It’s no secret that a woman’s metabolism slows down as she approaches menopause. Most of my patients want to discuss weight gain. “I’m not doing anything different” is a comment I hear daily in my office. And for most of women, that is probably true. Some people can get away with bad eating habits longer than others. Diet advice has run to the extremes for years. Fad diets range from low calorie plans and meal replacement shakes to cutting out entire food groups. But there is a healthier way to maintain an appropriate weight during menopause. Don’t think no carbohydrates. Instead, think moderate carbohydrates!
The type of carbohydrates you eat makes a difference in the rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin levels, so make sure you eat good carbohydrates such as fruit and whole grains.
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The Moderate Carbs Diet
Scientific research supports this. If you consume too many carbohydrates, your body will store the extra energy as fat around your middle. If you eat too few carbohydrates, your brain will get foggy. Too few carbohydrates will also cause fatigue and depression. So what is the right amount?
Feed your brain and maintain your waistline with 30 grams carbohydrates per meal and no more than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. Of course, they should be the good type of carbohydrates, such as fruit and whole grains, not sodas and sugary snacks. The type of carbohydrates makes a difference in the rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin levels in the blood stream. The results of keeping those levels low and steady reduces risk of diabetes and heart disease.
As a gynecologist who specializes in the treatment of menopausal symptoms I have a perspective that cannot be gained in a research lab. I have seen firsthand how a moderate carbohydrate diet impacts my patients. This impact is not just on the scale in my office but also in their energy level and in the tempering of menopausal symptoms.
Bottom line, if you want to lose weight and feel better during the years leading up to and after menopause, ditch the fad diets and think moderation!
Dr. Amber French is co-author of Wellness 100: 100 Carbs/100 Recipes. She developed the program to help her patients lose weight while combating the diseases that come with aging. She currently practice gynecology in north Georgia.
Painful canker sores (also known as mouth ulcers or aphthous ulcers) are a disruption in the oral membrane characterized by an oval shape with a grey or white center and a red border. The causes of canker sores are varied. They can start with a small injury in the mouth, or they can be caused by food sensitivities, Helicobacter pylori (the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers), Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, poor diet, or just a depressed immune system. Although they’re not contagious and will usually go away on their own in a few weeks, canker sores can be irritating and sometimes painful. Thankfully, you can use a number of home remedies to help heal canker sores faster and relieve pain.
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Natural Home Remedies for Canker Sores
Take probiotics. Useful for treating stomach ulcers, probiotics can also help get rid of canker sores caused by H. pylori bacteria by helping to restore the balance of bacteria in the body. Take a supplement with at least 4 billion active cultures twice daily, or eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt.
Supplement with B vitamins. A diet lacking in vitamin B-12 can contribute to the development of canker sores. If you think low vitamin levels might be contributing to your canker sore, consider supplementing your diet. A 2009 study found that a nightly dose of vitamin B-12 can help prevent reoccurring canker sores.
Brush with SLS-free toothpaste. Sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent common in most toothpastes, can contribute to canker sore irritation. To help get rid of canker sores faster, switch to an SLS-free toothpaste and brush gently to avoid further damaging the already tender area.
Make a homemade mouth rinse. A mouth rinse is a great home remedy for canker sores. Many different ingredients work well in a homemade rinse: salt, baking soda, goldenseal, calendula and more. Just dissolve ½ teaspoon of your ingredient of choice in one cup of warm water, rinse and spit. Rinsing with aloe juice can also help heal canker sores.
Practice healthy lifestyle habits. Stress, fatigue and poor diet all contribute to canker sores—giving you just one more reason to take care of yourself! Ensure you’re getting a full night’s sleep, and work on reducing your stress levels.
Avoid certain foods. Both spicy and citrus foods can aggravate canker sores, as can rough or abrasive foods like nuts.
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.
Nothing says summer like a slice of juicy watermelon. This sweet fruit is a favorite summertime treat, but is there any nutritional value to its watery flesh? Absolutely—more than you might think, in fact! Just check out these health benefits of watermelon.
Photo By Christian Jung/Fotolia
Health Benefits of Watermelon
If you’ve read about the health benefits of tomatoes, you’re probably already familiar with lycopene, an antioxidant particularly beneficial for your heart health and even helpful in preventing certain types of cancer. Of all the red and pink-tinged fruits, watermelon has one of the highest concentrations of lycopene. Better yet, its lycopene content remains somewhat stable over time. Research has shown that cut watermelon retains its lycopene content for up to seven days after being cut and refrigerated before showing signs of deterioration.
Watermelon also contains high levels of vitamin C (good for your immune system, heart and eyes), beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant that can help fight cancer and protect cells) and potassium (helps regulate muscle and nerve function and can lower blood pressure).
Among its other benefits, lycopene has anti-inflammatory properties, helping to block production of pro-inflammatory molecules. Watermelon also contains a phytonutrient called cucurbitacin E, which also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Watermelon is also a rich source of citrulline, an amino acid that the body can convert into the amino acid arginine, which can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, overall boost cardiovascular health, and even help form molecules know to affect the deposition of fat in the body.
