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15
DEC

5 Reasons This Adaptogenic Tea Makes The Perfect Nightcap

Filed Under: Herbs,Teas at 11:16 am | By: Guest Blogger
Cup of tea with thyme herb and lemon slices

After a long and draining day, many people find comfort in relaxing with a cup of herbal tea. Though great during any season, herbal teas have a way of making one feel even cozier when the chilling grip of winter tightens. If you enjoy a hot elixir to unwind each night, you might be getting sick be tired of the same blends of chamomile that you sip on the regular. To try something new, see what tulsi tea has to offer.

Made from the tulsi plant, this adaptogenic tea boasts a handful of relaxing benefits that might be appealing to your sensibilities. Explore a new way of kicking back this season with some of these healthy perks.

1.) Get Rest

To perform as a functional human being during the daytime, a good night’s sleep is essential. Most people struggle with this, tossing and turning in bed and feeling sluggish the next day. Often, high levels of stress are to blame for interrupting your rest. A cup of tulsi tea before bed might provide you with the herbal mixture you need to relax and fall asleep.

According to a 2014 research paper on tulsi, there is enough evidence to suggest that the tulsi plant is responsible for lowering psychological stress levels in several animal species, including humans. The studies conducted with humans pointed out that the presence of tulsi in a person’s system aided in dealing with several psychological pressures including stress, anxiety, and depression. If you have trouble feeling calm before you go to bed, a cup of this tea could help to get you into the right mindset.

2.) Diabetes Treatment

The adaptogenic effects of tulsi tea are only some of the benefits this herb is said to bring. During a 1996 study on the impact of tulsi in laboratory rats, researchers discovered the plant had an impact on glucose levels in the blood. When the tests were repeated with human participants, the studies yielded similar results. The research here has led to tulsi being used as a way of preventing, and even treating, various diabetic conditions. Though the results are impressive, it is best to speak with your doctor before altering your levels of prescribed insulin.

3.) Coughing and Sneezing

Most people tend to get sick during the winter. Fluctuating temperatures lead people to hide away indoors, allowing bacteria and viruses to be easily spread between hosts. When you come down with a cold, common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, and other respiratory problems. Treating a cold can be tough, and professionals at the Mayo Clinic suggest attacking the symptoms themselves.

If you’re looking to fight against the irritation of a scratchy throat or constant cough, a warm mug of tulsi tea should be considered. Active ingredients in tulsi leaves, like eugenol, contain anti-asthmatic properties that make it easier for the lungs to take in oxygen while fighting an infection. Since the common cold cannot be cured the way other diseases can, a bit of tea might help to get you back on your feet after some rest.

4.) Rich in Antioxidants

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk in the media about the importance of antioxidants. Though dietary crazes come and go, keeping foods rich in antioxidants in your daily rotation can produce several key benefits. For one, antioxidants are shown to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. According to recent CDC statistics, over 610,000 people die in America each year from heart disease. With numbers that high, taking precautionary measures with your heart is a must.

Tulsi leaves contain many antioxidants and several studies have pointed out that this can be useful when it comes to improving the health of your heart. In addition to helping your cardiovascular system, the antioxidant levels in tulsi tea have been shown to improve several skin conditions. Those suffering from varying levels of acne have noticed a change in their complexions after using tulsi tea for a short time.

5.) Complete Your Resolutions

With the end of the year right around the corner, many people are thinking about their resolutions. Sticking with your goals for the new year can be tough, especially if you are attempting to take on a challenge like quitting smoking. The highly-addictive nature of nicotine can make cutting cigarettes out of your routine a painful experience. To make life easier, some people suggest drinking tulsi tea. Replacing the act of smoking with a cup of relaxing herbal tea can help to calm your mind and decrease your urges.

Sitting down with a nice mug of your favorite herbal tea is a lovely way to unwind after a stressful day. To get a bit more from your time, try out some tulsi tea and see what calming benefits you experience.

 

Article written by Joe Palinsky.

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.



