Improving Your Gut Health

Improving Your Gut Health

Improving Your Gut Health

Improving your gut health is one of the most important things you can do for your body; and it’s important to know the most common symptoms that are a good indication that your  good bacteria have been compromised, and the bad bacteria has taken over. Do you often have any of the following symptoms?

Gas or bloating

Indigestion or heartburn after meals

Irregular bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation)

Food allergies or sensitivities

Frequent colds, sinus infections, etc.

When your good bacteria are in control you are in a state of symbiosis; and when the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, you are in a state of dysbiosis which leaves the door open for illness. Your good bacteria must outnumber the bad guys for you to maintain good health.

Your gut (GI track) has the largest collection of microorganisms and your gut microbiome is unique to you. When the microbiome is out of balance and there are more ‘bad’ bacteria than good, you may experience poor gut health symptoms.

Be aware of the symptoms above and take some positive steps to improve your gut health, if needed. The good news is that you can use these tips to start improving your gut health:

The Food You Eat

Remove processed foods and sugar from your diet. These refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods get absorbed quickly into your small intestine without any help from your microbes. Loading up on vegetables and low-sugar fruits and eating a lot of leafy green vegetables will help increase your good bacteria in your gut. Be sure to get a balance of healthy fats and protein with each meal as well.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that increase the good bacteria in your gut, especially your digestive system, and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Include fermented foods in your diet. Fermented foods feed your gut with healthy bacteria. Eat organic fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefir, yogurt (not processed or loaded with sugar), and kombucha. Probiotics supplements are also available.

Reduce Stress

If your gut health is poor, your gut microbiome is out of balance; and you may feel depressed, anxious, or tired. It’s important for your gut health to learn how to relax.

In addition to eating the right foods, begin to practice relaxation techniques with some deep breathing, especially before each meal. Removing stress and distractions, chewing your food completely and truly taking time to enjoy the food you are eating can make a huge difference.

We are all different, and you are unique when it comes to your gut health! If you have symptoms of poor gut health, the above tips should work well for you as long as you keep supporting your microbiome with foods and activities that are healthy for you.

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

This delicious white bean dip is a great addition to any party menu. It is quick and easy to make – and your guests are sure to love the subtle balance of flavors packed into each bite. It is perfect with mildly seasoned pita chips or vegetable crudités.

Tip: A little bit of fresh sage goes a long way. If you aren’t sure how much to use, start with a small amount. Then taste and add more, if desired.

Although you can use the same extra virgin olive oil for the entire recipe, adding a drizzle of a higher quality variety right before serving will add an extra “pop” of flavor.

Yield: 6 servings

Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

 

Seasoned Pita Chips Ingredients:
6 pitas
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

 

White Bean Dip Ingredients:
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 – 3 large fresh sage leaves
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 T. high-quality extra virgin olive oil

Dash cayenne pepper

Directions – Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each pita into 8 equal-sized wedges. Lightly brush pita wedges with olive oil on both sides and place on lined baking sheet.

Season pita with salt and pepper before placing in oven. Bake for 5-6 minutes before turning each wedge. Return to oven and continue baking for another 5 or 6 minutes, or until pita wedges are golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Add cannellini beans, fresh garlic, lemon juice, sage leaves, and olive oil to the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Pour bean mixture into a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, add a dash of cayenne pepper and a drizzle of some high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Serve with seasoned pita chips or vegetable crudités. ENJOY!

You might also want to try this Lemon Garlic Jumbo Shrimp recipe.

Lemon Garlic Jumbo Shrimp

Lemon Garlic Jumbo Shrimp

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

18 Healthy Food Replacement Hacks

18 Food Replacement Hacks

Learning more about the healthy food swaps shown below can be very helpful in choosing healthier foods. Check out the health info below the images!

Thank you Swanson Vitamins for providing this wonderful informational graphic for 18 Food Replacement Hacks that Make Healthy Eating Easy!


Food Replacement Hacks

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

Can Green Tea Reduce High Blood Pressure?

Can Green Tea Reduce High Blood Pressure?

Can green tea reduce high blood pressure which is a considerable health risk that is believed to affect one in three Americans? Besides damaging your blood vessels and vital organs, high blood pressure also significantly increases your chances of having a stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, and many other serious health challenges.

