About Tiffany Sosa, Holistic Nutrition & Fitness

Tiffany Sosa is a heath coach, personal trainer, and practicing herbalist, blogging about nutrition, fitness, and wellness.

Top 5 Leafy Greens

Green and leafy vegetables have a wide range of health benefits. They are a rich source of beta-carotene, iron, antioxidants, vitamins, chlorophyll, and dietary fiber.  Below are my favorite 5 that are a must to incorporate any and all diets!

The dark green color of these vegetables is due to their high levels of chlorophyll which is essential to photosynthesis in plants, helping them to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll oxygenates and detoxifies the blood and is rich in amino acids and enzymes.

Leafy greens are so important to our diets and shouldn’t be missed or overlooked.

KALE is considered one of the most nutrient dense vegetables on the planet. It’s also one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Kale features antioxidants, lutein, carotenoids, and beta-carotene which all help prevent diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancers from oxidative stress. This leafy green is also high in alpha linolenic acid which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Cooking Kale can reduce its benefits, minerals, and vitamins. Try adding kale to a chickpea salad with a lemon juice based dressing!

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SWISS CHARD is rich in vitamin K, supports bone strength, and can help reduce type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. It also has anti-inflammatory and phytonutrient antioxidant properties as well as potassium which helps reduce blood pressure and stress on the cardiovascular system. Try adding swiss chard to soups or stir-fries!

SPINACH is known for its high iron content but it also contains vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin K and A, and manganese. Folate is important for pregnant women and those planning on having a baby, as low folate levels are linked to neural tube defects in fetuses in early stages of pregnancy. Try Spinach raw or cooked from pastas to salads!

COLLARD GREENS are a type of cabbage but have a sweeter and fresher taste to the traditional cabbage. Collard greens have high levels of vitamin C and K, supports your immune system and bone health as well as being full of iron, potassium, and fiber. Try shredding collard greens and adding them to stir-fries!

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BEETROOT GREENS the leaves of beetroot have high levels of potassium, calcium, riboflavin, fiber, and vitamins A and K. The greens of beetroots also have high levels of magnesium, copper, and manganese which supports your whole body. The beta carotene and lutein are known to help prevent eye disorders. It’s also higher than spinach in iron. Try adding beetroot greens to salads or soups!

All leafy vegetables can be eaten in salads. The darker colored greens are more nutritious and have higher amounts of beta-carotene which could also make them taste stronger. Blanch the stronger tasting greens in broth and add to soups and stews.

Leafy greens have the added advantage of being excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber while being very low in calories, and reducing overall calorie consumption is one thing that has been clearly associated with a longer life span.

Balch CNC, Phyllis A.. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal.

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Welcoming Wellness: Holistic Living

Holistic has many definitions — some call it woo-woo, others spiritual, others educated.

Holistic health emphasizes the connection of mind, body, and spirit.

Holistic Health can be defined as an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment.

avi-richards-374974-unsplashOften being holistic has been mistaken with being spiritual. It’s not uncommon for spiritually-enlightened people to be holistic because they generally are more in tune with their action and impact. They get it, that they are part of a bigger picture, that their body is their number one tool, that the mind, body and soul are all connected, and we are all connected.

The overall goal of holistic medicine is entire wellness, not simply a lack of disease or physical pain.

A holistic approach to your body, mind and soul can not only transform your health and well-being, it can benefit your relationships, make your more patient, understanding, loving and generally help you to become more awake as a person in your day to day life.

