Woman making a heart shape with her fingers

Your Skin and Heart Health

What if you could predict your risk for cardiovascular diseases and conditions by the simple act of looking at your skin? While it might not be that easy, recent research suggests that there are links between the health of your skin and the health of your heart. Two major studies supporting this claim include one published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and one published in the Journals of Gerontology. Keep reading to learn about the studies and what they mean for your health.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Study
The skin/heart health study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology involved more than 61,000 adults. Adults that had the inflammatory skin condition eczema were 48 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, 35 percent more likely to deal with adult-onset diabetes and 29 percent more likely to have high cholesterol than other adults. All of these ailments are risk factors that contribute to heart disease and the numbers remained the same, even after other factors that play into cardiovascular diseases such as alcohol consumption and activity levels, were controlled.

Why do those who have eczema find themselves at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease? While the exact answer is unknown, the most probable answer is that those with eczema have such intense chronic inflammation that it shows up throughout the body as opposed to just superficially on the skin. “It may be that chronic inflammation from eczema directly increases cardiovascular risk,” says Jonathan Silverberg, M.D., Ph. D, and assistant professor of dermatology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Silverberg notes that not all inflammation is a bad thing for your body, in face acute inflammation is the natural response your body has to harmful invaders, it is the constant deployment of natural killer cells and T cells that can interfere with vital functioning, including circulation. Additionally, Silverberg makes it clear that not everyone who suffers from eczema will have cardiovascular problems. You can help prevent both the health of your heart and skin by consuming antioxidant-rich produce, controlling stress levels and being sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

The Journals of Gerontology Study
Researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands in conjunction with scientists from Unilever observed 250 women who were separated into two groups by the researchers based on high and low cardiovascular disease risk. The scientist analyzed the skin of the faces and upper inner arms of the women and found that the women who appeared younger had lower blood pressure and heart disease risks. “We have found that the feature in the face that blood pressure was linked to was not skin wrinkles but likely what we term as ‘sag’ in the face. The exciting thing is further investigations will enable exact pinpointing of the feature in the face that signposts an individual’s blood pressure,” says Dr. David Gunn, senior scientist at Unilever.

You may not be able to determine your heart health and future cardiovascular disease risk by merely taking a peek in the mirror, but it seems that your skin may reflect more of your internal health than previously thought. You can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by engaging in a healthy, active lifestyle that includes low stress, adequate sleep and a nutritious diet. Not only will your heart thank you, but so will your skin.

Woman exfoliating her skin

Why Exfoliation is Important for Good Skin Care

Simply put, exfoliation is the removal of dry, dead skin cells that rest on the surface of your skin. There are two ways to exfoliate your skin:

  • Physical Exfoliation – Uses washcloths, facial brushes, dry brushes or scrubs that use exfoliating ingredients like sugar or salt.
  • Chemical Exfoliation – Works by dissolving the “glue” that binds skin cells and sloughing them from the skin. The most commonly used chemical exfoliants are alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, though retinol is also used in many anti-aging products because it stimulates cell turnover.

Why is Exfoliation Important for Healthy Skin?
Your cells naturally regenerate, but the process slows down considerably as you age. As these skin cells pile up on your face, you may notice that your face looks dull, feels rough and appears dry. Additionally, allowing these dead skin cells to accumulate can result in clogged pores which cause blemishes and acne.

Cleansing treatment

Without proper exfoliation, the ingredients in your skin care products are not able to penetrate the skin and be fully absorbed. Bottom line, your face products are less effective if you aren’t exfoliating and if you have dead skin cells accumulating on the surface of your face, you are inviting more skin care problems. Here are some of the greatest benefits to regularly exfoliating your skin:

  • Clear Breakouts and Acne – Skin that is acne-prone sheds more skin cells than any other type of skin, but these skin cells don’t fall away from the face. These skin cells stick to the surface of your skin and clog your pores and follicles which causes your skin to produce more oil that causes blackheads and other blemishes. Exfoliating your skin regularly reduces skin buildup and decreases the likelihood of blemishes forming.
  • Improves Skin Texture – When you exfoliate dead skin cells away, your skin’s natural renewal process is sped up which allows younger, healthier skin to take the place of the dry, dead cells. This will even out complexion taking it from dull to bright and rough to smooth.
  • Minimize the Appearance of Pores – Dead skin cells on the surface of your skin clogs your pores and can trap other dirt and debris in your pores which make your pores appear larger. Exfoliating your skin essentially decongests them and diminishes the appearance of your pores.
  • Reduce Visible Signs of Aging – Your skin becomes drier and less elastic during the aging process which results in visible signs of aging. As previously mentioned, regular exfoliation changes the rough texture of aging skin to a smooth texture. Exfoliating also reveals more luminous skin and can help to combat other signs of aging like discoloration from both age and sunspots.

