Tag Archives: balanced diets

Importance of Dietary Fiber and its Benefits

How important is fiber to the proper function of our bodies? In this article we look in deep about the different types of fiber and what their roles are.

Lots of importance is placed on vitamins, minerals, and herbal remedies for our everyday supplementation, but one of the fundamental elements to good health lies in the amount of fiber we eat.

The fiber we consume, called roughage, come from grain husks, the skins and flesh of fruit and the tough, fibrous material in vegetables. It is unable to be broken down by digestive enzymes and is not able to be absorbed into the system as it passes through the stomach and intestine. Fiber has few, if any, calories or nutrients, and is usually processed out of the many packaged foods consumed today.

There are two different types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber play important roles in keeping your digestive system running right. No single food, not even popular bran, is a good source of all the beneficial types of fiber.

Insoluble Fiber – Found in whole grain products, seeds, fresh fruits and veggie – provides bulk, making movements easier and helping to avoid constipation. Scientists studying diets high in fiber and low in fat speculate that insoluble fiber may avoid various gastrointestinal difficulties and could reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber has been proven to help lower cholesterol. Found in oat bran and dried beans, it tends to slow down the release of food from the stomach, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable so that you can avoid the feeling of fatigue and weakness connected with low blood sugar levels.

How Dietary Fiber Works

Fiber is an essential part of our diets. High fiber foods are filling, but low in calories, so they aid in the management of weight. Fiber has a very important role to play in maintaining a healthy body. By increasing the bulk of fecal material, it aids in the efficient passage of waste products through the intestine. It also draws in water from the surrounding blood vessels, which softens the stools, making elimination more regular and easier, thus helping to prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. By reducing the absorption of digested fats, blood cholesterol levels are lowed, thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

Every adult should eat about 25-30 grams of fiber a day. However, the people nowadays eating the typical Western diet high in animal fats and refined carbohydrates, consumes only about half the amount needed. The National Academy of Sciences recently upped its fiber guidelines to 25g daily for women and 38g daily for men. For children add 5g to your child’s age for the proper amount.

In summary of the benefit of fiber as below:

–  Fiber absorbs and holds moisture in the digestive system, acting like a sponge and making the contents of the colon softer and more bulky. This reduces the amount of time waste materials stay in our 30 foot span of intestinal tract and also eases their passage, lowering the pressure in the colon.


–  Fiber reduces problems from constipation and diverticulitis which is a weakening if the wall of large intestine caused by pressure from hard stools and is usually accompanied with infection. Fiber cleans the intestines by means of its natural scrubbing action.


–  By increasing the transit rate of materials through the colon, fiber lessens the chance of harmful effects from a number of drugs, food additives and chemicals. It also helps remove toxins released during digestion.


–  A diet high in dietary fiber may lower blood cholesterol levels simply by reducing the transit time of dietary cholesterol through the gastrointestinal tract, minimizing the absorption of cholesterol from foods.

Why Processed Food is Dangerous?

Our bodies were designed to eat natural foods. Today we get most of our foods from boxes, bags, or drive through. Most of what we eat looks the same and tastes the same, plus we can get it in the freezer and canned section of the grocery store any day of the week; which is a testament to the processed nature of our foods. Doesn’t it seem strange that most of the food we eat is made in a lab by scientists instead of by nature? What does this mean for our bodies and our future?

In 1903 the hydrogenated process was invented. Since then most if not all foods have been processed to death stripping all good nutrients from our food in order to make it always taste the same and look the same and be the same.

A few tips to know and understand whether or not your food is actual food or processed food. If it is made after 1903, wrapped in cardboard, tinfoil, or layers of plastic, if it is heavily advertised to get you to eat it, if it is manufactured, convenient, keeps forever, artificially flavored, always the same, bland and/or gives you instant results,  it’s probably not real food your body can process.

Trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and artificial flavorings are other things that have contributed to the epidemic degenerative diseases that occur in today’s world.

Here are some tips to look for when searching for “real” food. Real food is grown, has variable quality, goes bad fast, requires preparation, has vibrant colors, is authentically flavorful, rich in textures and is messy not neat like processed food.

Carlos Monteiro, a professor at the University of São Paulo, believes that “the big issue is ultra-processing.” That is to say, the most important factor when considering food and nutrition is neither nutrients nor foods — it’s what is done to foodstuffs and the nutrients contained in them before they are purchased and consumed.

Monteiro makes it clear that most foods and drinks are currently processed to some extent — even fresh apples are washed and sometimes waxed, and drinking water is filtered. But ultra-processed foods are all too common, and they are depleted of nutrients and provide little beyond calories.

According to the Atlantic:“The purpose of … ultra-processing is to create: durable, accessible, convenient, attractive, ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat products … Monteiro argues: ‘the rapid rise in consumption of ultra-processed food and drink products, especially since the 1980s, is the main dietary cause of the concurrent rapid rise in obesity and related diseases throughout the world.‘”

 The most important factor now, when considering food, nutrition and public health, is not nutrients, and is not foods, so much as what is done to foodstuffs and the nutrients originally contained in them, before they are purchased and consumed.” Americans currently spend upwards of 90 percent of their food budgets purchasing processed foods, which offer very little in terms of nutritional value and instead typically contain ingredients that will actually cause you harm.

