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.

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.

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.

Young woman enjoying spaghetti in Italy

Maintaining A Healthy Diet On Vacation

Italy is a beautiful country, and you want to take in all the sites and visit the museums, but you have to admit, when it comes to the attractions, food is probably at the top of your list. You’ve heard about the midday Italian soprano; the heaping mounds of spaghetti, the Sicilian pizzas, the succulent meals and tangy cheeses, the rich sauces mopped up with huge hunks of garlic bread, the decadent tiramisu cakes, the thick espresso; you’re already imagining the pictures you’re going to post on Instagram. What you’re not looking forward to is getting back into your skinny jeans when you get home. Here are a few ways of enjoying your vacation without blowing your diet.

Resist the Urge
A study led by Linda H. Clemens of the Consumer Science and Education Department found that women splurge when they eat out and eat normal amounts of other meals during the day. This means they end up taking in many more calories and fat than they need. Clemens advises women to stop thinking of eating out as a special treat which gives us a license to overindulge. She explains, “Many of us grew up thinking of eating out as an event that didn’t happen too often.” However, these days, eating out is much more common. Clemens and other researchers found out that the more women ate out, the higher their total calories, fat, and sodium levels were.

Researchers speculate that there are three main factors contributing to this caloric overabundance from restaurant meals;

  • We choose higher fat and higher calorie menu selections.
  •  Restaurants serve large portions.
  •  We eat all of it.

Melanie Polk, RD, recommends exercising portion control. She says, “Some Americans are now ordering half sized portions, sharing entrees, taking home leftovers, and ordering appetizers as meals,” she says.

Order Meals Your Way
Another thing customers can do to lower their calorie and fat intake while dining out is asking restaurants to customize menu items. According to a National Restaurant Association report, this is happening at 80% of restaurants with meals averaging $25 per person or over and 70% of restaurants with meals averaging under $25 per person. Customer are interesting items prepared in ways other than those that are listed on the menu, are requesting a range of portion sizes, and many are asking to have food “doggy bagged.”

Everything in Moderation
You don’t have to deprive yourself of food, just try to keep it in moderation. Try to sample foods, rather than feast on them.

Walk
While eating is a big part of the vacation, so is walking. Get in some sightseeing, take a stroll after dinner, swim in the hotel pool, or wake up for an early morning hike to burn some of those mealtime calories.

Make Better Choices
Make healthful choices when you find something that appeals to you. Don’t deprive yourself and then resent it. Swap out small things, that you don’t mind sacrificing, such as condiments, sauces, and dressings. Choose Dijon mustard rather than mayonnaise, or marinara instead of white sauce.

How did you do on your vacation calorie count this year? Let us know how you made better choices and came home at the same weight you were when you left.

Woman with lower back pain

Embrace Massage For Lower Back Aches and Pain

According to the principles of yoga, the inner spirit, or kundalini, is symbolized as a coiled snake at the back of the spine. When it is awakened, the snake moves upward and a burning flame shoots through your chakra. Thus, if you practice holistic healing, lower back pain may be an indication that your root chakra is ungrounded. If you don’t subscribe to this philosophy, however, you may just think that your lower back really hurts.

Either way you look at it, a lot of people suffer from lower back pain and most can agree that massage is a good way to relieve it. But, how does the medical world weigh in on the possibility of massage as a real world treatment for chronic back pain? Read on to find out.

Benefits of Massage for Chronic Lower Back Pain
William Elder is the principle investigator of a recent study on the benefits of massage therapy for lower back pain. He says, ” Current medical guidelines actually recommend massage therapy prior to the use of opioid medications for lower back pain.Yet, even with those guidelines, physicians and nurse practitioners are not recommending massage therapy.”

Lower back pain is a common problem, but it usually goes away relatively quickly, However, for about 15 percent of sufferers, it can be a more long term problem. For long term sufferers, treatments generally include prescription opioid painkillers, exercise, behavioral changes, steroid injections, acupuncture, and surgery. Recently researchers have begun to explore massage as another possibility.

Woman having a massage

The study included over 100 volunteers paired with approved massage therapist who expertly assessed the patient’s problem and created a suitable treatment plan. The participants received ten treatments and were reevaluated after 12 weeks. Findings showed more than half of the volunteers had less pain after 12 weeks and continued to report a reduction in pain over the following three months. Said Elder, “The results are exciting because it shows that most doctors can refer their patients for massage as a treatment. It’s applicable in the real world.”

