High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are also known as “good” cholesterol. These particles help to remove cholesterol from the body by carrying it from the rest of the body to the liver, where it’s eliminated.
There are a number of ways to help keep your HDL levels in the optimal zone, including exercising, quitting smoking, and taking supplements. There are also certain foods that, in correlation with exercise, can help to raise your HDL levels (and/or improve the ratio of your HDL to LDL levels).
What do these foods have in common?
High in healthy fats: Foods such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds are great dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are known for their heart-healthy benefits, but they also have the power to raise HDL levels.3,4
High in antioxidants: Known for the role they play in supporting a healthy immune system, antioxidants help to protect our bodies from the damage caused by oxidative stress. Foods high in antioxidants such as berries, grapes, and green tea have an added benefit: A higher antioxidant level is associated with improved HDL numbers.5 HDL is actually an antioxidant itself, helping to prevent the oxidation of lipids on LDL particles and helping to remove free radicals.6,7
So which foods should you add to your next grocery list?
So if your healthcare practitioner has suggested you increase your HDL levels to help optimize your health, consider adding one or more of these foods to your daily diet!
1. Zhou Q et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015;12(5):4726-4738.
2. Brown L et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(1):30-42.
3. Franceschini G et al. Metabolism. 1991;40(12):1283-1286.
4. Yanai H et al. J Clin Med Res. 2018;10(4):281-289.
5. Kim K et al. Nutrients. 2016;8(1):15.
6. Xepapadaki E et al.. Angiology. 2020;71(2): 112-121.
7. Brites F et al. BBA Clinical. 2017;8:66-77.
By Melissa Blake, ND
Modern-day living has granted us access to an abundance of both food and artificial light, contributing to an endless opportunity for food production and consumption. The opportunity for overindulgence can lead to a number of health issues, including changes in sleep, mood, and energy, unwanted weight gain, heart conditions, memory issues, and digestive complaints.
The circadian diet offers a solution to these negative outcomes and is basically a way of aligning intermittent fasting with your circadian rhythm that takes into account not only what you eat, but when you eat.
What is the circadian diet?
While similar to intermittent fasting, the circadian diet divides a 24-hour day into two windows—one window when food is consumed and the other spent fasting (no food, only water).
The circadian diet emphasizes eating in sync with the body’s natural tendencies and instincts. This means eating during daylight hours during a window that is approximately 12 hours long and falls somewhere between sunrise and sunset, with evidence suggesting the earlier the eating window closes, the better.1
Eating in this way, with an emphasis on dietary timing, can help support the body’s natural circadian rhythm and contribute to overall health and wellness.1
The benefits of the circadian diet
The circadian diet, in part due to a positive impact on circadian rhythm, contributes to substantial benefits on sleep and metabolic health. This often means better energy, fewer cravings, blood sugar control, improved digestion, and weight loss.1
When done properly, the circadian diet is a safe and effective way of eating, and modifications can be made to suit almost any lifestyle, cuisine, or dietary preferences.
A sample day on the circadian diet
A day on the circadian diet involves more than just food. It starts with waking at a consistent time, ideally with the sun. After you wake, drink water or herbal tea to help meet your hydration needs. Follow that up with some gentle stretching or movement to help get the blood flowing and energize the body. Try to get outside within one hour of waking in order to help optimize your body’s internal clock.
Next, begin the 12-hour eating window within two hours of waking by literally breaking the fast with a well-balanced meal that includes protein, fruit, vegetables, and good-quality fat.
Aim to consume most of your calories earlier in the day, with a smaller meal to close the eating window. Ideally, you’ll want to stop eating two or more hours before bedtime in order to allow the body sufficient time for digestion.
“Aim to consume most of your calories earlier in the day, with a smaller meal to close the eating window. Ideally, you’ll want to stop eating two or more hours before bedtime in order to allow the body sufficient time for digestion.”
Close the window:
During the fasting window, which ideally starts early in the evening, drink water and herbal tea to stay hydrated. Consider a gentle movement routine and other calming activities to promote sleep, such as journaling, light reading, and breathing practices.
