Do Most Coffee Creamers Have Dangerous Chemicals?

I’m a “no sugar, two creams, please” type of girl. So you can imagine my surprise when a friend of mine sent me an article saying that coffee creamers aren’t good for you — more than that, they’re downright dangerous! Every fiber of my being wanted to shout “that’s blasphemy!” Are coffee creamers really bad for you?

What’s In Your Favorite Coffee Creamer?

The first shocker for me is that most coffee creamers are loaded with sugar — more than a teaspoon per serving! But that’s not the worst part by a long shot:

Hydrogenated Oil

This is just another name for trans fats. To make this artificial fat, manufacturers add powdered nickel or other metals to vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oil adds a "creamier" texture. According to the FDA, partially hydrogenated oils are not Generally Recognized as Safe in food. They raise bad cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Cellulose Gel

I’ll give you a hint: cellulose is another name for “wood.” That’s right, some popular coffee creamers add small amounts of wood pulp to help thicken the consistency of cheaper ingredients. Don’t want wood particles in your coffee? Yeah, me either.


This additive and preservative is technically “natural” because it comes from a type of moss (mmm!). But carrageenan has been linked to a bunch of health problems, from IBS and bloating to colon cancer and arthritis.

Why do companies use these weird ingredients if they’re so bad for you? Because they’re cheap. Some corporations are happy to make a profit whether it hurts you or not.

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What Are the Best Alternatives to Coffee Creamer?

Now for the good news. There are a lot of tasty, natural and healthy alternatives you can add to your joe. And the flavor is WAY better:

  • Milk: Simple, heathy and easy. Depending on whether you choose whole or 2%, milk isn’t as thick as other options, but it has less total fat and gives you calcium, vitamin D… the whole shebang.
  • Heavy cream: This has more fat than milk (1 tsp has 50 calories), but you also don’t need to use much. This is my favorite option for “treating myself” for the first cup of coffee in the day, but I don’t use it for other cups.
  • Almond milk: Tons of vitamin B12, a creamy texture and a nutty flavor make almond milk amazing for coffee.
  • Coconut oil: If you’re on a keto diet, coconut oil in your coffee is a must. It gives you a rush of energy, boosts your metabolism and provides healthy MCT oil for burning fat. This is how you make Bulletproof coffee at home.
  • Coconut milk: Some brands add a lot of sugar, but you can find coconut milk that is just pureed coconut and water. Trust me, this option is really creamy and it adds an irresistible aroma to your coffee.
  • Unsweetened nut milk: You don’t need to buy an artificial creamer to enjoy hazelnut, vanilla or macadamia nut in your coffee. Just go straight to the source. Macadamia nut milk has all that delicious flavor you want, and zero weird ingredients.

Some cheapskate companies still try to sneak in carrageenan into these natural alternatives, so look at the label before you buy. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy creamy coffee and stay healthy at the same time. Now I’m going to celebrate with … you know what!

My Go-To Natural Sugar Substitutes

I may not have the body of a goddess, but I do like showing off some pleasant curves at the beach (just a little). One of the biggest things that has helped me burn way more calories, and that I know can help you, too, is avoiding refined sugar. Of course, ditching table sugar doesn’t mean giving up everything sweet. Try these natural sugar substitutes instead.

1. Fruit

My absolute favorite substitute for sugar is real fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, oranges, peaches and pineapples all have a great blend of tart and sweet that makes me smile.

Do you like smoothies for breakfast? You don’t need sugar. Just add a banana, some date paste or applesauce to the blender with the rest of your ingredients. You won’t notice the difference.

Eating fruit gives your body tons of antioxidants and enzymes. They protect your heart, balance blood sugar levels, give you more energy, fight inflammation, improve digestion and strengthen your immune system.

Why Not Try This?

Take a handful of raspberries, chop half a banana, and mix it with a serving of Greek yogurt when you're feeling hungry. The burst of protein and nutrients will energize you and tide you over until later. Real fruit, both fresh and frozen, has a lot of dietary fiber, so it calms the munchies like junk food never can.

2. Stevia

This natural sweetener comes from South America. Stevia is herbal, not artificial, so you don’t have to worry about any weird side effects (those terrible headaches) like with aspartame and saccharin.

The leaves of the stevia plant have been used as sweeteners for at least 500 years. Pressing the leaves provides an extract that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. But it has ZERO calories!

For tea or coffee, stevia is my go-to sweetener. You only need a few drops. For baking, go with stevia powder. Just remember to use less than half the amount you would with refined sugar because it’s so potent.

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3. Honey, Pure Maple Syrup and Organic Molasses

Honey is a true superfood. It has special prebiotics that benefit your gut flora, plus lots of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins for your heart and eye health. Honey has been famous for its healing powers since the times of ancient Egypt!

Personally, I adore the taste of honey, which is why I usually prefer it over maple syrup or molasses. But all three of these thick liquids are good sugar substitutes with important nutrients. Of course, they’re also high in calories, so you have to be careful with how much you use if you want to lose weight.

I love to make oatmeal with rolled oats and drizzle a tablespoon of honey on top with a dash of milk. Instead of marinades with brown sugar, use organic molasses.

What About Monk Fruit Extract?

This exotic sweetener is natural, tasty and filled with nutrients. Monk fruit extract doesn’t have any calories, so it’s good for weight loss programs. Unfortunately, where I live, it’s also really expensive. If you can afford it, definitely try it!

Sugar Free Living Isn’t That Complicated

It’s OK to enjoy honey, stevia and fruit whenever you want during the week. To be honest, I find making sweet things for breakfast, like homemade muffins, granola or pancakes, is easier for me as a mom. For supper time, chicken (honey-lemon chicken anyone?) and pork recipes work great with honey instead of sugar. You don't need refined sugar.

6 Supplement Categories To Add To Your Diet

Health or dietary supplements remain somewhat controversial, with many experts explaining their necessity and others claiming you get everything you need from diet alone. However, diet is not universal. It is impossible to understand if everyone is getting the nutrients they need from what they consume without inspecting their intake. Blanket statements that make general assumptions about populations fail to address specific needs within communities. 

While this article will not resolve the debate over supplements, it aims to address specific vitamins and minerals that can help support a system. The primary takeaway should not be that supplements are necessary or unnecessary, but rather they balance an already nutrient-dense diet.

1. Skin Health

Skin damage occurs because of sun exposure, lifestyle, and dietary choices. Poor diet or smoking can cause premature aging, as can prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays. Several vitamins have shown potential for improving skin conditions and reducing wrinkles, including vitamins A, C, and E. Additionally, some topical treatments that include collagen can benefit the skin, helping to repair damage and improve elasticity.

2. Bone Health

Vitamin D is known for its skeletal health benefits. Many people can get their vitamin D requirements by spending between 15 and 20 minutes outside every day without sunscreen. Unfortunately, most people, up to 95% or more, do not spend adequate time outdoors, meaning they might be deficient. If you don’t spend enough time outside, consider taking a vitamin D supplement, at least 400 to 800 IU per day.

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3. Eye Health

As people age, eye health can deteriorate. There are many contributing factors, from genetics to diet and exposure. Antioxidants can help protect the eyes from damage, including problems caused by inflammation and free radicals. Vitamins A and C and lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect your vision. These supplements can contribute to cornea, macula, and lens health throughout your life.

4. Gut Health

The gut microbiome is a delicate system, and while it is often OK on its own, illness and medications can interfere with the production and health of good bacteria. Good gut bacteria help to produce and distribute vitamins and enzymes. These bacteria also help to crowd out harmful bacteria and destroy them.

When looking for a probiotic supplement, you want to pay attention to the CFUs on the label. The most effective probiotic supplements will have a minimum of 50 billion CFUs and strain diversity. Some of the strains to look for include:

  • Lactobacillus Plantarum
  • Bacillus clausii
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Bacillus subtillis
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus

5. Inflammation Response

Omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil supplements might fight inflammation. While it is widely understood that eating fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, is the best source of omega-3s, specifically EPA and DHA, some people have a natural aversion to seafood. For those who can’t eat fish several times per week, consider taking supplements, about 1,000 milligrams daily.

Vitamins A, C, and E can also reduce the inflammation response by counteracting hormonal responses and managing blood sugar levels. However, before taking any supplement, talk to your primary care physician about which supplements are safe for you to take.

