Photo credit: Lee McCoy via Flickr Commons

The concept of using something delicious and sweet to help make medicinal substances more enticing is nothing new (after-all, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down). However, using something bad for you to ingest something healthy seems a little oxymoronic, and it turns out, is also quite unnecessary. The solution? Use raw chocolate. 
 
When it comes to probiotics, it turns out that using chocolate as a delivery medium not only makes them delicious and a joy to consume, but actually improves their viability and efficacy once ingested - the best kind of win-win.

How it Works: The Prebiotic Effect

By now most of us are aware that cacao, the base ingredient in all dark chocolate, is awash with polyphenol antioxidants known as flavonols. These flavonols work hard to fight free radical damage, prevent premature aging, and reduce inflammation. But what many of us don't realize is they also act as potent prebiotics, meaning if you're a probiotic bacteria, flavonols are what's on the menu. Two flavonol compounds found within cacao - known as catechin and epicatechin - aren't readily digested and absorbed by our bodies, yet once they enter the GI tract, they're gobbled up by some of our body's most beneficial probiotic bacteria, including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. 

Choose Raw, Go Dark

Remember, when it comes to the prebiotic benefits of chocolate, it's all about the flavonol content. By choosing raw chocolate that has been minimally processed, and with at least 65% cacao solids, you'll ensure that you're getting the most prebiotic bang for your buck.
 
Our Sunbiotics stone ground raw chocolate is made in a unique nib-to-bar, low temperature method so that all of those vital antioxidants and unique prebiotic compounds are preserved. We then infuse our chocolate with 10 billion CFU's of shelf stable probiotics per serving, and even more prebiotic goodness in the form of organic yacon root. Enhancing your digestion is now a valid excuse to indulge in some dark chocolate - just make sure it's probiotic-enhanced!
 
 

ON SALE!

Shop our SALE SECTION for 25% off our Sunbiotics Chocolate Hearts for both adults and children , as well as 15% off all 3 flavors of our Sunbiotics Probiotic Enhanced Chocolate Bars + More!
 

Written by Anna Speaks - Resident Blogger and Social Media Manager at Windy City Organics and RawGuru.com


 

While food manufacturers everywhere have scrambled in recent years to keep up with a growing demand for clean food products, it would appear that the health supplement industry is a little late to get the memo. Many leading supplement companies, making products intended to improve their  customer's health, are actually loaded with toxic ingredients that can actually be doing the exact opposite.

What it really comes down to is consumer education. The next time you purchase a supplement, be sure to flip over the bottle and pay close attention to the list of "other ingredients". This is where you'll find a slew of potentially toxic ingredients such as:

*FILLERS
*BULKING AGENTS
*BINDERS
*ANTI-CAKING AGENTS
*COATINGS
*CARRIERS
*EMULSIFIERS
*ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS OR REFINED SUGARS
*ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS
*CHEMICAL PRESERVATIVES

You wouldn't eat any of this stuff in your food - it's time to hold our supplements to the same standards. After-all, we eat them both. 

Here are a few common additives to look out for:

MAGNESIUM STEARATE AND STEARIC ACID

Perhaps the most common of ALL supplement additives, magnesium stearate can be both vegan and animal derived. This chalky-textured lubricant has been shown to supress the immune system and even create something called a "biofilm" within our GI system which can inhibit nutrient absorption.

GELATIN

The most common material used for encapsulation, gelatin is a byproduct of meat production, and aside from being non-vegan, is most often sourced from factory farmed animals. While gelatin may be used because it's easy to swallow, animal cruelty is not. 

HYDROGENATED OILS

Hydrogenated oils are made in a lab, not in nature, and can wreak havoc on our health. They have been proven to increase the likelihood of heart disease, block the body's ability to absorb critical essential fatty acids, cause a hardening of our cell membranes which decreases detoxification and inhibits nutrient absorption, and can even upset blood sugar regulation. They are also most often derived from cottonseed and soy, two heavily GMO contaminated crops. Stay away, stay far far away. 

