Exercise and Circulation

When it comes to your body’s daily functioning, circulation plays an essential role in assisting keeping you alive. Your circulation affects all parts of your body including your heart, brain, lungs, stomach, and muscles. So, it should come as no surprise that exercise can play a role in circulation. Exercise and the circulatory system have a mutually benefitting relationship. According to Donald Dengel, PhD, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, “exercise makes the circulatory system stronger, more flexible, and more expansive — all at the same time. A healthy circulatory system then returns the favor by boosting athletic performance.” Exercise has also been proven to prevent and also help to cure the arterial damage that comes from unhealthy eating and unhealthy lifestyles in general.


When it comes to the mutual relationship, here are six ways in which exercise and circulation go hand in hand.

  • Exercise promotes blood-vessel health
  • Exercise helps inoculate against chronic disease
  • Exercise reduces heart-disease risk
  • Exercise bolsters athletic performance
  • Exercise improves lymphatic function
  • Exercise makes the heart bigger and stronger

When it comes to your heart, exercise plays a vital role in keeping it happy and healthy. When you exercise, your heart rate increases. As your fitness levels begin to improve, your heart in turn becomes stronger, thus decreasing your resting heart rate. According to Live Strong, “As you exercise, the hormone adrenalin causes your blood vessels to expand to allow passage of a greater-than-normal volume of blood. This is called vasodilation, which is a short-term response to exercise and is one of the reasons your surface blood vessels may become more prominent during exercise.” Another important component with exercise and circulation comes from the effect exercise has on your red blood cell count. By continuously working out and improving your fitness regime, you increase the number of red cells in your body. As a result, your body can transport more oxygen to parts of your body.

 

 

Works Cited:
Dale, Patrick. Live Strong. “The Effects of Exercises on the Circulatory System.” http://www.livestrong.com/article/413190-the-effects-of-exercises-on-the-circulatory-system/
Bergeson, Laine. Experience Life. https://experiencelife.com/article/how-exercise-affects-circulation-and-vice-versa/.

Feeling Blue

For centuries, water has been associated with healing and spiritual properties that we have incorporated into our daily routines and cultural practice. Have you ever found your mood significantly change when you are near a body of water? There is almost a sense of pure serenity and peace when you are looking out over a lake or ocean. Why does this happen? Why does nature, and, more specifically water, sooth us the way it does?

 

According to Wallace J. Nichols, PHD, a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, “researchers look carefully at studies detailing the calming effect of nature on the human mind, and they find over and over that water helps amplify nature’s soothing, healing qualities.” He also states that when it comes to our bodies, we all naturally have a “blue mind,” which can be described as a meditative state that can be categorized by qualities such as serenity, harmony, and satisfaction that is actually prompted when we are in or around different sources of water. Water can be a source of clarity, entertainment, and exercise in our everyday lives.

 


According to Nichols, the following are six important benefits when it comes to your “blue mind”

  • Water gives our brain a rest
  • Water can induce a meditative state
  • Water can inspire us to be more compassionate and connected
  • A blue mind is a creative mind
  • Exercise by or in water is good for our bodies and brains

 


 

Another important aspect of water that draws us into it is the ability that water has to both change and remain consistent all at the same time. Our brains and bodies get a two for one special by getting the benefit of stability and consistency with the added bonus of a stimulating change all in one! The positive benefits and advantages associated with water can be important for people dealing with the stress and pressures of everyday life. According to Nichols, “water impacts all five senses at the same time with a positive, powerful image and memory,” he says. “The good memories from a day on the water help override bad memories that haunt someone and possibly help crack that shell, letting them rejoin the world.”

 

Experiencing this state of “blue mind” does not require you to go sit at the beach and watch the waves crashing to the shore (as beautiful and peaceful as that may be). Rather, it can be something as simple as taking a bath, going fishing, or drinking water! Whatever your source may be, incorporate more water into your life. Both your physical and mental health will thank you for it.

