- 2 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 (12-ounce) bottles lager
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Zest of 1 orange, removed in wide strips with a vegetable peeler
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 tablespoons pepper jelly
Combine pork, beer, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, orange zest, bay leaves and salt in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Liquid should just barely cover meat (it doesn’t need to be completely submerged); add water if necessary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has evaporated, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Sear meat in the dry skillet, turning occasionally, until browned and crispy on the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. When meat is cool enough to handle, remove cinnamon stick, orange zest and bay leaves and discard. Use a fork to shred meat. Stir in pepper jelly until combined.
Per Serving: 340 calories (190 from fat), 21g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 105mg cholesterol, 700mgsodium, 5g carbohydrates, 30g protein.
- 2 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, divided
- 3/4 pound Wild-Caught Yellowfin Tuna Steak, thawed if frozen
- 2/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 2/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, sliced
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking. In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, shallot, honey and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.
Sprinkle tuna with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill tuna, flipping once, until browned on the outside but still deeply pink in the center, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board.
Add mint, basil, parsley and green onions to the bowl with lime dressing and toss. Divide between 4 plates and sprinkle evenly with peanuts. Thinly slice tuna and fan slices over salad.
Per Serving: 200 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 280mgsodium, 8g carbohydrates, (3 g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 23g protein.
By Dr. Alison Chen, ND
What if you could think your way to a better body? Is it even possible?
It might be.
There’s no getting around the fact that muscles need to stretch, the heart needs to pump, and the body has to move.
However, your mind is a powerful force when it comes to your physical body and can help you achieve your personal health goals with proper training. So perhaps, with the help of some healthy habits and mindfulness training, you can think yourself to flatter abs!
Think about it this way: On a conscious level we tell our bodies to get to the gym, what foods to eat, or to go to bed.
Our unconscious mind also influences our actions and physiological makeup and can be just as powerful when it comes to our health and performance.
The Power of Suggestion
Just the thought of sour pickles can make your mouth salivate.
Does your nose crinkle when talking about dirty diapers?
Did you know that holding a pen between your teeth horizontally will create a smile expression that can actually make your mood more positive?
The mindset of an athlete, no matter what level, must be trained like the body, both consciously and unconsciously, in order to optimally achieve their fitness and performance goals.
Endurance trains the heart, resistance trains the skeletal muscles, and mindfulness trains the mind.
It is possible to reframe your thoughts to hep power yourself to better help.
Here are some habits to build a full body and mind workout that will have you thinking your way to fitness.
7 Mindfulness Exercises to Think Your Way Thin
When it comes to training the mind, few activities have as much influence as meditation.
Clearing our minds and regulating our breathing works not only to produce a sense of calm and relaxation, but also has potent physiological effects such as promoting muscle repair and increasing lung capacity (1).
Changing the way in which we breathe during meditation, such as with diaphragmatic breathing, helps to activate our parasympathetic nervous system, without which our adrenals wouldn’t recuperate from daily stressors (2).
Meditating is a simple way to help train your mind to influence your body and is not strictly for the yogi master. There are any number of ways to meditate; the when and how to is up to you. You can meditate before bed, after a workout, or before an important competition.
Remembering to take the time to breathe and center yourself will only foster better physiological health.
2. Touching Others
Perhaps you don’t want to hug the person next to you on the treadmill after a sweaty run, but contact with others can improve your physiological health by altering brain cell signaling, improving stress, and boosting your overall well-being (3).
The hormone oxytocin is released in response to low-intensity stimulation of the skin, such as with gentle touch, and it has been shown to produce feelings of well-being and have anti-stress effects (3).
These effects are due to the modulation of dopamine and serotonin, your reward and feel-good neurotransmitters. Oxytocin can also reduce sensitivity to pain as well as decrease anxiety.
So start hugging and kissing one another more often, although maybe shower first.
3. Questioning Your Perceptions
How we see our world influences how we think, feel, and act towards ourselves, situations, and other people.
Are you the type of person who gravitates towards gossip? Do you feel past events limit your personal goals? Do you feel like you have bad luck?
If so, you might be preselecting to acknowledge and remember events in your life more negatively, opposed to a more accurate representation of reality.
Instead, choosing to see your world in a positive light helps train the mind and body to accomplish goals that might have once seemed out of reach.
Recent studies show self-induced changes in mood can increase serotonin production, positively affecting cell signaling in the body (4).
Keeping a gratitude journal is a one way to promote positive thinking, as it helps reinforce positive memories and experiences. Likewise, thinking about things you are thankful for first thing in the morning can train your mind and body to have a positive perspective.
4. Setting Positive Intentions
While I might have the intention of getting up before the sun rises to head out for a run, if I don’t actually do it no amount of thinking will equal the effect of my foot on pavement.
We all know that thoughts do not always lead to action; however, setting daily positive intentions can increase productivity, happiness, mindfulness, and overall optimism, getting you closer to your specific health goals.
A study found that dispositional optimism improved recovery from surgery and improved coping efforts (5). Optimism was also associated with a faster rate of physical recovery during hospitalization and rate of return to normal activities.
Finally, there is a strong positive association between level of optimism and post-surgical quality of life. Having a positive outlook can influence our ability to bounce back after injury or upset, helping us get back into the game.
Being able to see the positive in situations is not only important in stressful times but can also lower blood pressure, improve immune function, promote happiness, and spur acts of helpfulness, generosity, and cooperation (7). In addition, gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.
5. Accomplishing Goals
Humans have a natural desire for immediate reward, whether conscious or not. Most of us feel good when we accomplish or complete something and this can activate our brain dopamine pathways, which play a role in feelings of reward, pleasure, and motivation.
For example, while you might want to lose some weight, achieving this goal can be a tedious journey, without immediate payoff.
By breaking up large tasks (lose 20 pounds in months) into smaller, more manageable steps (lose 2 to 5 pounds a week) we can manipulate the dopamine reward pathways, helping to increase motivation, success and positive associations, to turn your fitness goals into reality. (7)(8).
6. Eating Good Foods for Good Moods
We know that our physiological body is influenced by the quality of food we eat, and this is no different for the health of our minds. Eating plenty of healthy, organic produce, meats, and healthy fats is crucial to total body health and fitness.
Of specific interest is L-tyrosine, an amino acid precursor to dopamine that is involved in cognitive control and creativity (9). The body also uses this amino acid to form epinephrine and norepinephrine, important adrenal hormones.
Try including other mood-altering and cognitively supportive foods, supplements, and herbs into your diet including fish and coconut oil, magnesium, phosphatidylcholine, and Gotu kola.
Even if you’re not doubled over in a sincere deep, face-cramping belly laugh you can still get a lot of positive chemical release with a chuckle.
Laughter improves immune function, increases pain tolerance, decreases stress response (aka cortisol release), and lowers longer-term anxiety based on the Profile of Mood States, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory-II (10) (11).
Even smiling more can have a positive benefit on the body. Try this simple exercise, I do it all the time:
- Hold a chopstick or pen in the mouths horizontally to produced a Duchenne smile
Mindful Exercises That Matter
Just thinking about being healthier won’t make you healthier, but the power of your mind cannot be understated as motivation and intention are what fuels any great athlete.
When you learn to team your mind and body together to enhance your personal fitness, health, and performance, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll be able to accomplish.
Dr. Alison Chen ND is the author of “What Your Poo Says About You”, co-creator of the Naturopathic Doctor Development Center, and winner of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine’s Humanitarian award. Her background in competitive gymnastics, volunteer work in Africa, and honors degree in biology give her a well-rounded view to living well. Originally from Toronto, Dr. Chen travels the world with her partner. You can learn more at www.dralisonchen.com/insider.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups prechopped hearts of romaine lettuce
1/2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
3/4 cup (3 ounces) fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 (2.8-ounce) multigrain flatbreads (such as Flatout)
1 large garlic clove, halved
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add lettuce and next 4 ingredients (through tomatoes), tossing to coat.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Working with 1 flatbread at a time, cook bread 1 minute on each side or until toasted. Rub 1 side of each flatbread with cut sides of garlic. Arrange 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture in the center of each flatbread; roll up.
By Melissa Walker at Yahoo Health
While everyone's sleep needs are a little bit different, there is a simple trick to help you figure out your perfect bedtime.
Blackout blinds, white-noise machines, prescription medication - we'll try a lot of tricks to get a full night's sleep. Studies show that sleep is critical for our moods, our minds, and our overall health, and we just plain feel better after a good rest. But how do we know if we've gotten that ever-elusive "right amount" of sleep? It turns out that there's a science to doing it well.
"There is absolutely a right time to go to bed," says Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified sleep specialist and author ofGood Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. That right time is unique to each individual Breus tells Yahoo Health, but there's a formula that will help you figure out your own magic hour.
"The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, and the average human has five of those sleep cycles per night," explains Breus. That means we all need around 7.5 hours of shuteye - he says the 8-hour advice touted everywhere is a myth. (While 7.5 is a good center gauge for most people, everyone's sleep needs are slightly different, with some people needing more or less sleep than others.)
So how to get your 7.5 in? "Work backward from your wake-up time," says Breus. "That's socially determined by when you have to get up to get to work, get the kids ready, all those external factors." So if you have to get up by 6:30 a.m., count back 7.5 hours and recognize that your bedtime should be 11 p.m.
"Follow that bedtime for 10 days in a row," says Breus, "and you'll begin, quite naturally, to wake up a few minutes before your alarm clock sounds." It's key, he stresses, to be consistent - that's how the human circadian system functions best. "Sleeping in on the weekends causes your system to shift and makes you want to go to bed later and wake up later," he says. That's one reason why Monday mornings can feel so difficult - Breus calls that bedraggled feeling "social jet lag."
But what about people who say they can't fall asleep at 11 p.m., for example? "It's all about the wake-up time," insists Breus. "I don't care if you can't fall asleep at 11 p.m. initially. If you are consistent about getting up at 6:30 a.m. every morning, your body will adjust."
Here are three easy things you can do to improve your zzs:
1. Set a nighttime alarm. If you have to go to bed at 11 p.m., set your alarm for 10:30 p.m. and it'll remind you to get ready for bed so you'll meet your nocturnal deadline. If you're consistent about waking time, a morning alarm will become unnecessary, says Breus.
2. If you work with a computer all day, try f.lux. It's a program that makes the brightness of your screen adapt to the time - warm at night, and brighter, like sun, during the day. It's especially great for late-night work, because if you check your computer at midnight, you don't want to be looking at a bright screen. (You can use the app for your phone too.)
3. As soon as possible after you wake up, get into the sunshine. Whether that means reading the newspaper out on the patio or standing by a window as you sip your coffee for 15 minutes, soaking up a bit of sunshine will reset your circadian clock and help your body's natural sleeping-waking rhythm.
Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN at Designs for Health
Patients with autoimmune diseases such as, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or Sjogren's disease are typically given protocol-driven treatments with limited success because an acute care model is given to a chronic problem while the underlying causes are never investigated.
The problem with this is everyone has their own unique biochemical individuality. This is a common problem with almost all autoimmune diseases. There is endless research on intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut. The gastrointestinal tract is 80% of our immune system. When inflammation is present, the tight junctions and intestinal mucosa can become damaged, causing gaps or "pores" in the lining of intestinal mucosa. Toxic byproducts in the digestive tract are then absorbed into the bloodstream and transported on to the liver. The molecules of food and toxins are "leaked" through the GI lining and then eventually affect systems throughout the body, causing inflammation in our joints and expressing toxins in autoimmune conditions and food sensitivities.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often have an association between food intake and rheumatoid disease severity. In 2008, in looking at this immunological link between gut immunity and RA, food IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies were measured. In the intestinal fluid of many RA patients, all three immunoglobulin classes showed increased food specific activities, including gliadin antibodies.
There are some tests to consider for those with an autoimmune disease, as great strides have been made in regards to what labs can test for today.
There are labs that assess food sensitivities, which is different than the IgE RAST test performed by traditional allergists. There is also a lab that can test for intestinal permeability. Through the serum they are able to detect antibodies to LPS, occludin/zonulin and the actomyosin network to identify the breakdown of a healthy intestinal barrier. In addition, a comprehensive digestive stool analysis is essential for healing the gut.
It is also very important to check vitamin D levels and to test for gluten-associated antibodies and cross-reactive foods since they play a large role in inflammatory and autoimmune processes.
Once these underlying areas of the patient's heath are explored, nutritional and lifestyle support would be used to address any dysfunctions, deficiencies, toxicities, etc. For symptomatic relief, Andrographis paniculata may be considered. This plant has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and in studies has been shown to support a healthy immune response in patients with autoimmune conditions. In a randomized, double blind, and placebo-controlled study published in Clinical Rheumatology (2009), 60 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were given 100mg of Andrographis paniculata or placebo three times a day for 14 weeks. It was found to be effective in reducing the number of swollen joints, total grade of swollen joint and tender joints. Andrographis paniculata helped normalize rheumatoid factor, creatine kinase, hemoglobin, immunoglobin IgA and IgM. The reduction in IgA and IgM is beneficial as there is positive correlation between the grade of cartilage damage.
In another clinical published in 2013, 8 patients with various rheumatoid conditions were given 300mg of Andrographis paniculata daily for 3 ½ years. Treatment showed significant improvement in number of swollen joints, total grade of swollen joint, total grade of tender joints, and improvement in quality of life. In addition, significant reductions in rheumatoid factor, erythrocytes sedimentation rate, pain, and C-reactive protein are being seen with Andrographis.
- 1 (15-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes with garlic, oregano and basil
- 6 cups organic vegetable broth
- 4 ounces elbow pasta
- 1 (16-ounce) package vegan meatballs
- 3 cups fresh organic spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring the tomatoes and broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Simmer 10 minutes. Add pasta, meatballs, spinach and Italian seasoning and cook until the pasta is tender and meatballs are cooked through, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.
Per Serving: 310 calories (79 from fat), 9g total fat, 0.33g saturated fat, 3mg cholesterol,1400mg sodium, 34g carbohydrates, (5 g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 18.5g protein.
The first time I took this diet seriously was actually less than a year ago, when another health care practitioner recommended it to me. I had heard about it for years as a good lifestyle changing diet, and thought "why not-I could use a little better structure to my eating habits". I am type O, so I prepped myself to launch full on into heavy protein eating. As a former Selectarian (ate fish and sometime meat occasionally), it was fairly hard to stomach the huge amount of protein the O type calls to eat. I gave up in few weeks thinking this lifestyle change is not for me, I want a big huge salad. I listened to my body instead of what a book said. Low and behold, my body was right.
The blood-type diet — otherwise known as “Eat Right 4 Your Type” — has by now been soundly debunked. Yet, in the late 1990s, it held pride of place as the hottest concept in dieting, embraced by celebrities, self-proclaimed nutrition pros, and teenagers like me who believed they’d discovered the most ancient secret to looking cute in hip-huggers. What fools we’d been to chug SlimFast and count Weight Watchers Points, when all along the answer had been coursing through our very veins.
In 1996, Peter J. D’Adamo published Eat Right 4 Your Type, the best-selling book that launched the blood-type diet into cultural consciousness. He was the son of another famous naturopath, James D’Adamo, who first posited the idea that a diet based on blood type might have health benefits. The senior D’Adamo prescribed a low-fat, vegetarian diet to all his patients, noting that some seemed to exhibit improved health, others remained the same, and some got worse. Could blood type be the cause? While his theory was based only on observations within his practice, his son sought to validate them with research. “What I had been taught about blood transfusions and other aspects of blood typing didn’t give me any information that supported my father’s ideas about how people should eat,” said Peter J. D’Adamo in an undated interview.
While at Bastyr, he began looking at connections between blood types and illnesses,thinking, “‘If my father’s right, the type A’s should have illnesses associated with eating meat, because he said they shouldn’t consume that.’ It was no surprise when I found that a lot of health problems associated with excessive animal protein consumption, like heart disease, cancer, and vascular disorders, were much more common in type A’s.” According to D’Adamo, each blood type has different abilities to process certain foods — as well as the lectins found in many of them. Lectins are a vast group of carbohydrate-binding macromolecules that serve numerous biological functions. D’Adamo’s claims that the different blood groups are unable to properly metabolize certain lectins, and therefore if you eat the wrong food, the lectin “settles” somewhere in your body, causing agglutination (cell clumping). This “dangerous glue” he continues, can cause everything from hormone disruption to liver cirrhosis, or even block blood flow to the kidneys, “to name just a few effects.”
Today, D’Adamo sells a pill of “blocking sugars” called Deflect, designed to stop this clumping. Indeed, he now has several supplement lines intended to support each blood-specific diet, but back in the ’90s the diet alone was the cure. Based on his and his father’s observations, D’Adamo formulated four separate profiles based on each of the blood types. In summary:
Type O: This, the oldest blood type, is well suited to metabolizing animal protein, fat, and cholesterol, but not grains or dairy. As this blood type is descended from hunters, the fight-or-flight response is strong and can translate to anger issues or manic episodes. Type O's are also vulnerable to destructive habits when bored; they should avoid caffeine and lentils, engage in vigorous exercise, and remember to chew slowly.
Type A: This blood type emerged with the rise of community living, when, thanks to the dwindling supply of game to hunt, human digestion was forced to adapt to carbohydrate consumption. Type A’s, therefore, should eat mostly vegetables and soy proteins, being mindful of their highly sensitive immune systems and increased risk of life-threatening disease (as well as naturally higher stress levels). They should avoid crowds and corn, andpractice tai chi.
Type B: “B is for balance!” While Type A and O are on opposite ends of the spectrum, B falls somewhere in the omnivorous middle. Meat, dairy, grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables — Type B’s really need them all (except chicken). When these are out of balance, the B’s can be prone to stress and illness, but when they are eating for their type, they are more physically and mentally fit than other blood types. D’Adamo notes that B’s may also have a “sixth sense,” as they are intuitors.
Type AB: The rarest and newest of the blood types is what D’Adamo calls “the chameleon.” It is the only one that emerged not from environmental factors but from intermingling, and is somehow more mystical than the others. Lamb, dairy, tofu, and grains are all good for AB’s, while buckwheat and smoked meats can be problematic. They are charismatic, have low stomach acid, and should practice visualization techniques.
“It’s just a really cool idea that has no substantive support.” This is the take of Dr. Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, the Senior Nutrition Fellow at the American Council on Science and Health. “There's no consistency, no logical rationale for this diet.” It’s a common-sense conclusion when you look closely at D’Adamo’s plans — both their broad generalizations about billions of people and highly specific instructions about how they should eat (and exercise and manage their mental health). But Dr. Kava isn’t as swayed by that part. The idea that blood types emerged with the milestones of human societal development also seems like logic on the surface. “There's no real scientific connection between [these events],” she adds. “But it does sound very impressive.”
What further complicates the matter is that D’Adamo’s unproven statements about blood types sound similar to facts that do have scientific backing. While there’s no evidence that blood type is so directly linked with evolution, it is likely that certain antigens evolved with humans to protect us from environmental threats (like malaria). It’s also true that there is ahigher incidence of certain illnesses in different blood groups, though the reasons are as yet unclear (and, adds Dr. Kava, “they have nothing to do with diet”).
Furthermore, it’s likely that many people could stumble into better health while eating on one of these plans, not because they’re “eating right for their type” but because they’re simply eating better than they were before. In fact, one study found that adherence to the O, A, or AB diets (but not B) may be associated with improvements in specific biomarkers of cardiometabolic health. However, they found the same results in all 1,455 study subjects, regardless of blood type. Matching the diet with its corresponding blood group “did not change the effect.” If you go from eating no vegetables to suddenly integrating produce into your diet, “That’s a good switch, but it's got nothing to do with blood type,” says Dr. Kava.
The fact is, we don’t yet have a clear explanation for why people have different blood types. Scientists have been looking for one ever since Karl Landsteiner discovered and categorized the ABO blood groups in 1909, but so far the only simple answer is that there are no simple answers. Blood is not a single substance, after all. It is cells, plasma, platelets, and proteins; it holds our commonalities as a species but also the specifics of our own genetic line. Even if D’Adamo’s theory that blood types conveniently emerged based solely on food availability had any scientific backing (which it doesn’t), he ignores the massive changes in our dietary patterns since then. He ignores the fact that Type A and Type B parents can produce a Type O child (practically a different species in D’Adamo’s world). He ignores further scientific factors that might complicate his theory — for example, the Hh blood group. Also known as the Bombay Phenotype (it is most concentrated in Indian populations, but also appears in Asia and Europe), it is comparatively quite rare. Yet that’s still millions of people with Hh blood and no diet to eat right for.
We don’t know everything about blood type, and we don’t like not knowing. We want someone to solve the mystery of our bodies, tell us how to get thin and not get cancer. D’Adamo claims to have the answers for that and more. Your stress, your sadness, your love of pilates — it’s all there in your blood. How easy it would be to just sidestep that vast, discomforting lack of knowledge and choose to believe the truth is in our very veins. Unfortunately, there is just not sound evidence to support that idea.
2 cups frozen shelled edamame
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine edamame and garlic in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame is tender. Remove from heat; drain well.
2. Combine edamame, garlic, basil, pine nuts, and yogurt in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarsely ground. Add 1/4 cup water and remaining ingredients; process until almost smooth.
By Yuri Elkaim
Sitting and Your Health
And that’s accurate. The simple act of sitting could reduce your metabolism by as much as 30 percent, which may not sound like much but – over years of working a desk job – it adds up.
However, it’s worse than that.
According to a 2012 study, published in the journal Diabetologia, sitting for too long is associated with a 112 percent increase in the risk of diabetes, a 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events like heart attacks, a 90 percent increase in death from those cardiovascular events, and a 49 percent increase in death due to any cause.
Now, it’s this last point – “death due to any cause” – that is particularly ominous. What does that mean?
Research gives us clues. A massive review of 47 studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed that sitting for too long can cause all of the above-noted issues.
But it also added cancer to the list of potential concerns.
So, sitting too long can greatly increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.
But the problems with sitting keep coming.
When you sit, you’re forcing your body into a position that’s less than ideal, even if you do it right. Sitting places a significant amount of downward force on your spine, compressing your lower back.
Compounding the problem is the fact that most of us don’t sit correctly.
Especially for those who spend hours working at a computer or behind a desk, the issue comes down to posture. Just like when you’re standing, your core muscles are responsible for keeping you upright and protecting the posture of your spine.
This takes a fair amount of energy and strength – and if your core isn’t ready for it, these muscles can give out and leave you slouching forward.
That means now you not only have that compressive force squeezing down on your spine, it’s now in a compromised position so that it can’t handle the load as well.
But we aren’t done yet with the hazards.
Desk workers often find themselves overreaching, stretching their arms out in front of them and hunching their shoulders. By the end of the workday, their poor backs have been forced into a structurally weak condition for eight hours or more.
Returning home exhausted, what’s next on the agenda? For many, it’s watching TV – another seated activity.
And that’s yet more stress on the spine.
Thirty Minutes in the Gym Won’t Fix It
The research review also shows us something startling: Even regular exercise doesn’t undo the damage.
So, you might leave work every day and hit the gym, thinking that you can strengthen and straighten your spine back out but … you can’t.
It makes sense when you look at the numbers.
Let’s say you work out for 30 minutes. That still leaves 8 hours sitting at work, 1 hour in the car for your commute, another 8 sleeping plus however much time you spend in front of the computer or TV at home.
So, in the big picture, that workout just isn’t enough to offset the rest of your daily routine.
Your Body Likes to Move
Let’s be clear: Sitting for a couple of minutes here and there isn’t going to ruin your health.
It’s the lack of movement over an extended period that’s the real concern. According to a 2011 study, the average person spends as much as 60 percent of their day being sedentary.
Even standing in one place for too long can cause back pain and other joint problems. Which is frustrating since – in response to everything we just talked about – many people have made the transition to standing desks over the past few years.
The truth is that we aren’t meant to be sedentary. Our bodies are built to move.
So, what can you do to avoid and undo all the problems of sitting (or standing) for too long? We’ll get into more details but for now, consider one simple solution: Don’t do any single thing for too long, too often.
The first and easiest step you can take toward better habits at work is to simply move throughout the day.
Every hour or so, stand up and, if possible, walk around. Or, if you stand for hours on end, instead, sit for a little while, or do some mobility exercises.
You may even be able to take walking meetings rather than sitting around a table. Many companies are starting to embrace this idea based on the understanding that moving is not only healthier for your body, but also encourages creative thinking.
Again, the idea is to not be sedentary – which is a fancy word for doing nothing.
What Is Good Posture?
But now instead of focusing on what’s wrong, let’s talk about what’s right and come up with some solutions.
How can you avoid the problems associated with sitting too much? By relearning proper posture.
It’s easier to start with standing posture, because you can feel the difference fast, and then apply it to seated posture.
What should your standing posture look like?
- Stand with your feet about shoulder width-apart.
- Look forward, with your chin level.
- There should be a straight line from your shoulders down to your feet.
- Keep your knees soft, slightly bent.
- Slight tighten your butt to adjust the position of your pelvic bone.
If you’re able to balance all of these elements, your spine will align itself while you’re standing. If you’re having a hard time getting all those factors together, try this test.
- Stand with the back of your head against a wall.
- Your heels should be about 6 inches from the wall.
- Your butt and shoulder blades should also be touching the wall.
- There should be no more than 2 inches between the wall and your neck or lower back.
Now, we can translate this to seated posture. Sit in a chair and adjust yourself so that your:
- Feet are firmly planted on the ground.
- Knees are slightly lower than your hips.
- Back straight is with the natural curve in your spine intact.
- Shoulders are relaxed.
- Chin is level and you aren’t looking either up or down.
Simple Things to Improve Posture
If you tried to pull off those posture checks, you may have noticed something: they can be pretty challenging.
Your core and back have to work hard to keep you stable and upright.
The key to better posture is to improve the strength and, importantly, the endurance of your core muscles. And because that stamina is so important, exercises that build isometric endurance are key.
Exercises like planks, side planks and bird dogs are going to force your core stabilizers to contract and maintain that contraction for extended periods.
Start with short holds for these exercises, around 20 seconds and gradually work your way up.
These exercises can easily be added to the end of your regular workouts, taking only a few extra minutes. But the payoffs will be huge in your daily life.
Flexibility could also be a roadblock as you try to improve your posture.
Too-tight hips can put your lower back under constant to pressure to slip out of its natural position. Stretches like static lunges will help to loosen them up and allow you get back to a healthy, natural posture. Tacking them on to the end of your workout shouldn’t take too much time, and like the core work, will have definite payoffs.
A Better Way To Sit
There is a healthier way to sit when it comes to posture.
As challenging as it might sound, sitting cross-legged on the floor is the only way to sit that won’t cause any more problems. This position reduces the amount of stress on your spine, encourages good circulation, and trains you to sit upright.
I know, that’s a pretty crazy suggestion to most Americans. But you can start out slow – practicing the pose for just a few minutes at a time at home and gradually increasing how long you can keep it up for.
When life forces you into sitting too long – for instance, for work or travel – it can be easy to feel frustrated and helpless. What are you supposed to do about it?
The simple tactics I’ve explored – getting up to stand at regular intervals, doing some dynamic mobility movements if possible, practicing good posture, and then strengthening your core muscles so you can maintain that posture – all good starts.
The most important takeaway for your health: Move and stretch when your schedule allows.
By: Dr. Alan Christianson
Whether you have outdoor or indoor allergies, they are a big thing and affect many people. Sometimes, they cause symptoms you would not expect. There is the classic itchy eyes, runny nose, hoarse voice and dry cough, but they can also make you feel run down. You just feel tired for no clear reason. Some people find they are not sleeping as well. That may be tied to not breathing effectively. Some experience more aches and pains, which can all come from allergies.
What causes allergic symptoms?
With airborne allergies, your immune system is trying really hard to protect you. In general, it is more apt to attack something harmless than it is to ignore something dangerous. So, rather than miss some bad bacteria and have it hurt you, your body is going to make the mistake of attacking pollen because it looks like the bad bacteria. When this happens, you experience the symptoms.
Thankfully, the symptoms are very manageable, but a lot of the common ways they are managed are not super effective. In terms of medicines, there are not a lot of options. For starters, there are the medicines that have D in the name, such as Zyrtec-D or Claritin-D. The D is for decongestant, but it is a version that is not safe for those with thyroid disease (It says this in the very fine print). So, know you cannot take these if you have thyroid disease, as it can be dangerous to your heart. The other issue about the regular medicines is they come in two varieties: They either work and knock you out, or they do not work and do not knock you out. Here is why: Histamine is a pain in the butt when you get too much in your sinuses, but you need to have some in your brain to feel alert, focused and energized. The conventional medicines cross into the brain and block histamine in your head all across the board. They block it in the sinuses and also the brain. That is why Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is used as a sleep aid.
Allergies are treatable, not as much by medication as there are by strategy. So, what is the strategy? The first thing to think about is hydration. Imagine your nose as a garbage disposal. You have things in your sinuses like the little blades in the garbage disposal. They continually pull pollen and debris back to your throat where you can unload it in some way. Now, imagine the garbage disposal when the water is not running. It is not very effective. Things build up and get stuck in there. It’s the same way for your sinuses. So, you want to hydrate inside and outside.
Hydrating inside means to drink lots of water. There is no real substitute for water. For most of us, we want at least three or four quarts a day. You want some version of purified water. Do not stress about reverse osmosis (RO) or distilled water leaching minerals out of the body. It does not work that way, thankfully. Do not stress about PH or magnetic things that are harmless enough, but drink purified water of some sort. Reverse osmosis (RO) works especially well. Also, your thirst is not always a good indicator that you need to drink water. It is totally possible to not feel thirsty and be chronically dehydrated. To overcome this, drink three or four quarts a day for a few weeks. You will probably feel thirstier afterwards and have a more normal thirst response.
The other part of hydrating is external. The more you hydrate the sinuses on the outside during the tough times, the better they will do. There are two ways to do that. The easiest one is using saline sprays, as they are harmless and somewhat helpful. The most effective thing to use is a neti pot. They’re fun and look like Aladdin lamps. You take the pot and put warm water and some salt in it, and you pour it through. It actually loops out and cleanses the upper and lower sinuses really effectively. Afterwards, a great trick is to take a cotton swab with some coconut oil and moisten the sinuses with it. That seals in the moisture from the rinse. Hydrating it pulls out all the junk and makes the garbage disposal run better. It takes all the debris and lets your body move it out effectively.
Now, let’s talk about managing the histamine. I mentioned how the medicines either make you go to sleep, or do not work. Thankfully, there’s some really good, natural anti-histamines. My three favorites are andrographis, quercetin and freeze-dried nettles. They work by slightly different mechanisms, but they all do a really good job at making your body less apt to pour a lot of histamine into your bloodstream. The nice thing is they are all quite harmless and safe without any big drawbacks. The nettles are distinct in that they are the quickest acting. You can take them and see some effects in a matter of hours. The others can take a few days, but they may be stronger. So, I really love combinations of the three of those.
The nice thing is there is now a good method of desensitizing. As a kid, I went through the scratch test and the allergy shots, and it was fine. Although it probably reduced some of the allergies, I did not like it. We have come a long way since then. Blood tests are now much more accurate and way easier. They can check for a large variety of outdoor and indoor allergens. Even if your symptoms are seasonal, it is good to know about indoor allergens. Even if they are not the sole culprits, they may be contributing to more severe reactions. So, be sure to sort out both your indoor and outdoor allergens. Along the same lines, it is also good to know about food allergies or food intolerances. They also may not be the sole factor of your seasonal symptoms, but if they are affecting you, they will make the seasonal symptoms much worse. Along those lines, the biggest food culprit is dairy. Even those without dairy allergies notice that if they cut out dairy during those times of year, they become a lot less symptomatic. Once you have a strong sense of what your culprits are, a great treatment is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). It’s the same concept as allergy shots, but there are no needles, and you do it at home. It’s a once-a-day spray, and over the course of 12-18 months, you can turn off half a dozen or so allergens. By “turn off,” I mean they are gone. You are allergy free! So, for future seasons you can do things besides worrying about your allergies.
Be aware of your allergies. They can be a nuisance and the cause of hidden symptoms. The good news is they are treatable!
Dr. Alan Christianson is an Arizona-based Naturopathic Physician who helps people overcome adrenal and thyroid disorders and achieve lasting fat loss. He authored the New York Times’ bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease. Dr. Christianson is the founding physician behind Integrative Health.
- 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon plus pinch coarse sea salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, plus more for sprinkling
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium summer squash or zucchini
- 1 pound whole wheat pizza dough, thawed if frozen
- 1 medium sweet onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
Combine cilantro, parsley, mint, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, chile flakes and 3 tablespoons of the oil in a food processor. Pulse just until herbs are chopped. Scrape down the sides of the processor. With the motor running, add 1 tablespoon water.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave squash in thin lengthwise ribbons until you have about 2 cups, with just the seedy core remaining; discard core or reserve for another use. Toss ribbons with remaining pinch salt.
Prepare a grill for medium heat cooking. Divide pizza dough into 4 equal balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball out to a rough circle about 8 inches in diameter. Brush both sides with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and transfer to baking sheets or cutting boards and cover dough with kitchen towels or parchment paper.
Place dough circles 2 at a time on the grill and cook until bottoms are browned and charred in spots, 2 to 3 minutes, using tongs or a spatula to move and rotate crusts frequently. Transfer crusts, browned-side up, back to the baking sheets. Layer evenly with onion and squash ribbons, and drizzle evenly with herb mixture. Slide pizzas 2 at a time back on the grill. Cover grill and cook until bottoms are browned and vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes, rotating pizzas frequently. Sprinkle pizzas with pine nuts and chile flakes, and drizzle lightly with oil.
Per Serving: 380 calories (190 from fat), 21g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 700mg sodium, 44gcarbohydrates, (7 g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 13g protein.
- 2 medium eggplant, chopped (about 6 cups)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 3 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup green Sicilian olives, minced for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss eggplant with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt. Place a piece of unbleached parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Spread eggplant in single layer over the parchment paper. Bake eggplant for 25 minutes or until tender.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a pan; add onion, celery and garlic and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and eggplant; continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add vinegar, pine nuts, capers, sugar, and chili flakes, if desired. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until tomatoes are tender and vegetables are melding together.
Garnish with minced olives. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
Per Serving: 140 calories (100 from fat), 11g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 290mg sodium, 10gcarbohydrates, (3 g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 2g protein.
What Steady-State Cardio Does to Your Body
Let’s take a look at the hormonal shifts that cardio forces your body to make.
1. It decreases T3.
The thyroid is both an extremely important and a largely misunderstood gland – especially when it comes to metabolism.
Through the production of several hormones, your thyroid directly controls your weight and several other biological functions.
Of particular interest is the primary hormone T3 – more clinically called triiodothyronine. Keeping T3 levels with a healthy range is vital for both controlling and losing weight.
Unfortunately, prolonged, intense bouts of cardio do exactly the opposite. Pushing yourself through challenging and long cardio sessions can decrease your total T3 output and even potentially damage your thyroid in the long-term.
2. It decreases testosterone.
Now, I understand that this might sound like a good thing to women, because testosterone is considered a “male” hormone. But women are supposed to have some testosterone, as adequate levels are vital for burning fat and building muscle.
And as we’ll discover later, you need as many muscle fibers working as efficiently as possible to burn fat quickly.
Studies show that adding cardio to your routine not only decreases testosterone, but that it can also decrease thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which control your thyroid function.
That ties us back to what we just considered with T3.
3. It decreases growth hormone.
The study I cited above also found a significant decrease in Human Growth Hormone (HGH). As its name suggests, HGH stimulates the growth of new tissue, including muscle.
4. It increases cortisol.
Long cardio sessions increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
While low concentrations of cortisol let your body know that it’s time to burn up some extra fat, chronically high levels do the opposite.
When cortisol is elevated for too long, your body thinks something is wrong with the outside world, and it starts making changes to aid in your survival.
This includes storing more fat for emergency fuel and burning up some of the muscle you worked so hard to build.
Now that we’ve seen the changes that cardio can make in your hormones, what does it all mean?
Taken together, these hormonal changes mean that long, frequent cardio reduces the amount of muscle mass on your body and can even increase the amount of fat.
A Better Way to Work Out
So, if cardio is so bad, what should you do instead?
Lift weights. And not just that: You need to lift heavy weights.
You don’t need to worry about building bulky muscles. Remember how we already mentioned that women naturally have lower levels of testosterone?
Lifting weights make women look defined, not bulky.
Male bodybuilders can build big muscles because of their natural (and otherwise) levels of testosterone, along with years of specialized training and dieting.
You want to lift weights because it stimulates the growth and development of muscle fibers, which burn fat even when you’re at rest. Getting these muscles firing, then, is key to elevating your metabolism.
Should women do the same workouts as men?
In short: yes. There is no reason for men and women to work out differently.
The specific exercises you should do during your workouts will depend on your goals and on what type of equipment you have available to you.
You could even get a quality workout using only your body weight. The trick is just to apply these basic principles.
The weight you use should restrict you to no more than 6 to 10 reps with perfect form, which allows you to train for hypertrophy, or muscle growth.
If you can do 11 repetitions, then you either need to add more weight or switch to more challenging exercise.
When your reps get too high for most exercises involving large muscle groups – in the 15 to 20 range – that means that your muscle fibers are not being challenged in a way that will stimulate them to grow.
Essentially, from your body’s point of view, when the reps get too high the workouts become more like cardio and not targeted for hypertrophy.
Focus on Compound Lifts
Most exercises can be divided into one of two categories: isolation or compound.
An isolation lift focuses on just one muscle group and works it all by its lonesome. A prime example of this type of exercise is a biceps curl.
Meanwhile, compound lifts work several muscles at once and generally involve a bigger, more natural movement.
Squats are kings of the compounds. Among the numerous benefits of compound exercises, they burn more calories faster and develop bigger muscle fibers, which keeps your metabolism elevated in the long-term.
Other key compound lifts include deadlifts, bench presses, bent-over rows, and shoulder presses. With these basic movements, you can effectively work your entire body.
A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine separated women into two groups – one that did just aerobics and another that did both aerobics and strength training. At the end of 12 weeks, the strength group had significantly reduced body fat, resting heart rate and blood pressure.
That’s huge. Think about it: Strength training not only improved their body composition, but their overall health.
The bottom line is that women should never do cardio for the same reason mean shouldn’t.
Say Yes to Lifting
Cardio doesn’t work the way we think it does. Long, intense cardio workouts are going to put you into a hormonal state that encourages increased fat and decreased muscle, while possibly even doing long-term damage to your metabolism.
Strength training with heavy weights, though, pretty much does exactly the opposite: making positive changes to your hormones, boosting your metabolism, and improving your overall health.
Speed Up Your Metabolism
Don’t feel like it’s a workout unless you get at least a little sweaty? Check out one of JWP = B classes, which will rev your metabolism, training your body to burn fat while building cardio endurance.
- 1 large avocado
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a blender or food processor combine avocado, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla.*
- Add these ingredients to a large bowl and whisk in eggs.
- Add in coconut flour, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking soda and stir until well-combined.
- Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with coconut oil and add batter.
- Place in oven to bake for 25 minutes (slightly less for fudgier brownies or slightly longer for more cake-like brownies).
- Allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting into 16 brownies.
- Keep them on the counter in an airtight container at room-temperature for up to 2 days or for a longer shelf-life store in the fridge or freezer.
*You can also mash these together by hand but make sure that you mash it up very well and there are no clumps.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 35 mins
What Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
DOMS is a very specific type of pain.
As its descriptive name suggests, DOMS is the type of soreness felt in your muscles that occurs 12 to 24 hours after a workout.
However, DOMS can make an appearance up to 48 hours after you leave the gym.
DOMS is not an acute pain – you don’t feel it during the actual workout.
In addition to the characteristic soreness of DOMS, other symptoms could include:
- swelling of the affected limbs,
- temporary reduction in a joint’s range of motion,
- tenderness to the touch, or
- temporary reduction in the strength of the affected muscles.
What Causes Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
I know people don’t like to think about it this way but, even when you do it correctly, exercise damages your muscles.
But that’s actually a good thing.
When your body repairs that damage, your muscles get stronger. So, even though we like to think our workouts themselves make all the difference in our fitness, it’s actually the time between the workouts that the magic happens.
Here’s how it works: When you go perform the activities of your regular everyday life, your body isn’t challenged in any significant way. It has no reason to change.
When you exercise, though, you’re putting your body through an experience that it finds difficult. In fact, your muscles actually endure microscopic tears.
Your brain doesn’t like that, and basically decides, “I better make that muscle stronger so that this doesn’t happen again.”
Between workouts, then, your body launches into repair efforts, increasing blood flow to the affected muscles so all the necessary materials are available.
And, while those tears are being repaired and the muscle fibers are being rebuilt, the muscle is sore and slightly inflamed.
That is the DOMS you feel.
So, while pain is generally a signal that something is wrong and needs to change, the soreness associated with DOMS is actually a good thing.
It means that your muscles are improving.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Relief
Still, soreness is soreness – even when you try to have a positive attitude about it.
How can you ease that pain? Is there some sort of delayed onset muscle soreness treatment you can use?
But there are some tricks you can use to help reduce the symptoms of DOMS, particularly if they’re severe enough to get in the way of your regular routine.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Generally found in the form of fish oil supplements, this important category of fats offers tons of benefits. But, in keeping with our theme, let’s focus on their potential as an anti-inflammatory.
Some of the discomfort associated with DOMS is simple inflammation.
Studies have shown that fish oil supplements can help to reduce certain markers of inflammation in the human body.
It would make sense, based on that, to assume that fish oils can help to reduce the symptoms of DOMS. But, does science back this up?
It would appear so. A 2009 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine asked 27 untrained men to go through a leg workout.
Before the workouts, range of motion, perceived pain and muscle circumference were all measured to set a baseline. The volunteers were then given either 1.8 grams of omega-3s, a placebo or nothing.
The same measurements were repeated again immediately following exercise, and again after 24 and 48 hours.
Interestingly, the omega-3 group experienced a reduction in swelling 24-hours after the workout. While they also experienced improvements in range of motion and pain, this didn’t kick in until 48 hours later.
Meanwhile, the placebo and control group showed no benefits.
2. Foam Rolling
Essentially, a form of self-massage, foam rolling is exactly what it sounds like: You roll a foam cylinder over your muscles.
In addition to working out the knots formed in muscle tissue while they’re under tension, this may also help to flush waste from your muscles more efficiently. And, with all that out of the way, your muscles can enjoy a more thorough recovery.
Backing this up, a 2015 study in the Journal of Athletic Training asked male volunteers to go through a squat workout and a variety of performance tests.
Some of the subjects also performed a foam rolling routine immediately, 24 hours and 48 hours after the workout.
Not only did foam rolling reduce muscle soreness, but it also improved the subjects’ performance in dynamic movements like jumping and sprinting.
3. Light Activity
Yes, I am going to tell you to workout even when your sore. With a few caveats, of course.
First, if you plan on moving the affected muscles, do so at a much lower intensity than you normally would.
Even if the muscle is sore, this light activity can help to stimulate more blood flow to the stiff muscles, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach the affected area.
The trick is just to keep the intensity low enough that you don’t cause more damage.
If your legs are sore from the previous day’s workout, for example, a brisk walk and some light dynamic stretching would be perfect. But you wouldn’t want to load up the bar for squats.
4. Take a Warm Bath
Again, workout recovery is largely about releasing tension and encouraging blood flow. And a relaxing bath in warm water does both of these things incredibly well.
Just be careful that the water isn’t overly hot and that you stay hydrated.
Although we tend to take it for granted, sleep is your primary means of recovery. When your muscles are sore and your body is working hard to get them back in working condition, it’s absolutely vital that you get plenty of sleep.
While most people tend to stick to the standard eight hours each night recommendation, this may not be true for everyone – especially if you’ve been working harder than normal.
Simply put, you may need to just listen to your body when it comes to sleep. If you get eight hours a night and still feel tired, sleep more. However, if you’re regularly getting 8 hours a night and are still feeling tired, you may have some adrenal issues.
- 8 ounces salmon, cut into 2 portions
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 12 ounces whole wheat penne
- 1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush both sides of the salmon with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down on a small baking sheet and roast until salmon is just lightly pink in the center, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook until al dente, about 13 minutes, adding asparagus and peas in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot. Place over low heat and stir in tomatoes, crème fraîche, Parmesan and shallot. Remove and discard salmon skin; flake salmon into chunks with a fork and toss into pasta along with dill.
Per Serving: 640 calories (220 from fat), 24g total fat, 12g saturated fat, 70mg cholesterol,310mg sodium, 76g carbohydrates, (11 g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 30g protein.
By Yuri Elkiam
With all of the diet hoopla in your newsfeed and on magazine covers every week, it’s easy to dismiss the alkaline diet as just another bunch of weight loss hype. This would be a mistake. Blood pH and alkalinity versus acidity are about survival, not weight loss.
Our bodies were designed to function at optimal health at a blood pH just above 7.0 (neutral) or just at an alkaline level (a bit higher than 7.0). Anything more acidic (lower than 7.0), by even a few points, can mean serious health consequences.
What are acid and alkaline?
Water ionizes into hydrogen (H+) ions and hydroxyl (OH) ions. When those ions are present in equal numbers, the water is t a neutral pH of 7.0. When OH ions outnumber the H+ ions, the pH goes up (as high as 14.0) and is alkaline. When H+ ions outnumber OH ions, the pH goes down (as low as 0.0) and is acidic.
How our bodies naturally arrive at their blood pH
Our bodies’ systems – mainly the blood – requires an alkaline pH in order to function properly. However, our bodies also produce a great deal of acid during every day metabolic processes (digestion, breathing, tissue repair, elimination and so on). In order to keep our blood pH in a neutral or slightly alkaline state, we need three things: water, oxygen and acid-buffering minerals.
For example, when we work out or move, our bodies produce carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Both are acidic and must be neutralized and/or removed from the body. Normally, that’s not a problem thanks to our body’s alkaline buffers like bicarbonate. However, the problem starts when you combine the acidosis produced by daily metabolism with stress and acidic foods. Over time, this can force your body to turn to precious alkaline minerals like calcium (from your bones and teeth) to maintain an optimal pH.
Other factors that influence blood pH
Aside from the body’s own processes, there are a number of other, outside things that effect blood pH.
Among these other factors, stress is a biggie. When we’re under stress, it places a greater demand on the body’s cells, making them more active and therefore producing more acid. As Dr. Theodore Baroody explains in his book, Alkalize or Die:
“Any stressor that the mind or body interprets and internalizes as too much to deal with, leaves an acid residue. Even a mild stressor can cause a partial or total acid-forming reaction,” (Alkalize or Die, Dr. Theodore A. Baroody, Jr., 1993, Eclectic Press, Waynesville, NC 28786, page 157.)
Other factors that can influence blood pH are environmental toxins, toxins and metals in food, lack of sleep and illness.
All of these things can make our blood pH too acidic. When combined with a diet high in acidic foods and low in alkaline foods, these factors can lead to disaster.
What are alkaline and acidic foods?
In a nutshell, you can divide foods into alkaline and acidic in this way:
- Alkaline-forming foods include most fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, and herbal teas.
- Acid-forming foods include most grains, beans, meats, dairy products, fish, fast foods, and processed foods.
If your blood pH is too acidic, you need to add more alkaline foods (a ratio of 80% alkaline to 20% acidic is a good rule of thumb). If your blood pH were too alkaline, you would eat more acidic foods, but this situation is very rare. The typical American eats far more processed foods, meats, dairy and grains than they do fresh produce.
So why is it so important?
Maintaining a blood pH of about 7.4 is essential to healthy function that out bodies have a mechanism designed specifically to maintain that level. If we become too acidic, that mechanism will protect the blood at all costs, even to the extent of compromising bone and tissue.
This mechanism will first pull acid-buffering minerals (that you’re not getting from your diet) from tissue, bone and cartilage. These minerals include calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, chromium, iron and selenium. That calcium is needed for bone strength. (In fact, Dr. Susan Brown, a leading researcher on osteoporosis, says in her book Better Bones, Better Body, that maintaining optimal pH is the single most important factor is improving and preserving bone density.) Both the calcium and potassium are essential to proper brain function, iron for blood and organ health and so on.
Next, this pH balancing mechanism will decrease metabolic function and even immune function in order to reduce the amount of acids these functions produce. This results in a whole spectrum of issues, such as increased free radicals, inflammation, poor digestion, fatigue, anemia and on and on.
To make matters worse, the lungs, adrenal glands and kidneys are largely responsible for maintaining blood pH via this mechanism. When they don’t have enough of the acid-buffering minerals they need, they work harder to get them, forsaking a lot of their other duties, such as hormone production and secretion, toxin filtering and etcetera.
All of these things are the reasons why it is so essential to maintain the proper level of blood pH. If for no other reason, the increase in systemic inflammation caused by acidic conditions should get you eating alkaline. Inflammation is tied to virtually every serious health condition today, including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders.
However, numerous studies have shown that even cancer can be directly linked to acid levels in the blood. One study showed that the blood pH of cancer patients averaged around 3.8, which is extremely acidic.
So how do I know my blood pH?
Fortunately, it’s very easy to determine and monitor your blood pH. You don’t even need to go to a doctor. You can easily and inexpensively purchase pH paper online (Amazon, $5-10) and perform both urine and saliva tests at home.
The urine test:
- To do the urine test, you should place a few drops of urine onto a piece of the pH paper both first thing in the morning and later on in the evening. Under ideal conditions, your first morning’s urine should be about 6.4. Throughout the day, jot down everything you eat. When you test in the evening, a higher or lower pH will give you some indication of how the foods you’ve eaten throughout the day have effected your blood pH.
The saliva test:
- You should do saliva tests throughout the day; first thing upon waking, about two hours after each meal or beverage (other than water) and before you go to bed. Ideally, blood pH upon waking will be 6.8-7.2 and when testing right after a meal it should be alkaline. If not, your diet is likely an issue.
Eating an alkaline diet
Eating an alkaline diet is not difficult. As a general rule, foods that are high in either protein or refined fats, flours and sugar are acid-forming or acidic foods. This means you need to cut back on meat, cow’s milk and dairy products, wheat and most whole grains and their products. You also need to get rid of the processed foods and fast food.
Processed and fast foods are loaded with acid-forming ingredients. In fact, most of them have ALL of the most acid-forming ingredients, including refined wheat flour, refined sugar and refined fats. It’s almost impossible to avoid an acidic condition if you’re eating processed foods on a regular basis.
Once you eliminate the processed foods, try to limit acidic whole foods, such as meat and dairy, to 20% of your daily intake. Then choose alkaline or acid-buffering foods like vegetables and fruit, for the other 80% of your daily intake.
This isn’t as restrictive or boring as you might think. Just take a look at all of the delicious (and readily available) foods you can enjoy on an alkaline diet.
This isn’t one of those diets where you can’t eat anything yummy. You have a ton of fresh produce to choose from, and you can still have your steak, chicken and Greek yogurt, just in smaller proportion.
Once you start eating alkaline (and try to reduce stress, get more rest and steer clear of toxins by going organic as much as possible), you’ll very quickly be able to correct your blood pH. The difference may astonish you.
Very soon, you should see a huge increase in energy levels, better digestion, easier fat loss, less pain from inflammation-related conditions like arthritis, better mental focus, better moods and on and on. This is all in addition to restoring the blood pH that will ensure a longer, healthier and more active life.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, crushed with a press
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- Pinch ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce (about 1 large head romaine)
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 pita breads, toasted and broken into bite-size pieces
In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sumac, salt, coriander and pepper. Whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream until blended.
Add romaine, mint, parsley, tomatoes, radishes, green onions, cucumber and toasted pita, and toss until blended. Serve immediately.
Per Serving: Serving size: about 1 1/2 cups, 170 calories (100 from fat), 11g total fat, 1.5gsaturated fat, 270mg sodium, 15g carbohydrates, (2 g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 3g protein.