4 Reasons Fresh Foods Are Superior to Processed Foods

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, processed foods seem to reign supreme. Fast food and pre-packaged meals offer families more of what they often lack: time.

Unfortunately, while processed foods might give you a few extra minutes today, chronic use can result in less time later. Overly processed foods can lead to overeating, obesity, and chronic health conditions, which is why medical professionals encourage people to eat a diet of primarily fresh foods.

Fresh foods contribute to your overall health and well-being. They provide superior nutrition compared to processed foods and encourage healthy lifelong habits. According to nutritionists and other medical professionals, there are many reasons to eat fresh.

1. Fresh Foods Boost Immune Defenses

As the seasons change, winter gets closer, as does cold and flu season. While no foods can magically cure illnesses, consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can prevent infection or reduce the likelihood of sickness. Several studies suggest a healthy and balanced diet promotes good health and fortifies the immune system.

Obviously, your diet is not the only contributing factor to your level of infection risk. You will also want to maintain good hygiene and sleep practices.

2. Fresh Foods Teach Healthy Habits

Childhood obesity is a disturbing issue, and many studies suggest it is a dangerous trend that continues into adulthood. According to one study, two-year-old obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Obesity puts children at risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer as they age.

Most children can adopt healthy eating habits easily; parents only need to expose them to a healthier diet. By including plant-based foods with every meal, your child will learn its importance. Also, providing a balanced diet helps children develop a healthy relationship with food.

3. Fresh Foods Reduce Family Costs

A common argument for consuming a diet mainly comprising processed foods is cost. People assume fresh foods are more expensive, which is false in most instances. According to experts, fresh food is cheaper than processed foods with proper meal planning and effort.

The problem most people have is they attempt overly complex meals. Keep in mind that your dinners do not have to meet Michelin star restaurant standards. Using an affordable lean protein like chicken and a decent portion of fruits and vegetables is enough to make a satisfying and affordable meal at home.

4. Fresh Foods Taste Great

Clean eating is a palate awakening. Society is so used to overly salted, sugar-covered snacks that it's forgotten the delicacy of natural foods. Fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can offer a whirlwind of flavors, and the combinations are vast. If you are only willing to open up your palate to clean foods, the overwhelming available flavors might surprise you.

Fresh foods are more nutritious than most processed foods and present reduced health risks in the short and long term. While you might turn to fast food or other overly processed meals to save time, consider the potential risks of consuming such foods routinely. Fresh is best, especially where your health is concerned.

6 Foods for a Longer Life

Who doesn't want to live longer? One thing that sucks about being human is the relatively short lifespan. Thankfully, with medical advances, people are living longer than ever. You can even boost your longevity by eating the right foods. Nutritionists recommend six foods for a longer life.

1. Dark Leafy Greens

Eating dark leafy greens can slow cognitive decline. Dark leafy greens include:

  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collards

According to a study in the Neurology journal, researchers found that participants who ate about 1.5 servings of greens daily showed less cognitive decline than those who ate less. The findings suggested the difference between the participants was equivalent to 11 years in brain health.

2. Fruits

You cannot go wrong with fresh fruit. All varieties of fruit have anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and immune-supportive properties. Despite the nutritional benefits of all fruit, nutritionists and dieticians say berries are particularly advantageous because they are low in sugar, nutrient-rich, and high in fiber.

Studies show the blue-purple family of berries is especially important to immunity and brain and heart health. One study concluded that people aged 66 to 70 who drank concentrated blueberry juice daily showed improvements in memory and brain activity.

However, the benefits of fruit come from consuming clean fruit. Do not eat fruit covered in syrup or sugar; it negates the health benefits.

3. Nuts

Nuts are amazing and deserve their place on the list of life-preserving superfoods. As a dense source of nutrients, nuts support the metabolism and immune system, help balance gut health and reduce inflammation, promote heart and brain health, and act as a cancer preventative.