Low in Calories
Because of its high water content—watermelon is up to 92 percent water—this summer fruit makes a refreshing, low-calorie snack. One cup of watermelon contains just 45 calories. Other healthy snack attributes: it’s high in fiber, low in fat and is an alkaline food.
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How to Choose a Watermelon
A fully ripe watermelon contains far more nutrients than an under-ripe watermelon, so if you’re growing your own, be sure to allow the melon to fully ripen before harvesting. If you’re buying watermelon from the store or farmers market, look for a melon that feels heavy for its size, with a smooth, dull rind that has a yellow “ground spot” (the area where the watermelon was resting on the ground as it grew; under-ripe melons will have a white or green spot). If you’re buying pre-cut watermelon, look for flesh with a darker red color that has no white streaks.
Watermelon is a treat in itself. Often, a slice is all you need to enjoy! But if you’re looking for something more elaborate, try these watermelon recipes.
• Parsley-Infused Watermelon Popsicles
• Watermelon Barbecue Marinade
• Melon-Citrus Cooler
• Minted Melon Salad
• Watermelon and Tomato Salad
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.
Achy muscles plague all of us from time to time, whether from menstrual discomfort, the flu or even something as simple as overdoing a workout. In times like these, it might be tempting to reach for a bottle of over-the-counter painkillers—but don’t! OTC painkillers have a variety of negative side effects, and in many cases, natural remedies can work just as well. One herb in particular that works well for pain is ginger. Ginger has warming properties that can help increase circulation and relax sore muscles. A 2009 study found ginger to be as effective as ibuprofen as relieving menstrual pain.
For back strains, sprains and bruises, a ginger compress works wonders at relieving pain—and is also easy to make. Check out the video above to watch Mother Earth Living Editor-in-Chief Jessica Kellner demonstrate how to make a ginger compress.
For more ways to relive sore, achy muscles, check out the article Natural Pain Relief for Arthritis, Headaches, PMS and More.
Fun in the sun is a big part of what makes summertime so special. Our lives become more seamless with the outdoors as we enjoy picnics, boating, pool time and summer grilling. From bike rides to gardening, summer is a time to get outside and activate. But with the enjoyment of fun in the sun comes the responsibility of caring for and protecting our skin from too much exposure.
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You may wonder how best to do this as you’ve probably heard that the chemicals used in sunscreens are harmful. Thankfully, we have innovating entrepreneurs and product safety ratings from Skin Deep, a program of the Environmental Working Group. Perusing this site is immensely informative and well worth the time. You can search for specific products, or scan a category and learn something new. (If you do visit Skin Deep and find helpful information, please consider a modest donation to the EWG in support of their ongoing research!)
Maybe you’ve visited Skin Deep and you’re still not sure what product is best for you and your family. I live in Boulder, Colorado, which is literally a mile high. At this altitude, protection from harmful UV rays is very important. I got serious after I had a Basel cell carcinoma, a localized and non-life threatening form of skin cancer, more than 18 years ago. Ever since, protecting my skin has been a high priority. Without wanting to be too heavy, I will go ahead and mention that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the USA. Thus, our treasured fun in the sun is made even better when our skin is cared for properly.
I have the good fortune of working in the natural and organic products industry, and have built some great relationships with fellow entrepreneurs who are creating wonderful products. One such entrepreneur is Nova Covington, founder of Goddess Garden Organics. Goddess Garden makes organic sunscreen, and in the five years we have been doing business with them, Nova and her team continue to innovate and improve upon their sunscreen products. I like knowing who is behind a product as well as knowing the motivation. Nova started her company in response to her first child’s sensitivity to chemicals in body-care products. Like many intrepid entrepreneurs, she was responding to a personal need, and from that a company was born.
We each have the opportunity to learn more about the people behind the products, as well as the company that makes them. On our website, AmericasBestOrganics.com, we offer little bursts of insight into the stories behind the brands on our product pages. Trusting in a product is important, especially when it comes to our long-term health and well-being.
In honor of the topic of this blog, America’s Best Organics created a special gift for summertime featuring sunscreen from Goddess Garden Organics, a reusable 100 percent organic cotton snack bag from Eco-Ditty, and other treats in our Fun in the Sun Organic Gift Basket. This gift-basket-in-a-box makes a great thank you or send-off for a vacation for family and friends, or a gift for you!
I hope you’ll take a peek at Skin Deep and look into Goddess Garden Organics, plus other great brands that are doing their utmost to bring healthy alternatives to mass-produced sunscreen products that often miss the mark in providing a product without harmful chemicals. Here’s to lovingly protecting our precious skin!
Seleyn DeYarus is a long-time advocate of the positive impact of healthy lifestyles on people and the environment. Based in Boulder, Colorado, she is majority owner and CEO of Best Organics, Inc., an organic and sustainable brands promotion company and provider of America's Best Organics gourmet gift basket collections. Learn more about Seleyn and find your next best gift at AmericasBestOrganics.com.
