What Are The Benefits of Acai?

Acai is more popular than milk in South America, and is one of the top ten foods that can help you look and feel younger. But what exactly are the benefits of acai?

Although it just recently gained popularity in the United States, Acai has been around for centuries. Acai is purple berry native to the Amazon rainforest. Acai is found on large palm trees and grows in bunches similar to bananas.

What is so different about the Acai berry is that you don’t actually eat it as you would a blueberry. Instead, the berry is harvested and the pulp is extracted. The Acai berry had been used by Amazon tribes to treat everything from digestive problems to skin irritation.

So why should I use Acai?

Acai is powerful super fruit that contains more antioxidants than blueberries. These antioxidants have been proven through lab tests to stop free radical damage, which have been shown to lead to health conditions such heart disease and cancer. These free radicals also speed up the aging process by damaging our cells.

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a great way to measure the total antioxidants in foods. Acai Energy Boost™ has an ORAC of 5,000. One serving of broccoli has just 700. Acai Energy Boost™ is also naturally low in sugar so it is safe for people with diabetes.

Sweetened with stevia leaf and under 12 calories a serving, Acai Energy Boost™ is a healthy alternative to typical sugar filled, high calorie energy drinks. Acai  Energy Boost™ contains real Acai pulp that you can see and taste when added to you water. This way you know the flavor is all natural from the fruit, not artificial!

With high levels of antioxidants, B vitamins, green tea, Yerba Maté, Guaraná and even antioxidant-rich dark chocolate extract, Acai Energy Boost™ will give you the energy and health benefits that last longer than the crash and burn of other energy drinks.

Sources:

1. Harpe, Juliet. (Oct 28, 2009). Acai Supplement Benefits. LIVESTRONG. Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/30198-acai-supplement-benefits/

 

7 Essential Nutrients and How They Benefit the Body

Our bodies are not self-sustaining; our various systems need each of the seven types of essential nutrients to keep functioning. These are substances that our bodies cannot manufacture, so we have to get them from outside sources.

Maintaining sufficient amounts of each is one of the keys to staying healthy. The food and water we consume contains these vital ingredients we need to keep our bodies going. Below are seven essential nutrients and their functions.

Water

Our bodies are mostly water, usually ranging from 50 to 75%, depending on age and sex. Water is absolutely essential to the healthy function of our bodies and has a long list of tasks it performs, from general cooling to transporting energy and nutrients.

Probiotics

The term “Probiotics” usually refers to a dietary supplement that contains friendly bacteria in amounts likely to remain viable in our digestive tract after we’ve swallowed the supplement. These beneficial micro-organisms, when in balance in our body, assist and support our digestive system. Diets high in sugar and refined foods and low in fresh vegetables and fruits, set the stage for an imbalance of intestinal flora. This equilibrium is disturbed most when we ingest antibiotics from a doctor or through foods such as eggs, chicken, beef or cows milk, that kill these beneficial bacteria strains. This loss of flora off causes an imbalance that can create digestive upset and bowel irregularity. Probiotics can me found naturally in cultured dairy foods such as yogurt and kefir and in supplement form.

Vitamins

Casimir Funk coined the word “vitamin” in 1912. He combined the words “vital” and “amine,” as in amino acid, because at that time it was thought that all vitamins were amino acids. Since then, research has discovered thirteen vitamins in two categories: fat-soluble (A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C). Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored for a while in the body’s fat reserves, but water-soluble vitamins are readily lost with other body fluids and therefore must be replenished on a daily basis.

Minerals

Dietary minerals are essential chemical elements our bodies use to support the biochemical reactions of metabolism. They include calcium, chlorine, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc. Depending on your own diet, you can usually get enough of them in the food you eat, but sometimes supplements are helpful.

Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat

Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for our bodies and can be classed as either simple or complex. It’s better to eat complex carbohydrates because they release energy at a more even rate over a longer period of time, whereas simple carbs (like sugar) result in a quick burst of energy followed by a low blood sugar crash. Reducing sugar intake by replacing simple carbohydrates with complex can help steady your energy level throughout the day.

