Almost every great adventure begins with a reluctant hero fighting against seemingly unconquerable odds. But it ends with a victorious feast, new friends made, and lessons learned. It may seem like a stretch, but this is no different from my first experience making a charcuterie board.
Also known as a gazing board, this party platter urges you to find the best food you can and share it with those you care about (or want to impress). And you can make it as healthy as you want. From the herbal, nutty aroma of exotic cheeses to the sweet, sour flavor of pickled olives surrounded by wild berries and fresh veggies—be your own hero as you embark on the unforgettable adventure of making and presenting your first grazing board.
Searching for Flavor
Your first obstacle is to find all the ingredients you need. Because you’ll need a lot of them. As you make the quest to look for unique foods, seasonal fruits, and the freshest veggies you can find, you’ll discover you must search out boutique grocers in every corner of the land.
Go all out with your ingredients. And remember, quality and abundance are key. It also helps to know early on there really isn’t a wrong way to make a grazing board.
Cheese and meat: Traditional charcuterie focuses more on cheeses and cured meats. For healthy options, try fresh cheeses, like Mozzarella or Ricotta, instead of aged ones. And go with lean protein options like eggs or shaved turkey. For more healthy ideas, click here.
Fruit and veggies: pickled olives, grapes, and berries go well with traditional cheeses and meats, but don’t be afraid to pile your board with all kinds of healthy, tasty options. You can easily ditch the meat and cheese and make veggies the centerpiece if you want. This is your chance to go to the local farmers market and discover something new.
Everything else: Don’t forget all the delicious extras you can add. Pistachios, almonds, and other nuts are great for adding flavor and texture. You can also include sweet or savory jams and jellies, mustards, or other pickled items or garnishes. Herb sprigs and flowers can bring even more color and aroma to your board.
You’ll quickly learn that searching for the perfect parts of your grazing board is a real-life adventure. It will get you out into the community discovering new flavors and cultures, supporting local businesses, and encouraging you to meet new people and places.
Now that you have all your fancy, fresh, and unique ingredients, you can actually build your board and craft an experience of gastronomical grandeur. This is the second trial you—as the hero of your story—must overcome. But, as with the first, you’ll quickly realize it’s just another part of your awesome, new adventure.
Find your foundation. You can use a glass or ceramic platter or go with a wooden board. Just make sure it’s the right size for what you want to do.
Start by placing the two or three largest items like cheese wedges, bowls of jelly or olives, or large vegetables.
Begin filling in the spaces working from bigger items to smaller ones. Keep everything bite-sized, and try to keep similar items together.
Add some style and asymmetry by placing items in threes. You can go with an elaborate design you find online or just make your board a chaotic cornucopia.
Add the finishing touches with herb sprigs, flowers, berries, nuts, and seeds.
This is your chance to showcase all the delicious goodies you’ve found on your journey. Find foods with striking colors and try to complement them. Make it your way and add your style. There really aren’t any rules as to what can or can’t be on a grazing board. If you love gardening, it could be filled with all of your home-grown vegetables. Or if you want to focus more on protein options, you could go more traditional and cover it with cheese and antipasti.
The experience you craft is in your hands. For design ideas click here.
Celebrating Your Journey
Now that your board is complete, you need some friends and loved ones to share it with. So invite them over for a relaxing evening and good food. Place your board in an easily accessible location, typically close to the drinks.
Then stick around and share your healthy grazing board with pride. You traveled far and wide, discovered new places and flavors, and now you get to have some fun and tell your stories. Where and how you got the ingredients really can become the main talking point around your board. So get ready to be the expert on the heirloom tomatoes or locally sourced fresh cheese you included.
Nothing is quite as photogenic as a well-made grazing board. So make sure to snap plenty of nice photos and share them, along with your stories, on social media as well. It’s a great way to showcase healthy habits in an artistic way that’s all you.
You’ve broken out of your comfort zone. You’ve fostered a community of people you care for. You’ve had a healthy adventure and created something to be forever proud of. But it’s not the end of your story, because you can always do it again. Maybe next time you’ll add some mango pieces or a bowl of fresh salsa.
Here at East Coast Life Solutions, we know that it’s easy to get off track. Healthy food tips and ideas make it easy to keep going in the right direction. When there is good healthy food at your fingertips you are less likely to be tempted to indulge in less healthy temptations.
And we know many of you are already healthy grazing board experts. Please share your tips and tricks below to help us new adventurers on our journey.
Describing mindfulness can be hard. So, let’s do a little thought experiment and try some mindful living for a minute.
Imagine you’re walking through a city, enjoying the fresh air, and delighting in the bustle and energy of the streets. You take a seat on a bench near a busy intersection, safely tucked away from traffic. You’re happy to rest for a moment and take in the sights and sounds. What goes through your mind as you witness the traffic?
You might notice the make, model, and color of each car that passes. Perhaps you take note of how fast a particular car whooshes by. Maybe you see another car run a red light. You allow yourself to observe these visual cues and understand them as information, without the need to interpret them as good, bad, wrong, or right.
This basic analogy is what many practitioners use to describe mindfulness. Let’s unpack it to dig deeper into this important, but elusive concept.
What is Mindfulness?
If you imagine the busy street as your brain, then the different cars represent your thoughts. They could be about your worries, fears, or stressors. They might represent your hopes, wishes, and desires. People in your life may populate your thoughts. All those thoughts are cars traveling on the street of your brain.
Mindfulness is immersing yourself in that moment-to-moment awareness, free of judgment. It allows for these thoughts to enter your mind, move through, and disappear without wreaking havoc. That means as you think of a worry, hope, or person, you do so without judging yourself for thinking about it.
An example of mindful living might help clarify things. You feel worried about missing an impending deadline. Mindfulness would suggest that you acknowledge the deadline and your body’s reaction to it with a bit of emotional distance.
Most people don’t practice this detachment. That allows negative thoughts to loop. If the loop continues uninterrupted, the result can be anxiety, stress, worry, and preoccupation. But, if you aim to witness your thoughts in the same way you would a harmless car driving safely by you, you’re likely to avoid those negative pitfalls. Additionally, allowing a bit of space from emotions provides clarity of mind and mental focus.
Mindfulness is about staying in the present. So, returning to the car metaphor, mindfulness is not craning your neck to see if the car that passed will turn off the road up ahead. It is also not turning to see how far traffic has backed up. When you’re simply observing each car as it enters and exits your field of view, you’re practicing mindfulness.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
As the modern world continues to blaze by, many are turning to mindfulness to slow life down. The recent growth in the popularity of mindfulness has created a call for research to investigate the benefits of more mindful living.
Practitioners have long claimed many benefits for mindfulness. Among them are stress reduction, less emotional reactivity, freedom from rumination, mental focus, and relationship satisfaction.