12
DEC

4 Low-Maintenance House Plants for Cleaner Air

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Home at 11:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
flowers in a pot on a window sill at the window

If you want to improve the air quality of your home, adding plants to your house can be an excellent and affordable way. Many buildings have inefficient air flow which may create a condition for air pollution to build up and may lead to health issues such as asthma or sick building syndrome. Plans can clean up the pollutants from the air with no too much work for you. Let’s check out 4 low-maintenance houseplants for cleaner air.

1. Spider Plant

Spider plants are known to help remove formaldehyde and xylene. These beautiful and easy-to-care plants grow quickly and look great in hanging baskets and are a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners. Safe for children or animals, spider plants need a lot of bright, indirect sunlight and you only need to water them two times per week.

2. Dracaena

Dracaena Plants are also known as natural air purifiers. These foliage plants with long, wide leaves are known to remove pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Unfortunately, pet owners might want to avoid Dracaena as these are toxic to cats and dogs.

3. Bamboo Palm

Bamboo palm can be considered low-maintenance but these plants need full sun or bright light. Known to filter formaldehyde, bamboo palm can filter so much air and some of the pollutants known to be removed include benzene and trichloroethylene.

4. Snake Plant

Snake plants are also useful to remove formaldehyde and benzene and require not much maintenance. This sharp-leafed plant thrives in low light and is an excellent way to help lower carbon dioxide. Research suggests that during the night, snale plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, a reversal of the process most plants undergo. They are highly recommended for your bedroom as they can increase oxygen while you sleep.



5
DEC

4 Tips To Keep You Productive All Winter Long

Beautiful happy young adult woman drinking coffee near New York City skyline wearing winter clothes and smiling. Beautiful woman holding coffee cup outdoors in the city.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Once the dazzling colors of autumn have faded and the temperature has begun its shift in colder directions, it means winter has arrived. While the end of the year tends to get people all caught up in the excitement of the holidays, the winter also has a way of taking away a person’s motivation. Whether you are someone who suffers from seasonal depression or you can’t seem to find the mental energy to be productive on a bitterly chilly day, it can be almost impossible to get anything done.

If you are trying to break the mold this winter and be the most productive version of yourself, you might need a bit of help. Follow these suggestions to stay as motivated as possible this season.

1.) Consume Quality Foods

What you eat plays a huge part in the way you feel throughout the season. The short days and freezing temperatures of the winter tend to push people towards specific food groups. “Comfort foods” are popular at this time of year because they can make a person feel safe and content. Unfortunately, these dishes are usually packed with butter and fat. Though you might feel inclined to make a huge batch of macaroni and cheese every night, your motivation requires something a bit more nourishing.

Maintaining a productive lifestyle is a challenge in the winter because many people face depression or decreased moods. For some, this comes from a lack of exposure to sunlight. To counteract this, it can be in your best interests to eat meals loaded with Vitamin D. Salmon, yogurt, and tofu are all excellent choices. By consuming a healthy amount of Vitamin D throughout the winter, you are more likely to feel motivated, have a strengthened immune system, and keep your metabolism running efficiently.

2.) Life is Company

Feeling less motivated in the winter can be detrimental to your life in a number of ways. For one, you are not going to want to take on personal projects or engage in hobbies you normally find appealing. It also stands to reason you’ll want to stay home and limit your social interactions. This is no coincidence. According to several studies, people feel less social when there is an absence of warm light for extended periods. Though it might be natural to limit your social interactions at this time of year, it actually adds to depression.

Winter can be isolating. Since you might not be planning on going out after work as much as you did in the summer, you need to find ways to interact with others whenever possible. Small steps like making the decision to meet with friends for lunch on a Saturday or spend some extra time talking with coworkers at the start of the workday can be great moves. The more you interact with other people on a daily basis, even if it is only your local barista, the more likely it is you will feel motivated to be productive.

3.) Fight the Sickness

A lack of motivation is not the only issue people deal with in the winter. Colder weather also makes it far easier for germs to spread, with influenza and the common cold being most prevalent between December and March. Since coming down with a cold can easily ruin any motivation you have drummed up, you want to go above and beyond to stay as healthy as possible. A bowl of oatmeal each morning can provide your body with fiber and zinc, both which aid in keeping your body regular and well.

