Simple lifestyle hacks like these can help lower your risk for dementia diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Click here to find out what they are!Read More
By: Joe Fleming, co-founder of Vive Health
For many of us, pain is a part of everyday life, whether due to a fitness injury like shin splints, or a chronic condition like arthritis. Because we all live such busy lives, we understandably want the pain to go away as quickly as possible and there are plenty of opioid painkillers that will do just that.
Unfortunately, these pills often come at a great price... and not just in terms of money. They are extremely addictive. It is easy to get hooked and almost impossible to quit. Even worse, opioids are often gateway drugs to heroin or something even worse. At some point, the cost simply becomes too high.
The good news is that there are a number of natural remedies that can either eliminate pain altogether, when coupled with time and some other things, or at least greatly reduce our pain pill consumption.
Most people know arthritis is chronic, degenerative, and incurable. In other words, the underlying condition is always there, usually gets worse, and never gets better. As a result, many people think that prescription painkillers are the only way to get through the day. However, in many cases, that’s simply not true.
People successfully dealt with arthritis pain long before prescription painkillers came along, and what worked then will work today. Some ideas include:
Weight Loss: Obesity worsens arthritis in the ankles, knees, and other joints in the lower extremities, simply because of the extra pressure and stress. Even just ten pounds should make a noticeable difference.
Exercise: Somewhat similarly, exercise increases flexibility and muscle mass, thus reducing discomfort. Targeted exercise usually improves arthritis not only in the legs, but in other parts of the body as well.
Yoga: In addition to physical exercise, yoga provides a few minutes of quiet meditation. There is considerable evidence that meditation decreases pain, if for no other reason than you are thinking about something else for a period of time.
Dietary Supplements: Turmeric, a common Indian spice, reduces joint inflammation. Other proven supplements include S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), fish oil and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).
Depending on the individual, these techniques may make a night and day difference or they may not have any effect at all. However, nearly everyone sees enough improvement to either reduce the use of prescription pain pills or replace them with analgesics, like Motrin.
While back pain is usually curable, that cure may entail spinal fusion surgery or some other radical procedure. So, for many people, the goal is pain management, as it is with arthritis sufferers.
Exercise is usually the best way to address back pain, and there are a number of activities and stretches that may work well. Alternating hot and cold therapy, with a heat pad and ice pack, is also effective in many cases. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) has also shown to help reduce low back pain.
These injuries are usually quite painful but easily curable. In the instance of fitness injury, pain-masking opioids may be an even worse idea than normal, because people might feel better before they actually are and re-injure themselves. The RICE method is usually a great approach immediately after a fitness injury.
Rest: Talk to a doctor or trainer about how long you need to walk on crutches, wear a boot, or otherwise avoid using the muscle.
Ice: Twenty minutes of cold therapy not only reduces swelling, but also reduces discomfort.
Compression: An ACE Bandage will do in a pinch to decrease inflammation, but a specially-designed wrap, like a calf shin support, will usually help people get better faster.
Elevation: Keep the injured muscle above your heart.
About halfway through the recovery process for a fitness-related injury, cross-training is probably okay, to stay fit and help ease injury-related depression. But be sure you talk to a doctor or therapist first.
The bottom line is that there are options other than addictive painkillers to decrease the discomfort associated with many everyday illnesses and injuries.
(1) A. Cassoobhoy. (December 15, 2015). What is low back pain? WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/ss/slideshow-low-back-pain-overview
...Throwing light on the facts.
By: Eric Olesen from Fitness Goals
If you’re someone who has always had big thighs, you would know the importance of a thigh gap. A thigh gap is the clear space right under your crotch and in between your middle and upper thighs. A small gap within your thighs is an ultimate symbol of a well-toned female body according to most media today. It appears that in order to have a minimum thigh gap, your thighs should be totally devoid of fat. However, as every woman knows, the inner thighs are outrageously difficult to curb fat and hence for all dieting women, inner thighs remain the Mount Everest of their body.
Debunking a few myths on thigh gaps
The extent to which some girls have gone in order to try and bring that gap in between both thighs has made it an extremely controversial topic. This has raised a bunch drama around the thigh gap... so what are the few myths and facts surrounding this topic?
Myth #1: Anyone can easily get a thigh gap like the supermodels
Under optimal situations, the female bone structure and the way in which the femur bone is spread out naturally forms a thigh gap. Since every woman is different, there are some who can never ever achieve a slight gap in between their thighs, no matter how much toned and thin their thighs are. This is simply a matter of bone structure and it is okay if you have a body type that doesn't allow for a thigh gap. While the majority of women can obtain a thigh gap with enough dedication, it may not be healthy. It requires low body fat percentages that many people cannot maintain. And always remember: even if your bone structure doesn't allow the gap, there are still many other benefits to remaining healthy and fit.
Myth #2: You require being skinny like a supermodel to get a thigh gap
The absence or appearance of a gap within thighs is usually due to a layer of fat within your inner thighs. The less fat that you have, the more likely you are to have a gap. This automatically means that the skinnier you are, the easier it will be for you to get that gap in between thighs. But again, as every woman is shaped differently, the structure of your body plays a big role in deciding the gap that you can have.
Myth #3: You can’t build leg muscles if you want a gap
Unless you’re working out like a man with heavy weights and doing squats with 225lbs, plus eating enough to put on tons of muscle, it’s pretty unlikely that you will get quads which block the thigh gap. Nevertheless, if you still want to do leg exercises with weights to ensure that you have streamlined legs, you have to ensure that you stick to lower weights to create strong, but lean, muscles.
Best exercises to help you get the much-desired thigh gap
Though it is true that losing those extra pounds through a proper schedule of diet and exercise is the best way in which you can get a thigh gap, yet there are 5 exercises which can speed up the long-muscle building process.
1. Pile squats
2. Pilates leg lifts
3. Bridge raises
4. Inner leg lift
5. Lateral lunge
Once you keep doing these exercises daily, along with proper diet, you will be able to accomplish your dream of having a gap in between your thighs and feel like a supermodel (assuming, again, that your bone structure allows it). To know more on this, you can check out www.fitnessgoals.com
Am I becoming a fashion blogger now? I don't know. With a company like the one you're about to meet on here, which combines the beauty of nature with functionality, I could be convinced. Maybe with this post will push me in that direction! It's my site. I can do what I want. ;)
But back to the thing we're all here for: JORD is a company that produces wood watches that are truly unique. Offering both a men's shop and a women's shop, JORD uses 13 different wood types (alone and in combination, depending on the design) to create timeless time keepers. They even fully expose the availability and sustainability of each of the materials they use. This transparency with their customers is a huge bonus, in my opinion. Their site elaborates on each type of wood used, explaining the grain and weight as well as the sustainability rating according to two different environmental associations.
While most types of wood used by JORD are considered sustainable by both metrics, some types of wood (such as the zebrawood used to make my watch) is noted when there is a conflict in the ratings. In the case of zebrawood, the CITES Appendices do not list it as an issue but the IUCN Red List notes that it is vulnerable in its natural habitat. While it may not be ideal to use much longer because of its precarious environment shrinkage, I really appreciate that JORD is honest with the status of this specific wood. It allows for ethical purchasing.
The company strives to promote their own creativity, drive, and desire to make their time count through the watches they produce. Though there are several series of watch designs to choose from, the nature of wood means that each timepiece will still turn out different from all the others. It's kind of like people - we may have similar interests, jobs, hobbies, lives. But each of us is still "cut from our part of the cloth." And that's what JORD wants to represent.
Let's talk about the watch I went with. The Reece Series Zebrawood & Emerald combined several of my favorite things, making it catch my eye right away:
- The watch face is my favorite color of all-time, a deep teal
- The texture of zebrawood ensures that each watch is truly unique, with telltale lines more visible than other woods running through the grain to identify that it is truly authentic
- A clever thread of maple running through the band to help the zebrawood patterns stand out even more
- A square face that veers from the traditional circular shape without getting "too crazy"
- A combination of modernity, elegance, and fun that seems to sum me up pretty well! (Though I don't know how elegant I am most of the time...)
When I first received my watch, I truly didn't know what to expect as far as wearing it goes. I wasn't a watch-wearer until recently, and it's usually a fitness tracker/stopwatch to use while I'm working. But going out in a sporty watch while wearing a sundress just doesn't seem like I know what I'm doing, ya know?
Yeah, This watch is definitely upping the class in my life.
An extra piece of specialty that JORD adds to each of their watches is the packaging they come in. I don't think I've ever seen such class and care go into the simple way a product is carried, and it seemed like a piece of art just to witness the box each watch comes in. This is just another example of how well JORD takes care to exemplify art and class in everything they do. It's a point proven about the company's values.
That's absolutely the definition of elegance.
Well... now that I've shown off my own watch enough, how about your own chance at getting a killer discount for your own? Click here to enter a giveaway for $100 on the JORD store. Everyone who enters will automatically receive a unique code for $25 JORD store credit, so even if you don't get the grand prize you'll still be snagging a deal! Your unique style can only be highlighted by these unique timepieces. Go ahead and enter that giveaway to support this awesome and beautiful company.
By: Aron James
For men who want to take care of their skin, it can be somewhat daunting to walk through the beauty aisle at your local grocery store while attempting to find the product that is just right for you. While certain skin creams can help to improve skin blemishes and other skin-related problems, one of the most overlooked (yet utterly important) parts of skin care is what you eat.
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on high end skin creams, cleansers and exfoliants, you might very well be able to get rid of those excess pimples and oily skin simply by avoiding that mid-afternoon stop at the local fast food joint. Choosing to eat a diet that is rich in natural, wholesome and organic foods is one of the best ways to improve the skin on any man's face. Below I offer three food hacks that will help improve your overall skin health while helping you avoid breaking the bank on expensive skin care treatment products.
