Energy drinks have become part of our day-to-day life. As eyelids begin to droop in the mid-afternoon, the glorifying effects of caffeine can help pull us through the midday slump. Crack a crisp can, and off you go.
But have you ever studied the ingredients of these energy revivers? They can pack a punch of caffeine and other stimulants, but you’ll often feel the crash that comes from unnatural sources.
USANA’s Rev3 has a different approach—cleaner ingredients for more organic energy. Rev3 utilizes a proprietary Energy Complex with L-carnitine, tea, ginseng, Rhodiola, cacao, ribose, citrate, malate, and coenzyme Q10. It supplies your body with ingredients to support energy metabolism at the cellular level. Clean ingredients help to enhance mental alertness and stamina with caffeine from natural sources, making Rev3 an optimal choice for your afternoon boost.
Rev Up Your Afternoon Habit
The energy of warm weather and fresh ingredients entices throwing summer parties and becoming more creative in the kitchen. It’s the perfect time to get creative with your afternoon Rev3 pick-me-up. Enchant your day—and your taste buds—with classic mixers infused with a light and refreshing pomegranate flavour for a revitalizing oomph that’s far beyond ordinary.
Mocktails to Fuel Your Every Day
Mix up a single mocktail anytime as a fancy way to boost your afternoon, or multiply each recipe to share at your next event, happy hour, or hosted brunch with friends.
Hibiscus ReviverDried exotic hibiscus flower can be found at most grocery stores. It infuses your mixtures with an interesting touch that’s both floral and tart. Here it mixes with Rev3 to liven up a classic drink, taking your party—or afternoon—to the next level of luxury.Ingredients· 2.5 oz. Rev3· .5 oz. hibiscus simple syrup (see below)· .75 oz. grapefruit juice squeezed fresh· .75 oz. lemon juice squeezed fresh Build this exotic concoction in a rocks glass. Add ice, and get creative with embellishments—a fresh flower, mint sprig for colour, whatever your heart desires. Hibiscus Simple Syrup· 1 bag dried hibiscus flower (about 2 cups)· 2 cups coconut sugar· 2 cups water bring the mixture to a boil until the coconut sugar dissolves completely. Add dried flowers to steep and let mixture cool completely. Once cool, remove flowers to extend the life of this enchanting mixer.
Rev Sunrise/Rev and RiseGinger, citrus, and the subtle addition of lychee bring depth, brightness, and sophistication to this perfect brunch beverage. Shake off the groggy feeling left behind from your morning to-do list and amp up your eggs with the power of Rev3.IngredientsDime-sized piece of peeled ginger.5 tsp. coconut sugar5 oz. Rev3.5 oz. lychee syrup1/2 lemon squeezed fresh.75 oz. orange juice, squeezed freshMuddle fresh ginger with coconut sugar until pieces are broken up. Stir ice and remaining ingredients in a large mixing glass with a tall bar spoon. Strain into a large rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a cherry, orange wheel, or anything that brightens your day.
Rev RefresherThere’s nothing like a cooling beverage to infuse your remaining work hours with bright new ideas or to rejuvenate conversation. Mix up a Rev Refresher to enliven an afternoon work session or gathering.IngredientsLarge pinch fresh mint.5 oz. simple syrup1/2 lime squeezed fresh1 oz. pineapple juice2 oz. Rev3Tear and bruise a healthy pinch of fresh mint leaves (careful not to muddle, the leaves will turn brown). Stir remaining ingredients in a large mixing glass with a tall bar spoon. Add leaves to Collins glass and pour additional ingredients into glass. Fill to the top with ice and serve with a tall straw. Garnish with leftover mint leaves or a pineapple wedge.
Your body has a large, complex, and well-trained security force protecting you from the constant barrage of foreign invaders trying to get in. You call it your immune system. And it’s a network of cells, tissues, and organs working together to provide full-time, full-body protection. Without your knowledge, your immune system identifies and attacks a wide variety of day-to-day threats. All while distinguishing these pathogens from your healthy tissues. But this amazing system is sometimes tripped by less evil objects, like pollen. And that’s where your seasonal allergies start.