Foods high in Vitamin C should also make appearances on your plate throughout the season. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, oranges, spinach, and tomatoes are all practical choices.

4.) Get Out and Move

Finally, nothing beats exercise when it comes to staying motivated. Getting off the couch and heading to the gym for a workout might feel like an impossible feat in the winter but it can make a huge difference in your mood. The more you engage with your body, the less likely you are to feel stuck in a rut. Exercise releases endorphins, allowing for an improved mood and a newfound feeling of self-worth.

Winter can be harsh and unforgiving. To stay one step ahead of the blues that come from this time of year, remember to motivate yourself in the right ways. Eat foods rich in both Vitamin C and D, exercise regularly, and keep social to make it through the winter in one piece.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.



1
DEC

5 Science-Backed Essential Oils for Better Sleep

Filed Under: Aromatherapy,Herbs at 11:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
If you are trying to achieve better sleep but want to avoid sleeping pills, essential oils can be a great option for you. Essential oils are known to provide multiple health benefits and some of them have been studied for their sleep-aiding properties. Let’s check out 5 science-backed essential oils for better sleep.

1. Lavender

Lavender essential oil has been studied extensively for its effects on the nervous system. Research has concluded that inhaling lavender oil helps the body enter a relaxed state, which is essential for better sleep and to prevent insomnia. Additionally, a recent study found that lavender inhalation together with sleep hygiene improved sleep quality in college students with self-reported sleep issues. Lavender has anti-microbial, fungal and viral activity. For relaxation before bedtime, just mix a few drops of lavender in a spray bottle of distilled water and spray it in the room.

2. Chamomile

A well-known calming tea, chamomile can be useful for treating digestive and stomach issues. Studies have shown that chamomile contains mild sedative properties and its essential oils can be helpful to promote relaxation before bedtime.

3. Bergamot

Bergamot essential oil has been used to induce relaxation. One study concluded that bergamot oil mixed with lavender and ylang-ylang can help reduce stress and elevate mood.

4. Cedarwood

Cedarwood essential oil has a woody, outdoorsy, and sweet aroma. This oil has been used since ancient times for several purposes including promoting improvements in sleep quality as well as memory, mood and emotions.

5. Ylang-ylang

Ylang-ylang essential oil appeared to help relieve anxiety. Since ancient times, ylang-ylang has been used to calm, relieve stress, and relax the body and modern research continues to support the benefits of this essential oil.



1
DEC

Cassava Flour, Grain-Free Chocolate Crazy Cake

Filed Under: Recipes at 9:29 am | By: Madeline Reiss
Whole sliced Chocolate cake with slice slightly removed. Photographed in window light with Nikon D800+50mm Zeiss Lens at ISO 100. Image Processed from raw file with VSCO Film Kodak Portra film simulation with film grain for a slightly more lo-fi look.

Who said chocolate cake can’t be quick, easy, gluten-free AND delicious?! When you’re pressed for time but looking to whip up a gluten-free treat, give this chocolate cake recipe from Otto’s Naturals a try! It features their cassava flour, a gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free flour with the taste and texture of wheat!

Ingredients

360 grams Otto’s Cassava Flour (weighing
is recommended) OR 3 cups, well sifted
before measuring
2 cups coconut sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups cold water or coffee

Instructions

  1. Whisk or sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa
    together into a large bowl.
  2. Make three wells. Pour oil into one well, vinegar into second, and
    vanilla into third well.
  3. Pour cold water or coffee over all and stir well with a fork.
  4. Pour into 9×14 baking pan or two 8″ round pans. It is not necessary to grease the pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted
    comes out clean.
  6. Frost with your favorite icing!

Did you give this recipe a try? Let us know below!



30
NOV

Almond Butter Cookies Recipe

Filed Under: Recipes at 5:27 pm | By: Madeline Reiss
"Warm, golden brown, chocolate chip cookies cooling on a rack. Shallow depth of field."