One study of over 7,000 adults 55 to 80 years old and at high risk of heart disease showed that eating nuts can reduce mortality. According to researchers, the participants who ate three or more one-ounce servings of nuts per week showed a 39% lower mortality risk than non-nut eaters.

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains can reduce the risk of early death. The best whole grain options include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Bran
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa

According to a review of published studies, four servings of whole grains daily led to a lower risk of death than one serving or less over the 40-year study period. The researchers suggested the health benefits of whole grains stem from the foods' high fiber content. A high-fiber diet can lower cholesterol production in the body.

5. Legumes

The legume family — peas, beans, and lentils — is low in fat and high in folate, protein, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Also, studies suggest beans can reduce the risks of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

6. Green Tea

Researchers link green tea to reduced diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's, cancer, and heart disease risks. During one study of more than 40,000 participants, adults who drank five cups or more of green tea per day were 26% less likely to die during the study than those drinking one cup.

Green tea is likely beneficial because it is nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich, which can benefit telomeres. Telomeres protect DNA and naturally shorten with age, but green tea can prevent some shortening.

If you want to improve your odds of a longer life, focus on your health. Add the above six foods to your diet and possibly add years to your life.

These Chemicals in Your Hand Lotion Can Be Harmful

Hand lotion is one of the most benign products out there, right? That’s what I thought, too. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there are some pretty shady ingredients lurking in my favorite scented lotions. Those ingredients could be responsible for everything from my frequent headaches to my imbalanced hormones. There’s even such a thing as hand lotion poisoning! Who knew?

It’s pretty hard to believe your hand lotion could be causing you health issues, right? Since I don’t want you to just take my word for it, let’s dive into some of the harmful chemicals commonly found in different brands of hand lotion.

Dimethicone

Dimethicone is a silicone-based polymer. It’s one of the most common ingredients found in lotions because it helps to condition the skin. There is a lot of controversy over this ingredient because it is known to be a hazardous ingredient if it is consumed.

Well, people don’t eat lotion, so what’s the big deal? Even though we don’t ingest the dimethicone in hand lotions, this ingredient can still enter our body through our skin. Our skin is highly porous and although it is designed to keep unwanted bacteria and other harmful foreign objects out of our bodies, much of the products we put onto our skin ends up being absorbed by our bodies.

Dimethicone can also disrupt the healthy turnover of skin cells and lead to trapped debris in the pores. These issues can cause dead skin buildup and ingrown hairs. That doesn’t sound very fun to me!

Mineral Oil

Minerals are good for our bodies, but mineral oil is another story. Research shows that mineral oil may be damaging to hormone balance. It can also cause a film on the skin that interferes with the body’s ability to produce vitamin D during sun exposure. Mineral oil can also clog your pores and cause acne and skin irritation.

Paraffins

Paraffin oil is often seen in the ingredients list of various skincare products. Paraffin oil is tasteless, colorless and insoluble in water. It can be more toxic than gasoline, especially if ingested. Accidental inhalation of paraffin oil can cause shortness of breath and coughing. Prolonged exposure to the oil on the skin can lead to contact dermatitis and skin irritation. Not to mention the fact that paraffin oil is highly flammable! All of these drawbacks make paraffin oil an unsuitable ingredient for hand lotion.

Parabens

Parabens are man-made preservatives often used in cosmetic products to help the formulas have a more stable shelf life. The problem with parabens is that they have been shown to negatively impact hormone function. When your hormones are out of balance, you’re more likely to experience changes in your immune and thyroid function. You may also notice weight and mood changes due to hormone imbalances.

The risk of infertility, obesity and allergies may be higher in people who are regularly exposed to parabens. For these reasons and more, it’s best to avoid hand lotions that include parabens in the ingredients list.

Perfumes

Perfumes are what make hand lotions fun, right? The problem is that perfumes are usually synthetic and lab-derived (which makes them more likely to cause skin irritation). Additionally, the regulations regarding what companies can put into their fragrances are very loose. Companies don’t have to list the individual ingredients in their fragrances, which means you could potentially be exposed to endocrine disruptions, carcinogens, respiratory irritants and more harmful ingredients without even knowing it.

