Guys, here’s a sobering fact: Americans are experiencing a shift…life expectancy has begun to decline. I’m talking men AND women. And, not because of genetic changes…but due to our lifestyles — what we eat (or what we don’t eat which can be just as important), what we are exposed to, the quality of our sleep, etc.
You might ask, “With so many lifestyle choices, where does one begin?” My humble vote is to start with the gut. Why? Well, for starters, healthy gut bacteria:
Regulates digestion & metabolism
Impacts our body’s immune system
Blocks harmful microbes
Extracts & make vitamins & other nutrients from ingested food
Produces anti-microbial chemicals to fight off pathogens
Builds & maintains our gut wall to protect us from outside invaders
Plays a CRUCIAL role with brain health
So now that we know the “why gut” — where do we go from here? Let’s first consider food and nutritional intake. The reason is because the wrong dietary/foods will impact the integrity of our gut lining and that increases inflammation in the body. This is important becausethere is a correlation of inflammatory markers with most common diseases like coronary heart disease, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, autism, diabetes, and cancers. This, my friends, makes our gut bacteria is tres importante!
Knowing which foods contribute to bodily inflammation can be done with a food sensitivity test. Or, you can keep a journal noting what you eat and how you feel afterwards. You can get a pretty darn good indication of offending foods from a food journal.
Going one step further with some type of inflammatory testing is a GREAT idea especially if you are on medications for a chronic condition or battling (or have battled) one of the diseases above. There are a couple basic lab tests for inflammation including determining C – reactive protein, TMAO (trimethylamine oxide), or TNF (tumor necrosis factor) levels. Please…find out if you have inflammation and FIX IT! If you think you shouldn’t look at these markers until you are middle age, think again.
Don’t wait to test because studies have shown those people with inflammatory levels in their 30’s/40’s have the worst memories 24 years later (and brain shrinkage). David Perlmutter, the author or Grain Brain (newly updated, btw), suggests we fix the roof when the sun is shining. My younger adult friends, this means you. Pregnant women, this means you. My middle aged peers….THIS MEANS YOU.
Not motivated yet? There was another study done correlating the size of one’s belly and the risk for dementia. This test spanned 36 years. You guessed it, there was a DIRECT correlation. Another easy test to help here is to determine oxidation of LDL with a glycated hemoglobin test (or A1C). The higher the A1C, the greater the brain shrinkage (seriously).
Please don’t buy into the pharmaceutical companies making money off of Alzheimer’s drugs (which are mostly ineffective and cause people to decline faster) when the natural solution is right in front of us. Yes my friends, we have to be intentional. And yes, we will have to let go of artificial and way-over-sized portioned conveniences of eating out frequently, but isn’t the payoff worth it? BTW, the SAME efforts to improve brain function and improve gut health will (drum roll) improve your overall health and help you lose unneeded fat.
My short list for improving your diet is this:
Eliminate gluten & processed flour foods
Reduce consumption of inflammatory red meat and other inflammatory proteins (btw there are more than a few studies relating to the consumption of red meat and colorectal cancer…)
Eat LESS protein – and when you do, make sure it’s clean (antibiotic /hormone free) like wild fish or some hormone /free range eggs)
Increase diversity of high fiber vegetables
Next, I recommend reading the new Grain Brain book by David Perlmutter or Dave Asprey’s Game Changers for specific recommendations relating to resting insulin, vitamin D levels, hemoglobin A1C levels, fasting blood sugar, the amount of exercise, the amount/quality of sleep, etc.
YOU are worth the education and investment of time to learn what’s best for you (and your loved ones). AT the very least, search for podcasts with key words and these authors’ names and learn while you drive.
What have you got to GAIN? (Check my past posts if you’re still not sure!)
Until next time. Love yourself. Hug a person or a pet. Get outside. Laugh.
Hey friends, how are you feeling these days…with work, family or the holiday season upon us? If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, maybe it’s time to take a breather and add intentional steps to alleviate stress.
