Laughter is Medicine

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Laughter is the outward physical expression of humor, joy and delight. And, it’s more than that. There is a strong correlation between laughter and happiness and health.

In the 1300s Henri de Mondeville, professor of surgery, encouraged post operative therapy that consisted of laughter producing humor. And Norman Cousins, a professor and journalist, developed his own mood elevating treatment based on daily laughter. Ten minutes of laughter a day, he claimed, resulted in two hours of pain free sleep.

Laughter is medicine. Experiencing giggles, chuckles and belly laughs heals the body and promotes overall health in amazing ways.

Laughter is Medicine title meme

What Happens in the Body When You Laugh

All kinds of things make us laugh. A funny movie, a silly joke, our pet’s crazy antics or a child’s cute mispronounciation of a word gives us the giggles. Sometimes we laugh from nervousness, relief or even fear. Whatever the cause, during a bout of laughter the human body experiences changes.

A wave of electrical energy sweeps through the cerebral cortex. One side of the brain processes language or sights while the other side tries to make sense of what caused the laughter. We may reach a heightened emotional state that can produce tears. And we get a boost of happiness from the release of endorphins in the brain.

Fifteen muscles in the face contract during laughter. Just hearing someone laugh makes our facial muscles begin to contract, creating a contagious response.

Extended laughter makes the muscles relax and even weaken. The respiratory system responds by half closing off the larynx, resulting in gasps for air, a red face and sometimes that pig snorting sound! Extreme laughter can even cause fainting, as one of my sisters discovered.

Contracting muscles in the abdomen can even make you pee yourself as you laugh.

Laughter is Medicine inside joke
Laughter is Medicine – Greg and I got the giggles at a museum while trying to take a selfie

The Benefits of Laughter

Laughter truly is the best medicine, playing a major role in creating better health. (Read about six other simple health practices with big results HERE.)

Check out these amazing health boosters that laughter provides.

Strengthens the Immune System

Laughter, along with getting plenty of rest and vitamin D producing sunshine, strengthens the immune system. People who laugh often reduce stress related hormones in the body while increasing the number of T cells and natural killer cells, two things that help the body stay strong and healthy.

Gives the Body a Mini Workout

There’s a reason your abs feel sore after a good laugh. Laughter increases heart and respiration rates while causing muscles in the abdomen to contract. These mini workouts caused by laughter are similar to a short burst of aerobic exercise. Additionally, laughing for 10 to 15 minutes burns up to 40 calories during those big belly laughs.

Laughter is Medicine belly laugh
Laughter is Medicine – belly laughs are actually good for the belly

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

The giggles instantly lowers the body’s stress response and releases tension held in the muscles. Plus it plays a significant role in decreasing anxiety due to the release of the feel good hormones, endorphins. Laughter also helps you deal with challenging circumstances such as illnesses, embarrassing situations and life struggles.

Clears the Mind and Improves Focus

We are all familiar with brain fog. Laughter changes the chemistry in the brain, helping you think more clearly. And laughing engages the brain in a way that instantly sharpens focus, boosting productivity. Experiencing a mid afternoon slump? Watch a few minutes of a funny video like this one on YouTube.

Laughter is Medicine funny movie
Laughter is Medicine – watch a funny movie to boost productivity

Increases Blood Flow

Laughter increases blood flow…to the heart, improving cardiovascular health…and throughout the body. Stress narrows the blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Laughing expands them, increasing the flow of oxygen rich blood to vital organs and the extremities. Doctors discovered that leg ulcers healed faster when the patients laughed, due to increased blood flow that lowered inflammation.

Boosts Creativity

Laughter loosens up the mind, creating a relaxed state that makes you feel emotionally secure. That state of relaxation enables creative ideas to surface and flourish. Plus problem solving abilities increase after a good laugh.

Laughter is Medicine giggle laugh
Laughter is Medicine – creativity and problem solving increase

Better Quality of Life for Older Adults

Laughter improves the quality of life for older adults by increasing blood vessel function, relieving stress and anxiety and boosting happiness. Additionally, frequent bouts of laughter improves memory and reduces blood pressure and high cholesterol by increasing oxygen through blood circulation. Laughing increases endorphins and dopamine while reducing stress chemicals in the body. And it helps senior with bronchitis and asthma by exercising the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

Improves Relationships

Ask people what’s important to them, in their relationship with another, and many answer “a good sense of humor”. Laughter improves personal relationships, so much so that some experts believe that all other health benefits flow from the improved social support that laughter brings. Laughing together forms bonds, deepens connections, emotionally attunes people to one another and crosses language barriers. Laughter can diffuse a tense situation and lighten moods.

Laughter is Medicine birthday laugh
Laughter is Medicine – better quality of life for seniors

Bring More Laughter into Your Life

So how can you laugh more? Try these ideas.

  • smile more, signaling your brain and other people that you are ready to laugh
  • inject humor into conversations by asking if anything funny happened recently
  • tell funny stories and listen to giggle inducing tales from others
  • tell jokes and ask for one in return
  • read funny stories or crack open a joke book
  • watch humorous films and comedy series
  • laugh at yourself, often
  • watch funny videos on YouTube
  • attend a comedy club
  • watch comedians online or on tv
  • try out a laughing yoga class
  • spend time with kids…they are often hilarious
  • play with your pets and allow them to entertain you

Laughter does the heart and body good. It lightens mood, lifts the spirits and because it is contagious, it spreads easily to others, benefiting them too.

My grandchildren make me laugh. Funny movies and happy surprises do too. And sometimes I crack myself up when I’m feeling particularly witty.

What makes you laugh?

Laughter is Medicine laughing in Italy
Laughter is Medicine – my grandson Dayan and I cracking up in Italy

 

Laughter Finds on Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors

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Ahhh summertime. It’s the season of playing outdoors, camping and swimming. We take road trips, hike through the woods, frolic at the beach and get away for a fun vacation.

We know being outdoors is good for us…fresh air, vitamin D producing sunshine and peaceful nature…however some of the benefits are lesser known.

Check out these 10 surprising benefits of being outdoors. And then get outside to explore and play and boost your health.

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors title meme

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors

This year, with COVID19, stay at home orders and social distancing, getting outside is crucial. Not only is nature a safe environment, when maintaining distance from others and wearing a mask when necessary, it offers the gifts of health, wellness, clarity and well being.

Look at the surprising ways the outdoors heals us.

Improves Focus

Studies reveal that when we lose our ability to concentrate or focus on a task, getting outdoors for a few minutes helps us “clear our heads”. Nature allows the brain to take a break from mentally taxing activities, restoring focus when it’s time to concentrate again. Getting outdoors even improves the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Supports Aging Gracefully

While too much sun can actually age unprotected skin, a recent study found that adults over the age of 70 benefit from time outdoors. Improvements include better sleep, less aches and pains, increased mobility and the ability to perform daily activities more easily.

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors Edinburgh park
I’m not over 70 however I’m all for aging gracefully, one of the 10 surprising benefits of being outdoors.

