Healthy Living

A Probing Look at Probiotics

Girl doing yoga

After years of hearing about the benefits of probiotics, you probably think you know everything you need to. Chances are they were your friend to help you through the winter ambush of colds. To most minds, there’s probably no mystery left.

Given the nature of the good news plus more good news, you’re either in favor of probiotics or you’re like me, a totally pro-probiotic fanatic.

But regular doses of probiotics? Hmmmm. 

Even in the media, probiotics are discussed generically, rather than mentioning the individual helpful strains of friendly bacteria. Such overgeneralizations leave us unsure if you should be taking them, which ones to take, how often to take them, and (when you just get down to it) what exactly is it that probiotics do?

Well, I’m gonna break it all down for you, demonstrating, once and for always, just how awesome probiotics can be.

First, let’s see what “the authorities” say. Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria, and YOU are the host the WHO is referring to in this instance.

But what exactly are probiotics, you ask? Well, stay with me here.

A complex ecosystem of bacteria, known as the “intestinal microbiota,” develops after birth, taking up residence in the intestinal tract. Yep, we have a whole ecosystem of bacteria shacking up in our gut. The intestinal microbiota contains both “good” and “bad” bacteria. When the “bad” starts to outweigh the “good,” which can be due to lack of sleep, excess stress, or a bunch of other causes, it may affect your digestive system and your overall well-being.

To level off any imbalances, taking a probiotic supplement can help this whole gut situation. Maintaining a consistent level of “good” bacteria in your intestinal tract may actually improve how well it functions. Take that, “bad” bacteria!

Having adequate “good” bacteria has been shown to help support a healthy digestive system, a healthy immune system and help maintain oral health.

But all probiotics are NOT created equally. This is where it gets tricky.

There are many strains of cultures that have probiotic potential. But, each strain does different things, and each has its own little suitcase of benefits. We figure all this out in controlled studies, and we also figure out if you need a little bit or loads of a certain strain to reap its benefits.

You may have seen something on a food label (think yogurt or sauerkraut) about live and active cultures. Live cultures are microbes used to ferment foods, but not all live and active cultures are probiotics (meaning they don’t all have studies supporting specific benefits.) The “Live Active Cultures” seal was established by the National Yogurt Association to help consumers distinguish between yogurts that contain a minimum level of live and active cultures versus those that don’t.

So, bottom line, should you take a probiotic supplement?

I recommend that most people include a serving of fermented food each day (for example, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut) and take a premium probiotic supplement as insurance for good gut health and overall wellness. When you do this and your best to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, including managing stress and getting the proper amount of Zzz’s, you may just become a pro-probiotic fanatic, too!

Keri Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

Let Go of Limiting Beliefs

Meditating

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

- Frank Outlaw, Founder of Bi-Lo

Everyday you’re faced with choices and challenges, and how you choose to respond to them will shape and mold your life. If you’re by nature a positive person who always sees the glass as half-full then rock on! But if you tend to look for the negative in new situations or other people, then read on and set yourself free! Limiting beliefs could be holding you back from living your best life.

Change the Way You See the World

Most unhappiness comes from the repetition of old stories we play out in our heads: “I’m the unathletic one, the chubby one, the dumb one or the one who can’t speak in front of the class.” Happiness involves letting go of that baggage and moving forward with a new story. Explore where your ideas came from and ask yourself if they’re really true. Just because your fifth grade gym teacher told you that you weren’t athletic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your dream of training for a marathon or trying a spin class- or even play backyard football with your kids.

If you continually think negative thoughts because of your ingrained beliefs, your mind will see them as the truth. Whether these thoughts are about your appearance, your intelligence or your athletic abilities, you’ve got to leave them in the past in order to thrive in the present and reach your goals in the future.

Most often, our sense of present inadequacy comes from these false beliefs created in the past; so later on in life, when we go to answer the question of, “Who am I?" we answer from this place of not being good enough. Here’s the thing: you have the control to change your situation, and when you realize that one bad experience from your past doesn’t have to be the frame of reference for your future, a whole new world will open up.

Try This …

Write down your top five goals for the next five years. They could be anything from getting that promotion you’ve been dreaming of or losing those last 10 pounds to reach your ideal weight. Make two columns next to your goals and in the first write down the limiting belief you have about why you think you’ll never reach them; in the next column write down the strengths and skills you know you have that will help you succeed. Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on all the reasons you can and will succeed; and then find a productivity tool, like Goals on Track, to track and celebrate each little milestone success.

When you learn to let go of your past and live in the present, there is no goal you can’t reach, problem you can’t solve or race you can’t win; so decide to go for it and believe you can do it!

Danielle  Danielle Diamond, Field Rep Contributor

How to Drink Your Greens

Girl Drinking Greens Blend

Many people assume a green juice is for other people. They claim they don’t like veggies. They fear the poison-colored concoction will taste even worse than it looks. They think die-hard green juicers seem nutritionally elitist and willing to compromise their taste buds in the name of super fuel.

While there is definitely a spectrum of green -- from beginner to advanced -- there is a place for you somewhere along the line. I promise. And I’m encouraging you to join the party, because nothing bad happens when people add more whole green foods to their diet. Nothing. Zilch.

There are a few ways to go about getting more greens into your diet, and I promise they’re way easier than you think. Best part? You don’t even need a fork. You only need a straw.

Here are three ways to drink your greens …

1) Hop on the green juice train. If you want to make your own juice, you’ll need a juicer but not necessarily the fanciest one on the market. Juicing is a process that extracts the liquid from whatever you put in it, and it leaves all the pulp out of your cup. The pulp is full of beneficial fiber, but if pulp isn’t your thing, you still get plenty of vitamins and minerals from drinking just the juice. Not into cooked broccoli, kale, collards or spinach? You may like them better in a raw juice. Sometimes the flavors are milder when raw and combined with other ingredients.

Immediately after the juice is made, it starts losing its nutritional powers, so you’ll want to grab a straw STAT. Green juice is sensitive to time (how long from when it was made until it is consumed), temperature (heat can diminish some of the vitamin potency) and storage (air and clear glass containers can also make the juice less potent). But even not-so-fresh juice is better than no juice at all, so don’t let this deter you. Just make sure to put in the fridge and drink within 24 hours if you’re not drinking as soon as you make it. Here’s a great beginner recipe if you’re just getting your feet wet:

Keri’s Beginner Greens Juice

● ½ head of romaine lettuce
● ½ cucumber
● ½ cup spinach leaves
● 1 green apple

Clean all produce well. Toss in the juicer in order and drink immediately.

2) Get your smoothie on. If you don’t have any more room on your kitchen counter for yet another appliance, then your handy blender is waiting for you to let it make a smoothie. A blender can’t separate the pulp from the juice, which is why by definition smoothies are thicker and well, smoother. The smoothie crowd is just as cool as the green juice crowd, and some would even argue smoothies are even healthier than juices because of that pulp stuff I mentioned.

My formula for the perfect smoothie is incredibly simple … 1 cup milk (cow’s, nut or seed-based milk), 1 fruit, a handful of greens, 1 healthy fat, an extra (call it a flavor wild-card) and protein powder.

One of my fave healthy fats is coconut because it’s loaded with health-promoting properties, flavor and, of course, healthy fats. The fat in coconut is mostly MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) and although they are a type of saturated fat, they are not the same saturated fat as you’ll get from say fatty meat.

3) Add a green supplement to your drink. Think green juices and smoothies too much work for you? I’ve got you covered. At Life’s Abundance, we’ve created a Greens Blend that is jam-packed to the brim with nutrients. All you have to do is mix with water. Yep, it’s that easy. Add a scoop to water and mix. The Greens Blend is made of organic greens (picked at peak nutrient density) and an organic mushroom blend for overall health. The best part? It doesn’t have that I-just-ate-dirt-from-the-yard taste. It has a yummy, berry flavor. You can add to water, your morning smoothie, baked goods like zucchini muffins or even to yogurt. Most important, just drink up. Greens are the master of the health universe. 

Salad Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

The 411 on Fat

Salad

Fat is not your enemy. I can’t stress this enough.

But, so many of my clients are still sailing past the avocado bin at the grocery store or grabbing powdered peanut butter instead of the real thing, all in an effort to avoid eating anything “fattening.” 

Well, here’s the deal with fat, and listen closely. Consuming too much of anything will make us fat. But when you eat the right amount of food overall, fat by itself does not pack on the pounds. Studies have even shown low-fat diets can actually make that number on the scale CLIMB AND CLIMB!

Why do I love fat so much? It tastes good (think, guacamole), helps you absorb vitamins (yes, the dressing on your salad ACTUALLY helps you to absorb nutrients), helps you burn fat (it’s true, fat indeed burns fat!) and helps you to feel satiated after eating (i.e., keeps you feeling full). But, truth be told, not all fats are created equal.

Saturated and trans fats are both solid at room temperature (think lard and butter), but there is a big difference between saturated fat and trans fat.

Saturated fat has been labeled as a dietary no-no for a long time, but there IS room in your diet for it if you’re getting it from real, healthy foods like dairy, coconut … even dark chocolate.

Trans fat on the other hand is a definite diet devil. You’ll find it in packaged, highly processed foods that you already know you should be avoiding. Just no.

Now let’s talk about the angels of the fat world: monounsaturated fats (like those found in avocado, nuts and seeds) and polyunsaturated fats (also in nuts and seeds, as well as fatty fish). These “good” fats have been shown to have many, many health benefits! For more than a decade, the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been studied by researchers all over the world.

You want to make sure you get enough of all these good fats - so stop avoiding the avocado bin already, and drop by the seafood counter for some salmon. In fact, salmon and walnuts in particular are two of the richest natural sources of omega-3s. If you’re not a flax, salmon or walnut junkie, a supplement could be just what you need to ensure you’re getting sufficient fat in your diet. I actually recommend an ultra-pure, ultra-concentrated Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement to all of my clients as insurance.

Salad Keri Glassman MS.RD.CDN

How to Survive Holiday Stress

 

Stressed Woman

For many people, the holidays are a stressful time of year. Unexpected guests dropping by, entertaining relatives, and finding the perfect gift on everyone’s list are all daunting tasks. To add even more to the holiday pressure, we must still deal with our day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Talk about unwanted stress!

Stress is the body’s normal form of defense. When faced with danger or discomfort, your body reacts in a ‘fight or flight’ mode as a form of protection. If your body is subjected to constant, repetitive and stressful situations, without time to restore itself, your health could suffer. More...