Currently more than ¾ of Americans are overweight and more than 1/3 are obese. These numbers are increasing each year. The average middle age weight gain is 22 lbs. Obviously these numbers prove that losing weight is no easy feat.
What’s alarming is that carrying around extra belly fat is linked to just about every disease including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep and breathing problems, osteoarthritis, low self-esteem, all types of cancers and death.
What is even more scary is that studies have found that being 20 lbs overweight more than doubles your risk for heart disease and triples your risk for developing cancer.
Below are the most overlooked weight loss strategies that if address could help you lose 10, 20, 30 or even 100 lbs to reclaim their body and health.
1# NOT MANAGING STRESS
You can be eating all the right food and exercising consistently, but if you’re not managing your stress well, your waistline will be greatly affected. Stress is an inescapable part of the human condition, and we all experience stress on different levels and in different ways.
Stress not only causes weight gain, by keeping us up at night but can lower our immune systems making us susceptible to getting sick.
What happens when we feel stress is our bodies ‘fight-or-flight’ (sympathetic nervous system) is activated, reacting to a stressful or perceived stressful event. Notice how I said “perceived stressful event,” because nothing even has to happen for us to activate the stress response. Worrying is a perfect example of this type of stress.
Our bodies produces larger quantities of the chemicals cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline, which trigger a series of physical events from higher heart rate, heightened muscle preparedness, sweating, and alertness; all of which help us protect ourselves in a dangerous or challenging situation.
We don’t want to be walking around in a state of this type of stress on a consistent daily basis, because when you are stressed, your body produces cortisol which increases appetite. Cortisol also stimulates the growth and the manufacturing of new abdominal fat cells.
This increase in fat storage increases belly fat. Belly fat is the unhealthiest fat on the body. When cortisol levels are high, serotonin levels are lowered. Serotonin is an important brain neurotransmitter that promotes a ‘feel good’ feeling. Low serotonin causes carbohydrate cravings and depression.
When we feel stressed, many non-essential body functions are also affected and slowed down, such as our digestive and immune systems. This is another reason chronic unmanaged mental/emotional stress causes weight gain, illness and disease.
When we are stressed, the following physical responses happen:
Stress hormone cortisol released (leading to belly fat)
Our digestive system slows down
Immune system goes down
We do not sleep
The effects of stress on the mind include feelings of anxiety, depression, forgetfulness, mental fog, irritability, restlessness, sadness, fatigue, burnout, and anger.
Which can cause…
Eating too much or too little
Drug and alcohol abuse
Rash, poor decisions
Don’t let stress sabotage your weight loss success. Learn to powerfully deal with it using one or all of these proven effective stress busting techniques:
1. Meditation- Studies show that having a daily practice greatly reduces chronic uncomplimentary stress by normalizing blood pressure, reducing tension and perception of stress, helping cope with pain and loss, improving the immune system and greatly increasing concentration and mental focus.
2. Breathe Exercises- These can be as simple as taking ten deep breaths in and out through your nose and can help your body to slow down and greatly reduce stress.
3. Being in Nature- A recent study done in Japan showed that even looking at a picture of nature can greatly reduce chronic stress. Simply placing pictures of beautiful nature scenes at your desk or in your home is a great strategy but even better is getting outside as much as possible to a park, beach, lake or mountain area to decompress.
4. Physical Exercise– Science has now proven that exercise can help you become more resilient to stress. A recent research study conducted by Princeton University has found evidence that exercise actually reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress. They also found that physical activity reorganizes the brain so that it’s response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function (Princeton 1). This new evidence has provided yet another great reason to incorporate exercise into your daily lifestyle. Not only does exercise induce an immediate reduction in stress levels, it is now proven to help recondition our brains to respond better to stressful situations in everyday life and reduce anxiety.
#2 NOT GETTING QUALITY SLEEP
Many people struggle with not being able to fall asleep. In fact, prescriptions for sleeping pills topped 56 million in 2008-up 54 percent from 2004- with over $5 billion in sales in 2010. Not getting optimal sleep can throw off your hormones leaving you feeling hungry, cranky and tired throughout the day.
The main hormones involved are:
Ghrelin, produced in the gastrointestinal tract and stimulates appetite.
Leptin, produced in fat cells and sends a signal to the brain when you are full.
Cortisol, most commonly known as a stress hormone and also regulates appetite.
Insulin, produced in the pancreas and regulates blood sugar.
Growth Hormone, regulates the body’s proportions of fat and muscle during adulthood.
The quality of sleep and the right amount of deep sleep is just as important as the quantity of sleep.When you don’t get adequate sleep, leptin levels decrease; therefore, you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. Also, a lack of sleep causes ghrelin levels to rise, which means your appetite is stimulated, so you want to eat more. The combination of these two hormones causes overeating because you feel hungry even if you are full.
Sleep loss may interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates which leads to high levels of blood sugar. A rise in blood sugar promotes the overproduction of insulin. This also can lead to the storage of body fat and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs in diabetes.
Articles published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet suggest that sleep loss may increase hunger and negatively affect the body’s metabolism, which may make it more difficult to maintain or lose weight.
When you don’t get optimal sleep your body becomes out of sync with its natural sleep-wake cycles or circadian rhythms, which leads to disturbances in hormone regulation.
