Superfood? It’s the Gift that Keeps on Giving…

Really a Superfood? It’s not unusual to hear someone declare, “Garlic is really good for you!” Yes, it is. But, here are a myriad of reasons why garlic is an incredible gift to our health.

Herb or Veggie?

Garlic is actually a member of the lily family, which starts as a bulb. It’s similar to onions and shallots, which are considered vegetables. Garlic also has leaves giving it further veggie credence. However, a herb is defined as a vegetable cultivated for medicinal or spiritual values. Hence, garlic must be a herb as well!

Good Stinky Breath and Skin

Garlic can be associated with bad breath, especially if you haven’t eaten any lately. Allyl methyl sulfide (ALM) is the compound that gives off the pungent odor when we eat it. During digestion, the sulfur passes into our blood stream.

The sulfur in garlic makes up vital amino acids used to create protein for cells, tissues, hormones, and antibodies. This is one reason why garlic helps boost our immune system.

When we sweat, the stinky ALM is emitted from our skin. This is beneficial because it helps release toxins. It also repels many types of insects, including some mosquitoes.

Red Tea Detox
Red Tea Detox

Beneficial Cancer-Repelling Compounds

Besides sulfur, garlic contains flavonoids, selenium, oligosaccarides, and arginine. All of these compounds have been linked to decreasing cancer-risk. Many fall into the antioxidant category.

Consumption of garlic has shown to decrease the risk of esophageal, stomach, prostate, breast, and colon cancers. In fact, most studies show the higher the quantity consumed, the lower the risk of developing the cancers mentioned earlier. Some components in garlic have proven to reduce the size and slow the growth of malignant tumors.

Immune Booster

T-Cells are produced in the thymus. The thymus is responsible for creating armies of white blood cells, which help fight infection in the body. Garlic has been shown to stimulate T-cells.

Studies done at the Mayo Clinic show garlic contains properties that help to boost the body’s levels of antioxidants, which work as a defense system against viruses.

Garlic consumption via food source or supplement is recommended for taming yeast infections. It is considered a powerful anti-fungal (along with Oregano, FYI.) Garlic also offers anti-bacterial properties. Some parasites and bacteria become defenseless against the chemical compounds in garlic.

Heart Lover

Garlic has proven to lower bad-cholesterol levels when eaten/taken on a daily basis. Additionally, studies have shown that garlic helps keep the aorta flexible. As we age, the blood vessel managing blood pressure can stiffen. Garlic can help keep your heart’s aorta from aging prematurely or from working too hard.

Clearly, the health benefits of garlic are immense. The best part, however, may be how it tastes mixed with a teeny bit of butter on a warm, just-out-of-the-oven, slice of healthy bread. Yum…

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Turmeric Curcumin
Turmeric Curcumin

How To Be a Carb Cow but Look Like a Cougar: A “Good” Carb Guide

OMG, I can’t live without carbs! I just know I can’t. Besides, I don’t want to. But, I do want to feel good and strong—and, yeah, look good. I’m willing to put in the work; I just need the guidance.

That’s when I started researching carbs. I wanted to know why my body craved them. The crux of what I discovered is that we need them, and not all carbohydrates are created equal.

Tell Me More

Here’s the deal. Our bodies need carbs to function at their peak. There are ketogenic diets (where all carb-intake is restricted), but some cells will suffer, including our brain cells.

Brain cells require glucose, which is provided by carbohydrates. Carbs are digested and converted to glucose, which then travels through the liver and then into our circulatory system.

That’s where our cells easily eat up these carbs—the ones that turned to glucose. It’s fuel, and we are re-energized! The caveat is that we can only store carbs in limited quantities. So if you don’t use them, what happens? Yes, that’s right, they’re converted to fat. Fat that our body stores for a wintery day, even against our wishes.

Great, How About Some Good News?

So going back to the no-carb idea. You can live like that; some body-builders do. The body is forced to convert dietary and body fat into ketones, which help fuel parts of the body that don’t oxidize fat for energy (like the brain).

But that’s really stressing out organs and cells that require or function maximally with glucose. So, what’s the verdict on carb intake in order to benefit our brain, heart, blood pressure, weight, and our fine figures?

