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Berry-Go-Round! You Don’t Want To Miss The Amazing Benefits of Acai Berry!

Berry-Go-Round! You Don’t Want To Miss The Amazing Benefits of Acai Berry!

Regardless of where you live, you have probably heard of Acai (ah-sigh-ee). This berry is a superfood that can be found everywhere from boutique smoothie bowl spots and even the frozen food section of your local grocery store. But do you know what it is?

Acai is a small berry that is red and purple in color. It grows on an acai palm tree typically found in central and south America [1]. Aside from being pretty to look at, it’s also great for your health!

While all fruits have nutritional benefits, Acai boosts many antioxidants, making it great for your body, inside and out. In fact, many cosmetic products include the berry because no matter how much it’s processed, the antioxidant levels remain strong. It also contains high amounts of Vitamin A and phenolic compounds.

Acai also has natural detoxifying contents, iron, calcium, fiber and more! It even helps combat fatigue, furthering it’s claim to be a great breakfast food [2].

In recent years, Acai has made a name for itself through smoothie bowls and other trendy breakfast items. It’s an excellent addition to your diet because it not only looks beautiful, but it tastes good, too. For anyone who has struggled with eating well, you know that is a rare combination.

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Nutrition Profile

The following is a highlighted look at the nutritional profile of 100g of pure, unsweetened Acai berry [3].

  • Calories: 70.0
  • Total Carbohydrates: 4.0g
  • Sugars: 2.0g
  • Vitamin A: 750 IU
  • Calcium: 20.0mg

Health Benefits of Acai Berry

We’ve established that it’s beautiful and high in antioxidants, but there are more reasons to include the superfood in your diet.

1. Acai Helps Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease

The phenolic compounds in Acai helps to protect against heart disease and even cancer. In one study, researchers saw a reduction in the metabolic disease markers in overweight patients. This happened through consuming just 100 g of Acai pulp twice a day for 30 days.

2. Acai Can Provide More Energy!

Who doesn’t want more energy? Acari contains antioxidants, omega fatty acids, iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin A and anthocyanin which has been shown to aid in health. Because these things help you to break down carbs in a steady way throughout the day, you stay feeling full and energetic while avoiding that exhausted feeling. A recent study found that Acai represents one of the best sources of antioxidants you can buy!

3. Acai naturally detoxes the body.

A study by Sao Paulo State University over the span of 10 weeks used Acai berry pulp to treat a type of bladder cancer in mice. Not only did the cancer lessen, but DNA was actually repaired. While it’s important to keep in mind that mice and humans do not necessarily function the same way, it is a great sign of what the antioxidants can do in our bodies! Another study found that immense cell function was drastically increased simply by ingesting Acai.

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4. It Helps Improve Your skin.

Dr. Lindsey Duncan, ND, CN says Acai helps to maintain healthy hair, skin and nails, especially in females. This is largely due to the polyphenol antioxidants Acai has that can fight free radicals and oxidative stress. The best part? It can even slow down aging!

5. It increases your blood flow.

Healthy circulation is key. When your blood is circulating well, it can help you ward off health ailments. Plus, Acai assists in regulating and establishing proper blood flow. Researchers for one study have quickly figured out that adding in just a little bit of Acai to your daily eating habits positively affected cellular function.

6. Acai helps with range of motion.

In a pilot study called “Pain Reduction and Improvement in Range of Motion after Daily Consumption of an Acai” showed that after only three months of eating Acai, the subjects who experienced conditions such as osteoarthritis experienced way less pain.

7. Acai might help you lose weight.

Amherst College’s Acai Report 2005 study showed that because of all the healthy contents of Acai, ingesting the blueberry-sized berry could aid in weight loss!

Possible Side Effects

Now that we’ve talked about how incredible Acai is, let’s touch on the possible side effects that could come with eating the berry.

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Natural Standard, a research collaborative involving Harvard Medical School did a study and found few side effects. These included bloating, gas, nausea, constipation or loose stool, but all were minor and seemingly temporary.

More so, extracts and supplements of the berry could decrease blood sugar and have bad interactions with blood sugar-lowering medication. So if you’re on any medications to control blood glucose, talk to your doctor before including the berry in your diet. Lastly, it’s important to avoid eating Acai if you’re on a medically-prescribed low-potassium diet.

How to choose, pick and eat

Unless you’re in a Brazilian rainforest picking Acai off the trees, you can’t get fresh berries because they rot too quickly. However, if you’re in the US, you can get freeze-dried Acai in capsule form and the most popular form is frozen. This makes picking Acai at the grocery store super simple! No inspection necessary.

You can purchase Acai powder, capsules and frozen berries/puree at grocery and health food stores. And of course you can also buy online. Depending on what type you purchase (frozen or capsule) you can ingest the berry in different ways. If frozen, opt for smoothies or breakfast bowls.

Who can (and can’t) eat Acai?

As mentioned earlier, Acai is good for anyone unless on specific dietary restrictions or allergic to fruit. As with any fruit, enjoy in moderation to avoid excess sugar. If pregnant, check with your doctor before ingesting. While it hasn’t been shown to be dangerous, it is never wise to make assumptions when it comes to your health.

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Starting off with the simple yet delicious Acai Bowl!

Quick and Easy Acai Bowl

    Image from Dinner at the zoo

    Makes 2 servings

    • 1 cup apple juice
    • 1 large banana, sliced
    • 1 1/2 cups frozen berries
    • 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 frozen packed of acas berry puree broken into piece
    • Assorted toppings such as sliced almonds, berries, shredded coconut, granola, chia seeds, sliced bananas, etc.

    Instructions:

    1. Place the apple juice, banana, frozen berries, yogurt, honey and acai puree in the blender.
    2. Blend until thoroughly combines and smooth.
    3. Pour the smoothie into 2 deep bowls.
    4. Arrange the desired toppings over your smoothie bowls and serve.

    Featured photo credit: Total Body Nourishment via totalbodynourishment.com

    Reference

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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