Another important aspect of the circadian health diet involves limiting technology, especially during the evening hours. Shut off all screens and try to reduce your exposure to light for at least one hour before bed to reduce any potential disruptions to sleep patterns.2
Finally, ensure you have a dark, cool, and comfortable sleep space combined with a consistent bedtime to help round out your day.
Things to consider with the circadian diet
Initially, people may experience hunger during the fasting period of the circadian diet, especially those who struggle with nighttime eating or blood sugar control. These issues generally can be avoided if the fasting period is introduced slowly over a period of time, with gradual increases to the fasting window.
Many people have predetermined thoughts about food and it can be helpful to clean that slate and unlearn what you think you know about food. For example, avoid categorizing food as “good” vs. “bad” or even “breakfast” vs. “supper” foods. Aim to become more adventurous in the kitchen – this could mean eating chicken and salad for breakfast or a hearty bowl of lentil soup.
Following a circadian diet means listening to your body and its needs. This can be a challenge if you struggle with unhealthy food cravings or are new to a whole foods way of eating. Ask for help and take it slow. If you have a significant medical concern or if you’re unsure where to start, consider speaking with a knowledgeable healthcare provider who can help support you with a personalized plan.
Every step, even if it seems small, counts. The key is what you choose to do every day. Daily habits and routines have the most significant impact on circadian rhythm and offer an opportunity for anyone to optimize circadian health, contributing to better overall health and wellness.
1. Zheng D et al. Trends Immunol. 2020;41(6):512-530.
2. Aulsebrook AE et al. J Exp Zool A Ecol Integr Physiol. 2018;329(8-9):409-418.
by Bianca Garilli, ND
When doctors measure our cholesterol, they look at the vehicles that carry it in our blood—which gives them a clue what our body is doing with that cholesterol. The two most common and well-known vehicles are low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is frequently referred to as “bad cholesterol,” while HDL is deemed “good cholesterol,” although it is now known that understanding cholesterol and its effects on the human body are much more complicated than this simplified breakdown.
Nonetheless, it’s still very important to maintain adequate levels of the “healthy” HDL. So if you’ve been told that you need to increase your HDL levels to optimize health, keep reading to discover several HDL-boosting tips.
Tip 1: Exercise!
It’s true! Exercise is not just great for improving body composition, balancing blood sugar, losing weight and feeling happier, it’s also been shown to be associated with a healthier lipid and lipoprotein profile, thus lowering the risk for heart health problems.1,2 In a study comparing well-trained soccer players to sedentary controls, researchers found the average HDL-C levels in the athletes was 12.5% higher than in the nonexercising controls.2 This is important when considering that HDL can be compared to a “dump truck” for the cell; it gathers excess cholesterol left in the artery walls and carries it to the liver for disposal (breakdown and excretion).3 Too little HDL can lead to excess plaque buildup and subsequent risk of cardiovascular issues.2
One medical organization notes that benefits of exercise can be seen in as little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, while a meta-analysis that included 25 studies indicates it may be closer to 120 minutes of weekly exercise to experience an HDL benefit.4,5 This meta-analysis concluded that it was the exercise duration rather than intensity or frequency that resulted in best benefits.5 And, in fact, it seems that more is better: “Each 10-minute increase in exercise duration corresponded to an approximately 1.4-mg/dL net increase in HDL-C level.”5
Tip 2: Take targeted nutritional supplements
Nutraceuticals have become an indispensable and regular part of supplementing healthy living these days. Known for their vast array of health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to also support healthy HDL levels.6 Omega-3s have two broad categories: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both downstream metabolites of the well-known class of anti-inflammatory promoting omega-3s called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA.7 Studies indicate it is the DHA that is most effective in improving HDL levels with one study showing a 4.49 mg/dL increase in HDL when subjects were given DHA compared to placebo subjects not given DHA.6
Tip 3: Stop smoking
It’s been well-established that smoking is detrimental to health and, in particular, is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular health problems.8,9 Smoking has been shown to reduce levels of HDL and other underlying causes that lead to an increased risk of heart issues.9 The good news? When someone quits smoking, a reversal in HDL levels can be seen with the recently smoke-free person’s cardiovascular risk soon approaching that of the long-term nonsmoker.10,11
In summary, higher serum levels of HDL are positively associated with a lowered risk for the development of cardiovascular disease.12 On the flip side, a suboptimal level of HDL may increase an individual’s risk for cardiovascular issues, in both men and women.13
Keeping HDL levels within their optimal range is important. Here are three things you can do right away to ensure your HDL levels are moving in the right direction:
Did you know your hormones affect your urinary tract and vaginal health?*
Before menopause, your hormones rise and fall with your menstrual cycle, causing you to be more likely to develop an imbalance in your vaginal microbiome in the two weeks following the beginning of your period.1 Additionally, the hormonal shifts that come with perimenopause and menopause also affect urinary tract comfort.2
As well, disruption to your hormone levels may also cause a range of symptoms like PMS;3 heavy or light periods;3 tender or swollen breasts;4 weight gain around the butt, hips, waist, and back of arms;5-7 low mood; anxiousness; fatigue;7 and reduced libido.7
Here are some foods to eat and others to avoid to help keep your hormones in harmony:
Another way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to support your health is to add supplements like Wellness Essentials® Women or Wellness Essentials Women’s Prime to your daily regimen.
