakfast would be a bowl of gummy worms, lunch would be French fries dipped in ice cream and dinner would simply be chocolate. Thankfully, you are in charge when it comes to dictating your child's diet, so you can help encourage them to eat healthy and make sure they get the essential vitamins and minerals they need. But what about when you are not around? Do you think they will be able to make the proper nutrition decisions when they are out and about or around their friends? Informing your kids about what is good and what is bad for you can not only benefit them in the long run, but help you rest assured that you are raising a healthy decision maker. Here are a few tips on how to keep your child on the right path to balanced nutrition:
MyPlate is the latest nutrition guide put forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and features a very simplistic design that is easy to follow for children. The symbol resembles a game piece found in Trivial Pursuit, with four corners divided into serving recommendations of fruits, vegetables, grains and protein, and a smaller circle of dairy off to the side. This new template implemented by the First Lady Michelle Obama is not only a straightforward approach toward teaching kids proper nutrition, but also allows them to understand the importance of which grains and protein sources are healthier than others.
Introduce your dinner
When you cook a meal for the family during dinner time, try actually discussing what each food is and why you chose it. Most of the time, kids are told that vegetables like broccoli and peas are simply "good for them," but they are never provided an explanation why. Give your child the details of how each food is broken down and used by your body for various health benefits. For instance, if you are serving a side of broccoli for dinner, discuss how despite its "different" taste, broccoli is full of antioxidants that will help strengthen your bones, your heart and also keep you from getting sick.
Commend healthy behavior
While it is never a good idea to "reward" your child for eating good fruits, providing a smile or a subtle favorable gesture that they are making a healthy decision will promote positive reinforcement, and let them know that they will have your approval when they are eating nutritionally. Instead of allowing your kid to eat a bowl of ice cream after eating all their carrots, reward them with a trip to the park, or a game of catch, something active that they still will enjoy.
Raid the fridge
If your child is seeing potato chips, fruit snacks or ice cream every time they open the pantry or freezer, then its easy to see where poor nutritional influences may arise. Always keep your refrigerator loaded with fruits and vegetables, and try not to leave high sugar junk food snacks within arm's reach.
Lead by example
What good will telling your children to be healthy be when you are always spotted with a bag of popcorn or spoonful of chocolate ice cream? We all know how observant kids can be, so the more you eat healthier foods in front of them, the better they will get the picture.
Avoid total restriction
It's important to understand that a little dessert here and there is not the end of the world. If your child comes home with an A on his or her homework, or his or her team won the championship baseball game, go out and celebrate with a pizza or sundae. Constantly condemning them from their sweet tooth could lead to nutritional revolt the older they get.
Peanut butter has long been a staple of the American diet. The creamy goodness is consumed in a variety of ways, and apparently, we can never get enough of it. According to the National Peanut Board, people in the United States spend an average of $800 million on peanut butter every year, while peanuts also provide the U.S. economy with $4 billion annually.
But is our passion for peanut butter healthy? The bad reputation associated with the spread has often been a subject of scrutiny for its abundance of fat and calories and major presence in the American diet. However, don't write off peanut butter just yet! It also has a number of beneficial qualities that can help your body out when consumed in moderation. Here is a list of some of the lesser known health advantages of consuming peanut butter:
If you haven't figured it out by now, having protein in your diet is vital for your health. Just a few of the ways protein help strengthen your body include:
- Boosting your immune system.
- Preserving and repairing muscles.
- Increasing metabolism and burning calories.
Just two tablespoons of peanut butter can provide you with eight grams of protein. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 4 to 8 should eat an average of 19 grams of protein, while teenagers and adults should consume around 50 grams per day. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein for kids, and spreading it on a slice of toast and finishing it with a glass of milk in the morning will provide you with the protein you need to get going in the morning.
Normally when a food item is constantly ridiculed at being high in fat and calories , it tends to be the last thing we want to implement into our weight loss dieting plan. However, peanut butter is one of the rare exceptions because when used in moderation, its protein and fiber content will actually make your stomach feel fuller throughout the day. So on the surface, eating a few tablespoons of peanut butter in a PB&J sandwich might seem like a bad choice, you will actually be less likely to indulge in afternoon snacks or bigger dinners that are the real causes of weight gain. Fiber also has a wide variety of uses for your body, including the ability to provide relief for your digestion system, keeping skin smooth and clean as well as help lower cholesterol.