What makes processed foods, or as Monteiro calls them “ultra-processed foods,” so devastating to your health?

Lots of Calories for Little Nutrition

If you eat a fast-food burger, you can easily take in close to half of your daily caloric requirements. Add in fries and a soda and you may be nearing an entire day’s worth of required calories.

But in that one meal, which is designed to be eaten quickly, on-the-go, you have not received the vitamins and minerals, the live enzymes and micronutrients, the healthy fats or high-quality protein that your body needs to function, let alone thrive.

When these types of foods are consumed day in and day out, for months and years on end, what you end up with is a calorie-dense diet that is not giving you the nutrients you need to stay healthy. On a diet like this, you will likely gain excess weight while your body is still literally starving for healthy nutrients.

Processed Foods are Addictive

Fast food is available just about everywhere, including in hospitals and schools, and processed foods make up the majority of foods at your supermarket. They are marketed aggressively to kids and adults alike, and are manufactured using specific synthetic ingredients and other tricks to get you to eat more, crave more, and keep coming back for more.

As Monteiro wrote:“Ultra-processed products are characteristically formulated from ‘refined’ and ‘purified’ ingredients freed from the fibrous watery matrix of their original raw materials.

They are formulated to be sensually appealing, hyper-palatable, and habit-forming, by the use of sophisticated mixtures of cosmetic and other additives, and state-of-the-craft packaging and marketing. Further, ultra-processed products are ‘convenient’ – meaning, ready-to-eat (or drink) or ready-to-heat.

The leading branded ultra-processed foods and drinks are manufactured by transnational companies most able to purchase substrates for their products at rock-bottom or even subsidized prices. They penetrate new markets in lower-income countries, with massive marketing and advertising budgets, and may undercut local industries, drive them out of business, or take them over.

It is interesting that most people know that fast food and processed foods are “not good for you,” yet most still choose to eat it. This is in large part due to the intensive advertising campaigns coupled with the habit-forming nature of these foods.

On average, just one serving of a typical children’s breakfast cereal equates to more than 90 percent of the daily sugar intake for sedentary girls aged 9 to 13. Even infant formulas and jarred baby food contains excessive amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup — hooking babies on the unnatural taste of processed foods as soon as they’re out of the womb!

In one study of rats fed a diet containing 25 percent sugar, they became anxious when the sugar was removed — displaying symptoms similar to people going through drug withdrawals, such as chattering teeth and the shakes.

The researchers conducting the study found a link between opioids, your brain’s ‘pleasure chemicals,’ and a craving for sweet, salty and fatty foods. It is thought that high-fat foods stimulate the opioids, as when researchers stimulated rats’ brains with a synthetic version of the natural opioid enkephalin, the rats ate up to six times their normal intake of fat.

Further, long lasting changes in rats’ brain chemistry, similar to those caused by morphine or heroin use, were also noted. According to researchers, this means that even simple exposure to pleasurable foods is enough to change gene expression, which suggests an addiction to the food.

Dangerous Food Additives

Eating processed foods is in no way the same as eating pure, unprocessed foods, in taste, nutritional value or the way they interact with your cells on a biological level.

Processed foods often have little nutritional value and are chemically altered to increase the appeal to your taste buds, so they can override your body’s signals that would otherwise tell you it’s time to stop eating and try something else. They are also loaded with additives that are harmful in their own right, such as

      1. Fructose

Now the number one source of calories in the US, fructose diminishes your feelings of fullness because it does not stimulate a rise in leptin, one of the most powerful hunger- and fat storage regulators in your body. Fructose also reduces the amount of leptin crossing your blood-brain barrier by raising triglycerides. Leptin resistance, in turn, is perhaps one of the most significant factors underlying human disease. For example, it plays a significant if not primary role in the development of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, and perhaps the rate of aging itself. Additionally, whereas glucose suppresses ghrelin (also known as “the hunger hormone,” which makes you want more food), fructose, again, does not. Fructose also increases your insulin levels, interfering with the communication between leptin and your hypothalamus, so your pleasure signals aren’t extinguished. Your brain keeps sensing that you’re starving, and prompts you to eat more. For the sake of your health, it is strongly advise keeping your fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, but this is virtually impossible if you eat a lot of processed foods.

       2. Genetically Modified (GM) Ingredients

Some 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients, which are being increasingly linked to serious health problems. Just last year the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) reviewed the available research and issued a memorandum recommending that all doctors prescribe non-GMO diets to all patients because they are causally linked in animal feeding studies to:

  • Infertility
  • Immune system problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Organ damage
  • Dysfunctional regulation of cholesterol and insulin
  • Accelerated aging

One of the first steps to avoiding GM ingredients is to cut back on processed foods in your diet

     3. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer, is added to thousands of processed (canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners, chips and much more) and restaurant foods.MSG is so popular because it actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny. However, it is also an excitotoxin, which means it overexcites your cells to the point of damage or death, causing brain damage to varying degrees — and potentially even triggering or worsening learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and more.

