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What’s your slice?

Who doesn’t love bread?  Some people would have you believe that eating a slice is like downing an entire birthday cake, frosting and all. But in reality, if you stick to whole grains, bread can actually be healthy. Here’s a guide to navigating the bread aisle.

Whole-grain
Whole grains are wheat flour that is milled using the entire grain.  This process preserves all the fiber, vitamins and minerals and has multiple health benefits. According to the USDA, people who consume at least three servings of whole grains each day are at lower risk for diabetes and heart disease. Studies have shown that diets high in whole grains are associated with lower body weight.

Whole white wheat
If you don’t like the hearty taste of whole-grain breads, this option uses an albino variety of the grain, which is not only lighter in color but also milder in flavor. Double-check that you’re buying whole white wheat, though, or you may wind up with refined flour, which offers very little nutritional value.

 

Light breads
Choosing bread isn’t only about whole grains; carbs, protein, fat and fiber should also be taken into account. Light whole-grain breads can save calories while still offering fiber to keep you feeling satisfied.

 

Organic breads
This is more a question of overall health benefits than dietary ones. The ingredients are grown without pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, which may be beneficial to your body and the planet, but won’t make much difference nutritionally.

Multigrain breads are trickier, since each individual grain is only a small portion of the recipe, but taken all together the whole-grain content may be superb. Other whole grains you might see include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), corn, millet, oats and rye. Ideally, you’re looking for 16 grams of whole grains in a serving — most bread that meets this level will mention it somewhere on the package. This advice works across the board for sliced bread, English muffins, bagels, wraps , etc.

What to look for at the store
Supermarket bread aisles overflow with options. Our advice: Read packages carefully. Ingredients are listed in proportional order, so if the first item doesn’t begin with the word “whole,” beware. Even if it’s the second or third item, the amount may not be substantial.

What to avoid
When reading the label, stay clear of breads with predominantly “white flour,” “enriched white flour” or “wheat flour” — all three terms signify that the grain has been refined: stripped of the nutrient- and fiber-rich bran and germ. All you’re getting is the starchy stuff, with none of the health benefits. Also look at what kind of fats are listed, and avoid trans fats (partially hydrogenated, vegetable oil shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil). These are the fats that can increase your risk for heart disease. None of them are essential in bread-baking, so they’re easy to avoid.

At the bakery
Without a package to read, it’s difficult to know for sure exactly what you’re getting with bakery bread. But there are some rules of thumb: Look for whole-wheat bread. Ask if you can pick up the loaf before buying, and if it’s lighter than air, don’t buy it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Bakers are often proud to discuss their product and will be more than happy to brag about high-quality ingredients. 

For more information or to ask questions, please visit us at www.vitanutritionals.com.

~Angela

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~Spring~

Definintion of spring:

Meteorologists generally define four seasons in many climatic areas: spring, summer, autumn and winter. These are distinguished by their average temperatures on a monthly basis, with each season lasting three months. The three warmest months are by definition summer, the three coldest months are winter, and the intervening gaps are spring and autumn. Spring, under this definition, can start on different dates in different regions. In most Northern Hemisphere locations, spring months are March, April and May. The vast majority of Southern Hemisphere locations will have opposing seasons with spring in September, October and November.

Astronomically, the spring equinox (this year March 20), should be the middle of spring (based on the angle of the sun and it’s heat) and the summer solstice (usually 21 June in the Northern Hemisphere and 21 December in the Southern Hemisphere) should be the middle of summer (because the sun is at its highest), but daytime temperatures lag behind by several weeks because the earth and sea take time to warm up.

Spring in Nature:

In spring, the axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt toward the Sun and the length of daylight rapidly increases. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to “spring forth,” giving the season its name. Many flowering plants bloom this time of year, in a long succession sometimes beginning even if snow is still on the ground, continuing into early summer. In normally snowless areas “spring” may begin as early as February. Subtropical and tropical areas have climates better described in terms of other seasons, e.g. dry or wet, or monsoonal, or cyclonic. Often the cultures have locally defined names for seasons which have little equivalence to the terms originating in Europe. Many temperate areas have a dry spring, and wet autumn (fall), which brings about flowering in this season more consistent with the need for water as well as warmth. Subarctic areas may not experience “spring” at all until May or even June, or December in the outer Antarctic.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, and of new life (both plant and animal) being born. Many hibernating animals “awake” and birds and other migratory animals head back north in the spring.  More and more flowers begin to bloom as the bees and butterflies distribute pollen. Spring is also thought of as the season of birth because some animals have mating cycles that enable them to give birth in the spring when food is plentiful and temperatures are favorable to raise their babies.

