• 3 Not-So-Healthy 'Health' Foods
  • Sneezing into Spring
  • Metabolic Cooking

7 Reasons Why Your Body Needs More Vitamin C Right Now

As humans, we can’t produce our own vitamin C, so it’s important that we get it from our diet!  Here’s seven important reasons why you need to get your daily dose of vitamin C.

1. Cardiovascular Health

Recent research has shown that the vitamin C in fruits and vegetables is one of the main reasons that such foods lower heart disease risk. A Danish study (1) , which analyzed data from more than 100,000 different people, found that a comparatively high intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with a 15% reduced risk of early death.

2. Bone Health

Much like the tag-team of calcium and vitamin D, vitamin C (2) promotes healthy bones. If you’re interested in more concentrated bone tissue and lower fracture rates, make sure you’re boning up on this essential nutrient  , Vitamin C suppresses bone-unhealthy cells called osteoclasts and helps your body cultivate new bone-healthy osteoblasts. For optimal bone health, vitamin C should make a daily appearance in your diet.

3. Blood Pressure

A thorough analysis of 29 scientifically conducted studies revealed that 500 milligrams of vitamin C (3) daily has a short-term effect of lowering blood pressure by about 3.84 millilitres.
The recommended intake for adults is 90 milligrams, so if blood pressure isn’t an issue for you, you probably don’t have to worry about drinking a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice every two hours. If you’re concerned, consider talking to your doctor about trying vitamin C supplements as a natural alternative to medication.

4. Recovery from exercise

Collagen is a necessary protein when it comes to building and repairing skin, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons. Vitamin C(4) helps create this protein in your body, in addition to repairing and maintaining your bones, teeth and cartilage.
Bonus: in women, vitamin C eases endometriosis and blood clotting during menstruation (5), and in men it helps keep testosterone levels nice and high (6).

5. Lower Stroke Risk

The silver lining when it comes to stroke is that it’s highly preventable. In fact, up to 80 percent of strokes can be offset by lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, weight and blood pressure (7).
One study reported that a vitamin C deficiency leads to increased hemorrhagic stroke risk. Past studies have also linked vitamin C with reduced stroke risk. (8) So stock up on those fruits and vegetables if you’re looking to lessen your stroke risk.

6. Reduced Cancer Risk

Lab studies have demonstrated that high concentrations of vitamin C (9) may stunt the growth of many kinds of cancer, such as prostate, pancreatic, colon and liver.
Other studies have found that high doses of vitamin C taken intravenously may improve quality of life and treatment symptoms in cancer patients.

7. Awesome Skin

Vitamin C  has been used throughout history to keep skin looking moist and nourished (10). As mentioned before, vitamin C helps in the production of collagen, the protein most associated with the maintenance of smooth, hydrated skin.
When you apply vitamin C topically to your skin, the vitamin limits the skin damage caused by free radicals and improves collagen synthesis within it.
Vitamin C is essential to all facets of your health– inside and out. We hope the seven benefits you just read about are enough to convince you to bulk up on those fruits and vegetables and never look back!
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The Right Diet for Exercise

The amount of food a person needs will vary with age, sex, weight, and activity level. The rate at which you burn calories depends not only on the type of exercise you do, but also on how vigorously you do it.
Travis emphasizes that it’s important to divide your calories between carbohydrates, protein, and fat:

  • Carbohydrates : Carbohydrates — sugars and starches — are broken down by the body into glucose, which muscles use for energy. Excess carbs are stored in the liver and tissues as glycogen and released as needed. It’s glycogen that provides the energy for high-intensity exercise and prolonged endurance. Some good sources of carbohydrates are whole grain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables, pasta, and rice.

  • Protein : Protein should be part of each of your major meals because it will help slow absorption of carbohydrates. Fish, eggs, chicken, meat, and beans are excellent sources of protein, and 3 ounces per meal is enough.

  • Fat : You need some fat in your diet, too, says Travis. Low-fat dairy products, like 1 percent milk, and lean cuts of meat will give you the fat your body needs.
Try to have a combination of items from all three of these food groups at each of your major meals, says Travis. For a healthy breakfast, have a high-fiber cereal (either oatmeal or another whole-grain cereal), a low-fat dairy product, and fruit or a glass of juice. The easiest lunch might be a sandwich made with lean meat, poultry, or fish on whole-grain bread, with raw veggies and fruit served on the side. Protein and energy bars can be useful, but don't use them as a meal replacement, warns Travis. Look for bars with at least 10 grams of protein and some carbohydrates, rather than products with a high protein content and hardly any carbohydrates.
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3 Not-So-Healthy 'Health' Foods

1- Protein Bars and Shakes: Unsatisfying Snacks

If you’re short on time or you work out a lot, meal replacements loaded with protein may sound like a great idea, but these so-called health food options can quickly turn into diet traps. “They are marketed with trendy nutrition names like ‘gluten free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘dairy free,’ ‘low fat,’ and ‘natural,’ but they are a scapegoat for healthy eating,” says Manuel Villacorta, RD, author of Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep the Weight Off for Good. Besides their often-high sugar and fat content, you might end up eating far more protein and calories than you need. “Some can have up to 300 to 400 calories, and people eat two at a time," he notes. And, because "they are also not so satisfying," he says, he recommends whole foods instead. For great snacks that are better than a bar and clock in at less than 200 calories , he suggests 5 ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt with a cup of berries, apple slices with 2 tablespoons of nut butter, or a hard-boiled egg and whole-wheat crackers.

2- Granola: Sugar Overload
More than any other food, granola has tricked the diet industry into thinking it’s healthy, when really those organic, all-natural whole grain and nut mixes are packed with calories, fat, and sugar. Just a quarter-cup serving of granola can easily have upwards of 130 calories, not to mention at least 4 grams of sugar and 5 grams of fat. To get the crunch you crave, make your own healthy mix to skip out on added sugars . Measure your portions carefully, and sprinkle granola on top of yogurt instead of eating it alone.

3- Dried Fruit: Sugary Saboteur
Dried fruits are great sources of concentrated vitamins, minerals, and fiber , but — and it’s a big but to avoid — you have to limit your intake because you’re also getting very concentrated calories and sugar. Consider prunes, which are dried plums: Just one cup of prunes contains more than 400 calories and 45 grams of sugar while one cup of fresh plum has just 76 calories and 16 sugar grams. Plus, when you eat fresh fruit you get the added water content that can help you feel full.
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7 Ways to Make Water Taste Better

Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren't crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable

1. Add fresh fruit : Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.

2. Use juice : Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don't just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.

3. Make it bubbly : Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn't inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home. 

4. Get creative with ice : Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that's so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish. 

5. Drink tea : Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you're interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.

6. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés : If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption.

7. Add fast flavor : If you're looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system.
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Sneezing into Spring

Sneezing, sniffling, and water eyes—allergy season is here.
Many experts say that 2015’s allergy season is the worst one in recent history. The long winter with bitter cold temperatures delayed some trees from pollinating. When trees pollinate, they release tiny grains in the air called pollen. Since not all trees pollinate at the same time, the delays are resulting in a large amount of trees releasing pollen at once. It’s being called the “pollen tsunami.” Pollen is the biggest cause of spring allergies.
“You may even see clouds of pollen being released over the next several weeks, where there will be almost a green mist,” Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., told CBS New York.
Oak and birch trees — the “big bad” pollen makers — are coming out at the same time as the seasonal ones like poplar, alder and ash. And soon the grass pollens arrive.
About one in five Americans suffer from some kind of allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Seasonal allergies are the most common. While not as severe as food and insect allergies, they can interfere with daily life.
Experts say those living in the New England region — which saw its last winter storm in March — might want to pay close attention to pollen levels. But, any region that’s been slow to warm up this year may be affected.

Tips to Fight Allergies
• Wash fruits thoroughly. When possible, cook fruits and/or avoid eating fruit peels. “Symptoms of pollen-food allergy syndrome typically occur when you eat fruit—including its peel—in its raw form, says Anju Peters, MD, associate professor of medicine in allergy and immunology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “So by peeling or cooking fruit, you can lessen or completely avoid any reaction.”
• Use as few hair products as possible or wash hair every day. “Hair gels and pastes cause the hair to become a pollen magnet,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York and associate professor of clinical medicine at New York University.
• If possible, bathe at night. Going to bed swaddled in the pollen and mold that your clothing, skin, and hair picked up throughout the day may be the problem, Dr. Bassett says. If you can’t bathe at night, make sure you at least wash your face at night, giving your eye area some special attention.
• Stay inside during and directly after thunderstorms and keep house windows shut. While gentle drizzles can decrease pollen counts, thunderstorms actually stir up pollen.
• Bath your dog regularly and avoid allowing your pet to lay in bed with you. Just because you aren’t allergic to your pet doesn’t mean he they won’t make you sneeze and sniffle. After being outside, your dog can bring pollen, mold, and other allergens into your home.
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