Reducing advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in your diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and prevent premature aging!
What are AGEs?
You may have heard of AGEs before, but what exactly are they? AGEs, or advanced glycation end products, are a type of harmful compound that forms when proteins or fats combine with sugars in the bloodstream through a process called glycation. These compounds are known to increase inflammation and oxidative stress and can damage tissues, contributing to the development of various chronic diseases.
Where are AGEs found?
AGEs, also known as glycotoxins, are form when high fat animal foods, such as meat is exposed to high heat. Cooking methods like grilling, frying, and roasting, as well as processed foods tend to be high in AGEs.
Although the body has a way of eliminating AGEs, excessive AGEs in our circulation can produce harmful effects. Exposure to AGEs has been linked to an increased risk of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell damage. These effects can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
How can you avoid AGEs?
The main source of AGEs is from our diet. While the formation of AGEs is part of normal metabolism, excessive amounts may be harmful. There are several ways you can reduce exposure to AGEs.
Cook using moist methods, such as steaming, poaching or boiling, that don’t involve high dry heat
Limit your consumption of processed foods
Use shorter cooking times
Cook food gently using lower temperatures
Include acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice and vinegar which inhibit the formation of AGE
The standard American diet is often high in processed foods that have higher levels of AGEs, so it’s important to limit your intake of these foods. Some processed foods that are high in AGEs include:
Carbohydrate-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk tend to be lower in AGEs, even after cooking. Foods that are lower in AGEs include:
whole-grain bread and pasta
beans and legumes
low-fat milk products
There is evidence that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome may also contribute to lower levels of circulating AGEs. This is because gut bacteria have the ability to degrade AGEs during the digestive process. Consuming a diet rich in probiotic foods such as fermented foods -kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir – and taking a probiotic supplement can support a healthy gut microbiome. You can learn much more about gut-friendly foods in a previous post – How to Heal Your Leak Gut.
Lastly, consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals may also contribute to reducing cell damage caused by AGEs.
A Diet low in AGEs
Human studies suggest that a low-AGE diet reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. These studies revealed increased insulin sensitivity, which can help maintain weight loss over time, as well as reduced markers of inflammation.
So what does a low-AGE diet look like? Here are two sample menus with some of my favorite meal plan recipes that utilize ways to reduce AGE levels:
Breakfast: Orange Cardamom Overnight Oats
Lunch: Kale and Sweet Potato Salad with Walnuts
Snack: Yogurt with Blueberries
Dinner: Whole-grain Pasta with Beans, Garlic, and Arugula served with Simple Poached Salmon
Breakfast: Chocolate Fudge Smoothie with Hemp Seeds
Lunch: Quinoa Tabbouleh
Snack: Low-fat Cottage Cheese with Raspberries
Dinner: African Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
The current AGE research demonstrates that a significantly reduced intake of AGEs can be achieved by increasing the consumption of fish, legumes, low-fat milk products, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and by reducing intake of solid fats, fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and highly processed foods.
Reducing your exposure to AGEs is a good way to support your overall health, prevent premature aging and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Making simple changes to the way you cook and eat can help protect your health in the long term by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you need a little inspiration for healthy cooking, click here for my free weekly recipe!
When it comes to developing habits that improve health, many people find that stacking them one on top of the other makes the process a lot easier. This involves linking a new healthy habit to an already established habit so that you don’t have to focus as much energy on making the change. This approach is called habit staking.
What is Habit Stacking?
Habit stacking is a method of behavior change that involves creating a list of small, manageable tasks that you can complete each day to help you reach your goal. The best part of habit stacking is that it doesn’t require a huge time commitment – you can start small and gradually add on as you go.
There is a lot of evidence behind habit stacking, and research has shown that it can be an effective way to make changes in your life. One study found that people who stacked their new habits were more likely to stick with them over time. In addition, they found that when people tried to make too many changes at once, they were less likely to be successful. So if you’re trying to adopt a new habit, it might be helpful to stack it on top of an existing one.
What are the methods of habit stacking?
Chaining involves linking a new habit to an established one. For example, you might want to start taking recommended supplements every day, so you chain it to an existing habit like brushing your teeth. Every time you brush your teeth, you take your supplements right after. Set yourself up for success by keeping the supplements right next to your toothbrush – you want to make it as easy as possible to add the new habit. The easier and more convenient the chained habit is, the more likely it is that you’ll adopt it.
Sequencing involves doing a series of existing, related habits in order and adding in a new one. For example, if you’re looking to increase your intake of water, you might want to wake up, make coffee, drink a glass of water, eat breakfast, and then brush your teeth. Sequencing your habits can be helpful because it can make them feel more manageable. When you have a specific order that you do things in, it can make it feel less like you’re just randomly doing things and more like you’re following a plan. Plus, it can help you to remember to do all of your habits, since you’ll know that you have to do them in a specific order.
Pairing involves pairing two habits together so that they happen simultaneously. This can be particularly powerful if you “temptation bundle” – pick something you really love doing and add a new habit to the mix. For example, let’s say you really love listening to podcasts or audiobooks – bundling this existing pleasure with a new habit like walking. Maybe you’re enjoying a new TV series – download it on a mobile devise and view it while on the treadmill. This way you will naturally look forward to your daily exercise as it is associated with something you really enjoy.
Choose a Trigger
The first step with any type of habit stacking is to choose a trigger. A trigger is something that you do on a regular basis that you can use to remind yourself to perform your desired behavior. For example, if you’re trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, you might use the trigger of brushing your teeth in the morning as a reminder to eat a healthy breakfast. Or, if you’re trying to cut back on sugary snacks, you might use the trigger of taking a break at work as a reminder to eat an apple instead of heading for the vending machine. Choose a trigger that is already part of your daily routine so that it’s easy to remember.
Think about the different types of habit stacking and start with a new habit that fits well into your daily routine. Begin with stacking one habit to an established one. Perform the stack for at least one week or two until it seems easier. Once you’re in the flow, you can add another habit to the stack. Research shows that it takes 3 or more weeks to establish a new routine so stick with it.
The key is to create a chain of healthy behaviors that becomes automatic and second nature. Eventually, these behaviors will become part of your daily routine without any effort on your part. And when they do, you’ll be well on your way to improving your nutrition and overall health!