To avoid exposing your body to any of the potentially harmful ingredients listed above, you need to be vigilant. Carefully check product labels on hand lotions and other cosmetic products to make sure they’re as free from harmful chemicals as possible.

Carbonation and Gut Health

Over the past several years, research and studies provided insight into the gut-brain connection and the importance of gut health. A balanced microbiome can not only improve digestion and GI function, but it can also improve mental health and overall biological function.

Most people understand that water is the most beneficial beverage for their diet. The human body needs water to operate. Still, people like variety, and water is not the most diverse beverage on the planet. Many people turn to teas, coffee, and sodas for variety.

However, a new trend suggests drinking carbonated beverages for improved gut health. Some people even promote carbonated sodas. Is carbonation a solution for improved gut health, or is it only a fad and a pipe dream?

Carbonation and Gut Health

There are many benefits to drinking carbonated or sparkling water. According to some experts, carbonated water can improve digestion, swallowing, and feelings of fullness while reducing constipation.

Unfortunately, carbonated beverages can also result in bloating and belching. The drinks are made from dissolved carbon dioxide. The compound expands to a gas when it reaches the warm temperatures of the stomach and GI tract. The stomach expands to accommodate the gas, and belching occurs to release it.

Soda and Gut Health

There are many rumors about how soda can improve gut health or ease stomach ailments, but there is little truth to the speculation. Some studies suggest that drinking carbonated soda, such as Sprite, can help with digestion because of PH values.

In truth, carbonated sodas might cause indigestion and promote acid reflux. According to experts, carbonation leads to gastric distention, resulting in more pressure on the esophageal sphincter. Therefore, people who deal with acid reflux or heartburn should stay away from soda and other carbonated beverages.

Drinks That Promote Gut Health

If you are going to drink carbonated beverages, stick to water. If you are looking for beverages to support your overall gut health, consider one of the following:

  • Kombucha
  • Peppermint tea
  • Ginger tea
  • Fennel tea
  • Lemongrass tea
  • Coffee

The above beverages all offer more benefits than sodas. Soda is a sugar-sweetened drink, and it can result in increased risks of heart disease, metabolic disorders, and tooth decay.

Water Is the Superior Beverages

If you are looking for the most beneficial beverage, it is water, hands down. Water is free of any additives and chemicals or potentially damaging compounds.

Carbonated water can also provide benefits for digestion and diet. However, you must also be aware that carbonation can result in an upset stomach, bloating, and unwanted gas.

As for beverages that contribute to gut health, Kombucha — a fermented drink — is likely the most beneficial. However, you will also want to limit your intake of the drink.

Carbonation is not some magical potion that will heal an unhealthy or unbalanced gut microbiome. The carbonation can increase feelings of fullness and prevent constipation, but that does not mean it will improve gut health. As usual, the only way to promote health is with a healthy diet and exercise.

The Role of Oral Hygiene in Your Overall Health

Oral hygiene is vital to your overall health and well-being. While you might not see the connection immediately, there is a direct link between oral health and health in general. Unfortunately, many Americans do not take adequate care of their teeth and gums. Nearly 30% of Americans have untreated tooth decay, and over 92% of the population between 20 and 64 have cavities.

Like other areas of the body, the mouth contains countless bacteria, most of which are harmless. However, as the mouth serves as the entry point to the digestive and respiratory tracts, harmful bacteria, despite being few, can cause disease or illness.

Adopting good oral habits, then, has health benefits beyond the teeth and gums. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments can reduce the number of harmful bacteria and resolve or treat dental issues before they evolve into decay and disease. While the relationship between oral hygiene and health seems strange, it is real and well-established.