Abnormal circadian rhythms have been associated with weight gain, obesity, diabetes, depression and many other diseases because of these disturbances.
The most common reasons most people have trouble sleeping is because of stress, consuming too much caffeine, drinking alcohol or not having an ideal sleep environment. Usually it’s a combination of a few of these factors.
If you’re drinking excessive amounts of coffee and having a few drinks in the evening, cutting back on both of these practices is a good place to start. For more expert sleep tips click here.
#3 SALAD SABOTAGE
First congrats on choosing to eat a salad. The #1 missing food in the American diet today is greens. But when it comes to a salad, you must be a savvy salad connoisseur to make sure that your salad isn’t packing on as many calories as the bacon cheeseburger you just chose it over.
The challenge with salad is to not load it up too much with toppings and heavy dressing, while not making it so skimpy that it will leave you with lingering hunger. You want to feel full, satisfied and energized after eating a salad, not like you want to eat your hand.
The salad sabotage doesn’t happen in the leafy greens or the raw vegetables that are added.
The sabotage occurs in two specific areas:
1. Using too much or the wrong kinds of dressing
Beware! Most commercial dressings are loaded with oil, fat and sugar. It’s super important to read the labels of the salad dressings you buy and when you’re ordering a salad at a restaurant, ask for a lite dressing on the side so you can decide how much goes in. The best way is to just make you’re own salad dressing.
Note: One tablespoon of oil is about 120 calories. One tablespoon of dressing doesn’t go that far on a big salad.
2.Be mindful to not over do it with toppings
Cheese (high in calories and fat)
Animal protein (chicken, steak, shrimp)
Adding toppings to a salad not only adds variety but it adds bulk to the salad, helping to leave you feeling satisfied. This is good. But the trick is to add toppings in layers and to be mindful which ones are more calorically dense–contain more calories and not to over do it on these toppings.
The main topping to watch out for is cheese, which is both high in calories and fat. Nuts are also high in calories and fat, but contain much healthier fats than cheese. Nuts are both healthy and filling so using just a small handful will help fill you up and stay full.
Stick to topping your salads with mostly vegetables and 1-2 servings of a lean protein such as beans, eggs, organic animal protein, tofu, nuts and seeds.
I hope these 3 weight loss strategies help you to naturally lose weight to experience how good your body is designed to feel. True healthy weight loss addresses the lifestyle factors that get out of balance and lead to overeating in the first place. Food can never fill what’s missing in your life. True sustainable weight loss happens when you’re aligned with yourself, when you’re happy and fulfilled.
To learn more about healthy weight loss visit: www.devinburke.com/weightfreedom
Millions of people are looking for ways to lose weight and there is no shortage of ways to accomplish this well intended goal.
Each year thousands of new diet books are published, new weight loss pills, powders and medications created all in an attempt to fulfill the growing weight loss demand.
Worldwide obesity (abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health) has more than doubled since 1980.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, nearly one-third of the world’s population is now obese or overweight and nearly two thirds of Americans are overweight, and one third obese.
The world is experiencing an epidemic.
But what most people don’t realize is that there is a difference between weight loss and healthy weight loss.
We have been duped to believe that weight loss and healthy weight loss are one and the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Weight loss is simply the act losing weight by any means possible. This can be accomplished from not eating, taking synthetic appetite suppressants, chemical weight lose pills and injections, liposuction and manipulation of one’s caloric intake temporary such as going on a liquid diet.
Yes, these weight loss solutions do work and some of them work fairly well, but they work at the expense of your health and vitality and are temporary solutions.
These quick weight loss solutions address being overweight as a “symptom” but never address it at its root causes.
Quick weight loss methods lead to an endless cycle of weight loss and weight gain. Have you jumped from diet to diet? Weight loss program to weight loss program? Searching for the next “miracle weight loss solution” that will finally “fix” you once and for all.
The truth is that treating a symptom will never heal the root cause. In order to make weight loss stick the root cause of the weight gain must first be address.
Life in the 21st century has programmed us to want everything at the snap of a finger.
So we are marketed and sold “quick” solutions; “8 minutes in the morning to the perfect body”, “quick weight loss”, “lose 20 lbs in 20 days with this miracle pill”, “1 minute to a sexy stomach” etc.
Savvy weight loss marketers and publishers prey on the pain of those looking to change the way they look and feel by creating an illusion that healthy weight loss is easy.
Healthy weight loss isn’t easy, but it can be simple, fun and rewarding.
Healthy weight loss is losing weight in a natural sustainable and permanent way and the truth is, it’s not “easy”. Although “easy” is very subjective to the individual, easy to most people means not having to do that much work to accomplish a goal or task.
Treating the root cause of being overweight or obese isn’t “easy”. It takes work, commitment and at times can be uncomfortable but it can also be empowering because healthy weight loss is more than just about losing weight…
It’s about reconnecting and creating freedom in your body, discovering your passions, reigniting your relationships, accelerating your energy, and living a fully engaged vibrant life.
Healthy weight loss addresses the lifestyle factors that get out of balance and lead to over eating, using food as pure entertainment or to try a fill what’s missing in your life. The truth is food can never fill what’s missing in your life.
Have you ever used food as a substitute for other things you want in life but were too afraid to take action on? Do you use food to manage your emotions or as a reward? Do you eat when you feel lonely, bored, anger or stressed?
