Tag Archives: Good Nutrition

Hidden Benefits of Good Nutrition

HappyLadyBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

A healthy diet, made up of nutrient rich whole foods, provides the life sustaining vitamins, minerals and nutrients that the body needs for overall health and function.  A healthy, well-balanced diet contributes toward increased energy levels, improved health, better mood and sustained weight maintenance, and there are additional benefits as well.  A healthy diet can decrease your risk for a number of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, hypertension, or diabetes.  For some, focusing on a healthier diet may mean learning new ways to eat, including cutting back on sugar, refined grains, processed foods and fast foods, and consuming more vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, whole grains and lean proteins. 

Most people know that a healthy diet aids physical health.  But, there is also a link between diet and mood, energy, sleep and cognitive function.  An unhealthy diet, low in nutritional value, weakens the immune system, taxes organ functions and leaves you vulnerable to illness and disease.  To make the progression towards a healthier diet, put the focus on nutrient dense foods and maintain calorie balance to achieve and sustain a healthy weight.  Strive for dietary balance by including a variety of foods from each food group and practice moderation by eating only until you feel satisfied.  Here are some ways good nutrition can enhance overall wellbeing: 

Sustained elevated mood – Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains not only help to stabilize blood sugar levels, they support the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which elevates mood, suppresses appetite and provides a sense of calm. 

Increased energy levels – Adequate levels of iron, which carries oxygen throughout the body, contributes to sufficient energy production.  Leafy greens such as spinach, red meat and eggs are rich sources of iron.  Insufficient thiamine contributes to fatigue and poor mood.  Getting enough thiamine from sources like cauliflower and grains increases wellbeing and your overall energy level.  Steer clear of refined sugars, which give you a quick energy burst but quickly deplete energy stores.  Drinking adequate amounts of water daily also helps to regulate energy levels. 

Improved sleep – Adequate sleep is necessary for healthy function. Sleep not only rejuvenates the body, it regulates mood and is associated with cognitive function.  Sleep deprivation causes leptin (an appetite regulating hormone) levels to drop, promoting increased appetite.  Among the best natural sedatives is tryptophan, an amino-acid component of many plant and animal proteins.  Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin production, necessary for a good night’s sleep. 

Reduced food cravings – Spikes, followed by rapid drops in blood sugar, can result in unhealthy food cravings.  High quality carbs and lean proteins help stabilize blood sugar levels, reducing dramatic swings in energy and hunger.  Cravings for unhealthy foods will begin to decrease as your diet becomes more balanced. 

Enhanced cognitive function – Healthy foods benefit your mind and nourish the cells within the brain.  Getting proper nutrients supports cognitive function while dietary deficiencies decrease cognition.  Proteins supply amino acids necessary to produce brain signaling chemicals required for cognition.  Omega-3’s, B vitamins, and vitamins C and E all support healthy brain function and nerve communication.  Good cognitive brain function requires minerals like sodium, potassium and calcium.  Salmon and kale are two foods that are particularly rich in brain-friendly nutrients. 

Healthier skin – Skin requires essential fatty acids to maintain a proper barrier between internal organs and environmental toxins and pathogens.  Fruits and vegetables have a high water content, which helps to moisturize and hydrate the skin.  Antioxidants help protect against cell damage.  Vitamin C helps to maintain skin health by supporting collagen production and, in conjunction with vitamin E, protects the skin from sun damage.  Vitamin D controls the growth and development of deep skin cells and also helps to protect the skin from harmful UV rays.  Minerals such as zinc and selenium also support skin health. 

The key to good nutrition is the consumption of whole food and the avoidance of ultra-processed empty-calorie food.  Junk food, whether it claims to be low-fat, low-sugar or low-sodium, is still filled with empty calories that stack the deck against health.  Overconsumption is the norm these days, so be sure to control portion sizes to help you reach and then maintain a healthy weight. 

Products that support good nutrition include:

Sweet Kale by Brightcore Nutrition delivers all the nutrient-dense benefits of raw kale in a quality, organic, non-GMO formula. 

Ester-C® & Flavonoids by Pure Encapsulations provides highly absorbable vitamin C and varied flavonoid compounds for synergistic antioxidant, immune and vascular integrity support.

Natural Vitamin E Complex 400 IU with Mixed Tocopherols by Douglas Laboratories contains pure, natural, mixed tocopherols including alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols, which assure superior antioxidant protection.

Deeper Greens Powder by Ortho Molecular utilizes the highest ORAC fruits and vegetables with excellent antioxidant, pH, and fiber values.  Formulated with organically grown fruits and greens where available.  

Beautiful Skin Begins With Good Nutrition

beautiful skin2By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Many of us think in terms of clear, glowing skin as a sign of overall health.  In fact, your skin can and often does reflect the general state of your health.  Stressed out?  Dehydrated?  Haven’t been sleeping well lately?  Eating on the run at fast food restaurants?  All of these factors can have a negative impact on your complexion.  Healthy skin has the ability to respond to challenges that might otherwise undermine its structure and function.  As our largest organ, our skin performs a variety of functions including protection, temperature regulation, insulation and sensation. The skin is constantly renewing and replenishing its cells at the astonishing rate of 30,000 to 40,000 cells per hour. At this rate, the entire epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, is replaced approximately every 35 days. 