Proteins are special because they are made of long, complex molecules and are convenient for our bodies because they represent a kind of short-cut. Instead of spending our own energy to manufacture these complex molecular structures, we can simply eat and digest them to make use of them. Proteins are what our bodies use to build and maintain their tissues and essential structures like bones and muscles.

Fat stores energy for us until we need it and then releases it slowly. There was a time in human history when food wasn’t as readily available as it is today, and we had to be prepared to go from hunt to hunt and harvest to harvest without starving. In general, saturated fats come from animal sources, and overuse causes increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and high cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are derived from plant sources and some types of fish, and these can be helpful in preventing some kinds of heart disease and cancer, as well as reducing bad cholesterol.

Sources:

  1. Pick, Marcelle. (September 12, 2011). Digestion & GI Healthy. women to women. Retrieved June 1, 2012 from http://www.womentowomen.com/digestionandgihealth/probiotics.aspx
  2. Wiktionary. Vitamins. Retrieved June 1, 2012 from http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vitamin
  3. Wikipedia. Dietary Mineral. Retireved June 1, 2012 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_mineral

Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

You already know that it’s important to eat healthy and natural foods. Eating right is an important part of a healthy diet plan, but unfortunately nutrition is not a level playing field. Most of the food advertising we see urges us to unhealthy processed foods. Overconsumption of fat, sugar, and salt, as well as artificial chemical additives, is rampant in the average American diet, causing obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and a variety of other health issues.

The choice is yours when it comes to healthy eating. Here are some easy ways to eat healthy.

Choose Slow Food, Not Fast

Although some fast food restaurants are starting to offer healthier options, drive-throughs aren’t known for promoting healthy lifestyles or weight management. It’s not even healthy for your wallet – believe it or not, fast food isn’t as cheap as it looks. By weight and portion size, most fast food prices are comparable to the markups at sit-down restaurants.

It’s much easier to make healthy food choices when you cook and eat at home. For one thing, you know exactly what’s going into your food – there are no hidden sugar surprises or chemical additives. It’s also easier to eat an appropriate portion size when you’re the one doing the serving. You can make sure that you and your family are eating enough of the right stuff, including:

1.Whole grains, nuts, and beans

2.Vegetables and fruits (locally grown is ideal)

3.Reduced fat dairy products

4.Antioxidant rich “super foods”

5.Lean protein

Keep It Simple

In the last few years, our diets have come to rely heavily on packaged, processed foods. Heavily processed foods not only retain very little of the nutritional value of their original ingredients, they also contain additives and artificial dyes, which are in no way nutritious. Some research has even found links between depression and diets that are high in fat and processed foods. If the list of ingredients is long and mostly unpronounceable, why eat it?

School Lunches

Does your child’s school have vending machines, and if so, what’s in them? Junky snacks or healthy ones? Get involved, and make sure your child is able to make healthy food choices at school with healthy and fun options in their lunch box like VitaRocks. Many schools now have organic gardening programs – it’s revelatory and empowering when a child realizes the rewards of being able to grow and then enjoy food.

Take charge of your eating by cooking at home and skipping the fast food this week, sticking with foods that have a short list of pronounceable ingredients you’ve heard of, and ensuring that your children know the importance and benefits of natural foods. When you develop good eating habits now, you’ll reap the healthy rewards for life.

Health Benefits of Acai, the Number One Superfruit

Acai is powerful super fruit that contains more antioxidants than blueberries. Acai is purple berry native to the Amazon rainforest. Acai is found on large palm trees and grows in bunches similar to bananas.

The health benefits of acai berry include monounsaturated oleic acid, dietary fiber, and phytosterolstops. Acai tops just about everyone’s superfruit list, including Oprah and Dr. Oz, who are among acai’s notable supporters.

