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5 Reasons to Avoid a Cleanse (and What to Do Instead!)

5 Reasons to Avoid a Cleanse (and What to Do Instead!)

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, I am reading more and more headlines touting the “quick”, “safe”, and “easy” ways to lose an astonishing amount of weight in just a few days. Most of these articles use the buzz words “cleanse” or “detox” and promote radical shifts in lifestyle habits, yet are not backed by any hard scientific evidence. (Side note: there are no peer reviewed studies available on PudMed, one of the most comprehensive search engines for health and nutrition studies!).

Should these flashy articles be thought of as the Holy Grail for losing those pesky five to ten pounds that tend to accumulate over the holidays? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these articles really are too good to be true and are not long-term strategies for weight management.

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So, let’s go through why you should shy away from a juice cleanse and discuss some tried and true methods (backed by actual science!) to get you back on the healthy train.

1. Your body doesn’t actually need to “detox”

Detox is all the rage these days, with more and more people touting the benefits of removing “toxins” from the body. However, many toxins, such as urea and lactic acid, are produced through normal biological processes. Because of this, the body is equipped with a coordinated system that is able to detoxify and remove harmful compounds. This system includes the liver, kidneys, and GI tract. It involves a variety of enzymes and proteins to help filter out toxins and byproducts from the body.

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2. Cleanses are low in protein

Most juice cleanses involve consuming little to no protein, which is extremely problematic for multi-week juice cleanses. Protein is a macro-nutrient involved in promoting lean muscle development and feelings of fullness. Additionally, protein is critical for supporting immune health, so doing a juice cleanse in the middle of cold and flu season may not be the best idea for protecting yourself against infection.

3. Energy will not drastically improve on a cleanse

The body is able to store energy, about 600 grams, in the form of glycogen, so in the first few days of a juice cleanse, glycogen stores are depleted. Going through glycogen stores can lead to lack of energy, headaches, and dizziness due to unstable blood sugar levels.

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4. Just because celebrities do it, doesn’t mean trained healthcare professionals would recommend a cleanse

Celebrities ranging from Gwyneth Paltrow to Beyoncé have made cleanses a household word, but should we be taking healthcare recommendations from them? It is best to consult with a trained and certified healthcare professional such as a Registered Dietitian before making any drastic dietary changes. Registered Dietitian, Sarah Romotsky, says, “Would you got legal advice from an actor from “Law & Order?” Stick to credentialed nutrition experts like myself who understand the science and provide individualized, tailored recommendations for you. I’ll gladly encourage juice as a way to get important vitamins and minerals, but a cleanse is completely unnecessary and unproductive.”

5. Cleansing is not a long-term weight loss solution

Additionally, metabolizing glycogen for energy also draws out water from the body, which results in the short-term weight loss. However, since the body prefers to have glycogen stores, once you resume a normal diet, glycogen will be stored again, which draws in water and translates to increased weight on the scale.

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6. Instead, focus on a balanced diet that incorporates moderate exercise

While it is not the most “sexy” piece of advice, adopting a diet that highlights nutrient-dense foods, incorporates the three macro-nutrients, and makes sure to get in important micro-nutrients is the best strategy for weight management. Additionally, ensuring your energy balance is in check is your best bet for weight management.

What is energy balance? Simply put, it is balancing the amount of calories that are taken in with the amount of calories that are expended. According to the USDA, “People who are most successful at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight do so through continued attention to consuming only enough calories from foods and beverages to meet their needs and by being physically active”.

Eating this way will not only appropriately fuel your body throughout the day, but also give you a long-term sustainable relationship with food. So, cut the cleansing, chose nutrient-dense foods, and make sure you are getting plenty of exercise. This strategy will power you through the (sometimes) overindulgent holiday season and steer you towards optimal health.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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