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How to Reduce Sugar Intake

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Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice… 10 Health Benefits of Pumpkin

gourds-949112__180Tis the season for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin flavored pancakes, and pumpkin breads. Marketing campaigns tend to go crazy with all the pumpkin flavors this time of year, and so do consumers. I mean don’t get me wrong I love the taste of pumpkin pie in the fall; it just does something to me. Since this is the time for all things pumpkin, lets take a look at the great benefits this healthful food has to offer. Aids in Weight Loss

Pumpkin can fill you up fast with little calorie intake. This is because pumpkins contain quite a bit of fiber, 3 grams per one cup, with only 49 calories. Wowzer bobs! You could eat pumpkin all day…. if that’s what you’re into. Foods that contain high levels of fiber allow people to fill up sooner, stay full for longer, and are low in calories. This allows for your body to be able to shed pounds in a healthy way.

Boost Immunity

Pumpkin contains about 20% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital to our immune system, most of us know this, but many of us don’t necessarily know why. Well let me tell you, our white blood cells thrive off of vitamin C. In fact white blood cells require 20 times more vitamin C then regular cells to perform there job to the best of there ability. Pumpkin also contains a large amount of beta-Carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, which helps fight off infections and viruses.

It’s Great For Skin

UV rays from the sun can be very damaging. Beta Carotene can help prevent this damage from occurring and save you from the wrinkles that may ensue. Everyone wants younger skin, right? Whelp, pumpkin can sure help you out with that. Not only by eating it, but also by creating a facial mask from its orange pulp. Do a quick Google search for a recipe, and try it out!

Lowers Cancer Risk

Vitamins A, C, and many other antioxidants in pumpkins are cell protective. They prevent damage to cellular DNA from free radicals. This is a mechanism that can lead to cancers. But don’t think that substituting the real thing for an isolated vitamin that you find on store shelves will work just as well. Many studies back that getting your nutrients from the real deal, have exponentially more benefits then getting them from vitamin supplements. So don’t be shy girl, chow down!

Boost Mood

Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to the hormone serotonin, which plays a huge role in mood stability and preventing depression.


Pumpkins are anti-inflammatory and have proven to work better then some anti-inflammatory drugs on the market.

Good source of Plant Based Omega 3s

Nuts and seeds in general are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is then converted by the body into a usable form of omega 3 fatty acids. Omegas 3s are beneficial to brain health and are potent anti-inflammatory agents.

Healthy eyes, healthy heart, and insulin regulation are also great perks that pumpkins afford if you take the time to savor their flavor! The flavor has to be from the whole food by the way, pumpkin spice lattes won’t cut it! Sorry ladies…. But if you feel like splurging, one wont hurt.



6 Quick Tips for a Healthier Gut

belly-2473__180 Your gut health is a crucial component to your over all wellbeing and can either make or break your health. Its primary function is to eliminate waste and toxins from your body. With out its proper functioning, toxins would remain to wreck havoc in your system. This is also the place where we assimilate and absorb our food particles that go off to make varies parts of our body. I’m sure you can see how if this system isn’t working correctly, it can cause big problems for us in the long run. So lets see some ways to ramp up our gut for improved elimination and digestion.

Take Probiotics

Take a good high quality probiotic. We have over a trillion tiny organisms that live within our gut. They constitute about 3 pounds in weight and their DNA drastically out numbers our own. Our friends here are apart of the micorbiome of our intestines, and are a community of bacteria that we coexist with everyday. They include an array of good and bad bacteria that serve to break down the particles of food that we then absorb in to our bodies. Many times our population can have a not so healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria; this is why it’s oh so important to give our friends a little boost with adding some of the good bacteria to our system.

Up Fiber Intake

Eat more high fiber foods, such as leafy greens, broccoli, opinions, peas, and sweet peppers. Really just eat more fruits and vegetables. The way to keep our gut the healthiest is to feed the bacteria living within it food they love. The good bacteria in our gut thrive off of high fiber quality foods. Eating these types of things will cultivate a good ratio of good to bad bacteria. When our diet primarily consist of sugars, processed foods, white flours, and trans fats the micorbiome of our gut start to change. Your gut becomes full of bacteria that love to eat sugars, white flours and the other types of things as mentioned above, one of these bacteria being yeast. When this shift happens, your gut is unable to digest, absorb, and assimilate food properly; even when you consume healthy foods. This happens because the majority of bacteria in you gut, with eating an unhealthy diet, have no clue how to breakdown fiber. Good thing is, you can change this by just increasing your fiber intake and staying consistent.