By now you probably know that meditation and other recommended stress reduction techniques previously considered “new age” really work. Many high performers incorporate various forms of meditation into their daily lives because it works (and are a heck of a lot better than drugs & those nasty side effects). There are many forms meditation from walking in nature, guided meditations (especially good if you have an active monkey brain like me), breathing exercises (try inhaling completely for 4 seconds, hold 7 seconds, exhale completely for 8, repeat 9 more times), or simply enjoying the love & affection of a pet. Try them out and see what suits you best.
Why is it important to work on controlling/limiting or reducing stress? Because with chronic stress, the brain atrophies…which means it gets smaller and less effective. When you are stressed, you release cortisol. With elevated cortisol, your brain begins overload and …then begins to degenerate. The parts most affected are the areas of the brain associated with dementia/long term memory.
There are also vascular impacts of stress on our brains due to the flight or fight response. This response releases hormones that decrease blood flow to our brain. Chronic stress has long term effects on our brains.
What else happens? Well, elevated cortisol can also decrease circulation. That’s why it makes sense then to engage in an activity that causes an increase in circulation. Exercise increases your heart rate and oxygen to the brain. On the opposite side of the spectrum, long term sedentary activity decreases blood circulation all over the body. Then, if you add a stress response to being sedentary and possibly a thyroid issue, all these factors impact the health of our brains.
Public service message: The more intense the exercise, the better the benefit because your heart has to pump harder. Try intervals or short bursts of increased energy/effort for 10-30 seconds, 10-15 times.
To recap, we have the impact of stress and a sedentary lifestyle impacting our brains. Now, let’s talk diet. “Type 3 diabetes” is now used to describe dementia because if we indulge in sugar or processed carbs, we get too much insulin. Seriously, our bodies were not made to consume the sugar we load into them daily. Chronic surges of insulin also cause damage to the brain. I’m saying this with a lot of love….so hear me when I say, “If you are tired after meals, it’s time to review what you are eating.” A normal response after a meal should be your hunger is vanished – NOT an energy surge – or an energy drop.
Small changes in our diets can make a HUGE difference with our brain health (& overall health & weight)!
When it comes to gluten…there is a high correlation between neurological symptoms and gluten antibodies – most specifically with wheat gluten. So if you have an inflammatory diet, you are inflaming your brain. It WILL begin to degenerate. As these various factors (stress, blood sugar instability and/or surges, sedentary lifestyles, lack of circulation, poor diet) add up, we will begin to feel foggy. That “fog” is brain degeneration. You have a thought but can’t get to it.
What would a balanced brain focused diet consist of? The key is to eat a diversity of vegetables/plant fibers along with healthy fats and LIMITED sugar/processed carbs. Proteins can also be inflammatory with most inflammatory proteins being milk protein, egg protein, and soy protein. Experts suggest a diet that is A.) gluten & dairy free, B.) one that includes flax seed & fish oils (healthy fats), and for sure, C.) a diet low in sugar and processed carbs to prevent sugar surges, and D.) a diet FULL of diverse vegetables.
The bottom line is thatanything that causes inflammation to the body has an effect on the brain.
That would include stress, diet, sedentary lifestyle, arthritis, food allergies, auto immunity diseases, etc. What’s the best way to support our brains?Ultimately, what we should do for a healthy lifestyle and weight is what we should do for our brain: eat properly, exercise with intensity to increase our heart rates, and supplement with dietary flavonoids like turmeric, resveratrol, and polyphenols. Last, try meditation or breathing techniques to lower stress. Laugh. Help others. Try inversion. Get a pet. And educate yourself because you are worth it. Some of my favorite recent reads include:
The good news is EVERY little bit helps and most of what helps is in our control. Isn’t it nice that the things we can do to remain healthy, fit and active will also serve our brains well?
I think today is a great day to take action. A friend of mine likes to ask, “What have you got to lose?” Well, my friends, taking no action WILL lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. I think a better question is, “What have you got to gain?”
