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Blog posts of '2014' 'June'

Stay Up on Skin Health This Summer with These Super Foods

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Stay Up on Skin Health This Summer with These Super FoodsThe start of summer is upon us and with it comes the opportunity to enjoy trips to the beach, picnics, hikes, and other fun outdoor activities. If you plan on soaking in the sun and getting that tanned look or if you're outside for any other reason, remember to pay attention to skin health. Protection against UV rays is important and you should carry sunscreen with you at all times to avoid serious burns. There are, however, some super foods that can also help protect and support the health of your skin from the inside.

Add Some Antioxidants to the Mix

Fruits and summertime go together like wine and cheese. Besides being great for hydration, fruits can provide other nutrients that are beneficial to skin health. Watermelon, for instance, is made up of 90% water and great for those hot afternoons in the sun. But it also contains vitamin C, which is crucial for your body's continuous production of collagen—the main building block of skin cells. Vitamin C's antioxidant and immune support properties make it the perfect weapon against free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to skin and other organs. Berries can be another go-to source for preventing oxidative damage to your skin. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries…take your juicy pick. These antioxidant-rich summer soldiers can provide your body—and especially your skin—protection against free radicals. If citrus fruits are more along your line of taste, you can also get your fill of vitamin C from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Squeeze the latter two into your water to not only enjoy a refreshing drink, but an extra splash of vitamin C and its collagen-building benefits. Some of these citrus fruits also have other collagen-producing ingredients such as the amino acids proline and lysine that can promote firmer and more supple-looking skin. Not to be outdone, pineapples contain a compound called bromelain. Studies have found that bromelain helps ease inflammation, which may come in handy if you are experiencing any discomfort from sunburn.

Are They Fruits or Vegetables?

While there may be some debate whether tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits or vegetables (technically, they are fruits because they bear seeds) there is no debate about their health benefits, especially for your skin. Tomatoes contain lycopene which has been shown to help stave off unwanted lines and wrinkles. It, too, is another helper in the collagen-production area. The use of cucumber in facial treatments is no fluke either. Made vastly of water, cucumbers can hydrate and replenish skin, and reduce puffiness and inflammation, especially around the eyes. Cucumbers are another powerful ally in the fight against free radicals, which can bring on unwanted blemishes and other age-related skin damage.

Vegetables, Omegas, and the Power of the Coconut

Fruits aren't the only foods that can give you super skin. Vegetables such as dandelion greens contain a healthy amount of vitamin A, another powerful antioxidant agent in the free-radical battle that can help you avoid unwanted skin damage caused by oxidative stress. Spinach and oily fish such as salmon also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which regulate your skin's oil production, giving it that natural, healthy-looking glow. Want to create a super skin-supporting meal? Whip up a salad of dandelion greens, berries, and cucumbers. For protein, add salmon. And don't forget to wash it down with coconut water, an amazing, hydrating drink containing powerful electrolytes and potassium which can help deliver more nutrients to your skin by supporting circulation. If you're going to be outdoors this summer, make sure you give your skin the proper support. With these super foods you can not only get the nutrients your body craves daily, but the valuable skin protection needed to keep your skin look healthy and youthful. Enjoy the summer season the right way today!

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Science Reveals Instant Mood-Boosting Techniques

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Science Reveals Instant Mood-Boosting TechniquesSeeing the brighter side of life doesn't always come easy to everyone. But what if you could trick your brain into thinking positive thoughts? According to a recent study there are several ways of accomplishing this to help support a positive mind and mood that can influence an overall healthier lifestyle.

Neutral, Duchenne and Chopsticks

Because of the close connection that the mind and body share, researchers wanted to investigate what extent physical signals from the body could influence the mind. Their study centered on smiling. It's already known that feeling good can make you react with a smile, but can forcing a smile, in-turn, make you feel good? To test this hypothesis, researcher Tara Kraft from the University of Kansas gathered 169 participants and trained the volunteers to maintain three separate facial expressions: a neutral expression, a standard smile, and a more empathetic smile called the Duchenne smile, achieved by holding chopsticks in their mouths. While only half the participants were told to smile, researchers explained that having chopsticks in their mouths forced the volunteers to smile without being aware that they were doing so. All of the subjects then participated in stress-inducing tasks such as submerging their hands in ice-cold water and tracing a star with their non-dominant hand while looking at a reflection of the shape in a mirror.