Exfoliation is critical for healthy, youthful looking skin and it makes your skin care products more effective. You can exfoliate your entire body to see smoother, more even skin, but be careful that you don’t overdo it. Using harsh scrubs can cause damage, so it’s best to stick with gentle exfoliators. As a general rule, exfoliating two to three times each week is plenty to keep your skin free from dead skin cell debris, but some people that use very low concentrations of alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids may exfoliate every night. Start exfoliating today to reveal younger and healthier skin.

Woman eating berries

Best Foods for Anti-Aging

Aging is inevitable, but you can prolong your life and improve your quality of life by keeping a healthy lifestyle. Your health is influenced by many things like stress, sleep and activity level, but one of the most important factors is the food you consume. A healthy, nutritious diet not only helps to control weight and keep you full of necessary vitamins and minerals, there are many studies suggesting that there are certain foods you can eat to help slow down the aging process. Below, find five of our favorite foods for anti-aging.

Avocado

Avocados
This green fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit) is an incredible addition to your diet when you want to fight aging because it contains fat. Specifically, it contains a beneficial type of fat known as monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fat is minuscule and as such, it can slip through membranes and provide you with protection from free radical damage. Additionally, avocados may also help to increase your bone density due to the presence of the mineral boron, which helps to absorb calcium. Avocado contains about 14 grams of fiber, which expedites the removal of harmful toxins that can speed up the aging process.

Whole wheat bread

Whole Grains
Whole grains are an important component of an anti-aging diet because they contain several health benefits that become increasingly important as you age. By affecting the rate at which your arteries age, whole grains can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Whole grains are processed more slowly than processed grains, so they help prevent high blood sugar and diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels more steady for longer periods of time.

Fish

Fish
A staple of the famous anti-aging regime, the Mediterranean diet, fish is an excellent way to provide your body with nourishment and some serious heart health benefits. Studies conducted thirty years ago indicated that native Inuit of Alaska were impressively free of heart disease and scientists attribute this to the extraordinary amount of fish that Inuits consume. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in abundance in fish and these fatty acids prevent cholesterol from building in the arteries and protect against irregular heart rhythms. Additionally, those who consume fish regularly have a lower risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Olive oil

Olive Oil
Another essential in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil. Like the avocado, olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, but it also contains other significantly beneficial ingredients that fight aging and age-related diseases. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Antioxidants and polyphenols in olive oil also help to slow cognitive decline as you are.

Dark chocolate

Dark Chocolate
Proving that you can enjoy dessert while improving your health, dark chocolate, in moderation, is another food to add to your anti-aging grocery list. Cocoa, the main ingredient in dark chocolate, is full of helpful flavonoids and antioxidants. According to a study published on PubMed.gov, “the body of short-term randomized feeding trials suggests cocoa and chocolate may exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk via effects on lowering blood pressure, anti-inflammation, anti-platelet function, higher HDL, decreased LDL oxidation. Meanwhile, the large body of prospective studies of flavonoids suggests the flavonoid content of chocolate may reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality.”

The foods you choose to put into your body have a direct impact on not only your current health, but your future health as well. Eating foods that fight aging help you achieve your maximum potential right now and can help you decrease your risks for major aging concerns including brain function and cardiovascular disease. Construct a diet that includes plenty of fresh produce, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats and use some of our favorite foods for anti-aging as a guide.

Pregnant woman in a park

Stop Aging by Having More Children

To slow down the aging process, you are told to eat well, exercise often, get enough sleep and eliminate as much stress as possible, so it may seem completely counterintuitive that if you want to stop the clock on aging, you should have more kids. Children, particularly in the first few months of life, deplete your energy, have you skimping on sleep and they seem to infinitely increase your stress level, so how can having a larger family possible keep you young? New research from Canadian researchers at Simon Fraser University suggests that the number of children a woman births has a positive impact on her body’s aging rate.