If you’re overweight or obese the answers to these questions is most likely yes. The answers to these questions also hold the keys to healthy weight loss. In order to change or shift something that’s out of balance, that something must first be in your awareness to be shifted.
Often times these feelings, frustrations and patterns are subconscious or have become so routine that we lose touch with them and they become automatic.
To experience healthy weight loss or what I like to refer to it “weight freedom” you must address the root mental and emotional issues that lead to eating too much and the wrong kinds of foods. Without addressing the emotional root causes for why we do, what we do, true lasting change can never occur.
To do this type of deep inner work takes a strong desire to change, an openness, and the courage to be vulnerable. Simply put, doing the inner work, yields amazing outer results…results that are real and that last.
Steps to Weight Freedom:
- Recognizing your unresourceful pattern. What situations, people or circumstances in your life lead you to overeat? Where do you feel powerless, out of control, worthless, afraid, and uncertain? What do you consistently focus on that is outside of your control? Honestly answering these questions will bring to the surface inner conflicts that need to be shifted to healthfully lose weight.
- Powerfully dealing with these inner conflicts. A good coach or therapist can help with this process. Working through deep inner conflicts can be challenging and scary but the end result by far outweighs the work in moving through them.
- Replacing bad habits (emotional eating) with good habits (taking a walk, breathing, reading a book, finding a passion project, starting a new relationship) this step only lasts when step one and two have been taken.
Often times people try to jump right to step three and are only successful for a short period of time until they fall back into their old patterns.
My hope is that this article has connected you with a clear path to truly take the necessary action to healthily and joyfully achieve your ideal weight.
The power to reclaim your weight and health rests in your hands.
There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing, feeling, and experiencing daily incremental improvement in your health and knowing YOU were the one responsible.
Healthy weight loss is possible. Think about all you’ll gain as a result letting go of the inner conflicts that have been unnecessary weighing you down for years.
Don’t believe the weight loss hype, do the inner work, change your lifestyle and experience how good your body is designed to feel….experience weight freedom.
After studying over 100 dietary theories, and hearing the frustrations of many clients, friends and family about their frustrating experience with diets and quick weight loss programs, and after helping many women holistically lose weight and keep it off, I’ve come to realize that there isn’t a “quick-fix” to weight loss because we aren’t broken.
Savvy marketers will try and sell their magic weight loss pills, potions and diets but the true healthy weight loss is and always has been an inner game that takes dedication, commitment, time and support.
Discover the 6 “No-Diet” Secrets to Permanent Weight loss:
In the guide I share…
- The 3 biggest lifestyle mistakes dieters make and how to avoid them with ease.
- What foods burn belly fat and 18 easy to make delicious fiber rich protein dense breakfast recipes.
- How stress is affecting your weight loss success and 4 effective techniques to powerfully deal with it.
Whether we realize it or not we all have a relationship with food. For some people it’s a good relationship and for others not so much. But regardless of whether it’s good or bad relationship, eating is a really intimate experience that affects our emotions. We literally are what we eat, and our health is directly determined by our food choices. The food we chose to eat, greatly affects our emotions which in turn affects our relationships. It’s so important to consider the relationship you have with food because food affects your relationship with yourself and with others.
Are you suffering from “hangry”?
Food can especially affect our intimate relationships. I know from personal experience… “We” my girlfriend and I, discovered this phenomenon on a extended Euro backpacking trip a few years ago. I’m a very positive upbeat person, but I began to experience what I later learned was “hanger” as known as angry as a result of being hungry. The “hanger” would usually strike while taking long train rides between countries. My “hanger” would eventually result in a snarky comment which then would lead to an unwarranted silly argument. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure she was also suffering from “hanger” as well.
What is “hanger”?
“Hanger” is actually a result of a drop in blood sugar leading to an physiological state change leading then a emotional state change. On a physiological level “hanger” is a drop in blood sugar also called hypoglycemia which can happen from not eating enough or not eating on a regular schedule aka going long periods of time without eating.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypoglycemia (happen quickly) can lead to…
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sweating,chills and clamminess
- Irritability or impatience
- Rapid/fast heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Hunger and nausea
- Blurred/impaired vision
- Tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue
- Weakness or fatigue
- Anger, stubbornness, or sadness
- Lack of coordination
As you can see from the list above hypoglycemia can manifest in many different physical and emotional ways. 
How to stop hanger in it’s tracks
The first step to overcoming “hanger” is to eat on a consistent schedule. A lot of people struggle with eating on a schedule but our body’s calibrate to our routines. A perfect example of this is your sleep/wake schedule.
Ever notice after several weeks of waking up at the same time with an alarm clock, that your body’s inner alarm starts waking you up at about the same time even when you’d like to still be asleep? Or maybe you poop at about the same time everyday? These are just two simple examples of how our bodies adapt to our routines and schedules.
To beat hanger eat three meals consisting of a lean protein such as wild-caught fish, bison, organic chicken or turkey, a green vegetable (any green vegetable will do) and healthy fat like an avocado. Eating 3 well balanced meals on a consistent time schedule will help balance the blood sugar rollercoaster which leads to being “hangry”. Try to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner around the same time each day if when possible. This process becomes a much easier when you plan your meals out before your week begins. Click here for a video on meal planning.