For additional urinary tract and vaginal health, consider taking a probiotic specific to urinary tract and vaginal health.*
By Monazza Ahmad, B.Pharm, MSc
To ensure best health outcomes in a healthcare setting, it is important to establish open, effective, and respectful communication between a patient and a healthcare practitioner.
As a patient, it is not only your right but in your best interest to ask your doctor for clarification or further explanation on your health condition and treatment plan. As a healthcare provider, it is your responsibility to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your patients to openly discuss their health concerns and make sure your diagnosis and treatment plan is well understood.
That said, menopause can trigger many complex and confusing symptoms that can be uncomfortable to talk about, which can make managing the symptoms difficult.
When should I talk to my doctor about menopause?1
First of all, don’t feel awkward. Menopause is a natural phase of life, and your doctor is likely familiar with all possible symptoms. Describe your condition and symptoms in detail and explain how they are affecting your lifestyle and relationships. The provider needs to rule out any other underlying conditions before determining it is menopause.
Reach out to your doctor if:
Don’t forget to tell your doctor if you have any allergies or other health conditions. Also mention any medications or supplements you’re already taking for menopause symptoms or other conditions.
What shall I ask my doctor?
Medical appointments can be stressful, and we often feel rushed. When you have a delicate issue to bring up, being prepared can help. Here are some of the questions you can ask your practitioner:
How can healthcare providers ensure the right care during menopause?
Often, the reluctance from healthcare professionals to address these female issues can also cause lack of awareness. It is the healthcare provider’s obligation to make sure patients feel comfortable in discussing their menopausal concerns and understand the treatment plan.2
According to a survey by NIH, patients are likely to discuss menopause transition with providers who don’t make them feel rushed, are good listeners, and have expertise in this area of women’s health.
Here are some ways to help your patients receive the best care:
What to ask your patients:3
The menopausal rating scale and symptoms evaluation form can be used to track symptom improvement to see what treatment options are working:4,5
Menopause symptoms evaluation form and rating scale (click to enlarge)Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life, and its challenges need to be accepted and understood at work, at home, and on a social as well as a societal level. Unless these concerns are progressively communicated in a healthcare setting, it will be tough for us to understand the impact of this condition on a woman’s life.
Glyphosate, first registered for use in the United States in 1974, is an herbicide widely used to kill broadleaf weeds and grasses and regulate the growth of certain plants.1,2 It is employed in agriculture, forestry, in lawn and garden maintenance, and for weed control in industrial areas.1
The use of glyphosate has skyrocketed since 1997, after crops genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate were first introduced.3 The broad usage has led to questions of whether glyphosate remains present in the food we eat and water we drink, as well as whether it is safe for humans to consume.