LACTOSE

Lactose is a sugar sourced from dairy. Not only is it a common allergen for many people with milk sensitivities, it is also most likely going to be sourced from conventional dairy products extracted from factory farmed cows, who may or may not be fed GMO corn, soy, and wheat, growth hormones, and antibiotics.

TITANIUM DIOXIDE

The ingredient responsible for making pills that perfectly white color, this metal is not something we would be ingesting naturally in our food supply, and like magnesium stearate, has been shown to inhibit our immune system, likely because it is toxic if ingested on a regular basis.


Thankfully there is a solution to all of this toxicity; actually-clean supplements are available. Our Veggimins and Sunbiotics supplements are always purely formulated and free of additives. We use actual foods as the "carriers"; for instance you'll see organic Jerusalem artichoke in many of our formulas to create body and act as a nutrient-rich delivery medium for the "active" ingredients. Our Sunbiotics chewable probiotic tablets are formed using pressure, never binders or glues. Our supplements taste not only palatable, but GOOD, because they're made from actual foods - no chemical flavorants or artificial sweeteners required.

Of course eating a well rounded, plant based diet rich with plentiful superfoods and enough variety is also key. Supplements should be just that: supplemental. 

Written by Anna Speaks - Resident Blogger and Social Media Manager at Windy City Organics and RawGuru

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Image source: Wikipedia Commons

We’ve all heard this a million times that vegetables are healthy, and we should, at least, eat one vegetable, a day.All vegetables are packed with nutrients that can help boost our immune system and improve our physical and mental well-being. But, I’m not here to blabber about the obvious, we all know vegetables are high in protein and etc. I’m here to shed some light on a particular vegetable with a few facts you may benefit from.

Kale, being a highly nutritious leafy green, is very under rated and not widely recognized. Many of you may not have heard much about this vegetable or if you have, you might not have the right information abut its numerous benefits. So, listed below are some kale facts that may help you choose kale over a number of unhealthy options.

Cholesterol 

Cholesterol has numerous critical tasks in the body. One of them is making bile acids, which are substances that offer us some assistance with digesting fats. The liver turns cholesterol into bile acids, which are then discharged into the digestive framework at whatever point we consume a fatty meal. At the point, when all the fat has been absorbed and the bile acids have performed their job, they are reabsorbed into the blood stream and utilized again. Substances called bile acid sequestrants can prevent bile acids from being reabsorbed. This decreases the aggregate sum of cholesterol in the body. Kale really contains bile acids sequestrants, which can bring down cholesterol levels. This ought to prompt a decreased danger of coronary illness , after some time. 

Cancer

Kale is rich in 2 types of anti-oxidants: carotenoids, and flavonoids which are known as cancer preventative agents . Inside of the carotenoids exists lutein and beta-carotene which are excellent anti-oxidants. Researchers have really looked into these two carotenoids in kale by examining the human digestive system and the circulatory system; they witnessed that kale ended upraising blood levels of these carotenoid supplements. That discovery is vital in light of the fact that lutein and beta-carotene are key supplements that protect our body from oxidative stress and health issuesrelated to oxidative stress. Increased risk of cataracts, atherosclerosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are three such issues. Additionally, among these problems, the biggest is cancer, since the general danger of cells getting to be cancerous is related to oxidative stress. 

Eyes

Apart from kale being rich in vitamins, minerals and helping you develop stronger bones ; kale is also known to prevent eye disorders! Lutein and Zeaxanthin are 2 anti- oxidants that are found abundantly in kale. Some surveys have shown that individuals who eat substantial amounts of these two anti-oxidants are known to have a lower chance of encountering macular degeneration and cataracts.These2are very common eye disorders that many people fall victim to. 

Weight loss

Kale can be used in a variety of recipes such as salads and with pasta, so it fills you up relatively faster without giving you the feeling of starvation every few minutes. It’s known to be good for your digestive system so you don’t end up storing unnecessary calories and fats. It is also packed with a bunch of vitamins that gives you the strength, you need to hit the gym or exercise. No wonder, it’s known as the queen of vegetables!

