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The ‘juicy’ secrets and surprising benefits of juicing

As we get older, our bodies process food differently. We tend to have smaller appetites, chewing and swallowing can become more difficult, and preparing meals can become more of a challenge for a variety of reasons.

One trendy, healthy way to get added nutrients is through juicing. Whether you are a purist and press apples straight from the tree or rely on store-bought products to supplement your meals, juicing can be a healthy addition to your loved one’s dietary routine.

Eating whole fruits and vegetables is the best way to ingest nutrients as well as dietary fiber, but many older individuals are more likely to consume produce in inconspicuous liquid form. Best of all, vegetables like spinach, carrots, and kale can be incorporated into juice recipes without the consumer even tasting it. Flavors from the fruit you use typically overshadow those of the veggies.

If you struggle to get your loved one to fit produce into their diet, juicing is a healthy and palatable alternative. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing the healthiest juice possible.

Choose your ingredients wisely.

While there is no magical cure for all of the body’s aches and pains, natural nutrients in fruits and vegetables can be helpful in easing pain, reducing inflammation and bolstering immune system function. Certain varieties and combinations of produce can have both a targeted and overall beneficial effect on your body.

For instance, joint pain can be assuaged by juicing carrots, parsley, ginger, and leeks. Leeks and ginger are high in antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. For a boost in immune and cardiac health, try a combination of pomegranate, orange, and garlic. Pomegranates lower cholesterol and blood pressure and increase the speed at which heart blockages (atherosclerosis) dissolve. With a little bit of research, you can find a healthy juice recipe for almost every ailment you can imagine.

Consider your juicing method.

There are a number of ways to produce your own nutrient-rich juices. Traditional or centrifugal processes use fast-spinning blades to pulverize produce. Heat and air are added during this process—two things that supposedly reduce the nutrients that actually make it into your glass.

Masticating or “cold-pressed” processes extract juice by pressing and grinding fruits and vegetables without adding heat. If you are looking for a ready-to-drink cold-pressed option, then brands like MUSE are a convenient way to reap the benefits without purchasing a machine and doing the work yourself.

Proponents of the raw food movement believe that cooking denatures important vitamins and minerals in food. It is true that some compounds like vitamin C are easily damaged by exposure to heat, air, and water. But, in some cases, cooking actually increases antioxidants and other beneficial components of certain fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, and carrots.

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish through juicing, it may not matter if your product is cold-pressed or made in a traditional machine.

Be careful not to juice everything.

Although most fruits and vegetables can be juiced, there are a few things to stay away from. This is especially important for seniors.

There is some disagreement over whether or not to peel fruits and vegetables before juicing, but it isn’t a black and white issue. Apples, grapes, cucumbers and even bananas can be processed and consumed without peeling. We waste a great source of nutrition by removing and discarding the skins and rinds of produce. However, there are a few items that are best consumed “naked.” Citrus fruits feature tough rinds that are still nutrient dense, but they also contain oils that can cause indigestion and stomach issues if consumed in large quantities. Try not to throw away the healthy white pith just underneath the rind, though. Mangos are best juiced without the skin as well since this part can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Many people like to add leafy greens like kale and spinach to their fruit juices and smoothies, but there are a few varieties that must be avoided or approached with caution. Rhubarb greens can be harmful and release toxic substances, so keep these out of your juicer. Carrot greens have received a bad reputation, but they are not actually poisonous. Some people may have a sensitivity to this part of the vegetable, so if you aren’t sure whether you or a loved one might have a reaction, then it is best to steer clear of them.

Purchase your produce wisely.

When juicing or making smoothies, especially when using whole ingredients with skins and greens intact, it is wise to opt for organic produce. Although fruit and vegetable peels are great sources of concentrated nutrients, pesticides tend to accumulate in the peels of conventionally produced fruits and vegetables and even on the green tops of root vegetables.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has pioneered a “Dirty Dozen” list that ranks produce items according to the amount of pesticide residue they contain. Apples happen to top the list as the worst offender, which is a shame since apple peels are extremely beneficial. If you plan to use conventional produce, be sure to thoroughly wash, and even peel certain items. Pesticides and insecticides can remain even if you take these precautions, so carefully consider purchasing at least some ingredients in organic form.

As we age, it’s even harder to treat your body right and get the nutrients you need, but diet has a significant impact on overall health and the proper function of the body. Juices can be used as a natural dietary supplement in lieu of processed vitamin capsules and tablets, or you can craft your own produce combinations to help improve specific areas of your health.

Achieving proper nutrition through real foods is better than opting for meal replacement shakes and pills, but it is important to approach juicing with common sense and do your research or consult with a physician or nutritionist if you have any questions.

This article was originally published on agingcare.com. It has been republished here with permission.

4 super foods that battle arthritis pain

“You are what you eat,” has been a motto from an early age. Now that you’ve aged, it’s time to put those words into action. According toEveryday Health, about 46 million adults in the United States, about one in five Americans, have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. This number continues to rise and is expected to jump dramatically in the coming years. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are certain measures you can take, namely preventive foods, to help combat the chronic sickness. Take a look at the list below, and see what you need to add to your diet to help ease some of arthritic pain.

Omega-3 fatty acids

There are so many ways to introduce these essential fatty acids into your system that will help combat arthritis and alleviate some inflammation. Charles Serhan, Ph.D., director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Harvard Medical School, found that omega-3s convert into compounds that aid in bringing the inflammatory response in the human body to an end.

There is no certainty to how much omega-3 is required, but if you’re not keen on adding some fish to your diet, be sure to get some omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Broccoli

It’s time to go a little greener. Several lab studies have found that sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, may block enzymes linked to joint destruction and inhibit inflammation. Be adventurous with this vegetable. Make it a fun kitchen project to find the most delicious ways to cook this green giant of a vegetable.

Spice it up

Seasonings go beyond that extra little flavoring. It’s been shown that ginger and turmeric possess anti-inflammatory properties. Experiment a little. You can make turmeric tea as part of your nightly routine.

Strawberries

To round off a few foods to help ease arthritis pain, here is one for that sweet tooth. Not only is this delicious fruit perfect for a summer day, it can help lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a signal of inflammation in the body, which is helpful for arthritis pain.

So the next time you find yourself at the grocery store or out to dinner, consider the long-term effects of the foods you consume. Fill your plate or basket with things that can help you overcome chronic pains, like arthritis, that are also delicious. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know how much it could help you.

7 healthiest foods for seniors — and the rest of us

According to the World Health Organization, unhealthy diets are among the leading causes of non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. As you age, eating can become more of a chore than a fun part of your day. Whether you face difficulty chewing, upset stomach, low energy or dry mouth, there are ways you and your family can bring light back into the kitchen. Focusing on increasing the intake of specific nutrients and proteins is the best way to supplement the supplements you may be taking. Here is a list of the seven best foods to keep in your diet as you age.

1. Eggs

Eggs pack a powerful protein punch and are high in B12, which increases energy. They are soft if you or your loved one has difficulty chewing, and they have enough natural moisture to aid those with dry mouth. If cholesterol is a concern, try eating one regular egg and supplementing with egg whites.

2. Lean Beef

Beef is another great way to add protein to your diet, and it is also considered to be a “brain” food. To ensure nutrients are at their optimum, choose grass-fed beef, which has higher amounts of fatty acids and B complexes. Beef also contains choline, which promotes memory and immune system health. Looking for other options instead of steak? Try a beef minestrone soup, or a lean burger, instead.

3. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is rich in calcium with half the sugar and sodium content found in regular plain non-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt is another great source of protein, especially for vegetarians. Yogurt wets the pallet and goes down easy for those with dry mouth. Not loving the plain flavor? Try adding agave nectar and berries for an organic option packed with antioxidants.

4. Dark Greens

Spinach and kale are among Mother Nature’s heavy lifters when it comes to natural sources of essential vitamins. Spinach is high in iron, magnesium and potassium, which are great for carrying oxygen to the lungs, fighting chronic fatigue and keeping blood sugars low. Kale promotes bone growth with high amounts of calcium and increased immune system strength as a great source of vitamin A. More importantly, kale offers tons of vitamin K which is helpful for blood clotting. Try sauteed spinach or adding kale to a fruit smoothie. Here are some great recipes for massaged kale salads, which help the dense vegetable soak up more flavors for eating.

5. Quinoa, Brown Rice and Flax Seed

Healthy grains are a great way to add dietary fiber to your eating plan. Not only is fiber important for a healthy digestive system, but these alternatives to wheat also contain natural sources of Vitamin B-1, Manganese, and essential fatty acids. Quinoa and brown rice are great sides to a complete lunch or dinner mixed into a salad or standing alone. Flaxseed can be added to almost any recipe or blended in a smoothie.

6. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants. Fruits that are rich in color can aid in lowering blood pressure, enhance fiber intake, and promote health for those with diabetes. Berries are great added to a salad, over yogurt or steel-cut oats or blended into a smoothie.

7. Fish

Fatty fishes, including salmon, are a rich source of Omega 3s. Omega 3s contain myriad health benefits that are essential for a healthy senior diet. In addition to enhancing heart health, Omegas are known to aid in decreasing effects of rheumatoid arthritis, increasing bone density to avoid osteoporosis, and preventing the risk of memory loss with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Baked or grilled salmon is easy to make and goes great with a variety of sides, salads, and grains to make it suitable for all seasons.

While aging can bring complications with some of our favorite past-times, getting older does not have to put a damper on the way we eat. Eating a well-planned and balanced diet may reduce the risk of bone loss, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Ensuring our meal selections are rich in vitamins and come from natural and organic sources will not only appease the pallet but will also add nutrients that are essential for promoting increased energy and aiding longevity.

3 things you should know about diabetes

Did you know at this very moment you could have diabetes?

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, out of the 29 million Americans with diabetes, 1 in 4 don’t know they have the disease. But as thousands of new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year, the prognosis is grim. A newly diagnosed diabetic faces a future of pills, vague fitness and nutrition plans and no real answers for effective treatment.

What if the medical community could eliminate diabetes from our families? What if there was a way to prevent diabetes? Better yet, what if there was a way to reverse it?

There is a way.

But it requires a greater understanding of the effects of diabetes on the body, the limitations of today’s healthcare and the empowering effects of looking at this disease differently.

The effects of diabetes on the body

What is happening in your body? Quite a bit. In a healthy body, energy is created when the hormone insulin pulls glucose cells out of the blood and passes through a receptor site to produce Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP.

But in a diabetic’s body, the receptor site doesn’t open for this molecule, so insulin and blood sugar have no choice but to convert to cholesterol, attach to your blood vessel walls and wreak havoc on your system with painful inflammation.

Today’s pharmaceutical companies have created drugs for every health condition. Often a diabetic is prescribed a cocktail of blood sugar, cholesterol, and high blood pressure medications and told to eat right and exercise, yet this generalized treatment plan doesn’t effectively reduce the symptoms of this disease.

The limitations of today’s healthcare system

At times it seems there is a disconnect between treating and curing disease. One pathway doesn’t typically lead to the other. It’s frustrating.

According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 37 in overall health systems, barely edging out Slovenia and Cuba. Americans take 50% of the world’s medications yet make up a mere 5% of the world’s population. Our nation’s dependency on pharmaceuticals contributes to a healthcare system that focuses on symptoms rather than prevention. That can be frustrating for a patient struggling for answers.

The empowering effects of looking at diabetes differently

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” —Andy Dufrensne, character from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”

You have the power to reverse this disease, and there are tools to help you. This isn’t about turning your back on modern medicine. I recognize the use of drugs as an essential part of treatment for a number of illnesses, but I don’t view medications as a permanent solution.

A better approach would be for patients to free themselves from the confines of large quantities of medications and explore long-term solutions through customized treatment plans that profoundly improve quality of life.

If you hope to control diabetes, you must gain a greater understanding of this disease, understand the limitations of the present healthcare system and embrace a new knowledge of what can treat and ultimately reduce the negative effects of this disease. In this way, you are gonna “get busy living” every day.

Dr. Candice Hall is Chief of Staff of Next Advanced Medicine. She was awarded Physician of the Year in 2005 from the NRCC and has over 14 years of experience in Functional Medicine.

This article was originally published on Familyshare.com. It has been republished here with permission.