Researchers have started to test these hypotheses. They do it by assigning study participants to a mindfulness-based intervention or a control group. Then researchers take various measurements to determine the effects of each intervention.
In one investigation, researchers looked at nearly 40 studies that include mindfulness-based interventions. They found mindfulness programs helped reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in patients with psychiatric disorders. In certain studies, they also concluded that mindfulness practice, paired with traditional therapy, is effective in preventing relapse into depression for certain patients.
Another study has shown promising results for regular practice of mindfulness through meditation. In this particular case, participants learned how to meditate over a two-month period. Researchers took images of participants’ brains before and after the program and found changes in the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for emotional processing. The scan showed that the amygdala was less active after meditation. Then participants were shown emotionally charged images and the same brain scan was repeated. Comparing pre-meditation scans to those taken after viewing emotional images revealed something interesting.
Researchers saw that the decrease in activity of the amygdala held, even when the participants weren’t actively meditating. This finding is promising, as it shows that the benefits—in this case, less emotional reactivity—are long-lasting, even when meditation or mindfulness is not being actively employed.
Another group of researchers studied attendees of an intensive mindfulness retreat. After the 10-day retreat, the participants, experienced less rumination—when compared to a control group who didn’t attend the retreat. The retreat group also exhibited better attention and focus when assigned to a performance task.
It’s not uncommon to hear about a new trend from a friend and be skeptical. Even if your friend shares a personal, compelling anecdote, it may feel too good to be true. But when the trend in question is mindfulness or mindful meditation, the jury’s no longer out. Science shows that health benefits of mindfulness do exist. So, hesitate no longer and hop on the bandwagon.
Tips for Mindful Living Every Day
Slow down. It’s easy to move through life on autopilot, going through the motions without consciously connecting with each action, decision, or person you encounter. One trick is to think about the transitions throughout your day and how you can move through them more slowly and intentionally. This could be the moment after you wake up and before you get out of bed. Maybe it’s the moment after you finish one work task and start the next. When these transitions are rushed, it divorces your mind from your body, turning autopilot back on. In these transitional moments, pause to breathe and check in with your mind and body. This will give you a chance to collect your thoughts and ready yourself for whatever comes next.
Use all of your senses. Mindfulness doesn’t just have to be turned on when life gets stressful. Tuning into your body and all of its sensations can help you stay engaged in mindfulness. Listening, seeing, tasting, touching, and hearing fully can help you stay grounded in each moment. With this mindset, an ordinary task can turn into a sensory experience. For example, take gardening. What does the soil feel like? Does this new sprout have a smell? Consider the vibrancy of the colors throughout the plant. If it bears fruit, what does it taste like? What sounds do you hear as you’re outside tending to the garden? When you stay in the moment and ask yourself these questions, it’s nearly impossible to ruminate on the past or worry about the future.
Keep a gratitude journal. Start by jotting down three things you were grateful for each day. This practice will encourage you to slow down and reflect on your day. Consider why you’re grateful for each list item, how they make you feel, and how they add to your life. Journaling can help you curate a more positive outlook and perspective. If this resonates with you, create longer lists or expand each entry.
Practice self-compassion. Non-judgment is the key to mindfulness. But requiring your mind to be present and non-judgmental can feel like a tall order. You may not do it successfully every time. And that’s OK. Be forgiving and kind to yourself. It’s the best way to ensure you’ll come back to the present and continue forward.
Another Taste: Eating Mindfully
In the modern world of busy schedules, traffic, and technology, it’s hard to find time to focus on eating well. When time is short, meals are often the first thing to take a hit. It means a meal might start in a drive-through lane and finish while you’re driving. Or perhaps it’s a plate of leftovers quickly reheated in the microwave and eaten standing up.
Not giving yourself moments to slow down and eat in peace will only add to the rushed pace of the day. And unsurprisingly, the result might leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and with an upset stomach.
When you take the alternative approach and choose to eat with dedicated intention, you unlock more opportunities to practice mindfulness. It doesn’t matter whether you make a meal from scratch or you pick up one that’s prepared. Eating mindfully calls on all of your senses, bringing you into the present.
What does it smell like? Does the aroma transport you to another place or memory? If you’re eating with your fingers, what does it feel like? Is it soft, crumbly, or flaky? What does it feel like once you put a morsel in your mouth? Does it melt, dissolve, or bubble? What does the food taste like? Does it make your mouth pucker or hit your sweet tooth?
Paying attention to the general feel and feedback from your whole body will help you remain in touch with what your body needs and when. When did you last eat? How does your body feel? What cues is it giving you and what are they saying? Remember that your body knows best. It only asks you to listen to its cues.
Make Mindfulness Your Mantra
Mindfulness requires a subtle shift in how you move throughout your day. While the change is seemingly small, the impact can be large. Being mindful allows your body and mind to let go of stress, negative thought patterns, and associated behaviors.
When you toss aside those patterns and distractions, you liberate yourself. You’re likely to find more creativity, productivity, and energy. By committing even a few moments a day to mindfulness, you start a habit that sets you up for a healthier day and overall lifestyle.
Just like a powerful computer, your body is always taking in data and using it to make decisions. But you have nerves instead of a circuit board and a brain rather than microchips. Together, your nervous system directs your body’s functions according to the messages it receives.
Think of the central nervous system as a biological command center. It integrates information from your surroundings and tells your body how to react. And the nervous system does all this while letting you focus on living your life. So, you don’t need to consciously worry about responding to every stimulus you encounter. That would be exhausting.
To save you the mental energy, you need your nervous system to perform voluntary and involuntary actions. Without it, you couldn’t control your arms and legs, maintain a steady heart rate, or breath.
Here’s some other involuntary reactions that rely on your nervous system:
The reach of your nervous system is enormous. Every part of your body is hardwired with nervous-system tissue. You can pick up information from your hands and feet, as well as your joints and gut.
Now it’s time to plug into your nervous system and get a sense of how much it does for you. And also learn about the parts and mechanisms that make your nervous system function.
Anatomy: Nervous System Parts
At its most basic level, your nervous system is a collection of specialized cells called neurons, and supporting cells called neuroglial cells or just glial cells. A neuron can conduct electricity and secrete chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Each nerve cell can pass on information, and receive information from stimuli inside and outside your body. Glial cells surround neurons. Their role is to provide support and protection for neurons.
Neurons have a cell body—just like all other cells. This is called the soma, and it’s surrounded with tiny, finger-like extensions. These are called dendrites. And they receive stimulation from the nerve cells next door.
Protruding out of the cell body is the axon—a long projection that carries electrochemical impulses. Axons are surrounded by a fatty tissue called the myelin sheath. This insulates the axon and speeds up signal transmission. Think of the myelin sheath as the insulation that surrounds the wires in your electronic devices.