The National Institutes of Health conducted a study in 2014 that showed a low-carb diet was more effective for weight loss than a low-fat one. Additionally, those that lost weight in the high-carb group, actually lost more muscle mass than stored body fat. Now that we’ve established carbs can be good, it’s time to explore which ones are the best.

OK, Which Are The Good Ones?

Some carbohydrates digest faster than others. That simple-carbs list would include: pasta, potatoes, rice, cereal, dairy, and the evil candy and soda, among others.

These offer a burst of energy because they digest easily and create fuel, pronto. But I, and maybe you, want to choose the slower-digesting carbs, which generally contain more nutrients and fiber—and keep you feeling fuller longer. Complex-carbs actually help manage your weight.

Here’s a brief guide of “good” carbs to get us started:

Apples – help lower cholesterol and keep the doctor away.
Artichokes – vitamin K, anti-oxidants, liver cleanser, too.
Bananas – choose one that’s a bit on the under-ripe side. It digests slower.
Beans –no cholesterol.
Brown rice – rich with bran and germ.
Chickpeas – AKA garbanzo beans. Main ingredient in hummus.
Lentils – mega-fiber, iron, and magnesium
Peas – nutrient-rich
Oats – help you feel fuller longer, support digestion
Soybeans – think edamame or tofu
Sweet potatoes – release sugar into the bloodstream slowly. Tons of fiber, too.
Tomatoes – calcium, lycopene, vitamins A, B, C, and K
Quinoa – a seed, but mostly labeled as a whole grain, packed with protein
Water cress – alpha-lipoic acid, cruciferous veggie
Whole Grains– think: barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rye, spelt, wheat, and more…
Zucchini – potassium, raw or cooked, good spaghetti replacement

Maximize the benefit of the complex-carbs by pairing them with a protein. For snacks, sprinkle nuts in your oatmeal, spread almond butter on a banana, etc. Studies and cultural practices have shown that at mealtime, eating fruits and proteins first, aids in digestion. Saving the “good” carb for the end will satiate your appetite. I’m proud to be a “good” carb cow. Don’t be afraid to join our ranks!

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Are You Raising an Entitled Child Without Knowing It?

Doesn’t everyone want well-behaved children? Are we doing our best to prepare our children for the world? Surely, as our children get older, we have less ability to inform their behavior and their decisions.

While they are still impressionable, it’s imperative that as adults, we educate ourselves on best-practice techniques for socialization. When it comes down to it, our aim is to help teach our children how to get along with others.

Oh, Behave

Most behavior is learned. A five-year old wants another stuffed character from the movie Frozen. Mom says, “No, you have enough.” The child will try throwing-a-fit for size. She screams, falls to the ground, and refuses to get up until she gets another Elsa doll.

A scene in the store ensues. The parent is embarrassed and feels helpless. The parent concedes and buys the girl what she demands in order for the chaos to cease. The child just learned that her behavior was reinforced. Hence, “If I tantrum, I get my way.”

Historically, there have been several various styles touted as “the way” to approach parenting. Some had validity and continue to be effective, just as others were an experimental exercise in failure.

From a socio-psychological standpoint, a variation of operant conditioning seems to be a successful basis for bringing forth desired behavior and reducing unwanted behaviors or responses. It can be one technique in your bag of tricks that may prove to be effective.

On That Condition…

In layman’s terms, operant conditioning is basically teaching behavior through reward or punishment. Establish the reward or consequences beforehand. For example, tell your son if he doesn’t study and gets a D on his next math test, you will take his computer/gaming privileges away for a week.

He gets a D, you take it; he doesn’t like this. Next test, he studies and gets a B because he doesn’t want to lose his computer. He’s now learned how to avoid punishment through adapted (improved/desired) behavior. However, negative reinforcement can also breed unwanted results.

OK, so your son got a B. But did he do it because he understands the importance of best effort? Not really. It may not even boost his confidence as a student or give him a sense of pride for doing a job well done. In fact, once that “consequence” is removed, will that “good” behavior remain? (When he goes to college and you can’t take away his computer, will he have learned to study or even care?)