6. Energy and Mental Health

B vitamins are vital to cellular processes and mental health and endurance. A deficiency can lead to increased anxiety and reduced energy levels, leading to fatigue. Many people deficient in B vitamins are often on plant-based diets; although, even meat-eaters can struggle to absorb enough.

What vitamins and supplements do you take if any? Leave a comment below explaining why you do or do not take supplements, and help move the conversation forward.

A New Approach To Healthcare: Lifestyle Medicine

Typically, when people go to the doctor, it is to assess a variety of ailments. Lifestyle medicine goes beyond the ailment detection of medical practices and focuses on sustaining and perpetuating continued health and wellbeing through a more holistic approach.

The 7 Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine

While classified as a holistic approach, the theory of lifestyle medicine is a practice most medical professionals can get behind; the concept of balance in seven core areas of life. Lifestyle medicine focuses on the seven habits for a healthy life, and those habits contribute to reduced risks of chronic conditions.

1. Exercise

Movement or physical activity is vital to lifestyle medicine. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to many complications, including cardiovascular. By practicing at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, you can find it easier to maintain or control your weight, strengthen muscles and bones, and promote mental wellbeing.

2. Nutrition

The dreaded nutrition pillar can seem problematic. Many people look at nutrition like rocket science, something complex and hard to grasp, but it is not as challenging as it looks. On a fundamental level, making a few minor adjustments to your diet can drastically improve your health. For example, eat out less than twice per week and swap a can of soda for water. Additionally, add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

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3. Outdoor Activity

The outdoors is nature’s gift to humanity. Spending even 30 minutes outside can increase your well-being. According to lifestyle medicine experts, you should spend a minimum of 120 minutes outside every week. Exposure to the outdoors is proven to reduce stress, limit inflammation, and improve sleep.

4. Sleep

Most adults know they need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, but few get it. Many things affect your sleep, from noise to stress and diet. Lifestyle medicine highlights sleep as critical to overall health. To get a better night’s rest, consider sleeping in a quiet environment without tech or television. Additionally, avoid eating too late and do not consume caffeine after midday.

5. Emotional Wellbeing

Stress relief is vital to mental and physical health. Anxiety, worry, and fear all lead to problems with sleep, diet, and relationships. Finding a way to deal with stress is necessary and pivotal to lifestyle medicine. Practicing mindfulness is one way to combat the effects of stress.

6. Hydration

Dehydration leads to a variety of health issues: headaches, fatigue, dizziness, etc. While the rule is often stated as eight glasses of water per day, the Mayo Clinic would disagree. According to the clinic, men need a minimum of 15 cups of water per day and women need at least 11.

7. Substance Avoidance

Lifestyle medicine also encourages a substance-free life, meaning no smoking or drugs. Cigarettes, alcohol, and other substances can lead to significant consequences and impaired thinking. Lifestyle medicine is all about clarity and purity.

New Focus Equals New Hope

While people understand the benefits of adopting healthy habits, they often overcomplicate the process, getting bogged down in the details. By restricting your attention to the above seven areas, you can increase your health and mental wellbeing in stages. There is no need to embrace all the habits at once; instead, take on one practice at a time and master it. By working methodically, you limit the potential of becoming overwhelmed, allowing you to embrace the changes.

Do you have any experience with the practice? leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.

Understanding How Air Quality Can Affect Your Health and Wellbeing

In the fight to remain healthy, people focus primarily on nutrition and exercise — both critical aspects of a healthy lifestyle — but what often flies under the radar of the health-conscious is air quality. Air pollution can lead to many problems, not only environmental, especially among people who are particularly vulnerable, like those with asthma or COPD. Pollutants from vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, smoke, road dust, and even pollen can make it more challenging for these individuals to breathe, leading to wheezing, coughing, or worse. 

Pollutants can also make their way into the food supply. With a rise in pollution, comes an increased risk of respiratory infections, lung cancer, and heart disease. It is crucial to understand the potential pollution and air quality risks in your environment, so you know best how to protect yourself.

