Ditch the Sugar

A spoonful of sugar? Americans are swallowing 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, and it’s time to cut way back! Most of that added sugar comes from soft drinks and candy – the equivalent of guzzling two cans of soda and eating a chocolate bar. Remember, if you are consuming excessive amounts of added sugar, you will add calories, which leads to weight gain, or you will displace other essential nutrients. To check for added sugar, look for a variety of ingredients including sugar, corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, molasses or evaporated cane juice on the label. What YOU can do:

Take a good hard look at what you are drinking each day, figure out where the sources of added sugars are and think about how to cut back on that. Plan ways to substitute sugary foods in your diet with things like sweet vegetables, fruits or herbal teas.

sugar1. Put down the can. Soft drinks are the biggest culprit! Soft drinks by far, followed by candy, cakes, cookies and pies. With about 8 teaspoons of added sugar, a regular 12-ounce soft drink will put most over the recommended daily limit. Keep in mind, it DOES NOT make it ok if they are diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners (such as Splenda, Equal, Sweet & Low, etc.) are even more toxic than the refined sugars that are in regular sugary drinks!

2. Drink water. Replacing carbonated soft drinks with water will cut a lot of your sugar intake, and the benefits don’t stop there. Drinking two glasses of water before a meal may encourage the stomach to feel full more quickly, so you don’t eat as much. Lots of the time you may have a sweet craving because your body is dehydrated, so drink up!

3. Drink real fruit juice. Juice can have as many calories as soda, but it has far more to offer in the way of nutrients. This presents a dilemma — you want the vitamins and antioxidants without all the extra sugar. The safest bet: Look for 100% fruit juice. Steer clear of juice drinks that have added sweeteners. Look for the percent of real juice, noted on the nutritional label. You can also slash sugar intake by drinking water with a splash of juice. Feel free to squirt some lemon, lime or orange slices into your water for a healthy, yet flavorful drink!

4. Try coconut water! Sports and energy drinks are sugar bombs like soda. Although they contain electrolytes which are great for hydrating the body, its still smarter to stay hydrated with water rather than sports drinks. A wonderful alternative to sports drink is coconut water. It’s a natural isotonic beverage, with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood. It contains more potassium than most sports or energy drinks and has less sodium. It’s the fluid of life, so to speak!

5. Enjoy a cup of tea. Herbal teas can be not only delicious, but hydrating at the same time. There is a wide variety of flavorful herbal teas that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Right now I’ve been enjoying Yogi Tea’s Mayan Cocoa Spice made with cinnamon bark. It has low caffeine and plenty of rich chocolate flavor! It’s a must try!

Coconut Oil Girl!

Although there is still a lack of scientific research over the health claims of coconut oil, other research suggest that the list of benefits just goes on and on! My experience with it and personal opinion tends to dwell more on the side of the healthy benefits!

coconut oilI personally love using it as a moisturizer each day. It’s so soft and I can really feel it nourishing my dry skin. I keep a bottle of unrefined organic coconut oil in my shower so as soon as I get out and my body is warm, the chunky oil (well, the oil gets thick in the winter and oily in the summer) melts right into my skin. Every once in a while, I do a deep conditioning treatment to my hair using coconut oil. I comb it through my hair with my fingers, let my hair dry naturally and sleep with it in. The next day I shampoo it out. I also use it for an eye makeup remover before bed at night.  Of course I love cooking with it because it can tolerate HIGH heat and always brings a rich, sweet taste to my meals that I can’t resist!

About Coconut Oil

Unrefined, organic coconut oil is a rich, buttery, slightly sweet superfood used for centuries in the tropics. Boasting a high smoke point of 350 degrees, it can replace almost any oil in baking or cooking. Naturally cholesterol free, coconut oil contains healthy medium-chain fatty acids, most notably antibacterial and antiviral lauric acid. Unlike long-chain fatty acids in animal-based saturated fats (which clog arteries and get stored as fat), coconut oil’s good fats get burned for energy and actually lower the risk of heart disease. Sold in jars in the oil or baking section, coconut oil is solid at room temperature; when warmed, it quickly becomes a clear liquid. Great for people with nut allergies, it keeps for years unrefrigerated!

Proponents claim that coconut oil offers the following health benefits:

  • supports thyroid function
  • increases metabolism
  • antiviral and antibacterial properties
  • improved blood pressure
  • improved cholesterol levels
  • weight loss
  • better diabetes control
  • increased bone strength
  • better digestion
  • prevention of cancer
  • prevention of heart disease
  • stress reduction
  • increased immunity

Hair Care: Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shinny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. Coconut oil is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care. Best part is, your skin actually absorbs all of the oil’s health benefits and brings them right into your blood stream, so you don’t even have to eat it to reap it’s rewards!

Immunity: Coconut oil is great for the immune system! It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: Coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis.

Dental Care: Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil is also known to stop tooth decay.

Energy: Finally, coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. It contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.

Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils.

Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.

Digestion: Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and can help prevent various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.  I love adding some to my morning shake, baking with it, or sauteing up my dinner with some!
Suggestions in the Kitchen: Instead of butter, stir a tablespoon of coconut oil into hot oatmeal, or spread on toast. Blend it into a smoothie. Or coat your pan with coconut oil when making French toast; it adds a lovely scent without overpowering other flavors.  Substitute coconut oil for sesame or olive oil in your next stir-fry.

Recipe: Sweet Popcorn
Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and 1/4 cup popcorn kernels to a pan set over high heat; cover. When kernels start to pop, keep covered and shake over heat until popping slows. Pour popcorn into a bowl; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or salt. Enjoy!!!

Look After Your Ears!

the human earThe ears are perhaps the most intricate of the body’s five senses. They are very extraordinary in the way they operate translating the sound signals they pick around us into information in a form that can be easily understood by the brain. What’s even more remarkable is that unlike the eye and tongue that employ a plethora of chemical processes to operate, the ear’s working is entirely mechanical. It picks up sound waves in the form of mechanical vibrations and passes it on inform of coded mechanical signals making it top among the most exceptional of the body’s organs.

The ear has the ability to pick up mechanical waves travelling through any media be it gas, solid or liquid making it be among the most perceptive of all the other senses. Sound waves are fundamentally displaced air particles traveling in a particular manner and depending on the sequence of their displacement, the ear distinguishes one sound from another. It possesses the unique ability to decipher these signals depending on how they hit it.

The ear is also responsible for the body’s balance, making it the body’s biggest multi-tasker. But despite all the remarkable abilities the year possesses, it is remains among the most delicate and sensitive of all organs. It is not sufficiently protected from harmful agents seeking to destroy it. So what are these agents and how can the ear be adequately protected from them?

Ear Damage

Ear damage is often characterized by mechanical damage to one’s ear which may eventually lead to partial or complete loss of their hearing their hearing function. Loud workplace noise is a frequent cause of hearing loss (leading to an ever increading munber of industrial deafness claims). Prolonged exposure to this noise causes the wearing out of the hairs and nerve cells in the ear’s cochlea responsible for sending sound signals to the brain. When theses nerve cells or hairs are damaged or missing, the transfer of electrical signals becomes impaired leading to hearing loss. One becomes particularly insensitive to high pitch tones, and it becomes especially difficult for one to pick out noise against background noises. Continuous use of headphones and prolonged patronage to noisy places such as nightclubs also has a similar effect. Another common cause of deafness is the continued use of firearms without proper protective gear. So how does one protect themselves sufficiently?

Protect Your Ears!

Earmuffs have been fronted and recommended as a very sufficient method of noise cancellation. They fit against the head effectively enclosing the entire external ears prevent noise from getting in. They are also lined with an acoustic form that reduces levels by a staggering 15 to 30 decibels. Canal caps are also a pretty common method of protection against hearing loss. They effectively cap’ off the hearing canal protecting one from dangerous noise levels.

Another effective protection against dangerous sonic waves is the ear plug. When correctly fitted in the ear, this device expands and fills the ear canal completely sealing out noise. When used together with earmuffs, the ear plug can cancel tremendous levels of noise, even that above 100 decibels. These tools have therefore made it possible for one to work even in the noisiest of environments without fear of losing their very revered sense of hearing.

Being Grateful

Gratitude: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I encourage you to take the time to think about what you are grateful for and express that gratitude. Be truly thankful for the bounty of food before you and recognize that it should not be taken for granted. Be thankful for the people around you and celebrate with family, friends or neighbors. Be thankful for your health and your body’s ability to heal itself. Be thankful for all the things in your life that make you happy and take the time to reevaluate those that don’t.

attitude-of-gratitudeThere are so many things that nourish our bodies, aside from what choices we make concerning food. When all the different aspects of our lives are in balance, this is when our body, mind and soul thrive and we are at our healthiest. Think about all of the different areas of your life…. your relationships with friends and family, your romantic relationship, your career path, your home and physical surroundings, the amount of physical activity you make time for….. and recognize imbalances. What areas would you like to change, where is there room for improvement? How can you create the exact life that you want to live, in the exact world that you want to live it in?

We have the power to create the life we want and we have the power to change the things in our lives that we are unsatisfied with, but we all too often let fear hold us back. All year long, be thankful for the areas in which you are satisfied, but also take steps towards changing the rest. Set goals for yourself. Write them down and hold yourself accountable for reaching them.

Take out a piece of paper and write down your life goals for where you want to be or what you want to accomplish 1 month from now, 6 months from now, and 1 year from now.

On another piece of paper make three lists of the steps you need to take to make each of those goals attainable.

Use a journal to keep track of your goals and your progress. Check off each step as you accomplish it and update them as your goals change.

Express gratitude towards the people or opportunities that helped you reach each goal. Below, you will find ten tips on how to do just that!