Substitute Balsamic Vinegar with Apple Cider Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a traditional ingredient used in many dishes and is readily available at most restaurants and grocery stores. However, just because balsamic vinegar is more popular doesn’t mean it is the right choice. Apple cider vinegar tastes just as good as balsamic, if not better, and comes with a long list of health benefits unmatched by any other in its class. Most of you are familiar with the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” right? Well, think of apple cider vinegar as an apple in its very best form.

From lowering the chance of developing diabetes to fighting fatigue, apple cider vinegar does it all. Research has shown that people who take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day will show a considerable improvement in their average blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Also, it has been shown that apple cider vinegar can cause a significant decrease in both abdominal fat and waist circumference if consumed on a regular basis. Lower blood pressure is another favorable effect that has been seen with apple cider vinegar which, in combination with lowering cholesterol, can significantly decrease the chance of developing heart disease. Apple cider vinegar also aids in food digestion and regularity, minimizing the chance of gas or bloating after meals. It can also keep you full longer since it acts as a mild appetite suppressant, reducing cravings and the chance of eating poorly between meals. It has also been shown that apple cider vinegar can increase energy levels in times of fatigue so you won’t have to resort to harmful alternatives such as excessive caffeine consumption. Last but not least, apple cider vinegar is full of antioxidants to protect your cells and tissues from free radical damage, keeping your body youthful.

Apple cider vinegar can also be used topically as a treatment for a variety of skin conditions. Applying apple cider vinegar to a pimple can help reduce the redness and inflammation as well as kill the pore clogging bacteria so that it goes away faster. It can also help with fungal infections, including athletes foot and nail fungus. Applying apple cider vinegar to your scalp can help reduce dandruff by killing and discouraging the overgrowth of malassezia furfur, the yeast like fungus that causes it. For a sore throat, gargle with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and it will help you recover faster.

So, the next time you are at the grocery store, instead of going for the balsamic, do yourselves a favor and reach for the apple cider vinegar instead. Remember, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Thanks for reading, this has been you dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

Resveratrol: The Secret to Youth and Longevity

The benefits of red wine have been known throughout the world for quite sometime now. However, what is in red wine that makes it so beneficial? The answer is resveratrol. Clinical studies have recently proven the wonderful benefits of resveratrol, which spurred manufacturers to market this substance alone as a pill. Now, just one pill has the benefits of more than a hundred glasses of red wine without any intoxication or hangover the following day. Even though resveratrol’s benefits range from weight loss to fighting cancer; what makes it so unique is its ability to keep the body youthful and increase longevity.

Resveratrol may be hard to pronounce, but it’s easy to understand why it should be added to your daily diet. Resveratrol helps fight diabetes and aids in weight loss by keeping the body’s blood sugar levels low and increasing the body’s basal metabolic rate. It also helps fight heart disease by lowering cholesterol, inflammation, and blood clotting factors, all of which increase the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Resveratrol has also been shown to cause apoptosis in abnormal cells, such as in malignant tumors that arise with cancer. Resveratrol also inhibits the growth of the herpes simplex virus by interrupting a step in the early phases of the virus replication cycle. Supplementation with resveratrol has also been proven to significantly reduce plaque formation in mammalian brains, which is what can cause Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Since resveratrol is an antioxidant, it protects cells from being damaged by radicals in the body, which helps slow down the aging process. The more your cells are protected and stay free of damage, the longer your body will stay healthy and youthful. Last but not least, resveratrol has been shown to stimulate the SIRT1 gene, which is associated with longevity. The expression of this gene has been shown to prolong one’s lifespan through cellular regulation, boosting the immune system, enhancing genomic stability and increasing DNA repair.

The Fountain of Youth has been something people have sought for centuries, but now it is as easy to obtain as going to your local GNC, pharmacy, or any other health food store. I know some people like to drink red wine to wind down at the end of the day, and that is still ok to do even with additional resveratrol supplements. However, don’t forget, the benefits of just one resveratrol capsule is equivalent to that of over 100 glasses of red wine. Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

Fiber is Your Friend!

How many people associate fiber with cardboard? How many people think that fiber is something that only their grandparents have because people only need fiber when they’re old? Well, fiber can actually benefit us at any age and doesn’t always necessarily have to taste bad. Fiber can be found in many tasty foods such as fruits, beans, nuts and even popcorn! So, stop thinking about fiber so negatively and learn why fiber is one of the most essential additions you can make to your diet.