Air Pollution and Outdoor Exposure

The effects of air pollution vary based on location because exposure and air quality vary from place to place, often disproportionately. Minorities and people living in low-income areas are more likely to suffer the consequences of air pollution because housing is often within more industrialized districts, meaning plant and vehicular emissions are in abundance. Proximity is the main contributor to negative health effects. 

Beyond proximity, the time and season, temperature, and weather play a role in pollution and air quality. While fine particles are typically most present in the mornings, high levels of ozone typically occur in the summertime, late afternoon. Unseasonably warm days or when temperatures reach levels above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, unhealthy levels of ozone can accumulate in the air. Finally, weather conditions, like fog, can often trap unhealthy levels of pollution in an area, especially when combined with little to no wind.

Air Pollution and Indoor Exposure

Did you know the air quality inside your home can be two to five times more polluted than the outdoors, sometimes even more? While people tend to discuss pollution as an outdoor issue, most Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors, meaning the priority should be indoor air quality. Some of the most common indoor pollutants include:

  • Smoke
  • Radon
  • Lead dust
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Mold
  • VOCs
  • Animal dander
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites

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Protecting Your Health

While it can be challenging to avoid air pollutants, especially in an industrialized society, it is not impossible to improve the air quality you breathe. The key is to avoid as much pollution as possible; for example, when stuck in traffic, keep your windows closed and set the ventilation system to recirculate the air in the cabin. You can also avoid vehicle exhaust by choosing a less-traveled route. You should also avoid being around smoke and other sources of airborne pollutants.

If you are concerned about the air quality in your area, you can sign up for alerts. Many states provide air quality updates and warnings, and in most cases, you can find an app or email signup that will tell you when you should avoid outdoor activities and when the city or state is under an ozone advisory.

Air quality plays a vital role in overall health. When the air is heavily polluted, it can lead to increased risks of disease and infection. Do you know of any other tips or techniques to reduce your exposure level, or do you have any other interesting facts you would like to share? Leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.

Examining the Truth About Wine and Health

Who doesn’t love to sit down after a long day’s work and relax with a good glass of red? It seems like every day there is a new study or article praising wine as the miracle elixir of health. However, for every piece of research praising the sultry libation, there is another discounting the claims. The constant back and forth, like most findings in health, is confusing to the average consumer looking for applicable solutions. Therefore, to ease the burden, this article aims to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding wine and health.

Wine and Burning Fat

Many wine enthusiasts praise and permit their habit as a way to combat weight gain. The argument is often based on the findings of a 2015 Oregon State University study that linked a specific wine acid to weight loss. The wine in question was a rare red wine, and the acid is only produced by the Red Muscadine grape, grown in the southeastern US state of Georgia, mostly. However, while the particular acid from that single grape species can possibly promote weight loss, it is typically only used in sweet wine, negating most weight loss benefits. The research is promising, and with further study might will out broader benefits, but don’t base your entire weight loss journey on a daily glass of wine.

Wine and Heart Health

Another study shows potential promise for heart health. While the European Society of Cardiology conducted a study in 2014 to find a link between wine consumption and the production of good cholesterol, the findings initially seemed discouraging. The study proved no direct correlation between wine consumption and the production of HDL. However, within the study and upon closer inspection of the results, researchers noted that individuals who drank wine and worked out at least twice weekly showed signs of increased HDL and decreased LDL or bad cholesterol. Unfortunately, as testing the correlation of exercise with wine consumption was not the intent of the initial study, more research is needed.

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There’s a new science-backed, all-you-can-eat soup diet that has folks losing 7, 10, even 12 pounds in a single week.

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Wine and Cancer

Like weight loss, more research is needed to determine the cancer-fighting properties of wine. While most wines contain several antioxidants, the primary compound known for its anti-carcinogenic properties is ellagic acid. Unfortunately, EA is not found in most wines because it is only found in red muscadine grapes. A study conducted in the Journal of Cancer Biology and Medicine did discuss EA as a preventative and therapeutic tool against specific forms of cancer. However, because of the limited supply of wines and grapes with EA, it is unclear the overall advantages of wine consumption in the fight against cancer.

