Woman enjoying a salad while working on her laptop

11 Superfoods That Will Boost Your Brainpower

As you might have already known, your brain is in charge of everything.

It is like a conductor of a big and complicated orchestra.

Now, imagine if the conductor was feeling a bit woozy because they haven’t eaten anything? Without the necessary cues, the trombone flips, the violin storms off the stage, and the piano simply crashes.

If you want a healthy and happy body, you need to have a healthy and happy mind. And one way you can ensure that is by providing proper nourishment.

Food for Thought

Many of us don’t even think about the food we eat on a daily basis. However, food is what gives our body energy, food is what gives it health and helps it develop.

But it is often that we forget this fact and choose something that is fast and easy.

If you want to truly boost your brainpower for a longer period of time, you should definitely try to encompass at least some of these foods on a regular basis.

No, we don’t mean every day.

However, it is definitely also recommended that you talk to a nutritionist before making any large dietary changes.

1)   Coffee

Yes, yes, we decided to start with coffee, since it’s something that most of us like.

But, we are not talking about a tall latte with caramel drizzle (even though we would definitely like it, this is not the healthiest choice). We are talking about the essence of coffee.

There are truly numerous benefits of coffee, but the ones we are most concerned with have to do with the brain.

Woman's hands holding a small cup of coffee

Now, if you’ve ever had to study under pressure (and you most certainly have, otherwise you’ve missed on an adventure!), you know that coffee is simply divine when your bed is calling your name.

We all know that coffee works wonders for alertness and focus. In fact, caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine, which can make you feel sleepy.

However, there is yet another benefit to coffee – it increases your brain’s capacity to process information. Some recent studies have found that caffeine increases the brain’s entropy.

Another good thing about coffee is that it can actually support your brain health as you get older. Longer consumption of coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

However, always be mindful that too much coffee can lead to other health issues, so it is advisable not to drink more than 3-4 cups a day. If used excessively, it can even trigger a migraine. And then you can kiss all your brainpower goodbye.

2)   Dark Chocolate

Yes, you’ve guessed it, we’re hittin’ you with the good stuff so you don’t hate us too much afterwards.

And no, milk chocolate doesn’t count.

Yeah, as we said – don’t hate us.

Cocoa contains flavonoids that actually improve blood flow to the brain. You know what that means – improved memory and focus. Cocoa can also prevent mental decline linked to old age.

Dark chocolate is full of organic compounds that function as antioxidants, which means that it’s also incredibly healthy in many other ways.

And we don’t even need to mention what chocolate (yes, even dark chocolate) does to your mood.

However, even though dark chocolate is healthier than its milkier version, it also has more calories. So, don’t eat too much of it, just enough to get that brainpower started.

3)   Olives and Olive Oil

For a long time now, researchers have been pointing to the health benefits of olive oil. There are so many, that we can’t even name them all.

The bottom line is this – olive oil=health galore!

Olive oil on wooden table

Now, some studies have even shown that regular consumption of olives and olive oil leads to less brain deterioration over time because of the mono-unsaturated fat that olives have. This is the healthy fat which actually increases the transportation of oxygen to the brain.

Olives can be eaten as snacks, you can put them in salads and even on pizza! Also, you can use olive oil for cooking (although it loses some of its healthy vibe when cooked), marinades and many salad dressings.

Truly, olives and olive oil are so versatile that they can be incorporated at least once a week in your regular diet.

4)   Fish

No, tuna’s not gonna cut it.

You need the good kind of fish, that is, fatty fish, which includes:

  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Kippers
  • Sardines

Yeah, not the nicest-smelling bunch in the b(r)ook, but hey, your brain’s going to be really grateful for your nose’s sacrifice.

These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And guess what your brain’s made of? (Well, not entirely, but to a great extent.)

This means that eating these types of fish not only boosts your brainpower, but it also helps protect your brain against mental decline. Some studies have found that not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is linked with depression and even learning impairments.

So, it’s a good idea to incorporate fish into your diet. Try to eat it at least twice a week. That is, if you’re not allergic to fish, since it’s a common enough food allergen.

Which brings us to our next superfood.

5)   Nuts

Nuts are great in all sorts of ways. You can have them in salads, as a snack on the go, you can even put them in cakes.

Talk about versatility!

Now, don’t go nuts here. While they are truly healthy, they are also packed (and we mean packed) with calories. So, if you’re on a restrictive diet, you might want to use them sparingly.

Cup of mixed nuts

Most experts recommend a handful a day (to keep the doctor away) to get the most benefits without ingesting too much. 

You might have heard that nuts are in general great for you heart. But did you know that eating nuts on a regular basis can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognition significantly?

Nuts are full of healthy fats and antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamin E, which shields cell membranes from free radical damage. This, in turn, slows down mental decline.

When it comes to the type of nuts you should eat – walnuts take the cake! They are full of fatty acids, copper, iron, calcium, manganese, folic acid, antioxidants, etc. Walnuts are the rulers of nuts everywhere.

However, nut allergy is truly widespread so, if you aren’t sure whether you have it, consult your doctor before you start eating  of the aforementioned kinds on a regular basis.

6)   Wholegrain Foods

Yeah, we told you you’d hate us.

We know, we know, nobody particularly enjoys eating wholegrain food. But have you ever wondered why the sudden popularity, then?

Because it is incredibly, incredibly healthy.

We kid you not.

Aside being great for digestion, whole grains are also a source of vitamin E, which, as we’ve mentioned, slows down mental decline by preventing free radicals from damaging cell membranes.

There are numerous ways you can incorporate wholegrain food into your diet. You can eat oatmeal, or wholegrain bread, or even use wholegrain pasta (which, we have to admit, does not actually taste that bad).

Why are whole grains good for the brain?

Well, the body works more to break them down, thus releasing energy in the form of glucose, into the body at a slower pace. This, in turn, extends your energy levels, increases your mood and concentration.

And, another perk is that you’ll feel full for longer.

So, instead of cramming down bacon or pancakes for breakfast, try a nice oatmeal or wholegrain toast. That will raise your energy levels and improve your concentration just when you need it most!

7)   Pumpkin Seeds

Just like nuts, pumpkin seeds are also great as a snack, filling you up for a longer period of time. Again, you can use them in salads or eat them just without anything.

Just. Like. That.

However, they’re also great if you want to put them in your wholegrain bread. This is an awesome way to combine several things that are great for brainpower.

You might not have thought about them, but pumpkin seeds are truly beneficial to your overall health.

But why are they good for your brain?

They also have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which, as we’ve mentioned, support brain function. But, they also have magnesium (which is essential for learning and memory), B vitamins and tryptophan (which is a precursor for serotonin, improving good mood). Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, as well, which enhances memory and critical thinking, according to certain studies.

So, next time you’re thinking what healthy, brainpower-boosting snack to try out, the choice is simple!

But, again, not more than a handful.

8)   Berries

Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring

My summer wine is really made from all these things.

Nancy Sinatra knew what she was singing about.

And she knew how to use it to her benefit.

The song notwithstanding, berries are really a wondrous gift from the earth. Many of them contain flavonoid antioxidants, which can improve communication between brain cells, boost learning and memory, and reduce cognitive decline.

Assorted bowls of berries

When it comes to the type of berries you should be munching on, these include, as Nancy sang, strawberries, of course, but also mulberries, blackberries, blueberries and black currants. These are all great for brainpower, and great for your immune system in general.

And they are certainly versatile when it comes to incorporating them in your diet. You can literally do anything with them, and they’ll still taste good.

Making fresh juice? Great!

Putting them in pie? Awesome!

Making a ham glaze? Why not?

There’s no reason why you should deprive your brain (and your body) from the gloriousness that are berries.

As the saying (that we’ve made up) goes, a new day, a new berry.

9)   Leafy Greens

Tastes differ, but many people apparently share a distaste for this particular type of food.

Ever since we were little kids, our parents had to make us eat spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.

The monsters!

It’s like they wanted us to be healthy or something!

But all jokes aside, the health benefits of leafy greens are well-known and we are now (a little) less reluctant to eat them.

They are simply overflowing with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants good for your entire body. But when it comes to the brain, they have a lot of iron, which improves attention, learning and memory, as well as vitamin K, which increases cognitive function.

Basically, your parents were right.

You should eat your veggies.   

10)    Avocados

Avocado is also great for a number of reasons.

Yes, it’s a bit on the high-calorie side.

Okay, a bit more on the high-calorie side.

However, it is a great source of unsaturated fat. This type of fat reduces blood pressure, which is linked with cognitive decline. They are rich in omega-2 fatty acids, which improve blood flow to the brain.

Woman presenting avocado

Now, if you’re not certain how to incorporate avocados into your regular diet, we have one word for you – guacamole!

11)    Eggs

Eggs are great for a number of reasons. Those reasons mostly include a vast array of ways to prepare them.

But, as it turns out, they also include some health reasons, as well.

Eggs are, in fact, a good source of some nutrients that have been linked with improved brain health – vitamins B6, B12, as well as folate and choline.

B vitamins can delay cognitive decline, while their deficiency has been linked to depression. As some research has shown, folate deficiency is common in the elderly suffering from dementia.

But choline is the star when it comes to eggs. Eggs are some of the richest sources of choline we can get. Choline is particularly important for the development of the memory center. The body uses choline to create acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and memory.

An average egg yolk has about 200 mg of choline, but that doesn’t meet our daily needs. Women need 425 mg per day, while men need 550 mg.

Woman holding head in pain

Avoid These Migraine Food Triggers

There’s possibly nothing worse than getting a migraine.

Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but still – migraines are truly awful! They make you want to simply curl up in a dark room and not leave until sound and light stop causing you pain.

If you’ve suffered from migraines, you know that there can be all sorts of triggers. And truly, the scope of triggers is quite vast. 

Now, there has been research which connects certain types of food with migraines. That means that you should at least reduce the amount of that food in your diet if you want to reduce the frequency and the intensity of your migraine attacks.

What Are Migraines?

Basically, migraines are extremely painful headaches, which can be accompanied by sensory sensitivity. Symptoms can vary from one person to another and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, and sometimes even longer.

Some common symptoms of migraines include:

  • Headache
  • Disturbed vision
  • Sensitivity to sensory information (i.e. to light, sound, smells)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

However, migraines are usually also preceded and followed by other symptoms, so the impact of a single migraine attack can actually be quite long and debilitating. It can impact your everyday life to a significant extent, especially if you get them often.

Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for migraines currently. They are usually treated with other pain-relieving medication, or, in some cases, with preventive medication taken on a regular basis, which serves to reduce their severity or frequency.

However, there are things you yourself can do to prevent getting migraines. That may not completely eradicate your migraines, but it will certainly help significantly.

Migraine Triggers

Migraines are incredibly complex (they even used to be called complicated migraines). Even though there is plenty of research being done to see what causes them and to improve treatment, it seems that there is a long way to go still.

However, what most experts seem to agree on is that migraines are usually preceded by a specific trigger. The scope of triggers varies from one person to the next. While some triggers cause migraines in some people, they have no effect whatsoever on others, who are also suffering from migraines.

In any case, the scope of triggers is truly astounding. It involves things like hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns, too much food, too little food, too much sleep, too little sleep, too much time in front of the computer, dehydration, and even the weekend.

Yes, even the weekend is a possible migraine trigger.

Many people suffer migraines due to the change in daily routine, which is why they experience a migraine at the weekend, when they should be relaxing.

Now that’s a pickle.

