Posts Tagged ‘energy’

mmm…good. The power of chocolate

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

chocolate, solanova supplements for heart health

We Americans enjoy it.  The French have been doing it for longer.  And we’re pretty sure the Germans and the Swiss are in on it too.  In many countries around the world, rich, creamy, chocolately cocoa is imbibed at breakfast, lunch and after dinner.  It’s sweet, soothing, and some many even argue, quite nutritious.  And now it’s been discovered that Cocoa Flavanols (an antioxidant-like compound naturally found in cocoa beans), can lower blood pressure and contribute to better cardiovascular health.

In a randomized, double-blind, crossover design study involving 21 subjects (8 females, 13 males, 54.9 years of age, BMI: 31.6 kg/m(2), systolic BP: 134 mm Hg, diastolic BP: 87 mm Hg), consumption of a high-flavanol cocoa beverage (701 mg) was found to significantly attenuate the blood pressure response to exercise (10 minutes of cycling at 75% of age-predicted maximum heart rate) – blood pressure increases were 68% lower for diastolic BP and 14% lower for mean blood pressure. Subjects were given a single serving of either a high-flavanol (701 mg) or low flavanol (22 mg) cocoa beverage. After 2 hours, measurements of FMD and BP were taken before and during 10 minutes of exercise. BP was similar between the 2 groups prior to exericse. After exercise, BP increases were significantly reduced in the high-flavanol group. In addition, FMD was higher among subjects who took the high-flavanol versus the low-flavanol beverage. The authors conclude, “By facilitating vasodilation and attenuating exercise-induced increases in BP, cocoa flavanols may decrease cardiovascular risk and enhance the cardiovascular benefits of moderate intensity exercise in at-risk individuals.”

So no matter if you’re a mountain climber, a skier, or just sitting by the fire in your living room.  Heat up a rich cup of cocoa for better cardiovascular health.  And don’t forget the marshmallows!

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Solanova has great resources to read about good cardiovascular health and CoQ10 supplementation.  And be sure to check out our potent omega-3 fatty acid antioxidant Omega-Gel®.

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/38859, “Impact of cocoa flavanol consumption on blood pressure responsiveness to exercise,” Berry NM, Davison K, et al, Br J Nutr, 2010 Jan 19; 1-5, [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: School of Health Sciences, Nutritional Physiology Research Centre and ATN Centre for Metabolic Fitness, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia).

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Do what you want…sometimes

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

A Healthy Life Sign

We spend the majority of our lives enduring other people telling us what to do.  Teachers, bosses, and parents have filled our lives with no-no’s, admonishments, and well-meaning advice.  But here’s a radical idea-just do what you want.  If you want a chocolate bar, have one.  If you want to take a nap, go ahead.  If you feel like skipping down the street…you get the idea.

Something occurred to me after many sweaty hours at the gym, rifling through health magazines and reading countless advice columns.  Maybe obsessively counting calories and other deprivations work for some people, but they certainly don’t work for me.  In fact, it seems to have the opposite effect.  When I tell myself I can’t have something, I want it all the more.

Such is the human condition.

So I’m trying a different approach.  If one afternoon all I can think about is eating a hamburger with fries, I actually allow myself to go and get one.  Two things are accomplished.  Once I give into my craving, I am thereby sated.   Instead of eating everything else in its place and then still wanting the burger, I just have what my body wants and in the end I am convinced that I consume fewer calories overall.  After I’ve indulged in the “treat”, I don’t feel deprived and therefore will eat healthier over the next few days (or weeks in some cases).

I am absolutely not advocating a burger-large fries-pitcher-of-beer-a-day existence.  But I think cutting ourselves some slack once in a while is mentally healthy and can go a long way.  At the very least it can help us to manage our stress.  Because deep down, we all know what the healthy choices are.

Remember, eat as healthy as possible, get plenty of exercise, and catch up on as much sleep as time permits.  It’s your healthy life.  Now go enjoy it!

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To learn more daily health tips, please read our health archives.  Some of our favorites supplements that can boost your immune system, improve sleep patterns, and can promote heart health are found on our products page.

