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You might have known bitter gourd for its bitterness till date but from now on you will know this humble vegetable because of its sweet health benefits. Don’t judge this humble vegetable from its taste as it is a power house of health when taken in the right form. The research carried out by Nutrition Journal has suggested many health benefits of bitter gourd, which is also known as Momordica Charantia .

Check out these key health benefits of bitter gourd to make it the sweet truth of your diet plan from now!

1. Effectively treats Type II Diabetes

People think that the bitterness of bitter gourd balances the blood sugar and this is the reason it is good for those suffering from diabetes. This is just half-truth! It is true that bitter gourd is good for diabetes patients but not because of its bitter taste. The protein called kinase is activated on consuming this bitter veggie and this increases the sugar absorption. The resistance to the insulin is also reduced  keeping blood sugar levels are kept in check.

2. Enhances Liver Health

Healthy liver keeps many other diseases at bay. This wonder vegetable works as tonic for both bladder and liver. The regular intake would help in relieving gout pain. You can also fight the problems like kidney stone by regular consumption of bitter melon juice.

3. Natural Weight Loss

Bitter melon, which is the unique vegetable-fruit would work as the perfect blend for losing the extra fat. The potassium and iron rich vegetable would support digestion by relieving constipation. The body fat would be flushed out to get you a slimmer look.

4. Detoxification

Your body comes in contact with various toxins from environment, food, and drinks. These toxins slowly enter your organ system and affect it negatively. Detoxification is the process where all the toxins from the body are flushed out through proper diet plan. Including bitter gourd juice in your detoxification plan would accelerate the process of detoxification.

5. Keeps you young

The free radicals are removed from your body with the help of antioxidants and vitamin C. The damage to the skin and hair due to UV rays of sun is also nullified with the help of powerful antioxidants present in bitter food.

6. Relieves Hypertension and cares for your heart

The antioxidant rich vegetable would fight against bad cholesterol and removes the fat that clogs your artery walls affecting effective blood circulation. The unclogged arteries would slim down the chances of heart attack and eventually give you happy heart. This will also be quite beneficial to those suffering from hypertension as the pressure of blood on the arteries would be eliminated.

7. Cuts infection and boosts immunity

The infection of any type is tackled by this vitamin powerhouse. It is loaded with flavonoids like Beta-Carotene and other phytonutrients that enhance your immunity levels to fight against all types of infections.

The above mentioned sweet health benefits of bitter gourd would surely make this bitter tasting vegetable top the list of your favorites.

About the Author

Carol is a freelance writer, she loves spending her time of the day with her family. She writes regularly for Nutra Pure HCG , an online shop for homeopathic HCG drops that aids in burning unnecessary fat from the human body and results in weight reduction.


Ahh, the holidays. That time of year when we all have too much to do and too little time to do it. In reality, this is a sacred and special time of year that we should be enjoying fully. If you find yourself feeling more stress than usual, however, you are not alone. Keep reading for 6 tips that will help keep that stress at bay so you can experience more love, more joy, and more magic this holiday season. 

1. Make a List (Check It Twice…)

If you're feeling overwhelmed by tasks, commitments, or just life in general, one of the best ways to organize your thoughts and create internal order out of external chaos is to write it all down. Make a list of all of the things that you need to get done, then put stars by the ones which are most important. When you accomplish something, make a check mark by it or cross it off -  you'll get the added benefit of a dopamine release, a hormone that plays a major role in reward motivated behavior.

2. Shake Your Groove Thang

In other words: MOVE! Movement is so critical at all times, but during busy times it is often something that we overlook, or feel too burnt out to do. Exercise has an ironic component: even though it can be hard to feel motivated to work out when you're tired, it actually ends up energizing the body and mind. Movement oxygenates the brain and muscles, increases circulation, and releases feel-good endorphins which help fight depression and improve cognitive function. If you don't have time for a full work out that's okay! A short power walk outside in the cool winter air can do a world of good, and turn you into a much happier person.

