Monthly Archives: December 2018

Is Fruit Important to a Healthy Diet?

FruitDietJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

As no single fruit or vegetable provides all of the nutrients necessary to support health, daily consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables is universally promoted to be part of a healthy diet. Often lumped together as a food group, fruits and vegetables provide fiber and a wide array of nourishing health promoting compounds vital for health maintenance and overall healthy function. On their own, fruits are considered to be particularly nutrient dense foods. High in soluble fiber and low in calories and sodium, fruits also provide simple sugars, vitamins and minerals, along with beneficial plant sterols, polyphenols, flavonoids and other antioxidants. These compounds help to boost immune defense, as well as safeguard cellular health by protecting against oxidative stress.

Consuming a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables helps to ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients and helps prevent deficiencies. Those who regularly include fruit as part of a healthy eating plan generally have a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration and certain cancers. The USDA recommends consuming at least two cups or two pieces of fruit daily. The healthiest choices are fresh or frozen fruits without added sweeteners or sauces. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fruits provide fiber that can assist weight management and digestive health, as well as support healthy cholesterol levels. To receive the benefits of diverse phytochemicals, choose from a wide variety of colorful fruits.

Orange: Beta-carotenes found in orange fruits are converted by the body into vitamin A, a nutrient particularly important for healthy vision, as well as immune, skin and bone health. Oranges, for example, contain flavonoids such as hesperidin, which supports healthy cholesterol and arterial function. Orange fruits contain antioxidants and vitamin C, which promote immune and cellular health, as well as D-limonene, a compound that may help prevent certain cancers including lung, breast and skin cancers.

Red: Particularly nutritious red fruits contain components such as lycopene, ellagic acid, hesperidin, quercetin, fiber and vitamins A and C. Benefits of consuming red fruits like cherries, tomatoes, apples, and berries include support for proper blood pressure and cholesterol levels, gastrointestinal health and collagen formation in arthritic joints. Red fruits also provide protection against heart disease, oxidative stress and inflammatory conditions.

Yellow: Those looking to support healthy bones, skin, and teeth, as well as heart, digestive and immune health, should look to packing their diet with yellow fruits. These sunny colored fruits are teeming with carotenoids, antioxidants and vitamin C. Heart healthy yellow fruits support heathy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as proper pH balance.

Blue/Purple: Richly hued blue and purple fruits provide anthocyanins that support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, ramp up free radical defenses and soothe inflammation. Fruits such as blueberries, plums, grapes and elderberries act as anti-carcinogens to limit the activity of cancer cells, while boosting immune activity and improving calcium and mineral absorption.

Green: Green fruits, such as apples and melons, support retinal health and vision, fight harmful free radicals, boost immune activity, normalize digestion, and help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.

White: White fruits such as pears, bananas and stone fruits provide beta-glucans and lignans, as well as a chemical known as EGCG, that has been shown to reduce colon and breast cancer risk. Beta-glucans boost immune health and encourage the formation of T cells, lymphocytes that defend the body against illness and harmful infection-causing invaders.

As a result of the disease-supportive typical American diet filled with too many processed foods, sugars, refined grains and unhealthy fats, the need for fruit consumption has increased. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to incorporate fruit into the diet. Frozen fruits are an excellent alternative when certain fruits are unavailable or out of season. Healthy powdered fruits are convenient for smoothies or when traveling. Choose a variety of brightly colored fresh fruits when in season. Fresh fruits may also be frozen or preserved at home to be enjoyed at a later date.

Seasonal fruits purchased locally, when possible, are rich sources of beta-carotenes, polyphenols and anthocyanidins. To get the full fiber benefit, consume the entire fruit as well as the peel and membrane. To enjoy the true flavor and receive the maximum nutritional benefits, make whole fresh or frozen fruit a regular part of your daily diet. Many think of fruits as nature’s gift to mankind. Packed with life-enhancing and health supportive components, fruits can be enjoyed not only for nutrition but for the sheer joy of their natural sweetness and deliciousness!

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality health-supportive nutrients:

Power Greens BerryPower Greens® Berry by NuMedica: This easy mixing, energizing phytonutrient powdered formula offers certified organic, whole food plant extracts in support of powerful antioxidant protection and healthy immune function. Formula includes individual blends of fiber, digestive ingredients, antioxidants and vegetables as well as a fruit blend containing natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Wheat, dairy, egg, shellfish, tree nut, peanut and artificial ingredient free, vegetarian formulation. Also available in Mint, Expresso and Chocolate flavors.

Ultra Greens pHUltra Greens pH by Nutra BioGenesis®: This powdered superfood greens formula provides phytonutrients, antioxidants and broad spectrum supportive enzymes for healthy digestion, circulation, pH balance and optimal nutritional status. Gluten free.