When it comes to food, there have been some studies that link certain types of food with the onset of migraines. However, because of its truly specific nature, scientists have been unable to find a common thread in all people who suffer from migraines.

That is why everyone should check their specific triggers. Here are some of the common food triggers that have been linked with causing migraines, which you might want to avoid. Now, this doesn’t mean you should stop consuming them completely. You simply need to control your cravings, and you’re on the right path.

Red Wine

Pouring red wine into two glasses

We know, we know.

This one hits home! How else are we supposed to (politely) manage all those boring dinners without getting (politely) tipsy on wine?

Well, if you’re a wine aficionado, we simply don’t know what to tell you.

And it’s not the wine’s fault, per se. Sulfites, which are used in red wine as preservatives, are, sadly, on the list of foods that may trigger migraines.

Additionally, alcohol in general is a major trigger. While you drink it, alcohol increases the blood flow to your brain and that, as you may have guessed, is known to trigger migraines.

Also – hangovers are simply the worst.

Dehydration, which is a common side-effect of the good ol’ hangover, can also cause migraines or, at the very least, a headache.

So, it might be a good idea to quit…

…fooling around and simply reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

As they say, moderation is key.

Coffee

Woman holding a cup of espresso

Again, no need to completely quit coffee.

In fact, caffeine aids the absorption of many pain-relieving drugs.

However, if you’re used to several cups of coffee a day, when you don’t get the amount you’re used to, that’s when migraines appear.

Look into your daily consumption of caffeine, since it is not particularly healthy overall to drink too much of it. But, if you’re thinking about reducing the amount of coffee you drink, you have to do it gradually. So, no going cold turkey. Your body will not be happy.

According to most experts, daily intake of caffeine should be no more than 200 milligrams. The bad news is – it’s only one cup of coffee.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate truffles

When it comes to chocolate, many people have also said that it triggers their migraines. However, the jury’s still out on chocolate – some people who suffer from migraine headaches claim that chocolate helps ease their headache.

A study conducted at the University of California, San Diego analyzed oral and stool samples and found that people who experience migraines after eating chocolate have higher levels of gut microbes that modify nitrates.

Now, chocolate is full of nitrates.

The bacteria in our gut modifies and then its waste product, nitrites, become nitric oxide in the blood.

Nitric oxide is usually great for many things, including circulation, but it’s not particularly great for people who experience migraines.

So, again, while chocolate itself is not too bad, having too much of it can lead to headaches.

Tyramine

Sliced ham on wooden chopping board

Yeah, we bet you’re thinking you’ve never had tyramine in your life.

But, you have, you definitely have.

Except in other, sneakier (and tastier) forms.

Tyramine can be found in aged foods, as well as fermented foods, such as:

  • Cured meats
  • Aged cheese
  • Smoked fish

Tyramine is also found in some types of beer and even some fruits and veggies.

Food is more likely to have more tyramine if it is stored for long and if it isn’t kept in sufficiently cold environments.

An enzyme in the human body called monoamine oxidase (MAO) actually breaks down monoamines like tyramine. If you do not have enough of it in your system, it’s possible that you’ll get a migraine.

However, because it is such a complex issue, it’s still not completely clear how tyramine exactly triggers migraines.

Now, for some good news. There are actually types of meats and cheese which have higher and lower levels of tyramine. Here are some of them.

Meat/Poultry/Fish

Freshly cooked sausages and tomato dish, still in pan

When it comes to meat, you should avoid processed meat such as sausages, salami, as well as gravy (we know, this one’s hard for us, too). Another thing you should avoid is pickled fish, but we have a feeling not many people are dissatisfied with this one. However, this also includes smoked fish, so that might be a bit more difficult.

On the other hand, there is also meat which doesn’t have that much tyramine, such as fresh meat, fish, and poultry. Also, canned meats or fresh fish are also good for consumption and are not that likely to cause a migraine.

Cheese/Dairy

Freshly grated cheese on chopping board

Unfortunately, some of the best types of cheese are really high in tyramine. These include all sorts of aged cheese, cheddar, blue cheese, Camembert, Swiss cheese, Parmesan, Stilton, and even feta.

This one’s sad as sad can be.

Seriously, how can you have pasta without Parmesan?

But, people with migraines have to cool it with the cheese.

On the other hand, types like cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese and even cream cheese are good. Also, yoghurt, fresh milk and sour cream are low in tyramine, so you can have them whenever you want.

Fruit/Vegetables

Halved citrus fruits on wooden board

If you’re not a fan of sour fruit, then you won’t be too affected by this. Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and pineapple are higher in tyramine.

When it comes to vegetables, you might want to steer clear from beans and sauerkraut. Also, you should avoid fermented food. That doesn’t mean you should completely cut them out. It simply means that you might want to reduce the quantity. Fermented foods are otherwise incredibly healthy and they can have many other health benefits. However, if they trigger your migraines, you might want to cool it on the fermented food.

On the other hand, you can eat most vegetables – fresh, canned or frozen – and it is unlikely that they will cause any migraines.

How to Lower Tyramine in Food

Tyramine actually increases the longer food is held at room temperature. That is why you should store your food in the refrigerator.

When you thaw frozen foods, do it in the refrigerator or, if you have it, a microwave.

Another good tip for lowering tyramine is to cook or eat fresh meat or fish on the day you bought them. Otherwise, it’s best to freeze them.

Also, never ever eat something that has been kept in the fridge for more than a day.

Check Your Triggers

So, if you’re wondering whether food really can be a trigger for migraines, the short answer is – yes.

Your diet alone cannot cause migraines. It’s unlikely that you’ll always get migraines when eating certain food.

However, while there are types of food in general believed to be causing migraines, there is also food that specifically causes your migraine.

The best way to identify your triggers is to write a combined food/migraine diary. If you’re suffering from migraines, you already have a pretty good idea what may trigger yours. Migraines can occur a day after eating triggering food.

You should combine a food diary with a headache diary to see whether some foods cause headaches. Headaches themselves are not too bad. However, combined with other possible triggers, they may cause a full-blown migraine.

Then, the next step is to reduce the food that you’ve noticed has that effect on you. If you really like something, you don’t need to completely cut it out. But, it would be valuable for your overall health if you were to reduce it significantly.

There Are Beneficial Foods Too

Now that we’ve listed all the bad food, it’s time for a look on the other side. It has been proven that certain food is “pain-safe,” that is, it does not trigger any conditions.

Including, you might have guessed it – migraines.

Also, they are overall beneficial in reducing the frequency of your migraines and alleviating pain. The food and drinks that actually cannot trigger your migraines include:

  • Rice (especially brown)
  • Almost all vegetables
  • Fruit (which was not listed above)
  • Green tea, ginger tea
  • Fish
  • Chicken

Making ginger tea

There has even been research to show that a plant-based diet can really benefit people who suffer from migraines. So, if you want to get rid of migraines, you know what to do!

(No, you don’t have to go vegan. Simply adjust your diet a bit and you’ll see an improvement in time.)

Home Remedies for Migraines

There are ways to also naturally reduce the intensity of migraines once you get them. While they may not completely cure your migraines, these are known for helping with the symptoms. There are also cures to treat headaches, and they also might alleviate your pain.

Here is what you should do when you get a migraine:

  • Lie in a dark, quiet room. Due to sensory sensitivity, which can worsen your headache, it is recommended that you simply lie down in a room in which the blinds are drawn shut. If you live in a noisy part of the city, use earplugs to make sure the noise doesn’t bother you.

Woman sleeping soundly in bed

  • Cool your head down. Experts believe that cooling the head reduces the blood flow to the brain, which might lower the pain you’re feeling. When you get a migraine, you should put an ice pack on your forehead or neck. Or, if that’s too cold for you, use a washcloth that has been put under cold water and drained. The only problem is that you will have to rinse it often because it can heat up quite fast.
Woman preparing kimchi in clear jars

10 Side Dishes That Are Amazing for Your Health

Most people plan their meals around a main dish, not giving too much thought to the side dishes they add in.

But what if your side dishes could provide your body with an even bigger nutritional boost than your main dish?

Here are 10 side dishes to cook up that are amazing for your health, and are also a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of main dishes.

Kimchi

To put it simply, kimchi is basically the Korean version of sauerkraut.

What’s the difference between the two?

When it comes to making them, a few different things, ranging from the time that they take to ferment to the amount of salt used.

In terms of taste, kimchi is much punchier, but that’s usually because it contains a number of other ingredients in addition to the cabbage. Kimchi often boasts several different seasonings to give it more flavor, including garlic, ginger, fish sauce and spring onions.

Try mixing some kimchi through some rice – it will truly transform the rice into such an exciting side dish!

Sauerkraut

Two fresh jars of fermented vegetables

Often referred to as a superfood, sauerkraut is made from sliced cabbage, making it similar in a way to coleslaw.

However, the two are actually quite different…

While coleslaw is full of mayonnaise, sauerkraut is fermented, making it so much better for you.

Here are just a few of the benefits you will experience from eating more sauerkraut:

  • Better antioxidant protection thanks to the vitamins and minerals in sauerkraut. The fact that these are fermented means that your body is able to absorb them much more easily
  • Sauerkraut is full of probiotics, which improves the health of your gut, your brain and your immune system
  • Full of fiber but low in calories, sauerkraut will keep you feeling fuller for longer

Before you run out and buy yourself a jar of sauerkraut, there’s something you should know…

Store-bought sauerkraut is usually pasteurized, meaning that it has been treated with heat. This destroys the beneficial probiotics in the sauerkraut, while also reducing the potency of its vitamins. Store-bought sauerkraut also usually contains preservatives and sugar, neither of which are good for you.

On the other hand, homemade versions are packed with probiotics and other potent nutrients. The homemade version also usually tastes better too.

Finely chopped vegetables

Wondering if it’s easy to make sauerkraut at home?

Yes, all you need is some cabbage and salt. There are various recipes online, some with the addition of other ingredients, so take a look at what’s out there to see what appeals to you the most.

Teff Bread

Never heard of teff bread before?

You’re probably also wondering how a bread made it onto this list of healthy side dishes…

Finely milled teff grain

Well, teff bread is pretty different from standard bread.

Teff is a gluten-free grain that is packed with nutrition. It is native to Ethiopia, although it is now being grown in countries around the world, including a couple of states in the USA. 

When it comes to nutrition, teff contains high amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • B Vitamins

All of these nutritional components mean that teff is able to help with everything from circulation to digestion to immune function. It even helps to re-balance hormonal levels, making it useful for treating the symptoms of PMS.

In order to make teff bread, the grain needs to first be fermented, which then gives it probiotic benefits too.

Not keen on bread making?

Teff can be used in other ways too. You can use it as a side dish in the same way that you would quinoa, although teff requires slightly more water when cooking.

Although teff grains are smaller than quinoa, they fluff up beautifully, making for a tasty and filling side dish.

Fresh or Fermented Salsa

A bowl of fresh salsa

Looking for something healthy to eat with the teff bread mentioned above?

Salsa will do the job perfectly.

Salsa is usually served raw, meaning that your body is able to obtain maximum nutrition from each of the ingredients.

It is also such an easy side dish to make, and can store in the refrigerator for a few days, during which time the flavors will only intensify even further.

If you want to make your salsa even healthier…

Try fermenting it!

This will provide the salsa with probiotics and live enzymes, making it even better for your body.

Salad with an Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

Putting oil on salad

Apple cider vinegar is another fermented food, which is why it is known for having so many health benefits.