The Study
Researchers embarked on a 13-year long study that observed telomere lengths in 75 women. The 75 Kaqchikel Mayan women that the study tracked were all from two neighboring communities located in the southwest highlands of Guatemala who had their telomere length taken from their saliva at the beginning of the study in 2000. At the end of the study in 2013, the same 75 women had their telomere length measured through a buccal swab and the results showed that women who had more surviving children over the course of 13 years had longer telomeres than women who had fewer surviving children in the same period of time. Each additional child born was linked to 0.059 more telomere units.

The Science
Telomeres are important pieces of a cell that influence how the cells age and are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA. These caps are so important because they protect chromosomes – the threadlike structures containing all of your genetic information – from damage. Every time a cell replicates, your telomeres become shorter and eventually reach such a short length that they are no longer able to protect your chromosomes. When your chromosomes become vulnerable, cells age and stop functioning effectively. In the findings for this 13 year study, Prof. Pablo Nepomnaschy and Cindy Barha state that “our analyses show that increased offspring number across 13 years of observation attenuated telomere shortening, suggesting that, in our study population, having more children may slow the pace of cellular aging.”

When it comes to the “why” of the study, Prof. Nepomnaschy has some theories, one of which involves the increase of the hormone estrogen during pregnancy. “Estrogen functions as a potent antioxidant that protects cells against telomere shortening,” hypothesizes Nepomnaschy. Additionally, the social environment surrounding women with more children may positively impact their rate of aging because mothers with more children receive more support from both family and friends. “Greater support leads to an increase in the amount of metabolic energy that can be allocated to tissue maintenance, thereby slowing down the process of aging,” says Nepomnaschy.

In the never-ending quest for youth, researchers have discovered that having more children may indeed lead to delayed aging process. The surge of estrogen and the social support structure that results from being pregnant and having children are two factors that the researchers believe to be influential. Having more children may indeed keep you young, and children will always bring you incredible love and joy, which make your life, longer or not, more satisfying.

Woman holding her neck and forehead

The Emotional Aspects of Aging

People are living longer than ever, in fact according to the American Psychological Association, “people 65 years of age and older are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.” The increasing number of older individuals is not limited to the United States; the Baylor College of Medicine Huffington Center on Aging states that “…by the year 2025, Japan is expected to have twice as many old persons as children.” Further, Baylor says that by 2025, there will be a global population of old people that exceeds one billion. Aging is not only a physical process, it is also emotional for both those who are aging and those who love an aging individual. Learn more about emotional aspects of aging below.

Emotions Due to an Uncertain Future
One of the most commonly experienced emotions in aging adults is fear. During the aging process, the inevitability of death becomes increasingly real and this realization can be a major source of uncertainty and dread. Death stirs up a myriad of feelings and some of the most frequent anxieties older adults face are:

  • Will I lose my memory and brain function?
  • How long will I be able to remain independence?
  • Will I be able to stay in the comfort of my home?
  • Will my life still have meaning if I am no longer able to take care of myself?
  • What will happen to my family if/when I die?
  • For many, financial concerns are a source of stress for their entire lives, but these worries only increase among aging adults. Many adults live on a fixed income and the thought of increasing medical costs can be scary and stressful.

Another source of fear for aging adults is that they will not receive fair medical care, and unfortunately, age discrimination in modern healthcare happens frequently. Older adults may be interested in trying alternative therapies or proactive and preventive health treatments, but doctors or other health professionals may resist because “that’s just how aging goes,” or “old people are supposed to be sick.” Proper medical care, including mental health treatment, may not extend a loved one’s life forever, but it will make the emotional and physical aspects of aging a bit easier to deal with.

