See to Your Matters of the Heart

Before the 12th century, people were not aware of the true function of the heart. They knew that the heart beats faster when a person is excited or upset—so they gathered that the heart ruled emotions and feelings. Even though it has long been scientifically proven that emotions come from the brain, the heart remains a powerful symbol of love and is therefore universally used to represent Valentine’s Day.1

Since the heart pumps blood and oxygen to all our other organs, it is most vital to Active Wellness and overall good health. When the heart is unhealthy, it can lead to serious problems, including hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, blockages, high blood pressure and cardiac arrest.bergisterol

The combination of consistent daily exercise and a low-fat, low cholesterol diet have been found to be most effective in maintaining heart health. Exercise without attention to diet or healthy eating without exercise are not as effective.2 Aerobic exercise, otherwise known as “cardio,” combined with resistance training and eating a Mediterranean diet, are found to promote heart health.

If you do not cycle, swim or run—the three forms of cardiovascular exercise that make up a triathlon—simply find something you enjoy in order to stay on a regimen long-term. For example, you may like zumba or ballroom dancing, hiking or power yoga. The key is to get a move on and to form a healthy habit that becomes part of your Active Wellness lifestyle. Trying something new—jiu jitsu or rock climbing, for example—makes it more interesting and provides a sense of accomplishment.

Researchers have found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids as part of a heart-healthy diet also reduces the risk of heart disease. OmegaDHANew_317x310Cardiac diet guidelines also include regularly consuming portions of peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. One study involving over 9,000 men and women found that increased consumption of legumes can help protect the health of your heart. Researchers tracked people over a 19-year period and found that eating plenty of legumes in the diet helped to lower the risk of coronary heart disease.3

Meditation can help lower blood pressure by putting your body into a state of deep rest. Yoga, tai chi and deep breathing are similarly effective. Using these relaxation techniques together with exercise and a low-fat diet full of fruit and veggies, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins are natural ways to stay heart-healthy. In contrast, research published in 2018 has found that sugar–laden foods and drinks pose even more of a risk to your heart’s health than saturated fats.4

It’s never too soon to take care of your heart! Wishing you and those close to your heart a Happy Healthy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

1 http://www.stvalentinesday.org/valentines-day-hearts.html

2 https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/cholesterol-how-much-exercise#1

3, 4 https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/cardiac-diet/

 

Enjoy Your Celebrations but Moderation is Best

From the holiday season of exuberant dining and imbibing, we plunged headlong into New Year’s resolutions! All that extra indulgence had to be dealt with! By the end of January, our resolve had been tested and some of us may already have fallen. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, there may be temptations galore yet again!

Staying well informed is one way to prevent excessive consumption of alcoholic spirits and sugary foods during celebrations. Many people are surprised to learn what counts as one drink. The amount of liquid in your glass, can, or bottle does not necessarily match up to how much alcohol is actually in your drink. Different types of liquor can have very different amounts of alcohol content. That’s why it’s important to know how much alcohol your drink contains.

In the United States, one “standard” drink (or one alcoholic drink equivalent) contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol,1 which is found in:

  • 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, usually about 5% alcohol.
  • 5 fluid ounces of wine, typically about 12% alcohol.
  • 5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits, about 40% alcohol.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, moderate drinking is up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.2

 One way to keep yourself from overindulging is to slow down the pace of drinking and to eat something at the same time. Dietician Cynthia Sass recommends eating something that has protein, fat or both because those two empty out of the stomach slower. She explains that they create a better buffer than carbohydrates.3 She also suggests a glass of water with each alcoholic drink, then adding another glass of water before your next beverage. She adds that “mock-tails” are a great alternative to alcohol when you are staying within your limit. Mock-tails often have sparkling water, berries and herbs to make them taste delicious without the alcohol content.

Certain people should avoid alcohol completely, including those who:

  • Plan to drive or operate machinery, or participate in activities that require skill, coordination, and alertness.
  • Take certain over-the-counter or prescription medications.
  • Have certain medical conditions.
  • Are recovering alcoholics or are unable to control the amount that they drink.
  • Are younger than age 21.
  • Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

Most people recognize that alcohol can do serious damage to the liver when used in excess; however, your immune system takes a hit, too. Even one night of drinking too much liquor can impair your body’s ability to evade infections, for up to 24 hours afterward.4 Any individual prone to colds or sinus infections should monitor alcohol intake to avoid illness this winter. To help stay on the Active Wellness path, Kenzen® Immunity and Kenzen® Cleanse & Detox are two of our favorite organic supplements that help counteract the possible effects of overindulgence!

Wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year of the Rat—full of prosperity and moderate indulgences in a healthy life of Active Wellness!

 

1 https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/what-standard-drink

2 https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

3 https://abc7.com/4767686/

4 https://www.keckmedicine.org/how-too-many-drinks-during-the-holidays-can-be-bad-for-your-health/

Are You Addicted to Certain Foods?

The effects of certain foods on the brain make it hard for some people to avoid them, even if they go against an Active Wellness lifestyle. Since food is something we need in order to exist, we don’t always think of it as an addiction; however, many of us lose control around specific unhealthy foods and that is where food may produce behaviors similar to more commonly accepted addictions, such as drugs or alcohol.

The most problematic foods include junk foods generally high in sugar, fat and artificial flavor enhancers. They’re notably bad for us, and many of us continue to eat them. Unlike drug addiction, there is no blood test to diagnose food addiction. It’s based on behavior. Health professionals assert that if we have four to five of these eight common symptoms, we likely have a food addiction :1

  1. Craving certain foods despite feeling full and just having eaten a healthy meal
  2. Eating more than intended of a craved food
  3. Eating a craved food to the point of feeling sick
  4. Feeling guilty after eating certain foods—then eating them again
  5. Making up excuses for eating a craved food
  6. Trying to quit eating certain foods unsuccessfully
  7. Eating craved foods or unhealthy foods in secret
  8. Feeling unable to control the eating of unhealthy foods

The concept of food addiction is controversial because not everyone has experienced it or even heard of it. For those who suffer from it, it can be a lifetime struggle and cause multiple health risks. These include overweight and obesity, which may increase the risk of heart problems, digestive issues and diabetes. Those who are unfamiliar with the problem often consider those with food addictions simply to lack will power. The implication is that food addiction can be easily stopped. In reality, health professionals consider food addiction to be as complex as any other disease. Once addicted, eating certain foods changes the brain in ways that make abstaining from them, very hard.2

When eaten, sugar, flour, grains and any other addictive foods, light up the brain’s reward circuit by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. This reward system motivates repeat behaviors, causing people to eat these pleasure-inducing foods repeatedly.3

Just as with any other addiction, certain people are more vulnerable than others. No single factor is predictive, but genetics play a role, as does someone’s environment. The earlier and the more we are exposed to sugar and other addictive substances, the more likely we are to become trapped into desiring them. thomas-kelley-j5DeBxBUwHw-unsplashUnlike drugs and other addictions, abstinence is not an option when it comes to eating. However, abstinence from the unhealthy craved foods is actually the goal in curbing food addictions. As difficult as it may be, here are some tips to conquer any bad eating habits:4

  • Become educated about healthful foods and try them out.
  • Be honest about why you’re eating what you know you shouldn’t. What thoughts and emotions do you associate with the food you’re eating?
  • Identify social or environmental pressures that lead to unhealthy eating. Avoid them if possible, or explain to people why you are no longer eating certain “triggering” foods.
  • Make an action plan to eat well and get moving. Create healthy menus and cook at home. Devise an exercise routine and add to it incrementally as you improve your fitness. Write down Active Wellness goals.
  • Be realistic. Abstinence from “bad” food will not happen overnight. Just like quitting smoking, it may take a few tries. Don’t beat yourself up over it. There are no options other than taking it a day at a time.

Nikken nutritional supplements are designed to help us stay on track from head to toe. Whether it’s for digestion, mental clarity, strong bones, weight loss or an energy boost, Nikken provides the highest quality of organically sourced support! Take advantage of our special “three for the price of two” on KVB® Meal Replacement Mix! It’s low in fat and carbohydrates, and has no gluten, no dairy, no GMO, no added salt, no preservatives, no sugar and no artificial flavors—all stuff that can lead to food addiction.

 

1 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-overcome-food-addiction

2,3https://foodaddictioninstitute.org/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAxrbwBRCoARIsABEc9sgZ8KWTI3Qf6HtR4PbLKjzmqY9JUuG6nUEXvP5pAORqSvzkY1z4lkIaAkJlEALw_wcB

4 https://psychcentral.com/blog/expert-tips-for-overcoming-food-addiction/

 

Do you Cultivate Gratitude?