Peanut butter contains more than 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients, such as folate, riboflavin, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. Vitamin E is normally a rare antioxidant to find in most foods, but you will receive enough of it from peanut butter to help improve cell signaling, which is crucial for providing a stable immune system defense.These antioxidants are essential in assisting you to fight back against clearing out free radical molecules from entering your bloodstream.
Alternative peanut butter
There are many different types of peanut butters out there that pack all the same health benefits. Try switching over to organic peanut butter, which has even more percentage of iron and fiber, while not sacrificing its signature sweet and creamy goodness.
There are many new products on the market promoting their inclusion of lactoferrin as a healthy ingredient, but what exactly is lactoferrin? Lactoferrin is a protein found naturally in cow and human milk, and it is especially abundant in colostrum. It is also found naturally in our tears and saliva, and possesses a wide variety of healthy benefits for our bodies. Here are just a few ways that lactoferrin can help:
Lactoferrin has been proven to help regulate the absorption of iron throughout the body, as well as provide iron to the cells that need it. Iron is crucial for everyday vital bodily requirements, such as facilitating muscle function, supplying oxygen to our brains and bloodstream and preventing general symptoms of iron deficiency, which include fatigue, weakness and headaches. Without enough iron, your body will struggle with the strength necessary to carry on throughout the day.
Boost your immune system
Lactoferrin is also essential in providing an increased defense for our immune systems. Lactoferrin deprives unwanted bacteria in the body from the nutrients they need to continue spreading. Lactoferrin is able to boost your body with beneficial antioxidants, enhance oxygenation of the tissues and improve white blood cell health.
If you are having trouble maintaining healthy or clear skin, lactoferrin also works at reducing acne activity and preventing breakouts. In a study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion, researchers found that young adults who took lactoferrin supplements twice a day for eight weeks were able to reduce acne outbreaks by 22.5 percent, while 77 percent of participants reported fewer signs of acne activity.
These are just a few of the ways lactoferrin can help keep your body healthy and feeling great. A perfect way to get started taking lactoferrin is with Symbiotics Lactoferrin Capsules.
With all the warmer weather, raindrops and sunshine that come with spring, the new season also means allergies are back. Instead of letting pollen and hay fever get the best of you this year, fight back with food!
Turns out that what you eat can also impact the way your body reacts to potent allergens. So for those who want to spend their spring outdoors throwing the ball around and walking the dog instead of staying home with a runny nose and itchy eyes, here's a list of foods and meals that can help ease your allergy symptoms.
Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, but it can also be your first line of defense against allergies. Start your day off right with a hot beverage, fresh fruit and some old fashioned vitamin D. Some steamy green tea can help relieve any congestion problems in the morning, and get rid of any excess mucus that promotes wheezing and coughing.
It is no secret that an apple a day can keep the doctor away, but the vitamin C and antioxidants found in your average apple, orange or strawberries can do wonders for easing allergy symptoms. Try a little yogurt on the side too, which contains Lactobacillus casei, a probiotic that helps balance bacteria levels in your stomach, so your immune system won't overreact to allergens.
Anything that has plenty of vitamin D is a great choice for a first meal of the day. Vitamin D absorbs calcium and phosphorus, which help boost immune health and absorb essential nutrients the body needs to fight back against allergens. A breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, fortified yogurt and a bowl of whole grain cereal will not only load you up with vitamin D, but also contains omega-3 fatty acids that are known to reduce asthma symptoms.
When the sun is at its highest is also when allergies are at their peak. One of the biggest allies against allergies is the flavonoid quercetin, which possess an anti-inflammatory compound that is proven to help reduce allergy symptoms. Quercetin is found in broccoli, cranberries, sweet potatoes, onions and is especially abundant in capers, which are little green pea-sized flower buds normally found in Mediterranean cuisine.
Adding a few slices of onions or tomatoes to a sandwich or salad can give you a healthy boost of quercetin. For a quick and portable meal, try making a vegetarian quesadilla using vegetables high in quercetin, as well as bell peppers, which are loaded with vitamin C while packing a spice that can help loosen up nasal congestion.