Speeds Up the Healing Process

Sickness, disease and surgery are all conditions that can increase stress in our lives. And stress slows the healing process. Researchers discovered that patients who spent time outdoors during recovery required fewer pain meds. Additionally, they had fewer complications and experienced shorter hospital stays.

Reduces Inflammation

Connected to speeding up the healing process is the fact that being outdoors helps to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is linked to a host of health issues, from autoimmune disorders to depression to cancer. Studies show that spending time in green spaces calms the body’s inflammatory response.

For the greatest benefits, spend time in green spaces such as forests, meadows, parks and gardens, anywhere there’s an abundance of trees, grass and plants.

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors bridge
10 surprising benefits of being outdoors – walking in the woods to reduce inflammation

Boosts Immunity

We’ve learned just how important a strong immune system is, for fighting off viruses and infections. If you frequently catch what’s going around, spending time outdoors can help.

Trees and plants are especially beneficial for the immune system. Plants produce phytoncides that increase the production of a type of white blood cell in humans. These so called killer cells respond quickly to pathogens invading the body. Plus exposure to sunlight strengthens infection fighting T cells.

Sparks Creativity

Did you know that spending time outdoors can spark creativity? The best ideas come to us when we are relaxed and a bit unfocused. See my post on why showering creates the perfect environment for creative ideas.

Unplugging from the laptop or cell phone and taking a walk outside gives the mind a break, which allows a flow of fresh ideas to arise.

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors creativity
Giving the brain a break and enjoying the beauty of nature allows creativity to flow.

Relieves Stress, Anxiety and Depression

One of the best ways to relieve stress, anxiety and depression is spending time outdoors. Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is the Japanese practice of connecting with nature through the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.

So how does forest bathing improve mental health? Spending time in nature lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. We need cortisol, for optimal health, however chronic elevated levels create health issues including anxiety, depression, memory and concentration problems and sleep disorders.

May Help Prevent Cancer

Research on this topic is ongoing, however, preliminary studies suggest that spending time in nature, especially forests, stimulates the production of anti-cancer proteins.

This boost in proteins last up to seven days after walking in the woods. Additionally, researchers found that areas with greater forest coverage have lower mortality rates from a broad range of cancers. This is a promising area of exploration.

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors walk in the woods
A walk in the woods can help prevent cancer, one of 10 surprising benefits of being outdoors

Boosts Energy

When we feel like we need an energy boost, we often reach for a cup of coffee or a sugary soda. Instead of loading up on caffeine trying getting outside.

One study even suggests that spending 20 minutes outside boosts the brain and energy levels as much as a cup of coffee. Another study found that when participants simply looked at photos of nature, their energy levels surged upward. Pictures of cities did not have the same effect. Skip the pretty photos though, if possible, and step out into the fresh air.

Increasing Life Satisfaction

Getting outside has a positive effect on mood. More than that though, a recent study found that men and women who spent just 20 minutes outdoors in a park increased their level of life satisfaction by 64%!

Participants didn’t even have to exercise. Simply visiting the park boosted overall feelings of well being. Sitting on a park bench, strolling through a garden, having a picnic on a green expanse of grass is the ideal way to give spirits a lift.

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors - park bench
Increased satisfaction with life is one of 10 surprising benefits of being outdoors.

Go Outside

As a child, I spent most of my summer outdoors. I swam, climbed trees, rode my bike and played a multitude of games with kids in the neighborhood. We ate lunch and often dinner on our porches and didn’t go inside until our parents called for us after sunset.

Today, kids spend an average of four to seven minutes a day outside. And adults spend 87% of their time indoors.

It’s no wonder our health suffers.

These are easy ways to boost health and well being. Get outside. Visit the park, hike through the woods, swim in the lake, meditate on the beach, plant flowers in a garden. Although activity outdoors is beneficial too, the simple act of being outdoors contributes mightily to our overall health.

Do you have a green space that you enjoy? I’d love to hear about it.

10 Surprising Benefits of Being Outdoors stream
10 surprising benefits of being outdoors – find a green space to enjoy

 

 

Enjoy the outdoors with these Amazon finds:


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day

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July is National Blueberry Month and the 8th, National Blueberry Day. Summer provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy this seasonal fruit. Thankfully, however, frozen blueberries allow us to benefit from their goodness year around.

Wild blueberries, especially, offer amazing health benefits. Check out how they boost health and support wellness here. My dad introduced me to blueberries while I was still a toddler. He loved blueberry pie and cobbler. I’m grateful that I grew up appreciating this dark blue berry.

After embracing a plant based lifestyle, I discovered it’s not only simple to include blueberries in my diet, it is extremely desirable!

Check out these easy recipes for National Blueberry Day and enjoy summer’s bounty!

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Easy Ways to Include Blueberries

Before sharing links to recipes, consider these simple ways to add blueberries to your diet.

  • add fresh or frozen berries to smoothies and smoothie bowls
  • top pancakes or waffles with blueberries
  • use as a dessert topping, such as for vegan wacky cupcakes
  • mix fresh or frozen blueberries with other berries for a simple fruit bowl
  • my favorite, grab a handful of fresh blueberries to snack on
Recipes for National Blueberry Day pancakes
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – gluten free pancakes with organic maple syrup and fruit

Recipes for National Blueberry Day

Try any of these delicious blueberry recipes in today’s round up. They are all healthy versions of traditional favorites.

Gluten Free and Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

These snack sized blueberry muffins are perfect with afternoon tea or to pack along on a picnic. And they are gluten, oil, egg and refined sugar free as well, making them extra healthy.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day mini muffins
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – mini muffins

Raw Wild Blueberry Pie

This wonderful plant based recipe, from Life Changing Foods by Anthony William, is sugar and gluten free, with no baking required. Light, fruity and so satisfying, this pretty pie is perfect for holidays or special occasions.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day pie
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – raw pie

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

Do you enjoy banana bread? This one ups the yums by adding wild blueberries. This beautiful loaf is free from gluten, refined sugar, eggs and diary products. However it’s full of flavor. I love a slice of this bread with a cup of herbal tea.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day bread
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – blueberry banana bread

Blueberry Scones

I love scones. They perfectly complement a cup of hot tea. The challenge is finding a vegan recipe that is also gluten free. This recipe is the best one I’ve tried yet, although I’m always on the hunt for more scone recipes.

These blueberry scones are so easy to make, and they are gluten, dairy, refined sugar, egg and oil free. And the taste? They are wonderful and satisfy my desire for a tea time treat.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day scones
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – scones

Healthy Blueberry Crisp

I’m excited to try this recipe from the blog Erin Lives Whole. This blueberry crisp is vegan, gluten free and comes together in just ten minutes. Instead of a traditional crust for the topping, Erin combines oats with almond flour, walnuts, coconut oil and maple syrup.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day crisp
Blueberry crisp – photo from Erin Lives Whole blog.

Triple Layer Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

And one more luscious dessert from Erin Lives Whole. These cheesecake bars, using vegan cream cheese, granola and a chia blueberry jam, look amazing. I am excited to try them as well.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day cheesecake
Triple Layer Blueberry Cheesecake Bars – photo from Erin Lives Whole blog.