The neuron ends at the axon terminal. That’s where signals created inside the nerve cell are sent to the next neuron. Nerve impulses are transmitted from the axon terminal of one neuron to the dendrites of the next. The space where nerve cells meet up and exchange information is called the synapse.
Neurons link up between their dendrites and axon terminals and create a thick, rope-like shape. This bundle of neurons is called a nerve. They pick up signals from your internal organs and outside world and propel the messages towards your brain.
There are thousands of nerves in your body. And they vary in size. The longest nerve is called the sciatic nerve. It stretches from the base of your spinal cord to your foot. The trochlear nerve is one of the smallest. It’s in charge of the rotational movement of your eye.
After neurons and nerves come the bigger organs of the nervous system—the spinal cord and brain.
The spinal cord is essentially one large, thick nerve with a direct connection to your brain. The bones in your spinal column provide structure and protection. That allows messages to travel uninterrupted to and from your brain along the spinal cord.
If you think about your nervous system as a computer, then the brain is the system’s hard drive. It receives every message gathered by your nerves via the spinal cord. Then it interprets that information and initiates a response.
When you want your body to perform an action, it’s your neurons that start working first. They send electrochemical impulses to the brain through the nerves and spinal cord. Your brain returns the necessary instructions to complete the task along the same nerves.
In the next section, you’ll learn more about this process, the role of nerves, and the actions your nervous system can help you accomplish.
How the Nervous System Works
Your body is great at tackling the hard work of your everyday life. And the nervous system is no exception. It divides up the job of sensing and responding to stimuli between its two parts—the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
The CNS is the control center of the nervous system. It includes the brain and the spinal cord. All the nerves that branch out from the spine are part of the PNS. Though they operate in tandem, it is important to highlight them independently. That’s because each section of the nervous system has a unique role and function.
Central Nervous System
Your CNS is the boss of your body. It is responsible for coordinating the messages it gets from the PNS to provide the appropriate physical response. This process is called integration.
The wire-like nerves in your body get stimuli from your environment and send those signals to your brain. But the nerves in your hands and feet aren’t plugged directly into your brain. Instead, your spinal cord makes a single connection at the base of the skull.
Protected by bony vertebrae (the bones of the spine), your spinal cord is the cable that collects the information from all over the body. Acting as one large conduit to the brain, your spinal cord can deliver large amounts of data from a single port, rather than thousands of smaller ones.
This makes it easier for your brain to integrate all the sensations you experience with the right actions and movements. And when it’s time to respond to messages, it can send out instructions in bulk. This takes some work off your brain’s plate by leaving the sorting and delivery work to the spinal cord.
Peripheral Nervous System
All of the nerves in your body (except the brain and spinal cord) are collectively known as the peripheral nervous system or PNS. It’s the job of the PNS to use nerves to sense information about your environment. Your voluntary and involuntary actions, reflexes, and intentional movements are initiated by the PNS.
The PNS communicates back and forth with your brain and spine and lets the central nervous system know what the rest of the body is doing. The PNS does this with specialized nerve cells called afferent and efferent neurons.
Afferent neurons are also known as sensory neurons. They send messages to your CNS. They deal in sensory information like sound, taste, touch, and smell. When you touch sandpaper, or smell a cake baking, your afferent neurons take that stimuli to your brain.
To respond to those sensations, your PNS uses efferent neurons. These carry messages and instructions away from your CNS. Efferent neurons can also be called motor neurons. They do just what their name implies—triggering muscle contraction and movement. Motor neurons make it possible for you to scratch your fingers against the rough sandpaper. They also allow you to take a bite of that delicious-smelling cake.
Both afferent and efferent neurons are present in nerve fibers. So, your PNS can send sensory information to your brain and receive a motor response along the same nerve. You need this kind of back-and-forth communication for voluntary movement.
The nerves of the PNS also manage things outside of your conscious control—involuntary reactions to your environment.
A major example of your PNS at work is your fight-or-flight response. This kicks in when you perceive that you’re in danger. It can also turn on when you’re worried and scared. At that time, your body experiences involuntary changes when you feel stressed.
Take speaking in public, for example. As the moment approaches, you might notice your heart start to race and your palms sweat. Your mouth might even get dry.
These symptoms indicate that your peripheral nervous system is working as it should. Salivary glands, skin cells, and your heart muscle get messages from your brain via the PNS to adjust their behavior to keep you safe. When you take a couple of deep breaths and settle your nerves (pun intended), your heart rate returns to normal. You feel safe and are no longer afraid.
The peripheral nervous system operates a complementary response to fight or flight, often called rest and digest. Your nerves send instructions down from the CNS to calm your body when it’s not in any danger. So, your breathing is steady and your muscles and gut are relaxed when you’re not experiencing stress.
Again, all of these changes occur on their own. You can thank your PNS for running on autopilot so you don’t have to worry about elevating your heart rate when something makes you nervous.
And without a peripheral nervous system, decisions and directions made by the CNS would have to be carried out directly by your brain and spinal cord. The central nervous system may call the shots when it comes to responding to sensations and stimuli. But the PNS is the link between your body and your brain that gets the job done.
Nervous System Technical Support
It’s pretty wild to think that electrochemical impulses are shooting up and down your nerves as you pause to read this article. Your nervous system is always working. So, make sure you’re doing your part to keep your electrical wiring up to code. There are a couple great ways to support and protect your nervous system.
Remember all the work your nervous system does to prepare your body for fight or flight? When stresses from work, school, or family life don’t let up, it can be hard for your nervous system to ease out of this involuntary response.
If your mind feels clouded with worry, it can be hard for your brain to efficiently integrate all the messages from your nerves. Sometimes this stress can even manifest itself in physical pain.
Combating stress and returning your body to the rest-and-digest phase will give your nerves a break. Deep breathing, mindful meditation, and exercise are all great ways to take a load off. If possible, try easing your mental strain by eliminating unnecessary work or burdens. And ask for help from family and friends when you need it.
Eat Whole Foods with Healthy Fats and Antioxidants
The myelin sheath covering the axon of your neurons are made of fatty tissue. So is your brain, the head of the central nervous system. That’s why you should choose food that reinforces these important structures.
That means healthy, unsaturated fats, like omega-3s. These are liquid at room temperature, but are also found in solid foods. You can find these healthy fats in avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil.
Another great way to protect your brain long-term is by eating foods rich in antioxidants. Berries and other brightly colored fruits and veggies are excellent sources. Antioxidants help protect brain tissue from damage by free radicals. They also support memory and cognitive function.
Try to incorporate these nutrients—and others, like magnesium, iodine, and a variety of vitamins—in your diet. Switch out foods with unhealthy fats (fried foods and prepackaged foods) with healthier options (grilled salmon or walnuts.) Make a brain-boosting smoothie with lots of berries and green veggies.