It’s also a good idea to keep a healthy snack around such as an apple, banana, almond butter or a health bar like a GoMarco bar for eating emergencies and for times that life simply gets in the way of your eating schedule. Overslept and no time for breakfast? Keep some healthy snacks ready to go and accessible for moments of chaotic haste.
Eat meals that are high in fiber and good fats. Foods that are high in fiber are sprouted grains, green leafy veggies, fruit, beans and seeds. Foods that are high in “good fats” include flax, hemp and chia seeds, nuts, avocados, and coconut.
So next time you’re feeling a bit irritable or angry for no reason, take note of when the last time you ate was… did you eat a healthy meal full of fiber, nutrients and good fat? Or was it a meal full of sugar and void of nutrients? Don’t be a victim of “hanger”.
Eat well, eat on a schedule and be happy 🙂
This week’s healthy in the 21st century challenge is to begin to eat on a consistent schedule by planning your meals out. Until next week live passionately on purpose.
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Recently kombucha has taken the 21st century health world by storm. Kombucha breweries are popping up left and right and you’re beginning to find more and more companies producing the fermented health beverage. Today you can walk into just about any larger grocery store and you’re likely to find kombucha in the cool beverage section. A bottle of kombucha costs around $3–$5 , but you can make kombucha yourself at home. A magical, cure-all, panacea… not so much. But nonetheless there are many health benefits to drinking kombucha.
The top 5 benefits of drinking Kombucha:
1. Kombucha has cleansing and detoxification properties
Kombucha contains glucaric acid, an organic acid that has been studied and shown to help prevent cancer, increase energy, and promote detoxification and cleansing within the body.
2. Kombucha is beneficial for the body’s pH balance and overall joint health
Kombucha contains glucosamines and hyaluronic acid, which benefit joint health.
3. Kombucha is very beneficial for digestive health
Kombucha full of enzymes and probiotics, which help naturally promote digestion.
4. Kombucha is a great source of antioxidants
Kombucha is made with black tea, which is high in flavonoids, to promote antioxidant protection, immune support, and fat loss.
5. Kombucha is great for promoting energy
Kombucha contains varying amounts of caffeine depending on the type of tea you use to brew it, and b vitamins to help support energy levels.
How is Kombucha made?
Kombucha is made from combining a bacterial culture called a scoby aka “the mother” with tea and sugar. Scoby stands for a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. It’s the scoby that creates the healthy probiotics and enzymes and also ferments the tea making it effervesce. Making it from scratch can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks depending on the size of your scoby. Click here to watch a video about how to make kombucha.
What does Kombucha Taste Like?
Unflavored kombucha tastes similar to an effervescence sweet but tart, vinegary, champagne. But many kombucha brewers are creating unique favors profiles by mixing in fruit juices and herbs which can make the kombucha tastes comparable to a soda (only a much, much healthier version).
How much should you drink?
I absolutely love kombucha…so much that I actually keep a keg of it on tap in my home. But kombucha should be drank in moderation no more than 1 cup per day. It does contain some sugar and depending on the way it’s brewed that amount can greatly vary so it’s always best to read the label.
Kombucha is an excellent replacement for soda, fruit juice, and even beer. Although it can be brewed with an alcohol content close to beer, it generally only contains a small amount of alcohol due to the fermentation process (usually around .5%).
The bottom line
Kombucha is a delicious healthy alternative to soda and sugary fruit juices. It contains probiotics (good bacteria), beneficial enzymes and b vitamins. But it’s best to enjoy in moderation.
This Month’s Healthy in the 21st century challenge is to try kombucha if you’re new to it or if you’re a long time kombucha try making it yourself. Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Axe, Josh. “5 health benefits of kombucha.” draxe.com. Web 10 June 2016. Web <http://draxe.com/5-health-benefits-of-kombucha/>
“Kombucha”. Web 7/7/16. Web <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha>
Over the past several years the organic food market has exploded, but is buying organic really worth the extra price?
First it’s important to understand what the term organic actually means. Organic as defined by the USDA stands for Food grown or raised without the use of additives, coloring, synthetic chemicals (e.g., fertilizers, pesticides,hormones), radiation, or genetic manipulation and meets the criteria of the U.S.D.A. Standard National Organic Program.
So simply put organic foods are not processed using irradiation, sprayed with dangerous pesticides, injected with hormones and antibiotics, grown in chemical fertilizers, genetically modified or contain chemical food additives. Confused? I was too…
Irradiation is a questionable method used in the preservation of today’s conventional foods. Essentially this process involves shooting X-rays or high energy electron beams from machines to increase a foods shelf life. This does kill some harmful bacteria, however, when food is irradiated, many nutrients are such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants are also destroyed. Irradiation also created untested compounds, referred to as unique radiolytic products or URPs. Scientists have not studied the long-term effects of these new compounds in our diet.
Pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms and are harmful to humans. Many pesticides that are still being used today were approved long before research linked these chemicals to diseases such as cancer. Today, there are hundreds of pesticides approved for use in the United States that present different health risks. A scary reality is that every year more than two billion pounds of pesticides are added to our food supply. That’s about 10 pounds per person per year! This is a major reason to do a detox at least once or twice per year. If you’re not eating organic food at the very least make sure you really wash your produce with a veggie wash.