I spent the better part of the last year immersed in reading, researching and trying to better understand what we call the “aging process” as it relates to health. What I learned is: the term “aging” is really more a misnomer…
The truth is, 80% of disease/illnesses “attributed” to aging are environmentally based. In other words, WE can choose and control most of what impacts our health and longevity. That’s pretty powerful, right?
Some folks may not want to hear this. Changing habits may mean letting go of fast food, cheap convenience and hours of blue screen entertainment. I have one thing to say about that: choosing that crap (and it IS crap…) is choosing weight gain, metabolic syndrome, creeping obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and a slew of other health challenges. If you find yourself a bit reluctant to change habits, then consider the people you love. What I mean is… illness is expensive. It causes financial drain. It causes physical and emotional stress on the caretaker. If you don’t care enough about yourself, consider the impact your choices have on the ones you love.
Today, let’s talk about Alzheimer’s. So, what is Alzheimer’s exactly? The short answer is it’s a disease resulting from a protective response from different insults and is sometimes referred to as “type 3 diabetes”.
“Cognitive decline is a major concern of the aging population, and Alzheimer’s disease is the major cause of age-related cognitive decline, with approximately 5.4 million American patients and 30 million affected globally . In the absence of effective prevention and treatment, the prospects for the future are of great concern, with 13 million Americans and 160 million globally projected for 2050, leading to potential bankruptcy of the Medicare system. Unlike several other chronic illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease prevalence is on the rise, which makes the need to develop effective prevention and treatment increasingly pressing. Recent estimates suggest that AD has become the third leading cause of death in the United States , behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. Furthermore, it has been pointed out recently that women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic, with 65% of patients and 60% of caregivers being women . Indeed, a woman’s chance of developing AD is now greater than her chance of developing breast cancer . (Link to abstract if you want more!)
Those are alarming stats. How lucky we are that we can take positive steps NOW to help reverse and prevent brain health and so called “aging”. If we are to combat Alzheimer’s, then we must identify the “insults” causing inflammatory responses within our bodies. While one size doesn’t fit all, there are common inflammatory causes to consider (or test for). For example, you may be more affected by mercury. If so, remove the fillings, cease eating fish high in mercury and get assistance from a holistic/functional doctor to cleanse your body.
The biggest factor impacting most of us is insulin resistance because our bodies were not made to take in the amount of simple carbs we’ve been ingesting.
Insulin resistance leads to metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and other health challenges. Another possibility is chronic inflammation from other organisms. Until those are addressed, that inflammation is negatively impacting your brain. For other folks, hormonal imbalance (vitamin D levels, testosterone, thyroid, etc.) is a contributing factor.
If you are starting to think about the costs of multiple tests…stop. Many of these can be done at home or through the mail. It isn’t likely you need an entire battery of tests. HOWEVER, when you consider the financial cost of long-term care, spending a few dollars on a test or two hardly compares. And that’s not considering the impact on loved ones. According to national averages, long term care costs about $250/day or $8,000/month. Spending well under 1% on tests hardly compares. Even without testing, you can take steps NOW to avoid/address the things that cause bodily harm and work on enhancing your immunes system.
Enhance your diet by reducing sugar (avoid processed carbs like rice/pasta/breads/crackers/gluten)
Enhance your sleep (if you have apnea, get it checked out now) and let’s not forget blue light impact
Lower stress (meditation, community)
Ayurveda trio including Ashwagandha
To increase knowledge and offer solutions to improve brain health, these are my top three book recommendations:
Isn’t it great that we live in a time with so many resources available to help our quest for better health—and much of it for little or no cost? Find a website or like-minded community and commit to your health quest today.
Here is some candor: you have time for what’s important. If you are full of excuses, let’s face it… health is NOT a priority for you. I’m not saying there won’t be challenges, but you can choose to seek alternatives & options – or use those challenges as an excuse.
