Plain and Simple: Conquer the Desire for Sugar

Just as with any harmful addiction, breaking the sugar habit can be difficult. But as more health research comes to light, it truly is necessary to reduce sugar consumption, if not eliminate it completely from our diets.

Research continues to show that sugar reduction is among the top product claims sought after by consumers. A recent survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) shows that:

  • 48% of consumers say they are eliminating certain foods and beverages from their diets.1
  • 25% are using low-calorie sweeteners instead of sugar.2
  • 22% are switching from caloric beverages to low- and no-calorie options.3

Many consumers have a mixed opinion about low – and no-calorie sweeteners, but 63% now believe that these sweeteners help them reduce sugar consumption.4

Our previous blogs discussed healthy natural sweeteners The Healthiest Natural Sweetener vs. the unhealthy artificial sweeteners.

The increased focus on sugar consumption in relation to health has led to new regulatory guidelines in markets globally. In the United States, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has implemented changes to labeling added sugars and dietary fibers on Nutrition Facts to make it more clear to consumers. Nikken began the transition to the new labeling requirements as early as last year. Below is an example of the differences in labeling.

Revised Nutrition Facts (Blog).png

Here are some tips for reducing sugar consumption in pursuit of Active Wellness:

  1. Eliminate sodas and other sugary beverages.
  2. Need a sugar fix? Eat a piece of fruit or a sweet vegetable, such as a carrot or beet.
  3. Frozen berries, grapes, cherries and bananas are delicious as sorbets when blended.
  4. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Try to drink it “straight” or only with a little creamer—without any sweeteners. Lemon in tea is a flavorful replacement and you can train your taste buds to appreciate tangy over sweet.
  5. Be careful with “alternative” sweeteners, such as honey and molasses. They are still forms of sugar, high in calories and have limited nutritional value. Instead, choose no-calorie natural sweeteners such as monkfruit and stevia.
  6. Do you want something sweet without empty calories? Have a “milk shake” made with Kenzen Vital Balance® mixed with the milk of your choice: coconut, soy, almond, cashew or regular!
  7. Drink more water. A recent survey in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that people who drank just 1% more water daily cut sugar intake by one to four teaspoons.5
  8. Read labels. Packaged food contains lots of hidden sugar, so eat fresh food whenever possible. For example, instead of packaged oatmeal, buy oatmeal that requires cooking. The packaged oatmeal frequently has little to no fiber and instead contains added sugar and artificial flavoring.

Sugar is a bad habit, but the good news is, we can beat it!

1, 2, 3, 4 http://www.foodinsightorg/2017-food-and-health-survey

5 https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/nutrition/g2480/low-sugar-diet/

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Keeping your heart healthy is a critical aspect of Active Wellness. Cardiovascular disease includes heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure. 1 A new study shows that one of the main effects of being chronically overweight is that you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than those with normal weight. This study is particularly meaningful given that the researchers followed 190,672 participants for at least 10 years and mined the accumulated data. 2

Participants were grouped according to age and weight. After adjusting the data for risk factors such as age, race, ethnicity and smoking status, head research Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and her colleagues found that the higher the BMI (body-mass index), the greater the lifetime risk of some type of cardiovascular event.2

Normal weight and BMI are personal issues and can best be determined with the help of a physician. People at exactly the same height can be at a wide range of weights and still be healthy. Bone structure and musculature may account for much of the variation. Other than staying at a comfortable and healthy personal weight, here are some other tips for heart health:

