Matcha Chia Pudding For Strength and Energy

Matcha and chia together make this a superfood super-pudding!

In only 1 oz. of chia seed you get:

  • 10 g of dietary fiber
  • 4.7g of protein
  • 17% of your daily calcium
  • 23% of your daily magnesium

Cool, creamy, and packed with antioxidants, this chia seed pudding starts with a milk and cream (dairy or non-dairy) base. To that I add, matcha and Wellesse Liquid Iron to help restore your body’s energy levels and reduce fatigue. You can also add in a serving of Wellesse B-Complex Complete for a comprehensive boost of metabolism support!

Matcha Chia Pudding

  • 1 Cups Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream (or full-fat coconut milk, chilled)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp Wellesse Liquid Iron supplement
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Matcha Powder
  • ¼ Cup Chia Seeds

Mix all ingredients, except matcha and chia seeds, until well combined, use a food processor or blender for convenience. Whisk in matcha, and then fold in chia seeds. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until thickened.

SEE ALSO:  Tropical Protein Powerhouse Smoothie

GUEST POST by Blogger, Recipe Designer and Test Chef Brittany Angell.  Visit her at www.brittanyangell.com and sign up for Club Angell to receive amazing Paleo, Gluten Free, Grain Free recipes.

 

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When Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Are Necessary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is now widely accepted that good nutrition starts with a healthy diet.  The USDA food pyramid, now a food plate, outlining the proportion of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fats that make up a healthy diet is the clearest  visual description of the best way to provide your body with proper nutrition.  But...

What if your body is struggling to use the nutrients in food you eat?

What if your diet is restricted due to food allergies, medical or financial conditions?

Certain circumstances make getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals from food next to impossible.  Nutritional deficiencies are a common concern among those with a consistently poor or unbalanced diet, and for those with conditions that do not allow for the body's full use of nutrients from food.  Many factors can contribute to nutritional deficiencies and multiple reasons can come together in one person to greatly restrict healthy food intake and a body's ability to use available vitamins and minerals.  A vast array of medical and lifestyle conditions can restrict proper food intake or lead to an inability to absorb proper nutrients from food. 

  • Food allergies

  • Obesity

  • Continual use of antacids

  • Weight loss surgery

  • Celiac disease

  • Advancing age

Quality supplementation of essential vitamins and minerals is one key component of good health.  Continuing to eat a well-balanced diet, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein is essential as well.  But faced with absorption hindering conditions, keeping a close eye on essential nutrient levels through regular blood panels and adding supplementation to offset deficiencies is very important.

Many supplements can present challenges for those trying to increase their vitamin and mineral intake.  Pills can often be too plentiful and too large to be comfortable swallowing what is needed.  There may be a lack of stomach acid needed to break down pills into their useful nutrient parts.  

Liquid supplements offer an easy alternative to pills.  The important nutrients are already broken down into a form your body can readily absorb.  The nutrients in quality liquid supplements are in their most bio-available form, making it quick and easy for your body to best use what it needs.  Do the research to find a reputable company manufacturing high-quality liquid supplements, and staying healthy will be that much easier.

SEE ALSO: Celiac Disease and a Gluten Free Diet - Watch for Nutrient Deficiencies in Both  and  Vegetarians and the Elderly & Risk of Developing B12 Deficiency

 

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Summer Hydration from Water and Foods

Staying Hydrated This Summer

We are currently dealing with some of the hottest days of summer, so it is very important to stay well hydrated especially if you are outside working, hiking, jogging…etc. We all know that we need to stay well hydrated throughout these types of days (and everyday in general) but how do you know if you are well hydrated? How much water should you drink? Can’t you get a good deal of water through your food?

While I have discussed the amount of water that individuals should consume per day, I think it is a good idea that we go back other this issue especially with the oppressive heat some of us are dealing with. Likewise, let’s cover some hydrating foods that you can also add to your diet!

How Much Water?

We know it is vitally important to stay properly hydrated. Our digestive system, brain, and muscle efficiency are all related to how hydrated we are! There are two methods to determine how much water you should drink per day. There is the old adage of drink eight, 8oz glasses a day, for a total of 64 ounces. While this is really not backed by science it has become an easy way for people to remember to drink enough water and is what most doctors will tell you.