3. Practice Gratitude

An attitude of gratitude will instantly pull you into present moment awareness. When we get busy and overwhelmed, it's easy to feel this constant underlying anxiety. This can increase tension and inflammation in our bodies, wreck havoc on our digestion, throw our hormones out of whack, and make it impossible to focus on what we actually need to accomplish. Focusing on all that there is to be grateful for during this blessed season is a great way to remember what is actually important in our lives, even amidst the hustle, bustle, and fully loaded to-do lists.

4. Green Up

Don't let your healthy diet slip away into the land of Christmas cookies and egg nog. While enjoying your favorite holiday treats is just fine, make sure you are maintaining a solid base of plant based, whole food nutrition to fuel and nourish your body. Focus on green foods specifically, such as kale salads, lightly steamed greens, green juices, green smoothies, and green superfood powders such as Amazing Algae . Greens are rich with fiber, help our body's detoxify, and contain crucial trace minerals such as calcium and magnesium which have a calming effect on the body, help to prevent muscle tension, and also keep our digestion regular in times of stress.

5. Practice Self Care

Whether it's decompressing in a warm bath with hydrating oils and a few drops of lavender, a coffee or tea date with a friend to catch up, or a trip to your favorite spin or yoga class, make sure you are doing activities that are for your own highest good; things that restore your spirit and charge up your internal battery. Focusing on others is beautiful and necessary, but we can only be of service if we take care of ourselves first. Believe us, your friends and family would much rather be around a calm, centered, and happy you, as opposed to a frazzled and stressed you during the holidays. Make time for yourself.

6. Find Your Zen

You don't have to be a highly advanced yogi, or even feel like you know what you're doing, to benefit from a meditation practice. While there are many techniques out there for meditation, such as visualization or mantra, the goal is to quiet the mind and experience more inner peace and connectivity to your inner being. Take a few moments to sit comfortable with an elongated spine and relaxed body, and focus on your breath. If you notice tension, let it go with your exhalation. If thoughts come up (they likely will!) let them fall away. Even 5 minutes of meditation can drastically alter the way you feel on the inside and interpret what's going on in the world around you.

While we can't completely prevent stress in our lives (wouldn't that be nice!) we CAN set ourselves up for success by practicing active stress management techniques. We hope some of these tips help you have a more relaxed and joyful holiday season!

 Written by Anna Speaks - Social Media Manager for RawGuru.com and Windy City Organics 


Nothing proves a summer well spent like a glowing tan that lingers well into the first few weeks of fall. However, for many of us, summer's golden glow might be fading fast, leaving behind another kind of gift; thirsty and flaky skin that is crying out for some TLC. While we can't help make your tan last all year, we can definitely help you get your glow back.

Start with your insides

The intense heat and UV rays of summer can zap every ounce of moisture out of your skin. While your first instinct may be to start piling on the moisturizer (while praying for a little miracle), your best bet is to focus on internal hydration. Our skin cells draw moisture and nutrients from internally, so be sure to drink up, and watch as your skin cells naturally plump up with hydration. Not a fan of plain water? Try adding organic fruit slices such as citrus or berry, or herbs such as basil, mint, lemon balm or rosemary to add flavor.

Unfortunately, UV rays can do more than just dehydrate the skin, they can also cause free radical damage and premature aging through the breakdown of our natural collagen and elastin fibers (the elasticity of our skin). Antioxidants to the rescue!

Load up on superfoods known to be have plentiful antioxidants! Antioxidants help our bodies to repair free radical damage. Here are 10 of our favorites:



Stop, drop, and exfoliate

Before your skin can actually absorb any topical moisture, you'll need to slough off that outer layer of dead skin. While summer is not an ideal time to do intensive exfoliation treatments (exfoliation can make the skin more susceptible to sun damage), fall time is ideal. We recommend keeping it gentle; exfoliating 1-2 times per week is plenty. Utilizing an organic fruit enzyme or mild alpha hydroxy acid-based peel is ideal. Stay away from scrubs as they often contain abrasive particles that may damage or irritate the skin. Once the dead skin is dissolved it's time to soak up the MOISTURE!

