5 Mushrooms to Balance the Immune System

Mushrooms are one of the most underestimated foods on the planet. They are nature’s way of recycling, breaking down organic matter into fertile soil. Mushrooms also contain incredibly powerful compounds that can bolster your health and balance your immune system.

These compounds fight inflammation, destroy infectious microbes, slow down aging, and even help regenerate nerve cells.

Most of all, mushrooms are immune powerhouses. They strengthen your immune system when it’s too weak and downregulate it when it’s too active—such as with autoimmune issues.

This is particularly important to realize because our immune system needs more help than ever. The rates of autoimmune disease are at an all-time high and steadily increasing (1).

Modern eating habits and overuse of antibiotics have also damaged our gut. Since close to 80% of immunity is linked to gut health, this makes our immune systems weak.

Mushrooms are one of the best ways to give our immune system a helping hand. But not any mushroom will do the trick. Here are five of the most effective immune-regulating mushrooms known to science.

1. Turkey Tail Mushroom

The turkey tail mushroom is one of the most studied medicinal mushrooms due to its ability to fight disease and bolster your immune system.

This amazing mushroom contains bioactive compounds called beta-glucans. When consumed, beta-glucans can stimulate the immune system by enhancing macrophage and natural killer cell function—two types of cells that play an important role in your immune system (2).

Studies also suggest that beta-glucans can help the immune system slow the growth of tumors and protect your body from the effects of cancer-causing compounds (2). One NIH-funded study in 2011 even showed improved immune response in breast cancer patients (3).

Turkey tail also contains prebiotics which feed the good bacteria in your gut, supporting overall immunity. Since turkey tail is so effective at enhancing the immune system, many people consume it during the cold and flu season.

2. Tremella Mushroom

Tremella mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, dietary fibers, and contain compounds that protect the liver. And most importantly, tremella mushrooms are powerful immune-regulators.

For instance, there’s evidence that tremella mushrooms can help your body fight infection and it has long been used an immune tonic (4).

Tremella is also gaining renown in anti-aging skincare for its ability to draw moisture to itself—in a process similar to hyaluronic acid—plumping up and smoothing out the skin.

3. Maitake Mushroom

Maitake mushrooms are most commonly known as “hen of the woods” by mushroom foraging communities because it resembles the fluffed tail feathers of a nesting hen.

Like turkey tail mushrooms, maitake contains beta-glucans that support macrophage and natural killer cell activity (5). Research also suggests that maitake can support healthy blood sugar.

They’re a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins B & C, and several minerals. Maitake mushrooms are highly sought after for both their delicious flavor and immune-regulating effects.

4. Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms are a common staple of Asian cuisine. They have a meaty, yet versatile flavor.

Animal studies indicate that shiitake mushrooms can fight obesity (6) and support a healthy heart (7). And human studies show it may significantly improve your immune system.

Specifically, the American College of Nutrition found that shiitake mushrooms can improve the efficiency of the immune system, improve gut immunity, and decrease inflammation (8).

And lab tests on human cell lines show shiitake mushrooms can prevent malignant tumor growth. It does this by signaling tumor cells to lyse (burst) in a process called apoptosis (9).

Lastly, shiitake mushrooms may have potent antimicrobial properties, making it an effective natural antibiotic. What makes them even more amazing is that a study showed it only killed disease-causing (pathogenic) microbes, leaving beneficial bacteria unharmed (10). On the contrary, prescription antibiotics kill off both beneficial and bad bacteria in your body.

5. Cordyceps Mushroom

Cordyceps mushrooms are well-known among professional athletes for their ability to improve physical performance and energy levels. But what most people don’t realize is, cordyceps can also benefit your immune system.

According to a publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cordyceps can help improve your body’s innate immunity (11).

Cordyceps is so effective in modulating immunity it has even shown benefits in studies on those with moderate to severe asthma (12).

Evidence also suggests that cordyceps can help autoimmune issues and decrease the number of harmful bacteria in the gut. This is a perfect example of how mushrooms can balance out your immune system.

Opt for Mushroom Extracts for Immunity

While some mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake, can be easily incorporated into healthy meals, others are less likely to top your plate.

That’s because turkey tail, tremella and cordyceps are fungi not known for their taste, and are not readily found on food shelves so you’ll want to supplement instead.

Above all, make sure mushrooms are certified organic. As nature’s recyclers, mushrooms are masters of absorbing the matter they are grown in, whether good or bad. By choosing certified organic, you’ll gain access to the highest quality mushrooms, free of pesticides and herbicides.

For optimal immune support, supplement with powdered extracts. Since each mushroom can support immunity in different ways, opt for a blend of several varieties for maximum benefit.

Since buying individual extracts or a specific mushroom blend can be pricey, consider choosing a superfood green juice powder that comes with organic mushrooms without any extra cost. With 5 types of organic mushrooms you can bolster your immunity every day.

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Refreshing Antioxidant Smoothie

Refreshing Antioxidant Smoothie

Power up your day with this flavorful, refreshing smoothie. It’s packed full of plant-based antioxidants that rehydrate your body fast. In just minutes you’ll feel refreshed, reenergized and have the superfood nutrition you need to stay strong.

Refreshing Antioxidant Smoothie

½ cup (4 oz.) organic coconut water
½ cup organic apple sauce
½ cup mixed frozen organic berries
1 scoop Super Green Juice


Blend everything together until smooth. Enjoy!

The Good Inside

This super smoothie comes with hydrating minerals. Pure coconut water gives you potassium and other natural electrolytes to reenergize the body fast.