How Inadequate Oral Hygiene Contributes to Health Concerns

When a person adopts good oral hygiene practices, the body's natural defenses are usually enough to combat any harmful bacteria that make it into the respiratory and digestive systems. Unfortunately, when a person does not use proper oral hygiene, harmful bacteria in the mouth can reach such levels as to lead to infection, tooth decay, or gum disease.

Also, some medicines can reduce the flow of saliva. Saliva plays a vital role in washing away food and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria. When saliva production is normal, it protects against the multiplication of harmful microbes, reducing the risks of illness and disease. Medications that may lead to reduced saliva or dry mouth include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Painkillers

Finally, studies suggest inflammation caused by periodontitis and oral bacteria can contribute to some diseases. Also, certain conditions can lower the body's resistance to infection, such as diabetes.

How Certain Conditions Link To Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene can lead to minor and temporary illnesses and infections, but it can also contribute to diseases and long-term conditions. For example, studies link poor oral health to heart diseases like endocarditis.

Endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium — the inner lining of the heart valves and chambers. The condition usually occurs when bacteria from another location in the body spreads through the bloodstream, attaching to areas in the heart. Bacteria from the mouth can access the bloodstream and transfer to the heart.

Research also suggests a link between oral bacteria and other health crises. While the link is not clear, researchers note that stroke, clogged arteries, and heart disease seem connected to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria in some cases.

Also, poor oral health can cause pneumonia and pregnancy and birth complications, such as low birth weight. Oral hygiene can also play a role in the management of certain conditions, like diabetes.

Oral hygiene is a crucial aspect of your overall health. Maintaining good oral habits, such as brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist, can reduce the risks of bacterial infections and disease development. If you have any questions about proper oral care, contact your local dental practice.

Free Radicals: What Are They and How Do You Fight Them

Oxygen is vital to human survival, down to the body's smallest cell. However, not all oxygen is life-sustaining. Some oxygen is toxic, causing significant cellular injury. The injuries relate to the aging process.

There are tiny cellular structures inside the body called mitochondria. Researchers often refer to mitochondria as the body's power plants, burning oxygen, fat, and sugar to produce energy. The mitochondria also produce water by combining oxygen and hydrogen, but things can go wrong during the process. During the water-producing process, the mitochondria sometimes produce free radicals, a toxic oxygen pollutant.

What Is a Free Radical?

A free radical is an oxygen atom with only one electron. While the lack of an electron might not seem like a big deal on the surface, it causes the affected atom to act in a parasitic manner, stealing an electron from the nearest source. Removing an electron from another molecule creates a volatile chemical chain reaction called oxidation.

Oxidation is most visible when looking at the rust on a steel pipe or the browning of an apple when left in the air. In simple terms, oxidation speeds up the aging process, which seems bad on the surface.

Despite resulting in premature aging, oxidation is not always problematic. The body's white blood cells will release free radicals to kill bacteria. The actual issue with free radicals is when the body cannot contain or control them.

Risks of Free Radicals and Their Effect on Aging

If uncontrolled, free radicals will cause damage to cell membranes, proteins, and DNA. Mitochondria are the primary sites for free radical production and oxidative damage. The damage around the mitochondria causes the production of less energy and the generation of more free radicals, resulting in a continuous and brutal cycle.

As the damage continues, cells malfunction, leading to premature aging. According to research, free radicals and oxidative damage can contribute to malignancy, muscle diseases, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, deafness, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and aging.

While the body can produce free radicals, people also encounter them in their environment. Some ways you might experience the molecules include:

  • Manufacturing pollutants
  • Cigarette smoke
  • The sun

Reducing the Effects of Free Radicals

Over years of evolution, the body developed chemical processes to help fight and control free radicals. Primarily, the body uses nutrients, such as vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, and other cellular enzymes to combat the intrusive and abnormal oxygen atoms.

Also, you can help reduce the body's ability to produce free radicals by focusing on your caloric intake. However, the efficacy of caloric restriction depends on individual needs, so always consult a doctor before making significant changes.

