Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Probiotics vs. Prebiotics: What You Need to Know

Are you confused about probiotics and prebiotics?  This is a dilemma facing many people, and outrageous marketing claims aren’t helping matters.  So, “what’s the difference?” you may be wondering.


Probiotics are basically microorganisms that promote health.  They are primarily bacteria that offer health benefits when eaten or supplemented with. There are many different strains of bacteria that offer an array of benefits, ranging from boosting immunity and reducing arthritis symptoms to boosting brain health and fighting cancer.  These bacteria are primarily from the Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria families. Their names are usually shortened to L. for Lactobacilli and B. for Bifidobacteria when they are listed on the labels of probiotic supplements. For example, L. acidophilus and B. bifidum are two of the main strains naturally present in healthy human intestines. There are, of course, many other strains. They “crowd out” harmful pathogenic bacteria and yeasts in the intestines, helping to prevent and heal disease. 
Unheated or unpasteurized fermented foods naturally contain probiotics, with different foods containing different strains. Since these cultures are typically airborne, there are also regional differences in the type of strains found in food products from different places. Some of the probiotic-rich foods include: sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and yogurt. However, keep in mind that eating yogurt is rarely enough to obtain the many health benefits of probiotics. Many commercially-available brands of yogurt don’t contain “live cultures.” If you’re choosing one, be sure to choose one that says “live cultures” on the label.  While the claim doesn’t guarantee that the cultures are intact, it may increase the odds.  If they are subjected to excessive heat during the manufacturing, processing, transportation, or storage of the products, the probiotic content will drop.
Sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and other fermented foods are also sensitive to heat so if they sit on grocery store shelves at room temperature you can bet they were pasteurized and don’t contain any remaining probiotic cultures. Choose products from the refrigerator section of your natural food store that are labeled “unpasteurized” for the probiotics to remain intact.


Prebiotics are the food that probiotics feed on to enable them to populate the intestines. Many food products and supplements come with claims that they contain prebiotics that are necessary for probiotics to work but that isn’t the whole story. In most cases, adding prebiotics to packaged foods or supplements isn’t necessary and is really more of a marketing gimmick in my opinion. Here’s why: Prebiotics are carbohydrates such as sugars, starches, and fiber and are found in all plant-based foods. Beneficial bacteria feed on these substances in our gut and proliferate, improving gut health and overall health. If you eat fruit, or fiber- and carbohydrate-rich whole grains and beans, your body likely has all the prebiotics it needs. But, you’ll have to make a concerted effort to eat more fermented foods or take probiotic supplements to get adequate probiotics. 
If you read “contains FOS” or “fructooligosaccharides” keep in mind that “oligosaccharides” are simply sugar molecules, and “fructo” means that the sugars are derived from fruit. If you eat fruit or other carbohydrates, which break down into natural sugars, you’re probably getting all the prebiotics you need. Inulin is a type of fiber that is also touted as a popular prebiotic; and while it may be beneficial, it isn’t necessary in most cases. Some of the best sources of prebiotics include: Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, garlic, chicory root, asparagus, bananas, dandelions, endive, radicchio and burdock. Eat more of these foods and other foods rich in fiber to give the beneficial bacteria a boost.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water if you’re eating probiotic-rich foods or taking probiotic supplements because, like you, the beneficial bacteria need water to function. 

Turmeric has great health benefits but should be taken with caution

What is turmeric?

Turmeric, sometimes called Indian saffron or the golden spice, is a tall plant that grows in Asia and Central America.
The turmeric that we see on shelves and in spice cabinets is made of the ground roots of the plant. The bright yellow color of processed turmeric has inspired many cultures to use it as a dye. Ground turmeric is also a major ingredient in curry powder. Capsules, teas, powders, and extracts are some of the turmeric products available commercially.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, and it has powerful biological properties. Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian system of treatment, recommends turmeric for a variety of health conditions. These include chronic pain and inflammation. Western medicine has begun to study turmeric as a pain reliever and healing agent.
Keep reading to find out more about how turmeric might benefit your health, as well as some of its negative side effects.

Positive side effects of turmeric

It's anti-inflammatory

The Arthritis Foundation cites several studies in which turmeric has reduced inflammation. This anti-inflammatory ability might reduce the aggravation that people with arthritis feel in their joints. The foundation suggests taking capsules of 400 to 600 milligrams (mg) of turmeric up to three times per day for inflammation relief.

It can relieve pain

Many people, including doctors, cite their own anecdotal experience with turmeric as a pain reliever. The spice is reputed to relieve arthritis pain as well.
Studies seem to support turmeric for pain relief, with one noting that it seemed to work as well as ibuprofen (Advil) in people with arthritis in their knees. Though dosing recommendations seem to vary, those who participated in the study took 800 mg of turmeric in capsule form each day.

It improves liver function

Turmeric has been getting attention recently because of its antioxidant abilities. The antioxidant effect of turmeric appears to be so powerful that it may stop your liver from being damaged by toxins. This could be good news for people who take strong drugs for diabetes or other health conditions that might hurt their liver with long-term use.

