Beauty secret found in fruits and vegetables has anti-aging properties

Anti-Aging Beauty Secret Discovered in the Produce Aisle

Beauty secret found in fruits and vegetables has anti-aging properties

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Finding the secret to beautiful skin as you age is as simple as turning the pages of your family album. Just look at the photographs of your parents and grandparents to find the clues to how your skin might look as you get older. That’s because genetics play a big role in the appearance of your skin.

But is there a beauty secret for those of us who didn’t inherit the gene?

Eat More Antioxidants

The quality of your diet affects every organ in your body and your skin is no exception. Proper nutrition also has an effect on the overall aging process, so eating foods that inhibit or slow down aging holds the secret to more beautiful skin as well.

The best anti-aging foods are the ones rich in anti-oxidants.

Free radicals are formed as a consequence of our daily exposure to oxygen and pollutants in the environment. If left unchecked, they damage and destroy healthy cells in the body. Antioxidants prevent that process from getting out of control. Today, our bodies cannot produce as many antioxidants as we need to control the large numbers of free radicals we form, so we must to consume more foods rich in antioxidants to supply them.

Feed the Skin From Within

Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are abundant in the produce aisle. They’re easy to identify because of their rich, deep colors. In fact, the pigments of fruits and vegetables are a clue to their antioxidant content.

Research has also found that eating those colorful pigments from fruits and vegetables gives you a rosier complexion, which is associated with increased attractiveness.

Studies done at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found red and yellow plant pigments, known as carotenoids, are distributed to the surface of the skin when we eat enough of the produce containing them. Another study found the change in the skin’s color associated with eating these pigments was perceived as healthier looking and more attractive.

The changes in skin color were perceptible after six weeks when subjects ate three portions a day of the carotene-rich produce, including yams, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, peaches, apricots tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon. Those whose diets that did not include these foods became paler.

This study supports others that demonstrate diets high in antioxidants can slow the signs of aging and the development of skin cancer. But the best news of all is that it doesn’t matter who your relatives are to take advantage of this beauty treatment!

What’s your favorite recipe for beautiful skin?

What you eat affects how you thinks and feel

Feeding the Aging Mind: What Foods Keep Your Mind Sharp?

YOUR DIET CAN SLOW THE PROCESSES OF AN AGING MIND AND HELP KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Do you fear living with an aging mind more than an aging body? I do, so I’m always ready to learn more about ways to keep my mind sharp right up until my body wears out. The good news is the right diet can help keep both shape.

What Happens to as Our Brain’s Age?

The brain’s billions of neurons “talk” to one another through neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters send signals along the pathways in our brain and central nervous system. Neurons that can’t get their messages through the pathways are like cell phones that can’t get their signals through to other cell phones.

This inability of neurons to communicate effectively is responsible for most of the loss of mental function as we age.

Although people naturally lose brain cells throughout their lives, the process does not necessarily accelerate with aging. Chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes do, however, accelerate it.

The big concern today is that we are living longer, so want those neurons to last longer. Some groundbreaking research offers hope. While it was long-believed that the central nervous system, which includes the brain, was not capable of regenerating itself, studies have found the brain is capable of making new neurons well into old age, but at a slower rate.

It’s More Than Antioxidants

The antioxidants in foods have been credited with helping to save our aging brains. I’m sure you’ve seen those lists of the latest and greatest “superfoods” ranked for their antioxidant capacity. But what those lists don’t reveal is that the brain doesn’t get charged up by just one or two antioxidants found in blueberries or kale, it wants whole foods.

That is why our total diet is so important. There are compounds in the foods we eat that nutrition scientists have not yet measured and named. But it is clear those compounds have benefits beyond what we get from the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been identified. So our best bet for optimal nutrition is to eat a wide variety of minimally processed foods.

Foods That Feed the Aging Mind

Fruits & Vegetables: The more the better when it comes to raising the antioxidant levels of the blood. Keep fresh, frozen, dried, canned and 100% juice on hand to make it easier to have some at every meal and snack.

Beans & Lentils: They can take the place of meat at any meal or be used as a side dish with it. The big assortment of canned beans offers a way to have a different bean every day for weeks.

Nuts: Whether you like walnuts, almonds, pistachios or a mixed assortment is fine. Try using them as a crunchy topping on hot and cold cereals, salads, yogurt, and vegetables.

