The significance of sleep is often disregarded. It’s nothing new. Yet, most of us still have a difficult time achieving the recommended 7-8 hours per night. We know that it is important to get enough sleep, but why is it important? What does good sleep hygiene practically do for us?
When we get 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep each night, our bodies not only feel energized and strong throughout the day, but our brains also function more clearly, our comprehension and memory skills are sharper and our hormones are balanced. Additionally, adequate sleep can help improve skin tone and quality, immunity, productivity, stress response and tolerance and mood. It also helps slow the aging process and prevent premature wrinkles.
And that’s not all! I work with many of my clients to help them improve their sleep hygiene, even if that means a short nap in the middle of the day. The reasons I prioritize this as part of our nutrition sessions include the fact that weight loss and maintenance are simply easier to achieve due to the natural boost in metabolism they experience with adequate sleep. Additionally, it is easier to make a healthy food choice when they feel rested and alert. More energy during exercise (higher calorie burn, perhaps?), efficient muscle repair, strong muscles and bone tissue and smooth digestion are just more benefits of good sleep hygiene. The reason they experience these benefits of good sleep is largely because of the change in hormone balance. Adequate sleep is responsible for helping to regulate our circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, etc.), reproductive hormones, hunger hormones and other hormones in your gut that are responsible for smooth digestion and absorption of nutrients. A chronic lack of sleep can leave you with low energy, a low sex drive, fertility issues (these can occur with longer, more severe sleep issues), digestive discomfort, increased hunger and cravings. And what’s worse for your body weight and health than constant cravings and low energy? If you feel dragged down and sleepy, you will be less likely to make good food and exercise choices. And a lifestyle of poor choices will only contribute to weight gain and chronic health issues down the road. So, consider sleep an instant energizer AND a long-term investment in your health. Good sleep today will improve your body’s strength, immunity and resilience tomorrow.
– Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN
A short guide to a happy, healthy gut
Did you know our intestinal tract is commonly called our “Second Brain”, containing all the same tools as the brain (e.g. neural circuitry, neurotransmitters, and proteins)? Our guts play quite the vital role in maintaining mental clarity and emotional stability, as well as strengthening our immune system. In the words of Kris Carr, it is “the epicenter of your mental and physical health.” But many of us aren’t listening to the #2 in command!
Our guts contain an army of trillions of bacteria that help process food, produce nutrients, and fight diseases. These bacteria are called probiotics. They promote healthy breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food. They also help prevent bloating, indigestion, gas, diarrhea and other forms of digestive discomfort. These bacteria latch onto receptors in the gut and feed on the plant food that we eat, like fruits, veggies, herbs and other plant fibers. Antibiotics, food preservatives and some medications can wipe out good bacteria or compete with our good bacteria for attachment to the receptors in our guts. This competition can prevent the growth of good bacteria and lead to the development of weak digestion and chronic disease.
Common issues associated with weak digestion include fatigue, fogginess, frequent colds, aches and pains. However, a chronic imbalance of good bacteria can lead to more serious illnesses, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, various autoimmune diseases, colon cancer and acid reflux. In addition to limiting antibiotic use and chemical preservative consumption, eating a diet rich in plant fibers and probiotics can help prevent this chronic imbalance from developing. Natural food sources of probiotics include kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, organic yogurts and kefir. In addition to these foods, I often recommend including a daily probiotic capsule to ensure you are providing your gut with the healthy bacteria it needs on a daily basis. A probiotic with at least 10 billion bacteria can be helpful in meeting your needs. Additionally, consuming at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (preferably organic to reduce your consumption of chemical preservatives) can help provide the food that good bacteria need to thrive in your digestive tract. Practice incorporating a natural source of probiotics into your routine at least every other day and natural sources of plant fibers (fruits and veggies) daily to keep your body healthy and balanced!
Daily Greens™ strives to only use the highest qualities of greens. Why? Because our bodies – and our taste buds – deserve it! If you’ve ever done a blind taste test, then you know exactly what we mean. Few things are more scrumptious than a sweet, organic strawberry or more delectable than a juicy, non-GMO bell pepper.
Organic and non-GMO produce contains fewer chemicals in forms of pesticides and herbicides. Commonly used to maximize production and kill insects on conventional farms, these chemicals are only recently being studied for their impact on human health. In addition to being directly linked to numerous serious health disorders, they are also linked directly to the contamination of our groundwater, lakes, rivers and oceans (Organic Trade Association, Non-GMO Project). Due to the lower levels of toxins, organic produce also contains higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants than conventional counterparts (Organic Trade Association).
