Food Pyramid Thu, 10 Apr 2014 21:24:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 13 Beauty Products from your Kitchen Thu, 06 Mar 2014 12:00:32 +0000 Food products from the food pyramid can also work as health- and beauty products. Your grandmother’s generation knew all the secrets you could do with food. For example, they often used lemon against rough elbows and cucumber slices to reduce eye puffiness.

If you want to save money but still take care of your skin and hair, you should know that the food you have in your kitchen can be a real gold mine. Grains, baking soda, honey, olive oil, banana and even coffee grounds can be transformed into beauty products. Here is a list on food products that you can use to improve your skin and hair.

13 Natural Beauty Products

1. Apple cider vinegar

beauty-products-from-kitchen-1Hair mask: Mix 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Massage the mix into the scalp. Wrap your hair in aluminum foil and leave it on for at least 30 minutes before you wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo. This mix is good for dry hair and dry scalp.

Dry hands: Mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 1 tablespoon olive oil and bathe your fingers in the mix for about five minutes. Apple cider vinegar can also be exchanged for the same quantity of cucumber juice or lemon juice.

2. Avocado

beauty-products-from-kitchen-2Facial mask: The fruit contains a lot of the A, C and vitamin E as well as some B vitamins, which nourish and gives relief to the skin. Mash the avocado flesh with a little olive oil to get a smooth texture. Place the mask over your face and wait for about 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry with a soft towel.


3. Banana

banana for skinFacial mask: A banana mask is both moisturizing and smoothing for the delicate skin of the face and neck. Mash a banana into a smooth texture. If you have vitamin A capsules at home, feel free to open one and pour over the banana. Place the mask over your face and neck and wait for about 30 minutes before you wash it away.


4. Bicarbonate – Baking Soda

beauty-products-from-kitchen-4Facial mask: A mask that contains ordinary baking soda and water brightens the skin and removes dead cells. Mix 3 table spoons bicarbonate with water (distilled water or still mineral water) until a smooth mass. Place the mask over your face, wait for 5 minutes, and then rinse well. You can add the mask a couple times a week.


5. Coffee grounds

beauty-products-from-kitchen5Facial mask: Rub coffee grounds gently on your face, and let it stay on for five minutes and then rinse. The caffeine works as a peeling and helps the circulation.

Dry hands: Rub coffee grounds on your hands and then rinse and your hands will feel softer.


6. Cucumber

beauty-products-from-kitchen-6Tired eyes: Cucumber reduces the redness and puffiness of eyes. Add cucumber slices on eyelids for about 10 minutes.

Face tonic: The cucumbers have a restraining effect, and are also good for blood circulation. Cut the cucumber into thin slices and rub them gently on the face, but avoid the eye area. You can also squeeze a little cucumber juice and use it on the face to tighten up, clean and cool your skin.

7. Egg yolk

beauty-products-from-kitchen-7Hair mask: If you want shiny hair with more moisture, rub an egg yolk in your hair. Wrap your hair in a towel to keep warm, or use a plastic bag or a shower cap over your head. Leave it on for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.


8. Honey

beauty-products-from-kitchen-8Acne: Honey is antiseptic. It cleans the pores and gives the skin a nice glow. Rub your face with honey gently, in small circular movements. The massage improves the circulation. Rinse off. Honey “pulls out” impurities from the skin and may cause an occasional pimple before the skin comes back into balance. Therefore, it’s a good idea to skip this treatment the day before a big night out.

Dry hands: Put some honey on your dry hands for a while, and then rinse. Your hands will feel very smooth.

9. Lemon

beauty-products-from-kitchen-9Acne: Boil 0.26 US gallon (1 liter) of water. Allow the water to cool, to a temperature of 98.6 F (37 C). Then add the juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon and 2 tablespoons of honey. Wash the affected area two times a day with this liquid.

Dry elbows and knees: A really old remedy against dry elbows is to use lemon. Place one elbow inside each lemon half and rest them on a table for 10 minutes, or rub your elbows with the lemon half. This also works on dry knees. Rub your knees with a lemon half.

Cracked heels and feet: Rub your feet with a lemon half. It is said to help combat the bacteria and the cracks between the toes, and the lemon softens the skin.

10. Mayonnaise

beauty-products-from-kitchen-10Conditioner: Your hair will look shiny and beautiful if you rub some mayonnaise on the scalp. Don’t forget to rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. The texture from the mayonnaise acts as a conditioner and makes your hair shine.


11. Oats

beauty-products-from-kitchen-11Soap: Fill a small cloth bag with oatmeal or crushed oats and then tie the bag. Wet the bag thoroughly and massage into foam over face and body. Oats cleanses the pores and balances the skin’s oil production. Furthermore, the skin becomes soft and smooth.