The symptoms of allergies—running nose, watery eyes, and sneezing—make sense when you consider the role your nose, mouth, and eyes play. They’re easy entry points for invaders, so your tears and mucus are equipped with an enzyme called lysozyme. It’s capable of breaking down the cell walls of numerous bacteria. Your saliva is armed with antibacterial compounds. And your nasal passages and lungs are coated in a protective shield of mucus and lined with mast cells—a type of white blood cell.
Any bacteria or virus that wants to gain entry through these passageways must first successfully navigate through these important defenses. Harmless substances—those that do not pose a threat to your health—also get caught up in these defenses. They are mistakenly targeted for destruction by your immune system. And that’s only the most basic answer for what causes allergies.
But there’s so much more worth exploring, especially if you’re familiar with the runny, watery, sneezy world of allergies. Let’s dive deeper.
Seasonal Allergies: What They Are and How They Happen
An allergen is typically a harmless substance that can trigger an immune system response that results in an allergic reaction. This is considered a type of immune system error.
A seasonal allergy (also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever) is your immune system overreacting to harmless substances in the environment during certain times of the year. Hay fever originally received its name because of the symptoms that people experienced during the summer months when hay was harvested.
Pollen is the most common allergen in sufferers’ seasonal allergies. This fine, powdery substance is produced by trees, grasses, weeds, and flowers mainly during the spring, summer, and fall. Pollination is the transferring of pollen grains from a male part of a plant to a female part so that reproduction can occur. This works when pollen is released into the air, picked up by wind, or carried by insects, bats, and birds to fertilize other plants of the same species.
Pollination is a very important step in the life cycle of many plants. But pollination can be miserable if you experience seasonal allergies.
These tiny, harmless pollen grains float around in the air and can find their way into your nasal passages. This can trigger an immune response inside your nose. That could lead to sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, teary eyes, and an itchy nose, or throat. While these symptoms may sound and feel like a cold, they are not caused by a virus. It’s just your immune system overreacting to that “harmless” plant pollen.
While it can be confusing to determine if you have seasonal allergies or a cold, there are some unique differences:
Seasonal allergies do not cause a fever.
Any mucus secretions you may experience are typically thin, runny, and clear.
Your nose, throat, and ears may feel itching and you may have rapid bouts of sneezing.
Seasonal allergy symptoms usually last longer than seven to 10 days as they are tied to pollen production and counts.
How Do Seasonal Allergies Develop?
You weren’t born with seasonal allergies. But you can develop them over your lifetime.
It all begins with exposure to an allergen (molecules with the potential to cause allergy). You’ve been around them all your life without difficulty. But suddenly your body decides a certain allergen is an invader that must be destroyed.
When this happens, your immune system studies the allergen and makes highly specialized proteins called IgE antibodies to act against it. That’s just in case another exposure occurs. Once your body is sensitized, your immune system maintains a lasting memory of that allergen. This process is called priming.
At your next exposure, your previously made antibodies recognize the allergen and turn on special immune cells to fight and destroy it. These IgE antibodies are specific to a particular antigen. For example, if it is ragweed pollen, the IgE antibodies produced by your immune system only attack the pollen from ragweed.
The chance of developing an allergy starts in your genes. While you can’t inherit specific allergies from your parents, the tendency toward developing allergies is passed down. Children with one allergic parent can have up to a 50-percent chance of developing allergies. And with two allergic parents, it can be an 80-percent chance. Anyone can experience allergies, but children tend to be affected more often than adults.
Allergies can take years to develop. And having one allergy can make you more likely to get others. There’s also a threshold for people who have allergies. So, you can handle a small exposure, but too much launches your body into an allergic response. That activates mast cells in nasal tissues and triggers the release of the histamine from basophils and eosinophils (types of white blood cells).
Histamine is an organic compound that causes the symptoms most often associated with allergies. They’re responsible for the itchy nose, throat, or skin; watery eyes; sneezing; cough; and a runny or stuffy nose.
Seasonal allergy sufferers are familiar with antihistamines. These medications are often used to block the effects of histamines. And it’s the most popular way to deal with the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
The Dreaded Season of Allergies
Allergy season is determined by where you live, and what you’re allergic to. Those with pollen allergies likely dread spring, summer, or fall seasons when pollen counts are at their highest levels.