Because glyphosate binds so tightly to soil particles after use, it is believed to be prevented from entering groundwater.4 However, this may not be the case. During a 2002 study of waterways in nine Midwestern states, glyphosate was detected in 36% of the 154 samples taken, although the highest measured concentration was still well below the maximum contaminant level (set by the Environmental Protection Agency) of 700 micrograms per liter.3 And in one study of an agricultural community in Mexico, glyphosate was detected in both groundwater and bottled water.5
Due to its lack of quick degradation in plants, glyphosate residue could be present in the food supply.4 In tests performed by researchers and consumer watch groups, glyphosate has been detected in a number of foods, including bread, honey, oat-based cereals, granolas, and snack bars.6,7
Common means of glyphosate exposure
Pure glyphosate is said to be low in toxicity, but it is often mixed with other ingredients that can make the resulting product more toxic.1 Directions for applying glyphosate usually caution users to wear gloves and eye protection to avoid skin and eye irritation and to be careful not to breathe the compound to protect against nose and throat irritation.1
Although it isn’t easy for glyphosate to pass through the skin into the body, it is possible to ingest glyphosate by breathing it in while spraying or by eating or smoking after applying, without first washing your hands.1 When absorbed or ingested, most glyphosate tends to remain unchanged and leaves the body pretty quickly in urine or excrement.1 Despite that, swallowing glyphosate-containing products can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and burns in the mouth and throat.1 Intentional ingestion has resulted in fatalities in some cases.1
Because glyphosate products often contain additional chemicals, it can be hard to determine whether glyphosate alone is responsible for the adverse symptoms observed when humans come into contact with it.8 For instance, some studies suggest that the surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine used with glyphosate is more toxic than glyphosate alone.8
Agency opinions and glyphosate research
Consensus on risks associated with glyphosate exposure has been tough to pin down. In April 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency stated it “continues to find [glyphosate] poses no risk to public health when used as labeled and that it is not a carcinogen.”2 This follows a similar declaration by the European Food Safety Authority in 2015 that glyphosate is unlikely to be a carcinogen in humans.9
By contrast, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated in March 2015 that it had analyzed the results of over 1,000 studies and determined that glyphosate was possibly carcinogenic to humans.10 In an updated monograph released one year later, the IARC attributed the difference between its statement and the findings of other agencies to the source material, noting that most regulatory agencies reviewed nonpublic industry data from toxicological studies.10
Still, research into glyphosate’s possible carcinogenic effects continues. A recent analysis of human epidemiological studies confirmed a link between glyphosate exposure and an increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.11 And in another lab study, glyphosate was shown to stimulate the growth of a certain type of hormone-dependent breast cancer in cells by acting on estrogen receptors, indicating it may be an endocrine disruptor.12
Researchers are also investigating glyphosate’s impact on the human reproductive system. In one study, exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides below the toxicity threshold decreased the activity of aromatase, a key enzyme in balancing sex hormones.13 Another study in prepubertal male rats showed a decrease in testosterone levels in those given soy milk supplemented with glyphosate.14 And results of a study in pregnant mice indicate that glyphosate can cause the ovaries to fail and interfere with secretion of hormones.15
There have been cases of accidental exposure to concentrated glyphosate solutions causing neurological lesions, suggesting glyphosate could be neurotoxic in high doses.16 In a model of the blood-brain barrier, researchers observed that a high dose of glyphosate resulted in neurological damage and altered metabolism of glucose.16
Glyphosate and antibiotic resistance
Recent research has uncovered a worrisome link between glyphosate use and the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.17,18 It is believed the use of glyphosate is leading to changes in microbiome composition and, as a result, increases in resistance to critical antibiotics.17 Researchers note that when bacteria are exposed to non-antibiotic chemicals such as herbicides, they can be inclined to develop resistance to antibiotics more rapidly: in some cases, 100,000 times faster.18
Looking to avoid glyphosate? The Detox Project offers Glyphosate Residue Free and Gold Standard Detox certification to bring a new era of transparency to the food and supplement industries.
Onions are an overlooked vegetable. Whether they’re being sautéed for a soup, sliced for a burger, or pickled for a salad, onions rarely steal the show of a meal, although they often inspire a sob story.
Onions are most known for their pungent flavor, not necessarily their nutritional value. Their white flesh (even in red onions) isn’t always perceived as being as nutritious as vibrantly colored vegetables like kale, broccoli, or beets. But that’s no reason to snub onions. Although some onion varieties are lacking in color, onions in general are one of the highest natural sources of a powerful flavonoid: quercetin.1
What is quercetin?
