Super-foods with Super-Benefits

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy Superfoods and Healthy Skinfood.”

(Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine.)

Two thousand years later, modern medicine changes the perspective to “a pill for every ill”. Where’s food in this equation? Nutritionists try to bring it back as the fundamental of health and insist that most of our health problems can be prevented and why not, alleviated or cured with proper nutrition. This doesn’t equal a load of vitamins in a colorful jar, as nutrients are not only vitamins and minerals, but also include the antioxidants, dietary fiber and enzymes from raw food, which are crucial to the well-being of our body. Nutritionists advise: a 51% raw daily diet would be most appropriate for our bodies.

As far as beauty is concerned, an inclusive approach to skincare teaches us that good health is also reflected on the outside: “looking” healthy is a kind of beauty that no skincare or makeup product can replicate. But in today’s world where stressors and processed foods threaten our health and produce more damage than our body can take, this inclusive approach to skincare seems to be a difficult task.

Super-foods to the rescue! A minimum daily intake can provide our body with a significant amount of necessary nutrients that would make up for the chronic lack from other sources. The “super-food” term has become quite popular in the past few years and has made a huge impact on the diet considerations. Defined as “foods with high phytonutrient content that may confer health benefits”, super-foods are a daily must-have in your meals. We could very well add “beauty benefits” to the health ones.

Which are the best super-foods?

Berries – most of these berries pack more antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber than any other fruit: goji berries, blueberries, raspberries.

Broccoli – always available and one of the best everyday choices. High in vitamin A, C, calcium and fiber. It is of great help in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Garlic – known to fight cholesterol, it is also our immune-system’s ally because of its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Egyptians trusted garlic to give them strength and heal a lot of ailments.

Nuts – nuts and seeds make an excellent source of protein, heart-healthy vitamins and fats. Have a handful with your meals every day: almonds, peanuts, flax seed or pumpkin seed are popular choices.

Spice – cinnamon & turmeric stand out on the spice shelf nowadays and have been proven to help with diverse ailments ever since the ancient times.

Oats – always great for your body because of their high fiber and protein content.

Salmon – rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, this fish leads the battle against heart disease and guarantees our body -and our skin’s!- well-being. Rainbow trout is a great (and tasty) alternative.

Spinach – praised for its high contents of vitamin C. calcium and Iron, spinach is essential for a healthy body.

Mushrooms – often omitted in favor of vegetables and fruit, but they should definitely make the super-food list. The common button mushrooms and any other edible types are great immunity boosters and fight cancer. A significant source of selenium, B-vitamins, magnesium and potassium.

Tomatoes – they are high in lycopene (the bright red pigment called carotene) and are known to fight cancer.

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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Simple suggestions for making good food choices

Looking at the broad sweep of human history, we who are lucky enough to live in the developed world are surrounded by an unprecedented abundance of food and food choices. Freed from the struggle to find enough food to survive in our immediate environment, a struggle that has marked most of human existence, we have the luxury of declining to eat certain foods that our ancestors would have gladly eaten. This freedom from want allows us to make informed choices to improve the nutritional quality of our diet, but it has also fueled the demonization of foods like wheat and dairy that have long been valued as wholesome and the exaltation of foods like kale and quinoa, which have long lingered in comparative dietary obscurity.

This freedom from want allows us to make informed choices to improve the nutritional quality of our diet, but it has also fueled the demonization of foods

So how are we to make the most of our food freedom when we are constantly bombarded with new revelations about heroes and villains lurking in our kitchensonly to have those revelations revealed in turn as the work of publicity seekers pedaling bad science?

Suggestions for making good food choices:

Dont Make Any Sudden Moves

Radical shifts in your diet, or any other aspect of your life, are rarely a great idea. Unless a food or product is the subject of a recall because it is contaminated or unwholesome, you can generally continue to consume it while you are learning more about the pros and cons of including it in your diet.

