Month: October 2016

Spotlight on Food: Dulse Flakes

Dulse Flakes photo
Photo by Stacy Spensley

If you’re anything like me, you’ll read the title of this article and say, “Great, but what on earth are dulse flakes?”
Don’t worry—you’re not the only one. Dulse is a red seaweed that grows on rocks and shells around Canada, Norway, and Ireland. The whole plant is edible, and most people choose to mince it up and dry it for use as flakes. Some people say it tastes like bacon, and I’m sure the majority of Paleo-ites won’t complain about that!

Why Dulse Is Awesome

  1. It’s packed with more than your required DV (daily value) of both potassium and iron. Potassium is a big deal; it is what your muscles rely on to contract and move correctly (and let’s not forget that the heart is a muscle). Iron is what enables your blood to carry oxygen around your body.
  2. Dulse flakes contain half of your required daily protein intake in just 3.5 ounces. That means that you’ll be helping your body repair and build tissue and cells so that it can function well and rejuvenate itself.
  3. The fatty acids in dulse flakes (scientific name palmaria palmata) have been shown to significantly reduce inflammatory responses in the body. In fact, dulse was the best of all the red seaweeds examined.
  4. The bioactive compounds in red seaweed like dulse help the body heal from hypertension and reduce oxidative stress. The components of this algae repair vascular and cardiac damage, even if it has occurred gradually over time.

So dulse flakes look like a great addition to any diet, and some researchers have even taken to calling it a potential superfood. That’s all well and good, but how do you even use it?

How to Use Dulse Flakes

  1. Dulse is a handy way to thicken up stews. Use a spoonful for additional hearty flavor and a less watery base.
  2. Include dulse flakes in your post-workout meal for a great recovery. You lose lots of minerals when you sweat, but dulse replenishes your magnesium and sodium supplies, supporting not only a great workout recovery but also proper thyroid function.
  3. Toss a generous helping of dulse flakes onto any salad for a pretty, healthy, and delicious salad topper. Its flavor complements celery, parsley, and Belgian endive. You can also sprinkle it onto your tomatoes for a lovely flavor combo.
  4. Dulse flakes and tuna are brothers of the sea, so they make a great match. Try shredded tuna mixed with dulse, or sprinkle it onto a wholesome tuna filet and enjoy the deep, hearty flavor it imparts to the fish as it cooks.

Because it’s got tons of valuable nutrients you can tap into through a variety of exciting dishes, dulse flakes are a great addition to the Paleo lifestyle. As always, read your labels to be sure that you’re getting pure dulse. Current reports indicate that dulse supplies are free from major heavy metal toxins, so you can enjoy it without any worries.

Issue No. 50

Spotlight on Food: Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms photo
Photo by tuppus

For thousands of years, shiitake mushrooms have been gracing the shelves of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners’ homes, and for good reason—these fungi have been renowned throughout history for their potent health benefits. So nutritious they are considered a medicine in some parts of the world, shiitake have seen a recent rise in popularity in the United States. Their smoky, rich flavor has tickled the fancy of many, and now shiitake mushrooms are widely available throughout the year. Although Japan used to be the primary growing ground for these mushrooms, that prestige has now passed to China.
But what makes shiitake mushrooms so great? (Besides their flavor, which is pretty wonderful all by itself.) The true value of these mushrooms comes from the uncommon—but extremely important—nutrients they contain.

Why Are Shiitake Mushrooms Good for You?

  1. They contain ergothioneine, a very rare amino acid that, until recently, scientists didn’t even know existed. Following a series of studies, researchers have found that this amino acid is a very effective protectant against oxidative stress, which is one of the most damaging degenerative processes in our bodies. That’s one great reason to love shiitake!
  2. Shiitake helps our bodies use fat the way we should, which not only keeps us trim but also keeps all that extra stress off. Lean muscle mass (instead of fat) encourages healthy cardiovascular and circulatory systems.
  3. These mushrooms contain a whole host of vital nutrients, some of which are difficult to get: d-Eritadenine, which promotes cardiovascular health; copper, which prevents oxidation and helps out your red blood cells; and selenium, which normalizes thyroid function, are just a few of the many nutritional benefits.

So shiitake mushrooms are definitely the way to go when it comes to adding something tasty and nutrient-dense to your plate. That’s great. But how do you do it? Mushrooms can be tossed into a variety of soups, salads, and other dishes, but bringing home the best shrooms is where the magic really starts.

How Do You Choose Good Shiitake Mushrooms?

  1. Try regular grocery stores, as most have them, but if you’re having a hard time finding these fungi, check out a local Asian food store. They tend to always keep them in stock.
  2. Firm, plump mushrooms are the best choice. Wrinkled or soggy/slimy mushrooms are going bad, so avoid those.
  3. Opt for mushrooms that have been stored in a fridge, if possible. They stay fresh for about a week (unless they’ve been dried, in which case they should be good to go for at least six months).

After you’ve chosen your perfect shiitakes, make sure not to clean them off by soaking them in water. Mushrooms are porous and will become soggy if you expose them to too much liquid. The best way to clean shiitake mushrooms is simply to wipe them while dry. Once they’re clean and ready to go, you’re one step closer to taking a bite of a tasty (and nutritious!) mushroom feast.

Issue No. 51

Spotlight on Herbs: Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera photo

Called the “plant of immortality” by the Ancient Egyptians, aloe vera has been used medicinally for centuries to heal the body, rejuvenate the spirit, and—according to the Egyptians, at least—add years to one’s life. Now, science is beginning to prove what ancient cultures have known all along—that aloe vera promotes health and beauty!

The Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that grows in hot, dry climates. Its thick, fleshy leaves are made of a clear, odorless tissue with over 75 nutrients (including 20 minerals, 12 vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants). The gel from the leaves is what we usually associate with aloe vera products. Because of all the useful ways this plant can come to the rescue, many people enjoy growing aloe in their homes—it’s one of the easiest plants to maintain.

The Many Uses of Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel can be used externally and internally to treat a number of health and cosmetic issues. One of its most popular uses over time has been its powerful effect on healing burns; one study showed that applying the gel to burns could reduce healing time by about nine days compared to conventional treatments. Using aloe on sunburns in particular is quite popular.

However, did you know that aloe can be used for other skin issues, not just burns? Topical use of the gel may help with conditions like acne and psoriasis by soothing, moisturizing, and improving the appearance of dry, irritated skin.

Aloe vera is also completely safe for dental health, odd as it may seem. The gel fights the bacteria that cause cavities just as effectively as commercial toothpaste, and in fact, it may be a more tooth-friendly option for those with sensitive teeth.

Aloe vera is also available as a juice (though a variety of juices that are just full of sugar masquerade as “aloe juice”) and also as a supplement. Studies show that both uses of the plant relieve constipation, improve blood sugar levels in diabetics, and lower cholesterol levels. However, consuming aloe vera can cause severe cramping and diarrhea in some people, so it’s probably best not to use the gel this way unless you are being guided by a health practitioner.

Harvesting and Using the Gel

To harvest aloe vera gel directly from the plant:

  1. Choose a thick, unblemished leaf and use a sharp, clean knife or scissors to cut the leaf as close to its base as possible.
  2. Wash off the leaf, lay it flat, and then cut off its serrated edges.
  3. “Filet” the leaf down the middle into two equally thick halves.
  4. Use a butter knife to collect the clear gel from the leaf. Try to avoid collecting the lower layers of white gel and yellow liquid closest to the skin.

The gel can be used immediately, or you can store it in the refrigerator for later use. If you are looking to purchase aloe vera gel, check the packaging to make sure that the contents were prepared with very low heat. Cold pressing is another method that ensures that the gel remains packed with its nutrients and does not deteriorate over time.
Have fun and experiment with this versatile gel. Consider combining it with other healing and anti-inflammatory ingredients like honey, oats, tea tree oil, and coconut oil to make masks, serums, and scrubs. Your skin will thank you!

Issue No. 52

Spotlight on Mineral Water

Mineral Water photoFor people who try to live a healthy lifestyle, water tends to be (and should be) a go-to resource for energy and self-care. Sodas, sweetened teas, and sugar-filled juice have all been vetoed for those following a Paleo or Primal lifestyle, because we go back to the basics, and there’s almost nothing more basic than good old water. And in fact, what our ancestors drank ages ago wasn’t the water many of us drink today—they drank mineral water. They went to a clear-flowing river or body of water and drank from it, enjoying all the trace nutrients that came along with it.
That’s why today’s mineral water trumps the super-clear, bottled stuff they sell in stores; while mineral water retains its nutrient value, bottled or filtered water has been stripped of those minerals. Sure, you’re left with some much-needed H2O, but you could be getting so much more!

Why is Mineral Water Good for You?

  1. Magnesium: Mineral water is a great way to get magnesium, a nutrient that many are deficient in. And in fact, drinking your magnesium rather than eating it results in increased absorption and improved functioning. This mineral is crucial for heart health and reducing inflammation.
  2. Potassium: Potassium is an electrolyte—that means it conducts electricity in your body. Mineral water often contains potassium. Did you know that your heart runs on electric impulses? That means that potassium is very important for keeping your heart (and muscles) working smoothly!
  3. Calcium: We all know that calcium is important for bones, and for people with a dairy intolerance, mineral water is a great substitute source!
  4. Sulfates: Mineral water contains sulfates (think sulfur), which can also be found in foods like eggs and broccoli. However, drinking sulfates makes them easier for your body to use, and many people who drink soft water that’s been stripped of minerals find themselves deficient in sulfates (and at an increased risk of heart disease).

So mineral water is definitely a great source of some vital nutrients. We’ve talked about just a few, but you can find many others in a good bottle of mineral water (trace elements like lithium are things to look out for; did you know that areas where the water has a low lithium content have been associated with higher rates of suicide and homicide?).
But if mineral water’s so great, how do you know what kind to choose? You want to be sure you’re getting these benefits. When it comes to mineral water, saying that it’s “freshly bottled from a spring in Europe” isn’t just a marketing gimmick—that’s what you want. Good mineral water comes straight from mineral-rich natural springs around the world.

How Do You Choose Good Mineral Water?

  1. Opt for mineral water that comes in glass bottles. This prevents the water from leeching toxic chemicals from plastic.
  2. Check for high sodium content when you buy mineral water, because it varies by brand. For example, Vichy (from France) accounts for about 50% of your daily sodium allowance!
  3. Check the amount of calcium in the mineral water you opt for if you are tolerant of dairy and include it in your diet. Too much calcium is not ideal and can actually sap bone strength.

Enjoy finding a mineral water brand that you like, and remember to check the labels! Mineral content varies depending on the spring from which the water was taken, so consider your own dietary needs and choose a water that fits your life!

Article by: Carrie Ott

Issue No. 55

Spotlight on Pumpkin

Pumpkin photo

It’s that time of year again—carve a goofy face on a big orange pumpkin to delight visitors and add an autumnal air to the front porch. But did you know that pumpkins are good for more than just your next craft project? They’re a delicious seasonal addition to a wholesome diet, and they’ve got many uses beyond the traditional pumpkin pie.