Last, but not least, by buying organic and non-GMO produce, you are supporting farmers who are using sustainable farming practices that protect and rehabilitate the soil, as well as preventing further contamination of our environment by using natural fertilizers and pest repellents and eliminating the use of poisonous pesticides and fertilizers (Organic Trade Association, Non-GMO Project). It is true what they say: “Vote with Your Dollar!” Through the power of the consumer, we can tell business what we want and expect from our food!
We understand organic and non-GMO can be a bit pricey for those shopping on a budget. But there’s good news! The good people at Environmental Working Group (EWG) have compiled a list of the 12 dirtiest and 15 cleanest fruits and vegetables to help shoppers make informed decision at the grocers. Check it out here!
Whether it’s kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, watercress, swiss chard, or spinach, we can’t get enough of those dark leafy, greens! Offering the highest concentrations of vitamins and minerals per calorie per calorie of any other food, they are truly the rock stars of the plant kingdom. Dark, leafy greens are a rich source of minerals (e.g. iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium) and vitamins K, C, E as well as many of the B vitamins. Let’s not forget all the super phytonutrients, which protect our cells from damage; these include: beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a pretty magnificent phytonutrient, for it helps cleanse the blood, energize the body and serve as an appetite suppressant. Oh and did I mention it is low in calories, high in fiber and has zero fat?
Let’s breakdown one of its central nutrients: Vitamin K. This bad boy helps regulate blood clotting, protects the bones from osteoporosis, and may prevent and reduce atherosclerosis as well as inflammatory diseases (e.g. arthritis) and diabetes. In fact, without vitamin K2 (a specific form of vitamin K), calcium from supplements can gather in the arteries, contributing to atherosclerosis and limiting any potential benefit for your bone tissue. Vitamin K2 helps to funnel the calcium to the bone tissue that needs it most, rather than allowing it to settle into your veins and arteries.
For these phenomenal reasons (and more), we always load up our Daily Greens’ juices with a wide variety of dark leafy greens!
Which are your favorite?
The tastiest – and spookiest – Halloween Dish
Whoever said “don’t play with your food,” truly is missing out in life! Food should be creative, colorful, and fun – not to mention, absolutely delicious. And what holiday cultivates the spirit of all these things better than Halloween? Inspired by Sweet and Simple Vegan’s recipe, here is our twist for deliciously spooky Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers.
- Place quinoa in pot with 1 cup of water to soak
for 10 minutes
- Chop onions, garlic and mushrooms
- Begin to cook quinoa by bringing the water to
a boil then cover, remove from heat and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes (or until water has been absorbed).
- Sauté onions with extra virgin olive oil for 2-3 minutes
- Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes
- Add mushrooms and sauté for 10-15 minutes – or until
- Lower heat to a slight simmer
- Add quinoa to veggie mixture along with parsley, salt
and pepper (to taste)
- While simmering, cut tops of bell peppers and remove seeds
- Carefully carve your jack-o-lantern’s face into the bell pepper
- When complete, scoop quinoa into the bell peppers
- Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes
The Daily Greens™ 4-Day Green Juice and Raw Foods Cleanse is truly a gentle, nourishing way to rid your body of unwanted toxins and to fuel your body to heal itself from the inside out! It may also help reduce your risk of chronic disease. So what’s not to love?
Through my personal experience, as well as my academic studies, I can attest to the powerful influence food has on our own health. In my early twenties, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. With no family history of MS nor previous health issues, I was quite confused with this diagnosis. My doctor recommended injections and oral medications to keep symptoms at bay, but I wanted to find natural solutions. I soon turned to food in hopes to slow its progression and strengthen my body. I began removing toxic food-like substances from my diet and incorporating more raw produce, focusing mostly on leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables. I also completed a green juice and raw foods cleanse very similar to The Daily Greens’ 4-Day Cleanse. Within a few months’ time, my symptoms began to dramatically improve, as well as my energy, balance and strength. Nearly eight years later, I owe my virtually symptom-free life to the power of raw foods and daily green juices!
By saturating your body with a wide variety of vital nutrients in their natural, raw form, The Daily Greens’ 4-Day Green Juice and Raw Foods Cleanse incorporates all the necessary components to detox your cells and rejuvenate your mind.
- Hydration: Throughout the 4-Day Cleanse, you consume water, green tea, and green juices and become a true hydration machine! These fluids assist the kidneys and intestines in moving the toxic build-up out of the body.
- Removal of Animal Protein, Grains, Alcohol and Caffeine: When you consume a variety of substances (fats, proteins and carbohydrates), the energy required to breakdown and absorb the available nutrients increases. The ones listed above, in particular, place a heavy burden on your body and can require as much as 30-40% of your body’s total daily energy! The Daily Greens’ 4-Day Cleanse gives your digestive system a break from those hefty compounds, because green juices are immediately digested (and require almost no physical breakdown) and raw fruits and veggies require very little of it. As a result, the typical energy required for digestion is used for toxin removal instead.