Eat a Diet Rich in Antioxidants
Even if you are not a nutritionist, chances are that you have heard of antioxidants. It may seem like every other week you read a newspaper article or post on Facebook about some type of food that is high in antioxidants and thus great for your health. Antioxidants, among other health benefits, help to slow the process of aging.
One recent study titled Diet in Dermatology: Present Perspectives (1), concludes that foods that are high in antioxidants have a high photo-protective potential, which is a fancy way of saying that these foods will help protect your skin from signs of premature aging caused by exposure to the sun and other elements. So, be sure to add an extra cup of blueberries (high in antioxidants) to your cereal in the morning, and don´t worry about eating that dark chocolate bar as it has high levels of flavonoids, a potent antioxidant.
Eat a Well-Rounded Diet
While this should be common sense for anyone, nutritional deficiencies that come up because we have been avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables can lead to several skin health problems. For men who consider skin care an essential part of their grooming regime, you might want to spend more time in the produce section of your local supermarket. Or better yet, visit your local farmers market to find fresh, wholesome, organic produce that will give you the vitamins and minerals your skin needs to stay healthy.
Trade Out Sugar for Honey
Too much sugar is never a good thing for your teeth, your blood sugar levels, or for your skin. By using honey to sweeten your morning coffee, you will be getting a good dose of antioxidants. The high level of magnesium in honey is also essential for good skin health. Real men should be concerned about protecting their skin. Whether you are spending time in the wilderness to embolden your prepper mentality or simply want to look good for a first date, these three changes to your diet will help keep your skin looking young and refreshed.
About the Author
Aron James is the founder of StubblePatrol.com. Stubble Patrol is a site on male grooming. He loves to write about his personal experiences.
1. K H Basavaraj, C Seemanthini, R Rashmi(2010, Jul-Sep). Diet in Dermatology: Present Perspectives. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2965901/
2. n.a. (2017). Men health care - cosmetic surgeries for better skin. Mash Men. Retrieved from: http://www.mashmen.com/2015/11/17/men-health-cosmetic-surgeries/
This is a guest post courtesy of Needak Rebounder for Flabs to Fitness.
The Glycemic Index is a valuable tool that has become a staple concept within health and fitness circles. When used intelligently and responsibly, the glycemic index can be used as a powerful mechanism for improving health, reducing the risk of certain diseases and reaching healthy weight goals.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The Glycemic Index - commonly referred to as “GI” - is a scale that ranks the way different carbohydrate foods affect your blood glucose (also known as “blood sugar”). The GI is represented as a number, with the highest value being 100 which is equivalent to pure glucose and corresponds to the effect pure glucose would have on blood glucose levels. So, if you were to consume a tablespoon of glucose, or sugar, you can imagine the effect it would have on your body: your blood sugar level would rise very fast seeing as glucose does not need to be broken down by your digestive system. You might feel hyperactive, jittery or a suddenly energetic. The glucose would cause a very rapid and high rise to your blood glucose level.
The higher the GI of a particular food, the more rapidly it is digested and absorbed by your body and the more dramatically it increases your blood sugar. Foods that are low GI foods take longer to digest and absorb, which creates a gradual increase to blood sugar.
In other words, low GI foods release the energy content of food slowly and steadily over a longer period of time unlike high GI foods, which provide quick-release energy within a shorter time span.
Can low GI diets help with weight loss?
One of the most significant and noticeable effects of low GI foods is their effect on appetite. Due to their slow digestion, low GI foods last longer in your system and therefore keep you satiated for a greater period of time. By steadily releasing energy to your body, you feel full for longer and experience hunger pangs less often than on high GI foods. Therefore, when it comes to weight loss and weight management, the natural hunger-suppressing quality of low GI foods means you can stick to a healthy diet more easily and focus on feeding your body only as much as it needs.
Research also shows that low GI foods encourage your body to burn stored fat and assists in lowering cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels.
What are examples of low GI foods?
Generally, carbohydrate foods are divided into three GI categories:
Low GI: 1 to 55
Medium GI: 56 to 69
High GI: 70 and higher
When we talk about low GI foods, we refer to foods that are within the 1-55 GI range. Below are some examples of low GI foods – as you will see, there are plenty of different foods that fall within the low GI range. Creating your own low GI diet is not difficult when you know what to choose from!
Cereals: oat bran; rolled oats; natural muesli; porridge.
Breads: soya and linseed; wholegrain pumpernickel; heavy mixed grain; whole wheat; sourdough rye; sourdough wheat.
Vegetables: frozen green peas; frozen sweet corn; carrots; eggplant/aubergine; broccoli; cauliflower; cabbage; mushrooms; tomatoes; chillies; lettuce; green beans; red peppers; onions; yams; sweet potatoes.
Fruits: cherries; plums; grapefruit; peaches; apples; pears; dried apricots; grapes; coconut; coconut milk; kiwi fruit; oranges; strawberries; prunes.
Legumes (Beans): kidney beans (canned); butter beans; chick peas; haricot/navy beans; red lentils; green lentils; pinto beans; black eyed beans; yellow split peas.
Grains: brown rice; pearl barley; buckwheat; white long grain rice; spaghetti.
Eating low GI foods does not mean you need to forego your tastebuds or flavourful foods. There are plenty of delicious low GI recipes easily found through Google. The Glycemic Index Foundation is a good place to start – they provide breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes that all look tantalizing and many of them take less that 20 minutes to whip up!
Are there any benefits to consuming high and medium GI foods?
High/medium GI whole foods such as bananas, pineapples, watermelon and dates are advantageous sources of quick energy for times when your body requires rapid fuel replenishment. For example, after performing a rigorous workout it’s important to refuel your body so that your muscles can properly recover and rebuild. In such instances, eating a natural high/medium GI food in order to provide your body some immediate sustenance until your next meal can assist with muscle recovery.
Other health benefits of low GI diets:
There is a significant body of clinical research which describe various health benefits of maintaining a low GI diet. One of the most notable areas of research is the effect low GI diets can have in reducing the risk of diabetes. High GI diets create unhealthy surges to insulin levels. If you maintain a high GI diet for long enough, your body develops insulin resistance, which is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. Conversely, low GI foods do not spike your insulin levels and assists your body in maintain proper regulation of insulin and blood glucose levels. Proper Low GI diets can also help with managing and improving diabetes symptoms by improving blood glucose levels, reducing insulin resistance and improving blood cholesterol levels.
Given all the evidence supporting the benefits of low GI foods, it makes a great deal of sense to switch to a predominantly low GI diet. Low GI diets can markedly assist with reaching and maintaining healthy weight and significantly lessen the the risk of developing serious diseases. Furthermore, combining regular exercise activities with a predominantly low GI diet can maximise weight loss and promote overall well-being. And you don’t need to overwhelm yourself with strenuous high impact or heavy duty exercises or heavy duty exercise to maintain good health. There are numerous low impact options such as walking, rebounding, swimming, strength training which you can tailor to fit your individual needs and requirements.
Needak Rebounder is an official retailer of the bestselling rebounder in the world. Their fitness device is focused on alternate forms of in-home cardiovascular health, and their blog features many articles which focus on this and how it relates to the sport of rebounding. Visit Needak.com if you are interested in exploring the Needak Rebounder and the revolutionary sport of rebounding.
This post started as a broader "benefits of microgreens" write-up, until I realized how broad a topic and therefore bad idea that would be. There are too many types of microgreens in general to encompass in one post... at least for me at this time. :)
As mentioned in my post about growing your own broccoli sprouts, this whole topic came to me in the first place after listening to episode #901 of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. Prior to this episode, the only experience I'd had with microgreens was at the general level when I purchased a "mixed variety" of them from the farmer's market to try adding to my smoothies. I was rough on the science, didn't really think much of it, and felt bad for buying living baby plants just to rip them from the soil and eat over the next few days. I know, the huntress felt bad for killing plants. Whatever.
This specific episode of the podcast, though, went into a ton of detail on why Dr. Patrick loves including broccoli sprouts specifically in her daily smoothie. That's what I'd like to dive into here, as my geeky nature questions the "why" behind everything and I like to have a solid knowledge base to inform people about why I do what I do.
So! What are some of the benefits of eating broccoli sprouts?
- Anti-carcinogenic effects
- Protects the heart
- Protection against inflammation
- Promotion of longevity & life extension
- Increased fat burning in the cells
- Strong antioxidant properties
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Promotion of muscular growth
That list looks pretty all-encompassing, but I still stand by my use of the word "some" to preface it because there are other possible benefits that have been discovered, but not extensively researched. At the time of this writing, the above list has a good amount of study put to it already.
Wanna go more in-depth?
If the above list convinced you to start sprouting your own broccoli or becoming a regular customer of the microgreens farms at your local farmer's market, great! If you're like me, you want more details on the subject. Never fear, for I am here and slightly angry with myself for loving to do this research so much!
There is a compound in broccoli sprouts called sulforaphane, as already mentioned, which underlies most of the benefits listed. With that in ming, let's get to it!
1. Anti-carcinogenic effects
In a 2004 study(1), certain doses of sulforaphane can actually be as potent as the standard-of-care drug trichostatin A, which works to inhibit a key enzyme in cancer proliferation. The effects of the drug and sulforaphane when taken together seemed to amplify each others' effects.
