Tag Archives: Healthy Diet

What’s Great About the Kitavan Diet

Let’s take a moment to travel to a timeless, magical place; a place where the water is crystal clear and telecommunication is non-existent. A remote idyllic tropical island, of coral reefs, of Skull Caves, Orchid Gardens, and smiling faces. Welcome to Kitava Island, off the coast of Papua, New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. While many find the quaintness of the island its most charming attraction, others may argue that Kitava is way ahead of its time. You see, Kitava, New Guinea may not be a leader in technology, but they do have something far superior and way ahead of the times as compared to most other places in the world. It has the Kitavan Diet.

Kitavan diet

Kitavan Diet
Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the Kitavans is what they don’t have; there is practically no diabetes, acne, cardiovascular disease, dementia, or blood pressure difficulty. What they do have, however, is an abundance of food. But, despite this abundance, they do not suffer from obesity, and they all have low diastolic blood pressure.

Research finds that the good health in Kitava is due to the local foods. Fresh fruit, tubers, coconut, and fish make up a good percentage of the Kitavan diet, with an extremely low consumption of Western food. The diet is also virtually absent of dairy products, coffee, tea, and alcohol, and contains very little margarine, oils, sugars, grain, and cereals. The most commonly eaten tubers are yam, sweet potato, cassava and taro, while banana, papaya, guava, pineapple, watermelon, and mango top the list of fruits. The fat intake is low, and most of the fat that is consumed is saturated fat or omega-3 fat from seafood.

Foods with Low GI
Another thing common to the foods found in the Kitavan diet is their low rating on the glycemic index, a measure of the ability of food with carbohydrates to raise glucose, or blood sugar, levels. A diet rich in high GI foods can tax the body, leading to excess body weight, heart disease, increase of diabetic symptoms, high cholesterol levels, and lack of energy. Tubers, which play a large part in the Kitavan diet, are among the islander’s primary source of carbohydrates and have a relatively low GI rating.

Sweet potato

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin C and beta carotene, both known to be powerful antioxidants which protect against aging and cancer. They are also known to increase levels of adiponectin, a protein hormone which offers health benefits to diabetics and pre -diabetics and may also protect against atherogenesis, the abnormal formation of fat deposits within the arteries; this would explain the low incidence of heart disease and diabetes on the island.

Coconuts
Besides having anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, the triglycerides in coconut may promote weight loss. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Metabolic disorders found that coconuts increased calorie burn and decreased storage of fat in overweight men. Another study found that the fat consumed in coconut oil could increase the metabolism of fat and calorie expenditure in women.

Coconut

The Kitavan Diet and Acne
In 1990, Swedish general practitioner, Steffan Lindeberg, performed health examinations on more than a thousand Kitavans, age 10 years and older, with 25% of the subjects age 15 to 25 and found not a single case of acne. This is likely attributable to lifestyle and diet, rather than genetic factors, since Pacific Islanders with similar ethnic backgrounds living in more westernized societies were found to have a higher prevalence of acne.

What do you think about the Kitavan diet? Have we got something here? Weigh in with your opinions. We value them highly.

The Benefits Of A Sprinkle Of Chia Seeds

SNL enthusiasts may recall the ‘Chia Head” sketch, featuring Kevin Nealon, Chris Rock, and David Spade as balding men who have “tried everything” and failed miserably in their futile attempts to regrow hair. The commercial spoof shows the actors throwing ineffective hair products in the garbage only to be pleasantly surprised by the discovery of “Chia Head.” This product, much like the “Chia Pet” novelty, requires the men to rub the gloppy formula on their heads, only to wake up the next morning having sprouted plantlike follicles in varying afro-like shapes – the most hilarious of which is probably Chris Rock’s Marge Simpson-inspired beehive-like do.

Funny as the sketch was, it is perhaps more amusing to realize that hair growth is one of the many health benefits of chia seeds. If only the SNL alum had known; a little sprinkle of chia really could’ve gone a long way.

Chia seeds

High in Nutrients, Low In Calories
It’s no accident that “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for strength. These tiny black seeds, related to the mint, contain 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of omega-3s, as well as a decent percentage of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorous. Chia seeds are a gluten-free, GMO-free, whole grain food, and one ounce contains a low 137 calories and one gram of carbohydrate.

Antioxidant Rich
The antioxidants in chia seeds prevent the production of free radicals that can cause damage to cell molecules and contribute to cancer and aging.