Sweet apples combine with tart berries for a refreshing taste that is full of healthy nutrients including quercetin. The antioxidants found in berries (called anthocyanins) have also been shown to support brain health, and protect your cells from daily oxidative stress.

A scoop of tasty Super Green Juice powder provides 44 organic superfoods. Inside are vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotics for a nutrient infusion that delivers a near instant lift of energy and vitality.

Fast and flavorful, this refreshing antioxidant smoothie is easy to make and is a natural energizer for morning or night. And all the superfoods inside give a big nutrient boost that helps to keep you healthy.

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Calming an Overactive Immune System

Most reporting done on the immune system has focused on ways to strengthen or stimulate immunity. The hope is if you bolster the immune system you can fight off illnesses better or avoid getting sick altogether. Especially during cold and flu season. The full story on immunity is more complex.

A healthy immune system is a balanced immune system, one that is not too weak and not too strong. In reality, it’s important to regulate immune function, not just strengthen it.

Just like the immune system can become weak—making you susceptible to getting sick—it can swing in the opposite direction and become overstimulated, leading to an attack on your own body. A hyperactive immune system is just as dangerous as a weak immune system, but for different reasons.

Effects of an Overstimulated Immune System

When the immune system becomes overactive, it can start indiscriminately attacking your own healthy cells leading to autoimmune issues (1). An overactive immune system can damage the body and result in a wide range of concerns including…

  • Inflammation
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Achy muscles
  • Hair Loss
  • Digestive distress
  • Skin rashes
  • Swollen glands

Calming an Overactive Immune System with CBD

Early evidence suggests that a compound extracted from hemp called CBD (cannabidiol) oil can exert immunomodulatory effects on the immune system. In doing so, CBD may balance the immune system and help prevent it from becoming overactive (23).

CBD is one of many cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, and research shows that cannabinoids have a number of beneficial effects on the body, including in the areas of sleep, stress, joint discomfort and immune health.

While scientists still haven’t entirely figured out the details, they believe that CBD exerts this immune-regulatory effect and other benefits by acting on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

The ECS is a relatively recent discovery. It is a complex network of receptors, enzymes, and cannabinoid molecules that help your body maintain homeostasis or a state of balance.

The Endocannabinoid System Balances the Body

In this case, when the immune system becomes overactive, the ECS can help normalize immune function (4). This helps ensure that it does not attack your own cells or cause chronic inflammation.

One animal study, for example, found that the endocannabinoid system helps maintain a balanced immune response in the gut and pancreas (5). It does this by modulating the activity of specific macrophages and T cells in the gut.

How CBD Affects the ECS

CBD has a wide range of direct and indirect effects in the body, including research that shows cannabidiol has significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (6).

Current research suggests that CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme which degrades anandamide—a natural endocannabinoid in the body that stimulates the ECS (7). When the FAAH enzyme is inhibited, less anandamide is broken down. This effectively increases the amount of anandamide circulating in the body. The increased anandamide levels, in turn, then stimulate the ECS.

How Cannabinoids Work in the Body

This means CBD may indirectly stimulate the ECS by increasing the amount of anandamide in the body. Research is ongoing into how cannabinoids work in the body and interact with the endocannabinoid system (8).

Why does the Immune System Get Overstimulated?

Scientists still haven’t uncovered a specific cause for an overactive immune system. In reality, it likely has many different causes. So far the evidence seems to suggest that diet, toxic chemicals, gut health, and genetics are among the most influential factors (910).

Why does this matter? Environmental toxins have saturated the planet and many processed foods contain gut-destroying additives.

As your ECS attempts to regulate the immune system it uses compounds called endocannabinoids as fuel. However, if your immune system is constantly stimulated, the ECS may run out of fuel and lose its capacity to downregulate immune activity. When this happens, scientists call it an endocannabinoid deficiency.

While more research is needed, CBD appears to be a promising compound for the immune system by stimulating the body’s own balancing system, the endocannabinoid system.

More Ways to Bring Balance to the Immune System

Beyond taking a quality CBD Oil, research suggests that there are other strategies that can help keep the immune system in good working order. Here are more ways to keep your immune system balanced and healthy:

The Bottom Line

With an abundance of environmental toxins, poor nutrition, and genetic influences, the immune system can become overactive and attack the body’s own healthy cells.

As such, regulating immune function is more important than ever. Early evidence suggests that CBD Oil may be a helpful strategy to prevent the immune system from becoming hyperactive.

For a healthy and robust immune system, CBD Oil shouldn’t be your only strategy. A balanced and strong immune system is achieved with a healthy lifestyle that includes good sleep, stress management, daily detoxification, vitamin D, and making sure you eat plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies. The immune system impacts every part of the body, and needs a whole-body approach to keep it in good shape.

7 Superfoods that Support Healthy Joints

Natural Remedies for Health Joints and Joint Discomfort

Having painful, stiff, or swollen joints is a huge burden in life. It prevents you from doing the things you love the most. Whether it’s hiking, arts & crafts, or working on your next DIY project to improve the house. Seeking relief, many people will talk to their doctor.

He or she may recommend strategies like physical therapy, exercise, and a daily regimen of anti-inflammatory drugs. What most people don’t realize, however, is there’s something else you can do to support joint health.

It involves eating specific superfoods that can fight inflammation, reduce pain, and even reduce joint swelling. Here are the 7 best superfoods to relieve your overworked and achy joints.

1. Ginger Root

If you’re already experiencing joint discomfort, eating ginger can offer much needed relief. Ginger is known for helping the body to manage inflammation and control pain.

In fact, one study discovered that people with osteoarthritis experienced a 30% reduction of pain simply by consuming ginger on a regular basis (1).

