10 Best Anti-Aging Foods to Eat Every Day

The greatest desire of every woman is to stay young and beautiful as long as possible. We usually try various methods in order to prevent the aging process in our body. Though, our efforts are not always successful. It is necessary to remember that certain things can help you to add years to your life. Firstly, you should lead a healthy lifestyle. For this you need to do regular physical exercises and include wholesome foods into your diet. If you want to stay young and avoid numerous age-related diseases, I recommend you to consume the following anti-aging foods every day. They are extremely beneficial for your health!

1. Fish
The conducted researches have shown that those people who eat a lot of fish almost never suffer from heart disease. For example, the native Inuits of Alaska are not familiar with this health issue because they regularly consume a big amount of fish. This food is known to be rich in omega-3 fats that will stabilize your heart rhythms and protect you against cholesterol buildup in arteries.

2. Olive Oil
Due to the fact that olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats it is one of those foods that are efficient in fighting cancer and heart disease. Everybody knows that people who live in Greece constantly use olive oil for cooking. Scientists’ studies have proven that the consumption of this oil lowers rates of heart diseases among the citizens of this country. By adding olive oil to your dishes you will supply your body with antioxidants and polyphenols which you need to resist different age-related diseases.

3. Chocolate
Cocoa is the main ingredient of chocolate. It has a high concentration of flavanols that are very good for blood vessels. When your blood vessels function well, you’re able to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and kidney disease. That’s why you can easily enjoy the sweet taste of your favorite chocolate. Just make sure you control your portions, or this dessert will be harmful to your health. Besides chocolate bars, there is a wide range of beverages made of cocoa. By drinking them you’ll have a chance to prevent heart disease.

4. Yogurt
Some years ago Georgia was one of the countries that had the biggest number of centenarians in the world. Yogurt was claimed to be the main secret of their long lives. This dairy product is frequently used in most diets that are so popular nowadays. Perhaps you’ve never heard before but yogurt may slow the aging process. Being full of calcium, this food is extremely effective in preventing osteoporosis. In addition, “good bacteria” that are found in yogurt will strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health.

5. Blueberries
Dietarians state that blueberries may have a fantastic impact on human body. If you include these delicious and wholesome berries into your daily menu you’ll be amazed with the results. According to scientific studies blueberries are considered to increase people’s coordination when they become old. Plus, this food contains compounds that can easily diminish oxidative damage and inflammation. These health problems can lead to deficits in memory and motor function when you are old. So, blueberries are a wonderful choice for healthy aging.

6. Nuts
If you really care about your health and beauty, I would advise you to add nuts to your eating plan. This food is an enormous source of unsaturated fats and it can affect your body in the same way as olive oil does. Recently it has been found out that people who eat nuts live a few years longer than those who refuse from this tasty snack. Such nutrients as vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, make nuts one of the healthiest foods. Today you can find different kinds of nuts that are also a perfect option for vegetarians.

7. Wine
The negative influence of alcohol on our health is undeniable. Some people even don’t guess that when consumed in moderate doses alcohol can be salubrious for them. It should be mentioned that wine is the most preferable alcoholic beverage all over the world. If you drink wine, you will not only enjoy its refined taste but you will protect yourself against numerous diseases as well. Those who drink red wine are less subjected to diabetes, memory loss and heart disease. What is more important, this beverage will slow the process of aging in your body.

8. Carrots
Carrot is another fantastic food that will certainly help you to look younger and you will supply your body with various vitamins and nutrients that are necessary to be healthy. This orange vegetable is a perfect source of alpha- and beta-carotene that are known to boost our immunity and even stave off cancer. Moreover, carrots may be effectively used to care for your skin because carotenoids protect it from UV damage. When summer comes, you should try to add carrots to your diet and don’t forget to apply sunscreen either.

9. Sunflower Seeds
First of all, I’d like to say that most of us give preference to these seeds when looking for yummy snacks. Do you know that this food is very good for your health? We can hardly find any other food that is more packed with vitamin E than sunflower seeds. We all need to consume this vitamin in order to enhance our immune system which becomes weak with age. Nevertheless you have all chances to roll back the years by eating your favorite sunflower seeds.

10. Prunes
Perhaps you are surprised to see prunes on this list, but it has been proven that this food can be even more efficient than fresh fruits when it comes to our health. One of the reasons why prunes are so useful to us is their capacity to remove harmful free radicals from the blood and improve our circulation. Being dried, prunes have a big quantity of good things that have positive effect on our body. As an alternative to prunes you can also eat raisins or figs.

Unfortunately, we can’t stop time and stay young forever. However, we have endless opportunities to add years to our life and to look amazing no matter how old we are. All the above foods will definitely help you to stay healthy and by eating them you’ll be able to avoid various age-related diseases. What methods do you use to prevent the negative effects of aging? Do you eat any other anti-aging foods? What are they?

10 Healthy Foods You Should Eat to Be Smarter

Our health, beauty and even our mood are highly dependent on what we consume daily, that’s why it’s important to pay more attention to the foods we include into our daily diet and make the right choice. Do you know that some foods can make you smarter? By eating them you will boost your brain’s activity and you’ll be able to stay alert during your working day. If you feel that your thinking ability is reduced after your everyday meals, you should certainly consider your eating plan. Everybody knows that fast food influences badly our waistline, but only a few of us know that it is harmful to our brain either. That’s why it is necessary to eat foods that are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins regularly. Only this way, you will supply your brain with all the nutrients it needs. Make sure you add the following 10 foods to your eating plan and you’ll be amazed with your brain’s power.

1. Fish
Conducted researches have proven that those people who often consume fish are less subjected to such health problem as dementia. Consequently, if you increase your fish intake, your brain will perform much better while you are working or learning lessons.