12. Olive oil

beauty-products-from-kitchen-12Dry lips: Olive oil provides moisture and shine to lips.

Hair mask: Split ends feel good to be packed in olive oil. Don’t forget to rinse well.

Body Lotion: Apply olive oil on face and body after your shower or bath. Leave it on over night and your skin will be soft and smooth in the morning.

13. Salt

beauty-products-from-kitchen-13Foot bath: Common salt or baking soda, are excellent choices for a warm foot bath.



Things you should consider:

  • Remember to always clean your face thoroughly before applying facial mask.
  • The best time for applying facial mask is after steaming your face, because the pores are open and mask will be able to penetrate deeply into the skin.
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Plan a Healthy Dinner with the Swedish Plate Model Sun, 02 Feb 2014 14:55:19 +0000 A great tip to make you a healthy meal is to use the plate model. The plate model is often used in Europe and is a method for teaching meal planning. It is also used in the U.S. to illustrate the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is a publication given out by the USDA.

The Plate Model – A Visual Method


Swedish plate model

In this visual method, a plate serves as a pie chart showing proportions of the dinner plate covered by various food groups. The dinner plate can be divided in several sections. If we look at the Swedish plate model it is divided into three parts, whereas two of the parts are big sized and the third part is small sized. Here is how you dive the food groups:

Fill the two big sections with

  • vegetables and root vegetables and
  • carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, potatoes or bread.

Fill the smaller section with

  • proteins such as fish, meat, eggs or legumes.

What to put on a healthy dinner plate

You can get a good and healthy meal if you put the following foods on your dinner plate:

Examples of vegetables (big section)

Preferably as much as three handfuls of vegetables per day and try to vary your vegetables. Choose something more than just tomato, cucumber and lettuce that contains mostly water. Try thicker vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, carrots and other root crops, that make you feel fuller and provide you with fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. A tip to get enough vegetables on your plate is for example to mix the grated carrots in ground meat sauce and shredded cabbage in the wok.

Examples of Carbohydrates (big section)

Pasta, potatoes, rice and bulgur provide energy through carbohydrates. Choose fiber-rich carbohydrates. Bread is ideal for breakfast and snacks. Bread baked from whole wheat is rich in minerals. Sourdough breads are also good because the acid in bread lowers the GI (Glycemic Index).

Examples of Proteins (small section)

Meat, eggs or legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas) are high in protein. Legumes are healthy and you can spice it with garlic, chili, coriander, cumin or herbs. Fish is also a good source of protein, which contains the beneficial omega-3 fat. Try to eat fish often, preferably 2-3 times a week. Fat and lean fish, such as salmon and herring are great choices.

Adjusting the plate model

If you are overweight you can let the vegetable section be even greater. Let the vegetable section cover half the plate instead. On the other hand, if you weigh too little, increase the amount of carbohydrates and proteins.

Check out how the U.S. plate model differs!

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10 Healthy Nails Tips Fri, 06 Dec 2013 19:25:04 +0000 Stress affects your nails, so how do you keep healthy nails during stressful times? When your body is under a lot of stress due to illness, pregnancy or workload, your body makes sure that the most important organs get the necessary nutrients. This is why it’s so important to get enough vitamins and minerals if you want healthy and beautiful nails. Proteins, vitamin B, vitamin C, zinc, iron, and silicon are very important for healthy nails. For optimal utilization, a well balanced and healthy diet is always best, but you may also want to take supplements to give your nails a boost of nutrition. Below are 10 tips that will help you get strong and healthy nails.

10 Healthy Nails Tips

  1. Moisturize often – Use cuticle cream, hand cream, or pure olive oil and moisturize often.
  2. Wear rubber gloves – When cleaning, gardening, or doing the laundry, it’s important to protect your nails by wearing rubber gloves.
  3. Dry thoroughly – The risk of fungus increases if your hands and feet are wet.
  4. Use 100% cotton – Socks made of natural materials absorbs moisture.
  5. Get enough zinc – An egg or a slice of whole wheat bread for breakfast every day strengthens the nails.
  6. Be careful with the cuticle – Pushing back cuticles too hard weakens the nail.
  7. Cut straight – The risk of ingrown toenails increases if you don’t cut your toenails straight across. This is particularly important for people with diabetes.
  8. File your nails in one direction – Don’t saw back and forth with the nail file. Always file your nails in one direction, and only file your nails when they’re completely dry.
  9. Apply a base coat of clear nail polish – The base coat will protect your nails, but don’t paint all the way down to the cuticle. Leave a gap so that the nail can “breathe”.
  10. Say no to acetone – Nail polish remover with acetone dries out your nails, so avoid acetone.