     4. Food Additives

More than 3,000 food additives — preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients —   added to foods. While each of these substances are legal to use, whether or not they are entirely safe for long-term consumption — by themselves or in combination — is a different story altogether. Many of them, such as sodium nitrate, BHA, BHT, aspartame, Blue 1, 2, and potassium bromate, have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Others are estrogen-mimicking xenoestrogens that have been linked to a range of human health effects, including reduced sperm counts in men and increased risk of breast cancer in women. Studies have also shown that a variety of common food dyes, and the preservative sodium benzoate — found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings — cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible.

Meanwhile, E-numbered food dyes (such as tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129) do as much damage to children’s brains as lead in gasoline, resulting in a significant reduction in IQ. Fortunately, when you avoid processed foods you’ll also automatically avoid virtually every one of these toxic food additives.

It is wise to get as much raw food in your diet as possible, including raw eggs and humanely raised organic animal products that have not been factory farmed. And there are a number of reasons for this.

For starters, processing foods at high temperatures destroys naturally occurring enzymes. Enzymes are proteins — catalysts to speed up and facilitate reactions in your body. In fact, some biochemical reactions will not even occur without these enzymes (you have about 1,300 of them).

Processed foods are also devoid of bio-photons, the smallest physical units of light, which are stored in, and used by all biological organisms — including your body. Vital sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, in the form of these bio-photons.

They contain important information that controls complex vital processes in your body. The bio-photons have the power to order and regulate, and, in doing so, to elevate the organism – in this case, your physical body — to a higher oscillation or order.

The more light a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is. Naturally grown fresh vegetables, for example, and sun-ripened fruits, are rich in light energy. The capacity to store bio-photons is therefore a measure of the quality of your food — and processed foods contain zero light energy.

Ditching Processed Foods Can be Easy

Eating fresh, whole foods is the “secret” to getting healthier, losing weight and really enjoying your food, but many believe it’s next to impossible to eat nowadays without processed foods.

Many people are under the mistaken impression that cooking from scratch is an extremely complicated affair that takes lots of time and costs more than they could possibly afford. More often than not, this is simply not true.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find you can whip up a healthful meal from scratch in the same amount of time it would have taken you to drive down the street to pick up fast food. Of course, you’ll be far more satisfied when you eat your home-cooked meal, both physically and mentally.

Finding the time, and the financial resources, to make healthy meals for your family can be challenging, but please don’t use these as excuses to exist on processed food. Your health — your energy levels, your appearance, your mood and so many other factors — will improve when you eat the foods your body was designed for. Returning to a diet of locally grown, fresh whole foods is really the only way to reach optimal health. A major leap forward would be to strive for a diet of 90 percent non-processed food and only 10 percent from other sources.

Final Words of Wisdom

Please remember that someone has to spend some time in the kitchen to prepare your meals, whether it is you, your spouse, a relative, friend, or a chef. If you ignore this basic principle you can be strongly assured your health will suffer.

The other point to consider is that if you fail to plan you are planning to fail. It is no mystery that when noon comes around you will likely want lunch. So why not figure out what that will be the night before you go to sleep. Seek to make a habit of knowing what you will eat the next day so you can be prepared and won’t have to rely on fast food or junk food.

What is So Bad About Sugar?

Sugar is everywhere and in just about everything. Take a look at the packaged foods you buy. What are the ingredients? The first one is more than likely high fructose corn syrup or some other form of sugar. If it’s not the first ingredient sugar, or some form of it, is in the first 5. Low fat means higher sugar or salt content. In order for the “food’ to taste good they have to add in sugar or salt, or both.

Sugar permeates every facet of our lives. Everything from packaged foods, salad dressing, fruit juice, cereal, pretzels, soup, and packaged dips… the list goes on. An overload of sugar, along with the over 80,000 chemicals used in our society today, can be linked to everything from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer… just about every disease or allergy out there can be linked in one way or another to a toxic overload of sugar and chemicals from the standard diet and/or current farming practices.

 What is it about sugar?

What is so powerful about sugar? Why do we crave it? Our brains react to sugar the same way it does for cocaine. Is it any wonder it’s used in almost every product out there? Sugar in and of itself isn’t so bad, the problem comes in consuming way too much. High sugar intake can be linked to just about every disease out there from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and so on.

Glucose and fructose are different types of simple sugars. After they are separated apart and broken down in your body they are metabolized using completely separate pathways. Glucose is utilized by every cell in your body, but fructose breaks down into a variety of waste products that are bad for your body. When talking about high fructose corn syrup, it gets metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar. Another waste product is uric acid which drives up your blood pressure.

Refined sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. A study involving rats had them choose between sugar-water and cocaine. 94% of the rats chose the sugar-water; even those who were previously addicted to cocaine wasted no time changing their selection. Plus the rats were more willing to work for the sugar reward than the cocaine reward.