Wine and Blood Pressure

If you want a solution to your blood pressure or hypertension woes, do not drink a glass of red wine. While touted as a tool to lower blood pressure for nearly three decades, it is a myth that wine can correct blood pressure problems, at least when containing alcohol. A recent study of the effects of red wine on blood pressure found that non-alcoholic red didi significantly reduce blood pressure levels in men.

The bottom line is that wine can provide some health benefits in moderation, but most of the drink's so-called miracle benefits are myth or without significant merit. If you like wine, drink it in moderation, but if you don't, leave it. Wine is not a miracle cure for weight loss or disease, but it is delicious, at least to this writer.

What are your thoughts on the great wine debate? Leave a comment and keep this conversation going.

5 Ways To Protect Your Eyes From Screen Glare

If you’re like me, you spend a LOT of time in front of the computer. I work, shop, chat with friends, watch videos and pay bills from the comfort of my desk. Is staring at a computer screen for a long time bad for your eyes?

Can Staring at a Screen Too Long Hurt Your Vision?

The good news is that using your laptop, tablet or smartphone isn’t going to hurt your eyes. You don’t have to worry about a screen ruining your vision or making you need a stronger prescription. Those are all myths.

It’s still important to take good care of your eyes, though. Bright screens can cause dry eyes. Many people experience eyestrain, or tired eyes, after a long workday. Some people even get headaches from this. There are times when my eyes feel like sore grapes!

Why Can Staring at a Screen Cause Eyestrain and Dryness?

One reason screens make your eyes feel uncomfortable is that they slow down your blinking. Blinking is essential for keeping your eyes hydrated and clean. Normally, you should blink at least 15–20 times per minute. But when you’re staring intently at a screen, you only blink half that much! This can make your eyes really dry, especially after using a computer for hours.

Bright screens can also make your eyes exhausted — literally. Whether you’re absorbed in a book or shopping online, the tiny muscles around your eyeballs are constantly moving. Your eyes have to focus over and over, similar to how a photographer adjusts a camera lens.

Like any other muscle, eye muscles can get tired, too. After a while, focusing gets harder and concentrating on words requires a ton of effort. That’s a sign you’ve pushed your eyes too far. They need a break, just like how your feet want to kick back and relax after standing all day.

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How Can You Prevent Eyestrain?

Follow these tips to protect your eyes:

  1. Avoid screen glare: Some newer screens have an anti-glare coating. For extra protection, you can buy a cheap ($10) matte screen filter for your computer. If you wear glasses, another option is to get an anti-reflective coating for your eyeglasses.
  2. Turn down screen brightness: A screen that’s too bright can tire your eyes out more quickly. Turn down brightness as much as possible while making sure reading is still comfortable.
  3. Increase the text size: Most apps let you adjust the size of words on the screen. Making text bigger doesn’t have anything to do with age. It’s about reducing eyestrain. Larger text is just more comfortable. Trust me, I kicked the settings up a few notches and it made a huge difference for my day.
  4. Take a break every 30 minutes: If possible, stop what you’re doing every 15–30 minutes so your eyes can rest and rehydrate. Get up, grab some water, eat a handful of almonds or check on your pot roast. Then, go back to writing your novel or working.
  5. Don’t sit too close: For a computer screen, position your chair so your eyes are about two feet away. For a tablet, hold it at the distance you would a book.

The solution to dry eyes and eyestrain isn’t to use eyedrops constantly. That's actually a bad idea. Prevent CVS instead by making life easier on your eyes. You can still use your laptop or tablet whenever you want; just remember to blink more and take more (healthy) snack breaks!

Can a Healthy Gut Really Help With Arthritis, Depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Do you have problems with inflammation, anxiety or depression? Do you get sick a lot? It turns out that the real solution is to fix your gut, not to take endless pills.

Your Body Has a “Second Brain” — And It’s in Your Gut!

The expression “going with your gut” is more accurate than scientists ever suspected. Your digestive system has a staggering network of over 100 million nerve cells! This “second brain” is called the enteric nervous system (ENS) and it surrounds your entire gastrointestinal tract.

The ENS doesn’t help you play chess or calculate your taxes, but it does play a large role in emotional health. If something makes your digestive system feel bad, scientists believe the ENS triggers mood changes, such as depression, anxiety or irritability.