Fiber Rich
Although chia seeds have 12 grams of carbs per ounce, 11 of those are fiber, which means that these 11 grams are not digested by the body, do not raise blood sugar, and don’t require insulin for disposal. The high-fiber content means that the seeds can absorb as much as 10 to 12 times their weight in water, thereby increasing fullness, slowing food absorption, and decreasing feelings of hunger. Chia seeds are one of the best fiber sources in the world, helping to feed good bacteria in the intestine and promoting proper digestion.

High In Protein
Chia seeds are about 14% protein by weight and contain a good balance of amino acids, which assists in helping our body to process the proteins in them. High protein can reduce appetite and is shown to lower food cravings by 60% and the need for nighttime snacking by 50%.

Can Improve Athletic Performance
A recent study was conducted to find out if there was truth to the legend that Mayans and Aztecs used chia seeds as high-performance fuel. Six participants were given carb-loaded Gatorade or a mix of Gatorade and chia seeds. After a workout involving an hour on the treadmill followed by a 10-kilometer run, it was discovered that both groups performed equally well, suggesting that the chia seeds were just as effective as Gatorade in fueling athletic performance.

Incorporating Chia Seeds In Your Diet
Chia seed can be eaten raw or added to puddings, porridges, and baked goods. They can be sprinkled on yogurt, cereal, vegetables, and rice and can even be used as egg substitutes because of their ability to absorb water and fat. Recommended dosage is 20 grams, or about 1.5 tablespoons, twice daily.

Do you have any chia-seed recommendations for us? We’d love to hear from you!

Cinnamon sticks and powder

Sprinkle On A Little Cinnamon

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime someone says, “Oooh, this is so good- what is this?’ The answer invariably comes back, ‘cinnamon.’ Cinnamon. Again and again.” Indeed, one can’t go too wrong with cinnamon. It goes with everything from toast to apples, tea to coffee, rice pudding to noodle pudding. Even Pizza Hut can hardly deny the boost to their sales caused by the addition of cinnamon sticks to their dessert menu. And now cinnamon can add another feather in its cap. It’s good for you!

Source of Antioxidants
Cinnamon is full of antioxidants that protect against free radical damage and slow the process of aging. Researchers have found forty-one protective compounds in the spice, and that’s only to date!

The OTAC scale, used to measure antioxidant concentration ranks cinnamon a respectable number 7 in all herbs, spices, and foods and was the hands down antioxidant- concentration winner in the herbs and spices category, beating out rosemary, thyme and oregano.

Cinnamon in a mug

Inflammatory
The antioxidants in cinnamon also contribute to its anti -inflammatory effects, which can help decrease the risk of cancer, diminish decline of brain function, and heart disease. Research has revealed the presence of over seven kinds of flavanoid compounds in cinnamon, which are known for their ability in fighting disease -causing inflammation throughout the body. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon is also an effective source of pain relief, helping to soothe muscle soreness, allergic reactions, and PMS pains.

Heart Health
Another health benefit of cinnamon is its ability to reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, two of the most common factors for heart disease. Compounds in the spice can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol while stabilizing HDL (good) cholesterol, promoting heart health.

Research also shows cinnamon boosts blood circulation and aids the body in its ability to repair tissue after it’s been damaged, including heart tissue.

Fights Diabetes
Also an effective anti-diabetic, cinnamon can help lower levels of blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. This is because cinnamon is capable of blocking enzymes that allow the blood to absorb glucose, decreasing the amount of sugars that enter the bloodstream, which is especially beneficial to diabetics.

Cinnamon powder

Prevents Cognitive Decline
Cinnamon protects cognitive function by activating proteins that protect brain cells from damage and reduces oxidative stress. Furthermore, its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds make it a candidate for possible therapeutic treatment in preventing age-related disease.

Lowers Risk of Cancer
You can also add the ability to lower cancer risk to this spice’s already impressive resume. Cinnamon protects against cell mutation, DNA damage and tumor growth, Studies show that is the compound cinnamaldehyde that is responsible for the inhibition of cancer growth and also the cause of apoptosis, the self-destruction of cancer cells.

Protects Against Bad Breath
Cinnamon Trident, anyone? Studies show cinnamon contains extracts that protect against bacteria that cause bad breath, cavities and tooth decay. Furthermore, the essential oils in cinnamon have proven more potent than any other known plant extracts. It can be used naturally as an anti-bacterial mouthwash and as a flavoring agent in chewing gum to remove oral bacteria.

What do your sprinkle your cinnamon on? Let us know your innovative ways of spicing things up!