In fact, Native Americans are responsible for the surge in popularity of the pumpkin—many early settlers would have starved to death without the pumpkins given to them by the local tribes. Because they store well and are very nutritious, pumpkins played a key role in the founding and growth of America. The pilgrims learned how to turn pumpkin into a wide variety of delectable dishes, and they enjoyed the many health benefits that followed.

Why is Pumpkin Good for You?

  1. Metabolic Support: Pumpkin is a great supporter of your full-body energy system—your metabolism. The oil from a pumpkin (and especially its seeds) does a great job of relieving the stress response, reducing the incidence of stress-related illnesses.
  2. Reduces Inflammation: The same pumpkin compounds that de-stress your body also reduce inflammation and atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries because of plaque buildup).
  3. Beta Carotene: The same nutrient that turns carrots and sweet potatoes orange is (not surprisingly) abundant in pumpkins! Beta carotene has been shown to have an important impact on the development of cancer, slowing or even halting the mutated cells’ reproduction.
  4. Beta Cryptoxanthin: This sometimes hard-to-get nutrient is vital for joint health and reducing pain, keeping our bodies running smoothly. Pumpkin is one of the foods richest in beta cryptoxanthin, and those who get enough of this powerhouse nutrient are much less likely to suffer from painful diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Those are just a few of the great things about pumpkin. So if these orange fruits (yes, they’re fruits!) are so good for you, do you just scoop out your next Jack-o-lantern and munch it by the spoonful? Well, not really. Much like popping corn, carving pumpkins were bred to be great for—you guessed it—carving. Not eating. If you’re looking for a delicious pumpkin you can cook up, here’s what you need to know.

How Do You Choose Good Pumpkins?

  1. Look for pumpkins labeled for use in pies or “sugar pumpkins.” Some of the most common ones include Autumn Gold, Cinderella, and Baby Pam.
  2. Pumpkins between 4 and 7 pounds are the ones you want, as they’ll be the most flavorful and smooth.
  3. Green stems indicate a recently picked pumpkin, so opt for those rather than the hard, bark-like brown stem when possible for maximum freshness.

Pumpkins behave very much like squash, so once you’ve chosen a winner, prepare it as you would a squash—bake, steam, or chunk it into soup! The only thing limiting your pumpkin is your own creativity! If you’re a fan, collect the seeds and bake them up for a delicious and nutritious snack.

Issue No. 56

Could Your Nap Be Causing Health Problems?  

Nap photo

The words “to much sleep” or “dangerous nap” isn’t really something you would ever expect to say. Let’s be honest, the majority of people don’t get anywhere near enough sleep and naps, well, that’s a fairy tale in most people’s day to day lives. But in a new study set to be presented at the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session, naps and their length are taken into observation regarding overall human health. The analysis included data from 21 different observational studies that involving over 300,000 subjects, in an attempt to tie naps and daytime sleepiness to a greater prevalence of type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

The test subjects were all asked a series of questions in order to report their daytime sleepiness.  The answers to the series of questions were used to evaluate the participant’s history of metabolic syndrome. Obesity, and type-2 diabetes. The results of the study showed a connection between the amount of time spent napping and metabolic syndrome risk. It was shown that people who spent less than 40-minutes napping at a time, did not show any increased risk of metabolic syndrome. However, those who napped for 40-minutes or longer saw an increased risk in their chances of metabolic syndrome. Napping for 90-minutes showed an increased risk by as much as 50 percent, being overly tired during the day showed a similar 50 percent increase in risk.

Despite the close relationship between obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes; the study did not show an increased risk of obesity. All of the studies evidence showed a slight decrease in the risk factors of subjects who napped for less than 30-minutes a day. The National Sleep Foundation advocates that people’s naps should be between 20 and 30 minutes a day in order to improve alertness without remaining groggy afterwards. However, the research all showed that more studies still need to be conducted in order to fully understand the connection between taking lengthy naps and metabolic syndrome.

It is believed that future research may help physicians track patience nap habits in order to predict their other health problems, such as those related to metabolic syndrome. Though the data from the study was derived from more than 300,000 participants, it may not necessarily be a good representation of the world population as a whole.  All of the information regarding the study and physicians can be found through. The American College of Cardiology.

How to Know if Your Olive Oil is Fake   

Olive Oil photo

Worrying about counterfeit or fake olive oil doesn’t seem like it would be a real headline, but it is in fact a constant issue in the US. In fact, if you were to check your cabinet right now, chances are the olive oil that you purchased for its many health benefits isn’t pure olive oil. The majority of olive oil that is sold in the US is counterfeit, which completely contradicts the entire reason olive oil has become so popular. While we are all trying to do the healthiest thing possible for ourselves and our family’s, we are actually buying something that we have no clue what is.

Have you ever even tasted true, virgin olive oil? I can tell you from experience that I have and it tastes nothing like any of the different olive oils that I have spent a fortune on in the market. In fact, I was quite put off by the taste. Not because it was bad, but because it was unexpected. My run in with real olive oil left me puzzled and curious as to what was going on. It had never once occurred to me that the pricey bottle of extra virgin olive oil in my kitchen was most likely diluted vegetable oil or I don’t even want to know what else.

We as a nation have become all to accustomed to grabbing something in the grocery store without giving it a second thought. It’s in stores and convenient; so, why give it a second thought? That is no longer the case and olive oil is something we should all consider paying a lot more attention to; Here are some of the things to keep in mind and what to look when purchasing pure olive oil in the future.