Of course, there is nothing that warms the soul and soothes a scratchy throat like a bowl of hot soup. Besides aiding your immune system in processing digestion, a steamy serving of chicken noodle or tomato soup can also reduce inflammation, stimulate blood circulation as well as replenish your body with the essential minerals necessary to get through a day of wheezing and sneezing.
After a hard day's work, allergies are the last thing you want to have to deal with. Help the side effects go away with a hearty dinner that's packed with therapeutic properties perfect for an ideal slumber. Fish are your friend when it comes to allergies due to their remedial qualities, and serving up an entree of shrimp stir fry topped with a few pinches of ginger can help get rid of throat and nose congestion as well as offer more omega-3 fatty acids to improve inflammatory conditions.
Spicy foods can also provide ways to help clear nasal passages, so whipping up some spicy chicken enchiladas with a little cayenne pepper might be what your airways need for some mucus-thinning benefits.
Garnishing your food with sides of kale or collard greens is also a great way to add some carotenoids to your system, which are organic pigments that work as antioxidants to increase immune health and improve cell communication so blood cells can work together to ward off unwanted allergens.
Following a steady diet of any number of these combinations can provide your body with what you need for a healthier, more enjoyable spring season. To recap, here are specific foods that have the most anti-allergen properties:
- Green tea
- Tomato soup
- Kale or collard greens
If you ever run out of meal ideas, you can always reach for a Naturade Pea Protein Powder that is loaded with essential amino acids proven to boost immune strength. It is also 100 percent cholesterol free and vegan friendly.
The health advantages of antioxidants are infinite. Whether you are looking to lose some weight, relieve your body of allergy symptoms or simply searching to improve your sleep, a stable diet packed with antioxidants can supply your body with the vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Other benefits antioxidants can provide include:
- A boost to the immune system
- Softer and smoother skin
- Improved digestion
- Better memory and focus
- Enhanced blood circulation
In addition, antioxidants are essential because of their ability to repair cell damage brought on by "free radicals," - molecules that can "steal" or reduce electrons and energy within the body. Antioxidants are the best line of defense against free radicals, and adding more and more to your body will give you the energy necessary to stay alert and active throughout the day. While there are plenty of supplements available on the market, nothing beats eating the real thing. Here is a list of 10 common foods that are loaded with the most antioxidants to increase your overall health:
Tomatoes are bursting with lycopene, an antioxidant that can lower cholesterol and prevent sun damage to your skin. Lycopene is best brought out of tomatoes by cooking them because applied heat will release more antioxidants that can be absorbed during digestion.
Pistachios are a perfect afternoon snack to keep you going at work. Eating a couple handfuls of pistachios will significantly reduce your levels of low-density lipoprotein, otherwise referred to as "bad cholesterol." These unsalted and dry-roasted nuts will also limit unwanted fats and sodium in your diet, which is ideal for improving cardiovascular health.
While essentially all types of berries carry extensive amounts of antioxidants, blueberries pack the most punch - one cup equates to a total of 13,427 total antioxidant capacity per serving size. Blueberries are also full of other key nutrients, such as vitamins C and K, manganese and dietary fiber that is suited enough to meet your daily recommended amounts.
Mixing some red bell peppers into your salad or entree will give you more antioxidants than are found in an orange. Besides applying some spice into your meal, bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E, and can also ease symptoms of inflammation while being extremely low in calories.
Another perfect snack that won't fill you up but will assist with lowering cholesterol levels, pecans are also an excellent source of protein and unsaturated fats. Pecans are stacked with omega-6 fatty acids, which cannot be produced naturally by the body, and are needed for strengthening bones as well as relieving allergy symptoms.
According the the United States Department of Agriculture, a half cup of dried red beans can 13,727 total antioxidant capacity per serving size, which is the most out of any of the foods included on this list. Red beans are also packed with fiber, which can offer a variety of health benefits including expanding memory, regulating blood sugar levels and easing digestion.