The worst type of sugar you can ingest is fructose, which may surprise you because it is derived from fruit. Since the average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose, this can of soda ALONE would exceed your daily allotment of 15 grams. It is no accident that childhood obesity is at a record high and life expectancy for the youngest generation is, for the first time, lower than that of their parents.

Marion Nestle, who wrote What to Eat, is also a professor of nutrition at NYU suggests that any food that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else. She looked up the sugar content of a few common foods and menu items. Here is what she found in March of 2010:

Sugar Content of Common Food Products

  • Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut 10 g
  • Luna Bar berry almond 11 g
  • Froot Loops breakfast cereal 3/4 cup 12 g
  • Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream 16 g
  • Starbucks caffè latte grande 16 oz 17 g
  • Godiva 2 truffles 17 g
  • Subway 6″ sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwich 17 g
  • Tropicana 100% orange juice 8 oz 25 g
  • Yoplait original yogurt 27 g
  • Craisins dried cranberries 1/3 cup 29 g
  • Vitamin Water 20 oz bottle 33 g
  • Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz can 39 g
  • Sprinkles Cupcake red velvet 45 g
  • Starbucks caffe vanilla frappuccino grande 16 oz 58 g

Keep your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day!

Fructose consumption clearly causes insulin resistance, whereas straight glucose does not. Insulin resistance can eventually lead to full blown diabetes.

Interestingly, glucose actually accelerates fructose absorption. So when you mix glucose and fructose together, you absorb more fructose than if you consumed fructose alone. This is an important piece of information if you are struggling to control your weight.

Remember, sucrose, or table sugar, is fructose plus glucose. If you are craving something sweet, your best bet is to reach for an apple or a pear. And if you give yourself a sugar holiday for even a couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how much those cravings will decrease.

Because you are sure to consume plenty of “hidden” fructose in the other foods you will be eating, keep your total fructose from fruit below 15 grams per day. The table below can help with the fruit you choose.

 Sugar’s Link to Obesity, Heart Disease and Diabetes

Obesity rates have paralleled sugar consumption trends in Western civilization. Although the obesity epidemic is relatively recent, obesity is not a new phenomenon. In 1860, the prevalence of a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or higher (which defines obesity) was 1.6 percent among 50 year-old men. By 1900, it had tripled, and it has sharply increased over the past century.

Did you know cardiology is a relatively NEW field? Prior to 1940, there was no such thing as a cardiologist because there was no need for them; and that was only 70 years ago! The first report of angina was in 1929. In 1950, there were 500 cardiologists in the United States. Now there are 35,000. Guess what, they perform more than one million heart surgeries annually.

What is driving this eruption of cardiovascular disease? One key factor: the explosion of sugar in our diet.

The book, Pure, White and Deadly, was written by a British nutritionist John Yudkin in 1972 and is said to be a culmination of decades of research. He surmised that, “…the evidence that the over-consumption of sugar was leading to a greatly increased incidence of coronary thrombosis, and that in addition it was certainly involved in dental caries, probably involved in obesity, diabetes and liver disease, and possibly involved in gout, dyspepsia and some cancers.” as stated by Wikipedia. Needless to say the Sugar Industry did not take kindly to this bit of news and did what they could to silence and discredit Yudkin, his book, research and what it revealed.

So What Can We Do?

How much sugar is safe? Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons per day while men should consume no more than 9. The reality is most people eat an average of 26 teaspoons per day! Kids who have just one soda pop per day ingest the equivalent of eating 50 pounds of sugar per year. No wonder there is a growing number of children and adults with diabetes and other health problems.

The keys to getting excess sugar out of our diets are actually pretty simple. First start with reading the labels on everything you buy and avoid sugar laden foods.  Better yet, secondly, instead of buying prepackaged foods, start cooking meals from natural (preferably organic and non-GMO) whole foods and vegetables. You can find several recipes online of knock off recipes that you can reproduce with better ingredients. Third, instead of drinking several soda pops a day, either diet or regular, opt for non-fluoridated water instead. Fourth, get plenty of good sleep and add fermented and high probiotic foods or supplements to help stop cravings for the sweet stuff and allow yourself to make better decisions.

If time is the problem and reason it’s hard to cook homemade meals, find one day during the week when you can spend some time pre-cutting veggies to be used in recipes during the week. Crowd out the fake higher sugar content foods by adding greens and other veggies to your dinner. Try eating veggies like carrots which have a higher natural content of sugar to help you feel satisfied. Drinking a glass of water when a craving hits is also a good way to end the craving; many cravings are due to dehydration.

Taming the Sweet Cravings

If you feel like you need that sugar fix, don’t stress and deny yourself a little. You don’t want to set yourself up for a binge and failure. First just make sure you avoid ALL artificial sweeteners! They are not the same or better than sugar; they have been processed.

If you can find pure glucose, which is dextrose, on the internet do it. It’s not as sweet so you may end up using more; but health-wise it is the better option. Limit all other types of sugar as much as possible.