Exercise and diet are the most effective tools you have to fight free radicals. However, if you are sedentary, do not rush into strenuous physical activity. Intense exercise can lead to an increase in free radical production. Build an exercise habit and program slowly. Give your body time to adapt to the change.

As for nutrition and diet, focus on lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, talk to a nutritionist or your primary care physician about your specific nutritional needs.

Free radicals can lead to premature aging. Exposure to free radicals is both biological and environmental. Exercise and diet are the best weapons you have to stave off aging and cell damage.

Supplement and Prescription Interactions: 4 Supplements To Avoid

Many people take supplements to ensure they meet nutritional guidelines. Often, you can take supplements, such as a multivitamin, without little concern. Still, many people take supplements while taking prescription medications. While potential interactions are rare, several supplements do not mix well with medications.

Before taking any supplement, you should talk to your doctor, even if you are not on any medications. However, talking with your physician is more crucial when taking a prescription. There are at least four supplements you should avoid when taking specific medications.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is an ancient spice. Many nutritionists and researchers praise the supplement for a few reasons, including:

  • Improved memory 
  • Reduced inflammation 
  • Decreased risk of heart disease

Unfortunately, turmeric also possesses anticoagulant effects. If you take a blood thinner, you want to avoid turmeric because it can result in internal bleeding. You should also avoid vitamin E and Ginkgo Biloba, two supplements that can also thin the blood.

Still, experts explain that turmeric is still acceptable to use in foods and cooking. Doctors and researchers do not believe herbs and spices have much effect on the body when used in foods.

2. St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort comes from a flowering shrub that is native to Europe. The supplement is often praised for its ability to treat moderate or mild depression. Additionally, many women use it to reduce symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes.

Despite the usefulness and potential effectiveness of the supplement, St. John's Wort does not mix well with many prescriptions. Some of the many medications the supplement interacts with include:

  • omeprazole 
  • alprazolam 
  • Birth control pills 
  • Hormone replacement therapies 
  • Some statins 
  • Some antihistamines 
  • Paxlovid

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a common nutrient in various foods. A person can meet all vitamin C requirements by consuming:

  • Broccoli 
  • Strawberries 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Oranges 
  • Kiwi 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Kale 
  • Snow peas

Despite the number of natural sources of vitamin C, many people still take supplements. Supplements are popular because people believe the additional vitamin C can ward off the common cold and reduce the risk of cancer.

Unfortunately, high-dose vitamin C supplements can interfere with some forms of chemotherapy. Additionally, the supplements can disrupt the effectiveness of niacin and statins. Some people will also experience a disruption in estrogen levels.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics are essentially good bacteria that make up the gut microbiome. People take probiotic supplements to restore balance to the microbiome and aid digestion. Still, while probiotic supplements might be good for most people, they can interfere with certain medications, specifically antibiotics.

Doctors strongly recommend that patients stay away from probiotic supplements when taking antibiotics. More specifically, physicians tell patients not to take a probiotic supplement within two hours of taking their medication.

Supplements can help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Still, taking the wrong supplement can result in problematic interactions with your prescriptions. Your primary care physician should know what you are taking, including supplements. If you feel that some nutrients are missing or lacking in your diet, your doctor can point you toward safe and effective supplements or foods that can help without risking your health.

Can Probiotics Prevent Diarrhea?

One of the best ways to deal with temporary bouts of diarrhea also happens to be one of the easiest to follow: probiotics. These healthy microbes are surprisingly effective for calming trips to the bathroom and preventing problems in the first place.

What Causes Diarrhea?

Often, digestive troubles such as diarrhea happen because of an intestinal infection. Maybe the restaurant you ate at wasn’t as clean as you thought or the food at your family barbeque was sitting out for too long. Forgetting to wash lettuce, tomatoes or other raw produce can also trigger foodborne illnesses and diarrhea.