There are plenty of tasty ways to take care of your nervous system. And your hard-working brain, spinal cord, and nerves deserve the love.
START THE JOURNEY TO A NEW YOU WITH USANA® 5-DAY RESET™
Change isn’t easy. But don’t stress! Sometimes a small success is all it takes to jumpstart a big transformation. That’s the idea behind the USANA® 5-Day RESET™ kit. In only five days, you’ll be on your way to a healthier you.*
By eating balanced, low-glycemic foods, you can overcome your cravings and begin losing weight** without feeling hungry. RESET will help you get in the habit of eating healthier, exercising, and making smarter lifestyle choices.*
The 5-Day RESET kit comes in two varieties, so you can choose the Nutrimeal with the protein source that’s right for you. One contains a mixture of the French Vanilla (soy protein) and Dutch Chocolate (soy and whey protein). Or you can choose a non-soy, plant-based option that contains only packets of the mildly flavored Nutrimeal Free.
You may eat more snacks than are listed here. And you can mix fruit, vegetables, or unsweetened milk (dairy or plant-based) in your Nutrimeal shakes for a little variety. Just make sure to keep your calories near the recommended amount, or you may not experience the results you want. Also try to limit your fruit to three servings a day. Fruit juice is discouraged.
You will also want to turn off the TV and do some kind of low-impact exercise like walking for 20 to 30 minutes every day.
Sleeping for 7-9 hours is also recommended. This will help keep you from looking for more snacks to help bump up your energy if you’re sleep deprived. And if you are sleep deprived, you can consume black coffee or tea while on the 5-Day RESET.
Nutrimeal shake mixed with 10-12 oz. of water
Add Probiotic to your morning shake
Nutrimeal shake mixed with 10-12 oz. of water
Nutrimeal shake mixed with 10-12 oz. of water
Always take your supplements with food
PM HealthPak may also be taken with your PM snack, if preferred
Incorporate an eating cutoff time two hours prior to bed
Your snacking options are endless. But the goal is to eat whole foods. And you’ll feel fuller, longer if you aim to mix a little protein and fat with your carbohydrates.
2 hard-boiled eggs, sprinkled with salt and pepper to taste, along with a sliced medium bell pepper or 1 ½ cup of sugar snap peas
1 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ apple or ½ banana (optional: add a dash of cinnamon for an extra kick of flavor)
20 whole, raw almonds with ½ cup of mixed berries or 1 cup snap peas
2 cups raw veggies (broccoli, celery, cauliflower, cucumbers, snap peas, mushrooms, etc.) with 5 Tbsp. hummus of choice
3–4 cups mixed green salad (lettuce, kale, spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.) with ½ cup cooked legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, etc.) and 75–100 calories of salad dressing OR replace legumes with boiled egg and 2 oz. lean meat of choice
1 small baked sweet potato, 1 cup cooked broccoli with 3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese or 1 Tbsp. butter or plant-sterol butter substitute
1 medium fruit (orange, apple, or pear) with 1 oz. cheese of choice
2, 1-oz. deli slices of natural, low-preservative turkey, each rolled with 1-oz. slice of cheese
3 oz. water-packed tuna or salmon mixed with 1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise or plant-based mayo substitute on 1 crispbread cracker
½ cup ripe avocado chopped with 8 grape tomatoes (add green onion and a squeeze of fresh lime juice for flavor)
1 cup cooked quinoa with 2 slices of avocado
1 cup fruit with ½ cup of cottage cheese
½ cup unsweetened natural applesauce with ¼ cup sliced almonds
2 celery sticks with 1 Tbsp. nut butter and 1 Tbsp. raisins
2 medium carrots with ¼ cup guacamole
½ cup roasted chickpeas with 1/2 bell pepper
1/3 cup roasted soy nuts or chickpeas
3 cups kale or arugula with ½ Tbsp. olive oil and pepper
20 pistachios with 1 oz. cheese of your choice
3 cups plain popped popcorn
1 cup broccoli with 1 tsp. dressing
Unlimited raw celery, cucumber, lettuce or other leafy greens
**Individual results may vary. The 5-Day RESET program lowers your daily caloric intake and recommends moderate exercise for best results.
It is suggested that you take these products to your health care professional and secure their advice if you intend to change your diet, begin an exercise program, are pregnant or lactating, have allergies, are taking medications, or are under the care of a health care professional.
Children under the age of 18 should not participate in the 5-Day RESET program, except on the advice of their health care professional and/or dietician.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
As we go through life there are many things that we encounter that take us off track and divert our attention away from some of the most important things that we can do which is to take care of ourselves. Yes, there used to be an adage that said the “Golden Years”, but as I have found out for myself, your years are only “Golden” if you put health as your top priority.
Your life experiences make you an expert at handling change. Starting a new job, moving to a different city, the birth of a child. All events that transform your life and shape you are about change. For women and men, healthy aging is the next challenge to conquer.
But everyone ages differently. Women go through a specific ageing process called menopause. And while every woman will experience it, not everyone is aware of what to expect.
Men go through hormonal changes with age, too. It’s not the same as what women deal with, though. (You can read the facts about male menopause below.)
No matter what’s ahead, when you understand how your body changes as you age, you will feel ready to march into each new year and decade with confidence. And preparing for healthy ageing now can help ease your body into each subsequent phase of life. Whatever your age, there are steps you can take now to get on track for healthy ageing.
To tackle what’s coming with age, let’s break up adulthood into some of the key concerns during different decades of life. This is by no means a comprehensive list—a whole book would be needed for that. But you’ll read about what to expect in terms of hormonal changes with age and some of the other physical changes you might encounter. Learn tips about how to handle what might be coming your way.
You’re never too old to learn about your body. And you can never start paying attention to healthy habits too early. So, no matter your age now is the time to start down the road to healthy ageing. The choices you make throughout your life are the key to enjoying every minute of it.
Get Active to Prepare Properly in Your Twenties and Thirties
Your twenties and thirties are a great time to develop healthy habits that’ll last throughout your life. Start exercising on a regular basis as soon as possible. Partner up with a family member or friend and get fit for the future together.
One concern for women and men is a loss of strength and bone density later in life. That’s why your younger years are a great time to strengthen your muscles and bones, armouring your body through regular physical activity.
Getting in shape now might seem premature, but it’s never too early to start. As you age, some activities will become more challenging. So, start working out now to help maintain your independence when you are older.
Think about activities like shopping, gardening, and hiking. Muscle and bone loss could make these difficult. Lifting groceries, pushing a wheelbarrow, and climbing stairs are all things you will want the freedom to do in the future. That’s why you need to stay active in your twenties and thirties—so you can keep doing the things you want to with the people you love.
All you need is 30 minutes of activity each day. And many of these suggestions can be done with a partner. Build up your stamina and set your body up for comfortable ageing by keeping physically fit.