Several scientific reports also strongly support that gingerols found in ginger are potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, helping to support and maintain joint health (2).

2. Turmeric Root

Turmeric contains a powerful compound called curcumin. It’s the key component responsible for many of turmeric’s incredible benefits.

Curcumin actually inhibits inflammation at the molecular level, by interrupting NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa beta), a protein that turns on inflammation in cells. The journal Oncogene published a study in 2004 showing curcumin even matched the effectiveness of some well-known anti-inflammatory drugs, without any negative side effects (3).

Because turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory, it provides relief for achy and stiff joints. Another pilot study on rheumatoid arthritis patients showed curcumin performed better than an anti-inflammatory drug (4).

To maximize joint relief, take ginger root and turmeric root together, either in a tasty smoothie, or in a supplement formulated for joint support.

3. Tart Cherry Juice & Cherries

Researchers have found that tart cherry juice and cherries are one of the best foods out there to support healthy joints.

One study, for example, found that drinking cherry juice twice a day for 21 days reduced joint pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis (5). Cherries support joints in another way as well.

Scientists have discovered that consuming cherries can help reduce uric acid in the body (6). This is important because when uric acid builds up in the joints, it causes considerable pain, and can lead to gout, a type of arthritis (7).

4. Seeds Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are beneficial for your heart, brain, skin and more. These healthy fats work by helping to reduce inflammation, and research shows them to be effective for joint pain (8).

What makes these healthy fats so essential is that your body can’t make them, so you have to seek out food sources. The essential fatty acids to look for are alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6).

Seeds are some of the best sources of joint-soothing omega-3 and omega-6. These include hemp seeds and hemp seed oilflax seedsborage seed oilchia seeds and pumpkin seeds.

5. Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil

While hemp seeds are rich in two essential fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-3, other parts of the hemp plant also have special beneficial compounds.

Hemp is now cultivated for its cannabinoids, and in particular cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted into an oil that has remarkable health benefits.

Research shows that cannabinoids target temporary inflammation by working with the body’s endocannabinoid system, thereby helping to relieve discomfort and promote healthy joints (9).

For maximum relief, consider a CBD oil combined with hemp seed oil to get both cannabinoids and essential fatty acids. And for targeted relief, apply a topical hemp balm to any trouble spots.

6. Cruciferous Vegetables

If you’re looking to preserve the health of your joints, then cruciferous veggies are a must. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower contain an amazing compound called sulforaphane.

Among its many benefits, sulforaphane protects the health of your joints. One study specifically found that the sulforaphane in broccoli can help prevent the degradation of cartilage (10).

Why does this matter? Well, your joints are primarily made up of cartilage. This cartilage can break down over time, eventually causing the bones to scrape against one another resulting in joint pain, stiffness, and discomfort.

7. Pineapple

The juice and core of pineapples contain bromelain, which is a proteolytic enzyme that helps to break down excess proteins in the body.

Over the years, studies have suggested that bromelain provides an impressive range of health benefits including its ability to reduce allergy symptoms (11) and prevent muscle soreness after exercise (12).

But what makes bromelain really shine is its effect on the joints. Evidence suggests that bromelain may relieve osteoarthritis, ease joint pain, reduce swelling, and alleviate inflammation (13).

If you want to take full advantage of these benefits, consider taking a supplement that contains bromelain. That’s because bromelain works best as a proteolytic enzyme when taken in-between meals. Supplements also deliver a high potency amount of bromelain for optimal benefit.

Whether you’re experiencing joint discomfort from wear and tear, an old injury or strenuous exercise, these superfoods have beneficial compounds that can help restore and protect the health of your joints. Consider adding or supplementing these foods for the next several months to start seeing more spring in your step.

How a High School Teacher Became a Top Athlete

On any given day of the week, high school science teacher Alan Goodison can be found instructing his students on the finer points of physics. Once papers are graded and lesson plans are put away however, he transforms from a teacher to a top athlete. It’s a path that has led from the classroom to the world championship of his chosen sport, coastal rowing.

Unlike the calm waters of river rowing, coastal or offshore rowing is an extreme and exhilarating race through an open course while facing often rough ocean swells.

It’s a sport that’s rising in popularity with 500 rowers from 29 different countries and regions represented at the 2019 World Rowing Coastal Championship in Hong Kong.

A Balancing Act of Work, Life and Training

Making it to the world championship level of any sport requires immense determination and commitment. Not to mention consistent training sessions to build strength, stamina and speed.

It’s a journey that began over two years ago as Alan and doubles partner John Whooley began training and racing around the scenic coastal waters of Ireland. Alan’s preparation for races was filled with six extended training sessions a week, with a mixture of endurance and high intensity workouts. All while teaching full-time and welcoming a new baby into the family.

For Alan, having a single-minded focus on the goal of reaching the world championships helped him get through long days filled with countless workouts. The right nutrition also made a substantial difference. To help him get through tough workouts with energy to spare, Alan turned to the goodness of Touchstone Essentials’ organic, whole food nutrition.

“It wasn’t easy putting in so much training on top of work and family, but it was definitely worth it. The superfood nutrition from Touchstone Essentials made it possible to train and recover to my full potential, and the feeling of representing your country on a global stage is amazing,” shared Alan.

Superfood Nutrition for Energy and Recovery

With a full family and work life, getting extended downtime for recovery wasn’t possible. So, Alan turned to organic superfood nutrition to supplement the extensive energy that intense frequent workouts demanded.