Yoga is a mind and body exercise, touted to reduce stress. But how does it really work in our mind and what should we do to maximize its benefits in our body? There’s no better time to explore these questions as we celebrate National Yoga Awareness Month in September.
I invited a highly regarded (also my favorite) yoga instructor, Wes Linch to write this article to share his knowledge on how practicing yoga can strengthen our nervous system and how to get the most out of your yoga journey!
Yoga has certainly become a household name the world over and it’s now more popular than ever. As a result of the pandemic, yoga has become even more available through social media and Zoom, giving people access to amazing teachers that they never would have studied with before. What is it about this practice that makes people want to get on their mat every day for an hour of moving, breathing, and stretching their bodies?
I think it’s pretty safe to say we live in a pretty stressful world these days. The last few years have been especially trying for just about everyone. Human beings intuitively know that when we feel fit and healthy, we manage stress a lot better. When most of us think about health and fitness, probably what comes to mind are things like cardio, strength training, maybe even diet and nutrition. However, how many of us consider bolstering and nurturing our nervous system as a critical part of our health and fitness?
When I tell a random stranger that I am a yoga teacher, their typical response is “Wow! You must be so flexible!”. This always gives me a bit of a chuckle. I’m certainly more flexible than when I started yoga, but I’ll probably always be a pretty stiff guy. Don’t get me wrong, stretching is a very important element of muscle fitness; but, so much of our flexibility is genetic. So, let’s just get this out of the way and make it clear that extreme range of motion and super fancy poses are not the goal of yoga.
Strengthen our Nervous System
I really believe that the true gem of yoga has more to do with strengthening our nervous system than it does stretching our hamstrings. When we strengthen our nervous system, we manage stress better. So, how exactly does yoga accomplish this? What makes it better suited than other forms of exercise towards this end? Believe it or not, it has more to do with our breath and our mindfulness than it does with the postures themselves. This is also what makes yoga so universally accessible. Whether you are an athlete, young or old, have an injury or suffer from a chronic illness, yoga can meet you exactly where you are at and present to you an opportunity to be with your body and breath in a really creative and nurturing way.
So, how exactly does our breath affect our nervous system? And more specifically, our autonomic (automatic) nervous system. This is the part of our nervous system that is somewhat out of our direct control. It controls much of our vital organs, hormones, heart rate, digestion, etc. It’s a great thing that we don’t have to think about it all the time. It would be rather tedious for us to think about digesting our food or pumping our blood. However, much of how our nervous system works in the background gets affected by our environment (rush hour traffic, what we had for lunch, social media, lack of sleep, etc). This can certainly feel a bit frustrating at times
Our nervous system is regulated by two separate branches, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic side of our nervous system is the alert, wakeful, “get stuff done” side of our nervous system. It also happens to regulate our fight or flight response as well as our immune function (think about fighting off a cold). The parasympathetic side of our nervous system is sometimes called the “rest and digest” side. It helps us feel calm and relaxed (its like recharging our battery). We can think of these two dual sides as like yin and yang to each other. What’s most important to understand is that when we nurture our parasympathetic nervous system, it essentially recharges the sympathetic nervous system. You may have heard of phrases like adrenal fatigue or sympathetic burnout. This is when we overtax that side of our nervous system making us more susceptible to stress, fatigue, and illness.
This is where our breath comes into play. Even though we can’t directly “control” our autonomic nervous system, we can indirectly affect it when we slow down our breathing. When we breath slowly in yoga and focus on being mindful and present in a yoga posture, this has an amazing ability to calm and regulate our nervous system. This is the true brilliance of the practice. To make it even more fascinating, when we create a mild to moderate “stressful” situation in practice (think challenging yoga pose) and we learn to breath and relax, we are essentially retraining our nervous system in how it relates to stress. This is an incredibly useful tool that we can take into any stressful situation of our life. I personally believe that when we learn to breath and relax in stressful situations, we are better equipped to respond to these situations in a more healthy way.
The Take Away
So, if you have been practicing yoga for many years, are a beginner, or have never stepped on a yoga mat, consider that it has more to do with how you do it rather than what you do. If you can show up to your yoga practice, try new things, move your body in fun and interesting ways while encouraging yourself to breath slowly, deeply, and mindfully, you are bound to leave your practice feeling better than when you started.
Thank you to Wes for teaching me the science and art of yoga for over 10 years! He is responsible for instilling passion in my yoga practice. I hope you will find time to discover his yoga classes. You can find Wes’s class offerings, workshops, and events both online and in person at his website: www.weslinchyoga.com
Wes is a Hatha Yoga instructor, with over 15yrs of practice and having received over 1200hrs of training. He has studied extensively modern Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Shadow Yoga, and Viniyoga. Currently, he is continuing his training and studies with Nicki Doane (Maya Yoga), Kristin Bosteels, and Eddie Modestini(Yoga on the Inside). He has had the privilege of studying in-depth with Mynx Inatsugu(Yogaworks and Viniyoga) and Mark Horner (Shadow Yoga).
Wes focuses primarily on bridging the gap between breath, alignment, and awareness. He aims to make the energy of the practice relevant on and off the mat by introducing traditional yogic teachings with a modern twist. His classes are fun, sweaty, challenging, and full of great humor and heart.
Are you a parent of children who are heading into another school season? If so, then you might be feeling overwhelmed by the preparations that need to be made for this time of year.
There is so much to do before that school bell rings! One thing I’m really looking forward to this fall is a new well-oiled meal prep routine.
One important strategy to lighten your load this school season is your meal prep strategy. In this post we will explore five strategies for back-to-school meal prep that will save you time and energy. Plus, you’ll love that your family is eating well.
I hope it helps make things easier for you and keeps everyone happy and healthy during these busy days!
No matter your children’s age, they can help at some level with meal prep and lunch packing. Unfortunately, this is one parenting lesson I didn’t learn early enough. So get the kiddos involved as soon as possible and make it fun!
Kids love to participate in food prep. Whether it’s cutting up ingredients, packing sections of their bento lunch boxes or stirring muffin batter, giving them some responsibilities will help your child to eat their meals if they’ve had a role in their creation!
Kids are also more likely to try new foods – even fruits and vegetables – if they’ve helped to prepare them. I’ll never forget the time my daughter ate smoked salmon in 1st grade and loved the idea of packing her “lox in the box” for lunch.