Stray Away Form Long-term Antibiotic Use

I think by now we all know the dangers of wide spread antibiotic use. Many bacteria have become resistant due to our over use of antibiotics across this nation. Whether it’s for treating childhood ear infections, treating a bad case of acne, or consuming them through our meat supply. There’s no doubt we are overdosing on medications that are essentially made for good. Over use of antibiotics destroys the bacteria within your gut, both good and bad. It you are a person who has been effected by over use of antibiotics its important to reintroduce healthy bacteria into your gut through taking probiotics and adding in fermented foods.

Add in Fermented Foods

Fermented foods can be great for a healthy gut. These foods have been exposed to bacteria, which then cultivate by eating up the carbohydrates within the food. I know what you may be thinking… why the heck would I want to eat what sounds like spoiled food?! But actually its great for digestion. Foods such as yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchee are all among the list. Adding in fermented foods to your diet here and there can be a great way to get some more of our healthy bacteria friends into our gut.

Drink Plenty of Water

The average adult is made up of 50%-60% water. That’s a huge percentage. Water plays a huge role when it comes to digestion. Water helps to move food particles and the waste easily through the system for absorption and elimination. A lack of water can lead to constipation and bloating.

Chew Your Food

Of course we all chew our food, a least I hope! But a lot of times we aren’t chewing enough. Everything is so fast paced in today's society that we barely have time to sit down and really enjoy a meal. Whether its eating in the car on the way to work, barely getting a lunch break and having to scarf down your food, or you are running late and grab something on the go. By the time you consume your food and it’s resting in your stomach you haven’t even had time to process what just happened. It is important to make eating a priority and to give yourself enough time to thoroughly eat and chew your food. If you can still feel parts of the food in your mouth you haven’t chewed enough. Chewing jump starts the digestive process and prepares your body for absorption of al those nutritious foods. When larger food particles come into contact with the bacteria in your gut they are unable to be assimilated properly and cause digestive issues.

These 6 Tips should be a good beginning to give your gut the jump-start it needs. Now go off and start incorporating this activities into your life and see how they work for you!

Why I’m Down with Farmers' Markets

the-market-place-821843_640It seems that these days farmers' markets are all the rage. With many more people becoming aware of how important it is to remain healthy. Also, there has been an increase in individuals that want to build sustainable communities that thrive. Finding a local farmers market in your community can be a win win for all involved. Here are just a few reasons why I love them.

For one the produce is supper fresh. I don’t know about you, but I can sure taste the difference between kale I buy from a super market opposed to kale I get from a local farm. It’s hard to describe but it just taste so deliciously green. The reason for this is; local farm fruit, veggies, and meats are picked fresh. They do not need to be picked before they reach their peek because they have no miles to travel. In many industrial farms that ship their products throughout the country and the world, produce is picked before it’s ripe so that by the time it makes it to super market shelves it will remain edible. At a local farm your fruit is picked at prime time and ready for you to eat ASAP without the long distance travel. This allows for a fresher taste and higher nutrient content.

I am really big on buying organic. Food laden with pesticides and chemicals can’t be good for anyone or the environment. I mean if these chemicals kill bugs, what do you think they are doing to you. Of course we aren’t dying right away, but over time a build up of toxic chemicals in your body will surely cause harm. Not to mention the residue that ends up in rivers, streams, air, and the rest of our environment. You can find many farms that feel the same way and thus don’t use chemicals on their crops. These places may not be certified organic, due to the regulations and money it takes to get and keep this certification. But none the less still are organic, just with out the fancy label. This works out for your pockets in the long run, which brings me to my next point.

You save money! I can find chemical free produce for a dollar less then what it is in the store. Yes! I will take that extra cash in my pocket please!