How exactly is apple cider vinegar good for you?

In a number of ways, including:

  • It keeps the body’s pH level balanced, enabling the body to function in the best way possible
  • It lowers blood sugar levels
  • It increases good cholesterol in the body
  • It detoxifies the liver
  • It keeps the appetite under control, reducing cravings
  • It protects the bones by improving calcium absorption
  • It contains antioxidants that help to slow down the aging process
  • It contains anti-cancer properties, and can even shrink tumors 

After reading all of that, why wouldn’t you want to be eating more apple cider vinegar?!

The one thing that people struggle with is knowing how to actually make use of this star ingredient…

The easiest way is by turning the apple cider vinegar into a salad dressing. There are several recipes for this out there, each one containing various other healthy ingredients, from garlic to mustard to olive oil. No matter which you choose, the apple cider vinegar will add a beautiful tanginess and brightness to your salad, turning it into an incredible side dish.

Herring Platter

Small sliced herring and pink pickle on bread

This is a popular dish in Sweden, which also happens to be one of the healthiest countries in the world.

What does a herring platter actually consist of?

Well, as you can tell from its name, herring is the star of the dish. Being an oily fish, herring is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with both of these being essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own.

A herring platter usually consists of herring in a few different forms, such as raw, pickled and smoked. This already gives you a variety in terms of flavor and texture.

What else should the platter include?

Here are a few other foods to add in:

  • Wholegrain crackers – a healthy source of fiber
  • Raw vegetables – full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Pickled vegetables – these need to be fermented pickles in order to contain probiotic benefits
  • A sauce – the sauce is often made from mayonnaise and fresh herbs. For added benefits, swap the mayonnaise for a creamy sauce made from kefir or yogurt instead. Don’t hold back on the herbs, as these are a fantastic source of antioxidants

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Large stuffed poblano pepper

Have you ever tried poblano peppers before?

They are basically the green version of red Ancho peppers. While some of them can be quite hot and spicy, they are generally quite mild. In fact, a jalapeno is said to be about five times hotter than a poblano.

The fact that they aren’t too spicy means that you can eat more of them when compared to other types of hot peppers, which is something that would be hugely beneficial to your health.

Wondering how poblano peppers are good for you?

They have a number of different health benefits, such as:

  • They contain powerful anti-cancer properties, largely due to their capsaicin and riboflavin content
  • They are packed with antioxidants, with just a single poblano pepper containing almost 100% of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin A
  • They improve the strength and function of the immune system
  • They provide a natural form of pain relief, thanks to their quercetin and capsaicin content
  • They are a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient 

That’s probably enough to convince you to give them a try, but what do you actually stuff them with?

Well, since you’re trying to be healthy, stay away from fillings with bad fats, such as cream cheese and chorizo.

Instead, give barley a try.

Although barley is a grain, it contains over 80 different nutrients, as well as plenty of fiber.

You could also try stuffing poblano peppers with:

  • Brown rice
  • Pinto beans
  • Quinoa
  • Salsa
  • Cooked vegetables

Try combining a few of those filling ideas for a delicious flavor explosion!

Miso Soup

Wooden bowl of miso soup, with wooden spoon

Looking for a healthy soup to serve alongside a meal?

It doesn’t get much healthier than miso soup!

Miso is a fermented food, and is a traditional ingredient in Japan.

What’s it actually made from?

It basically consists of fermented soybeans, along with fermented grains. As you can imagine, there are so many different types and varieties of miso out there, each one varying depending on region, culture and more.

Here are a few of the more common varieties:

  • White Miso – quite a mild-flavored miso since it is only fermented for less than two months
  • Red Miso – fermented for up to three years, red miso has a deeper flavor and should be used in heartier dishes
  • Barley Miso – this is also quite mild and sweet, although it is fermented for longer than white miso 

Foodies would say that miso provides an exquisite umami flavor to food, and can be added to everything from soups to salads to vegetables to marinades.

In terms of health benefits, miso is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with gut-friendly probiotics.

When making miso soup…

You can add in so many other healthy ingredients too. From chilli, garlic and ginger to onions, chard and tofu, miso soup is an easy dish to personalize and make your own.

Black Beans

Bowl of black beans

You probably already know that beans are good for you. The fact that they contain high amounts of protein and fiber is no secret.

However, black beans, which are also known as turtle beans, have a few other nutritional components that make them even better than the rest…

The minerals within black beans, particularly calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, play an important role in maintaining the health of your bones and joints.

Black beans are also able to decrease blood pressure, help manage diabetes, protect against cancer and heart disease, and aid with digestion

If all of that wasn’t enough…

Black beans are packed with a wide range of phytonutrients, all of which provide antioxidant properties.

How do you actually cook black beans?

It takes a while to cook dried black beans – you need to begin soaking them the day before.

However, the canned versions are much quicker and easier to cook up.

Try cooking them Mexican-style with onions, garlic, cumin and cilantro. Alternatively, turn them into a chilli or a curry for a heartier side dish.

Roasted Beets

Roasted beetroot and shallots

Roasted beets are simply exquisite. Roasting brings out such a sweet and intense flavor that even those who don’t usually like beets cannot say no to them.

If you have never tried roasted beets, now is the time to do so.

All you need to do is place some whole beets into a baking tray with some olive oil and seasonings. Garlic, onion, thyme, salt and pepper work especially well.

Then, roast them for an hour or so, until they are tender. Their skin will pretty much fall off at this point, making them easy to peel.

Then, either slice them or mash them, and then serve them up!

What makes beets so healthy?

They are full of nutrients but low in calories. They help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Detoxification
  • Blood pressure
  • Immune function
  • Brain and bone health

Plus so much more!

It is always fun to experiment with new dishes in the kitchen, especially when you know that they are good for you. Whether you opt for a spoonful of sauerkraut, a bowl of miso soup or a beautiful herring platter, these side dishes will really help to give your health a huge boost.

Father and daughter dancing on bed

Fun Family Exercise Routines

Obesity rates are a growing problem, especially among the new generations of children who prefer spending their days indoors behind a screen, rather than being active outside.

This is why exercising as a family is so important. It not only teaches your children the importance of staying physically fit, setting a good example for them, but it can also be such a fantastic bonding experience for the whole family.

Not sure where to start?

Here are some fun ways to exercise with your family that everyone will enjoy…

Get Dancing

Dancing is such a fantastic workout, and this is an easy one for getting the whole family involved.

All you need to do is put together a playlist of songs that your family love, turn up the volume and get moving! If you do this in the evening, adding in flashlights in lieu of strobe lights can make the activity even more special for young children.

You will likely find that this is an activity that your family could do for hours, enabling all of you to reap the many benefits of dancing, such as:

Walk the Dog

This may seem simple, but children tend to have such a fascination with animals.

An activity as basic as walking the dog will likely seem so much more exciting to kids than to you, making this a great way to get the whole family (as well as the dog) moving.

Family running with the dog

To keep things interesting, try to pick new routes and locations each day. Areas where your dog can run free and properly play and interact with the entire family would be a bonus.

Don’t have a dog?

Borrow a friend or neighbor’s dog instead. Even if you do have a dog, adding in an extra one can really change the dynamics of your walk.

There are also many apps out there that connect dog owners with people who enjoy walking them. This will give your family the chance to interact with many different pooches, although you would need to ensure that they are each child-friendly.

Commercial Break Workouts

Are there any television shows that the entire family watch together?

Well, since you already have everyone in the same room, this is a great opportunity to sneak some exercise in too.

How?

You will need to wait for the commercials to come on, but, as soon as they do, get everyone doing a certain exercise. From high jumps to planking to push-ups, this is a great way of ensuring that your children don’t end up too sedentary when watching TV.

You could also arrange for each family member to take turns being the “leader” of the workout for each commercial break. This will make things more interesting, as everyone will be able to have their say when it comes to exercises that they enjoy.

Jump Roping

Is jump roping something that your children do?

This simple activity actually brings with it a number of benefits, such as:

  • Improved motor coordination
  • Improved agility, speed, reflexes and balance
  • Provides cardio benefits
  • Helps with brain development and boosts creativity

Plus, the fact that jump roping is a low-impact activity means that it will not put any unnecessary pressure on the joints.

Family jumping rope in the park

There are plenty of jump roping games and rhymes to be found online, so equip yourself with some of these before introducing the activity to your family.

Grow Some Food

No matter what age you are, being able to grow something and then eat it gives you a huge thrill of satisfaction. The fact that you can also enjoy organic produce at a fraction of what you would have paid for it is an added bonus. 

This is something that your whole family can take part in, with each family member choosing a few of their favorite foods to grow.

Wondering where the exercise part comes in?

Gardening itself is actually a fantastic workout!

Did you know that gardening for an hour can burn as many calories as if you had jogged for four miles? 

Gardening requires your body to perform such a wide range of motions, from squatting and bending to lifting and digging, giving you the ultimate workout. It also triggers your brain to release feel-good endorphins, while teaching your children a sense of responsibility.

Wondering how to get started?

Have a family meeting to discuss the foods you want to grow. Then, go out and get some seeds or plants, and get growing!

Some easy foods to start off with include:

  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Different types of lettuces
  • Herbs

Don’t forget to teach your family how to properly warm up before gardening, especially if you have a few strenuous tasks ahead of you that day. Due to all of the muscles that are used when gardening, gardening-related injuries are actually more common than you would think!

Go for a Swim

Swimming is often referred to as the perfect exercise.

Why?

Because it provides you with all of the benefits of a full aerobic workout, but without putting any pressure on the joints. Swimming is an exercise that can be done by just about every member of the family, no matter their age. 

When it comes to deciding where to go for a family swim…

You can either opt for a local swimming pool or the sea, although this does depend on where you live. While the sea usually tends to be more fun, this can often be impractical in the colder months, so make sure that you have a few back-up options too. 

Can’t imagine your children getting on board with the idea of swimming laps?

Don’t worry, they don’t need to!

You can either just leave them to splash and play about in the water, which will bring them pretty similar health benefits, or you can get everyone involved in a family pool game.

Jumping or diving competitions are always fun, as is Starfish Tag. Younger children tend to love underwater mirror games, while balancing competitions on a floating mattress will get everybody’s muscles working.

Cycling Adventures

While it may be easy enough to cycle with your kids to school instead of driving them, or cycling to the shops on the weekends, this list is all about ways to make exercise fun.

The best way to do that when it comes to cycling is by turning the journey into a little adventure.

Family cycling outdoors

This means planning new routes and cycling through new areas, so that the views and scenery are different each time. Try to alternate between urban and rural areas, as this contrast will keep things interesting.

Planning your route so that there is something special and rewarding at the end of it will help to give your kids some extra motivation. Treating them to a hot chocolate at a cafe, or visiting a pond to feed some ducks, will help to make the activity even more special.

Turn Household Chores into a Workout

Ok, so the idea of turning household chores into a workout may not seem like much fun at first, but hear this out…

Just like with gardening, household chores require the body to perform such a wide range of motions, giving you a great workout.

The trick to getting the whole family involved is to make it fun, by adding in some music and a competitive edge.

The music needs to be energetic and fast-paced, and you should try to get each family member to contribute to the playlist, as everyone will have certain tunes that motivate them.

You need to make sure that you also time this chore workout well…

You don’t want to do it before a mealtime, when everyone is hungry and cranky. You also don’t want to do it after a meal, when everyone is full.