The thing is…to be healthy long term, we must address chronic “insults”. This is a different approach from 20th century medicine because it gets to the underlying causes & addressing them now vs. waiting until there is illness/disease and then addressing those symptoms. Trust me, early reversal is the way to go. You and your health are worth it.
There may be some trial and error along the way, but isn’t that life? A healthy lifestyle is a journey and a science that isn’t perfect. Like any journey, it starts with intention.
It’s time to be personally accountable. We are giving ourselves diseases…through our day to day exposures and choices. I think it is liberating to know that WE can positively impact our health. The bullet list above will impact more than our brains…optimizing those components will positively impact aging and a host of other diseases, as well. Why would we not embrace this opportunity?
We have time for what is important.
Every minute is an opportunity for self-improvement and finding time IS possible.
Each day, we get the opportunity to do better, to forgive our mistakes, to love more, laugh more, learn more, and to LIVE.
Recent neuroscience studies have proven that what we eat and how we live can have huge impacts on our brains. Neurogenesis, or the process of making new brain cells, is the topic of today’s blog. This is fascinating stuff on so many levels! Old think was that we quit growing brain cells in our 20’s and then we just went downhill from there. In the late ‘90’s, scientists discovered we can actually make new brain cells our entire life. The rate of neurogenesis (brain cell development/growth) is an important biomarker of brain health –which ultimately impacts the quality of our lives, as you can imagine!
It makes sense that a low rate of making new brain cells is associated with cognitive decline, anxiety, memory problems, stress/depression and lower immunity. While on the other hand, people with a high rate of new brain cell growth have cognitive enhancements, faster problem solving, protection against stress/anxiety, etc. Even more interesting is that people can increase the rate of neurogenesis at least 5 times. Holy cow. Now you see how the rate of neurogenesis can have a big impact on the quality of your life? FIVE TIMES!! (Dayam Daniel!)
What can we do? Well, first of all, understand that the best results come from multiple ways to create a synergistic effect. An analogy Dr. Cortright uses is that if you want to build a beautiful house, you have to use high quality materials. Seems simple enough. In his book, “The Neurogenesis Diet & Lifestyle”, Dr. Cortright tells us what mental activities we can do to increase neurogenesis, along with spiritual things we can do, active things we can do, and of course, DIETARY things we can do. In a nutshell, the dietary piece is twofold: we want to decrease the things that are neurotoxic because they slow down the rate of brain cell development AND at the same time increase the things that enhance neurogenesis.
Here are a few points made in his book:
Neurotoxins to avoid include bad, unhealthy fats and sugar/carbohydrates. We can thank the government since the 60’s for their recommendations that fail to distinguish good fats from unhealthy, oxidized (trans) fats. When bad fats get into blood stream, it produces a host of problems. The good ol’ outdated food pyramid was heavy on carbohydrates. Don’t’ cook with vegetable oils. Instead cook with coconut oil, butter, or ghee. Avoid eating fried foods.
Include good fats from avocados, nuts, grass fed beef, pastured chicken/eggs, wild caught fish, etc. Omega 3’s fatty acids are the bomb (especially DHA since 1/3 of our brains are made up of this stuff). Taking 4-5 grams a day of omega-3’s that are molecularly distilled (to avoid mercury which is a neurotoxin) is recommended by Dr. Cortright.
Green tea (ECGCs) are beneficial, as is
The book is full of more detailed information, as is his website: www.BrantCortright.com. I really can’t do it justice in one blog entry. Just know how important it is to reduce inflammatory responses within the body/bloodstream. Repeated inflammation literally chews up the inside of our blood vessels. Because your brain gets 20% of your blood, when you ingest/expose bad fats/sugar/toxins, that junk literally goes to your head. Say you eat a burger and fries…the fries supply nasty fat/carbs and the bread supplies additional easily digested carbohydrates. Congrats, you just flooded your bloodstream with one big inflammatory responses. Do that throughout the week/month/year….well you get the picture. A high sugar diet will cut the rate of brain cell building in HALF. Scientists have tracked cognitive decline directly with sugar intake and alzheimers is now dubbed Type 3 Diabetes. Things that make you go, hmm..!