This recipe uses Plant Fusion’s Lean Chocolate Brownie Protein Powder to make gooey, melt in your mouth almond butter cookies perfect for holiday parties or a sweet, end-of-the-day snack.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine almond butter, coconut sugar, salt, egg, almond milk and vanilla extract. Mix until ingredients are well combined. Next mix in protein powder, coconut flour and baking soda until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Use a small cookie scoop to drop cookie dough by the tablespoonful onto a prepared baking sheet. The dough will be slightly sticky. Slightly flatten the tops of the cookies. Bake for 9-11 minutes until slightly golden brown on the edges. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 12 cookies.



30
NOV

Warming, Gluten-Free, Paleo Shepherds Pie

Filed Under: Uncategorized at 3:38 pm | By: Madeline Reiss
Shepherd's Pie In A Cast Iron Skillet.

The perfect gluten-free, wintertime comfort food that can easily be made paleo-friendly! It’s super easy to make and is the perfect warming meal on a cold winter day.

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground lamb, or beef 450g
1 tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots medium dice
1 large onion chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (omit for paleo)
2 cups gluten-free beef stock
4 medium potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
2 tbsp butter substitute
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (omit for paleo)
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion & carrots & gently saute for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the lamb or beef & brown over a medium heat, stirring the whole time. Spoon off excess fat if necessary.
  4. Add the tomato purée & Worcestershire sauce (if using), then fry for a couple more minutes. Add the beef stock, bring to a simmer, then cover pan & cook for about 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes uncover the pan and continue to cook for 20 more minutes.
  6. While the meat is cooking, boil the peeled potatoes in lightly salted water for 10-15 minutes until soft, but not soggy. Drain, then mash together with the butter substitute.
  7. Add two tablespoons of arrowroot to a cup with a 3-4 tablespoons of cold water & mix well. Remove the pan from the heat & add half of the arrowroot mixture to the meat, stirring to avoid lumps & allowing a few minutes to thicken up.
  8. Put the cooked meat mixture into an ovenproof dish, add the mashed potatoes on top and spread out with a fork. Add shredded cheese (omit for Paleo).
  9. Bake for 20-25 mins until the top starts to color & juice is beginning to leak around the edges.

 



30
NOV

Is Melatonin Safe For Children Struggling to Sleep?

Filed Under: Baby and Child Health,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Supplements at 9:30 am | By: Guest Blogger
Royalty stock photo of 3 years old girl during daytime.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Sleep is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Try as they might, there are countless people across the planet who toss and turn in their beds until sunrise. Though this is a common problem in adults, it is also an issue many children experience on a regular basis. If your little ones are unable to sleep through the night, it’s a good idea to consider your options.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. It is responsible for helping regulate one’s cycle of sleep. Though the body produces this hormone naturally, melatonin supplements are a common solution for adults who are not sleeping well. While this may seem like a practical idea for an adult, you might be hesitant to offer your children the same answer when they have difficulty catching some shut-eye. To understand whether it is right for your kids, be sure to look over what the experts are saying.

Starting With Dosage

Many drugs and supplemental products are problematic for children to ingest. Though these pills are fine for adults with fully-developed systems, a number of chemicals found in specific pharmaceuticals can inhibit growth in a child. With melatonin, this is the main argument made. Though there are still no concrete findings on whether or not melatonin impacts children in a negative way, medical experts believe it is better to approach this task from the right perspective.

Adults tend to purchase melatonin over the counter from pharmacies or health supplement establishments. This is fine for grown individuals but it can prove trickier for kids. To get the best solution, you need to first visit with your child’s pediatrician. Speaking with a healthcare professional can open you up to all possible solutions to the problem. If the doctor believes melatonin is the answer, then he or she can prescribe a specific dosage that works appropriately. Prescription melatonin comes in smaller dosages, allowing it to work its magic without overloading your child with too much melatonin.

Serious and Simple

Though melatonin is one of a number of solutions available to parents who are trying to get their children to sleep, it is important to take a closer look at when you should avoid using it altogether. When the summer has come to a close and school is around the corner, you might notice that your children are having a difficult time hitting the hay. This could be due to the excitement of the coming school year or nerves about seeing friends for the first time in months.

