Benefits of putting spinach into smoothies:

Taste: Spinach smoothies provide a significant amount of vegetable-based nutrition in a pleasant-tasting drink. Many people find it difficult to eat enough vegetables for proper nutrition because of their bitter taste, a problem they may not outgrow. The ability to taste bitter foods lies in genetic differences that originally conveyed the selective advantage of helping early humans avoid poisonous plants. Today, these same genes cause many individuals to avoid eating nutritious foods, such as spinach, because they taste bitter. Masking the bitter taste of spinach by adding more pleasant and sweet-tasting fruits such as mangos, oranges, blueberries and apples into a smoothie can override your natural aversion, allowing you to receive the nutritional benefits of otherwise unpleasant-tasting vegetables.

Cancer Prevention: Adding spinach to smoothies increases your intake of carotenoid compounds. Carotenoids from green leafy vegetables may decrease the risk of prostate cancer, according to a 2001 article in the Journal of Nutrition. Cartenoids not only induce prostate cancer cells to self-destruct, they also prevent their replication. Spinach also reduces the risk of ovarian, bladder, liver and lung cancer due to flavanoid, folate, tocopherol and chlorophyllin compounds.

Bone Health: One cup of fresh spinach leaves blended into a smoothie provides almost 200 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K. Vitamin K prevents osteoclast activation, an activity that breaks down bones. At the same time, vitamin K stimulates osteocalcin activity, which anchors calcium molecules inside of bones. Spinach also provides two essential bone-building minerals: calcium and magnesium. It also contains other bone-building nutrients, including manganese, copper, zinc and phosphorus, all of which help strengthen bones and decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

Cardiovascular Health: Blending spinach into smoothies keeps your heart healthy. Spinach provides vitamin A and C, antioxidants that reduce cellular damage caused by free radicals in your body. These antioxidants prevent cholesterol from becoming oxidized, building up and sticking to your blood vessel walls, thereby decreasing your risk of heart attack or stroke. Factor C0-Q10, another antioxidant in spinach, strengthens muscles, especially your heart muscle, preventing and treating many cardiovascular diseases like hyperlipidemia, heart failure, hypertension and coronary heart diseases.

Spinach also contains folate and magnesium, high potassium levels and low sodium levels, all of which decrease your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease (see reference 1 and 3).

Raw Versus Cooked: Adding any citrus fruit to a smoothie containing raw spinach increases your body’s ability to absorb many of the beneficial nutrients in spinach, including iron. Raw spinach also contains higher proportions of vitamin C and the antioxidant gluathione than cooked spinach. While raw spinach contains a significant amount of oxalate, a substance that binds to calcium and prevents its absorption, the overall decrease in available calcium for healthy individuals is relatively small, and is taken into account in the determination of the daily recommended intake values for calcium.

(Source: yogi-health)

How to Increase Flexibility:
  1. Warm up for 10 or 20 minutes with cardio exercise before you begin to stretch. Stretching without warming up not only promotes injury, it also has very little benefit and will not help you to increase flexibility.
  2. Practice your stretches first thing in the morning after warm up whenever possible. The early morning hours are when the muscles of the body are most receptive to change. Additionally, a stretch in the morning will help you to feel great all day long.
  3. Use Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation or PNF, a simple technique which helps to trick muscles to increase flexibility gently. Reach into a stretch and hold for 6 to 8 seconds and then, without lifting out of the stretch, actively contract the muscle you are stretching. Hold the contraction for 2 to 4 seconds and then release.
  4. Work within your physical limits, as it takes time and dedication to increase your flexibility. Recognize that some days you will be able to stretch further than others, so never push beyond pain, even if you stretched further yesterday. While some stretches may feel uncomfortable, when discomfort becomes painful, you are stretching too far and increasing your risk of injury.
  5. Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet to keep your muscles free of excess toxins and help increase flexibility. Plenty of fruits and vegetables while reducing packaged foods, fats and sugars will show huge results when stretching. Additionally, adding more alkaline foods to your diet reduces acidity in the muscles and helps to relieve tension which in turn speeds improvement in flexibility.

(Source: yogi-health)

→ How to Eat Healthy on Christmas

Christmas is a time of celebration, but it also tends to be a time of high-fat, high-calorie food. Being part of the Christmas celebration without sabotaging your health goals may be difficult, but it is definitely doable. The key to eating healthy at Christmas is to plan ahead, bringing your own snacks and dishes if necessary, so that you don’t get caught unaware and end up filling up on unhealthy options.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast on Christmas morning. Include at least one fruit or vegetable and some protein such as eggs or nuts. This will help stave off hunger and prevent overeating high-calorie snacks while waiting for the big lunch or dinner to be served.
  • Bring a nutritious dish to the festivities. Offer beforehand to provide a salad or vegetable side dish so you can be assured that there will be at least one healthy item at the meal.
  • Pack a snack to bring with you in case you can’t find anything healthy to nibble on between meals. An apple or orange and a small bag of nuts makes a good portable snack.
  • Consume a healthy snack or small meal every three to four hours throughout the day. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable and is much healthier than consuming a single large meal.
  • Load your plate with healthy options first. Instead of heading straight for the calorie and fat-laden side dishes, choose some lean turkey or ham and vegetables for your first plateful. You can have some higher-calorie options when you’re ready for seconds and already somewhat full.
  • Drink a glass of red wine with your Christmas dinner. Red wine is high in resveratrol, a phytochemical that helps fight heart disease and cancer. If you don’t drink alcohol, try a glass of grape juice or just have plain water instead.
  • Practice portion control. Instead of completely depriving yourself of the high-calorie options, try a single piece or just one bite, enough to get a taste, but not enough to leave you feeling stuffed.
  • Have a cup of tea before, or even in place of, dessert. Tea has loads of antioxidants, and the liquid will fill you up, making it less likely you will gorge on cake, pie and candy.

(Source: yogi-health)

Whole Foods and Flexibility

By Lucas - YOGABODY Naturals LLC.

"The right foods can increase your flexibility immediately!”

Sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s true. This is not science or theory; it’s a real-life, student-tested fact. If you eat a water-dense, plant-based diet with lots of superfoods, you’ll notice flexibility gains within three days.

Don’t take my word for it—just try it!

Below is a shortlist of my favorite Superfoods. Buy them fresh or low-temperature dried, and purchase organic whenever possible.

Dark Greens: Dark green vegetables are some of the most mineral-dense foods on the planet, and waterborne greens or sprouted greens are even better waterborne greens usually have 2-10 times more minerals)

My favorites: Spirulina, chlorella, barley grass juice extract, wheat grass, kale, parsley, all seaweeds and sea vegetables, chard, and spinach.

Prehistoric Grains and Seeds: Today, the most nutrient-dense foods are what I call the prehistoric plants; the ugly, brown-colored, intimidating dry good you see in plastic bins at the health food stores.

These are commercial crops, but nutritionally-speaking, they more-closely resemble their ancestors. They take a little extra work to prepare (cooking or sprouting), but it’s well worth it.

Shopping List: Millet, quinoa, amaranth, wild rice, bulgur, sesame seeds, sprouted seeds of clover, broccoli, mung beans, and radish.

Superfats: Most people get their fat from inferior, animal-based foods like milk, ghee, cheese, butter, and meat. In animals’ bodies (and yours), built up toxins like pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and pollutants are most-often deposited in fat cells.

To make things worse, animal fat also contains the notorious LDL (bad) cholesterol that can lead to damaged arteries and heart disease. No wonder fat has such a bad reputation!

Foolishly, many people today try to avoid all fats when really, they should be avoiding animal fats. Plant fats are not only good for you—they are essential for health and wellness and MUST be eaten on a regular basis. Good fat give you sustained energy, heals your body, and balances hormones.

Shopping List: Raw almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, avocado, coconut, durian, and cold-pressed oils (olive, coconut, hemp, flax, and sesame seed are all great).

Who Superfoods? Yoga students put heavy demands on their body, often neglecting to replenish their system with nutrient-dense, natural foods that will keep them healthy and strong.

(Source: yogi-health)