Favorite Blueberry Dessert

I love blueberries so much that any dessert featuring these berries is a winner with me. What I love even more are these healthier versions of blueberry desserts that don’t contain unwanted sugar, fat, eggs or dairy products.

I hope you’ll enjoy these special treats. And remember that the whole month of July is for celebrating the blueberry. I’d love to see what you create with these tasty berries.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day smoothie bowl
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – smoothie bowl

 

Baking Finds from Amazon:

 


 

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Vegan Cowboy Beans

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Since embracing a plant based lifestyle, I’ve looked for a replacement for my mom’s famous Settler Baked Beans. That tasty dish contains bacon, ground beef and brown sugar, all ingredients that I now avoid.

While preparing a round up of vegan one pot meals, I came across this recipe for vegan cowboy beans by Contentedness Cooking. Check out the original recipe HERE.

I adapted the recipe slightly. That’s one of the pluses of this simple recipe, it is easy to create your own unique dish based on preferences and what you have on hand.

Vegan Cowboy Beans title meme

Vegan Cowboy Beans

I love that this recipe comes together in minutes, using canned beans and pantry staples. And all the ingredients go into one pot for easy prep, cooking and cleanup.

The original recipe called for homemade barbecue sauce. I’d love to make my own soon. However, to keep it simple and quick this evening, I picked up sugar free classic barbecue sauce at Natural Grocers. I also grabbed several cans of organic beans there too along with a can of organic tomato sauce.

Any canned beans are fine. Use what you have or get creative and mix things up. I chose great northern beans, black eyed peas and a blend of pinto, kidney and black beans.

Vegan Cowboy Beans ingredients
Ingredients for Vegan Cowboy Beans

Vegan Cowboy Beans Recipe

Vegan Cowboy Beans

This savory bean dish is full of flavor.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cups mixed beans, drained and cooked
  • 1/4 cup sugar free barbecue sauce
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large pan, saute onion and green bell pepper in olive oil. Cook until veggies soften, about five minutes.
  • Add beans, barbecue sauce and tomato sauce. Stir well. Add ground mustard and garlic powder.
  • Bring beans just to boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.
Keyword Cowboy Beans, Vegan

 

 

Vegan Cowboy Beans simmering
Vegan Cowboy Beans simmering.

Enjoying This Flavorful Dish

By the time I cleaned up my prep area and washed the few dishes I dirtied, the beans were done.

What a delicious and quick meal. And how versatile. The barbecue sauce I selected added a bit of a kick, which I loved. Substitute any style and flavor of barbecue sauce. And swap out the teaspoon of ground mustard for a tablespoon of prepared mustard, if desired. Or used minced garlic instead of garlic powder.

I enjoy including chopped green bell peppers. Use your favorite vegetables. Plus, any combination of beans may be used.

I enjoyed these vegan cowboy beans! They are perfect for a backyard cookout or to tote along to a family potluck dinner. If you intend to share with others, the recipe is easily doubled.

That’s what I’ll do when I cook up my next pot of cowboy beans!

Vegan Cowboy Beans ready to eat
Ready to eat!

Cook with Amazon:

 


 

 

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15 Two Minute Health Boosters

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Maintaining health is a lifestyle, built upon daily choices and practices. The thought of making changes to improve health and wellness can seem daunting. Some commitments, like working out at the gym or meal prepping on the weekend, requires a block of time.

These 15 two minute health boosters offer quick and easy ways to incorporate better practices into your life, without requiring a big time commitment.

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15 Two Minute Health Boosters

Try one…or three…of these quick health boosters throughout the day. They may not require much time however the cumulative effect is great.

Juice Fruits and Vegetables

Toss fresh produce into a juicer and enjoy a nutrient rich drink that’s easy on the digestive system. Possibilities are endless. Try oranges and pineapples with beets. Or kale, celery and apples. For more ideas and benefits, check out my experience with a week of juicing.

Say Health Affirmations Aloud

An affirmation is a statement that confirms a truth, even if that truth is not realized yet. Speaking affirmations aloud is a powerful way to shift thoughts about health, for as the saying goes, “The body achieves what the mind believes.”

What truths and beliefs are you feeding your body?

Shift thoughts of “I’m not healthy” or “I’m always tired” to “I am enjoying health and wellness” and “I am full of energy”. “I am” are life changing words. Mindfully consider what words you use after them.

Try these affirmations:

  • I am healthy
  • My body vibrates with wellness
  • I am strong and able to fight off disease
  • I am healing

If this concept seems strange to you, start with this simple affirmation: “I am grateful”. Gradually add what you are grateful for, in your health and body. For example, “I am grateful for my legs on this hike”. Or “I am grateful for a restful night’s sleep”

Drink a Glass of Water

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We know how important adequate hydration is. Pause and drink a tall glass of water. Check out these signs of dehydration and foods that help as well.

15 Two Minute Health Boosters drink water
15 two minute health boosters – drink water

Short Bursts of Cardio for 30 Seconds

Studies show that four to six sets of all out cardio is as effective as a longer workout session. When I say “all out”, I mean vigorous bursts of activity. Try 30 seconds of intense dancing, running, jumping jacks, rapidly climbing stairs or squats. Work at least four sets of intense cardio into your day.

Focus on Posture

It’s so easy during the day to ignore posture. As a result, we tend to accumulate stress in our shoulders, neck, face and scalp. Taking two minutes to mindfully shift posture helps to relieve stress and realign the neck and spine.

Raise head and center it over the body. Square shoulders, allowing them to drop into place naturally. Open the  chest area. Relax the muscles in the upper body while breathing deeply. At the end of two minutes, tip head back and open arms wide in a gesture of gratitude.

Downward Dog Yoga Pose

One of yoga’s most recognized poses, downward dog, or downward facing dog, stretches the entire body, reduces back pain, elongates the shoulders, decreases anxiety and increases circulation. Strike that pose and hold for two minutes.

15 Two Minute Health Boosters downward dog
15 two minute health boosters – downward dog

Eat a Piece of Fruit

Instead of a sugary treat or high fat snack, grab a piece of fruit. An apple is especially beneficial. Not only is it nutritious, it promotes weight loss, lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes, promotes good gut bacteria and even helps prevent cancer.

Breathe Deeply

When challenges pile up during the day, pause for two minutes and simply breathe. Close your eyes and relax tense muscles. Take a deep breath in through the nose, expanding lungs and rib cage. Hold for a few seconds, then release breath slowly through the mouth. Repeat, focusing on breathing in and out.

Pausing to breathe deeply improves blood flow, lessens pain, increases energy levels, relaxes the body and calms inflammation.

Include Chia Seeds

This superfood is packed with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. Adding chia seeds to meals is an easy way to increase nutrients in the diet and boost heart and digestive health.

Try sprinkling them on smoothie bowls, oatmeal or fresh fruit. Substitute chia seeds for eggs in baking. Add a spoonful to smoothies and muffins or create fun chia puddings.