Situational sleep problems like this tend to come and go. Once your child has gotten back into the swing of the school year, he or she should return to normalcy with sleeping. Short-term sleeping problems usually resolve themselves and are caused by environmental factors that are not always present. When you first notice your child is not sleeping right, do not take immediate action. Allow this to carry on for a few days to see if it persists. If so, you need to contact your child’s doctor to start finding an appropriate solution.

Ultimate Answer

Melatonin is a wonderful option for adults who are struggling with insomnia or other sleep-related ailments. For children, it might be best to examine alternatives first. Take a look at your child’s habits and see what might be causing the sleepless nights. In many cases, diet and exercise can change the way a child falls asleep. According to most experts, children need to be up for around twelve hours each day and need to be physically engaged for at least one hour. Inactive children who do not get outside often might deal with insomnia from not getting out enough.

Sleep is incredibly important to the human mind, body, and spirit. When you’re dealing with children who don’t seem to fall asleep, you might need to take action. Examine your child’s habits and see how long insomnia persists. When you feel like all of your options have been exhausted, visit with your child’s primary care physician and learn more about what melatonin might be able to offer.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.



29
NOV

5 Ways To Keep Moving When It’s Too Cold To Function

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 9:31 am | By: Guest Blogger
Legs of two runners outside in winter nature

Article Written by Jessica Thiefels

Staying active in the winter is hard—especially on the coldest days when even getting out of bed is a challenge. Don’t let the winter doldrums keep you from moving your body and working toward new goals and resolutions. Instead, use the following ideas to stay motivated and bring more movement into your day, even when it’s too cold to function.

 

Make Time for Stretching

If you don’t want to go outside, take time to stretch while relaxing in your warm home. Not only will this get your blood flowing, but stretching is critical to maintaining a healthy body:

“Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains and muscle damage,” explain experts at Harvard Health Publishing.

Here are a few stretching routines to try:

You can also browse a full library of stretching videos from Flexy Friday.

 

Try An Active Meditation Flow

Meditation brings mind-body alignment and can help drive away those wintertime blues. However, you don’t have to sit still to reap the benefits. Active meditation is a great way to get moving on the coldest winter days while tuning into yourself and taking some time to relish in silence.

To find an active meditation, search general meditation apps like Insight Timer. If you want something more structured, check out this series from Cody. Each video has a different focus, allowing you enjoy a well-rounded practice with guidance.

 

Do An At-Home Workout

Even a small amount of space can be enough for a great at-home workout, you just have to know how to use it. Instead of ruling it out altogether, take a look at some of these great at-home workout platforms and find the ones that work best for your home.

In many cases, the best workout for a small space will be strength-based (opposed to plyometric or cardio); this is especially true if:

  • You live above someone to avoid stomping.
  • You have a lot of things that can fall off shelves.
  • You have minimal space to move and most exercises need to be done in one place.

 

Take a Lunch Walk

If you work in a big building, lunch is your chance to burn some calories while staying warm—especially if you bring your afternoon coffee along for the ride. To get more out of your walk, take the stairs whenever possible and add exercises to the mix, including walking lunges, squats, wall pushups and calf raises.

If you don’t have a large building, it’s time to bundle up and get outside. To motivate yourself to get moving, invest in some new winter gear. Just like buying new gym clothes as motivation, investing in new winter apparel may be just what you need to get you outside for a short jaunt.

 

Find Ways to Boost Accountability

The best way to keep moving when it’s too cold to function is to get someone or something to hold you accountable! When the morning alarm goes off, the sun isn’t up yet and your bed is warm and cozy, the motivation to get up and head to the gym is nearly non-existent. Especially when you’re the only one making these decisions.

That’s where accountability tricks come in handy; when you’ve already paid for a class or your gym partner will be waiting outside in 10 minutes, you’re less likely to bail. Here are a few ways to take your accountability up a notch:

  • Find a workout partner.
  • Sign up for classes ahead of time; if you don’t go, you’re wasting money.
  • Try one of the following apps: DietBet, Pact, or Healthy Wage.
  • Reward yourself with weekly treats: a massage, a night out with friends, an extra glass of wine at dinner or a new outfit.

 

Stay Warm and Fit

Use these simple tips to stay fit and healthy, despite the cold. With a little extra accountability, extra stretching and at-home workouts, you’ll fit it all in while staying warm and strong all season long!