Fortifying Health in Your Forties
Working out during the week is a good start on the road to healthy ageing. And a diet of healthful foods can make the trip even smoother. These habits set you up for wellness in your next decade of life. That way when your forties roll around you can meet any ageing challenge head-on.
Ageing skin will be one of the first symptoms you tackle.
By your forties, the skin that has served you so well can start to show signs of wear. All the fun in the sun, smiling and laughing you’ve done shows up in the form of wrinkles. Both women and men can expect to get wrinkles. Here’s why they show up and how you can minimize their appearance.
The wrinkles around your eyes and mouth come as the result of intrinsic and extrinsic ageing. Intrinsic ageing is what happens when your body naturally starts to produce less and less of the proteins that keep skin bouncy and firm—collagen and elastin. This intrinsic ageing process actually starts before your forties. In fact, after age 20, your skin produces one percent less collagen each year. So, by your forties, you’ve probably noticed a difference in your skin’s appearance.
Extrinsic ageing also changes the look of your skin. This form of ageing accounts for the damage that comes from outside your body. That can include things like tobacco and pollution.
You’ll notice extrinsic ageing when your skin looks splotchy and uneven in texture. Radiation from the sun is one of the biggest contributors to extrinsic ageing. Responsible sun exposure is healthy (15-30 minutes per day). But excess sunlight damages your skin and is the source of most of your wrinkles.
To prepare yourself for the age-associated changes in your skin, sunscreen and sun-obscuring clothing (long shirts, pants, and hat) is your primary defence. Sunscreen protects your skin from damage and should be used every day. For maximum skin protection, try to use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30-35.
If you want to avoid the appearance of wrinkles, try adding an antioxidant-rich serum and moisturizer to your skincare regimen. Antioxidants are great at reducing the appearance of redness. They can help even out your skin tone and give your skin a healthy glow. While moisturizers help give a more youthful appearance by helping retain moisture in the top layers of the skin and protecting from outside elements that can contribute to skin dryness.
Add antioxidants to your diet, too. Your ageing skin will thank you. So will your brain. Your forties are for fortifying your body for healthy ageing. And it’s smart to look ahead and consider the health of your brain. A diet rich in antioxidants is great for your mind and can help keep you sharp. (More on that later.)
Don’t sweat your changing skin. Everyone experiences wrinkles. But you can help your skin retain its healthy look and elasticity with sun protection and proper skincare.
Healthy Aging in Your Fifties: Hormonal Changes and You
For women, the most noticeable changes of ageing come about in your fifties. Menopause begins around age 50 in most women. This final shift in estrogen hormone production can happen quickly, so be on the lookout for some of the symptoms. Estrogen is the hormone that controls a woman’s menstrual cycles.
Menopause signals the end of a woman’s reproductive years. This is the point in life when the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and estrogen production declines significantly. When menopause begins, monthly periods become irregular and eventually stop. These hormonal changes eventually cause a loss of fertility.
Changes in regular menstrual cycles might be the first symptom of the start of menopause. But your body will also experience other changes when menopause begins. Symptoms include hot flashes, mood changes, dry skin, and poor sleep to name a few. Becoming aware of these future changes can help you plan to keep yourself comfortable.
Consuming foods rich in phytoestrogens (like soy), daytime physical activity, and breathing exercises at night can help improve your sleep if it’s interrupted by menopause. Another good idea is limiting caffeine intake to the beginning of the day. That way you won’t be wide-eyed and jittery when it is time for bed.
Investing in a good skin care regimen can help with dryness caused by menopause. Moisturizers and creams formulated for mature skin can help your body preserve moisture and brighten your complexion’s appearance.
And remember, while many of these hormonal changes might seem dramatic, their side effects won’t last forever. Always keep in mind that menopause is a normal part of ageing. Most women transition out of menopause within about five years and see a reduction in most menopausal symptoms over time.
A Word About Male Menopause
You might be wondering if there is an equivalent hormonal ageing process for men. While there is no distinct man-opause (male menopause), men do experience hormonal changes as they age.
All men will see a reduction in testosterone with age. But this change is gradual and not as marked as estrogen’s changes in women.
Symptoms of reduced testosterone include a loss of muscle mass and decreased energy. Some men may experience mood changes, decreases in strength, and sex drive to name a few. The physical symptoms can be alleviated with regular exercise. And changes in mood can be addressed with mindfulness, emotional support, and help from a trusted healthcare provider.
Mentally and More—Staying Fit in Your Sixties and Beyond
The previous decades have been preparing you for healthy ageing with habits like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and proper skin care. In your sixties, you have the chance to work on perhaps your most important organ of all—your brain. And keeping your brain in good shape will make ageing a more enjoyable process.
Stimulating your mind can help you stay sharp as the years go on. As you settle into your sixties and beyond, forgetfulness might be on your brain. A small amount of cognitive decline is expected as you age. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to keep your wits about you well into the future.
Engaging in activities that challenge your mind and memory are great ways to stay in mental shape. Studies have shown that adults who practiced cognitive stimulation through active learning saw less cognitive decline later in life. These include: playing musical instruments, taking classes (cooking to math), learning a new language, writing/journaling, memory games, talking with friends, actively working on hand-eye coordination, and practicing a new sport.
What kinds of things can you work on to keep your mind sharp? Learn. Learn. Learn! Reading, writing, and studying a new language are all excellent ways to keep your brain learning. You might even find that these activities are fun.
Playing card and board games are great for your brain, as well. Try to play with others as much as possible. This is a great time for being with family and friends. What’s more fun than playing games and making memories with those you love?
Another way to protect your memory is by eating a diet rich in antioxidants. Current research suggests that cognitive decline and brain ageing is caused by oxidative damage. Free radicals gnaw away at neurons. Antioxidants target free radicals and help protect your brain cells.
You can find a lot of antioxidants in berries. Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are great sources. Put them on your breakfast cereal. Eat them as a snack. However, you do it, incorporating antioxidants into your diet can support your ageing brain.
Don’t spend your sixties and beyond worrying about your memory. Activate your brain by learning new things and engaging with your favourite people. Talk, read, write, and learn as often as you can. Keep up a healthy diet with lots of antioxidants and other brain nutrients.
A Healthy Life, No Matter The Age
Living well doesn’t stop just because you get older. At any age, you can have a healthy and happy lifestyle. By preparing for healthy ageing in your youth, these transitions can become more comfortable and manageable.
Start healthy habits like a good diet and regular exercise today to keep your body strong for when you get older. Take time to care for your skin and get ready for some of the hormonal changes coming your way. And keep your mind sharp by continuing to learn all the time.
You might think that age is just a number. And you would be right. You can embrace that number (no matter how high) knowing you are prepared for healthy ageing.