  1. Aim for seven hours of sleep. According to a study discussed on WebMD, young and middle-aged adults who slept seven hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept five hours or less or nine hours or more. In addition, those who got good-quality sleep had healthier arteries than those who did not sleep soundly.3 Kenko Sleep Products help support restful sleep.
  2. Get your blood pressure checked regularly. The rule of thumb is to get it checked every three to five years if you’re between the ages of 18 and 39; and if you’re 40 or older, to check it annually. If you know you have high blood pressure, definitely check it every year or even more often. Kenzen® Bergisterol™ capsules help support blood pressure that is within normal limits.*
  3. Develop healthy eating habits. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. Limit salt, sugar, saturated fats and alcohol. One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice.3 Kenzen Super Ciaga® makes it so easy to quit drinking soda.
  4. Get your blood sugar tested regularly. Millions of people have diabetes and aren’t aware of it until they suffer from a cardiovascular event. Diabetes adds to the risk of heart disease.
  5. Dr. Monika Sanghavi, assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center says, “We now know that even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day, being sedentary for the other 23.5 hours is really bad for your heart.”3 Break up long periods of sitting by standing or walking intermittently.
  6. If you smoke, quit. Don’t replace tobacco with e-cigarettes. They may not have the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, but they still contain nicotine.

Take part in the Super Ciaga® Recipe Contest for a chance to win a six month supply of NEW Kenzen Super Ciaga®!
 We challenge you to come up with your own recipes for Kenzen Super Ciaga® and share them with Nikken. We’re going to pick our favorite submissions and send each winner six months of new Kenzen Super Ciaga® via Autoship. (That’s 12 bottles, a real haul!) There’s no limit to the number of submissions but you only have the month of March to send them. If you send in a photo or video, that increases your chances of winning! Please email submissions to pate@nikken.com.

heart health.png

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

1 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/What-is-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_301852_Article.jsp#.WqAxi7T83zI

2 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/article-abstract/2673289?redirect=true

3 https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/heart-healthy/12-tips-for-better-heart-health?page=1

 

Kick the Soda and Sugary Drink Habit!

Last year, the many reasons to reduce or eliminate added sugar from our diets were explored on NikkenActiveWellness. See Get Smart and Get Rid of Sugar and Is Sugar as Deadly as Cigarettes? What we know is right and what we do, are unfortunately not always the same. That’s why Kenzen Super Ciaga® is such an exciting new product for Nikken to launch. It’s an organic mixed superfruit concentrate that’s going to help us kick the soda habit for good! And it’s coming to you on March 1, 2018!

Here are just a few simple numbers—average calories from sugar—of commercially sold beverages1:

  • 12 oz. can of coca cola contains 140 calories from sugar at 39g
  • 8 oz. can of Rockstar Energy Drink contains 124 calories from sugar at 31g
  • 8 oz serving of Arizona Lemon Ice Tea contains 90 calories from sugar at 24g
  • 8 oz serving of Snapple Lemon Iced Tea contains 92 calories from sugar at 23g

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in one study, people who added soda on top of their current diet ended up consuming 17% more calories than before.2 That is because liquid sugar does not cause a feeling of fullness in the same way as solid foods, making people eat more total calories. Sugar-sweetened beverages may be the most fattening aspect of the modern diet. In fact, as little as one can of soda per day has been consistently linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. To put that number in perspective, if the entire U.S. population added one can of soda to their daily diets, almost 3.5 million people might become diabetic.3

Here’s why Kenzen Super Ciaga® can be so helpful in kicking the soda habit. It’s at least three times more concentrated than CiagaV, so dilution is recommended. That means instead of drinking one ounce in a shot glass, diluting to your taste is best. We suggest that you add three to four ounces of water per ounce. Add Super Ciaga to seltzer and you have a natural soda that’s jam packed with antioxidants—from maqui berry, elderberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry—and so delicious you won’t miss those nasty sodas, fully sugared or even worse, made with artificial sweeteners.

New Kenzen Super Ciaga is really a perfect “mixer.” It makes the perfect companion to Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink. The natural sweetness from the organic mixed superfruit juice concentrate gives the organic matcha green tea a different flavor and double the antioxidant punch! Active Wellness has never been easier to maintain.

We challenge you to come up with your own recipes for Kenzen Super Ciaga® and share them with Nikken. We’re going to pick our favorite submissions and send each winner six months of new Kenzen Super Ciaga® via Autoship. (That’s 12 bottles, a real haul!) There’s no limit to the number of submissions but you only have the month of March to send them. If you send in a photo, that increases your chances of winning! Please email pate@nikken.com.