Connecting Your Skin Inflammation To Your Diet

woman eating dessert
Perhaps you have seen “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.” The 1997 movie starred Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino as two shallow thirty-somethings who reinvent themselves as brilliant business women in the hope of impressing the attendees of their high school reunion. The movie is chock full of quotable quotes, mostly concerned with the superficiality of the women who put too much emphasis on appearance and not enough emphasis on what counts. Such quotes include, “Did you deduct 16 pounds for your shoes?” and, “When I made my first million, my present to myself was a new face,” and, “I’m sorry I forgot my top.” But one priceless gem that sticks out among others came out of Romy’s mouth when she gives her insights on nutrition: “Actually, I have been trying this new fat-free diet I invented. All I had to eat for the past six days are gummy bears, jelly beans, and candy corns.” Beware, Romy, your fat-free diet is a perfect recipe for skin inflammation.

What Are the Effects Of Sugar?
When you eat sugary foods, a.k.a. high glycerin foods, your insulin levels go up and create a burst of inflammation in your body. This, in turn, breaks down collagen and elastin. This horrifying process is called glycation which can cause skin to sag and wrinkles to appear. Glycation can cause weak cracking, skin that takes a long time to heal, exacerbating conditions like acne, psoriasis , psoriasis and rosacea.

Stay Below the Sugar Limits
According to the World Health Organization, free sugar intake should make up less than 10% of your total calorie intake. Reductions to below 5% per day (six teaspoons) are even more beneficial. Free sugar refers the monsaccharides and disaccharides added to food or sugar naturally occurring in syrups fruit juices, honey and syrup.

Read Ingredient Label
While it is obvious that Romy’s all-candy diet was a recipe for instant glycation, there are some less obvious offenders. Sugar is in everything from dressing to sauces to chips to crackers and beyond. To prevent the unconscious intake of sugar, read the labels on everything your eating to check sugar levels and remember to adjust for serving size.

Stay Away from Liquid Sugar
Beware! Those “healthy” smoothies you’ve been inhaling for breakfast each day may be the source of your complexion woes. An average smoothie, about 32 oz, can contain 30 grams of sugar! Because liquids go down more easily then food, we are less likely to keep track of the quantity we consume. The best solution? Stop drinking soda, lemonade , shakes, sweet teas, juices and, sadly, those beloved smoothies.

vine-vera-connecting-your-skin-inflammation-to-your-diet-fruite
Cut Down On Fruit
Yes, even our trusted fruit can betray us. Just one large naval orange can contain 23 grams of sugar! Dried fruit and processed fruit, such as are found in smoothies and juices, are also high in glucose. If you suffer inflammation, you may want to stick to one low sugar fruit per day. The best choices are berries.

Stay Away from High Glycemic Foods
Simple carbohydrates, while easily absorbed by the body can cause a spike in insulin and lead to inflammation and glycation, The faster your body can absorb a food, the faster it raises your blood sugar. Most processed foods are highly glycemic because they lack fats, fibers and proteins that make foods more difficult to absorb.

So, while Romy’s diet might have sounded perfect at the time, she probably paid for it later. If you have any information to share about the connection between diet and inflammation, or are just a Romy and Michele fan, we would love to hear from you. Please share your wisdom.

Foods That Protect Your Skin From the Sun

We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat” and here’s another reason to believe that’s true. Did you know that by eating certain plant compounds, you could gain some of the same sun protection for your skin that plants themselves use? Of course, that’s not a license to go lay out in midday sun all summer without protection, but the following foods may increase your skin’s ability to ward off damage from the sun.

Berries in a basket

Berries
It’s not hard to find a reason to eat berries, but add them to the list of foods that can protect your skin from the sun. These fruits are full of vitamin C, a well-known antioxidant, which boosts collagen production in the skin.

Citrus
One medium orange not only contains about 75 percent of the RDI of vitamin C, but it also contains the skin-protecting pigment beta-carotene, which a study published by Molecular Biotechnology showed decreased skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.

Carrot juice and carrots

Carrots
The same pigment that gives the carrot its protection from the sun may also keep your skin from getting blistered. Besides being rich in beta-carotene, carrots also taste delicious dipped in hummus or mixed into homemade coleslaw.

Leafy Greens
Rich in both Vitamin C and carotenoids, leafy greens, such as leaf lettuce and spinach, protect your skin with an antioxidant double whammy! P.S. The darker the greens, the better!