Fiber is most commonly known for increasing regularity, but the list of benefits goes way beyond that. Aside from relieving occasional constipation, fiber can also lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to LDL, which is known as “bad cholesterol,” and carries it out of our bodies through our feces. For people with diabetes, or at risk for diabetes, fiber helps decrease blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar and preventing large spikes in insulin secretion. Fiber also aids in weight loss because it gives our meals bulk, making us full faster and keeping us full for a longer period of time. Also, foods high in fiber tend to have less calories, so there is less potential to gain weight. Fiber has also been linked to lowering blood pressure because it absorbs excess water in the colon. Most importantly, fiber binds to toxins and harmful bacteria that may have entered the body through our food and eliminates them through our feces so that they cannot be reabsorbed into our bloodstream. This also helps decrease inflammation in our bowels, which decreases the chances of developing such illnesses as irritable bowel syndrome.

As mentioned earlier, foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, whole grain bread, nuts, and beans. If none of these foods stimulate your appetite, you could also take fiber supplements. There are fiber caps or even fiber chews out there, such as Fiber Choice, that would deliver the full daily dose of fiber you would need. Women need about 25 grams of fiber a day and men need around 38 grams. Do not confuse fiber with laxatives. Laxatives are often stimulants that can make your body dependent if used for longer than 2 weeks. They also deplete your body of essential electrolytes, which can be very dangerous, especially for your heart.

So, now when you think of fiber, I hope you don’t just think of old people eating prunes or Metamucil. Instead, think of all the benefits fiber can bring and how it can help regardless of what age you happen to be. One last thing, make sure to drink plenty of water with a high fiber diet to get optimal results. Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

Got Milk…Which One?

Milk…it does a body good, but which one is right for you? Before, our only options were  nonfat, low fat or whole. Now, we have the option of getting almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk as well. Some are enhanced with vitamins, made lactose-free, or even flavored for those of us who do not particularly like the taste of regular milk. However, how many of you really know the difference between all these options?

Before getting into which milk is best for you, let’s talk about why milk is an important part of a healthy diet. Milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium, both of which are major factors in maintaining a strong and healthy body. The average sized adult needs about 1,000mg of calcium and at least 45gm of protein a day, which can be met with about 3 to 4 glasses of milk. Some people worry about milk increasing their cholesterol, however, skim (or nonfat) milk doesn’t have the potential to clog your arteries and still delivers the essential nutrients as other types of milk do. According to the National Dairy Council, milk is actually filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:

  • Calcium:Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
  • Protein:Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium:Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus:Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
  • Vitamin D:Helps maintain bones
  • Vitamin B12:Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
  • Vitamin A:Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision  and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2):Converts food into energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids

Even though milk is an essential part of a healthy diet, there are some issues people have with it other than the possibility of increasing their cholesterol. People who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in all dairy products including milk. However, there are lactose free alternatives. Milk that is labeled “lactose free” has the enzyme lactase added to it by the manufacturers to predigest the sugar in order to be suitable for those who are intolerant. Almond, soy, and rice milk are also well tolerated since they do not contain any lactose to begin with. There are also supplements found over the counter, such as Lactaid, that contain lactase to help digest dairy products as well.

Hormones are also an issue for milk drinkers. Hormones are often injected into young livestock to make them grow larger in order to provide more meat and milk. These hormones can come out in their milk and enter our bodies when we drink it. It is said that the amount of hormones that enter our body is very minimal compared to the amount our bodies produce, however the issue is debatable. Organic milk that has the claim “rBST-free” is your safest bet when it comes to trying to avoid this issue as a whole because the milk is collected from cows who are organically fed and not injected with any growth hormones.

Almond milk is one of the most nutritious, dairy free, milk substitutes available today. Unlike soy or rice milk, almond milk doesn’t need to be fortified with additional vitamins since it already provides omega-3, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, protein and plant flavanoids. Also, almond milk is naturally low in fat and calories making it safe for people with high cholesterol. Lastly, as mentioned before, almond milk doesn’t contain lactose so it is compatible with those who are lactose intolerant.

Soy milk is another great substitute for cow’s milk that is very high in protein. Although soy milk doesn’t naturally provide as many vitamins as almond milk, it does provide about 3 to 4 more grams of protein per serving. Soy milk also provides more fiber, which is very beneficial to the heart and can help lower cholesterol. For premenopausal women who suffer from lower levels of estrogen, soy milk helps replace lost estrogen and alleviate symptoms associated with menopause. However, for those who do not need extra estrogen, like women below the age of 40 or men of all ages, drinking soy milk on a regular basis may not be the best option since it could elevate the body’s estrogen levels above the norm.