How to Positively Approach Aging for Better Mental Health
Many fear the aging process; fine lines are wrinkles become the least concerning of all as women and men age. To approach aging with a positive attitude may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. The Baylor College of Medicine suggests envisioning the future can help prepare one emotionally and physically for the aging process. They suggest engaging in prospective aging, which is accomplished through looking forward 40 to 50 years in the future and reflecting on healthy habits for healthy aging such as:

  • Exercising three to five times every week
  • Following a nutritionally sound diet
  • Coping with stress and illness effectively
  • Engaging in healthy lifestyle choices such as not smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation

Prospective aging aims to bring to light changes that can be made immediately to better help people prepare for aging. The most effective way to handle the aging process is to plan for the future while living the present. In order to do this, the Mayo Clinic suggests that people participate in the following steps to approach aging with more positive associations:

  • Stay mentally active – crosswords, sudoku and puzzles are all great ways for the elderly to improve mental function
  • Socialize regularly – having a circle of support adds emotional feelings of security and contentment
  • Eat a healthy diet – a diet that is nutritionally valuable arms the body with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for a more graceful and healthy aging process
  • Manage chronic illness – be proactive and manage any illness to the fullest extent possible to avoid further complications or subsequent illness

Aging is often associated with a hint of negativity, and that increases emotional responses that focus on fear, stress and depression. Try prospective aging by imagining the future 50 years from now and reflecting on those positive steps to aging from the Mayo Clinic. Taking care of health today leads to a better, healthier and more joyous tomorrow.

Woman having lunch

Eat Like a Supermodel

It’s no secret that the world’s top supermodels train hard to keep in shape, but exercise is only part of the equation to their enviable bodies. Supermodels also are very intentional about what foods go into their bodies, making sure that they are eating foods that are high in vitamins and nutrients. With just three tips, you can eat like a supermodel and truly nourish your body.

Start Your Morning Right
Many supermodels begin their day by drinking warm water with lemon. “Hot water with lemon to start the day, it’s really good and it stimulates the digestive systems,” says Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr. Vanessa Packer of modelFIT, the New York City gym used by models like Karlie Kloss, Martha Hunt and Miranda Kerr, is also an advocate of beginning the morning with light foods. “Begin your day with warm water and lemon followed by a juice or smoothie, which will boost alkalinity [aka your body’s best natural pH for your cells to thrive], give you energy with raw and living vitamins and minerals, and will hydrate you and prep you for the day ahead.”

Stop Counting Calories
“I never count calories. I base my meal plans and system of eating on seasonality, alkalinity and food combining,” says Packer. Victoria’s Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel agrees. “I eat whatever I want, but to me it needs to be healthy – I always think about what sort of vitamins are in the food and what it’s giving my body…I make sure I eat a lot of protein, carbohydrates, good sugars and good fats.” Eliminating calorie counting isn’t a license to go crazy, you still need to be thoughtful about what foods you are eating to make sure you’re filling your body with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Woman eating protein bar.

Snack Smart
Kate Upton swears by her daily snacks of 10 raw almonds, green juice and protein bars. Vanessa Packer advises her model clients about snacking saying, “I’m not a big snacker because I think it’s important to sit down and enjoy a meal; your body responds better to that. However, if you are a gal on the go, try packing some crudite with hummus or smashed avocado, or even summer rolls are a great option.” Although Upton snacks on nuts, Packer says to proceed with caution when it comes to eating nuts as your snack. Says Packer, “[y]es they are healthy fats and are packed with protein, but they are very heavy on the digestive system and very dehydrating. Also, if you opt for roasted instead of raw, they become very fattening because the oil found in nuts is compromised when heated.” Eat raw nuts, in moderation and be sure to hydrate with plenty of water after snacking.

The days of the diet coke and cigarette diet are over for models, today they eat real food that provides nourishment and energy to keep up with their demanding schedules. These tips not only help you eat like a supermodel and get into fashion week shape, they are excellent tips for giving your body the nutrition that it requires to keep you healthy and happy.

Woman looking in the mirror

How to Cultivate Your Personal Style

Think you were born without the fashion gene? Think again. You’ve already got a personal sense of style, you just may not know what it is yet. The following five tips will help you narrow down what really makes you feel like your best self and how to build a wardrobe around these elements.

Start an Inspiration Board
Looking to celebrities and fashion icons can be a helpful tool when it comes to trying to determine just what your personal style really is, but the chances of having just one person represent everything you love about fashion is pretty slim. Head to Pinterest and start a board that contains celebrities, fashion icons or just general outfit ideas that you really love and are attracted to. After a while, you will begin to see trends across your board which can help you determine who to look to for inspiration and what the basic elements of your wardrobe should be.