2. Oatmeal
I should say it is one of the most popular foods we usually have for breakfast. But lots of people make a big mistake when they choose different kinds of sweet crunchy flakes to eat in the morning. Surely, this food is very tasty, however your brain won’t benefit from it as such breakfast will raise your blood sugar that can result in a sudden crash. On the other hand, oatmeal is the perfect food to start your day with. Being a slow-digesting food oatmeal will provide your brain with energy for a long period of time.

3. Nuts
It is typical of most people to have numerous snacks at work. Unfortunately, we rarely think of what we eat during short breaks in the office and as a result we give preference to various candies or biscuits that are not so good for our health. It would be nice to regale yourself with some nuts if you want to have a more productive day. All those sweet snacks are full of sugar and due to this they can give you some energy, but it will finish soon. When you will replace those empty calories by healthy fats that nuts contain, you will greatly improve your thinking ability. In spite of all the benefits nuts have, you shouldn’t consume them excessively, a handful per day will be quite enough for you. Before switching to these yummy and wholesome snacks you’d better learn which nuts are good and bad for your health.

4. Chocolate
It’s rather difficult to find a person who doesn’t like chocolate. You’ll be surprised to discover that this delicious dessert can also increase your brain’s power and help your body to work more efficiently. You can get all the healthy nutrients of this sweet product not only from chocolate bars, but from hot cocoa as well. According to scientific studies this drink is perfect for elderly people as it improves their brain blood flow providing them with better memory.

5. Eggs
Perhaps you don’t even guess that eggs are among those foods that should be necessarily added to your diet. To dispel all your doubts I’d like to mention that eggs are an incredible source of chlorine. This substance is necessary to strengthen your brain’s activity and memory. Scientists claim that high concentration of chlorine found in eggs will help you to avoid the risk of brain changes that can lead to dementia.

6. Tea
If you are one of those people who can’t wake up easily in the morning and need some extra help to boost their energy, have a cup of green tea and your brain will work perfectly. By drinking green tea you will supply your body with a great deal of antioxidants that your brain needs to produce neurons. Plus, there are so many other nutrients in green tea that make it extremely effective when it comes to degenerative diseases and memory loss.

7. Leafy Greens
I would recommend you to make a salad of leafy greens for your lunch. It will be a nice alternative to fried potatoes and what is more important this food will be an excellent fuel for your brain. Try to eat more vegetables such as collard, spinach, kale, mustard greens and you will get maximum antioxidants to stimulate your brain’s activity. If you increase your daily intake of these leafy vegetables, you’ll protect yourself from memory loss.

8. Berries
What can be healthier than fresh fruits and berries? To my mind, these foods will be the best option for your dessert as they are packed with different vitamins and other nutrients that help your body function well. There are dozens ways you can enjoy sweet taste of your favorite berries. For instance, you can add them to your oatmeal for breakfast. Plain yogurt with some berries will be a delicious treat for you too. Plus, you’ll be surprised to know that this natural food has anti-aging effect. Isn’t it a valid reason for you to start eating berries right now?

9. Water
Lack of water in your body is dangerous for your health. Therefore, you should always control your water intake in order to prevent dehydration. Otherwise, you won’t be able to concentrate your attention and it can be a problem for you to recollect some information. Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to keep your body and brain hydrated.

10. Coffee
It is considered that coffee is one of those things that influence our body ruinously. It will certainly damage your health if you are addicted to this hot drink. Whenever you feel tired and don’t have enough energy to carry out your tasks, have a cup of coffee and your working ability will grow immediately.

You can be sure that all these foods will make you smarter and give you extra energy to work productively in the afternoon. Try to include at least one of these foods into your lunch and you will never be exhausted at your workplace. What do you usually eat for lunch? Does this food help you to stay active throughout your working day? Which of the above foods do you find the most efficient and the healthiest choice?

7 Easter Foods That Are Popular around the World

For many people, Easter is one of the most important religious holidays and it is usually associated with colored eggs and lovely bunnies. This is also a great family holiday that we annually celebrate with people we love. The first thing we should do on this day is visiting early church services and only then we can have fun with our family and friends. You can hardly imagine Easter celebration without numerous tasty and festive dishes that are cooked for this special occasion in every home. There are a lot of traditional Easter foods around the world. In spite of their incredible popularity these foods differ from country to country. If you want to please your family with delicious Easter foods and make this holiday unforgettable I recommend you to include one of the following dishes into your menu this year.

1. Easter Eggs
Surely, Easter eggs are the first food that comes to our mind when we think about this wonderful holiday. Easter eggs are believed to be an incarnation of new life that Jesus Christ got on Easter Sunday. It’s not the taste that makes this food one of the most favorite and preferable Easter treats. It’s all about their religious significance and joy we get while painting eggs before the holiday. Children adore this special preparation, that’s why you should try to involve them in this cheerful activity. It will fill your home with warm and delightful atmosphere so that this event will be memorable for you. Besides, various chocolate eggs and chicks are available at most supermarkets these days.

2. Hot Cross Buns
I should say that these sweet rolls have become the symbol of Easter and they are chosen as a favorite food for this unique holiday. Usually these yummy buns are peppered with dried fruit or currants. The main peculiarity of these Easter rolls is their iconic cross design that represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. To make the cross you can use icing, rice paper or pastry. If you want to feel the perfect taste of cross buns you’d better eat them hot or toasted.

3. Magiritsa Soup
In Greece Magiritsa soup is the main course always served at Easter to break fasting that was kept during Great Lent. To cook this food you need lamb offal like liver, intestines and heart. However, some time ago the lamb’s neck and head were used more often. Greeks consider this soup to be an ideal dish to start your Easter meal with. It is advisable to eat Magiritsa soup hot in order to appreciate its flavorous taste.