It may help reduce the risk of cancer

Curcumin shows promise as a cancer treatment. Studies suggest it has protective effects against pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma.

It can aid your digestion

Part of the reason that turmeric is in curry powder is because it adds an element of deliciousness to food. But turmeric can also play an important role in digesting that food. Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can contribute to healthy digestion.
It's used in ayurvedic medicine as a digestive healing agent. Now Western medicine has begun to study how turmeric can help with gut inflammation and gut permeability, two measures of your digestive efficiency. Turmeric is even being explored as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

Negative side effects of turmeric

It can upset your stomach

The same agents in turmeric that support digestive health can cause irritation when taken in large amounts. Some participants in studies looking at the use of turmeric for cancer treatment had to drop out because their digestion was so negatively affected. Turmeric stimulates the stomach to produce more gastric acid. While this helps some people's digestion, it can really do a number on others.

It thins your blood

Turmeric's purifying properties may also make you bleed more easily. It's not clear why this happens. Other suggested benefits of turmeric, such as lowered cholesterol and lowered blood pressure, probably have something to do with the way turmeric functions in your blood.
People who take blood-thinning drugs like warfarin (Coumadin) should avoid consuming large doses of turmeric. 

It may stimulate contractions

You may have heard that eating foods seasoned with curry can stimulate labor. Although there's little clinical data to back up this claim, studies suggest turmeric can ease symptoms of PMS. So there may be something to the old wives' tale.
Because of its blood-thinning effects alone, pregnant women should avoid taking turmeric supplements. Adding small amounts of turmeric as a spice to food shouldn't be a problem.

The takeaway

It appears that there are health benefits to including turmeric in your diet. The golden spice supports immune health, helps relieve pain, and can aid in digestion, among other things. But because of some of its side effects, turmeric may not be worth taking for some people.
It's important to use caution when deciding whether turmeric is something you need to try. As with any alternative therapy, speak with your doctor before you use turmeric to treat any health condition that you have.

Study spells out huge health benefits by cutting back sugar in sugary drinks

More than 150,000 Australian deaths could be prevented if the energy content of sugary drinks was cut by around a third, a new report by The George Institute for Global Health has found.
If sugary drink manufacturers were forced to reformulate their products, it would save $8 billion over the lifetime of the Australian population, research at The George Institute has found.
The study published in Nutrients examined the lifetime health benefits of reducing the energy/sugar content of sugary drinks by either 5 percent or 30 percent.
The study also examined the effect of reducing the packaging sizes of single serve bottles or cans to 375 ml.
All scenarios delivered significant health gains, but a mandatory reduction in energy content of 30 percent saw the greatest benefit, with an extra 822,835 healthy life years gained over the lifetime of the Australian population.
Lead author Michelle Crino, of The George Institute's Food Policy Division, said the results were a clear demonstration of the harm sugary drinks are causing.
"There is overwhelming need to reduce the amount of sugar in these drinks and we have shown that not only will it benefit the lives of millions of Australians, it will also save the government and the taxpayers many hundreds of millions of dollars too.
"Other countries have led the way in tackling the over consumption of these drinks and it's now high time Australia follows in their footsteps."
Key Findings
  • A 5 percent mandatory reduction would lead to an extra 144,621 healthy life years and savings of $1.5 billion.
  • A 30 percent mandatory reduction would deliver cost savings of $8 billion and 822,835 extra healthy life years. It would avert at least 150,000 premature deaths - about 47,000 from type 2 diabetes alone and thousands more from heart disease and breast cancer.
  • Capping the size of a single serve drink to 375 ml would deliver health savings of $750.8 million and 73,883 extra healthy life years gained.
The study also modelled what would happen if the food industry followed the UK's lead and signed up to a voluntary pledge to reduce the energy content of sugary drinks by 30 percent. It led to savings of $1.8 billion and an extra 173,410 healthy life years gained.
The costs for delivering any of these interventions was also estimated. A joint mandatory kJ reduction and package size reduction would cost $210 million.
Co-author Professor Bruce Neal, Senior Director of The George Institute, said: "We know that sugary drinks have no health benefits whatsoever and are a key contributor to the obesity crisis.
"But what we now have before us in black and white are the sheer numbers of lives that can be saved if industry made just moderate changes to the drinks it sells.
"This isn't about putting the sugary drink industry out of business, it's about corporate responsibility. Industry could implement these changes within 12 months if it chose to.
"And the effects would be immediate and profound - thousands living healthier lives, free of the symptoms of obesity and tooth decay, and at much reduced risks of stroke, heart disease and diabetes."

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Truly Have Health Benefits?

