What are some foods that are rich in probiotics?


By Brooke Strickland

Keeping a healthy amount of “good” bacteria in your gut is vital to maintaining a healthy, happy digestive system.  You’ll hear probiotics talked about a lot nowadays. This is because many times people simply don’t have enough balance of good bacteria in their gut.

If you’ve had to take a round of antibiotics recently, these probably wiped out both the good and bad bacteria from your gut.  So, when you have completed the antibiotics, make sure you jumpstart your intake of probiotics to build up your balance of good bacteria.    

Probiotics come in a variety of supplements at health food stores.  They usually come in powders that you can sprinkle on your food.  They are also available in pills.  There are also a variety of foods that are rich in probiotics, which are listed in greater detail below.

- Yogurt: This one is a pretty well-known way to keep a healthy balance in your gut.  Make sure you look at the label to see if it includes “live and active cultures.”  Yogurt is a great way to start your morning.  Pair with a bowl of cereal and you’re good to go! Or enjoy it as a snack at night before bed!

 - Sauerkraut: Look for unpasteurized sauerkraut – helpful bacteria is killed in the pasteurized types.  Add sauerkraut as a regular side dish at dinner.  Or, serve it on top of pork tenderloin or an occasional hot dog.

-Kefir: This tangy dairy product is similar to yogurt.  It’s rich in probiotics as well as antioxidants!  It can be found in most health stores.

 - Kombucha:  This fermented tea is part of the health food craze lately. It is known for many health benefits such as boosting energy and losing weight, but it also contains high levels of healthy gut bacteria. Instead of an unhealthy can of soda at lunch or sweet fruit juice at breakfast, drink kombucha instead!

 -Pickles:  The naturally fermented varieties where vinegar is absent are the pickles you should look for with high probiotic content. Keep pickles on hand for snacking or as a side with your next sandwich.

-Miso: Miso soup is a traditional staple in Japan.  Miso is filled with probiotics and is low in calories and high in antioxidants. 



Sources:

“Top 10 Probiotic Foods to Add To Your Diet.” Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM. Global Healing Center.  January 21, 2011. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/probiotic-foods/
Accessed April 18, 2013.

“The Truth About Probiotics and Your Gut.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/probiotics-10/slideshow-probiotics  Accessed April 18, 2013.

“13 Probiotic-Filled Foods.” Reader’s Digest.  http://www.rd.com/slideshows/13-probiotic-filled-foods/#slideshow=slide9
Accessed April 18, 2013.





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What foods will help you sleep?


By Brooke Strickland

Life is busy – full of information, stressors, and things that keep your brain engaged.  So, it’s no surprise that some people have trouble falling asleep at night.  When you get home from work, sometimes you have to catch up with stuff around the house rather than find time to sit down, relax, and unwind.  Maybe you’ll stay up late in order to get what you need done at home.  This means you simply just can’t go to bed at a reasonable hour. And, when you finally lay down to rest, you might struggle with stress or insomnia.

Instead of taking a sleeping pill, there are actually foods that will help induce sleep faster!

- Foods high in vitamin B6:  A lot of fish is high in vitamin B6 – especially salmon, halibut, and tuna.  This vitamin can help make melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone.  Don’t like fish? That’s okay! There are other foods rich in this vitamin such as fortified cereals, chickpeas, bananas, bran, pistachios, or pork tenderloin.

- Dairy foods:  If your diet is lacking dairy, there’s a chance you have a harder time falling asleep.  Make sure to incorporate yogurt and milk into your diet in order to get solid amounts of calcium into your body.

- Foods high in L-Tryptophan:  We all know that Thanksgiving turkey is supposed to put you to sleep.  Well, turkey isn’t the only thing that has L-tryprophan in it!  Dates, navy beans, soybeans, quinoa, rice, split peas, and leafy vegetables such as collard greens and spinach are also great sources of L-Tryptophan.  

If you’re not hungry, try using lavender to help relax and calm you.  Lavender is known to help people sleep.  Try spraying a non-toxic lavender spray on your pillow, take a lavender-scented bath, or buy a lavender-filled pillow.  All of these can naturally help with insomnia!

Sleep deprivation can affect all parts of your life – it can make your brain feel foggy, weaken your immune system, and make you irritable or on edge. Next time you find yourself struggling to sleep, try some of these natural foods to help you beat insomnia!

Sources:

1.   “9 Foods to Help You Sleep.” Eating Well. http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/9_foods_to_help_you_sleep Accessed April 16, 2013.

2.   “Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B6.” Health Alicious Ness. http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-vitamin-B6.php  Accessed April 16, 2013.