A few days ago, I was working inside the house. It was in the high 90’s, hot and humid. When I looked out the window, there was a woman who obviously had an over-heated car and my husband was helping her. I was concerned about both of them getting dehydrated in the scorching sun, and took some water out for them.

I would guess this woman was in her late 40’s, although it’s hard to say. She did not appear to be in good health and was happy to come to the house to get out of the hot sun and cool down while my husband finished working on the car. My heart went out to her as she talked about her high blood pressure and a stroke she had a few months ago and the aftermath of what she must deal with now. This sad situation compelled me to write this today.

“According to the CDC, nearly 60% of stroke deaths are in
women, and stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer.
Surprised? You’re not alone. Stroke is the third leading cause of death
for women, yet most women do not know their risk of having a stroke.” 

The CDC report also states that up to 80% of strokes can be prevented.

Fortunately, making healthier lifestyle choices can have a big impact on high blood pressure and strokes.  Let’s look a little deeper at the affect green tea has on high blood pressure and discussing exactly how effective it really is.
Can green tea reduce high blood pressure? The good news is that if you have blood pressure readings above the normal range, research has shown that drinking green tea can help lower your readings.

In a study published in Endocrine Abstracts, researchers asked the participants to drink four cups of green tea per day for 14 days while also maintaining their current diet. At the end of this study, their blood pressure reduced by an average of 7.1/7.8mmHg and the researchers concluded that green tea can lower blood pressure.

The polyphenols in green tea are the reason it’s so effective at lowering blood pressure. These are a group of powerful, plant based nutrients. They can be obtained from a variety of foods but green tea is by far the richest source.

The list below shows the key blood pressure lowering polyphenols in green tea and explains the role they play in keeping blood pressure at a healthy level.

Epigallocatechin Gallate lowers blood pressure in two ways. First, it keeps your arteries soft and supple which promotes good blood flow and keeps your blood pressure under control. It also reduces blood levels of LDL cholesterol which prevents blockages in your arteries and stops blood pressure building up.

Gallocatechol lowers blood levels of LDL cholesterol which stops the LDL cholesterol clogging up your arteries and keeps your blood pressure levels in the safe range.

Epicatechin relaxes the blood vessels and improves blood flow which helps your blood pressure.

Thearubigins prevent the buildup of LDL cholesterol in the blood, keep the arteries free from blockages and ensure that your blood pressure stays in the normal range.

Summary

Can green tea reduce high blood pressure? The good news is green tea is safe, natural, inexpensive and effective, when it comes to lowering your blood pressure. By combining organic green tea with exercise and a healthy, natural (preferably organic) diet, you could see some good results. and avoid the health problems associated with high blood pressure.

You might also like to know more about how Healthy Fats Are Good For You!

Sources:

Al-Dujaili.E., Bradley.J.P.,Almoosawi.S.,Fyfe.L., (2009) Effects of green tea consumption on blood pressure, total cholesterol, body weight and fat in healthy volunteers: Endocrine Abstracts. 20: 470

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

Super Herbs For Super Health

Super Herbs For Super Health!

There are many super herbs that have incredible health benefits such as improving the immune system, anti-inflammatory benefits, keeping blood sugar under control and lowering cholesterol. Today we will look at turmeric, garlic and aloe vera and some of their healing properties. Have you done any research about the best healing herbs?

If so, you may have discovered that turmeric is a super herb that deserves it’s place at the top of the list. This strong Indian spice has been used medicinally for over 4,500 years, and it’s in the same plant family as ginger. In the last few years, turmeric has reappeared within the health and wellness arena due to curcumin, the healing substance which supplies its bright color. Curcumin has significant anti-inflammatory properties that are said to strongly compete with those found in ibuprofen, and it can soothe your tummy by balancing the acids in your stomach.

 

Garlic has been used to improve the immune system, help manage inflammatory joint disease as well as reduce arthritis symptoms. The high levels of selenium in garlic are much greater than other plants. This healing herb helps the body by boosting the ability of white blood cells to fight infections, and by stimulating other immune cells which fight viral and bacterial infections.
I grew up with  mom and dad cutting opening an aloe vera leaf and placing the gel on a cut or burn. They learned from their parents and grandparents, and I never heard the word anti-bacterial… but they knew it would help. It was not until many years later that I learned of the many other healing benefits of this plant. Aloe vera is also high in antioxidants, and is great for sunburns. It is often used in cosmetics and skin care products.