If you have brittle nails, you might first want to find out the cause of peeling fingernails. It might not always be related to stress as there could be underlying medical factors causing the condition.

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Happy Thanksgiving – Enjoy your healthy turkey! Wed, 27 Nov 2013 15:19:27 +0000 Thanksgiving has a 400 year old history. The first thanksgiving dates back to November 1621 when the newly arrived pilgrims and American Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration. Today, turkey has become the culinary star of this holiday season, and is the most common main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately, turkey comes with many health benefits.

Health benefits of Turkey

turkey-breast-nutriion-factsTurkey is very rich in protein and low in fat. It has a low-GI and can help lower the cholesterol levels and keep insulin levels stable. Turkey is particularly rich in selenium, essential for proper thyroid and immune function. It is also a great source of zinc, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin (vitamin B3). Furthermore, turkey contains amino acid tryptophan which produces serotonin – very important for you mood. It can ease PMS, depression, and improve your sleep. Enjoy your turkey!

  • High-protein, low-fat, low-GI
  • Lowers cholesterol levels & keeps insulin levels stable
  • Great source of iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, B6, B3 (niacin)
  • Improves your mood, sleep, and can help with PMS and depression

Tips for Healthy Thanksgiving

  • Avoid ”self basting” turkeys – they contain added fat
  • Buy a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey – breast meat is lower in calories than dark meat
  • Roast or smoke the turkey – avoid deep frying since it increases your fat and calorie intake
  • Use vegetables and fresh herbs for stuffing such as halved onions, apples or lemons, marjoram, sage, thyme, rosemary, whole grain bread – instead of traditional bacon,sausage and white bread
  • Spray the turkey with oil – instead of rubbing the skin with oil or butter
  • Use vegetable oil for gravy – instead of using fat- and calorie rich turkey drippings when making the gravy
  • Mash your potatoes and root veggies, use evaporated skim milk, and add garlic, herbs and spices for the flavor – avoid using butter and cream and don’t mix it with unhealthy ingredients
  • Make your creamy soup from scratch – it’s healthier than using canned bases
  • Use whole grains for your dinner rolls – instead of processed sugars
  • Limit the amount of butter you add on your dinner rolls – to avoid too much fat and calories
  • Use low-fat milk and low-fat cheese to your ”macaroni and cheese”. Also, add some vegetables to make it healthier – and avoid adding meat or more cheese
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6 Natural Healthy Hair Tips Tue, 26 Nov 2013 14:02:48 +0000 6 Natural healthy hair tips

Woman with healthy hair

After periods of stress, you may want to implement a few natural healthy hair tips so that the quality of your hair does not deteriorate. If you have been sick, pregnant, or working too much, you may even experience hair loss. The explanation for this is that your body prioritize the most important organs, and is therefore reducing nutrients to the “less important” parts of the body, including the formation of hair and nails.

The only part that is alive when it comes to your hair, and gets all the nutrients, is your hair root. So, to improve your hair quality, the nutrients must reach through the thin capillaries of the scalp. Below are natural home remedies that will nurture your scalp and improve your hair quality.

6 Natural tips for healthy hair growth

  1. Beer – Great quick fix for dull and dry hair. The protein in beer fills any space between the damaged areas and adds body to the hair. Add three tablespoons of beer in half a cup of warm water. Apply the mix after washing your hair. Leave it in for a few minutes and then rinse.
  2. Mayonnaise – Provides moisture, shine and hair repair. Use as deep-conditioner (masque). Apply warm water to make your hair damp. Coat with mayonnaise. Tips: Mix vanilla extract with the mayonnaise to improve the smell. Cover with a shower cap. Wait for 30 minutes and then rinse. Shampoo your hair a couple of times to make sure that the mayonnaise is washed off completely.
  3. Olive oil – Repairs and hydrates damaged and dry hair. Olive oil also invigorates and moisturizes your scalp, reducing the appearance of dandruff. Heat a half cup of olive oil (do not boil) and massage it into the hair. Cover with a plastic bag and wrap a towel around your head. Wait for 45 minutes. Shampoo and rinse thoroughly (a couple of times).
  4. Tea – Provides body, bounce and shine to dull hair. Green tea is said to stimulate hair growth, and black tea is said to reduce breakage. Tea can also be used as a natural hair dye. Pour the cooled tea on hair. Wait for 10 minutes. Shampoo and condition your hair. Remember, no sugar to your tea.
  5. Vinegar – Makes your hair shiny and silky, removes product buildup, rebalanced hair and scalp PH. It is also great for treating dandruff and hair loss. Mix 50/50 vinegar/warm water and apply the rinse after shampooing. Leave the vinegar mix for a minute and then rinse it all out.
  6. Eggs – Nourishes and strengthens the hair, making it smooth and shiny. Eggs are rich in proteins and it is said that eggs can help with hair growth. Mix 1 egg yolk, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tsp lemon juice and apply it on the hair. Leave it for 30 minutes. Then rinse with cold water (warm water curdles the egg and it sticks to the hair). Shampoo your hair and rinse it again.

