September: Charleston Events Roundup

<alt="arial act"/>The year is almost over! Time goes by quickly when you’re having fun, right? Thanks to these exciting Charleston events for September, it will be October before you know it. Don’t miss these opportunities to have some fun!


September 1: Beating the Surf

Join Capt. Ben Floyd at 6:30 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant shop, as he covers everything from rod & reel selection, to bait and tackle, to which tides work in your favor. Surf Fishing is a great way to get anglers of all ages catching fish. Whether it’s bull redfish or bull sharks, the surf has it all.

Come enjoy a few drinks, learn some new skills and enjoy 10% off everything during the night of the seminar.

To register, please e-mail For more information, please visit this website.  


September 2, 7, 9, 14, 17, 21, 26, 30: Sherlock Holmes and the Charleston History Mystery

Join Sherlock Holmes for an Historical City Tour truly for everyone — where without ever leaving your theatre seat you will explore Charleston’s past, present, and … other worlds. Should you choose to volunteer, you may actually participate and play a victim, villain, or vile vision in The Case of Sherlock Holmes and the Charleston History Mystery!

$24 Adults, $22 College/Military, $15 Children 12 and Under.

Please see the website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.


September – Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday: Evenings in the Market

The weekly event, designed to showcase local artists, food vendors and designers, is from 6:30-10:30 p.m. every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from March through December.

For additional information, please visit this website.  


September 6: Downward Facing RiverDog

Come and enjoy some yoga at the Joe! International Yoga Instructor, Kathryn Budig, will be at the Joe teaching some yoga moves on the field. Gates open at 9 a.m. Yoga on the field is from 10-11 a.m. There will be free parking, live music by Estee Gabay and a cash bar featuring mimosas and bloody marys. All levels are welcome. The class will be playful and enjoyable for all. $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

For more information, please visit the website.  


September – Every Wednesday: Fall Wine Strolls

Sip and stroll in a different garden location each week while sampling old and new world wines. The season ends with a Masquerade Wine Stroll Finale on October 29!

Time: 6 – 8 p.m.

Cost: $20/online, $25/gate ($5 off for Foundation members).

For more information, please visit the website.


September 14: Dance with Dragons

The 2nd Annual Dance with Dragons offers a beautiful evening of outdoor circus arts performances including hooping, acroyoga, serial silks, slacklining, and juggling playshops. Spectate, play, perform, gawk, share, and make new friends. You might be tempted to run away to the circus afterwards!

This year’s even benefits Dragon Boat Charleston, a non-profit that promotes physical and mental wellness among local cancer survivors and their community.

4:00 p.m .- 8:00 p.m.

$5 for adults, kids attend free.

For more information, please visit the website.


September 20: 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Held annually in more than 650 communities nationwide, this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future for millions. The Charleston walk will take place at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina.

Registration at 8:00 a.m. | Ceremony at 8:45 a. m. | Walk at 9:00 a.m.

Route Length: 3 miles.

To register, please visit the website.


September 19-21: 7th Annual Autumn on the Ashley

The Tri-County Master Gardeners will host the 7th Annual Autumn on the Ashley open-air craft fair Sept. 19-21 at Magnolia. More than 50 vendors are expected to exhibit wood cravings, paintings, textiles, pottery, jewelry, culinary oils, and photographs. The Philip Simmons Artists Blacksmith Guild will demonstrate their craft while dancers entertain the crowd.

Autumn on the Ashley, which is free to the public, opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. A $100 vendor fee will be charged for a vendor booth space to display handcrafted items. No retail items will be allowed. Vendors are responsible for their own pop-up tent, tables and chairs. Vendors who require electricity are encouraged to register early. Eight spaces with electricity are available.

The Master Gardeners will answer gardening questions and provide soil samples. The cost for a soil analysis is $6 each. Call 843-722-5940 to get tips on how to collect a sample. Plants and gardening books will be on sale.

For information and to reserve a booth, call Magnolia’s operations manager Mary Ann Johnson at 843-571-1266, extension 229. You can also visit this website.