Artichokes are also included on the USDA list of top ten foods rich in antioxidants. They are great sources of cynarin, which is an antioxidant that works at protecting the liver by repairing damaged liver tissue. While artichokes can appear tricky to ingest, there are a number of ways to prepare them for consumption. You can add artichokes to your diet by stuffing them in vegetables, steaming them or slicing artichoke hearts into a salad.
An excellent fruit that is flourishing in antioxidants such as vitamin C, copper and potassium, plums are also able to assist the body by aiding the absorption of iron. Our need for sufficient levels of iron is from the mineral's ability to carry oxygen from one body cell to another, as well as improving overall brain and muscle functioning.
With a wide variety of antioxidants included in its green leaves, it is no wonder why Popeye always cherished his spinach. With its rich quantity of Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, spinach is a great way to maintain a healthy skin complexion, leaving you more moisturized and radiant. To get its full amount of antioxidants, try cooking spinach to obtain the best nutritional results.
Along with vitamin C and lutein, corn is full of zeaxanthin, which can strengthen your eyes by protecting them from dangerous high energy ultraviolet waves from the sun. Corn is a perfect side item for any lunch or dinner and contains at least 10 percent of your daily value in antioxidants such as thiamin, phosphorus and magnesium. With so many methods to prepare corn, its one of the easier ways to get more antioxidants into your diet.
These are just a few of the amazing foods that are packed with the antioxidants your body needs to stay healthy and active!
If getting involved with yoga has been something you have considered for a while, what are you waiting for? Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that is performed by those young and old, while also providing amazing health benefits. Some of the advantages weekly yoga sessions can offer include:
- Increased flexibility
- Improved with respiration and energy levels
- Healthier cardiovascular activity
- Stress management
- Lower blood pressure
For those who might be intimidated by the complex exercises and stretches commonly associated with yoga, fear not! There are plenty of easy steps and practices that are ideal for yoga beginners, and you will find that participants in yoga classes are often the most friendly and patient people. Here are a few tips for basic yoga positions for those hoping to get started:
The mountain pose
This is the simplest pose and the foundation of all yoga positions. Start out by standing straight up, feet about hip-width apart, with your arms at your sides. While taking slow and deep breaths, move your arms upward at a steady rate, until they are pointing straight toward the sky. Remember to completely let go of tension and stay perfectly relaxed. This stance will help improve your posture and balance while providing some peace of mind.
This one is not as intimidating as it sounds. With your legs about four feet apart, turn your right foot at a 90 degree angle while slowly twisting your left foot inward. Extend your arms straight out with your palms facing down and lunge forward, putting your weight on your right knee. Focus on your right hand for however long you feel necessary, then switch to the left side. This pose can improve strength and flexibility with your lower body.
Tree pose is another basic yoga posture. Start in the first step of mountain pose and with your weight primarily on your left leg, lift your right foot and place it on your inner left thigh - moving slowly to achieve total balance. When you are stable, put your hands in a prayer position and close your eyes, visualizing something that calms you down. Keep switching between feet. This will also help with your balance and leg muscles.
Here is a position that is a little more challenging. With a pillow or mat protecting your head and neck, lie down with your back flat on the floor and your arms to your side. Bend your knees, and lift your hips up with your feet still flat on the surface. Lock your hands together under your back, intertwine your fingers and stick your chest out until it is even with your chin. Lower your body back down and repeat. This is a good exercise to strengthen your upper body and stretch out your spine.
Upward facing dog
This is a pose you can do anywhere in the house. Lying face down with your hands on the floor and fingers spread out, push up with your arms and puff your chest out. Keep your hips downward as much as possible, and squeeze your glute muscles. After holding that pose for at least 10 seconds, relax and repeat. This can help increase flexibility in your back and your wrists.
Downward facing dog
Downward facing dog will get the blood circulation flowing and help stretch out your calves and ankles. Get down on all fours with your hands and feet flat on the ground and keep your legs shoulder width apart. Stick your butt up in the air so your body resembles an inverted V shape, while keeping your heels on the ground. Walk your hands as far back as you can go without lifting your heels off the floor, and feel that burn sooth your leg muscles.