Consider the Source

This is true both for the source of your food and the source of your information about food. The gold standard for both would be clean and ethically produced. If food is sourced from someplace where agricultural products are not inspected, there are no restrictions on the use of pesticides, and working conditions are unsafe and unsanitary, you probably shouldn’t consume it. Similarly, if food “science” comes from a ”dirty” source with an economic or political interest in the “story”, you probably shouldn’t consume it either. While no single source of information is entirely reliable, the editorial standards for publication in established medical journals are fairly high and provide some level of screening to help filter out some of the junk science.

Look for Corroboration

Real science takes time and generates results that can be repeated. A tremendous amount of research and peer review of that research is needed to start to tease out the truth about any subject. Many of the tantalizing or horrifying food stories that we read, especially those stories that bubble up in the unedited wilderness of the Internet, are based upon things suggested by early findings and small studies.

Listen to Your Body and Your Doctor

Trust your experience. If something hasn’t bothered you in the past, it probably isn’t going to be a problem in the short term while you are deciding whether it is a good choice for you. Dont forget that you are uniquefrom your smile to the curves of your digestive tract. If your best friend is one of the very small number of people who cannot tolerate gluten, that doesn’t mean your health will improve if you eliminate certain grains from your diet. But if you are experiencing some symptoms of a food allergy or intolerance, most often digestive and dermatological issues, it is important to talk to your doctor about how to identify a problem food and eliminate it from your diet.

Miracle Foods

Goji berries? Acai berries? Coconut water? Kale? Each of these foods is wonderful in its own way, but there are no magic berries, leaves, teas or juices that will change your life. All plant-based foods, in their whole, natural, unprocessed state, are truly miracle foods packed with antioxidants, vitamins and other healthful phytochemicals. Enjoy them in as fresh and unprocessed a state as you can, and enjoy them as a diverse assortment. Humans have evolved to be quite successful as omnivores, and we thrive on a varied diet. Dietary diversity really is key, because when it comes to foods, we really can have too much of a good thing and the current kale craze provides an excellent example. Doctors are seeing people in their offices with digestive issues and symptoms of severe thyroid gland suppression as a result of obsessive over-consumption of kale.

Savor the Flavors of Life

No matter what food choices you make, don’t let food be one more source of stress and anxiety. Try to follow a simple 80/20 strategy to build the bulk of your diet; 80%, from whole foods with a special emphasis on colorful, water-rich fruits and vegetables and 20% from foods that you love, regardless of their inherent healthfulness. Sharing foods you love with those you love will give a bigger boost to the health of your heart than you’ll ever get from a bowl of chia seeds.

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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Take a Deep Breath

The practice of quieting your mind and focusing on your breath is not just for the enlightened. Here’s one of my favorite deep breathing exercises. It can be done at any time and any place. Try it lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair while maintaining good posture.

  • Close your eyes and relax your body as much as possible. Scan your body from head to toe and let go of any tension.
  • Pay attention to your breathing. With one hand on your heart and another on your belly, notice the rise and fall of each breath. If you are using the lower part of your lungs, your abdomen should be noticeably rising and falling. Your chest should not be rising nearly as much.
  • Continue breathing deeply through your nose.
  • After several more breaths, inhale slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Keep your mouth, tongue, jaw relaxed.
  • Continue this pattern of methodical breathing as you stay relaxed, and focus on the sound and feeling of long, slow, deep breaths.

relax2

Meditation is not for everyone, but it’s also not just for monks anymore. With time and patience, anyone can learn to meditate. It’s like entering a deeply restful sleep while being fully awake; its casting the human brain back to a more primitive state where we are freed of our analytical and critical selves. In this blissful state of mind, you are more aware of senses and feelings rather than negativity and stress. Here’s a simple way to try it:

  • Sit in a quiet comfortable spot. Be mindful of your posture. Set a timer for five or ten minutes.
  • Choose a word to repeat to yourself. Many people like to use the word “om” because it has been shown to be calming. Or you can murmur “breathe in” and “breathe out” to yourself, or count your breaths from one to ten, then repeat.
  • Close your eyes and focus on your work or count. When thoughts intrude, gently bring your attention back to the words or count.
  • Keep going as long as you can without falling asleep.
  • When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes. How do you feel?