Consuming farmed animals injected with hormones and antibiotics exposes our bodies to those same hormones and antibiotics because we actually eat, what we eat, eats too. Scientists now have clearly shown that these hormones can increase the risk of disrupted development and cancer in humans. Also the use of antibiotics in our farming practices has encouraged the evolution of new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our food supply. This is not only detrimental to our health but also to the health of the environment.
A genetically modified organism or GMO is a plant or animal that has been genetically altered by scientists to express different characteristic traits. There is a growing body of evidence that now connects GMOs with health problems and environmental damage. Not to mention, GMOs have only been in our diet since the mid 90’s and long term studies haven’t been done on their impact to the human body. Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In fact, in more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all 28 countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions and bans on the production and sale of GMOs. This is because GMOs are not only harmful to eat they also pollute our air, water and soil.
Here are the Top 10 reasons to buy and eat organic foods:
1. Keep chemicals off your plate. Pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms and thus are harmful to humans. Many approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is a way to prevent any more of these chemicals from getting into the air, water and food supply.
2. Protect future generations. Children are four times more sensitive to exposure to cancer-causing pesticides in foods than adults. This is because they are smaller and therefore the dose is much stronger.
3. Protect water quality. Pesticides pollute the public’s primary source of drinking water for more than half the country’s population.
4. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature. Three billion tons of topsoil erodes from croplands in the U.S. each year, and much of it is due to conventional farming practices, which often ignore the health of the soil. Organic agriculture respects the balance necessary for a healthy ecosystem. Wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fencerows, wetlands and other natural areas.
5. Save energy. More energy is now used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate and harvest all the crops in the U.S.
6. Help small farmers. Although more and more large-scale farms are making the conversion to organic practices, most organic farms are small, independently owned and operated family farms. USDA reported that in 1997, half of U.S. farm production came from only 2% of farms. Organic agriculture can be a lifeline for small farms because it offers an alternative market where sellers can demand fair prices for crops. 5
7.Support a true economy. Organic foods might seem expensive at first. However, your tax dollars pay for hazardous waste clean-up and environmental damage caused by conventional farming. 6
8. Promote biodiversity. Planting large plots of land with the same crop year after year tripled farm production between 1950 and 1970, but the lack of natural diversity of plant life has negatively affected soil quality. 7
9. Nourishment. Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil, in turn producing nourishing plants. Well-maintained soil produces strong, healthy plants that have more nutrients than conventionally grown produce. 5
10. Flavor. Last but not definitely not least, organic food contains more nutrients than conventional food and simply taste better than conventional food.
So is organic food worth the extra price? The answer is absolutely. Now I know it may not be realistic to always eat all organic, all the time. But by trying to eat as much organic food as you can you’re not only insuring your health but the health of the planet. The truth is it’s the small things you do and don’t do that effect how you look and feel now and in the future.
We literally are what we eat and the food we consume 100% effects how sharp and clear out thinking is on a day to day basis. Interestingly, two-thirds of our brain is made of fat. Fat is essential to our brain’s health to to produce brain cells. Foods that are high in good omega-3 fats, are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and are anti-inflammatory protect us from brain disease and help increase cognitive ability, understanding, learning, and the ability to stay focused.
1. Walnuts: Walnuts are chock full of good fats, antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin E that help ward off Alzheimer’s and can boost memory and focus. These nuts, ironically shaped like the human brain can naturally increase serotonin levels helping fight depression, and are loaded with omega-3 anti-inflammatory fats that can help improve focus and concentration
2. Wild Salmon: Wild-caught salmon is one of the best brain boosting foods on the planet. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats that are great for our brains. Farmed-raised salmon is not as good as wild-salmon because it can be filled with mercury, coloring and other toxins which damage our brains.
Important Note: Farmed-raised salmon is not as good as wild-salmon because it can be filled with mercury, coloring and other toxins which damage our brains.Wild salmon is a fish that contains low levels of mercury
3. Avocados: Avocados contain healthy brain boosting monounsaturated fat. They also contain potassium which is essential to mental function and nerve impulses, vitamin K and folate. Folate helps protect against stroke as well as increases brain power. Avocados also contain vitamin B and C which are essential vitamins for brain health.
4. Beets: Beets are great for mental performance because they contain natural nitrates that increase blood flow to the brain, can help lower blood pressure, fight cancer and increase athletic performance. They are rich in vitamin c, fiber, potassium, manganese and folate. Be sure to eat the beet greens along with the beet for they actually contain more iron than spinach and contain a higher nutritional value than the beetroot itself.
5. Wild-Blueberries: wild-blueberries are now referred to as “brain berries” because they’re loaded with antioxidants and brain boosting properties. They are on of the highest antioxidant-rich foods and contain gallic acid which helps protect our brains from oxidative stress. “New studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.”
6. Lion’s Mane: Is a edible mushroom native to china and japan that can now be found in most gourmet food stores. It has been shown in several studies to greatly enhance cognitive function, memory, recall and even help reduce anxiety and depression. This is because the lion’s mane mushroom can increase nerve growth factor (NGF) a protein that has neuro-protective and neuro-enhancement qualities. NGF is essential for growth and survival of neurons, and can help reduce inflammation in the brain, resulting in neuronal growth and brain performance. Lion’s mane is traditionally consumed as a tea. A great company I know like and trust for lion’s mane is four sigmatic.