Wondering how to actually turn those boring chores into a competitive workout?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Wash the car within a certain length of time, competing to see whose side is the cleanest
  • See who can tidy away the most items in a certain amount of time, but make sure that everyone squats instead of bending down normally
  • Everyone takes a window or a wall to clean, competing to see who can do the best job the fastest
  • Play a guessing game with laundry items, before giving each family member their own items to fold
  • Get everyone making some bread, as the kneading process gives the arms a great workout
  • Use step trackers to see who takes the most steps when doing chores for 20 minutes. Many smartphones already have a step tracker in them, saving you from having to purchase dedicated trackers for each family member

Try Different Sports

Sports games can be so much fun, to the point where you often forget how long you have actually been exercising for.

Learning a new sport can be even more exciting, and there are so many different sports out there that you and your family could try.

In addition to providing some good ol’ fashioned fun, regularly playing family sports games will result in the following:

  • Better learning skills, and therefore better academic results
  • Improved problem-solving and teamwork skills
  • Gives the body a workout, keeping it healthy
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduced stress

So, which sports should you try playing with your family?

Well, that depends…

If there is already a sport that every member of your family enjoys playing, you could try to improve your skills in this. Sign your family up for a class, or enter yourselves into a local tournament.

On the other hand, if your family isn’t naturally inclined to sports…

Keeping things varied will help to make the activities more fun.

Try having each family member pick a sport that they would want to try, and then you could alternate which one you do each week.

A few ideas would be:

  • Cricket
  • Boxing
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Frisbee
  • Table tennis

Father and child playing basketball

Even something like bowling would still ensure that your family are on their feet for a few hours.

You could make things more interesting by having rewards for the winning team or “punishments” for the losing team. For example, the losing team would need to cook the family meal that night, or the winning team would be able to decide what to watch on TV for that week. This will give everyone the motivation to put their all into the activity.

Make Some Exercise Cards

Have you heard of exercise cards before?

They’re an increasingly popular way to plan a workout.

Each card in the deck would feature a specific workout, whether this may be a bodyweight exercise, a stretch, or anything else.

Exercise cards are available pre-printed, but since this is an activity that you are basing around your family, you may find it more useful to create your own deck of cards.

Why?

Because this way you can incorporate exercise that fit your family’s specific skills and requirements. You can add in plenty of fun games, such as the jump roping mentioned above, to keep your kids interested.

Once you have your deck of exercise cards together, set aside some time for your family workout. Then, get everyone in the family to pick one or two cards from the deck, before combining these all together to create your unique routine.

You can keep things interesting by alternating the location of your workouts. While there is nothing wrong with doing these at home or in your backyard, taking your deck to a local park or hiking trail will instantly make the workout seem so much more exciting.

Exercising is something that every family should be doing together, but it can definitely be tricky to find activities that the whole family can enjoy. Each of these activities will provide your family with a fantastic workout, while keeping them motivated and engaged at the same time.

Workout friends high-five each other, resting

Setting Realistic Workout Expectations

When it comes to working out, consistency is key. Pushing yourself too hard will only damage your motivation, making it far less likely that you will stick to a regular workout routine. 

This is why it is so important to set yourself realistic workout expectations, as this is what will give you the best results. 

How do you make sure that your aims and goals are realistic? 

Here are some tips: 

Smart Goals

When it comes to setting goals, SMART is an acronym that can really help you. 

What does SMART stand for? 

  • Specific – your goal should be clear and succinct. Read on for advice on choosing these specific goals 
  • Measurable – this basically means that you need to add a number to your goal. Make sure that there is a way to numerically track your progress 
  • Attainable – this is the tricky part. Your specific, measurable goal needs to be difficult enough to challenge and motivate you but attainable enough for you to actually achieve 
  • Realistic – make sure that your goal is realistic and relevant to you, and that it is the right time in your life to be putting your time and focus into achieving it 
  • Timely – give your goal a realistic deadline 

Infographic on SMART goals

Confused? 

An example would be “I will go running four days a week for an hour each time, so that I can lose 5% of my body weight in six weeks time.”

Choosing Realistic Goals and Expectations

For many people, especially those who are new to working out, the main goal tends to be weight loss. 

There is nothing wrong with this, but you do need to make sure that you are still being realistic…

How can you set a realistic weight loss goal? 

You need to first take into account your current weight, along with your body fat percentage. The heavier you are, and the more body fat you have, the faster you will be able to lose this. 

Once your body fat percentage and weight starts to decrease, it will then take you longer to lose the rest. 

For many people out there, a good expectation to aim for would be to lose about one percent of your body weight a week. 

How about for those who are trying to build muscle and strength? 

Well, as above, those who are new to strength training will make progress faster. 

Ideally, you should be able to add five pounds to the amount you lift each week. 

For those who are beginners, you could aim to increase your body weight by between 1% to 1.5% each year. Those who are intermediate lifters should aim for about 0.5%, while those who are experts should aim for around 0.25%. 

As you can see, there is quite a bit to take into account when setting your goal. You will need to do some research into making sure that your goal is a realistic one, so that you know that you will be able to achieve it. 

Measuring and Documenting Your Progress 

To begin with, you need to write your goals down. 

Why? 

Because not only does this make them more definite and real, but research shows that those who write down their workout plans and aims exercise around twice as much as those who do not. 

Once you get started with your workouts, it is important to keep monitoring your progress. This will go a long way when it comes to keeping you on track to accomplishing your goal. 

How should you monitor your progress?

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Keep a log book – your log book should contain the following information: your workout schedule, the actual exercises you have done, the amount of time you spent working out and numbers relating to your goal. This could be weight loss numbers, fitness levels, or anything else. Keeping track of your energy levels and your mood can also be beneficial 
  • Use an app – there are so many different workout apps out there that will help you to track your progress. Many of these can be accompanied by pieces of wearable technology, enabling you to obtain the highest in accuracy 

Checking watch and mobile phone app for workout statistics

  • Keep a calender – this is similar to a log book, but laying it all out on a calendar will make it easier to visually see your overall progress 
  • Take pictures – taking pictures throughout your workout journey will enable you to compare any aesthetic changes side by side. They will also provide you with extra motivation when it comes to continuing on to making improvements to your body. Posting these photos on a social media account can also help to keep you accountable when it comes to sticking to your aims and goals 

Sticking to Your Goals

For those of you who already regularly work out, you have likely had those days where you just can’t seem to muster up the motivation to exercise. 

Sticking to your workout goals can be tough, but here are a few tips to help you out: 

  • Reward yourself – set yourself mini goals and then reward yourself each time you achieve one of these. The rewards could be anything from a pampering spa session to a short break away, depending on how much motivation you need 
  • Keep your workout bag packed – this makes it easier to just “grab and go” before a workout, rather than having to waste time sorting through your belongings and packing your bag 
  • Work out with friends and family – this not only makes working out more enjoyable, but will also hold you more accountable to your goals 
  • Plan some form of exercise for each day – even if you only plan to work out in the gym four times a week, you should still try to plan an active exercise for the remaining days of the week. This could be as simple as a bike ride, a hike with the dog, or even an evening stroll around your neighborhood 
  • Go public – whether you simply announce your goals to your friends and family, or set up a social media account where you post your progress, putting your goals out there in the big wide world makes it much harder to ignore them when things are feeling difficult 
  • Work with a personal trainer – this will give you some extra motivation, while the advice given to you during your workout will help to make your workout even more effective 

Aligning Your Diet with Your Workout Goals 

You are likely already well aware of the fact that your diet will have a huge impact when it comes to achieving your workout goals.

Eating the right foods before your workout will give your body the energy it needs to really thrive and be active, while eating certain foods afterwards will help when it comes to building muscle and reducing fat. 

So, which foods should you be eating? 

Well, before a workout, try to eat foods that are low in fiber and fat, but contain a moderate amount of protein and carbohydrates. Stay away from anything fried, greasy or filled with sugar. 

Drinking plenty of fluids with your food is also important. 

Why? 

Because the water in these fluids acts as a cooling mechanism for your body, while also preventing it from becoming dehydrated. 

What about sports drinks? 

All you really need is water. However, if you tend to sweat quite a bit, or are working out in a humid environment, then a sports drink could be quite beneficial. Of course, if weight loss is your end goal, then make sure that the sports drink you choose does not contain too many calories. There are many diet versions of sports drinks available, so these may be better suited to you. 

What should you be eating after your workout? 

Ideally, you want to be eating foods that contain plenty of protein. This is what your muscles need in order to recover from all the exercise, as well as to grow. 

However, don’t go overboard…

Your body only needs about 10 to 20 grams of protein after a workout.

Do you struggle to stick to a healthy diet? 

Here are some tips to follow to make it easier: 

  • Eat smaller meals, but eat these more frequently throughout the day. This will help to naturally raise your metabolism, enabling you to burn more calories in the end 
  • Give food prep a try. Sorting your meals from before will make it much easier to stick to a healthy diet 
  • Try not to skip meals. This may seem beneficial in the short run, but it only means that you are much more likely to over-eat during your next meal 
  • A journal that documents your diet will help you to eat healthier 

Keep Your Workouts Enjoyable

Working out can sometimes seem a bit tedious, and this only makes it so much harder to achieve your goals and expectations. 

The key here is to make sure that you are keeping your workouts fun and enjoyable. 

How? 

Well, to begin with, choose some exercises that you genuinely enjoy. For example, if you hate going to the gym, then coming up with a workout plan that revolves around the gym isn’t something that is going to fill you with excitement. 

In fact, working out outdoors can really give you a mental boost. Spending time in nature is extremely therapeutic, and you will likely find that you have a much clearer head after an outdoor workout. Research shows that exercising outdoors is much more effective at reducing feelings of stress than exercising indoors.

Yoga group in the park, morning

Try to keep mixing your workouts up, so that you aren’t doing the same exercises day in and day out. There are so many new and inventive exercises constantly being put out there, and trying something that you’ve never tried before will not only help in stimulating your body and muscles, but also your mind. 

This is especially the case for those who haven’t been seeing the results that they have been expecting. This could be a sign that the exercises you have chosen aren’t quite right for your goal, and it would be worth exploring other options. 

Listening to music while working out can also really be a game-changer…

Music has been shown to improve performance while also boosting motivation. 

Wondering if there is a particular genre of music you should be listening to? 

This all depends on the type of workout you are doing…

If you are warming up, something with a slightly slower tempo would be beneficial, while speed or endurance exercises would require a faster tune. 

There are many BPM (beats per minute) calculators online that can help you to work out the tempo of a particular song.

Here are some guidelines to follow: 

  • Warming up – 100 to 110 BPM
  • Stretching – 90 to 100 BPM 
  • Strength training – 110 to 120 BPM 
  • Endurance, agility and speed training – anything over 120 BPM 

Another way to make your workouts more fun is to exercise with someone else. As mentioned above, this also has the added advantage of giving you some extra motivation while also making you more accountable to your goals. 

Don’t have any friends or family who want to work out? 

That’s ok because there are plenty of workout groups that you can join. Whether you join a more informal workout meet-up or an actual class, working out with others will give you a support system that will make your workouts so much more enjoyable. 

Not only can it be difficult to decide upon workout expectations, but then you also have to make sure that you stick to your goals in order to actually achieve your expectations. This is why it is so important that any goals or expectations you set for yourself are realistic, as setting yourself up for success is key when it comes to successfully making progress with your workouts. 

Whole garlic and garlic cloves on a wooden chopping board

8 Foods for a Stronger Immune System

You have probably heard the term “immune system” so many times throughout your life, but do you know what your immune system actually is? 