Most people use sunscreen when they go out to soak up some of the sun’s rays, but sometimes we completely forget to reapply sunscreen. And for some of us, extremely fair complexions mean getting burned every time when we step out in the sun, leaving our skin to endure a nasty sunburn. While a serious sunburn may need to be treated by a doctor, few require medical intervention. Sunburns usually fade within a few days; however, there are some things you can do to stop the irritation, itching and burning sensations you experience when you have one. Best of all, these remedies are natural, and you may already have what you need at home.
Photo By Daddy Cool/Fotolia
A cold compress is one of the easiest ways to stop skin irritation from a sunburn. To prepare a basic compress, all you need to do is soak a clean cloth in chilled water and apply it to the skin, rewetting the compress when it becomes warm.
If you experience a lot of itching, aluminum acetate that comes from packets can be added to the water (be sure following the manufacturer’s instructions). Adding a few tablespoons of witch hazel to the cool compress water can help to relieve inflammation as well.
Pure Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is one of the most common and effective natural sunburn remedies. You can buy pure aloe vera from some health and drug stores, but you can also get it from fresh leaves if you are able to find or grow the plant yourself.
To extract the aloe directly just remove the first two layers of the inside of the leaf until you feel the thick gel inside. Fresh aloe vera may have a slightly thinner consistency than you’re used to if you usually buy packaged aloe products, but it works just as well for sunburns.
Photo By Joanna Wnuk/Fotolia
Oatmeal is commonly used to relieve irritation related to allergic reaction, but it can also be used to stop itching and burning sensations from the typical sunburn. To use oatmeal as a sunburn remedy, wrap a small amount of dry oatmeal in cheesecloth and pour water over it into a clean bowl or basin. Soak a clean compress in the liquid and apply it to the affected area every 2 to 4 hours, or as needed.
Mixing a single cup of milk with 4 cups of cold water and a handful of ice cubes is a simple, effective way to make a mixture that can be used with a compress. For the best results, keep the milk and water mixture chilled in the refrigerator and apply it for about 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat the process every 3 to 4 hours with another clean compress.
Steer Clear of Soaps
While washing after a day at the beach or exercising in the sun might seem necessary, washing sunburned skin with harsh soaps can make inflammation and tenderness considerably worse. If you really need to wash, take a quick shower in relatively cool water and wash the soap off quickly. Be gentle to your skin while washing and try to avoid using coarse or rough materials, such as a loofah or washcloth.
If you prefer to soak in the tub, make sure you don’t use soapy bubble bath. Instead, try a generous amount of baking soda to relieve itching or a cup of apple cider vinegar to soothe your skin.
After showering, a cold compress can help to relieve any irritation the soap might have caused.
Dealing with a sunburn is far from comfortable, but sometimes avoiding one is close to impossible. While over-the-counter treatments can work, they aren’t really necessary. Any one or combination of the basic remedies above will help soothe a mild to moderate sunburn.
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer from California who writes about a range of health topics, including skin and hair care, holistic medicine and fitness. To treat her sunburns, she prefers using natural products to soothe her skin.
When we think of nutrient-dense foods, brightly colored fruits and vegetables come to mind. Just because a vegetable is white, however, doesn’t mean it’s devoid of nutritional value—and cauliflower is no exception! Check out below the many benefits you could be reaping from this cruciferous vegetable.
Health Benefits of Cauliflower
Antioxidants and Vitamins
Cauliflower is packed with antioxidant-providing vitamins and minerals. This cruciferous vegetable is particularly high in vitamins C and K, as well as folate and magnesium. It also contains antioxidant phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin and more.
Vitamin K, one phytonutrient found in cauliflower, is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. A study from Tufts University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that high intake of vitamin K decreased levels of 14 inflammatory markers. Cauliflower also contains phytonutrients known as glucosinolates, which can be converted into anti-inflammatory compounds.
Those same glucosinolates that help cauliflower battle inflammation can also help protect against cancer by inhibiting carcinogens’ ability to damage DNA or by altering hormone activity that can lead to the development of some cancers. Cauliflowers’ antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detox properties also make it useful in cancer prevention, especially for bladder, breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancers.
Cauliflower is often seen as a main ingredient in many detox recipes and detox diets. Glucosinolates in cauliflower can help the body’s natural detoxification processes by activating detox enzymes and helping the body cleanse itself of carcinogens. Additionally, cauliflower contains significant levels of fiber, which can help remove solid waste from the body and keep the flow of toxins moving through and out of the gastrointestinal tract.
Cauliflower contains high amounts of fiber—nearly eight grams for every 100 calories. Fiber helps move food easily and quickly through the digestive track. Cauliflower also contains a compound called sulforaphane (derived from glucosinolates) that protects the lining of your stomach by preventing growth of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers.
Healthy Cauliflower Recipes
Add more cauliflower to your life with these recipes!
• Lemony Leek and Cauliflower Soup
• Roasted Cauliflower Capellini
• Cauliflower Curry
• Cauliflower Casserole
• Mashed Cauliflower
For more nutrient-dense white foods, check out the article White Foods for Your Health.
Images (top to bottom): Photo By alex/Fotolia; Photo By Printemps/Fotolia
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.