In order to have a healthy body, and to truly be well you need to provide it with nutrition that can be used as cellular fuel to keep the cells from starving and to prevent the consequences of eating non-nutrient rich foods.
In reality, all wellness begins with having a body that functions at its absolute best, and that always starts with good nutritional habits.
Sound nutrition is not difficult to achieve, here are some tips to get you started.
Time the giving of “fuel.” To keep your energy levels up, you need to continually fuel the body throughout the day. This means eating small meals every three hours, this strategy decreases the chances that you’ll eat more food with each meal because your body will continually feel full and you won’t feel starved at any point throughout the day. Each meal should have a protein, complex carb and a healthy fat. If you must skip a meal, the least you can do is to eat a nutritious snack instead.
If you skip meals, there is a greater chance that you’ll feel so hungry you’ll eat too much in one sitting the next time you do have a meal. You’ll probably eat too fast as well so that your brain won’t have a chance to send out a satiety signal telling you to stop eating. If you eat so that you stuff yourself, you will feel more uncomfortable, sluggish, and fatigued. Your body will be energized by eating several small meals per day.
Unrefined coconut oil is a gift from nature that can curb your appetite, aid with digestion and be used as an immediate source of energy. When you blend coconut oil up, it can cause little chunks to form in your smoothie. To combat this, you can gently melt the coconut oil (not hot, just melted) and add to your blended smoothie by setting your blender to its lowest setting and slowly pour in the melted coconut oil. This ensures everything incorporates _ blends perfectly.
An alternative to coconut oil is MCT oil, which is also harvested from coconuts, but contains a higher concentration of medium chain triglycerides. It’s odorless, boosts digestion and doesn’t solidify when blended. Since it is super concentrated and potent, we recommend using no more than 1 tsp of MCT oil per serving in your daily smoothie.
Although most people are aware of the benefits of eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, not everyone knows just how important protein is for your body. Protein is one of the four macronutrients that your body needs on a day-to-day basis (the other three are fats, carbs and water). Protein is essential for our bodies to work properly. The key to replacing meals with clean, green smoothies AND feeling good is to combine protein with healthy fats. This power combo will keep you feeling full and give you the energy you need to make it to your next snack or meal.
Because your body burns protein slower than carbs, protein is important to prevent blood pressure spikes that can not only make you feel weak and dizzy, but can also lead to serious health issues down the road.
Another great benefit of protein is that when your body has enough, it doesn’t have to resort to burning muscle for the energy it needs so your muscles stay strong and toned. That’s why drinking a protein-rich smoothie after a workout is an excellent way of replenishing your body!
Focusing on whole foods that are high in fiber, lean protein, healthy fats like omega 3-s, and lots of anti-aging antioxidants is an effortless way to stay slender. Individuals who used to struggle with dieting and weight loss are able to transform their bodies by simply basing their meals on clean, simple foods. A few staples are:
Almonds - serving 1 oz.
Great for salads, yogurt, oatmeal and on-the-go snacking.
Key attributes - fiber, healthy fats, lean protein
Avocado - serving 1/2 avocado
Great for smoothies, salads, and guacamole; a healthy alternative to mayo
Key attributes - healthy fats, lean protein, antioxidants
Black beans - serving 1/2 cup
Great for soups, salads, and fajitas
Key attributes - fiber, lean protein
Broccoli - serving 1/2 cup
Great for soups, salads, and side dishes
Key attributes - fiber, antioxidants
Dark Chocolate - serving 1 oz.
Great for a healthy sweet-tooth fix
Key attributes - antioxidants
Kale - 1 cup
Great for soups, salads and side dishes
Key attributes: fiber and antioxidants
Olive Oil - serving 1 tbsp
Great for salad dressings and marinades
Key attributes - healthy fats
Salmon - serving 3 1/2 oz.
Great for breakfast (smoked), lunch, or dinner (baked, grilled or steamed).
Key attributes - healthy fats and lean protein
Spinach - serving 1 cup
Great for soups, salads and side dishes
Key attributes - fiber and antioxidants
Walnuts - serving 1 oz.
Great for salads, yogurt, oatmeal and on-the-go snacking
Key attributes - fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants
Maybe you are broccoli'd out or you're a vegetarian or you ran out of a recipe ingredient. Below are ways to make trades for your favorites with virtually equal calories and nutrients, so you can always keep your taste buds happy, meet your dietary needs and stay on track with your weight management goals.
3 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
= 3/4 cup egg whites
= 3/4 cup cooked or canned beans
= 1 whole egg plus 3 egg whites
= 1 large turkey or chicken sausage
= 3 oz. canned crab, salmon or tuna; fresh fish; ground beef; pork; steak; tofu
1-slice whole-grain bread
= 1/4 cup non-creamy (without tahini) hummus
= 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal
= 1/2 cup cooked beans, corn or peas
= 3/4 cup cooked whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal or quinoa
= 1/2 large potato or 1/2 cup diced potatoes
= 1 whole-grain pita (4 inches)
= 1 whole-grain tortilla (8 inches)
= 1 whole-grain flatbread or waffle
1 tsp. olive oil
= 2 tsp trans-fat-free buttery spread; vegetable oil
1 tbsp seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower
1 tbsp chopped nuts such as almonds, peanuts or pecans
= 1 tbsp creamy (with tahini) hummus
= 1 1/2 tbsp flaxseed
= 2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
= 10 olives
Nut butter Swaps
1 tsp peanut butter
= 1 tsp almond butter; soy nut butter; sunflower butter
= 1 tsp tahini
1 medium orange
= 2 tbsp dried fruit
= 1/2 grapefruit
= 3/4 cup mango pieces
= 1 small banana
= 1 medium apple; pear
= 1 cup berries; cherries
= 1 cup melon pieces
= 2 apricots; kiwifruit
= 3 plums
= 24 grapes
1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked spinach
= 1/4 cup stewed tomatoes or tomato soup; 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
= 1/2 cup chopped nonstarchy vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, tomato or zucchini
= 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw leafy greens such as arugula, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, kale, lettuce or Swiss chard
1 cup skim milk
= 1 oz reduced-fat cheese or 80 calories of any full-fat cheese
= 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
= 1 cup calcium-fortified almond, soy or rice milk
= 1 part-skim string cheese
Stress depletes our B vitamin stores and snacking on nuts helps replenish them. B vitamins keep our neurotransmitters in their happy place and help us handle the fight-or-flight stress response. The potassium in nuts is also key: Penn State researchers found that a couple servings of potassium-packed pistachios a day can lower blood pressure and reduce the strain stress puts on our heart.
While oranges get all of the vitamin C hype, red pepper have about twice as much (95 vs. 50 mg per 1/2 cup serving). In a study in Psychopharmacology, people who took high doses of C before engaging in stress-inducing activities (oral presentation followed by solving math problems aloud) had lower blood pressure and recovered faster from the cortisol surge than those who got a placebo. It seems diets loaded with vitamin-C rich foods lower cortisol and help people cope.
To keep your wits about you when life gets hairy, you need omega-3's, especially DHA. In a study in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, people who took a daily omega-3 supplement (containing DHA and EPA) for 12 weeks reduced their anxiety by 20% compared to the placebo group. You won't get the same mood boost from the omega-3's (ALA) in flax, walnuts and soy, though, so shoot for about 2 servings a week of wild salmon or other oily fish and/or talk to your doctor about DHA supplements.
This leafy, green veggie is rich in stress-busting magnesium. People with low magnesium levels (most of us, actually) are more likely to have elevated C-reactive protein levels - and research shows people with high CRP levels are more stressed and at a greater risk for depression. Magnesium has been shown to help regulate cortisol and blood pressure too. And since magnesium gets flushed out of the body when you're stressed, it's crucial to get enough. Other solid magnesium sources include beans and brown rice.
This warm and comforting food also help your brain generate the de-stressing neurotransmitter serotonin. Research in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows carb-eaters felt calmer than those who shunned carbs. The carb-avoiders reported feeling more stressed. Any carb won't do, however. Refined carbs (white bread and pasta) digest faster and spike blood sugar, messing with moods and stress. Complex carbs like oatmeal are digested more slowly and don't spike blood sugar.
If you crave chocolate when you're on edge, have some. Research in the Journal of Proteome Research showed people who ate the equivalent of an average-size candy bar (about 1.4 ounces) daily for two weeks had lower cortisol and fight-or-flight hormone levels. To reap the feel-better rewards, choose chocolate that's at least 70 percent cocoa. And remember: dark chocolate is a high-calorie food, so mind your portions.
A study from University College London discovered that tea drinkers de-stressed faster and had lower cortisol levels than those who drank a placebo. Although (caffeinated) black tea was used in the study, caffeine revs the stress response in many people, so stick to decaf and herbal teas. Drinking herbal teals like chamomile, peppermint or ginger can be wonderfully soothing to the digestive tract which can help with stress by calming the nervous system in your gut.
Studies have found that these options can help contribute to a healthy mental state, bugger against the harmful physical effects of stress and dial up your serenity level. Eat your way to Zen.
It's true that the side effects may include off-color or odd-smelling urine, but it's a small price to pay for all the folate they deliver. The B vitamin is essential in helping you keep your cool when stress rears its ugly head. Steam some spears and add to salads or stir-fries; they're also tasty broiled and seasoned.
Besides being an excellent source of healthy fat, these creamy green fruits (yes, fruits), can stress-proof your body. They're rich in glutathione, a substance that blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage (the process that creates free radicals, the harmful compounds responsible for aging). Avocados also contain more folate than any other fruit. Try to stick to a single serving (about one-quarter of an avocado). Thinly sliced, it can go a long way on salads or replace mayo on sandwiches or burgers.
All berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress. German researchers tested this by asking 120 people to give a speech and then do hard math problems. Those who had been given vitamin C had lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol after the stressfest. Add a handful of berries to salad, yogurt, or oatmeal, or try nibbling on them frozen.
Another vitamin C powerhouse, oranges have an added benefit: that tough skin keeps them protected while they're bouncing around in your purse or backpack, so you can tote them anywhere. Try some other varieties, like clementines, tangelos, or mineolas.
You probably heard about them being a "sexy" food but they have earned they place as a mother lode of zinc. Six oysters, what you would typically be served in a restaurant as an appetizer, have more than half the recommended daily allowance for this important calming mineral. They're an acquired taste, for sure, but fans love them with cocktail sauce, horseradish, or mignonette. Purists favor a simple squeeze of lemon.
Research has proven that these shelled marvels provide more than one kind of cognitive edge. They contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, and other polyphenols that have been shown to help prevent memory loss. And studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in check. To bring out their flavor, toast them for 10 minutes, then chop and add to salads
Boost your immune system's fighting power- feed it! Immune boosters work in many ways. They increase the number of white cells in the immune system army, train them to fight better, and help them form an overall better battle plan. Boosters also help get rid of the substances that drag the body down.
8 Nutrients that Boost Immunity:
Hot foods such as chili peppers, hot mustard, radishes, pepper, onions, and garlic contain substances called "mucolytics" (similar to over-the-counter expectorant cough syrups) that liquefy thick mucus that accumulates in the sinuses and breathing passages.
Andrea Stewart Roa, M.S.
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