If you haven’t heard or read on social media or in health-related articles about the benefits of apple cider vinegar, you might be accused of being “behind the times.”
A Cure-All?
Apple cider vinegar, or “ACV” as people refer to it – often adding a hashtag – has drawn much attention over the years for its purportedly endless health benefits. The benefits cited include weight loss, teeth whitening, acne treatment and diabetes management. But is #ACV the cure-all it’s alleged to be?
While traditional media outlets and bloggers continue to tout the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, little science backs up most of these claims. In fact, people who use apple cider vinegar as “prescribed” by trending conversations may be doing themselves more harm than good.
Natacha Borrajo, a registered dietitian with Baptist Health Primary Care, says the much-touted health benefits have yet to be proven by true scientific research.
“There’s really very little scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar does all that it has been credited with over the past decade or so,” Ms. Borrajo said. “While the stories we hear about dandruff control and improved cardiovascular health from apple cider vinegar are interesting, we simply haven’t studied these claims enough to start recommending ACV as a daily supplement.”
What has shown promise is apple cider vinegar’s effect on the digestion of starch, which may prove beneficial to diabetes patients and explain the weight loss that has been credited to ACV.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Diabetes
A study conducted at Arizona State University and published in 2004 by the American Diabetes Association tested the effects of apple cider vinegar on insulin sensitivity in individuals with insulin resistance, often called “pre-diabetes,” and in patients with type 2 diabetes. The findings revealed that acetic acid – a key chemical compound found in all types of vinegar – helped lower the amount of insulin needed to digest starchy carbohydrates, like those found in white bread and potatoes. For people with lower insulin levels, as in pre-diabetics and diabetics, the finding suggests consuming safe levels of apple cider vinegar or other types of vinegar – balsamic, pomegranate, white distilled and wine – could help keep blood sugar from spiking after meals containing starches.
ACV and Weight Loss
Ms. Borrajo says this effect of vinegar on insulin production could also prove beneficial to people without insulin sensitivity. “The acetic acid in vinegar limits the absorption of carbohydrates by our bodies,” she said. “That means fewer calories are being consumed and some weight loss may occur.”
But she cautions that the weight-loss benefits are minimal and suggests replacing carbohydrates with non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, carrots and eggplant, along with fiber sources, as the best approach to limiting calories for healthy weight loss. Furthermore, some undigested food components, feed and promote the growth of healthy bacteria living in our intestines, according to studies surrounding “prebiotics” and the “gut microbiota.”
Potential Dangers of Apple Cider Vinegar
While the regulation of our blood sugar levels is no doubt a beneficial side effect of consuming vinegar, Ms. Borrajo warns that those on insulin and medication to regulate insulin production should speak to their doctor before starting an apple-cider-vinegar regimen.
“If your medication dosage is based on insulin levels without vinegar, that dosage may need to be adjusted if you begin regular consumption of vinegar,” she said. She also stresses that apple cider vinegar, or any other type of vinegar, has not been proven to prevent or cure diabetes, so it should not be considered instead of prescribed medications.
She also advises against drinking apple cider vinegar straight, which can be too acidic for tooth enamel and the esophagus. For those who want to introduce vinegar into their diet, Ms. Borrajo recommends diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of it in at least 8 ounces of water and drinking it right before any meals. The author of the 2004 study from Arizona State University, Carol Johnston, told Timemagazine earlier this year to keep the total daily intake of vinegar to 4 tablespoons or less.
ACV and Food
Ms. Borrajo says an even better way to minimize the negative effects of too much vinegar is to incorporate it into a healthy meal. She recommends eating a salad or non-starchy vegetables and applying vinegar or a vinaigrette mixture to add flavor. Similarly, using vinegar instead of salt to marinate lean meats can provide an alternative to drinking diluted vinegar, which can be hard to swallow.
Moreover, Ms. Borrajo suggests getting back to basics when it comes to eating healthy will likely diminish the need for any trendy remedies. “Keep it simple,” she said. “Be sure your diet includes complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables and fiber. These help maintain a stable glucose level throughout the day. Plus, their calorie count and nutritional value promote overall wellness and a healthy weight.”
Now that advice is easy to digest.

7 Everyday Habits That Could Give You A Yeast Infection

Got yeast? Yes, you might—even if you’re not burning, itching, or noticing weird discharge when you wipe. Yeast, which is actually a fungus called candida, pretty much always hangs out in the vagina in small numbers. “Yeast likes warm, damp places,” says Nina Ali, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Most of the time, that's okay: It’s too acidic in a healthy vagina for yeast to multiply and cause infection. But it doesn’t take much to change a vagina’s pH level and give yeast the green light to take off, which might be why 3 out of every 4 women will have a yeast infection in their lifetime. And once you get one, you’re more likely to get others, though doctors aren’t quite sure why. (Here are 9 highly effective treatments for vaginal yeast infections.)

Whether or not you're naturally prone to this problem, you might unknowingly be raising your risk by making one or more of these common mistakes.