7. Egg Yolks: Egg Yolks contain a high amount of the b-complex vitamin choline, which is essential for brain health. Choline aids in concentration and neuron health because it reduces inflammation. Choline also helps break down bethane which in return produces those “feel good” hormones serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Egg yolks also provide the essential mineral and brain and immune enhancing nutrient zinc. Two large egg yolks provide about 230 mgs of choline which is about half the recommended daily amount. Other foods that are rich in choline are dark leafy greens and broccoli
8. Flax Seeds: Flax seeds are another great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats which are essential for brain development and function. Flax seeds contain a specific type of omega -3 called alpha-linolenic acid that can enhance the cerebral cortex. The easiest way to include flax seeds into your diet is by putting them in a superfood smoothie or sprinkling them on a big green salad.
9. Chia Seeds: Chia seeds contain high amounts of antioxidants and other brain minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. They are also an excellent source of plant-based omega 3 essential fats which combat body and brain inflammation. Gram for gram chia seeds contain more omega 3s than wild salmon.
10. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate 70% cocoa or greater contains antioxidants called flavonols which can help improve blood flow to the brain and help reduce inflammation. Flavonoids have recently been linked to improved cognitive performance. Cocoa also contains theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine which helps improve focus and energy.
11. Rosemary: For centuries rosemary had been linked to improving memory. Scientist now confirm that rosemary actually is in fact amazing for our memories. A recent study conducted by found that smelling rosemary essential oil enhanced memory function in participation significantly. Also carosic acid found in rosemary helps protect the brain from neuro-degeneration by protecting it from free radicals. Rosemary contains high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties making it an excellent brain boosting food.
This week’s healthy in the 21st century challenge is to try incorporating more of these amazing brain boosting foods into your diet.
Like this? Please share!
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We all eat every day, but somehow, no one really quite knows what to eat. Despite all the nutritional research, diet books and theories, how is it that most Americans are still baffled about what to eat to achieve a long and healthy life?
Nutrition is the only field where people can scientifically prove opposing theories and still be right. No wonder everyone is confused. Also the vast majority of public nutrition information is created by the publishing industry and their job is to sell books, so they have to create new diets each year.
That being said, we’ve come a long way in understanding how the food we eat affects our health. Each year new scientific research is solidify what we intrinsically always knew to be best…eating real food. By real food I mean food that comes from an animal or farm.
So how did we get so confused about what to eat? Well it all comes down to food politics and greed. Public nutrition policy is commanded by the political process, which is orchestrated by large food corporations, all to maximize their profits unfortunately at the expense of our health. It all started in the industrial revolution and spiraled way out of control.
The truth is that the majority of food we are eating, is not really food at all, but rather engineered processed food that puts dollars in the food corporation’s pockets and leaves the rest of us overweight, diabetic or worse.
Sadly about 70% of the calories Americans are eating today are from processed artificial foods. These foods are making us fat, sick and tired. Between misleading food marketing, untruthful labels and a food industry with a focus on profits and not health, we are experiencing a global health epidemic. It has never been more important to know how to eat healthy.
In order to eat healthy in today’s modern world, you first need to know 3 things
- What role food plays in your health and life (holistic nutrition)
- How to read a food label
- How to put together a few quick healthy meals
If you master the above 3 things, you’ll be on your way to eating healthy which in turn will help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight and sky rocket your energy levels to fuel your life.
So what role does food play in your health and life? In other words what is your relationship with food? How do you view food? Do you use food as fuel and nourishment or do you use it to cope with emotions? Is food a reward? A punishment? It’s a good idea to really consider these questions because they will help uncover your relationship with food. A great book on this topic, is by Deepak Chopra titled “What are you Hungary for?”
Once you have a better understanding of your relationship with food, the next step is to determine what to eat AND what not to eat. This is where the confusion usually sets in. Should I be vegan? Vegetarian? Paleo? Plant-based? Raw? Should I eat meat? Not eat meat? How much should I being eating?
The answer to these valid questions is completely based on several factors; specifically age, gender, lifestyle, geographic location and heritage. For example, an 80 year old women should eat differently than a 16 year old teenage girl. A male college athlete has different nutritional goals and needs than a middle aged mother. I think you get the point.
As you go through your life journey your diet should change. Well how do you know when I’s time to change your diet? Well this is were being in touch with your body comes in. Our bodies are absolutely beyond amazing! They actually give us signs and signals as when it’s time to change things up.
You’re mood, energy level, skin, and digestion all respond based on if you’re on target or not. It’s essential to eating healthy in the 21st century to become in tune with your body wants and needs and to listen to them.
I teach a concept I learn at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition called bio-individuality, that there is not one right or wrong way of eating only a right or wrong way for your unique body chemistry (gender, ancestry, age) and lifestyle (how active you are, where you live).
It’s important to understand that we literally are what we eat. As food goes into our bodies it gets digested and absorbed into our blood and our blood is what created our cells, tissues, and organs. This is the reason it’s essential to EAT REAL FOOD.
So much of the food available and consumed today is not real, it’s manufactured in a food plant instead of coming from a plant. Above all this is the biggest challenge most people face when it comes to healthy eating in the 21st century? Why? Because processed food is convenient, fast and tastes good. The vast majority of food found in grocery stores today is processed. Sadly, even health food stores like Whole Foods contain mostly processed food. This is one reason it’s essential to do a good detox program once or twice per year to clear out built up dangerous toxic build up.