This is a huge discovery; it explains why so many people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also have depression. Protecting your gut health may go a long way towards helping you feel happier, and lowering stress may help you avoid digestive problems.

The Key to a Stronger Immune System? That’s Right — Excellent Gut Health!

Have you ever thought of taking probiotics to boost your immune system? That’s exactly what you should be doing, according to many experts.

Healthy gut bacteria can improve immune cells throughout the body, increasing the amount of natural antibodies you have and strengthening mucus membranes that help trap invaders. One study found that Lactobacillus, a type of probiotic found in yogurt, helped reduce the amount of respiratory infections in children by almost 20%!

Soup’s On!

There’s a new science-backed, all-you-can-eat soup diet that has folks losing 7, 10, even 12 pounds in a single week.

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The Connection Between a "Leaky Gut" and Inflammation

In a healthy gut, positive microorganisms form a kind of protective wall over the lining of your GI tract. This helps in two big ways: lowering levels of inflammation-causing bacteria and preventing them from getting into your blood stream.

When your gut is out of whack — sometimes called “leaky gut syndrome” — unhealthy bacteria travel places they shouldn’t, provoking your immune system to attack. The problem appears to be even worse for people who have rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. The combination makes inflammation much more severe than normal.

The opposite is also true. A balanced gut microbiome is good for fighting inflammation. It can make arthritis less painful and give you back a lot of your flexibility and mobility. And for the rest of us, good digestive health reduces the number of aches and pains we wake up with in the morning.

Your Shopping List for Amazing Gut Health

How can you take good care of your gut microbiome? The secret is to increase the amount of probiotics and prebiotics in your diet.

Probiotics are good bacteria. Probiotics add soldiers directly to your gut’s army of healthy microbes. Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods have lots of probiotics. I like to take probiotic supplements, too, especially after finishing any kind of antibiotics.

Prebiotics are plant fibers that help good bacteria grow. They support your intestinal soldiers, promoting good digestion and providing food for hungry microbes. My favorite prebiotics are apples, bananas, leafy greens and whole grains.

A healthy gut helps you fight off harmful bacteria, viruses and allergies. It can help you get sick less often, and make symptoms less severe when you do catch a bug. Probiotics may even make vaccines more effective. Make great gut health a priority!



Eat Dark Chocolate To Boost Memory and Improve Mental Health

Does anyone really need an excuse to eat more chocolate? It is among the most cherished sweet treats known to all humankind. However, if prescribing chocolate as an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging superfood means that the world can indulge in the melted goodness of chocolate, so be it.

While it might sound like a bunch of hype and half-concocted excuses, there are several studies that address the legitimacy of chocolate consumption and some fairly staggering health benefits. For example, when you consume the right kind of chocolate routinely, you can experience cardiovascular health, reduced stress, and improved cognitive function. The remainder of this blog will dissect the reasons for chocolate's seemingly magical abilities and dive deeper into the treat's relationship with the brain.

Reason for Health Benefits From Chocolate

The health benefits of chocolate come from the cacao seeds that make up part of the candy's recipe. To experience the most benefit from chocolate consumption, you should look for bars labeled 70% cacao. The beneficial compounds found in cacao are called phytochemicals.

The phytochemicals in cacao consist mainly of polyphenols and methylxanthines, which can be further broken down into flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and theobromine. All of these chemicals and compounds contribute to the therapeutic effects, including:

  • Antioxidant intake
  • Blood vessel dilation
  • Reduction of insulin resistance
  • Regulation of body weight controlling genes
  • Inhibition of cancer growth
  • Prevention of blood clots
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Protection of nerve cells
  • Increased blood flow to the brain

Chocolate and Cognitive Function

The accumulation of flavonoids in the hippocampus, the learning and memory area of the brain, corresponds with an increase in blood flow, production of neurons, and the improved function of existing neurons. The flavonoids also protect neurons from free radicals and enhance neural connections.

A study in the medical journal, Hypertension, suggests the daily consumption of a chocolate beverage high in flavonoids is beneficial for elderly patients experiencing mild cognitive impairment. Other studies imply a single dose of dark chocolate can improve memory performance and cognitive function in healthy adults.

