ZIPPY CONDIMENTS FOR A HAPPY BELLY – One of the new trends in supplements these days is adding probiotics to aid in digestion. Many of us eat diets high in processed foods or have relied too heavily on antibiotics and accidentally killed off the “good” bacteria our guts need to properly process the food we eat. Instead of paying big bucks for packaged probiotics, we can add these friendly microbes back into our bodies by making sure we get some cultured or fermented foods every day. Some examples include: yogurt, kefir, olives, pickles, salsa, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, chocolate, vanilla, Tabasco, horseradish, raw apple cider vinegar, tamari, kimchi, crème fraiche, chutney and wine. Getting even a small portion (think condiment) of one of these foods every day can aid in helping restore the natural balance of microbes in our bodies, allowing us to get the most out of the foods we eat with fewer digestive problems. Adding probiotics to a diet has been shown to decrease IBS and other digestive problems.

When buying any of these foods, read all labels carefully to make sure you are getting active cultures. Any product that has been pasteurized has killed off the friendly microbes as well as the non-friendly. Look for organic products in the refrigerated section at your grocers, buy from farmer’s markets or even try making your own.

For more information on adding probiotics naturally try: Relish

For information on making your own probiotic rich food (yogurt, sauerkraut, etc.) try: Recipes

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CURRY FOR ADDED PROTECTION FROM ALZHEIMER’S – Curry has been singled out as a possible weapon against Alzheimer’s Disease. A study from the National University of Singapore documented a much lower rate of dementia in people who ate curry regularly as opposed to those who ate it rarely. A possible reason for this find is that Curry powder contains turmeric. Turmeric contains high levels of curcummin which has a high anti-inflammatory effect. Curcummin has actually been shown to reverse plaque formation in the animal model of Alzheirmer’s disease. Additionally, curry powder is very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron and Manganese. For those who find curry powder too “hot”, remember, it is a combination of spices. Experiment with different blends and find the right “heat level” for you.

For recipes that use curry powder in more than just a traditional chicken curry with rice, check out: Curry Recipes

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EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN – We all know by now that getting regular exercise can be an important part of minimizing the effects of aging, but did you know you can “exercise” your brain to keep your mind sharp as well? The brain is amazingly “plastic”. This means it has the ability to form new connections between brain cells and this ability is present at any age. To make the most of this ability, keep learning new things: learn a foreign language, read up on topics you find fascinating, work on challenging puzzles or start a new hobby. You can even try doing “old” things in “new” ways by taking a different way to work/errands or using your computer mouse in your “other” hand.

For more ideas check out: Brain Exercise

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KEEP MOVING FOR HEALTHY BONES: Bone is a very dynamic tissue and actually responds well to stress. Engaging in weight bearing activities (anything from walking to strength training) will stimulate osteoblasts, the bone cells that are responsible for the mineralization of our skeletons. Try a wide variety of activities to provide “good” stress to all of your bones as well as avoid boredom. Engaging in regular weight bearing activities combined with getting adequate calcium, Vitamins D, A and C, magnesium and iron in your diet can improve your bone density no matter what your age.

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Relieve arthritis pain

Relieve arthritis pain with water! Rheumatoid joint pain – arthritis – is a signal of water shortage in the painful joint. The use of pain-killers does not cure the problem, but exposes the person to further damage from pain medications. Intake of water and small amounts of potassium will alleviate this problem. Low Back Pain and Ankylosing Arthritis of the Spine can also be signs of water shortage in the spinal column and discs – the water filled cushions that support the weight of the body. These conditions can also be treated with increased water intake.

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EAT YOUR GREENS: One of the healthiest greens on this planet is kale. It contains Vitamin K, a nutrient that helps to support healthy bone formation and manganese, which promotes bone density. Kale is also high in calcium, iron and Vitamins C & A. Both Vitamin K and magnesium are needed to help the body make use of the calcium we take in making kale especially beneficial for those of us having issues with dairy products. Best of all, kale is the top leafy green source of carotenoids, which promote eye health and may help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration. It has no cholesterol and offers a nice serving of fiber and protein. If you are unsure of merging kale with your taste buds, try these recipes:

Roasted Kale

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Mind/Body Connection

Mind/Body Connection One of the first steps in limiting the effects of stress on you body is to be aware of where you hold stress. This is easy for those of us that have an awareness of what is going on in our bodies, but for those of us that “live in our heads” it can be more difficult. An exercise that can help develop this connection is progressive muscular relaxation or PMR.

The idea is behind PMR is to tense up a group of muscles so that they are as tight and contracted as possible, hold them in a state of extreme tension for a few seconds, then relax the muscles to their previous state. Finally you consciously relax them again as much as you can.

You can apply PMR to any or all of the muscle groups in your body depending on whether you want to relax just a single area or your whole body.

Experiment with PMR by forming a fist, clenching your hand as tight as you can for a few seconds. Then relax your hand to its previous tension, and then consciously relax it again so that it is as loose as possible. You should feel deep relaxation in the muscles.

Although you might well be able to relax the muscle as far without the initial tensing, tensing the muscle helps to provide a starting point for the exercise, and helps to gauge the initial level of tension in the muscle.

As you practice this technique, you will find it easier to monitor your body, or be “in” your body. Your awareness of where you hold your stress (neck and shoulders? jaw? deep in your gut?) will grow and you will find yourself better able take steps to limit the effects of stress before they start. For more information on the mind/body connection, go to:

John Barnes:The Mind/Body Connection

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Tomato products are among the richest sources of lycopene, an antioxidant thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Although fresh tomatoes provide lycopene, you’ll get more of this nutrient through tomato products such as tomato juice, pasta sauce and tomato paste. This time of year, I find making a pot of pasta sauce to be almost therapeutic, as it simmers on the stove filling the house with a wonderful aroma no matter how cold it is outside. For those who have limited time, there has been a substantial increase in commercial pasta sauces without any added sugar or high fructose corn syrup available in the local grocery stores, just check the labels. For an even healthier pasta dish with your tomato/pasta sauce, try brown rice pasta, which digests better than regular pasta!

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Commit to Yourself

With the quickly approaching New Year, many of us get caught up in making new resolutions. This year, instead of making a list of things you will quit doing, (quit smoking, quit drinking, quit eating sweets or junk food), try adding simple things to do FOR yourself. Just one or two to start, “redesigning” your entire life will only add to your frustration or stress. Add one piece of fruit or serving of veggie to a daily meal, add 15 minutes of stretching or a brisk walk to your daily routine, add one more glass of water to your daily intake, add 15 minutes of “me” time/meditation to your morning to help you be grounded though out your busy day. By “adding” a little something to your life for YOU instead of taking something away, you will feel less deprived. Every step you take toward claiming your own good health will have a beneficial effect on your life and will make it easier to make other changes as time goes on.

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Vitamin ‘A’ for night vision

This week’s tip comes from my friend Frances. I’m thinking a serving of carrots every day will help me get one of my five daily vegetables out of the way and if it helps my night vision, that’ll be a much welcomed bonus, especially this time of year when “night” lasts so long. Some of us old folks are developing issues with our night vision. The photochemical reactions in the retina require a baseline level of certain vitamins. A multi-vitamin will probably do the trick, but if you already take one and still seem to have night vision issues, try adding some Vitamin A, at least 3,333 IU per day for adults (RDA).

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