Your immune system consists of a network made up of organs, tissues and cells, and these protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious compounds. 

Do you suffer from recurrent infections, digestive problems, inflammation or an autoimmune disease? 

If your answer is yes…

Then this means that your immune system is weak, and would really benefit from a boost.

Around 70% to 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, which is why the food you eat will have a direct impact on how your immune system functions. To really strengthen and support your immune system, here are eight foods that you should try to incorporate into your diet. 

Garlic

Just about every type of cuisine in the world makes use of garlic, and it has long since been used as a method of fighting off infections.

How exactly is it able to do this?

Well, garlic contains a compound known as alliin. When a garlic clove is crushed, or even chewed, the alliin within it turns to allicin.

The allicin within garlic contains sulfur, and this is what gives garlic its distinctive smell. It is also the reason as to why garlic smells its strongest after it has been crushed, compared to when it is a whole clove.

However, allicin is quite an unstable compound, meaning that it doesn’t stick around for too long.

What happens to it?

It turns into other compounds that contain sulphur, and these are what give garlic its medicinal properties.

There is plenty of research out there that shows how garlic is not only able to prevent you from falling sick in the first place, but also affects how quickly you recover when you do fall sick.

Those who consume more garlic will not only have a lower risk of catching a cold or developing an infection, but they will also feel better so much faster.

Of course, in order for the allicin in the garlic to work properly, you need to make sure that you always crush garlic and leave it to stand for ten minutes before you use it. This will enable the allicin to convert into medicinal compounds.

Wondering how much garlic you need to eat in order to experience its immune benefits?

As much as possible! But at least one clove per meal would be ideal.

Blueberries

Blueberries may be small, but they are actually packed with a number of important nutrients, all of which really support the immune system. 

There is one compound in particular that blueberries contain that set them apart from the other superfoods out there…

This compound is known as pterostilbene. When consumed, it boosts the way in which the CAMP gene functions. The CAMP gene, which stands for cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, is responsible for creating specific proteins that protect the body from bacterial infections.

In addition to pterostilbene, blueberries also contain high levels of: 

  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Antioxidants 

Infographic on the benefits of blueberries

Can’t stand the taste of blueberries? 

Other dark berries, such as red grapes, cranberries and mulberries, also contain pterostilbene, although in smaller quantities. 

Cinnamon

Now that the festive season is approaching, cinnamon is a spice that you will likely encounter more frequently, and, in addition to adding a distinct flavor and scent to foods, this spice is also a powerful immune booster.

When consumed, cinnamon is able to increase the amount of T regulatory immune cells, also called Tregs, within the body.

What do Tregs do?

They basically control the way in which the immune system responds to foreign invaders, as well as those that are coming from the body itself. This not only helps to prevent autoimmune diseases, but also strengthens the immune system, enabling it to better protect itself against infections.

Of course, there is one downside to cinnamon…

The majority of popular recipes and dishes featuring this spice tend to be laden with calories and other unhealthy ingredients, all of which will only put a damper on your immune system.

Looking for a healthy way to cook with cinnamon?

Give some of these ideas a try:

  • Cinnamon French toast
  • Cinnamon chicken curry
  • Honey-cinnamon roasted chickpeas
  • Baked cinnamon apple chips
  • Cinnamon muffins
  • Cinnamon almond butter

You may need to get creative when it comes to using more of this spice, but the benefits that cinnamon brings really makes this worthwhile.

Turmeric

You have probably already heard of turmeric being called a superfood lately, with this ingredient becoming increasingly popular in recent years.

Why?

Because a number of studies have now been carried out that prove its many benefits, one of which is the way in which it boosts the immune system. 

How does it do this?

It all comes down to a compound called curcumin, which is what gives turmeric its vibrant yellow color.

While curcumin is mostly known for its anti-inflammatory properties, research shows that curcumin is also able to enhance antibody responses within the body, strengthening the immune system.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind when it comes to consuming turmeric…

Turmeric in its raw form is not easily absorbed by the body. In order to maximize its impact, turmeric should be gently cooked, and mixed with an oil, as well as black pepper.

Why?

The oil helps to carry the curcumin while the black pepper significantly increases its bioavailability.

Turmeric golden paste is a great way to consume the herb, as the recipe takes into account all of the above, and can be cooked up in less than ten minutes. This can then be taken on its own a few times a day, or mixed into your meals.

Turmeric paste in small clay bowls surrounded by turmeric powder

Wondering if you can just take a curcumin supplement instead?

Yes, but you likely won’t experience the same impacts when it comes to the benefits of this. Eating whole foods always tends to be more beneficial for the body, as not only will you be consuming the curcumin, but also the many other medicinal properties that the turmeric contains.

Kefir

Just like some of the other immune-boosting foods on this list, kefir has become quite popular lately. 

What is it? 

It’s a fermented drink made from milk, almost like a thinner and lighter version of yogurt. However, while yogurt contains just a couple of strains of beneficial bacteria, kefir can contain ten times this amount. 

Kefir brings with it a number of different health benefits, and, when it comes to the immune system, these include:

So, where can you get kefir from? 

One option is to purchase it, and you will usually find it at health food stores, with more grocery stores now stocking it too. 

However, there is a downside to this…

In order to be sold commercially, kefir needs to be processed. Even if this is minimal, the heat used ends up destroying a significant amount of the beneficial bacteria within the drink. 

For the very best results, you would be best off making kefir at home. There are several how-to guides out there that will walk you through this easy process.

Green Tea

Just about every type of tea is extremely beneficial for the body, but green tea is especially powerful when it comes to strengthening the immune system. 

Why? 

Because it contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG. This is an extremely powerful antioxidant that has been proven to significantly enhance immune function. 

Wondering why black tea doesn’t contain this antioxidant, since both teas come from the same plant? 

Well, tea leaves for black tea are fermented, whereas tea leaves for green tea are steamed. The fermentation process for black tea destroys a large amount of the EGCG within the leaves, whereas the steaming process preserves this antioxidant. 

Not only that, but green tea also contains L-theanine. This is an amino acid that boosts the way in which your body’s T-cells are able to fight germs. 

Don’t like the taste of green tea? 

Many people find green tea to be too bitter. 

Here are a few tips to counter that: 

  • Use hot, rather than boiling, water, since boiling water brings out the bitter flavors of the tea
  • Add in a small amount of honey to sweeten the tea
  • Add in a few drops of fresh lemon juice to enhance the perfume and reduce the bitterness of the tea 
  • Mix a couple of sprigs of mint in with your leaves before topping with water, which is a common practice in Morocco 
  • Drink it iced, rather than hot, as this reduces its bitterness
  • Purchase a high quality green tea  

Dark Chocolate

Love chocolate? 

Then you will be happy to know that dark chocolate is fantastic for strengthening the immune system. 

Of course, this means that the chocolate needs to contain at least 70% cacao, as this ensures that there are high levels of flavonoids within the chocolate.

Dark chocolate on baking paper, with a metal spoon holding chocolate powder

What are flavonoids? 

They’re antioxidants that do a number of different things within the body, including increasing the amount of antibodies that the body produces. This then gives the immune system a huge boost. 

Thinking you can eat copious amounts of dark chocolate now that it’s been proven that this is a beneficial food? 

Unfortunately not. You still need to moderate how much dark chocolate you eat, since this food is still high in saturated fat and calories. 

If you know that you shouldn’t be consuming any extra calories on any given day, you could always give some dark chocolate a sniff instead, so long as you can resist the temptation to eat it! 

This may seem cruel, but it’s actually beneficial. 

Wondering how?  

Research shows that even the smell of dark chocolate can trigger the body to produce double the amount of antibodies in just 20 minutes. In the study carried out, this boost in immunity lasted for over three hours, although it did decrease as time went on.

Citrus Fruits

Whenever you’ve had a cold, people have likely advised you to eat oranges, or drink warm lemon water. 

Ever wondered why? 

It’s all down to the vitamin C content in citrus fruits, which amp up the body’s production of white blood cells. 

What do white blood cells do? 

They are cells within the immune system that protect the body from foreign invaders and infectious diseases. These cells flow through the blood all over your body, fighting against bacteria, viruses and other unwanted compounds. 

Vitamin C is extremely important when it comes to creating these. 

Since the body doesn’t produce vitamin C itself, it can be easy to become deficient in the vitamin, meaning that your white blood cell count declines. This weakens your immune system, meaning that you will fall sick faster, and take longer to recover. 

So, in addition to oranges and lemons, what other citrus fruits are there? 

Here are some of the most popular: 

  • Lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Mandarins
  • Pomelo
  • Yuzu

Need another reason to eat more citrus fruits? 

Well, in addition to boosting the immune system, citrus fruits also: 

  • Improve heart health 
  • Protect against, and fight against, cancer 
  • Protect the brain 
  • Reduce the risk of kidney stones 

Wondering if you can just drink the juice instead of eating the whole fruits? 

While citrus fruit juices do contain plenty of nutrients, they are also extremely high in sugar. This can end up causing more harm than good when it comes to your overall health. 

When it comes to keeping your body healthy, your focus should always be on your immune system. In order to keep it strong and working optimally, your diet is so important, so make sure that you are incorporating immune-boosting foods into each meal. 

Tired woman at her work desk

What’s Causing Your Daytime Fatigue?

Do you often find it difficult to stay awake and concentrate during the day?

If so, you could be suffering from daytime fatigue, which is often linked to another medical problem.

Here are nine different causes of daytime fatigue, as well as tips on what you can do about them.

Hypersomnia

Hypersomnia is a condition that refers to either:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • An excessive amount of time spent sleeping

If you have hypersomnia, you will likely find yourself falling asleep at random points during the day, even while you are talking or driving.

Hypersomnia is extremely common, affecting around 40% of people at some point in their lives. 

What causes hypersomnia?

Here are a few of the most common causes of the condition: 

  • Sleep disorders, which will be explained in more detail below
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • A head injury
  • Being overweight
  • Genetics
  • Depression and anxiety

So, if you have hypersomnia, what can you do about it?

You should first have this confirmed by your doctor, who will also be able to prescribe different drugs to help treat the condition.

You can also try to identify the cause of your hypersomnia, and then work to reverse this. For example, if it is caused by being overweight, losing weight can help, while changing your sleeping habits so that you get more sleep will prevent sleep deprivation from causing your hypersomnia.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is extremely common, and simply refers to a person not getting enough sleep

How much sleep is enough?

Experts recommend between seven to nine hours of sleep each night, although this does vary between individuals, and also changes with age.

While missing out on a couple of hours once in a while will not cause any harm, experiencing frequent bouts of sleep deprivation can definitely lead to daytime fatigue.

How can you overcome this?

The obvious answer would be…

Get more sleep!

Here are a few tips to help you to get more quality sleep:

  • Set a regular schedule – a regular sleep schedule will help to train your body clock into feeling tired at the same time each evening, while waking itself up at the same time each morning. Make sure that you stick to this schedule, even on the weekends
  • Stay away from caffeine or alcohol from late afternoon onwardsboth of these can hugely impact your sleep, as well as its quality
  • Don’t keep blue light-emitting electronics in your bedroomthe blue light that comes from the screens of these devices keeps your body awake for longer
  • Avoid daytime nappingeven if you feel tired during the day, avoid the temptation to nap, as this will only prevent you from falling asleep at the optimum time that night
  • Work out in the morningsyou may think that exercising would help you to fall asleep, but this actually raises the heart rate and triggers the release of adrenaline into your body, both of which will keep you awake. However, exercise done in the mornings, or even the afternoons, can actually help you to sleep better at night
  • Avoid eating two hours before bedthis sets your digestive system in motion, which can keep you awake

Infographic on how to get better sleep

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders cause you to frequently wake up during the night, which then interferes with the quality of your sleep, leading to you feeling chronically fatigued each day.

These are some of the most common sleep disorders:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea – the most common sleep disorder, affecting more than 20 million adults in the USA alone. This disorder consists of a blockage in the airways, meaning that the brain wakes itself up to send a signal to the respiratory system to continue functioning normally. This usually causes a person to stop breathing for about 10 to 20 seconds, and can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, without a person even realizing it
  • Narcolepsythis is an autoimmune disorder in which the brain is not able to properly control its sleep and wake cycles. This means that you experience the REM stage of sleep, which is when you are sleeping the deepest, at random points during the day
  • Restless Leg Syndromethis neurological disorder causes a person to feel an uncomfortable sensation in their legs, which leads to them moving their legs around to relieve this. Since this makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep, as well as stay asleep, the result is daytime fatigue

Treatments vary for each sleep disorder, and in some cases, especially for restless leg syndrome, these disorders can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. This makes it important to see a doctor if you think that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. 

Depression

Depression is much more common than you would think…

Around 300 million people around the world, including 16.2 million adults in the USA, have depression. It is also believed that around 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lives. 

What does this have to do with daytime fatigue?

Research shows that people with depression are much more likely to experience daytime fatigue. Not only that, but people who already have daytime fatigue are much more likely to end up depressed.

As you can see, this results in a vicious circle that can be difficult to break out of.

When it comes to treating depression…

There are many treatment options out there, depending on the severity of your depression. This is something that only a professional can advise you on, so make sure that you speak to a doctor if you think that you may be depressed.

Too Much Caffeine

Coffee is commonly drunk to help people stay awake and alert, but, sometimes, it can have the opposite effect.

Woman holding a cup of espresso

While a cup or two won’t do any harm, drinking too much caffeine can lead to:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • A jittery feeling
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

What happens once the caffeine wears off?

You end up “crashing”, resulting in you feeling completely fatigued.

What can you do about this?

Well, let’s begin by what you shouldn’t do…

Drinking even more coffee in order to overcome this would be the worst way to deal with the problem.  

Instead, try to cut back on the amount of caffeine you drink.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to completely cut caffeine out of your life, because this will only leave you with withdrawal symptoms.

Try slowly weaning yourself off the coffee, as well as any other caffeinated drinks. Replace these with water or other drinks, so that you are consuming less caffeine each day.

A Poor Diet

The food that you eat fuels your body, so it only makes sense that your body will feel weak and tired if it is not being fed with the right nutrients.

Let’s begin with the most important meal of the day…

Breakfast!

So many people out there skip breakfast, not realizing just how crucial this meal is.

Why is it so important?

Because the food that you eat for breakfast helps to wake your body up, giving your metabolism a kick start for the day. Without breakfast, your energy levels will be lacking from the start of the day.

If you don’t have time for breakfast, or are simply too tired early in the mornings…

Try putting a small grab-and-go morning snack together the night before, and then slowly build up your new breakfast habit to encompass larger and more filling meals.

Now on to the rest of the food you eat…

Try to avoid large and heavy meals during the day, as these can often leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.

Make sure that your diet is a balanced one, featuring plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, nuts and seeds. 

Why is this important?

Because if you eat processed, high-sugar foods instead, this causes a spike in your blood sugar levels. Once this drops back down, it leaves you feeling fatigued and low.

Premenstrual Syndrome

PMS manifests differently in every single woman out there.

For many, daytime fatigue is one of the symptoms, and this is actually extremely common.

Your body produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps it to regulate its sleep cycles. During your premenstrual phase, as well as your menstrual phase, melatonin levels fluctuate, often decreasing. This then keeps you up at night, making you feel fatigued during the day.

Not only that, but the hormonal changes during your premenstrual phase can lead to an increase in the amount of deep sleep that you experience. However, this occurs during the day as well as the night, causing you to feel tired and sluggish.

Dehydration

Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated?

This is a condition that affects millions of people, even though it is so easily prevented.

How does this relate to daytime fatigue?

Because research shows that dehydration is the number one cause of midday fatigue.

How does dehydration cause this?

Due to the way in which a lack of water causes your blood pressure to drop. This then leads to headaches, fatigue and a loss of concentration. 

How much water should you be drinking each day?

This varies, not only depending on your weight but also your activity levels through the day. A good amount to aim for would be around two liters a day, but don’t forget that you will also be getting a small chunk of this from the food that you eat, especially if your diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Infographic on daily water intake

Can’t seem to drink enough water during the day?

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Mix up a pitcher of fruit-infused water to give your water some extra flavor
  • Try to drink a full cup of water before every meal
  • Download an app to help you to track how much water you are drinking, as well as setting alarms to remind you to drink some water
  • If you are drinking a sugar-filled drink, try diluting this down with some water
  • Install a water filter, as this can help your water to taste better
  • Mae sure that you drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume

Remember…

If you are feeling thirsty, then this means that you are already dehydrated.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

More and more people are experiencing a sedentary lifestyle these days, and this is actually a common cause behind daytime fatigue.

How are the two connected?

Well, the lack of physical activity leads to your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems de-conditioning, while also depressing your mood. Both of these can then result in daytime fatigue.

There is so much research out there that backs up the way in which exercise is able to help reverse daytime fatigue, making this something well worth trying.

Hate the idea of exercise?

Physical activity doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours in the gym.

If you really think about it, you are guaranteed to be able to find some form of physical activity that appeals to you. Whether this may be a dance class, a group dog walk, a visit to the beach, a gardening session, or even blasting some music at home and dancing around the house, any activity that gets you up and moving regularly can help you to feel less fatigued during the day.

Daytime fatigue is extremely common, but so frustrating to deal with due to the way in which it impacts everyday life. In order to overcome your daytime fatigue, spend some time working out the cause of it, as treating the root issue will be the most effective way to deal with the problem.

Goji berries in a wooden bowl

The Vitamin Truth About Berries

If you’ve been paying any attention to the world of health and wellness, maybe you noticed how there isn’t a single health enthusiast out there who isn’t raving about the all-healing power of berries. From hearty oatmeal to colorful fruit bowls to body-charging smoothies, it seems berries have been finding their way into every health-conscious meal plan.

So, how are berries supposed to help our health and beauty, exactly?

Well, these bite-sized nutrients are nature’s very own stockpile of vitamins, which hold a number of immunity-boosting properties that can contribute to your overall well-being. By regularly supplying your body with vitamins, you can help ensure all your vital organs are functioning properly.

Moreover, having more vitamins in your diet doesn’t hurt on the beauty front, either. You heard that right – munching on berries can help you achieve healthy-looking skin, hair and even nails! Read on to find out exactly how.

Strawberries Are a Treasure Trove of Vitamin C

A bowl of fresh strawberries

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is the undisputable star among body-boosting nutrients.

Even if you aren’t well-versed in health and wellness trends, you probably already know that Vitamin C can do wonders for improving your immune system.

However, the benefits of upping your Vitamin C intake go way beyond that.

For example, did you know that a regular consumption of this Vitamin can also improve your eyesight, fade your age spots and relieve stress?

And that’s only the beginning.

First of all, Vitamin C can be your best friend when you want to fight off those pesky symptoms of common cold, such as sore throat, coughing and fatigue.

Upping your Vitamin C intake will boost your immunity and help your body in the fight against damaging infections.

Consuming foods with high Vitamin C concentration can also be beneficial for keeping more serious illnesses at bay.

Increased stress levels can also deplete Vitamin C levels in your body, so redressing the balance may help with reducing stress-related symptoms such as over-irritability, fatigue and lack of sleep.

When it comes to beauty benefits, Vitamin C is crucial for the production of collagen, that special little substance that keeps your complexion plump and glowing.

By upping your daily Vitamin C intake, you can help smooth out fine lines, wrinkles, but also minimize dark spots and other symptoms of hyperpigmentation on your skin.

Moreover, Vitamin C can reverse the negative effects caused by free radicals and protect it from additional damage causes by UV rays, pollution and other kinds of harmful environmental factors.

So, how do you make sure you are getting enough of this magic Vitamin C in your day-to-day meals?

We have some good news for you: berries are packed with this immunity-pepping antioxidant.

b, everyone’s favorite springtime treat, make for a great source of this body-healing vitamin.

One serving (a cup) of this palate-pleasing treat contains 80 milligrams of Vitamin C, which is around the exact amount of prescribed daily intake.

Raspberries and blueberries are also rich in Vitamin C. To create a trifecta of this illness-fighting vitamin, combine a handful od strawberries, raspberries and blueberries into a delicious fruit bowl.

Vitamin K Found in Blueberries is a Powerful Antioxidant

Fresh blueberries

Vitamin K might have been flying under the radar in the past, but these days, all the health freaks are raving about it.

Why is this the case?

Well, this essential vitamin helps keep your body strong on several fronts.

For example, this nutrient can improve the functioning of your cardiovascular system. Since it can promote blood clotting, it is crucial for your body to be replenished with this vitamin in order to be able to heal from bleeding or bruising.

One of the most well-known benefits of Vitamin K is that it can strengthen your bones, and it does so by boosting the amount of protein needed to preserve bone calcium.

Optimal Vitamin K intake can help prevent occurrence of medical conditions such as osteoporosis and bone fracture.

Furthermore, increasing the presence of Vitamin K in your diet can help relieve PMS symptoms such as cramps and other types of discomfort. It can also help with excessive bleeding during periods.

In combination with other vitamins (such as A, C and D), Vitamin K can also help fight off the bacteria that accumulates on your teeth and gum. As a result, it can be effective in warding off tooth decay, cavities and various gum diseases.

One fruit that is especially loaded with vitamin K is blueberry.

A cup of these tiny nutritional powerhouses can contain up to 28.6 micrograms of Vitamin K, which is more than a third or prescribed daily intake.

And when it comes to introducing blueberries into your day-to-day meals – it’s as easy as it sounds.

You can carry a pack of this delicious fruit with you and snack on the go whenever you feel like a pick-me-up at work or after gym.

Blueberries can also be a great way to infuse your breakfast with the precious Vitamin K – simply throw them in your favorite oat meal and cereal and your dish will instantly become charged with antioxidants.

They can also add a kick of vitamins into your smoothies. They work well for sweetening more bitter ingredients like spinach or kale.

And in you need further inspiration, here’s an idea for a healthy smoothie where blueberry is the star ingredient.

In a blender, combine the following:

  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup almond milk

Mix until you achieve a smooth consistency. Voila, you’ve just made an ideal snack to kick-start your body and up your Vitamin K intake.

Vitamin A is Abundant in Acai Berries

Fresh acai berries

It is a well-known fact Vitamin A can be incredibly beneficial for eye health and good vision.

However, not many people know this component is directly or indirectly tied to regular functioning of all the vital organs in the body.

This is because Vitamin A has powerful antioxidant properties, which can assist your body in the purging of free radicals, those harmful agents that cause genetic damage to your cells and trigger a host of medical conditions.

Furthermore, optimal Vitamin A intake can fortify your immunity, which means your body will be better equipped to ward off various illnesses.

Vitamin A can be found in certain animal products, as well as plant-based food, in which case it’s known as beta carotene. 