Letting sugar dominate your diet
You don't have to eat chocolate cake to flood your blood with glucose. Sugar seems to lurk in everything, from ketchup to bread to peanut butter and more. (Watch for these 6 secret sugar bombs you're buying at the grocery store.) And when you consistently take in too much, it can lead to a host of problems—including yeast infections. “If there's more glucose available in your body, that's an energy source for the yeast,” says Ali.

High blood sugar can also throw off the pH balance in your vaginal area, which allows yeast to thrive. So perhaps it's not surprising that recurrent yeast infections are common among people with diabetes. In some cases, they may be a sign that diabetes is on the horizon, says Michael Cackovic, MD, an ob-gyn at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

Running errands in your gym clothes or swimwear
The longer you wait to change out of sweaty or wet clothes, the longer you surround your vagina with moist, damp, humid conditions that are perfect for yeast to grow. “Everybody's on the go, jetting from workouts to pick up groceries or this and that,” says Ali. But if you don’t take the time to change into something dry, you’re setting the stage for infection.

Cotton underwear can be a comfortable choice, but it may also hold on to dampness, says Cackovic. “It's like wearing a towel, essentially,” he says. He recommends choosing moisture-wicking fabrics that pull water and sweat away from your skin. But more important than your fabric choice is keeping things fresh and dry: If the clothes near your crotch are damp, change them as soon as you can.

Burning the midnight oil
Are you a night owl? Do you sit up surfing channels or your smartphone until the wee hours? Your lack of sleep is likely doing a number on your immune system. When you don’t get quality shut-eye, your body isn’t well-equipped to fight off infections, and that includes yeast infections. In fact, any habit that keeps you from maintaining good health—staying stressed, not exercising, eating poorly—can wreak havoc on your body’s defenses, says Ali. (Having trouble sleeping? Try these 12 foolproof natural sleep remedies experts swear by.)

Squeezing into tight jeans
Any clothing that’s pressed up against your crotch creates a dark and damp haven for yeast to thrive. Your clothes should be breathable, so that any sweat you get can evaporate quickly. “Anything tight creates that situation where things can't get aired out,” says Cackovic.

Being very overweight can also be problematic. Yeast is a fan of skin folds, and if you have them in your nether regions and don't keep them dry it's easy to end up with infections both within and beyond the vagina. (Skin rashes are common.)

Having sex without protection
Although a yeast infection isn’t technically a sexually-transmitted disease, it may be possible to get it from your partner during sex. “Generally, it doesn't get passed that way, but when women keep coming back with recurrent infections sometimes we do ask the partner to get treated to see if that helps," says Ali. (Sex is also one of these 8 most common causes or UTIs.)

Men who are uncircumcised have a slightly higher chance of passing on yeast, since their foreskin creates a dark, damp area where it can hang out. Your risk also goes up every time you have a brand-new partner, because everyone has different flora, says Cackovic.

Stretching out your tampon time
Ever hit the end of a really busy day and realize you can’t remember the last time you changed your tampon? Bad mistake. Anything you put in your vagina can upset the bacteria and pH balance. “You definitely don't want to forget about anything that's inserted in the vagina,” says Ali.

Using pads or a menstrual cup? Make sure you change (or empty) those often, too. And don't even think about douching: It only makes your body have to work harder to restore its natural bacteria balance.

Using hormonal birth control
The cells in your vagina are very sensitive to estrogen and other hormones found in oral contraceptives, patches, and hormonal IUDs, so when you start using one of these methods it may alter your vagina’s environment and up your risk of getting a yeast infection. (Try these 10 non-hormonal birth control methods.) Luckily, studies show that this risk goes down over time, so if you've been on the Pill for years it's unlikely to start causing a problem now.

Also good to know: Sometimes birth control can change your discharge enough that it can fool you into thinking you have a yeast infection when you don’t. Anytime you're unsure, consult an expert before heading to the drugstore. “See your doctor, let them take a look under a microscope, and come up with a plan based on that,” says Cackovic.

Beet Juice Keeps Your Brain Young

Over the last five years, I’ve written an embarrassingly large number of posts about beet juice. In a world of overhyped and mostly ineffective sports supplements, beet juice is one of the very few with solid, peer-reviewed evidence of its real-world effectiveness—primarily for making endurance exercise more “efficient” (i.e., consuming less oxygen at a given pace), and for lowering resting blood pressure.

But there’s another intriguing line of research that’s been gaining traction, which is the effects of beet juice on the brain. A new study from researchers at Wake Forest University, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, offers some intriguing hints that a daily shot of beet juice an hour before exercise can produce significant—and beneficial—changes in the function and organization of aging brains.

The key component of beet juice is nitrate, which is converted in the body to nitrite and then nitric oxide, which has powerful effects on the responsiveness of your blood vessels. As a result, previous research has found that beet juice can enhance the amount of oxygen reaching your brain, and can even acutely boost some aspects of cognitive function, like reaction time, when you’re fatigued.