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Safe cholesterol treatment


By Brooke Strickland 

A new report by Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (nonprofit research group) says that the safest and most effective treatment for high cholesterol is vitamin B3, also called niacin.  This has been used for years to help control cholesterol, and can significantly help reduce the risk for strokes or heart attacks.  Niacin is best prescribed for people that have high cholesterol that don’t handle statin drugs, which can reduce LDL.   In addition, niacin is best used for people with low levels of heart protective HDL and high triglycerides, or people with inherited cholesterol disorders.  (1)

While niacin is generally safe to use, there are some side effects to it with the most common reaction an itchy, tingling skin redness that can last up to an hour.  In addition, it can also cause muscle problems. If you experience unexpected reactions as a result of taking niacin, contact your doctor immediately for advice.

The best way to avoid high cholesterol is to eat well and exercise often.  There are specific foods that are high in cholesterol that you should steer clear from.  And of course, remember, everything can be enjoyed in moderation and on occasion.  For example, cheeseburgers are packed full of high cholesterol.  So of course, enjoy one on occasion, but making them a part of your regular diet is not a good idea.  In addition, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, certain cuts of steak, greasy snacks, liver, fried foods, muffins, and even eggs can be high cholesterol foods.  Making sure that you have a balanced diet that is mixed in with lots of fresh fruits and veggies is key to maintaining a healthy heart and a solid cholesterol level.

If you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about your options. A diet change or new exercise plan might be enough to help you reduce it.  If other intervention is needed, your doctor can help you determine what options are best for you.

 

1.   Collier Cool, Lisa. “The Safest Cholesterol Treatment.”  Yahoo Health. April 9, 2013. http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/safest-cholesterol-treatment  Accessed April 9, 2013.

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Aspirin may help cut risk of melanoma


By Brooke Strickland

 

Aspirin is known to offer a variety of other benefits to the body such as pain relief and prevention of heart attack.  And it has also been shown to help prevent prostate cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer, and more.   In addition, a recent study conducted through Stanford University found that people that regularly took aspirin are less likely to develop melanoma than those who don’t take the drug.  Because inflammation is a large player in cancer, taking aspirin, which is a natural anti-inflammation drug, may be part of the reason why it can be a way to prevent cancer.   The study looked at nearly 60,000 Caucasian women ages 50 to 79 and after dividing them into groups  - one that was not taking the drug, and the other that took aspirin at least twice a day.  The results showed that women who took aspirin appeared to have an average of 21% lower risk of melanoma. The longer these women took aspirin, the more protection they had. After a year, they cut their risk by 11%. Between one and four years, it was cut by 22%. After five years or longer, risk reduction was 30%. (1)

There are other ways to cut your risk of developing melanoma.  First, reduce your exposure to UV light.  The more amount of exposure to UV light you have, the higher chance you have of getting skin cancer.  Avoid tanning beds and when you’re outside for long periods of time, put on a sunblock.   Second, if you have moles on your body, keep a close eye on them.  People that have a lot of moles have a higher risk of developing melanoma.  Third, individuals with very fair skin, freckles, or light hair are also more at risk for melanoma.  In addition, if you have a family history of melanoma, you are at a greater risk, so be sure to have regular skin exams done through your dermatologist. 

 

 

 

 

1.   Landau, Elizabeth.  “Aspirin may cut melanoma risk, study finds.” CNN.com. March 11, 2013.  http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/11/aspirin-cuts-melanoma-risk-study-finds/  Accessed March 16, 2013.

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What are the signs of a weak immune system?


By Brooke Strickland

 

Our immune systems are vital to healthy, active living.  It wards off illnesses and other potential harmful agents from our body, so keeping your immune system strong is extremely important.

Are you wondering if you have a weakened immune system?  These signs and symptoms will point out a weak immune system. 

Infections:  Fungal or bacterial infections as well as allergic reactions to things – especially those that are recurring - can point to a weak immune system. 

Constant fatigue and lethargy: this can point to a weakened immune system.  Your body will only feel energized when the immune system is strong, healthy, and fighting off harm

Depression:  this can be caused from a number of imbalances, but a low immunity disorder may be one of the reasons for depression

Too much sugar intake: Eating too much sugar, such as candy, pop, or other artificially sweetened foods/drinks can weaken the body’s ability to kill bacteria

Excess weight:  Having extra weight is not good for your heart, brain, other vital organs, and to no surprise, your immune system.

High stress levels: When your body is stressed, your body is naturally weakened.

So how do you keep your immune system at top operating capacity? Control your stress by finding time to relax, spend time for yourself, and unwind.  In addition, making time for a solid exercise routine will keep your immune system (and the rest of your body) in tip top shape.  And last but not least, cutting out extra sugar and eating a lot of healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables will benefit. 

Taking care of your immune system is the best way to start living a healthier life.  Your body is worth it!

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