Topical moisture


To plump up skin cells quickly, water-binding serums or gels are great. Look for ingredients such as aloe vera, sodium PCA, or hyalouronic acid - all of which lock up moisture and bind it to the skin so that it doesn't immediately evaporate away. Seal in the moisture with a more emollient oil-based cream, such as Rawtella Skin Cream (pictured above), which also contains probiotics to help balance and restore a depleted complexion.

Utliizing a facial mask 1-2 times per week can also give the skin an amazing boost, and is the perfect step to do right after exfoliation (hello at-home spa day!). Use Manuka honey with aloe vera gel mixed in (fresh aloe if possible, but if not find the purest brand possible), or try our Rawtella Facial Mask recipe below, which will leave your skin butter soft and dewy.

Topical nourishment

While we're all aware of the damaging effects of too much unprotected sun exposure, its hard not to soak up all of that glorious sunshine while we can. To help protect and restore our skin, It's best to hit the antioxidants from the inside AND outside.

Here are 5 powerful topical antioxidant ingredients to look for in your skin care products.





















 

If you spend any of your time on food related blogs or social media you've likely noticed a trend: MATCHA MADNESS. Matcha green tea seems to be everywhere and in everything from baked goods and breakfast cereals to raw chocolates and smoothie bowls. And then there's the matcha latte. A quick #matchalatte search on Instagram will reveal thousands of artsy, frothy, and perfectly manicured matcha latte images. Those in the know…are drinking their matcha (and capturing it with a smart phone!)

What is it?

Matcha powder comes from green tea leaves (Camellia sinensis) that have been covered from the light prior to picking (to increase chlorophyll levels) then stone ground into an extremely refined and delicate powder. Instead of steeping green tea leaves in hot water then disposing of the leaves, matcha utilizes the whole leaf, retaining 100% of the valuable nutrition within it. In fact, one serving of matcha powder is equivalent nutrient-wise to roughly 10 cups of traditionally steeped green tea. In laymen's terms - you get more bang for your buck. Speaking of nutrients…

Antioxidants galore!

Matcha is awash with potent plant compounds called polyphenols which benefit our bodies in amazing ways: they fight free radical damage, protect our cells, decrease inflammation, have been shown to protect against heart disease , lower blood pressure, and slow the aging process. Matcha holds a score of 1573 on the ORAC (antioxidant) scale, with fellow antioxidant rockstar blueberries coming in at a mere 93 (sorry, blueberries, we still love you…)

But wait, there's more!

The health benefits of matcha do not end with its rich array of antioxidants. Matcha offers the same benefits of green tea, but in a much more concentrated and potent form. Green tea has been proven to:

*Boost metabolism and burn more calories
*Cleanse the body of toxins (detoxify)
*Offer a good supply of Vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium
*Lower cholesterol levels
*Fight chronic inflammation
*Energize the body
*Enhance concentration

What about taste?

Matcha has an earthy, almost grass-like flavor that is very "green", slightly sweet, and a little bit bitter. While enjoying it on its own might be best reserved for the hard core fanatics, incorporating it into recipes will likely result in a life long love affair.

I'm ready to use it! But how?!

Matcha can be used in a myriad of ways: baked into cookies, muffins or granola, infused into raw cheesecake fillings, overnight oats, chia puddings or even ice cream, blended right into smoothie bowls, and of course - made into creamy, picture perfect lattes. Not all matcha is created equally, so be sure to choose the grade that is best suited for your intended use. We recommend always choosing organic, but look for food-grade if you intend to use it in recipes such as baked goods, and save the more expensive, delicate traditional Japanese tea-grade for your tea rituals and lattes.