4. Simnel Cake
This pastry has certain similarity with a cake that is traditionally baked for Christmas. Simnel cake has originated in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Don’t miss your chance to regale your family with this delicate fruit cake. Its major ingredient is marzipan that should be used for decoration on top and also inside. This dessert tastes perfectly when toasted.

5. Chocolate Eggs
Chocolate Easter eggs are an incredibly tasty sweet treat that kids as well as adults love it and eat them at Easter. From the simple chocolate shell to large masterpieces made by chocolatiers, chocolate eggs are a must at every holiday table. Sure, for children, chocolate eggs come in each variety imaginable from their favorite cartoon characters or film to their favorite candies. There are chocolate bunnies as well.

6. Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove Bread)
This sweet bread is made in Italy to eat at Easter and its recipe is almost same with that of panettone, a traditional Christmas cake that is baked in every home. In contrast to panettone this Easter bread doesn’t have raisins or candied peel inside, instead you can top it with some almonds and pearl sugar. Being made in the shape of a dove colomba stands out among the other Easter foods.

7. Lamb
Without a doubt lamb is the food number one that you can see at the Easter table all over the world. Roasting is the best method to cook this meat. Lamb is not just meat we use to create our favorite dishes, it has some symbolic meaning as it is considered to be sacred food for all Christians and Jews. For many years people has believed that lamb is the embodiment of God’s protection given to chosen people.

I hope that this list of traditional Easter foods will be very useful for you and you will certainly take it into consideration while compiling your festive menu. You should bear in mind that bread is the basic ingredient of these particular dishes and you are supposed to apply the theme of new life to most of them. All the countries of the world celebrate Easter in different ways that represent their national culture and traditions. So, you have a great opportunity to add something new to this holiday. Just don’t be afraid to change the traditions. What foods do you usually eat at Easter? Will you try any dish from the above list this year?

7 Tips on How to Avoid Extra Calories Every Day

When summer time is approaching, all women become obsessed with the idea to lose weight in a short period of time and look beautiful. However, it is important to keep fit and stay healthy throughout the whole year. That’s why we should pay attention to the foods we consume daily in order to avoid extra calories that may be harmful to our waistline. The main rule you must stick to is to think carefully before eating certain foods as they may be high in calories which your body doesn’t need. If you want to be in a good shape and improve your health try to follow the tips given below and you will certainly achieve the desirable results.

1. Use a small plate
First of all, I would recommend you to cut down the amount of food you eat daily and keep it under control. The most effective way you can do this is to use a smaller plate than you usually do. This technique will help you to reduce your portion and you’ll avoid unwanted calories. When you see that there is a lot of food on your plate you will have the idea that this portion is absolutely enough for you to satisfy your hunger. Even if you want to eat some more, don’t take extra servings. You’d better drink a glass of water and then your stomach will be full.

2. Drink water
During the day you may have a great temptation to drink various beverages, but water is the best choice for you since other drinks like juice contain a big number of calories. Moreover, water is necessary for your body to stay hydrated and it will help you to slake thirst in hot summer weather. So, drinking water is a nice way to control calories. When you are hungry don’t rush to the kitchen to have a snack, just drink some water and you will eat less afterwards. Regular consumption of water will provide a fresh glow to your skin.

3. Stick to grilled foods
Nowadays more and more people give preference to grilled foods. Without a doubt, this method of cooking is much healthier than frying and it will enable you to get minimum calories. Since we can’t fry without oils, all the foods we cook this way are extremely fatty. Plus, fried foods have a very good taste so that it may be difficult not to eat them. Anyway, you should try to remove greasy food from your eating plan as it can be dangerous to your health. The advantages of grilled foods are evident. While eating them you receive different minerals and vitamins that are preserved even after cooking.

4. Avoid toppings
We often add numerous toppings to our favorite dishes and that is the biggest mistake. Your food can be really healthy unless you serve it with toppings. Salad is the most popular dish we cook daily. Unfortunately, we rarely think that all those ingredients like cheese, meats and croutons may be an enormous source of calories. Make sure you add no more than one topping to your salad and use steamed vegetables as an alternative to fried foods. You should be especially careful with dressings while making salads, make them lighter and reduce the amount you generally add.

5. Dark chocolate
If you have a sweet tooth and you can’t live without candies or other desserts, then dark chocolate will be the best option for you. Surely, this sweet product is beneficial for your health. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are known to cleanse the body and boost our immune system. One more reason you should switch to this yummy treat is its positive effect on your brain and heart. Plus, it will stabilize your blood pressure.

6. Avoid nuts
On the one hand, nuts are considered to be very good for us as they are packed with healthy fats and other nutrients that help our body to function well. On the other hand, this delicious snack contains a large number of calories that we should avoid by all means. Usually when we start eating nuts it’s rather difficult to stop it. Due to this you have to limit the amount of nuts you consume and you’ll be able to avoid as minimum 500 calories a day.

7. Don’t eat out of the bag
One of the most favorite activities lots of people do while watching TV is eating chips or other snacks that are packed in bags. When you are watching television all your attention is focused on it and you can’t understand how much you eat. The only thing you need is to control yourself. Don’t eat chips out of the bag, you can take a bowl and put a small portion into it. I think that some fresh fruit will be a wonderful alternative to chips.

I hope that all these tips will help you drop a few unwanted calories faster. To become healthier and happier you don’t need to keep to various diets and tire yourself in the gym. Avoiding extra calories daily is not as hard as it seems to you. Just bear in mind these simple rules and you will certainly succeed. Do you know any other ways to improve shape and avoid useless calories?