The Scandal Behind Olive Oil

As it turns out the majority of olive oil in stores have been altered by manufacturers and is in fact genetically engineered oil that is toxic. The billion-dollar olive oil industry has been plagued with corruption for some time. While most labels and manufacturers would leave you to believe that most olive oil is made in Italy. The problem is that most olive oil in stores is neither made in Italy or extra virgin olive oil, as the bottle says. The believed scandal is that lesser quality olive oil made in Spain and North Africa is shipped to Italy and then cut with soybean oil or other vegetable oils. The oil is then bottled and labeled as extra virgin olive oil and shipped around the world to unsuspecting consumers.

Many of the alleged counterfeit olive oils are brands that most of us know and trust. Research and testing have shown that many top brands have been passing off inferior olive oil for an uncertain period of time. In May of 2015 an Italian consumer magazine made allegations of the fraud, the allegations were later investigated by authorities. Out of the 20 olive oil brands that were tested by the Italian customs agency, 9 of them turned out to be of lower quality oil. Many of the manufacturers who were involved in the scandal were that are largely known olive oil companies, such as Bertolli.

The controversy and chaos prompted the University of California to test 124 different samples, ranging from eight different major retail brands of extra virgin olive oil and more than 70% of those tested failed. Some of the failing brands included: Bertolli, Carapelli, Colavita, Star, Pompeian, Santa Sabina, Primadonna, Antica Badia, Sasso, and Coricellia. While some of the passing brands were California Olive Ranch, Cobram Estate, Lucini, Kirkland Organic, Lucero, and McEvory Ranch Organic.

Many of the above listed olive oils have since been added back to The North American Olive Oil Association quality seal list of authentic olive oils. Every crop and every season is different, that being said, this list should be checked seasonally for changes in authentic olive oil testing results. Though the data collected and the testing on each brand have been public knowledge for some time and appear to come from an entirely reputable source; the olive oil companies listed still claim that the claims and test results are fraudulent and maintain that their product is authentic.

The Different Types of Olive Oil

While there are many different varieties of olive oil, they tend to fall within only a few categories:

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil is the most commonly used and has significantly grown in popularity due to its medicinal and health properties. Extra virgin olive oil is produced by cold pressing and the process is completed without the use of chemicals during refinement.
  • Virgin Olive Oil is produced during a second pressing of riper olives. Virgin olive oil is still considered to be a good quality olive oil despite its lesser reputation.
  • Light olive oil or pure olive oil is a refined olive oil. Light olive oil is typically chemically processed and then mixed with lower quality oils.
  • Lampante is the lowest quality olive oil and in Italian translates to “lamp Oil”. Lampante oil is not intended for consumption. In many cases this olive oil is made from old or decaying olives. These olives contain free radicals and impurities that are not good for your health.

Just Because the Label Say’s, Doesn’t Make It So

When shopping for true olive oil there are any indicators that you should look for. Taking the time to fully observe your bottle of olive oil is extremely important, unless of course you like wasting your money on diluted olive oil, that Is most likely a form of vegetable or sunflower oil.

  • Bottling 

One of the key indicators of a true olive oil is right on the bottle. For instance, a plastic or clear bottle is never a good sign. Olive oil should be stored in a tinted glass bottle or a metal can to protect the olive oil from light. When olive oil is exposed to light It can easily go bad or rancid in a very quick period of time.

  • Look for Cold Pressed Olive Oil  

Cold pressed olive oil is produced using a minimal heat process. Overheating the oil can affect the flavor, longevity, and overall quality of the finished product. Every country has their own set standards for the cold pressing process and to be labeled cold pressed they must meet certain guidelines. Purchasing cold pressed olive oi isn’t just about the overall flavor, oil that isn’t cold pressed tends to be over heated during the extractions process. The introduction of high heat can compromise the nutritional value of the olive oil, which is typically why most people use it.

  • Check for A Date 

Examine your bottle of olive oil for a harvesting date. The harvest date is not the same as the best buy date, but regardless, neither of these dates should be more than 2 years in difference from the purchase date. Olive oil has a fragile taste that can begin to break down over time, not to mention the risk of it going rancid. A harvest date may be hard to find on a bottle and will most likely be in small to tiny text.

How to Tell if Your Olive Oil is Fake or Not

Approximately 70% of the olive oil sold around the world is fake; The problem is figuring out if your olive oil is real or counterfeit. There are many different methods that people believe can be used as a self-test for your olive oil. The most popular way to test olive oil is a simple taste test, but even the most mature palate can’t always tell the difference between real olive oil and fake. This is especially true when you don’t know for sure if you have ever even had real olive oil or if every bottle you have purchased has been a fraud. The taste test theory was debunked when even olive oil taste testing experts couldn’t depict the real olive oil from the altered ones.

The next olive oil test that many people depend on is the refrigeration method. The basis behind the refrigeration test is that olive oil is mainly made up of monounsaturated fats and should begin to solidify when refrigerated. If you place your olive oil in the refrigerator and it doesn’t become cloudy or solidify, it is fake. Since the uprising of fake olive oil distribution, this method has been found to be unreliable. The low grade olive oil that is being cut with low grade oil would still begin to thicken or get cloudy during refrigeration due to the small amount of olive oil that it does contain.

One other method is the oil lamp method. Extra virgin olive oil should be potent enough to keep an oil lamp burning without producing any smoke. This method has also been shown to be unreliable. Other oils are also capable of keeping a wick lit without the production of smoke, leaving this method to be just as unreliable as the others. The bottom line is that there is no fool proof way to check your own olive oil at home. The best way to guarantee that you are purchasing authentic olive oil is to look for an authentic seal of approval or purchase your olive oil from a farmer you know and trust.