One of the first things we teach our children to say is “thank you.” Since children get a lot of help with their daily activities, they have many opportunities to say thank you. In doing so, children are actively cultivating gratitude. Something happens as we become adults, and the simple words “thank you” are often forgotten as we take things for granted. Reciprocally, the words “you’re welcome” are now often replaced with “uh huh” or nothing at all.

According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words literally can change your brain. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they write: “A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. According to the authors, they propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and build resiliency.1

It might seem corny, but we need to practice using the right words not only when we talk to others but also when we talk to ourselves. Since we are first and foremost, blessed with our own abilities, we can cultivate gratitude by being thankful to our bodies and minds for supporting us and letting us work. We can thank ourselves for the progress we’ve made in living with Active Wellness—cutting out or cutting down on sugar, using a PiMag® Sport Bottle instead of single use plastic bottles, exercising daily, focusing more on plants when eating, recycling whenever possible, reducing waste and reusing rather than discarding goods—and commit to doing even more.

Although we should cultivate our own sense of gratitude every day of the year, there’s nothing like the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, to be mindful of the multitude of things that bless our lives. One way to cultivate gratitude is to take a look around us and see what we have to offer to others. How can we help with a simple gesture or random act of kindness? Little things often count way more than we know—helping someone pick up a spilled package, opening a door for the elderly, bringing a stray to the shelter to be scanned for an ownership chip, cooking a meal for a sick neighbor—and the result is feeling happy for being able to do something for someone else.

Feeling grateful doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Sometimes the person with the least has a greater sense of gratitude than someone with an abundance of family, material wealth and good health. When the power goes out for hours or days, we are reminded of how grateful we should be for having electricity 24/7 when other parts of the world do not. Those of us who live where we have potable tap water should be grateful we don’t live where water is scarce or rationed. In other words, what we consider basic and take for granted, really isn’t basic for many others. When we acknowledge simple things that fulfill our needs, we are grateful.

This holiday season, let’s be aware of the words we utter, be sincere with our thanks, lend a helping hand whenever we can and pay forward all the blessings we have personally received. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

 

1 https://psychcentral.com/blog/6-ways-to-cultivate-gratitude/

 

Are You Confused About Carbs?

Diets come and go, but the need for a healthy Active Wellness regimen never ends. One of the ongoing trends is to cut down on carbohydrates or in some diets, to eliminate them. Those who have lost a lot of weight by focusing on protein and fats often commit to a low- or no-carb diet. Vegans are on the opposite end of the spectrum and are committed to staying away from animal protein and fats, while focusing on plants. The truth of the matter is, you know your body best. You need to pay attention to what your body tells you, especially if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic.

Since everyone’s body is different, there are no absolutes; however, the Center for Disease Control gives general guidelines on carb intake. On average, people with diabetes should get about 45% of their calories from carbs, with each serving measured as approximately 15 grams. Translated, this means three to four carb servings (45-60 grams) per meal for women and four to five carb servings (60-75 grams) for men.1 What also needs to be taken into consideration is age, weight, activity level and whether or not you are on diabetes medications. A certified dietician or medical practitioner can help with carb intake, especially if you take insulin—the carbs plus the amount of insulin you have in your body determine your blood sugar levels and impact how you feel.2

Since the role of carbs is to provide the body with a source of energy, the rule of thumb is to eat the “good” carbs and stay away from the “bad” ones. Carbohydrates are generally divided into three categories: starches, sugars and fibers.

  • Starches—or complex carbohydrates—include starchy vegetables, such as potato, corn, yam, beans, lentils, peas and whole grains. For example, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and brown rice are high in fiber and rich in B vitamins, which are nutritional essentials. These carbs serve as important sources of energy for the body and are considered “good” carbs.
  • Sugars include those naturally occurring (as in milk and fruit) and added (as in baked desserts). They’re best when kept to the naturally occurring kind taken in small amounts. All types of added sugar are considered “bad” carbs.
  • Fiber comes from plants and is often from the same category as starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce, and other salad greens, mushrooms, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini, have fewer carbs than starchy vegetables and contain lots of fiber. Fiber is also abundant in some fruit, nuts and seeds.