Traveler’s diarrhea in tropical locations can be caused by microbes in the water as well as food. That’s why using bottled water and washing your hands regularly matters.

Antibiotics: Good or Bad for Diarrhea?

Unless you have a high fever or other serious symptoms, taking antibiotics for intestinal infections can do more harm than good. Viral infections don’t respond to antibiotics, and minor problems with diarrhea usually clear up automatically in a few days. Plus, antibiotics are hard on your immune system, destroying good bacteria with bad ones.

Why Are Probiotics Helpful for Diarrhea?

Probiotics are your body’s good microbes. They’re tiny gut defenders that help protect your digestive system and fend off invaders. With healthy levels of probiotics, you’re less likely to get stomach infections in the first place. Studies say that probiotics may reduce the chances of having diarrhea by up to 75%!

To understand why this is helpful, imagine a bank with lots of security. With lots of guards, cameras, locks and secure vaults, the chances of criminals successfully breaking in are much lower. In the same way, the stronger your probiotic defenses, the better prepared your gut is to fend off viruses and bacteria.

How Can Probiotics Help If You Already Have Diarrhea?

Even if you’re careful when you eat out or go on vacation, you may still end up catching a case of digestive distress. There are over-the-counter meds that can put a stop to diarrhea on vacation, but they’re not the greatest option because of the large list of potential side effects: dizziness, drowsiness, constipation and more.

On the other hand, probiotics are perfectly safe. When you eat or drink probiotic-rich foods, it’s like sending reinforcements to your gut. These new “soldiers” can improve your body’s response to infections, often clearing up diarrhea a day earlier than normal. You still need to drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated, too.

What Are the Best Probiotic Foods for Diarrhea?

Lactic acid microbes, or lactobacilli, are excellent infection fighters. You can find these probiotics in many types of yogurt and other fermented dairy products, such as kefir or traditional buttermilk.

What if you’re lactose intolerant? It’s pretty easy to find probiotic supplements that have lactobacilli. Kimchi, miso and other nondairy fermented foods can help, too.

When Should You Visit Your Doctor?

Not every case of diarrhea is the same. If you have a high fever, feel extremely weak or dehydrated, or notice any scary symptoms, visit your doctor. The same thing goes for diarrhea that lasts for days without improving.

3 Surprising Foods for a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life

If you are what you eat, then choosing healthy foods is a no-brainer. What are the most important foods for feeling great and living longer? The answers may surprise you.

Legumes

It turns out that beans really are a magical “fruit,” but not for the reasons you think:

  • High in fiber: It only takes one cup of beans to give you over half of your daily fiber. Getting plenty of fiber is good for your digestive health, bowel movements and overall comfort.
  • Low in fat: Legumes have tons of protein and little fat. Adding beans, chickpeas or lentils to the menu can help you stay satisfied after mealtimes, a huge help for losing weight.
  • Rich in nutrients: Beans give you significant calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, folate and B vitamins. They also have a surprising amount of antioxidants that can potentially help protect the body from age-related diseases.
  • Great for your gut: Beans help the positive bacteria in your gut. That way, harmful bacteria have a harder time making you sick.

High-fiber foods such as beans may help prevent colon cancer and other cancers. Legumes can also lower your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, improving heart health. They make even help you avoid type 2 diabetes.

Berries (and Other Sweet Fruits)

For ages, Americans have had the idea that “sweet” equals “bad.” This is true in the case of junk food, but it’s not true for fruits. You never need to feel guilty about indulging your sweet tooth with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries and other “sinfully” sweet fruits.

Even bananas, the number one fruit villain for the “It’s too sweet!” crowd, are perfectly fine for morning smoothies. The same goes for mangos, pineapples, papayas, grapes, dates and figs.

How can sweet fruits get away with breaking the “no sugar for life” secret handshake? Fiber. The high amount of fiber in fruit takes your body time to digest, meaning you don’t get the same rush of glucose or sugar crash of candy bars.