The fact of the matter is I have spent the last 8 years of my life focusing on my health. As hard as is, I too am human and slip from my commitments but each time find it easier and easier to hop back on the wagon. I know now how it feels to be healthy and I want to keep striving to, control and maintain my health, because if I don’t care, who will?
If you are interested in making the rest of your life, the best of your life, join us anytime to walk your path to health. USANA products can be purchased at the below link. We are also available anytime to have a discovery call and find out more about you.
For those in the northern hemisphere, the winter season brings shorter days with dark mornings, darker evenings, and for many, symptoms of winter blues. With less time for sunrays, we typically spend more time indoors, finding refuge in the comfort of Netflix and family.
Winter blues strike many of us, especially in the later months of the season, and can mark changes in mood and energy. While feelings of “blah” are often experienced during dismal winter months, you don’t have to succumb to the atmosphere. Low energy levels could stem from deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals often depleted by the onslaught of a feeling of stress, poor nutritional choices, and the ever-waning hours of UV light.
Support Winter Health with Supplementation
A healthy lifestyle including a clean diet, consistent sleep habits, stress management, regular exercise, and self-care can go a long way to help manage your overall well-being. But if you can’t get healthy levels of essential vitamins and minerals naturally, especially during the dark months of winter, supplementation can be beneficial to bolster your health while you wait for the brighter, sun-loving months ahead.*
Minerals and Their Role in Winter Health
Minerals must be present in the body to achieve healthy cellular metabolism, the biochemical reactions that fuel the daily operations of a cell and maintain life. They build the structure of the body from the bones outward—you quite literally need them to live.*
Calcium, a commonly mentioned macromineral, is the most abundant mineral in the body. It’s found mainly in your teeth and bones. About 99 percent of calcium exists in your skeletal system. In the past, calcium has been widely portrayed as the key nutrient for bone health. And while it’s integral to build and maintain a healthy skeletal structure, this elemental mineral is only one player in a team of minerals that account for healthy bones and work to execute vital physiological processes throughout the body.*
Magnesium is another abundant mineral, a heavy hitter on the cellular level, that aids in many of our internal physiological functions. It’s an essential component that triggers over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Despite this important role, most people don’t get enough of it.*
One of magnesium’s most important operations in the body, other than to help maintain bone density and healthy insulin function, is energy production. Converting the foods you eat into a usable form of cellular energy requires adequate levels of this important mineral. The body needs a large amount of this essential macronutrient to carry out these numerous functions throughout the body. Supplementation is a great option to promote optimal health.*
Vitamin D’s Role to Resist the Shorter Day Gloom
Vitamins, as we all know, are an essential part of our diet. They are vital to create important chemical reactions on a cellular level. Perhaps you’ve heard vitamin D referred to as “the sunshine vitamin”. This happy vitamin is as crucial to our health as it is our psyche.*
Occurring naturally when your skin is exposed to the sun, vitamin D signals a reaction to a “preform” of the vitamin that exists in the skin’s epidermis. So, when you’re exposed to the sun’s powerful UVB rays, the body goes to work producing vitamin D3. *
Vitamin D has many benefits, including bone health, immunity support, mood support, maintains blood pressure already in the normal range, and supports muscle strength. It’s true your body can create vitamin D naturally, but for those who live far from the equator, we often fall below adequate levels in the winter months.*
USANA® MagneCal D™ for a Brighter Season
Stress and poor dietary choices, hurdles we all face throughout the holidays, often hinder our pursuit for a healthy lifestyle. Optimal sleep, clean nutrition, and less sun heightens our risk to become deficient in vitamins and nutrients necessary to help us push through seasonal slumps. For example, without the proper levels of magnesium and calcium, the body begins to borrow from the skeletal system—a process called resorption. This natural process ensures you maintain the required level of these minerals to function. However, over time, mineral levels in the blood and in your bones can be negatively affected.*
USANA® MagneCal D™ combines an ideal ratio of 1:1 magnesium to calcium with the added boost of vitamin D. This smart combination provides the following benefits:
Ideally, we’d like to rely solely on our diet to provide appropriate levels of essential vitamins and minerals. But the truth is, most of us don’t regularly consume adequate levels because of the poor nutritional choices we make. Magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D, in combination, make up an important foundation for health. And MagneCal D is one small part of whole-body health. If you don’t have a scientist in the house, read more about the benefits of MagneCal D to help balance your mood, increase your energy levels, and support cardiovascular and bone health.*
East Coast Life Solutions product partners with USANA Health Sciences. We are passionate health influencers who want you to make self-care a habit.
*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.
Your best friend in the office swears the microwave is killing all the nutrients in her food.
The big guy at the gym with bulging biceps and a t-shirt that says, “Real Men Lift” insists by his diet consisting of protein, protein, and—you guessed it: more protein—is the only way to get that beach body you’ve been dreaming about.
When talking about health and wellness, there’s no shortage of inaccurate information—particularly when it comes to nutritional supplements.
But with so much coming at you from friends, colleagues, and Internet “experts,” how can you separate fact from fiction?
Let’s check out some widely accepted supplement myths, cut through the white noise, and then get to the facts.
SUPPLEMENT MYTH #1
Believe it or not, dietary supplements are regulated and subject to detailed and comprehensive regulations to uphold safety and quality. It’s just not necessary to hold them to the same standard the government demands of pharmaceutical products designed specifically to treat diseases.
Once a dietary supplement is on the market, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has safety monitoring responsibilities. And, sure, there are limitations to the FDA’s regulations, but there are still companies who go above and beyond to make their consumers feel safe by obtaining third-party verification. ConsumerLab.com® is just one company some businesses turn to when they need to test their products.
There are even some companies who have their manufacturing facility registered by NSF International—an independent, nonprofit organization that helps protect public health by writing standards for food, water, air, and consumer goods; testing and certifying products based on those standards, inspecting for GMP, and providing ongoing monitoring.
On top of ConsumerLab.com verification and manufacturing in a registered NSF facility, there are nutritional supplement companies that use trusted United States Pharmacopeial testing methods to help ensure they adhere to higher standards than even the FDA requires.
SUPPLEMENT MYTH #2
Although the FDA does not require an expiration date on dietary supplements, it does require that if one is printed on the label it must be supported by stability-testing data. Therefore, if you see an expiration date on nutritional supplements, that date is the latest possible date to which the company can guarantee ideal product quality and potency.
Keep in mind that supplements may not spoil like fresh produce, but they will gradually lose potency over time. While using those expired vitamins may not be dangerous, it’s definitely less beneficial. So get in the habit of taking your dietary supplements regularly as directed on the label to get the most value and benefit.
Technically, supplements that are stored properly in unopened bottles should last at least two years before any loss of potency occurs. Once they are opened, they should hold up for at least one year.
SUPPLEMENT MYTH #3
Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) is the reason you see that bright yellow or orange color in the toilet bowl.