Try some of the natural ways to get healthy hair and you will likely see improvement. These tips for healthy hair work for both men and women.

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Ways to boost your energy Sat, 23 Nov 2013 09:49:09 +0000 Winter is here, and so is the cold and flu season. It can be difficult to have the same energy level during the dark season, especially when you have a job and a family to take care of on top of it. Here are some simple tips that will help you boost your energy levels!

Antioxidant rich foods

If you have many balls in the air and don’t have the energy to do it all, it’s very important to eat antioxidant rich foods. Antioxidants work to get rid of the damaging free radicals in the body. They are vital to strengthen and protect the immune system and they guard against diseases and illnesses. Antioxidants will help keep your brain active and boost your energy levels.

To stay fit and healthy during the cold and flu season, it’s especially important to get enough of antioxidants through your diet. Here are some examples of foods that will boost your energy!

  • Berries – Eat lost of berries! Acai berries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, raspberries, and strawberries are all rich in antioxidants and nutrients that will boost your energy.
  • Bell peppers – Bell peppers is a great source of antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A, B6 and dietary fibers. The red bell pepper has more antioxidant compounds than the green, yellow and orange bell pepper, according to Dept. of Food Science. To retain as much as possible of the antioxidant activities of luteolin, and the vitamins A and C, eat the bell pepper raw. One cup of raw, red bell peppers supplies around 290% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and 105% of the RDA for vitamin A. If you want to cook bell pepper, use lower heat for a very short period of time, according to a study from Turkey.
  • Broccoli – Broccoli is a nutritive food rich in natural antioxidants, including phenolics compounds and vitamins. It is also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A (mostly as beta-carotene), vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin K, iron, calcium, and fiber. Instead of boiling the broccoli, microwave it to retain more of the antioxidants.
  • Citrus fruits – Lemons, limes, grape fruit, and oranges are all very rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin B. Citrus fruits have generally the highest antioxidant activity of all fruits.
  • Dark chocolate – It contains the antioxidant activity of flavonoids that are very important for your health. The flavonoids called procyanidins & epicatechins, found in dark chocolate, decreases LDL (bad cholesterol oxidation), lowers high blood pressure, reduces the risk of blood clots, and increase blood flow in arteries and the heart. Make sure to eat chocolate that contains at least 60% cocoa.
  • Nuts – Nuts are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, protein, heart-healthy omega 3- fatty acids, and fiber. They will help you feel full and suppress your appetite. Eat them raw or dry roasted, and avoid nuts that are roasted in oil or packaged. Almonds are the lowest calorie nut, but walnuts have the highest amount of antioxidants among the nuts.
  • Red wine & purple grape juice – Red wine contains a lot of antioxidants and studies show that a four-ounce glass of wine per day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Although non-alcohol wine (purple grape juice) does not significantly lower LDL cholesterol, purple grape juice does reduce blood clotting and has the same antioxidant profile as red wine!
  • Spinach – Spinach is one of the richest sources of antioxidants and are filled with carotenoids that have anti- aging and anti-cancer properties. This vegetable is also rich in vitamin K, calcium and magnesium and is therefore great for bone health. Furthermore, spinach contains vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, folate, and iron – all important for your health and wellness.

Adaptogens – for mental and physical performance

The term adaptogen are met only by a few plants due to the strict requirements. An adaptogen has special qualities that positively effects the performance and comes with no harmful side effects.

Adaptogens help the body to cope during stressful periods. Research has shown that adaptogens can improve both mental and physical performance. Moreover, the effect comes quickly. After only 1-2 hours after you take adaptogen supplements, you will feel more energetic and boost your energy levels.

Adaptogens are said to:

  • improve the immune system
  • provide increased energy
  • provide faster recovery
  • improve concentration and focus
  • reduce anxiety
  • improve sleep
  • increase well-being

The most well-known adaptogens are:

  • Rhodiola rosea – Used for mental stress. Rhodiola rosea is said to enhance mental performance, concentration, and focus. This adaptogen has the best clinical documentation.
  • Schisandra – Schisandra is said to be effective against stress symptoms and physical fatigue.
  • Siberian ginseng – Used primarily for its ability to protect the physical body against stress, fatigue and infections. It is also said to be good for recovery after physical activity.
  • Asian ginseng / Korean ginseng/ Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng) – It is said to lower blood glucose and to have beneficial effects on the immune system. Asian ginseng is a ”Yang” tonic and is warm in nature.
  • American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – American ginseng is said to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, and is also said to have anti-cancer properties. American ginseng is a ”Yin” tonic and is cool in nature. According to TCM, it helps balancing out heat and dryness in stomach and lungs. American ginseng is therefore suited for people who have lots of energy (or ”fire energy”), are aggressive, have ruddy complexion etc.