- Raw Fruits and Veggies: Unlike many other popular juice cleanses, the Daily Greens’ 4-Day Cleanse includes raw fruits and veggies. These contain large amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, digestive enzymes and phytonutrients that support healthy detoxification, organ function, cancer prevention, cardiovascular function, and general health. However, when cooked, many of these vital nutrients are lost – either through heat or water.
During a cleanse, it is extremely important to maximize your intake of these vital nutrients because they cultivate a more efficient cleansing process and potentially alleviate the negative side effects that often accompany cleanses and detox diets (e.g. headaches, fatigue, stomach-aches).
In addition, raw fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, which is a vital part of successful cleansing. It helps eliminate the accumulated toxins that would otherwise sit in your digestive tract, potentially causing cellular damage to your digestive tract and other bodily tissues as well as constipation and unnecessary digestive discomfort.
Your body is an incredible machine! Feed it well, and enjoy the energy and life you get in return.
Happy Fall, dear friends! The weather is finally cooling from the hot summer heat, and the leaves will soon begin to turn into beautiful Autumn colors. As the season changes, it’s the perfect time to jump start our healthy habits, reset our energy levels, and give our body some love with the Daily Greens™ Cleanse!
To help break down the basics of the Daily Greens™ cleanse, we have crafted this nifty infographic:
Here at Daily Greens™, we have a true passion for green juice! We wholeheartedly believe in the power of whole, fresh foods to heal the body and the planet. So we’ve created this Daily Greens™ blog to celebrate the splendor of living a healthy and conscious life, and to empower others to take control of their health!
On this digital space, you’ll find posts sharing tips, tricks, and hacks for the kitchen and beyond from Shauna Martin, Daily Greens™ CEO/Founder, Lauren Minchen, Certified Nutritionist, and Jessa West, Sustainability Guru.
A note from the writers:
Shauna Martin, CEO/Founder of Daily Greens
- At the young age of 33, I was diagnosed with breast cancer – only one year after my son was born. The multiple surgeries and chemotherapy left my body broken down and my immune system depleted. I knew something needed to change, so I began to research the powerful impact food has on our health. As a result I learned that not only could I heal my body from the after affects of my treatment, but I could also potentially prevent a recurrence of my breast cancer. Green juice quickly became the cornerstone of my new plant-based lifestyle!
Fast forward nine years, and I am completely recovered from my battle against breast cancer! I now feel healthier and more energized than ever before. My personal journey from disease to health has given me the passion to advocate for juicing greens as part of a long-term healthy lifestyle. It has also given me the wonderful and unexpected opportunity to write a book titled The Daily Greens™ 4-Day Cleanse, which will be released mid-March 2015. Through the Daily Greens™ blog, I hope to share ways you can also take control of your health through nutrition.
- As a Registered Dietician/Nutritionist in New York City and founder of Lauren Minchen Nutrition, I have a wide range of professional experience in nutrition-related diseases and conditions (e.g. eating disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, digestive diseases, hormonal disorders, menopause, dementia/Alzheimer’s, cancer, autoimmune diseases, obesity, sports nutrition, pre- and post-natal nutrition). Recently, I completed my Masters in Public Health, a degree that strengthened my research skills and expertise in the development and treatment of chronic diseases. My ultimate goal with my work, whether it be on an individual or corporate level, is to make health and balance achievable and sustainable for life. I hope through my collaboration with Daily Greens™ on this blog, I can share the many health benefits of juicing and raw foods, and provide you with the guidance and assistance you need to live healthy and well.
Jessa West, Sustainability Guru
- I credit my reckless optimism and knowledge of all things sustainable to my extraordinary experience as 2011’s Top Finalist of Project Green Challenge, a month-long competition hosted by Teens Turning Green (TTG) that challenegse individuals to dive deeply into the environmental and societal impacts of our daily actions and habitual purchases. Since then, my focus has shifted towards food sustainability and its fascinating connection to a wide variety of global challenges – and solutions. I also have served on the Youth Advisory Board of TTG, the Sustainability Chairman of University of San Diego’s Be Blue Go Green team, and the Student Director of Communication and Outreach of UT Austin’s Office of Sustainability. Currently, I am working on my BA in Geography with an emphasis in Sustainability and BDP in Social Entrepreneurship and Non-Profits, while serving as Daily Greens™ Marketing Assistant. With the Daily Greens™ blog, I hope to share my favorite tips and tricks on living a conscious lifestyle and exemplify how we can all be the change!