Fish: Keep the cost down with canned tuna, salmon and sardines and the right servings size. Just two 3-ounce servings a week are recommended.

Brewed tea: Green, black, white and oolong teas all come from the same plant and are rich in powerful antioxidants. Brewing your own from teabags or leaves you get the most benefit.

Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

Some Heart Healthy Foods You May Have Missed

LOOK FOR THESE HEART HEALTHY FOODS THAT DON’T GET THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

When looking for foods that can improve your heart health, many of the ones most often recommended are either expensive, not easy to find, or are foods you don’t like. That doesn’t mean you have no chance of lowering your risk factors for heart disease through diet. The same attributes in those commonly named “heart-healthy” foods are found in many other more palatable options.

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Sardines – Salmon gets all the attention when it comes to fatty fish, but sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA you can get, and at a much lower price all year round. The oils in fatty fish help lower triglycerides in the blood and reduce blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. A 3-ounce serving eaten twice a week is all you need.

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Black beans – Oatmeal is recognized as being good for your heart, but dry beans, like black beans, have the same benefits and are far more versatile in the diet. Beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and keeps it from being absorbed. They are also rich in phytonutrients, like flavonoids, that can inhibit the clumping of platelets in the blood. Eating ½ cup a day can make a difference.

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Raisins –Like blueberries, raisins are rich in antioxidants that help reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and markers for inflammation. Unlike blueberries, raisins are convenient to have on hand no matter what the season. Enjoy ¼ cup as a fruit serving daily.

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Popcorn – Whole grains don’t just in the form of breads and cereals. Popcorn is a whole grain and a good source of polyphenols, a naturally occurring antioxidant, that improves heart health. It’s very budget friendly and a satisfying snack as long as it’s prepared without excess salt and oil.

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Milk– Most often associated with calcium, milk is also high in potassium which is maintain the fluid balance in the body and help the kidneys eliminate excess sodium. With as much potassium as a medium banana, every 8 ounce glass of fat free milk you drink is a great way to keep your heart strong.

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Plant Stanols and Sterols – These compounds are found in very small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and grains. They help block the absorption of cholesterol, but there is not enough of them in foods to get the 2 grams a day needed for cholesterol-lowering benefits. Daily use of foods fortified with stanols and sterols, such as Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange juice and Benecol spread, is an valuable way to supplement a heart-healthy diet.

The healing powers of tea are on the calendar for January

The Healing Powers of Tea

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HEALING POWERS OF TEA DURING HOT TEA MONTH THIS JANUARY

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

It isn’t always clear who makes up these declarations, but the calendar is full of days and months dedicated to particular foods and health causes. I personally think it is a good way to focus our attention on things we can eat or do that can have a big impact on our well-being. One month at a time.

This year I plan to highlight my favorite food or health “occasions” at the start of each month so you can “celebrate” them right along with me. Who said eating well wasn’t fun!

My pick for January is the celebration of Hot Tea Month. Why not get a cup to sip while reading this?

Tea is now the most widely consumed beverage around the world next to water and the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. reports that 80% of U.S. households have tea in them.

Legend has it that tea was accidently discovered over 5000 years ago when some tea leaves blew into a pot of boiling water belonging to a Chinese Emperor who was known as a “Divine Healer.” The flavorful drink was believed to cure a variety of ailments and its use soon spread throughout China and Asia into Europe and the New World. What few tea drinkers could have known then is that the real benefits they received from this simple beverage were due to the purifying effects of boiling the water before drinking it.

Recent studies done on both Black and Green tea provide significant evidence of their health benefits. The naturally occurring compounds in tea leaves called flavonoids hold the key to many of their benefits. Just like the antioxidants found in other fruits and vegetables, the flavonoids in tea have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers while supporting the immune system and bone health. Preliminary research also suggests that drinking tea may have beneficial effects on body weight, fat accumulation and insulin activity.

While researchers continue to study the exact mechanisms by which can tea heal and strengthen our bodies, I prefer to focus on its more ethereal properties. Drinking hot tea has always involved certain rituals for me, and those rituals have comforted me in an otherwise unpredictable world. For instance, when I drink tea:

  • Water must boil and a kettle must whistle for me to enjoy a cup of tea. It cannot come from a microwave oven or hot water faucet.
  • My tea must be consumed from a bone China cup with a thin lip. No chunky coffee mugs or, heaven forbid, disposable cups, thank you very much.
  • Drinking tea makes me sit still, to possibly stare out a window or get lost in my thoughts. No chance to multitask with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot tea.
  • Drinking tea is my way to slow down, to recoup, regroup and reflect. Don’t offer me tea if I’m in a hurry, I need time to enjoy it.