But to be honest it’s virtually impossible to eat all real food unless you live on a farm which is why being an educated consumer and learning to read a food label is so essential to healthy eating in the 21st century.
So what do you look for when buying packaged food?
- Amount of Calories
- Artificial ingredients
- Amount of Sugar
- Amount and type of Fat
- Amount of Sodium
It’s important to know about calories, what they are, where they come from and how they affect your body. A calorie is simply a unit of energy.
Protein, carbohydrates and fats all contain calories but in different amounts per gram. Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 calories per gram. Notice how fat has more than double the amount of calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates. This is why eating a diet consisting of a lot of fat leads to quick weight gain. Although not all fat is necessary bad. Good fats play an essential role in optimal health.
Simply put, when you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight usually in the form of fat. For this reason it’s essential to know how many calories you’re consuming a day and how to properly manage the amounts of calories going in and calories going out.
After tracking the amount of calories most people consume in a day, they are usually greatly surprised at the total daily amount. This is because calories add up very fast and can be hidden in many foods. But what’s even more surprising to people is when they realize how much energy it actually takes to burn these calories off. For example, let’s say you weigh 155 pounds. You’d need to run for about 26 minutes to burn off the calories you consumed from eating just a Snickers bar according to a Harvard Medical School study.
For optimal health, you’ll want to stay within your daily calorie range to maintain a healthy weight (click here to calculate your the amount of calories your should be consuming). I am not a huge fan of counting calories. However, if you are overweight, to get an idea of how many calories you’re consuming, you’ll need to track you daily caloric intake for at least a week.
Artificial chemical ingredients and additives to preserve the shelf life and “enhance” the flavor of processed foods. When buying packaged food, simply look for any unpronounceable ingredients on the label. This usually is a good indicator that it’s artificial.
Below is a list of the most detrimental artificial chemical ingredients to look out for. This list is by no mean extensive! Again the easiest way to determine if a packaged food is healthy or not is simply by looking if the ingredient listed are whole foods or chemical ingredients you can’t recognize.
- Artificial sweeteners: related side effects such as headaches, nausea, anxiety, depression, dementia, and skin rashes.
- Refined sugars: High consumption of sugar and the corresponding elevated insulin levels can cause weight gain, bloating, fatigue, arthritis, migraines, lowered immune function, obesity, cavities and cardiovascular disease. 
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): MSG is a common food additive used to enhance flavor in a variety of foods. Canned vegetables, frozen entrées, fast foods and soups are just a few products that contain MSG. Many people have experienced a variety of side effects ranging from headaches, itchy skin and dizziness to respiratory, digestive, circulatory and coronary issues. 
- Artificial colors and flavoring: Food coloring and flavoring is usually a synthetic chemical produced by scientists to color foods and increase a product’s visual appeal. Many colorings are derived from coal tar and can contain up to ten parts per million of lead and arsenic and still be generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Artificial colors can cause allergic reactions and increase hyperactivity in children with ADD. 
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxyuene (BHT):
BHA and BHT are two food additives commonly used in the food industry to prevent oils from going rancid. Studies have shown that BHA has caused stomach-focused carcinogens in trials involving mice, hamsters and rats. The
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deemed BHA “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” 
- Sodium nitrate and nitrite: Sodium nitrate and nitrite are preservatives that are added to processed meat products to enhance red color and flavor. These compounds transform into cancer-causing agents called nitrosamines in the stomach. Noticeable side effects include headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. 
- Partially hydrogenated oils (trans-fats): Partially hydrogenated oils are made by reacting different varieties of oil with hydrogen. When this occurs, the level of polyunsaturated oils (good fat) is reduced and trans-fats are created. These oils are added to products to enhance appearance and prevent spoiling. They are associated with heart disease, breast and colon cancer, atherosclerosis and elevated cholesterol. 
It’s scary that Americans consume about 150 pounds of sugar per year and 80 pounds of those 150 pounds is in the form of high fructose corn syrup.  That’s about ½ pound a day per person. High fructose corn syrup is the unhealthiest kind of sugar because it’s absorbed more rapidly than regular sugar and doesn’t stimulate ghrelin or leptin production, the “hunger” and “full” signaling hormones, which leads to over consumption of food and disease. Research has now linked excessive amounts of sugar to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Unfortunately, sugar is found in almost everything, even “healthy” products today; and when sugar isn’t used or burned, it’s stored as fat in the body. Sugar also causes inflammation in the body, and inflammation is at the root of almost all chronic diseases today.
But even worse than refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup is chemical artificial sweeteners such as Splenda (sucralose), Sweet & Low (saccharin), Equal and NutraSweet (aspartame). These sugar substitutes have been created in a lab and recently linked to a long list of related negative side effects, such as headaches, nausea, anxiety, depression, dementia, skin rashes and cancer.
Start checking the labels of the products you’re buying for sugar…even the “healthy” ones. To maintain optimal health, avoid processed refined sugars and sugar substitutes as much as possible.