10 Foods to Eat to Fight Stress

There are many ways to combat stress, but one of the best ways is to consume stress-fighting foods. Most of us live in a hectic, crazy, busy world where stress is almost inevitable. While a little stress can be good for you, when you are constantly feeling stressed out, overwhelmed and anxious, it can cause huge damage to your health, your productivity, your mood, and even your relationships.

Too much or prolonged stress can even lead to short-term and long-term physical problems, such as high blood pressure, impaired memory, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease and a weak immune system. Eating stress-fighting foods, exercising on a regular basis and practicing yoga can help you reduce your stress levels and improve your mood without any medications. Today we’re on a journey to discovering the best foods that can help us fight stress and live a more peaceful life. Read on…

1. Brown rice
Brown rice is an excellent source of B-vitamins, which are essential for the proper function of all tissues, cells, and organs. B-vitamins promote heart, immune, brain health as well as healthy mood. Eating brown rice can help you combat stress and prevent different types of mood disorders. If you often experience moodiness, try including brown rice into your healthy diet and enjoy a stress-free life.

2. Spinach
Spinach is packed with Vitamins A, C and B-vitamins and is rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, which help decrease stress hormones in your body, stabilize your mood and make you feel better. One cup of spinach will be enough to help your body combat stress. You can use spinach in your salad, smoothie, omelet, and sandwiches.

3. Salmon
Salmon is a super-nutritious food that can work miracles on your body. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids that increase happy brain chemicals such as serotonin and help regulate stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids help improve your brain function. Try eating 2 to 3 servings of salmon per week to reduce your stress levels. If you don’t like salmon, opt for another oily fish like sardines, tuna and mackerel.

4. Green tea
Green tea is loaded with potent antioxidants like polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids, and boasts numerous powerful health benefits. Drinking green tea has calming effect on your mind and body, thus helps reduce stress. Next time you feel overwhelmed and stressed out, take a short break and drink a cup of green tea. If you are not a green tea lover, you can opt for chamomile or mint tea. Although I like black tea, I can’t recommend you to drink it to reduce stress. If you want to reap all the health benefits of green tea, avoid smoking cigarette and drinking alcohol.

5. Avocado
One of the best foods to eat to fight stress is avocado. Avocado is a great source of protein, essential minerals, vitamin E and vitamin C. It also contains potassium, fiber and healthy fat. Avocado helps keep the nerve cells and the brain cells healthy and help to reduce your stress levels. Moreover, avocado may help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce risk for heart disease. You can eat avocado fresh or add it to your salads and smoothies.

6. Blueberries
Antioxidant-rich food, blueberries, can also help you fight stress. Blueberries are rich in vitamin E and vitamin C, manganese and magnesium, which are helpful in lowering the stress levels. Eating blueberries regularly helps to fight insomnia, depression and other mood disorders. Due to rich fiber content and low calorie level, blueberries aid in weight loss. Add some blueberries to your oatmeal, Greek yogurt, fruit salad, or eat them with cottage cheese. If you don’t like blueberries, you can opt for cranberries instead.

7. Oranges
Oranges are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and B vitamins. They help fight the free radicals related to stress and heart disease. One of the best ways to enjoy the health benefits of oranges is to drink a glass of fresh orange juice each day. I also add oranges to my fruit salad, desserts and water. A few slices of orange or a glass of orange juice will help you fight stress in no time.

8. Dark chocolate
Consuming an ounce and a half of dark chocolate each day can lower the level of stress hormones in highly stressed people. The thing is, dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, an important mineral that helps combat fatigue, stress, irritability and even depression. While many people like dark chocolate, there are people, including me, who don’t like it. If you are one of them, opt for chocolate milk or dark chocolate desserts whenever you feel stressed out. It will reduce your stress levels and boost your mood.

9. Almonds
Get some stress-relief eating almonds, which contain vitamins E, B2, zinc, magnesium and healthy oils. Moreover, almonds are an excellent source of fiber. When I have a hard, stressful day, I usually snack on raw almonds. It helps me cope with stress better and faster. I also add almonds to my desserts and baked goods. If you don’t feel like eating almonds, you can munch on pistachios and walnuts to boost your energy level and reduce your stress hormones.

10. Milk
It has been proven that people who drink milk on a regular basis feel less stressed. Milk is rich in calcium, vitamins A, D, protein and antioxidants, which help to combat the free radicals that get released when you feel stressed out. A glass of warm skim milk can help you calm down in no time. If you’re suffering from stress-related insomnia, try drinking a glass of warm milk before hitting the sack and you will have much better sleep. If you don’t drink milk, consider consuming yogurt or almond milk.

Stress affects all aspects of your life and it’s important to know ways to fight it. Improve your mood, boost your energy levels and reduce your stress levels with these healthy foods to eat to fight stress. Just don’t forget to exercise daily; running is a proven way to combat stress. Have you ever tried eating foods to fight stress? What’s your favorite food to eat to cope with stress better?

10 Simple Ways to Pamper Yourself

It’s all too easy to get caught up in our hectic lives and forget that we need to take care of ourselves – our bodies and minds. Without this essential care we can become run down and over-stressed. Check out a few simple ways to pamper yourself so that you’re better able to meet the challenges of your daily life feeling your best.

1. A Cup of Tea
Whether it’s black tea, green tea, herbal tea, it’s all good and each type brings its own healthful comforts. The soothingly warm taste of tea does offer a pampering break in the day; yet tea also boasts many important health benefits. For instance, chamomile tea is known to have a calming effect on the nervous system. If you’ve had a long and stressful day, a cup of chamomile tea can naturally help you unwind and de-stress. Green tea is known for its antioxidant protections and black tea is associated with reduced risk for various conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even Parkinson’s disease. Give it a try and see how refreshed it makes you feel.