There’s something about reward that tends to be a better overall motivator. When your boss gives you a raise, you feel more apt to continue to apply yourself at work. And, you feel acknowledged and appreciated. Our kids need that too.

Don’t Go Overboard

Beware, however, of over-rewarding or rewarding for a job half-assed. Our youngsters need to learn a sense of earning, but also disappointment. Not every effort in life is going to get a prize. Helping your child find coping skills for disappointment is just as valuable as teaching them a sense of gratitude for accomplishment and reward.

Here’s a brief list of effective tips for raising a well-behaved person:

1. Set boundaries and enforce them: Make them realistic and manageable.

2. Reward desired behavior: (Note: Let’s say your kid screams “No!” and then crawls into bed every time you ask him to do homework. If you teach him to use words like, “I’m tired right now” and ask him not to scream at you, and soon, instead, he stops screaming, but still crawls under the covers—reward the good behavior of NOT screaming. Then work on the next part. Maybe offer 15 minutes of video time after 15 minutes of homework.)

3. Be a good role model by behavior: Let your kids see you treat others with respect. Treat your children with respect as well.

4. Keep your cool: Try not to be “reactionary.” You’re the adult. Ignore bad behavior—it will eventually decrease if no one’s responding to it.

5. Change takes time and effort: You have to be willing to attend to each situation. Be patient and you will see positive results.

6. Don’t be afraid to apologize when you’ve done something wrong or mistakenly

7. Don’t be afraid to be the bad guy: Your kids will love you and respect you when you take charge and implement rules. They may not like it at the time, but ultimately they understand you are there to protect and keep them safe. You can even explain that.

8. Teach and practice gratitude: Remind your kids how lucky you feel to have them in your life. Let them know you are thankful for all that surrounds you. Ask them occasionally what they love in their lives. Practicing gratitude allows us the freedom to care for others in hopes that they can have the best in life like we do.



Why Exercise Should Be Considered Medicine

Surely 99% of studies and analysis prove exercise to be a health benefit. Today, however, we are witnessing more and more that exercise can prevent, thwart, or even cure depression, physical ailments, and varied illness and disease.

What’s a Healthy Definition of Medicine?

Too often we think of medicine as a pill, drug, or something manufactured that a doctor prescribes. Medicine, as a practice, is the science and art of: 1) preventing or treating disease or injury; and 2) health maintenance.

Medicine is used to treat signs and symptoms. It’s also something that can be served as a remedy. Doesn’t exercise fit beautifully into this category?

Medicine for Your Mind

One of exercise’s greatest advantages is that it’s free. You don’t need health insurance or a credit card to exercise. The only thing is costs you is well-spent time and natural energy. It’s definitely an investment, but the payout is tremendous.

Stress Reduction: Exercise, especially aerobic, busts out the production of endorphins. Endorphins are those “feel good” chemicals that get released. In addition to elevating your mood, endorphins are actually natural painkillers.

Stress amongst Americans has risen significantly over the past decade. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association noted that over 75% of the participants pointed to finances as the root cause. Work stress ranked almost as high. In third place, the most common stressor was family responsibilities.

Exercise creates a neurochemical effect, reducing stress. Instead of a pill, a drink, or some counter-intuitive behavior to find some relief, why not prescribe yourself a walk, jog, or another form of physical movement?

Medicine for the Body

Physical Benefit: Besides looking good and feeling good (which can never be invalidated!) exercise shows that it offers healing value.

A new study out of Bringham Young University in Provo, Utah is claiming that running, after all, is not necessarily bad for your knees. In healthy adults, exercise creates an anti-inflammatory environment. In terms of long-term health, running may actually delay the development of degenerative joint diseases.

If the movement in knee joints (according to this particular study) reduces inflammation, then perhaps movement in joints in other parts of the body can benefit.

Unless one is injured, exercise, seems to always tout positive results. Have there been any reports of exercise, as a medicine, producing negative side effects?

Reviewing What We Know

Cortisol and adrenaline levels are elevated when we experience stress and anxiety. Those are the hormones that can wreak havoc on our immune system. We’re learning that the long-term effects of these chemicals create cellular degeneration that lead to disease—serious and potentially deadly disease.