Spring Cleaning:

The most common usage of spring cleaning refers to the yearly act of cleaning a house from top to bottom which would take place in the first warm days of the year typically in spring, hence the name. However it has also come to be synonymous with any kind of heavy duty cleaning or organizing enterprise. A person who gets their affairs in order before an audit or inspection could be said to be doing some spring cleaning.

It has been suggested that the origins of spring cleaning date back to the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of “khooneh tekouni” which literally means “shaking the house” just before the New Year. Everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture. Another possibility of the origin of spring cleaning can be traced to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time holiday of Passover. In remembrance of the Jews’ hasty flight from Egypt following their captivity there, during the eight-day holiday there is a strict prohibition against eating anything which may have been leavened. Jews are not only supposed to refrain from leavened foodstuffs they are expressly commanded to rid their homes of even small remnants of them for the length of the holiday. Therefore, for the past 3,500 years, observant Jews have conducted a thorough “spring cleaning” of the house.

In North America and northern Europe, the custom found an especial practical value due to those regions’ continental and wet climates. During the 19th century in America, prior to the advent of the vacuum cleaner, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors (but not warm enough for insects to be a problem), and the high winds could carry the dust out of the house. For the same reason, modern rural households often use the month of March for cleaning projects involving the use of chemical products which generate fumes.

Other spring time happenings:

Daylight savings time- You should have changed your clocks ahead 1 hour on 3/13. This time change is often termed “spring forward.” Most of the US does this to save on energy as the days start getting longer.

Easter- Although a Christian holiday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, it has become a day that many celebrate with the Easter bunny hiding eggs, baskets full of goodies and a delicious feast.

Baseball spring training- Many teams are already in training in Florida to get prepared for the regular season.

Spring Break- Although all school age kids get a spring break, it is synonymous with college kids going to the beach and having fun (sometimes a little too much!).

What does spring mean for you?

For me, it means beautiful weather, nature at it prime and a renewal of spirit.

~Debbie

www.vitanutritionals.com

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False: Turkey = sleepy

Does your husband always come up with the excuse that he is too tired to help you with the dishes after a big thanksgiving meal?  “It’s nap time!” he exclaims.  Little does he know that the old “there is too much tryptophan in my turkey” excuse is really not an excuse at all.  The truth of the matter is turkey does not contain any more tryptophan than typical poultry, about 350 milligrams per four ounces.  What is tryptophan anyway?  Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning that the body can’t manufacture it. The body has to get tryptophan and other essential amino acids from food.  How does it work?  Tryptophan helps the body produce the B-vitamin niacin, which helps the body produce serotonin, a chemical that acts as a calming agent in the brain and plays a key role in sleep.

You might think that if you eat a lot of turkey, your body would produce more serotonin and you would feel calm and want a nap. Nutritionists and other experts say that the tryptophan in turkey probably won’t trigger the body to produce more seroton­in because tryptophan works best on an empty stomach. It’s not fair to blame your poor innocent turkey for all the yawning on Thanksgiving day!

So, why are we all so tired after a big Thanksgiving meal?  First of all, big is one of the operative words.  We tend to eat a lot more at one sitting thinking we are not going eat these foods again until next year. Don’t forget the stuffing, mashed potatoes, biscuits, oh yes, and dessert.  All those carbohydrates can put anyone into a food induced coma.  Another reason could be that some of us are drinking alcohol with our meals.  There is nothing like a nice bottle of chardonnay with your turkey and alcohol tends to make us tired.  Also, many of us wake up early to get the bird in the oven and are on our feet cooking and preparing for the gathering.

Are you going to let your family know that you are on to them, or are they going to get away with the after dinner nap or sitting on the couch for the football game while you’re in the kitchen cleaning up?

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Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D This Winter?

Time to get cozy—cooler weather is here! The days are shorter, the sky is bleaker, and most of us want to stay indoors for longer periods. Bundle and snuggle!

Unfortunately, this means that you’re in danger of not getting enough vitamin D this season.

You may already know that it’s good for the bones and teeth by helping our bodies use calcium. But that’s not all—this powerful vitamin can do much more, according to studies. Vitamin D is a major focus of research these days for its other, lesser-known roles in these conditions:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer (colorectal, breast, prostate)
  • Autoimmune disease (Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression  (Consider the lack of sunlight and its role in both vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder)

While optimal doses are still to be determined, one thing is clear—the standard daily 400 IU (International Units) dose may be too low. Many scientists believe that 2000 IU daily is safe for most adults, and even that’s conservative.  Some practitioners are now recommending 800-1200 IU for most patients.