But what pollen producers are most closely tied to what season? Here’s a quick, simple guide:
SPRING: Trees (like oak and birch) are the significant source of pollen during spring months. In some areas, they can begin producing pollen as early as January.
SUMMER: During the summer months, grasses (like ryegrass and timothy-grass) are a top source of allergy-causing pollen.
FALL: Weeds are the top allergy offenders during the fall. This is especially true for ragweed, which grows in almost every environment.
Having one allergy makes you more likely to get others. So, if one year your ragweed symptoms seem more severe than usual, you may also be reacting to another allergen that’s sharing the air.
How Seasonal Allergies Can Cross Over to Food Allergies
Allergies can interact in other unexpected ways. For example, up to a third of people with certain pollen allergies also develop allergies to foods that contain similar proteins. This is called pollen-food syndrome, or oral allergy syndrome.
It’s caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables, or even certain tree nuts. It means that you could experience an itchy mouth; a scratchy throat; or lip, mouth, throat, and tongue swelling.
The symptoms of pollen-food syndrome are usually confined to the mouth and throat. That’s because these proteins are sensitive to gastric enzymes, so they are rapidly degraded upon ingestion. That limits the extent of the reaction. In addition, these proteins are sensitive to heat, so cooking the offending food doesn’t cause the same reaction. In most cases, the symptoms subside once the offending food is swallowed or removed from the mouth.
Although not everyone with pollen allergies experiences pollen-food syndrome, the following are the commonly associated pollen allergens and foods:
Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, and tomato
Ragweed pollen: banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, and zucchini
All About Allergy Testing
You may have a guess about what causes your allergic reactions. But testing is the only way to know for sure.
Allergy testing can be done as a skin prick or through blood testing. Both methods are used to help determine what substances you may be allergic to. These tests are provided by medical doctors specializing in the immune system and the treatment of allergies. And they are given in addition to a thorough physical exam and health history.
Skin allergy testing is the most common. It’s considered a reliable method to test for certain types of allergens. For this procedure, a tiny amount of select allergens are put into your skin by making a small indentation “prick or scratch” on the surface of your skin.
The skin allergy test determines specific allergies based on how your skin reacts. And the results show up pretty fast. Reactions on the skin occur within about 15 minutes.
If you have allergies, a little swelling and redness will occur where the allergen(s) were placed in your skin. For example, if you are allergic to birch pollen, but not ryegrass pollen, only the birch pollen will cause redness, swelling, and possible itching. The spot where the ryegrass pollen was applied will remain unaffected.
If you’re tired of the seasonal allergen battle, these tests can help determine which allergens trigger your symptoms. And testing can help determine what steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers. It also helps identify prevention measures or treatments likely to work best for you.
Train Your Immune System
Depending on the type of allergy you have, it’s possible to train your immune system to become less responsive to certain allergens over time—with the help of an allergist or immunologist. Desensitization or immunotherapy is a preventive treatment for allergic reactions to certain substances, including pollens.
Immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the immune-offending allergen either under the tongue or as an injection into the skin. The incremental increase in dosing changes the way your immune system reacts to the allergen over time. This can help reduce the symptoms of an allergy when the allergen is encountered by your immune system in the future.
Before starting treatment, it is important for your allergist to help you identify which pollens or other substances trigger allergy symptoms. Skin and sometimes blood tests are performed to confirm the antibodies to specific allergens before therapy can begin.
For those tired of seasonal sneezing fits and constant doses of antihistamines, immunotherapy is a long-term way to address the way your immune system responds to allergens.
Tips for Seasonal Allergy Avoidance
If your nose is driving you crazy, what can you do? Pollen can be difficult to dodge. But avoidance remains one of the best ways to control exposure to allergens during allergy season.
To minimize your exposure to pollen:
Stay informed of your local pollen counts by checking the internet or other community sources
One of the best ways to combat the impact of seasonal allergies is through knowledge, preparation, and action. Knowing what pollens you’re allergic to, controlling exposure, and treating the symptoms before they become overwhelming can help you navigate the perils of pollen season.