2. Hot Bath with Epsom Salt
There’s something about a hot bath that makes the day’s woes melt away. Adding Epsom salt to the bath is an extra special way to pamper yourself. Epsom salt is known for its ability to sooth the nervous system and provide relief from bad headaches. The magnesium in the Epsom salt can also help flush toxins from your body and even ease muscle cramps. You’ll feel much better when you step out of this bath and into a fluffy towel.

3. Aromatherapy
Did you know that the scents of essential oils from plants like lavender and jasmine are associated with reduced depression and anxiety? A warm bath accompanied by some aromatherapy treatment can feel like a great indulgence, but it has such rejuvenating potential that it is well worth taking the time to enjoy. Add a sprig of eucalyptus to the shower or add a fresh bouquet of roses to add a touch of romance to any room of your home.

4. Massage
While it would delight the senses to book a world-class massage at a seaside spa in Cabo San Lucas, that isn’t always possible. Yet you can light a candle with a sea-breeze scent and elicit the services of your partner to give you a relaxing massage right in your comfortable home. Moreover, you can also visit a local spa for their massage treatments that will pamper you and help you feel like a new person when you emerge from their care.

5. Manicure and Pedicure
Pamper yourself with a manicure and pedicure when you’re feeling low. Just taking care of the little things helps you feel more ready to take on the bigger obstacles of life. These beauty treatments don’t take too long and yet they can bring so much pleasure that outlasts the session. You’ll feel great each time you catch a glimpse of your great-looking nails.

6. Dark Chocolate Bliss
Forget about the day and take a bite into the rich and delicious taste of a dark chocolate bar. Loaded with antioxidants, dark chocolate can give you an anti-oxidant boost and a jolt of energy. Yet the taste of chocolate satisfies a craving for something deeply satisfying and good. When you need some pampering that won’t disappoint, reach for some dark chocolate.

7. Lounge with a Sunset
If you live near a beach or have a comfy chair on your terrace, take time to sit with a sunset. Put cares from your mind and indulge in a session of free time, remember that? Free yourself of all obligations for just thirty minutes to watch the sun sink low and to feel the pleasure of being alive in the world and surrounded by the beauty of nature.

8. Read Something Wonderful
For some people, it’s a magazine and for others it’s the most recent recipient of the National Book Award, but a good read pampers the soul and is a great therapeutic use of time. Curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and enjoy ‘getting away’ with a good book. Though it can be hard to make time to read each day, be sure to indulge each week; you’re always so much better upon emerging from a book.

9. Eat Something with Wow Factor
Pamper yourself with a great meal after a long, hard week. Try a new cuisine or a new restaurant in your area. Dining affords such simple pleasures and it’s such a joy when you can set aside cooking duties and enjoy what another cook brings to the table. Comfort food doesn’t always have to be a major detour for your diet either; there are many healthy dishes that can nourish your hunger as well as your soul.

10. Rest Up
Maybe you need to sleep in or indulge in a nap, but that beauty sleep can also enhance your energy. If you’ve been putting in long hours and need to catch up on rest, try to work in some extra nap time. When you’re well rested you can think better and work better. Pamper yourself with some quiet slumber in your comfortable bed with some soft music playing and no distractions allowed!

What’s your favorite way to pamper yourself? Share your ideas in the comments section, please!

10 Vital Everyday Skincare Tips

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It protects your internal organs from the elements. Your face is the identity that you present to the world. Given that your skin and your face play such essential roles, doesn’t it make sense to take the best care possible of your skin? Whether you wear makeup everyday or never touch the stuff, caring for your skin is an essential element of presenting your best face to the world. Following these ten basic skincare tips can help you achieve that goal.

1. Moisturize the Skin Surface
Whether you are a young woman just entering adulthood or a mature woman, moisturizing your skin is essential. Even if your skin is oily, you still need a moisturizer – in your case, choose an oil-free moisturizer. If you have dry skin, mature skin or sensitive skin, you especially need moisturizer to minimize the look of fine lines or deep wrinkles.

2. Hydrate the Skin from the Inside Out
You don’t necessarily need to drink 8 glasses of water per day, but hydrating your skin from the inside out is a must. You don’t even have to limit your hydration to water. Some hydration can come in the form of tea, juice or even coffee. But sorry, that glass of wine with dinner doesn’t count. Alcohol actually dehydrates your system which can accelerate the visible signs of aging.

3. Exfoliation is Essential
One of the amazing features of your skin is that it renews itself from the inside out. New skin develops to replace old, dead skin cells. However, sometimes the skin renewal process gets out of whack, and old skin cells bind with debris and bacteria to clog pores, which can lead to breakouts. Regularly exfoliating your skin with a scrubbing agent based on natural ingredients or a good old fashioned washcloth can wash away dead skin cells and clear blocked pores, thereby keeping your complexion clear.

4. Use a Gentle Touch
While thorough cleansing and exfoliation are vital to healthy skin, rough treatment is not called for. Use a gentle touch, especially on your face. If you are too rough in handling your skin you may actually bruise it. If you are using an exfoliating scrub, there is no need to grind the product down into your pores. Administer any cleansing or exfoliation with a gentle touch and allow your products or washcloth to do the work.

5. Sunscreen is a Must
If you have ever seen a worn-out shoe, then you have witnessed what the sun’s rays can do to unprotected skin. If you have fair skin that burns and never tans, wear sunscreen whenever you are exposed to the sun’s rays. If you love the look of tanned skin, fake a sun-kissed glow with bronzing makeup or a spray-on tan at a salon. Do not subject your skin to the concentrated ultraviolet rays of a tanning bed – which may accelerate the development of skin cancer. Even if you have dark skin, you must wear sunscreen. While larger levels of melanin provide some protection against the damage the sun’s rays can do, even very dark skin can develop skin cancer.