Last but not least, you are supporting your local farmers and thus supporting your community. Choosing local produce is not only great for you, but also your environment. The fewer miles it travels the less gas is required to drive delivery trucks as well as decrease exhaust fumes in the air. That’s my good breathing air by the way! Small local farms are not necessarily big huge productions such as industrialized farms and thus need our business to help provide us with nutritious foods. So why not support them as they strive to support us.

Are you thinking of checking out a farmers market in your area? Check out this website to see which ones are closest to you.

Are You Hooked on That White Stuff?

Sugar! Sugar! Sugar! Boy can our bodies' devour some sugar. Many people liken sugar to a drug and compare its dependency to an addiction. Could it really be that bad? Our body requires sugar to preform all the tasks it needs to do in one day. Well, it can burn fat or protein, but glucose is its most efficient fuel. So why then would such a substance that our body requires be considered a drug or it’s need a dependency?

Lets first breakdown the chemical reactions that sugar creates in our brain. Check the video below.

Ok so there you have it, a little is ok, but too much can be very detrimental. It is important to note that all sugars are not created equal when determining what to cut out of a healthy diet. Our body prefers complex carbs and sugars that it receives from fruits, veggies, and whole grains. The fiber found in these foods allow for the slower and more even absorption of sugar into the body, which prevents the up and down spikes of blood sugar. While other sugars such as pure can sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed sugars such as high fructose corn syrup; cause uproar in the body. This then leads to obesity and chronic diseases.

For women such as us, I’d error on the side to have as little as possible. It is a know fact that cancerous tumors love sugars just as much, if not more then our brains. In fact glucose is the only energy cancerous tumors can use for fuel. Tumors have an unusually large number of insulin receptors compared to our normal cells. Because of this cancer can more readily uptake glucose. But not only this, it is more susceptible to the effects of insulin that promote growth in all cells, but more so in cancer cells due to their larger number of receptors.

When trying to kick your sugar addiction the most important thing you can do is become informed. Simple sugars are found in many foods such as bread, cereals, condiments, and “healthy” snack foods. Discovering the many aliases of sugar can allow you to kick butt when cutting sugar from your life.

Herbs to Add to Your Repertoire For Cancer Prevention

indian-spices-829198__180Herbs and spices have been long used to help combat disease. Ancient cultures have used them for thousands of years to help treat and heal different aliments. There are many herbs that are particularly beneficial when it comes to cancer fighting qualities and here are just a few. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that is derived from the curcuma longa plant. This plant is largely found in India and is used in dishes throughout the country such as curry. Turmeric has been noted to boast 10 different destructive pathways for cancer. This spice blocks inflammation by preventing certain cell chemicals from signaling their inflammatory army. Inflammation is a breeding ground for cancer, because it can cause dangerous cell mutations. Also it prevents uncontrolled proliferation of tumor tissue. Turmeric is able to enhance and promote apoptosis of cancerous cells, which is a protective action our body preforms to control unhealthy cells from reproducing and causing disease. Another important trait of this orange stuff is that it cuts off the food supply to cancerous tumors. What this means is that it prevents the formation of blood vessels that supply the tumor with the nutrients it needs in order to grow.


Garlic comes from the allium family, which includes foods such as onions and scallions. Researchers believe that garlic’s anti-cancer properties come from its production of hydrogen-sulfide. Studies have shown that societies that have increased intake of garlic and its cousins have reduced risk of certain cancers. Some studies show as much as a 60% reduced risk. Garlic helps to protect cells from oxidative stress, which is caused by free radicals. As well as promote induced programed cell death in those cells that are damaged.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is that really hot stuff, so if you can handle it… you go girl! If you can’t, it’s worth trying to get used to. Cayenne pepper’s metabolite capsaicin gives the herb its power. Capsaicin is also found in other hot peppers as well. Cayenne helps to stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Can you see this is a popular theme here? Studies on prostate, lung, and pancreatic cancers among others boast great results when it comes to cancer cell suicide.