Stronger bones 

Kale contains more calcium than milk, and if eaten on a daily basis it can help to improve over all bone health. A lot of people have fragile bones and eat various medications in order to recover their bone strength. What most people don’t know is if they eat this beneficial leafy green on a daily basis their bones can be stronger without the risk of any other health issues! Vitamin K which is also present in kale is excellent for promoting bone density. 

It’s a great detox!

Kale can be eaten raw, in a salad, or consumed as a detox drink. It helps rid the liver of all impurities and cleanses your body. This zero fat food rejuvenates the body and flushes out all toxins from within which is essential, at times, as it effects the working of your heart and brain. An over loaded liver, sometimes, can cause severe health complications and effect the performance of your organs. You may feel lethargic at work or experience trivial heart burns at home. It can be anything ranging from something minor to something big. Thus, one should detox their bodies every once in a while. It makes your mind and body fresher. 

Kale is packed with healthy compounds that go a long way in doing wonders! Plus, there are many delicious and scrumptious recipes in which this valuable vegetable can be used. Kale can be used in soups, salads, juices, as sideline dish with your steak or eaten stir fried. There are so many ways you can play with different recipes to incorporate kale into your diet. If your kids aren’t fond of it, serve it to them with a burger or as a smoothie, something that may balance the taste for them. So quit stalling and as of tomorrow, make sure your family gets a substantial intake of this vegetable!

 Written by James Smith - guest blogger


 Image credit for kale: Stone Soup on Flickr

When it comes to nutrition advice, one thing is for sure: there is a lot of information and even more opinions out there. However, through all of the information overload there seems to be one truth that everyone can agree upon: eat more plants, with a heavy emphasis on greens. Eating more plants, specifically green plants, means that your body will be gaining to benefit from a plethora of important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients by default. Green foods also happen to high in amino acids (the building blocks of protein), high in fiber (which helps clear out the GI tract and balance blood sugar), and also helps both detox and alkalinize the body.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day - the "greenest" holiday of all - we're sharing our top 8 green superfoods! - one of which might actually be growing in your very own back yard.

1. Spirulina (or other superfood algaes like chlorella and E3 Live)

The queen of all green superfoods, spirulina really offers a complete package of nutrition. Like nature's multivitamin/mineral supplement, spirulina offers a wealth of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants as well as very high levels of protein (60% by weight), omega fatty acids, and other unique compounds that help to protect the integrity of our cells. If you're looking for one green superfood to start incorporate, start with spirulina. Check out Amazing Algae from our brand Veggimins for a very synergistic blend of spirulina, chlorella, and E3 Live blue green algae.

2. Dandelion Greens

You might want to think twice before pulling this "weed" out of your garden. While most of us still consider dandelion greens to be a bit pesky, they are actually highly medicinal and potent superfoods for our bodies. Dandelion leaves are incredible for the liver, helping to cleanse and protect this often overworked yet under-loved organ. It is also a rich source of beta carotene (which our body converts to vitamin A), Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.

3. Arugula

Arugula can give thanks to sulfur containing compound sulforaphane for its delicious, signature wasabi-like spicy flavor, however, this compound does far more than just wake up those taste buds. This compound, found in many vegetables within the cruciferous family such as broccoli and cabbage, has been shown to help protect against certain types of cancer.

4. Kale

Once a green that only hard core health foodies were noshing on, kale can now be found in many manifestations on juice bar, cafe, and restaurant menus from coast to coast, as well as in many packaged foods like kale chips. Kale is a hearty green, and helps fortify the blood and build strong bones with calcium, magnesium, iron (more per calorie than beef ), Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and plenty of protein.

5. Parsley

Parsley is FAR more than just a garnish. This super herb is rich with Vitamin C (one of the best sources!), and Vitamin K for healthy blood. Parsley is also a powerful detox herb, and even helps freshen the breathe if chewed after a meal.

6. Watercress

Want to achieve a youthful, dewy glow? Eat more watercress. This flavorful leafy green is rich with Vitamin K, Vitamin A, B Vitamins,Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and also packs in the iron, calcium and iodine - a cocktail of beautifying nutrition.  