Another method which is more personalized to your body weight goes like this: take your body weight and divide it by 2. Whatever number you get is the number of ounces of water you should consume per day. This would basically mean that a 130 pound person should consume at least 65 ounces of water a day. This is a good method because it is correlated to that specific person’s bodyweight. Both of these methods are for average days though; you should try to consume more if you are dealing with high heat and sweating profusely

What are Some Hydrating Foods?

You can get a good deal of water and fiber form many of the hydrating foods out there. In fact, a recent Livestrong article indicated that the Institute of Medicine found that foods make up about 20% of your water intake! One thing that hydrating foods have in common, besides the obvious water content, is that they are high volume and full of fiber which can help fill you up and keep you full! Foods such as cucumbers (maybe the most hydrating food; 96% water), celery (94-95% water), tomatoes (94-95% water), broccoli (91-93% water), strawberries (92% water), watermelon (92% water), cantaloupe (90% water), and peaches (85-87%)are great choices when it comes to hydrating foods!

If you already take vitamin supplements like a multivitamin or a dietary supplement like glucosamine, look for it in liquid form.  That way, you can mix it in your morning smoothie or even your water bottle to give it a little more flavor, and motivate yourself to not only take your supplements, but to get all the fluids you need.

Conclusion

While it is important to remember to drink your 8 (8oz) glasses of water a day during the summer (as through the rest of the year as well) it is also important to remember that a good deal of your hydration actually comes from the things you eat! When it’s hot outside, make sure you and your loved ones are staying well hydrated!

SEE ALSO: Playing in the Heat - Staying Safe On The Hottest Days of Summer

For more nutritional tips and at-home weight loss workouts visit Always Active Athletics: “Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness.”

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Is There Any Difference Being an older Athlete - The Intimacy Talk

Hello blog Fans and older athletes!  I was at the gym this week (of course) and ran into an athlete over 48 who was complaining of a couple of issues:   First, pain in his fingers from arthritis.  Well that was an easy fix - he is now taking liquid glucosamine and chondroitin!

The second issue was not so easy for me to solve. He mentioned that his wife “has about had it with his weekend warrior competitions and the trips to athletic supply stores for gear, when he should be at the home repair store to fetch supplies to fix the back porch and the fence;  plus they never see their friends for dinner anymore.” 

I asked, “Jim, what part is she really not thrilled with?  The time you are gone doing other things not for the house?  The time you are not with her, or is there really something else? “   Jim responded, “Prata, yes, both, and then there is the intimacy issue;  but Prata, I am so tired after training that I just want to sleep and she wants to cuddle and play.” 

Sound familiar? This is a true story that happens to many of us athletes.  Years ago I read an article about the high divorce rate among athletes who are in a committed relationship due to the fact that they were too tired for sex or simply appeared not to prioritize intimacy in the eyes of their partners.    Obviously I am over-simplifying but you get the point.  That said, the topic is real and gritty and it is being written toward the end of this Older Athlete series for a reason.   

I have written about the perceptions of being an older athlete, the medical and financial impact and how they can affect a relationship but this wraps it all up! 

Often, the time commitment is something our mates can adjust to or accept; provided we are equally supportive of their endeavors – even the financial issues can be negotiated better than potential intimacy challenges.  The reason intimacy is often avoided as a topic, is because it is so difficult to talk about.   Nobody really wants to say

“Sorry honey, I just ran 26.2 miles and I need food and sleep and NOT SEX.”    

Often, the topic is avoided, skirted around and animosity builds.  When this topic is not discussed misconceptions happen such as:   the non-athlete partner thinks they are no longer attractive to the other, perceptions of rejection then anger builds or the non-athlete partner thinks that there is a hormonal change or other cause that makes intimacy challenging and thus avoided by the athlete.    

Emotional infidelity is common.  Humans need human contact emotionally and otherwise and if there is a commitment where this understood need is being avoided – basically nothing good comes of it and breakup/divorce has often been a by-product.

Before I say anymore, these sentiments just mentioned are absolutely equal gender opportunity perceptions. 