Sugars to Avoid: refined sugars (sucrose), high fructose corn syrup, artificial sugars (Splenda, Sweet & Low, Equal and NutraSweet)
The worst kind of fat is trans-fat or trans-fatty acid, also known as partially hydrogenated oil. Most trans-fats are created industrially by adding hydrogen bonds to liquid oils to make a more shelf-stable product. However, some trans-fats occur naturally in beef, lamb, butterfat and dairy.
Trans-fats raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower HDL (good cholesterol). When a fat molecule is partially-hydrogenated, the body doesn’t recognize it and the fat is carried around in the blood which leads to plaque buildup in the arteries which leads to heart disease.
When reading labels, your eyes may be trained to search for “trans-fat,” but there are some loopholes food manufacturers are allowed in order to sneak trans-fat into their products. Although a product may say ‘0 g trans-fat,’ this may not be true. Only foods and supplements with 0.5 g of trans-fat and greater are required to be listed on the food label.
Next time you browse a label, search the ingredient list for the term ‘partially hydrogenated’ and pass it up if you find it on the label.
 Trans-fat may be found in margarine, processed foods, candy, chips, soda, flaky pastries and some peanut butters.
As far as the other types of fat, saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, they all play a role and are necessary in a healthy diet. The amount and different types of fats really depends on your bio-individuality and current health goals.
Consuming too much sodium (salt), causes your body to hold onto water putting an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels leading to high blood pressure.
According to the American Heart association, people with high blood pressure (140-160/90-99 mm HG) are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. The average American consumes about 3,400 mg of salt per day, and the AHA recommends no more than 1,500 mg of total salt per day for optimal health.
The best way to reduce salt intake is to eat less packaged, processed foods and by reading the food labels of the packaged foods you do buy.
The most common high sodium foods in the 21st century are, breads, pizza, cheeses, canned soups, cold cuts, salted snacks, frozen dinners, sauces and seasonings. Eat less of these foods and add favor to your food in other ways such as cooking with fresh herbs and spices.
The last important factor to eating healthy in the 21st century is being able to prepare a few quick, simple, healthy meals. Generally people buy and eat the same food week in and week out. Humans like routine because it takes less thought energy when we’re on autopilot and in the 21st century we are constantly being bombarded by information. However, it’s time to jump into the pilot seat and take control of what foods and meals you eat.
Most people rotate between 3-5 meals options for breakfast, lunch and dinner and usually these options aren’t the healthiest choices just choices that somehow just became part of a routine. Below are the routine standards and some healthy eating in the 21st century recommend healthy meal upgrades.
Healthy Eating in the 21st Century Meal Upgrades
Standard 21st Century Breakfast
- No breakfast (most people don’t eat breakfast)
- Milk with processed cereal
- Coffee with a bagel and cream cheese
- Eggs bacon/sausage fast food sandwich
Nutrient-Enhanced Healthy Eating in the 21st Century Breakfast Upgrade
- Always a eat nutrient dense breakfast
- Steel cut oats topped with mixed organic fruit and small handful of walnuts and 1 tsp raw honey.
- Healthy superfood breakfast smoothie
- A slice of sprouted grain bread with 1 tsp almond butter spread on top.
- 2-3 whole fried organic eggs
- Organic quinoa pilaf topped with organic raspberries and blueberries
Standard 21st Century Lunch/Dinner
- Hamburger and French fries
- White pasta and creamy alferdo sauce
- Fried chicken or chicken wings with macaroni and cheese
- Lunch meat sandwich and bag of chips
- Grilled steak and mashed potatoes
Nutrient-Enhanced Healthy Eating in the 21st Century Lunch/Dinner Upgrades
- Bison burger or veggie burger on a whole wheat bun and a side steamed vegetables
- Vegetable chili, legume soup varieties with a large salad
- Whole grain or bean pasta with organic tomato
- Grilled organic chicken, turkey
- Vegetable wrap and fruit
- Grilled wild-caught fish with a large mixed greens salad
Standard 21st Century Snacks
- Potato chips
- Cookies, brownies and cakes
- Candy bars
Nutrient-Enhanced Healthy Eating in the 21st Century Snack Upgrades
- Any type of organic fruit
- Handful of nuts (almond, walnut, cashew)
- Rice cakes with almond butter on top
- Hummus with sliced vegetables
- Healthy snack bars (whole foods based, low in sugar selections)
In order to break this routine, choose new nutrient dense meal options you’ll enjoy and start rotating through these healthier versions of your not so healthy “normal” meal choices. Having several healthy meal and snack options for breakfast, lunch and dinner takes the guesswork out of food shopping and meal planning. Meal options should be fast and simple to prepare and nutrient dense. This will allow you to say goodbye to fast food—and hello to healthy food, fast.
Use a meal planning and preparation guide to get started on choosing new healthy meal options to incorporate in your new healthier way of eating. I recommend simply learning to prepare just 3 new healthier meal options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then gradually incorporating new options over the weeks and months.
In order to eat healthy in today’s modern world, you must master…your relationship with food, learn how to be an educated consumer and be able to put together just a few quick, simple, healthy meals.
My hope is this by reading this article you’re now much more clear on how to eat healthy in our modern world.
I want to invite you to join the healthy eating in the 21st century movement…to join thousands of other people who are changing the way they eat to better themselves, their families and the world. Now is the time to take control of your health, by first taking control of your diet. Take your healthy eating to the next level by downloading the free healthy shopping list and meal planning guide.