The new study investigated the combined effects of exercise and beet juice. A group of 26 sedentary men with an average age of 65 were assigned to do six weeks of exercise along with daily shots of either beet juice or a placebo. All the men had high blood pressure, which made them more likely to benefit from the effects of beet juice on blood vessels.

The beet juice was administered in the form of Beet-It Sport Shots, which are concentrated beet juice shots that contain 560 milligrams of nitrate in each 70-milliliter (2.4-ounce) bottle. The placebos were exactly the same except that the nitrate had been removed. They took one shot per day, and timed it to be an hour before exercise on their workout days.

The exercise program was fairly simple. The participants walked on a treadmill three times a week for six weeks, building up until they were doing 50 minutes per session at a perceived effort of 12 or 13 on the Borg scale (13 corresponds to “somewhat hard”).

The researchers were interested in neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to rewire and remake itself in response to new stimuli. And they were interested in the emerging idea that some of the physical problems of aging may reflect “invisible” problems in the central nervous system rather than just the more obvious problems like loss of muscle or aerobic fitness. To explore this possibility, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after the trial, looking at the connections between different brain regions.

A previous study, also from Wake Forest, had found distinct differences in the “functional brain networks” of older adults depending on their level of mobility. Those who could get around quite well had better “community consistency” within the motor regions of the brain—that is, neurons within the motor region tended to be mostly connected to other neurons within the motor region.

Those who had mobility problems, on the other hand, tended to have more “secondary connections” from the motor regions to other regions of the brain, particularly areas associated with balance and other forms of self-monitoring. It’s hard to know exactly what this means at this point, but the interesting thing is that you can indeed tell the difference between mobile and mobility-impaired adults by looking at their brains.

So with this in mind, what did six weeks of exercise and beet juice (or placebo) do? It improved the “community consistency” of both groups of subjects, but the improvements were significantly greater in the group that had beet juice along with exercise. In fact, by the end of the study, the average number of red-flag-raising “secondary connections” in the beet juice group was comparable to the number in the younger control group (average age 26) from the previous study.

For those who like to see it visually, here’s a view of the average community consistency in motor areas of the brain for the two groups (BRJ is beet juice) at the beginning and end of the study:

beet juice for brain power
The thinking is that drinking beet juice means you have lots of nitrate in your body, which is then converted to nitrate and circulates throughout the bloodstream. The final step, which is converting nitrite to nitric oxide, seems to be enhanced in low-oxygen conditions—which, as it happens, are induced during hard exercise. So during your workout, as areas of your brain (among other places) start to suffer from lower oxygen levels, there’s plenty of nitrite that gets converted to nitric oxide, which in turn helps relax and dilate your blood vessels to bring more oxygen-rich blood to that site.

So is this a call to rush out and buy beet juice?

Maybe. Personally, despite all the articles I’ve written, I’ve never even tasted beet juice. Given my current running goals, and more importantly my particular motivations for racing, I’ve never really been tempted. But the associated health effects do get my attention, and have prompted me to incorporate beets (and other nitrate-rich vegetables like spinach and arugula) into my diet far more frequently than I used to.

Is that effective? From an acute running perspective, while there’s some weak evidence that you might get a boost from wolfing down 200 grams (a little less than half a pound) of beets before a run, it’s probably not a reliable bet. But for health purposes, a consistent and sustainable diet with lots of nitrate-rich food like beets seems like a reasonable bet.

Fortunately, after all this beet research, there’s one conclusion that I have 100% confidence in, even though I never would have predicted it before reading the studies: I really, really like oven-roasted beets. They’re delicious. So I’m going to keep eating them regardless of what the next study says.

​6 Times You May Need To Eat MORE Salt

Let’s be clear about one thing from the get-go: Few of us are in danger of coming up short when it comes to our salt (sodium) intake.

“Most people consume adequate amounts of sodium—if not greater amounts than the current recommendation of 2,300 milligrams per day,” says Joy Dubost, PhD, a food scientist and registered dietician.

(Transform your health with 365 days of slimming secrets, health tips, and motivation—get your 2018 Prevention Calendar and Health Planner today!)

The average American diet is notoriously loaded with salt. So if you eat anything resembling the typical three-squares-plus-a-snack program most westerners adhere to, you likely have little to worry about when it comes to your sodium levels.

There are exceptions, which we’ll get to in a minute.

But before we do, Dubost says that if any of the scenarios on this list apply to you—or if you’re thinking about upping your salt consumption for some other reason—first take a week or two to carefully track your sodium intake. (These 5 signs could mean your body wants you to cut back on salt.)

She says apps like SuperTracker or MyFitnessPal can help you with that. Also keep a close eye on your serving sizes and nutrition labels—with an assist from the USDA’s Food Composition Database to help you identify the sodium in your whole or unpackaged foods.