Whether for a workout or workday, each morning started out with Organic Super Protein delivering 18g of superfood protein, energizing MCTs, plant-based omegas and digestive enzymes. Benefits Alan felt right away:

Organic Super Protein is an easy and delicious way to get healthy protein every day, which is essential for repairing the microtears that happen in muscle tissue during intense exercise.”

About 30 minutes before training, Alan took three capsules of Boost Focus Fuel, filled with a special organic blend of energizing green coffee beans, green tea and adaptogen herbs for sustained energy. After each workout, he supported rest and repair with another Organic Super Protein shake, and Green Energy, supplying antioxidant-rich green tea and proteolytic enzymes that support muscle recovery.

“Taking Boost and Green Energy made sure I had energy to get through both interval and endurance training, and could recover quickly. I found that I didn’t experience much muscle discomfort at all, even after the most intense sessions, so I was able to keep my training on track,” explained Alan.

All that training paid off when Alan and John were selected as team #1 to represent Ireland at the Men’s Doubles in the 2019 World Rowing Coastal Championship in Hong Kong.

In a field of 42 men’s international teams, and through intense preliminary heats, they made it to the final, and finished 13th in the world. It’s an inspiring example of how perseverance and determination can make dreams come true.

Next up for Alan is more training and racing. The Irish Championships will be held in the summer, followed by the World Championship in Portugal in September 2020. “It’s a great feeling to represent your country and go up against the best in the world. And with the goodness of Touchstone Essentials superfood nutrition, I know I’ll keep getting better.”

Calm CBD Oil Samples Now Available

CBD Sampling Program

By now, most people have heard about the benefits of CBD Oil. This natural plant extract has made countless headlines for its calming properties and how it can aid restful sleep, soothe stress, ease discomfort, and support everyday wellness. Still, many people wonder, will CBD work for me?

Touchstone Essentials has launched a new CBD sampling program that lets people try before they buy, featuring single servings of the best-selling Calm Premium CBD Oil 750mg tincture.

While CBD Oil has numerous long-term benefits, with Calm Premium CBD Oil, many people experience its effects in as little as 30 minutes. That’s why even a single serving can give a taste of enhanced well-being, and why samples are an ideal way to try CBD.

Touchstone Essentials and Verb have partnered to create a special sampling app exclusively for Visionary Business Owners (VBOs) to share the goodness of Calm CBD Oil. The app is loaded with innovative features that make it easy to share, sample, and succeed. Best of all, the app is FREE.

For VBOs, the sampling app provides an easy, socially-distancing way to share single serve samples of Calm CBD Oil with friends, family and contacts. With just a few taps on the phone, sampling sticks are packaged in a branded folder, wrapped in a professional brochure, and shipped off automagically to the contact of their choice.

Calm CBD Oil comes from organically grown hemp, has 25mg of CBD per serving and is broad spectrum for a wide range of benefits, all without any THC, and it finishes with a refreshing organic peppermint flavor.

Each sample mailer contains two single serve sample sticks of Calm Premium CBD Oil for double the goodness. There’s no cost for the sample mailer, just $5.95 to cover shipping and handling. VBOs can cover that cost, or can send contacts to a sample website where a person orders their mailer and covers the shipping.

Once the sample arrives, people can try CBD Oil for themselves, and if they want to keep the calm feeling going, can easily order a full-sized bottle, backed by science, hundreds of five-star reviews, and a money-back guarantee.

As new VBOs join in the US, they gain instant access to the sampling program, and can get one or more complimentary sample credits added to their account so they can start sharing samples right away. [100PV+ first order = 1 free sample credit | 500PV+ first order = 5 free sample credits]

To maximize all the ways the sampling program can support and grow their business, VBOs can simply download the Verb app, login with their email and account password, and start to share, sample and succeed!

Included as one of the benefits of being a Visionary Business Owner, the Calm CBD Oil Sampling App is one more way that Touchstone Essentials’ VBOs are changing the world for the better, with a goal of touching one million families with goodness.

Vitamin D: A Keystone of Immune Health

Vitamin D is one of the most overlooked components of a healthy immune system. In fact, before the development of antibiotics and advanced medical care, healthcare professionals unknowingly treated patients that had infectious diseases using vitamin D, achieving better outcomes in the process.

An excerpt in the London Journal of Medicine from 1849 revealed how one physician used cod liver oil—a rich source of vitamin D—to help 206 out of 234 patients recover from tuberculosis (1).

In 1903, a Swiss doctor named Auguste Rollier used sunlight therapy for patients with infectious diseases, leading to the creation of sanatoriums where TB patients received vitamin D through sunlight exposure. Many doctors during this time believed that sunlight killed the tuberculosis bacterium (2).

Despite this being over 100 years ago, these physicians were surprisingly on-point. Recent decades of scientific research has revealed that vitamin D has intimate ties to the immune system.

Vitamin D and Protection from Viruses

When your body doesn’t have enough vitamin D, your immune system can have a difficult time fighting off infections. Several studies have found that people with vitamin D deficiencies are more likely to experience upper respiratory infections (colds), influenza, and bacterial infections (3).

Moreover, there’s evidence that supplementing vitamin D can decrease the risk of getting sick with influenza or other related illnesses (4). This could explain why so many people get sick in the winter.

In winter months, people tend to bundle up against the cold and spend less time outdoors. Plus, people living in northern latitudes, which covers most of the US and Europe, can’t make vitamin D in winter months due to the angle of the sun relative to earth. The lower levels of vitamin D then make you more susceptible to catching a cold or flu (56).

There’s also evidence that suggests low levels of vitamin D are associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes and increased mortality. It’s theorized that this occurs because vitamin D can help prevent the dangerous cytokine storm that can happen with a COVID-19 infection (78).