Plan and prep ahead
It is hard for any of us to make the best food decisions when we’re tired or frazzled – even a dietitian! Having a plan A and even a plan B helps to keep meals running smoothly, no matter how the day unfolds.
Using a meal plan as a guide can be REALLY helpful. It doesn’t mean that you have to make every meal on a meal plan but it can help to get started with preparing healthy meals the whole family can enjoy. Select three dinners and a few snacks for each week of the month. Stick with it until you have a repertoire of at least 10 dinner meals you can put into rotation – this can take up to 4-6 weeks. Dinners such as soups, stews, and roasted proteins make excellent lunch box appearances when paired with non-prep items such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, and crackers.
My favorite dinner leftover combinations include:
Shredded chicken tacos with salsa and prepared guacamole
Vegetable chili with cheese and crackers
Beef stew with rice
Tofu or other protein kabobs with pasta and prepared pesto sauce
Broccoli Cheddar soup with whole grain toast wedges
A helpful tip to leveraging dinner as lunch is to scale your recipes to ensure you have enough for lunch the next day. Also, pack lunches BEFORE you eat dinner to avoid adding burden to your already busy morning schedule.
Batch your work
We talk about batching work with tasks at the office, but what about in the kitchen? Same time-saving principle applies!
Here are a few ideas:
If your kiddos love smoothies for breakfast, batch your smoothie packs in cups or bags in the freezer so that breakfast is as simple as dumping the ingredients into the blender and adding their favorite milk or juice to blend.
Cutting veggies take time so why not cut up your child’s favorite vegetables (or have your child do it with you) once or twice a week and store them in baggies that are ready to toss into the lunch box. Or store all of the sliced veggies in a container so that packing their bento lunch box is that much faster.
And if you know that you’re cooking two different dinners that call for chopped onions and celery, chop up enough veggies for both dinners. You’ll be thankful for less chopping when the time comes to cook the second recipe!
Use a template
How else can we reduce your mental load? Follow a template whenever you can!
If your child uses a bento box to pack their lunch, assign a food group to each section. Whole grains go on the left, fruits below, a protein on the right, and so on. Discuss what “counts” for each section of their lunch and brainstorm choices that fit into each category. From there, your child can pack their lunch with less input from you.
And for dinners, have some regular meals that you can depend on to be quick and delicious, without needing too much brain power. For example, Taco Tuesdays! Use the crockpot to cook your favorite taco filling and dinner will be mostly ready when you and your crew get home hungry. A few other ideas are breakfast for dinner, pizza Fridays and getting a rotisserie chicken on Mondays. My favorite is sheet pan dinners where I roast pre-cut vegetables and protein coated with olive oil and our favorite seasonings in a 425F oven for 15-20 minutes. I have included the recipe for the Balsamic Vegetable Sheet Pan Dinner as a template below. Just vary the vegetables (remember to batch your work), protein and seasonings to make it your own.
Adjust your expectations
When your circumstances change, so too does your patience and bandwidth. This is completely normal! In this back-to-school season, remember to be gentle with yourself. If you have more activities to attend and more to-dos each day, it is reasonable to look for ways to simplify and delegate. You do not have to do everything yourself, or create meals in the same way as when you have more time. You can have a happy and healthy family, even with a few shortcuts.
Change always comes with a bit of stress, and back-to-schoolis full of changes! Be patient with yourself and your family as you establish new routines. Consider what steps you need to take to ensure that you’re eating the meals that help you to thrive. Plan ahead and don’t forget to make that plan B!
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions. Although there’s no cure at this time, we do know that self-care is very effective in managing Fibromyalgia symptoms and minimizing the impact on daily life.
Individuals with Fibromyalgia experience pain or tenderness that is very sensitive to the touch and in greater intensity than others, even under gentle pressure. Therefore, Fibromyalgia is considered to be a “pain regulation” or “neurosensory” disorder.
The pain can happen just about anywhere throughout the body, and lasts for days, weeks, months, or longer. It can also come and go throughout the body in “flares” and it often occurs along with stiffness, fatigue, “fibro fog,” and mental health issues. It can sometimes feel debilitating and cause a lot of distress.
In the U.S., it’s estimated that up to 7.7 percent of women and 4.9 percent of men experience fibromyalgia. These rates are higher than in Europe or South America.
Researchers still don’t know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but it does not seem to be the result of physical damage to the bones, joints, or muscles. The pain may be triggered and worsened by infections, injury, inflammation, or emotional stress. Fibromyalgia tends to occur in families, however no specific genes have yet been found that predispose someone to getting it.
Typical symptoms of fibromyalgia
Some of the common symptoms of fibromyalgia include
Pain or tenderness in the muscles, soft tissues, and/or bones throughout the body (muscle pain, joint pain), including the arms, legs, head, chest, abdomen, back, and buttocks
Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs
Fatigue, inability to get a good night’s sleep, restless leg syndrome, feeling stiff upon waking up
“Fibro fog” (memory problems, confusion, inability to pay close attention or concentrate)
Headaches (migraines, tension headaches)
Pain in the face or jaw, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome
Increased sensitivity to light, odors, noise, and temperature
Mental health issues (anxiety, depression)
Gut ssues (bloating, constipation, IBS, GERD, difficulty swallowing)
Painful menstrual periods
Overactive bladder, pelvic pain
The risk for fibromyalgia is higher in people who experience other conditions such as chronic back pain, lupus, polymyalgia rheumatica, spondyloarthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory myopathy, systemic inflammatory arthropathies, hypothyroidism, endometriosis, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It is also possible to experience several of these at the same time. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because there isn’t a definitive test for it, however your doctor will likely do a physical exam and medical tests to try to determine which of these you may be experiencing.
Nutrition and fitness strategies to deal with fibromyalgia
There are many things that you can do to help alleviate these symptoms and reduce the impact of fibromyalgia on your life. The first thing is to know that even though it’s difficult to diagnose and doesn’t have a definitive test, fibromyalgia is a real disease and research is being done to try to better understand and eventually cure it.