15 Two Minute Health Boosters chia seeds
15 two minute health boosters – chia seeds

Stand and Stretch

Sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to health. Chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are more likely to develop. Weight gain is common as are higher risks for depression and anxiety.

If you must sit for hours, take two minute breaks to stand and stretch. The simple acts of standing and stretching reduce strain on the spine and neck, ease cramped, tight muscles and improve posture. Taking a break from sitting improves blood circulation, muscle strength and flexibility. Keep stretches slow and smooth, especially if you’ve been sitting for a long time.

For optimal health benefits, stand, stretch and move around every 30 minutes.

Drink a Cup of Herbal Tea

I’m a big believer in the benefits of herbs. “There’s an herb for that!” I say, when people tell me about their health issues. Plants truly are medicine, offering healing for a wide range of of health disorders.

Check out some of my posts about the benefits of herbs and then brew a cup of tea and enjoy.

Meditate

Two minutes may not sound like enough time to meditate. And for sure, there are amazing benefits from longer meditation sessions. However, a couple of minutes of meditation restores the body and quiets a chattering mind.

Brief, mindful, daily meditation sessions, over a month, reduce stress, ease anxiety, relax muscles, support emotions and create a more compassionate and positive outlook on life.

Sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor. Rest hands in lap. Close your eyes and take a deep cleansing breath. Focus on breathing slowly and remaining relaxed. If thoughts pop into the mind allow them to pass on through without focusing on them.

After two minutes take another deep breath, open eyes and stretch.

15 Two Minute Health Boosters meditate
15 two minute health boosters – meditate

Try a New Experience

Trying new things, or doing routine things in new ways, stimulates the brain and creates new pathways. Additionally, new experiences open up opportunities, help us discover more about ourselves and even move us beyond fear. And, the fun factor kicks in, making life more interesting and satisfying.

Try simple things like eating with your non-dominant hand, standing on one leg while brushing your teeth, or driving down a street you’ve never traveled on before. Walk in a new park. Choose a shirt that’s different from your typical style. Try something that scares you, just a little, like speaking up at a meeting.

Sun Gazing

Spend two minutes sitting in sunlight, sun gazing. Close eyes, tip head back toward the sun and sit quietly. Do not open eyes and stare directly into the sun.

Sun gazing improves mood, creates feelings of happiness, increases energy and sharpens mental focus. It also boosts the production of melatonin and serotonin. Plus the sunlight creates vitamin D within the body, which strengthens bones.

Walk Barefoot Outside

Get outside for a couple of minutes, walking around your yard or garden. For the best health benefits, take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the grass. This practice, called earthing or grounding, allows the transfer of free electrons from the earth, through the feet, to all parts of the body.

These electrons are powerful antioxidants, beneficial for decreasing levels of inflammation throughout the body by neutralizing free radicals and lowering the potential for disorders such as heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer. Grounding thins the blood, lowers blood pressure and make cells less likely to stick together and form clots.

Because free radicals are a major cause of aging as well, keeping the body balanced with electrons from the earth reduces the destructive signs of aging such as wrinkling of the skin and the breakdown of DNA.

15 Two Minute Health Boosters earthing
15 two minute health boosters – earthing

Small Steps Toward Better Health

These small steps toward better health and wellness deliver big returns when practiced regularly. Have fun with these strategies. Mix up your routines. Play.

Better health is built upon the foundation of daily, consistent choices. Choose better health for YOU. Take two minutes to embrace health, and make a long term difference.

15 Two Minute Health Boosters sun gazing
15 two minute health boosters – sun gazing

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Thank you to Trent Peek for This guest post for national Men’s Health week, The Ugly Truth about men approaching 40. Check out his info at the end of the post.

They say age is a number, but it seems that when you are in your 40s that number seems to speed up faster than we want.

When we are in our teens, we all think that we are invincible. 

Our 20s seem to be a blur as the mental power struggle begins as we have the mentality of a teenager, but the responsibilities of an adult

We make mistakes, but we chalk them up to life experiences. 

By the time our 30s approach, the invincibility starts to wear off as we begin to understand that our bodies are not what they used to be.

It’s when the 40s hit that we understand that if we don’t take control of ourselves now, the bad choices we make could affect us years later.

That’s where I am right now, in my late forties. My metabolism is slowing down and the days are speeding past me faster than I can run. 

I started to ask myself if age is a number, why do I feel on certain days that I am 100 years old?

This post is for men who are approaching the age of 40 and what they should expect once they reach this age. Call it an owner’s manual on how to stay healthy and look good for years to come.

By the end of this post, I hope that men regardless of age will have a better understanding of how to win at life going forward.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 title meme

 

What Men Should Expect at Age 40

When I hit 40, I knew something wasn’t right. 

I’d groan in the mornings as I tried to get out of bed. I was making more trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night than I wanted to. Plus, I was starting to forget where I put my car keys on a daily basis.

When men hit their 40s, there are a lot of physical changes that happen that are out of our control.

A lot of these changes happen to the entire body and unfortunately, that is just part of growing older. 

But, a lot of these changes that occur once men hit 40 are controllable, if you are aware of them and stay on top of them.

As men get older, the changes to our bodies are unexpected and sometimes shocking at first. 

We start to see grey hair beginning to show, our energy levels begin to decline, we start to develop a bit of a dad bod that wasn’t there in our thirties, and we start to shrink in height. 

And let’s not talk about the decline in sexual function that is a secret that we only want to talk to our doctors about. Why do you think Viagra makes a ton of money?

The unfortunate thing about growing older is there are no owner’s manuals to read up on to stay two steps ahead of the game. 

But, understanding the body changes that many men will face as we begin to grow older, makes life easier to face.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 pain
The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 – aches and pains

Body Changes That Men Will Face In Their 40s

Prostate

While I was trying to figure out why I was constantly walking up multiple times during the night to pee, I start to realize that my prostate was not what it was like in my 20s or 30s. 

I was right, as I found out that once men hit 25 years old, our prostates slowly begin to grow which eventually creates pressure on the urethra. 

How could this happen? Chalk this up to hormone imbalances. 

The result of our prostates growing can result in frequent urination, difficulty urinating, and problems with the flow of the stream as well. 

The good news is that if men begin to experience situations like this, the good old doctor can subscribe treatment or suggest surgery to elevate these problems.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40
The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 – improve energy with exercise

Energy

There is a thing in our bodies called Mitochondria which is the cell’s energy source. 

Mitochondria are important to our cells because without them our bodies are not able to create energy from the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins we eat. 

This is the reason why as men get older our energy levels begin to drop, and we enjoy watching golf on our couch at home rather than actually playing golf. 

So how can men slow this process down? Simple, start exercising! Cardio and strength training can be your best friend if you wish to maintain the energy you once had in your 20s. 

Cardio is fantastic for maintaining good heart health, and I would suggest HIIT training as it can elevate the heart rate fast and keep you healthy in less than 20-30 minutes a day. 