A female athlete who swims 3 miles, cycles 10 and runs 6 miles and has to cook for the family is in a no different place than a male who runs 26 miles and has to fix the family fence.  If  the woman is fixing the fence and the man is cooking, same story.   

Athlete families/couples have all sorts of different roles – partnered or married Olympians often make many trade-offs as a family to achieve their goal. 

That said, time and energy for intimacy for an athlete can ironically be challenged on several fronts.  In addition to being too physically tired, depending on the level of competition, there can be times where one’s head is more in a different game of life than courting and romance.  The animosity builds not just because of the lack of human contact or affection, but also the appearance of selfishness on the part of the non-athlete.  Distance creeps in and a wedge is created.  Disdain for the sport by the non-athlete is certainly one potential by-product.

Just for the record – if there are two athletes in the family and they are both too tired for intimacy all the time, then this will come to a head eventually too.  Emotional infidelity can also rear its head here. 

This is a delicate topic, yet an important one.  As an athlete myself – I know all about the rejection a partner can feel from my mental focus or my physical exhaustion, not to mention an injury or surgery that precludes intimacy while healing, broken bones, torn ligaments can be managed around and then again as an athlete, you sometimes are so worn out that you just want to heal, not hurt, and go to sleep.  You do not want or have the emotional bandwidth let alone the physical energy to go with family or friends for dinner and eat weird stuff (not in your training diet);  then  try to get some sleep and sacrifice a day or two of being “off”  in training.  It can feel and be very selfish. 

 If you are an athlete, check yourself at the door, or in the mirror; the people in our lives do support us.

At the end of the day, there comes a time in life where the training will likely be second to the relationship, so try to not burn out the relationship which is a long term investment, and we do know that long term investments in the game of life are far superior to a short term gain!  

SEE ALSO:  Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Medical Impact  and  Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Financial Impact  and  10 Tips for Healthy Aging - Don't Act Your Age!

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Water Soluble Vitamins for Everyday Health

Vitamins have several important functions, including helping the body produce energy, transporting oxygen throughout the body, supporting bone health, synthesizing and repairing muscle tissue. If you have a deficiency in any vitamin your body won’t function as well.

There are two main categories of vitamins:

Fat-soluble vitamins - stored in the body’s fat tissue  

Water-soluble vitamins - excreted in urine (with the exception of one – vitamin B12 - which does stay in your body longer) 

Because our bodies must use water-soluble vitamins right away and we excrete any that are not used, it is important to consume them every day.

 How can you make sure you are getting enough? Focus on eating a diet that includes the foods below:

Vegetables (including beans and lentils) & Fruits

Vegetables contain fiber, minerals (minerals help build your body including your bones, teeth, hair and more), and they are important sources of folate (folic acid), vitamins A and C. Fruits are also an important source of fiber, minerals, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). Folic acid helps the body form new cells including red blood cells. Vitamin A supports eye and skin health while also protecting against infections. Vitamin C is necessary for tissue growth and repair, would healing and keeping gums and teeth healthy. Plus it helps the body absorb iron from plant foods.

Whole Grains

Grains are not only a source of fiber and minerals but they contain the water-soluble B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate. The B vitamins are necessary for metabolism – they help your body use the energy in food. And the B vitamins are also essential for a healthy nervous system.

Fortified Dairy Foods

Milk is the top source of calcium in the diets of Americans over the age of 2. Yogurt and cheese are also calcium-rich. In addition, fortified milk and fortified yogurt also contain vitamin D, which supports bone health, the nervous system, and muscle functioning. More than 90% of Americans do not consume enough vitamin D from foods alone. So, take a look at your diet and add dairy or other foods fortified in calcium and vitamin D. Or, consider a supplement.

People who cut down on their calorie intake, follow restrictive diets (such as a very low carbohydrate diet), eliminate one or more food groups, or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are more likely to fall short on their vitamin and mineral needs. The best thing you can do is eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods (more different, healthy foods means you are more likely to consume more nutrients) and, consider dietary supplements and fortified foods to help fill any nutrient gaps.

SEE ALSO: Healthy Energy – Who May Benefit from a B-Complex Supplement?  and  Why do Water-Soluble Vitamins Need to be Replenished Every Day?

References:

Fulgoni VL. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr 2011;141(10):1847-54.