Today, about 80% of the American population has some degree of glucose intolerance, meaning they have higher levels of insulin than is healthy, creating toxicity in every organ of the body. Accelerated aging, or glycation, begins to occur whenever sugar/glucose enters the body. So yeah, I’m sitting here thinking about the handful of peanut M&M’s I grabbed off an associate’s desk last week! (Sidebar: a blood test called a “hemoglobin A1C” can show the levels of glucose from the past 3 months.) High fructose is a nasty culprit in a lot of foods.
But, I digress. There’s so much good information in this book! I’d like to share his information regarding antidepressants, as well. But, that’s a dialogue for another day.
To wrap this up, here are the take-aways:
A high sugar diet will cut the rate of brain cell building IN HALF. We live in such a neurotoxic world and most of our brains are functioning well below what is possible. With our bodies lasting longer, why kill brain cells when we can enhance cognitive development so we don’t become a statistic? Right now, 1 in 3 Americans develop Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia.
We can enhance brain cell building FIVE times, maybe more, with the right activities (dietary, movement, spiritual).
Read the book.
What have you got to gain? Just cognitive enhancement, mood elevation and an enhanced quality of life!
Until next time, choose fit, laugh often, reduce sugar, & add omega-3’s.
Seriously, it is! Plain and simple: sugar is a toxin. Toxins are poisons that can cause disease in a body. There is no question that sugar contributes to cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Studies estimate that Americans consume more than 150 pounds of this sh– in a year. Holy cow! It’s no wonder that the rate of diseases have increased. Would you believe sugar kills more people than cocaine or heroin? Whatcha think about that, Willis?
Here’s the skinny: not only is sugar “candy for cancer cells” but it also causes inflammation in the body and speeds up aging (gulp). Lower your sugar intake and you improve your health in a multitude of ways.
So how does one take on this aspect of health improvement?
The first step is to become aware of your sugar intake. It is coming to us in various forms: sodas, juices, energy bars, ketchup or marinades, and easily digested processed foods. So unless you are looking to age quickly, put on weight or get sick, then 2016 is a GREAT time to eliminate and/or reduce added sugars in your diet AND the diets of those you love. Become aware and read your labels.
Next, consider ways you can reduce your sugar intake. Write down your ideas— any that come to mind! Maybe it’s one margarita vs. two. Maybe it’s one margarita a month vs. weekly. Maybe it’s no alcohol or sodas at all. Maybe it’s drinking your tea without sugar/honey. Consider all your options and choose some to do right away! Small changes done incrementally and consistently over time will yield big results. Become aware, make a list of ways to reduce sugar, then track it.
Keep a log of your sugar intake. Do you know how much you are consuming daily? Weekly? If there is any area of your life you want to improve, then MEASURE IT! Look at your list of ideas to cut sugar each morning. Being conscious of your desires helps you make smarter choices. Then track your progress and recommit to ideas to improve the next day. Remind yourself of why you are doing this. Rinse and repeat.
Remember, today is “some” day and all progress is good.
Until next time, choose fit, be healthy, and laugh along this crazy, wonderful journey.
Good morning friends, I have some good news…and some bad. Shall we hit the bad news first? OK, here goes: There is no, definitive one-size-fits-all diet, workout, or magic supplement. That’s not too tragic, though, is it? Now for the good news: there are general principles, habits, foods, workouts, and supplements that when performed/eaten/done consistently will yield weight loss, improved health and energy. In a nutshell, the list condensed below is where “it” is at. (“It” being the recipe for weight loss and improved health success.)
MOVE your body. As much as you can, as often as you can, in the manner that suits you most. We talked about sitting being the new “smoking” hazard, so get moving– as often and frequently as possible.