The Medical World
Dr Anders Cohen also believes in the possibility of massage as a solution for lower back pain. The neurosurgery chief at the Brooklyn Hospital recommends massage therapy to his patients as a part of his comprehensive treatment plan. “Massage is a great way to break up adhesions and is great for soft tissue, If the back pain is a soft tissue issue, such as muscles and ligaments, it works great. Plus there is the bonus of a therapeutic touch,” he says.

Tips for Effective Treatment
Study co-author Niki Munk give some advice for those seeking massage treatment for lower back pain. She advises that massage needs to occur regularly until a level of general comfort is achieved, and then patients can manage their back pain on a schedule that suits their needs. Munk recommends finding a therapist that you can develop a good relationship with. ” Chronic low back pain is a complex issue that can’t be cured from just a one-hour massage. Find a therapeutic massage clinic and asks questions about the therapist, such as their initial training and continuing education. Also, make sure the therapist sets up a treatment plan that works for you.”

What do you think of massage as a way of treating lower back pain? Let us know how powerful you think the power of massage can be.

Happy mother and daughter

Help The Girls In Your Life Glow With Confidence

You’ve had your highs and lows. Your walks of fame and your walks of shame. And if there’s one thing you’ve learned from your experiences, its that confidence is the key. There is no situation that cannot be handled by holding your head high and shaking what your mama gave you. And now, its time for you to pass the torch. You’ve got a niece or a daughter and, if you teach her anything in this life, you’re determined that it will be the power of confidence. But, how can you do it? How can you show this shy acne plagued girl that she has so much untapped power at her command? Here are a few ideas.

Manage Your Inner Critic
Your girl is probably pretty hard on herself. Teach her to take notice of her inner voice. Would her best friend talk to her like that? Teach her to work on changing negative thoughts into helpful feedback.

Focus On the Good Things
A lot of teens focus so much on their problems, that its hard for them to see all the things that are going well for them. Suggest that she write down three good things about herself everyday or three ways she’s able to bring about a positive change in her life daily.

Mother and daughter

Don’t Aim For Perfection
Teach her that any achievements are valid. Even if she doesn’t get a perfect mark on a test, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t do well. Encourage her to always put in her best effort.

Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities
Remind your teenager that if she can fix her mistakes, they are not mistakes at all, but victories. Don’t let her get down on herself for messing up and remind her to focus on what she can do better next time.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Teach your girl that her own accomplishments are the only ones that matter. Trying to get ahead of other people will only leave her further behind them.

Accept Compliments
She’s great and needs to get used to people telling her so. Advise her to give herself time to absorb a compliment and take it seriously, and pass it on! Complements should be given and received.

Happy teenage girl

Exercise
Staying physically active always helps to improve self-esteem. She’ll look better and feel less stressed while staying healthy.

Take Pride In Your Thoughts
If she’s a chip off the old block, your girl probably has a lot of good ideas to offer. Tell her to be bold about them. If someone disagrees, it just means that they see things differently than she does.

Accept What You Can’t Change
Sure, there are going to be things about herself that she’s not completely happy with. If its something she can change, like reaching a healthy weight, she should start today. If its something she can’t change, she probably notices it more than anyone else, and its probably not worth obsessing over.

Contribute
Nothing builds self esteem like helping to make a positive change. When she sees how much she can accomplish, her self esteem will sky rocket.

if you have a girl in you’re life that you want to see flourish, tell us about her. Let us know what she’s doing to build confidence and how you’re helping her do it. We want to hear all about it.

Pregnant woman stretching

Exercises That Keep Your Pregnant Body In Great Shape

There was a time when pregnancy was thought of as the ultimate “get out of exercise-and-dieting free” card. Being with child entitled you to nine months of lying on the couch with your swollen ankles propped up surrounded by gallons of ice cream and jars of pickles. Well, that was all well and good until women began realizing that the more time they spent engaging in that behavior, the less likely they were to return to anything resembling their original shape. Although pregnancy should be a time to avoid strenuous activity, it is important for most pregnant women to remain moderately active to maintain healthy vital conditions. Here are some exercises to keep your pregnant body in great shape.

Stretching Exercises

Pregnant women in fitness class

Neck Rotation
Neck rotation can be helpful in relieving neck and shoulder tension. Drop your head forward and slowly rotate it toward your right shoulder. Bring it back to the middle, and then over to the left. Repeat four times slowly in each direction.

Thigh Shift
It is important to keep legs flexible to maintain balance during pregnancy. Start the thigh shift by standing with one foot about two feet in front of the other with your toes pointed forward. Lean forward supporting your body weight with your front thigh. Change sides and repeat, doing four stretches on each side.