See the contest rules here.

1 http://www.sugarstacks.com/beverages.htm

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10878689 

3 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-ways-sugary-soda-is-bad-for-you

New Year, New Approach to Active Wellness

Do you beat yourself up for caving into bad food cravings? Do you blame yourself for lacking will power? Understanding why you have those annoying cravings for sugar, fat, salt and so on, may be just how you can curb them!

In 2008, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) formed the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). Microbiome is defined as “the collection of microbes or microorganisms that inhabit an environment, creating a ‘mini-ecostystem.’”1

The human microbiome, located in the gut, is made up of trillions of bacteria that send messages to the brain. This communication is known as the “brain-gut connection.” Because approximately 70 to 80 percent of the body’s immune tissue is located within the digestive system, boosting your immune system really requires a healthy gut.2

The good news is that you can actually help manage your microbiome and influence the brain-gut connection as well as strengthen your immune system. You can increase the good gut bacteria that sends the brain positive messages and decrease the bad bacteria that causes bad food cravings. In this way, “you are what you eat.”

How to manifest a positive brain-gut connection is relatively simple, but the challenge is getting started. Since good bacteria thrives on fiber and nutrient-dense food, eating that type of food consistently is the key to a healthy brain-gut connection. Good bacteria feeds on fibrous food, digests it and releases a gas up to the brain, telling it that the body is well nourished. When the brain is told that the body is well nourished, it doesn’t think there’s a need to fill in the gaps created by a lack of nutrition. It’s a healthy cycle where nutrient-dense food that is fibrous creates more good bacteria.

On the other hand, bad food leaves nutritional gaps. The gaps are what lead to those unhealthy cravings. Sugar and processed foods contain empty calories rather than useful nutrients and the bad bacteria feeds off of it! In other words, when you avoid foods that generate negative messages from the gut to the brain, you’ll minimize cravings.

Fiber does more than curb cravings. It also helps your mood. The Human Microbiome Project has shown that serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical the body generates, is actually created in the gut, not the brain. More fiber and nutrient-dense food in the gut therefore influences our emotional health as well as our physical well being.

You may be surprised how quickly a healthy gut helps the brain minimize unhealthy cravings and also helps improve your overall health. If you currently don’t eat lots of fibrous foods, integrate them into your daily regimen slowly so that your body has time to adjust. Incorporate it into each meal or snack. The fiber will give a sense of fullness to help you cut back on sugar and processed food.

  • Eat leafy greens, asparagus, any type of bean and root vegetables.
  • Try not to peel apples and pears. Well-scrubbed potato and carrot skins are also fibrous and edible.
  • Do you throw away stems? For example, broccoli stems are full of healthy fiber and taste great in soups and stir-fries. The same is true of kale and spinach stems.
  • Add variety to your diet. Be adventuresome and try vegetables you haven’t had. Or, try new ways of preparing your favorites. Many vegetables are delicious raw while others are easily steamed or sautéed.
  • Be generous in your use of garlic, onions, herbs and spices. They are also sources of fiber and add so much flavor.

The happier your microbiome, the fewer bad food cravings there’ll be. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but the important thing is to get started in helping your gut converse positively with your brain! Best of all, you will discover how delicious these nutrient-dense and fibrous foods are!

To help jumpstart your microbiome, take Kenzen® Digestion Complex 4-20 to assist in processing the additional fiber you eat. Containing a combination of ingredients that tackles fats, proteins, carbohydrates and fiber, Kenzen® Digestion Complex 4-20 supports the assimilation of all types of nutrients.* And to help your circulatory and immune systems work optimally with your gut, take Kenzen® Immunity and Kenzen® Lactoferrin 2.0!

* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

1 https://www.hmpdacc.org/hmp/overview/

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/ 

 

 

 

 

Give Your Sweet Tooth a Treat

In 1898, the U.S. Department of Agriculture created a special department called “Agriculture Explorers.” Their goal was to travel and find new food crops to bring back to farm in the United States. David Fairchild, a botanist who helped found the program, first traveled to Baghdad to investigate dates. By the early 1900s, date palm cuttings were brought back as offshoots to grow in the U.S. Long a staple food in the Middle East as well as northern Africa, dates are now common in the warmer regions of California and Florida.

Dates are naturally sweet and have been called nature’s “candy.”1 For this reason, dates are often used as a natural replacement for sugar in desserts and pastries. Because of their sticky consistency, dried dates are ideal for holding together nuts, oats and other high-fiber grains commonly found in energy bars. In fact, dates themselves contain lots of insoluble and soluble fiber, which helps to clean out the gastrointestinal system. Dates are therefore praised for promoting digestive health.

Very high in its mineral content, dates are rich in potassium, copper, manganese, and magnesium.2 Potassium is one of the prime ingredients in promoting a healthy and responsive nervous system, and it also helps improve the speed and alertness of brain activity. 3 Magnesium is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits as well as its ability to help lower blood pressure together with potassium. 2 High in iron content, dates are often recommended for those suffering from low blood iron and/or fatigue. The significant amounts of minerals found in dates also make them a superfood for strengthening and maintaining bone health.

Dates are a good source of phytochemicals, such as phenols and carotenoids, and contain vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin and traces of vitamin C.1 Known to help boost energy levels within a half hour of consumption, they are recommended as snacks for athletes and active people. It’s even said that “a date a day will help you maintain eye health all your life.” 3  

Most dates grown in the U.S. have a USDA total ORAC value of 3895, which makes them high in natural antioxidants. Even better, dates are high in anthocyanins, natural flavonoids that give fruit their blue and red coloring. Anthocyanins are nine times more bioavailable than other flavonoids.4

1 Ahluwalia, Sudhir, “Formulating with Dates,” Snacks & Bars: Convenience Without Compromise, October 2017 digital magazine.

2 http://naturalsociety.com/health-benefits-of-dates-7-reasons-eat-date-fruit/

3 https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-dates.html

4 https://healthyfocus.org/12-health-benefits-of-dates/

10 Health Trends for 2018

As we approach the end of 2017, it’s the perfect time to assess some of the health trends for 2018. Here are 10 that dovetail with the Nikken focus on Active Wellness.

1          Less sugar consumption. A recent survey found that 12% fewer adults and 19% fewer children have a sugary beverage like soda or juice on any given day compared to data from 2003.1 See our blog from January 17, 2017

2          Matcha tea. The powdered tea dates back to the 10th century, when Zen Buddhists found that the tea brought them a sense of clarity, focus, energy, and a feeling of well-being. In addition, matcha creates that feeling of being awake but calm. That’s because L-theanine helps lead to relaxation without drowsiness. L-theanine also helps produce dopamine and serotonin, which enhance mood, improve memory, and boost concentration.2 Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix, made with the highest quality of organic matcha tea leaves, launched in 2014.

3          Increase in water intake. People are learning to drink more water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration can cause dizziness, headache, sleepiness and cramping. To help increase water consumption, you can stir in lemon, orange or other sliced/chopped fruit, add mulled herbs for a natural flavor boost, and drink a whole glass of water at each meal.

4          Flexitarian diet. The focus is on incorporating more plant-based food into the diet without completely forgoing meat. Gradually replace some meat and seafood with vegetable proteins. With Kenzen nutritional supplements and the Everyday Weight Management program, it’s easy to focus on a plant-based diet that includes apportioned lean meats.

5     Adaptogenic herbs and spices to help reduce inflammation.3 Inflammation and chronic stress are so talked about now that natural ways to help address them have taken center stage. Adding herbs and spices is a great way to flavor food and increase intake of antioxidants. Nikken nutritional supplements are formulated with adaptogens:

6   Temperature regulating fabric. Large companies have begun touting the benefits of wearing clothes or support garments that keep you both warm and cool. Nikken is one of the few companies that incorporates ceramic-reflective fibers in sleep products and support wraps to help release heat and maintain a comfortable temperature.