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I Want Candy!

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Pick supplements and not sugar for better health

“The sugar rush.”  Sometimes nothing else will do.  When I’m face to face with a box of candy, or a malted milk, I am truly powerless to resist.  And with a certain chocolate-centric holiday just around the corner, I have to tread lightly, or else I will fall into a different category, “the sugar coma.”

All joking aside, sugar is delicious and wonderful to enjoy, especially on holidays and birthdays.  But it is also full of empty calories.  For example, the average soda these days contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar.  10!  Even though I’m a sugar fanatic, I can’t bring myself to drink much soda anymore.  And that’s a great thing.  Instead I substitute milk, mineral water with a little lime, or even a small glass of wine and I save myself 100’s of calories a day.

Diabetes is on the rise.  It’s sad but true.  Some hypothesize that everything we eat nowadays is laden with sugar, and perhaps these ideas are not far off.  Be sure to check your food labels for hidden sugars, even in items like crackers, soups, and tomato sauces.  Awareness can make the difference in your health and also in your waistline.

Reward yourself properly.  As a society, we tend to reward a promotion, good grades, or any other success or special occasion with a big meal and lots of treats.  Choose wisely.  Now I love cake as much as the next person, but maybe it’s a better (and certainly healthier) idea to splurge on a massage, a night at the theater, or even a new outfit.  You will ultimately feel better, weigh less, and perhaps even spend a little quality time appreciating something you wouldn’t normally do.

Keep up the exercise, and work in lots of vegetables and fruits into your diet.  Take vitamins and supplements like Calcium, CoQ10, and Omega-3.  Get a proper night’s sleep as much as possible, and then, if all else fails, have that chocolate chip cookie with extra walnuts.  But just a couple.  Wash them down with a nice, cold glass of nonfat milk.  You’ve earned it!

Happy Valentine’s Day

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the power of downward facing dog

Monday, February 8th, 2010

yoga woman at peace

Have you ever gone on a hike, a walk, or a run and felt tired but also very relaxed and at peace afterwards? We thought so. That is the magic of exercise and of focusing on something other than every day minutiae. Yoga classes, meditation and even simple relaxation techniques can also quiet the noise within and calm the mind. And it turns out that these practices are exceptionally good for your health. A recent study was conducted on cancer patients who were asked to try an 8-week stress reduction program and the results were staggering:

In a study involving 49 patients with breast cancer and 10 patients with prostate cancer, participation in an 8-week “mindfulness-based stress reduction” (MBSR) program was found to enhance quality of life, reduce stress symptoms, reduce cortisol levels, improve immune patterns, reduce systolic blood pressure and improve mood. The 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program consisted of relaxation, meditation, gentle yoga, and a daily home practice. Various measurements were taken pre- and post-intervention, and at 6 and 12 months follow-up. Results of linear mixed modeling showed significant improvements in overall symptoms of stress after the intervention, which remained over the follow-up period. Reductions in pro-inflammatory cytokines, cortisol levels, systolic blood pressure, and mood disturbances were found. Furthermore, heart rate was positively associated with symptoms of stress. The results of this study suggest that participation in activities such as those included in this mindfulness-based stress reduction program may be of great benefit to cancer patients, with beneficial effects lasting well beyond the intervention. The authors conclude, “These pilot data represent a preliminary investigation of the longer-term relationships between MBSR program participation and a range of potentially important biomarkers.”

You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a renown Yogi to enjoy the benefits of exercise and relaxation. If you are short on time, buy a yoga or Pilates DVD, or simply find a nice place to sit, breathe, and quiet your mind for a few minutes. All together now: “Om”

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To learn more about managing stress levels for better health, see our health archives. Stress can compromise the immune system, cause irregular unhealthy sleep, and can even contribute to unwanted weight gain. Our effective, high quality supplements Relora® and Dual-Release Melatonin can really make a difference in your stress levels and can promote healthy sleep patterns.

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/36457, “One year pre-post intervention follow-up of psychological, immune, endocrine and blood pressure outcomes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in breast and prostate cancer outpatients,” Carlson LE, Speca M, et al, Brain Behav Immun, 2007 May 21; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Linda E. Carlson, Department of Psychosocial Resources, Tom Baker Cancer Centre Holy Cross Site, Alberta Cancer Board, 2202 Second St. S.W., Calgary, Alta., Canada T3B 0W7; Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada).

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the dark (chocolate) master

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Heart healthy supplements

Dark chocolate.  It’s not just for dessert anymore.  It turns out that some of the components of dark chocolate are responsible for improved cardiovascular health.  Some recent research indicates that incorporating (some) dark chocolate into healthy eating habits can help reduce blood pressure, boost insulin sensitivity, and can also add to overall heart health.

In a study involving 20 subjects with never-before treated Essential Hypertension (EH), consumption of flavanol-rich dark chocolate (DC) for a period of 15 days was found to reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve several markers of cardiovascular health, as compared with consumption of flavanol-free white chocolate (WC), for the same duration of time. The subjects (10 men, 10 women; average age: 43.7 years) were randomly divided into two groups, where one group was assigned to consume DC (100 g/day – containing 88 mg flavanols) while the other group was assigned to consume WC (90 g/day – no flavanols) for 15 days, in an isocaloric manner. A 7-day chocolate-free run-in phase preceded the first 15 days of treatment, after which subjects went through another 7-day chocolate-free phase, which was followed by another 15 days of treatment, in which patients were crossed over to receive the treatment they had not received before. Various measurements were taken and evaluated after each treatment period. After consumption of DC, 24-hour non-invasive ambulatory blood pressure decreased (systolic: -11.9 mm Hg; diastolic: -8.5 mm Hg), serum LDL cholesterol decreased (from 3.4 to 3.0 mmol/L), and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) scores improved. Results from oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs) were used to calculate the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), which decreased after consumption of DC, while both the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICK1) and insulin sensitivity index (ISI) improved after consuming DC. None of these beneficial effects were seen after consumption of WC. This study suggests, if included as part of a healthy diet with a balanced caloric intake, flavanols from cocoa, such as those found in dark chocolate, may help to improve various markers of cardiovascular health in patients with essential hypertension.

With sweet news like this, it’s easy to stay on the heart healthy track!

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Explore our health archives for many other ways to improve cardiovascular health. For heart healthy supplements, try one of our powerful antioxidant supplements with both Ubiquinol and Resveratrol, Rubi Qnol®CoQ10.

http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/34679,

Reference: “Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives,” Grassi D, Necozione S, et al, Hypertension, 2005; 46(2): 398-405. (Address: Dipartimento Internal Medicine and Public Health, University of L’Aquila, Piazzale Salvatore Tommasi 1, 67100 Coppito, L’Aquila, Italy).

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Tummy Trouble

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Stomach health and exercise for energy and health

Digestive disorders can be debilitating.  If you have problems with your stomach, it’s very difficult to enjoy life and to attend to your various work and personal responsibilities.  Taking probiotics can help.  Probiotics are those friendly little “good”  bacteria in our intestines that help to fight off infection, reduce the risk of some diseases, and can soothe digestive disorders.

Whether or not you have IBS, other health conditions, or overall tummy trouble, supplementing with quality Probiotics can be invaluable to your digestive and your overall health.  Don’t stomach tummy-trouble anymore!

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Want to stop the belly-aching?  Read more about good digestive health and probiotics in our health archives. We have a dynamic duo of supplements for better digestive health that will help the digestive process, reduce gas and bloating, and allow for better absorption of the vitamins and minerals that are consumed.

http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/37371,

Reference: “An open-label randomized controlled trial of lactulose and probiotics in the treatment of minimal hepatic encephalopathy,” Sharma P, Sharma BC, et al, Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2008; 20(6): 506-11. (Address: Departments of Gastroenterology and Neurology, G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi, India).

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Time is on your side…yes it is!