For this very reason, researchers from Trinity College Dublin are also urging the Irish government to promote vitamin D for improved COVID-19 outcomes (9). Of course, this research is just preliminary and does not prove anything as of yet. Time will tell whether there is a true relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 outcomes.

That being said, all this is pretty impressive for a little vitamin that your body makes from the sun, right? And it turns out that vitamin D does much more for the immune system than just helping it eliminate infection from viruses.

Vitamin D and Autoimmunity

Vitamin D can help balance out the immune system. In other words, it exerts immunomodulatory effects. This is important because when the immune system becomes overactive, it can attack your cells. When this happens, it’s called autoimmune disease.

Research has found correlations between vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes (10). As such, experts believe that getting enough vitamin D is important for the prevention of autoimmunity (11).

The take-home point here is that vitamin D has immunomodulatory effects that help balance the immune system and may prevent the immune system from overreacting and attacking healthy cells.

The Potential Link Between Vitamin D and Cancer

Most people realize that the immune system is important for killing off infections. But in addition to killing off harmful bacteria or viruses, your immune system has the important job of destroying cancer cells before they multiply and become a problem (12).

Of course, the immune system isn’t perfect. And cancer cells have some clever tricks. Some cancer cells, for instance, can change their behaviors to hide from natural killer cells—a type of immune cell that can kill harmful microbes or cells including cancer cells (13).

Evidence suggests that vitamin D may play an important role in the immune system for several types of cancer cells (14). This could explain why there are associations with vitamin D and reduced cancer mortality (15). This seems to be particularly the case for vitamin D and reduced risk of breast cancer.

One study showed women with high levels of vitamin D (> or equal to 60 ng/ml) had an 82% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women with a low level of vitamin D (<20 ng/ml) (16). Survival rates for breast cancer are also markedly better for women with higher vitamin D (17).

Of course, cancer is exceptionally complicated, and this does NOT mean vitamin D is a prevention or cure. Rather it shows that vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system, which we rely on to keep us healthy.

How to Get More Vitamin D

Ideally, you should get vitamin D naturally, from the sun, which is easier in summer months. Aim for at least 15 minutes of direct sun to skin exposure every day. If you have darker skin, you need even more time in the sun.

In addition to producing vitamin D, sun exposure is known to trigger the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide can combine with reactive oxygen species (also made by sun exposure) to produce a compound called peroxynitrite that is a natural antibacterial agent produced in your body (18).

Getting sun exposure can also help normalize your circadian rhythm for better sleep which also plays a critical role in immune health (1920).

However, getting 15+ minutes of sun exposure simply isn’t possible or even practical sometimes. If you’re unable to get enough sun exposure, the next best option is getting it through your diet with wild-caught oily fish or wild mushrooms, or via a nutritional supplement.

While it’s a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement during winter months or if you spend most of your time indoors, many vitamin D supplements out there are sourced from the fat in lamb’s wool. Not so appetizing, right?

Mushrooms are the only superfood source for vitamin D, making them an optimal, environmentally friendly source of vitamin D. Despite rumors that the plant-based form of vitamin D is inferior to animal-based vitamin D, studies have found that both forms of vitamin D are equally effective (21).

In addition to organic vitamin D, an ideal supplement should include the nutritional co-factors that optimize absorption. Mineral-rich greens provide the right balance of vitamin K, magnesium and other nutrients your body needs to make the most of vitamin D.

The immune system is critical to our well-being. Research shows that vitamin D is a keystone for immune health through protecting us from infections, and helping to prevent an overactive immune system. Since one small vitamin can have such a big impact, getting enough vitamin D should be a priority every day.

The Endocannabinoid System Explained

Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System

Your body has a variety of systems in place to keep it running. The cardiovascular system pumps oxygen and other nutrients to your tissues. Your respiratory system brings air into and out of your lungs. Your digestive system helps you break down food and utilize their precious nutrients. Each system plays a critical role in keeping you healthy.

But did you know your body also has an endocannabinoid system?

Even though most people are unaware of this system, it has a huge impact on your mental and physical health. In fact, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is regarded as “the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health” (1).

Bold statement, but it’s true. This is partly why hemp oil supplements with CBD have become so popular—because evidence suggests they support the endocannabinoid system (2).

Once you learn about how the ECS works and how it affects your body, taking cannabinoid-rich hemp oil becomes a no-brainer.

How CBD Oil Works with the Endocannabinoid System

What is The Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of receptors, receptor molecules, and enzymes. Components of the ECS can be found throughout your entire body. This includes your immune system, brain, gut, and central nervous system.

Parts of the Endocannabinoid System: The endocannabinoid system consists of three primary components:

  1. Cannabinoid receptors: Structures found on the surface of cells. When activated, they stimulate the ECS.
  2. Cannabinoids: Molecules that specifically bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors.
  3. Enzymes: Breaks down cannabinoids once they’re no longer needed.

Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors can be found all throughout your body. They are embedded in the membranes, or surface, of your cells. Receptors are like the ignition of a car. If you have the key that fits, you can start the car and drive. In this case, when a cannabinoid comes along (the key), it binds to the cannabinoid receptors and stimulates the ECS (i.e., starting the car).

Endocannabinoid Receptors in the Body

The two primary cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. There are other cannabinoid receptors, but these two are the most well-studied. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system which includes your brain and spinal cord (3). As such, the CB1 receptor is thought to regulate anxiety, stress, learning, memory, and your overall mood (4).

CB2 receptors are predominantly found in cells that are part of the immune system. Which means they primarily affect immune system homeostasis. But they have other roles as well.