East Coast Life Solutions carries a full line of doTerra essential oils and USANA Health Sciences supplements to help you build your immunity and relieve allergy symptoms. (links are on our home page)
We are always looking for people to join our healthy lifestyle team, which is very rewarding to pass along great values and education to others. Please use the contact page to get in touch.
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.
POP QUIZ: Who was the first Prime Minister of Canada? How many U.S. states have “City” in the name of their capital? Who was the first drummer for the Beatles?
And one more: is physical exercise good for mental health?
There are plenty of great reasons to be physically active, but here’s one you might not think about often. According to a recent University of British Columbia study, researchers concluded regular aerobic exercise (exercise that gets your heart and sweat glands pumping) can maintain the size of the hippocampus, the verbal memory and learning part of your brain. These scientists identified a direct correlation between exercise and keeping your wits.
Now, this might not help you remember John A. Macdonald was Canada’s first prime minister, Jefferson, Oklahoma, Carson, and Salt Lake have city in the state capital, or Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr, but it does reveal aerobic exercise is not just good for your physical health. It’s also essential for your brain health.
A Smarter Hippocampus
Tucked under your cerebral cortex is a funny-looking gland in your brain called the hippocampus. FUN FACT: Your short- and long-term memory and spatial memory gland is shaped like a seahorse. And it’s all in the name—from the Greek words hippos (horse) and kampos (sea-monster). The hippocampus plays an important role in the formation of new memories, both episodic and autobiographical, and declarative memories.
This is a fancy way of saying the hippocampus can assist you in remembering what you had for breakfast, how to navigate from home to work, and memorizing facts and figures.
Your brain has two hippocampi, bilateral, each located in the medial temporal lobe. Research has shown that damage to the hippocampus can result in the inability to form and retain memories. Conversely, when you supply your hippocampus with oxygenated blood from exercise, it can keep your brain healthy. In addition, exercise helps improve mood and sleep which goes a long way to reduce stress and anxiety.
That’s why it’s important to get aerobic exercise throughout the week.
The Muscle Between Your Ears
So, what’s the best exercise for brain health?
Neurologist Dr. Scott McGinnis from Harvard Medical School suggests something as simple as a brisk walk for one hour, twice a week, can be enough. But here’s the deal: it can be anything. Swimming, bicycling, a dance class, or even household activities can get your blood moving and work up a sweat. The Mayo Clinicsuggests a simple way to determine your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 40 years old, subtract 40 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 180.
So, find an activity you enjoy and get moving. Sign up for a Zumba class or try yoga. Give the rock-climbing gym a shot or make sure your dog gets a daily walk. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re raising your heart rate—helping not just your brain, but your entire body.
Riddle Me This
Physical activity is great for brain health, but don’t forget to keep your mind sharp with mental activities. Muscles can atrophy over time if you don’t use them, and your brain is no different. Keep your brain performing at high levels, maximizing your cognitive powers with these stimulating tips.
Eat well. Good nutrients are important. Make sure your meals include omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, oils, eggs, and walnuts to help support your brain.
Do math in your head. Lose the paper and pencil and make simple calculations in your head. The next time you get change at the store, see if you can figure out the amount before the cashier.
Take a cooking class. Cooking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste. Stimulate your brain by cooking something new.
Explore your taste buds. Speaking of food, the next time you get a meal, try to figure out each of the ingredients in the recipe. Small tests like this can help expand your mind’s appreciation for flavor and texture.
Play an instrument. Learning to play a musical instrument takes time and discipline. It also keeps your mind engaged as you make beautiful music.
Learn a foreign language. Picking up a new language later in life is hard, but not impossible. It requires listening and practicing new words, and it’s a great way to stimulate your mind.
Read a book. Never underestimate the importance of reading. Books and magazines not only inform and entertain you, but they keep your mind sharp and focused.
Just like regular exercise can help with heart health, mental exercises can keep you living an engaged lifestyle. Let us know in the comment section what you do to improve your brain health. Link videos or programs you use to keep your mind active.
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.