As for strength training, this is great for maintaining muscle and as a result makes men less fragile than we want to be.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 bald is beautiful
Bald is Beautiful

Hair Loss

I have bad news for you; your hair will start to go. I lost mine in my late teens, so I have come to terms with the fact that I never had a hairstylist in my contact phone list to call every month.

The term alopecia, which is male pattern baldness, starts to hit men in the 30s or 40s. 

Why? Because of the decline in testosterone in our bodies. 

Plus, our genes come into play here as well, as in my case. How can you deal with it? Simple accept it and move on, or talk to your doctor about possible treatments. 

There are some FDA approved treatments out there like Minoxidil which helps promote hair growth, and all you need to do is talk to your doctor. 

My suggestion, buy a hair trimmer and shave it off. The comb-over is so 1970s, and if you look at Jason Statham or the Rock, they can pull it off, so why can’t you! 

Heck, you will be hitting the gym for HIIT training and strength training to maintain your energy, so why not try to look like them?

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 intimacy
The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 – sexual dysfunction

 Sexual Dysfunction 

They say it in the damn Viagra commercial that it’s a secret that we can only talk to our doctors about, and it’s true. 

When men hit their 40s we notice something isn’t right, and our 20s are long gone. Sucks right? Well, not exactly because there are ways to help slow this problem from happening. 

The key to maintaining sexual health is to increase testosterone in the body. 

The simple solution to this is to hit a supplement store and have a daily routine in the morning of taking these pills. 

What supplements should you take? When I was at the local health food store I was told the key to maintaining testosterone levels is to take vitamin D, zinc, and D-aspartic acid. 

Why these supplements? Because they help promote serum testosterone levels. 

While I am not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV, and I can’t give a medical option on whether this combination works or not, your body needs these vitamins in your body anyway, so why not just take them. 

Who knows, they might add some lead to your pencil. (Sorry for using that term, I like that saying.)

If you are worried about your testosterone levels, go see a doctor, as they can prescribe testosterone injections for you if they feel that it will help your body function better.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 yoga
Yoga helps strengthen the immune system.

Immune System

The sad thing about getting older is our immune system starts to decline. Those aches and pains that we begin to feel in the mornings are because of inflammation. Inflammation doesn’t just hit the muscles and bones, it hits our organs as well. 

Sucks right? But, a lot of our body’s inflammation is due to stress levels. Plus, with the way the world is today, I am surprised that a lot of 40-year-olds don’t look 80 right now.

So how can you avoid this? I always go back to my favorite tip from someone in their 90s, who looked like they were in their 70s: “It’s all about diet and exercise”. I agree with this statement. 

I’ve already mentioned how important exercise is to our bodies, but following a great nutritional diet and taking supplements like zinc, vitamin E, and probiotics maintain a healthy immune system.

Also, do some yoga! I always thought yoga was not for me at all until I was forced to go to a class. Being told to relax made a huge difference in my stress levels. 

Again, I am not a doctor, but I want to play one on TV if I have the chance.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 healthy foods
Eat Healthy Foods

What Should a 40-year-old Man Eat?

I have mentioned there are some great supplements that you can take to help maintain a working body for men in their 40s, but why not eat them instead? Who doesn’t love food? 

So, what type of foods should men eat in their 40s to maintain a healthy body? Here is a list of great nutritional options for you that will help your body for years to come and please your belly!

Omega-3s

Salmon: Omega-3 fats help in reducing the risk of heart disease, and heart disease is one of the leading causes of early death for men over the age of 40. 

By supplementing your diet with salmon, not only are you eating a lean protein, but providing the essential Omega-3s your heart needs to function. 

My suggestion is to add at least one serving of salmon a week, and then supplement the rest of the week with a good Omega-3 supplement.

Zinc

Red Meat: If you are not a vegan, red meat like steak is a great source of zinc which is a key mineral your body needs for the immune system. 

Don’t overdue your meals with red meat throughout the week, and on your off days add some other sources of zinc into your diet like green vegetables, nuts, and mushrooms. 

Veggies

Vegetables: I have been looking lately into changing my diet lifestyle and getting away from eating red meat. Even though I love a good steak, it’s not particularly popular in the vegan household I live in right now. 

So what vegetables have I been focusing on lately? Well, I have incorporated a lot of green vegetables like kale, mustard greens, and chard into my diet for the added zinc. 

But, I have been adding red peppers and tomatoes into my diet for the high content of vitamin C they bring to the diet, as well as the lycopene which is an antioxidant that helps reduce cell damage.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium/Vitamin D Products: My go to for my daily intake of calcium and vitamin D is milk. 

Calcium and vitamin D are very important in any person’s diet to promote bone density which helps us avoid being a fragile piece of glass in our 80s. 

If you are looking for other alternatives to milk for your calcium/vitamin D intake, there are some great tasting choices available like oat milk, soy milk, and coconut milk.

Multi-vitamin

Side Note: Take a multi-vitamin daily! 

Your body needs it because of the amount of artificial garbage we tend to eat while on the go. Our bodies need help in getting these minerals and vitamins into our bodies to function. 

A multi-vitamin is extremely important.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 fashion
The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 – fashion

 

What Men Should Stop Wearing ASAP

I know we all are trying to reclaim the fountain of youth as we get older, however fashion is not the way to do it. I have seen men in their 40s who are trying to pull off fashion styles that even 20 year olds wouldn’t try. 

What types of clothing am I talking about? Here are the following clothing items that men in their 40s need to stop wearing now!!!

Sports jerseys and hoodies – Everyone likes to show his/her team pride when heading off to a game in a sports jersey of choice, but they don’t exactly work outside a stadium. 

As for hoodies, unless you are coming back from the gym after a great HIIT and strength-building workout, they don’t work well in an office environment. 

Hightop sneakers – Please don’t wear these unless you are called up to the NBA to play with Lebron James and the Lakers. High-ups are for teens who can’t afford a belt and are always pulling up their pants. 

Focus on casual sneakers if you are out and about as they go with pretty much everything, and don’t make you look like you are trying hard to stay young.

Skinny jeans – For the love of God! Stop wearing skinny jeans! Unless you are on top of your game in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and have skinny legs. When it comes to jeans, wear something comfortable that look good on you. 

When in doubt, go into a clothing store and say these words “I am 40, I have no fashion sense and I am looking for a pair of jeans!” You will get the help you truly need.

The Ugly Truth About Men Approaching 40 cool dude
Be fashionable, dude

 

Conclusion

I know that hitting 40 years old is tough, and I get that age is just a number, but there are ways to avoid getting old.

By following a proper diet, seeing a doctor regularly, and dressing the part, the years following will only get better. At least that’s what I keep telling myself every morning.

The information in this post has not been evaluated by any medical body. Information is provided for educational purposes. You should consult your doctor before acting on any content on this post.

Trent Peek

About the author, Trent Peek – There are things that could be said about me, and there are some that can’t. Wannabe screenwriter, director, actor, and full-time coffee drinker. A man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery. I was born intelligent, but education ruined me. 

Check out Trent’s blog, Peek At This.