You’re partaking in some marathon-intensity exercise.
Athletes who engage in intense exercise for prolonged periods of time—an hour or more—may at times need a sodium boost, Dubost says. “Hyponatremia can occur, which is a drop of sodium in the blood resulting in dizziness, confusion, weakness, and even death,” she explains. While it’s not common, hyponatremia can occur when people are sweating hard and pounding lots of water to rehydrate, but aren’t replacing the sodium their bodies shed while perspiring. If you’ve just wrapped up a grueling, shirt-soaking workout—or if, during an endurance event, you’re experiencing any of the symptoms Dubost mentioned—eating some salty foods can help your body recover. (Try these 13 good-for-you salty snacks.)

You live in a hot, muggy climate.
“Once again, excessive sweating can result in a drop in sodium,” Dubost says. As with heavy exercise, excessive sweating could in some cases lead to hyponatremia, she explains. If the weather conditions are making you sweat hard and you’re experiencing headaches, light-headedness, or crazy thirst, sprinkling some salt onto whatever you’re eating may relieve your symptoms. (Sweating too much? Here are 9 things your sweat is trying to tell you.)

You have this medical condition.
Salt-losing nephropathy is a form of kidney disease that makes it difficult for your body to maintain adequate sodium levels, says Lawrence Appel, MD, an American Heart Association spokesperson and a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University Medical Institutions. “People with this condition lose excess sodium in their urine, and need to make a conscious effort to keep their [sodium] levels up,” he says. If they don’t, the result could once again be hyponatremia, which could produce symptoms like dizziness, headaches, weakness, or fatigue. Call your doctor and let her know what’s up. (Know these 6 signs of kidney failure.)

You’re taking diuretic medications.
Several medications—diuretics, in particular—can lead to mineral imbalances in your body by increasing your urine output, Dubost says. While it’s true that diuretics are often prescribed for those with hypertension, and it's also true that eating too much salt can be risky for those with elevated BP, there may still be times when someone taking diuretics needs to consume some extra sodium to help balance things out.

You’re an older adult, and your thinking is muddled.
Seniors—especially those aged 80 or older—may experience a brain boost by upping their salt intake, according to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging. The study team found that, compared to older adults on low-sodium diets, those who consumed moderate amounts of sodium performed better on some tests of brain functioning. It’s important to point out that this study is preliminary. So while it’s possible some extra sodium may benefit your brain, don’t go nuts with the salt shaker until you’ve cleared it with your doctor. (Plus, one recent study also linked increased sodium intake to greater risk for diabetes.)

You’re suffering from this rare syndrome.
A cluster of conditions known collectively as Bartter syndrome can affect your kidneys’ ability to process the salt you consume. Basically, too much sodium ends up in your urine, and not enough is absorbed into your body, Appel says. The condition is rare, and it springs from genetic abnormalities. Symptoms of the syndrome include everything from vomiting and excessive thirst to intense salt cravings. Again, you need to speak with your doctor before upping your salt consumption.

What Exactly are Natural Flavors in Halloween Candy?

If candy manufacturers were required to declare the exact ingredients found in candy, the label would read like something out of a witch’s brew: dried beaver’s sac, sheepskin excretions or insect excretions. This may sound more like “trick” than “treat,” but it’s true. When it comes to the ingredient “natural flavors,” it is considered a trade secret and, as a result, does not require disclosure from manufacturers. So, what exactly are “natural flavors” and just how natural are they?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) here’s the official definition of natural flavors:
“(3) The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. Natural flavors include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants (identified in other sections of the document).”  
While it’s a bit intense, on the surface it seems fairly harmless too. But, there are a few issues:

Odd and unwanted ingredients

Because the single ingredient of natural flavors can contain 100 other ingredients, there is room for a lot of potentially unwanted substances in foods containing this enigmatic ingredient. Some candy manufacturers exploit the definition to include ingredients like castoreum—found in the dried castor sacs (near the anus) of beavers—while this ingredient is technically “natural” in that it is derived from meat, it’s not something most people would knowingly choose to eat. Nor is confectioner’s glaze or shellac, which gives many candies their shiny coating, but it is actually extracted from the excretions of certain insects found in India and South Asia.

Potential for allergens

If you have a severe food allergy, such as seafood, you’re better off staying clear of any candy (or any other food for that matter) that contains natural flavors. As you may have noticed from the FDA description, natural flavors can be derived from seafood, among other potential allergens. The same is true if you have an egg or dairy allergy. You may be at risk of an allergic reaction when consuming candies that contain natural flavors.

Potential for GMOs

Because genetically-modified organisms currently have GRAS status “generally-recognized as safe” genetically-modified dairy products, corn, soy or other GMO food can be used in the process of obtaining natural flavors. GMO foods have been linked in studies to reproductive disorders, cancer and other serious health concerns, so candy containing natural flavors may not be suitable for you or the children who are consuming it in droves this Halloween.