2. Protects the heart
Cruciferous vegetables are generally considered cardioprotective, i.e. they guard the health of the heart. This is because of a sulfur compound found within them, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), is actually inversely related with the progression of cardiovascular disease(2). The presence of H2S in garlic is why it is generally considered a superfood, as H2S is a vasodilator. Vasodilation is the process of opening up the pathways for blood flow and is considered beneficial for cardiovascular health, as wider flow pathways means less resistance to blood movement and therefore lower blood pressure. A lack of H2S in the body has also recently been linked to decreased endothelial function in obese patients, meaning that the lining of the blood vessels does not respond to vessel size changes as well as it would in non-obese individuals(3). This makes sense, since we just covered that H2S promotes the widening of the vessels.
3. Protects against inflammation
This topic can get broad very quickly. As Dr. Jonathan Mendoza, a wonderful mentor of mine says, "all disease starts with inflammation." To keep it as simple as I can, the aforementioned sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts inhibits something called NF-kB translocation. This action at the cellular level basically describes the movement of an inflammatory compound into the nucleus, or "brain," of the cell. When this compound makes this move, inflammation at that cell boosts and when too many cells experience this, signs of autoimmune disease can appear.
That being said, autoimmune disease is basically the worst outcome of chronic inflammation and compounds to develop over a long period of time. The most-studied autoimmune disease with sulforaphane at this time is Rheumatoid Arthritis, which appears to benefit from mechanisms similar to the NF-kB inhibition at the cellular level(5). Basically, advances in RA seem to be stopped by adding sulforaphane to the diet.
4. Promotion of longevity & life extension
A major cause of the appearance of aging in humans comes from the oxidation of protein in the body. This has led some diets, like the Bulletproof Diet, to promote "protein-cycling," in an effort to recycle some leftover proteins for use in the body so they basically don't just sit around and stagnate from oxidation. With broccoli sprouts, and the sulphoraphane they provide, there appears to be a reduction in the buildup of these proteins in the body. This leads to the theory that cells will age slower, promoting longevity (if your cells die, you die) (6).
5. Increased fat burning in the cells
While the practical significance of this benefit is still being researched, new studies have emerged to show that in the absence of a primary molecule called AMPK, sulforaphane may be able to release glycerol from the cells to produce energy. However, in the presence of AMPK, sulforaphane may actually block the AMPK function and therefore needs to be further studied to understand the exact mechanism(7)(8).
Another note on this section, though: regardless of sulforaphane's role with AMPK, it does appear to help regulate adipocytes(9), also known as fat cells. It seems to reduce their growth and needs to be studied further.
6. Strong antioxidant properties
In relation to number 5, the study showing sulforaphane's regulation of fat cells also showed that it acts as an antioxidant in monitoring/regulating insulin sensitivity(9). Do you know what the opposite of insulin sensitivity is? Insulin resistance. Do you know the common name for insulin resistance? Prediabetes or even full-blown Type 2 diabetes. Yeah.
7. Increased insulin sensitivity
As just mentioned, insulin sensitivity in the body is crucial for avoiding chronic health issues down the line... specifically, type 2 diabetes. In a 2012 study on rats with type 1 diabetes (i.e. the kind you can't really cure as of now), insulin sensitivity was still improved in this hard-to-control disease when the rats were administered concentrations of sulforaphane(10). That is huge implications for future studies on both types of diabetes!
8. Promotion of muscular growth
In proper conjunction with a few other signaling pathways within the skeletal muscle, a 2012 study(11) found that sulforaphane could have the potential to create anabolic effects in the body's muscle mass. "Anabolic" events are events of growth. See that? #gainz. Had to throw them in there somewhere. This is Flabs to Fitness, after all. :)
Well... thank you for making it with me this far, if that's what you did! As you can see, the benefits of broccoli sprouts largely stem from its high concentrations of sulforaphane. I didn't even go into the other compounds that help the sulforaphane react! For now, just know that you'll get the most out of these little superfoods if you eat them raw (or drink them raw in a smoothie) or only cook them at low temperatures for a short period of time. Examine.com recommends steaming them for no more than 3 minutes to still get the benefits of the sulforaphane.
(1) Myzak MC, et al A novel mechanism of chemoprotection by sulforaphane: inhibition of histone deacetylase. Cancer Res. (2004)
(2) Benavides GA, et al Hydrogen sulfide mediates the vasoactivity of garlic. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2007)
(3) Candela, J., Wang, R., White, C. Microvascular Endothelial Dysfunction in Obesity Is Driven by Macrophage-Dependent Hydrogen Sulfide Depletion. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. (2017)
(4) Heiss E, et al Nuclear factor kappa B is a molecular target for sulforaphane-mediated anti-inflammatory mechanisms . J Biol Chem. (2001)
(5) Fragoulis A, et al Sulforaphane has opposing effects on TNF-alpha stimulated and unstimulated synoviocytes . Arthritis Res Ther. (2012)
(6) Stadtman ER Protein oxidation and aging . Science. (1992)
(7) Lee JH, et al Sulforaphane induced adipolysis via hormone sensitive lipase activation, regulated by AMPK signaling pathway . Biochem Biophys Res Commun. (2012)
(8) Garton AJ, Yeaman SJ Identification and role of the basal phosphorylation site on hormone-sensitive lipase . Eur J Biochem. (1990)
(10) de Souza CG, et al Metabolic effects of sulforaphane oral treatment in streptozotocin-diabetic rats . J Med Food. (2012)
(11) Fan H, et al Sulforaphane causes a major epigenetic repression of myostatin in porcine satellite cells . Epigenetics. (2012)
(12) Weil, A. Better boost from broccoli sprouts? Weil. (2012)
By: Erin Vaage
At the start of a new year, everyone decides what trends from the previous year should stay, what trends need to die a quick death and what new trends everyone should get excited about.
But fashion and beauty trends aren’t the only trending topics you should be following. A new year really can mean the start to a new and improved you; a time to set health goals you’ll actually achieve.
How? Because this year, you’re jumping on the shiny, trendy fitness bandwagon. And 2017’s top fitness trends have workouts and classes that fit with your schedule and your fitness goals. They’re fun, effective, and guaranteed to get you excited to exercise and maintain motivation throughout the year to shed those 15 pounds or get those killer Chris Evans-like abs that the ladies love.
Mixed Format & Live-Stream Workout Classes
Class is now in session. And no, I don’t mean boring, monotone-speaking science classes. 2017 is going to make you actually enjoy going to class with mixed format gym classes or attending class in your living room with live-stream exercise classes.
Also called hybrid classes, these group gym workouts are anything but boring. For 45-60 minutes, they mix multiple workout styles into one, so you’re not just sitting on a bike for an hour. Instead, you’re doing combinations of cardio and strength training, which is even more effective at helping you shed off your winter weight and getting you bikini-bod ready. Find out who’s offering Piloxing or a combo spin and yoga class that you can try out.
If you’re not a gym rat, or your working-parent schedule doesn’t allow you to be, join a live-stream workout class. I know, those old Jane Fonda and Denise Austin workout VHS tapes were cheesy and not enough motivation to keep you burning calories five days a week. But I bet streaming an intense Jillian Michaels workout or bringing the ballet barre into your home will do the trick. More brands and studios will start jumping on this trend later in the year, so keep your eye out for live-stream classes that work best for you.
Some of my best memories as a kid were jumping on a trampoline during the summer. Why do we have to stop doing all the things that brought us joy as kids? We don’t have to. And to start feeling young again, you can get yourself a mini trampoline. It doesn’t just make you feel like a kid again, it also makes exercising enjoyable.
Rebounding is one workout that does it all. Seriously, spending just 10-15 minutes a day jumping and doing various exercises on a rebounder can help you lose weight, improve your balance and coordination, strengthen your muscles, increase your metabolism, and even reduce headaches and help you sleep better at night.
And since it’s small and portable, you can keep your rebounder in your room or even at work and spend 10 minutes of your lunch hour rebounding.
Body Weight Training
This fitness trend requires minimal equipment; in fact, for most body weight training exercises you just need your body. From pushups to pull-ups, squats, lunges, planks, and more, if you’ve got yourself and enough space to do those things, you can get in an effective, lean-muscle-mass building workout. And you can modify your workouts based on your current training level.
Not having the money to buy a gym membership, get a personal trainer, or fill your home office with bulky workout equipment can’t be your excuse anymore. Anyone can do body weight training.
Several years back, intuitive eating was the latest health trend people were getting excited about. Its focus was on trusting your body and yourself. And this year, intuitive training is making its mark on the heath and fitness world.
Like intuitive eating, it involves listening to your body and choosing your workouts based on how your body is feeling on a day-to-day basis. Nothing against people’s set workout programs, but sometimes their routines have a one-size-fits-all mentality. Except, we’re not all the same, and our bodies definitely aren’t the same.
We’re individuals. We each have individual health needs that need to be met. Intuitive training reminds you to daily check in with your body. If you have an intense cardio session planned for today’s workout, but you’re feeling exhausted from yesterday’s workout and this morning’s workload, it’s probably better that you swap it out for a 30-minute yoga session or something a bit lighter.
But with intuitive training, you have to be committed to maintaining a regular workout schedule. Listening to your body doesn’t mean, “Oh I’m just tired (read lazy) so I think my body just needs to skip working out today.” Be in tune with what your body needs, but don’t let yourself start regularly skipping workouts to binge-watch Game of Thrones.
About the Author
Erin graduated from Central College with a degree in Health Promotion and is a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM. She has enjoyed training people of all abilities and ages, from 13 to 102. When not at the gym, she likes to spend most of her time outside hiking, skiing, climbing or mountain biking in her home state of Utah.