Rice milk is also a popular dairy free alternative for cow’s milk, but may not provide as much nutrition as the other options. It is a good option for those who are allergic to soy and who are lactose intolerant, but contains more carbohydrates and less protein than both soy and almond milk. This is because rice milk is made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. People usually prefer rice milk because it is sweet on its own and doesn’t need to be enhanced with additional sweeteners or flavors. However, it does usually have to be fortified with niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, and iron along with other nutrients to give it more of a nutritional value since it doesn’t have much to offer on its own.

Who knew there would be so much to think about when choosing milk? Times have definitely changed since going out and filling up a bucket with milk from the local cow before breakfast. Personally, I am an almond milk drinker even though it isn’t the tastiest choice because I am lactose intolerant and like the natural nutritional value it brings. However, now that you know more about your options, pick one that is right for you and make it part of your daily diet. Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

 

Coconut Oil and its Long List of Benefits

From cooking, to massaging, to styling your hair, it seems as though coconut oil does it all. Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and can be used for aesthetic purposes as well! It has been used by those who live in native, tropical areas for thousands of years now and has been proven to be one of the primary contributors to their great shape and health. Coconut oil consists of naturally occurring, saturated fats that have been shunned by health professionals for years now. However, with all the benefits that have been shown to come along with using coconut oil, we are slowly realizing that not all saturated fats are bad.

Coconut oil mainly consists of a naturally occurring saturated fat called lauric acid. We have constantly been told that saturated fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. However, the saturated fat they are referring to is man made by a process known as hydrogenation. This process is used by manufacturers to improve the shelf life of their products even though it is detrimental to our health. However, lauric acid is a rare, naturally occurring saturated fat that does not share the same properties as man made fats. Lauric acid does not clog your arteries, increase cholesterol, cause heart disease, nor contribute to obesity. In fact, it does the complete opposite and more.

Coconut oil can help improve your health in many ways. Lauric acid is metabolized by the body into monolaurin, which is known to have anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. This helps boost your immune system and protect you against such common diseases as herpes, influenza, H. Pylori and even HIV. Lauric acid also helps increase HDL, which is known as “good cholesterol.” HDL helps remove the “bad cholesterol” in the body known as LDL, which then lowers the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Coconut oil is also very useful in reducing weight since it helps support healthy thyroid functioning and digestion. It also helps improve the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids so you get the most out of the food you eat. Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin, thus lowering the chances of developing diabetes. Last, but not least, it is a great source of energy since coconut oil is also made up of medium chain triglycerides, which are quickly and easily metabolized by the liver.

Coconut oil can also benefit you on the outside as well as the inside. Coconut oil consists of essential proteins that help repair damaged hair and improve hair growth. It can be used on the scalp to reduce dryness and itchiness as well as dandruff. It has also been shown to be effective in killing hair lice and their eggs. Coconut oil can also be used on the skin as a moisturizer. It helps treat dry, flaky skin and even improves the skin’s elasticity to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Coconut oil can also be used to help treat various skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin infections. Most importantly, it can help alleviate stress and loosen your muscles when massaged into the skin, which I’m sure all of us need from time to time.

Now that the secret is out, go take advantage of it. Not all saturated fats are created equal! Replace your cooking oil, your moisturizers and your conditioners with coconut oil and you will see and feel the difference soon after. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

Alcohol Can Actually Be Good For You

Shots, shots, shots, shots! I know we’ve all heard this before and probably yelled it ourselves at one point, but I am not here to advocate that kind of drinking. I’m here to talk about drinking in moderation. Alcohol has gotten a bad wrap over the years only because people have abused it to the point where the negatives have completely masked the positives; however, I am here to remind people that alcohol can actually be good for you.