Top 3 Herbs for Digestion

A principle in herbalism is that most chronic disease begins with poor digestion. If you can’t transform your food into the nutrients your body needs, then how can you have good health? In fact, many culinary herbs have been in use for thousands of years not only because they taste good but also because they help with digestion.
Sadly, all too often, people have had poor digestion for so long that they assume it’s a natural part of life.
Did you know? Although it’s about 30 feet long, the digestive tract needs smaller helpers, too: acids, enzymes and bacteria all help break down food.
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Herbal medicine helps keep digestion perking along. In one study, 24 patients received a mixture containing dandelion root, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), lemon balm, calendula (Calendula officinalis) and fennel. Ninety-five percent had relief of colitis symptoms in 15 days.
Digestive herbs work in a number of interesting ways from healing the lining of the gut to increasing the secretion of digestive juices to repairing digestion related organs like the liver, gallbladder, pancreas and stomach.
Stomach pain due to ulcers and indigestion from over-eating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and diarrhea are just some of the problems that can plague this sensitive area, but there are also herbs for digestion that can help with each of these. The liver, which is part of digestion, gets special attention in this article and its function can be enhanced with digestive herbs.
The following are clues to poor digestion:
Bloating
Gas
Indigestion
Heartburn
Constipation
Nausea
Poor appetite
Recurring diarrhea
Ulcers
Here are my three favorite herbs for better digestion:
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Warming Digestif and Yang Herb
In addition to being one of the best digestive herbs, this amazing warming spice also impacts the circulatory system. This root was introduced into Europe during the Roman Empire, and it has held an honored place as one of the herbs for digestion in traditional medicine for a very long time.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
Digestive Bitter Herb
The name of this flower is derived from the French “dent de lion” meaning lion’s tooth. This name was supposedly given to this plant by a 15th century surgeon, due to the dandelion’s jagged shaped leaves. Folk healers have long prescribed the root of this cleansing digestive herb for liver and digestive problems.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Digestive Tonic
The Greek doctor, Dioscorides, is reputed to have regularly worn a sprig of peppermint to lift his spirits. Its antispasmodic actions were recognized by physicians of the ancient world, and peppermint was popular with our more modern ancestors who saw it as a healing herb for digestion and the relief of digestive colic, sluggish digestion, flatulence, and bloating. Used for centuries as a gastrointestinal aid, peppermint is a digestive herb that helps relax the muscles of the digestive tract and stimulates bile flow.
Houghton, Marlene. Herbs Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need. Hampton Roads Publishing.
De La Forêt, Rosalee. Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal. Hay House, Inc.

Nourishing Nutrition: Kombucha

Kombucha also known as Booch is fermented tea full of microbes, amino acids, organic acids, vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients. It’s brewed using black, green, or combination of both teas (Camellia sinensis), cane sugar, and a microbial community of ethanol-fermenting yeasts and acetic- and other organic acid-producing bacteria commonly referred to as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts).
Sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese and originating in the Far East over 2,000 years ago, Kombucha is a beverage with tremendous health benefits for your heart, your brain and your gut.
The sugar-tea solution is fermented by the SCOBY and turned into a sparkling probiotic tea similar to cider.
It’s tart, refreshing and the flavor combinations are endless!
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You know from my previous posts I hate free-radicals. Kombucha has antioxidants which counteract the free radicals that can cause harm to our digestive system. What’s not to love??!
Kombucha is a probiotic-rich tea with many health benefits.
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You can purchase it in the store or make it yourself at home. However, be very careful to prepare it properly.
Common mistakes found in home brewing:
1. Using vinegar *it’s too different to Kombucha and has it’s own bacteria. It can cause you to brew Vinegar
2. Not rinsing off soap properly *Soap is antimicrobial and kills bacteria which is the SCOBY.
3. Not covering the booch right *no cheesecloth, you’ll allow tiny bugs through the loose weave.
4. Letting your batch brew too short or too long *too little = sweet tea, too long = Kombucha vinegar
5. Your Kombucha gets too cold or too hot *too cold = dormant yeasts/bacteria, too hot = kills yeasts/bacteria
6. If adding flavor, not using the right glass bottles *can cause explosions or not the right fizz amount
Basically, do your homework and you can have some delicious booch. Or not, support local brewers in your area for the best!
*Kombucha SCOBY eats sugar so there isn’t much left for us to have to drink. Also, it also contains a small trace amount of alcohol. Usually between .03%-1%. Home brewing may increase this to 1%-2%.