When all else fails, EXERCISE! If you are going to consume fructose it is BEST to do so immediately before, during or after intense exercise as your body will tend to use it directly as fuel and not convert it to fat. It will also increase your insulin receptor sensitivity and help modulate the negative effects of fructose, help to blunt your appetite and control your sweet tooth.


Bottom Line

High sugar intake is one of the reasons we have such a high percentage of our money going to health care. The sugar industries along with the companies that make our processed foods don’t want to admit that their products are the cause for such overwhelming changes in our nation’s health. But is it totally their fault? Shouldn’t we be more engaged and aware of what we put into our bodies?

By changing the way we cook, eat, drink, sleep, relate to others and ourselves, cravings for sugar will decline and better health will come naturally. You don’t have to go cold turkey. Begin by reading labels, crowding out the bad with a few good choices that you can handle. Getting your taste buds used to eating healthy and increasing your gut health will eventually kill your cravings for high sugar foods.




How Do I Know If My Multivitamin Safe?

The Best Multivitamin – What is In It and What is Not?

Nearly 50% of adults take a multivitamin. How do you know you are getting what you need? How do you know are not getting what you don’t need? Most vitamin companies that sell their wares in the grocery and health food stores, do not have proof or studies showing that they actually work. Some even contain dangerous toxins like sodium selenite and selenate that do more harm than good. Taking some multivitamins does nothing good at all for our bodies, they just drain the bank account and make you think multivitamins don’t work.

If many of us use a multivitamin anyway why not re-route the money going toward dangerous and ineffective pills to a product that actually works and has the proof to back it up? I came across an article and comments that help back up the philosophy I am talking about. If you are going to buy vitamins, arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the best product decision possible. Changing brands can change your life.

Read the label; not all vitamins are the same. Some are made with synthetic fillers and modified forms of the nutrient. The only kind of vitamin supplement you should be taking is the one most like whole food. The best way to get your nutrition is by eating non-genetically modified foods so that you know the nutritional value of that food is not diminished. The soil nutrients are being depleted of selenium. To remedy this most companies add back in the lost selenium with a synthetic one. Opening the door for synthetic tampering of supplements and foods. When people genetically modify food the nutritional value of that food goes down; that is another reason taking a high quality supplement is so important in today’s day of food quantity instead of quality.

Quality is the most important ingredient in a supplement. Not many companies do quality testing on their products, let alone third party tests. Only Shaklee does over 1,000 quality tests each time they make Vita-lea; a convenient and easy open packet of every vitamin and mineral your body needs to feel its best every day. Not only do they do their own tests, they have many third party laboratories study their products as well. Since January of 2011 Shaklee already has 3 clinical studies published that are more than most vitamin companies have in total. And the studies and proofs keep coming.

Here is some information on what to look for in your vitamins and the kind of supplements you are using…

 If Your Multivitamin Contains These Ingredients – Dump them now

sodium selenite

Both sodium selenite and selenate are classified as dangerous and toxic to the environment. They can be carcinogenic and genotoxic, and may contribute to reproductive and developmental problems in animals and humans. Nonetheless, they are the primary forms of the mineral sold on the mass market today.

Most mass-market vitamins actually contain chemicals that the EPA has banned from public drinking water at levels above 50 parts per billion. That’s the equivalent of a tablespoon of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.

If supplements are so good for us, why aren’t we getting healthier?

Part of the reason could be that many people mistakenly believe that a vitamin is a vitamin, and one form of a mineral is equal to any other, failing to understand the inherent differences between synthetic chemicals and whole food nutrients. Many also mistakenly use supplements as a way to avoid having to change their dietary habits. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, because if you eat a diet consisting primarily of processed junk food, and take cheap synthetic vitamins and minerals, you’re not likely to see a major change in your health status…

It has always been my belief that supplements should be used in addition to, NOT in place of, a sound diet. You simply cannot cover your nutritional- or lifestyle “sins” by taking a handful of supplements.

Why Selenium Supplements have Become More Popular

Selenium is an essential trace mineral found primarily in plant foods, and is known to have powerful antioxidant activity. Past studies have shown it can play a beneficial role in:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Cognitive decline
  • Cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Cold sores and shingles
  • Osteoarthritis

The selenium content in whole plant foods depend on the level of the nutrient in the soil, and, unfortunately, many farming areas around the world are becoming increasingly selenium depleted. Most of the selenium is also lost when the food is processed or refined, so unless you consume lots of whole organic produce, you may be at risk of selenium deficiency.

It is because of these facts that supplements containing selenium have increased in popularity in the United States, to the extent that close to 25 percent of Americans over 40 take a selenium supplement or multivitamin that includes selenium. However, supplementing with sodium selenite and selenate may do more harm than good…

 Beware of Inorganic Selenium

As explained earlier, sodium selenite and selenate are two potentially problematic ingredients found in many multi-vitamins. According to PAN, a database for pesticide chemicals, both sodium selenite and sodium selenate are classified as “Highly Toxic,” based on oral administration trials using rabbits and rats.  And according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the highest allowable level of selenium in public drinking water is 50 parts per billion, which is equivalent to 50 micrograms, dry weight.