A Smile for Science

Results showed that those who were instructed to smile, (in particular, those who had the Duchenne smiles) had lower heart rates when performing the tasks than those who had neutral expressions. Even those who were unknowingly forced into smiling with the chopsticks in their mouths had a slightly lower heart rate than those who wore neutral expressions. The results, soon to be published in the journal, Psychological Science, give validity to the theory that even a forced smile positively influences the mind into a better mood and can improve other important areas such as stress and heart health. Kraft's research partner, Sarah Pressman, even suggested an everyday application to this theory. "The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment," she said.

A Pose for Positive Moods

While a smile may be the easiest way to spontaneously support a good mood there are other poses that have been shown to help support a positive frame of mind. For instance, one study showed that opening up one's body to occupy more space in what's called a "high-power pose" can have positive mental effects and alter hormone levels, too. Those who held high-power poses were more willing to gamble or take risks, pointing to a higher level of confidence and more positive frame of mind. While meditation has long been linked to promoting a sound mind and mood, a 2008 study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, sought to investigate the benefits that yoga poses have on mental well-being. The study showed that breathing mechanisms and relaxed body posture can also help clear the mind and support lower stress levels.

Taking Control of Your Moods

Maintaining a healthy mood shouldn't be thought of as some insurmountable challenge. Everyone has their ups and downs, and understanding the little things you can do throughout your day can help to provide an instant mood boost. Now that you know how powerful your smile can be, use it wisely and often!

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Why This Popular Beverage May Also Support Good Health

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Why This Popular Beverage May Also Support Good HealthFor many people a cup of coffee is part of the morning routine with its warming aroma, taste and also, for a quick burst of energy to start the day. But many studies have shown that there's more to coffee than just caffeine. Unroasted green coffee beans contain plant compounds called chlorogenic acid that have been found to possess antioxidant health properties. Although the process of roasting tends to decrease chlorogenic acid levels, recent research has shown that the amount of chlorogenic acid present in coffee can still provide several health advantages.

The Eye Test of Antioxidants

In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists discovered that the chlorogenic acid found in coffee may help promote a stronger resistance to oxidative stress in the retina, preserving eye sight and protecting it from macular degeneration. The retina is said to be one of the most metabolically active tissues; it needs high levels of oxygen to function, which can make it more prone to oxidative stress. To test the protective effects of chlorogenic acid, a group of mice were treated with a substance which can generate oxidative stress and damaging free radicals. In the group of mice that were given chlorogenic acid pre-treatment, no retinal damage was found. "The study is important in understanding functional foods, that is, natural foods that provide beneficial health effects," said Chang Y. Lee, professor of food science and the study's senior author. "Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and we are attempting to understand what benefit we can get from that," Lee said.

The Green Side of Healthy Weight Management

While chlorogenic acid's retinal protection properties may be news, it is not the most well-known benefit that can come from coffee, or more specifically unroasted coffee beans. For some time, researchers have studied chlorogenic acid's positive effects in managing weight, metabolism, and blood sugar levels. At the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Joe Vinson, Ph.D., presented findings from his numerous studies highlighting the benefits of chlorogenic acid. In a weight management study, for example, Vinson gave green coffee bean extract to a group of overweight volunteers over a 22-week period. After 22 weeks the subjects lost 10% of their body weight. In a more recent study Vinson sought to further investigate the effects that different doses of chlorogenic acid had on 56 adults with normal blood sugar levels. All volunteers were subjected to blood glucose tolerance tests to see how their bodies normally reacted to the sugar. Following the blood sugar tests they were administered various doses (100, 200, 300, or 400 mg) of green coffee bean extract containing chlorogenic acid. Yet again, Vinson found that green coffee bean extract supplementation produced effective results. "There was a significant dose-response effect of the green coffee extract and no apparent gastrointestinal side effects," Vinson said. "All doses of green coffee bean extract produced a significant reduction in blood sugar relative to the original blank glucose challenge."

Perk Up Your Health with Green Coffee Beans

The antioxidant properties of CLA found in green coffee beans have been shown to help protect eye health, but the benefits don't stop there. It's also been clinically shown to promote weight management and balanced blood sugar. As more research and studies are conducted, other potential health benefits of green coffee beans may also be uncovered, so keep your eyes open for future developments.

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