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Healthy Habit Changes for 2009

Healthy Habit Changes for 2009

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    Trying to make 2009 your healthiest year to date?   I’ve compiled for you what I believe to be some of the best health conscience habits you can easily adopt.

    Habit 1:  Drink more water.

    Sure, I know about all the news reports that say it’s possible to drink too much water.  Surprisingly, this same story is told just about every 4 years when news stations have no other “news” going on, and it always seems to stir up all sorts of awareness on the topic.  The truth is, in all my years of guiding individuals on proper nutrition, I have yet to run into one person who had an H2O disorder.  A well-hydrated body has a much easier time at shedding unwanted body fat and preserving lean muscle mass.  A healthy, active individual should be consuming .6 – .7 ounces of water per pound of body weight.

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    Habit 2:  Eat more fiber.

    I’ll say it again.  People do not get nearly enough fiber in their diets.  Work on trying to get anywhere from 25 – 30 grams of fiber per day into your eating plan.  Fiber provides a plethora of benefits from increasing the thermic effect (calories burned from digestion) of a meal, to trapping and evacuating excess fats.

    Habit 3:  Eat every 3 hours.

    Start splitting your larger meals up into smaller, more frequent bouts of eating.  Spreading your calories throughout the day allows for an increase in metabolism and insures that none of the nutrients you are consuming go to waste.  This can be difficult for many people who maintain busy lifestyles, which is why I suggest picking one or two days a week to do all of your cooking.  At that point, Tupperware containers become your new best friend.

    Habit 4:  Eat more fruits and vegetables.

    And eat a large variety as well.  The more colors you consume the better.  They’re packed with fat-burning fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  We all know that vegetables are gold, but when it comes to fruit, it sometimes gets a bad rep.  I often get the question “but doesn’t fruit have a lot of sugar in it?”  Again, I have yet to meet the person who has a well-balanced diet who has found that fruit was the main reason they couldn’t let go of the extra body fat.  Get over it. If you’re obese fruit isn’t the culprit.  Take a long look at everything else you’re eating, and I’m positive you’ll find something a little more worthy to drop. 

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    Habit 5:  Drink less alcohol.

    If you want a drug that will help you gain body fat as well as decrease your lean body mass, then you’ve found the right prescription.  This is true only when it’s consumed in excess, of course.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some beer, and there are studies showing plenty of benefits from its consumption at moderate dosages.  But let’s not get carried away now.  If you tend to go overboard, and you know who you are, maybe it’s time to start keeping track of just how much you’re putting back.

    Habit 6:  Choose organic and local foods when possible.

    There is no doubt in my mind that we will start to see more and more studies come out showing the adverse effects of consuming over-processed food.  It’s only a matter of time.  Digestion is a delicate process, a process our bodies have spent hundreds of thousands of years perfecting.  In just the past few decades we have started introducing extra hormones, antibiotics, and other impurities into our foods.  Our bodies have filters that take care of these things, but let’s not put them to the test.

    Habit 7:  Reduce the amount of sugars consumed.

    At this point it should be a no brainer.  If anything good has come from the hundreds of diet books written this past decade, it’s the awareness that controlling your blood sugar is crucial to achieving optimal health.  The sweets do not have to be eliminated from your diet completely, but you should have them well under control. 

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    Habit 8:  Stop going to the super market hungry.

    Real simple.  If you’re hungry, you’ll buy what you want, not what you need.  Our bodies are still hard-wired for survival.  Unfortunately when you stroll down the aisle at your local food supply your brain will target just about anything in your field of vision and deem it an acceptable choice of nourishment, regardless of its nutritional value. 

    Habit 9:  Take regular stand up breaks at work.

    Do it for your posture, do it for circulation, and do it for your own sanity.  Our bodies were not designed to be in a seated position all day long.  You could prevent much of life’s chronic pains if you would just take a moment to stand up and stretch your legs every 30 or 40 minutes.  Set a timer on your desktop if you have to; just get it done.

    Habit 10:  Start using the stairs instead of the elevator.

    Even park farther away from your destination so you have to walk a few extra steps in the day.  Adding a tiny bit of extra footwork can add up at the end of the year.  I know it’s not exciting or drastic, but the difference can be a few extra pounds that you don’t need hanging around your waist.

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    Habit 11:  Balance your physical and sedentary activities.

    I’m talking about what you do with your free time.  Have you ever spent a couple of hours on the weekend watching TV, playing video games, or browsing the internet looking at cat pictures?  Try to create some balance by doing an equal amount of leisure activities on your feet.  Take a walk, shoot some hoops, and maybe take up a new physically active hobby.  Who knows, you might find something new you really like.

    Habit 12:  Keep a health journal.

    One of the most powerful ways to be successful with your health is to write it all down.  Keep track of your workouts and your nutrition.  It can be very hard to figure out where you’re going if you don’t remember where you’ve been.  You’ll be giving yourself a point of reference so you can truly see if any of the changes you make are creating a difference.  If they’re not, then at least you know that and can change your plan of action and recalibrate.   

    A lot of times we get a little too ambitious when it comes to our new year’s resolutions and try to take on more than we can handle.  This inevitably leads to failure.  Start with the small habits and work your way up the fitness ladder for a more subtle and long term experience.  Good Luck.

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    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

    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:

    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.

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    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.

    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.

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

    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!

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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