 

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time writer, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist. She’s also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honest Body Fitness, an online health magazine for women who are fed up with being told how to look and how to get there, yet still don’t feel like enough. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.



28
NOV

5 Reasons To Add Ashwagandha To Your Medicine Cabinet

Filed Under: Herbs,Mindfulness,Supplements at 3:11 pm | By: Guest Blogger
Sshwagandha powder and root on wooden table. Superfood, alternative medicine, natural remedy.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

For most people, the medicine cabinet is a storage space that acts as a window to the past. Expired pill bottles and loose adhesive strips mingle on the shelves, reminding you of all the maladies you’ve encountered in your years. With 2017 winding down, now is an excellent time to begin cleaning out all the old junk in your life. The medicine cabinet is a fantastic place to begin your endeavor!

While tossing out old vitamins and creams can be cathartic, you might also want to focus on what you will replace once everything has been tossed. Finding the right items for your medicine cabinet can help you to feel prepared for whatever health-related situations await. Ashwagandha, for example, is an herb with a number of uses that might have a future home in your medicine cabinet. To see if it works for your life, let’s examine some of the benefits.

1.) Ancient And Relevant 

Whenever a new herb or plant appears on the shelves, consumers and advertisers alike tend to get out of control. Reports on the benefits of these products can be conflicting and overwhelming, making it impossible to know whether or not the supplement or remedy even works. Ashwagandha is different because it has been used for thousands of years in a number of places around the world with impressive results.

In North Africa, the herb has long been used as a way of dealing with inflammation and increasing energy levels. Often referred to as ubab or “winter cherry,” ashwagandha can also be found across parts of Asia. In India, the herb is mashed into a paste and used as a salve for treating burns and other wounds.

2.) Calming Effects

Stress and anxiety are very real problems for a large number of people. The world is more connected than it has ever been before. While this fact yields some wonderful results, it also can make one feel tense to constantly be bombarded with news and information about the world. Ashwagandha might also prove useful when dealing with these high levels of stress.

According to a number of studies conducted at several academic institutions, ashwagandha helped patients feel less stressed within a short amount of time. Anxiety can put a lot of strain on the brain and make memory recall somewhat impossible. When ashwagandha was present in the system, researchers noticed an improvement in how subjects suffering from anxiety could recall vital information.

3.) Better Spirits

Feeling grumpy or frustrated can often seem like a part of life. While it is true that you can’t do much to change a foul mood when you’re stuck in one, it also doesn’t hurt to try new tactics. With an herb like ashwagandha, you could be looking at a solid way to get yourself into better spirits. While conducting studies on the anti-anxiety effects of ashwagandha, researchers observed patients exhibited signs of improved emotional states.

Though studies are still being done to uncover exactly how ashwagandha improves an individual’s mood, many scientists believe it has to do with how the herb impacts the adrenal gland. Responsible for producing and regulating a large number of hormones, this endocrine gland is stimulated and rejuvenated by the constant presence of ashwagandha. This renewal helps to better regulate hormones like adrenaline, which tends to help with stress levels as well as overall mood.

4.) Memories That Last

Having a strong memory can work to your advantage on a daily basis. Keeping yourself sharp helps you to stay on top of tasks at work, keep important dates in the forefront of your mind, and allow you the ability to remember where you put down your keys before walking out the door. Though a number of factors work against a person’s ability to remember information, studies suggest that ashwagandha might be a good fit for those looking to improve areas of the brain related to memory.

It is important to note that these studies primarily focused on memory problems that resulted from head injuries. According to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, ashwagandha might be helpful for patients suffering from dementia but it is too soon to tell. As of this point, no official studies have been conducted on ashwagandha and how it works in patients living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

5.) Simple Warnings

Discussing the benefits of an herb like ashwagandha can be useful for your future. Still, it is good to note that there are a few individuals who should not be using the plant. For the most part, you can feel confident in stocking your medicine cabinet with ashwagandha. However, it is important to keep in mind that women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid the herb. Some studies suggest it might be fine for pregnant women but it is best to speak with a healthcare professional before making any decisions.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.