Ginger is a relative of turmeric. And being that turmeric has 10 different mechanisms to destroy cancer, ginger has to have some good qualities for us. Ginger root extract is a powerful anti-oxidant, which helps prevent cells from DNA damage. It also helps to reduce inflammation. In mice whole ginger root was shown to shrink cancerous prostate tumors by 54%. Now tell me that’s not impressive. It’s important to note that the whole ginger root seems to have the most potent effects. I use it in practically every veggie juice I make along with incorporating it in tea.

All 4 of these spices can add powerful benefits to your health, not just cancer fighting benefits. It’s worth adding them to any healthy diet. But don’t look for these herb and spices to be in a cancer drug near you. There’s no way the pharmaceutical companies are going to let that go down. Which is actually better, it makes it more affordable for us!

What are Cruciferous Vegetables and Why You Should Be Eating Them for Cancer Prevention

wirsingShocking research shows that more then half of adult cancers in the United States are due to poor diet. This is actually great news when you think about it, because this means we have power in turning this around. Tweaking your diet to add in more fruits, veggies, and whole foods can drastically reduce this number. And cruciferous veggies are a great place to start. Cruciferous vegetables are an awesome fiber source and are rich in vitamin K, C, and E; along with folate, minerals, and carotenoids. These veggies also contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which give these power crops their biter flavor and their lovely aroma. Glucosinolates are very important, because when these chemicals are broken down through food preparation and digestion they create a potent anti caner effect on our cells. They have been proven to halt cancer growths in many organs such as the stomach, lung, colon, thyroid, cervix, breast, prostate, bladder, and others.

Glucosinolates, which eventually turn into indole-3-carbinol, among other important constituents, help to neutralize environmental and dietary toxins that we come in contact with every day. These toxins are detrimental to our DNA, causing damage, which then can lead to deadly cancers. There are also toxic effects that come from with in our bodies as well. Estrogen metabolism can have cancer causing effects when broken down in certain biochemical reactions. Cruciferous veggies provide a safer pathway for these estrogens to be broken down, thus avoiding the risk of cancer formation all together

Being that cancerous tumors are like parasites, they not only hord nutrients from your body, they also create their own blood supply; the nerve! The compounds found in food like kale and broccoli inhibit these blood vessel formations. They also prevent migration of cancerous cells to other organs, and cause apoptosis (programed cell death). Cancer cells loose the function of induced cell death, due to a glitch in their system. Healthy cells are able to preform this function, and do when they are no longer of use to our bodies or will in turn become harmful. It is our body’s natural mechanism to protect us. Since this is not the case with cancer cells its nice to know that broccoli has my back. Thanks Broc!

Lastly, but no way ends the list of awesome benefits, is the fact that the cruciferous family reduces inflammation with in the body. Much research is now suggesting that chronic low-level inflammation is a breeding ground for disease, and cancer being one of them. There are numerous foods in our diet today that are inflammatory causing agents; wheat, omega 6s, and sugar just to name a few. But thank God we have nature’s green stuff to help soothe us from within.

Not sure which vegetables belong to this family, no worries. Check the list below.


Bok Choy


Brussels sprouts



Collard Green









Chillax: Don't Let Stress Get You Stressed

Hey, Did you knostress-versus-relaxation-16489424w that constant stress could suppress your immunes system and prevent the body’s natural healing response? We are all magnificently made to protect ourselves from harm. Our immune system is so powerful at keeping us the healthiest we can possibly be when we treat our bodies right. We are all living in a fast past world where we are pulled in one direction by our jobs, school, home life, heck even driving in traffic can grind your gears. There is no real way to avoid stress altogether, it’s a constant part of our modern society. But just because we can’t avoid it doesn’t mean we can’t control our reaction to those stressful stimuli. Here are some ways to mellow out when life just gets too intense. Deep Breathe 

There are different technics of breathing but to start off just use the simple in through your nose out through your mouth slowly, evenly, and deeply. Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system due to the increase in oxygen supply to the brain. This action promotes a state of calmness and wellbeing and allows for you to quiet your mind as well as takes your awareness away from your worries.


Mediation is another way to quite your mind due to inducing a deep state of relaxation. Through mediation you eliminate the many thoughts that are fighting for your attention and focus your mind on one idea or nothing at all. This practice has been known to increase emotional positivity and give people a better ability to deal with the many stressors of life.