Strengthen your immune system

Nothing makes you more tired than having a cold and flu during winter time. By strengthening your immune system you keep yourself healthy and energetic all year round. Here’s how you boost your enery:

  • Probiotics – Make sure to get probiotics. These healthy bacteria are very important for optimal gastrointestinal and overall health, since over 80% of the immune system is located in your digestive system.
  • Garlic – This vegetable is packed with antioxidants, so add some extra garlic cloves to your daily diet to boost your immune system.
  • Antioxidants and Vitamin C – Eat lost of berries, and colorful fruits and vegetables. Make sure to include at least 5 colors in your diet every day to increase the number of antioxidants you consume.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, and if you live north of the line of San Francisco-Philadelphia in the U.S, or Athens in Europe, or Beijing in Asia, you probably don’t get enough vitamin D from the sunlight during the winter season. Also, people with dark skin, elderly people, and people who are overweight tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. Make sure to get outside for at least 15 minutes, and eat foods that are rich in vitamin D such as dairy products, egg yolks, and oily fish.
  • Exercise – Stress weakens the body and physical exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body. Go for daily walks and do some simple exercise routines to boost your immune system. This will protect your body against simple infections such as colds and flu.
  • Relax and get enough sleep – Stress and lack of sleep weakens the immune system. To reduce stress get control over your time, have regular breaks, have good eating habits, exercise, laugh often, be outdoors and go for daily walks, meditate for 15 minutes every day, and make sure to get enough sleep.
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Chicken Chunks on Caprese Skewers Mon, 18 Nov 2013 09:46:19 +0000 Party time doesn’t look better than this. This caprese skewers recipe is very tasty and delicious. Each skewer will set off a little feast in your mouth.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the green pesto:

  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ to ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup roasted hazelnuts
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the red pesto:

  • ¾ cup sun-dried cherry tomatoes
  • 1 roasted red pepper, seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup Parmesan
  • ½ cup roasted hazelnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ red chilli for some spice

For the caprice skewers:

  • 16 chicken chunks
  • 16 mozzarella balls
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 16 basil leaves
  • An optional pinch of chilli flakes

Plate with chicken chucnks on caprese skewers

Preparing the chicken caprese skewers

  1. For each kind of pesto, blend all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Add salt to your taste and pour the pesto in small into a small bowl
  2. Chicken is rich in proteins. Use one chicken breast and chop it up in small chunks of one square inch. Heat up the chicken chunks in the oven or on a frying pan. No need to use seasoning as you would like to have the taste of chicken to be dominant. But you can use your favorite herbs and spices if you wish.
  3. Skewer a cherry tomato followed by a basil leaf, a small mozzarella ball and a chicken chunk.
  4. Sprinkle some chilli flakes on the mozzarella.
  5. Serve with the pestos. Spread the pesto on your skewer and enjoy!
  6. If you get any pesto over you should use it to your past
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Tips To Improve Your Sleep Fri, 15 Nov 2013 09:38:58 +0000 Sleep is the body’s recovery period, when the body heals and relaxes. Today’s stressful lifestyle can cause sleep problems, and in the longer term it can result in health problems. Depression, poor immune function, obesity, increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and decreased sex drive, are examples of health conditions that can be related to poor sleep.

tips to improve your sleepHow much sleep do we need?

According to experts, we need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Most people sleep about 7,5 hours per night, but some people only need to sleep for 5 hours while others need to sleep for at least 9 hours. Women often need a little more sleep than men. Also, as we get older we tend to need less sleep.

Studies show that women sleep worse than men, and tend to experience more symptoms of insomnia. Worse off are the long term unemployed women and women who have taken early retirement. About 50% of these women have experienced some form of sleep disorder.

Men at the age between 45 and 54 are those who tend to sleep the best.

Do you have sleep problems?