How to Get Ready for Your 5K Race Day


5K races are a great way to raise money and support causes you care about, like breast cancer research. Not only do you help non-profits financially, but you benefit from participating in a healthy and fun exercise.

If you’ve ever done a 5K, you know preparation is key to making sure the race goes smoothly and successfully. If you haven’t done a 5K before and you’re training for your first race, read below to get some helpful tips to run your best on race day.

 Prepare for your run the day before.

Before going to bed, prepare your 5K outfit and have it ready to go when you wake up. The last thing you want to have happen when you’re ready to leave for your race is to lose your lucky socks or find out that your favorite sports bra is still in the washing machine. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll likely feel some anxiety about the upcoming race. This is normal. Preparing in advance keeps you on time, even in a state of panic. The less you have to worry about, the more relaxed you’ll be.

Eat a healthy, balanced dinner the night before. It’s best to prepare something you’re used to eating so you can ensure you won’t get sick and your body will react normally. Don’t get too adventurous before your race. Make sure you’re eating substantial complex carbs in your meal so you can be properly fueled up and ready to run the next morning.

Use appropriate racing gear.

Similar to how you shouldn’t eat new food before your race – don’t do anything else that takes you out of your regular running routine. This means you don’t want to wear new shoes, new clothes, or anything else you’re not used to wearing while running.


Because running a 5K is just as much a mental activity as it is a physical one. The more you change your behaviors, the more your body won’t recognize how to optimize your peak performance. Plus – when you wear new gear for your race, you put yourself at higher risk for injury, chafing, skin irritation, and more.

Imagine you’re a racecar driver who practices the same track, day after day. After a while, you know every inch of the track, and you perform much better on it than you would a brand new track. This is how your body works. The more familiar you are with it and how it reacts to gear and your regular routine, the better.

Arrive early!

Get to your race very early so you get a good parking spot and have plenty of time to warm up before the 5K. It’s better to leave yourself enough time to run a light run than it is to arrive without free time, so you end up stretching cold muscles. Give yourself some room to jog around a little, stretch your legs, grab a snack and water, and mentally prepare for the race.

When the race starts, it’s okay to be nervous. It’s a natural reaction you’ll probably have, especially if it’s your first one. You probably also aren’t used to running around so many people at the same time. Just remember: it’s all in your head. Running is a mental race. As long as you have a great experience and get a good workout in, that’s all that matters. Relax!

Pace yourself, and have fun!

It’s important to pace yourself throughout the run. Don’t worry about being first or letting your adrenaline take over. A 5K is about stamina. You may even want to think of the first 10-15 minutes of your 5K as a warm-up. It’ll help the race go by more quickly!

As you run, breathe from your inner stomach. Doing so allows you to have deeper breaths and sustained energy. It’s important to conserve your energy for the final mile, because that’s when you will get your second wind. The finish line is your goal. When you see it, keep your eyes on it and run like a cheetah!

5K runs are both fun and beneficial to your community. Be sure to replenish your workout with a healthy carb and protein-based meal, so you can stay healthy for your next 5K – and be sure to keep spreading the word about the 5K charity, foundation, or cause you supported.

Photo Credit: jacsonquerubin

Charleston Events for August

<alt="ocean scene"/>Happy August! Looking for something to do this month? Want to have some fun before the kids head back to school? Here are some great events everyone will enjoy this month—and they’re happening in our backyard:

August 2, 16, 23, 30: Charleston Summer Concert Series

This family friendly evening of music is held on Saturdays on the Grand Lawn of The Sanctuary. These concerts will feature local and regional bands. Admission is free and this event is sponsored by the Town of Kiawah Island. Guests are welcome to bring beach chairs or blankets.

August 2 – Quiana Parlor & The Shiny Disco Ball Band

August 16 – Common Ground

August 23 – The Travis Allison Band

August 30 – Palmetto Soul

For additional information, call the Lobby Bar at 843-768-6301.