So what’s sunshine got to do with all this? Simply put, we can make our OWN vitamin D with the help of the sun and its ultraviolet B (UVB) rays!  And it doesn’t take much exposure… Approximately 15-20 minutes three times weekly has been recommended by many scientists. Go easy—face and arms, casual exposure. NO BURNING! Just enough to produce a slight pinkness in fair-skinned people (if your skin is dark, you’ll likely need more; as much as a couple of hours).

Problem is, many of us won’t get even this much exposure. During this season there’s less sunlight (and therefore UVB) to absorb. Imagine a line running from Richmond VA (east) across the United States to San Francisco CA (west). If you live above this line (37° N), you will probably not produce sufficient vitamin D from November through early March.  The further north you live, the longer the “vitamin D winter”.

Cloud cover and pollution also affect how much UVB light we receive. Those who live in foggy areas or big cities may need more vitamin D. Altitude is another factor—in a good way.  Every 1000 foot increase in elevation is roughly equivalent to one degree closer to the equator. So, if you live in Denver (the Mile High City), it’s like being 5° further south.

The elderly don’t synthesize vitamin D when exposed to UVB as readily as younger adults. (They’re more likely to stay indoors too). Dark-skinned individuals may have half the vitamin D in their blood when compared to fair-skinned people (the more melanin in the skin, the less vitamin D synthesized). And obesity has been associated with vitamin D deficiency.

So how do you get enough vitamin D during this season? Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, mackerel, tuna, milk, and mushrooms. You might also wish to supplement. Start with a good multivitamin; your physician can test you and let you know if you need even more.

Vita Nutritionals can help too. Our multivitamin formulas (Superior Wellness for Men, Superior Wellness for Women) have 200 IU and 400 IU of vitamin D, respectively, per serving. And our bone health product (Calcium Quadraplex + Mag and D) contains 800 IU of this powerful supplement.

Until next time, stay warm. Go out if you like, stay in if you must, but make sure you get your Vitamin D!

Science for Lifesm

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You need your Zzzz’s

 

Many of us admittedly have too much on our plate!  Not for dinner, but in life.  I don’t remember the last time I heard somebody say, “Wow, I have a lot of free time on my hands” or “Boy, do I feel energized today”!  The truth is, I’m just plain tired.  I think we’re a nation of tired people. So, why is this worth blogging about?  Not only are most of us tired at the end of the day, we’re tired when we wake up each morning.

 True, there are a bunch of different reasons that I’m tired, but most nights I just don’t sleep well.  Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence in modern culture and in my life. Every day there seems to be twice as much to do and half as much time to complete it in. While some people may like to believe that they can train their bodies to require less sleep, you really can’t. Sleep is crucial for concentration, memory formation, and repairing and rejuvenating the cells of the body. Both mentally and physically, a good night’s sleep is essential for your health.

Sleep disorders are a very common medical issue that affects more than 70 million Americans each year. While some people suffer from mild sleeping problems, such as the occasional nightmare, others have extremely severe sleep disorders that can negatively affect their health if left untreated. In fact, 95 percent of people suffering from a sleep disorder remain undiagnosed.  You know the one’s…”I didn’t sleep well because I ate chocolate right before bed,” “I have too much on my mind,” “ I don’t remember if I washed the cub scout uniform,” “ did I pay the electric bill?”…and the list goes on!  That’s the stuff that goes through our minds in between counting sheep. 

Finding an effective remedy is difficult. Some sleep aids require a visit to your doctor, dealing with unpleasant side effects, and facing the possibility of becoming dependent on the drugs. Even over-the-counter sleep aids can be habit-forming. So, what’s the answer? Melatonin – a naturally-occurring compound that regulates sleeping cycles and also has value as a possible antioxidant.  If you are having trouble sleeping it is recommended that you take a natural sleep aid containing melatonin roughly one half hour before going to sleep. One of the frequently reported advantages of melatonin is it doesn’t leave users with a hangover like effect the next morning. Most over the counter sleep aids tend to leave you feeling a bit drowsy the morning after. There is no one right dose from person to person. It seems every person reacts differently to melatonin. For some 1.5 mg may work while another person may need to take 3 mg of melatonin before going to bed. The fact is, melatonin is helpful for falling asleep. In the Vita Nutritionals® product VN Relax, we offer 3 mg of melatonin along with 1 mg of B-6 which produces serotonin and the combination of the two ingredients in each tablet, make for a restful night. Now I just need to remember to take it! 

Here are some additional strategies that may help you catch some zzz’s a bit easier every night.

  • Go to bed at the same time or nearly the same time every night.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Write down your worries and to-do list on paper before going to sleep.
  • Sip some chamomile tea.
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal right before bed.
  • Read (I know that makes me sleepy)

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed begs bite…that’s a whole other topic!

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“Fire, burn; and cauldron, bubble.”