Drinking tea makes me feel good. It is a ritual I participate in several times a day and feel so richly rewarded by. And now that it’s Hot Tea Month, I hope you will enjoy it, too.

X-ray of cardiac pacemaker

Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for Chronic Heart Failure

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

NEW RESEARCH SUPPORTS USE OF COENZYME Q10 FOR CHRONIC HEART FAILURE AND CONGESTIVE HEART DISEASE

Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 or ubiquinone or ubiquinol – whatever you call it – came up in a conversation with my 85 year old father this week. He had been out to dinner with friends and they asked him if he was taking it. He told them he wasn’t. Then they asked him why not since he has chronic heart failure and a history of congestive heart disease, two problems it’s supposed to help.

He promised them he would call me to get the scoop.

Having done so, I did some research and am going to share it with all of you so you don’t have to call and ask me too.

What is Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10?

It’s a vitamin-like substance found in every cell in the body. The reason it is not classified as a vitamin is because our bodies can manufacture it. It is also found in a variety of foods we eat, including fish, meats and whole grains, with smaller amounts in fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

What Does CoQ10 Do?

The energy-producing apparatus inside each cell are called the mitochondria. Think of them like a furnace generating heat for your home. Their job is to convert fat and other substances into a usable form of energy to fuel all of our activities and support the growth and repair of our body parts. Coenzyme Q10 is needed for this conversion process.

It also functions as an antioxidant that protects the body from the damaging effects of oxygen, similar to the antioxidant properties in vitamin C and the mineral zinc. Since a number of heart conditions are the result of oxygen damage to that organ, Co Q10 has been used protect the heart muscle.

What are Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol?

They are two naturally occurring forms of CoQ10, depending on whether it is oxidized (ubiquinone) or reduced (ubiquinol). When energy is being created in the mitochondria, the oxidized form of CoQ10 (ubiquinone) can accept an electron from another molecule in a process called electron transfer. Once it does, it becomes the reduced form of CoQ10 (ubiquinol). The reduced form can then donate an electron and become oxidized again. This conversion goes on continuously inside the mitochondria during energy production, so both forms of CoQ10 are equally important.

What Are the Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 for Heart Patients?

Ever since Coenzyme Q10 was first identified in 1957 it has been promoted as a healing drug and used for everything from muscular dystrophy to male infertility. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support most of those claims according to the National Institutes of Health.

The ability of CoQ10 to improve survival rates in people with heart failure, however, has been gaining strength.

In 1985 researchers first demonstrated a connection between low CoQ10 levels and the severity of heart failure. One reason why CoQ10 levels were so low in people with heart disease is that the natural synthesis of it in the body is inhibited by the statin drugs heart patients commonly take. Their blood levels of CoQ10 can be reduced by as much as 40% when taking statins.

This bit of news was enough to fuel the widespread use of CoQ10 supplements by people with congestive heart disease, chest pain, high blood pressure and other heart problems.

Some new research presented at the Heart Failure 2013 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in May provided much needed proof that it works.

Researchers in Denmark followed 420 heart failure patients recruited from 17 treatment centers in Australia, Malaysia, India, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Sweden and Denmark for 24 months. Participants were randomly assigned to take either 100 mg of CoQ10 three times a day or a placebo.

The study’s primary endpoint was to see how long it took for subjects to have a major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE). Those in the CoQ10 group reduced the risk of MACE by 50%. Only 14% of them reached the primary endpoint during the study compared to 25% in the placebo group.

Should My Dad Take CoQ10?

If you, like my dad, take a stain drug, your CoQ10 levels are probably low. They cannot be raised sufficiently through diet alone to obtain the benefits shown in this study. Instead, CoQ10 can be purchased as an over-the-counter supplement.

It has few side effects when used as recommended, but there are risks. Coenzyme Q10 can lower blood pressure and interfere with blood pressure medications (which my dad takes). It can also interfere with blood thinning drugs (which he takes) and increase the risk of dangerous blot clots.

Knowing that, I advised him not to take it until we meet with his cardiologist to review how it will affect his other medications. That’s the same advice I would give to you.