Spring is in full swing, and it is time to take advantage of the sunshine and blue skies. While most people prefer the hammock or the pool as their outdoor recreational source, one of the more overlooked spring activities is gardening. It is easy to pass off gardening as tiring, tedious and trying, but it is actually a hobby that rewards intuitive and determined motivation with a number of various health benefits. Think of maintaining a garden as an artist would his canvas, by carefully planning each detail and utilizing the right tools, but instead of simply admiring the painting, you can actually eat your final product!
Here are a few reasons why taking a stab at gardening can not only replenish your body, but provide peace of mind as well.
Get pumped up
You don't have to lift dumbbells or grind out some bench presses to tone your arms and get defined muscles. Gardening can be a strenuous activity that doesn't equate to hours in the weight room, but it is no walk in the park either. The consistent digging, dragging the wheelbarrow and pulling weeds are great ways to stretch and build up your muscles, and since you are outdoors and enjoying the weather, this subtle form of exercise will hardly feel like a chore.
Peace of mind
Maintaining a garden is something that can help channel calm thoughts and distract you from your stressors, making you feel miles away from the challenges of work, school or relationships .
In fact, researchers from Texas A&M and Texas State University found that those who were active gardeners were prone to be more satisfied with their lives, motivated and frequently active than those who did not garden. Another study conducted by professors from Kansas State University suggested that gardening not only improved overall physical ability, but increased self-esteem as well.
Grow some green and save some too
If you are on a tight budget, gardening can help you cut out a lot of the costs that come with buying produce. After an initial investment in gardening supplies, you will be amazed by how cheap fruits and vegetable seeds can be. Consider a veggie like green beans, where according to the Wall Street Journal, for $1 worth of seeds, you can grow the equivalent of $75 worth of crops. Cucumber, radish and tomato seed packets are also generally priced for under a dollar, so you can stock up and have your own personal grocery store in your backyard.
You are what you eat
Forget all the notions of stress relieving, body building and all that jazz. The best part of having your own garden is chowing down! You are the head chef and master of your domain, ultimately dictating what's on the menu for the evening. And when you grow healthy fruits and vegetables, you will be able to reap all the vitamin and mineral rewards. Try growing some tomatoes, which are packed with healthy antioxidants that can help you look your best by strengthening bones, skin and hair. Carrots are another easy vegetable to garden, and are proven to lower cholesterol by 10 to 20 percent.
Every morning, many of us fear the dreaded sound of the alarm clock squawking, yanking us out of our heavenly slumber and forcing us to succumb to another day of productivity. After the stretching and yawning, we generally tend to stumble over to the coffee machine to fuel up for the day. While you might relish your morning caffeine boost, it could be putting you on track to a caffeine overload. In fact, more than 68 million Americans consume at least three cups of coffee per day, which might be enough to lead to irritability, restlessness and insomnia.
There are a number of healthier alternatives to waking up that can provide you with the motivation you need while leaving out all the physical ailments. Here are a few more efficient ways to start your morning off right and have your body feeling better the rest of the day.
Rise and shine
Instead of shielding yourself under the blankets when that alarm goes off, open the curtains or flip the blinds and let that sun into your life. Researchers have found that exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning can increase your alertness and activity throughout the day, as well as provide your body with a little vitamin D.
While caffeine may seem like a physical dependence, water is truly essential for our morning routine. Our bodies are usually a little dehydrated when we wake up, so downing a few gulps of cold H2O can rejuvenate you. If you don't think ingesting water will give you enough of a kick, consider turning your shower knob to "cold" for a few seconds to help shake off that early fatigue.
Avoid sugar and caffeine before bed
Most of the time, what we put into our bodies at night will greatly impact our next morning. Specifically drinking alcohol, coffee or eating chocolate before going to bed can upset your digestive system and interrupt your sleep. Avoid these three insomniac ingredients at all costs.
While the thought of being active first thing when you wake up might make some people shiver, the truth is getting your heart rate going right after leaving the bed will help get your endorphins flowing. Whether it is a mile jog or some simple jumping jacks, a little exercise can go a long way in the morning.
Only 44 percent of Americans reportedly eat breakfast every day, which means they are missing out on essential vitamins and antioxidants necessary for providing a little lift in the morning. Whether it's adding protein from some Greek yogurt or consuming some potassium from a banana, anything is better than nothing when it comes to breakfast.