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Herbal Iced Teas for Summer

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June 10 is National Iced Tea day. It’s the perfect time to cool off with a refreshing icy drink as temperatures soar.

Most people think of iced tea, sweetened or unsweetened, as the traditional drink made from black tea. I drank the unsweetened version for years. After adopting the practice of afternoon tea, and realizing that my body reacted to traditional teas, I switched to herbal teas.

Herbs make flavorful teas, served hot or cold. And they offer health benefits as well.

Try one of these amazing herbal iced teas for summer.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer title meme 2

History of Iced Tea

Iced tea is primarily a drink served in the US. Ask for iced tea in England or Scotland and they wonder why you’d ruin a good cup of tea!

South Carolina first grew and produced tea commercially. Tea plants arrived in the late 1700s when French botanist Andre Michaux imported them for Charleston planters.

By the 1800s American cookbooks offered recipes for cold tea in the form of green tea punches. Added liquor often flavored those punches. At the 1893 Chicago World Fair iced green tea and lemonade sold briskly.

By the early 1900s less expensive black tea replaced green tea as the preferred choice for iced tea drinks. The 1904 St. Louis World Fair helped popularize iced tea. Due to the hot summer weather, fair goers sought out cold drinks. Richard Blechynden, India Tea Commissioner, offered free iced tea when he realized no one wanted hot tea. After the fair, he continued to promote iced tea as a desirable summer drink.

Today we drink iced tea year around in the US, with sweet tea common in the southern states.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer hibiscus
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – hibiscus and lemon

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer

Try one of these herbal iced teas, for a burst of flavor and a boost of nutrients.

Hibiscus and Lemon

This tart and tasty combination of dried hibiscus and fresh lemon juice refreshes on a hot summer day. It’s one of my favorite herbal iced teas.

4 cups of water, divided

2 teaspoons dried hibiscus or 1 hibiscus tea bag

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tablespoons raw organic honey

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add dried hibiscus and cover. Allow to steep for 10 – 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator.

In a small bowl combine remaining water, lemon juice and honey, whisking until honey dissolves. Chill lemon water while hibiscus tea cools. Combine cold liquids to create hibiscus lemon tea. Garnish with lemon slices.

Lemon Balm with Wild Blueberries

Lemon balm grows easily in the garden or a container. It’s delicately flavored leaves create a delicious tea. Combine lemon balm tea with berries for a colorful and nutritious drink.

1/2 cup fresh lemon balm leaves or 3 teaspoons dried herb or 1 tea bag

2 cups water, boiling

1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed

Add lemon balm to cup and pour in boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator until cold.

Place thawed blueberries in bottom of large glass. Pour lemon balm tea over berries, add ice and sweeten with organic honey if desired.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer lemon balm and blueberries
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – lemon balm and wild blueberries

Thyme and Raspberries

This tasty combo is high in antioxidants and helps destroy viruses. Thyme is another herb easily grown in the garden.

1/3 cup of fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried herb or 1 tea bag

2 cups water, boiling

1/4 cup fresh raspberries or frozen raspberries, thawed

Combine thyme and boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator until cold. Pour thyme tea into a large glass. Add 1/4 cup raspberries and ice. Sweeten tea with organic honey if desired.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer thyme with raspberries
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – thyme with raspberries

White Clover

Foraging for wild foods provides fun ingredients for iced teas. Sweet violets, honeysuckle, purslane, cleavers, dandelion and white clover grows in yards and fields. Gather these wild herbs from areas free from pesticides and create a tasty iced tea.

3/4 cup white clover blossoms

2 cups boiling water

Combine clover blossoms and boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator until cold. Add ice and sweeten with organic honey if desired.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer white clover
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – white clover

Create Your Own Herbal Blends

The above basic tea recipes are extremely adaptable. Combine mint leaves with cucumber slices, fresh ginger with lemon slices, bee balm with lime juice and fresh strawberries, hibiscus with orange juice, or lemon balm with strawberries.

Herbs and fruits or veggies go well together. However, combine two or more herbs, or foraged wild foods with herbs.

The possibilities truly are endless and that’s perfect for the long, warm summer months ahead.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer lemon balm and strawberries
Herbal iced teas for summer – lemon balm and strawberries

Tea Making Goodies from Amazon:

 


 

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Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake

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This Saturday, June 6, is one of those unique holidays. National Applesauce Cake Day offers the opportunity to bake a homey, comforting treat.

Applesauce cake is extremely easy to create, using a few basic pantry items. The recipe adapts well to adding extras such as nuts, raisins and grated apples and tastes great with or without icing.

I accepted the invitation to bake a cake, that this holiday presents. Or, perhaps the correct word is challenge.

Rather than baking a regular cake, mine are vegan, due to my choice to live a plant based lifestyle. And not just vegan…my cakes are gluten free as well. And not just vegan and gluten free…I prefer not to use refined sugar either.

Could I meet all those challenges and create a delicious cake?

Check out this vegan and gluten free applesauce cake. And oh yes, it is refined sugar free as well.

Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake title meme

Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake

This fragrant and flavorful cake is adapted from a recipe from the blog, Veggie Balance. Check out the original recipe HERE. It’s helpful for me to start with a gluten free recipe, and adapt it to meet my other diet restrictions.

For this particular recipe I eliminated eggs and refined sugar, swapping them out for flax eggs and organic, unrefined coconut sugar. For the gluten free flour, I chose a 1-1 blend, meaning 1 cup of gluten free flour equals 1 cup of regular flour.

You can find gluten free flours in a special section in most supermarkets. I picked up a bag at Natural Grocers.

Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake ingredients
Vegan and gluten free applesauce cake – cup4cup gf flour and wholesome organic coconut sugar

Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake Recipe

Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake

This moist and delicious cake is vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9

Ingredients
  

  • 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted plant based butter Or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 flax eggs (1 tbsp + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8X8 inch pan with olive oil or coconut oil. Make flax eggs by combining 3 tbsp ground flax seeds with 9 tbsp water. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, sea salt and coconut sugar. Whisk to blend.
  • Make a well in dry mixture. Add melted butter, olive oil, applesauce and flax eggs. Stir with spoon or spatula until combined.
  • Pour batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan. Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Makes 9 servings.
  • Serve plain, with fresh fruit or with icing of choice.
Keyword applesauce cake, vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free
Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake batter
Batter ready to push into the prepared pan
Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake baked
Cake fresh from the oven. The rosy glow created by the setting sun coming through the kitchen window.

Enjoy This Cake

This vegan and gluten free applesauce cake smelled amazing as it baked. The spices produce a fragrant, cozy scent and an equally wonderful flavor.

I served slices of applesauce cake with fresh strawberries and blueberries. Sugar free whipped coconut topping is another excellent choice.

Whether you serve this luscious cake Saturday for National Applesauce Day or pop it into the oven for a gathering of family or friends, you’ll enjoy the simplicity of this recipe and the wholesome ingredients.

I savored mine this evening, with a cup of hot peppermint tea.

