It’s certainly not the first study of its kind, but as summer kicks into full-swing, new research on the benefits of spending time in nature serves as yet another important reminder to get outside, like now.

The research, published this week in the journal PNAS, suggests that as little as 90 minutes surrounded by nature can help to combat depression.

The new study looks at what specifically about spending time in nature causes changes in brain activity. The researchers looked at “rumination” a term psychologist use to predict episodes of depression.

"Ruminative thought means something very specific in psychology," Gregory Bratman, a PhD candidate in environmental science at Stanford University and the lead author of the study told the Los Angeles Times. "It is repetitive thought that is focused on negative aspects of the self." For example, one might reflect repeatedly on an embarrassing or disappointing moment or reflect on behaviors or conversations.

The researchers looked at how a walk in nature affected ruminative thoughts on 38 volunteers with no history of mental illness. The subjects took a 90-minute walk in either an urban green space or a loud, busy street. The subjects completed a 12-question rumination questionnaire before and after the walks as well as underwent brain scans to measure blood flow (they were also given smartphones to take photos of their walk to verify they did as instructed).

According to the researchers, “those who went on the nature walk showed reductions in both self-reported rumination and in the profusion of blood flow to the subgenual prefontal cortex,” reports the Times. “They observed no significant changes in the urban walkers.”

"It was quite remarkable to us," Bratman said. "Especially because we weren't asking people 'How do you feel right now?' We were asking, 'How do you tend to think?' To change anything about how one describes how they think is quite compelling."

That doesn’t mean that living in an urban environment may necessarily lead to ruminative thinking patterns, but it does, once again, highlight the benefits in spending time outdoors, particularly immersed in nature.

 Image: Nabeel H

The Environmental Protection Agency has regulated the use of certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are the most potent greenhouse gases created by human activity. They're most commonly used in refrigeration.

“HFCs do not naturally occur anywhere and have been used in refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosols, fire retardants and similar applications,” The Hill reports.

The move comes in efforts to slow climate change through restricting greenhouse gas emissions. Without the regulations, the EPA says HFC use would double by 2020 and triple by 2030, accelerating the impact of global warming. Some HFCs have a global warming potential between 12- and 14,800-times that of the same volume of carbon dioxide, the EPA reports. “They also can stay in the atmosphere and continue to warm the planet for hundreds of years,” explains The Hill

“This rule will not only reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also encourage greater use and development of the next generation of safer HFC alternatives,” EPA head Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “It is in line with steps leading businesses are already taking to reduce and replace HFCs with safer, climate-friendly alternatives.”

In a blog post, Brian Deese and Dan Utech, two of Obama’s top advisers on climate change, pointed to the rule as a major step toward reducing HFCs’ prevalence.

“EPA’s final rule will help us make a significant and meaningful cut in our greenhouse gas emissions—up to the equivalent of 64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide of avoided emissions in 2025,” they wrote.

“The United States is at the cutting edge not only when it comes to developing the next generation of safe and cost-effective alternatives to HFCs, but also in terms of incorporating these alternatives into American cars, air conditioners, refrigerators, foams, and other products,” the advisers said.

The new EPA regulation also contains recommended alternatives to HFCs that are in development and will not put the environment at as much risk as the use of HFCs.

Image: Rusty Clark

Chances are that your workout gear--whether you’re heading to a spin class, hitting the Stairmaster, or setting up for a round at the gym lifting weights—includes a full bottle of water, maybe even several. But new research says that might not be a good idea at all. In fact, the experts warn that it could be putting your health at risk.

According to a panel of experts writing in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, excessive fluid intake during physical activity brings a great risk.

"Fluid intake recommendations suggesting that athletes begin to drink fluids before the onset of the sensation of thirst were targeting those exercising in situations where high sweat rates were present and dehydration could evolve rapidly with known medical and performance outcomes," the panel wrote. "Unfortunately, this advice fostered the misconception that thirst is a poor guide to fluid replacement in lower sweat rate situations. We believe that this has facilitated individuals choosing to inadvertently adopt overdrinking."

Among the risks, overdrinking during physical activity can include lightheadedness, confusion, and nausea, and more serious injuries such as cerebral edema, where the brain swells from too much water. “At least 14 athletes — including a woman who died two days after completing the Marine Corps Marathon in 2002 — are believed to have died from drinking too much during exercise in a condition known as exercise-associated hyponatremia or EAH,” reports the Washington Post.