  • The skin is our first line of defense against external and environmental factors as it provides a major barrier against pathogens, viruses, and other foreign substances.
  • The ability of the skin to hold water, regulate the release of water from the body, as well as providing waterproofing protection, is critical for maintaining health. 
  • The skin contains an extensive network of nerve cells that allow us to feel the sensations of temperature, pressure, touch and injury. 
  • Melanocytes are the skin cells responsible for the production of melanin in response to ultraviolet light.  Melanin absorbs UV rays, shielding underlying tissues from damage. 
  • Just as the dermis regulates body temperature through the production of sweat and by evaporation to cool the body, it also maintains internal body temperature by controlling red blood cells.  When the body is hot, red blood cells in the dermis expand, allowing heat to be released through the surface of the skin.
  • Skin cells, with the assistance of sun’s ultraviolet B rays, produce vitamin D.  Ten to fifteen minutes of daily sun exposure without the use of sunscreen will produce approximately 10,000 IU’s of vitamin D, depending on individual skin color. 

Some of us are born with flawless skin.  While genetics does play a role in the look and condition of our skin, nutrition, good skin care and lifestyle habits all have an effect.  In fact, nutritional status plays a very important role when it comes to the maintenance of healthy skin. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) work together to maintain the barrier function of the skin while dealing with the daily challenges of pathogens, chemicals and environmental pollution.  In other words, nutritional status that supports skin structure and function can also directly affect skin appearance in positive ways by fighting acne, minimizing wrinkles and enhancing your skin’s natural beauty.   To rejuvenate our skin and maintain a youthful appearance, we need to provide the right nutrients for our skin including these vitamins and minerals: 

  • Antioxidants –  The skin is constantly exposed to high concentrations of oxygen, UV light, and oxidizing chemicals, highlighting a role for antioxidant vitamins in skin function. 
  • Vitamin C  is critical for strong, healthy skin as it plays a role in the production of collagen which keeps skin supple and tight. 
  • Vitamin E helps to moisturize the skin and has the potential to overwhelm unstable free radicals believed to be destructive to skin tissue. 
  • Vitamin A  promotes cell turnover and is one of the most widely acknowledged nutrients for the skin.  Foods that support skin health include tropical fruits, broccoli, almonds, whole grains, carrots, pumpkins seeds, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. 
  • Thiamine  – Part of the B complex of vitamins, thiamine helps ensure normal cellular functioning of the skin, and strengthens the skin’s outer protective barrier, locking in moisture and keeping irritants out.  Foods high in thiamine include nuts and seeds, pork, and fish, such as tuna and pompano. 
  • Zinc – Normal epidermal cell growth relies on adequate amounts of zinc.  Zinc is an essential mineral that assists in the proper structure of proteins and cell membranes and improves wound healing.  Foods containing zinc include oysters, beef, peanuts and crab. 
  • Selenium –  Selenium is required in the production of glutathione, a free radical fighter.  Foods high in selenium include pork, shellfish, bran and fish. 
  • Essential fatty acids –  Known to be anti-inflammatory,  omega-3 fatty acids aid in the reduction of inflammatory skin conditions and improve overall skin health.  Foods that contain omega-3 essential fatty acids include flax seeds, walnuts, cold water fish and enriched eggs. 

Poor nutrition and unhealthy habits contribute to skin problems including sun damage, wrinkling and a dull complexion.  Take responsibility for skin health by eating a healthy amount of colorful plant foods, using sunscreen, exercising regularly, not smoking, hydrating with water, managing stress, and getting adequate amounts of sleep each night.  The beauty of skin is that you can care for it both internally and externally.  Lotions and creams with vitamins and minerals can help to lock in moisture, minimize wrinkles, smooth roughness, improve skin tone and give the appearance of younger, more youthful looking skin.  As you make the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent or minimize the signs of skin aging,  you should begin to see through that newly radiant, vibrant skin into a body full of health and vitality. 

Supplements for healthy hair, skin and nails:

HairSkinWilsonsHair, Skin and Nails Plus Formula by Dr. Wilson’s Original Formulations –  In this physician designed formula, bioavailable forms of nutrients are combined into a dynamic, balanced supplement that delivers the nutrients in the optimal amounts and proportions for creating healthy tissue structure in newly forming skin, hair and nails.  Dr. Wilson’s suggests this product be used for a minimum of 3 months to give the newly nourished tissues time to emerge and visibly replace the old cells. 
Hair, Skin and Nails Plus Formula by Douglas Laboratories –  This formula supplies beneficial amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients specifically formulated to support healthy hair, skin and nails.
ArcticOmegaArctic Omega – Original 1000 mg by Nordic NaturalsThese essential fatty acids (EFAs) reside in the membranes that surround skin cells, where they regulate a large number of cellular processes that directly impact skin health.  Benefits of these omega-3’s for the skin include nourishment, hydration, free radical protection, production of healthy skin cells and support of healthy complexion.