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water and turns into gel, which slows down digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk, which enables food to pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines and produces an effect similar to a broom, sweeping out waste. Eating a lot of fiber keeps your digestive tract happy and helps you feel full, making fiber an effective tool for weight management.

Since complex carbohydrates and fiber contribute to overall Active Wellness, they are needed in most healthy dietary regimens. Since not everyone has the discipline to eliminate sugar, the key is portion control. One easy way to control portions is called the “plate method.” Start with a 9-inch dinner plate:

  • Fill half with non-starchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.
  • Fill one quarter with a lean protein, such as chicken, beans, tofu, or eggs.
  • Fill a quarter with a grain or starchy food, such as potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta (or skip the starch altogether and double up on non-starchy veggies).Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 12.31.18 PM

Diabetic or not, it is prudent to choose foods with a low glycemic index. Low GI foods are more slowly digested and absorbed by your body, so you stay full longer, and they don’t have a big impact on your blood sugar. Examples of carbs with low GI are beans, brown rice, tomatoes, yogurt, apples, and milk.3

Be sure to take advantage of the Nikken November Special: Get three Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix for the price of two through November 24! Made with superior quality matcha green tea, brown rice solids, kiwi fruit and stevia leaf extract, you get good carbs and none of the bad, with only eight calories per serving.

 

 

1 https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/diabetes-and-carbohydrates.html

2 https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/understanding-carbs

3 https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/meal-plan-method.html

 

 

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth the Healthy Way!

For those with a sweet tooth, the last three months of the year may well be the worst. Temptations are everywhere, as brick and mortar shops display sweets galore and we’re bombarded online with images and recipes of holiday dessert. What’s a body to do!

Here are some practical tips to ease cravings for sweets while staying on an Active Wellness regimen:

  • For a quick sugar fix, eat a piece of fruit or a sweet vegetable. Crunchy textures seem to help satisfy cravings, so choose carrots, beets, apples and persimmons. Fruit that is high in natural sugar also satisfies cravings more quickly—for example, grapes, mangoes and pineapples.
  • Berries are delicious and when you freeze them, they take on the characteristics of sorbets. Try blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and any combinations. They’re high in fiber and actually low in sugar. A healthy combination of exotic berries is the basis of Kenzen Super Ciaga®, a great replacement for sodas when blended with seltzer water.
  • Watermelon is wonderful as a base for smoothies and other blended beverages. Add some mint or even basil, and it’s scrumptious.
  • Healthy sweeteners include monk fruit and stevia. They have zero calories and none of the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners—that’s why monk fruit is the sweetener in Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix and stevia is in Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix.
  • Are you a chocoholic? amirali-mirhashemian-RCVIlSXhYI0-unsplashThe good news is that dark chocolate (with 70% or more cocoa) contains healthy plant compounds known as polyphenols. It still contains sugar and fat, so eat a couple of squares and savor it—no bingeing allowed.
  • Dates! They’re nutritious and very sweet, naturally. They’re also rich in fiber, potassium, iron and a source of antioxidants. As a dried fruit, they contain a lot of natural sugar, so eat three or four, not too many.

To keep sugar intake low, here are some habits to develop:

  • Read labels! Hidden sugars lurk in unexpected places. For example, packaged instant oatmeal has virtually no fiber but contains lots of sugar and artificial flavoring. Condiments such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili contain a lot of sugar—a single tablespoon of ketchup may contain as much as four grams of sugar, which is about one teaspoon.1
  • It may be counterintuitive, but when trying to decrease sugar intake, go for full fat rather than low-fat or non-fat versions of beverages and desserts. This is because low-fat and non-fat drinks and desserts add more sugar to compensate for the lack of fat. For example, an 8-ounce coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, contains 2 grams of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories.2 The same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 26 grams of added sugar and 160 calories.3
  • Minimize consumption of processed foods. Go natural and organic. Processed foods contain 90% of the added sugars in the average American diet.4 For example, one serving, or approximately 128 grams, of canned pasta sauce can contain nearly 11 grams of sugar.5
  • Choose nutrient-dense whole foods whenever possible. It takes a little more time, but preparing desserts with dried fruit, nuts and seeds provides healthy fats in addition to fulfilling your sweet tooth.
  • Be a good role model for your family. Start your children on an Active Wellness regimen as soon as they can eat solid food. Mashed roasted yams and smashed bananas are great starter foods.