Plus, blueberries, grapes, pineapples and bananas give you tons of valuable nutrients that can help you live longer. Berries are especially rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, that helps your immune system, heart and brain. These nutrients can lower chronic inflammation, protect your memory and take great care of your arteries.

Healthy Fats

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “she's out of her mind!” How can fats ever be healthy? Well, some are.

Sure, greasy, fried foods are bad for you because manufacturers and fast-food restaurants choose cheap oils. On the other hand, many natural foods contain different types of fats, ones that your body loves:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Whole eggs
  • Cheese

Good fats such as omega-3s help your heart instead of hurting it. They’re amazing for lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and inflammation, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke significantly.

The Benefits of Weird Superfoods

It’s no exaggeration to say that these superfoods can make you live longer. Many studies suggest that healthy foods have the power to add an extra 10 years to your life (or more)!

Making positive choices at the supermarket can also help you feel better overall. Enjoy amazing benefits for your mood, immune system, energy levels, mental focus and pain relief every day.

My Love Letter to Cranberries (Plus Recipes!)

When it comes to berries, strawberries and blueberries get all the love. Cranberries are like that eccentric cousin who only visits once a year. It's a shame because these vibrant berries have some phenomenal health benefits.

The Underappreciated Superfruit

At first glance, cranberries don’t look like a superfood. They’re mainly fiber, water and sugar. They have decent vitamin C, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Then, you look at the list of antioxidants in cranberries and your mind is blown away. Antioxidants are special substances that protect your cells, the building blocks for every part of your body: skin, heart, bones, eyes, nerves and more.

Few foods have as many different antioxidants as these bright red bombshells:

  • Peonidin
  • Ursolic acid
  • Quercetin
  • Myricetin
  • A-type proanthocyanidins

Some of these nutrients are only found in cranberries. Others are more abundant in cranberries than in other foods.

Delicious Health Benefits

Even if you never remember the scientific names of cranberry antioxidants, you’ll remember the amazing things they do.

Fighting Inflammation

Cranberries and cranberry juice contain potent antioxidants for fighting chronic inflammation. Other dark fruits, such as grapes, have these same anti-inflammatory compounds, but cranberries blow their numbers out of the water. Take that, blueberries.

By the way, the idea that only seniors have to worry about inflammation is a myth. Nearly 20% of middle-aged Americans have diabetes, and many others have arthritis, joint pain or heart problems. All in all, over half of Americans have some type of chronic inflammation.

Protecting Urinary Health

If you have urinary tract infections from time to time, give cranberries a try. Do you remember those A-type proanthocyanidins mentioned earlier?

It turns out that they’re really good at blocking the bacteria responsible for many UTIs. They make it harder for microbes to stick to your urinary tract or bladder.

Cranberry juice isn’t going to treat an infection, but it can significantly reduce your risk of getting a UTI. For recurring UTIs, cranberries were nearly as effective as medication, and they come without harsh side effects.

Supporting a Healthy Gut

Those same A-type whatchamacallits are also good for your digestive health. By making it harder for harmful microbes to take over your gut, cranberry antioxidants support a healthy digestive tract filled with good bacteria.

This may provide many benefits, from smoother bowel movements to improved mood. Some scientists think that cranberry juice can lower your risk of stomach cancer, colon cancer and ulcers. Take this with a grain of salt, though.

Tart and Sweet Treats

One way to enjoy cranberries in your diet is to drink cranberry juice, preferably one without added sugars. What if you're not exactly addicted to the dry flavor of cran? Some people dilute it in sparkling water for a refreshing drink that’s not too tart.

Add the power of cran to your favorite smoothies. Mix half a banana with 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries. Add 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup of your choice of berries. This refreshing breakfast smoothie gives you fiber and energy for the day.

Dried cranberries can supercharge “boring” health foods. Why eat plain oatmeal when you can spice it up with little red bundles of pure joy? Unsweetened cran raisins make tasty granola and trail mix to conquer your snack cravings.