Vegan and Gluten Free Applesauce Cake plated

Baking Helps from Amazon:


 

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Soda’s Negative Impact on the Body

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Normally I stress the positive impact of good health practices, rather than focus on negatives. However, I feel so strongly about this topic that I’m willing to depart from that practice.

I stopped drinking soda, in my case diet soda, more than a dozen years ago. Before that time, I was known as the woman who always had a diet soda with her. Always. If it wasn’t a 20 ounce bottle, it was a 32 ounce happy hour drink from Sonic.

One reason for carrying a soda with me was thirst. I felt parched all the time. Little did I know that my diet soda addiction contributed to my thirst rather than satisfying it.

I stopped drinking diet soda for several health reasons, including constant indigestion, joint pain and dehydration. That decision became the first step toward better health.

Soda’s negative impact on the body is huge and far reaching. Don’t believe me? Check out these 18 reasons to stop drinking soda now.

Sodas Negative Impact on the Body title meme

Soda Facts

Almost half the adult populations, 49%, drink at least one soda a day. A 12 ounce can contains at least 39 grams of sugar. That’s equal to nine and a half teaspoons of sugar, in ONE can. A 20 ounce bottle of soda packs in 65 grams of sugar, or 13 teaspoons. And those happy hour drinks that offer 32 ounces of soda for a great price contain a whopping 91 grams of sugar, which is the same as 21.6 teaspoons.

Imagine stirring that much sugar into a glass of iced tea. The thought literally churns my stomach.

And diet soda is no better, health wise. Diet soda drinkers up their risk for weight gain, increased belly fat and certain types of cancer. Plus it’s not only the sugar that’s detrimental to health. Additives, preservatives and artificial coloring and flavors contribute to increased risks for diseases and disorders, such as the following.

Sodas Negative Impact on the Body sugar
Soda’s negative impact on the body – sugar

Diabetes

Both diet soda and the regular stuff are linked to an increase in type 2 diabetes. Drinking soda creates a sugar spike that forces the body to convert that sugar into fat. And that fat gets stored in the liver.

In just six months, the fat deposits in the liver can increase by 150%, greatly raising the risk for diabetes.

Additionally, diet soda actually increases sugar cravings, contributing to the chances of developing diabetes.

Obesity

One of the greatest risks from consuming soda is obesity. A 20 ounce bottle of soda provides 150 empty calories that do nothing to stave off hunger. Consuming a bottle of soda with every meal for 30 days can add three or more pounds a month and more than 36 pounds in a year.

Extra Belly Fat

Linked with obesity is excess belly fat. Because the sugar in soda quickly converts to fat, and triggers the production of insulin in the process, the body accumulates fat in the belly.

Soda's Negative Impact on the Body belly fat
Soda’s negative impact on the body – extra belly fat

Kidney Stones

One of the most painful medical conditions, often compared to childbirth, kidney stones form when minerals accumulate in the kidneys. Soda drinkers increase their risk for these excruciating stones due to the excess consumption of sugar, phosphoric acid and chronic dehydration.

Fatty Liver

The excessive amount of sugar in soda is linked to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The body is not able to process all that sugar. Instead it converts the sugar into fat that is stored in the liver. This leads to fatty liver, a serious disorder that increases the risk of early death.

Joint Pain

Not all joint pain is caused by drinking soda. However, those sugary drinks may be aggravating joint pain. Plus the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that women who regularly consume soda increase their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Additionally, sugar “feeds” inflammation of all kinds in the body. Soda certainly contributes to ongoing inflammation and the pain that accompanies it.

Sodas Negative Impact on the Body joint pain
Soda’s negative impact on the body – joint pain

Cardiovascular Disease

Regularly drinking soda contributes to a greater risk for cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure, lesions and strokes.

Heart failure is linked to diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, all associated with consuming sugary drinks.

Strokes result from increased fat in the body which contributes to hardening of the arteries including those in the brain. Excess sugar is converted to fat.

Soda drinkers are at greater risk for heart attacks, even when controlling other factors such as smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.

And an additive in citrusy sodas that maintains flavor and appearance, called brominated vegetable oil or BVO,  is linked to an increased risk for heart lesions in rats. BVO is used to create a longer shelf life for soda.

High Cholesterol

Eliminating soda from the diet contributes to a longer life by lowering cholesterol. That can of soda contains more sugar than the body needs in a whole day. High sugar levels are linked to high bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol.

Poor Gut Health

The good gut bacteria inhabiting the intestines affects digestive health and even mental stability. Gut health is vitally important to overall health and wellbeing.

Sugar in soda provides an excellent food source for the bad bacteria that lurks in the intestines as well, while starving good bacteria.

Diet soda is no better. Gut bacteria reacts negatively to the artificial sweeteners in soda and creates metabolic changes. Those changes increase the risk for obesity, memory impairment and digestive disorders.

Sodas Negative Impact on the Body - gut health
Soda’s negative impact on the body – gut health

Infertility

The brominated vegetable oil that extends shelf life has a negative impact on fertility. BVO is banned in Japan and Europe but not in the US. It is linked to early onset puberty and infertility. Avoiding soda can help increase the chances of conception, if infertility is an issue.

Central Nervous System Disorders

Excessive consumption of citrus sodas containing BVO increases the risk of bromism as well, a condition that affects the central nervous system. Bromism contributes to memory loss, muscle weakness, fatigue and mental health issues.

Migraines

Both regular soda and diet soda can trigger the onset of migraine headaches. In addition, the chronic dehydration caused by soda consumption increases the risk of these debilitating headaches.

Sodas Negative Impact on the Body migraines
Soda’s negative impact on the body – migraines

Bloating

Those bubbles that seem so satisfying in carbonated soda settle in the intestines. That gas build up creates uncomfortable bloating resulting in an extended abdomen and even pain.

Heartburn and Ulcers

The bloating that carbonated drinks cause can negatively affect the stomach, causing bloating there as well. This can result in a build up of acid that backs up into the esophagus, creating the condition known as heartburn. The caffeine in soda is acid producing also. All this stomach acid not only causes indigestion but can also increase the risk of digestive tract ulcers and cancers.

Dehydration

Dehydration while drinking a steady supply of sodas seems unusual. However, sugary drinks do nothing to quench thirst. The caffeine in soda has a diuretic effect, causing dehydration that becomes chronic when soft drinks are the primary source of liquids.

Chronic dehydration causes electrolyte imbalance, water retention, heart arrhythmia and a slower metabolic rate that contributes to weight gain.

Always thirsty? Drink more water, not soda.

Sodas Negative Impact on the Body dehydration
Soda’s negative impact on the body – dehydration

Accelerated Aging

Can drinking soda age you? Yes. Sodas are full of phosphates and sugar, which accelerate the aging process at a cellular level. And the preservatives and artificial sweeteners in diet soda increase the growth of cancerous cells.

Plus, dehydrating caffeine negatively affects the skin, creating puffiness under the eyes, dryness, wrinkles and fine lines.