Flavin comes from the word flavus, which means yellow. The body excretes the riboflavin that it doesn’t need at that time, and the amount can vary depending on your diet and lifestyle.
Just because you may get more riboflavin than you need at a given time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting enough of many other important nutrients on a daily basis. In fact, it’s rare for most people to eat a balanced diet—the fast-paced nature of today’s world makes it incredibly difficult.
Riboflavin can be found in some foods such as: milk, eggs, lean meats, nuts and leafy vegetables like kale.
B vitamins help your body metabolize the proteins and fats in your diet and support the health of your skin, eyes, and liver.
Riboflavin also plays an antioxidant role in the body, helping it to fight off cell damage caused by free radicals.
An Expert’s Perspective:
“Expensive urine is a bizarre argument because a $50 restaurant meal and a bottle of fine wine also lead to expensive urine, but no one seems to be complaining about those things. Numerous studies have shown, however, that vitamin supplements do increase peoples’ blood levels of those nutrients.”
—Jack Challem, veteran nutritional reporter
SUPPLEMENT MYTH #4
We know that children develop so quickly in the early stages of their lives, and due to this rapid physical and mental growth, supplementation is needed to assist with proper brain development and other health-related processes. EPA, DHA, and vitamin D are especially important for growing brains and bodies.
The same is true for the elderly. As our bodies age, medical issues, a decrease in appetite, and even changes to our digestive systems can lead to potential vitamin deficiencies. These often include: vitamin D, B12, and calcium.
But the young and old(er) aren’t the only people who need a little help. Even some of the world’s most elite athletes have been known to supplement because of their intense lifestyle. For instance, five-time WBO Welterweight champion Tim Bradley has been known to go on record saying how much he relies on nutritional supplements, especially during his intense training leading up to a fight.
“I’ve been taking USANA nutritional supplements since 2008, and I have captured five world championships since then. I have the best nutrition in the world and, because of that, I have an advantage when I step foot in the ring since I’m already ahead of the game.”
—Tim Bradley, five-time world champion
More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion.
SUPPLEMENT MYTH #5
The quality of nutritional supplements can totally vary from brand to brand, so you should definitely compare nutritional labels to know exactly what you’re getting. Don’t let vague labels like “all natural” persuade you.
Do your research and find out what you need. You know your nutritional needs aren’t the same as your friends’ or coworkers’, so why are you buying into the latest “one-size-fits-all” fad you stumbled across while browsing in the grocery store?
Did you know there are health assessments out there designed specifically to help you discover what nutrients your body may be lacking? They even pinpoint habits that might be creating a negative impact on your health and provide feedback on what you can do to turn those habits into positive lifestyle choices.
Those assessments are great, but there’s really nothing more valuable than the insight you can get from a trusted physician. If you’re really curious about what’s going on with your body, pay a visit to your doctor and get some blood work done.
Ditch the Filler
Scared that what you’re getting is all filler with no real nutritional value? Fortunately, there are dietary supplement companies who take what they do very seriously and take extra care to make sure their supplements are made with the highest-quality ingredients.
Here’s what you should expect from your manufacturer.
Find a company that carries a potency guarantee, ensuring that what is defined on the label is actually in the product.
Purity—Free from impurities or contamination
Identity—Ingredients in the product are verifiably the ingredients on the label
Composition—Contains exactly what it is suppose to contain in exactly the right proportions
Strength—Offers the proper concentration of ingredients
Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group: 6-11 servings
I don’t know about you, but that is a lot of food to be eating in one day. So I think it’s fair to say that even if you’re eating a well balanced diet, you’re most likely not getting the daily-allotted amount of vitamins and minerals. That’s where supplements come in.
An Expert’s Perspective:
“Those who believe that you can get all the nourishment, including vitamins and minerals, you need to sustain optimal health throughout life from food alone can be very smug. They have the equivalent of an orthodox religious belief—‘food is everything.’ They don’t have to concern themselves with the fact that the nutritional value of foods their patient eats may be greatly inferior to the listed nutritional values given in food tables.”
—William Kaufman, MD
Did you know?
There’s new technology being used in vitamins that nourishes your body with the right balance of nutrients to create the ideal environment for optimal cellular health. The technology has the power to tap into your cells’ ability to preserve and regenerate. It does this by cleaning up the harmful byproduct of energy creation happening deep inside your cells, giving you healthier, longer-living cells. Pretty cool, right? Why wouldn’t you want to use supplements after hearing about that technology?
SUPPLEMENT MYTH #7
Sure, this statement might be true if your kitchen countertop currently looks like the vitamin aisle of your local supermarket. And that can easily happen because there are hundreds of options to choose from. You want a calcium supplement, vitamin D, fish oil, melatonin, vitamin C, glucose, B12—the list goes on and on.
What are you suppose to do—carry all those bottles around all day, every day? Talk about inconvenient.
But did you know there’s a company with a solution?
USANA Health Sciences has developed what is called the True Health Assessment. This revolutionary online tool helps you discover your personal vitamin needs. And once this is determined, they can split your recommended vitamins into convenient AM and PM packs.
Visit their site to create your own personalized MyHealthPak and choose which supplements you want in your 30-day supply. They slap your name on the box and BAM…you’re all set.
Doesn’t get much more convenient than that.
1. The best companies follow a strict set of guidelines for purity and quality.
2. Always pay attention to the expiration date to ensure you’re getting the most out of your nutritional supplements.
3. That neon glow in the toilet bowl is a lot more than just expensive pee—that’s proper nutrition at work.
4. Everyone can benefit from supplementation, regardless of age. Chat with your doctor to find out what you need when it comes to nutrition.
5. Some nutritional supplements are in a league of their own when it comes to quality. Do your research.
6. A well-balanced diet doesn’t always equal optimal nutrition.
7. While juggling a dozen vitamin bottles throughout the day is hardly anyone’s idea of convenience, there are still ways to make effective supplementation simple and stress free.
We highly encourage you to share this with your social networks so we can spread the nutritional truth as far as possible!
East Coast Life Solutions product partners with USANA Health Science. We are health influencers, passionate about forming self-care habits.
For most areas in North America, our clocks will spring forward an hour on Sunday, March 10, as we begin Daylight Saving Time. Basically, this moves an hour of morning daylight to the evening. While this gives us “longer” days that bleed into summer nights, this change can shake up bedtime routines and cause restless nights for up to a week.
Here are a few tips to keep you sleeping soundly during Daylight Saving Time and beyond.
Have you ever wondered why it’s recommended adults get between 7–9 hours of sleep every night? Or why, when you stay up too late or travel, it takes a few days to recover? Our sleep and wake cycles—or circadian rhythms—follow a 24-hour cycle. These rhythms influence nearly everything in your body, such as hormone release, digestion, maintaining normal blood pressure, hunger, and body temperature.