Nourishing Nutrition: Reishi

Reishi (RAY-she) is also called varnished conk, phantom mushroom, and ten-thousand-year mushroom. In China it is called ling zhi, which means “spirit plant.” This one mushroom offers immune support, reduces stress and anxiety, is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and much more.
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Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) contains carbohydrates, fiber, amino acids, protein, steroids, triterpenes, lipids, alkaloids, polysaccharides, glucoside, coumarin glycoside, volatile oil, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and ascorbic acid. It also contains the minerals calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, and germanium. Additionally, reishi contains ganoderic acid, which is a free-radical scavenger, giving reishi antioxidant powers.
Reishi reduces the side effects from radiation and chemotherapy, boosts overall health, promotes longevity, speeds recovery from illness, detoxifies and regenerates the liver, improves circulation and stamina, increases blood flow, reduces platelet aggregation, enhances the immune system, and reduces inflammation in the joints.
Reishi is now used to treat an assortment of disorders;
  • inflammation
  • fatigue
  • frequent infections (urinary tract, bronchitis, respiratory infections, etc.)
  • liver disease
  • food allergies and asthma
  • digestive problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome
  • tumor growth and cancer
  • skin disorders
  • autoimmune disorders
  • diabetes
  • viruses, including the flu, hepatitis
  • heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • sleep disorders and insomnia
  • anxiety and depression
One of the best things about using reishi mushrooms is that they’re capable of doing so much, yet compared to medications they’re non-toxic and produce hardly any side effects of all. In fact, most people notice a quick improvement in their energy levels, mental capabilities and moods while also experiencing a reduction in aches, pains, allergies, digestive issues and infections.
Six different types of reishi, classified by color, have been identified. Each type has a different medicinal use:
• Red reishi has a bitter taste and is generally regarded as the most potent and medicinal of the reishi mushrooms. It is used to aid the internal organs, build vitality, and improve memory.
• Blue reishi has a sour taste. It improves eyesight and liver function and has a calming effect on the nerves.
• Purple reishi has a sweet taste. It enhances the function of the joints, muscles, and ears, and nourishes the complexion.
• Black reishi has a salty taste. It is used primarily to protect the kidneys.
• Yellow reishi has a sweet taste. It improves spleen function and has a calming effect.
• White reishi has a hot, pungent taste. It is used to assist lung function.
Reishi is found in tablet and liquid products the world over. Available forms of reishi include syrups, soups, teas, injections, tablets, tinctures, and extracts.
Balch CNC, Phyllis A.. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal. Penguin Publishing Group.

Nourishing Nutrition: Sprouts

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Sprouts are edible seeds that have just germinated. They supply fresh greens year-round when grocery bins are filled with vegetables from faraway places that may have been chemically treated or irradiated to retain freshness and appearance.
Sprouting increases the vitamin content of seeds significantly. The vitamin C value of wheatgrass is 600 percent in the early sprouting phase and all sprouts contain more vitamin C than oranges by weight. Sprouts are also a tremendous source of antioxidants, vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc. The sprouted seeds of some legumes, like lentils, peanuts, and soybeans, contain complete protein, as do many seeds.
Sprouts fall into two categories: those made from seeds that produce chlorophyll and develop a green leaf and those that do not. Chlorophyll-producing sprouts include radish, cabbage, fenugreek, mustard, broccoli, cress, and other vegetable sprouts.
Broccoli sprouts may be the number-one beneficial sprouts. They contain more nutrients than broccoli florets.
Legume and grain seeds do not develop a leaf when sprouted. Legume seeds contain natural toxins that serve as a defensive measure, which aids the immune system. Large legume seeds, such as garbanzo, kidney bean, mung bean, and soybean sprouts, should be lightly cooked prior to serving to destroy natural toxins and facilitate ease of digestion. Smaller legumes, such as alfalfa and adzuki bean, do not lend themselves well to cooking and so should not be consumed raw in large quantities on a regular basis.
Below is a list of 9 ways sprouts are beneficial to your diet.
Improved Digestion- One of the best things about sprouts is that they contain an unusually high number of enzymes. This can help boost various metabolic processes and chemical reactions within the body, specifically when it comes to digestion.
Boosted Metabolism- The influx of enzymes represents a kick start for the body, and can seriously impact its metabolic activity.
Prevent Anemia- Anemia is the technical word for an iron deficiency [6]. If you don’t consume enough food with iron, your red blood cell count drops, because iron is an essential part of red blood cell production.
Weight Loss- Sprouts are one of those foods that are very high in nutrients but very low in calories. This means that you can eat them without worrying about compromising your diet.
Improve Heart Health- Sprouts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and although these are technically a form of cholesterol, they are considered “good” cholesterol and can actually reduce the amount of harmful cholesterol in your blood vessels and arteries.
Boost Immune System- Its vitamin-C content alone makes it a powerful stimulant for the white blood cells in the body to fight off infection and disease.
Prevent Cancer- The antioxidant activity of the organic compounds found in sprouts makes it a very good anti-cancer choice for your diet. The vitamin C, and A, as well as amino acids and proteins, can also impact the free radical damage to your body.
Eye Care- Vitamin A has been associated with an improvement in vision health for many years. It acts as an antioxidant agent to protect the eyes’ cells from free radicals.
Relieve Cold Sores- Lysine is found in sprouts, which inhibits the growth of cold sores and treats them if they appear.
Eating sprouts is a good way to supplement your diet with food enzymes that are critical for literally every biochemical reaction that takes place in the body.
Incorporating sprouts into your diet may significantly enhance your health, energy, and longevity.
Balch CNC, Phyllis A.. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal. Penguin Publishing Group.
“Benefits of Sprouts.” Organic Facts, 27 Dec. 2017, www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/seed-and-nut/sprouts.html.

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The Magnificent 12 Vegetables

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Eating more vegetables can dramatically reduce and prevent disease. The twelve vegetables, known as the cruciferous vegetables are particularly powerful protectors against cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Cruciferous plants have flowers with four petals that resemble the crucifix.
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The magnificent twelve cruciferous vegetables:
Broccoli– Broccoli is best known for its ability to prevent cancer by protecting cells from free-radical damage and carcinogens.

Kohlrabi– A cross between a turnip and a cabbage, kohlrabi reduces the incidence of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, uterine, and endometrial cancers, and helps to reduce the carcinogenic effects of cigarette smoke. It is good for treating indigestion, jaundice, diabetes, the lymphatic system, and alcoholism. An excellent source of vitamin C, kohlrabi can help the body to ward off infection.

Kale – It is the richest of all leafy greens in carotenoids and contains an abundance of lutein, a phytochemical that scientists think may be more protective against cancer than beta-carotene.
Rutabaga – Rutabaga, a cross between a turnip and cabbage, is loaded with cancer-fighting compounds. Slightly more nutritious than its distant cousin, the common white turnip, rutabaga is a good source of complex carbohydrates that supply energy to the body.
Brussels Sprouts – Chlorophyll, dithiolthiones, carotenoids, indoles, and glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts that prevent cancer and tumors.
Radishes – Radishes stimulate the appetite; relieve respiratory infections; cleanse the gallbladder and liver; ease cold and flu symptoms; and are a natural diuretic. In Chinese medicine, radishes are used to promote digestion, break down mucus, soothe headaches, and heal laryngitis. Radishes contain salicylates, the same compounds used to make aspirin. Researchers believe these compounds may help to discourage the formation of unwanted blood clots.
Collards – Collards improve the function of the glands and the nervous, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary systems. They protect against estrogen-related cancers, retard tumor growth, and minimize the effects of cigarette smoke.
Turnips – Turnips balance the calcium in the body, reduce mucus, help ease asthma and bronchitis, and relieve sore throats. Turnip root helps protect against heart disease, cancer, and viral infection, and can be helpful in controlling blood cholesterol levels.
Cabbage – Cabbage stimulates the immune system, and kills bacteria and viruses.
Mustard Greens – Mustard greens help to inhibit tumor growth; protect against cancer and heart disease; and help strengthen the immune system. Their high iron and calcium content helps to prevent anemia and build strong bones and teeth.
Cauliflower – Cauliflower helps to protect against stomach, rectum, prostate, colon, and bladder cancer.
Radishes – Radishes stimulate the appetite; relieve respiratory infections; cleanse the gallbladder and liver; ease cold and flu symptoms; and are a natural diuretic.
Mustard Greens-Mustard greens help to inhibit tumor growth; protect against cancer and heart disease; and help strengthen the immune system. Their high iron and calcium content helps to prevent anemia and build strong bones and teeth. Mustard greens are superior to spinach. The calcium benefit is not lost because of the lower oxalic acid content. The part eaten is the leaves. Key nutrients in mustard greens include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), pantothenic acid, fiber, folate, and small amounts of lipids and amino acids. Phytochemicals include beta-carotene, indoles, lutein, zeaxanthin, glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, chlorophyll, tocopherols, and tocotrienols.

Watercress – A member of the mustard family, watercress is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, potent antioxidants that help to fight cancer.
Consume three one-cup servings from this list each day. Eat one cup raw and two cups slightly steamed, except for horseradish. Add increasing amounts of these vegetables gradually so that your digestive system learns to tolerate them. Start by adding one-half cup twice a week and gradually increase from there.
Balch CNC, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal. Penguin Publishing Group.