7. Avocado

For those of us who love avo it's hard to imagine life (or a single salad) without them!  While not technically a "green", avocados do have a beautiful muted lime green hue, and by pairing them with our salad greens, actually help aid in the proper absorption of all of those critical fat-soluble nutrients such as beta carotene and Vitamin K, thanks to their high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.  

8. Hemp Seeds
 
Don't consider hemp seeds to be a "green" superfood? Look a little closer. These powerhouse seeds contain specks of chlorophyll - in fact a high quality hemp oil will even have a slightly greenish hue. Hemp seeds are one of the best sources of plant based protein, have a perfect ratio of omega fatty acids 3, 6 and 9, and offer a wealth of vitamins and minerals. They're also very hypo-allergenic, meaning they don't tend to trigger allergic reactions like many other nuts and seeds do. As a food crop, hemp is also incredibly sustainable for the environment as well, needing very little in terms of natural resources or pest control to thrive - just one more reason why they make our "green" superfood list.

Written by Anna Speaks - Resident Blogger and Social Media Manager at Windy City Organics and RawGuru




























While most of us have experienced the refreshment and deliciousness that is watermelon fruit, the seeds are not typically something we give much thought to, let alone value as a source of nutrition. In fact, finding a watermelon with actual seeds these days is becoming more and more rare, as farmers hybridize them to meet a consumer demand for something ultra sweet and seedless.

However, before you seek out seedless watermelon, or spit out another seed, consider these 9 little known superfood benefits (plus a bonus at the end of how to get the benefits in the most delicious way possible...)

1. Essential Amino Acids - watermelon seeds contain essential amino acids such as tryptophan, arginine, lysine, and glutamic acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and aid in tissue repair, muscle strength, balanced metabolism, and immunity.

2. The Good Fats - the fats within watermelon seeds are both monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. These heart-healthy fats are recommended by the American Heart Association for protecting against heart attack, stroke, and lowering bad cholesterol levels within the blood.

3. Magnesium - just 100 grams of watermelon seeds offer the body 139% of the RDA for this critical mineral. Magnesium is vital for optimal heart function, helps relax the muscles and prevent cramping, improves digestion and elimination, helps strengthen bones, and helps lower high blood pressure.


 

Spring is right around the corner, meaning it's warming up, the birds are chirping, and flowers are blooming; in other words, nature is beckoning us to shed some layers and head outdoors. As you ditch that winter coat, try ditching those shoes while you're at it (even if for just a few moments)! While not something most of us think about on a daily basis, taking your shoes off and grounding yourself is actually one of the most healing activities that you can do, and spring is the perfect time to start doing more of it.

Grounding can have a positive impact on many aspects of our health touching on the physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual levels. As a society we're dealing with a kind of "electrical toxicity" from constant exposure to power lines, WI-FI signals, microwave energy from cell phones and towers, and even normal electrical household appliances. These Electromagnetic Fields (or EMF's) can disturb the human body, contributing to common ailments such as headaches, brain fog, and chronic fatigue, or even more serious issues like chronic anxiety, depression, low immune function, and degenerative disease. This is why grounding becomes imperative to help combat the effects of EMF's and restore energetic harmony in the body; and it's actually easier to do than you might think! It's time to take off those shoes and wiggle your toes in some sand, grass, or dirt.

The Benefits of Grounding

 

1. Boosts Healing and Immunity

While we might not think about it on a regular basis, the earth is actually a massive electrical object, and your body is a conductor of electricity. When we are connected directly to the earth's electric field through direct contact with our skin, the earth's negatively-charged electrons flow through us, and our electric charge goes from positive to negative. Negative electrons (those flowing from the earth) are known as healing electrons, while positively-charged electrons are those that contribute to disharmony and disease. Negatively charged electrons, or "ions", boost the bodies resiliency and vitality, and help increase our bodies immunity and rate of cellular repair.