If you are looking for a healthy alternative for breakfast that is high in fiber and serves as a loaded protein meal, it is time to start considering oat bran. Oat bran is derived from the hard layers of whole grains. Most of the refined grains that you would find at the grocery store remove the bran during production, which results in losing a generous portion of essential nutrients. Oat bran typically comes in cereal, capsule or powder form, and when added to your meal can provide your body with exceptional amounts of soluble fiber, a happy digestive system as well as help lower cholesterol. Here are some other benefits of adding oat bran to your diet:
For those wanting to shed a few pounds, kicking your day off with a little oat bran might assist you in the weight loss department. The fiber found in oat bran can help your body control hunger by helping your stomach feel full without having to eat too much. Fiber absorbs water and other liquids in your body, which will produce an extended sensation of fullness while decreasing the inclination to snack or overeat.
Another incredible property of fiber is its ability to aid and heal your digestive system. Soluble fiber works to move consumed foods through your stomach and intestines smoothly, so you decrease your likelihood of upset stomach or indigestion. Another little secret to fiber is that it helps out with constipation, which is always a good thing to keep in mind.
For those who are gluten intolerant, finding efficient ways to receive the proper nutrients that are abundant in grains can get a little tricky. One of the other bonuses of oat bran is that it is widely produced 100 percent gluten free. Because of the absence of sugar in oat bran cereals, glucose is also absent, meaning those who are sensitive to gluten can dig in and reap all the nutritional benefits.
Oat bran can also significantly assist your body by lowering your total cholesterol as well as decreasing low-density lipoprotein, also known as "bad" cholesterol. A lower percentage of "bad" cholesterol will do wonders for your heart and arteries, as well as increase your metabolism and energy. Eating oat bran can also reduce cholesterol that is absorbed from other foods you consume, acting as a true cholesterol watchdog.
Look and feel young
There are also plenty of healthy antioxidants in oat bran that will boost your vitamin and mineral intake, helping you stay active and looking fresh. Avenanthramides are an antioxidant specifically found in oats that along with lowering cholesterol can also keep your skin moisturized and void of irritation or itchiness.
Just because you like to indulge in a cheeseburger now and then or wake up to a griddle crackling with bacon doesn't mean you can't venture outside the box once in a while. Those who are unfamiliar with what it means to be a vegan can sometimes get put off upon hearing the term, mainly due to an unawareness of why most people choose this animal-product free diet. While going entirely vegan does mean sacrificing many highly marketable foods, it also involves consuming healthier and more nutritional cuisine on a regular basis. So if you are looking to maintain a carnivore status but want to reap the nourishing benefits of going vegan, a VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake is the perfect bridge to help cross over.
Everything you need …
The daily vitamin requirements you will meet by adding two scoops of VeganSmart to your favorite beverage are unparalleled to practically anything else on the market. Each gulp of this nutritional shake pumps your body with 22 essential vitamins and minerals, and you will be getting 50 percent of your recommended vitamin A, B6, C, Riboflavin and Zinc, plus so much more, in just one glass.
Many people reason their meat consumption through all the protein they get from a cooked steak or grilled chicken. Well you don't have to subject yourself to 12 ounces of filet mignon to get more than half the daily protein you need from a VeganSmart Nutritional Shake. Each scoop contains 5 different non-GMO plant based proteins that are loaded with amino acids proven to strengthen and repair your muscles. Plus, the dietary fiber and more than 200 milligrams of Omega-3 can help stimulate your brain, heart and circulatory system.
… And nothing you don't
Another advantage to drinking a VeganSmart shake everyday is what you are not putting into your body. One serving contains only 160 calories and is also completely gluten-free, with zero cholesterol or trans fat. Even if you absolutely despise fruits and vegetables, VeganSmart offers the same amount of certain vitamins and minerals (and sometimes even higher levels) as you would find in your standard apple or piece of broccoli – for example, while an average apple provides 14 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, A VeganSmart shake provides 50 percent of your dietary need for this nutrient.
There is no rule that you have to be a vegan to cherish the healthy benefits that come from a VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake. The flavors come in chocolate, vanilla and chai, so there are some options to guzzle down a cup of nutritional goodness. Don't hesitate to see what you have been missing out on today.