While instances of cerebral edema are rare, it’s still a warranted consideration for watching fluid intake and drinking only when thirsty. The experts recommend avoiding reflexive drinking, such as when you finish a rep as well as avoiding excessive water consumption immediately before or after intense physical activity. If you’re properly hydrated—drinking enough water throughout your day—you shouldn’t need to consume excess water during exercise.

 Image: GabrielP93

They come in all shades of green: organic greens powders are as popular as organic green juices. It’s not surprising: an organic greens powder can deliver a host of nutrients in a small spoonful. They’re portable, take up way less room in the fridge than bunches and bunches of fresh greens, and they can last a lot longer.

But choosing organic greens powder can be difficult: do you want wheatgrass or oatgrass? Or how about spirulina? Or powdered spinach?

What separates the good from the great, the nutrient-rich from the trendy? 

Just like not all green foods are created equal, neither are green powders. But one rule of thumb generally exists: you’re better off with greens than without. Still, that doesn’t exactly make combing through the options simple.

Some green powders are better for detoxification, such as wheatgrass, alfalfa and chlorella. Some are better for energy: spirulina, oat grass, powdered leafy greens like spinach or kale. Some do double duty: wheatgrass, for example, is a potent detoxifier, but it can also boost energy for some people. And all are abundant in key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Keep in mind that as potent and healthy as green powders are that word 'organic' really matters. Organically produced green powders are free from harmful pesticides and herbicides, which are the last thing you want in a food that’s supposed to help you detox or give you energy! Those chemicals won’t negate the vitamin and mineral content of a food (although science is split on that), but you can do your body (and the farmers who grew your greens) a huge favor in sticking with organic.

 Also keep in mind the quality of the greens. Mixes and blends can be a great way to get multiple greens into your body (we sell a blend called mustHave greens), but beware of added sugars and fillers, which can sneak into ingredients lists along with the greens.

image: stevendepolo

The mighty cashew is as versatile as it is delicious plain. It’s a meaty, creamy nut that makes an excellent substitute for dairy products and this cashew crème recipe with organic greens powder is no exception.

Now, you may be wondering: what do you do with a cashew crème? But the more appropriate question may just be: what can’t you do with it? 

Because the cashew is so versatile, this crème recipe can serve as a sweet or savory base: Use it as a creamy pasta sauce, add it to smoothies, turn it into a salad dressing, make it into a dessert, add it to smoothies, dips, even homemade ice cream! The possibilities teeter towards the endless end of the spectrum and you’ll find so much joy in having this cashew crème recipe around that you’ll just be itching for more ways to use it.

Of course, there’s one other important aspect to this recipe: we add organic greens powder and for very good reason. Like cashews, organic greens (we’re partial to oat and alfalfa grass, chlorella, spirulina, and kale in our mustHave greens) are also quite versatile and incredibly nutritious. Just a one-tablespoon serving of our mustHave greens includes 80 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, 40 percent for vitamin A and zinc, 8 percent of vitamin B12, 2 grams of protein and a host of other nutritional benefits including vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium.

Plus, like cashews, organic greens powder works in dishes both sweet and savory. They add a nice earthy flavor without being too overbearing.

Cashew Crème Recipe with Organic Greens Powder 

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in several cups of water for 4-6 hours
½ cup water
1-2 teaspoons of greens powder
pinch sea salt

Directions

Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Place into food processor or blender with ½ cup water, greens and salt. Blend until smooth. 

To make chia porridge: add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to 1 cup water. Let soak for twenty to thirty minutes. Stir in a few spoonfuls of cashew crème and serve. 

For salad dressing: Mix ¼ cup cashew crème with 2 tablespoons olive oil, juice of one lemon, dash of red wine vinegar and chopped fresh herbs. Blend well.

 Image: jules: stonesoup

You simply can’t overdo smoothies in the summer months, especially one loaded with organic superfood greens powder! Sounds like a mouthful, eh?

Not to worry; this smoothie recipe is full of creamy, smooth and delicious flavor too. The superfood greens give it a simple (yet obviously super) nutritious boost. We recommend using our mustHave greens—a hearty blend of oat and alfalfa grass, chlorella, spirulina, and kale powder. It’s a synergistic blend of greens that are high in naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, potent plant antioxidants and amino acids. Of course, most any greens powder will do you good in this recipe, so use what you have or what you love and get ready to enjoy!

