Bears aren’t the only ones who “hibernate” in the wintertime! As the days get colder & we’re less exposed to sunlight, it’s common to experience the “winter blues.” You may feel a lack of energy, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, changes in your appetite & an overall lack of motivation.
While these are all normal responses to less sunlight, some might experience these symptoms on a more extreme level through Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of major depression, bipolar I or II disorder that displays a pattern that recurs with the seasons. Those more at risk for developing SAD are women, those living far from the equator or people who have a family history of depression.
If you’re feeling the blues this winter, try working these tips into your wellness regime to help feel better naturally!
1. Light therapy or Bright Light Therapy (BLT)
If you have a hard time filling your space with natural light, consider using a light therapy box. They emit full spectrum light similar to the sun & are best used for 20-60 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. While you may feel the benefits in a few days, it’s important to use consistently to prevent symptoms from returning. Although safe, side effects can occur from light therapy (generally less severe than prescription medications) so always use under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
2. Exercise & meditation
You’ve been told countless times about the importance of exercise, but the endorphins released during your workouts are especially effective at improving your mood. You can also incorporate meditation & yoga into your routine to better manage stress and depression.
3. Nourish your body with whole foods
While sweets might seem like the answer to all life’s struggles, know that the “happiness effect” you might perceive is only temporary. Ultimately, spiking your blood sugar levels will cause inflammation & leave you feeling worse, so nourish your body with whole foods like leafy greens & antioxidant-rich fruits.
4. Get enough Vitamin D
Many people suffering from winter blues have deficient levels of Vitamin D. Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels & add a supplement to your diet if you’re lacking. Even though it’s cold, taking a quick walk outside in the sunlight during the day can help you feel better.
5. Socialize & connect with others
You’re probably not the only one who feels down in the wintertime, so talk to family & friends about the way you’re feeling. The act of sharing your feelings alone might help you feel better! If your symptoms worsen & interfere with your daily life, be sure to reach out to a professional for help.
While the gloom and gray of winter might leave you longing for the summer sun, don’t let it stop you from being active and socializing with friends! Take advantage of what every season has to offer and approach it with a positive attitude.
You’ve seen Kombucha lining health store aisles, maybe mispronounced it a few times and probably tried it at least once…but what exactly is it and why is it so popular? Kombucha (Kom-booch-uh) is a fermented tea that originated in Northeast China around 220 B.C. and was revered for its health-boosting and gut-healing properties. It’s made by mixing black tea (or green tea) and sugar, then fermenting the blend into a fizzy, probiotic-packed wellness drink. Fermentation, by definition, is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms.
For Kombucha, fermentation happens through “SCOBY”—an acronym for a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. The SCOBY is part of the brewing process and a new layer of SCOBY will grow on the surface of the original used to begin the brew. For your first batch, you need to purchase a SCOBY from a reputable source. Once added to the tea-sugar blend, SCOBY breaks down most of the sugar in the mixture. The batch is left to ferment for 1-2 weeks and is then transferred to bottles where it sits for another 1-2 weeks to encourage carbonation. During bottling, different flavors are infused to create a refreshing, bubbly, health beverage. Kombucha is popular because it combines the health benefits of tea with those of probiotics and healthy bacteria!
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Packed with antioxidants, enzymes and organic acids such as acetic, caprylic and more
Contains B-Vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B12
May reduce heart disease risk
Improves digestion and supports a healthy gut
May have immune system boosting & antiviral properties
Antioxidants in Kombucha may help protect the liver
Herbs, spices, fruits or flavoring of your choice (optional)
Clean all surfaces, utensils, pots, jars & hands with soap & water—leaving no residue behind. Always use glass vessels and wooden or plastic utensils.
Bring ¼ gallon of filtered water to a boil.
While the water is heating, prepare your tea. If you are using loose leaf tea you will need a mesh tea ball. The tea for this step should be simple & unflavored. Earl Grey and other flavored teas are not recommended.
Once the water has reached a boil, steep six tea bags (12 grams) of black or green tea in hot water for 20 minutes, mixing frequently. Make sure to do this step in a pot that can withstand high temperatures.
Remove the tea bags and stir 1 cup of sugar into the pot. Mix this for a couple of minutes to help the sugar dissolve.
Pour your mixture into your 1 gallon, glass fermentation jar.
Fill the jar with 8 cups of cold, filtered water.
Use your thermometer to ensure the temperature reads between 68-84 degrees F before adding your SCOBY or Kombucha culture.
Once the temperature is right, add your culture to the mixture.
Cover your fermentation jar with an organic cotton cover and seal it with a rubber band.
Place your mixture in a warm place out of direct sunlight & with plenty of airflow (not in a closed cupboard). The best temperature for this process is between 72 and 80 degrees F. Make sure to check the temperature gauge frequently & adjust locations as needed.
After a couple of days you will begin to notice a cream-colored layer growing on top of your brew. This is your new culture! Your batch should be ready in about 9-14 days depending on the temperature, water quality & your taste preference. Cool temperatures slow fermentation while warm temperatures speed it up. The typical fermentation period is about 7-10 days.
If your batch is too sweet, put the cloth back on and let it brew a few more days. If it is too tart you can sweeten during the bottling process.
After you have made your Kombucha, it’s time to bottle it!
Bottling & “Second Fermentation”
Remove the SCOBY & place into a glass or porcelain container. Pour some of the Kombucha liquid on top, enough to cover your SCOBY. This will be the starter liquid for your next batch and keeps the SCOBY fresh.
Add your brew to a 32 oz. glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Your brew may contain brown blobs, strands, or debris after removing the SCOBY & that it is perfectly fine! It’s just parts leftover from the mother SCOBY. If you don’t like the blobs, you can use a strainer if when pouring your Kombucha into the bottle.
It’s best to leave an inch or less of air at the top of the bottle. This should allow for the appropriate amount of carbonation.
You can use crushed leaves of fresh herbs, ground or whole spices, fruit purees, veggie juices & host of other options to flavor your brew. Add the individual flavors directly into your Kombucha bottle and cap. If your lid is metal, be sure to place plastic wrap in between the lid & your Kombucha.
If you are looking for a carbonated beverage, let the sealed bottle continue to ferment at room temperature for 3-7 days. Then put the mixture into the fridge & enjoy. If you don’t like fizzy drinks or carbonation, you can just put the flavored bottle straight into the fridge after bottling. You can strain out the fruits, herbs etc. after if preferred.
Always use caution when brewing your own Kombucha & be careful about fermenting it too long.
Never touch the Kombucha or SCOBY with metal as it may kill it.
Look out for mold! Brown, clear and cream are acceptable colors for your SCOBY. Black, green, blue or white, fuzzy mold & dark, round spots should never be present. If you see any of those make sure to throw the culture and brew away.
If you ever have any reserves about your Kombucha, reach out to someone for help. You should also check the pH of your Kombucha using test strips to make sure it’s between 2.5-3.5—the ideal range for Kombucha.
If you are brewing for the first time & nervous about making your own Kombucha, there are an assortment of kits you can purchase which provide you with everything you need to brew your own. They also come with easy-to-follow instructions that make the process very enjoyable!
It’s recommended to start with a little Kombucha a day & gradually work your way up to drinking more. Stick with about 8 oz. per day or less, especially in the beginning.
If you are pregnant, breast feeding or have underlying health conditions, make sure to check with your health care provider before trying Kombucha.
Kombucha is brewed using black tea and sugar which, when fermented, turns into alcohol in very small amounts. However, only about 1% of Kombucha is believed to be alcohol.
We have all caught ourselves worrying about our busy lives. Wake up, make breakfast, pack lunch, get the kids off to school, go to work, finish the big project at work, pick the kids up from school, take one kid to music lessons and another to practice, make dinner, do the laundry…the list goes on. Whatever fills your day, thinking about the exhaustive list of tasks and chores is likely to cause stress and anxiety, which can lead to health issues. What if we stopped worrying about everything that needs to get done and instead focused our attention on the present moment? The moment we’re actively experiencing. This is mindfulness: being present in your everyday life.
Practicing mindfulness means paying attention to your experiences, both physical and mental, and not judging them. This means instead of rejecting a feeling because it is “bad” or “good,” you learn to cope with it by not labeling it. For example, maybe you are working on a big project at work and you start to feel your heart racing as you realize the deadline is approaching. In mindfulness, you acknowledge the fact that your heart is racing, but don’t judge the feeling. Just acknowledge it’s there and accept it. While mindfulness is most often associated with meditation, the two don’t have to coexist. The best thing about incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine is that you can do it anywhere!
Benefits to consider of mindfulness:
May help reduce anxiety and depression
Improves focus and cognition
Enhances emotional regulation and control
Helps promote stress reduction while allowing the brain to become more adaptive to stressful or negative situations.
Lower stress levels are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved immune function, lower blood sugar levels and reduced risk of early mortality.
Enhanced self-insight, morality, intuition and the ability to modulate fear.
May help improve sleep and reduce insomnia
People who practice mindfulness report more positive moods
May help reduce pain
What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
There is a lot of overlap between mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is specifically the awareness of what is going on that present moment. It can be both a formal or informal practice. For instance, mindfulness is stopping to breathe when the phone rings versus rushing to immediately answer it. Just because you are mindful of your experiences does not mean you are meditating. Just as there are many forms of meditations, there are many ways to define the practice as well.
Meditation is the formal practice that encourages relaxation and attaining a state of consciousness different from your normal, waking state. One of the most common forms of meditation is mindfulness meditation. In mindfulness meditation, you set aside time to intentionally pay attention to whatever is happening in the moment, bringing awareness to your breath, body and mind without judging any thoughts that come and pass.
Ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life
We all live busy lives. Being mindful doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop what you are doing to meditate. Here some ways to bring attention to your daily routines:
Eating: Focus your attention on your meal. Invoke all your senses. How does the food smell? What is the taste and texture? What does it look like? Take note of all the colors on the plate. Be present at the meal without watching TV or scrolling through your phone.
Walking: Mindful walking means being aware of every step you take. Take note to how your feet strike the ground and your specific, heal-to-toe rhythm. Notice the muscles in the legs and how your hips move. Is there any discomfort? If so that’s OK, remember not to judge! Take note to your breath, every inhale and exhale. Bring attention to your surroundings.
Mindfulness meditation(the body scan): There are plenty of ways to meditate. One of my favorites is the body scan. The core of almost any meditation is the breath, so start your focus there, noticing the rise and fall of your stomach and the change in temperature from inhale to exhale. As you relax, bring focus to your head. Note any sensations on the top of your head, maybe there is tension in your scalp or you feel a draft. After a few minutes, shift your focus to your face, then neck, shoulders, arms, chest etc. until you have reached your feet. Always remember your mind is allowed to wander. If you have a thought pop up, simply acknowledge it without judgment and recognize that your mind has wandered off, and then return to your awareness back to your breath or scan. Start with a couple of minutes each day and increase over time.
Showering: The shower is a perfect time to relax and forget about past and future events to focus on the now. As you stand in the shower, take note the temperature of the water, how does the water feel as it hits your body? Be mindful of the smell of your shower gel, soap or shampoo, the feeling of your hand or wash cloth passing through your hair or over your skin. Listen to the sound the water makes as it hits the shower floor. Take note to any thoughts that come up while you’re in the shower—remembering the importance of not passing judgment on them. Lastly, notice the feeling of the towel as you dry yourself off.
Teeth brushing: Become mindful of the taste and texture of your toothpaste, the sensation in your arms as they go from side to side. Take note of the pressure of your feet on the surface of the bathroom floor.
In the digital world we live in, there are many apps that can help you incorporate mindfulness into your day. Just like anything else we do, learning mindfulness takes practice. Take some time today to be mindful and see how it can improve your day!
Some of the biggest buzz words in science, as well as the wellness world right now, are anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Everyone is looking for ways to stay healthy and live longer. Enter Resveratrol. For years now, researchers have been studying resveratrol trying to find the exact mechanisms in which it may help promote a longer healthier life. Resveratrol belongs to a class of plant-derived chemicals known as polyphenols—which have been studied with growing interest due to their antioxidant and anti-aging properties. In plants, polyphenols are responsible for the vibrant colors and help to prevent against ultraviolet radiation, pathogens, oxidative damage and any harsh climate conditions.
Benefits of Resveratrol
Promotes anti-aging effects on the body.
Protects the cardiovascular system in the following ways:
Improved health of blood vessels (endothelial lining)
Improved circulatory system function
Improved cholesterol/lipid profiles
May protect heart muscle
Improves nitric oxide availability
Promotes anti-inflammatory mechanisms
May protect the nerves against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
May help offset effects of obesity and poor diet/lifestyle choices
May have cancer-preventing benefits
Can help improve blood flow to the brain
May improve exercise endurance.
Where can you find resveratrol in foods?
Peanuts, grapes, purple grape juice, red wine, Japanese knotweed and a variety of berries such as blueberries and cranberries are great sources of resveratrol.
How much resveratrol do you require?
The standard dosage ranges from 250mg-500mg, but many researchers recommend anywhere between 100mg to 500mg per day. The best route to take is speaking with your health care provider to find the proper dosage for your body before starting any resveratrol supplements.
What’s in your supplements?
When choosing a resveratrol supplement, it’s best to look for supplements that use whole grape skins. One of the best sources of resveratrol in nature and for supplementation are muscadine grapes, as they tend to have the highest concentration of resveratrol.
Resveratrol comes in two forms, the cis form and the trans form, both of which refer to its chemical structure.
The trans form is regarded as the more biologically active form. If possible look for supplements that list the percentage of trans resveratrol the label.
The cis form is still active, but more research has been conducted on the trans form. As a result, we have not seen all of the benefits in the cis form that can be seen with the trans form.
Many professionals believe that the purity level of trans-resveratrol should be around 98%.
Look for products that explicitly say “resveratrol” on the label and not “red-wine complex” or proprietary formula. 300mg of resveratrol is not the same as 300mg of red wine complex.
Try to avoid supplements with fillers and additives.
Always read the ingredients label before purchasing any supplements!
Other Helpful Information
Resveratrol may inhibit platelet aggregation, which means it may increase the risk of bleeding in individuals who are on anti-clotting medications.
Although red wine is a good source of resveratrol, it is important to not drink large quantities as alcohol may have toxic effects on the body.
It may be best to take your resveratrol supplements in the morning as they may be slightly more bioavailable vs. in the afternoon or evening.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should not take resveratrol as it has not been well studied as safe.
Some supplements such as quercetin can work in conjunction with resveratrol and may boost its effectiveness.
Filed Under: Ask The ND at 9:08 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor
With new superfoods and alternative health products popping up in the media every day, it’s hard to know what the cleanest, most effective product innovations really are. Dr. Jeremy Wolf N.D., Lead Wellness Advisor at LuckyVitamin.com, breaks down the trends and how to be a savvy wellness shopper this summer!
Gummies, Gummies & More Gummies
When you think of gummy vitamins you might typically think of kids vitamins. This is not the case anymore! These days you can find almost any type of vitamin in a gummy form. Just do a quick search on LuckyVitamin and you get over 200 results of different gummy vitamins. In fact, they are estimated to make up around 10% of the 39 billion dollar dietary supplement industry. This is partially because these vitamins offer a convenience and taste factor that regular supplements don’t. When shopping for a gummy vitamin, it’s best to be mindful of the ingredients list. Look for organic, all natural vitamins that limit sugar and don’t include harmful food coloring such as Red 40 or Yellow 6. Whether you are looking for a children’s, women’s or men’s multivitamin, digestive enzymes, CoQ10, Omega 3’s or even fiber—you can find all of these in gummy form. Many of the big supplement brands that you are used to seeing, such as Nordic Naturals, Rainbow Light, Jarrow Formulas, Carlson and many more, all make gummy vitamins!
We all know that common children’s song that goes, “beans, beans they’re good for your heart. The more you eat the more you…” This could be why beans aren’t just served in a can anymore and are starting to be incorporated into many different foods and snacks! Beanitos, one of our top selling brands, uses beans to make their restaurant style tortilla chips with hints of lime and even introduced white bean mac and cheese puffs. Banza, a new brand to the LuckyVitamin family, uses chickpeas to make different types of pasta that are 100% natural, non-GMO, gluten free, egg free and low glycemic. Lastly, BRAMI uses the ancient lupini bean, which has the highest protein-per-calorie of any plant and is also packed full of fiber, to make their flavored and delicious snacks. These come in flavors like garlic and herb, chili lime and hot pepper, and are also gluten free, non-GMO, low-glycemic and vegan-friendly. Make sure to check out all the other tasty bean snacks here!
Black Seed Oil
Nigella Sativa—or more commonly known as black cumin—is a widely used medicinal plant throughout the world and has become one of the most popular oils on the market. This plant, native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia, is one of the top-ranked, evidence-based herbal medicines, which could be in part due to the presence of thymoquinone in the essential oil. Thymoquinone is a major active chemical component that is believed to have a wide range of medical applications. It is thought to prevent liver damage, be a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as well as have some anti-cancer properties. On top of thymoquinone, the black cumin plant seeds contain protein, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc and iron, as well as both fixed oils (fatty acids) and volatile oils. In the Middle East, India and northern Africa, the seeds of this plant are commonly used for asthma, diabetes, eczema, cough, bronchitis, headaches and many other inflammatory conditions. We carry a large selection of black seed oil from a variety of top selling brands such as Amazing Herbs, FoodScience of Vermont, Foods Alive and Biotics.
The Ketogenic Diet
Similar to the Atkins diet—though much more strict—the Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein and low-carbohydrate diet. The diet was first designed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder and it’s commonly used as a treatment for children or individuals with epilepsy. However, now many researchers are starting to look at the use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for other disorders. This includes neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, migraines, and autism. Like the Atkins diet, it too is also in the spotlight for its weight-loss potential. New research has shown that on top of weight loss, following a ketogenic diet may also help decrease total cholesterol, increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, lower LDL (the “bad”), decrease triglycerides and lower blood sugar levels. Even professional athletes and endurance athletes are catching on to this popular diet. The diet works by forcing the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is the result of ketones building up in the bloodstream when people eat a low- or no-carbohydrate diet. Because the body can’t use glucose for energy, fat becomes the primary fuel source. The diet isn’t as simple as just cutting back on carbs. There are specific calculations that go into figuring out the right percentage of fat to protein to carbohydrate ratio. LuckyVitamin’s new ketogenic specialty page is designed to help support your ketogenic diet needs. It’s important to note that you should be under the care of a trained health care provider during this diet, especially during the beginning stages!
Why wash your face with boring, traditional soap and water when you can wash it with micellar water! Besides being one of the most recent trends in the skin-care industry, micellar water is made up of tiny molecules called micelles suspended in soft water. The micelles act like a magnet for fatty molecules (oils), dirt and makeup so it helps to cleanse your face without drying out your skin. These products tend to be great for people with dry and sensitive skin types since they are gentle and hydrating. Derma-E Vitamin C Micellar Cleansing Water helps to dissolve long-lasting makeup and dirt while improving the skin’s appearance. This formula also adds probiotics as well as rooibos for a little extra benefit. MyChelle Dermaceuticals also makes a Quick Clean Micellar Water cleanser that is cruelty, phthalate and sulfate free, gluten free and perfect for vegans!
We recently talked about the trend in plant protein, however, it seems the entire protein category is trending! With new sources of protein popping up every day and new innovations on how to get your protein, who knows where the protein industry will go next. For instance, one of the newest trends in the protein industry is protein sweets. While some of these sweets like protein packed pudding & cookies have been on the market for a while now, we are seeing a real surge in popularity and demand for these items. The Lenny and Larry’s Complete Cookie contains 16g of protein per serving and Cookie+Protein contains 22g of protein per serving. Many of the cookies are even vegan-friendly and non-GMO. Why stop there? You can now find all different types of protein rich ice creams to enjoy this summer as well!
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Over the last couple of decades, the Mediterranean diet has been studied by researchers all over the world. The general consensus from these studies revealed that the diet is nothing short of amazing. The Mediterranean diet consists of increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and fish, while limiting red meat and sweets. So, why has this diet become so popular? Maybe because it’s flexible and offers users ease of compliance. Maybe it’s because Mediterranean food is delicious and the diet allows users to drink red wine in moderation. Or, maybe it’s because all of the research over the past couple of decades shows an incredible amount of health benefits. One meta-analysis article showed that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with significant improvement in overall health status.
Benefits of a Mediterranean diet to consider:
Prevention of major chronic diseases
Improved quality of life
Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity
Reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer
Low in processed foods and sugar
May help to lose or maintain a healthier weight
May improve mood and decrease depression
Naturally low-glycemic foods, which may help control blood sugar
Key components of the Mediterranean diet
Base every meal on these foods and eat them daily:
Legumes and Beans: chickpeas, lentils, and fava beans
Olives and Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is preferred
Whole grains and whole wheat pasta
Nuts: cashews, almonds and sesame seeds
Vegetables such as leafy greens, garlic, onion and other non-starchy veggies like eggplant cauliflower, artichokes and tomatoes
Fresh organic fruits such as grapes, apples, strawberries and avocados
Eat these at least two times per week:
Fish (wild caught preferred) and seafood
In moderate portions (daily to weekly):
Low-fat cheese & yogurt
Eat these a few times per month in small amounts:
Organic Mediterranean bean salad recipe
◦ 15 ounce can of dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
◦ 15 ounce can of fava beans drained and rinsed
◦ 15 ounce can of black beans drained and rinsed
◦ 1 cup of organic corn
◦ 1 large organic tomato, chopped
◦ 1 small organic red onion, chopped
◦ 1 avocado, sliced
◦ ½ organic cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped.
◦ 1 cup of organic parsley, chopped.
◦ ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
◦ 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
◦ 2 garlic cloves, minced
◦ ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
◦ ½ teaspoon of cumin
◦ salt and pepper to taste.
In large mixing bowl, combine kidney beans, fava beans, black beans, corn, tomato, onion, cucumber and parsley. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, apple cider vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk.
Pour dressing over salad and gently toss together.
Other helpful information:
On top of diet, the Mediterranean lifestyle encourages individuals to be physically active and enjoy meals in a relaxing environment with others vs. on the go. Try to set aside time to sit down and enjoy your meals.
Most of the foods found in the Mediterranean diet can be found on the perimeter of the grocery store.
Eat fruits and vegetables that vary in choice of colors as each color has specific properties and nutrients.
Replace butter and margarine with healthy, unrefined oils as often as possible.
The Mediterranean diet has broad definitions since there are many countries around the Mediterranean Sea.
In summary, the diet should focus on vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Enjoy fresh, wild caught fish and seafood, while limiting poultry, eggs and cheese. Rarely eat red meat and avoid sugar.
You may already be familiar with castor oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, red palm oil and many other oils currently on the market. However, one of the most widely used oils today with great medicinal properties is Nigella Sativa or more commonly known as black cumin. This plant is native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia and its use can be traced all the way back to King Tut. In old Latin, it is called “panacea” which translates to “cure all.” The shrub of this plant produces fruits that have tiny black seeds that can be pressed to extract the oil. Its medicinal properties stem from the presence of thymoquinone—one of the major active chemical components of the essential oil. Thymoquinone is believed to have a wide range of medical applications and benefits we’ll discuss below. This plant has become one of the top-ranked, evidence-based herbal medicines to date, and there have been over 600 scientific, peer-reviewed articles published about black seed oil benefits.
Benefits of black seed oil to consider:
Supports liver health and helps protect the liver
May have anti-cancer properties
Contains protein, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc and iron as well as both fixed oils (fatty acids) and volatile oils
May help treat a variety of common health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, bronchitis and asthma
May be helpful in treating against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
It may help increase milk production in nursing mothers
May act as an appetite stimulant
May help to boost the immune system
Rich Source of Essential Fatty Acids
What to look for when choosing a black seed oil
Extraction: the method by which the oil is expressed or extracted from the seeds matters! Slow, cold-pressed means that no heat is used during the extraction process. High temperatures may cause rancidity or cause some of the more volatile oils to evaporate. Avoid any oils that use chemical extraction.
Purity: the product should be 100% pure Nigella Sativa oil and not filled with additives.
Storage: look for oil that is stored in a dark, glass bottle that will protect it from both air and light.
Quality: Look for unrefined vs. refined oil and make sure it’s organic!
Other important tips about black seed oil
Make sure to store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
It can be used as a spice or preservative! In fact, the seeds have been added to many Persian foods including bread, pickles, sauces and salads.
Do not confuse it with black cohosh, cumin, curcumin or nutmeg.
Supplements made from black seeds are usually made up of the basic seed extract in either a crushed powder or oil form.
Homemade black cumin seed salad dressing:
½ cup black seed oil
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp raw honey
2 fresh chopped garlic cloves
½ tsp. Ginger root
Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and mix/shake until blended together.
While shopping for supplements or simply browsing your local grocery store, you may come across the words “folate” or “folic acid.” What are folate and folic acid, and do you know the difference between the two? Folate is the general term that refers to both natural folates found in food and folic acid—the synthetic, man-made form—used in supplements and fortified foods. Also known as Vitamin B-9, folate is a water-soluble vitamin that belongs to the B-Vitamin complex. Our bodies do not make folate so we must get it from the foods we eat or the supplements we take. So what is the best way to get folate? Should we be taking folate or folic acid or both? Read on to find out all the answers to these questions and more!
Benefits of folate
Supports mental health
Metabolizes amino acids.
Helps form red and white blood cells and platelets
Aids neurotransmitter production
Reduces the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy
Assists in methylation—a process responsible for a number of functions in the body.
Where to find folate in food
Beans: lentils, lima beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas
Green Leafy Veggies: asparagus, broccoli, okra, brussel sprouts and spinach
Juices: orange and tomato juice.
Fortified Foods: spaghetti, cereals, white rice, and bread.
How much folate should you take?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate from the food you eat and the supplements you take in micrograms/day are as follows:
19 years and older
What’s in your folate supplements?
Folic Acid: A man-made form of folate not found naturally in foods. Though the body absorbs it well, it does not get used to its full potential. For maximum potency, folic acid needs to be absorbed and then transported through our blood via proteins to a receptor that allows it to enter our cells. Once inside the cell, folic acid needs to be converted to its active form to reap all the benefits mentioned above. Too much folic acid that isn’t utilized has the potential to block the natural form from getting into the cells.
Folinic Acid: A natural form of folate that is readily converted by the body into its active form. Plays a role in DNA-based productions.
Methylfolate: This has a variety of names including L-5-Methylfolate, L-Methylfolate, Methylfolate, 5-MTHF and others. Like folinic acid, this a natural form of folate that can be readily used by the body. Methylfolate supports methylation—a process responsible for turning your genes on and off, building neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine), building immune cells, energy production, preventing hormone imbalances, managing your stress response and a host of other functions.
Folate and pregnancy
Folate deficiencies during pregnancy have been associated with abnormalities in both the mother and baby, so adequate folate intake is necessary for healthy growth and development, especially of the neural tube where the brain and spinal cord form. Folate helps decrease the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus and may help prevent anemia and peripheral neuropathy in the expecting mom. Because the neural tube develops very early on in pregnancy, it’s important to make sure you start taking folate supplements before you even start trying to conceive. On top of neural tube defects, folate during pregnancy appears to also be beneficial in the prevention of congenital heart disease and oral clefts such as cleft lip and cleft palate.
Important tips about folate
A deficiency in folate may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.
The symptoms of folate deficiency are very subtle. You may see signs of Anemia, which can occur due to folate deficiency. Anemia may present as pale skin, shortness of breath, persistent fatigue, weakness and lethargy.
Folate works in conjunction with B12. So if you believe you are deficient in either, taking them together may bring better results.
Extensive cooking may destroy 50-95% of the folate in food.
New research has shown that some individuals may have antibodies that can either bind or block the folate receptor, which prevents folate from entering the cell.
Certain health conditions such as alcoholism or inflammatory bowel diseases can cause a folate deficiency.
*Disclaimer* There is a lot to understand about the different forms of folate and how they work in the body. Make sure to speak with your health care provider before starting a folate or any other supplements, as side effects and interactions may occur!
One of the hottest diet trends right now is the Ketogenic diet. Similar to the Atkins diet, although much stricter, the Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein and low-carbohydrate diet. The diet was first designed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder as a treatment for those with epilepsy. However, many researchers are starting to look at the use of the ketogenic diet for disorders other than epilepsy. This includes other neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, migraines and autism. Even professional athletes and endurance athletes are catching on to this popular diet. The diet works by forcing the body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is the result of ketones building up in the bloodstream when people eat a low or no carbohydrate diet. This is due to the body using fat as the primary fuel source, which then breaks down into ketones. The diet isn’t as simple as just cutting back on carbohydrates; there are specific calculations that go into figuring out the right percentage of fat to protein to carbohydrate ratio. Lastly, it’s important to remember that some fats are healthier than others. Read below to learn more about the ketogenic diet and click here to shop our ketogenic diet friendly page.
Benefits to consider:
May help with weight loss
May increase HDL “the good” cholesterol
May lower LDL “the bad” cholesterol
May lower total cholesterol
May decrease triglyceride levels
May lower blood sugar levels
May improve insulin resistance
May reduce seizure frequency
The Ketogenic Diet and Its Variants:
The Classic Ketogenic Diet – A calorie level is determined by a trained healthcare provider based on age and activity level of the individual. The classic diet consists of a ratio in grams of fat to non-fat (protein & carbohydrates) of 4:1 and 3:1. This means that there is 4 times as much fat as there is protein and carbohydrates combined. At each meal, a specific amount of each food variant is consumed. The total amount of carbohydrates allowed each day depends on the ratio that you are following.
Modified Ketogenic Diet – The modified ketogenic diet consists of ratios of 2:1 and 1:1, instead of 4:1 and 3:1.
MCT Oil Diet – Although not widely used in the United States, the MCT Oil supplement diet is more flexible and allows for a larger variety of food due to the higher carbohydrate and protein allowance. MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides and is a type of oil which produces ketones. Since the MCT oil produces ketones, less total fat is needed in the diet, which allows for more carbohydrates and proteins to be included.
Modified Atkins – This diet is a variant from the original low carbohydrate diet proposed by Robert Atkins. It is modified to allow for lower carbohydrate levels compared to Atkins’s recommendations and puts more emphasis on high-fat foods as required on the ketogenic diet. It is a less restrictive form of the diet and is primarily used for teenagers and adults.
Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT) – The glycemic index (GI) measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. In general, carbohydrates that are digested slowly have a low GI, while carbohydrates that are digested rapidly have a high GI. This diet is a special high-fat diet similar to the ketogenic diet, however, it focuses on both the type and amount of carbohydrates in the diet as well as the glycemic index.
Healthier Fat Options While on a Ketogenic Diet:
Fatty fishes like salmon
Olives and Olive Oil
Nuts and Nut Butters
Recipe Ideas (These are just ideas and may not within the recommended proportions for you)
Breakfast – Egg omelet mixed with heavy cream and shredded cheese of your liking. For extra healthy fats, you can add an avocado as well.
Lunch – Greek salad with chopped gyro meat, black olives, avocado, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and olive oil dressing.
Dinner – Teriyaki turkey lettuce wraps with ground turkey, chopped peanuts, gluten free soy sauce and shredded unsweetened coconut.
Tips to Consider Before Starting a Ketogenic Diet:
Heavy creams, butter and vegetable oils provide the necessary fat while on the diet.
The diet completely eliminates sweets such as candy, cookies and desserts.
All foods should be carefully prepared and weighed on a gram scale.
It’s best to start the diet gradually and increase to the full amount over a 3 to 4 day period or longer.
Certain vitamin and mineral supplements may be required to help meet nutritional needs.
Make sure you are staying hydrated and avoid unnecessary snacking.
*Disclaimer – While I can inform you on the elements of the Ketogenic Diet, this diet is not a perfect fit for all individuals. It’s best if you are evaluated by your health care provider before starting this diet and work under the supervisionof a trained professional while on it.
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation and a distinct philosophy. Because of its historical origins in ancient Indian philosophy, yoga was once considered ancient practice. However, all over the world, yoga is gaining popularity. In America specifically, the growth of yoga is astonishing. Since 2012, the percentage of Americans aware of yoga has increased from 75% to 90%. In addition, approximately 37 million Americans practice yoga today, which is a significant increase from the roughly 20 million Americans reported to be practicing yoga in 2012. It’s not just consumers who are catching on to the practice of yoga. Therapeutic yoga programs are now in place in many hospitals and health centers. Why has this practice gained such popularity? It might be because yoga compliments other forms of exercise or maybe it’s simply because yoga is good for you.
Benefits of Yoga
Enhanced performance in other forms of exercises
May reduce fatigue and inflammation
May reduce low-back pain
May lower heart rate and blood pressure
May help to relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia
May improve quality of life
Common Types of Yoga
This is the term that is used to describe any type of yoga that teaches physical poses. Any Hatha class you attend will focus on postures. Most Western yoga classes are a form of Hatha yoga. These classes tend to be slower paced and more relaxing.