Shoulder Rotation
Rotating your shoulder helps to maintain range of motion. Bring your shoulders forward, rotate them up toward the ears and back down again. Reverse direction pulling shoulders back up toward the ears and back down. Do four rotations in each direction.

Ankle Rotation
Ankle rotation is a good way to minimize swelling of the foot and ankle associated with pregnancy, increasing circulation and decreasing fluid buildup. Sit with legs extended. Rotate feet in large circles using your entire ankle and foot. Rotate four times on your right and four times on your left.

Leg Shake
Leg shakes are helpful in maintaining circulation in your lower body. Sit with legs and feet extended and move legs up and down in a shaking motion.

Swim
Swimming motions can help you to remain flexible while reducing tension. Begin with your arms at your sides. Bring your right arm up, stretching your body forward while twisting slightly to the side, as if you were swimming. Repeat using your left arm, completing the entire sequence 10 times.

Kegel Exercises

Pregnant Exercises

Tailor Sit
Sit on the floor in a cross legged position. Lean forward keeping your back relaxed and straight. Assume this position throughout the day as often as possible.

Tailor Press
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Hold ankles and pull feet toward your body gently. Put your hands under your knees and inhale. Press knees against your hands while pressing hands up against your knees to create counter pressure. Hold for a five count.

If you’re pregnant, congratulations! And let us know how your exercising to keep your pregnant body beautiful and healthy.

Smiling woman working at desk

Tips For Staying Healthy When You Work At A Desk All Day

You’ve finally gotten the job of your dreams. The pay is great, your coworkers are lovely, you have your own office with a great view, upholstered chairs, and a mahogany desk with a table lamp. Your mother tells you to quit; she says the job is way too dangerous. “Dangerous?” you say,” How is it dangerous? All I have to do is sit at a desk all day!”

Although it hardly seems worthy of a daredevil, sitting for hours has proven to be harmful, and even deadly, over time. So your mother may be right, after all. Termed “the new smoking” (rather fatalistically), extended periods of time sitting still have been linked in studies to a greater risk of metabolic syndrome, and health problems known to cause heart disease, as well as diabetes. So, If quitting your job is not a realistic option, here are a number of suggestions to keep health risk or a minimum.

The Exercise Break
Even if you work out regularly, it may not be enough to prevent you from becoming a statistic. According to Katy Bowman, biomechanics expert, “If you’re sitting eight to 12 hours a day and you’re taking a one-hour yoga class, it’s not enough.” She recommends short breaks to move around at regular intervals as a better idea.

Another way of avoiding stress and strain? Stand up straight! Cr. Julie Cote, Ph.D. recommends exercise programs like pilates, which focus on posture and range of motion, but adds, “One seven-week program is not going to cure you forever.”

Bowman recommends on the job training. “Even if you cross your leg while you’re sitting on the chair and lean forward, that’s a hip opener… You can cross a leg, you can spinal twist, you can stretch your calf, you can stand up.”

Woman working

Workstation Adjustments
If your employer offers the option, in-house ergonomic programs are available. These programs will send a therapist to your location of employment to come to your desk and assess you. They will suggest personalized exercises, such as moving your head to avoid neck strain, or making adjustments such as tilting your computer monitor.

The therapist may also adjust your chair to offer better lumbar support. Sit stand stools which allow sitting and leaning are also a good option, as are balance balls. Keeping chair seats angled forward can hold the back in a healthier position.

Walkstation
If you’re willing to go high-tech, you can invest in a Walkstation, which is a low speed treadmill with a desk attached. If you’re more a DIY type, there are several online bloggers ready to offer advice on building your own.

Although this idea may seem appealing, Dr. Joseph Henry, senior director of health and well-being had this to say. “We thought it might send the message that you’re not to leave your desk, you’re chained to your desk. We’d rather they (the employees) actually got up from their desks and take a break from their work instead of being stuck at their desk all day.” Henry prefers encouraging employee health by allowing them to request an exercise ball to sit on and to use the companies 150 acre campus for walks and walking meetings.

Either way, it seems the message is clear, the body is made to move and it’s your job to move it.

How do you feel about movement in the office? What’s your take on the Walkstation? Is it the wave of the future or should we wave it good-bye?

Woman sneezing into napkin

Living With Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

Does this season have you doing the allergic salute? The allergic salute, also called the nasal salute, is defined as the gesture of wiping or rubbing the nose in an upward manner with the fingers, palm, or back of hand in and upward motion, and is a common telltale sign of allergic rhinitis.