Friday, January 15th, 2010

young woman jumping

How often have you lamented if only I had an extra hour, or half hour in the day-if only I had more time, I could make some real progress?  Time is at a premium for most of us.  And tacking on an extra errand or chore, even if it’s for our health, can feel burdensome.  And maybe going to the gym and cooking fresh, organic produce just isn’t in the cards everyday.  But what if there were some ways to optimize your time every day and etch out just a little bit (between the carpool, work, dentist appointment etc) of healthy time for yourself?  We’ve come up with a few ideas that just may work for you.

Set your alarm just ten minutes early.  This is a very small sacrifice but you’ll be amazed that you’ll actually have time for a bowl of cereal, a piece of toast with peanut butter or chopping up a delicious apple to have as a mid-morning snack.  Your mood will improve, your productivity will go up, and who knows?  Maybe you’ll finally secure that raise, allowing for a more robust vacation fund, (also excellent for your health!).

You can exercise in spurts.  Yep, it’s true.  No more excuses that you don’t have an hour to dedicate to your gym.  Instead, look for opportunities to integrate exercise into your daily activities.  Walk to you local coffee shop at least three times a week.  Whether it’s down the street from your house, or three blocks from your office, there is no need to get in the car.  Your body will thank you in the long run for the bit of fresh air and exercise, plus you’re being eco-friendly.  If you don’t drink coffee, the same goes for a trip to the post office, pet store, dress shop, or rare Ukrainian coin purveyor.

Turn the TV off-at least sometimes!  Yes, we know it’s the playoffs.  And there’s always that funny movie on that you’ve been meaning to watch.  But the truth is, getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and TV can be a time-sucking black hole.  (Sorry Conan!)  Take that extra time to hang out with your family and friends and then catch some quality zzz’s.

By carving out a few extra minutes in the short day for some healthy practices, you will find that time ends up being right on your side.  Now go out there and make good use of it!

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Bring on the (good) Fats!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

omega_gel_spoon

Before you slather another piece of toast or a baked potato with loads of butter, think about what that added fat may do to your body and to your overall health.  Now that’s not to say that you can’t ever indulge in a dollop or two, but it has been discovered that it’s better to fill your life-and your plate-with “good fats” like olive oil, found most prevalently in heart healthy Mediterranean diets.  There has been myriad research indicating that a diet rich in good fats, vegetables, fish, fruits, and yes red wine, can be very good for you, your immune system and your heart.

In a study involving 3,042 men and women aged 18-89 years from the Attica region of Greece, adherence to a Mediterranean diet was found to be associated with increased levels of total antioxidant capacity (TAC), and decreased levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol. Participants, who had no clinical evidence of cardiovascular disease, completed validated food frequency questionnaires from which a ‘diet score’ was determined, which assessed the level of adherence to a Mediterranean diet. After adjustment for confounding factors, TAC was found to be 11% higher and oxidized LDL-cholesterol concentrations were found to be 19% lower among those in the highest tertile of diet score, compared with the lowest tertile. While consumption of red meat was found to be inversely associated with TAC, consumption of olive oil and fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, were found to be positively associated with TAC. This study suggests that adherence to a Mediterranean diet, through its positive effects on TAC and oxidized LDL levels, may be of benefit in maintaining cardiovascular health.

So fill your plate high with rich, antioxidant foods and reap the rewards of a healthier, happier lifestyle.

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Ensure that you are getting the best possible antioxidant protection.  And don’t settle for subpar Omega-3 supplements.  For better health choose highly potent and absorbable Omega-Gel®. And read more about other antioxidants like Resveratrol and Ubiquinol, that both play an important part in fortifying the immune system.

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/34703, “Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with total antioxidant capacity in healthy adults: the ATTICA study,” Pitsavos C, Panagiotakos DB, et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005; 82(3): 694-9. (Address: First Cardiology Clinic, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Athens, Greece, and the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece).

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Health…matters!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Solanova good eating habit are healthy

I was just recently patting myself on the back because I hadn’t gotten sick at all during this flu season.  Even though I was completely surrounded by sniffling, sneezing, and hacking co-workers and/or relatives, I experienced nary a cough.  Well done, I thought.  I must really be impervious to-well-everything!  Hurray for me!

But then, inevitably, I woke up with a cold.  Normally there are warning signs; a feeling of dopiness, a vague headache, unexplained fatigue.  However this time, I simply woke up feeling stuffy, headachy, and just a little bit out of it.  This cold is annoying, and is making me just a tad crazy as I try to search for just the right-um-uh-you know-phrase to convey its unpleasantness.

Colds really do make me feel hazy and tired.  But here’s what I realized.  The colds I used to get oftentimes turned into something much worse (like Bronchitis) and tended to be of longer, agonizing duration.  Now when I am unlucky enough to get sick, the cold or flu isn’t that bad and is over in a few days tops.

What is the difference between then and now, you may ask?  Eating right, exercising, and yes, faithfully taking my vitamins and supplements.

I hate to be so darn elementary about it, but in my case it seems to be absolutely true.  I was once a person who, when faced with an illness, would try to consume fistfuls of vitamin C and other vitamins on the off chance it would stop my misery mid-cold.  It didn’t.  I was also the kind of person who would only wander near a gym, a produce market, or a vitamin store sporadically, and usually just to peek in the window.

A few years ago I decided to make a change.  I started eating things like broccoli, Swiss chard, carrots, and salads at least once every single day.  I joined a gym and I went to it, usually three times a week.  And finally, I did a little research and started taking some vitamins and supplements on a regular basis.  Now none of these things is rash by any means, but I changed what I felt I could really commit to and it worked.  I feel healthier, stronger, more well rested, and better overall than I did just a few years ago.

I decided to make a series of small changes that over time made a big impact on my life and my health.  You can do it too.  Good luck.

Happy New Year!

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To be or not to be…an ice cream sundae.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

woman with salad and antioxidants

You are what you eat.  Yes, a hackneyed expression, but nevertheless true.  I always feel better if I eat in a healthy way, and usually feel vaguely guilty if I’ve indulged in too much fat, sugar, or alcohol-and usually it’s a combination of all three-especially around the holidays.

If you’re anything like me, it can be very difficult to stay motivated.  For example, I like the gym, but I like sleeping more.  I enjoy sautéed Swiss chard, but I’d much rather have an oversized ice cream sundae dripping with chocolate sauce.  It’s very easy and tempting to stray off the healthy, antioxidant path.  There are cookie-laden forests and lakes of freshly whipped cream to explore instead!  But these empty calorie treats-as good as they may be-are nutrition traps.  What’s more, they aren’t doing anything to fortify my immune system.  I want to feel strong, healthy, and in control of my health destiny as much as possible.

So I recommit.  Every day to a healthy way of life.  For me, putting my continued good health at the top of my “to do” list empowers me to carry on with my eating-right-and-exercising-routine.  The fact that I will look better in my clothes is a nice byproduct, but not the main reason that I try very hard to take care of myself.  I cram as many antioxidant-enriched foods as I can possibly stand into my daily routine.  My body then has the tools it needs to fortify my immune system and defend against free radical damage and hopefully against various diseases and health conditions too.

In fact, there was a recent study conducted tracking midlife eating habits of Swedish twins.  It was hypothesized that those who fortified their diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables mid life seemed to lessen their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, compared with twins who did not eat as many antioxidant enriched foods.

I decided long ago to hedge my bets and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet replete with plenty of antioxidants.  I am also sure to take Omega-3 fatty acids and highly absorbable multivitamins and vitamin D supplements every day for better health.  By committing to good health habits on a regular basis, I can still have my sundae and eat it too-and that makes me very, very happy.

Be healthy and enjoy all of the holiday festivities!

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To read more about powerful antioxidant support, check out our health archives. Happy holidays from all of us at Solanova!

Reference: http://www.vitasearch.com/get-clp-summary/38666“Midlife Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Risk of Dementia in Later Life in Swedish Twins,” Hughes TF, Andel R, et al, Am J Geriatr Psychiatry, 2009 Nov 10; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Pittsburgh, PA, USA).

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