 August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29: Firefly Friday: Charleston Harbor Dolphin Sunset Sail

Set sail for a dolphin sunset sail with the Palmetto Breeze. Proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen fight against breast cancer. You’ll set sail from Shem Creek, next to Red’s Ice House on the Charleston Harbor. Admission is $35 for adults, $20 for children 12 and under. Adults will receive a free Firefly Vodka cocktail. Complimentary water and sodas are on board, and a cash bar will serve beer, wine, and margaritas.

For more information or to purchase tickets, check out the website. 

 August 8: Love Painting at The Wells Gallery

The Wells Gallery is the premier gallery of The Sanctuary Resort. Join them for their live painting event, featuring at least one of their 20 nationally renowned artists. Rick McClure and Junko Ono Rothwell will be painting in the gallery on August 8 from 1-6 pm.

For additional information, please visit the website, or call 843-576-1290. 

August 10: Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series

Celebrating its 24th year, the 5-race Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series features a .3-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride, and 5K run. This event has featured over 30,000 athletes over the years, and it has been named as one of the Top 10 Charleston Signature Sport Events.

Single Race Entry Feeds: $60/$50 Charleston County Residents

Entire Race Series: $245/$204 Charleston County Residents

For all racing information, please visit the website

August 12: Crosby Stills & Nash in Concert

Crosby Stills & Nash will be performing live at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on August 12. Celebrating more than 4 decades since the group formed, its members continue to create music that crosses generations and endures in the music world. Its members have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For more information and tickets, please visit the website

August 22: Loretta Lynn in Concert

Loretta Lynn has been the “rule breakin’ record setting queen of country music” for over 50 years. She continues to entertain audiences with her distinctive, ground-breaking style. Loretta Lynn will be performing her greatest hits in concert at Boone Hall Plantation. Gates open at 5 pm. Beer, wine, and food are available for purchase.

For more information regarding the series, please visit the website

August 24: 4th Annual Steel Pony Ride and Car Show

Enjoy a great car and truck show to help the Charleston Tea Plantation in its mission to provide counseling and support for our Lowcountry firefighters and their families. This event will have food, music by Eddie Bush, games for the whole family, and cars, trucks, and motorcycles on display. The event will also host a display of antique and modern fire apparatus.

For additional information, please visit the website

August 30: Shrimp and Grits Cook-Off

Finish the summer with the #1 shrimp and grits cookoff where you can eat, drink, and be a food judge! Enjoy the best of local Charleston, and taste our chefs’ interpretations of a Lowcountry classic. Fifteen renowned Charleston chefs will compete to support the Charleston Animal Society, while locals can enjoy food, drinks, and music. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, $12 for children 12 and under. The $30 ticket price includes shrimp and grits, alcohol, live music, book signings, and more. Event runs from 7 pm to 10 pm.

To get tickets, please visit the website.

 If you know of any Charleston events happening this month, please let us know below!

 Photo Credit: Ron Cogswell


DYI Facial Masks

<alt="home Facials"/>Keeping your skin healthy, hydrated, and clean is your top priority. It’s imperative that you maintain great skin care—especially on your face—to keep your skin looking younger, brighten your complexion, and regularly hydrate your pores to prevent adult acne, blemishes, and skin discoloration.

There are countless facial cleansers, scrubs, and masks on the market, but many are filled with harmful chemicals and unnatural ingredients. We suggest creating your own at-home facial mask to ensure that you’re putting only the very best mixture on your precious skin!

At your next “girls’ night,” mani-pedi day, or personal relaxation time, try mixing together one of these DIY facial masks for a fresh, clean, and bright face:

Olive Oil Facial Cleanser

Combine 2 teaspoons of high quality olive oil, half a teaspoon of lemon oil (NOT lemon juice), and 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. Rub the mixture into your skin and leave it on your face and neck for a few minutes. Try not to leave it on for too long! Wipe the mask away with a warm washcloth. You can use this mask every day, and we recommend using it as soon as you wake up in the morning. Your skin will be refreshed and softer than you could imagine! Remember to use very high quality olive oil and lemon oil. This mask combats acne and moisturizes dry skin.

Teatime Toner

It’s important to use toner on your skin, especially on the delicate skin around your eyes. This toner treatment is designed to reduce swelling, relax your face, and bring energy and revitalization back into your skin. To create this “Teatime Toner,” choose a high quality green tea and brew a cup. Let the tea sit out and cool (DON’T put ice cubes in this, or it will dilute the solution). Take a round makeup sponge and soak it in the tea. Gently squeeze out the excess and place the makeup sponges directly on your eyelids, or around that area. Keep these sponges on your face for 15-20 minutes before bed, and you’ll notice tighter skin and cleaner pores in no time. Forget the alcohol-based toners. This one is skin-friendly and smells great, too!

The Dry Skin Solution

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Add this sticky mixture to a cleaned, washed face for 20 minutes or more, and then gently remove the mask from your skin with cold water. Use this mask when you’ve spent the day at the beach, outside, or after a workout. Your skin will be refreshed, moisturized, and healed.

Oatmeal Scrub

For a great at-home skin exfoliator, try this facial scrub: combine 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a bowl. Take a packet of plain oatmeal (just the original kind—no flavor), use slightly less water than the packet calls for, and cook it. Mix this together and ensure you’ve created a sticky paste. After the oatmeal cools, add the honey-oil mixture to it. Take the oatmeal mask in your fingers and apply small amounts to your skin, and anywhere on your body you may need to exfoliate. You’ll end up with beautiful, soft skin!

Photo Credit: Neeta Lind

Do you make your own facial masks? Share your favorite recipes and combinations with us below.

Summertime Treats for Better Health

<" alt="cherries" />Summertime means sunshine, picnics, and an abundance of seasonal foods like the ones we feature below.

You might commonly associate the word treat with candy, ice cream, or pastries. While those are treats, they’re not the only kind of treats out there. The dictionary definition of the word treat means “something that gives great pleasure.” A strawberry pie may taste good, but fresh and juicy strawberries taste good AND are healthy…two treats in one!

Here are some of our favorite healthy summertime treats to enjoy this summer:


Fresh and sweet corn is a staple summer treat. Corn also has way of providing you protection from the sun. Thanks to two antioxidants in corn—lutein and zeaxanthin—eating corn assists in the formation of macular pigment filters. Additionally, corn helps combat age-related macular degeneration: the leading symptom responsible for blindness in people over the age of 60.

Tart Cherries

Drinking cherry juice is a common way to get better sleep and combat workout fatigue. But juice isn’t the only way to get the benefits of cherries: you get a full spectrum of health benefits from eating them whole. (Minus the pits, of course.)

Researchers found tart cherries provide weight management benefits. The test subjects in the study that ate cherry powder did not gain as much weight or belly fat as those who did not. Additionally, cherry eaters had lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.


Fighting the burning sun requires sunscreen. Layering on a protective lotion or oil keeps you safe from UV rays. The next time you consider what sunscreen to put on, consider what you can put in your body to protect yourself, too! Nature provides a wide assortment of natural sun blocking foods, one of them being the tomato.

Eating tomatoes obviously should not replace wearing sunscreen to protect your skin, but consuming them does provide a much-needed extra boost of natural protection, thanks to their high lycopene content.

Iced Tea

When the sun is beaming, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink. Instead of reaching for a sugary juice, satisfy your thirst with some iced tea instead. It provides the same treat-like satisfaction and has way more benefits than processed drinks.

Tea contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which lower the risk of Alzheimers and diabetes, and provide healthier teeth, gums, and bones.

It doesn’t matter what variety you choose to drink—black, oolong, green, or herbal—because all tea contains flavonoids. To preserve the flavonoids in the tea, squeeze a lemon inside the pitcher before storing it in your fridge. The citric acid and vitamin C in the lemon (or lime or orange, if you prefer) will work its magic on its own.


There’s no doubt the best thing you can do during summer is drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated keeps your body from overheating. Thanks to watermelon, you get both the benefit of hydration (because watermelon is 92 percent water) and skin-protection (thanks to lycopene).

Additionally, eating foods full of water, like watermelon or kale, keeps you satisfied on fewer calories. Out of all of the treats shared here, watermelon is our favorite and most nutritious choice.

Do you have a favorite treat to eat in the summertime? Please let us know and share it in a comment below!

Photo Credit: motumboe

How to Unwind After Work

<img src="image.gif" alt="A bench in a park" />

Is it just us, or does time seem to slow down toward the end of the workday?

Don’t get us wrong – we’re passionate about what we do! But even if you enjoy your career or business very deeply, unwinding is important for your health. In fact, taking time off leads to even greater productivity and increased happiness.

Shutting down your workday means not opening any work until tomorrow! Even if you have several more things to do in the evening (we know what it’s like to be a woman with a lot responsibility!), you must make time to unwind. Just one hour of “me time” can make a day’s worth of difference.

One hour is recommended, but even if you spend fifteen minutes by yourself, you’ll get the benefits of ridding stress and tension. Here’s how:

Unwind by Napping

Being well-rested is key to regenerating your energy for the following day. A small nap in the evening provides the perfect transformation from “work mode” to “home mode.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are three different ways to nap.

1. Planned napping. This is when you nap before you’re sleeping. It’s like keeping your gas tank half full instead of full or empty.
2. Emergency napping. If you feel extremely fatigued after work, then you need this kind of nap. Don’t try to fight drowsiness. Nothing is more important than your health.
3. Habitual napping. These are scheduled naps you take daily. When you know in advance what your evening looks like, you can take planned naps.

Of these three, habitual napping is the best way to unwind. Why? Because when your body is used to always resting at a certain time, it will provide you a deeper period of sleep.

Get Physical

Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Try doing 15-30 minutes of exercise in the evening. Even if your mind is racing, having a tired body will kindly force you to rest. It’s a win-win, because you’ll wake up feeling healthier and rested (aside from the sore muscles).

Working out to unwind may seem contradictory. Just keep in mind how your post-workout euphoria will put you at ease.

Make New Friends

Sites like provide a place for you to go and make new friends. Perhaps you have a hobby like painting or hiking. With Meetup, you can schedule regular gatherings in the evening.

Many people share the desire to unwind after work. Mingling with like-minded people may be that helpful boost in energy you’ve been looking for!

Social Media Time

You don’t have to leave home to catch up with friends. Sites like are a way to see what everyone is up to. Instead of using Facebook throughout the day, try Facebooking on a schedule (as weird as it sounds, this is a healthier way to use social media):

Schedule a time to use Facebook (e.g., 6:00-6:30 P.M).

Post something positive, leave positive comments on your friend’s posts, and share things you like on your wall.
At 6:30, shut down Facebook. Don’t let it suck you in — it will still be there tomorrow.

These are just a few ways to unwind after work. Do you have a favorite way? Please let us know by sharing it in a comment below!

Photo Credit: alexcoitus

Simple Ways to Make Yourself Happier

<img src="image.gif" alt="A branch" />Remember being a kid and your biggest chore was eating all of your dinner?

What a “problem” to have!

When it comes to living happier, you could learn a lot from a children. In fact, children laugh an average of 300 times a day while adults only laugh around 20 times.

It’s easy to forget to live a happy life as you get older. Bills, careers, stress, relationships, and countless other adult activities can burden your day-to-day routine. If you don’t remember to be happy, you’ll walk around with a frown, as if there’s a permanent rain cloud above your head.

But there’s a bright side to being an adult: you have more control over your life than you did as a child. While you have more responsibilities than a child, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do exactly what you want. Making a change for the better is simply a matter of wanting to do it.

So, give yourself permission to be happy. Here are a handful of ways to get happy:

Do Nice Things for Others

Giving to others is just as nice as receiving. For some people, giving is actually more beneficial. Think about the last time you received a random gift. Remember how happy it made you feel? Re-create that experience for someone else. When you see her face light up, you’ll feel happy you’ve made someone else happy—for no particular reason at all! Spreading happiness works like spreading the flu, except with less coughing.

You don’t need to buy your friend a new car to make her happy (although if you did, we’re sure she’d be ecstatic). A simple cup of coffee does the trick.

It doesn’t even have to be a friend, either. Why not buy something nice and give it away to a stranger? Even better: do something nice for someone without them knowing it was you. Doing this removes them feeling the need to reciprocate, too. You still get the good feeling of being helpful and they don’t have the pressure of paying you back.

Learn a New Skill

You can do anything you want. Yes, anything! All it takes is the desire to do so and a little effort. Taking on a new hobby and seeing your newfound skill develop over time will make you happy!

If you ever wanted to play the piano, do it! No one is stopping you. Start today, and in six months you’ll be amazed at your progress.

You could even take a class completely unrelated to anything you do or thought you’d be interested in. Imagine the surprise of your friends and family when you take up karate or archery. Not only will they be impressed by how outgoing you’ve become, but they’ll be inspired to pursue new skills, too!

The takeaway for learning a new skill is to break the mold of regularity. You don’t have to dye your hair pink and buy an entire new closet of clothes. Simply start making small adjustments by learning something new, and happiness will flow through you.

Handwrite a Letter to Someone

Can you recall the last time someone wrote a letter to you? Perhaps it was a card for an event, like a birthday or a wedding invitation. There’s something magical about receiving a handwritten letter. Not only is it more exciting to open than a bill, handwritten letters make you feel special. Getting a handwritten letter means someone took the time to write to you!

Think of someone who brings happiness in your life. Maybe it’s a family member, or perhaps it’s a friend. It could be someone you’ve never met, like a book author or a celebrity. Regardless of who it is, spend a solid hour writing them a letter expressing how good they make you feel. When you’re done: fold, stamp, and send. Oh, and don’t forget to smile, too.

You never know what can come from sending a letter. One couple sent a wedding invite to the Queen of England on a whim. And guess what? The Queen showed up!  It just so happened the Queen of England was in the area that day and didn’t have any other plans. Just a simple letter made that couple’s day much happier.

They didn’t ask for permission — they simply took the action.

Remember: you have the freedom to go out and create a happier life for yourself. No one is stopping you. You can start to be happy right now by just putting a smile on your face.

Share your favorite ways to make yourself happy below!

Photo Credit: Denis Collette

The Importance of Taking Time to Reflect on Your Year

new yearEvery year, we take time not only to reflect on how thankful we are for our families, freedoms, and lives, but we also reflect on what we’ve accomplished during the year. We celebrate our successes and learn from our mistakes, and we decide what we’d like to achieve in the New Year. Here are a few ways to commemorate 2011 and plan 2012.

Make a list of your accomplishments.

What have you done in 2011? What were your successes and your leaps forward? No matter how small your wins may seem, they are still wins and should be celebrated. List them all so you can see what a tremendous year you’ve had. You may want to list them in categories, such as financial, health, family, etc. Rejoice in how long your list is.

Create a second list of your attempted successes that didn’t quite reach the mark. Those are worth celebrating too, even if the outcome wasn’t quite what you had anticipated or wanted. Simply attempting them is a win, and you can always try again.

Pat yourself on the back.

Look over your lists, and ensure you’ve included everything you’ve accomplished and attempted. You probably didn’t realize you made so many strides in 2011. Spend a little while remembering each accomplishment and how it made you feel. Re-create that feeling. Celebrate you and your success!

Use the lists to set your goals for 2012.

With the future in mind, decide what you want to try for next year. For each accomplishment, there is probably a natural next step. For example, if you lost 15 pounds, perhaps you would like to lose 10 more—or maybe you’d like to make sure you keep those pounds off by starting an exercise program.

If you attempted a goal and didn’t reach it this year, do you want to try again? Chances are that you learned something from trying it this year, and your odds of succeeding are even higher now. Give it another shot!

Finally, treat yourself to something special.

You deserve it for all your hard work, and this is the perfect time to treat yourself. Whether you book a spa day, take a trip during the holidays, or buy something you’ve had your eye on, celebrate yourself!

Tell us what you’ve accomplished this year so we can rejoice with you!

Can Green Tea Really Help Fight Cancer and Help Your Heart?

green teaFor years, green tea was believed to help keep your heart healthy and fight cancer, among other health benefits, and we’re learning more about it every year.

Catechins are the antioxidants in green tea, and they act as scavengers in your system, gobbling up free radicals that can contribute to disease. These antioxidants are abundant in green tea because it doesn’t go through the processing that other teas do. One particular catechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, was found to shrink tumors in mice in one Canadian study. Other lab studies have shown it stops cancer growth, but human trials have not proven it yet.

According to Marji McCullough of the American Cancer Society, the challenge of green tea human studies is finding populations that drink enough green tea for an adequate length of time. A few human studies have shown green tea to be effective, but most were conducted in Asia and the East, where green tea is widely used. Also, the typical Asian diet is higher in fish and soy than the standard American diet, which may influence results.

One study in Japan showed that women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer had a lower recurrence if they drank more green tea before and after surgery. A second study in China showed that increased green tea consumption led to lower risk of several cancers including colorectal, stomach, prostate, and pancreatic. An analysis of 22 studies found that green tea could reduce risk of lung cancer.

In the case of heart disease, Japanese researchers found that four cups of green tea a day might have contributed to a reduced severity of heart disease among men in one study. A Dutch study of over 3,000 women and men found that those who drank more tea had less severe blood vessel clogging, perhaps because green tea’s antioxidants improve the flexibility of blood vessels. In addition, green tea has been found to help obesity and reduce LDL cholesterol levels, which also improve heart health.

Although the studies aren’t yet there to prove green tea’s benefits, researchers believe that the antioxidant load from green tea is beneficial. For more on green tea, click here.

What are your thoughts on the benefits of green tea?

The Good Fat versus the Bad

avocadoFor several years, we’ve been told to reduce or cut fat from our diets. While it seems like good advice, this message is too simplistic. A better message is to make sure we get enough good fat in our diet and cut out the bad fat. Not all fats are equal, and once you know the difference, you’ll be well on your way to better health.

What is fat and why do we need it?

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are just that: an essential part of our diet like protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals. EFAs cannot be produced by the body and must come from food. The truth is that you need a certain amount of fat to be healthy. In addition to providing energy and insulation, fat has several functions in the body:

  • Your body needs dietary fat to transport and use the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins keep your eyes, skin, blood, kidneys, and bones healthy.
  • Dietary fat, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, reduces symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
  • Fat helps the body synthesize hormones, and it promotes healthy cell function.
  • Children need fat to develop normally, both physically and mentally.
  • Fat slows digestion and helps your body absorb nutrients.
  • Your brain needs fat to function, and nerves are covered with a substance made from fat.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reduce depression, dementia, and memory problems.

Unfortunately, many people have been led to believe that any food with fat should be avoided, which has spawned an incredible number of “fat-free” foods. Fat gives food flavor, so to replace this flavor, manufacturers add sugar—not a good tradeoff.

Which are the good fats?

Good fats come in many foods, such as avocados, nuts and seeds, and fish. Moderation is the key. Don’t be afraid to cook in olive or coconut oil, which are more stable at high temperatures than vegetable oils. Go ahead and put real butter on your toast, and eat nut butters, olives, and fatty fish such as salmon. Put some real cream in your coffee.

The bad fat you want to avoid

Trans fats are found in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and most packaged or processed foods. Trans fats are created in a laboratory by forcing hydrogen through vegetable oil to make it solid at room temperature. These fake fats increase inflammation in your body and can raise cholesterol.

Food manufacturers can claim a product has no trans fats if it has less than 0.5 grams per serving, so reading labels is vital to avoiding trans fats. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated,” don’t eat it.

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