Below is a graphic highlighting some of the benefits of these three super herbs.

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

Food Dyes – Colors To Avoid

Food Dyes – Colors To Avoid!

The mounting evidence has led to a growing consensus among researchers, physicians, psychologists, and others who treat patients with such behavioral disorders as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that avoidance of food dyes benefits some children.
Recent analyses of the dye content of foods and beverages indicate that many American children are consuming amounts of dyes far higher than the levels demonstrated in some clinical trials to impair the behavior of susceptible children. The amount of dyes contained in just a single cupcake or glass of Kool-Aid can be enough to prompt adverse behavioral reactions in certain children.
We estimate that over half a million children in the United States suffer adverse behavioral reactions after ingesting food dyes, with an estimated cost exceeding $5 billion per year, using information cited by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a recent meta-analysis sponsored by an arm of the food industry.
The harm to children and the costs to society from dyes are needless and preventable. A study of food labels in one supermarket found that more than 90 percent of child-oriented candies, fruit-flavored snacks, and drink mixes and powders are artificially colored.

Download full report from The Center For Science In The Public Interest. It’s a long report but on page 8 there is a graphic which clearly shows the difference in how the EU and the US are approaching this issue and it also states:

In contrast to the European actions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed to protect or even inform consumers of the risks of dyes to children.

 

The infographic below is provided by Special-Education-Degree.net

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

Cucamelons – The Cutest Fruit!

Cucamelons – The Cutest Fruit!

 Cucamelons are the cutest fruit! They are also known as a

Mexican Sour Gherkin or Mouse Melon and they are about the

size of a grape, with a cucumber taste and a hint of lime.

I simply had to plant cucamelons in my garden this year after seeing and reading about them! This little veggie looks like a miniature watermelon and tastes like a cucumber infused with lemon. With that being said, I’ve read a lot about these, and I’ve seen them called fruits and veggies as well as having hint of lemon or lime. I guess it just depends on who is doing the tasting! 
Either way it’s a winner if the harvest is good and the taste is yummy. 
The cucamelon has a thin rind and few seeds which is a plus.  The good news is that they are suppose to be drought resistant and they are not suppose to attract pests. Parkseed.com describes the bite as definitely being more tart than a cucumber and easier to grow. They also recommend planting them in containers or hanging baskets.
You can eat cucamelons right off the vine, use in salads, salsa or pickled like a sweet gherkin or sour dill.  I’m looking forward to fermenting them, and they might do great as freezer pickles! They would also be delicious on this recipe!
I’m waiting to see how my plants produce. When doing my research, I discovered the vine can take over your garden which is somewhat of a concern! It will be interesting to see just how fast and how far the vine grows!
My English cucumbers are growing up a trellis, and I hope I can contain the cucamelons from spreading too much and devouring the garden!
Time will tell 🙂
If you have grown these little gems, let me know how you like them!

White Bean Dip & Seasoned Pita Chips

Avocado Spinach Artichoke Dip

This avocado, spinach and artichoke recipe is super easy, delicious and loaded with healthy fat!

My husband and I love this Avocado Spinach Artichoke Dip

any time of day but mostly we enjoy it for breakfast! 

Try it with your healthy bread of choice and get creative. You can add a fried egg (with healthy oil), chicken, turkey or sardines for a quick and easy snack or meal. Since there is no mayonnaise and it’s made with all healthy ingredients, it’s definitely a heart healthy choice!

Add the following ingredients to your food processor:

 

  • 1 large avocado (peel/remove seed)
  • 2 – 3 cups of fresh spinach**
  • Juice from one lemon

Process to a consistency you like… chunky or creamy.

 

  • Spread mixture onto toasted bread of your choice. I prefer Ezekiel bread.
  • Add extra protein if you prefer such as  eggs, chicken, sardines, turkey, etc.
  • Add tomatoes and cilantro on top.
  • Add a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes if you like it a little on the spicy side!

**I have prepared this recipe with raw spinach, kale and collards and all were delicious!

A dear friend got me started on these two spices and I discovered a sprinkle of both is very tasty on this recipe. Just  remember to dress this recipe up the way you like it and ENJOY!

Purchase these spices at Trader Joe’s or click the image to order through Amazon.

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