Healthy To Go explains more about this unique food here on our blog.

Calorie Burning Outside Activities

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What better way is there to enjoy summertime than being outdoors? Nature offers so much more than just a beautiful landscape. One of our favorite things about summer is participating in outdoor activities, especially ones that torch calories. Hiking isn’t the only outdoor exercise these days. Here are five fun, and even adventurous, calorie burning outside activities to get you and your family moving!

Stand Up Paddle Boarding If you have seen someone in the ocean or lake standing on a paddle board and thought “I could never do that”, don’t give up so quickly. Stand up paddle boarding, commonly known as SUP, is actually a low impact sport, meaning you are very unlikely to damage your joints. SUP will force you use every muscle in your body to keep you balanced and standing upright. If you are in the ocean, the waves will make your body work even harder to stand upright. SUP=six pack. Average calories burned per hour: 500-700

Hit the Shores A stroll on the beach is more than romantic- it’s a great calorie burner! Walking in the sand and even jumping in the waves adds resistance to your walk, which helps your body to burn more calories. Instead of walking on the boardwalk or on the sidewalk, hit the shores to shape up. Average calories burned per hour: 300

Climb a Rock or Two Rock climbing is not only fun and adventurous, but an excellent arm, chest and shoulder workout. Rock climbing helps you increase muscle mass and tone your body since you are really working out with your own body weight. Scared of heights? Even better! Studies have shown adrenaline rushes can help burn calories. Do you research and find a local rock climbing school with gear rentals and experienced staff. Average calories burned per hour: 550

Get your Game on Grab a friend and head to the court! Playing beach volleyball is a great way to enjoy the outdoors for free. During a match, you are constantly moving and working out your arms and legs while raising your heart rate. Beach volleyball can help increase stamina and even increase bone strength over time. Playing beach volleyball is similar to interval training since there is little downtime between plays. Average calories burned per hour: 300-450

Cannon Ball Enjoy the nautical sites and burn some calories too! Just hop into the ocean and grab a mask and snorkel. Snorkeling is a whole body workout since you are using all your muscles to swim against the water’s natural current. Add some finds for an extra leg workout. Snorkeling is also a low impact exercise like SUP. Snorkeling not only gets your heart pumping, but also is good for your mental health. Focusing on controlling your breathing when snorkeling is similar to meditative breathing techniques used for relaxation. Average calories burned per hour: 300-400

References:

  1. Barrows, Sam. Amazing Health Benefits Of Stand Up Paddle Boarding. ISUP World. Retrieved June 14,2013 from http://www.isupworld.com/health-benefits-of-stand-up-paddle-boarding/
  2. Shape Magazine. Extreme Fitness: How Many Calories Did You Burn? Retrieved June 14, 2013 from http://www.shape.com/fitness/extreme-fitness-how-many-calories-did-you-burn?
  3. Nichols, Nicole. (June 17, 2013). 10 Fun Ways to Burn Calories at the Beach. Retrieved June 17, 2013 from http://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=10_fun_ways_to_burn_calories_at_the_beach
  4. Pendergrass, Toby. (March 17,2011). What Are the Health Benefits of Engaging in Volleyball? Retrieved June 17,2013 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/404354-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-engaging-in-volleyball/
  5. Hutchinson, Patrick. (April 10,2011). What Are the Healthy Benefits of Snorkeling? Retrieved June 17, 2013 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/513204-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-snorkeling/

Reducing Sugar Intake – A Guide To A Low Sugar Diet

Americans are addicted to sugar. It’s in most processed foods and present in nightmarish quantities in fast food, junk food, and “comfort food.” Continued over-indulgence of sugary foods greatly increases the chance of diabetes and subsequent heart disease. Taking the initiative to make healthy food choices by creating a low sugar diet plan before problems develop can mean avoiding health risks and major issues down the road.

Here are eight tips for reducing sugar intake.

