Is This Fish Oil Really Helping My Joints?

I never used to have problems with my joints, but that’s changed in a big way as I’ve grown older. In an effort to help my joints feel better, I’ve been taking fish oil supplements every day. It seems like I’ve always known that fish oil was good for joints in some way, but the other day I caught myself thinking, “Is this stuff really helping?”

I realized that I didn’t know much about fish oil at all, and my lack of knowledge started to make my confidence in the product wane. So I decided to do some research and find out exactly what it is about fish oil that can supposedly make my joints feel better. Here’s what I found out.

There’s Nothing “Fishy” About Fish Oil

Despite my worries that fish oil is just a great big fish tale, I discovered some impressive things about it during my research. I found out that the secret to fish oil’s ability to help aching joints lies within its content of omega-3 fatty acids. Though the name isn’t super appealing, omega-3 fatty acids are pretty powerful for joint health. Here’s how they work.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil contain high levels of these two fatty acids in particular:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

According to research, both of these fatty acids are effective at lowering inflammation. It’s their inflammation-curbing properties that make these fatty acids so valuable for people with joint conditions. Many conditions that cause joint pain are due to excess inflammation within the joints.

According to one study (published in the British Journal of Nutrition), DHA and EPA from marine sources (such as fish oil) provide help with the following:

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • The use of joint-related pain medication
  • Morning joint stiffness

These are all benefits I can stand behind! So I’ll continue my daily habit of taking fish oil pills so they can go to work reducing inflammation in my joints.

How Fish Oil Reduces Inflammation

I’m a naturally curious soul, so it wasn’t enough for me to learn that DHA and EPA can reduce inflammation. I wanted to know how they do it. So I decided to dive into the topic a lot more. Here’s what I discovered.

EPA and DHA work in tandem to lower inflammatory molecules in the body (such as C-reactive protein and tumour necrosis factor alpha). They’re a little bit like The Wonder Twins when it comes to protecting our bodies from the negative effects of systemic inflammation.

DHA seems to be more effective at reducing multiple pro-inflammatory proteins, while EPA seems to target primarily one type. But EPA does have the added benefit of boosting immune function regulation. So when you’re looking for a fish oil supplement, look for one that contains both of these important components. Like the old song goes, “some things just go better together and probably always will.”


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What To Look for in a Fish Oil Supplement

As with any nutritional or dietary supplement, fish oil supplements are not all created equal. Here are a few things to look for in a quality supplement:

  • Make sure the supplement you choose contains both EPA and DHA.
  • Look for good purity and authenticity standards.
  • Always check the date on the bottle and don’t use it after the printed date (fish oil goes rancid over time).
  • Look for free fatty acids (FFA), phospholipids (PLs) and triglycerides, and reformed triglycerides (TG and rTG) instead of ethyl esters (EE).

Keeping these things in mind when shopping will help you select a quality fish oil supplement that will give your joints (and your body in general) maximum anti-inflammatory benefits.

These Are My 4 Favorite Milk Alternatives

Cow’s milk is rich in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium and amino acids, or protein. If you're planning on switching to a milk alternative, you need to fill those nutritional needs. Which are the best milk substitutes?

1. Soy Milk: Super-Nutritious, Mild but Weird

Soy milk is a nutrient superfood, which makes it one of the best milk alternatives for your health. It has almost the same amount of protein that cow’s milk does, a filling 7 grams per cup. This protein contains all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, which is why vegetarians and vegans benefit a lot from drinking soy milk.

There’s only one tiny catch, at least for me: the taste. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor of soy milk or tofu (another high-protein food made from soy).

What I would recommend is to start yourself off eating soy yogurt. After you get used to the texture and flavor, mix soy milk with fresh fruit and enjoy a nutrient-packed morning smoothie.

2. Almond Milk: Thick, Creamy, and Delicious

Personally, I could drink almond milk all day long. It has a slightly sweet, nutty taste and an amazing texture. Imagine drinking a creamy glass of whole milk, but way better for your waistline.

This is my go-to option for recipes that call for milk, such as baked goods or creamy Italian dishes. I also love it with coffee because it’s like having a shot of amaretto and cream.

Any downsides? It's low in protein. So, while almond milk is an excellent replacement for cow’s milk flavor-wise and calorie-wise, it doesn’t fill your protein needs completely.


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.

Fastest Soup Diet Ever


3. Coconut Milk: Sweet, Great for Weight Loss, But High in Fat?

If you haven’t tried coconut milk yet, trust me, go out and buy yourself a carton. This sweet treat will put a big smile on your face.

But is it healthy? Yes and no. This tropical drink gives you lots of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. But it also has the same amount of fat as whole milk.

The interesting thing is that some scientists think the type of fat in coconut milk and coconut oil can actually help you lose weight. These MCTs help your metabolism burn fat instead of storing it. They may also calm your appetite and improve your cholesterol levels.

4. Macadamia Milk: All-Around Amazing but Expensive

This rising superstar would be my favorite milk alternative … if it wasn’t so darned expensive in the stores near me. Macadamia milk has it all: great flavor, lots of protein, a smooth texture and few calories.

As long as you choose a fortified version, you’re getting magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and vitamin B6. Plus, this creamy nut milk has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids too, which are amazing for heart health. Macadamia milk is low in carbs, making it ideal for keto dieters.

All in all, with half the fat of cow’s milk, one-third the calories and the same amount of protein, this nutty milk is a homerun for parents and kids. Just maybe not for your wallet.

The Best Alternative Milk for Your Family

Honestly, no one said you had to choose just one. Try a few kinds and settle on the ones that fit your lifestyle. It’s OK to use some for coffee, some for cooking, some for smoothies and some for drinking happily.

Are You Eating Enough Calories?

Culture seems to be diet-centric anymore. A new dietary claim is made almost every month or so, and countless people jump aboard the rumor train toward unknown health benefits or problems. 

For decades, the idea of counting calories appeared to be rational — calories in, calories out, right? While calorie-restricted diets can be safe when monitored, ensuring participants are getting appropriate nutrients through food choices, people can often get carried away with the level of restriction.

1,200 calories are the bare minimum for calorie intake, which is for female resting metabolic requirements. Dipping below this number is rarely advised, and when it is, it is with the strict supervision of a medical or dietary professional.

More often than not, diets of 1,200 calories are referred to as unsustainable. The benefits of such restrictive dieting often result in less than optimal results for those trying to lose weight, especially as it can motivate a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting.

When beginning a diet, especially a calorie-focused diet, it is crucial to understand the warning signs of under-eating. You should correct course and reevaluate your calorie intake to avoid any recurring issues.

Irritability and Lethargy are Only the Beginning

You have likely heard the term “hangry” before, meaning hungry and angry. There is a legitimate psychological component to eating and food. People often associate food with joy, relationships, and other pleasurable events and feelings. By taking those foods away, your brain can react negatively, causing a rise in cortisol and other hormones contributing to irritability or testiness.

Beyond feeling on edge all the time, you need to remember that calories are the body’s primary source of energy for tissues and functions. If you are eating the bare minimum, your body will need to prioritize what systems access energy and how much. The restrictions result in feeling tired, with many tasks seeming more challenging and less appealing, even those tasks you enjoy.

Unfortunately, irritability and lethargy are only the beginning of your troubles if you continue to eat too few calories. Eating less can also lead to sleep and digestive problems.

Restful Nights Might Become a Thing of the Past

Blood sugar levels depend on a balanced diet. Eating fewer calories than necessary can prevent the liver from producing enough glycogen during sleep to stabilize blood sugar levels. 

When the liver doesn’t produce enough glycogen, the body must use gluconeogenesis to produce glucose. The process is possible only by releasing cortisol and adrenaline, and with enough of these hormones in your body, you might find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.


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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Digestive Problems Can Become a Permanent Diet Companion

A common symptom of consuming too few calories is persistent constipation. The problem often results from not consuming enough fiber. Fiber is essential to keep the digestive system moving along.

Dehydration is also a possibility of constipation. If the body does not have enough water in its system, it can not perform digestive tasks effectively, regardless of fiber levels. Unfortunately, many people struggle to differentiate between hunger and thirst, often confusing one for the other.

Consume Enough Calories Without Starving Yourself

Do not assume 1,200 calories is suitable for you. Talk to your doctor about calorie intake; they can offer a professional opinion based on gender, age, weight, and current health. Additionally, most fitness and nutrition experts agree that cutting your present daily calories by 200 to 300 calories per day combined with 30 minutes of exercise is enough to start a weight loss journey.

How many calories are healthy for you? Leave a comment, and join the conversation.

Ranking Salad Dressings From Most Healthy to Least Healthy

There's nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a variety of salad dressings. These days, you have a lot of options for giving salads a kick of flavor. What are the best healthy salad dressings?

The Healthiest Salad Dressings

These are my favorite dressings, and they won't add to your waistline:

  1. Vinaigrette: These dressings are full of flavor and focus on a few simple ingredients. What I love is the endless variety. You can go for balsamic vinegar, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar — even strawberries! And with basil, cilantro and other herbs, all I can say is “yum.”
  2. Green Goddess: It’s easy to find green goddess dressing made with a base of Greek yogurt. This gives you the creaminess you crave without the fat. Along with probiotics from the yogurt, you’re getting lots of vitamins from olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and green onions.
  3. Greek or Mediterranean Dressings: Think creamy Italian dressing, minus the cream. Many Greek dressings use avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil for thickness. Both of these oils give you lots of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins.
  4. Sesame Ginger: My kids love Asian-style dressings, and I think they spice up meals at home. Look for real garlic, ginger and rice wine vinegar in the ingredients, and try to keep sugar down with nut butter.
  5. Honey Dijon: Both Dijon mustard and honey make dressings thicker and smoother naturally. If you’re adding a salad to a meat-and-potatoes meal, try this dressing. The reason it's near the bottom is that you have to keep an eye on sugar and calories with store-bought versions.

The Least Healthy Salad Dressings

Basically, anything with the word “creamy” in its name is going to shock you into falling backwards when you look at the fat content and calories. This includes blue cheese, Caesar dressing, thousand island, French and (sigh) everyone’s favorite ranch dressing.

Now the good news. You can find reasonably healthy alternatives to each. Some replace mayo with avocado oil, coconut milk or Greek yogurt. Others go big on flavor from high-quality ingredients (like more blue cheese) to reduce the amount of other ingredients. Herbs and spices such as chipotle, jalapenos, basil, dill, parsley and chives add a boost of flavor all by themselves.

The Benefits of Homemade Salad Dressings

Homemade dressings offer a lot of benefits:

  • You control salt and sugar levels
  • Non-refined, natural oils give you more heart benefits than many store-bought dressings
  • Fresh ingredients provide more vitamins and minerals
  • Homemade dressings offer more flavor with less fat
  • Dressing you make at home doesn’t have any preservatives

That said, as a mom, it’s not always easy to find the time. Don't feel guilty if organic from the store is the best you can do.

A Sensible View of Dressings

I like to take a balanced view of mom-hood and weight loss. Focusing too strictly on every calorie can make healthy eating a chore. Isn’t encouraging your family to eat more salad a good thing?

It keeps you and your kids munching on fresh ingredients: romaine lettuce, arugula, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, yellow peppers and avocados. That's WAY better kids begging for pizza every night because they're tired of plain vinaigrette with every salad.

More salad + healthy dressing options = more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and more! That’s a win in my book. So, don't punish yourself if you buy (gasp!) the tiniest bottle of (double gasp!) Ranch dressing sometimes.

Inspecting the Claims and Reality of Cleanse and Detox Diets

A cleanse diet, designed around the notion of your body needing help eliminating excess toxins, has grown in popularity exponentially over the last decade, despite having little scientific backing or merit. Celebrities, manufacturers, and self-proclaimed nutritionists have hopped aboard the cleansing and detoxifying train to riches. Unfortunately, those unsubstantiated claims of detoxing and cleansing needs can result in health issues.

In any other context, the idea of depriving your body of food or essential nutrients would appear illogical. While the severe caloric restrictions of these “fad” diets do contribute to rapid weight loss, the loss is not a symptom of eliminated toxins; it is merely a consequence of severe calorie deprivation. Yet, it is no longer fair to consider these diets fads because popularity continues to grow. Cleanses are now a trend. The question becomes, is there any relevance to cleanse diets, or are any results purely speculative hokum?

Toxins and Your Body

In reality, your body has several organs and systems dedicated to removing toxins and bacteria — the liver, kidneys, intestines, etc. The human body, in general, effectively eliminates problematic toxins and harmful chemicals without any necessary interference or aid.

Most cleanse and detox diets claim the body needs help because of increased contaminants in the atmosphere and food, especially through environmental crises like global warming. However, despite the claims, there is little, if any, rational or well-researched evidence or logic to support such claims.

On top of misleading marketing, you will find it challenging, if not impossible, to find any cleanse or detox explaining what toxins the diet eliminates. The producers of these products and services cannot make such claims because it is considered fraud without proof. Instead, most cleanse services state generalities about health and wellness. Manufacturers might even discuss the potential benefits of specific ingredients in juices or supplements. However, in nearly every case, the company falls short of making any direct or conclusive statements about toxins. 

Explaining the Positive Effects of Cleanses

Many people participate in cleanses, and some even do more than one cleanse per year. The drive or motivation is often based on the belief the diet makes them more focused or energetic. While an individual might feel healthier during a cleanse diet, the improvement is likely based on eliminating unhealthy foods and the increase of healthy options, like fruits and vegetables, not the cleanse.

Anyone who alters their diet to include more fruits and vegetables while eliminating refined sugars and processed meats are sure to feel some change. However, the difference is the result of healthier choices, not a specific cleanse or detox.


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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Risks of Cleanses

Despite the focus on health and longevity, several cleanses can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies or dehydration. Still, several others can increase the potential risks of overdosing on diuretics, supplements, or laxatives. Because of the loopholes and lack of regulation in the supplement market, some labels might be inaccurate. While many might not see the risk of overdose on supplements or dietary products as a threat, it is potentially fatal, depending on the supplement.

There is a continued obsession with dieting, so much so that people now feel like health is reliant on the next new and improved fad. It is a constant and unwinnable game of whack-a-mole. In truth, all anyone needs to do is focus on consuming a healthy and balanced diet. If you do not know how or where to start, speak to a licensed nutritionist or primary care physician.

5 Reasons Why Fiber Is So Important

I like to think I know the basics of good health. But periodically, I learn some new health fact that catches me by surprise. The importance of fiber is one of those health facts I didn’t really grasp until recently. Sure, I’ve always known fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, but I didn’t realize just how necessary it is for optimal health and digestive function. Here are five reasons why fiber is so important for all of us to consume regularly.

1. Helps Control Blood Sugar

If you struggle to keep your blood sugar under control, eating fiber may help. It’s especially helpful for people with diabetes to consume sufficient soluble fiber to slow down their body’s absorption of sugar. For those of us who don’t have diabetes, eating insoluble fiber may help us avoid developing it.

2. Promotes Normal Bowel Movements

Nobody likes to talk about their bowel movements (unless you’re my over-sharing Aunt Kathy), but how often you go is really important. The consistency of your poop is also really important. If it’s consistently runny, adding some fiber to your diet can give it a little bulk so you’re more regular and can pass your stools more easily.

Whew. Now that we got that topic over with, let’s move on to the next reason why fiber’s so important!


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.

Fastest Soup Diet Ever


3. May Decrease the Likelihood of Hemorrhoids

OK, so going from bowel movements to hemorrhoids isn’t exactly a step up. But it’s important to talk about how fiber can potentially help us avoid developing hemorrhoids. That reason alone is good enough for me to increase my daily intake of fiber!

In addition to decreasing your likelihood of getting hemorrhoids, studies show that a high-fiber diet may also lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Research is still being done to understand exactly how fiber helps prevent colorectal cancer, but it’s thought that it has something to do with how fiber ferments in the colon.

4. Assists With Healthy Weight Maintenance

It’s generally easy to put weight on, but difficult to take it off (unless you’re someone who can’t seem to gain weight no matter how hard you try). When you’re trying to let go of a few extra pounds, you probably think about exercising, cutting out sugary foods and drinks, and eating healthier. But if you’re neglecting to eat sufficient fiber, you could be making your weight-loss journey more difficult than it needs to be.

High-fiber foods are typically more filling than foods with little to no fiber. That means the more high-fiber foods you eat, the easier it will be for you to manage your appetite and keep your weight in check. Additionally, foods high in fiber typically require more chewing, which means you’re expending more calories to eat them.

5. Reduces the Risk of Some Diseases

One of the most surprising things I have learned about fiber is that it may reduce your risk of developing some diseases. According to studies, there is a link between increased dietary fiber intake and reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. So if you have a family history of cancer, make sure you add fiber to your daily healthy eating plan!

Though fiber has a lot of great benefits, it’s possible to eat too much of it. If you feel like your fiber intake is clogging you up and messing with your regularity, it may be time to cut back a little bit. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men aged 50 or younger consume 38 grams of fiber daily. Women aged 50 0r younger should aim to consume 25 grams of fiber per day.

Some good sources of fiber include vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, whole-grain products and legumes. Figure out how to incorporate these foods into your daily meals and you’ll start reaping the benefits of a high-fiber diet.

The 5 Healthiest Meal Prep Delivery Services

Food that comes in a package and that is delivered straight to your door via UPS, FedEx, USPS or another postal delivery service cannot be healthy, right? While it seems too good to be true, some meal prep delivery services actually help consumers eat better than if they were to do the grocery shopping on their own. However, the keyword here is “some.”

Like anything in life, not all meal prep delivery services are created equal. A handful standout for their use of wholesome, healthy ingredients, and for their recipes that are as healthy as they are tasty. Check them out below.

Green Chef

As the first meal-kit delivery company to become USDA-Certified Organic, Green Chef is a highly sought-after service for anyone who is interested in leading a more sustainable and responsible lifestyle. More than 90% of the service’s ingredients are organic and, to up its eco-friendly rating, its packaging is made from mostly compostable, recyclable and reusable materials.

Green Chef caters to various dietary preferences, including paleo, plant-based and keto. While you will have to pay more for meals that cater to more complex diets, Green Chef is relatively cheap, starting at just $10.99 per meal.

Fresh N’ Lean

Fresh N’ Lean is a meal-kit delivery service that caters to the meat-eaters of the world. Starting at $75 per week, the subscriptions are a bit steep, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. Each meal is customizable for various dietary preferences, including low-carb, paleo, Keto and even vegan, but you can count on each meal to contain ample amounts of protein. Unlike many meal delivery services, which cater more to convenience than they do health, Fresh N’ Leans ingredients are always fresh, never frozen.


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.

Fastest Soup Diet Ever


Fresh Direct

Founded back in 2002, Fresh Direct has had nearly two decades to hone its offerings to appeal to a wide variety of taste and dietary preferences. When ordering, you can narrow down your weekly options based on the cook time, list of ingredients and kit type to find meals that are best suited for your lifestyle. The meals are creative and full of flavor and, most importantly, contain nothing but quality, gourmet ingredients. Meal kits start at $13.

Sunbasket

As a certified organic handler that uses organic ingredients whenever possible and that delivers meals only approved by an in-house dietician, Sunbasket is an increasingly popular option for busy individuals who want whole, nutrient-dense meals in little time. Though Sunbasket has traditional kits with ingredients customers prep and assemble themselves, some of their most popular offerings are their microwaveable meals. These meals come fully prepared and ready to cook in bamboo containers meaning, with this service, you can eat in as little as six minutes.

You can also order breakfast and lunch through the service. Meals start at $10.99.

Urban Remedy

Urban Remedy’s motto is “food is healing.” As such, its selling point is that each of its ingredients was chosen specifically for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Though the offerings are limited to just eight meals, the brand claims that all eight meals contain immune-boosting, inflammation-fighting ingredients. The service also offers individual drinks, protein bars and smoothies. Meal plans start at $117 a week.

Despite what the past has led many people to believe, convenient food does not have to mean unhealthy food. Each of the above five meal kit delivery services is a testament to that.

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.


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.

Fastest Soup Diet Ever


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.


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.

Fastest Soup Diet Ever


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.

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.

Fastest Soup Diet Ever


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!

 

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11387176/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection