Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Magnesium: An Essential Mineral

Magnesium is a mineral necessary for proper functioning of the entire body. It is essential for every cell to function and is involved in more than 600 chemical reactions. It is necessary for activating muscles and nerves, creating energy in your body by activating ATP and is essential for the digestion of carbohydrates, fats and protein. It is also a precursor for neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.

Research shows only about 25% of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of magnesium. This may be, in part, due to decreased amounts of magnesium in food grown in the U.S., as a result of certain farming practices, such as over-tilling soil and the use of pesticides and herbicides.  Also, certain medications, such as Proton Pump Inhibitors, may also decrease the amount of magnesium available to the body.  Gastrointestinal disorders can also impede magnesium absorption, causing deficiency. 

Signs of magnesium deficiency include weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, coronary spasms, and numbness and tingling of extremities, 

Calcium and magnesium are antagonists and therefore, excessive amounts of calcium, without the counterbalance of magnesium, can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack,  and kidney stones. Magnesium and calcium should be balanced to a 1:! ratio. Also, taking excessive amounts of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of magnesium can lead to vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency. 

Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, figs, avocado, bananas, raspberries, nuts, seeds, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, brussel sprouts, salmon and tuna. 

When consuming magnesium-rich foods, choosing organic is always best.

Check with your health care practitioner regarding proper dosing before using magnesium supplements.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Benefits of Collagen Supplementation

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body.   It’s synthesized mainly from the two amino acids glycine and proline.  Collagen is found in the bones, muscles tendons, connective tissues,and blood vessels, as well as in the lining of the digestive system.  It is also provides the skin with most of it's protein and makes up approximately 33% of the total protein in the body.

The body's collagen diminishes with age, causing wrinkles and sagging skin in the later years.

Poor nutrition can also diminish collagen production, causing so-called "crepey skin".  Low collagen levels also age the bones and joints and causes sluggish intestinal digestion.

Adding collagen to your diet has enormous benefits for the health of skin, nails, hair, and joints. It also aids in reducing the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks by improving the skin's elasticity.

Collagen is also beneficial for the digestive system and for healing leaky gut.  It helps to break down proteins and soothes your gut's lining, healing damaged cell walls and infusing it with healing amino acids.

The best type of collagen to use is bovine collagen. It is a naturally occurring protein found in the cartilage and bones of cows and is much like the collagen found in the human body. It also provides types I and III collagen, the key components in your skin, nails, hair, tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones and blood vessels.

I personally use Pure Collagen Peptide Powder, which I buy on Amazon.  I add it to my morning protein shake. It also mixes well with just about any liquid.  Collagen should be taken with Vitamin C or foods containing Vitamin C for optimum absorption.  Try it and you'll see the amazing benefits in just a few weeks!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Keeping It Healthy on Vacation

It seemed like such a long winter! I finally finished my classes in March and am now officially a Master Herbalist.  Additionally, my husband studied like crazy and passed both of his certification exams for work.  We both really needed to take a vacation, so we did just that a couple of weeks ago.

I have to say there is nothing like being at the beach! It's great to get away for some sun, fun and relaxation.  However, overindulging in unhealthy food and beverages, staying up late, lying around like a couch potato all week or getting sunburned can really make you feel sluggish and unhealthy, especially after you return home.  Here are some tips for staying on track:

1.  Eat Healthy.

We enjoy dining out while we are on vacation and especially like seafood. However, we try to limit eating out to only a couple of times while we're there. In order to do that, we always make sure our vacation rental has a full kitchen, so we can prepare our meals there the rest of the time. We eat organic and include lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens, as well as fresh fruit, in our daily diet.

stir-fried chicken and vegetables with quinoa
Protein is also important, so we add chicken,  grass-fed beef  or fish to the mix, along with healthy gluten-free grains in moderation, such as quinoa and brown rice,  Incorporating healthy fats into every meal, such as nuts, avocados and salmon, is always a good choice. I also pack a smoothie blender for morning protein shakes made with fresh fruit, coconut milk and include powdered collagen.

In addition to the obvious health benefits, eating in is also easy on the wallet.

2.  Keep Moving.

There's nothing like a long stroll on the beach. We make it a point to do this every day while on vacation. We also try to get in some swimming, either in the pool or the ocean.

Yoga is another essential daily vacation activity. I make sure to pack my mat and a few good yoga DVD's when we travel.  My favorites are from the series Namaste Yoga.

3. Avoid getting a sunburn.

20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure is good for a daily dose of Vitamin D.  However, any longer than that increases the risk for skin cancer.  We avoid chemical sunscreens and instead use products containing zinc oxide, such as Beauty by Earth's Mineral Sunscreen.  It has an SPF 25 and is nontoxic.

4. Maintain a consistent sleep/wake pattern.

We're typically early-to-bed, early-to-rise people when we're home.  We try to keep the same hours while on vacation.  It just makes for an easy transition back to reality when we return home.  Additionally, not getting enough rest while on vacation make me grumpy, which certainly detracts from our vacation enjoyment. I am sure my husband would agree. ;)