Clean Out Your Closet
Once you have some ideas about the fundamental pieces that your ideal closet should have, go through your current closet and see what items you already have and what items don’t fit with the look you want to achieve. Plan to donate or sell any items that no longer fit or that you haven’t worn in the last six months or so. The more you refine your closet, the easier it is to build a wardrobe that contains only those pieces that really inspire and excite you and that reflect your personal sense of style.

Shop Smart
When you’ve thoroughly gone through your closet and cleaned out items that no longer fit, that don’t mesh with your personal style or that haven’t been worn in six months, you can start introducing pieces that do fit your style into your wardrobe. When it comes to buying clothes a good rule to follow is quality, not quantity. Invest in classic pieces like a great pair of leather boots or the perfect little black dress because these items will last and are great essentials. Shop at stores like T.J. Maxx or Forever 21 when you want to experiment with trendy pieces. This allows you to still play with the most recent trend without dropping a lot of money on items that may not really reflect your personal style.

Woman taking a selfie.

Snap a Selfie
As you begin to build your closet with pieces that you really love, it’s easier to get a bit more creative about how to wear these items. Some days, you walk out your door just oozing confidence and feeling like a million buck and when this happens, take a picture of your outfit, accessories, hair and makeup. These pictures are the epitome of your personal style and can serve as inspiration for more spin-off outfits or they can help you put together an outfit when you’re feeling less than inspired.

Consider the Whole Package
Your clothes are only one element of your personal style; you still have hair, makeup and accessories to play with. Add a signature piece to your closet. Audrey Hepburn had cropped pants, Jackie O. had her amazing sunglasses and Taylor Swift has her red lip. Look at the clothes you own and consider what element will work with your wardrobe in its entirety then try it out.

It can be difficult to part with clothes in your closet, but you will feel so much better once your closet contains only those items that really make you feel like you. Have fun experimenting with different pairings and use accessories to help each individual outfit stand out. Cultivating your personal style is all about making you feel like the most gorgeous and confident version of yourself possible and the five tips we mentioned will help you to find your own sense of style.

Woman cleansing skin.

Seasonal Skincare

To get the healthiest, most radiant skin, you’ll have to do some year-round maintenance work. One thing that remains constant during every season of the year is that you want to be sure you are protecting your skin against damaging UV rays. However, some other areas of your skincare routine may require tweaks here and there as the seasons, and your skincare needs, change. Discover what the main seasonal concerns are and how you can best address these to keep your skin healthy and happy.

Woman applying a facial mask

Winter
Dry, flaky, irritated and itchy skin are all common complaints during the winter months. In addition to protecting your skin from the sun, you also need to protect your skin from other environmental elements. Harsh winds, freezing temperatures and incredibly dry air can all wreak havoc on your skin in winter and one way to fight back is to keep your skin covered when possible. Items like gloves and scarves can help to easily protect your skin.

You may need to switch out some of your fall products for more heavy duty formulations in the winter. Consider the following ideas when remedying winter skin:

  • Switch from a gel cleanser to a creamy or oil-based cleanser
  • Swap your toner for a more moisturizing one to soothe dry skin after cleansing
  • Look for moisturizers containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramides for maximum hydration
  • Use gentle exfoliants on your face and lips to keep dry, flaky skin at bay

Woman touching her skin

Spring
Say goodbye to the dry, flaky skin of winter by starting spring with some much-needed exfoliation. Using chemical exfoliants such as alpha and beta-hydroxy acids is a great way to gently remove dead skin cells and other debris. A homemade scrub of olive oil and sugar is perfect to get your arms and legs glowing again and to keep them looking great, consider investing in a dry brush. You may also want to:

  • Change from heavy moisturizer to a lighter, oil-free moisturizer
  • Keep lips well protected with balms and treatments that contain SPF
  • Store your moisturizing toner for a lightweight toner or essence to treat skin and combat oil
  • Remember that you still need to be protecting your skin with an SPF every day during spring.