Barre3 (2008). Barre Online Workouts and Videos. Retrieved from http://barre3.com/subscription
Cellercise (1998). Cellercise with Dave Hall. Retrieved from https://cellercise.com/
Fit Fusion (2004). Workout Anytime, Anywhere. Retrieved from: https://www.fitfusion.com/
Smith, Jim (n.d.). 5 Best Bodyweight Training Exercises. Retrieved from http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-routines/5-best-bodyweight-training-exercises
Piloxing (2008). Image retrieved from: https://piloxing.com/
Romaniello, John. (n.d.). How to Build a Sexy Female Body. Retrieved from http://romanfitnesssystems.com/articles/6-tips-for-building-a-sexy-female-body/
Walters, Jennipher. (2013, September 29). My Secret to a Healthy Lifestyle: Intuitive Eating. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennipher-walters/intuitive-eating_b_3976172.html
By Paige Johnson from LearnFit.org
Maybe you’ve heard it takes 21 days to make a habit stick. Maybe you’ve heard it’s 30. If you’re a fan of the 21 club, you can thank a Dr. Maltz from the 1950s and 60s for that. Unfortunately, his theory (1) has been debunked for decades—but nobody likes to listen to that because, well, 21 days isn’t very long! And if you’ve heard 30 days? That’s usually wrong, too, but it’s a nice round little number and a lot of people think a month is doable to achieve a lifetime of better health.
In reality, the research varies widely, but a good average is about 60 days to form a habit. However, with New Year’s resolutions, many of them are fitness-based, and you certainly shouldn’t be working out for 60 days consecutively! Rest days are paramount for endurance, to let muscles heal, for hypertrophy, and simply to avoid burnout.
If working out more is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you’re in good company. It’s one of the most popular resolutions, NBC News reported on the top 2017 resolutions (2) based on Google searches. Lose weight also topped the list, along with “spend more time with family and friends” (which is a much more enjoyable resolution to prioritize).
However, slow and steady with a generous side of realism is key. If you currently go to the gym once per week, double that to two. It might not sound like “a lot” to a gym rat, but it’s quite a bit at this point! Find activities you love, experiment and allow yourself rest days.
A better approach if you really want to make 2017 the year you dominated your resolutions? Try adopting a resolution that’s a lot more achievable and won’t make you feel down if you stumble a bit.
Tips for the stubborn
Determined to make your resolution increasing workouts, training for a marathon, losing ten pounds or another very quantifiable goal? There are some steps to increase your odds for success. For starters, get a gym buddy, join a class (3), or otherwise engage in group fitness. Studies show that working out with a partner or group increases odds of sticking with a program.
Tracking your achievement can also help, and it’s easy with a plethora of fitness apps and wearable devices to choose from. Just be careful—such trackers can also be a trigger for excessive exercising, also known as orthorexia. It’s not an official eating disorder yet, but it’s well on its way. Tracking only works for some people.
Go for Qualitative, not Quantitative
Just like quality trumps quantity, qualitative resolutions can be much better than quantitative. Instead of resolving to “go to the gym three times per week,” modify that resolution to “move more and more often.” Even better? Keep holistic wellness a priority in your life, but don’t tie it into resolutions. For many, resolutions usually fail and that’s no way to start off the New Year.
There are many health-based resolutions that are relatively easy to keep. Here are a few:
● Drink a cup of green tea every day. The purported benefits of green tea (4) are nearly endless. Better concentration, a little energy boost, and it might even help prevent dementia, arthritis and a host of other ailments.
● Replace one go-to beverage per day with water. Most people are nowhere near overdosing on H2O. Generally, you need an equal amount of ounces per water per day as your bodyweight in pounds. That’s a lot!
● Take up a fitness-focused side gig. What could be better than working out and making money at the same time? Consider becoming a pet sitter (5). You can make extra cash while running around with your client’s pet at the local park. Or you might try your hand at being a “tasker” (6). They run errands and do odd jobs for clients, such as cleaning or painting a room—both great ways to get some exercise while boosting your bank account.
● Swap out a simple carb for a complex one. Less white sugars, white breads, and more lentils, brown rice and nuts, please! Retrain your palate to enjoy the complexities of complex carbs and your body will thank you.
● Try a new workout every other month. You don’t have to promise to do it forever—or even once again. Burlesque dancing, roller skating and Tai Chi. There’s so much to explore.
The real trick to sticking with resolutions? Make them both enjoyable and beneficial. There are endless ways to improve your life. Why not make this year’s resolution a little easier, more fun, and much more likely to stick?
(1) Selk, J. (2013, April 16). Habit Formation: The 21-Day Myth. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonselk/2013/04/15/habit-formation-the-21-day-myth/
(2) Spector, N. (2017, Jan 1) 2017 New Year’s Resolutions: The Most Popular and How To Stick to Them. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/2017-new-year-s-resolutions-most-popular-how-stick-them-n701891
(3) Healthy Women. Get Motivated: The Workout You Won’t Cancel. Retrieved from http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/get-motivated-workout-you-wont-cancel
(4) Conlon, C. Benefits of Green Tea That You Didn’t Know About. Retrieved from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/11-benefits-of-green-tea-that-you-didnt-know-about.html
(5) Rover. How to Book Dog Boarding. Retrieved from https://www.rover.com/dog-boarding/
(6) TaskRabbit. Become a Tasker. Retrieved from https://www.taskrabbit.com/become-a-tasker
Hey guys! So I posted a loooooong while ago now about Rebounding for Lymphatic Health, and I wanted to touch on the subject again because I've seen such a vast improvement in quality of life since taking action to treat my lymph system better. The thing is, it may be a bit harder to pick a trampoline than you may think. Each one is targeted at a unique population and you definitely don't want to invest in one that isn't right for you!
Ryan Smith over at Trampolinea sent me this awesome infographic the other day that I think would be a great resource for those unsure of where to start looking for a trampoline, or "rebounder." It asks a few basic questions to get you on the path to greater lymphatic health, stat!
That wasn't so bad after all, was it? I hope this helps you on your health journey to better lymph flow!
Remember: recovery is just as, if not more important than your actual training session. Health has to come before fitness, y'all.
I get asked this question a lot.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Whole 30® Program, I tend to describe it as "30 days of paleo... but a liiiiittle stricter." I'll outline the basic guidelines of the program, but for full details make sure to check out their site. Heck, check it out anyway. They're really good writers.
- High-quality meats and seafood
- Roots and tubers (YES any potatoes are OK)
- Nuts & seeds
- Healthy oils such as ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.
- Grains of any sort (even gluten-free); corn is a GRAIN not a veggie
- Legumes (beans, peanuts, soy)
- Preservatives/side effects of food processing (parabens, MSG)
- Dairy (with the exception of ghee above)
- Alcohol (even cooking wines)
- Coffee after noon (it messes with sleep)
If you would like to join me and do the program together, please click here for recipes and encouragement so we can all kick butt together!
Please do not continue reading past this point if you are easily triggered or still battling an active eating disorder.
So, again... why??
This answer has changed for me with time. The first time I came across the Whole 30®, I had just finished my freshman year of college 20 pounds heavier than I'd been in high school. I was a healthy weight in high school. But when I got to college, I became obsessed with working out even when I was exhausted and counting the calories of every bite of food I consumed. I quickly lost 20+ pounds but I thought I was healthy because you could see my abs.
By the time Christmas break came around, my parents were worried. I wasn't at the low point you see in a lot of orthorexics who are skeletal; I hadn't been that "successful" yet. But my cheeks were sullen and colorless and my chest bones easily visible. My already-small bras no longer fit. Finally, upon one of my many refusals of my favorite Christmas cookies, my mom sat me down and tried to convince me that it's okay to have a treat once in a while. She even tried to convince me to set aside a treat once a week so I wouldn't go insane with my strict eating. Looking back at pictures, I know she saw how bad I looked and wanted me to gain some weight back, too. But then, I just thought she was trying to undermine my fitness goals and I didn't listen much.
One day, though, those peanut butter kiss cookies just looked so damn good.
So I ate one.
And another. And another. And some sugar cookies, too. And a bowl of ice cream. And I decided that yes, a treat day is nice once in a while.
It started innocent in my second semester. I'd have one day in the week in which I could have one treat meal or dessert I'd been craving. And I really stuck to it. But soon the mentality that a cheat meal was ruining my whole day sunk in, so it turned into a cheat day. Seriously. I had ice cream for breakfast sometimes. I'd stuff my face with everything I'd craved throughout the week, without regard for hunger. Soon, I found myself at my starting weight. And then heavier. Until I was the heaviest I'd ever been, 20 additional pounds later.
That summer, I didn't want to see anyone but my family.
I hated the way I looked, I felt I'd let my newly-acquired followers down on my fitness Instagram because I wasn't open about my struggles and weight gain, and I definitely didn't want anyone from high school to see me that way.
So I didn't take summer classes. I stayed with my parents, worked out a healthy amount, and counted calories using the IIFYM method that is healthy but still effective for weight loss. I dropped about 10 pounds of my weight gain over the summer. But I wanted to feel good. I was sick of counting everything. And I wanted my confidence back.
The one good thing that came out of my summer of solitude was all the books I read. I completed 25 novels, nonfictions, and histories in 12 weeks. One of those books was It Starts With Food, the flagship Whole 30® book. I randomly saw it on display on one of my many Barnes & Noble trips, and my first thought was "these guys are DEFINITELY promoting veganism." You don't tell this huntress to cut out meat. But when I saw that animal products were considered okay to them, I was in to hear what they had to say.
Being so used to following the rules of counting macronutrients ("macros") it actually seemed comforting to me that this program had rules to follow. And the no-counting rule was a huge pull for me. I was sick of counting. So, with the first week of my sophomore year of college and pledgeship to a sorority, I began my first Whole 30®.
Not only did I successfully complete it, I had a whole different outlook on life. I was happier, I was working out productively, I had lost another 10 pounds (bringing me back to my healthy high school weight) and I was extremely interested in learning more about how food affects so much that we don't acknowledge. This spurred a strict adherence to the Paleo Diet™ for a year an a half on my end.
I re-incorporated natural sugars like honey in small amounts, but truly had no desire to add anything non-paleo back onto my plate. I felt great, I was getting creative and having fun in the kitchen, and I created my recipe blog soon after to share my creations.
About 6 months later, in February 2015, I did my second Whole 30® with a group of people who I either knew in "real life" or was connected to through social media and my blog. The second round was surprisingly harder, but I completed it as well with no hiccups. The support for the second time was very crucial to hold me accountable and I'm glad we took that route.
It's been just about 2 years now since I've completed that second Whole 30®. My goals between the first and second shifted from weight loss to muscle gain, so I consider the above transformation a great one. I've helped others through their own, and constantly preach the mental and non-weight victories of the program. But I think it's time for me to do another round.
In the last year, I've opened up my paleo bubble to test the effects of different foods on myself to see what really bothers me and what I can "get away with." This was done with the help and guidance of the Ditch Your Nutritionist Program and its creator, my dear friend Anne Marie Garland. What I have found is:
- I digest dairy very well and my skin actually clears up with some of it in my diet.
- Gluten-free grains don't bother me and actually improve gym performance when structured well around my workouts.
- Egg whites are the culprit of my persisting acne through young adulthood. I cut them out, and bye-bye pimples.
- Soy puts me in the bathroom the whole next day.
- Gluten gives me a hangover worse than any alcohol I've ever had.
- Peanuts bloat me at least 2 pants sizes bigger than normal.
- Alcohol in any form gives me hay fever-like symptoms the following day.
- Dried Turkish apricots give me gas from hell (TMI? Not sorry.)
- I'm very sensitive to sugar overloads of any sort, but especially those high in fructose. I'll literally break out in sweats and ball up to do nothing the rest of the day.
So if you know all that, why are you going for round 3?
Eating disorders don't ever go away completely. I've realized that I have triggers related to school or life stress that often cue smaller, but still unnecessary, binges. I say "unnecessary" because I will eat when I'm not hungry. I thought I'd finally kicked them until the beginning of my senior year, Fall 2016. It was a binge like I hadn't experienced since freshman year and I honestly still cannot say what exactly triggered it. But I found myself eating anything I could grab, which was mostly high-fructose foods that I was suddenly craving but left me bloated and feeling sickly once I'd finished. So sickly, in fact, that I forced myself to get sick to relieve some of the pain. I threw up for so long that the small blood vessels in my eyes popped and I looked like I'd been beaten up for the next 2 months. This is the first time I'm openly writing this, but it needs to be said.
Recovery isn't a straight line and we can't treat eating disorders as things that just "go away."
The interesting thing is that I could have told you exactly at that time, while it was happening, that I'd crossed into the I-can't-stop-why-am-I-still-eating realm. But I felt a loss of control that can only be described as an out-of-body experience.
These episodes are clearly few and far between now. I'd gone 3 years without having one. But it scared the shit out of me to see that my old habits crept up so suddenly, at a point in which I thought I had gotten hold of the crippling fears many college seniors in my generation have about what to do post-graduation. And, on top of regressing, those old habits somehow morphed to make me a "puker" who, for the next 2 months, had to come up with excuses about why the whites of her eyes were now red. I have pictures for myself, but I don't want to share just yet because they're scary and I don't want to upset anyone. Seriously. It was that bad.
So, to answer the "why":
I'm a control freak. No matter what stress I hit when I'm on a Whole 30, I find comfort in the program rules and don't have these issues during the 30 days. And that mentality extends past the end of the program for me because I have learned how to distract myself from the food beast (or "sugar dragon") and somehow find a way to avoid binging. Just look at the last two runs: the first took me 6 months to my next one, and the second carried me for a year and a half.
I'm competitive. But I don't break the rules. I want to prove to myself I can still do it. I've found myself becoming more and more "lax" about the amount of grains I eat and I want to remind myself of all the benefits of filling my plate with veggies instead of just some rice.
I'm excited to see if there are sensitivities I haven't yet discovered.
I'm excited to remind myself how many potatoes and squash and parsnips and plantains I need to replace the starch in grains to keep my sports performance up.
I'm excited to crave chocolate and kindly remind myself that "yes it's good for the soul, but your soul can wait a few days."
I'm excited to have vivid dreams of myself breaking the Whole 30® by "accidentally" ordering and eating an entire pizza, only to wake up and remember I'm making much better choices than that. And yes, that was a frequent occurrence in my second round.
And, above all else, I'm excited to enter my 22nd year of life with the most nutritious 30 days of the year to kick it off. Yes, I'm beginning my 3rd Whole 30® on my birthday. I do love cake; I will celebrate with some red velvet this weekend before the start of my program. But the more I become entangled with this program, the more I realize there's never a "good" time to do it. There will always be an excuse for why, somewhere in the next 30 days, you can't commit to good food. And that makes me sad. So I do it to prove that mentality wrong.
I want to love my body by telling it that it gets to be clean for a little while. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I can't think of a better way to do that than by going back to the roots that continue to save me from disordered eating, depression, body hate, and the hopelessness that encapsulates it all.
I'm still a work in progress. But if I weren't, wouldn't that mean I was no longer human?
If you'd like to join me, please click here so we can all be in it together.
Anyone catch the "Paradise" by Coldplay reference in the title? Don't hate me. I had to. It was either this or another pun, so you're welcome that it wasn't worse.
So you're really here to hear about what collagen has to offer, yes? Or maybe somehow your Reddit rabbit hole pulled you this way? Either way, I'm glad you're here. Stay a while and learn something useful.
I recently wrote a review for Vital Proteins, but I felt like I couldn't really go into huge detail on why collagen is so important to add to your regular diet. Beauty gurus have been talking about it for years to women who want thicker/shinier hair, better nails, and clearer skin. But I think everyone should try using it to see what it can do for them, because the benefits of this stuff aren't just skin-deep.
So what's in it for me?
Basically, a comprehensive list of things I've been able to find about collagen benefits is as follows:
- Prevention of osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis)
- Increased joint mobility
- Reduced wrinkles & overall healthier skin
- Increased hair thickness & strength
- Prebiotic factors (your gut bacteria likes to munch on it!)
Uhm, yes please to ALL the things!! If you're me and you want more info, here's some stuff to back me up on this.
Prevention of Osteoarthritis & Increased Joint Mobility
According to a study published by Bello & Oessner in 2006 (1), collagen supplementation has the potential to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis is the most common type, and it's basically the kind that you get when the padding on your joints is worn out from use. I hate to call it "aging arthritis," but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... :)
Anyway, collagen is the building block protein of the "padding" in your joints. So it seems pretty straightforward to me that it would help you out by eating some to supply your body with extra for when you need it down the road!
Along the same vein (or joint?), Dr. Josh Axe (2) uses the analogy of a creaky door hinge needing oil. Think of your tight joints and tendons as the hinge, and the collagen as the oil! Improved body elasticity and decreased joint soreness have been noted in multiple studies on collagen benefits (3, 4).
Reduced Wrinkles & Overall Healthier Skin
This was a big pull for me to start using collagen regularly. Not so much the wrinkles (yet!) but I've always had acne issues. Many a study has shown the benefits of reduced wrinkles with the use of collagen (5), but the connection of collagen to acne clearing is harder. Studies are currently ongoing as to how exactly stress causes acne, though one article claims that the release of more oil from stress clogs your pores more readily, thus causing the nasty little buggers (6).
That being said, I dug around to see if the stress/leaky gut connection has anything to do with it, and it appears to do just that: stress can cause leaky gut, leaky gut can put you into a cycle of greater stress on the body (7), leaky gut can begin to be healed with collagen (1). So I'm not crazy in observing fewer breakouts from stress and from food since supplementing with collagen!
Increased Hair Thickness & Strength (8)
Here's the beauty section of the article: does collagen really make hair more luxurious? Well, according to a study by Wickett et. al. (8), it does. This study showed a significant increase in both tensility (strength) and thickness in the hair of subjects who were given collagen for a period of time, versus those not given collagen.
As for myself, I've always had thin hair but I've noticed a big decrease in breakage and I even stretch out my hairbands now. I credit this to a combination of eating better since going paleo and the added collagen to my diet.
Prebiotic Factors (9)
And since I'm a big pusher for gut health, I need to let y'all know that collagen is great for improving those little bacteria living in there. While a probiotic is something you injest that adds bacteria to your large intestine, a prebiotic is something that feeds the bacteria already there. Most traditionally-recognized prebiotics are carbohydtate-based, usually starchy. But some new studies have recently been published that prove collagen's benefit as a prebiotic in its own right - even though it's a protein (9). For me, that just proved my method of mixing some collagen into full-fat organic yogurt once in a while even more justifiable. Getting in those pro- AND prebiotics at once, ya feel?
So, what's the final word?
Based on this blossoming research and my own n=1 self experimentation with collagen, I think it's definitely worth trying to incorporate to your life for a few months to see what it can do for you. When combined with healthy eating, exercise, and stress reduction, I think it could work wonders for you. Keep in mind that this is one of those things, like other lifestyle changes, that takes a bit of time. But if you grant it that, you could set yourself up to reap any or all of the benefits discussed here.
If you'd like to purchase some top-of-the-line collagen, click here.
(1) Bello, A. E., Oesser S. (October 10, 2006). Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Taylor & Francis Online. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1185/030079906x148373
(2) Axe, J. (2016). What is collagen? 7 ways collagen can boost your health. Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/what-is-collagen/
(3) Bruyère, O. et. al. (January 20, 2012). Effect of collagen hydrolysate in articular pain: a 6-month randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22500661
(4) Clark, K. L. et. al. (April 15, 2008). 24-week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885
(5) De Luca, C. et. al. (January 19, 2016). Skin antiageing and systemic redox effects of supplementation with marine collagen peptides and plant-derived antioxidants: a single-blond case-control clinical study. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26904164
(6) Kam, K. (2016). Stress and acne. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/stress-and-acne#1
(7) Kresser, C. (March 23, 2012). How stress wreaks havoc on your gut - and what to do about it. Chris Kresser. Retrieved from https://chriskresser.com/how-stress-wreaks-havoc-on-your-gut/
(8) Wickett, R. R. et. al. (December 2007). Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Springer Link. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00403-007-0796-z
(9) Sheveleva, S. A., Batishcheva S. (n.d.). Characteristics of collagen's material bifidogenic properties. PubMed. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22642160
(10) n.a. (2016). Foods for healthy skin. Health & Eating Food. Retrieved from http://healtheatingfood.com/foods-for-healthy-skin/
(11) Horton, D. (n.d.). Kickback ent. Retrieved from fhttp://dantehortonphotography.com
(12) n.a. (n.d.). Welcome! River Oaks Wellness Center. Retrieved from http://riveroakswellnesscenter.com/
Known as the ‘golden spice’ of Southeast Asia, the powerful health benefits of turmeric have recently captured the attention of health enthusiasts and the medical field worldwide.
This yellow ginger, popularly used in curry dishes, contains a healing chemical compound called curcumin. This compound is proven to have anti-inflammatory properties, contain very strong antioxidants, and even have anti-cancer qualities.
Proven Health and Beauty Benefits of Turmeric
Recent studies revealed that the health benefits of using turmeric are far more extensive than what was previously known. Aside from optimizing bodily functions and reversing diseases, turmeric can also improve your mental health and enhance the beauty of your hair and skin.
Inflammation is an important body reaction in order to fight off bacteria that could easily enter our bodies; however, chronic or long-term inflammation can work against your body and allow bacteria to enter your body’s tissues. The curcumin in turmeric is a very strong anti-inflammatory agent that targets inflammation at a molecular level.
Oxidative damage is one of the major causes of diseases and rapid aging. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals and helps stimulate your body’s own production of antioxidants
Brain Disease Prevention
The Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is an important hormone in your brain that helps with creating new connections between neurons. A decreased level BDNF could lead to brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Curcumin increases the levels of BDNF in the brain and helps fight brain degeneration.
Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Curcumin is found to help optimize the function of endothelium, the lining in the blood vessel that is important for regulation of blood pressure and normal blood clotting.
There are many different types of cancer, but recent studies have shown that the majority of cancers react positively to the properties found in turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to help delay the spread of cancer, prevent tumor growth, and even kill some cancerous cells.
Hair and Skin Benefits
Turmeric has been used for many years in beauty recipes to help prevent hair loss, stop dandruff, and slow the growth of facial hair.
Turmeric can be included in many skin improvement recipes to help improve your skin’s elasticity, lighten pigmentation, control oily skin, cure acne, lighten stretch marks, and heal cracked and dry skin.
Health Benefits of Turmeric for Weight Loss
Consuming turmeric supplements alone is not a sure guarantee for weight loss. Turmeric supplements should be complemented with proper diet and exercise.
Turmeric, as we learned above, is effective at reducing inflammatory messaging in your body’s cells. This in turn can help improve:
Management of blood sugar levels
Control cholesterol levels
All of these factors are closely associated with obesity.
How to Take your Turmeric
In order for you to get the full health benefits of turmeric, health experts recommend taking it with black pepper. The combination enhances the body’s absorption of the curcumin in turmeric by 2,000 percent, as published in a 1998 PubMed article in the US National Library of Medicine.
You can buy your turmeric in its original ginger form, in powdered form, or in capsules as a supplement. You can take your turmeric by cooking a lot of curry dishes such as:
Curried Winter Soup
It can be included in almost any meat and vegetable dish, or you can simply sprinkle it in your fried rice and add fine ground pepper. Others prefer to take it as a supplement in capsule form, but be sure to ingest a few whole peppercorns together with it for maximum benefit.
Special Considerations when Consuming Turmeric during Pregnancy
The health benefits of turmeric are also available for pregnant women. Turmeric is generally safe to be consumed when used as a spice in food, and the mother can still gain its full health benefits.
However, doctors do not advise taking turmeric as a supplement during pregnancy. Excessive intake of turmeric can stimulate the fetus, leading to premature childbirth or miscarriage.
The Key Takeaway: Turmeric can be a Great & Healthy Addition to your Diet
As you have read above, turmeric can have a plethora of health benefits. I suggest you follow the guidelines here for consumption, and consult a doctor if you have special circumstances (i.e. you are pregnant).
If you want to check out new healthy additions that you can make to your daily life, be sure to sign up for the Rebounder Zone newsletter here!
About the Author
Leonard Parker is a health blogger and owner of the eCommerce store, Rebounder Zone. Through Rebounder Zone, Leonard’s team specializes in rebounder trampolines, health equipment, and useful health information for mature adults.
Leonard is a graduate of Stanford University and has worked in various roles as a digital marketing specialist and technology consultant. Rebounder Zone was started because Leonard saw first hand how health living with regular exercise can change lives, and he wants to help others experience this incredible feeling, too. For any questions about rebounding or information mentioned in this article, please contact Leonard at email@example.com.
1. Ying Xu, et. al. (2006, November 29) Curcumin reduces the effects of chronic stress in behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB. Retreived from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899306027144
2. Ravindran J., et. al. (2009 September) Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively? Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758121/
3. Shoba G, et. al. (1998 May) Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120
4. Turmeric - Spice With Amazing Health Benefits. (2013). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from http://www.healthyfoodhouse.com/turmeric-spice-with-amazing-health-benefits/
5. Home Remedies. (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from https://nawfalkanz.blogspot.com/2014/08/benefits-of-turmeric-for-beauty-skin.html
6. K., V. (2015, October 25). 8 Health Benefits of Turmeric. Retrieved August 16, 2016, from http://www.urbanmali.com/8-health-benefits-of-turmeric/
In planning for my trip to Florence for the summer (the term "planning" being used very loosely here) I knew one thing for sure: I did NOT want to deal with jet lag. Even though my stay there was long enough for me to consider myself living there for a bit, I didn't want to miss even a few days of the excitement due to a whack sleep schedule. Yes, I just said "whack." It's hip. Whack.
Luckily for me, I happened to see one of Ben Greenfield's talks at Paleo f(x) 2016 a week before I was supposed to leave. If you aren't familiar with him, Greenfield is essentially the definition of a "biohacker". This basically means he likes to find ways to enhance his health and athletic performance using the things available in this era, without disregarding evolution. Self-proclaimed biohackers tend to have a few things in common, including: an interest in paleo or pseudo-paleo diets for optimal food intake, alternative workouts that promote fitness AND wellbeing, mental health practices like meditation, all-natural products for body care. But they still tend to include breaking-edge technology to track their health statistics to see which variations of all of the above are really helping improve their health.
I can dig it.
So when Greenfield gave us his top 10 latest methods he's been using to biohack his performance, my ears perked up. One of the items included on the list was hot-cold therapy. This can be done in cold chambers and saunas if you have access to them like he does, but it works just as well in a shower that can change temperatures quickly. Greenfield claimed this was the way he beats his jet lag every time he travels... which is a lot of the time.
That same weekend, I also finally got to meet Sarah and the other lovely people of Vital Proteins. While chatting it up with them, I asked if they thought any of their products would potentially help with jet lag. Sarah immediately handed me a bottle of their Beef Liver Capsules. I didn't know it at the time, but the B-vitamins in beef liver are actually great at easing digestive issues, like...
Travel constipation (1). I know, TMI, but I always have to deal with this. It's apparently not uncommon, either (2).
From personal experience, I know the way I feel is also hugely influenced by how well I treat my gut. If I'm not eating pre- and probiotics regularly, I feel it. And as it turns out, I'm not wrong in drawing the connection between that and feeling less-than-stellar while traveling. Sitting for long periods of time can apparently cause clogging in the large intestine, where most of your gut bacteria lives. A normal amount of daily activity moves you around enough to prevent it, but you can't exactly get in 10,000 steps on a 10-hour flight (3). So I decided to pack the Primal Probiotics that I won a while back from Primal Blueprint Publishing, since I wasn't sure what the situation with those would be like in Italy.
And lastly, my dad is a seasoned overseas traveler. Upon his advice, I was to try and sleep as much as possible on the way to Europe, and try to keep myself awake for the even-longer trek back to the states, when the time came. So with my knowledge from Greenfield, a bottle of beef liver, a container of Primal Probiotics, and Woj's best words, I set foot on my first 20-hour journey across the big pond.
Sleeping on the plane over was easy enough with the free wine offered on the ride. Sorry not sorry about that. It was still strange stepping off in Munich to see that it was somehow morning again, but I can get on board with a time warp here and there. Once I made it to Florence, I made sure that the first few things I unpacked were the beef liver capsules and probiotics. I took a serving of each and was #blessed to avoid the travel constipation that evening.
I didn't shower until the next morning, because my luggage had been lost on the flight over so I didn't have a change of clothes. Luckily, my rockstar roommate (s/o to you, Hannah!) let me borrow the essentials to wash the world off my body. I tried the hot/cold therapy tips recommended by Greenfield: 30 seconds of cold water, 10 of hot. Switch back and forth like this for several minutes and your nervous system will be hopping so much, your body clock suddenly decides you're fully awake. And it worked just as promised! I faced a day full of the labyrinth that is Florence without much of an issue. That morning and the following few began this way, plus a serving of beef liver right after the shower. The probiotic capsules helped me out each night, as I took one right before bed until finding some yogurt I trusted enough to ease me off those capsules.
On my return trip, I knew things would be trickier. Staying awake for 24 hours is never a good idea when you're me. Mama needs her 8 hours. I'm basically the worst college student ever.
However, I took a dose each of the beef liver and probiotics again before bidding "ciao!" to my home for the summer, and managed to stay awake with lots of coffee help until I made it back to Austin. I passed out for the night, and made myself take another hot/cold shower the next morning. I was tired that next day from the travel, and I let myself be lazy but avoided napping. I managed to make it through a full day back on Texas time awake and my body clock was reset by the second day after I returned home!
So, the list of things to do (which is probably the only thing you came to this article to read anyway, yes?):
- If you're traveling to a time zone later than yours (east on a map with the Atlantic ocean at the center), sleep on the way there and stay awake on the way home. If you're traveling to a time zone earlier than yours (west on a map with the Atlantic ocean at the center), do the opposite.
- Utilize hot/cold shower therapy to wake yourself up when you want to be awake in the new time zone.
- Supplement with Vital Proteins Beef Liver capsules & quality probiotics, like Primal Probiotics, to avoid travel constipation.
Oh, and remember to ENJOY your trip! :)
(1) Holland, K., Carter, A. (March 25, 2016). 5 vitamins that can relieve constipation. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/vitamins-for-constipation#1
(2) Monastersky, Konstantin. (2016). What causes traveler's constipation?. Gut Sense. Retrieved from https://www.gutsense.org/constipation/travel.html
(3) Bloudoff-Indelicato, M. (December 28, 2015). The science behind vacation constipation. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/12/all-i-got-for-christmas-was-constipation/422046/
(4) St. Pierre, B. (n.d.) Eliminating jeg lag: strategies to reduce, even avoid, symptoms. Precision Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-jet-lag
(5) n.a. (n.d.) Setting up your shower valve: a smart solution for your bathroom. Delta Monitor Shower Faucet. Retrieved from http://deltamonitorshowerfaucet.net/setting-up-your-shower-valve-a-smart-solution-for-your-bathroom
(6) Elizabeth, H. (June 15, 2016). #STOP. Facebook.
Taking a ginger detox bath seems “in” nowadays. According to those who have tried it, it’s therapeutic. With a plethora of positive health effects, why shouldn’t it be?
Due to the health benefits of ginger detox baths, some people are hesitant to use fancy and costly spa treatments.
For rejuvenation, they don’t plan trips to health centers. Instead, all they do is stay home and take a bath. They head to the kitchen to get ginger, grate it, and soak the pieces in lukewarm water (1).
Before taking advantage of the power of a ginger detox bath, however, you should learn what you are getting into. By doing so, you will know about the detox bath experience, the health benefits, and possible side effects.
In this article, I aim to help you learn all you need to know about ginger detox baths.
Let’s get started!
What’s a Ginger Bath?
To begin our description of ginger baths, let’s start with a real life anecdote about James:
James, a sales executive, suffered with chronic viral infections, flu symptoms, and crankiness. According to James, within just a few minutes of soaking into a bathtub filled with hot water and grated ginger, he felt the effects.
Particularly, he felt sweaty; in fact, he was concerned that he was sweating excessively, a condition medically referred to as hyperhidrosis.
That night, when he went to bed, James’ body did a complete 360. Upon waking up the next day, he felt wonderful. He felt cleansed and energetic, and it was because of the ginger bath!
For many centuries, people were aware of the amazing therapeutic effects of ginger (2); however, it wasn’t until the early 21st century that ginger detox baths became popular in mainstream media.
The Good Side: Positive Benefits of Ginger Detox Baths
Since ginger is a vasodilator, a ginger bath produces a thermogenic effect (i.e. causes a slight increase in temperature) on your body. It eliminates toxins that may prevent any blood flow disruption.
Therefore, by bathing regularly in ginger, you can expect a significant improvement in blood circulation.
With a plethora of benefits, dipping in a bathtub with ginger is a great idea for improving your overall health. Its therapeutic effects are similar to those of sauna bathing.
Rather than spend money in spas, this natural solution is a great, economical alternative that you can do in the comfort of your home (3).
The benefits of ginger baths:
- Aids with digestion
- Facilitates weight loss
- Alleviates menstrual cramps
- Boosts energy
- Helps you burn calories (4)
- Benefits you with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties
- Lowers cholesterol
- Improves your metabolism
- Increases your alertness
- Freshens your breath
- Neutralizes acidity in your body (5)
- Promotes the production of bile, which helps with your body’s absorption of fat-soluble substances such as vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Facilitates your body’s production of gastric fluids
- Relieves headaches
- Alleviates pain due to rheumatoid arthritis
- Stabilizes blood pressure
- Treats diarrhea
- Relieves anxiety, exhaustion, and nervousness
- Improves flu and cold symptoms
- Helps with respiratory complications
- Alleviates sea and motion sickness
Another huge advantage of the detox bath is its convenience. It takes little effort to prepare a bath of lukewarm water and grated ginger. Half an hour is usually more than enough to get the health benefits.
Furthermore, if you live a sedentary lifestyle or you’re a workaholic, a weekly ginger bath is a great option to detoxify your body.
Although ginger baths provide wide ranging health benefits, it would be quite irresponsible of me to not detail any of the side effects and concerns commonly reported with the baths.
All is not Golden: Side Effects of Ginger Baths that you Should be Aware of
As with any holistic treatment, there is no guarantee that two people will get the same result by taking ginger baths. While it comes with advantages, sweating excessively due to a ginger bath can have small, unintended side effects.
Common Side Effects of Ginger Baths
- Muscle soreness
- Skin irritation
Start Slow with Ginger Baths, and Use Moderation
To reduce the risk of the side effects above, observe moderation when bathing with ginger. Bathing should be done at most once, or if your body is not as sensitive to ginger, twice, weekly (6).
You should also avoid staying in the bathtub for more than 30 minutes. Remember, the goal is simply to detoxify. Your goal is to rid your body of toxins and other harmful, unnecessary substances.
The Extreme Case: Ginger Baths are not a Good Solution for Everyone
If your body or skin doesn’t react well to ginger, a ginger bath should be skipped. This is just like any other food sensitivity that you may have: don't ingest or soak it in if you know it's got ill effects on you. Though the likelihood of adverse effects is small, they’re possible.
Key Takeway: Enjoy ginger detox baths, but keep the side effects in mind.
Now, that you know more about ginger baths, I’m not going to leave you hanging. Check out this great ginger bath recipe:
The Ultimate Ginger Bath Recipe
A popular ginger bath recipe is the ginger baking soda detox bath. Simply prepare (7):
- 8 gallons of lukewarm water
- A cup of baking soda
- ½ cup of grated ginger – ginger powder is okay, too.
Next, follow these easy steps:
- Add the baking soda and grated ginger to the lukewarm water.
- Stir slowly. Wait for about 10 minutes to maximize the effects of the mixture.
- Soak in the bath for up to 30 minutes.
Are you an overachiever? Check out this extra tip to take your ginger bath to the next level:
For a more beneficial ginger baking soda detox bath, you can also add another natural ingredient: hydrated magnesium sulfate, or better known as Epsom salt (8). According to studies, the detox bath becomes more powerful with Epsom salt.
Apart from the amazing benefits of ginger, Epsom salt promotes brain tissue formation and stimulates the pancreas.
So, Should You Take a Dip in a Ginger Bath?
Given all of its positive aspects, a ginger detox bath is worth taking. Accumulating toxins due to everyday conditions is inevitable. Though you can’t prevent the entry of harmful substances into your body, you can always detoxify.
The final verdict: Take ginger baths and watch your body transform into the health machine it should be!
About the author
Leonard Parker is a health blogger and owner of the eCommerce store, Rebounder Zone. Through Rebounder Zone, Leonard’s team specializes in rebounder trampolines, health equipment, and useful health information for mature adults.