Cannabinoids are the molecules that “turn on” the endocannabinoid system by binding to cannabinoid receptors. There are two primary types of cannabinoids that control the ECS: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.

How Cannabinoids Work in the Body


Endocannabinoids are molecules naturally produced by your body. Specifically, your cells produce them on an as-needed basis. The two most prominent cannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). Both of which have a long list of scientifically supported benefits (5). 


Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that’s produced in the brain. Due to its effects on the body, anandamide has earned itself the nickname, “bliss molecule.” That’s because elevated levels of anandamide are often associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. Anandamide is also shown to encourage the growth of new brain cells (6).

2-Arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG)

2-Arachidonoyl glycerol, or 2-AG, binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Scientists believe that 2-AG specifically plays a large role in suppressing inflammation by modulating the body’s immune response (7).


Unlike endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids are not produced in the body. Instead, they are found in cannabis and hemp. Because they stimulate the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to endocannabinoids, hemp oil supplements have become incredibly popular.

Furthermore, evidence suggests that phytocannabinoids exert a wide range of beneficial effects. Studies indicate that cannabinoids may:

  1. Fight temporary inflammation (8)
  2. Ease the effects of stress (9)
  3. Calm joint discomfort
  4. Support restful sleep (10)
  5. Promote heart health (11)
  6. Act as an antioxidant (12)
  7. Support exercise recovery (13)

They are truly impressive molecules to say the least.

The most common phytocannabinoids include THC, the famous CBD (cannabidiol), cannabichromene, and cannabigerol. While endocannabinoids may provide similar benefits, phytocannabinoids are helpful if your body doesn’t produce enough endocannabinoids on its own.


Enzymes are tiny structures that break down substances in the body. They are an essential part of countless biochemical reactions in the body. For the ECS, enzymes disassemble cannabinoids when they’re no longer needed. This ensures that the ECS isn’t “overstimulated.”

Enzymes that Break Down Cannabinoids in the Body

While there are several enzymes involved with the ECS, the two most important ones are FAAH and MAGL. FAAH, or fatty acid amide hydrolase breaks down anandamide. MAGL, or monoacylglycerol lipase, deconstructs 2-AG (14).

With this in mind, the ECS can have a greater effect if these enzymes are temporarily shut down. This is the case with phytocannabinoids like CBD. Scientists believe CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme which causes the ECS to act with a greater balancing force (15).

The Role of The Endocannabinoid System

Because the ECS is such a vast system, it affects countless systems in the body. It’s like the big boss that controls all of the other systems in your body. The master system, so to speak.

The endocannabinoid system has to be vast in order to carry out its primary role: maintaining homeostasis.

The Endocannabinoid System Balances the Body

The ECS and Homeostasis

Homeostasis is the continuous process of achieving a state of balance. Think of yin and yang or a set of scales. Homeostasis is all about finding that perfect sweet spot so your body can function in an optimal state.

Maintaining homeostasis, or balance, is key to living a healthy life.

  • If your blood pressure is too high, it can lead to heart problems. But if it’s too low, your blood won’t circulate as it should.
  • If your skin produces too much oil, you might get acne. When it doesn’t produce enough, it can get dry.
  • If your immune system is too weak you will get sick. But if it’s too overactive, it may result in autoimmune disease.

The point is, maintaining homeostasis is incredibly important. And the ECS is the invisible hand that controls homeostasis. To drive the point even further, here are some examples of how the endocannabinoid system helps the body stay in a balanced state.

Example 1: The ECS and Your Brain

Your brain has about 100 billion neurons (16). These neurons control basic functions with chemicals called neurotransmitters. This includes functions like talking, moving, breathing, and learning.

Much like any system in the body, your neurons perform best when they are in the homeostatic sweet spot. When the balance of neurotransmitters goes haywire, things can easily go wrong.

For example, an excess of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine can result in chronic stress or anxiety (17). Low levels of norepinephrine, on the other hand, can result in extreme fatigue, a lack of concentration, and a poor mood (18). This is where the endocannabinoid system comes into play.

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, neurologist and medical scientist, the endocannabinoid system regulates “neurotransmitter function … if there’s too much of one kind of neurotransmitter it will bring it down, if there’s too little it will bring it up.” (19)

Example 2: The ECS and Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection or physical injury. In low amounts, it’s beneficial for healing damaged tissue and fighting dangerous microbes that cause illness or disease. Once the infection is eliminated or the injury is healed, the inflammation goes away. Your body then can return to a healthy, balanced state.

But things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes inflammation can persist well after it’s needed. When this happens, it’s called chronic inflammation. Over time, it can wreak havoc on your body (20).

Too much inflammation is harmful, whereas too little will leave your body vulnerable to germs. Much like your brain, evidence suggests the endocannabinoid system helps to control inflammation homeostasis. Or more specifically, the balance of your immune system.

Scientists have found that endocannabinoids regulate the immune system by limiting the immune response (21). It regulates the immune system by signaling the apoptosis of activated immune cells while simultaneously suppressing proinflammatory cells like cytokines and chemokines (22).

Simply put, the ECS may combat chronic inflammation by preventing the immune system from becoming overactive. When the immune system is no longer needed in a given area, cells produce endocannabinoids which tell the immune system to back off.

Example 3: The ECS and Stress

Imagine homeostasis as a pendulum, depicted at the beginning of this guide. When it swings to the right, you’re stressed. When it swings to the left, you are completely chill.

Maintaining a balance between these two ends of the pendulum is essential. If you’re constantly stressed, it can send your body haywire. On the flip side, if you’re content to stay in your comfort zone, you won’t accomplish much in life. A small amount of stress is actually beneficial.

Evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system encourages stress homeostasis by playing a role in stress adaptation (23). Adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola rosea work in a similar fashion.

Simply put, the ECS helps you become more resilient to the effects of stress. That way you can quickly return to a state of balance after a stressful event. Researchers have even found that when the ECS is weak, chronic stress will likely follow suit (24).

Endocannabinoid Deficiency

So, you now know how the endocannabinoid system plays a role in homeostasis, which in turn has a massive impact on your well-being. But what happens when your endocannabinoid system doesn’t work as it should?

Over the past several years, scientists have discovered that the endocannabinoid system can be in a weakened state. When this happens, they call it an endocannabinoid deficiency.

When your body can’t maintain homeostasis due to an endocannabinoid deficiency, it can result in a long list of health issues from headaches, to muscle discomfort, to digestive problems (25). This supports the idea that maintaining homeostasis is absolutely essential for a healthy mind and body.

How Does CBD and Hemp Oil Tie into All This?

Hemp oil is an extract of hemp that contains phytocannabinoids like CBD and cannabichromene. Most companies use specific strains of hemp that are rich in CBD to create their oil.

Hemp oil products have become increasingly popular because of their proposed benefits, supplementing the endocannabinoid system with phytocannabinoids (26). While most phytocannabinoids are thought to have beneficial effects, CBD has gained the most attention.

According to the latest research, CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme, which deconstructs anandamide (15).  As a result, taking CBD may increase the amount of anandamide in the body, which can stimulate the ECS. This may explain why hemp oil has such a wide range of benefits.

The Bottom Line

The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a complex network of cannabinoids, receptors, and metabolic enzymes. Its primary role is to help the body and mind maintain homeostasis. In doing so, it keeps countless systems in balance. That way, nothing becomes underactive or overactive. It’s an absolutely essential process for maintaining optimal health.

The problem is, the endocannabinoid system can become weak. When this happens, scientists have predicted that it may result in the development of health problems. This is why phytocannabinoid-rich supplements like hemp oil have become popular, and are projected to become increasingly in demand. The phytocannabinoids affect the ECS, which could result in a wide range of effects due to how the ECS interacts with the body.

Researchers are still trying to fully understand the ECS, how it works, and how cannabinoids affect the body. While phytocannabinoids show promise for their therapeutic effects, this does not mean they are a magic bullet that will cure anything. That being said, hemp oil still remains as an excellent choice for supporting your general health.

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Best Home Workout to Burn Fat and Get Lean

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing in place, the number of people doing home workouts has soared. The good news is that you don’t need to access a full gym to be able to get a great workout. There are a number of exercises that can be done right at home that will help you get lean, burn fat and support your health.

It’s well established that working out can improve your mood, slow down aging, decrease your risk of many diseases, and support a healthy immune system. But while any form of exercise has benefits, not every type is best for burning fat.

If you want the most results for your effort, research suggests that HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is the one to turn to for burning fat and getting lean. Plus, you can easily do it at home, with minimal to no equipment.

What is HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training?

High-intensity interval training is a workout that involves intense short bursts of exercise followed by brief rest or intervals of low-intensity exercise. Notice the emphasis on intense. To make up for the intensity, the sets are usually short—between 20 to 90 seconds.

HIIT sessions can last anywhere from 10-30 minutes. This short duration is ideal for people with busy schedules because it provides more benefits than moderate exercise in less than half the time!

Courtesy of HomeGym101.com

What Does a HIIT Routine Look Like?

HIIT is one of the most effective training methods to sculpt your body. An example of a 20-minute HIIT routine (courtesy of HomeGym101.com) would consist of rounds of 4 minutes, with 40 seconds on the exercise and 20 seconds of rest before the next move:

  • Squats (aim for a 90-degree angle with thighs parallel to the ground)
  • Jumping Lunges (or standing lunges if jumping is hard on your knees)
  • Burpees (standing to plank position then jump or step back to standing)
  • Plank (elbow plank to ease pressure on your wrists)
  • Repeat the above round 5 times

More advanced routines include a variety of exercises including weighted squats, deadlifts, box jumps, sprints, dips, push-ups and pull-ups.

5 Key Benefits of HIIT for Home Workouts

The magic of HIIT lies in the short intervals of intense exercise. This specific type of exercise triggers a surge of reactions in the body that make it ideal for getting lean. Research shows that HIIT can specifically…

1. Burn More Calories

When you burn more calories than you consume in a day, your body begins to use fat as energy. Over time, this can result in a lower body fat percentage. Research suggests that HIIT burns 20-30% more calories compared to moderate forms of exercise (1). This alone is a reason to give HIIT a try.

2. Encourage Lipolysis (Fat Burning)

What makes HIIT so effective is that it encourages your body to burn fat (lipolysis) through multiple mechanisms. Under normal circumstances, your body prefers to use glucose (sugar) as an energy source. But HIIT encourages your body to use fat as an energy source instead.

One of the reasons why this happens is because HIIT causes your body to release a cocktail of compounds including catecholamines and human growth hormone (23). The result is that HIIT has been found to significantly reduce body fat compared to moderate exercise (4).

3. Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Blood sugar control plays a huge role in weight management. When your blood sugar levels are chronically high, it signals your pancreas to produce more insulin. This constant stimulation of insulin can cause your body to store the extra sugar in your blood as fat (5).

This is why managing your blood sugar levels is important if you want a lean body. A big part of that is moderating your intake of sugar and refined carbs. But research also suggests that HIIT can both reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance more than regular exercise (6).