6. Protect Your Pucker
Along with the skin on your eyelids and your mucous membranes, your lips represent some of the most sensitive skin on your body. Gently brush your lips with a clean toothbrush to remove dry, flaky scales. Break the habit of licking your lips which can ironically make them even drier. Instead, shield your lips with lip balm that includes a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 protection.

7. Enjoy (Good) Fats and Chocolate – Really!
Much of the good health reflected in glowing skin is a result of a healthy diet rich in vegetables and lean meats. Consuming reasonable amounts of good fats from foods such as olive oil, salmon and nuts provides your body with essential fatty acids that it cannot produce on its own. Enjoying rich, dark chocolate (in moderation) provides your body with flavanoids, which help to protect skin from harmful UV rays.

8. Opt for Natural Skin Care Products
Have you looked at the label of that miracle cream that you are slathering across your face? If you cannot pronounce the ingredients, how can you be sure that using the product actually benefits your skin? There is no need to set up a cosmetics counter in your kitchen unless that is what you are into. But whenever you have the choice between two equally effective products – one with natural ingredients and the other loaded with complex chemical compounds, consider going natural.

9. Banish Stress
Excess stress kicks the production of a hormone called cortisol into overdrive. Cortisol does nasty things like train your middle to store fat like a miser. Excess levels of cortisol are also linked to acne breakouts. If you are facing unavoidable stress, take the time to give your skin extra loving care to minimize the possible harm from cortisol.

10. Kick the Habit
Smoking is one of the most destructive habits you could possibly have. If you want to minimize the effects of aging, not to mention your risk of developing lung cancer, step away from the cigarette pack. There are a number of over-the-counter stop smoking products available. If you are really hooked, an appointment with a physician or a therapist may be in order. It also goes without saying that if you don’t smoke, don’t start.

It’s important to take care of your skin every day. This way, your skin will look beautiful, healthy and acne free. Do you know some other vital everyday skincare tips? Share your tips with us please.

10 Best Antioxidant-Rich Foods

We’ve all been told to consume more foods that are high in antioxidants to achieve optimal health, but do you know which food is rich in powerful antioxidants? In fact, there are many antioxidant-rich foods that you can add to your diet, and below is the list of the best ones that can really benefit your health. Antioxidants are essential for us because they protect us from disease, combat the free radicals in the body and slow the aging process. When you have low antioxidant levels, oxidative stress can happen, making you more susceptible to a great number of diseases including cancer and heart disease. To keep your immune system strong and your body healthy, you should eat an abundance of foods that are high in antioxidants every day. The common antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin A, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids. Read on to discover some of the best antioxidant-rich foods.

1. Beans
One of the best antioxidant-rich foods to add to your eating plan is beans. Beans are an excellent source of fiber and powerful antioxidants your body needs to stay healthy. I suggest you to consume red beans, which contain the highest levels of antioxidants. You can add them to your salads, soups, stews and pasta dishes.

2. Berries
Not only do berries taste great, but they also help prevent a number of diseases. While blueberries are small in size, they boast plenty of health benefits. They can improve your cognitive abilities and boost your immune system. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and cranberries are great sources of antioxidants as well. Try adding them to your yogurt or oatmeal for a huge health boost.

3. Dark chocolate
I’m sure many of you are happy to see your favorite dark chocolate on this list. Yes, dark chocolate is high in potent antioxidants and it can reduce your blood pressure. When it comes to chocolate, even the dark one, you should eat it in moderation. It’s not recommended to consume white and milk chocolate since they don’t have the same health benefits.

4. Apples
Everyone knows the saying, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ but many people often forget about this amazing fruit. Apples are loaded with essential vitamins and powerful antioxidants and they make a great portable snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth in no time. You can also add apples to your fruit salad, smoothies, or even make an apple pie. Opt for red apples, which have the highest levels of antioxidants.

5. Artichokes
Perhaps you are surprised to see artichokes on the list of the best antioxidant-rich foods, but it’s actually no wonder. Artichokes are packed with powerful antioxidants and they deliver a great amount of essential vitamins to the body. You can use artichoke hearts in your salad or as a healthy topping on your vegetable pizza.

6. Potatoes
Although it’s always said to avoid consuming potatoes, especially if you are trying to lose weight, it’s good to incorporate some potatoes into your diet. You can bake up some potatoes and add them to your dinner or you can add some color to your plate with antioxidant-rich mashed sweet potatoes. Just don’t load your meal up with sour cream and butter.

7. Carrots
There are many reasons to eat carrots daily and one of them is because they are rich in beta-carotene that helps the body produce essential vitamin A and combat cancer. Carrots are also great for your eyes and they can even improve your sight. Add them to your vegetable salads, soups, stews, stir-fry, or eat them raw.

8. Red wine and red grapes
Grapes, especially red grapes, are also packed with powerful antioxidants. Red wine (when consumed in moderation!) and red grapes are high in heart healthy polyphenols and flavonoids. But it doesn’t mean you can drink the whole bottle of red wine daily in order to fill your body with more antioxidants. Drink it in moderation, or better, eat some red grapes.

9. Pecans
Pecans are high in a powerful antioxidant that can help to prevent inflammation in the arteries. The thing is, consuming pecans raises the amount of healthy antioxidants in the body, which is essential in helping to prevent development of numerous diseases including heart disease and cancer. Add some chopped pecans to your oatmeal, snack on roasted pecans or eat them raw.

10. Black plums
While red plums are delicious, black plums are higher in powerful antioxidants than red ones. These antioxidants help the body fight a great number of diseases. Black plums are also low in calories and fat free. Add black plums to your smoothies, juices, fruit salads, puree them for quick and tasty fruit sorbet, or make an old-fashioned plum cake. Black plums make a perfect lunch box treat as well. Just make sure you don’t peel your plums since most of the antioxidants contained in plums are found within the skin.