Leonard is a graduate of Stanford University and has worked in various roles as a digital marketing specialist and technology consultant. Rebounder Zone was started because Leonard saw first hand how health living with regular exercise can change lives, and he wants to help others experience this incredible feeling, too. For any questions about rebounding or information mentioned in this article, please contact Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) Venkateshwaran, R. (2015, Mar 11). "Top 3 Benefits of Ginger Detox Bath + Recipe". Wild Turmeric. Retrieved from http://www.wildturmeric.net/2015/03/top-3-benefits-of-ginger-detox-bath-recipe.html
(2) Khalil, R., Baker, L. (n.d.). "Ginger Bath: Sweat Those Toxins out". Pure Inside Out. Retrieved from http://www.pureinsideout.com/ginger-bath.html
(3) Hausner, T. (n.d.). "5 Easy DIY Detox Bath Recipes". Blender Babes. Retrieved from http://www..com/articles/beauty/5-easy-diy-homemade-detox-bath-recipes-for-arthritis-depression-fatigue-headaches-and-more
(4) n.a. (n.d.). "10 Detox Bath Recipes". Bembu. Retrieved from http://bembu.com/detox-bath-recipes
(5) n.a. (2013). "Release Body Toxins with this [AWESOME] DIY Detox Bath". Alliele Fever. Retrieved from http://allielefevere.com/release-body-toxins-with-an-at-home-detox-bath/
(6) Romero, V. (2012, Jan. 18). "Detox Bath Why and How". Healthy Living How To. Retrieved from http://healthylivinghowto.com/1/post/2012/01/detoxification-part-i-healing-waters.html
(7) Gerber, S. (2015, Oct. 8). "5 Healing Detox Bath Recipes". HellowGlow. Retrieved from http://helloglow.co/5-ways-to-take-a-detox-bath
(8) Breyer, M. (n.d.). "Health Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths". Care 2. Retrieved from http://www.care2.com/greenliving/health-benefits-of-epsom-salt-baths.html
(9) Natalie, H. (March 21, 2014). "3 detox baths that came from your kitchen". Cool Healthy Recipes. Retrieved from http://www.coolhealthyrecipes.com/3-detox-baths-that-came-from-your-kitchen/
(10) Emorie. (2014), "Lemon ginger fancy bath". Oh Whimsical Me. Retrieved from http://ohwhimsicalme.blogspot.it/2014/03/lemon-ginger-fancy-bath.html
(11) n.a. n.d. "Ginger essential oil". AromaHQ. Retrieved from http://www.aromahq.com/ginger-oil/
(12) n.a. (July 26, 2016). "Low red blood cell count". New Health Advisor. Retrieved from http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Low-Red-Blood-Cell-Count.html
(13) Ayushaktiyurveda. (Februrary 12, 2016). "Detoxification: the authentic ancient ayurveda treatment program to boost our metabolism and digestion." Ayushakti. Retrieved from http://www.ayushakti.com/blog/author/ayushaktiayurveda/
(14) n.a. (n.d.). "Itching." Singh Vaid. Retrieved from http://www.singhvaid.com/tag/itching/
(15) Rizk, J. (December 5, 2014). "Say bye bye to alligator legs with a DIY lemon ginger scrub". Detox Diva. Retrieved from https://www.thedetoxdiva.com/say-bye-bye-to-alligator-legs-with-a-diy-lemon-ginger-scrub/
(16) Rama. (n.d.). "DIY lavender bath & foot soak". Freshly Grown. Retreived from http://freshly-grown.com/diy-lavender-bath-foot-soak/
(17) Serena. (n.d.). "Ginger detox bath". Just Simply Health. Retrieved from http://www.justsimplyhealth.com/ginger-detox-bath/
Well, well, well. We meet this subject again. If you've been following my Instagram, Facebook, or this website for any length of time now then you're already acquainted with my strong bias in support of producing food at only the highest sustainable quality. However, I will do my best to push that aside and do an objective report on how the food in Italy has affected my body over the past 7 weeks. This is usually referred to as an "n=1 study," since I am only testing it on myself. These are usually super effective for people trying to figure things out for themselves and their health, because I am in my body and only I am in tune with that enough to feel what it feels and see how it is being affected: by clothes fitting a certain way or how heavily I'm breathing after certain activities. So that being established, this is going to be a compilation of how I've felt with this drastic diet change while in Florence for the summer.
The diet change I'm referring to is this: at home, I eat primal (no legumes, only rice sometimes if grains are consumed, no processed sugar, moderate dairy, LOTS of veggies, high protein, a little bit of fruit, lots of healthy fats). Here, I've pretty much only stayed away from gluten and soy because they really bother me. Pizza and pasta and gelato and milk chocolate that exists without soy lechitin as an emulsifier here have been very present in my body.
I will place here that there are also other variables. One is that I've walked at least 5 miles a day, usually more. My workout routine went from lifting 5-6 days a week plus at least 4 cardio sessions on top of that to 3-5 HIIT & body weight workout sessions per week, not lasting longer than 45 minutes. So, I will do my best to explain what happened as a result of that. But first, I think a little Italian food history is in order.
In the Italian cooking class I took the first week I was here, the chef got on his soapbox for a few minutes about how when the US really started pumping GMOs and hormones into their food, Italy went the opposite route. He talked about how the laws here are really in favor of organic produce, grass-fed and free-range meats, and full-fat foods without the sugar added to reduce it. I decided to do a little poking around on the interwebs and found some cool stuff in these regards.
For instance, Italy not only rejected the idea of GMOs when they first became popular in the US, they still stringently fight against them. As recently as 2015, the country opted to reject 8 strands of GMOs that the EU was promoting for its countries (1). In 1993, the year before the first GMOs hit grocery stores in the US (2), Italy was not super focused on organic farming, either. They were pretty exclusive to small northern markets near the farms that produced them. However, as the "organic" title began implying the meaning that a product was also "non-GMO," it seems that my chef was right about Italians' push back against GMOs. Production of organic produce increased 200% between 1997-1999, with production still increasing yearly, though not necessarily at that high a rate each year (3).
After hearing the chef & reading those things about Italy's unique perspective on food production, I was more confused about this place than ever. If you've ever been to Italy, you know they love their sugar. Gelato or a granite (basically a slush) for breakfast is the thing to do in Sicily, and up north it's not much better with sugared tarts or croissants paired with your sugared-down cappuccino first thing in the morning. Pizza or a bread-heavy sandwich for lunch. Gelato as a cool afternoon snack, followed by a 3-course dinner of pasta, meat & veggies, and dessert. Oh, and always wine.
The realization that the people are very concerned about food quality & sourcing here was interesting to me, since I've crusaded against processed sugar for the past 2 years and haven't consumed any other than the tiny bit in dark chocolate back home. I was even more interested to see if the fact that even though there is a lot of white cane sugar in Italian food, high fructose corn syrup is rarely used. In fact, the population in Italy consumes less than 1 pound of it per person per year (4). Compare that to the 35 pounds per year the average American takes in (5)!
Okay, enough of the research. What did my time here teach me?
The first week, I was in full "vacation mode." Eating out for almost every meal, gelato at least once a day, and skipping breakfast. I didn't work out because at that point I was allowing a week off since my training was vigorous for a solid 4 months leading up to coming here. Plus, I wasn't sure if I was going to join the local gym or not and wanted to check it out before "settling" for using the staircase in the hallway to our apartment. It's 98 steps, by the way.
The second week, I could feel it. My normally-low-carb body was in full revolt with bloating and breakouts galore. The reintroduction of excessive white sugar was definitely the culprit, in my opinion. Because of these crappy feelings, I began inventing HIIT workouts on the stairs and turning it into my little gym. I went to the local market and got fresh, preservative-free cheeses & meats and lots of produce. Another great thing on the produce: Italians are snobs about eating in-season. So a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of peaches was €2 since they're a summer fruit, whereas apples were closer to €5 per kilogram. Still way cheaper than America for ANYTHING organic, in-season or not. But it's cool to see that most farmers refuse to even sell things that aren't in-season.
Cooking for myself definitely helped. I made sure to remember probiotics and prebiotics daily, only discoverable here in the form of full-fat yogurt and the tub of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides I brought along with me (thanks, Sarah!). I still ate out plenty of times, mind you. Lots of GF pizza. And gelato was still a very regular occurrence. But here's the interesting part: those HIIT sessions invigorated me. Walking everywhere rarely felt like a chore. I began loving the constant movement. I ate until I was full, and then some. If I was exhausted from visiting 2 museums and rehearsing Shakespeare and writing too much all in one day, I let myself not worry about missing a workout. This resulted in the 3-5 times a week exercise schedule. Sure, I lost some muscle since I wasn't lifting weights like back home. But my core is much stronger now from the functional nature of the workouts I've been doing. My acne went away and the bloating reduced. My clothes still fit, so I haven't gained that much weight, if any. I'm actually scared the number went down because of muscle loss... I was very hypertrophic from over-training when I got here. My abs are hiding a little more than my first week, but honestly not as much as I'd expected.
And you know what? My mental state is better than ever. I love the routine I've got at home: I kick ass on a primal diet there. But I needed this break more than I knew. Italy taught me how to enjoy dessert again without guilt. But I strongly feel that the simplicity, care, and quality put into food production in this country made all the difference between how I do feel and how crappy I would be feeling if I ate like this regularly at home. I've eaten like this before in the States. It's called the no-diet plan. Or if you're on one, IIFYM. And I was always depleted, constantly had cravings, and got irritable very easily. My brain got foggy. Maybe because I was eating pounds of HFCS without meaning to. Maybe because I wasn't exercising for stimulation and health. But whatever it was, I've never felt this good on a lifestyle considered so "unhealthy" back home. Here, I've filled a journal and written more than 30 letters just on this trip.
Again, I credit the food quality and lack of hormones, GMOs, and preservatives. I'm luckily very in tune with my body and am a hippie snob with chemicals as a result. But you can take from my n=1 experience what you will. :)
(1) Tropia, C. (September 28, 2015). "No a 8 produtti ogm, l'Italia contro l'Ue." il Salvagente Test. Retrieved from https://www.testmagazine.it/2015/09/18/no-a-8-prodotti-ogm-litalia-contro-lue/2714/?v=cd32106bcb6d
(2) Shireen. (March 10, 2013). "GMO timeline: a history of genetically-modified foods." GMO Inside Blog. Retrieved from http://gmoinside.org/gmo-timeline-a-history-genetically-modified-foods/
(3) n.a. n.d. "Italy." FAO Corporate Document Repository. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/y1669e/y1669e0a.htm
(4) n.a. (December 4, 2012). "Countries with the greatest use of high-fructose corn syrup also have more diabetes." Yahoo! News. Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/news/countries-greatest-high-fructose-corn-syrup-more-diabetes-182823674.html?ref=gs
(5) Gucciardi, A. (June 2, 2012). "Americans eat 35 lbs of 'stupidity' linked high fructose corn syrup on average." Natural Society. Retrieved from http://naturalsociety.com/americans-eat-35-lbs-high-fructose-corn-syrup-average/
(6) n.a. n.d. "home." Pranzo Fresh Italian Food to go. Retrieved from http://www.pranzo.uk
(7) n.a. (2016). "Our passion." Gelato Giuliana. Retrieved from http://www.gelatogiuliana.com