While there isn’t a cure just yet, there are ways to manage fibromyalgia symptoms and self-care plays an important role in reducing its impact. According to the American College of Rheumatology, “patient self-care is vital to improving symptoms and daily function. In concert with medical treatment, healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce pain, increase sleep quality, lessen fatigue, and help you cope better with fibromyalgia.”
While more research is underway, physical exercise is currently considered to be the most effective treatment for fibromyalgia. Cardiovascular fitness training (“cardio”) can ease symptoms by helping with pain and improving sleep. Ideally, doing 30 minutes of cardio three times each week is recommended. Low-impact exercises like walking, biking, stretching, yoga, tai chi, and water-based exercises are helpful. If regular exercise is new for you or feels like a lot, simply start low and go slow to create a comfortable routine. It may take time to build up your endurance and the intensity of physical activity that you can do.
Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is also highly recommended. While there currently isn’t a huge amount of strong evidence to recommend one comprehensive dietary strategy to help with fibromyalgia symptoms, a few small studies show promising results for the following nutrition recommendations:
If you are low in vitamin D, taking a supplement can help reduce fibromyalgia pain. As with any nutrition supplement, ensure you are buying yours from a reputable source. Check out professional brands recommended by doctors and nutritionists in my wellness store.
Additional supplements that may help include Chlorella green algae, Coenzyme Q10, acetyl-L-carnitine, magnesium, iron, vitamins C and E, probiotics, and Nigella sativa (Black cumin) seeds.
Different types of elimination diets have helped different people, such as the vegetarian diet (eliminates meat, poultry, and fish), vegan diet (eliminates all animal products including dairy and eggs), the low FODMAP diet (reduces intake of short-chain carbohydrates that are fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols), a low calorie diet (reduces calorie intake), gluten-free diet (eliminates the protein gluten), or a diet free from both MSG (monosodium glutamate) and aspartame (an artificial sweetener).
Reducing inflammation will provide some pain relief. An anti-inflammatory diet has been demonstrated to be effective for many people in my clinical practice.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to decrease fatigue and improve moods.
The replacement of some foods may also help, including replacing non-olive oil fats with olive oil and replacing non-ancient grains with ancient grains such as Khorasan wheat, also known as Kamut.
This is a long list of potential dietary strategies and more research is needed. Because many of these should not be combined together, it’s wise to approach these dietary changes cautiously and work with a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable in dealing with your symptoms and can work with you to choose the best path forward.
Lifestyle tips to deal with fibromyalgia symptoms
Improving sleep patterns and sleep hygiene can also be very helpful if you’re dealing with fibromyalgia. For example, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and limit stimulants like caffeine and nicotine as much as possible, especially in the evenings. Establish a relaxing nightly routine that may include reduced screen time, dimmed lights, soft music, meditation, and a warm bath. Also, keep your bedroom comfortable for sleeping by keeping it dark, quiet, and cool. If you suspect you may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, reach out to your healthcare provider.
Managing stress and moods can also help relieve symptoms. If you experience symptoms of fibromyalgia, pace yourself and balance your need to work and rest by taking breaks when necessary. Also, make time to relax each day and try deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness, and stress reduction techniques. If you feel lonely or isolated, consider joining a support group that you find to be positive and encouraging—one that shares helpful coping techniques. Cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist or counselor may help by focusing on how thoughts and behaviors affect pain and other symptoms. If you have any mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression, seek out professional help.
Fibromyalgia is a complex condition of chronic widespread pain. It’s thought to result from the brain becoming more sensitive to pain signals, as if even a small signal becomes amplified and feels much stronger. In addition to the pain, people with fibromyalgia tend to also have difficulty sleeping and experience fatigue, stiffness, changing moods, and “fibro fog.”
The American College of Rheumatology recommends that you “look forward, not backward. Focus on what you need to do to get better, not what caused your illness.” Self-care is the mainstay for improving symptoms of fibromyalgia. Current research suggests that the most effective treatment is physical activity. In addition to that, there are several dietary and lifestyle strategies that can help, including certain diets and supplements, improving sleep, and managing stress.
Imagine if eating differently could elevate your moods or improve your brain and mental health. It can! Or if reducing stress can also reduce gut symptoms . It does!
The gut and brain are interconnected more than we previously thought—new research is proving it. These discoveries have huge potential to help people with gut issues by improving brain health. At the same time, improving gut health can help people with brain or mood issues.
Sounds interesting? Learn all about the gut-brain axis and how you can leverage this new research to improve your gut and brain.
Your gut is partially controlled by your brain
Gut disorders can cause pain, bloating, or other discomfort. They impact over 35 percent of people at some point in life—affecting women more than men. Many times, these gut issues don’t have an apparent or easily diagnosable physical cause, so they can be difficult to treat and find relief from.
We already knew that our brains control some of our digestive processes. For example, research has found that even thinking about eating can cause the stomach to release juices to get itself ready for food. Your gut is also sensitive to emotions. You may recall a time when you felt anxious and nauseous or felt “knots” or “butterflies” in your stomach.
Several studies show that stress may be an important—often overlooked—reason for gut issues. According to Harvard Health, “Stress can trigger and worsen gastrointestinal pain and other symptoms, and vice versa.”
This is why it’s so important to look at your stress and emotions if you have gut issues. Many studies have found that stress reduction techniques can lead to greater improvement in gut symptoms compared to conventional medical treatment alone.
Before I go over how to do this, let’s take a closer look at the biology behind the gut-brain axis.
Your nervous systems
There are two main parts of your “main” nervous system. One is the part that we can consciously control, like when we move our muscles to walk around, chew our food, or play with our kids. This is called the somatic nervous system.
The other part of our nervous system controls all of those things that we can’t control, but need to survive. These include processes that happen automatically in the background: breathing, heart beating, sweating, or shivering. This part of the nervous system is called the autonomic nervous system because it works automatically.
The autonomic system regulates our body’s functions by either speeding things up or slowing them down. When things are sped up, like when our “fight or flight” reactions kick in, this is done by the sympathetic part. We feel this happening when we sense danger – real or not – and get stressed. Our heart beats faster and we breathe heavier. We’re preparing to fight or flee, so our body focuses on ensuring our muscles get enough blood and oxygen to work hard.
