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11 Revitalizing Foods For Your Body And Brain

11 Revitalizing Foods For Your Body And Brain

If you’re anything like me, you crave alternative health! You love making yourself healthier by using natural approaches and you love finding new and promising research on potential solutions to everyday issues and even chronic disease. I love taking the “natural” route.

I’ve dabbled with supplements, shakes, diets, and countless fitness contraptions in an effort to be as healthy as possible. Some of it has worked, but most of it has not. Along the way, I’ve come to realize, however, that the most important and most essential performance-enhancing action you can take, is to eat the right foods.

To become the healthiest person you can possibly be, you have to eat well! After all, “You are what you eat.” as the famous sentiment goes.

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Here are 11 foods to consume to be at your very best both physically and mentally.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric, also known as Curcumin, is perhaps the most powerful herb ever discovered. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. It also has chronic disease-fighting abilities and has been shown to be fairly effective in preventing and treating both cancer and dementia—particularly Alzheimer’s Disease. To eat or drink Turmeric, you can add it to rice, soup, vegetables, or anything else really. It mixes in really well.

2. Coconut Oil

One of the healthiest fats on the planet, Coconut Oil is a must-add for many people. Coconut Oil’s benefits are a laundry-list of “Wows.” From energy increases (because of its MCT/Ketogenic effect), to fat burning, to chronic brain disease treatment, to virus, fungi, and bacteria killing properties, to cholesterol improvement, Coconut Oil covers it all! Although there are many ways to cook with Coconut Oil, the easiest, and in my humble opinion, best way to have Coconut oil, is to simply use it as a spread on toast. It beats the heck out of butter!

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3. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a well-documented and well-researched herb. Its history dates back thousands of years and its benefits have been reaped for just as long. It’s one of the strongest and most helpful antioxidants and is frequently used as an anti-aging herb. Not only can it potentially make you look younger, but it can also make you feel younger as well. It’s used by many as a cognitive enhancer and a memory booster. It improves circulation throughout the body and promotes increased blood-flow to the brain, awakening and revitalizing the billions of neurons in your head! The easiest way to consume Ginkgo and reap its benefits would be to add it to your tea.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries aren’t just a delicious fruit to enjoy, they’re also an extremely healthy body and brain snack as well! They’ve been studied and found to be a very strong antioxidant and brain cell rejuvenator. Blueberries contain bioflavonoids and phytonutrients which promote anti-aging and increase memory function. If you’d like, you can eat blueberries fresh or just add them to your favorite smoothie.

5. Fish

Fish, namely fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, are perfect for overall health! They are packed with muscle-building protein and brain-improving fat. It’s the perfect combination of brawn and brains! The fatty acids in fish, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, called omega-3 fatty acids, are great for just about every function in the human body. They help with depression, memory, heart health, inflammation, immune support, and so much more! For a great and easy meal just throw some salmon in the oven.

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6. Eggs

Packed with protein, minerals, and vitamins, eggs (the entire egg) offers a great blend of body and brain support. The high protein content, similar to fish, provides essential muscles building ingredients and equally important amino acids for brain function. Not only this, but the B-vitamins loaded in eggs are essential for memory, stress support, and neural processing. Also, the common misconception that eggs are bad for cholesterol has little evidence. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. Although eggs may contain a good amount of cholesterol, they don’t actually raise blood cholesterol in the individual consuming them, thus making them harmless in this regard. Eggs can be consumed in a myriad of ways. Whether frying them, boiling them, scrambling them, adding them to salad, or something else, they are always good!

7. Ginger

Similar in its process and its effectiveness to Turmeric, Ginger is a wonder-herb! It has many of the same powerful disease and infection-fighting abilities as Curcumin. From its anti-cancerous properties, to its antibacterial effectiveness (by some accounts better than antibiotics), to its anti-inflammatory effect, to its use in morning sickness and upset stomach, Ginger is a proven super-food. Not only can it be taken every day for gastrointestinal issues like upset stomachs, but it can also be helpful for brain function by inhibiting chronic inflammation and relieving headaches. Ginger can easily be added to any meal in need of flavoring. Simply chop it up and add it on!

8. Almonds

Almonds are like nature’s multi-vitamin. They are packed with tons of macronutrients and micronutrients. There great for brain function, energy, skin health, muscle building, anemia, impotency, diabetes, and so much more! They’re filled with high-quality protein and equally great monounsaturated fats. Almonds contain Riboflavin and Carnitine which are both great for brain function and energy support. Aside from eating them whole, try making homemade almond butter. It is delicious!

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9. Kale

Kale is another super-food on the list. It helps so many functions in the body and is incredibly beneficial to both the body and brain. Kale is made up of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and good fats. Kale helps with sex drive, energy, overall happiness, and even memory. It does so because of its incredible anti-inflammatory ability and its nutritional make-up of essential compounds. The healthy fats, the B-vitamins, the Iron, and the Vitamin C content, all make Kale a healthy force to be reckoned with! To mix it up, try Sautéed Kale.

10. Honey

Honey has been used for years as a bacterial, viral, fungal, and allergy fighter. It’s a really tasty and healthy day-to-day treat. Though its mechanisms are still not entirely known and are currently being researched for more clarity, honey is a generally safe addition to everyone’s diet (barring any sort of disease like diabetes or a sugar restriction). Honey is not only great for general use, but its effects on the brain are indisputable. It acts as a memory enhancer and also a brain protector with its anti-oxidant properties. Honey can be added to anything or eaten by itself as a stand-alone, but having it as a tasty tea is also great.

11. Apples

An apple a day may keep the doctor away. Apples have been known for years to boost your immune system, help with stomach aches, reduce cholesterol, and improve your heart health. But they may also boost your memory, mood, and brain function as well! It’s been found that consuming an apple, or better yet two, a day, can boost acetylcholine levels in the brain. Acetylcholine is a very important neurotransmitter in the brain and is essential in memory performance. Not only this, but apples have been studied and found to be effective at removing brain toxins that cause degenerative brain diseases like dementia! Apples are perhaps the best-tasting fruit of them all. But if you’re feeling bold, making your own apple juice may be a good way to mix things up!

There it is. The 11 most revitalizing foods for both your body and brain. Not only will you feel great physically after eating these treats, but you’ll feel great mentally as well! In fact, you can feel great now knowing you have 11 delicious foods to start eating that will make you healthier than ever!

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanáček – PicJumbo via picjumbo.com

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Justin Stenstrom

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Last Updated on June 15, 2018

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

Video Summary

Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

Sitting Is the New Smoking

Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

    Sit Properly

    If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

    Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

      Credit: StayWow

      Stand Up More

      Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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      Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

      Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

      Or get a standing desk.

      One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

      Exercise for Lower Back Pain

      Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

      But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

      The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

      Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

      Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

      This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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      Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

      Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

      There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

      Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

      I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

      Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

      If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

      Where to Start

      The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

      Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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      If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

      Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

      Keep a straight back.

      Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

      Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

      I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

      If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

      Stay Away From the Back Pain League

      Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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