This smoothie recipe also uses fresh spinach, so you may be wondering why both powders and fresh? The answer is simply this: you’d have to eat A LOT of spinach to accrue the nutritional value in dried greens. That’s not to say that fresh greens aren’t worthy of your green smoothie—they most certainly are, of course! But you can significantly amp up the green goodness of your favorite smoothie recipe with the addition of organic superfood greens powder.

Makes two smoothies

Ingredients

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried and packed tightly
1 cup fresh mango chunks (frozen can be used as well)
1 banana, frozen, cut into chunks
11/2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup hemp seeds
¼ cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons organic superfood greens powder
pinch sea salt

 Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Options: add ice cubes for a thicker, colder smoothie. Add a few pitted dates for extra sweetness.

Pour into glasses and serve cold.


Image: Pixabay

 

When warm weather arrives—and it most certainly has—we’re ready to get outside and show a lot more skin. But if your skin is less than gorgeous, it’s not exactly the most comfortable situation. Did you know that organic greens powder can help? 

While organic greens powder might sound like a vague term, it actually points to a very specific group of food, mainly dried grasses (such as wheat, barley, oat, or alfalfa,, leaves (kale, spinach, arugula, etc) and algae (such as chlorella or spirulina).

The benefits of dried organic greens powders are many—from versatility, to price, and flavor. But there are even more incredible benefits specific to summer: clear and glowing skin.

Green foods tend to be high in skin-boosting vitamins including A, C, and E. They can also contain a number of plant antioxidants that have also been known to improve skin quality. Alfalfa and spirulina in particular, are known for their abilities to draw out impurities and aid the body in detoxification, which can help to clear away blemishes, and may reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

Organic greens powder can also help to boost the bodies blood circulation, which will bring more color and a natural glow to your skin, giving the appearance of rosy cheeks and overall health.

Of course, the benefits of organic greens powder come mostly through consuming greens (like our mustHave greens), but glowing skin can also come as a result of using organic greens powder on the face in a mask. The same way the greens work inside your body, they can also work on the skin by drawing out impurities while delivering vitamins and antioxidants to help the skin look fresher and more vibrant.

To use greens powder on your face, mix with a small amount of vinegar and honey to form a paste. You can also mash an avocado into the mix and apply to the face. Leave on for about ten minutes. Rinse with cool water.

 Image: jigme datse

In case you haven’t noticed, green juices are everywhere these days. There are juice bars popping up like Starbucks and even restaurants are adding in their own juice machines. And what’s not to love? Green juices are filled with good-for-you vitamins, antioxidants and energizing goodness. So why would you opt for a green juice powder over the fresh stuff? Here are a few reasons:

1. Vitality: Green juice powders are not all created equal, but some, like our mustHave greens, are pressed into juices before they’re dried, making them not only taste sweeter and fresh, but they also retain their nutrients, which some fresh juices can lose if left to sit too long.

2. Versatility: One of the most favorable benefits to green juice powder is that it is much more versatile than a fresh-pressed juice. You can add green juice powder to any number of food recipes, boost smoothies or make a quick green drink whenever you need it, no juicer required.

3. Fewer calories: Green juice powders tend to have fewer calories than fresh-pressed juices, which can be of particular interest to anyone aiming for weight loss. It’s so easy to add sweet fruits to a fresh green juice not only upping the calories, but the sugar content as well. Granted, fruit sugars are much healthier than processed and refined sugars, but if you really want a low-calorie green juice, powders may be the way to go.

4. Quality: Stepping into your local juice bar is not typically an unhealthy move—fruits and veggies are so important for good health!—but it can be less healthy than you had hoped. That’s because not all produce is the same. Most juice bars (and a lot of bottled juices) don’t use organic ingredients, and because they use so much produce, often buy what’s cheapest. Green juice powders tend to be made from high quality and organic green foods, picked at peak ripeness and processed while still fresh, rather than sitting in the cooler for several days. 

5. Taste: You’ve probably had a funky tasting green juice on more than one occasion. What’s the answer to that? Adding more fruit, of course, which as we already discussed, amps up the calories and sugar load. But green juice powders are always going to taste the same, so you know how you should prepare it, and what to expect. Most people report green juice powders tasting grassy and sweet, making them perfectly delicious just in water or blended into a smoothie or fresh juice for added nutrients.