21
NOV

4 Ways to Tell If Your Protein Bar Is Healthy

Filed Under: Health Foods,Nutritional Bars at 3:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Man opens protein bar while sitting on rock. In the background are extreme rock formations where he has been rock climbing.

Finding a protein bar isn’t easy. Some bars are delicious but contain ingredients that leave a lot to be desired. Other bars have mainly healthy ingredients but may contain too much sugar and might actually be unhealthy for some people. How can you tell what is the best option for you? Let’s check out 5 ways to tell if your protein bar is healthy.

1. Protein

If we are talking about protein bars, of course we have to start with the protein content! Find a bar that contains no less than five grams of protein per bar to make it nutritionally worth your while. Protein is essential for recovery after exercise, important for building muscle and also helpful for burning fat. Make sure the protein comes from quality sources such as whey, milk or plants and don’t overdo it as excess protein may be stored as body fat.

2. Carbohydrates

Look for a protein bar that has healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains like oats, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat. Low carb products are perfect for people on a weight loss diets. If that’s your case, look for products with a max of 30 grams of carbs per bar.

3. Ratio Protein/Carbs

The protein to carbs ratio is extremely important when choosing a good protein bar. Choosing the right ratio ensures that you are getting the ideal bar for your specific goal. For example, a 2:1 ratio of protein to carbs is perfect for fat loss, whereas if you are trying to build muscle or use the bar after a workout, the best bar should have close to a 1:2 ratio.

4. Right Sugar

A good protein bar should be low sugar and contain less than 8 grams per bar. Make sure the main source of sugar comes from fruit and not artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which despite being calorie free, are unhealthy and even toxic. Artificial sweeteners often cause cravings and even an insulin response, just like sugar does, and may have unwanted side-effects.



16
NOV

5 Ways to Use Tea When Cooking

Filed Under: Health Foods,Teas at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
You certainly have heard of people cooking with wine and beer but how about cooking with tea? A very interesting cooking ingredient, tea contains distinctive flavors which can add herbal, sweet, and even smoky touches to your cooking repertoire. Let’s check out 5 ways to use tea when cooking.

1. Flavoring

Use tea as an herb. Tea leaves are essentially herbs and can be added directly to dishes while cooking. A mixture of green teas used as a seasoning works perfectly for stir-fries, particularly when added to vegetable dishes since it tastes similar to dark, leafy greens. Plus, you can use tea leaves like dried herbs such as oregano or thyme as well as add them to sauces and glazes.

2. Water

How about cooking with tea instead of water? An easy way to add a little more flavor to your meals, just brew the tea and let it cool to room temperature. Then, use it in any recipe that calls for water. It works great to cook whole grains such as rice and quinoa and it can also be used for soups.

3. Pasta

If you make your own pasta, here’s a great idea. Mix green tea powder to pasta dough, adding color and a delicious herbaceous flavor to your homemade pasta. Plus, rather than buying specialty noodles, just cook pasta in green tea to make a homemade green tea noodles.

4. Spice Rub

Tea leaves can also create a great spice rub. Grind tea leaves and add them to your favorite herbs and spices to use in a rub for tofu, tempeh or seitan. Choose teas such as earl gray and Darjeeling which go well with savory foods. A tea spice rub can be as simple as mixing ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper with 2 Tbs. of ground tea

5. Butter

Tea leaves make a great herb butter and it’s pretty easy to make. Just let unsalted butter sit at room temperature until very soft and then mix it with tea leaves, either whole or ground. Store in the refrigerator and use it for cooking or on freshly baked bread and biscuits.



8
NOV

DHA, EPA & ALA: How Much Do You Actually Need?

Filed Under: Health Foods,Supplements at 6:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Salmon Steak with Spices

Omega-3 supplements are very beneficial to your health but some people may find a little complicated to understand all the abbreviations used on the products’ ingredients list. EPA, DHA and ALA. What do they stand for? Which food sources can you get them from? How much do you actually need? Let’s have a quick look at DHA, EPA and ALA.

EPA

One of the two main types of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, or EPA, is found in fatty, cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring, halibut, trout, anchovies, and tuna. There is no recommended standard dose of EPA’s but health organizations recommend a daily dose of 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) for healthy adults.