Quality Seal of Approval

Look for a quality seal on the olive oil bottle. There are a number of quality seal programs that have been set into place to provide customers with an additional measurement of quality control. These programs are used to certify the quality of the olive oils tested. The oils go through a sensory testing and muss pass chemical testing. Some of the individual agencies have other forms of monitoring in place to insure their standards are met. Purchasing olive oil that has a seal of approval from any of following agencies is one of the best ways to verify that you are in fact purchasing high quality, authentic olive oil.

  • USDA Quality Monitoring Program is a voluntary seal program. It monitors products via random sight samples and chemical testing that includes fatty acid composition.
  • North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) certifies its oils by completing random testing of its member’s oils which are randomly purchased for testing. The NAOOA uses a stricter chemical testing gauge than the USDA quality monitoring program. The NAOOA program is also voluntary.
  • California Olive Oil Council test samples that have been submitted by producers. The olive oil is tested for quality and authenticity. They test olive oil through sensory procedures and chemical analysis, however, they test fewer chemical analyses than the NAOOA and the USDA.
  • Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA) is a non-profit trade association that has recently been launched. The Extra Virgin Alliance was launched to help restore consumer trust in the olive oil market. EVA’s seal program is world-wide and they receive their samples directly from store shelves.

Buying Local

Nearly all alterations of olive oil happen from the middle man, not the farmers. Farmers sell their olive oil in bulk to corporate buyers. The buyers are then responsible for branding, bottling, and distributing the olive oil. During this process the olive oil is often diluted and altered to make it go farther and bring in more money. Cutting out the corporation and buying from small family owned farms or co-ops can typically guarantee a good quality oil. Knowing your farmer and source means no middle man and likely no fraudulent alterations to your oil. During studies and testing, researchers have found that artisan and locally produced oils have always passed every test of authenticity.

Being able to purchase olive oil locally is not a luxury that everyone has. Unfortunately, local olive oil is not available in every area and that leaves consumers still searching for an alternative to purchasing olive oil from mass distributors. The best way to combat this issue is to research online farm direct distributors.

9 Surprising Hacks to Lose Weight  

Weight  loss photo

Weight loss is always a hot topic, I fact, I’m not sure if it has even not been a leading topic in conversations around the world. We have all seen the millions of ad’s and promotions promising you miracles overnight. Well, if you haven’t yet noticed, there is no such thing as a miracle weight loss supplement. There is no pill or perfect diet that will miraculously turn you into the person you have always wanted to be without committing to lifestyle changes. The good news is, there are so many natural ways to help boost your weight loss and give you the upper hand. These aren’t miracles in a bottle or even hidden secrets; instead, they are natural, healthy weight loss hacks to aid you along the way.

1  Cod Liver oil  

Among the many benefits of cod liver oil, is the high amount of vitamin D that it contains. The combination of the two brings many health benefits, including weight loss. Studies have shown that women with vitamin D deficiencies have a harder time losing weight and that the use of cod liver oil can not only work to increase your metabolism, it can also aid in turning fat into muscle. Cod liver oil is primarily taken for its high content of vitamin D and vitamin A, which lends itself exceptionally well to weight loss.

If you are trying to lose weight or considering starting a weight loss regimen, you should consult your physician about checking your vitamin D levels. This is especially true if you don’t spend very much time outdoors to soak in vitamin D from the sun. Cod liver oil gives you approximately 1,360 IU per tablespoon of a recommended 2,000 IU per day. The one concern with cod liver oil is the high amount of vitamin A. While it is beneficial to our health, it is also naturally produced by the body, where vitamin D is not. So, while you are taking a vitamin A supplement, your body is also mass producing the nutrient on its own; leaving the risk of too much vitamin A consumption.

od liver oil also contains a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are equally beneficial for weight loss. While cod liver oil does not contain as much fatty acid as other fish oil, it can still prove to be a beneficial dose to aid in weight loss and obesity. Research and studies involving cod liver oil and weight loss are extremely limited; the majority of the merit given to cod liver oil for weight loss is focused around what we know about vitamin D and weight loss and the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and weight loss.

2  Resistance Training   

Resistance training is similar to weight training and despite its name is not resistance to exercise, rather, training your body with external resistance. Resistance training can be done with any objects that cause the muscles to contract, such as, weights. Resistance training can be used to build muscle strength, increase muscle size, and build aerobic endurance. It is based on the principle that your body muscles will work to overcome a resisting force when needed. As you continue resistance training, your muscles will become stronger and larger. Some examples of resistance training are:

  • Exercising with free weights, such as, dumbbells and barbells.
  • Exercising with resistance bands that provide resistance when they are stretched, similar to a giant rubber band.
  • Exercises that use your own body weight to create resistance, such as, squats, push-ups, and chin ups.
  • Working out with weight machines or weight benches that have adjustable weights or hydraulics.

Resistance training is not only used as a weight loss aid, it also has many other physical and health benefits to your overall health. The attributes include weight loss, improved mobility and balance, increased bone density and strength, pain management, muscle strength and tone, flexibility, and balance. Resistance training can be used as a complete body workout routine that can benefit every problem are, as well as your overall physical and mental health.

