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5 Easy Ways To Stay Healthy And Fit

5 Easy Ways To Stay Healthy And Fit

Getting into the habit of eating well and working out consistently is hard enough. Staying healthy and fit is even harder. Until you get into a good rhythm and form healthy habits, it can be challenging to figure out how to stay at your physical best without obsessing over it.

Here are five easy habits you can start forming today to help you stay healthy and fit for the long-term.

 1. Buy fewer processed foods at the grocery store

All the foods we eat are processed in some way, but foods that undergo chemical processing, which means they are made from ingredients that aren’t real, thus making them high in sugar and low in the nutrients we actually need to fuel our bodies and keep us healthy, should be avoided.

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As a general rule, try to limit the number of prepackaged, nonperishable food items you have in your grocery cart at checkout, foods such as chips, granola bars and frozen meals. Purchasing perishable items, such as yogurt, bread and fresh produce, is a sign that what you’re buying more closely resembles foods your body can easily digest and use for fuel.

2. Make exercise part of your everyday life

Just because you don’t live at the gym or own your own fitness gear doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit. Sometimes it’s the small actions we add into our daily lives amidst other activities that make all the difference.

Find creative ways to stay active no matter how busy your schedule is. There might be days that you really don’t have time to head to the gym, even when you want to. You can do squats and stretch while you’re on the phone. Invest in a standing desk or put together a makeshift version if you sit a lot during the day. Walk instead of drive, if it’s practical. Ask a client or co-worker if he or she would rather talk and walk instead of sitting down for coffee.

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 3. Eat more than three times a day

We’re used to eating three large meals a day because that’s what our ancestors did when they first came to the New World. You probably base when you eat off of your school or work schedule: a decent breakfast in the morning, a light lunch in the middle of the day and a hearty dinner after a long, nine-to-five workday. When you do get hungry in-between, you’ll usually either grab a vending machine snack or wait until your next meal, which can lead to unintentional overeating.

Eating smaller meals more often—yes, that means snacking—can help you be more mindful of how much you’re eating, and when. The best way to manage eating smaller meals more frequently is to learn to eat when you’re hungry, stop eating when you’re full and refrain from eating out of boredom or stress. You can pack healthy snacks for yourself during the day, which we’ll talk more about next.

 4. Prepare snacks in advance

Sometimes we end up eating too much junk food just because it’s easy to grab and munch. When you’re crunched for time or trying to multi-task, putting in the effort to slice an apple and find the almond butter in the back of the refrigerator isn’t going to make the top spot on your priority list. You’ll reach for the bag of potato chips instead—no preparation required.

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These don’t have to be complicated snacks. It can be something as simple as sticking a bag of popcorn in the microwave and pouring it into a plastic bag or making your own kale chips the night before to carry with you. If you buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, cut them up and store them in the fridge right away for easy access the next time you’re home and hungry for a snack.

5. Write down a detailed description of what being healthy means for you personally

The biggest mistake we make when we decide to start living healthier is using someone else’s parameters to shape our new lifestyle. One person’s fitness routine and dietary habits are not a standard you are required to follow. The key to staying healthy and fit is figuring out your own definition of health, and deciding how you’re going to stick to it.

You might define being healthy as getting six to eight hours of sleep every night, working out for 30 minutes three times a week and eating all five food groups every day. If that’s what you can manage what’s going to work with your schedule, there is no right or wrong. Write down how you plan to modify your lifestyle and let that description shape your actions.

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Conclusion

The path to healthy living doesn’t involve sudden, drastic changes. Adopting a healthier lifestyle involves looking at where you’re at, picturing where you want to be and figuring out how you can incorporate gradual, subtle modifications to your normal routine.

By taking it one short, simple step at a time, you’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life in no time.

Featured photo credit: Dr. Abdullah Naser via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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