Studies have shown that:

  • Long-term exposure to selenium, sodium selenite, sodium selenate, or selenium dioxide may cause paleness, coated tongue, stomach disorders, nervousness, metallic taste and a garlic odor of the breath. Damage to the liver and spleen in animals has also been observed, according to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  • According to the 1986 edition of the Handbook of the Toxicology of Metals, daily intake of about one milligram of selenium as selenite can be toxic.
  • In one study, sodium selenite was found to induce substantial DNA damage in human fibroblasts.
  • More recent research also indicates that too much selenium may contribute to the onset of diabetes.

It’s very important to realize that these potentially toxic chemicals are some of the primary forms of selenium sold as dietary supplements on the market today. As discussed in earlier, such inorganic minerals cannot replace biologically active trace minerals.

Other Problematic Ingredients Found in Many Multi-Vitamins

In the U.S., many supplement makers add so-called ‘flowing agents’ into their capsules. Two common additives are:

  • Magnesium stearate
  • Titanium dioxide

Now, neither of these will cause any major harm in small doses. But they do add up over time, and magnesium stearate can cause a biofilm to be created in your intestine, which will prevent the absorption of nutrients.  The only purpose of it in the supplement is to help the raw materials become more slippery and easily flow through the machines that create the supplements.

Magnesium stearate is not a supplemental source of magnesium but rather a form of stearic acid. It’s essentially chalk, and previous research has shown that it suppresses your natural killer cells, which are a key component of your immune system. Unfortunately, this chalk filler stimulates your gut to form a biofilm – a sort of sludge lining – that acts as an effective barrier to the absorption of not only that particular vitamin but all the nutrients you’d normally get from food sources as well. This is a major reason for focusing on nutritional foods rather than taking handfuls of vitamins each day.

Titanium dioxide is another absolutely unnecessary color agent you don’t want to see in your supplements, as it has been shown to cause autoimmune disorders.

The Problem with Synthetic Vitamins

Most natural health experts agree on one thing: No matter which foods you eat, whole foods are far better for you than refined foods. So why do some people believe the rules of nutrition would suddenly change when it comes to vitamins and other nutritional supplements?

Whole food supplements are what their name suggests: Supplements made from concentrated whole foods. The vitamins found within these supplements are not isolated or synthetic. Rather they are highly complex structures that combine a variety of enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, activators and many other unknown or undiscovered factors that work together synergistically, to enable this vitamin complex to do its job in your body.

Synthetic nutrients, on the other hand, are not natural, in that they are never found by themselves in nature. When you take these isolated nutrients regularly, especially at the ultra-high doses found in formulas today, it’s more like taking a drug… At best, they will not benefit you as much as high quality food and food-based supplements. And at worst, they may cause problems.

Nature does not produce any nutrient in an isolated form. The nutrients in foods are blended together in a specific way and work best in that format. For an isolated nutrient to work properly in the body, it needs all the other parts that are naturally present in the food too. If the parts are not all there from the start, they are taken from your body’s stored supply. This is why isolated nutrients often work for a while, then seem to stop working.

Once your body’s store of the extra nutrients is used up, the isolated nutrient you’re taking just doesn’t work as well anymore. Worse yet, a deficiency in these extra nutrients can be created in your body.

Studies also show your body treats these isolated and synthetic nutrients like xenobiotic (foreign substances). This is why your urine will oftentimes turn some shade of glow-in-the-dark yellow when you take certain synthetic vitamins, as your body simply flushes these foreign substances out.

How to Identify High Quality Multi-Vitamin Supplements?

We do believe that dietary supplements — including vitamins and minerals — can help compensate for some of the damage your body incurs through modern living. However, it’s not wise to use supplements to justify a poor diet. In my experience no amount of supplements will ever be able to substitute for healthy food choices…

There are times when supplements can be quite useful, such as a high quality animal-based omega-3 supplement, for example, are essential for nearly everyone. This is because the main source of animal based omega-3 fats in your diet comes from fish – most of which is now so grossly polluted with heavy metals, PCBs and other environmental toxins that no longer are recommended sources for optimal omega 3 levels. Another supplement that many people need is vitamin D3, unless you can get sufficient amounts of safe sun exposure year-round, or use a safe tanning bed.

Another incredibly useful supplement is probiotics, which influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner. You can get these healthy bacteria from eating fermented foods, and if you eat them enough you will keep your digestive tract well supplied with good bacteria, but there may still be times when a probiotic supplement is necessary, such as when you stray from your healthy diet and consume excess grains or sugar; if you have to take antibiotics; or when traveling to foreign countries for example.

 There are other instances when supplements may be useful as well, such as in the case of CoQ10 if you’re taking statin drugs, but their effectiveness depends largely on the quality of the supplement itself.

You may also want to take one or more food-based supplements to ensure you are getting an adequate variety of nutrients. However, I strongly recommend you make whole food supplements your first choice, and steer clear of synthetic vitamins.  How do you tell whether or not a supplement you’re looking at is a good choice?

For starters, make sure it has the following characteristics:

  • It is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form.
  • Use independent third party labs that check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage.
  • Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and NSF Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
  • The utmost care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
  • It works! Always try to select from companies that have a long track record of providing high quality products that produce good clinical results.

If you are interested in optimizing your health your BEST solution is to choose the highest quality foods possible, and eat a wide variety of whole organic foods. Once you have addressed your diet and are looking for further improvement, odds are you would likely benefit from some supplements, like an animal-based omega-3 supplement and a probiotic, for example. There are many others you could consider depending on your specific circumstances, but just about everyone would benefit from these two.

Just remember to do your homework first and use only those that come from a reputable manufacturer using whole-food, natural ingredients that are free from additives, and have gone through a vigorous quality control process.






What Are The Benefits Of Coconut Water?

Hawaiians call coconut water “noelani” which means “dew from the heavens.” Many tropical cultures prize coconut water above all other beverages due to its rehydrating and health renewing properties. Not only is coconut water good for you, it’s good for plants too, having been traditionally used as a growth supplement in plant propagation. As a result of the rich volcanic soils and mineral-rich seawater in which coconut palms grow, coconut water’s nutritional profile is very impressive.

Coconut water is:

  • Rich in natural vitamins (especially the B vitamins), minerals, and trace elements (including zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, and manganese). Vitamins are necessary for the enzymatic reactions your cells need in order to function.
  • Full of amino acids, organic acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
  • Rich source of electrolytes and natural salts, especially potassium and magnesium.
  • Light, low calorie and nearly fat-free, as well as low in sugar but pleasantly sweet—contains about a fifth of the sugar of other fruit juices, like apple or grape juice, as well as containing a little fiber to moderate absorption.
  • Rich in cytokinins, or plant hormones, which have anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-thrombolytic effects in human.

Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on your body, which can help correct the cumulative effects of acidifying foods that make up most diets today. For a complete nutritional profile, refer to the tables at the Coconut Research Center site. The list of health benefits of coconut water is impressive, and growing by leaps and bounds with each new scientific study.

Coconut Water’s Abundance of Health Benefits

Addressing every one of these areas is beyond the scope of one article, but we would like to touch on a few of the most impressive areas where coconut water may give your health a boost. According to Bruce Fife, author of Coconut Water for Health and Healing and one of the leading coconut experts, scientific research and clinical observation have shown coconut water to have the following broad-spanning health benefits:

  • Rehydration (water and electrolytes)    
  • Increased exercise performance               
  • Cardioprotective (rich in potassium and magnesium); helps regulate blood pressure, improve circulation, reduces plaque formation
  • Anti-inflammatory; reduces swelling in hands and feet               
  • Prevents abnormal blood clotting          
  • Aids in kidney function (preventing and dissolving kidney stones, UTI remedy)
  • Helps balance blood glucose and insulin levels
  • Digestive tonic (rich in enzymes); feeds friendly gut flora            
  • Remedy for constipation and diarrhea
  • Anti-aging properties   
  • Enhances skin health (elasticity, age spots, wrinkles), improves wound healing              
  • Enhances eye health (cataracts, glaucoma)
  • Supports good immune function; antimicrobial (contains monolaurin)               
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis       
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Perfect Electrolyte Balance from Mother Nature

Electrolytes are inorganic compounds that become ions in solution and have the capacity to conduct electricity. They are important for electrical signaling—and of course your brain, heart, muscles and nervous system are all bioelectrical systems. Your cells use electrolytes to maintain voltage across their membranes and carry electrical impulses to other cells.

Things like water balance and blood pH depend on your body’s proper electrolyte balance, and you can suffer severe medical problems if your electrolytes fall out of balance.

Fresh coconut water is one of the richest natural sources of electrolytes and can be used to prevent dehydration from strenuous exercise, vomiting, or diarrhea. You lose electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium) when you sweat, which must be replenished with food and water intake. Because coconut water naturally contains so many electrolytes, it’s been called “Nature’s Gatorade.”

Coconut water has five electrolytes your body needs:

  1. Potassium: The most important positive ion (cation) inside your cells; potassium regulates heartbeat and muscle function; coconut water contains 295 mg, which is 15 times the amount in the average sports drink
  2. Sodium: The most important positive ion in fluid outside your cells, and also the one most depleted with exercise, as you lose sodium through sweat and urine
  3. Magnesium: important for maintaining the electrical potential of your cells, proper muscle function, and preventing calcium overload
  4. Phosphorous: Plays important roles in bone health, but also in transferring energy throughout your body, helping your muscles contract, and regulating nerve function (partners with calcium)
  5. Calcium: Important for bone health (partners with phosphorous)

The ONLY “Sports Drink” Recommended

For most average exercisers and athletes, sports drinks are not only a waste of your money, but more importantly, can actually worsen the health of most who use them. Less than one percent of those who use sports drinks actually benefit from them. Most sports drinks are loaded with things you DON’T want, like refined sugars, artificial colors and chemicals, none of which are in natural coconut water.