Quercetin is a flavonoid, which is a chemical compound found in plants. In addition to onions, quercetin is also found in many other fruits and vegetables like capers, asparagus, and apples, as well as tea and red wine.1
A single serving of onions is considered to be one medium onion, which contains around 52 milligrams (mg) of quercetin.2 But most people tend to not eat a whole onion in one sitting (unless they really like onions), so you’re probably not getting quite that much quercetin when you eat onions.
Even with all these natural sources of quercetin, it’s estimated that most people following a typical Western diet (think higher in simple sugars and animal products and lower in produce) only get 0 to 30 mg a day.1 That’s not a lot, considering research shows that some of quercetin’s health benefits are reached at supplemental intake levels, not from a food source, of 500 to 1,000 mg per day.3
Quercetin and health
Quercetin is one of the most studied dietary flavonoids and is associated with multiple health benefits. Two of this compound’s most notable benefits are supporting heart health and protecting against oxidative stress.
Heart health: Quercetin plays a positive role in supporting healthy blood pressure and endothelial health.4 The endothelium is the thin layer of cells lining the body’s blood vessels and heart. It is considered an active organ in the body as it helps control when blood vessels relax or constrict.5
Protection against oxidative stress: Everyone undergoes oxidative stress, which is caused when there is an imbalance of harmful free radicals, which damage cells and tissues. This process happens inside the body, so although you may not feel immediate effects from oxidative stress, it can affect both health and the immune system over time. Antioxidants can help quell some of that stress. And since quercetin acts as a free radical scavenger and supports antioxidant processes, it’s especially good at this.3
Getting the most quercetin out of onions
Because these health benefits are mainly seen at higher levels of quercetin intake, it’s important to maximize what you can from the diet. Here’s how you can get the most quercetin when eating onions.
Onions are a rich, natural source of the flavonoid quercetin. High intakes of quercetin are associated with cardiovascular benefits and oxidative stress protection. However, quercetin is not a “magic bullet” to health. Instead, focus on eating a plant-forward diet with lots of produce and know that onions, albeit smelly, are a healthful choice.
Feeling bloated during pregnancy? While inconvenient and uncomfortable, most forms of swelling—also known as edema—are perfectly normal for expecting mothers.1
Why does swelling occur during pregnancy?
Among the many changes the body goes through during pregnancy is its production and retention of water, blood, plasma, and other fluids to support the needs of the developing fetus.2,3
The swelling supports the mother’s development, as well. Not only does the extra fluid help her body expand to accommodate the baby, it also helps with her body’s necessary changes to prepare for the actual delivery process.1
Most mothers-to-be have swelling in their extremities, as well as in the face.1 Swelling tends to peak during the third trimester, often becoming more noticeable at the end of the day, when extra fluids, blood volume, and the growing baby can affect blood flow in the ankles and feet.4
What other factors affect swelling during pregnancy?
A number of factors in addition to the changes taking place in your body can affect swelling.1 These factors include: 1
While mild swelling is acceptable during pregnancy, a very sudden bout of edema could actually be more concerning.1 Contact your doctor immediately if the swelling is uneven and painful, if it comes on suddenly, or if it is accompanied by shortness of breath or chest pain.5
How can you address swelling during pregnancy?
There are a number of strategies you can leverage to reduce swelling during pregnancy.1, 5-7 You might make a point of:
Dietary tips to reduce swellingThere are also a number of dietary tips that can help to reduce swelling during pregnancy. These include:
Additional therapies to tryIn addition, pregnant women might try to lessen swelling and related symptoms by engaging in therapies like:
You can either ask your partner to gently massage your feet and legs with the essential oil or soak your feet in a bowl of warm water mixed with essential oil.6
While research offers mixed results on the link between reflexology and swelling, some experts believe the practice can minimize the discomfort associated with swelling.8
Interested in scheduling a reflexology session? Be sure to select a registered specialist who has extensive experience treating pregnant women.
Ultimately, there are a number of best practices for reducing swelling during pregnancy.1,5-8 If you still experience swelling after delivering your baby, simply be patient and allow your body time to heal.5 You may still be going through hormonal changes that exacerbate the swelling.5 And of course, feel free to reach out to your healthcare provider at any time if you have questions.
1. American Pregnancy Association Staff. Swelling During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/swelling-during-pregnancy/. American Pregnancy Association. Accessed August 13, 2019.