This style of yoga incorporates six poses broken down into a series and performed in a sequential manner. Each pose is connected and every movement is linked to a breath. It is a more rigorous and physically demanding style of yoga.
Vinaysa is a more active and movement-rich style of yoga that incorporates a sequence of poses. Unlike Asthanga yoga, the poses change from class to class depending on the teacher and what they have choreographed for that day. Similar in intensity to Ashtanga yoga, these classes are generally fast-paced, physically demanding and lively.
This type of yoga incorporates poses performed in heated studios at temperatures around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. In order for it to be truly considered Bikram, these classes must include a series of 26 unchanging scripted poses that were created by the founder Bikram Choudhury.
Yin is a quiet more relaxing and meditative form of yoga. The slow-paced style of yoga incorporates poses that are held for longer periods of time.
As the name implies, this form of yoga is for expecting mothers. It incorporates breathing, gentle stretching, poses and relaxation. This form of yoga is great for helping moms-to-be stay in shape, develop or maintain strength and flexibility and may even help prepare them for labor.
Yoga mats come in different sizes, depending on the amount of cushion you are looking for. For example, a 1mm yoga mat will offer less cushion between you and the ground than 3mm yoga mat.
Fitness Apparel – Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that is sweat-wicking and has stretch is ideal.
Yoga Blocks – These are intended to help support poses and aid alignment.
Yoga Straps – Like blocks, straps provide help with support, alignment and posture.
Mat Carrier – Some mats can be heavier than others, but all are awkward to carry by hand. Yoga mat bags and straps can make lugging your mat around much easier.
Tips to Consider if You’re Going to Start Practicing Yoga
You don’t have to incorporate yoga into your life every day at first. You can start slowly with one or two classes per week. You may even want to get started by just adding some poses into your cool-down routine after a run or workout.
If you have any medical conditions make sure you speak with your health care provider before starting any type of yoga practice.
Start by taking a beginners yoga class, although not as common as the classes above, many studios offer them.
Find a studio that is convenient and easy for you to get to.
Make sure to attend classes from experienced and certified instructors.
Educate yourself on the type of class you are taking before taking it.
Inform the teacher of any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries.
Go with friends or workout partners.
If practicing at home, find a clean and quiet area where you will not be distracted or bothered.
Everyone is different. Make sure to modify postures based off your individual needs and abilities.
Try out all different styles of yoga until you find the style that fits you.
A New Year’s resolution is a tradition in which a person makes a promise for self-improvement. The practice of making resolutions for the New Year is thought to have originated in Ancient Babylonian times, when Babylonians would make promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. Nowadays, many people, approximately 45% of Americans to be exact, make a plan at the start of the New Year. However, self-betterment is not the only type of New Year’s resolutions that one can make. Other common resolutions include weight loss, stress reduction, better organization, getting more sleep, achieving financial stability, exercising more and quitting smoking. However, picking a resolution and actually keeping it are two completely different things. If you find yourself year after year picking the same resolution and not being able to stick to it, maybe it’s time to switch things up a little. It was the famous Albert Einstein who said, “The value of achievement lies in the achieving.” Below are some tips on how to pick a New Year’s resolution that will work for you.
What To Consider When Choosing a New Year’s Resolution:
Choose a goal that excites or motivates you. If you have had the same goal for the past couple of years, such as losing weight, it is most likely that this goal no longer excites you. Try selecting something that gets you excited, and that way you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Pick something that fits your current lifestyle. Researchers have found that one of the major reasons we aren’t able to stick to our goals is because we choose goals different from our current lifestyle. Pick one that fits within your lifestyle so achieving it doesn’t become even more difficult.
Choose a goal that fits your budget. Don’t stress yourself out financially because of your resolution. Choose something that fits your budget so you won’t have excuses not to achieve it!
Reflect on what has worked for you in the past. Take this into consideration as well as what matters most to you for the upcoming year. By doing so you may more easily be able to set goals that are well within your reach.
Focus on one goal at a time. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. So it makes sense that you shouldn’t try to change everything about yourself at once and should only focus on one goal at a time.
Choose behavior-oriented goals vs. outcome goals. Instead of saying you want to lose weight or drop 10 pounds, say you are going to get to the gym 3 times per week, take the stairs more often or prepare healthier lunches throughout the week. Phrasing your goals in this way allows you to have something easier to achieve and measure yourself against.
Be specific and choose a clearly defined goal. Research has shown that you are more likely to succeed at accomplishing your goal if it’s clearly defined. This gives you clear direction for what you need to do to achieve your goals.
Tips For Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution:
Pick one resolution at a time
Have a back-up plan
Plan, plan and plan some more
Reward yourself for all your hard work
Anticipate set backs
Believe in yourself
From all of us at LuckyVitamin, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!
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