DHA

The other main type of omega-3 is Docosahexaenoic Acid, popular known as DHA. Plentiful in fish and shellfish, DHA is also found in algae. There is no set recommended standard dose of DHA as well but just like EPA’s a daily dose of 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) of DHA should be sufficient for healthy adults.

EPA to DHA Ratios

It’s important to check for the ratios of EPA and DHA since there is no standard daily dose set. According to the American Heart Association, a common ratio which can be used is 180 milligrams of EPA to 120 milligrams of DHA but some reports show that ratios of 2:1 or 1:2 EPA to DHA may be equally beneficial since both compounds seem to work together.

ALA

Alpha-linolenic Acids are short-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in plants, such as flax seeds, chia seeds, as well as oils such as flax oil and hemp oil. ALA omega-3 fatty acids have less potent health benefits than EPA and DHA and for the body to truly benefit from these fats, they must be converted into long-chain EFAs such as EPA and DHA first. There is no established dose of alpha-lipoic acid recommended, but studies have concluded that the use of 600 milligrams daily can provide health benefits.



7
NOV

Holiday White Chocolate Bark Recipe

Filed Under: Recipes at 9:00 am | By: Leah Hazuda, Contributing Editor
White chocolate bark with almonds

The perfect combination of sweet and crunchy, this festive candy is full of heart-healthy dried cranberries and antioxidant-rich almonds. Unsweetened coconut saves a few calories while adding delicious flavor and a bit of fiber. If these toppings aren’t your favorite – customize it to fit you!

Ingredients

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
  • Spread the sliced almonds and the unsweetened coconut in an even layer on the baking sheet. Toast 5–8 minutes or until coconut just begins to brown. Remove baking sheet from the oven, and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine almonds, coconut, rice cereal, and dried cranberries. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the mixture, and set aside.
  • Place chopped white chocolate and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large heatproof bowl, and set over a medium saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted.
  • Remove the chocolate from heat, and fold in the almond mixture. Spread mixture evenly on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle on the reserved 1/4 cup topping. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate has completely set. Break the bark into small pieces, and serve.

Recipe from Health.com



6
NOV

Add These 6 Things to Your Evening Ritual for Better Sleep

Filed Under: Aromatherapy,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Teas at 6:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Cropped picture of a woman sitting on a bed with favourite tea and holding a mug of tea

Unfortunately, many people have a difficult time sleeping well these days. Stress, busy schedules, and hectic lifestyles often lead to difficulties falling asleep and sleeping throughout the night. Evening rituals or bedtime routines can be an excellent way to improve your overall sleep. The purpose of these activities is to relax and de-stress your mind and body, helping you calm down, sleep longer and better. Let’s look at 6 things you can add to your evening ritual for better sleep.

1. Magnesium Supplement

Magnesium is well known for its ability to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. Studies have suggested that this mineral helps decrease cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which keeps you up at night. Magnesium also promotes muscle relaxation and can help mood disorders.

2. Herbal Teas

Some herbal teas contain relaxing agents that can help sooth your nerves, improve blood flow, and make you feel more relaxed. The best herbal teas for sleep include chamomile, valerian, lavender, peppermint, and passion flower.

3. Taking a Bath

A hot bath is one of the best ways to promote relaxation. Immersion in warm/hot water is known to be extremely therapeutic and can significantly help relax your mind and soul after a stressful day.

4. Cooler Bedroom

Turn down the thermostat in your bedroom to improve the quality of your sleep. The National Sleep foundation recommends that the room temperature should be kept around 65 degrees in order to keep you cooler and prevent restless nights from feeling too hot.

5. Use an EO Diffuser

An essential oil diffuser can help improve your sleep as these essential oils have soothing and relaxing aroma therapeutic properties. Look for valerian, lavender, chamomile, cedarwood, vetiver, frankincense, geranium, patchouli, ylang, and bergamot.

6. Stretch

Stretching is another great way to promote relaxation and improve overall sleep. Stretch for a few minutes to reduce stiff joints and cramping muscles as well as to prevent injuries and reduce built-up tension and stress.