7     Fermented food and beverages. “If you’re consuming a diet rich in fermented foods, you’re essentially bathing your GI tract in healthy, food-related organisms,” says food scientist Robert Hutkins, PhD, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln whose lab focuses on the link between fermented foods and human health.4 Kenzen® Clarity contains 100% organic ingredients that are fermented to increase the macro- and micro-nutrients while breaking down food that is difficult to process.

8     Consumption of pulses. Pulses refer to the dry seeds of edible legumes, such as peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. High in protein and fiber while low in fat, pulses are nutrient-dense and help you stay on a plant-focused diet. The primary ingredient in Kenzen Vital Balance® is organic pea protein.

9     “Smart” beds and pillows to help you sleep better. Sleep products have been “numbered,” “angled” and made with memory foam and contouring husks. Ask anyone who has experienced a Kenko Sleep System and you’ll never want to sleep on anything else.

10     Monk fruit. Known as luo han guo in China, where it grows naturally, the Chinese have eaten it for millennia. Now the world has discovered monk fruit as a natural sweetener with zero calories. This expensive ingredient is prominent in both vanilla and chocolate flavors of Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix. Read all about it in our blog.

 

 

Keep Your Weight Steady Through the Holiday Season

Is your holiday season full of traps that derail you from healthy eating? Are your days filled with extra calories that seem too tempting to pass up? What’s a body with the best of intentions to do? Here are five simple behaviors that may help keep your weight steady throughout the holiday season with living proof from some of the Nikken Everyday Wellness Challenge winners.

  • Be part of a fitness community. This doesn’t require joining expensive gyms or clubs. Simply find some friends or relatives who are committed to Active Wellness or find online buddies, such as those on the Everyday Wellness Challenge Facebook page. Post your intentions and goals and ask for support.

Bill Cottle says, “I love being healthy by choice and not by chance. I want to thank everyone posting comments and words of encouragement on the Everyday Wellness Challenge Facebook page. It is great to belong to such a supportive community.”

Victoria Jaso Waters adds, “Even when times are tough, I am able to keep positive by reading about everyone’s accomplishments.”

  • Carry the PiMag® Sport Bottle with you everywhere and drink water, drink water, drink water. It helps you feel full and it’s great for all the body’s systems.

John Berkheim says, “I have reduced the amount of food I eat at each meal and am drinking more PiMag water and less coffee, no pop or drinks with added sugar.”

  • Be sure to focus on the protein and the vegetables of any feast, not the dessert. Think of it this way: lean meats or vegetarian proteins and vegetables are real food. Best of all, protein actually helps increase your metabolism and gives you a feeling of fullness. Vegetables are full of healthy fiber and low in calories.

Nancy Clyde says, “I have always loved veggies and made wise choices by avoiding sugars and limiting breads, potatoes and rice. My meals and snacks consist of veggies, protein and a small portion of nuts.”

  • Get enough sleep. Undersleeping may be as tempting as overeating during the holiday season, but sleep deprivation can cause weight gain! The less you sleep, the hungrier you’ll feel, and the higher the risk of eating more calories than your level of activity requires. Too little sleep also slows down the metabolism. So, even when you stay out to party hearty, set aside enough time to catch enough Zs!

Ann Price says, “Over the past three months, my average nightly sleep has increased from about four to five hours to about seven hours nightly! That sure makes a difference in the way I feel when I wake up in the morning.”

  • Choose a form of exercise and participate every day or at least four times a week. Whether you swim laps, take Zumba classes or walk the dog, consistency pays off and you’ll feel more energetic once you get in the habit.

Susan Goodwin says, “The part I like most about Active Wellness is the hour of exercise I do every day. I either walk or bicycle, and the exercise helps me release my stress and sleep better.”

Plan ahead this holiday season and reward yourself (not with an edible) for your positive results!