Suffering with allergies is no fun, and while “saluting” can relieve the symptoms, it can also lead to the transfer of bacteria and germs, and, when done often enough, can result in a “transverse nasal crease,” (a crease running across the nose) which can become a permanent feature. But, worry not. Allergic seasonal rhinitis does not have to doom its sufferers to a life of inevitable unsightly scars. There are some ways to handle the condition salute free. Read on to find out how you can survive the season uncreased.

What Is Allergic Rhinitis?
More commonly referred to as allergies or hay fever, allergic rhinitis happens when your immune system has an extreme reaction to air particles that you breathe. Your immune system reacts by attacking these particles, also called allergens, which causes symptoms, like runny nose and sneezing.

Unfortunately, people with allergies can suffer from the symptoms for many years. They may occur at certain times during the year or at random times. Sinusitis and ear infections are other allergy related problems. Symptoms may become less severe over time and allergens may have less of an effect.

Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis are repeated sneezing, especially right after waking up in the morning and a runny nose with post-nasal drip. The nasal drainage is usually thin and clear, but may become thick, cloudy and yellowish if there is a sinus or nasal infection involved. Other signs of rhinitis are watery and itchy eyes and itchy ears, nose, and throat.

How Is It Caused?
Pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds is the biggest cause of allergic rhinitis. Dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, and mold are also triggers, as are things in the workplace, such as chemicals, cereal grain, and wood dust.
If your allergies are due to pollen, your symptoms are more likely to occur when pollen levels are high. If you are affected by indoor allergens, such as dust mites, your symptoms may occur more frequently.

Treatment
While there is no cure for allergic rhinitis, avoiding the causes of your allergies can significantly reduce symptoms. This may require frequent house cleaning to eliminate animals dander, mold, and dust. You may also want to stay indoors when the pollen count is high.

Over the counter medicines are available, but you may want to talk to your doctor first is you have another existing health condition. or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If allergies are severe, immunotherapy, such as allergy shots, is another option for prevention or reduction of symptoms.

How are you surviving this allergy season? Are you doing the nasal salute, or perhaps you are giving your allergies quite a different salute. Let us know what you do to cope.

Sad woman with cup of tea

Causes of Adult Malnutrition

Malnutrition. It is defined as an excess or deficiency in intake of nutrients It refers to both the overweight and the underweight and, for the first time in centuries, the numbers are getting close. While feeding the hungry has always been always a priority, it is increasingly becoming the case that hunger is merely being traded for obesity, with one form of malnutrition simply being replaced by another, resulting in heart disease, cancer, chronic illness and shorter life expectancies. Ironically, at time when out nation has the most potential to eliminate the epidemic, it has boosted to record levels. Here are some of the most common causes of adult malnutrition.

Poor Diet
One of the leading causes of malnutrition is a poor diet. When an individual does not eat enough food, or if the food they do eat does not provide them with the nutrients required for good health, malnutrition may occur. Improper diet my be cause by several factors, including dysphagia, which is a difficulty swallowing due to an illness.

Sad woman

Mental Health Disorders
Poor mental health is often linked to a malnutrition. Depression may interfere with healthy eating habits and patients with eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, may also suffer from malnutrition.

Limited Mobility
Individuals who have a hard time getting around may become victims of malnutrition because of difficulty getting out to go shopping or simply finding food preparation difficult.

Digestive disorders
Despite eating properly, certain people have health conditions which prevent their bodies from absorbing the nutrients necessary for good health. Examples include individuals with ulcerative colitis of Crohn’s Disease.
Patients with Celiac disease have genetic disorders that make them gluten intolerant. This results in an increased risk of damage to the lining of their intestines. This condition also results in poor food absorption.

Woman drinking

Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a long-term disease that can result in gastritis or pancreatic damage. These conditions interfere with the body’s digestion and prevent the body from absorbing vitamins and producing hormones necessary for the regulation of metabolism. In addition, the calories supplied by the alcohol may reduce food cravings, and result in the person’s lack of desire for food. Consequently, the person’s meager diet may not supply him or her with essential nutrients.

Food Shortages
Poor and developing nations often suffer food shortages due to lack of agricultural technology, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and advanced methods of irrigation.

Food Prices and Distribution
Shockingly, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 80% of malnourished children live in nations that actually produce a surplus of food. In these cases, economist blame high food prices and problems with distribution of food to the needy.

Lack of Breastfeeding
Certain experts believe that much of the world’s malnutrition in children and infants is due to lack of breastfeeding. Some women are of the belief that bottle feeding is better, while other mothers, usually in the developing countries, abandon breastfeeding because their babies do not latch on properly, or the mothers find breastfeeding to be painful and uncomfortable.

Do you have any ideas for combatting malnutrition? Let us know how you believe this worldwide epidemic can be addressed. We’d love to start the conversation.