Prayer is a direct line of communication to God, a higher power. It connects you with the world around you and elevates you to a higher consciousness. Research has shown that those who are religious or spiritual are able to cope better with stress and heal faster from illness.

Listen to Music

Music at slower tempos makes you feel calm and relaxed. They quiet your mind and allow stress to be released. Certain music can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing the same brain waves that are present when we are relaxed and conscious. These brain waves are known as alpha waves. Celtic, Indian stringed instruments, flutes, and drums are among the most soothing sounds. Nature sounds mixed with light jazz, classical, and easy listening are also calming to the mind.

Go for a Walk or Hike 

Walking can induce a meditative like state in your brain as well as release potent endorphins to combat stress.


Really?? No explanation needed here. Massage has long been known to not only relive psychological stress but physical stress as well. Just after 15 minutes of sitting in a massage chair individuals were noted to have significantly lower heart rates, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption. Most interesting though is the reduction in cortisol levels after a 15-minute massage. Cortisol is a hormone released during the fight or flight response. It is one of the stress hormones along with epinephrine, and is elevated in the chronically stressed.


Combines the elements of stretching, physical movement, controlled breathing, medication and mental imagery in to one practice. With activates like these there no way not to chillax after a long day.

Hit the Gym

Here comes those endorphins again, endorphins are our bodies feel good chemicals. They simulate our pleasure areas in the brain and make us feel great. Exercising conjures up these chemicals and really boosts your mood after a good work out.


I know you all have herd that your body is unable to tell the difference between real and fake laughter. Next time, when you know what is hitting the fan and your going bonkers, just laugh. Really, I’m serious. Your body will think you are laughing for real and stimulate that feel good sensation. It has also been know to boost immune cell function.

Turn off Your Phone

Now a days everyone is so glued to there phone. God for bid you loose it, it feels like you are total disconnected from life….wait, Some times its actually nice to be disconnected from life. Set aside an hour or 2 everyday where your phone is off and away and you don’t have to be assaulted by the constant barrage of text messages, emails, or facebook notifications. I mean do you really need to see who just got married or who had another baby right this second. That can wait a couple hours right?

Hang out with Friends or Loved Ones 

Take some time to hang with the ones you love and who love you. There’s always something special about spending time with family and friends. Its been noted that in societies where people live the longest, have a very strong social connection with their community. Strong fulfilling relationships help to brunt the effects of stress and allow your body to feel loved.


Visualization is a great one! You can try this upon wakening in the morning or any time of day really. Find a quiet place, sit up straight and take in a few deep breaths. Then start to visualize your self in one of your favorite places, for me this would be the beach. Try to hold that image in your mind for about 10 minutes. It almost makes your feel like you were actually there, and gives you a chance to take a brake from life for a little. It’s your mini mind vacay!


Hey sometimes you just have to let it out. Screaming can be an avenue to verbalize and release tension that has been building up for lord knows how long. But makes sure not to scream at others, that’s no bueno. Go to a room alone and let it rip!

Anything missing from this list? Let me know!

Lorisa Leigh

Why Sweet Bell Peppers are so Sweet!

IMG_3349When it comes to veggies, sweet bell peppers pack a powerful punch. They’re not just eye catching and loudly colorful in appearance, but are just as nutritious as they are beautiful. Check out the health benefits below.

  1. The levels of sulfur content allow for protection of certain cancers. Such as gastric and esophageal malignancies
  2. They contain vitamin E, which keeps hair and skin looking luscious
  3. The high levels of vitamin C again keep skin looking great but more importantly helps power the immune system. Natural killer cells are the cells in our body that seek out and destroy abnormal cells, including those of cancer. I'm definitely down for giving this army all the ammunition it needs to seek and destroy!
  4. Fruits and veggies with wide ranges of color are the ones that contain the most phytochemicals. The nutrients along with carotenoids provide your body with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefit. Antioxidants help to prevent cell and DNA damage, which is a cause of cancer. Also, decreasing inflammation in the body is huge; studies have proven that cancer thrives in an inflammatory environment. Any measure that is used to lower inflammation is a plus plus plus.
  5. They help lower bad cholesterol and control diabetes as well as contain enzymes that prevent cataracts later on in life. I don’t know about you, but I need my eye site. I have worn urkel glasses my entire life and cant afford for my eye prescription to get any worse.