Almonds

Almonds
Not only does the vitamin E in almonds help prevent and reduce the severity of sunburn, but combined with vitamin C-rich foods, the protection offered from both foods is maximized. Try tossing some almonds and strawberries into a salad for a delicious and skin-loving combo.

Cantaloupe
A summer staple, cantaloupe protects your skin by helping you stay hydrated and giving you a dose of lycopene, another naturally occurring plant pigment. Research done by the Journal of British Dermatology shows lycopene may decrease skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. Bonus: you guessed it; cantaloupe is a vitamin C powerhouse!

Bell peppers

Bell Peppers
Rich in both vitamin C and carotenoids, bell peppers are an easy-to-use food in your healthy skin diet.

Tomato Paste
Tomatoes are another lycopene-rich food but according to a 2011 study from the British Journal of Dermatology, the bioavailability of the carotenoid may be greater in processed tomato products. Try using tomato paste as a base for soups or in a sauce.

green tea

Green Tea
A 2010 review in the Archives of Dermatology suggests that a diet rich in polyphenols can defend skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. One to two cups a day of this light-tasting tea can help you take advantage of its skin-protecting

Flaxseed
Like almonds, flaxseed is full of vitamin E. Take advantage of the C & E combo by mixing some ground flaxseed into a smoothie with some kale and blueberries.

It’s important to remember that while adding these foods to your diet may prevent burns or lessen the intensity of damage done by the sun, you should always take proper caution when being outdoors for an extended period of time. Along with eating these foods, you can avoid the sun altogether during peak hours (from around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), wear protective clothing when you will be in direct sunlight, and wear sunscreen daily.

Mostly-Pescatarian Benefits

Salmon sashimi

Now that there are more vegan and vegetarian restaurants out there, more and more people are experimenting with eliminating or limiting meat from their diets.  There are pros and cons for every diet choice, and it is a very personal decision, so it’s best to try the things you’re interested in so you can figure out what works best for you! Although pescetarianism isn’t talked about quite as much as vegan or vegetarian diets, it definitely has its benefits, even if you’re eating pescatarian about three times a week! There are tons of reasons to cut down on meat consumption, and here are just a few of the benefits of getting your protein from fish.

It Can Help with Weight Loss
A pescatarian diet is perfect for someone who is trying to lose weight. You are probably eating more fruits and vegetables like vegetarians, but also getting plenty of lean protein. While it is definitely possible to get enough protein without any meat at all, pescatarians can easily consume a high amount of it without supplements, or foods high in fat like nuts or cheese. This is especially important for people who are following a weight loss plan because when you are working out, your body needs protein to refuel and build muscle. Adding more fish to your diet can also help you plan (and enjoy!) healthy, homecooked meals. There are so many different kinds of fish, and even more different ways to prepare it. You won’t have to worry about getting into a rut- there is always something new to try!

It’s Great for Your Overall Health!
In addition to helping with weight loss, eating fish can also improve your health overall! A huge benefit of eating fish and seafood is the high quantity of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are the reason that people take fish oil supplements, and they are said to have numerous benefits. Some of the main claims are that eating fish helps reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as improve joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower cholesterol, therefore improving circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots. Studies also show that they can help ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases. Finally, a pescatarian diet can promote healthy skin and hair- go omega-3s!

As if that wasn’t enough, fish ensures that you are getting enough iron. Some people, especially women, are prone to anemia, and eating iron rich foods is essential for preventing the fatigue, and other negatives effects, that come with an iron deficiency. Eating fish a few times a week can really improve your iron intake!

It’s Good for the Environment
No industry is perfect, but replacing a few meals a week (ones that are made with meat) with pescatarian meals can really have an impact on the environment. The amount of water and other resources needed to raise livestock, as well as the pollution it causes, are pretty convincing reasons to mix up your diet, and going pescatarian 3 or 4 nights a week is a great option!

Flavonoid Sources: Parsley and Onions

You’ve probably heard the word flavonoids and know that your diet is supposed to include these ingredients, but you might not know what benefits flavonoids have. Adding foods rich in flavonoids to your diet is remarkably easy when you know what foods to add. Below, check out two of the greatest sources of flavonoids and how you can include them in your diet.

Parsley and onions

What are Flavonoids and What are Their Benefits?
Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that contain antioxidant powers and that are found in plants. The antioxidants help to protect your body from dangerous free radicals, which is helpful because free radical damage can increase your risk of heart disease by raising your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. There are also flavonoids that can decrease dangerous inflammation in your arteries, which helps to prevent heart disease, particularly atherosclerosis. Research from Cornell University has shown that extract from onions, which are incredibly rich in flavonoids, has provided strong antiproliferative effects against both liver and colon cancer cells.