2. Widen et al. Body composition changes in pregnancy: measurement, predictors and outcomes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(6):643-652.
3. Vricella LK. Emerging understanding and measurement of plasma volume expansion in pregnancy. 2017;106(Suppl 6):1620S-1625S.
4. Tanveer F et al. Frequency of lower extremity edema during 3rd trimester of pregnancy. SAJMS. 2015;1:41-43.
5. UnityPoint Health Staff. Things That Make You Swell When You’re Pregnant.https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=e668bf44-c376-459e-b263-41f48810373a. LiveWell with UnityPoint Health. Accessed August 13, 2019.
6. Baby Centre Medical Advisory Board Staff. Swelling (natural remedies).https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a549316/swelling-natural-remedies. BabyCentre UK. Accessed August 13, 2019.
7. Tobah YB. What causes ankle swelling during pregnancy—and what can I do about it?https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/swelling-during-pregnancy/faq-20058467/. Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 13, 2019.
8. Embong NH et al. Revisiting reflexology: Concept, evidence, current practice, and practitioner training. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015;5(4):197–206.
By Cassie I. Story, RDN
Have you begun to feel the cool crisp air on your skin? Perhaps you have noticed the leaves turning from emerald green to pale orange. On the other hand, maybe you live in a mild-tempered climate that stays the same year round, with the ocean waves leaving little hint for seasonal changes—but traces of fall and pumpkin spice everything have made their way to stores near you. While planting a garden may seem so last season, it is not too late to enjoy homegrown (literally) produce that will be ready just in time for a fall harvest.
Not only can starting a garden bring you a literal bounty of food, research has shown that it offers a host of health benefits as well. Studies have shown that gardening may improve an individual’s life satisfaction, vitality, and psychological wellbeing; supports cognitive function; and can increase a sense of community and togetherness.1-2
A 2017 meta-analysis suggests that gardening activities have various significant positive effects on health including reductions in stress, mood disturbance, and body mass index.3 The analysis also notes several enhancements in quality of life measures like a sense of community, increased physical activity levels, and improved cognitive function.3 Several possible mechanisms were suggested through which gardening may promote health, although it may be difficult to unravel the causal relationships between gardening and health.3 The pathways that the authors suggest for the health impact of gardening may be the benefits of direct experience with nature, the uptick in physical energy expenditure, the opportunity to engage with members in the community via community gardens or produce sharing, and lastly by increasing fruit, vegetable, and herb intake.3
Gardening has been shown to improve quality of life and health across the lifecycle. Intervention studies on children and college-aged students have shown an increase in daily fruit and vegetable consumption when participants recently participated in gardening activities.4 Observational studies on aging populations have found that maintaining a home garden is associated with restorative and physical benefits, increased positive feelings, and a sense of pride, creativity, and achievement.5
If you are ready to dig in, there is no need for space or climate to be an issue. If you are new to getting your hands dirty, a container garden can be an easy and less intimidating way to start!
Here is your step-by-step guide to getting your container garden growing.
1. Choose your container(s).
Start with a large container or pot that is at least 15 inches deep and wide. If you are a beginner gardener, bigger is better because you can hold more soil and lock moisture in longer. Large flowerpots, barrels, baskets, planters, or any other large container will work—get creative and choose something that speaks to you.
The container or pot must drain well. Ensure there is at least one hole in the bottom for water to flow out. If your container does not have drainage holes, use a drill to create 4-6 holes throughout the bottom for even clearance.
Choose one vegetable or herb for each container, especially if this is your first time gardening. It is important not to overcrowd the pots.
2. Place container in an appropriate area.
Choose an area that receives about six hours of sunlight a day. You may need to move the container throughout the fall depending on the weather (frost, wind, etc.). If you live in cooler areas of the country, you may need to cover your produce with a light cloth overnight to prevent frostbite.
If you have room, try placing it on a small cart or wooden box so that you can easily move it to a more desirable area as the weather and sun pattern change.
Purchase high-quality, organic potting mix designed to retain moisture well, along with quality plant starts or seed packets from your local garden store. Fill the base of the container with an inch or two of small rocks or pebbles to help drainage and to prevent mold or mildew.
