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Can Exercise Strengthen Your Brain?

By Becky Striepe for Care2.com

A new study out of the University of South Carolina suggests that it can!

The study looked at two sets of mice: one set exercised (on tiny, adorable treadmills!) for an hour each day, while the other set was sedentary. At the end of the experiment, the researchers had both sets of mice do one treadmill “run to exhaustion,” and then looked at the state of their brain cells.

What the scientists found was that the brain cells of the active mice had “newborn mitochondria.”


When a Health Coach is Better than a Doctor

By Delia Quigley for Care2.com

It’s the latest, and some say the fastest growing, career for individuals interested in health and nutrition. The health coach is a new breed of healthcare professional whose job is to guide individuals through the minefield of dietary and lifestyle change. They support clients to make behavioral changes by utilizing techniques such as goal setting, identifying obstacles, and just good old positive reinforcement and support. It is kind of like having a best friend to discuss why you went back for that third helping of double Dutch ice cream; but with no judgment and plenty of sound advice.

A common complaint is that busy doctors spend little time helping a patient make better dietary choices. They are needed to provide a diagnosis and then treat according to an allopathic, pharmacological protocol. A good doctor might mention that the patient should cut down on saturated fat, but offer no further instructions as to how this should be done.

Enter the health coach who provides the assistance that the medical establishment cannot. This is accomplished by partnering with a client to create an individualized program based on achievable goals, regular contact, motivational encouragement and the understanding that each individual is unique and no dietary program is one-size-fits-all.


10 Whimsical Ways to Cut 100 Calories

Written by Randy Fritz, co-creator with Diana Herrington at Real Food for Life

One hundred calories doesn’t seem like a lot, but you can easily add at least one or two of these fun, easy strategies and they will add up over time.

I’m not lazy by any means, but in my opinion, if you have to strain or deprive yourself, you may not keep it up. To eliminate calories, you can either burn them up by adding a preferred activity or avoid the calories by making a smart substitution of some common food you are eating.

I have listed only healthy, green tips. Hopefully these examples will help jog your mind to others. What steps do you take to be active and be smart?


Fermented Foods: Essential Digestive Aids

By Delia Quigley for Care2.com

Humans have been fermenting foods to aid in digestion for as far back as we can trace. Primarily they were fermented to improve holding and storing properties of foods. The milk from camels was fermented naturally to produce some of the first yogurts. Stored in goat bags and dropped over the back of camels in the hot deserts of North Africa with temperatures reaching 40C (110F) It was the ideal environment for lactic acid-producing bacteria to go to work. Pickles date back to ancient Egypt and vinegar was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a digestive aid, and to promote a healthy liver and gallbladder.

Every culture in the world has some form of fermented foods they eat with meals to aid in digestion. It isn’t necessary to eat very much, just enough to provide the proper enzymes to help break down food and make the nutrients available for absorption in the small intestine. Common in Indian, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine are sweet, sour and salty pickles; while in North and Central Europe you will find sauerkraut and, again, pickles; the Mediterranean countries serve a small glass of red wine, cider or beer with meals to provide digestive enzymes.


Top 10 Superfoods for Fall

By Melissa Breyer for Care2.com

I, for one, love the idea that there are superfoods–certain edibles that go the extra mile in terms of nutritional chutzpah. They may not leap tall buildings, but superfoods are purported to fight the evil villains of heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer and a host of other diseases. Blueberries, for example, have become a superfood darling for their powerful punch of antoxidants–and I have to say, they do seem pretty mighty to me.

That said, I think some of the trendy superfoods are stealing the spotlight from the true heart of the matter–from the everyday heroes. It seems to me that almost any grain or produce that is grown organically, unprocessed and prepared gently has much to offer. Aside from just a listing of antioxidant values, I can’t see a list of ten superfoods that earn obvious rank. In fact, if you look at 10 “Top 10 Superfoods” lists, you will see that they vary widely.

The truth is, most good food from nature is pretty super. So with that in mind, I like taking a seasonal approach. Rather than debating the merits of acai berries over goji berries, I prefer to look at what’s in season, and work with the nutritional workhorses that I can get here and now. These are my favorites for fall, based primarily on nutritional variety and strength, but that also give me that primal, sensuous satisfaction that comes with eating what’s in season:


A Surprising Tip to Combat Snacking

By Melissa Breyer for Care2.com

In a new paper by USC researchers, bad eating habits were shown to persist even when the food didn’t taste very good; but the best nugget of the study, perhaps, is the revelation of a surprisingly easy way in which to counter bad eating habits.

Researchers gave people entering a movie theater a bucket of either just-popped popcorn or week-old popcorn. People who don’t generally eat popcorn during movies ate much less of the stale popcorn, but moviegoers who indicated that they typically had popcorn at the movies ate about the same amount of popcorn whether it was fresh or stale. The conclusion: for people accustomed to eating popcorn at the movies, it made no difference whether the popcorn tasted good or not.

“When we’ve repeatedly eaten a particular food in a particular environment, our brain comes to associate the food with that environment and make us keep eating as long as those environmental cues are present,” said lead author David Neal, who was a psychology professor at USC when the research was conducted.


10 Reasons Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat

By Delia Quigley for Care2.com

“A good, functional and healthy body is the ultimate fashion statement.” Kiyokazu Washida, fashion critic

Recently I came upon a small, but informative book by Naomi Moriyama entitled Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat. Intrigued and a bit skeptical, although I follow a very similar style of diet, I found some delicious recipes to add to my daily repertoire of meals and gleaned some useful tidbits of information. Such as, for the past 25 years Japanese women have held the world record for living the longest with an average of 86.4 years. Not just the women, Japanese men have the longest life expectancy among all men in the world’s 192 nations. Much of this distinction is attributed to eating a healthy diet.

In her book, Moriyama takes the reader into her mother’s kitchen in Japan and reveals her secrets for living a long and healthy life. Not much you haven’t heard before, and yet taken altogether and practiced over a lifetime, the results are impressive. Here’s the Japanese recipe for living to a ripe old age, while staying active and healthy.


9 Reasons to Drink Green Tea Daily

By Michelle Schoffro Cook for Care2.com

Have you been wondering “what’s all the fuss about green tea?” Now you can stop wondering and start drinking…green tea, that is. This flavorful beverage offers many health benefits to anyone who drinks it regularly. Green tea contains a potent plant nutrient known as epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, for short. But don’t fret, you don’t have to keep track of its chemical name to reap the health benefits. Here are 9 reasons to start drinking green tea or continue drinking it if you’re already hooked.

1. Green tea is a superb fat fighter. Its active ingredient, EGCG, increases the rate at which fat is burned in your body.

2. It targets belly fat. Research at Tufts University indicates that EGCG in green tea, like other catechins, activate fat-burning genes in the abdomen to speed weight loss by 77 percent.

3. It keeps energy stable by balancing blood sugar levels. EGCG improves insulin use in the body to prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes that can result in fatigue, irritability, and cravings for unhealthy foods.


6 Nutrients Every Vegetarian Needs

By Delia Quigley for Care2.com

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” ~Albert Einstein

As people strive to improve their health and evolve their food choices to a more plant-based diet, it is easy to get lost along the way. You can happily end up living on chocolate whole-wheat croissants for breakfast, cheese pizza for lunch and a large bowl of fettuccine alfredo for dinner, but the pounds will eventually stack up as your energy declines. When you transition to a more vegetarian way of eating it is important to educate yourself about the nutrients your body will need on a daily basis.

Learn how to create a balance of vegetable protein, carbohydrates and quality fats with each meal. You must also replace the six essential nutrients provided by animal proteins with plant-based foods containing the protein, iron, zinc, calcium, B12, and Essential Fatty Acids that are reduced with the elimination of meat, poultry, pork and fish. The fun part is putting them together into delicious recipes and then chewing slowly for the full satisfying experience.


11 Scary Unhealthy Fast Food Breakfasts

By Melissa Breyer for Care2.com

How would you like to meet your daily sodium and saturated fat allowance, as well as nearly half of your daily calorie needs, in one quick breakfast eaten on the road? It’s becoming progressively easy these day as food technicians, chefs and market researchers, holed away in corporate fast food “studios,” are busy developing monstrous new breakfast items. Trying to claim as much of the $57 billion fast food breakfast market as they can, the fast food giants are drumming up increasingly cheesy, steak-y, fried chicken-y breakfast dishes that tap into flavor combinations that have proven successful for lunch and dinner items. It’s no longer eggs and English muffins for fast food breakfast…breakfast burger anyone?

What’s most striking about some of these high-calorie items–aside from the unsustainable, industrial, often GMO and synthetic ingredients–is the very high sodium and saturated fat content. According to the USDA, the current recommendation for sodium consumption is less than 2,300 milligrams a day. For saturated fat, the maximum allowance is between 18 grams to 31 grams, depending on your caloric intake needs. (You can calculate your caloric need with this calculator from the Mayo Clinic.) Many of these breakfast items meet or exceed the daily sodium and fat allowances, and provide much more than one-third of your daily caloric needs.