You have sleep problems if you:

  • you have trouble falling asleep at night
  • you wake up more than three times a night and have trouble getting back to sleep again
  • you wake up an hour earlier in the morning
  • you are not refreshed when you wake up and are tired during the day

Tips on how to improve your sleep

There are different things you can do if you have trouble sleeping at night. Here are some effective tips to improve your sleep naturally:

  • Exercise – 30 minutes a day is enough. Remember not to exercise too late in the evening, because this can disrupt your sleep habits.
  • Avoid caffeine & quit smoking – Don’t drink anything that contains caffeine such as coffee, black tea and Coca Cola, especially in the evening. Smoking can also result in sleep problems.
  • Don’t eat too late – Avoid fatty and spicy foods at night. Your last meal should be 2-3 hours before getting to bed, and try to eat healthy.
  • Drink alcohol moderately – Alcohol impairs sleep quality by interfering with your deep sleep. Also, you have to get up and pee at night because of the diuretic effect.
  • Review your bedroom – Your bedroom should be quiet, dark and cool. Ear plugs and sleep mask can be helpful. Avoid ceiling lights 2 hours before going to sleep and lit a few candles instead.
    Avoid long naps – Brief nap (15 and 20 minutes) at midday may is good, but do not sleep too long, and not too close to bedtime.
  • Establish a good sleep routine – Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up the same time every morning. Good sleep routine is a way for your body to learn when it’s time to sleep.
  • Relax – Take the time to relax before you go to bed. Take a hot bath, read a book, listen to soft music, or do some yoga before bedtime for a better sleep.
  • Review your bed – Your mattress should be moderately hard to avoid back and neck problems. If you share your bed with a partner, try out a mattress for you and one for your partner.
  • Increase Serotonin for better sleep – Altered levels of serotonin can interrupt your sleep. Foods rich in tryptophan can help balancing your serotonin level. Milk, banana, turkey, chicken, fish, cottage cheese, nuts, eggs, beans, dark chocolate, and healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids all contain high levels of tryptophan. Avoid stimulants such sugar, caffeine, energy drinks, and alcohol since they all suppress serotonin. Also, exercise, relax, and get enough sunlight to boost your serotonin level.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT has helped many people to overcome their sleep problems. You will meet a specially trained therapist about 8-10 times, and learn the importance of regular routines and various relaxation techniques. You will also keep a sleep diary. Talk to your employer and contact your doctor for more information on CBT and how you can improve your sleep.

What about sleeping pills and natural herbs?

If none of the above tips to improve sleep helps, sleeping pills may be a solution. There are both prescription sleeping pills, and natural sleeping pills. Talk to your doctor and see what’s the best solution for you. Below are examples of natural herbs and oils that can help improving your sleep.

  • Chamomile – Tea made on chamomile flowers have sedative and antispasmodic properties and can help you sleep better.
  • St. John’s Wort – Can help with mild anxiety and insomnia. Not to be combined with other drugs. Talk to your doctor before using St. John’s Wort.
  • Lemon balm – The essential oil of lemon balm has a calming effect and makes it easier to fall asleep.
  • Passion Flower – Anxiolytic, muscle relaxant and pain reliever. Passion flower is considered effective against insomnia when it is combined with other herbs such as hops and chamomile.
  • Valerian – The root is dried and used. It has a long-known sleep-inducing effect and can improve sleep quality.
  • Hops – The bitter substances humulone and lupulone that are found in hops, have a sedative and hypnotic effect. In the past, people used to place hop cones in the pillow to sleep better.
  • Lavender – lavender and lavender oil have a mild sedative effect in migraine, nervousness and anxiety, and may aid in insomnia, leading to better sleep.
  • Dill – The dried dill seeds are antispasmodic and soothing. Try a cup of dill seed tea!
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Interesting Facts About Coffee Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:54:23 +0000 Did you know that coffee has been around for over 11 centuries! The Arabs traders called it quawa, the Turkish kahve, the Dutch koffie, and finally the English named it coffee.

Find out more interesting facts about coffee below and don’t forget to see the infographics at the end.

Where was coffee first discovered?

Interesting facts about coffeeThe coffee bean is a seed inside a red berry and was discovered by accident by an Ethiopian goat herder in the 9th century. The Ethiopians became aware of its benefits and made energy bars from coffee beans and animal fats. In the 17th century, Baba Budan smuggled 7 coffee seeds out of Arabia, while he was on a pilgrimage to India. It’s hard to imagine that all the world’s coffee came from 7 seeds!

The coffee had an enormous effect on the people and their legal system. For instance, the only time an Arab woman could legally divorce her husband was if he didn’t provide enough coffee! Also, coffee was banned three times during the 15th and 16th century: in today’s Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Great Britain. The British women even had a petition against coffee, saying it was turning their men into useless corpses and proposed a ban for those under 60 years of age. In the 1730s, there was even an comic opera written about a woman who was addicted to coffee, by the famous composer Johan Sebastian Bach.

How much coffee do we consume?

The laws didn’t survive the pressure from the masses who wanted coffee, and when the English chemist George Constant Washington invented the first mass-produced instant coffee in 1906, there was no turning back. The coffee was here to stay. Today, people around the world consume approximately 1.5 billion cups of coffee every day! In north America, 1/3 of the tap water is used to brew daily cups of coffee. An average coffee drinker consumes about 3 cups of coffee a day, where the average size of a coffee cup is 9 ounces.

The world’s largest coffee consumers per capita are Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The Finns consume 12 kg per year on an average!

Flavored coffee originated in the U.S. in the 1970s. Today, the Americans spend 40 millions USD on coffee each year. An average American consume around 4.2 kg per year. However, the New Yorkers drink seven times more coffee than other cities in the U.S.!

What makes a perfect Espresso?

One of the most famous coffees is the Espresso. It first appeared in Italy in the early 20th century, but has today spread worldwide and can be enjoyed at the American global coffee café called Starbucks. So what makes a good Espresso? The correct grinding of coffee beans (macinazione), the coffee blend (misclea), the espresso machine (macchina), and of course the coffee house employee / the barista (mano), are all important if you want a great Espresso. Let’s go back to the coffe beans. A typical Espresso blend can contain both Arabica and Robust coffee species.

70% of the world consumes the mild and aromatic Arabica coffee species (originally found in Ethiopia in 1753), and 30% drinks the bitter tasting Robust coffee (originally found in Zaire / Republic of Congo 1898). The Arabica coffee has the “perfect” coffee taste, but is more expensive than the Robust coffee species. To be sure whether or not Robust has been added to your Espresso blend, take a handful of the beans and look at them closely. Arabica is larger, flatter dome, oval,and has a variant underside crease – whereas Robusta is smaller (half the size of the Arabica), round, bubble dome, and has a generally straight crease.

Is coffee good for your health?

According to research, coffee can be good for your health. It can help preventing Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, gout, heart disease, and Parkinson’s (in men only). Also, people who drink six or more cups of coffee daily were 60% less likely to die from prostate cancer.

Is there any naturally decaffeinated Coffee?

The only known naturally decaffeinated coffee is found in Cameroon and is called Coffea Charrieriana. The highest sales of decaffeinated coffee is in January, probably due to New Year’s resolutions.

Which coffee is the most expensive in the world?

The smooth and caramel tasting Black Ivory Coffee is collected from elephant feces after they have consumed the Arabica coffee beans, and it sells at 1,100 USD per kg. Kopi Lowak is excreted by a Sumatran species of wild cats, and is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling at 3,000 USD per kg!

Coffee is the second most traded commodity

Coffee trees are cultivated to be 10 feet for easy picking, but can grow up to 30 feet! Africa, Brazil, and Colombia produce over 40% of the coffee in the world. The coffee industry employs 25 million people around the world. Coffee is the second most traded commodity, after oil. 4 billion USD worth of coffee is imported by the U.S. per year, but 18 billion USD is spent on specialty coffee in the U.S. every year.

Besides, drinking the coffee, it can also be used as a fertilizer and moisturizer. In Japan, where they love their hot springs, they even have a Coffee Onsen Spa. Furthermore, scientist have found that coffee may replace fossil fuel and work in engines in the future!

Infographics: 35 Interesting Facts About Coffee

interesting facts about coffee


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Foods That Soften Stool Sun, 03 Nov 2013 20:49:25 +0000 foods-that-soften-stoolRegular bowel movements are needed to remove toxins and wastes from your body. It is important to consume a variety of foods that soften stool. Junk foods, processed and refined foods, fatty foods, alcohol, dehydration and dairy products can cause constipation, a gastrointestinal condition the causes irregular bowel movements and /or hard, dry stools. When you are constipated you have a difficult time passing stools.

This condition occurs when toxins and waste move too slowly through your digestive system and intestines. Depending on the severity, constipation can last for a day or it may persist for weeks. Symptoms may include: fatigue, painful bowel movements, hard/dry stools, bloating and lower abdominal cramps. Constipation can also exacerbate gastrointestinal disorders such as: ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis.

Laxative and/or stool softeners may be used to loosen and/or soften the stool, but these remedies only work for a short amount of time. Moreover, using laxatives and stool softeners for a long amount of time can actually do more harm than good because they can interfere with your body’s ability to naturally eliminate waste and toxins.

The best way to treat or prevent constipation is to include foods that soften stool into your daily diet. Increasing your daily intake of water and fiber-rich foods will not only regulate your bowel movements, but also reduce your risk of constipation. If you are wondering what foods soften stool, you have come to the right place. This article will help you pick the best foods for constipation.