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Chocolate and Mood

The compounds found in chocolate, specifically flavonoids and methylxanthines, contribute to chocolate's mood-enhancing effects. Several studies found that chocolate can improve mood. One study, focusing on the consumption of a daily dark chocolate drink with a high concentration of polyphenols, found that participants showed improvement in depression and anxiety conditions. Some evidence also suggests the routine consumption of chocolate can reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Dark Chocolate Versus Milk Chocolate

While there is no denying that milk chocolate is delicious, it does not offer the same benefits as dark chocolate. A dark chocolate bar with a high percentage of cocoa, at least 70%, will have plenty of phytochemicals, contributing to the mood-boosting and brain-improving effects. However, chocolate should only be enjoyed in moderation. You should aim for only one to two ounces per day or roughly 30 to 60 grams.

Other Foods With Beneficial Flavonoids

Chocolate is not the only food with brain-benefitting flavanoids. Several fruits and vegetables also contain the compounds that contribute to cognitive function:

  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Red Cabbage
  • Berries

You can also find flavonoids in red wine and certain teas. If you want to consume the healthiest diet for your brain, you might consider consulting with your primary doctor and a nutritionist.

Were you aware of the many benefit of chocolate, and if so, what do you find most surprising? Leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.

The Human Diet: Fish and Plants

While a diet filled with beef and poultry seems to be the norm in the US and many parts of the world, it is not the traditional omnivore diet. Beef, pork, and poultry products can lead to health issues, while the consumption of fish and plant-based proteins leads to health improvement. There are many reasons to switch from a more carnivorous diet to a pescetarian diet, but below are the most critical.

The Case Against Carnivores

People often make the argument that humans are designed to eat meat. You will indeed find canines in your mouth next to your incisors, and these sharp, pointed teeth are useful for tearing food. However, that is not an indication of a specific type of food, like red or white meat. 

People are not carnivores; they are omnivores. Carnivores typically have claws and several sharp pointed fangs for tearing and ripping flesh from muscle and bone. Meat eaters also have a shorter intestinal tract for quick digestion, and they lack pores for sweating, usually perspiring through the tongue.

As omnivores, the human body evolved to hunt for food during daylight, requiring pores for perspiration. Because the human diet traditionally consisted of fish and plants, the intestinal tract is longer allowing time to absorb and digest plant-based proteins.

A diet rich in fish and plant-based foods - fruits and vegetables - is healthier and more natural to the human system, making the pescetarian diet among the most traditional on the planet. Fish contains minerals and vitamins essential for health, requiring supplementation if you do not eat it. Cutting red meat from your diet does not require the same precaution, suggesting that red meats are not essential to the human diet.

Soup’s On!

There’s a new science-backed, all-you-can-eat soup diet that has folks losing 7, 10, even 12 pounds in a single week.

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Eating Fish Rather Than Meat Is Healthier

Unlike other meats, fish does not come into contact with harmful chemicals or pesticides on the journey to your table. It also contains a generous amount of vitamins and minerals that are incredibly beneficial to a person's overall health. For example, most of the iron your body requires can be found in a pescetarian diet, as can the required protein and the addition of omega-3 fatty acids.

Because of the complex combination of vitamins and minerals, fish is considered a powerhouse food, reducing the risks of stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer. A pescetarian diet's primary benefit is its dependence on the consumption of foods low in fats and oils but high in fiber.

The addition of fish to a primarily vegetarian diet is crucial to avoiding typical problems associated with strict veganism or vegetarianism, like iron deficiency or other forms of anemia. The consumption of fish helps to ensure adequate protein, iron, vitamin, and mineral levels in the diet, promoting well-rounded nutritional health.

Eating Fish Versus Other Meats Benefits the Planet

A study by the Smithsonian Institute concluded the need for grazing areas for livestock farms requires the destruction of a land area equivalent to seven football fields, meaning that meat production is a significant contributor to deforestation. In the US, animal agriculture has led to the destruction of over 260 million acres of forest.

Livestock also contributes to waste and toxic emissions. Animal agriculture is responsible for the production of more than 130 times the excrement produced by the human race.

Are you a meat-eater? Is there anything that will change your mind, making you switch to pescetarianism? Leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.