 

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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Do Skin Types Matter

There’s no dearth of skin products on the market to match every skin type, but don’t let it drive you crazy. Go by how your skin feels in response to the products you choose. Most people are oily in some places and drier in others. A few tips to consider:

  • If you’ve got oily skin, don’t be afraid to cleanse, treat and moisturize twice a day, as would a person with dry skin. Even though your skin looks “moist” doesn’t mean you could be missing key lipids to maintain your skin’s barrier: Your oil glands within the follicles are simply genetically programmed to be more active. Try using a cleanser with hydroxy acids on alternative days, or more often if your skin seems to respond well to it.
  • Dry skin is the most fragile. Be careful about over cleansing and over exfoliating, as your skin is more susceptible to irritation. Use a cleanser and tone with hydrating ingredients and exfoliate gently (and not every day). Look for products that contain skin soothers such as chamomile extract and arnica.
  • Fair-skinned people and those who spend a lot of time outdoors need to be extra cautious about over exposure to UV radiation. While a sunscreen with SPF 15 if sufficient for many, I recommend upping that coverage to at least 30 if you’re more sensitive to the sun. Similarly, if you take drugs that increase your sensitivity to the sun, which is the case for birth control pills, for example, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
  • Don’t overdo it. No matter what kind of skin you have, it’s easy to over clean and over exfoliate and in a word, irritate. You can also trigger excessive oil production with excessive use of soaps, cleansers, scrubs, and toners made with drying alcohols. Listen to what your skin is telling you and adjust your skin care routine accordingly

Give products up to six months to work and show results.

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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Healthy Eating for a Healthy Body

In addition to eating foods containing the specific nutrients that directly eliminate cellulite, it is necessary to create an environment of inclusive health within your body. Your system will find it easier to smooth out the imperfections in your skin if it is also running smoothly internally. Having a healthy mental state is another vital step in repairing any affliction in your body. An unnecessarily strict diet that causes undue stress eventually winds up doing more harm than good, and it is unlikely that you will stick to it.

Five Tips for Healthy Eating:

  1. Eat when you are hungry, not when you think you should eat.
  2. Stop eating when you are full, not when your plate is empty.
  3. Listen to your body. We often get cravings for food rich in nutrients that we are deficient in.
  4. Substitute healthy alternatives and cellulite-stopping foods whenever possible.
  5. Take supplements every day.

Smoothies are an excellent energy booster and a great breakfast option or mid-afternoon snack. For best flavor and smooth consistency, drink them as soon as you have made them. Experiment with different fruits, juices, and spices. Dried fruits offer another good option when your favorite fresh fruits are not in your local market.

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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What is the differences between Cellulite and Stretch Marks?

Think of a rubber band that is stretched out over time. It loses its elasticity and becomes weak. The same thing with your connective tissue. As parts of it become damaged and brittle, their newly ridged texture and lack of elasticity become visible. Stretch marks are cause by acute damage to specific areas of the body that are stretched. It affects 70% of adolescent females and 40% of young males, 90% of pregnant women (during the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy). The most common areas where they occur is on the abdomen, thighs, breasts in women; armpits in men. Stretch marks affects adolescents experiencing growth spurts, body builders who practice strenuous and repetitive exercise, users of topical and systemic steroids, people with massive weight gain and loss (including pregnancy), and people with certain diseases such as tuberculosis.

You know that fatty tissue is found in most parts of your body to varying degrees. It primarily functions as a protective cushion for your organs and as an energy reserve. When you reduce your normal intake of food, your body automatically burns its own reservoir of stored fat. On a low-calorie diet, fat comes off in many areas, but the cellulite bulges remain. Cellulite is a complex disease or problem that starts with damage to the vascular system. Its causes are both hormonal and genetic. It affects 80-90% of women and rarely seen in men. The most common areas they appear are on the thighs, hips, buttocks, knees, upper arms and abdomen.

