Plan healthy snacks for those times when you are vulnerable to eating, especially late afternoon and after dinner.
By Mark Lange, PhD
A new study from Florida State University recruited 33 obese and sedentary women with an average age of 30 for this randomized controlled study. The women were split up into three groups, all of whom performed moderate exercise three times per week. The first group was given 30 grams of whey protein, the second group received 30 grams of casein per day, and the third group was given placebo for four weeks.
The groups given whey and casein supplements had a decreased brachial systolic blood pressure of about 5 mm Hg and reduction in aortic systolic blood pressure of 7 and 6 mm Hg, compared to values at the start of the study and the control (exercise only) group. The reduction in blood pressure was attributed to the major nutrients provided in dairy products, including protein and calcium. These nutrients inhibit the action of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and increase nitric oxide-mediate blood vessel relaxation (vasodilation). ACE inhibitors work by inhibiting the conversion of angiotensin I to the potent vasoconstrictor, angiotensin II, thereby improving blood flow and blood pressure.
These results are significant because only a small decrease in blood pressure (similar to that shown in this study) can dramatically decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Source: American Journal of Hypertension. March 2014, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 338-344
While tradition typically has people training for 5ks, marathons, and triathlons, there is a new approach to fitness fulfillment bursting on the scene. Imagine a competition with 12 foot walls, diving boards leading to deep trenches of mud, ice-water pools, and a moat with filled with sharks and fire-breathing dragons circling overhead. Ok, so maybe not that last part.
While some of this may sound like a bad dream, it is in fact very real. These things, along with many other challenges, are a part of a typical mud run. Mud runs distinguish themselves by offering the first ever military style obstacle course for civilians— and they are taking the country by storm, bringing in millions of participants.
Mud run events are increasing in number every year, and have typically turned into day-long festivals, with live music, food stands, and beer gardens. They provide a new way to get your fill of accomplishment, adrenaline, and camaraderie. Teams get to help each other through obstacles they never dreamed of facing.
The experience of doing something abnormal and getting out of the rut of your regular routine helps to spice things up. The experience and stories you take away from doing a mud run are life-long. It provides an escape from the norm of jogging on a treadmill or just doing yard work on a Saturday afternoon. If you ever reminisce about being a child again, this is a perfect escape. It’s like a playground for adults, where you can get dirty and have some fun with your pals. And for a moment in time, you’re not distracted by the worries of life.
Do you remember the last time you entered your kitchen and went cupboard to cupboard, to the “fridge” and then back to a pantry? Aimless? You knew you wanted something…but what? When you get “ hungry”, your body (and brain) might be looking for balance in a whole different way than you imagine.
Our body is an amazing record keeper. While you do not have an “accountant” deciding calories in and calories out, you do have energy systems keeping track of your micronutrient/macronutrient reserve. Your emotions, sleep and energy throughout the day are managed by having a sufficient amount of B-vitamins, Vitamin C, magnesium and even iron, just to name a few of the essential nutrients your body uses everyday to repair itself and recover from the “day to day” grind.
With steps towards better health, like adding movement/exercise, you will be using this fuel (food) in a different way. Your biochemical energy cycles change. With that change is the need to bring an abundance of foods into your diet that maintain lean muscle mass, hormones for energy and help with the production of neurotransmitters to keep your brain sharp and your stress minimal. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that help transmit messages from one area of the brain to another.
Serotonin production, via healthy food choices can encourage healthy metabolism and has a significant benefit in the reduction of food cravings and improvement in restful sleep. Sufficient amounts of serotonin – via the right food sources – and with the help of vitamin C, magnesium and niacin can transform serotonin into melatonin for restorative sleep and reduction of oxidative stress on the brain, as melatonin is a potent brain antioxidant with benefit in healthy brain aging and cognitive function.
Everyone, regardless of body composition or health, can benefit from nutrients found in avocados, dark green leafy veggies, and protein like walnuts, fish and eggs. These nutrients ensure you can mobilize fat for energy, utilize proteins for better sleep and make serotonin for emotional balance.
Do you find yourself forgetting a lot of things? Wish there was some way to help improve your memory? Studies have shown that a heart-healthy diet is crucial to the health of your memory, and have pinpointed specific foods to help you in this endeavor.
These foods contain chemical compounds called flavonoids, which gives fruits and leafy vegetables their color. There are two flavanoids that researchers say specifically support memory function— anthocyanins and quercetin. These two flavanoids can be found in blueberries, apples, and red onions, among other foods. Folate and omega-3 fatty acids have also been found in helping improve your memory.
Berries provide some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants amongst fruits. One study shows that eating blueberries helps spatial memory and learning.
Fatty fish provide a huge amount of omega-3s. A study at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago shows that those who ate fish at least once a week slowed memory decline by 10% compared to those who did not eat fish. Researchers stated that this difference gives fish-eaters the memory and thinking ability of a person three years younger.
You will find that leafy greens, such as spinach and collard greens, have copious amounts of folate. A study done at Tufts University in Boston shows that folate provides a protective effect against memory decline.
Try incorporating these foods into your diet, and keep life’s unforgettable moments safely stored away.
You’re unwinding after a long day. Your body not only needs rest, but also sustenance. You’ve entered the late night snacking zone. While there are all sorts of opinions on whether or not it’s okay to eat before bed, there are actually some good choices you can make if you choose to do so. Your diet is one of the biggest factors that decide whether or not you will get a restful night’s sleep, so be sure to make the right decisions late in the day.
Cereal and Milk
The right combination of carbs and protein helps produce serotonin— helping produce melatonin— which has a calming effect on the body and mind. Be sure to stay away from the sugary types of cereals, though.
Bananas contain magnesium, which acts as a natural muscle relaxant.
If you can find it, buy it! Passionfruit contains somniferum, which contains sleep-inducing properties. Eat as is, or as a juice/tea.
A 2011 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that tart cherry juice is a great sleep aid. Adults who drank two glasses of cherry juice daily slept an average of 39 minutes longer than usual. Try adding 1 cup into a smoothie!
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