Typically, a beginner routine for resistance training will contain 8-10 exercises that are used to work the major muscle of the body and are to be completed 2-3 times a week. The goal is to gradually increase the number of sets for each exercise. Once you have gained the muscle resistance to complete approximately 12 reps of a particular exercise, you then begin to progress further by continuing to safely and slowly introduce more resistance to your workout.  In order to get the most benefits from resistance training you will need to progressively increase the intensity of your work out. Some of the key factors to consider when contemplating beginning a resistance training routine are:

  • What program you will use. If you are new to resistance training, you should consider speaking with a trainer at your gym or someone knowledgeable in resistance training. If you don’t know what you are doing it could be easy to overdo it and cause damage to your muscles.
  • It is very important to remember that you need to rest between sets. You also need to allow time for your muscles to recover between workouts. Typically, a 48-hour period is preferred between workouts to allow for muscle repair and recovery before working the same muscle group again.
  • Warming up before resistance training is just as important as the workout itself. A light aerobic exercise, such as, walking along with stretches will do the trick. Just be sure to do a dynamic stretching in a full range of motion to prep your muscles for the resistance training to come.

3  Oolong Tea   

Oolong tea has essentially been dubbed the combination tea, with differing benefits found in both green tea and black tea, it is the super tea of health benefits. Oolong tea is believed to activate enzymes in the body that enhance the functions of fat cells, a daily consumption is said to fight obesity. It is still unknown whether or not the benefits of oolong tea and weight loss come from the caffeine content or from polyphenols. Regardless of which is more beneficial for weight loss, studies in mice have shown a decline in overall body weight and fat index from being given polyphenols, similar to those found in oolong tea. Leaving speculators to lean more towards polyphenols as the most beneficial weight loss component of oolong tea.

Though there are a limited number of studies surrounding oolong tea and its weight loss properties, one study in particular showed beneficial weight loss results for men who consumed oolong tea daily and determined oolong tea to be a beneficial way to increase metabolic rate and fat oxidation in men.  It is believed that consuming oolong tea daily can be beneficial for weight loss in both men and women.

 4  Vitamin D3   

As mentioned previously regarding cod liver oil, a vitamin D deficiency can be quite the culprit working against weight loss, especially in women. Vitamin D3 is not naturally created in the body, which leads to many people unknowingly having a vitamin D3 deficiency. Vitamin D3 is synthesized when your body is exposed to ultraviolet light, aka the sun. If you spend more than a generous amount of time outdoors or in the tanning bed, you probably have nothing to worry about. But if you are trying to lose weight and aren’t known for spending any more time outdoors than you have to, you should most definitely have your doctor check for a deficiency to be safe.

A vitamin D3 shortage could be slowing down your weight loss goals and causing you to lose less weight than someone with a healthy amount of vitamin D3 would. The recommended intake of vitamin D3 per day is 200 IU, but it is recommended that when taking a supplement that you take in at least 5,000 IU a day. However, spending a mere 20-30 minutes out in the sunlight a day can produce around 10,000 IU of vitamin D3. The best way to find out how much vitamin D3 you need is to consult a physician based on the results of a vitamin D test.

5  Cinnamon  

Many studies have been performed regarding cinnamon and its many effects on the human body. Overall the results from these studies have varied. Some believe that the use of cinnamon can be extremely beneficial in weight loss and controlling blood sugar, as well as insulin the body. While other results suggest that there isn’t enough of a change in these factors to count cinnamon as a good weight loss suppliant. This being said, there have been more studies showing results from cinnamon than un-beneficial results.

The way that cinnamon is believed to effect weight loss is through reduction in post-meal glucose hyperglycemia, a condition where there is an excess of glucose released after a meal. Studies have shown that cinnamon extract can reduce the amount of glucose released. Though the majority of the studies have been based around cinnamon, weight loss, and type 2 diabetes; it is believed that even those without type 2 diabetes can benefit from cinnamons ability to block excess glucose and has been especially effective in aiding those with metabolic syndrome.

Cinnamon works to regulate blood sugar and increase insulin levels, thus, increasing the metabolism of glucose. High blood sugar levels can lead to an increased amount of fat being stored in the body and cinnamon can help to prevent this excess storage. It can also have an effect on how your body metabolizes sugar, preventing it from being turned into fat. Cinnamon can easily be incorporated into your daily diet through tea, smoothies, or anything else you can easily fit the flavor of cinnamon into. Since cinnamon is not a scientifically proven treatment, more of a homeopathic one, there is no set daily dosage. However, some recommendations believe that 1 tsp. per day is a sufficient amount. The amount used in studies involving cinnamon have ranged anywhere from 1tsp to 6tsp per day.

 6  Protein For Breakfast   

We all know that eating breakfast is a key part of living a healthy, well balanced life. But for many of us breakfast consists of something sugary, greasy, or straight out of a vending machine. It is pretty safe to say that this isn’t what the experts are talking about when they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a well-balanced diet is extremely important and this starts with a healthy and nutritious breakfast. In fact, if you speak to most people who are very committed to a healthy lifestyle or workout regimen, the majority will probably tell you that they eat more at breakfast than at any other meal.

Breakfast is brain food and the kick start that sets the tone for the entire day; but it isn’t just important to eat breakfast when you are trying to lose weight. It is also important for you to eat a healthy serving of protein for breakfast. Protein is packed full of amino acids that are the building blocks for each and every living cell in our bodies. Eating protein produces insulin and the hormone glucagon that stimulates the body to burn fat for energy. Eating a healthy protein packed breakfast will allow you to stay full longer, eat less during the day, provide your body with the energy it needs to burn during the day, and is said to be a key component in living a healthy lifestyle.

7  Don’t Overdo Nuts   

In the attempt to eat healthier, you may be bombarded by nut based everything. Everywhere you look you have probably seen nut butters of every kind, nut milk’s, nut based grain replacements, and so much more. But the truth of the matter is, even though nuts are good for you, they need to be eaten in moderation. Nuts are high in phytic acid, which causes decreased iron absorption along with a decrease in other nutrients. Phytic acid is a form of phosphorus found in many plans that cannot be digested by humans. It binds minerals, especially iron, in food and prevents our bodies from absorbing it. So, while nuts are good for you based on their nutrient profile, we may not be absorbing as many of the benefits as we believe we are. Phytic acid also interferes with digestion by affecting enzymes that we need in order to digest food.