It’s rarely discussed, but the skin of your behind needs special care too. Bring the saying soft as a babys bottom to your own backside by exfoliating the skin on your derrière 2-3 times per week with your favorite body scrub or dry brush. Minimize the appearance of cellulite by using topical products like the Firming Peptide Body Treatment that help restore skin elasticity and firmness. Or get a deep tissue massage (butt included) to help break up that connective tissue and improve circulation for healthy skin everywhere!

Dont forget to take care of your skin – all of it! Your body will thank you.

Recommended products for Cellulite and Stretch Marks

 

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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Skin is a water gauge

The Water Principle is not about drinking four to eight or twelve glasses a day, it is about getting water into cells and keeping it there so that every one of the trillions of cells in your body functions at full capacity.

Next to oxygen, water is the most important substance you need, and almost everything we know about aging tells us that the decline in function over the years is a story of water loss. At birth, about 75 percent of our weight is water, but gradually as we age we lose the ability to hold on to water. On average, man is about 60 percent water and a 15 percent decrease in water may not seem like much, but as you’ll see, if we look at the cheek of a baby and a seventy-year-old, it makes a dramatic, visible difference.

The skin is the largest and only visible organ of the body, and it reflects the aging processes – including water loss – that occur throughout the body. The damaged, water-deprived fibers and cells, and the gel-like substance in which they are all embedded, tell me that a similar situation exists in the cells of the heart, the muscles, the liver, the walls of the blood vessels, and the joints. Each and every cell of the body is connected. Therefore, if water is lost from the epidermis, those cells will withdraw water from somewhere else. It comes from the fluid circulating around the cells, then from an adjacent cell or from the dermis beneath it, and eventually from other tissues or cells of other organs.

Water is essential to the life of every living cell. It is what keeps a cell from collapsing in on itself, so one of the purposes of the body’s natural chemistry is to insure that each cell from the brain to the heart to the organs of the abdomen are kept plump with fluid on the inside and lubricated with moisture on the outside. Water also gives volume to the blood and pliability to the tissues. You can see this in your skin.

Without an adequate water supply, the skin cells, disintegrate. Structures that support skin become stiff and lose flexibility. The skin layers become thin and flat. Blood vessel walls become fragile, porous, and leak water like old pipes. Nutrients can’t be delivered, and waste materials aren’t carried away. And the more water that’s lost, the more fragile and penetrable the barrier is. That weakening means even more water is lost, and a destructive, self-perpetuating cycle is set in motion.

You can put a stop to this water loss. You can rebuild a vital strong barrier than not only gives you a more youthful appearance but also functions at its full potential, defending itself against further water loss.

Read more about:
The Science of Cellular Water
Health Benefits of Watermelon
3 Rules for good health
Recipe for hydration
 

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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Free to Be Happy and Healthy

Summer is traditionally a time to celebrate freedom. People all throughout the Northern Hemisphere feel a spirit of freedom in the air throughout the summer months. The combination of warmer temperatures, extra hours of daylight, lighter work schedules and a recess for most schools gives us freedom to explore new places and new possibilities for personal growth. And it’s not surprising if you feel healthier and happier in this season of freedom—most people do.

What you may not realize is that there are real and tangible psychological and physiological factors which feed the summer boost to our mood. Extra summer daylight and the brighter quality of that summer light both have a direct effect on the production of hormones that regulate our moods and our waking and sleeping cycles. This hormonal effect may be part of the reason people report fewer episodes of depression during the summer months. The free time that comes with extra daylight hours and lighter summer schedules also gives us an opportunity to relax and have some “me time” to try and recover from the chronic Cultural Stress® that can burden us and erode our health and sense of well-being.

I strongly encourage you to make the most of this opportunity to unwind by truly unplugging, at home and on vacation. I also encourage you to heal your spirit and body by behaving like a child during your free time by letting go of unreasonable expectations and negative thinking. And if you are planning to take a family vacation, please take to heart the following advice “be imperfect; live longer.” Don’t fall into the trap of pressuring yourself to deliver an ultimate vacation experience for the whole family. Try not to over-plan and try to let everyone have an age-appropriate amount of input—it will be less stressful for all concerned if the agenda represents a family collaboration instead of a parental imposition. I hope you have a wonderful summer with many memorable moments and that the health and happiness you rediscover this summer will stay with you throughout the year.