1. Read the Label

When comparison shopping, it’s important to know how to read a nutrition label. Nutrition labels on food packaging list ingredients decreasingly in order of amount, so as a rule of thumb, avoid foods that have any form of sugar listed in the top three ingredients.

2. Desert the Dessert 

One of the worst characteristics of refined sugar that is added to foods is that it often leaves you craving more, so if you can figure out what triggers your cravings, you might just avoid an entire day of bad eating. Another great way to manage sweet cravings is to keep portion sizes down. In other words, you don’t have to deny yourself the snack (which might backfire with an overindulgence later), but always chose “fun size” over “king size.”

3. Drink More Water

Add more water to your day starting right now. Feel better? That’s because just plain water is what your cells need to replenish themselves. Our bodies are 50-75% water and just can’t function correctly without enough of it. Water also helps satiate thirst so that you don’t reach for a dehydrating beverage with loads of sugar or caffeine.

4. Drop the Pop

Sodas and energy drinks are some of the worst offenders when it comes to sugar content. Many popular 16-ounce energy drinks contain the sugar equivalent of a dozen donuts. Swapping out your daily regular soft drink for a plain iced tea, a natural low sugar powdered drink mix, or water can make an enormous impact on sugar consumption and daily caloric intake.

5. Reduce Cravings with Healthy Food Choices

If you eat balanced meals, your body’s digestive and endocrine systems can work correctly to keep your blood sugar level optimum. Eat a good balance of protein, fiber, whole grains, and complex carbohydrates, as well as copious amounts of vegetables and fruits. Between meals, get into the habit of satisfying your cravings by substituting something that provides more nutritional value.

6. Drop That Teaspoon

Reduce or eliminate that spoonful of sugar in your coffee or tea; in a short while, your taste buds will adapt and be happy with the complex natural flavors and sweetness of your favorite foods.

7. Keep Track of Your Grazing

Sometimes the worst food addictions are the ones we’re not even aware of. Food is everywhere, and we’re encouraged to eat for entertainment in movie theaters and at parties. Keeping track of everything you eat with a notepad or an online health management program is a good way to help focus your attention on your diet and to become more aware of your sugar daily sugar consumption.

8. Get Some Fresh Air

Staring at a computer screen all day can sap the life out of you and fatigue your brain, making your body yearn for a pick-me-up. Instead of relying on a candy bar for quick energy, take a walk around the block. The fresh air will refresh your head, and the exercise will oxygenate your blood and reduce sugar cravings. If you’re still hungry when you get back, snack on complex carbs like whole grains and nuts for a more even, longer lasting energy boost.

Recent studies indicate that with current eating and health habits, for the first time in several generations, future generations’ lifespans may actually be shorter than our own because of poor nutrition. Controlling and reducing sugar intake is a great start on the path to better health.

7 Ways to Get in Shape for Summer

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It’s almost season for sandcastles, bathing suits and waves. If the thought of bathing suits makes you wish you were back in baggy sweater season, you’re not alone. If you are ready for summer in every way besides being psychically and mentally ready, here are seven ways to get in shape, for the sunniest season of the year.

1. 30 minutes IS enough
Recent studies have shown that just 30 minutes of exercise a day is just as effective as working out for an hour. In a study, men who exercised for 30 minutes a day lost 8 pounds in a three month period while those who exercised 60 minutes lost 6 pounds. Now that’s something to celebrate.

2. Skip the frozen cocktails
It’s hard to pass up strawberry daiquiri or a pina colada, but saying no to an extra 500 calories makes it a little easier. Skip the high-cal, high-sugar summer drinks by making your own with lighter juices and mixers. Extreme Berries or Acai Natural Energy Boost make excellent, fruity additions to any beverage. Add in some frozen fruit for a healthier summer treat.

3. Stock up on sunscreen
Keeping your skin in summer shape is just as important. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 3.5 million skin cancers diagnoses in over two million people are made each year. Make sure to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 with UVA/UVB broad spectrum protections. Studies have shown that any SPF about 30 only proves about 1 or 2 percent more protection, so a higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean more protection.