Why Parsley and Onions?
Most people, if they are familiar with flavonoids, associate these compounds with foods such as berries, dark chocolate and red wine. While all of those contain flavonoids, they aren’t the only dietary sources available. Parsley and onions are two incredible sources of flavonoids to add to your diet.

  • Parsley – Both the leaves and stems of the parsley plant contain flavonoids. Parsley is especially rich in a flavonoid known as luteolin, which is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoid. Luteolin helps to suppress inflammation from arthritis and other painful conditions. Research that was published in “Molecules” indicated that another flavonoid in parsley, myristicin, inhibited the production of several inflammatory compounds by cultured immune cells, however, these results have yet to be proven to be effective in humans.
  • Onions – When it comes to flavonoid content, not all onions are created equal. According to a 2004 article published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, western yellow onions were ranked highest in overall flavonoid content. Red onions, which are also popular in the United States, ranked fourth for flavonoid content. When it comes to receiving the full flavonoid content, try to remove as little of the outermost layer of onions as possible, because over-peeling leads to flavonoid loss.

How to Incorporate Parsley and Onions Into Your Diet
One of the greatest things about parsley and onions is how versatile they are; you can really add them to about any dish you can think of. For breakfast, try a spinach, onion and bell pepper omelet topped off with some freshly chopped parsley. When it comes to lunch and dinner, you can create tons of quick salads using onions and parsley. One of our favorites is the tomato, sweet onion and parsley salad.

To make this salad, you’ll need a cup and a half of grape tomatoes, ½ cup of thinly sliced onions, ½ cup of fresh chopped parsley and two tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese. You can make your own dressing by whisking together one and a half teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, one teaspoon of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Eating well not only makes your body feel good, but it improves your internal health. Flavonoids are excellent at fighting free radical damage, decreasing the risk of heart disease and potentially fighting cancer, and you can get a ton of flavonoids by adding parsley and onions to your diet.

Spinach for Healthy Skin

Woman sipping green juice

Spinach is an incredibly nutrient dense vegetable that also happens to taste great. It is also a super versatile ingredient to keep in your kitchen because it can make an amazingly fresh salad just as easily as it can supercharge your smoothie. Saturday, March 26th, is National Spinach Day and what better way to celebrate than fixing your favorite spinach recipes. If you need further reasons to grab a bunch of this leafy green, check out the skin benefits that spinach has.

Hydration
Spinach contains an astounding amount of water, and keeping your body hydrated benefits your skin. Just a one cup serving of spinach contains 164 grams of water, which is the equivalent to five ounces! Your skin cells need water in order to function properly and without this water, your skin is more prone to wrinkles, dryness and dullness.

Anti-Aging
Free radical damage and loss of collagen and elastin have significant impacts on how your skin ages. As you age, your natural collagen production slows down, and your skin loses some of the support that keeps it firm and smooth. Spinach contains beneficial vitamin A, which possesses some serious antioxidant power. In a one cup serving of spinach, your receive 943 micrograms of vitamin A, which is more than the daily recommended value for the average healthy adult.

Under-Eye Darkness
There are many factors that contribute to dark circles under your eyes, some of which you can control and others you cannot. Your genes play a role in whether or not you have dark circles as do things like alcohol consumption and lack of sleep. Vitamin K is a powerhouse at combating dark circles because it encourages healthy blood circulation, strengthens blood vessels and promotes blood clotting, all of which help diminish dark circles. Vitamin K can also help clear your skin and it reduces inflammation in the body and skin. One cup of spinach gives you 900 micrograms of vitamin K, which is 10 times the daily recommended value for a healthy adult female.

Skin Repair
Another potent antioxidant contained in spinach is the anti-aging powerhouse, vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, which as we mentioned early is crucial to keeping your skin looking and acting young. Collagen, in turn, is required to manufacture new, young and healthy skin cells. You can get 18 milligrams of vitamin C in a one cup serving of spinach, which is almost 25 percent of the recommended daily value for a healthy adult female.

Spinach is one of the greatest superfoods you can include in your diet. Not only does it benefit your skin, but it has amazing benefits for your overall health as well. Celebrate National Spinach Day on March 26th by enjoying your favorite dishes that incorporate spinach; your skin will thank you.