Ready to make your own nutrient-rich matcha latte? We have an incredible recipe hack for you! You can make a creamy, dairy-free base for your latte by blending Dastony stone ground almond and coconut butters with water to create an instant nut milk.  So easy it's redic. Keep scrolling for the recipe…

Dastony Coconut and Sprouted Almond Instant Matcha Latte



Ingredients:

12oz pure water

1 tsp Dastony almond or sprouted almond butter

1 tbs Dastony coconut butter

1 tsp tea-grade matcha powder

1 tbs sweetener - raw honey works well

1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)

Steps:

Heat 12 oz of water on stovetop. Place matcha in mug and pour in enough hot water to dissolve matcha. Blend the rest of your hot water with remaining ingredients to make a frothy nut milk, and pour over your matcha. Done!


Sources:

http://news.health.com/2015/03/27/what-is-matcha/
http://matchasource.com/health-benefits-of-matcha-tea/
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02735/green-tea-benefits


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


In an effort to make snack time as nutritious as possible, trail mix, with its unsuspicious combination of nuts, dried fruits, and maybe a few chocolate chips, might seem like one of the friendliest options available. Unfortunately, this might not be the truth. Sugar, hydrogenated soy and cottonseed oils, excess sodium, "natural" or artificial flavors, and even sulfur dioxide (a preservative and color enhancer) can ALL be lurking in that innocent looking package of fruits and nuts. However, trail mix lovers, DO NOT DESPAIR.

Our RawGuru trail mix is hand crafted by loving hands here in the Windy City Organics superfood facility. The ingredients include a simple but delicious combination of fresh, raw, and organic nuts and seeds, nutrient-rich super fruits such a goji berries, Incan berries, and mulberries, and every trail mix lovers favorite part - chocolate, and not just any chocolate: stone ground, raw, organic chocolate HEARTS. Find our RawGuru Trail Mixes HERE .

Happy, healthy snacking! 

Written by Anna Speaks - RawGuru Resident Blogger


It's well past the lunch hour, you've still got a few hours to go before you can clock out for the day, and it hits you: the dreaded 4 o clock energy slump. We've all been there, and while reaching for something sugary or caffeinated can seem like the easiest option to boost your morale and energy, it isn't always the most healthful choice.

Here are 5 very effective ways to increase your energy levels instantly -  and they don't require ingesting a single calorie, mg of caffeine, or ounce of sugar. And the best news? The results are often longer lasting and won't result in an energy crash later on. Winning!

Inhale/Exhale - Focus on Your Breath

When you're feeling lethargic, the first thing to address is your breath. Often times you'll notice that your breathing is shallow and incomplete when you're feeling tired and unmotivated. Oxygenate those cells, expanding both your lungs and your belly with each inhalation. Often times fatigue is caused by simple under-oxygenation; enjoy a resurgence of pure energy flowing through your body by reclaiming a full, deep breath cycle. It can actually feel very euphoric.

Pump Your Blood - Office-Friendly Cardio

Sitting at a desk is enough of a reason in and of itself to cause anyone's energy to tank. If you feel this happening to you, get up and move! And you don't need access to a stationary bike or an indoor track to get your blood pumping. Try simply running in place for 30 seconds (with an emphasis on raising your knees towards your chest), doing some jumping jacks, or even 5-10 burpees. Yes, you may get some interesting looks from coworkers, but once they see your energy levels soar and productivity spike they'll soon be joining in on the fun.

Stretch Your Limits - The Power of Stretching

Nothing is worse than feeling your muscles tighten and lock up after sitting for too long, and many health experts claim sitting all day is actually the new smoking. Stretching, whether it's a simple abdominal side twist, lateral stretch, or forward bend, can help release tension and help energy flow more fluidly through your body. Synchronize your stretching with some breath work and you've got a winning combination sure to give you an instant energy boost.

image credit Donald Rex

Sniff it Out - Aromatherapy

Smells are powerful mood influencers. Think about it: how many times has a whiff of a favorite scent helped so shift and uplift your mood? Certain plants harness an amazing aromatherapeutic effect that can be utilized to help increase energy levels, relieve stress or anxiety, and improve mental clarity and focus almost instantly. Some of the best oils for this purpose include all citrus (think sweet orange, lemon, lime, and mandarin), rosemary, and peppermint.