4. Sub a salad
Salads can make a refreshing, yet filling meal. Grilling chicken? Add grilled chicken to a salad and skip the starchy sides. Or try something new. Edamame and watermelon are in season this summer, so why not try an edamame salad or the popular watermelon and feta on arugula?

5. Protect your peepers
With all that sunshine, it’s no wonder May is Vision Awareness Month. According to the American Optometric Association, the sun’s UV radiation can cause cataracts, benign growths on the eye’s surface, cancer of the eyelid and skin around the eyes. Protect your eyes this summer by always wearing sunglasses outdoors. You’ll also prevent wrinkles since you won’t be squinting to see.

6. Drink and splash in it
We mean water. Drinking lots of water won’t just keep you hydrated in the warm summer months, but drinking lots of water helps keep skin looking fresh and glowing. Water also has zero calories or sugar which makes it the perfect refreshment.

7. Don’t worry what others think
Everyone has flaws, but no one notices them except you! Be confident with your body and you will feel great. It takes practice, but it works! You’ll also feel better about yourself when you eat right and exercise.
Sources:

1.Warner, Jennifer. (August 24th, 2012). 30 Minutes of Daily Exercise Enough to Shed Pounds. WebMd.com. Retrieved April 19th, 2013 from http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20120824/30-minutes-daily-exercise-shed-pounds
2. Fayed, Lisa. (November 8,2010). How to Choose the Best Sunscreen. About.com. Retrieved April 22nd, 2013 from http://cancer.about.com/od/skincancerprevention/a/choosesunscreen.htm

What are Super Foods- Top 5 SuperFoods List

Antioxidant rich foods are often referred to as “super foods,” a label that has been frequently used by healthy eating proponents like Oprah and Dr. Oz as well as nutritionists and food brands. A top 5 SuperFoods list would vary, depending on who you’re asking, but here are some that many authorities agree are very beneficial.

1. Red Wine

Let’s start with a fun one! We’ve known for a while about the benefit of drinking red wine, but only recently have we been able to pinpoint that it originates in the grape skin. Grape skin is high in resveratrol, an antibody grapes produce when fighting disease or injury. The most effective way of absorbing resveratrol is directly through the blood vessels in the mouth, a lucky coincidence since many wine-drinkers swish it in their mouths before swallowing. Resveratrol helps to repair cells and stop the oxidation process initiated by free radicals. It also helps you to think better!

2. Acai Berries

These dark reddish-purple berries are produced by a palm tree native to the Amazon, and the health benefits of acai are numerous. Their pulp contains an astonishingly high concentration of antioxidants, as well as fiber, amino acids, minerals, and Oleic acid, which works with Omega-3, which has a nourishing and regenerative effect on cells.

3. Avocado

Guacamole, anyone? Avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense foods, full of fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E. They’re also rich in mono-unsaturated oil, a “healthy fat”. A diet that includes avocado can decrease LDL cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

4. Barley

It’s a good source of Niacin, a B vitamin – another antioxidant that helps to prevent cellular damage from free radicals and lowers cholesterol – as well as selenium, tryptophan, copper, manganese and phosphorus. Although it contains gluten, it can be digested far more easily than wheat.

5. Walnuts

Amazingly, eating a handful of walnuts a day will reduce the chances of a heart attack by at least 15% and as much as 51%! It’s a high-fat food, but it’s the good kind of fat, with high levels of Omega-3’s, vitamin E and A, magnesium, copper, biotin, folate, and potassium, not to mention fiber. And if you satisfy your fat craving with a healthy fat, you won’t be as tempted to hit the drive-through for a dose of the bad stuff.

Our modern lifestyles subject us to stresses and environmental toxins undreamed of by our ancestors, but fortunately, help is available in the form of these natural SuperFoods.