This doesn’t necessarily rule out all previous belief that nuts are good for you and work as a weight loss aid; it just means that you need to consume nuts in more moderation than some diets suggest. Nuts are still a great healthy snack that is far better for you than many other things that you may be trying to avoid. Just keep in mind that you aren’t benefiting from all of the nutrients on the label.

8  Mineral Water 

While many of us have always believed that water was water; mineral water offers more nutrients than standard everyday tap water. Mineral water can be purchased pretty much anywhere that you would buy bottled water and can easily be identified by its label. Only water containing more than 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids may be labeled as mineral water. Mineral water is bottled from natural mineral springs, once known as healing waters. Manufacturers are not allowed to add any minerals to bottled mineral water and every bottle must be labeled for its mineral content.

When trying to lose weight, it is essential to nourish your body with the proper vitamins and minerals that it needs. Mineral water can provide a much needed nutritional boost, containing magnesium, sulfate, calcium, silica, and sodium. Mineral water also contains bicarbonate, which will help to maintain your body’s pH balance. Mineral water is suggested to be most beneficial during a weight loss journey when consumed during and after your workout regimen to keep you hydrated and replenish everything you sweated out during your workout.

9  Sleep 

Sleep deprivation is alive and well; if you haven’t experienced it, consider yourself lucky. The majority of people don’t get enough sleep and are rushing around with sleepy brain trying to make informed and healthy decisions that they aren’t really alert enough to accomplish. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a snowball effect on your day. First you wake up tire or late and skip your morning workout. Then, you replace breakfast with your favorite fatty, sugar filled x-large latte on the way to work. By the end of the day you have given up on healthy options all together and pick up takeout on the way home. See how this could have a negative effect on weight loss. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep leads to bad decisions, especially bad food choices such as, late night snacks and over eating.

A lack of sleeps connection to weight loss isn’t just about superficial comfort that we cave to during periods of exhaustion. A lack of sleep affects your hormones, ghrelin and leptin, the sleep hormones. The hormone ghrelin signals your brain that it is time for you to eat and when you are sleep deprived your body created more of the hormone than you need. The other sleep hormone, leptin, cues your brain that you are full. When you are short on sleep, leptin levels decrease, which in turn increases how much you are consuming. To top off the sleepy hormone imbalance comes cortisol, a stress hormone that tells your body to conserve energy, causing you to store more fat.

A lack of sleep and reduce the overall amount of weight that you are losing, not to mention it will leave you struggling to stick to any diet or weight loss plan. A good night’s sleep is a must for anyone, but especially so if you are trying to lose weight. You can’t look healthy and fit on the inside, if you aren’t taking the necessary steps to stay healthy on the inside.

The 7 essential steps to start Paleo 

Paleo  photo
Photo by beau.raines

So, you have decided you want to try your hand at the paleo lifestyle, but you don’t know where to start? Well, it isn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem; contrary to popular belief, going paleo doesn’t mean that you have to be a miserable hermit who only eats meat and plant based foods. Truthfully, with the proper amount of research, some creative recipes, and a little trial and error in the kitchen, you don’t really have to give up your favorite foods; you just need to re-invent them a little. Take a look at these 7 essential steps to switching to a paleo lifestyle.

1  Throw Out Unhealthy Food 

The first step you need to take to start your paleo lifestyle is cleaning out your pantry! There is no need to keep temptation lingering around the house, office, car, etc. Grab a trash bag and a box for the things you can donate to the local food pantry. The majority of things in your pantry may be pretty easily spotted as non-paleo. But, for the rest, you need to read labels! I cannot express this enough. Reading labels will become your best friend and before long, you will have a great idea of what things you can and cannot have with a simple glance.

Remember to keep in mind the simple paleo rules:

  • Avoid grains, such as, flour, bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, bagels, muffins, tortillas, chips, rice, quinoa, rye, oats, and buckwheat.
  • Avoid dairy including milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, and whey protein powders.
  • Avoid beans and legumes, meaning no soy in any form. This includes black beans, lentils, pinto beans, red beans, peanuts white beans, and garbanzo beans.
  • Avoid most oils, especially those labeled vegetable oil. Instead, use coconut oil or organic olive oil.
  • Avoid refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. This includes white sugar, corn syrup, malt syrup, Splenda, equal, and pretty much any other sweetener that is not 100% natural.

This list pretty much means you will be throwing out the majority of items in your pantry. If it is pre-packaged or pre-made, it is most likely not on the recommended eating list for a paleo lifestyle. Just be sure to check all of the labels just in case, many of the foods you have been eating as a healthy snack or healthy alternative, may not be so healthy once you glance at the label.

 2  Buy High Quality Ingredients 

You wouldn’t believe how important it is to buy high quality ingredients. This doesn’t just mean splurging on the “good olive oil” on occasion. Just like checking your labels to clean out your pantry, you will need to get in a good habit of checking labels on everything you buy. Eventually this will get easier and you will have a routine of what you should and shouldn’t be buying. Shopping for high quality ingredients isn’t about which item has the highest price tag or is imported. High quality in the paleo world means shopping for ingredients that are natural, have gone through minimal processing, organic, local, and raw.

  • Source out as many local ingredients as you can, such as, high quality meats and seafood, organic produce, organic honey, etc.
  • Take a look in the health food department of your local grocery store and seek out natural organic ingredients.
  • Shop online for the items you can’t find locally; just be sure to use a trusted source of reliable high quality ingredients.