Solvents and pesticides

There are frequently residues of solvents (usually petroleum-based) used in the extraction of certain flavors from plant or animal sources. Additionally, because the foods used to manufacture natural flavors is probably not organic, the ingredient “natural flavors” tends to have pesticide residues as well.
Sometimes natural flavors are listed as “natural flavor (organic vanilla)” or “natural flavor (organic peppermint),” or something similar on labels. In these cases, the candy is probably devoid of the unwanted ingredients sometimes found in natural flavors and is likely safe to eat. But, considering that “natural flavors” is the fourth most used ingredientin processed foods, after salt, water and sugar, unwanted or questionable ingredients are found in a lot of our foods, and certainly a lot of the Halloween candy being distributed to children.

7 Delicious Fruits That Boost Iron Levels

Did you know that iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia? And did you further know that women have higher risk of iron deficiency anemia due to excessive bleeding during menstruation and pregnancy. 
Women in childbearing age should consume 18 mg of iron a day while men only need 8 mg a day.
The good news is you can lower risk of iron deficiency anemia by eating iron-rich fruits.
Fruits are one of the best sources of iron because they contain vitamin C. Vitamin C helps enhance absorption of iron into the body.
Here are the best fruits to boost iron levels and lower risk of iron deficiency anemia.

1. Sun-dried tomatoes

Don’t be surprised to see tomatoes here. Tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable. 
Sun-dried tomatoes are one of the best sources of iron. One hundred grams of tomatoes contain 9.1 mg of iron. That is 50 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Make sun-dried tomatoes at home or buy them in the store. They’ll give you iron whether you eat them fresh or cooked.

2. Prunes

Chances are you’ve made prune juice after reading this article. Prunes (dried plums) can boost iron intake and help fight iron deficiency.
A serving of prunes will give you 9 percent of recommended daily iron intake.

3. Raisins

Raisins or rather dried grapes contain more iron than most fruits. A cup of raisins has 3.2 mg of iron.
Combining raisins with melons, oranges, strawberries and other vitamin C-rich foods will increase iron absorption.

4. Dates

Dates may not be the best source of iron for people who want to lose weight due to high sugar and calories.
But other people can benefit from moderate intake of dates. This fruit also contains potassium, fiber and antioxidants which can help improve heart health.
Some doctors advise diabetics not to eat dates but this study found that eating dates didn’t cause a significant blood sugar spike in diabetics compared to healthy individuals.

5. Dried Apricots

You’re missing out if you don’t eat apricots. Other than preventing iron deficiency, this fruit strengthens the bones, improves heart health and is good for the skin.
A serving of apricots will provide 19 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron.

6. Pomegranate

Pomegranates are a good source of iron, vitamin C and K, fiber, folate and potassium. This fruit also contains punicalagins, compounds which improve heart health and build better blood.
Drink pomegranate juice to get all the nutrients in this fruit. Pomegranate juice has been shown to fight cancer, reduce hypertension and improve memory.

7. Dried Mulberries

Mulberries have more vitamin C than oranges. And they’re also loaded with antioxidants, iron and fiber.
A serving of mulberries will give you 30 percent of the daily recommended iron.

The Most Important Supplement for Skin, Bones, and Joints. And Everyone Must Take it Daily

Consumer interest in Collagen supplements has exploded in recent years.  This is due to the large amount of scientific research that indicates powerful anti-aging properties for skin, bones and joints… all parts of our body that age impacts.  Unfortunately, as we age our ability to naturally produce collagen is depleted… by age 40 our body loses more collagen than it makes and by age 60 over half of the body’s collagen is lost.

Collagen for Skin, Bones, and Joints.

As is turns out, collagen is an an essential building block for proteins and connective tissues in our body that help maintain strength and elasticity.  The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology published a study where research demonstrated that individuals who consumed collagen peptides showed an increase in the size and composition of collagen fibrils in their Achilles tendon.  This indicates a strong ability of collagen to rebuild and strengthen body tissue and muscles. Further, another study was published in the periodical Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism that said ingestion of 10 grams of collagen peptides per day (for 30-90 days) had a positive effect on knee joint comfort.
 They also noted that the positive effect was even more pronounced on patients with severe arthritic symptoms.  However, probably the most convincing study was published in the medical journal Skin Pharmacology and physiology.  It was a double blind, placebo controlled scientific study that demonstrated a positive correlation between collagen consumption and significantly improved skin elasticity, structure and moisture.
However, it is also important to note that the quality and source of hydrolyzed collagen is very important and will affect your results.  Therefore, to ensure the best results possible,   Our collagen is GMO free and grass fed.  The bovine it is sourced from is not artificially fattened with GMO corn nor is it contaminated with vaccines and/or steroids.  
Since, like all supplements, the body’s ability to absorb and process nutrients is extremely important, otherwise it will just go through you.  This is why Livingtraditionally Collagen is Hydrolyzed, the digestive breakdown is half done for you!  You will also notice that Livingtraditionally collagen powder is very fine, which means your body will quickly break it down and absorb the benefits.  Don’t waste your time with other brands or cheap substitutes!   

10 Processed Foods to Avoid

What Is Processed Food?