First, let me talk about the negatives so you guys don’t go haywire and start drinking like fish because I told you alcohol isn’t that bad. Drinking excessively can lead to some serious problems. Other than increasing the likelihood of embarrassing yourself by falling over or professing your love to your high school crush, alcohol can slowly destroy your liver. Drinking too much can elevate your liver enzymes and eventually lead to cirrhosis. Your liver is a very important organ that has a role in almost every function of your body including digestion, metabolism, detoxification, protein synthesis and even hormone production. Without proper liver function, your whole body can shut down. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to weight gain. Believe it or not, alcohol is full of calories! For example, a 1 ounce shot of tequila has 70 calories. Also, when you drink too much, you usually do not have control over what you eat because your judgment  is compromised. Some people like to drink to become more social and to attract the opposite sex. However, overconsumption can lead to sexual dysfunction and the inability to perform, not to mention developing beer goggles. Lastly, your immune system can be lowered, which would make you more susceptible to infection and illness.

Now, on to the positives. Drinking one glass of alcohol a day can actually have many benefits. It can reduce the chances of heart disease by lowering blood pressure. This is because alcohol acts as a vasodiolater, which causes your blood vessels to open by relaxing the smooth muscle around them. Lowering your blood pressure decreases the chances of developing hypertention, which is a major factor of heart disease. Alcohol can also help with high cholesterol by raising the amount of HDL in your body. HDL helps by picking up excess cholesterol that’s roaming around in the bloodstream and transporting it to the liver where it can be broken down. This is beneficial because high cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and potentially lead to a heart attack or stroke. Lastly, alcohol can help reduce stress and anxiety. For people with demanding jobs or fast paced lifestyles, one glass of alcohol can help them relax and wind down at the end of the day. Wine is a great choice to turn to when you want a drink because it is derived from grapes, which are full of antioxidants. As mentioned before, antioxidants help protect your cells from being damaged by free radicals that readily arise from common metabolic processes in the body.

Don’t forget, drinking in moderation is different than going out and having 5 drinks and 3 shots in one night and not drinking the next couple days to make up for it. Drinking moderately means one glass of alcohol a day and no more than that. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.

Aloe Vera: The Miracle Plant

I chose to write about aloe vera for my very first post because it truly is my Windex (like the father says from my Big Fat Greek Wedding). I use it for almost everything because it really is the most currative medicinal herb that nature has ever created.

Chronic inflammation is the key culprit in numerous diseases and ailments in the body, including irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain, heart disease, liver disease, acid reflux, high blood pressure, acne and even cancer. Inflammation is characterized by redness, heat, swelling and pain and is normally used as the body’s natural defense mechanism when something is wrong. However, when that natural defense mechanism turns into chronic inflammation, it also turns from being beneficial to being dangerous instead. Now, with all that said, let’s talk about how aloe vera comes into play. Aloe vera helps quell inflammation all throughout the body, inside and out. It helps prevent and treat the above mentioned diseases along with a slew of other ailments, including the following:

• Slows down growth of cancer tumors.
• Lowers high cholesterol.
• Thins the blood which helps prevent cardiovascular disease.
• Improves the oxygenation of your blood.
• Relieves arthrits pain.
• Protects the body from oxidative stress.
• Prevents kidney stones and kidney disease.
• Alkalizes the body since most of our diets make the pH of our body too acidic.
• Cures digestive disorders including ulcers, IBS, Crohn’s disease, constipation and even halts the progression of colon cancer.
• Lowers high blood pressure.
• Nourishes the body with minerals, vitamins, enzymes and glyconutrients.
• Heals burns, scratches, insect bites, scars and even acne.
• Stabilizes blood sugar and lowers triglycerides in diabetics.
• Maintains electrolyte balance in the body.
• Boosts cardiovascular performance and physical endurance.
• Speeds recovery from injury or physical exertion.
• Hydrates the skin and gives it a nice healthy glow.

 

Aloe vera juice can be found at almost any health food market and is considerably cheap when you take all its benefits into account. Only 2 ounces a day is enough to start seeing a significant improvement. If you don’t like the taste, mixing it with your favorite juice or smoothie helps mask the taste very well. Not only does it come as a juice, but aloe vera can be used topically as well. It comes as a gel or cream and can be used almost anywhere on the body. It can be used on your hair as a styling product, which actually helps nourish the scalp and regrow hair, or it can be used on the skin to help treat many skin disorders including acne, red marks, scars, scratches, insect bites, burns and even wrinkles. It is more hydrating than almost any other moisturizer out in the market.

I can go on and on about the miraculous benefits of aloe vera, as my friends and family can tell you, because I have experienced the benefits of aloe first hand. However, now that you know what I know, go and experience it for yourselves. You won’t regret it. Thank you for reading and don’t forget, being healthy is easy. This has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas. Good bye.