As our external environments shift into a new season, so do our interior landscapes. Our bodies go through changes with the seasons; shifts in energy levels, sleeping patterns, and appetites are all very typical. Even if we aren't fully aware of it, our energy, or "chi", is influenced by our environment, and as the energy around us shifts, so does our internal energy. Chinese medicine tells us that the change of seasons is the perfect time to focus on building up, fine tuning, and upgrading immunity for the harsher winter season ahead. It's a great time to focus on supporting the body's natural ability to cleanse and heal - this will ensure that, if you do happen to feel under the weather, you bounce back quick! 


1. Get Friendly with your Friendly Flora

If you were to look at every cell that makes up our physicality through a microscope (and that's a LOT of cells!), we are actually more bacteria than human; bacteria cells outnumber human cells in a 10:1 ratio. We have over 100 trillion bacteria in our intestinal tract, weighing in at 2-6 pounds. The micro biome in our GI tract plays an incredible role in strengthening our entire immune system. Around 80% of the body's immune system is located within the digestive system; probiotics literally help keep us from getting sick. If probiotics aren't a huge focal point of your daily wellness routine, you are neglecting your body's largest defense mechanism. Load up on those probiotics!

Check out our certified organic Sunbiotics Probiotics HERE



2. Alkalinize and Detoxify  

The tidal wave of superfood awareness is about more than just getting extra nutrition with each bite, it's also about taking advantage of nature's potent healers. When the body becomes bogged down with acidity and toxicity, our lymphatic system and detoxification organs can't function at their peak. This makes it harder for us to fight pathogens and bounce back quickly after an attack. The pH of our blood also plays a huge role in whether or not illness can take hold. Pathogenic bacteria, viruses, inflammation and chronic disease will thrive in an acidic body; focusing on alkaline foods is very important. Try adding more of these detoxifying and alkaline-forming foods into your daily diet: spirulina and chlorella, fresh cilantro (great for heavy metal detox), leafy greens of all kinds, sprouts, lemon juice in warm water, fresh green juice (be sure to keep the sugar in check!), fresh ginger and turmeric root, and activated charcoal.

3. Amp Up The Fluids

The human body is made of mostly fluid , averaging 50-75% water, with our blood being closer to 92% water. Remember, we feel sick when there is a build up of toxins within the body, whether that be environmental or as a byproduct of a bacterial or viral infection, and in order to flush things out our bodies need water and plenty of it. The solution to pollution is dilution, so load up on pure water (spring water if you can, but purified is also fine), fresh coconut water, and low-sugar green juices to keep your immunity strong, your tissues hydrated, and your body feeling top notch.

4. Pump That Lymph

As temperatures start to cool off, it's easy to fall off of the exercise wagon, retreating back to the warmth and coziness of our indoor environments. While it's okay to adjust your exercise habits to better suite the weather outside, the important things is that you keep moving. If you enjoy working out outdoors, be sure to equip yourself with the proper gear to stay warm, dry and comfortable while you exercise. Maybe your running routine is losing its luster but you're feeling an urge to try out an indoor spin class, yoga, barre or pilates. Go for it! Your lymphatic system works alongside your vascular system to move waste products out of your cells and tissues, but unlike your blood, there is no heart-like pump. Facilitate lymphatic cleansing and get things moving along through cardio (the gentle bouncing motion of rebounding is especially good), deep breathing, and things like dry skin brushing.

5. Indulge Mindfully  

If every time fall rolls around you find yourself craving ALL of the comfort foods all at once, you are not the only one. It's perfectly fine to indulge even if it's just for the sake of of enjoyment, but do so mindfully. Look to healthier alternatives as well! If you're pining for a rich and chocolatey piece of fudge to sink those teeth into, try a Rawmio raw truffle fudge cake made with raw cacao, coconut, cashews, and low-glycemic coconut sap sugar. Craving a warm, creamy latte to sip on as you stroll through the park? Whip up a matcha green tea latte made with raw honey, vanilla bean and stone ground Dastony coconut butter. Your soul will say "ahhhh" while your body says "thank you."

Written by Anna Speaks - Resident Blogger at RawGuru.com