4. Increase Muscle Tone

When you want to get a lean and trimmed body, losing fat shouldn’t be the only goal. In addition to fat loss, you should also look to improve your muscle tone. Two people can have the same body fat percentage, but if one is more toned, that person will look leaner.

This is another reason why HIIT is so effective. It’s a hybrid of cardiovascular exercise and weight training that work better together. The intense cardio aspect helps you burn more fat, whereas the weight training tones your muscles (78).

5. Perfectly Suited for Home Workouts

Best of all, this type of training doesn’t take long, just 20-30 minutes a session, you can fit it in even on a busy schedule. Most of the exercises use minimal to no gym equipment so they can be done anytime and anywhere. This makes HIIT the ideal home workout.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to burning fat and getting a lean body, most people resort to cardio—lots of it. The problem is, cardio will only get you mediocre results. If you’re okay with that, then keep going. It’s still really healthy. But if you want to skyrocket your progress, evidence suggests that HIIT is the absolute best option to get lean, burn more fat and tone muscles.

HIIT can be a fantastic tool for your fitness goals and takes considerably less time than standard workouts. But don’t overdo it. Aim to work your way up to 2-3 times per week. Since HIIT is so intense, your body requires a longer period of time to recover. You can also support exercise recovery and muscle health by making sure you get enough lean protein in your diet or by supplementing with an organic plant-based protein. Then balance HIIT with rest days or other exercise so you can experience the greatest benefit.

7 Smart Ways to Drink More Water

Drinking enough water is a great way to keep your skin healthy, stay energized throughout the day, and keep your digestive system in tip-top shape. Since your body is mostly water, you need a lot of it to function properly.

Few of us actually drink enough water and most get nowhere near 8 glasses 8 times a day. Sixty four ounces is a lot of water to drink, unless it’s spaced throughout the day.

But if you drink enough every day, you will feel incredible. So if you want to feel and perform your best, follow these seven “hacks” for tricking yourself into drinking more water.

1. Flavor Your Water

By “flavor your water” we’re not talking about using sugar-filled flavor packets. The added sugar and chemical additives would defeat the whole purpose of a healthy drink.

Instead, flavor water by adding a favorite fruit or veggie. Try one or more of these popular choices:

  • Orange slices
  • Cucumber slices
  • Lemon or lime slices
  • Mint leaves

As the fruits and veggies soak in the water, the flavors are infused throughout, making it taste delicious. And when it tastes amazing, you’ll be naturally motivated to drink more of it.

2. Place Water in your Line of Sight

If you put your water on your desk, or carry it with you wherever you go, you’re going to drink more water. It’s that simple.

When something is in front of you, you’re constantly reminded of it as your eyes glance over the object. For instance, when candy or doughnuts are placed on the breakroom table, they’re a real temptation. But move the treats to a cabinet that’s rarely used? They’re much easier to resist.

The same works for positive habits like drinking water. When you keep your water nearby at all times, it tricks you into drinking more.

3. Use a Travel-Friendly Bottle

In order to bring your water with you to work or on-the-go, it’s important to have a travel-friendly water bottle.

Avoid plastic bottles which can leech harmful chemicals into the water. Even BPA-Free plastic should be avoided, since BPS and other plastic alternatives continue to show the potential to disrupt hormones.

Opt for a glass water bottle when possible. When working out or traveling or you just want a bottle that won’t break, go for stainless steel. You can even find double-walled insulated bottles (like Thinksport) that keep your beverage ice cold for hours.

4. Make it a Morning Habit

One of the first things health experts do when they wake up is drink a tall glass of water.

Not only does this help you reach your daily half-gallon goal, drinking water first thing in the morning is important because your body has been without it for the past 6-8 hours while sleeping.

Add lemon slices to get your digestive system moving and energize the body.

5. Set Reminders or Mini-Goals

An effective way to meet your daily recommended water intake is to set reminders or mini-goals.

If you’re tech-savvy, you can set reminders on your phone to prompt you to drink more water every couple of hours.

Some people don’t like the distraction of phone reminders because they need to maintain a lot of focus during the day, so try this as an alternative:

You can use a wax pen to write visual reminders on a glass water bottle, without permanently staining it. Maybe your goal is 24 ounces by lunch, so just write the ounces and times and it’ll help keep you on track.

6. Eat Your Water

If you still have trouble drinking enough water during the day, you can also try eating your water.

In other words, eat foods with a high percentage of water such as cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, cauliflower, grapefruit or cantaloupe.

The only downfall to this method is to watch your sugar intake. On the plus side you’ll get added antioxidants and filling fiber with your water.

Or you can bump up your water intake by mixing up a green juice, which provides abundant, energizing nutrition in a convenient drink.

7. Replace Soda (or Sports Drinks) with Water

Are you in the habit of drinking soda with your meals? Even diet soda is detrimental to your health.

We won’t cover all the ways the added sugar is harmful, or how caffeine can add to dehydration, but suffice it to say you want to limit soda intake.

Try swapping soda out with infused water or sparkling water. You’ll feel significantly better throughout the day.

If you do need an extra energy bump, aim for natural sources instead.

The Bottom Line

If you’re not taking measures to drink enough water every day, there’s a high chance you’re not getting enough.

As a result, you can become chronically dehydrated and experience a range of symptoms including mind-numbing fatigue, dry skin, digestive issues, and much more.

And if you’ve felt these symptoms all your life, it’s easy to assume they are just “normal” whereas in reality, they are likely the result of chronic dehydration.

So give it a try, and make it a goal to drink 64 ounces of water every day for the next month. You may be pleasantly surprised by how amazing you feel simply by drinking more water every day.

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Your donation will benefit and reward our true heroes.

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