Sure, there are no definite guarantees that you can prevent cancer or other diseases by simply consuming antioxidant-rich foods, but you can significantly lower the risk of developing these diseases. What’s your favorite antioxidant-rich food?

Why do Women Crave Chocolate?

Most women crave chocolate at some point. Certain types of chocolate can be health-promoting in moderation (like this homemade version) but we typically don’t crave it because of a chocolate deficiency… so why do want it so bad at times?

Craving Chocolate?

There are several reasons people crave chocolate. Statistically, women tend to desire chocolate much more than men, but men tend to favor cravings for foods like red meat (B12, protein) and beer (b-vitamins and yeasts).

While the craving may not come from a chocolate deficiency, per se, there are several components in chocolate that the body may become deficient in, especially magnesium and antioxidants. Chocolate can also affect the brain, leading to an increase in neurotransmitters and dopamine and a feeling of happiness.

In studies, chocolate cravings seems especially tied to hormone changes (menstruation, pregnancy, etc) and the magnesium in chocolate, as well as its ability to affect neurotransmitters may be a large part of the reason.

Interestingly, women having chocolate cravings may also be culturally conditioned. The trend of craving chocolate is most pronounced in the US and men reported the craving much less than women. This might stem from the fact that chocolate is largely marketed to women as a way to deal with negative emotions or to “get away from it all.”

In fact, a 2004 study found that premenstrual cravings varied by culture and that chocolate was most craved in the US, while Japanese women favored cravings for rice and sushi (totally switching my cravings to this!).

Magnesium in Chocolate

Chocolate is not the highest magnesium food available, though it does make the top ten list. It is the only top-ten magnesium food that also is known for its ability to promote neurotransmitter activity and dopamine production, so this combination makes it especially desirable during hormone imbalance.

Other foods, like leafy greens, figs, avocados, and nuts are higher in magnesium per gram, but dark chocolate has 327 milligrams of magnesium per 100 grams.

Since experts estimate that 80% of us (or more) are deficient in magnesium, it is important to find ways to increase magnesium levels in the body, but unfortunately, chocolate may not be a great way to do this.

Depletion of soil magnesium has led to a reduction of dietary magnesium and due to gut issues, many people may struggle to absorb magnesium through the digestive system. Personally, I use topical transdermal magnesium, which is much easier for the body to assimilate and use effectively.

I’ve also noticed that when I am consuming enough magnesium-rich foods (especially greens) and using topical magnesium, I don’t have PMS or other hormone struggles (and even had less morning sickness and an easier labor last pregnancy when using magnesium).

Bottom Line: Magnesium deficiency is a major problem. While dark chocolate may be the tastiest way to increase magnesium levels, it probably isn’t the most effective. If anything, chocolate should be used moderately in addition to other whole-food sources of magnesium and a topical magnesium. Tip: Try this magnesium body butter for a skin-softening magnesium boost.

Chocolate and the Brain

Perhaps the most likely reason that we crave chocolate and enjoy eating it so much is the way chocolate affects the brain.

The basic fact that chocolate tastes good and we enjoy eating it means that the body releases dopamine during chocolate consumption. Chocolate also increases serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for better mood, sleep, and reduction of anxiety.

Women have a natural decrease in serotonin in the brain in the week before menstruation, so this may partially explain the specific craving for chocolate during this time.

Chocolate also contains theobromine, a chemical known to increase heart rate and energy, as well as arousal.

Antioxidants in Chocolate

One chocolate claim that has been largely over-emphasized (especially by certain chocolate companies and network marketing companies) is the antioxidant potential of chocolate.

Chocolate does contain decent amounts of flavonols, antioxidants that are said to be anti-aging and promote healthy blood flow and blood pressure. Flavonols may also help keep blood vessels elastic.

The problem? We would need to consume huge amounts of chocolate to get enough antioxidants to see the benefit, and there are few true studies on the antioxidant potential of chocolate (most are observational).

Additionally, while dark chocolate has relatively high amounts of antioxidants like flavonols, milk chocolate has very little and white chocolate doesn’t have any. Most manufacturers actually remove the flavonols, since they make chocolate taste bitter.

Milk chocolate is statistically the chocolate of choice, at least in the US, and it has negligible antioxidant content, especially for the amount of sugar it contains. Most processed chocolate also contains high fructose corn syrup and other additives.

Bottom Line: If you’re in it for the antioxidants, the only option worth consuming regularly is really high quality dark chocolate from a trusted source with minimal sugar. If the antioxidants are your priority, consider other foods like phytoplankton, spirulina, astaxanthin or organic berries.

The Problem with Chocolate

Now for the bad news….

There are several downsides to chocolate that can negate the health benefits.

Chocolate is a big source of sugar. Commercially produced chocolate often contains very large amounts of sugar or corn syrup solids and should absolutely be avoided. Even some high-end chocolate sold at a tremendous markup and touted for its health promoting properties contain fructose and other sweeteners that have negative health effects.

Proportionately, chocolate is high in sugar, calories and (often) unhealthy fats while providing relatively little nutritional value.

and the really, really, bad news…

The one thing that made me personally extremely picky about the chocolate I consume is the sourcing issues with chocolate.

Most of us don’t realize while we are boosting our PMSing serotonin levels with chocolate that we are also contributing to child slave labor.

It is ironic and sad that the treats that are loved and consumed by women and children in the United States are produced with forced child labor and child slavery:

According to an investigative report by the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents or outright stolen and then shipped to Ivory Coast, where they are enslaved on cocoa farms. Destitute parents in these poverty-stricken lands sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work in Ivory Coast and send some of their earnings home. The terrible reality is that these children, 11-to-16-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, receive no education, are under fed, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.(source)

All health pros and cons aside, I refused to buy or consume any product that came from the work of children forced into slavery and inhumane conditions. An estimated 1.8 million children work in the cocoa fields in Ghana and the Ivory Coast and while the chocolate industry is a 70 Billion dollar industry, this problem hasn’t been corrected.