Slowing things down, on the other hand, is done by the parasympathetic part. This happens when we’re relaxing or after the danger has passed and we start to calm down. It allows our heart, lungs, muscles and our digestive systems do their jobs much better. In this phase, we’re secreting more digestive juices to break down food, therefore absorbing more nutrients, as well as lowering levels of inflammation in our gut. That’s why this is called the “rest and digest” phase.
Both of these arms of the autonomic nervous system—the sympathetic and parasympathetic—interact with the gut. This means that when our body is stressed we can experience gut symptoms and when we’re relaxed our digestion does what it’s meant to do.
Your gut is your “second brain”
In addition to your “main” nervous system, your gut has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system spans your whole digestive tract from your esophagus, along your stomach, intestines, and colon. This nervous system is sometimes referred to as the “second brain” because it works in the same way that the “main” one does. It has 100 million nerve cells (called neurons) that communicate with each other using biochemicals called neurotransmitters.
Your enteric nervous system gets input from both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, so it can speed up or slow down when it has to. It also has a “mind” of its own and can function independently of them.
This complex system is important because of how complex our digestive processes are. For example, after we eat, the neurons in our enteric system tell the muscle cells of the stomach and intestines to contract to move food along to the next part. As our gut does this, our enteric nervous system uses neurotransmitters to communicate with the central nervous system.
Your enteric nervous system is also very closely linked to your immune system. This is because a lot of bacteria can enter the body through the mouth and end up in the gut. You have a large immune presence there to help fight them off before they become a larger problem and infect other parts of the body. The cells of the immune system provide another path for the gut to communicate up to the brain. They relay information like when they detect an infection or when your stomach is bloated, so your brain knows, too.
Even the friendly gut microbes (gut microbiota) that help us digest and make certain nutrients play a role in communicating with the brain. They make neurotransmitters, some of which are known to influence our moods.
The gut-brain axis
This intimate and complex connection between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. And we now know that the signals go in both directions: from your brain down to your gut, and from your gut up to your brain.
This is where we see the link between digestive issues and brain, stress, and mood issues.
When someone is stressed enough that they get into the “fight or flight” reaction, digestion slows right down to allow the muscles to fight or flee. The same physical reaction appears whether the stress is from a real threat or a perceived one. This means that your body reacts the same whether you’re facing a real life-threatening situation or whether you’re super-stressed about a looming deadline. This disruption of the digestive process can cause pain, nausea, or other related issues.
Meanwhile, it’s known that experiencing strong or frequent digestive issues can increase your stress levels and moods. People with depression and anxiety have more GI symptoms, and vice versa.
How stress and emotions affect your gut
Because of these strong connections between the gut and brain, it’s easy to see how stress and other emotions can affect the gut. Things like fear, sadness, anger, or feeling anxious or depressed are often felt in the digestive systems. When they cause our digestive systems to speed up (or slow down) too much, this can influence pain and bloating. It can also allow bacteria to cross the lining of the gut and get into the bloodstream, activating our immune systems. It can increase inflammation in the gut or even change the microbiota.
This is why stress and strong emotions can contribute to or worsen a number of digestive issues such as Crohn’s disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or food allergies or sensitivities.
Then, these gut issues are communicated to the brain, increasing the stress response and affecting our moods. This loop of stress and gut issues leads to a vicious cycle.
New research shows that changes to the gut’s inflammation or microbiome can strongly affect many other parts of the body as well—not just the brain and mood. They’re also associated with depression and heart disease.
How to eat and de-stress for better gut and brain health
What you eat can have a huge impact on your health. This is particularly true when it comes to the microbiome. Your gut health improves when you eat a higher-fiber, more plant-based diet. That’s because it provides your friendly gut microbes with their preferred foods so they can grow and thrive. Probiotic foods that include health promoting bacteria are also recommended. Reducing the amount of sugar and red meat you eat can also help. These can lead to a healthier microbiome by helping to maintain a diverse community of many species of microbes to maximize your health. They can also lower the level of gut inflammation, as well as reduce the risk of depression and heart disease.
For better gut and brain/mental health:
Fruits and Vegetables
Nuts and Seeds
Processed breads and cereals
Fermented foods e.g. miso, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, yogurt
What about stress? Evidence suggests that some stress reduction techniques or psychotherapy may help people who experience gut issues. They can lower the sympathetic “fight or flight” response, enhance the parasympathetic “rest and digest” response, and even reduce inflammation.
Some of the stress-reduction techniques I love and recommend are:
Your gut, brain, and mood will thank you!
Our bodies are complex and interact with other parts on so many different levels. The gut-brain axis is a prime example. Research shows that what we eat not only improves the gut and overall health, but also brain and mental health. Not to mention that several stress-reduction techniques have been shown to reduce digestive illness and distress as well.
If you want a meal plan to help you eat—and enjoy—more of the foods that help your gut, brain, and moods. Use promo code HG50 to save 50% on my digital meal plans . You can customize your the meal plan with hundreds of our deliciously fresh recipes suitable for the whole family to enjoy.
If you have specific medical conditions requiring dietary changes, be sure to consult a registered dietitian who can provide personalized research-based nutrition advice for your health, lifestyle, and goals.
Many diseases are linked to chronic inflammatory. “For chronic low-grade inflammation not caused by a defined illness, lifestyle changes are the mainstay of both prevention and treatment,” says Harvard Health. The good news is that anti-inflammatory foods combined with an active lifestyle can help you stay healthy and reduce your risk of many diseases. In fact, it’s estimated that 60 percent of chronic diseases could be prevented with a healthy diet.
Chronic inflammation is often invisible without immediate or serious symptoms, but over the long-term it’s been linked to many chronic diseases such as:
Acne, eczema, and psoriasis
Allergies and asthma
Autoimmune diseases (arthritis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus)
It may start acutely—from an infection or injury—and then instead of shutting off, it becomes persistent. Chronic low-grade inflammation can also occur with exposure to chemicals (e.g., tobacco) or radiation, consuming an unhealthy diet or too much alcohol, not being very physically active, feeling stressed or socially isolated, and having excess weight.
Now that we see that inflammation underlies so many of our medical conditions, here’s what to do to put out those slow-burning, smoldering fires.
How to reduce Inflammation
Studies show that reducing inflammation can reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. There are medications used to help lower inflammation to treat some of these diseases such as corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics. However, there are also several lifestyle changes—including a healthy diet—that can be very helpful to prevent and scale down inflammation to reduce its many damaging effects on the body.