 

1 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/14-ways-to-eat-less-sugar#section1

2 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/69/2

3 https://starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/white-chocolate-mocha-?foodzone

4 https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/3/e009892

5 http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/soups-sauces-and-gravies/131612

 

Stay Away from Foods with Dyes and Preservatives

October is ADHD Awareness Month. ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and its prevalence has increased in recent decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than seven percent of children and between four and six percent of adults in the United States have ADHD.1 Symptoms of the condition include having a hard time organizing and completing tasks, difficulty concentrating. focusing and listening, impulsivity, forgetfulness, impatience and poor time management.

While there are many drugs that claim to improve ADHD by balancing the brain’s neurotransmitters, these medications can also cause potential side effects including sleep problems, mood swings, loss of appetite, high blood pressure and even suicidal thoughts or actions. 2

Researchers continue to find alternative treatment methods that revolve around lifestyle modifications, many of which fit perfectly with Active Wellness. Here are some things that are believed to help minimize ADHD symptoms when eliminated from the diet:

  • Avoid foods with dyes and preservatives. The Mayo Clinic noted that certain food colorings and preservatives may increase hyperactive behavior in some children, specifically sodium benzoate (commonly found in carbonated beverages, salad dressing and fruit juice products), FD&C yellow no. 5 and no. 6, FD&C red no. 3 and no. 40, D&C yellow no.10, FD&C blue no. 1 and no. 2, FD&C green no. 3, orange B and citrus red no. 2.3 Basically, be careful with anything that has food coloring.
  • Avoid foods with chemical additives such as BHT and BHA. They are generally used to keep the oil in a product from going bad. They’re also found in processed foods such as potato chips, chewing gum, cake mixes, cereal and instant mashed potatoes.4
  • Avoid foods with salicylates. These are natural substances that are actually abundant in healthy foods such as red apples, almonds, cranberries, grapes and tomatoes. Salicylates are also found in aspirin and other pain medications. Research has shown that when salicylates are eliminated from the diets of hyperactive patients, 30 to 50 percent of them showed improvement.5
  • Allergens can be found in healthy foods but they might affect brain functions and trigger hyperactivity or inattentiveness if the body is sensitive to them. To see if any of the following foods can help decrease ADHD, eliminate them one at a time. They are the top eight food allergens: wheat, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish.6
  • Avoid sugar and gluten. Two studies done in Holland demonstrated that eliminating them improved symptoms in 70 percent of the children in their studies.7
  • Avoid produce grown with pesticides and livestock raised with hormones and antibiotics. Go organic whenever possible to avoid accumulating chemicals, even in low doses, in the body and brain.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following behaviors to calm the mind and ease the tendency for overactivity:

  • Eat lean proteins which help increase focus and provide the building blocks for brain health. Make sure to eat small amounts, as large quantities of protein at one time can overburden the digestive system. Protein powders can be a good source, but whey can be overstimulating for some people, so the safer choice is pea protein. This makes Kenzen Vital Balance® an ideal choice.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water. The brain is made up of 80 percent water and needs to stay hydrated. Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating and can impair cognition and judgment. Carrying a PiMag® Sport Bottle that can be filled at any tap is a good habit to develop.
  • Eat healthy fats, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon, sardines, avocados, walnuts, chia seed and dark green leafy vegetables. Supplement with Kenzen® Omega Green+DHA  to fill in dietary gaps.
  • Get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Limit daily screen time from phones, computers and TV.
  • Cook with herbs and spices. Garlic, oregano and turmeric are believed to boost blood flow to the brain, while there is scientific evidence that shows rosemary, thyme and sage help improve memory.8 Try incorporating Kenzen® Clarity into your daily regimen, as it’s formulated specifically to help maximize cognitive function.*

ADHD can be challenging, but by eating well and avoiding food triggers, both children and adults may be able to improve productivity and decrease or eliminate medications. Whether you may have ADHD or not, Active Wellness is the lifestyle of choice.

*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.healthline.com/health/adhd/foods-to-avoid

2, 3, 4 https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/natural-remedies

5, 6 https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/foods-to-avoid

7, 8 https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-diet-nutrition-sugar/