2. Is Anti-Aging and Fights Inflammation

What is one thing that literally all chronic diseases have in common? Inflammation. it's imperative that we know the causes of inflammation in order to properly treat these conditions. When you break things down to a scientific level, considering the fact that everything is vibrating with energy, one of the biggest contributors to chronic inflammation may actually be a lack of electrons - meaning too many positively charged ions and not enough negatively charged ions. Connecting directly to the earth is one of the best things that you can do to slow down the aging process by lessening inflammation and free radical damage.






 

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are some early signs of diabetes which can give you a heads-up that you need to visit a doctor. These symptoms include:

• frequent urination

• constant thirst and hunger

• tiredness

• blurred vision

• a slower healing process for bruises

• unexplained weight loss

People who have type 2 Diabetes may also feel some tingling sensations in their extremities, but their symptoms go generally unobserved. However, if you know you’re at risk for diabetes – perhaps it runs in your family – it’s best to prevent it. The best thing you can do is alter your lifestyle and make healthier choices. Consider eating less chocolate and candy-canes, and more fruit and vegetables.

In fact, one of the fruit deemed to have miraculous properties, even when it comes to  diabetes treatment, is the kiwifruit. One study indicates that its extract was used two times everyday for three weeks on feet-ulcers caused by diabetes, which were subsequently reduced. The reason is that the kiwifruit is rich in Actinidin, an enzyme that helps heal wounds faster.

1. It’s a low-sugar, low-calorie snack. It’s always a good idea to reduce the sugar in your diet, especially if you’re at risk of diabetes. Another reason is that sugar  promotes weight gain and overweight/ obese people have more chances to develop diabetes, so you’d better look after your weight. Remember that even  low-fat products have huge amounts of processed sugar in them, so they’re  definitely a no-no. The best option for a delicious snack is a piece of fruit. That’s  why you might consider mixing up your fruit choices, by adding the kiwifruit to  the list. It doesn’t contain a lot of sugar, and it only has about 60 calories per 100  grams, so that makes it an excellent choice if you’re trying to prevent diabetes.

2. Its extract helps regulate the function of fat cells. A 2010 study showed that a  substance named Kiwifruit Methanol Fraction (KMF), which is basically a mixture from a kiwifruit extract called Actinidia deliciosa, regulates adipogenesis. Actually, if adipocytes don’t function properly, your body becomes more insulin resistant, which will put you at more risk for diabetes. These adipocytes are in fact fat cells, and their main function is to take care of the energy balance in your body. But if they don’t work properly, you might end up with more sugar in your system without knowing why. As a direct consequence, it is always a good idea to include more kiwis in your diet. They help increase the sensitivity to insulin and control your blood-sugar levels. As such, this Actinidia deliciosa extract may not exactly cure diabetes, but it’s a good way to prevent it.

3. Rich in fiber. You may have already heard that fiber is good for you, but you may not know why it can actually prevent diabetes. Since fiber is a carbohydrate that can’t be digested by your body, that means it can’t be transformed into sugar. Studies show that people who don’t consume enough fiber, while also eating foods with a high glycemic index, can double their chances of developing diabetes. More to the point,  kiwi is a great source of fiber, which turns it into the best choice when it comes to the prevention of diabetes. By consuming more such fiber, you won’t have to worry so much about your blood-sugar spiking. What’s more, you’ll also be less hungry. Since fiber is digested at a slower rate, you will feel satiated longer.

4. It has vitamin C. Vitamins are a great way to keep your body running at optimal levels. One of the most important vitamins in question is Vitamin C, which has been shown to effectively reduce blood-sugar levels. Vitamin C is supposed to interfere with the production of glycated hemoglobin, an indicator of high blood-sugar. This is why some specialists recommend a supplementary daily dose of 1000mg of Vitamin C for patients with type 2 diabetes, which is shown to reduce their symptoms. As the kiwifruit is a great source of Vitamin C, its daily consumption can be of great aid both in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Conclusion:

To sum up with, if you can manage to eat kiwis on a regular basis, you will reap the benefits they have to offer in regards to preventing diabetes, but particularly in regards to having a healthier lifestyle. You may also consider upping your daily portion of other fruits and vegetables which have the same benefits: vitamins, minerals and fiber.