Don’t drink your calories. A fifth of what we consume (calorie wise) comes from beverages…and most are loaded with sugar and empty calories. (And yes, I am also talking about alcoholic beverages.) Cut back! Unless of course, your “beverage” is whey protein shake—which is great post workout or as a meal replacement, in a pinch.
Get more sleep. Sounds easy, right? The reality is we trick ourselves into thinking we don’t need more sleep because we can survive on less. We don’t THRIVE on less, however, and performance and mental tests tells us otherwise. Sleep aids recovery, balances hormones, helps with weight loss, improves mood and more.
Watch “portion distortion”. Counting calories may not be your thing, but phone apps sure make it easy. What we have learned is that most people underestimate caloric intake and overestimate energy expenditure. Plus, most restaurants provide inflated serving sizes. Split a meal with a friend or take half home. Don’t be fooled by correlating empty, excessive calories as “value”.
Cheat foods are ok. Alright, even saying “cheat” or labeling foods as “good” or “bad” is not really a good thing to do. Consider colorful, real foods vs. processed, but instead of striving for perfection, strive for “good enough”. Or, try what I refer to as the “Catholic school girl diet”: eat like an angel 6 days a week and on the 7th day, make the devil blush! In other words, it’s ok to indulge a little. Just don’t let it derail you and keep it as an exception and not the rule. Remember, consistency is king.
Go heavy. Lifting weights, that is. Sorry ladies, you will NOT build huge muscles. And regardless of your age, everyone needs to lift heavy and combat muscle decline. Decreasing muscle mass equates to body fat increases AND a slower metabolism. Lift heavy and fire up your metabolically active tissue. NOW.
Variety is the spice of life. Mix up your workouts and you’ll get more out of them.
Find like-minded peeps. Community is important and like-minded people provide motivation, mentoring and help keep you accountable. I feel so fortunate for the fitness friends I’ve trained & learned from over the years.
Adkins really did have it right. I’m not advocating a specific diet. Honestly, the best plan out there was laid out in the Old Testament. Real food, plain and simple. BUT, if you integrate a practice of carb swapping knocking out pastas and breads, it’s one of the easier ways to help you lose weight as many folks are sensitive to carbs. My fiancé and I are all over cauliflower options in lieu of pasta, potatoes, or bread. (Check out the recipe section of my blog for ideas.)
And about that Adkins….eat more fat. Yes, she said that. As much as 35% of your daily calories can be a mix of nuts, avocados, or healthy oils. It’s the TRANS fats you want to avoid like the plague.
You really can work out anywhere. Your body can provide great workouts. A jump rope is $10. Squat, climb stairs, step up, jump rope, do jumping jacks or push ups (from knees or feet), etc. A gym is not required.
Multi-function exercises work your body better and can aid fat loss. Consider a dumbbell squat to should press. Or, a deadlift to back row.
Regarding food, adding solid protein at each meal or snack will help keep you full and keep your metabolism going.
Hydrate. Dehydration can make you think you are hungry, impede performance, and affect your mood (plus a whole lot of other things). Water or tea help control your appetite and tea has so many wonderful benefits (see earlier blog). Drink water, drink tea, try some of the drinks I shared in my past blog, but HYDRATE, often.
Last of all, be kind to yourself. YOU are amazing and wonderful. And far from perfect. This is a journey we make together. Laugh at your mistakes and keep trying. YOU are worth it.
Besides, “what have you got to GAIN”?
(My earliest health & fitness mentor, Sharon Turrentine, used to ask this Q and it’s a great one. I met her when I was 19 and she was 39 and training for a body building contest. She looked amazing then AND still looks amazing today. A true testament to a healthy living lifestyle. Many thanks, my friend! You have influenced my life in such a positive way.)
Until next time time, live fit, choose healthy, laugh often.
On a hot summer day… or, after a good workout…or heck, BEFORE a good workout, you might turn to some form of hydration. After a lot of searching, I’ve landed on a few favorites I thought I’d share. They are tasty, clean and quite simply, I love them. So, here they are….#forthecause !
If you are looking for a pre-workout or a little pick me up to slay the day, then try VUKA Energy. This stuff is the bomb. I tried it first at Lifetime Fitness. If you have been a Red Bull drinker, it’s time to make the ”intelligent energy” drink switch and “go beyond the buzz”. Filled with natural ingredients, no preservatives, and several options to choose from, Vuka Energy has you covered. My favorite is the zero calorie Berry Lemonade “workout”. I’ll delve more
Do you desire a good, clean hydration product with electrolytes and natural sugar (just enough, but not laden with it), and no chemicals, dyes or caffeine? Then checkout Aspire Beverages in several flavors–especially if your kids are into Gatorade (yuck). Aspire “Storm” is my fave. Make the switch.
Kombucha that’s a soda? Yep, you got that right. If you are a Kombucha drinker like me, you won’t mind a little natural sugar in the form of a fermented tasty soda replacement. Live Soda is based out of Austin, Texas and it’s my favorite post kick-butt workout indulgence. I earned it. It’s got good stuff. Live Soda just added a berry flavor, but Culture Cola is my favorite.
Soda without chemicals, nothing nasty…oh and no calories? If that’s your game, then try one of Uve’s sparkling beverage flavors. This company is new to the cleaner-living-soda game and are off to a great start. They offer several flavors and no sugar.
“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later
have to find time for illness.” ~Edward Stanley
We know our best self requires a strong foundation of mind, body and soul. Sometimes life’s pace throws us off course and before we know it, we aren’t functioning optimally. When performance suffers in athletics, it is recommended to ease up on training, step back and focus on rebuilding and strengthening the core, the body’s foundation. After that, athletes return to the training program at hand, but stronger and better. Last week, we discussed nourishing the mind by slowing down and “taking 5” to reboot our brains. Continuing the dialogue of becoming your best you, today’s topic is nourishment of the physical body through exercise, nutrition, hydration, and sleep.
Exercise: Sitting is the new smoking. What? Yeah, our lives of convenience are taking a toll on our health. The studies are in. Daily movement is tres importante. Activity trackers are great tools to remind us how long our butt’s been in a chair by monitoring steps, workouts, sleep, etc. Find your fit because one size does not fit all. Do what you enjoy most so you’ll keep doing it. Yes, it’s important to get resistance training in. But that can come in different forms, as does cardio and flexibility. The high intensity intervals we suggested in last week’s blog (go hard, take a breather, go hard, rest, etc.) works well with cardio and lifting weights. Try Tabata. Increase your strength, stamina and mind at the same time. So be like Nike and just do it (repeatedly)!
Nutrition: Eat real, whole, fresh foods. Hippocrates was right. Food IS thy medicine. What we eat provides much more than fuel. It affects our immune system, plays a role in hormone regulation, intestinal health, and impacts a myriad of diseases. The most important action item we can do in this arena is to take back control of cooking. You don’t have to be a chef or spend much time in the kitchen. There are many healthy recipe options to choose from. Focus on foods in season, eat local, and look up recipes on Pinterest. Involve the family and eat mindfully. Turn the TV off and don’t be swayed by the high cost of cheap food.
“Water is the only drink for a wise man.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Hydration: Henry knew that water is integral to our health. In fact, more than half a person’s body is made up of water, so even mild dehydration can compromise the efficiency of most bodily functions, including boosting resting metabolism. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Drink up and reap the benefits of good hydration: lower blood pressure, flushing of toxins, reduction of allergy/asthma symptoms, speedier joint and tissue repair, boosts in mood and energy, and of course weight loss/weight maintenance.
Sleep: Surveys are increasingly noting that most Americans are getting less than 6 hours a night, while 7-9 are better numbers. Like water, sleep deficiency contributes to many health issues like weight gain, high blood pressure, decreased immune function, impaired memory, and higher levels of inflammation which are linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. On the performance side, improving our sleep quality and quantity will increase creativity, work and athletic performance. ‘Nuff said, sleep matters!
The great thing about nourishing our body through the areas above is that WE can reclaim control ourselves. That’s awesome. Optimal living at our fingertips.
Today is a great day to re-commit. Then compete. I’ll see you at the finish line (yawn) after I take a nap!
Henry David Thoreau said that a loooong time ago and he was spot on. Today let’s talk about hydration and its importance to… well, to just about everything.
When do you drink water? Most of us drink when we are thirsty. Don’t! It takes a while for your body to fully hydrate. When you wait until thirsty, there is a high probability that you’re already dehydrated to some extent. That means whatever our body is doing or needs to do, it will not function effectively or optimally without proper hydration. A great way to get a jump start every day is to start your day with 2 cups of water. So, besides making everything work better, here are a few ways proper hydration helps you be more awesome:
Drinking water helps reduce high blood pressure. Your blood is approximately 92% water.
Drinking water helps reduce symptoms of allergies and/or asthma. See, when you are dehydrated, your body creates more histamines and if you have too many histamines circulating, you will feel congested and have other allergic reactions.
Drinking water aids digestive disorders by eliminating or at least reducing ulcers, bloating, gas, gastritis, reflex and IBS. You also have less constipation since water is needed to move matter more quickly through the intestinal track.
Drinking water helps flush toxins. Back to the bullet above, a well hydrated bod purges toxins and metabolic wastes better. ‘Nuf said.
Drinking water helps speed up joint and cartilage repair. The padding in cartilage is mostly water and joint repair after workouts or injuries is quicker with adequate hydration.
Drinking water also flushes bacteria out of the bladder. Proper hydration is especially important to folks prone to kidney stones or bladder infections.
Drinking water gets your “glow” on. Seriously, with good hydration the skin can rid itself of toxins which cause irritation, inflammation, acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, and aging.
Drinking water helps you stop gaining weight. The more you drink, the more satiated you feel and…yes, that helps you feel less hungry which results in eating less . Keeping hydrated prevents cells from sending hungry signals to the brain. Besides most “hunger” is actually shared studies where just 2 glasses of water each morning resulted in an 11 lb. weight loss in a year! That’s something to drink up to.
Last, proper hydration is a mood and energy booster.
Until next time, live fit, laugh often, and DRINK UP!
I started drinking green tea 15 years ago shortly after my leukemia diagnosis. It was in my “combat phase” and I started researching anything and everything that was in my control so I could positively impact the outcome. Green tea came up repeatedly as something I should add to my arsenal, so I started drinking it, and I have been drinking 2-5 cups a day ever since. If you haven’t jumped on the green tea wagon, here are a few reasons why you should join me in this habit.
It may prevent several types of cancers. Oral, prostate, breast…the list goes on. This is why I added it to my arsenal to begin with.
It fights FAT. Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called “EGCG” which inhibits metabolic syndrome. Here’s another thought: if you sub 1-2 cups of green tea for one soda each day, in a year you’d save > 50,000 calories. Lions and tigers and bears…OH MY! That’s 14 pounds…
It prevents the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries and improves blood flow which means it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. More recently, green tea has been shown to help block the formation of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s good for the heart and brain is also good for the eyes. Turns out the catechins in green tea can penetrate the tissues of the eyes boosting eyesight.
It improves insulin use by the body and stabilizes energy. Drinking green tea helps prevent sugar crashes leading to fatigue and irritability.
It provides anti-allergy and immune system support by reducing the allergy antibody immunoglobulin.
Green tea is anti-aging. GIVE ME ANOTHER CUP! The ECGCs in it are 200X more powerful than Vitamin E in fighting free radicals causing skin damage and wrinkles.
Are you ready to join me? If so, consider adding a little freshly squeezed lemon as that enhances the absorption. If not, read more about additional benefits and come on over to the GREEN side of life!