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, oats, bran), nuts (almonds), seeds, fish, poultry, legumes (beans, lentils), and healthy oils (olive oil)
Pay particular attention to foods high in antioxidant polyphenols, including colorful plants such as berries, cherries, plums, red grapes, avocados, onions, carrots, beets, turmeric, green tea, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
Omega-3 fats can help to reduce pain and clear up inflammation and are found in salmon, trout, mackerel, soy, walnuts, and flax
High fiber foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes) encourage friendly gut microbes to help reduce inflammation
Avoid charring foods when cooking at high temperatures
Limit inflammatory foods such as red and processed meats (lunch meats, hot dogs, hamburgers), fried foods (fries), unhealthy fats (shortening, lard), sugary foods and drinks (sodas, candy, sports drinks), refined carbohydrates (white bread, cookies, pie), and ultra-processed foods (microwaveable dinners, dehydrated soups)
If you need a little help incorporating all these principles into your daily diet, check out Healthydigz’s anti-inflammatory eating plan . You will find weekly menus, delicious recipes, and shopping lists for your customizable meal plan.
Be physically active
Regular exercise reduces inflammation over the long-term, so try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (brisk walking) per week; about 20-30 minutes per day
To this add two or more strength training sessions (using weights or resistance bands) each week
Get enough restful sleep
Disrupted sleep has recently been linked to increased inflammation and atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the vessels that’s linked with heart disease), so aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night to help the body heal and repair
Tips for better sleep: try to maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule every day, get exposure to natural daylight earlier in the day, avoid caffeine later in the day, cut out screens an hour before bedtime, and create a relaxing nighttime routine
Quit smoking and limit alcohol
Quitting smoking can help reduce inflammation and several other health concerns by reducing exposure to toxins that are directly linked to inflammation
Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks per day
Manage your stress
Engage in relaxing stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or tai chi
New research suggests that feeling socially isolated is linked with higher levels of inflammation, so reach out to family and friends (or make new ones)
See your doctor or dentist
Get your cholesterol and blood lipids tested because high amounts of “bad” LDL cholesterol is linked to inflammation and negatively affects your vessels
You can request a blood test to measure levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) which is a marker of inflammation (this test is also used to check your risk of developing heart disease)
If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, this may be a sign of gum inflammation (gingivitis), so ramp up your oral hygiene and see your dentist
Chronic, long-term, low-level inflammation is linked with many health issues. The first approach to preventing and improving this is through food and lifestyle changes. Start by focusing on adding colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fish to your diet. Then layer in lifestyle upgrades like physical activity, restful sleep, and stress management.
These changes can be integrated into your day-to-day practices. First try adding one additional fruit or vegetable to your day. Then, several times a day at each snack or meal. For inspiration, try recipes from my Anti-inflammatory Meal Plan.
If you’d like a plan designed to help you enjoy more of these anti-inflammatory foods, consult a registered dietitian/nutritionist who can provide personalized research-based nutrition advice for your health, lifestyle, and goals.
Detoxification is an essential function in the body. Believe it or not, your body can detox naturally if you eat a nutritious diet! You wouldn’t know it with so many variations of commercial detoxes and cleanses and each one is advertised with many health claims and compelling testimonials. The question is: Do they really improve skin and digestion, boost the immune system, increase energy, reduce inflammation, or cure diseases? A lot of the time—even when they don’t explicitly say so—they’re code words for a calorie restricted weight loss diet.
But, what effect can they really have on your health? How can you use nutrition to support your body’s detoxification naturally without spending money on expensive detox `supplements.
What is detoxification?
Detoxification is your body’s own process for breaking down and eliminating toxins. We are all exposed to toxins every day through food, water, and the air we breathe. Toxins include those naturally found in tiny quantities in foods (e.g., methanol naturally occurs in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables—which are very healthy). There are also synthetic toxins found in medicines, pesticides, and preservatives (e.g., sulfur dioxide is used to preserve some fruits and vegetables).
In fact, the body makes its own toxins through normal everyday processes like digestion, metabolism, and physical activity (e.g., urea which is excreted in the urine).
The good news is that your body does a great job breaking down toxins and eliminating them.
Because the world is full of toxins that can affect us, we’ve evolved some pretty sophisticated detoxification systems. Detoxification systems are mainly in the liver, but are also located in the kidneys, gut, etc. They help to make toxins less dangerous and allow them to be excreted mostly through urine and stool and also through breathing and sweating.
What does this have to do with nutrition?
These detoxification systems are made from many biochemicals in our bodies, such as enzymes. Part of what makes enzymes work are key essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. So, getting quality nutrition helps your body maintain all aspects of your health—including detoxification.
What are “detox diets” and “cleanses”?
Search the internet and you’ll find thousands of website pages and posts on these topics. There are so many different types of detox diets and cleanses being advertised. Many make bold promises of weight loss and improved health.
Detox diets and cleanses often include at least one of the following:
Eating more nutritious foods
Reducing [junk/processed/fast] foods
Avoiding alcohol and/or caffeine
Eliminating some common allergens (e.g., wheat or dairy)
Replacing meals with smoothies, juices, teas, or powders
Short or long-term fasting
Only eating/drinking a handful of recommended foods/beverages
Taking several dietary supplements and/or laxatives
Getting “colon cleanses” (enemas)
Some of these recommendations seem reasonable and healthy. It’s hard to argue that eating more nutritious foods or reducing processed foods isn’t a good step towards better health. However, some of the more extreme recommendations can pose a risk to people including those with underlying health conditions, children, adolescents, athletes, older adults, or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As you can imagine, the more foods you eliminate from your diet, the fewer nutrients you will get. So, one of the risks of extreme diets in the long-term are nutrient deficiencies. As we discussed, it’s counterintuitive to cut out too many foods because there are critical nutrients scientifically proven to be necessary for your body’s natural detoxification enzymes to work efficiently. Nutrition is key!
Another risk with certain detox supplements or teas are serious side effects. You may have heard about cases of unsafe ingredients or contamination that have harmed people.
Overall, there is a lack of good quality research into detox diets and cleanses, as most studies have been conducted on animals, not people. As Dr. Robert H. Schmerling from Harvard Health says, “It’s not even clear what toxin or toxins a cleanse is supposed to remove, or whether this actually happens.”
There’s no evidence that detoxes or cleanses actually help your body eliminate more toxins than it normally does. A few studies show that they can help with initial weight loss, however experts believe that’s due to a reduction in calorie intake. The weight lost is often water and carbohydrate (not fat), so it’s easily regained as soon as the dieting stops. There are no studies of the long-term effects of detox diets or cleanses.
Some people claim to feel better and more energized when they’re on these diets. This may be because they’re eating more nutritious foods and fewer processed foods that are high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats.
Having said this, there may be medical conditions for which eliminating certain foods is recommended. For example, if you have a food allergy or intolerance or if you need to be on a low-fiber diet due to digestive issues you have a valid reason for eliminating certain foods. Before jumping into a detox diet or cleanse, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider first.
Nutrition plays a vital role in your body’s ability to naturally detoxify and eliminate toxins. And you don’t need to follow an overly restrictive or extreme detox diet or cleanse to support them.
How to use nutrition to support your body’s natural detoxification
You probably don’t need to eliminate a long list of foods from your diet. In fact, getting enough of your daily nutrients is what can help ensure your detoxification enzymes have what they need to keep up their ongoing very important work.
Here are a few simple things you can do every day to “detox” yourself:
Don’t unnecessarily expose yourself to toxins in the first place. Avoid things like caffeine, sugar, tobacco and alcohol.
Stay hydrated by drinking enough water – this promotes excretion via urine. Use a reverse osmosis water filtration system at home if it fits into your budget.
Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables – choose organic if possible. These are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.
Include a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. These contain compounds that help support detoxification pathways.
Get enough dietary fiber by eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. By promoting bowel regularity, these help to eliminate toxins from the body via your poop.
Transition to a more plant-based diet will swing your diet towards more high fiber and nutrient-dense foods.
Enjoy some naturally fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. These promote digestive health and support your gut microbiome.
Consume lean protein. Protein is needed for many things including maintaining optimal levels of a “master” detoxification enzyme called glutathione.
Consult with a registered dietitian to see if you may be lacking in any key nutrients. Follow recommendations to eat more or less of a certain food or nutrient or take high-quality supplements if necessary.
Nutrition is a key aspect of detoxification. Your body’s own natural detoxification pathways in the liver, kidneys, etc. include many enzymes that require vitamins and minerals to function optimally. By getting enough of your essential vitamins and minerals, you’re supplying your detox enzymes what they need to work.
Detoxification diets or cleanses that you see advertised online tend to overpromise. They often oversell their abilities to improve health. There are almost no quality human studies showing benefits and there are no long-term studies. I recommend speaking with your healthcare professional before embarking on a detox diet or cleanse. If you are looking to lose weight, consider a nutritious and varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, reduced portion sizes, and be active every day.
If you have questions about diets, nutrition, detoxification, or weight loss consult a registered dietitian who can provide personalized research-based nutrition advice for your health, lifestyle, and goals.
You may have tried many different diets that claim to help with weight loss and disease prevention: low-fat, low-carb, ketogenic, paleo, whole 30, vegetarian, vegan, DASH, Mediterranean, MIND, etc. Yet, still not getting the results you want. Let’s explore one of the latest trends: intermittent fasting, and see how it works and if it works.
You may be used to eating three meals every day, plus snacks. That’s pretty common. With intermittent fasting you can essentially eat how much of whatever you want—but here’s the catch: you have to stay on schedule. With intermittent fasting there are scheduled periods of time when you can eat and others when you have to fast. Unlike most other diets, intermittent fasting tells you when to eat, not what to eat.
And, many people say that it can help lead you to better health and a longer life.
Sound interesting? Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of intermittent fasting and see if it works for you.
How to intermittently fast
Most of the diets that help achieve weight loss work by reducing the number of calories consumed. Intermittent fasting does the same thing, but in a different way. This way of eating significantly limits calories (requiring fasting) for certain durations of time (intermittently), while allowing little or no restrictions the rest of the time.
Intermittent fasting essentially means skipping meals on a regular basis, sometimes daily, weekly, or monthly. Here are a few different approaches:
Time-restricted feeding—Having all of your meals during an 8 to 12 hour window each day, drinking only water the rest of the day.
Alternate day fasting—Eating normally one day but only a minimal amount of calories the next; alternating between “feast” days and “fast” days.
5:2 eating pattern—Consuming meals regularly for five days per week, then restricting to no more than 600 calories per day for the other two. This happens by eating very little and drinking only water on those two fasting days.
Periodic fasting—Caloric intake is restricted for several consecutive days and unrestricted on all other days. For example, fasting for five straight days per month.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Studies show that intermittent fasting can achieve weight loss. The success is similar to other diets. Yes, similar—not necessarily better.
Overall, research on the effect of intermittent fasting on people’s health is still emerging as to whether it can also prevent disease or slow down aging, in addition to weight loss.
Most of the research on calorie restriction and intermittent fasting have been conducted in cells (e.g., yeasts), rodents, and even monkeys. Some, but not all of these studies show it may help to build exercise endurance, immune function, and live longer. It also seems to help resist some diseases like diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s.
When it comes to clinical studies (those done in people) on intermittent fasting, most have been pretty short—a few months or less. But, what we know so far is that it may help with markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein), diabetes (blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity), and help to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.
When it comes to weight loss, intermittently fasting seems to work just as well—not better—than other diets. Researchers think that eating this way decreases appetite for some people by slowing down the body’s metabolism. With a smaller appetite, you simply eat less and that is going to help you lose weight. Other people who intermittently fast struggle with and are much more uncomfortable during the fasting days, and some animal studies show that when they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, many overate.
What about extending the lifespan of humans? Those studies haven’t been done yet, so we simply don’t know the effects of intermittent fasting on our lifespan.
How intermittent fasting affects health
Naturally, our bodies have survival mechanisms allowing us to adjust to periods of fasting. This has been necessary, as throughout history, humans have endured many periods where food was scarce.
What happens when we don’t take in sufficient calories is that our body starts using up stored carbohydrates called glycogen. The liver stores enough glycogen to last about 12 to 16 hours before it runs out of fuel. Beyond 16 hours, the body switches fuels and begins to use fat as an energy source.