Woman in a beach

Summer
Perhaps the biggest complaint regarding summer skincare is the presence of excessive oil. Part of why this happens is that the warm temperature can liquefy the sebum (oil) in your pores, which causes the oil to leak out onto the surface of your skin resulting in unwanted shine. When you mix sweat with the oil, your skin looks not only greasy, but it feels uncomfortable as well. Combat excess oil in the summer by:

  • Use a gel or foaming cleanser to thoroughly remove dirt, oil and sweat from your face
  • Decrease the intensity of your moisturizer to a lightweight lotion or a serum
  • Use beta-hydroxy acid to deep clean pores and help stop excess oil
  • Look for a sunscreen that contains mattifying properties

Summer fashion exposes far more skin, so be sure that you are applying sunscreen to any area of your body that is exposed. A general guideline is to use the equivalent of a shot glass (1 oz) to cover your entire body. If you are using a chemical sunscreen, apply 20 to 30 minutes before sun exposure so your skin has a chance to fully absorb the product. Mineral sunscreens can be applied immediately before stepping into the sun. One application of sunscreen a day isn’t enough if you’re going to be outdoors; reapply sunscreen every two hours or after every time you immerse yourself in water. Protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses are also a good idea to protect yourself.

Woman dressed for fall

Fall
Drier skin isn’t the only fall skin concern that you need to be worried about. Your skin may go into a bit of shock after summer and this manifests as visible sunspots and signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. With all of the excess oil that your glands produced during summer, you may have enlarged pores heading into the fall. To keep your skin looking healthy in the fall you should:

  • Store your lightweight moisturizers and serums and begin to use a more heavy duty product
  • Use a gentle cleanser, toner and exfoliant because skin is sensitive from UV damage
  • Begin using retinol to erase signs of sun damage from the summer
  • It should go without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that you need to continue using an SPF daily to protect from further sun damage.

If you are using quality skin care products with great ingredients and formulations, there is a good chance that you won’t need to change your entire collection of products with each season. A few key items here and there can help you keep your skin healthy during every season of the year. Sunscreen is always in season, so don’t forget to stock up on it when you create your seasonal skincare routine.

Woman reading a recipe

Immune Boosting Recipes

The height of winter is prime time for cold and flu season. Avoid getting sick by boosting your immune system with proper nutrition. The following recipes are all easy to make and don’t require any exotic ingredients. Enjoy these immune boosting recipes to keep your body as healthy as possible this winter.

Roasted Salmon with Oranges

Roasted Salmon with Oranges
Salmon is a good source of vitamin D which is a nutrient that triggers your immune cells to kill bacteria and viruses that are invading your body. With the addition of the orange and its vitamin C content, you have a double-whammy immune boosting, healthy and delicious dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 2 fresh oranges cut into rounds
  • 1 white onion thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 (6oz) salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small cup, stir together lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder and dried parsley. In a 9×13 dish, arrange orange slices in one layer then place a thin layer of onions on top of the oranges. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle ½ of the spice mix on the top. Roast for about 25 minutes in preheated oven until onions are brown and tender. Remove baking dish and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Move onion and orange mixture to the sides of baking dish and place salmon fillets in the middle. Season salmon with the remaining spice mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together orange and lemon juices, then pour evenly over salmon. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then remove. Discard roasted oranges and garnish the salmon with fresh orange slices and the roasted onions.

Green smoothie

Healthy Green Smoothie
The greens in this smoothie provide immune-boosting vitamins A and C, in addition to protein, fiber and calcium. This smoothie is a perfect immune boost and can be enjoyed as a quick breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 apple chopped (for the most nutrients, leave skin on)
  • 1 cup chopped kale with stems removed
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • Ice cubes (around 10-12)

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse several times. Puree until the mixture is smooth and serve. You can increase the nutrition by adding some ground flaxseed or chia seeds to this recipe or try a slightly different flavor by chopping a pear rather than an apple.

Cold cucumber salad.

Cold Cucumber Salad
Perfect for a refreshing side, this cucumber salad is super quick and easy to make. Cucumbers contain potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamins C, B1, B2, B6 and provitamin A. Cucumbers also aid healthy blood circulation, which is an essential factor in boosting your immune system.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cucumbers peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup fresh vidalia onion
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Cracked black pepper

In a bowl, toss cucumber slices with salt, then refrigerate for one hour. When chilled, drain the cucumbers and pat dry. In a large bowl, mix sour cream, sugar and black pepper. Stir in the cucumber and onion and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Other immune boosting foods include tomatoes, mangoes, kiwis and carrots, to name a few. Prepare a spinach salad with tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers or create a tropical fruit salsa with mango, papaya, pineapple and kiwi. Have fun in the kitchen preparing the above immune boosting recipes, and coming up with your own dishes.