Leading up to and following Daylight Saving Time, a consistent sleep routine that supports your body’s natural rhythms becomes even more important. About a week before your clocks change, start going to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual. Increase this by an additional 15 minutes every few nights and you’ll be ready for some easy shuteye come time change time.
An easy way to carve out that additional 15 minutes of sleep is to power down for the evening. Digital devices can keep your mind occupied, and you awake. The light—TV included—reduces your body’s melatonin production. This is the helpful hormone that regulates your circadian rhythms.
If you have a hard time making it through the first week of Daylight Saving Time, catch a quick nap instead of that mid-afternoon cup of coffee. Even a short rest of around 20–30 minutes can help with alertness and performance and—most importantly for some—mood.
Taking one or two brief naps throughout the week can be a serene way to help regulate your body and help you feel more refreshed after lost sleep. Valuable tip: if you’re sneaking away from your desk at work, set an alarm.
Exercise Early, Rest Late
Some experts recommend exercising in the morning to really see those sleepy time gains. According to an Appalachian State University study, subjects who exercised in the morning had a consistent decrease in blood pressure throughout the day. They also showed a more significant drop at night, slept longer, and had better sleep cycles.
A morning endorphin boost also helps wake you up to focus on the rest of your day.
If you can’t fit in a morning workout, there isn’t a wrong time to exercise. Whether done morning or night, moderate physical activity can reduce stress and tire you out, paving the way for longer, higher quality sleep.
Supplement Your Sleep
If you’ve tried the other tips and you still need help getting enough sleep, consider trying a melatonin supplement.*
A quality supplement, such as Pure Rest™, can tell your body it’s time for sleep by
complementing your body’s natural melatonin production. Not only will this support your sleep-wake cycle, but it can help you get a dreamy night’s rest.*
Visit the USANA shop today for a restful night’s sleep.
Frank Sinatra’s 1956 tune “You Make Me Feel So Young” hits all the right notes. It starts with a blasting horn line underscored with soothing strings and a walking bassline guaranteed to get your fingers snapping. And then Sinatra lends his voice to one of his all-time greats.
It’s about a young man swooning in love with his new lady friend. When he is with her, he’s unstoppable. She gives him the strength to bounce the moon just like a toy balloon. All he wants to do is pick flowers with her and spend every moment together. And it ends with the perfect message: “And even when I’m old and grey, I’m gonna feel the way I do today.”
It’s a wonderful message and hopefully one we’re all lucky enough to feel just once in our lives.
Bells to be Rung and Songs to be Sung
Evidence shows being in love may elevate your heart’s health. It’s more than running through meadows picking lots of forget-me-nots (although this is a good cardiovascular activity). People in committed relationships actually have improved heart health.
A recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health followed 620 married fathers and found that those who were in flourishing marriages experienced improvements in several cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol and body mass index (BMI). Comparing those in happy relationships to ones that deteriorated over time, happy relationships showed lower rates of high blood pressure. The report suggests several reasons why people in healthy relationships tend to have fewer health issues. It starts with the social support offered by each partner.
Those in happy relationships encourage the other to take care of themselves, provide care, and cheer on new, healthy behaviors.
Men seem to benefit more from these relationships. The study found that men in happy relationships have better health outcomes, including fewer hospitalizations, fewer severe disease, and less physical pain. The thinking behind this research suggests people who have partners who can share things are more likely to address problems sooner than later. Those in harmful relationships are more likely to produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can lead to arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Every Time I See You Grin
The better the relationship, the bigger the payoff. Harvard Medical School published an article stating there are biological and behavioural benefits when people stay in long-term, happy relationships. Looking at over 309,000 subjects, they found people in solid relationships were less likely to suffer from “harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulations, and the immune system.”
Essentially, the article encourages people to pursue healthy, couple-building activities. When you’re working toward common goals, you’re less likely to develop habits damaging to the relationship. Take care of your partner and they’ll take care of you.
Just as important as fostering a positive relationship is being conscious of the dangers of being in a negative relationship. An article published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that partners who annoy you, demand too much, ignore you, or pressure you to do things you don’t want to do are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases.
It makes sense. When you’re feeling unvalued or neglected, you’re likely to develop resentment or depression. These stressful life events and other social strains are associated with early indicators of cardiovascular disease. By avoiding harmful relationships, you are mitigating the risk of developing unnecessary stress which can manifest in a number of health issues.
There’s nothing quite as invigorating as the start of a brand new day. You’re full of energy, motivation, and spark, and you just can’t wait to charge out into the world and make life happen. But, even for the best for us, that energy can wear off as the day chugs along. Before you know it, you’re dragging from one task to the next and desperate for a midday nap.
Lucky for you, we’ve devised a short list of some great foods and recipes to keep your energy sustained throughout the day. Check them out below and give the recipes a try.
Plain white rice and breads can cause blood-sugar crashes that can leave you feeling drained halfway through your day and needing to eat. Choose quinoa instead. It’s a gluten-free, low-glycemic grain that breaks down more slowly to give you a steadier dose of energy.
And quinoa is very versatile. Just take a look at all these great recipes involving this super grain.
Lentils may be tiny, but when it comes to steady energy, they are mighty. Their high fiber content slows your body’s process of turning carbohydrates into the glucose for fuel. This means they’ll give you a slow, but steadier, supply of energy for much longer than other carb-loaded foods.
Bananas that are still somewhat green are a lower-glycemic source of carbohydrates and natural sugars called fructose. Both fuel your body and brain to give you energy. Bananas also contain tyrosine, an amino acid that—according to recent studies—can promote energy, alertness, and motivation.
Best of all, bananas are easy to carry wherever you go. They literally come with their own natural, protective packaging. So stash a few in your purse or backpack and you’re good to go.
4. Fatty Fish
It’s clear as water that fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are great sources of protein and omega-3s. But they also provide vitamin B12, which works with folic acid to produce red and white blood cells. Maintaining optimal levels of red blood cells in your body supports healthy energy metabolism.
To check out some healthy salmon recipes, click here.
5. Sweet Potatoes
One medium-sized sweet potato contains up to 23 grams of carbohydrates and 3.8 grams of fiber. This dynamic duo provides you with a steady supply of energy. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of manganese, which helps your body produce energy.
This eggscelent source of protein and iron can also help keep your body running all day. Protein itself gives you a steadier source of energy without causing spikes in blood sugar or insulin. Eggs also contain choline, a B-vitamin to help with energy production.
It’s clearly not a food, but water is the building block of life. Not drinking enough water or getting enough through foods can lead to dehydration—slowing down your body functions, making you feel weak and lethargic. Practice healthy hydration by making sure you drink plenty of water.
Now you know the ideal foods to help you through that infamous midday slump. But if you want a little more info on what foods to avoid, just ask the scientists.