Foods that help soften stool


A food that softens stool is prunes. Prunes are dried plums that can help loosen stools. These healthy fruits are rich in fiber, antioxidants, minerals, sorbitol (a sugar-alcohol) and I satin (a crystalline compound); substances that can have a relaxing effect in your body and prevent harmful free-radicals from disrupting your digestive process and/or damaging your intestinal lining. Prunes can also encourage intestinal muscle contractions (to eliminate toxins and waste) and decrease intestinal inflammation. Grab a handful of prunes when you feel yourself straining to have a bowel movement.


Another good food for bowel movement is apples. Apple are rich in pectin (a type of fiber that bulks up your stools) and vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that strengthens your immune system, protects your body from damaging free-radicals and lowers your risk of constipation and intestinal damage. They also have a high water content, which accelerates the movement of toxins and waste through your intestines. Foods that soften stool, like apples, contain small seeds that are easily absorbed by your digestive system and eliminated from your body. Apples have the ability to soften your stools and relieve constipation in the matter of hours. Bite into an apple when you have a hard time producing a bowel movement or if you experience dry, hard stool.


Fenugreek is another stool softener food that is used as a remedy for constipation. Fenugreek is an herb that is rich in fiber. It is important to note that its use for constipation or stool softening has not been scientifically proven for safety or effectiveness at this time. Other herbal foods that soften stool include: cascara segrada and senna leaves. Contact your physician before using herbs to treat constipation and/or dry, hard stools.


Another food to help relieve constipation is flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are rich in fiber and essential fatty acids, healthy fats that soften stool and ease constipation. The best way to use flaxseeds as a stool softener is to add approximately 2 tablespoons of flaxseed to your cereal or meals.

Bran Cereals

Other foods that soften stool include bran cereals (Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran and Oat Bran warm cereal). Bran cereals are rich in fiber, which aid in digestion and support regular bowel movements. Bran cereals can also ease stomach cramps often associated with constipation. Other cereals that soften stool are: Cream of Wheat and grits. Boost your fiber intake by adding almonds to your bran cereal.


Carrots are foods that soften stool. Raw vegetables, like carrots, not only increase the amount of oxygen transported to your intestines, they also aid in digestion and soften hard, dry stools. Other foods that help soften stool include: broccoli, greens, cabbage, celery and lettuce.

Water and Warm Liquids

Water and warm liquids can soften stool. Liquids can help ease pressure in your intestines caused by hard, dry stools. In addition, warm liquids like coffee, hot lemon water and tea are considered natural laxatives that push waste and toxins through your intestines. Drinking approximately 2 liters of liquids (preferably water) a day can promote regular bowel movements and lower your risk of constipation. Grab of a bottle of water when you feel yourself becoming dehydrated.


Foods that soften stool include beans. Legumes, like adzuki beans and soybeans, are rich in calcium, zinc, iron, protein and fiber, nutrients that soften stool, regulate normal bowel movements, aid in digestion, repair injuries and strengthen your immune system. Add beans into your diet by fixing a pot of chili or making bean burritos for dinner.

Aloe Vera Juice

Another natural stool softener is Aloe Vera juice. This type of juice can be purchased at your local drugstore, grocery store or health food store. It is considered a natural laxative that can accelerate the elimination of toxins and waste. It can also soften hard, dry stools and encourage regular bowel movements. It is important to follow the directions on the bottle as to avoid adnominal pain and cramps. You can also purchase Aloe Vera in dried herbal form, but the juice provides the most benefits. Soften your stool with a glass of fresh fruit and Aloe Vera juice.

Dried Apricots

Dried apricots are fruits that help with constipation. Dried apricots are rich in fiber, which aids in digestion. When the dried apricots come in contact with your digestive fluids it softens and loosens your stools. Relieve constipation by snacking on dried apricots when you have problems producing a bowel movement. Other fiber-rich foods that soften stool include: strawberries, blueberries, pears, bananas and avocados.


Yogurt is a food that softens stool. Yogurt is rich in probiotics, healthy bacteria that helps keep your digestive system and intestines healthy. This natural stool softener increases, eases and improve the consistency and frequency of your bowel movements. Other probiotic foods good for constipation and/or dry stool include: kefir, sauerkraut and Kombucha tea. Relieve painful and/or difficult bowel movements by snacking on a cup of yogurt each day.


One of the best foods for constipation is almonds. Almonds contain a large amount of fiber, which softens stool and relieves constipation. These nuts help move food, toxins and waste through your intestines. It is important to drink plenty of water with the almonds to prevent constipation. Lower your risk of constipation by munching on 10 to 15 almonds a day.


Balch, P. A. (2010). Prescription for nutritional healing. New York, NY: Avery Trade.
Castleman, M. (2010). The new healing herbs. New York, NY: Bantam.
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Constipation. Retrieved from
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Water: How much water should you drink every day? Retrieved from
The Dr. Oz Show. (2013). How Is constipation treated? Retrieved from

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