Add soil to the container, leaving about two inches of space from the top. Thoroughly water the soil and let drain for a few hours before planting the seeds or starter plant.
For seeds, plant according to package directions. For starter plants, dig a hole deep enough for the soil to reach the same level they were growing in the container in which they came.
4. Water your new plants.
Maintain moisture levels. The soil should feel moist about one to two inches below the surface. Depending on the climate you live in, you will likely need to water your plants multiple times per week. In the intense Arizona sun, where temperatures can continue well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit through November, I oftentimes find myself watering twice a day to maintain optimal moisture. Watering in the morning is preferred to the evening, because it helps the plants stay hydrated during the heat of the day.
Late summer, early fall vegetables
What to plant from a plant start (with fruit already on the vine):
Ten seed vegetables to plant in late summer for a fall harvestPlant the seeds half an inch to a full inch deep and about one inch apart in each row:
Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas, radishes, sage, snap peas, squash
Whether you are a novice or seasoned gardener, planting a container garden can be an easy and rewarding experience. I hope this article inspires you to get your hands dirty and play with your food!
1. Gonzalez MT et al. J. Adv. Nurs. 2010;66:2002-2013.
2. Wood CJ. J. Public Health. 2016;38:e336-e344.
3. Soga M et al. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2017;5:92-99.
4. Loso J. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018;118(2):275-283.
5. Scott TL et al. SAGE Open Med. 2020;8:2050312120901732.
By Michael Stanclift, ND
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) may sound like a code name for an eccentric secret agent, but this versatile compound’s aliases indicate how common it is in the natural world. CoQ10 also goes by the names ubiquinol or ubiquinone.1 It’s a fat-soluble antioxidant that affects all cells in our bodies and is especially important for the powerhouses of our cells, our mitochondria.1 Most of the benefits from CoQ10 come from its ability to protect cells and their components from oxidative stress and its ability to produce energy in our mitochondria.1
So who might benefit from CoQ10? Anyone looking to enhance the health of these bodily systems:
Our muscles have a ton of mitochondria in them, and in turn they really like CoQ10.2 If our muscles don’t have enough CoQ10, they can become tender, and we might experience more fatigue.1 In some cases, taking CoQ10 supplementally can help with discomfort, tenderness, and fatigue.1
On a related note, our hearts are also loaded with mitochondria and are essentially muscles that never rest.3 CoQ10 can help improve contractility of our heart, prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, maintain healthy blood pressure, and support the delicate endothelial layer that lines our blood vessels.1 Some medicines, like HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, commonly known as “statins,” inadvertently blunt our ability to make our own CoQ10, so can reduce what we have available.1 In situations such as this, supplementing CoQ10 may help.1
Research shows CoQ10 supplementation can support long-term healthy blood sugar levels.1
Our highly active brains don’t make up a big percentage of our weight, but they certainly consume a lot of our energy in calories.4 All that energy consumption has the potential to result in oxidative stress, requiring a steady supply of antioxidants.1 Also, remember that our brains have a lot of fat in them, and as CoQ10 is the only internally produced fat-soluble antioxidant, it is precious in our cranium-encased think organs.1 Research shows that CoQ10 levels in our brains are important, and having an adequate amount can be protective.1
Sperm have the important job of delivering half a set of genes to an egg, and the “delivery” part of that job relies on, you guessed it, mitochondria.5 You’ve probably seen a microscope view of sperm, those tadpole-shaped cells with a head (housing DNA) and a tail. Between the head and tail are a collection of tightly wound mitochondria, which power and propel the whip-like tail and cause the sperm to swim.5 Therefore, CoQ10 plays an important role in the health of sperm.
Because CoQ10 is pivotal in our abilities to produce energy in our cells and protect them from potential damage from this energy production, it’s needed in all cells. CoQ10’s importance becomes most apparent in our most metabolically active tissues such as our muscles, hearts, and brains. If you’re looking to enhance the health of these organs, then ask your healthcare provider if supplementing CoQ10 is a good idea for you.
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Certain persons, considered experts, may disagree with one or more of the foregoing statements, but the same are deemed, nevertheless, to be based on sound and reliable authority. No such statements shall be construed as a claim or representation as to Metagenics products, that they are offered for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease.