I can't count the number of times I have been asked if creatine is save to take. The answer is a resounding YES! If you are working out and not taking it, you are missing out on the benefits of this inexpensive supplement. Improved recovery, lean muscle mass, increased strength and endurance are all benefits of this long standing supplement. Find out more in this article from the folks at Kion.
Creatine: How Much? When? The Best Kind? Everything You Want to Know, And Then Some.
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Stress can be caused by average daily tasks like being stuck in traffic or arguing with a friend, or serious life events like an automobile accident or cancer diagnosis. Our bodies respond to this stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and shunts blood to your muscles to help you escape from that stressful event. While this is a phenomenal mechanism we possess, problems arise when our hours and days are filled with these stressful events and our bodies aren't given the opportunity to restore and rebalance. Over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses1.
In this article, we’re going to share 7 ways to lower your stress through nutrition by providing examples of foods and nutrients that are key in supporting your body’s functions in maintaining balance, and therefore, health.
It most likely does not come as a surprise that water is essential for life. Water has many roles within our body including flushing toxins, cushioning bones and joints, hydrating our cells, improving oxygen delivery to cells, and transporting nutrients. Staying properly hydrated is vitally important to maintaining balance and supporting the body through stressful events. As a general rule, the goal is to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces. For example, if you’re a person that weighs 200 pounds you should consume roughly 100 fluid ounces of water per day. Keep in mind, fresh fruits and vegetables also are hydrating, but should not replace drinking hydrating beverages such as water, coconut water, or bone broth.
It is impossible to find a system in the body that does not rely on protein for healthy functioning, as all of our cells require proteins to exist. Hormones, nervous system messaging molecules (neurotransmitters), digestive enzymes, and energy-producing enzymes all depend on protein. Incorporating this macronutrient in your diet is key to supporting your body through stress as it will fuel your system from a cellar level, ensuring your body will return to balance.
The role of choline in the body is complex and is required for a wide range of critical functions2. Choline has been shown to play an important role in brain health and may protect against stress3. Egg yolks are the most concentrated source of choline in the American diet. Other very good sources of choline include shrimp, scallops, cod, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, swiss chard, asparagus, and spinach4.
Selenium is required for the proper activity of a group of enzymes that play a key role in the body's detoxification system and protection against oxidative stress5. Studies have found a connection between severe and continued stressful events and higher biomarkers for oxidative stress6. Incorporating selenium-rich foods will protect the body against oxidative stress and ensure proper detoxification. The best source of selenium is brazil nuts, followed by oysters, clams, liver, and kidney.
Vitamin D may be one of the most fundamentally important building blocks available to us for creating and sustaining vibrant health. Of its many roles, vitamin D regulates immune function, cell growth, and neuromuscular function. Studies suggest that vitamin D status plays an important role in supporting our bodies through acute stress7. The very best source of vitamin D is the sun, followed by nutrient-dense whole foods like salmon, eggs, and sardines.
Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Prized for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, recent studies have shown the spice plays an active role in treating various central nervous system disorders as well as offering a protective action against stress8. Turmeric can be utilized either fresh or dried and is easily incorporated into many types of cuisines. A great beverage option that utilizes turmeric is Golden Milk!
Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. Chamomile is best known for its wonderful calming action and is used to ease tension and stress, emotional upset, nervousness, and insomnia9. Purchasing the dried, organic flowers in bulk is an easy and affordable way to always have chamomile on hand to be utilized as a tea, compress, or a lovely addition to your bath.
2. Zeisel, Steven H, and Kerry-Ann da Costa. “Choline: an Essential Nutrient for Public Health.” Nutrition Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782876/.
3. Glenn, Melissa J, et al. “Supplemental Dietary Choline during Development Exerts Antidepressant-like Effects in Adult Female Rats.” Brain Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Mar. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3327365/.
4. “Choline.” The World's Healthiest Foods, http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=50
5. “Selenium.” The World's Healthiest Foods, http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=95
6. Schiavone, Stefania, et al. “Severe Life Stress and Oxidative Stress in the Brain: from Animal Models to Human Pathology.” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 20 Apr. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603496/.
7. Quraishi, Sadeq A, and Carlos A Camargo. “Vitamin D in Acute Stress and Critical Illness.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3751798/.
8. Kulkarni, S K, and A Dhir. “An Overview of Curcumin in Neurological Disorders.” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medknow Publications, Mar. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929771/.
9. Justis, Posted ByAngela. “A Family Herb: Chamomile Flower.” Herbal Academy, 25 Jan. 2018, theherbalacademy.com/a-family-herb-chamomile-flower/.
Even though we have been dealing with the changes that have come about with the COVID pandemic for some time now, the challenges are still there and ever changing. For many, this has created constant uncertainly about what may be coming next, and this is leading to an increase rate of anxiety and associated behaviors.
Even though much of what is going on around us is beyond our control, there are still many areas of our life that we can control. Learn more about how you can manage those areas of your life and help reduce anxiety in this article.
7 Ways to Reduce Anxiety with Lifestyle Changes
Sleep is so important to our quality of life, yet is one thing many of us neglect to improve the quality of. With just a few simple fixes, we can help our body do what it needs to improve the quality of our sleep and add to the overall quality of our lives. Read this article for tips on how to do that.
How To Hack Your Environment For Better Sleep
We all know how damaging sugar can be for our bodies, but do you know how to recognize all of the different ways that it can be hidden in foods? Check out this list and then check your food labels!
We are rolling into the second week of school and many of us are still adjusting to the new school formats and all of the regulations that came along with them. What normally would be a stressful time for many families is probably even more stressful than it would usually be because of this. Here is a great article on things you can do to manage stress and stay healthy during this transition.
Back to School Stress and Nutrition
Last week I published an article about reducing sugar through healthy swaps. This week I am bringing you a link to an article about the benefits, yes benefits, of consuming some sugars and which types might be the best for you depending on your needs and activity levels.
The Case for Sugar, And How To Choose The Healthiest Sweetener
Kion is a company owned by Ben Greenfield, if you happen to know who he is, he is a figure in the health and fitness scene and has appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast.
During these hot months it is important to stay hydrated. Many of us struggle with drinking just "plain" water and will turn to carbonated drinks instead. While they may feel hydrating, they may be doing more harm than good, especially if they are the sugar laden kind. Whether you only drink a soda occasionally, or do so daily, changing this habit can have tremendous health benefits. Read this great article from Paleo Leap to learn more.
HOW TO GET OFF SODA
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, clear up your skin, reduce pain and inflammation in your body, sleep better at night, or simply get healthier, you might have the idea that excess sugar (and your cravings for it!) is getting in the way of achieving your goals. Sugar cravings are extremely common and can often be explained by relatively simple things, like the side effects from certain foods that have made their way into your diet or simply fact that reaching for that sugary snack has become a habit in its own right1.
But the truth is, refined sugar contains no fiber, no minerals, no protein, no healthy fats, no enzymes, only rapidly digested, and empty calories. It suppresses our immune system, triggers mood swings, and amplifies pain and inflammation2. Sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies. Let me validate this for you: your initial instinct to read this article to learn healthy swaps to satisfy and reduce your sugar cravings to feel better, lighter, happier, and healthier is spot on.
Sugar cravings can be broken down into two categories: habitual and physiological. Habitual sugar cravings are real and likely will require a shift in mindset to break free from the chains of your processed sweet treats. Below I’ll share some of my favorite healthy swaps to help you begin the process of retraining your brain.
The physiological sugar craving is actually your body screaming to you “I need energy!” which can be translated into: “I need protein and fat!”. Protein and fats slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream and when you don’t consume enough of them your blood sugar can rise and fall at an abnormal rate. The result? Your body craves quick energy from sugar3. Ensuring you’re consuming protein and healthy fat, in some form, at every meal and snack, is the first step to reducing these sugar cravings.
Here are some healthy examples of protein and fat:
Protein: wild-caught seafood, pasture-raised and organic meat, eggs, and poultry, organic and unprocessed nuts, seeds, and legumes, and dairy (if tolerated)
Fat: wild-caught seafood, pasture-raised and organic animal fats, egg yolks, organic and unprocessed nuts and seeds, organic and cold-pressed oils from nuts and seeds, avocado, and coconut
Tying this all together: when a sugar craving hits, first determine whether or not it’s habitual or physiological. If it’s the former, perhaps retrain your brain to get yourself out of that bad habit. Maybe you can walk out of the kitchen, do some jumping jacks, or reach for a crunchy carrot stick instead. If your sugar craving is physiological, that’s your body telling you to incorporate more protein and healthy fat in your diet!
Here are 5 healthy swaps to satisfy and reduce sugar cravings:
Craving: Ice cream —> Swap for: Banana Ice Cream (recipe)
Pudding: pudding —> Swap for: Avocado Chocolate Chia Pudding (recipe)
Cookies: Cookies —> Swap for: Almond Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe)
Craving: Brownies —> Swap for: Black Bean Brownie (recipe)
Craving: Cookie dough —> Swap for: Chickpea Cookie Dough (recipe)
1. “The Effects of Sugar on the Body and How to Stop Sugar Cravings.” Parsley Health, 2 Oct. 2019, www.parsleyhealth.com/blog/5-ways-kill-sugar-cravings-good/.
2. “The Science Behind Sugar Cravings.” Thorne, www.thorne.com/take-5-daily/article/the-science-behind-sugar-cravings.
3. Effects of Sugar, Parsley Health.
I grew up here, my grandparents on my mom's side were farmer's that also raised cattle and my grandparents on my dad's side were just ranchers. While I spent many happy summers on farms and ranches, I wasn't too concerned about the cattle beyond trying to pet one. It never occurred to me to have to think about where my meat was meat was coming from when I bought it at the store because I thought I had a pretty good idea. But not so fast.....
As meat consumption has grown along with the population size, waistlines included, more meat options have become available. Some of these started out as trendy and expensive, such as the grass-fed options that now available on all species. But what exactly does this mean? Does it mean what we have been lead to believe it does? This article does a great job of delving into that topic and bringing some clarity to the term. It's a bit lengthy but worth the read.
What Makes Grass-Fed Beef Different, and Are You Buying the Real Thing?