Ideally, we’d shop the farmers’ market every day for fresh, local foods, and make all of our goodies from scratch. In reality, we live far from our food sources, have to buy foods we can store on the shelf, and barely have time to eat dinner, much less prepare it.
Processed foods are convenient, and not all of them are bad for you: pre-chopped vegetables, or fruits canned in their own juice, are just two examples.
Sometimes, however, convenience can mean large amounts of hidden sodium, fats, and sugar, which are always bad news. Read on to learn which processed foods to avoid and why. 


Bacon contains high levels of sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure. And sodium is just the beginning.
Part of the reason why bacon is so delicious is because it’s loaded with saturated fat. Saturated fat is linked to heart disease and obesity. Danger also lurks in virtually all store-bought bacon because of how many preservatives it contains, which are related to every health concern from headaches to cancer. 

Granola Bars

Consider the granola bar, also known as the cereal bar. They are stuffed with hearty grains and packaged in boxes featuring mountains and sunrises. So wholesome!
Too bad granola bars are also loaded with added sugars, which digest quickly and don’t satisfy hunger for long. Despite their healthy marketing image, granola bars don’t offer much in the way of good nutrition. Avoid them for their high simple-carbohydrate count and the long ingredient list filled with difficult-to-pronounce words.

Instant Ramen

Most college students have had the experience of powering through finals week fueled only by ramen and cheap coffee. Warning: Do not continue this habit beyond your senior year. Better yet, stop now.
A packet of ramen can contain nearly 2,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium, which is 500 mg more than the American Heart Association’s daily recommended intake. That boosts blood pressure, which could lead to stroke. Additionally, with simple carbohydrates making up most of the other ingredients, ramen provides almost zero nutritional support. You should also check out the amount of fat in ramen noodles. Who knew so many unhealthy things could come in such a small package!
As a healthy meal, instant ramen gets a failing grade.

Dried Fruits

You might reach for a handful of raisins or a few spears of dried mango to satisfy a sweet tooth. There’s probably a really good reason they are so satisfying. These dried fruits are a better option than Skittles, since they have a good amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Be careful with the portion, however — even a small portion carries a high-calorie, high-sugar punch.
The extra sugar also promises weight gain. If you eat more than your body needs, it adds to your body’s fat store.

Flavored Nuts

Flavored nuts have a shelf of their own in the sounds-good-for-you-but-isn’t pantry.
Whether they are maple-flavored, soy sauce- and wasabi-dusted, or coated in toffee, flavored nuts are packed with extra salt and sugar. This extra salt and sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Their sticky, sugary goodness also makes them the enemy of healthy teeth.

Fruit Snacks

An enemy of both your teeth and waistline, fruit snacks may be the grocer’s most inaccurately named food. Most varieties are packed with high fructose corn syrup and cane sugar — which could lead to weight gain, which can increase your risk for diabetes — and contain only a drop of actual fruit ingredients.
Their extra sugar and gelatinous ingredients also stick to teeth, providing an ideal environment for bacteria to create cavities.


There was a time when margarine was considered the healthy alternative to butter. However, the truth is that some margarine contains a lot of trans fats, which is considered more unhealthy than any other fat, including saturated fats.
Trans fats increase bad cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Although the link between trans fatty acids and cancer is unclear, Johns Hopkins Medicine is just one institution that suggests lowering these fats as a part of their dietary recommendations for cancer patients and survivors.

Microwave Popcorn

There’s nothing wrong with popcorn (as long as you go easy on the salt and butter) and there’s nothing wrong with microwaving food. So what’s so bad about microwave popcorn?
It’s in the bag. Perfluoroalkyls are just one class of chemical found in microwave popcorn bags. Studies have linked perfluoroalkyls with health problems as diverse as kidney disease and poor semen quality.


“Catsup” or “ketchup”? No matter where you stand on the spelling debate, America’s favorite condiment spells bad news.
While a little dollop of ketchup is fine, the amounts we slather onto our burgers and fries is problematic, as is the frequency.
The tomatoes in ketchup are so diluted by sugar and salt that they offer no natural value. With most of the calories in ketchup coming from sugar, you might as well sprinkle your fries with sugar!

Frozen Dinners

Frozen dinners are the next best thing to takeout: a complete meal of vegetables, entrée, and starch, all on one plate, right out of the microwave.
However, frozen dinners are often loaded with sugars, fat, and sodium. Those additives can lead to weight and heart problems. They can also raise your blood pressure, putting you at danger for stroke. If you do get frozen meals, focus on organic meals with an ingredient list full of foods you recognize.

All Things in Moderation

Processed foods are not a modern convenience — they’ve been around since the first barrel of salt-pork sailed across the Atlantic. They provide convenience and give us access to foods that would otherwise perish in transit.
Enjoy them in moderation, and use your common sense. Check the nutrition labels to avoid anything high in fats, sugars, and chemicals you can’t pronounce. Be sure to make fresh, simple ingredients the focus of your diet.