6. Price: There's no question that fresh juices are pricy! And while green juice powders might bring a bigger sticker price, it's usually going to last you through many more juices at a fraction of the fresh juice cost. We'll drink to that!

Image: griotsnet

Preparing for a killer workout takes some steps beyond just getting off of the couch: You’ve got to get into your workout gear, hydrate, and usually, eat something that’s going to give you energy. Enter fitness foods, those bars, drinks and other foods marketed to us as fitness appropriate. But what a recent study found may shock you.

According to the research, published in the recent issue of the Journal of Marketing Research, people who consumed fitness-promoting foods, actually ate more and exercised less.

In the study, half of the 162 participants received a bag of trail mix labeled simply ‘Trail mix snack,’ while the other half were given the same mix, but with a label that said ‘Fitness snack’ and showed a picture of running shoes,” reports Yahoo Health. “They were told they were taking part in a taste test, but actually, researchers were measuring how much trail mix they ate.”

According to the researchers the disparity between the two groups wasn’t huge, but for people who said they were watching their weight and even trying to consume fewer calories, the difference was noticeable. “People with the highest score on a diet restriction questionnaire ate approximately 200 more calories of the ‘Fitness snack’ trail mix than the regular kind,” reports Yahoo

“Fitness-cued foods are compatible with restrained eaters’ long-term goals,” study author Joerg Koenigstorfer, PhD, professor of sport and health management at Technische Universitat Munchen in Munich, Germany told Yahoo. “The claims reduce the conflict between eating enjoyment and weight control. This compatibility absolves restrained eaters from having to watch their weight and licenses them to pursue the eating enjoyment goal.”

The researchers say the food labels may be partly to blame when it comes to how much or how vigorously people exercise. According to the study, when asked to cycle on stationary bike “as hard as you want and feel like at the moment,” the weight conscious participants burned the fewest calories after eating a snack branded as a “fitness snack” over regular snacks. For the people though who weren’t weight conscious, they actually burned more calories after eating the fitness snack.

“One may have expected that restrained eaters would be more physically active in the presence of fitness-branded food; however, we show that the opposite is true,” Koenigstorfer tells Yahoo Health. “Eating fitness-branded food compensates for actual physical activity in restrained eaters.”

The findings mirror previous research that shows people tend to eat more calories when they believe they’re eating a healthy snack. It’s a phenomenon called the “health halo.” A study from Cornell University found that “people estimate that organic cookies and chips have fewer calories than non-organic versions,” reports Yahoo.

But the studies don’t mean you have to fall victim to poorer workouts or overeating. Mindful eating and even working with a trainer can help to keep your fitness goals.

Image: wegotkidz

Nondairy nut milks are all the rage these days. They’re certainly great options for those who are lactose-intolerant, vegan or just looking for a dairy alternative. They’re loaded with flavor and nutrients, and can be just the right thing for breakfast or a quick snack.

Even better than nondairy milks you can find at your local market are the recipes you can make at home. This guarantees no emulsifiers, preservatives or stabilizers in your milks. You can also control the sugar content.

This nondairy nut milk recipe gets a good-for-you boost from powdered organic greens, like our mustHave greens. But you can also simply use spirulina powder or blue-green algae, or even a powdered wheat grass.

Why add greens to your milk? It’s a simple protein boost and a great recipe idea for kids (they love adding the powder and watching it turn green). You can also use this as a base for your favorite chocolate milk recipe. Most kids won’t even be able to detect any greens once chocolate has been added.

This recipe gets its sweetness from dates, but nuts have a natural sweetness so you may find you don’t need to add the dates at all.

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

 4 cups filtered or spring water

1 cup nuts of choice (cashew or almond recommended, but most any will work)

3 dates, pitted,

2 teaspoons powdered greens

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Directions 

Soak the nuts in half of the water for at least two hours. Drain and rinse the nuts.

In a high speed blender or food processor, add remaining water and nuts and blend until the nuts are completely pulverized.

At this point, you can filter out the nuts using a sieve or a nutmilk bag, saving the milk back into the blender. You can also leave the nuts in for a thicker milk.

Add remaining ingredients to blender and mix well. Serve chilled. 

Because homemade milks contain no emulsifiers or binders, you will need to shake before serving.

To make chocolate milk, add one to three tablespoons of cocoa powder and blend well.

Image: Jules

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