Cola consumption is associated with a loss in bone density, making the body more susceptible to fractures and mobility issues as it ages.

Increased Risk for Cancer

Did you know that a soda addiction can lead to greater risks for certain cancers?

The caramel coloring found in colas and other drinks such as root beer, created from ammonia, causes cancer in mice. Even clear sodas increase the risks of cancers, such as colorectal cancer, due to sugar, preservatives and artificial flavors.

The chemical found in plastic bottles and even aluminum cans, known as BPA, is linked to reproductive issues including cancers.

And artificial sweeteners in diet soda contribute to an increased risk of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, and bladder cancer.

The chemicals in sodas contribute to neurological disorders such as seizures. While artificial sweeteners can convert to formaldehyde in the body, leading to a higher risk for brain tumors.

Insomnia

A 20 ounce bottle of soda can contain up to 53 mg of caffeine, while the same size container of diet soda jumps to 70 mg. It can take a whole day or more for the body to metabolize that much caffeine. Drinking soda throughout the day may be contributing to sleepless nights, restless legs syndrome and chronic fatigue.

Sodas Negative Impact on the Body insomnia
Soda’s negative impact on the body – insomnia

Kicking the Soda Drinking Addiction

My intention, as a health advocate and blogger, is not to instill fear but encourage health and wellness. If you are serious about improving health, eliminating soda from your diet is a must.

I know how difficult it feels. It took me several tries before successfully kicking the addiction, and trust me, soda drinking is an addiction.

Here a few tips for stopping the soda drinking habit.

  • recognize that soda IS addictive
  • make the choice to stop, for your health
  • wean yourself away from soda slowly
  • start with replacing one soda a day with a glass of water
  • over the next 30 days, replace all sodas with water or unsweetened tea, preferably herbal teas
  • add fruits and veggies to water to boost taste and nutrients
  • carry a metal water bottle full of water everywhere you go
  • avoid foods/situations that create a craving for soda
  • reward yourself for kicking your addiction with a fun event or new outfit

You can do it…I know you can! From experience I know that you CANNOT go back to having “just one soda a day” or “one for a special occasion”. That’s the way back to addiction.

For your health and wellbeing, for increased vitality and energy and for your children and grandchildren and their health, stop drinking the soda. Get past the cravings…and the heartburn, insomnia and joint pain. You won’t regret it.

No More Soda

Encourage water consumption with these finds:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

 

10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals

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A one pot meal uses simple ingredients and just one pot or skillet to prepare a delicious lunch or dinner. Typically, the meal is ready to eat in under 30 minutes. And these 10 easy one pot vegan meals take this convenient concept one step further. They are all plant based.

When you need a quick and nutritious meal, try one of these. Whether you are vegan or not, I think you’ll find them an amazing option for a satisfying meatless meal.

10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals

Round Up of 10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals

I love the convenience of these easily prepared meals. Using a soup pot, dutch oven or skillet, a hot, nutritious dinner is on the table in short order. One pot means less mess in the kitchen and a speedy clean up too. Less time in the kitchen frees up more time to spend with family, play outside or enjoy some downtime in the evening.

Check out these recipes from Journey With Healthy Me and other awesome health conscious, foodie bloggers. Just click on the underlined titles to go to the recipes.

Vegan Pot Pie Soup

from Journey With Healthy Me

This yummy alternative to traditional pot pie brings all those homey flavors into a soup that’s dairy free. It’s comfort food without the distress that dairy products can bring.

10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals pot pie soup
10 easy one pot vegan meals – pot pie soup

Creamy Tomato One Pot Pasta

from Food With Feeling

This dinner comes together in minutes using pantry staples. Swap out the fresh vegetables for frozen, if desired. And use gluten free pasta of your choice, if you are gluten sensitive.

Basic One Pan Pasta

from Feel Good Foodie

Martha Stewart perfected the one pan pasta recipes, back in 2013. Uncooked pasta is added to the pot, along with the other ingredients, and they all cook together. I’ve tried several of these recipes and they work! You don’t have to precook the pasta. This recipe is a basic version that’s easy to adapt. Add more veggies or herbs, if desired.

 

One Pan Pasta
10 easy one pot vegan meals – basic one pan pasta. Photo from Feel Good Foodie blog.

Creamy Vegan Caprese Pasta

from She Likes Food

This simple pasta dish uses fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. Use penne pasta, regular or gluten free. This recipe makes a great summer time meal.

Creamy Caprese Pasta
10 easy one pot vegan meals – creamy caprese pasta. Photo from She Likes Food blog.

Thai Peanut Zucchini Noodles

from Flavor the Moments

I love Thai food. This easy to prepare meal combines zucchini noodles with veggies in a Thai peanut sauce.  This light, summery meal does require a spiralizer, to turn zucchini into noodles. Pick up one below.

Vegan Thai Peanut Zucchini Noodles
10 easy one pot vegan meals – Thai peanut zucchini noodles. Photo from Flavor the Moments blog.

Creamy Spinach Pasta

from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen

One pot, 10 simple ingredients, 10 minutes for this flavorful dish! The recipe calls for vegan cream cheese, or the recipe creator provides a DIY version that you can substitute. As with all the pasta dishes, you can use gluten free pasta if you want.

One Pot Creamy Spinach Pasta
10 easy one pot vegan meals – creamy spinach pasta. Photo from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen blog.

Cowboy Beans

from Contentedness Cooking

I can’t wait to try this recipe! Really, I’ll be cooking these up this weekend. This hearty meal uses a homemade, sugar free BBQ sauce, recipe included, or you can substitute your favorite brand. Ready in just 15 minutes, Cowboy Beans are perfect to take to family gatherings.

Cowboy Beans
10 easy one pot vegan meals – cowboy beans. Photo from Contentedness Cooking blog.

Veggie Spring Rolls Fried Rice

from Vegan Richa

Do you love those spring rolls that come with Chinese food? Then you’ll love this gluten free, nut free recipe that’s ready to eat in 30 minutes. Use up that leftover rice in the fridge for this one.

Veggie Spring Rolls Fried Rice
10 easy one pot vegan meals – veggie spring rolls fried rice. Photo from Vegan Richa blog.

Chickpea, Cashew & Broccoli Skillet

from Make It Dairy Free

This delicious combination of chickpeas, broccoli and cashews in a savory garlic sauce is ready in 20 minutes. Use a skillet for the Chinese takeout inspired dish.

Chickpea, Cashew and Broccoli Skillet
10 easy one pot vegan meals – chickpea, cashew and broccoli skillet. Photo from Make It Dairy Free blog.

Aloo Matar Soup

from Journey With Healthy Me

And finally, this soup is inspired by the mildly spicy Indian dish, Aloo Matar. Potatoes, onions, garlic and peas combine in a rich tomato broth seasoned with garam masala and curry. I created this recipe during my 62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday celebration.

I hope you’ll visit the other blogs and find more healthy and delicious recipes to try. Happy cooking…and enjoy spending less time in the kitchen!

10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals aloo matar soup
10 easy one pot vegan meals – aloo matar soup

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