CK

 

Works Cited:
Gregoire, Carolyn. Huffington Post. “Why Being Near the Ocean Can Make You Calmer and More Creative.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/02/25/mental-benefits-water_n_5791024.html
 Wallace, J. Nichols, PHD. Experience Life. “Blue Mind.” https://experiencelife.com/article/blue-mind/

The Importance of Taking Days Off

Today, it seems as though our society has adopted this “all or nothing” type of mentality, and working out is no exception. Oftentimes, working out can be a struggle. However, for some people, taking days off when trying to reach a goal can be just as difficult. We do not want to lose any of the progress that we are making, and we would like to see results as soon as possible. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our workout routines that we forget to take days off and give our bodies the rest that they need.

According to Russel Wynter, NASM certified master trainer and co-owner of MadSweat, “when the stress is too much physiologically for the system to handle, it can and will lead to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain.” Depending on the severity of the injury, we could ironically be pushing our goals farther and farther away if we do not give our muscles a break.

More negative side effects associated with excessive amounts of exercise with limited rest include a decrease in performance, sickness, a change in your hormones, poor sleeping patterns, and a decrease in your immune system. Certified Personal Trainer, NASM CPT, Sarah Gibson states that when we experience tears or strains in our muscles and joints, we in turn activate our immune system. Rest is a key element in ensuring that take a day off and step back from the practice, our immune system does not hve enough time to fix everything. Wynter also states that, “you should have at least one day of rest before attempting to work similar muscle groups again. The general rule is it requires a minimum of 48 hours to recover with full recovery seen within 72 to 96 hours post workout.”

When it comes to the recommended time spent on cardio throughout the week, experts strongly suggest that 30-60 minutes of moderate workouts (5 times/week) or 20-60 minutes of intense workouts (3 times/week) in order to get the most of your training. In order to build strength, your muscles need time and rest to rejuvenate. Different athletes and people with different goals will have different versions of “taking a day off.” For bodybuilders and pure strength training athletes this may mean taking a break from the weights one day and doing some form of light cardio. For others, this may mean withholding from all strenuous activity as a whole.

No matter what your athletic level may be, it is important to give your body rest and time to recuperate. If not, the possible consequences that you may experience may end up doing more harm than good regarding your body’s progress.

CK

 

Works Cited:
Gibson, Sarah. Well Bridge. “Give it a Rest: It’s OK to Skip Your Workout.” https://www.wellbridge.com/fit-like-that/give-it-a-rest-its-ok-to-skip-your-workout
Rosenbrock, K. The Active Times. “Why Rest Days are Just as Important as Working Out.” https://www.theactivetimes.com/why-rest-days-are-just-important-working-out

 

 

Old Dog, New Tricks

As we get older, we tend to stay set in our ways of thinking and behaving. We learn what works for us, and we tend to stay content in our comfort zones. However, studies have shown that a childlike approach to life in certain situations can actually be beneficial to our aging brains!

 

Over our lifetime, we have learned to integrate our many years of education and skill building into our current thought processes and how we approach our everyday lives. University of California-Riverside psychology professor Rachel Wu, PhD published an article supporting the idea, however, that in order to protect our brains as we grow older, stepping outside of our comfort zones and incorporating a more youthful approach to life is important. She states that “across your lifespan, you go from ‘broad learning’ (learning many skills as an infant or child) to ‘specialized’ learning (becoming an expert in a specific area) when you begin working, and that leads to cognitive decline initially in some unfamiliar situations, and eventually in both familiar and unfamiliar situation.”

 

There are six key factors that can help explain the difference between the broad learning and specialized learning:

 

  1. OPEN-MINDED VS. CLOSED-MINDED. AS WE AGE, WE’RE LESS LIKELY TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE OUR COMFORT ZONES.
  2. CONSISTENT ACCESS TO TEACHERS AND MENTORS VS. NO ACCESS. THEY’RE OUT THERE, OF COURSE, BUT WE SELDOM SEEK THEM OUT.
  3. A GROWTH MINDSET VS. A FIXED MINDSET. ONCE WE’RE SETTLED IN OUR JOBS, MOST OF US FEEL LIKE WE KNOW ALL WE NEED TO KNOW.
  4. A FORGIVING ENVIRONMENT VS. ONE IN WHICH FAILURE COMES WITH CONSEQUENCES. WHY TAKE A RISK WHEN IT COULD GET YOU FIRED?
  5. A SERIOUS COMMITMENT TO LEARNING VS. A LACK OF PERSEVERANCE. THE OLDER WE GET, THE LESS LIKELY WE ARE TO SOLDIER ON THROUGH DIFFICULT SUBJECTS.
  6. LEARNING MULTIPLE SKILLS SIMULTANEOUSLY VS. A SINGULAR FOCUS. IT’S HARD ENOUGH TO LEARN ONE NEW THING AT THIS AGE, SO WHY PUSH YOURSELF?

(list provided by Experience Life)

 

In relation to this, an article published by the Harvard Medical School stated that “challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active, but pursuing a hobby or learning a new skill can function the same way.” Keeping our minds fresh and active has also been proven to diminish signs of dementia as we age!

 

According to Psychology Today, as we age, we still have an inner child dwelling us, even though some adults are unaware of this. The inability to recognize this metaphoric child within us, however, can lead to many behavioral, emotional, and relationship difficulties in our everyday lives. According to Stephen A. Diamond, PhD, “to become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child–representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness–must be stifled, quarantined or even killed.” The very qualities that positively mirror our inner child can be lost or forgotten as we age, and, in turn, can be detrimental to our health and well-being. Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the non-profit organization called the National Institute for Play, has studied the benefits of incorporating fun and childlike activity into our everyday lives. His research has stemmed back about 40 years, and has proven that fun and play time can actually decrease a person’s risk of depression and feelings of being ‘stuck’. So, not only does a childlike approach positively affect our aging brains, it is crucial for our mental health as well!

 

Getting comfortable in our everyday routines is something that is bound to happen to most people at some point. However, as we age, it is important that we do not remain stuck. Rather, it is essential that our minds stay active, and we force ourselves out of our comfort zones every once in a while.

Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?!

 

CK

 

 

Works Cited:
Cox, Craig. Experience Life. “Pumping Irony: New Tricks for an Old Dog.” https://experiencelife.com/article/new-tricks-for-an-old-dog/
 
Cutter, John. Orlando Sentinel. “It’s important to learn new things as we age.” http://www.orlandosentinel.com/health/aging/cycling-into-aging/os-growing-old-learn-new-skills-20160606-story.html
Diamond, Stephen A. Psychology Today. “Essential Secrets of Psychotherapy: The Inner Child.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evil-deeds/200806/essential-secrets-psychotherapy-the-inner-child
 

 

Musical Motivation

Have you ever noticed that when “your” song comes on when you’re working out, you feel a rush of adrenaline and a newfound sense of endurance? Where does this come from? Why is music such a motivating factor when it comes to our workout performance?


The study of music and its relationship to working out was not studied in depth until the mid- 1990s due to the technological advances that made it possible for more and more people to listen to music on the run. Now, scientists have been studying the impact that music has on improving athletic performance.

One of the more widely accepted views on why music makes working out easier is that it serves as a mental distraction. The music we listen to serves as a distraction from the fatigue our body is facing and the exhaustion that comes after about 10 minutes of cardio and weightlifting. According to the Guardian Report, the distraction that comes from music can boost athletic performance by 15%.

Not only does the music you listen to distract you during your workout, but it can also help control and pace your run too! The songs you listen to while you run, bike, walk, or lift weights can help stimulate the motor section of your brain in order to help set the pace for your workout! According to the Huffington Post, “clueing into these time signals helps us use our energy more efficiently, since keeping a steady pace is easier on our bodies than fluctuating throughout a sweat session.”

So, next time you hit the tredmill or bike, make sure your playlist is one that is going to keep you motivated and “in the zone” throughout the duration of your workout!

 

Works cited:
Hughes, Virginia. “Why Does Music Help Us Exercise?” National Geographic. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/15/why-does-music-help-us-exercise/.
Staff, Experience Life. “Music=Motivation.” Experience Life.  https://experiencelife.com/article/music-motivation/.
 “7 Reasons You Should Listen to Music When You Workout.” Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/why-exercise-workout-music-playlist_n_4173931.html.

Technology and Sleep: What Poor Sleep Patterns Do to Our Bodies

Pick your poison: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube you name it, and the Millennials are on it. Technology and social media combined have overtaken the minds and hands of society. Many of us have heard time and time again that the stimulation that comes from technology can disrupt our sleep patterns. Recently, the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study that emphasizes a very strong correlation between people with sleep problems and social media usage.  In the study, the researchers examined about 1,800 young adults, specifically those in the Millennial generation who have grown up in a tech-dominant society using social media for the majority of their lives. As they observed the results, “they found that the study participants spent an average of an hour a day on one or more of the major social-media platforms and checked their various accounts 30 times a week. Nearly 30 percent of them suffered “high levels” of sleep disturbance” (Cox).


According to Experience Life, the research conducted by Jessica Levenson, PhD, explained 3 ways in which sleep issues were connected with social media usage:

  • Late-night engagement on social-media channels can simply displace sleep time.
  • Interaction with other users on these platforms can trigger emotional, cognitive, or physiological reactions that can make falling asleep more difficult.
  • The light emitted by computer screens can disrupt circadian rhythms and disturb sleep patterns.

While the study does not irrefutably state that social media usage causes sleep problems, it does support the idea that the use of social media can negatively affect the quality of sleep someone is having at night.


A poor night’s sleep can affect aspects of your everyone’s everyday life, not only Millennials. Your quality of life and your overall health and wellness can reap the negative consequences of poor sleep patterns. An article on ABC news reports that “research has shown a clear link between technology use before bed and compromised sleep that affects our health and wellbeing.” So, not only could technology and social media be affecting your sleep patterns, but also functionality throughout your day to day routine as well.

It is important to note that technology and social media usage do not affect everyone in the same way. The light, stimulation, and interaction that comes from using technology can affect people and their sleep patterns in different ways, some more extreme than others. Some forms of technology are also more disruptive than others, such as video games and more interactive outlets.

When it comes to our bodies, sleep is an essential factor in keeping us healthy and well. Not only does a poor night’s sleep make us feel less than 100%, it has also “been linked with an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, weight gain, reduced immunity, and some studies have found there’s a relationship between sleep deprivation and high blood pressure or heart disease” (Johnson).

Getting enough sleep and giving our minds a rest (especially before bed) are crucial in ensuring we can function as our best selves the following day. End your night right to start your day better!

CK

Works Cited:
Cox, Craig. Experience Life. “Social-Media Use Linked to Sleep Problems in Millenials.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-10-21/how-technology-use-messes-with-your-sleep/7950336.
Johnson, Cathy. ABC Health and Wellbeing. “How technology use messes with your sleep and what you can do about it.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-10-21/how-technology-use-messes-with-your-sleep/7950336.

Foam Roll Your Problems Away

Foam rollers were first used as body supports to do balance work with in the 1980s, but in 1987 physical therapist Sean Gallagher started using them as a self-massage tool with his Broadway dancers and soon after that they became very popular in the dance community. From about 2005 and on, foam rolling has now become a highly regarded self-massage and recovery tool in most sports, especially running.

What is foam rolling?

Self-myofascial release, also known as foam rolling, has progressed from a once secretive technique used by professional athletes, therapists, and coaches, to a well-known recovery and massage technique used by people of all fitness levels.

Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage to release the tightness in your muscles and work on the different pain points present in your body after exercise. By applying pressure to the muscles and repeatedly working that tightness out, you are able to aid in the recovery of the muscles and help them return to normal function faster, meaning that your muscles are healthy, elastic, not sore, and ready to perform at their highest level.

What are pain points and how do I know if I have them?

Pain points are specific “knots” that form in muscles. They are unique and can be identified by using your foam roller to find points in the muscle that are particularly sore or painful. When rolling or working on tight/sore muscles you will experience discomfort or pain. Think of it like the pain you get while stretching. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and when you are done it should feel much better.

What causes these pain points and tight muscles?

They can be caused by a variety of things including: training, flexibility, movement patterns, posture, nutrition, hydration, rest, stress, intensity of training, volume of training, and more.

Why are pain points and tight muscles bad?

Constantly having knots and sore muscles restricts blood flow to the muscles, thereby inhibiting performance (making you feel tired or sluggish during exercise) and slowing down recovery which will negatively affect your training and put you at increased risk for injury.

How to use a foam roller:

  • Calves: Put the roller under either the left or right calf and rest your other foot on the floor. Roll from the ankle to below the knee and rotate the leg in and then out. To add more pressure to the movement, put your other leg on top of the calf you are rolling out and continue to perform the same movement. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Iliotibial (IT) Band: Lie on your side with the roller near your hip and rest the other leg’s foot on the floor in front of the leg you are rolling out. Roll along your outer thigh. To increase pressure, stack the resting leg on top of the leg you are rolling out. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Piriformis (buttocks): Sit on the roller and place one foot on the opposite knee. Lean into one buttock and roll forward and back, using your supporting leg to control the pressure. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Hamstrings: Place the roller under your thighs and roll from the knees to the buttocks. To increase pressure, roll one leg at a time and stack your other leg on top of the leg you’re rolling out. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Quadriceps: Lie on your stomach with a roller placed under the front of your thigh and slowly roll up and down from the bottom of your hip to the top of your knee. Switch legs and repeat.

What happens after foam rolling?

You may be sore the next day, but it should feel like your muscles have been worked/released. They may actually feel more sore the next day, but they should feel better during exercise and be less sore after working out. Also, give it 24-48 hours before focusing heavily on the same area again.

Where can I buy a foam roller?

Most running specialty, fitness, or sporting goods stores will carry foam rollers. They come in different sizes and densities, so be sure to test out multiple different rollers before purchasing.

MK

 

Gallagher, Sean. Orthopaedic Physical Theraphy Clinics of North America. “Developing a Comprehenseive Warm-Up and Conditioning Program for Performing Artists” http://www.performingartspt.com/downloads/ortho_clinics_dance_pt_5.pdf
Kuhland, Jeff. Breaking Muscle. “What Is A Foam Roller, How Do I Use It, And Why Does It Hurt?” https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/what-is-a-foam-roller-how-do-i-use-it-and-why-does-it-hurt?page=0,1
Hamilton, Michelle. Runner’s World. “How to Use a Foam Roller” http://www.runnersworld.com/foam-roller/how-to-use-a-foam-roller
Photo Credit: Runner’s World 

Energy Drinks

Sometimes, we need a little pick-me-up to get us through the day. To do this, some people turn to coffee, 5-hour energies, or some type of energy drink. While we may feel a boost of energy after consuming one of these options, they can have some troubling side effects that are unhealthy for our bodies. Because of the loaded amounts of sugar found in energy drinks along with the sweetened flavor, these beverages can go down easily and even become addicting to some. But, what exactly happens to our bodies when we consume an energy drink?

An article created by Mayo Clinic suggests that weight gain is a common side effect of energy drinks due to the large quantity of sugar found in the beverages. To go along with that, large amounts of caffeine, or caffeine-like substances, can also lead to:

  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure

The boost that you may get from energy drinks is short-lived due to the excessive caffeine and sugar found in them. Your body will soon come down from your “sugar high,” and you will experience a crash in your energy level. A recent publication by the National Institute of Health also suggest that the day following your energy drink consumption, you will experience “excessive daytime sleepiness” as well.

The advertising of energy drinks can oftentimes be misleading. Usually, athletes are featured in energy drink advertisements, suggesting that the drink can help improve or boost athletic performance. However, an article by Health Beat suggests otherwise. They state that “although the ads feature athletes, there’s no good evidence to support the idea that they improve performance. Some include ginseng and taurine, which could improve athletic performance, but there’s not enough of these ingredients in energy drinks to make a difference.”

Researchers have also emphasized that people with preexisting heart conditions, teenagers, and pregnant women should avoid these sugary energy drinks in order to prevent against serious medical complications. It is suggested that people should limit themselves to 16 ounces (500 ml) a day when it comes to energy drink consumption. Healthier alternatives to wake yourself up and give you more energy, however, are highly recommended.

CK

Works Cited
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/energy-drinks/faq-20058349
http://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/energy-drinks/

Hidden Ingredients: Sugar

By Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD

Does sugar monopolize your day? Let’s take a gander at a regular day’s consumption:

    • Breakfast:  Vanilla creamer in your coffee, oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins.
    • Morning Snack:  Standard meal replacement bar.
    • Lunch: Turkey sandwich on wheat bread, banana.
    • Afternoon Snack: Strawberry Greek Yogurt, granola.
    • Dinner:  Glass of Chardonnay, sweet potato, grilled chicken, green beans.
    • Dessert:  1-cup ice cream.

The above menu seems pretty decent at first glance.  Three meals, three snacks and no fast food. No crazy, unhealthy choices or gigantic portions. While there are some healthy components to this day, the major drawback is the sugar content – a whopping 139 grams!

Over 100 grams of sugar per day has become commonplace, due to the nutrient’s presence in almost all processed foods.  In the example above, the processed food items include: creamer, brown sugar, meal replacement bar, bread, yogurt, granola, wine, and ice cream.  All items containing sugar. In addition, many foods naturally contain sugar as well. Raisins, bananas, and the sweet potatoes are all guilty.

It’s gotten to the point that when intentionally “cheating” and having something sweet like a cupcake or candy, it isn’t entirely accurate anymore because so many foods contain added sugar. We are cheating all day long, and often don’t even realize it!

The Problem

I shop at my local grocery store frequently and recently picked up a couple food items that really disappointed me when I got home and realized sugar was on the ingredient list. One of the items was a tomato soup.  Now tomatoes are technically fruit, and already contain natural sugar.  Why in the world add sugar to this product? I knew immediately after taking the first sip that it contained sugar.  It tasted awful. The other product was salsa. Again, the fruits and veggies added to make the salsa are already sugar containing, yet the manufacturer felt the need to add more refined sugar.

Food manufacturers sneak sugar into many products like soup, tomato sauce, salad dressings, salsa, lasagna, lunchmeat, crackers, bars, protein powder, condiments, and the list goes on and on. Why is it present in almost all packaged items these days? To improve flavor or to make us more addicted?

This is a big problem since all processed food manufacturers have jumped onboard. The popular brand specialty health food stores are not any better than your traditional grocery stores. They also add unnecessary sugar; it’s just masquerading under a fancy name.

The Types of Sugar

Don’t let the type of sugar fool you.  Whether it’s agave, beet sugar, cane juice, coconut sugar, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, fructose, glucose, honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, turbinado, or organic sugar, it’s still sugar.  All sugar spikes your blood glucose when consumed alone and will lead to health issues (and addiction) if over-consumed.

The Associated Health Issues

Here’s the really scary part about sugar, the more you eat it, the more you crave it. Sugar stimulates the hedonic pathway, which leads to habit and dependence, similar to the ethanol in alcohol. The cycle must be broken.

Reducing daily sugar intake can truly be a battle as the mind must be re-trained and reminded that you don’t need those foods. Old habits must be broken and new ones established. There is a detox component of sugar unloading. Headaches, energy fluctuations, and irritability seem to be the most common side effects. But these only last a few weeks, and it is well worth the investment.

Sugar is linked to Metabolic Syndrome, of which the markers include weight gain, abdominal obesity, high LDL/low HDL, increased blood sugar, increased triglycerides, and increased blood pressure. It can also cause high uric acid levels, which is linked to heart and kidney disease. In addition, sugar consumed in excess is taxing on the liver, just like alcohol. Fructose-containing foods feed cancer cells and are also linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The Solution

 1) Awareness. Be aware of everything contributing sugar to your daily fuel plan. Remember the sample intake day above? By making some simple changes, you can cut over half the sugar and feel a lot better.

  • Breakfast:  Half & half creamer in your coffee, oatmeal with coconut oil and walnuts.
  • Morning Snack:  Unprocessed bar made out of whole foods/ingredients.
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich on wheat bread, hummus/carrots.
  • Afternoon Snack:  Plain Greek Yogurt, berries, pecans.
  • Dinner:  Glass of Chardonnay, sweet potato, grilled chicken, green beans.
  • Dessert:  ½ apple, almond butter.

= 66 grams of total sugar for the day

How much sugar is reasonable per day? Well, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams for women, and 36 grams for men.  But keep in mind that as an athlete, there are certain times of the training season where you are consuming more carbohydrates to meet training demands so there is some flexibility in these numbers. 

Regardless, keeping daily sugar intake under 50 grams per day is a good goal. Foods containing natural sugar are always a better option than refined sugar.

2) Label Reading.  Assume that all packaged items contain sugar, and force the label to prove you wrong.

3) Find Better Substitutions.  Granola is a food that is usually very high in carbs and sugar, often having 3-5 different types of sugars added for flavoring.  A client of mine recently enlightened me to a better brand which contains only 4 grams of sugar from a single source. The point is, there’s almost always a better option, it just may take some searching.

4) Make Your Own.  When you make your own granola, cookies, bars, etc. you are able to fully control the ingredient list and make adjustments that you are comfortable with. It takes some extra time, but well worth the investment!

In Summary

The good news is that you CAN cut back on sugar and feel much better! Know what foods contain sugar, and avoid those that contain it unnecessarily. Then you can save your sugar intake for those special occasions where you want that delicious slice of birthday cake or some of your favorite wine. Recruit the help of a sports dietitian if you need more guidance. Sugar detox happens to be near and dear to my heart.

Brooke Schohl, MS, RD, CSSD is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching in Scottsdale, Arizona.  She is an avid triathlete, having completed many triathlons of all distances including 3 Ironman races. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific fueling plans for her clients as well as sweat sodium concentration testing.  For more information on services and offerings, visit her website at www.fueltothefinish.com

Change Up Your Diet!

“First, we eat, then we do everything else.” –MFK Fischer

 

When it comes to our diet, we can tend to fall into the habit of routinely eating the same types of food every day. However, research has shown that incorporating diversity into your diet is an essential component when it comes to your overall health and well-being! Makes sense– since no single food actually contains all of the essential nutrients that our bodies need. We frequently hear about the dangers and health risks associated with an unhealthy and subpar diet, but, have you ever thought that a lack of variety when it comes to the food you are eating could actually be posing the same problem?!

 

“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” –Anna Thomas

 

A lack of variety in our diet can cause similar problems to our health as a poor diet. After speaking with Mark Heiman, chief scientific officer at MicroBiome Therapeutics, Craig Cox wrote that, “speaking at the recent Institute of Food Technologists conference in Chicago, Heiman argued that our tendency to stick to the same basic meals (rice, maize, and wheat, for example, account for about 60 percent of all the calories derived from plant sources) can compromise our gut’s ecosystem and lead to chronic diseases.” Heiman and his team studied the differing outcomes in a study conducted using subjects with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes along with healthy subjects. With the first group, Heiman incorporated inulin, beta glucan, and other antioxidants into their diet. The result? The gut ecosystems of the subjects in the first group were shifted, supporting the idea that adding more variety and diversity into our diets can physically alter our body’s ecosystem and actually improve our overall health.

 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” –Virginia Woolf

 

By disregarding diversity in food, we are actually doing our body’s a disservice. Our gut is microbiome is essential in ensuring our health and well-being, and the types of food we consume have a large influence on it. By sticking to the same diet day in and day out, you increase your risk of developing food intolerance and allergies. Diversity=stability. According to Dr. Deanna Minich, “if for some reason your supply of a particular nutrient is interrupted from one source, you have plenty of other sources from which to get that particular nutrient, making it easier to retain homeostasis, or stability.” This is important because it increases our chances at consuming all the essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need!

 

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” –Luciano Pavarotti

 

Changing up our diets and adding more diversity to them can make our lives happier and healthier. “On top of simply mitigating deficiencies, a diverse diet also ensures you benefit from the complementary actions of phytochemicals and mitigate some of the contributing factors to chronic diseases, such as dysbiosis, inflammation, and oxidative stress” (Minich, D). Variety offers many physical and mental benefits that can work to improve our overall health and well-being. Mix it up and have fun doing it! Who knows—you might even like your new diet plan!

 

Works Cited:
Cox, Craig. Experience Life. “Diversify Your Diet to Improve Your Health.” https://experiencelife.com/article/diversify-your-diet-to-improve-your-health/.
Minich, Deanna. Deanna Minich. “6 Reasons Your Diet Needs to Include a Range of Foods.” http://deannaminich.com/food-diversity/.