tumblr_npknbq3clu1tuvtdlo1_400This list is pretty impressive and goes to show that incorporating sweet bell peppers in to your diet will go a long way. I usually add them to salads or stir-fries. How do you prepare them at your place? Lorisa Leigh

I’ll Pass on the Supplements and Take That Glass of Wine!

Natural supplement pills are pretty big business in the US almost to the point where it’s got me thinking who's behind this anyway? Many of us are all trying to find that fountain of youth and supplements whether you like to admit it or not plays on that idea.

I mean the reasons we take supplements are to help or prevent a certain health problem(s). And we treat or prevent certain health problems so we can live happier lives, but most importantly to extend our lives. Don’t get me wrong; I am all about the supplements myself. I take them everyday! But did you know there are places in the world where people are living well in to the 100s? Do you think these people are worried about the most highly absorbable form of fish oil pill or getting in their daily vitamin D3? Heck no!!! They’re out at happy hour enjoying a drink with their friends. Sign me up for that!

Seriously though, Studies have investigated these different places in the world and looked at things within their societies that were similar. Having 1-2 drinks everyday was apparent in the majority of them. Now binging at a party or by your lonesome on the weekends does not meet this criteria (sorry college kids). But enjoying the spirits in moderation seems to have a positive affect.

There are a few reasons as to why. For one, often times in these cultures they are drinking amongst family and friends. This allows for social contact with others and plays a huge role in longevity. Just having 3 close friends that you know you can count on has been known to add years to your life. Second, wine is the go to here. High quality wines have generous amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent DNA damage in our bodies and if you didn’t know DNA damage is what leads to disease and aging.

Lastly, that red liquid in your glass is a huge stress reliever. Stress kills. It can cause heart attacks, chronic fatigue and a host of other issues. The people in these parts of the world have very low rates of heart disease and are working well into their 90s. Now that’s amazing!

For more information about these parts of the world and what other lifestyle qualities contribute to longevity check out

Lorisa Leigh

The Low Down on Whole Grains

We often see in supermarkets, aisles lined with whole grain breads, whole grain pasta, and many snacks and cereals including whole grains within their ingredients. So what is a whole grain really? WELL, I’m glad you asked! Whole grains are seeds of certain plants and grasses. These seeds are in whole form, or have been cracked into a few smaller pieces. They contain the germ, bran, and endosperm. You actually have to physically chew them to brake through the fibrous layer. This fibrous outline tightly encloses the starch within the grain. Starch is the substance in certain carbs that elevates our blood sugar levels and gives us the energy we need. When we eat a whole grain our digestive enzymes take time to breakdown the fibrous covering. This allows for slower and a more even absorption of carbs/sugar into our bodies. This method is much more preferred and easier for our bodies to handle.images-6

Whole grain flour, or pulverized grains, are whole grains that have been beat to a fine substance in which we use to cook breads, cookies, pastries, cereals, and many other baked goods. Now whole grain flour does contain the bran, germ, and endosperm however since it has been crushed so finely the starch within that grain, that is usually enclosed, is now exposed. It's surface area has increased and digestive enzymes no longer have to eat through a fibrous layer to breakdown this food. Because of this, starch is readily absorbed in the body and causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise.

Constant spikes in blood sugar such as this have been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes type 2, cancer, and heart disease. Many of the processed foods that are on shelves today contain these types of grains.

So why are whole wheat  goods marketed as healthy food items? Well, because they are healthier options then eating white breads and enriched flours. Because the brain, germ, and endosperm are still maintained within whole-wheat flour, it contains many nutrients that white bread simply doesn’t have. However when it comes to sugar levels within the body, whole-wheat flour and white flour are essentially the same.

When looking for the healthiest options in bread choices try using sprouted breads, or breads such as rye or pumpernickel.

Lorisa Leigh