 

“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,…
–Macbeth (IV, i, 14-17)

Eww! Those three witches from Macbeth used these creepy ingredients (and many others) to stir a cauldron full of darkness, chaos, and conflict. This vile recipe makes me shudder with disgust. Yecch!

But did you know that these were actually century-old nicknames for herbs? “Eye of Newt” is actually a type of mustard seed. Yellow, with a black spot, it looked like a newt’s eye. “Toe of Frog” (or “Frog’s Foot”)? Bulbous buttercup (has a bulb at the base of its stem). “Wool of Bat”? Holly (its leaves look a bit like bat’s wings).“Tongue of Dog”? A plant called Hound’s Tongue (its leaves look and feel like a dog’s tongue-pictured).

Long ago, herbalists and midwives used these vividly descriptive (some would say magical) names for these plants. Many healers couldn’t’ read, so to make it easier to pass the knowledge along, these names were used instead. Just imagine having to remember these four ingredients by their botanical names: Brassica spp., Ranunculus bulbosus, Ilex aquifoleum, and Cynoglossum officinale!

Nowadays, many of these herbs can be grown at home or purchased from herbal shops and natural food stores. Maybe you’ve seen or even used some of these. “Erba Santa Maria” is Spearmint (makes a yummy tea).  “Jupiter’s Nut” is Walnut. “Palma Christi” isCastor (as in castor oil). “Seed of Horus” is Horehound (An expectorant, often found in syrups and candied. In ointment, it’s used for wounds too). “Witches’ Aspirin” is White willow bark (contains substances related to aspirin).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many herbs and their products are NOT to be taken internally. Traditionally, some plants were eaten or used in teas and infusions, and some were applied as balms, baths, and wraps. Sometimes they were burned as incense (the smoke was said to make prayers visible). Some were simply carried as adornments or charms, according to folklore (for example, “Five Finger Grass” or cinquefoil, is said to attract money when its tiny leaves are carried in a wallet or purse. Hmm….)

In any case, remember that not all herbs or plant products are safe to eat or drink, just because they are “natural”.

At Vita Nutritionals®, we make no claims of magic or miracles with our products. You won’t find “knuckle of this” or “tail of that”. We simply provide the best supplements available. QUALITY ingredients, backed by SCIENCE—that’s what we do.

Hope you had fun with this bit of herbal folklore. May your cauldron bubble over with supreme wellness and vitality! Have a happy, safe, and HEALTHY Halloween!

“Double, double, toil and trouble;

Fire, burn; and cauldron, bubble.”

–Macbeth (IV, i, 10-11)

 

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Flu Season

Your head aches, and so does every muscle in your body. You’re cold one minute and hot the next. Your throat is scratchy and you’re starting to cough. You might be coming down with the flu, the common name for influenza, a virus that infects the respiratory system.

If you get the flu, you’ll have lots of company. Each year from November to April, across the United States, as many as 60 million people come down with the flu. Although kids get the flu most often, people in every age group can catch it.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 35 to 50 million Americans come down with the flu during each flu season, more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and more than 20,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year.

The best way to combat the flu on a daily basis is to keep your immune system strong, using products like the Vita Nutritionals® Immune Science. In addition to a good immune product, the CDC recommends the following:

Get the flu vaccine. It’s the best way to protect your self against the flu.  Getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect your own health. It also helps the people around you because there’s less chance you’ll catch the flu and pass it on. I usually just go to my local drugstore to get one.

Wash your hands often.  Hand washing is an important line of defense against germs like flu viruses. Why? The body takes about 2 weeks to build immunity after a flu vaccine and even a vaccine isn’t foolproof if a new strain of virus starts making the rounds. It’s best to use an anti-bacterial soap too! Not as good, but better than nothing, is an anti-bacterial gel – keep some in your purse, pocket, and desk drawer.

Keep your distance if someone is sick (coughing, sneezing, etc.). Flu viruses travel through the air, so try to stay away from people who look sick. It’s also a good idea to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth — three places flu viruses can easily enter the body. “I love you too honey, but I’ll give you a goodnight kiss next week…”

Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow — not into your hands. That way, you’re not spreading the virus when you touch surfaces that other people may touch too. 

Stay home if you have the flu. You don’t want to pass your germs to someone else (even though it may be tempting!). Staying home is a great excuse to curl up and watch your favorite movie, play video games, or read. Rest can help the body recover faster and you get to stay in your PJ’s.

Other Immune boosters are: getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods (including five or more servings of fruits and veggies a day!), drinking plenty of fluids, and regular intake of an immune support product .  Visit us at www.vitanutritionals.com to order your Immune Science product today and receive a discount by entering promo code BL1010.

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