 

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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Adventures in Good Health

We’ve all heard the ancient maxim, “travel is broadening.” New places, faces and foods certainly stimulate our senses, and there is nothing like looking at the local newspaper while you visiting a new city to help shake off that home-centric perspective.

But I believe the benefits of travel are more than just intellectual. I think there can be emotional benefits as well. For example, while there may be certain stressful challenges involved in travel, it’s a healthy stress that actually energizes you to help you focus on overcoming obstacles. Each little challenge you meet, from finding your way to your hotel to ordering off the menu in a foreign language, gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment. It’s why travel stress is really the opposite of unhealthy, chronic Cultural Stress®, which keeps you constantly overstimulated, taxes every system in your body, robs you of productive energy and makes it hard to focus.

To make sure that you get the most out of your travels, remember that a vacation from your ordinary work, school or home duties shouldn’t mean a vacation from healthy habits you practice as part of an Inclusive Health® lifestyle. Plan for your travels with TSA-approved sizes of your favorite skincare products, including a strong SPF for your day tours, to make sure you look your healthy best. Be mindful of your food choices so that your body has high-quality nutrition, which is the key to living well. Last but not least, try not to over-plan so that you have enough time to take care of yourself and get the sleep you need to feel better and see the world with fresh eyes every day.

One last tip—keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth. The same simple protocols that can help keep you safe at home during cold and flu season can help you on the road. Airplanes, airports, trains, cabs, elevator and ATM buttons, even restaurant menus are common collection points for the sorts of organisms that can ruin your trip.

 

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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How to Take Care of Yourself

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At the end of the workday, are you going out for drinks or off to yoga? Will dinner be steak or salmon? Countless studies have demonstrated that the lifestyle choices we make have a significant influence on both the length and the quality of our lives. Everyone has heard the endless messages telling us to eat better, sleep better and get more exercise, yet statistics show that only a small percentage of us manage to follow most programs in the long term.

So why don’t we all do the right thing and take better care of ourselves? A recent article by Jane E. Brody, for the New York Times, Rethinking Exercise as a Source of Immediate Rewards, revisits some very interesting research on motivation by Dr. Michelle Segar who directs the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan. Dr. Segar has concluded that most people fail at programs that are built around long-term goals like weight loss. Surprisingly, people on these kinds of goal-focused programs actually spend less time exercising. The people who do exercise regularly are the people who find immediate rewards from exercise. Exercise is immediately relevant to them because they enjoy the activity or they enjoy the way the feel physically and/or psychologically when they make exercise a part of their day. Naturally, they achieve long-term benefits from the activity, but those are almost seen as a bonus or a byproduct of the activity that gives people pleasure, revitalization or perhaps even a sense of daily accomplishment.

I’ve seen the same results play out with people who have come to embrace Inclusive Health® as a gentle structure around which to shape a true wellness lifestyle. Each of the three facets of Inclusive Health, Looking Better, Living Better and Feeling Better, offers immediate rewards as well as long-term benefits.   When we give our skin the daily attention it deserves, as our largest and most connected organ, we Look Better immediately. Fast results help reinforce our adherence to our skincare routine, and we receive “secondary” rewards in the form of better long-term skin health and better appearance, since skin looks younger longer. Living Better, by making good food choices and using dietary supplements, gives us immediate rewards as we discover the pleasure of eating well; short-term rewards as we start to sleep better and have better digestive health; and long-term rewards such as better management of weight, blood pressure, blood sugars and inflammation. Feeling Better, by valuing ourselves and finding ways to maximize our happiness, rewards us in the short term as we make time to do the things we love, and in the long term by helping us to resist and recover from the toll on the body and mind that the Cultural Stress® of a 24/7, plugged-in lifestyle can take.

If you focus on the daily return on your investment of time and energy, you’ll discover that following the guidance of Inclusive Health to find true wellness isn’t a duty that requires discipline—it’s a journey that yields endless rewards.

 

Doctor Murad Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.

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