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Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Mediterranean Diet Is Proven Good For The Brain, Science Says

Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish and olive oil! That’s all the goodness that’s good for you…plus some lean protein (chicken/meat) once in awhile if you so desire. And oh…sometimes a sip of red wine pairs perfectly with it all…

This is the basis of the Mediterranean diet which (although thousands of years old) made the news headlines a few years back.

So whats the latest buzz about the Med diet? Researchers have studied groups of individuals, particularly those who live in Mediterranean areas (ie. Spain) and consumed a Mediterranean type diet. Not only has this diet shown to decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but more recently researchers have found this type of diet to have a correlation to protecting the brain. JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital  (and professor at Harvard) believes, “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” because regular ingesting of the primary foods in this diet can help to improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. All of these markers ultimately affect brain health.

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Moreover, a diet high in antioxidant rich foods, such as fruits and veggies, helps to combat oxidation stress–that’s the damage our cells undergo by free radicals. The antioxidants in the foods help repair the cells and prevent further damage.

The Omega 3 and 6’s found in fish, olive oil, nuts and some veggies work to boost your immunity and optimize your neural network (ie. more improved brain health)! Researchers are now beginning to believe that many of these foods can shave off age-related memory loss.

So if you haven’t yet added the Mediterranean diet to your own personal daily regime, it’s probably time to start. At least give it a try. Here’s a pretty quick and easy recipe, made with the anti-aging goodness of the Mediterranean in mind:

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garlicky quinoa

    Garlicky Quinoa and Garbanzo Bean Salad (with appreciation and credit to Allrecipes.com)

    This dish will get you moving “Mediterranean style” with broccoli, whole grain (quinoa), legumes (garbanzo beans), zesty herbs, lemon and not-to-miss olive oil! Notice how all of these ingredients are healthy, hearty and mixed to be especially tasty. If you prefer to add some extra (non vegan) protein, add cubed roasted chicken breast or roasted salmon for a lovely flair!

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    Ingredients

    1/2 cup uncooked quinoa                          3/4 cup chopped broccoli                         1 TSP dried tarragon

    1 cup water                                                 1 clove minced garlic                              3 TSPs coarse-grained mustard

    1 can drained garbanzo beans                   1 TBSP fresh lemon juice                       3 TBSPs  extra virgin olive oil

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    Directions

    1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender–about 15-20 minutes.
    2. Put cooked quinoa in mixing bowl and add garbanzo beans, broccoli, garlic, lemon juice, tarragon, mustard and olive oil. Stir well. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

    This recipe is fairly quick and easy to prepare (10 min plus an additional 15 min of cooking time)! Voila, you can have yourself a healthy heart and BRAIN meal in under half an hour. Just what your body needs–and it works perfectly into your schedule after a long day at work or at home with the family!

    Now let it be said, that even the Mediterraneans know that just eating healthy food won’t alone necessarily optimize their health. Sprinkle in daily exercise, laughter, generosity, kindness, family time and community…and now you begin to develop an entire culture of well being and healthier lifestyle. Nothing can truly survive in a  vacuum. It all has to work in tandem: Diet-Movement-Outlook-Self Care- Gratitude-and of course your own set of beautiful genetics!

    So who is “in” for a trip to the Mediterranean with me? Salty warm ocean waters, sandy beaches or daring cliffs, sunshine, warmhearted souls, healthy food, and the best brain trip you can imagine!

    Featured photo credit: Miguel Discart via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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