Thankfully, there are companies that have chosen to be fair-trade and not use child labor for the production of their chocolate. See a full list of these companies here and please consider supporting only these companies that use ethical labor for their production.

Bottom Line: High quality chocolate is fine for most people to consume in moderation, but most chocolate does contain some sugar and there are ethical issues with child slave labor for some chocolate brands. Choosing high-quality slave-free and fair-trade chocolate and consuming it in moderation solves both problems.

What I Do About Chocolate Cravings

High quality dark chocolate does have some health benefits, but also some downsides. That said, chocolate is on the healthy end of the treat spectrum and I do enjoy it in moderation. I usually stick to homemade chocolate or Equal Exchange (a verified child labor free brand).

I’ve found that when I’m specifically craving chocolate I need to look at my magnesium levels and my sleep and stress levels before turning to chocolate as a quick fix.

I’d love to know- do you ever crave chocolate? What kind do you like??

Valentine’s Day Gifts Ideas (That Beat Chocolate and Flowers!)

The most recent figure I’ve seen showed that the average consumer will spend over $126 on his/her Valentine’s date.

That is a lot of unhealthy food and flowers that will die in a couple of days!

Let’s Upgrade Valentines Giving This Year!

I love days that are reminders to tell my husband and kids how much I love and appreciate them. But this particular holiday has become a tribute to candy and store-bought goods that lose their value after a couple of days.

We all feel the need to spend a lot of money on expensive dates and gifts because a marketing team has decided that Valentine’s day is a great time for flower and candy sales.

If you are going to spend $126 on Valentine’s Day (Does anyone actually do that?) I have some gift ideas that will bring lasting health and happiness, not just a temporary sugar rush :-).

Better Gift Ideas

My husband and I actually stopped giving expensive gifts when we got married, partially for financial reasons and partially to give ourselves a reason to be more creative and thoughtful with our gifts. As a result, I have a file with hand-written letters and mementos from creative dates we’ve had over the years that mean so much more than a box of chocolates ever could.

The best gifts of all, in my opinion, are quality time or shared experiences. This is what I’ll be giving my family this year and would encourage you to consider it as well! Here’s a list of all of my favorite experiences to give as gifts. I also really love this at-home couples massage course (don’t worry, it’s PG) that teaches couples how to give each other a great massage (hint hint honey!).

My Favorite Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

If you want to give an actual gift this year, these are some of my favorite ideas that your recipient will love, and you can feel great about giving!

For Her:

Shiatsu Massage Pillow – Less than the price of one actual massage and SO relaxing!
Royally Flawless Facial Moisturizer – Give the gift of gorgeous skin! I love this facial oil with the highest quality ingredients and no junk!
RTIC Tumbler – I love this for hot and cold drinks and it is a reusable non-plastic drink cup.
10,000 Lux Happy Light – Feel blue this winter? I use this super-bright “happy light” to keep my cortisol levels healthy.
Dry Brush – Brushing isn’t just for hair and teeth. Brushing skin can help it stay smooth, supple and may improve collagen.
French Press Coffee Maker – Nothing says love more than coffee! (Coffee= my love language!)
Grown-up Coloring Book and Markers – Grown up coloring books are surging in popularity and studies show coloring may reduce stress levels.
The Wellness Mama Cookbook – Ok, I’m biased, but my new cookbook is filled with 200 delicious recipes that our family loves (and I know yours will too!)
For Him:

Fire starter kit – He can “light your fire” literally with this tool to start fires without matches or a lighter.
Smart Wool Socks – Warm socks that are great for summer or winter.
Surefire Flashlight – Really high quality pocket flashlight.
Wine Aerator – Wine = one of my husband’s love languages!
Saddleback Leather Wallet – This wallet has a 100 year warranty!! (yes, really!)
Quality Shaving Kit OR Beard Oil– Great options for the clean-shaven or bearded man in your life!
Defender Pad – Protect his lap from EMFs when he uses the laptop.
Tactical Pen – More than just a pen, it works in all conditions and can break a car window if a person is trapped.
Whiskey Stones – Freeze these rocks to use in place of ice in drinks “on the rocks.”
Homemade Gift Ideas

Rather make a gift? Try these easy homemade gifts:

A Great Massage– Get this digital massage course and learn how to give your love a great massage at home! Cheaper than a massage package and great because you also get quality time together! Don’t worry, it is all PG rated!
Homemade Chocolate: If you are going to do the chocolate thing, why not make some gourmet chocolate that is actually good for you? This is my favorite homemade recipe made with cocoa butter and raw honey. You can also top with a bit of sea salt for a salted version ,or add a drop of food grade peppermint essential oil for a mint flavor. This recipe also works really well for making chocolate covered strawberries (or other fruit) or as a magic shell topping for homemade ice cream.
A Creative and Fun Date: I share my 7 top favorite unusual date ideas in this post, but anything that gets you out of the house and breaks up the norm can be fun. I once made a scavenger hunt for my husband where he got one clue when he got in his car after work, and each clue led him to a new clue until he finally got to the date place (picnic outside and we played frisbee).In the long run, it will be the creative dates and the time spent together that they remember, not the expensive gifts or dates!
Homemade Lotion Bars: Lotion bars are a great gift idea for Valentine’s Day. They are completely natural and can be customized for men or women. Make in silicon molds in any shape to create a bouquet of lotion bar flowers (with a mold like this one) or stick with a simple bar for guys (like this one).