Thursday, February 13, 2014

Five Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats

Valentine’s Day presents a wonderful opportunity to show your loved ones you care, but that doesn’t mean your diet has to suffer. Consider some of the following alternatives to conversation hearts and candy bars. 
  1. Fresh Fruit – with health benefits through the roof like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, a display of fresh, decadent fruit is a great choice. You can dress it up by selecting some more exotic, non-traditional fruits and trying them with a little whipped cream on the side.
  2. Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds – long considered a healthy snack due to studies showing their ability to reduce cholesterol, lose weight, and provide a great source of protein, almonds are a great choice for Valentine’s Day treats. Smothered in rich, delicious dark chocolate, these candied almonds have the added benefit of being a great source of antioxidants and a way to drop blood pressure.
    healthy valentines treats
  3. Cinnamon Candies – speaking purely from a caloric standpoint, these spicy candies are a great way to indulge your sweet (and spicy) tooth without packing on the calories. A large handful of these bite sized treats can total less than 50 calories.
  4. Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries – a strawberry is a sweet, delicious, low calorie snack. Known to improve your immune system and eye health with vitamin C, as well as being full of antioxidants, strawberries are certainly a super food. Much like almonds mentioned earlier, these delicious fruits have the added punch of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate that will aid in reducing blood pressure.
  5. Dark Chocolate – Aside pairing it with fruits, nuts, and other snacks, why not indulge in dark chocolate by itself? Good for blood flow to your heart and brain, an aid in controlling blood sugar, and chock full of vitamins and minerals, dark chocolate has a number of health benefits that can’t be beat.
Indulge your sweet tooth responsibly this Valentine’s Day, and show your sweetheart how thoughtful you are with sweets and candies that are good for their health!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Biggest Immune System Threats

Maintaining a Health Immune System

Inside your body there is a constant arms race between ever-mutating harmful microbes and your own immune system. Luckily, your body has evolved to be particularly adept at staying on top of this arms race. There are several unhealthy practices, however, that can tip the scales in favor of infectious bacteria, viruses and fungi. By correcting these unhealthy practices, you can help your body help itself and heal itself naturally, without having to rely so heavily on antibiotics and other medication which carry their own risks and side-effects that it can take weeks to recover from.

  • Lack of Exercise – daily exercise helps clear your lungs, empower your circulatory system, and decrease your stress levels. It is certainly possible to overdo it, leaving your body too weak to fight off infections, but a regular routine can stave off the dangers that a sedentary lifestyle invites.
  • Lack of Sleep – as with exercise, proper sleep is important in keeping your body more stress free. Without a good night’s rest, T-cell levels decrease and your body’s reaction time begins to slow down dramatically.
  • Improper Diet – from antibiotic laden meat to diets that sacrifice proper nutrition for the quick fix of excess carbohydrates, everything you eat has the potential to either strengthen or weaken your immune system. Stop thinking of food as only a source of energy and begin looking at food as a vehicle for vitamins and minerals that can improve your body and make it stronger. Simply adding organic fruit and vegetables to every meal can greatly improve the way you feel and the way your body performs.
  • Exposure to the Elements – the old wives’ tale about cold weather causing cold actually has a grain of truth to it. Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, slowing the body’s reaction process, and warm weather encourages the growth of harmful bacteria. You should not avoid the outdoors, but you should also be prepared and properly clothed when you venture out.
  • Being Sheltered from the Elements – while overexposure can be detrimental to your health, a lack of exposure to the elements can be just as harmful. Your body develops a resistance to allergens and microbes when it encounters them in small, but frequent doses.
  • An Empty Zoo – your white blood cells are not the only defense your body has against invaders. You are home to billions of beneficial microbes that not only aid in digestion, but also help fight off infectious diseases. Helpful bacteria act in competition with harmful bacteria, and they have the home field advantage. Eating “live” food, such as probiotic yogurt and fermented dairy drinks is a great way to keep your “zoo” flourishing. However, this is not always enough. The best way to make sure that your immune system’s allies are never in short supply is to dedicate part of your diet to a regimen of probiotic supplements.