Exercise can decrease levels of anxiety and depression.

Biologically, exercise assists our organs in expelling toxins. Doesn’t a cleaner liver, more richly oxygenated blood, and clearer skin all sound so good?

And of course, exercise, along with a whole-food mindful diet, will help you shed unwanted pounds.

Let’s help make exercise our medicine of today and of the future.

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Is Being an Older Mom a Good Thing?

Society, for centuries, has dictated that young couple meets, gets married, and directly starts a family. Times have changed, especially in the past couple of decades in the US; women are becoming moms later in life. And it turns out it’s a good thing—for mom and baby!

Hey, Old Lady!

One of the most recently discovered perks associated with having a child later in life is longevity. Women who had their first baby after the age of 25 were over 10% more likely to live until 90 years old.

Twenty-six years old is not considered “later in life” to many Americans, but globally, it may be considered old. The study from the Women’s Health Initiative examined data extracted from over 25,000 women. Another discovery from that research showed that women who had two or more children tended to outlive those who had only one.

A different study published a few years back showed even more promising results for “older” moms. That particular researched claimed that women who had children after the age of 33, were two times as likely to live to be in their late 90’s!

The Sweet Spot

Surely having your first child at the age of 44 is going to come with great risk, even with the incredible medical care we have today. Regardless, a study out of Sweden contends that the benefits outweigh the risks for the outcome of the child in cases where the mom is between 35 and 40.

The Millenium Cohort Study out of the United Kingdom also discovered advantages to older parenting. Women who had their first child between the ages of 30 and 39 had offspring who scored higher on intelligence tests than children of first-time mothers in their 20’s.

Perks for the Baby

Women who are older tend to have settled into their careers or at least have completed some form of higher education. Their children are statistically more likely to go to college.

The children are also more likely to read for pleasure and have a larger vocabulary. It could be because the moms have more time to spend with baby. Mom can devote more of herself toward nurturing early education, playtime, and other activities.

Having had more experience on earth—and socializing—older moms often have stronger support networks. They’ve had time to bond and build solid friendships. Additionally, they’re apt to have like-minded friends who’ve also waited to have their first child. Either that or their support group has already had children and can be of help and guidance.

With age, hopefully, our earning capacity increases. Statistics claim that older moms tend to have more expendable income. This works out well for mama and child. Mom can provide feasibly for baby as well as indulge in extracurricular activities.

Of course there are exceptions, but generally, mature women make healthier life choices—especially when they’re pregnant. The best outcome is a fit mom and a child whose outlook in life is positive and healthy. Surely, great moms appear at any age. But if you’re older and are concerned that that’s a detriment, you can ease your concerns… It’s all good!


A Viral Tale (Almost) Too Good To Be True

Fall Is In the Air

Unless your head’s been buried in the sand, you’ve noticed a little something called college football back on the airwaves.  Few events usher in the autumn season with as much fanfare as the pageantry of college football.  Millions of people attend and tune into games each weekend in support of their rooting interest.

And it seems that each year personal interest stories abound with the negative aspects that come along with the sport.  From assaults to academic failures to DUI’s, the media has plenty to report.

Positive News

And so, it has become a rarity to celebrate the positive stories.  Last week, however, the script flipped.  From one of the universities most notorious for negative news over the past few years, Florida State University, a viral tale with a happy ending was told.

During a visit to Montford Middle School in Tallahassee, members of the Florida State football team joined students during lunch.  Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver for the Seminoles, observed one student seated alone and asked if he could join.  The boy, Bo Paske, eagerly agreed.  Rudolph later learned that Paske has autism which has alienated him from his peers.

While Rudolph and Paske unsuspectingly ate together, an adult took a picture and later posted it to Facebook.  The photo went viral. Within days the story made national headlines; and, to Paske’s delight, he gained a table-full of new friends for lunch.

Keep it Going

Since their meeting, Rudolph has reached out to Paske to present him with a jersey and tickets to a game.  This one small act of kindness made the day for a student with special needs and changed his outlook for the future.  Sometimes, in the midst of the negative noise, it can be easy to overlook the good things our society has to offer.  Let this be an example of another way!