If you exercise for 30 minutes a day at a moderate to high intensity, fresh, pure water is the best thing to help you stay hydrated. It’s only when you’ve been exercising for longer periods, such as for more than 60 minutes, or in the heat, or at extreme intensity levels, where you are sweating profusely, that you may need something more than water to replenish your body.

Besides plain water, coconut water is one of the best and safest options to rehydrate yourself after a strenuous workout. If you need the electrolytes, it will provide them. If you don’t need them, then it certainly won’t hurt you. And as you’re learning, coconut water has a mountain of other health benefits in addition to rehydration, which no commercial sports drink in the world can provide. Depending on how much salt you’ve lost through sweating, you might even add a tiny pinch of natural Himalayan salt to your glass of coconut water.

One study in 2007 found sodium-enriched coconut water to be as effective as commercial sports drinks for whole body rehydration after exercise, with less stomach upset.

Coconut water is sterile when it comes out of the coconut, and extremely similar in composition to human blood plasma. These unique properties make it so completely compatible with the human body that it can be infused intravenously into your bloodstream. Physicians have actually used coconut water successfully as an IV fluid for more than 60 years, especially in remote regions of the world where medical supplies are limited and it has saved many lives. You can appreciate how safe and beneficial this natural beverage is, if it can be used intravenously!

Cytokinins: Secret Fountain of Youth Revealed!

Possibly the most important nutritional constituent in coconut water—more beneficial than the electrolytes vitamins and minerals and amino acids—is something you’ve likely never even heard of: cytokinins.

Cytokinins are phytohormones, or plant hormones. These hormones regulate the growth, development, and aging of a plant. Coconut water has been an important horticultural resource, used in the propagation of several plants, including orchids and traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. The cytokinins found in coconut water support cell division, and thus promote rapid growth.

But what does this have to do with humans?

Cytokinins have actually been found to exert an anti-agingeffect on human cells and tissues. When human cells are exposed to cytokinins, aging slows down considerably. Cells treated with cytokinins don’t undergo the normal degenerative changes, so they don’t “act their age.” Researchers have suggested that if you consume a diet rich in cytokinins, you may experience anti-aging effects and have less risk for degenerative and age-related diseases. And coconut water is the richest natural dietary source of cytokinins.

Cytokinins have also been found to have anti-thrombolytic properties so may lower your risk for blood clots. But coconut’s heart benefits don’t stop there. They have also been shown to have anti-cancer effects.

According to Bruce Fife:

“In regulating cell growth, cytokinins prevent the mistakes that may lead to the development of cancer. Normal cells are kept healthy while cancerous cells are programmed to die, preventing them from growing and spreading. Subsequently, the anti-cancer effects of cytokinins have been well documented.”

Benefits for Your Heart and Urinary Tract

High levels of mineral ions, especially potassium, in coconut water have been found to help prevent heart attacks. And coconut water has been found to have blood pressure benefits. In one study, 71 percent of people who drank coconut water experienced lower blood pressures.

Similar benefits have been found if you have problems with urinary stones. Dr. Eugenio Macalalag, director of the urology department of the Chinese General Hospital in the Philippines, reported that coconut water was effective in treating his patient’s kidney and urethral stones. He reported that his patients who drank coconut water two to three times a week experienced a significant reduction in stone size and expulsion, eliminating their need for surgery.

Pesticide, Chemical and Environmental Considerations

The most common variety of coconut being grown today for harvesting coconut water is a high-water yield dwarf hybrid variety that CAN be heavily fertilized and sprayed with pesticides. This makes it very important for you to select organic coconut water and organic fresh coconuts.

It is important to make sure the coconuts and coconut products you purchase are certified organic and sustainably raised. Regular coconut palms grow to be 80 to 100 feet tall, and because workers have to climb up and pick the coconuts, more manageable dwarf varieties have been cultivated that average about nine feet tall. There are environmental concerns as well, related to the intense market demand for coconuts and their products.

SO Much More Than a Sports Drink

Coconut water is one of Nature’s perfect foods—it is hard to say enough good things about it. It’s the perfect replacement for juice or soda. Please remember to read the label, to make sure it’s as pure and unprocessed as possible. Of course, drinking it fresh from the coconut, as opposed to bottled, is the ultimate choice.

Another alternative to easily enjoy the pure hydration drink with safely is Shaklee Performance Drink which has equally benefit as coconut water!  Shaklee Performance is clinically proven to hydrate better than water. Plus, it has more electrolytes and provides more energy than the leading hydration drink. It proprietary OPTI-LYTE™ electrolyte blend plus unique mix of carbohydrates delivers instant and sustained energy and supports optimal hydration.

 So next time you’re searching for a cool, refreshing after-work out beverage, crack open a coconut or mix 3 tablespoons of Shaklee Performance with cold water and experience its rejuvenation for yourself!

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