References

https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/general-health/10-things-to-eat-if-you-are-suffering-from-diabetes.html

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes-pictures/best-fruits-for-diabetes.aspx

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Spring is right around the corner which means it's time to focus on freshening up! Spring cleaning isn't just about cleansing and de-cluttering your home, it's also something that you can do for your body to feel more energized, boost your immunity, and feel more vibrant. Internal cleansing doesn't necessarily mean nixing all food and going on a juice fast (however, those can be wonderful too!). Here are 10 simple things that you can start incorporating into your daily routine right now for a little extra self care and detoxification support

1. Drink More Water (with lemon!)

This is sort of a no brainer, but something so many of us struggle to do. Simply drinking more pure water can help improve digestion, aid in weight loss, increase energy, and provide relief for chronic headaches. Adequate hydration is also 100% necessary for flushing out toxins from the body. Make a habit of starting the day with 1 quart of water with 1/2 a lemon juiced in - this will help kick start the metabolism, digestion, and will support the liver. Shoot for 2-3 liters of water per day, depending on body size and activity level.

2. Cut Back on Sweets

While there is nothing wrong with indulging in healthy treats, sometimes we could all use a little conscious sugar reduction. Relying on sugar to satisfy cravings or energize the body can be hard on the pancreas, and can lead to blood sugar issues such as hypo or hyper glycemia, diabetes, unwanted weight gain, candida overgrowth, and fatigue. Try swapping out your usual sweet fix with another treat lower in sugar - such as a creamy Dastony nut butter . Cashew and coconut butter both have a subtle sweetness yet contain no added sugars, and the new Watermelon Seed Butter is to die for!

3. Go Blended

Swap out solid meals with blended foods and/or juices for 1 day per week or 3 days per month. This could mean smoothies (try to keep high glycemic fruits to a minimum and utilize things like avocado to help thicken), blended raw soups , and plenty of green juices (again limiting high glycemic fruits and leaning heavy on greens and non-sweet fruits like cucumber). This will give the entire digestive system a break, and promote cleansing with high water content and fiber-rich plant foods. Add into your blends and juices green superfoods like chlorella/spirulina and cleansing herbs such as cilantro for added detox support.





If you've ever walked into a spa and immediately felt calmer just from the lovely scents wafting through the air, you've actually just experienced one of many benefits of essential oils: aromatherapy. While essential oils can definitely effect the senses, specific oils can also be used externally and even internally for the benefit of the body, as well as help create a cleaner and more comfortable living space.

What are they?

Essential oils are natural, concentrated oils which have been extracted from plants - most commonly through the process of distillation. These potent plant oils have many profound effects on the human body. Essential oils are rich with specific plant chemicals which can enter through our semi-permeable skin tissue, just as certain transdermal medications can (such as hormone therapy, nicotine or even vitamin B12). This means that essential oils can enter into our bloodstream and lymphatic system and interact with the tissues and organs in our body.

How to Use Them

*Applied directly to the skin


 There is no doubt, our heart is one of the hardest working organs in our bodies, and is definitely deserving of some good old fashioned TLC. While reducing stress and getting adequate exercise are two very important facets of heart-health, incorporating more heart-healthy superfoods into the diet can have incredible effects. Your heart will thank you if you start eating more of these 12 superfoods, we promise.

1. Cacao (Raw Chocolate )

Raw cacao is rich with flavonol compounds which act as powerful antioxidants and also help protect the heart. Cacao is also an exceptional source of minerals magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc, which help fortify the blood.

2. Berries

The diverse range of polyphenol antioxidants within berries, such as anthocyanins and ellagic acid, help fight free radical damage and inflammation, and keep LDL "bad" cholesterol levels in check.

3. Citrus

Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and kumquats are rich with Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which help protect the elasticity of our blood vessels and also act as potent antioxidants.

4. Coconut Butter

Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap, but current research shows that the saturated fat contained in coconut butter is actually one of the best for your body, your heart included. The body needs saturated fats in order to produce necessary hormones, and coconut fat burns very clean as an energy source and also helps boost the metabolism.






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