 3  Plan Meals  

Once you switch to a paleo lifestyle, a quick trip into town for take-out isn’t really going to fit the bill anymore. The truth is, you will be spending a lot of time eating at home. The best way to beat the week night rush is to plant ahead. This goes for breakfast, lunch, and snacks to. Convenience food is not your friend! There is nothing about rushing into a convenience store, vending machine, or drive through that will meet your paleo lifestyle needs. Planning ahead will save you from a huge mid-week headache.

Start out by cooking what you know. Eating paleo is as much about eating healthy as it is to getting back to simplicity. The simplest meal can be so very satisfying when it is made with fresh, well-sourced, and quality ingredients. Meal planning is a relatively common practice with so many people living hectic lives. Start with a chart, calendar, list, or whatever works best for you. Then get to sourcing out ideas! Blogs, Pinterest, and recipe books can all give you some great ideas and recipes to make paleo cooking your own.

No matter how you choose to plan out your paleo meals, it won’t take long for you to get the hang of it and it will come as natural as picking up that take out menu.

4  Have Snacks Ready 

While it isn’t a requirement of your paleo diet to snack, most of us start searching for a snack at some point or another during the day or late evening. Obviously, most of the go to snacks we have all come accustomed to grabbing from the pantry are off limits. But, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your daily snack all together; you just need to switch it out for a healthier, paleo option. Try some of these simple switches:

  • If you normally go for a sweet snack, try going with a naturally sweet fruit. While fruits are still high in sugar, they are natural sugars that are good in moderation. Eating a hand full of fruit is the simplest switch, but possibly boring to some. With a little effort there are other options, such as, homemade fruit leather, pure dark chocolate, homemade fruit popsicles, etc.
  • For a savory snack substitute, some popular options are nuts, baked zucchini chips, homemade trail mix, hardboiled egg, homemade beef jerky, etc.
  • Some other simple options are the old faithful ones like baby carrots, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, and other fresh produce picks.

You should also be prepared to pack snacks. When you pack your lunch for work, throw in a small snack, just in case. You never know when hunger will hit, especially early on when you are adjusting to the paleo lifestyle. The last thing you want is the 4 o’clock temptations of the snack machine at work.

5  Go for simple  

Making an entire lifestyle change most likely sounds like anything but easy. But keeping things simple will make the process go so much smoother. Overthinking is not your friend; do the research that you need to, come up with a plan, and do your best to stick to it. Switching the things that you love out for paleo versions is just as much a part of keeping things simple as anything else. Start out by making the simplest changes that you can, without overwhelming yourself.

To begin with, you may find it easier to gradually introduce paleo into your life. For instance, cook a few paleo dinners a week instead of making the huge switch all at once. Gradually change out more and more meals until you are comfortable enough to clean out your pantry and switch over every meal to paleo. Keep things simple and ease yourself into your new paleo lifestyle.

When switching to a completely new lifestyle, stress and anxiety can be key factors in the make it or break it factor. Don’t push yourself too hard and remember that taking your time will best suit your dietary needs in the long run. Keeping things simple also applies to new recipes. Fresh high quality ingredients can do the work for you with simple and easy applications that are sure to prove that simple can be amazing.

 6  Make meals in batches (leftovers are your best friend)  

Any kind of cooking for only one or two people is, well, daunting. But it can also be a huge advantage. Think of it this way; the more you cook on Monday night, the more leftovers you have to eat during the week. You may be thinking, yuck! The same meal all week long, but different variations on one simple dish can make life easier in the long run. Plus, lunches and snacks can all be easily accommodated with leftovers.

There are several options when it comes to cooking meals in batches, whether you are looking to feed a house full or make meals last longer, all of these options can easily be adjusted to suit your needs.

  • A slow cooker can be your best friend! Slow cooker meals are an easy fix and with the proper ingredients, can make your week easier. Meat is the easiest thing to cook to last. For example, cook a large cut of meat with simple seasonings that can be used for many different things.
  • Grilling is another great option! If you are already planning to fire up the grill on the weekend, then what is the harm in throwing on a few extra cuts of meat that you can heat up or use in salads during the week.
  • Meat isn’t the only make ahead option; vegetables can last just as well. Try cooking your favorite side dish in bulk and using it in as many ways as you can for a few days. You can also prep uncooked veggies in advance to make weeknight cooking easy. Even salads can be prepped and stored in individual containers for easy grab and go access.
  • Another extremely popular option is to pre-assemble meals and freeze them. Some people spend their entire Sunday prepping and cooking in bulk to last an entire week.

7 Do It With A Friend or Family Member 

Doing things in pairs can help ease the stress and anxiety of going it alone and making such a huge life transition. If you are attempting to make a lifestyle change with a house full of not so eager participants, buddying up with someone can help. Even if you can’t find anyone in your house to convince of your lifestyle endeavor, you can always go with someone outside of your household or convince a friend to go it with you. It isn’t just about having someone to say is going paleo with you, it is about having a support system. Lean on one another when things are feeling a little tough or buddy up to create the perfect paleo meal plan to ease the transition.

If you have tried without much luck to find a paleo lifestyle partner, you could also seek out a paleo support group. You won’t have as much of the one on one experience that you could have with a family member or friend; but it would give you the companionship that you could use to get you through the tough times, you know, when the sugary snacks are calling your name. Regardless of whether you need someone to swap recipes with, meal plan with, or just have a paleo centered conversation; having a partner will ease the pressure and anxiety, thus making it a much smoother transition into your new paleo lifestyle.

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