At this time, our metabolism shifts from a carbohydrate-burning state to a fat-burning state. Some of the fat is used directly as fuel, while some is metabolized into biochemicals called ketones. This new fat-burning metabolic state is called ketosis. The state of ketosis brings on other changes throughout the body. It’s these changes that are thought to underlie some of the health benefits seen with intermittent fasting.
Ketones are a more efficient source of energy for our bodies than glucose is and so they can help keep many of our cells working well even during periods of fasting. This is particularly true for brain cells and this may be part of the reason some animal studies show protection against age-related declines like Alzheimer’s.
Ketones may also help to ward off some cancers and inflammatory diseases like arthritis. They are also thought to reduce the amount of insulin in the blood which may help protect against type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, too many ketones may be harmful, so more research is needed to better understand the links between fasting, ketones, and health.
On a molecular level, intermittent fasting may extend lifespan in animals because of its effect on the DNA in our genes. Over time as we age, the way our genes are switched on and off changes. It appears that, in animals, restricting calories may slow down these age-related changes and help them to live a bit longer.
More research is underway to better understand the effect of fasting on these biological processes.
Before you start intermittently fasting
As with all major dietary changes, be sure to discuss it with your healthcare professional.
Before considering intermittent fasting, know that there are certain conditions that can make it dangerous. For example, if you have diabetes you need to eat regularly to maintain your blood sugar levels, so fasting is not recommended. Also, if you’re taking certain medications like diuretics for high blood pressure or heart disease, intermittent fasting increases your risk for electrolyte abnormalities.
Intermittent fasting is also not recommended for anyone who is under 18, has a history of eating disorders or anyone who may be pregnant or breastfeeding.
Of course whenever you change your diet you may experience side effects. Some side effects of people who restrict their calories or start intermittently fasting include fatigue, weakness, headache, reductions in sexual interest, and a reduced ability to maintain body temperature in cold environments.
Beyond the health risks and side effects, fasting is simply hard to do voluntarily—especially when it’s for two or more days. Some people may have a natural tendency to indulge too much on their “feast” days which can negate some of the benefits of fasting.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “More research will be needed to determine the long-term impact of the diet on human health and provide information on when and how such a diet might be applied.”
Nutrition tips for intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting can be hard. One thing that can help is having a social support network—especially for those days when you’re fasting.
Although the premise of intermittent fasting is to restrict when you eat, not what you eat, the quality of your food choices is still very important. Regardless of your eating style and preferences, you still need all of your essential nutrients. Intermittent fasting is not a good reason to eat a lot of the high-calorie nutrient-poor foods we all sometimes crave. I recommend eating adequate amounts of lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Also, avoid too many sugars and refined grains. Follow a Meal plan with nutritious foods of appropriate amounts will definitely maximize your chance of success with any intermittent fasting approach you choose.
The main reason for any dietary change is to have a sustainable and healthy lifestyle that helps you meet your health goals. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or prevent disease, intermittent fasting is one eating style that may work for you. The most important thing with any diet is to get all of your essential nutrients, appropriate amounts of food, and enjoy your lifestyle in the long run.
Any diet or eating pattern that helps some people may not have the same effect on everyone. That’s why it’s important to not make any significant dietary changes without consulting your healthcare professional or a registered dietitian.
Wellness isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the foundation of a good life. By focusing on your wellbeing, you improve your health, reduce the impact of stress, and set yourself up for a more satisfying life.
For many people, improving their health and wellness seems impossible. However, with the right strategies, it’s much easier than it may appear. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some simple ways to achieve better wellness.
Most adults need 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 to 150 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week. While you can do this with longer sweat sessions, breaking the time down into 10-minute intervals also works. So, if you’re struggling to cram exercise into your day, focus on fitting in 10-minute sessions wherever you can, as that might feel more manageable.
It also helps to pursue exercise that you will enjoy. Explore Our Indian Culture’s dance classes for Indian dance lessons and workshops that will have you having fun while breaking a sweat.
Not to minimize the dollars and effort required to maintain healthy eating, but good food pays off. It has been proven that diet is linked to preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
With the ever-evolving diet trends, choosing healthy foods can be confusing. It helps to find a trusted source of information from a credentialed professional like a Registered Dietitian.
You can start by trying delicious new foods while boosting your immunity. With some creativity and an open mind, you’ll discover lots of ways to eat healthy on a budget.
Get Quality Shuteye
In general, adults need at least 7 hours of quality sleep every day. By sleeping that long, you can have enough sleep cycles to ensure specific body processes can happen, ensuring your muscles, brain, nervous system, and more are able to repair and recover from the day.
Ideally, you want to make sure you give yourself enough time every day to get the sleep you need. Additionally, if you have any sleep disorder symptoms, seeing a doctor is essential. With a sleep disorder, you might not be getting the quality rest you need. By scheduling a medical appointment with your physician, you can get an assessment of your situation and create a treatment strategy that can help.
Schedule Some Me-Time
When your life is busy, it’s normal to focus on other people’s needs. You might prioritize your family or work over yourself, and while that’s okay on occasion, it can be detrimental to your wellbeing if you never come first in your own life.
Scheduling some me-time is critical for your wellbeing. It lets you focus on yourself, giving you a chance to do things that you enjoy. With regular me-time, you’ll have more energy, reduce stress, and have an easier time being at your best. Not only is that good for you, but also it ensures you can be there for others, making it a win-win.
Reduce Job Stress
On a typical workday, you spend about a third of your time at your job if you work full-time. If you aren’t happy while working, the fact that your overall well-being suffers shouldn’t be a surprise.
When your job isn’t challenging, you may become bored and frustrated. If your workplace is toxic or your workload is unmanageable, that could lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, or burnout, all of which can harm your wellbeing.
In some cases, the best thing you can do for yourself is to plan your exit. By moving forward with a career change, you can start in a role that ignites your passion, keeps you engaged, and brings you a new level of satisfaction.
If you already have the skills you need for a new job, you may simply need to launch a job search. If you don’t, then signing up for an online degree program could be an excellent move. With an online college, you get a flexible approach to education that can put you on the path toward something better, in business, IT, and many other fields. Then, once you’re done, you can begin your new career with ease.