And one ingredient that is especially rich in this organ-pepping vitamin is the acai berry, a dark-hued fruit that hails from the Amazon region.

Because of its notable medicinal powers, this tropical berry has been consumed by the native people of Brazil for centuries.

Recently, it has become increasingly popular in health and wellness-conscious circles, which hail it as the new superfood du jour.

And for good reason, too: not only does the acai berry have numerous benefits for your body, it can also improve the appearance of your skin.

Due to high concentration of Vitamin A and other antioxidants, frequent consumption of acai berry can stave off various ailments, improve your digestion and cardiovascular activity and boost your energy levels.

When it comes to skin, the active ingredients found in acai berry can help reverse symptoms of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.

The vitamins concentrated in this Amazonian treat can also reinforce skin’s protective barrier, which will help protect it from harmful environmental factors, such as the sun, pollution, harsh weather, etc. 

Due to its rich, slightly bitter flavor, acai berry work well in combination with slightly sweeter ingredients.

It can be added to healthy dessert alternatives when you’re looking to add a punch of antioxidants to your after-meal treats.

The easiest way to consume the Brazilian berry is simply to throw it in a smoothie or breakfast bowl.

For added sweetness, chop up a banana or an apple, so your concoction isn’t too bitter.

Vitamin E in Blackberries Has Immense Reparative Properties

Fresh blackberries

When it comes to reversing aging processes, one antioxidant in particular can be incredibly helpful: Vitamin E.

To begin with, this component can be notably beneficial for your cardiovascular system.

Vitamin E can help balance cholesterol levels and reduce chances of it oxidizing, as well as preventing thickening of the arteries.

Because of its powerful antioxidant properties, Vitamin E can effectively help in the fight against free radicals. This will in turn reduce chances of your body developing all kinds of medical issues, from common ailments to more serious conditions.

Having more Vitamin E in your diet can also transform your skin, hair and nails – making them healthier and more resistant to outside harms.

Due to its reparative powers, Vitamin E can help rejuvenate and heal damaged and irritated skin. Since Vitamin E is potent at accelerating cell regeneration, it can be used to treat sunburnt skin, scars and eczema.

Frequent consumption of this antioxidant will also boost hair growth, but also make your strands thicker and better equipped to fight off environmental damage. It can also do wonders for an itchy, flaky scalp.

And if you’re looking for ways to increase your daily intake of this powerful nutrient, you can always go down the easy road and take supplements.

However, to get the real deal, you should know that this vitamin can only be found in plant-based foods.

Luckily, berries represent one of the richest sources of Vitamin E. 

Blackberries in particular pack a punch when it comes to Vitamin E concentration: one cup contains about 1.68 milligrams of this powerful antioxidant.

When it comes to meal ideas, blackberries can be consumed on their own and make for a great snack when you’re on the run.

However, if your mind the slightly sour flavor, you can always combine them with sweeter fruit (like mango or papaya, which also contain high concentration of Vitamin E) to make a delicious, antioxidant-packed smoothie.

You can also add blackberries to your favorite oatmeal or throw them in a fruit salad.

Other berries that contain high concentration of Vitamin E include:

  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries

These mini bombs of antioxidants are bountiful during warm, sunny seasons and will make for a refreshing meal during scorching summer days.

Goji Berries are Rich in B Complex Vitamins

A bowl of fresh goji berries

By B complex vitamins, people usually refer to the following compounds:

  • B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folic acid)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

And you’ll be delighted to hear that goji berries, a nutritious fruit that originates form Asia, contain even four of these super-charging agents, including vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B12.

And each of these has its own set of benefits for your health and your body.

For example, Vitamin B1 contributes to healthy digestive tract, but can also improve your nervous system, as well as skin, eyes and hair.

On the other hand, riboflavin or Vitamin B2 helps prevent cognitive decline, and it can also minimize symptoms of depression.

Vitamin B12 found in goji berries is one of the most important components for the healthy functioning of your organs. Regular Vitamin B12 consumption will keep energy levels high, but also regulate your mood.

This particular vitamin also reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Since goji berries are still somewhat mysterious to the casual health food enthusiast, you might be wondering how you can include them in your day-to-day meals.

Luckily, this task is a lot easier than you think!

Just like any other berry, goji can be a welcome addition into various health-oriented meals, including smoothies, breakfast bowls or oat meals.

It can also be consumed on its own; however, if you’re looking to pack a punch of antioxidants, combine your goji berries with a handful of nuts like almonds, cashews or walnuts.

Have you been convinced of berries’ immense vitamin powers yet? Next time you find yourself at the fresh produce section, make sure to stock up on these super-charging nuggets. Your body will soon be thanking you!

Woman enjoying blueberries in a bowl

6 Ways to Spring Clean Your Diet

Other than sunny weather and longer days, spring also brings about all kinds of fresh produce that is either hard to find or simply non-existent during rest of the year.

With the abundance of body-boosting, delicious dietary options, there’s no more excuse to revert to old, damaging food habits.

And to give you some ideas on how to overhaul your diet, we have prepared this guide with essential tips on how to use the sunny season to your advantage and, over time, build healthy habits that you can adhere to during the rest of the year, as well.

Introduce High-fiber Meals

In the springtime, we tend to be more active and spend more time outdoors.

This, is turn, causes us to reach for food items that will please our palates and fuel our body.

And if you’re the type of person who isn’t exactly health-conscious, you may end up gravitating towards instantly filling foods laden with processed carbs and sugars.

Sure, these might feel gratifying short-term, but if you want to build a satisfying, health-oriented diet, then you might want to ditch these processed baddies and go for energizing, fiber-rich options.

What are fibers and why should you include more of them in your meals, you ask?

Fibers are the kind of carbohydrates your body doesn’t digest. Since fiber itself has zero calories and helps boost digestive system, it should be an essential component in every though-out diet plan.

Luckily, foods that are high in fiber are plentiful come spring, which is why this is the perfect moment to load up your plate with these energizing nutrients.

Among the foods that contain high level of fiber are oatmeal, barley, as well as various kinds of legumes.

Fresh green peas are one of most delicious spring foods which are not only super-easy to prepare, but also chock-full of body-fueling fibers.

You can mix your peas with other springtime veggies and cook over garlic and olive oil. Alternatively, you can add them to your favorite pasta or blend them into a delicious puree as a side.

Lentil is another legume rich in fiber, which is also incredibly satisfying and belly-filling. To make your lentils extra-tasty, turn them into a basil-infused soup or mash them with some lemon juice and a couple of garlic cloves for a delicious spread.

If you are looking for a more breakfast-friendly option, you can always equip your kitchen with a box of bran flakes, which are one of the most readily-available sources of fiber. And if the taste of this fiber-rich cereal doesn’t fill you up with excitement, you can always combine it with your favorite leafy greens or fruit and blend it into a mouthwatering smoothie.

Learn to Love Leafy Greens

If you’re looking for the easiest and quickest way to increase your daily dosage of various health-charging nutrients, then leafy greens should be at the very top of your list.

These dietary superheroes are packed with a plethora of vitamins, minerals and other goodies that will not only improve your immunity and overall wellbeing, but also contribute to a healthier appearance of skin, nails and hair. Win-win!

Plus, you’ll be pleased to hear that springtime is when leafy greens reign supreme. 

Leafy green rookies might want to ease their way into their new routine by going for a veggie with a more milder, versatile taste.

Baby spinach is the perfect starter-level leafy green. It can go into any food combo, from omelets to stir-fries to smoothies. Moreover, it has a subtle, refreshing taste, so you won’t have to worry about it overpowering the rest of your meal.

More advanced leafy greens aficionados can enrich their day-to-day meals with a bona fide celebrity among superfoods – kale. This leafy green has become wildly popular in the health and wellness sphere – for good reason, too: it contains high concentration of Vitamin K, which can shield your body from all kinds of illness.

Stir-fried kale in a pan

Even though kale is slightly more bitter in taste than baby spinach, you should have no problems including it into your daily meal prep – it can be blanched, sautéed, baked or blended!

Finally, seasoned leafy green lovers might want to go for something more challenging this spring. If you haven’t done so already, why not try stepping up your veggie game by introducing collard greens into your diet?

These nutritional powerhouses are often overlooked in favor of more accessible leafy greens, possibly because of their somewhat earthy tang and chewy texture.

However, if you know how to prepare them, collard greens can be just as delicious and health-boosting as any other leaf vegetable.

One of the easiest way to soften them up and bring out the flavor is to cook them in a broth with other veggies of your choice. Alternatively, you can drizzle a bit of olive oil over a hot pan and sauté your greens with a couple of crushed and chopped garlic cloves.

Try Out Energy-boosting Snacks

Once gloomy winter days come to an end, you will inevitably feel inspired to spend more time outdoors and on your feet.

And planning meals while you’re busy running errands and catching up with friends might prove to be a little bit challenging.

What’s more, if you don’t have a clear of idea what you’re going to eat and when, you might end up reaching for the least healthy options when you’re running low on fuel.

That’s why it’s very important to always keep body-energizing snacks at hand, which you can nibble on wherever you go.

And if you want to go down the healthy road, spring is the ideal time to start introducing healthy, straight-from-nature snacks that your body will be thanking you for.

One of the most convenient and energizing snacks are nuts and seeds.

They are easy to carry around and whip out whenever you’re feeling peckish.

What’s more, they are packed with a host of healthy nutrients that will replenish your body without adding extra pounds (when consumed in moderation).

One of the most readily available and healthy nuts are almonds, which have many body-boosting properties. A handful of almonds a day can help reduce bad cholesterol and help with high blood pressure.

On the other hand, if you’re more of a pistachio fan, you’ll be pleased to hear that these nuts contain high levels of antioxidants, especially potassium, which are incredibly beneficial for the nervous system.

Cashews can also be a great option for midday snacking, as they can help strengthen your bones and improve your overall immune system.

Fruit and Berries Over Processed Sugar

Most of us know that processed sugars are a definite no-go when it comes to building a healthy diet routine.

And while it’s pretty obvious that your standard candy and soda is loaded with added sugar, sometimes these high-calorie baddies are not that easy to spot.

For example, added sugars could be hiding in your favorite granola bar or that salad dressing you always use in your meals.

Luckily, thanks to the appropriate food labeling, it’s easier to identify those extra sugars found in our everyday groceries.

However, if you want to take the healthy route, spring is the right time to start satisfying your sugar cravings with deserts that have come straight from nature.

In the spring, nature becomes abundant with juicy, delicious fruit which can be a great replacement for your standard go-to treats.

One of the healthiest choices to satisfy your sweet tooth are berries. These bite-sized, vitamin-laden goodies are not only good for you body, they are also super-easy to get a hold of during sun-filled spring days.

Variety of berries in a measuring spoon

For example, strawberries – everyone’s favorite fruit of the season – are not only rich in various health-boosting nutrients, they also contain very few calories, making them a great choice for people looking to shed a few pounds.

Blueberries are also plentiful in spring, and make for a great addition to any smoothie or fruit salad. What’s more, blueberries are packed with phytochemicals, flavonoids and antioxidants which are essential for improving the immune system.

Put More Veggies on Your Plate

If your meals aren’t usually packed with vegetables, spring is the ideal time to change that for the better.

This season brings all kinds of tasty, health-boosting produce which will not only contribute to your overall well-being, it will also make you want to try out more creative, exciting meal options.

All you need to go to the green market and pack your grocery bags with all those delicious spring veggies.

And if you’re not really sure where to start, here are some of the most satisfying, palate-enticing spring superstars that you can incorporate into your spring meals with little to no effort.

One of the most popular springtime veggies is asparagus, a green stalk rich in iron, calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6.

There are many different ways you can introduce asparagus into your daily recipes; for example, sautéed with eggs for breakfast, thrown into a salad with other veggies and a few slices of of fresh mozzarella for lunch or post-workout snack, or grilled with a slice of salmon for an evening meal.

Brussel sprouts are also great for filling up your belly and supplying you with energy during sunny spring days. These bite-sized veggies are packed with Vitamin C, K and plenty of antioxidants. Fry them for a couple of minutes with a chili or two to give the sprouts a kick; alternatively, roast them with the rest of your favorite veggies for a more rich and smoky flavor.

Don’t Be Afraid of (Healthy) Fats

If you are new to the world of wellness, then seeing the words “healthy” and “fat” in the same sentence might feel odd to you.

But fats don’t have to be necessarily bad for you.

On the contrary – healthy, nature-derived fats are essential for achieving balanced eating habits.

Since fats are higher in calories than proteins and carbohydrates, they will keep you feeling full and sated for long periods of time.

The only trick is to stick to unsaturated, straight-out-of-nature fats and stay away from the nasty, processed stuff.

Fortunately, spring offers plenty of healthy fat options you can incorporate into your everyday meals.

As mentioned before, nuts are a great source of unsaturated fats and proteins; moreover, they make for a great snack in-between bigger meals.

Healthy nuts in two bowls

Another food that is not only supremely delicious, but also high in natural fats is avocado. This nutritious, versatile fruit that originates from Central America can be prepared in countless way. For a quick and easy option, simply scoop out your avocado and spread it on a slice of toasted bread. Alternatively, you can chop it up in your salad or add it to your smoothie for a richer, creamier texture and extra nourishment.

And for something a little more substantial, go for fatty fish. Mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines and other creatures of the sea are loaded with unsaturated fats, as well as hearth-healthy Omega-3 acids, which can help with a host of health issues, including blood fat, arthritis, asthma, depression and ADHD. On a more skin-deep level, these acids can contribute to a plump, wrinkle-free complexion.

Spring is also the ideal time to switch to extra virgin olive oil, which is another ingredient that’s chock-full of healthy acids. This staple of Mediterranean diet contains high doses of Vitamin E and K, as well as a number of antioxidants. You can use olive oil in cooking or simply drizzle it over your favorite breads, salads and veggies.

And with this, we are wrapping up out list of essential tips and tricks on how to make your diet healthier and more spring-friendly. Now you can go out and stock up on all these delicious, sun-soaked foods that will ensure your belly is full and your health is in check.

Man running in the city against the sunset

9 Reasons to Give Running A Try

Running is one of the oldest and most effective forms of exercise, and many people today use it as their primary workout source or as a cardio-boosting addition to a more elaborate routine.

There are many reasons why running as exercise can be great: it increases stamina, tones the body and blasts calories. 

Furthermore, its benefits for mental health are not negligible either – running can help balance stressful schedules and help you center your thoughts.

Moreover, it’s practically free and can be done pretty much anywhere!

If this intro hasn’t made the case for running yet, let’s dive into all the reasons why this type of exercise might just be the ideal fit for you.

It Lowers Stress Levels

If you tend to exercise on the regular, you might already be aware of the fact that workouts can do wonders for your mood.

When we’re breaking sweat, our body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters which are incredibly beneficial in reducing stress and pain levels.

Even as little as 20 or 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise can trigger the release of endorphins and contribute to an overall improved mood.

And running is a great way to squeeze in that precious endorphin-boosting session into your day-to-day routine.

Not only will running activate your muscles and get the blood flowing through your veins, it will also give you an opportunity to be focused on nothing but yourself and your thoughts.

This will help you clear your mind and re-balance yourself.

Moreover, if your daily schedule tends to be hectic and your sleeping pattern is all over the place, running can contribute to a more regulated sleep-wake cycle, due to release of serotonin and other sleep-facilitating hormones.

Finally, the more you exercise, the physically fitter you’ll get. Watching your body transform for the better will increase your confidence and make you feel more comfortable in your skin.

It Increases Your Productivity

Our day-to-day lives are riddled with all kinds of stressful situations.

Whether you are worrying about your job, studies or other obligations, sometimes it’s hard to focus and keep your priorities straight.

When your mind is frazzled, it’s easier to slip up and fall behind on your schedule.

With running, you will not only feel more energized and physically fit, you will also improve your concentration and sharpen your mental abilities.

You will feel revitalized and ready to take on whatever challenge is presented before you.

Moreover, if you turn running into a regular habit, you will feel motivated to arrange the rest of your schedule around it and stick to your routine.

It’s no wonder that so many great minds of our time were also enthusiastic runners.

It Will Make You Go Outside

Very few modern-day jobs require being on your feet or spending prolonged periods of time outdoors – the majority of people go about their day sitting behind screens in stuffy offices and cubicles.

This can greatly affect your mood and make you feel sluggish and devoid of energy.

And if you don’t often come up with an excuse to venture outdoors, running can be a great tool for readdressing this issue.

By exercising out in the open, you will find a way to reconnect with nature, which will instantly make you feel more happy and fulfilled.

woman running outside with dog

How is this the case?

Well, being out in nature is closely linked to feelings of accomplishment and happiness.

Moreover, running outside will also replenish your body with Vitamin D, which tends to decrease during dark winter months.

Vitamin D can also contribute to strengthening your bones, soothing your nerves and improving your overall immune system.

And when you mix the benefits of being out in nature with a body-boosting workout, it becomes clear why this combination can be so beneficial for your overall wellness.

It Doesn’t Cost a Thing

One of the main reasons why people are hesitant to take up exercising is the potential cost.

These days, even the most basic gym membership can put a strain on your wallet, not to mention the dizzying prices of tailored workout routines and personal trainers.

Furthermore, once you fall down the rabbit hole called the fitness sphere, you might start feeling that you’re not doing exercise right unless you’re shelling out big bucks for all the right equipment, workout gear, and state-of-the-art accessories.

It’s no wonder that the financial aspect of exercising turns people off physical activity.

Luckily, this is not the case with running.

To start running, all you need to do is get out of the apartment and get your two legs going.

OK, perhaps a pair of good running shoes might make your life easier.

Of course, if you want to enhance your running experience at a later date, you can always do so with various workout-facilitating accessories.

However, none of this is absolutely essential if you’re just looking to set your body into gear – which is what makes running one of the cheapest forms of exercise.

You Can Do It Anywhere

Sometimes, the hardest part about exercising is actually dragging yourself to the gym.

This is especially the case if you don’t live close to it.

And if you exercise at home, sometimes you’ll find this isn’t the ideal setting either, especially if your living space is cramped or if you share your apartment with other people.

If you decide to go running, you won’t have to worry about any of this.

And yes, while running on treadmills is very convenient and requires the least amount of effort (especially during cold winter months), going outside to run is even better and more beneficial for your mind and your body.

Is there really that big of a difference, you ask?

The answer is yes! Whether it’s in nature or an urban environment, trail running activates more muscles than running on a treadmill, since your legs and feet move at different angles, depending on the surface and incline.

Young woman running on the pavement in the city

Consequently, you burn more calories and become firmer in a shorter amount of time.

Moreover, you’ll be more mentally stimulated due to constant changes in your surroundings – as opposed to the faceless interiors of gyms and exercise studios.

It’s Great For Losing Weight

If weight loss is the primary reason why you have decided to take up running, then you’ll be pleased to hear that this type of exercise is extremely effective at burning those extra layers of fat.

Even a simple, slow-paced jog can speed up your metabolism and help you shed the pounds faster.

But if you take it up a notch and start doing high-intensity runs, your body will be able to melt those calories away even faster.

Another great thing about running is that your muscles have to keep on working even after your workout is over in order to recover. This is called “the afterburn effect”.

Even better, combine your running routine with a couple of weekly strength training sessions, and your muscles will turn into bona fide fat-blasting machines.

And if you want to fully maximize on the weight loss potential of running, try to maintain a balanced diet. Processed sugars and fats may slow down your calorie-burning journey, so it might be best to switch to a diet packed with whole grains, veggies and nuts.

It Tones the Body

So, we learned how running can be extremely helpful in shedding excess weight.

But this type of exercise can also be efficient in sculpting your body and firming your muscles.

When you run, your legs tend to do most of the work. With time, you will notice how your calves, your thighs and your hamstrings are becoming more defined.

If your workouts involve running on diverse terrain with plenty of inclines, you can also rest assured your glutes will become toned as well.

However, firming your body through running doesn’t end with legs.

If you work out continuously, you will develop a strong and resilient core, which will result in more sculpted abdominal muscles.

A stronger core will improve your posture and prevent the occurrence of injuries during future workouts.

If your main fitness goal is to tone your body, you should make the most of your running sessions.

The best way to do this is to keep them varied and interesting. Combing long-distance runs with high-intensity sprints; try to run on all kinds of surfaces with different inclines.

This type of exercise will activate a good chunk of your muscles and enhance your performance. Plus, you can rest assured your workouts will never be boring!

It Clears Up the Skin

Some benefits of running are skin deep.

But hey, who’s complaining? If you can achieve a glowing complexion in addition to a healthy, toned body, then all the better.

There are many ways in which running helps improve your complexion.

For one, running boosts your circulation, which increases the delivery of oxygen and other nutrients into your cells. This increases collagen production, which then results in plumper, firmer skin.

Moreover, when your skin cells are feeling energized, they are then motivated to shed your body of all the toxins and pollutants that can cause a host of different skin woes.

Moreover, when we exercise, the levels of stress hormone cortisol become gradually lower. And with lack of tension and stress, you lower the chances of developing stress-caused skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

However, in order to maximize on all the perks running has for your skin, you need to take a couple of precautionary measures.

For one, when possible, try to avoid wearing makeup when running.

A combination of thick product and sweat may cause breakouts. A lightweight, salicylic acid-enriched cleanser should give you a clean canvas and reduce the chances of spots and blackheads.

If your skin is prone to breakouts, be that on your face or your body, you might want to invest in quality workout gear. Avoid anything that’s too tight and opt for nature-derived fabrics like cotton or hemp. This way, your skin will be able to breathe and you won’t have to worry about pimples caused by sweat-drenched clothes.

It’s Social

Exercising can often feel solitary.

Between the unfriendly hours and drab gyms, it’s hard to look forward to a good workout when you know you’ll be alone with your thoughts for the entirety of the time.

This doesn’t have to be the case with running, though!

If you find yourself an exercise buddy, you’ll never have to worry about your runs feeling dull or lonely.

Moreover, when you set plans to run with another person, it makes it harder to bail out on workouts. Plus, having someone to talk to and catch up with will definitely make you excited for every running session.

Social running group

Also, running with friends might awaken your competitive streak – by comparing yourself to another runner, you might feel extra motivated to do better with each running session.

And if you don’t have any friends who are willing to jog with you, you can always join a local running club. Not only will you have company during your sessions, you might make some new friends!

Finally, a great way to boost your performance is to join a race in your area. Half-marathons, marathons and charity races will inspire you to achieve better results and become a more accomplished runner.

Has this list convinced you to finally go for a run? With all the benefits running will provide for your body, you’d be foolish not to. Now it’s time to put on your best pair of trainers and hit the ground running!