7 Tips To Manage Stress

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Does just hearing the word “stress” make you want to start chewing on your pencil or reach for something sweet? April is Stress Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to learn some relaxation tips and unwind. Stress is a part of everyday life, but when you are able to manage stress, your health will improve. The goal is to work with your stress, rather than avoid it.

Here are 7 healthy tips to positively re-energizing your thoughts and manage stress.

1. Take a Hike
Tell stress to literally take a hike! Get outdoors and enjoy nature. Go on a hike, walk or go on a bike ride. Studies have shown being outside can help reduce stress. Plus, exercise releases endorphins are known to fight stress.

2. Learn to say no
Do you have a hard time saying “no” to every request? If so, all those “yeses” are going to escalate your stress. Learn how to say “no” when you need to without feeling guilty.

3. Meditate
Meditation is known to calm your mind and reduce stress. Learn to control your breathing by trying concentration meditation, which involves focusing your attention on just one thing. Concentration meditation can make you feel simultaneously relaxed, alert and also energized.

4. Identify your triggers
Find out what makes you tick. Positive events like a new job can be just as stressful as negative situations like financial difficulties. Once you know your triggers, you can start making strategies for dealing with them. Even if you can’t avoid the problem, you can find ways to reduce the stressful situation.

5. Maintain a strong social network
To help you through the stress of tough times, you’ll need a strong social support network made up of friends, family and peers. Talking about stressful situations with a friend or loved one and getting their input can be a valuable tool in stress management.

6. Prioritize

What is more important? Getting your taxes done on time or attending that big party? Make a list of all the things you have to do and rate them 1-10 on how important they are, 10’s being most important. Too many things on your plate at once cause easily avoidable stress.

7. Say no to sugar

When your body is under stress, the release of the stress hormone cortisol affects blood sugar. Your body then craves sugar to keep your energy up. It may be a quick fix, but in the long run, eating too much sugar can lead to depression, diabetes , weight and other illnesses.

Sources:

1. Mayo Health Clinic. Stress Management. Retrieved April 4th from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-management/MY00435/DSECTION=stress-relief
2. Roizman, Tracey. What Are The Causes Of Sugar Cravings? Livestrong.com. Retrieved April 8th from http://www.livestrong.com/article/96983-causes-sugar-cravings/
3. Borchard, Therese. 18 Ways to Manage Stress. Retrieved April 8th from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/06/23/18-ways-to-manage-stress/

Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Do you know the actual health benefits of fruits and vegetables or just that you’re supposed to eat them? Moms have been telling their children for generations to “Eat your vegetables!” and while we spend plenty of time reinforcing healthy food choices, we don’t spend enough time talking about why certain foods are better than others. Here are some answers to those questions.

Nutrients

Eating fruits and vegetables provides you with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from stroke, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. Your recommended calorie intake depends on your age, gender, and average daily activity level. In general, adults should eat five to nine servings (serving = ½ cup) of each every day. Single fruits and vegetables are usually not labeled, but packages of fresh produce often include nutritional facts labels, making it easier to figure out serving size and nutritional info.

Variety

The different colors that fruits and vegetables come in indicate that they each have something different to offer your body, so it is ideal to eat a wide variety of colors. Each color offers a certain range of nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Brighten up meal time by adding some green broccoli, orange carrots, black beans, yellow corn, purple plums, red strawberries and white cauliflower to your plate.

Diet

Substituting fruits and vegetables instead of higher calorie snacks throughout the day not only gives you more of the nutrients that you need, but is also great for weight management. One of the best benefits of fruits and veggies is having calories that work for you instead of against you. Fresh fruit such as apples and bananas make great between-meal snacks, and adding a leafy green salad to lunch helps fill you up.

In an on-the-go lifestyle, fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t always an option. Healthy To Go products, like powdered drink mixes, give you convenient access to antioxidant rich foods and are made from 100% natural ingredients, including fruits and vegetables.