Organic Greens Reds...Organic Greens and Reds by Douglas Laboratories®: This concentrated, all natural phytonutrient powdered blend is formulated with organic grasses, fruits, vegetables and botanicals to provide nutritional support for digestive and overall health. Soy free, vegan formulation.

PaleoRedsPaleoReds® by Designs for Health®: This formula provides all the nutritional goodness of high quality, antioxidant-rich red/purple fruits, vegetables, phytonutrients and digestive enzymes in support of  healthy aging and common chronic disease risk reduction. Contains more than 70 percent certified organic ingredients. Natural strawberry flavored.

References:
Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases. https://www.who.int/elena/titles/fruit_vegetables_ncds/en/
Why 5 A Day? https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/why-5-a-day/
Why is it important to eat fruit? https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health
Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/
Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5084020/
Using Color as a Guide to a Better Diet: 9 Health Benefits of Red Fruits and Vegetables. https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2011/03/22/using-color-as-a-guide-to-a-better-diet-9-health-benefits-of-red-fruits-and-vegetables/
Color Chart of Healthy Fruits and Vegetables. https://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/nutrition/fruits-veggies/colored.php

 

Manage Holiday Stress with Nutrients

Holiday StressJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yes, the holiday season is once again upon us, and many might be singing, or grumbling, along with the music but with slightly different lyrics. Something more to the tune of “It’s the most stressful time of the year!” Holidays and stress seem to go hand in hand these days when we are under pressure to get home and hearth ready for guests and family celebrations. Shopping, planning decorating, baking, celebrating and traveling all take their toll on physical and mental health, as well as our checkbooks. Stress not only increases appetite by raising cortisol and insulin levels, it can also negatively affect our food preferences and sleep patterns. In fact, it’s not just the abundance of holiday sweets that tempt us to overindulge. Studies have shown that physical or emotional distress appears to influence our food choices, increasing the likelihood of consuming foods high in sugar, fat or both.

During the holidays we tend to exercise less, guzzle more alcohol and often mindlessly devour plenty of delicious but not so healthy foods, often leading to stress-related holiday weight gain. The more we are exposed to stressors, the more intense and frequent the body’s physiological reactions become, leaving us constantly on edge and influencing the quality and quantity of food consumption. When not properly managed even short-term stress can lead to negative psychological and physical responses. These can include agitation, irritability, muscle tension, disturbed sleep, anxiousness, mood swings, lack of focus, appetite fluctuations, food cravings, poor digestion, increased heart rate, higher blood pressure levels and more. Over time stress can become chronic, which can seriously harm health and wellbeing. Long-term conditions including depression and type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and bowel issues may result.

Chronic stress can weaken the immune response, leaving one more susceptible to illness or infections. Stress creates demands for more energy, oxygen, and vitamin and mineral metabolic cofactors. While stress is a complex phenomenon and each individual has a unique level of tolerance, those who consume a healthy balanced diet are often more able to cope with stressful situations, aiding better physical and emotional health. Stress depletes certain vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and zinc. As stress and diet are inextricably linked, a nutritious diet can provide powerful stress-reducing benefits that aid brain functioning, lower blood pressure, support immune function and reduce the levels of stress hormones.

  • Healthy serotonin levels are key to stress management. Whole grains will help to enhance serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood, happiness and relaxation. Low levels of serotonin are linked to anxiety and depression as well as poor quality sleep. Plus, complex carbs help to stabilize blood sugar levels, balancing out highs and lows.
  • The brain requires essential fatty acids for the formation of healthy nerve cells. Omega-3 fatty acids help to moderate the effects of physiological and physical stress by aiding more balanced cortisol levels under stressful conditions. DHA, an essential component of brain cell membranes, supports stress reduction by turning on the genes that produce serotonin.
  • Proteins, specifically the amino acids tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine and theanine, are all vital to neurotransmitter production. Tryptophan works synergistically with niacin, magnesium and vitamin B6 to synthesize serotonin. Along with the vitamin C required to metabolize phenylalanine and tyrosine, these nutrients promote alertness and help increase antidepressant neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Theanine has the ability to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition and boost mood. Theanine also helps to reduce stress and anxiety by relaxing the mind without inducing drowsiness.
  • Stress depletes vitamin C levels in the body, reducing the body’s resistance to illness and increasing the likelihood of further stress. When vitamin C intake is increased, the harmful effects of stress hormones are reduced, and the body’s ability to cope with the stress response improves.
  • B-complex vitamins help to maintain proper blood glucose levels and help to keep energy and mood stable. Vitamin B5, known as the anti-stress vitamin, helps support adrenal function, improving coping mechanisms. B vitamins are necessary for proper nervous system function and maintenance. Deficiencies increase the risk of developing stress-related symptoms of irritability, low energy and depression.
  • Magnesium is needed for numerous tasks including muscle function, fatty acid formation and heartbeat regulation. Magnesium increases GABA, which encourages relaxation and restful sleep and plays a key role in modulating the body’s stress response. Magnesium deficiency is associated with heightened stress and anxiety.
  • An adequate amount of calcium in proper balance with magnesium is key to a healthy stress response. Together they help to nourish the nervous system, helping to prevent anxiety, restlessness and irritability. Important for mood regulation and stress reduction, calcium works closely vitamin D, potassium and magnesium to maximize its nutritional benefits and calming effects.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality supplements in support of overall healthy function:

Cal/Mag (malate) 2:1Cal/Mag (malate) 2:1 by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formulation combines di-calcium malate and di-magnesium malate, fully chelated minerals, for dual support of healthy bone metabolism as well as numerous biological functions. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

B SpectrumB Spectrum by Professional Supplement Center®: ON SALE  B Spectrum provides the entire spectrum of activated, bioavailable B vitamins in support of adrenal, neurological and stress-related functions. Free of wheat, gluten, corn, yeast, soy, dairy, animal products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Non-GMO formulation.

Whey Protein...Whey Protein Unflavored by Jarrow Formulas®: This natural glutamine-rich, ultra-filtered whey protein concentrate provides 18 g of rBST-free protein including 4 g of BCAA’s per serving. Whey protein provides a natural source of all essential and non-essential amino acids. Gluten, wheat, egg, shellfish, fish, peanut, tree nut and artificial flavor and sweetener free.

 

References:
How stress can make us overeat. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/how-stress-can-make-us-overeat
Nutrient and Stress Management. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/nutrient-and-stress-management-2155-9600-1000528.php?aid=76425&view=mobile
Beating Stress Through Nutrition. https://psychcentral.com/lib/beating-stress-through-nutrition/
Stress. https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/articles/stress.html

MegaFood® – Featured Brand

MegaFoodSusan Brown Health and Wellness EditorEstablished in New Hampshire in 1973, MegaFood® remains committed to producing high quality, authentic whole food supplements formulated to support personal wellness goals. Utilizing a scientific patented Slo-Food™ process, MegaFood® turns farm fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and herbs into bioavailable nutrients guaranteed to deliver the potency and the nourishing health promoting compounds present in the whole food itself. With a goal of creating a world where everyone is truly nourished, MegaFood® partners with a network of trusted farmers who are committed to organic and regenerative agriculture, as well as  demonstrate a passion for the integrity and future of the food chain.

To guarantee the highest level of quality control, safety and potency of their nutritional products, MegaFood® operates their own production facilities. Over one half million pounds of fresh produce is delivered to their back door each year. The food is then ground and dried using their gentle Refractance Window Drying™ technology that uses no heat and preserves all the natural goodness, nutrients, colors and aromas of fresh produce. Each carefully tended batch of nutrients takes 236 hours to produce.

In March 2018, MegaFood® was verified as a Certified B Corporation by B Lab, a global nonprofit organization that recognizes mainly small independent companies that balance purpose and profit by using business as a force for good. B Corporations work toward a more inclusive and sustainable economy by meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance.

All products are Non-GMO, kosher, vegan or vegetarian, gluten, dairy, soy and Certified Glyphosate Residue free, and are tested for more than 125 herbicides and pesticides. Their gummy supplements contain no high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, gelatin, gluten, soy,  dairy or artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors.

To see the full line of products from MegaFood®, please visit professionalsupplementcenter.com. Popular products from MegaFood® include:

Acute DefenseAcute Defense™: This immune defense supplement is formulated as a 5-day intense wellness plan for rapid immune response when most needed. Ingredients include black elderberry fruit, echinacea plant extract, vitamin C sourced from organic oranges, andrographis bitter herb extract and zinc for effective support of healthy immune function.

Turmeric...Turmeric Inflammation Response®:  ON SALE  In support of a healthy inflammatory response, these delicious certified organic gummies combine turmeric root with pure turmeric extract to deliver 85 mg of curcumin per serving. Formula includes black pepper extract to aid absorption of the curcuminoids, as well as carrot and ginger, natural phytonutrients.

Digestive Health...Digestive Health® Probiotic: For maximum benefit, this 13 strain broad-spectrum, acid resistant, shelf stable probiotic formula is guaranteed to deliver 5 billion CFU of live bacteria to the small intestine. These uniquely curated strains support daily digestive health, a healthy microbiome and foundational good health. Other probiotic formulas available to support Mood, Energy, Immune Defense and Women’s Health.