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Swim To Boost Joint Health

When an athlete gets injured, they often end up doing a lot of rehab work in a pool. The water’s buoyancy reduces stress on joints and bones while providing resistance to help build muscle. And continuous movement increases fitness and burns calories. Warm water therapy also helps ease many types of muscle and joint pain.

If you are considering diving in, here’s how you can get the most out of your pool workouts:

Drink Up 

Even though you are in water, you are still sweating. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of fluids before you go to the pool and eveb put a water bottle on the side and sip on it throughout your workout. Don't forget to drink plenty of fluid after you are finished too. There are even liquid glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for joint health to give your drinking water an extra helpful element.

Join A Class 

If you aren't quite sure what to do in the water, consider joining an aerobics class. Check out your local public pool, gym or YMCA for a variety of classes that can challenge beginners and advanced swimmers alike.  Getting in the water with other participants can even help make exercise more enjoyable.  

Bonus: the instructor should be able to help you correct movement patterns (so you prevent injury or work around a current injury) while challenging and motivating you. 

Try Bands

Many band workouts can be adapted to the water. If you aren’t comfortable figuring out which band workouts you should do, talk to a personal trainer or aquatics instructor.

Challenge Yourself

If you want to increase fitness and burn more calories, it’s important to continually challenge your body. In addition to swimming, consider running in the water.

If you are a beginner, start in water that you can stand up in. Stand upright with your stomach tightly tucked (engage your core muscles), shoulders and head back (and chin in) and arms slightly bent by your sides. Now run!

Once you’ve mastered the movement, you can increase resistance by wearing hand paddles or gloves (make sure your shoulders stay upright). Or, move to the deep water with a flotation belt (or for a real challenge, don’t use a flotation belt!).

When you are ready, challenge yourself even more by trying intervals. Run as fast as you can for 20 – 60 seconds, take a 20 – 60 second break (ideally the break should be long enough for your heart rate to come down) and then repeat this pattern for several minutes.

Working out in water offers many of the same advantages of land workouts – there are several types of workouts you can do, you’ll burn calories and increase muscle strength without putting undue stress on your joints. 

SEE ALSO: Understanding Metabolism - Positive Changes to Rev Yours Up!  and   Tips for YOGA H20: Great Summer Poolside Exercise

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Have You Considered Probiotics Yet?

Probiotics are one of nature’s super foods. These tiny microorganisms found in foods such as yogurt, sour cream, and sauerkraut can truly help us in so many ways. By simply consuming probiotics with a high CFU (colony forming units; shoot for at least 109 CFU) on a regular basis, you can possibly help prevent asthma/skin reactions to allergies, treat/repair stomach ulcers, and prevent the flu and the common cold! Let’s break down these benefits of consuming probiotics in more detail:

Helps Prevent Allergies

One common cause of asthma is food allergies ~ probiotics have been found, in some studies, to be able to calm the inflammation associated with these foods reactions. This helps to prevent and reduce the symptoms of asthma such as coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. Probiotics are able to do this because they help ramp up and regulate our immune systems reactions to allergens in general, therefore reducing some of the symptoms of asthma.

Another common symptom of allergies is skin reactions or eczema (this often occurs more in infants and toddlers). One study looked at the effect of probiotics on eczema by having pregnant mothers regularly consume probiotics. The infants (from birth to 3 months old) of the mothers who consumed probiotics compared to a placebo group were half as likely to have eczema.

Helps Treat and Repair Stomach Ulcers

Research has found that probiotics may be more effective than traditional antibiotics at treating stomach ulcers induced by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Research has illustrated that the long-term consumption of probiotics can actually help reduce ulcers caused by H. pylori and in fact reverse some damage (this research was conducted on mice). Even if you don’t have ulcers, the regular consumption of probiotics can help maintain a healthy intestinal and digestive health.

Helps Prevent and Reduce Colds and Flu

Besides the fact that probiotics can help increase the health of our digestive system, they can also help prevent and reduce the effects of other common illnesses like colds and flu. Probiotics can help boost our immune system so much that it allows our body to fight off these kinds of attacks and also contributes to our ability to recover from these illnesses more quickly!

Wrap-Up

All-in-all probiotics should be a welcome addition to your diet. They can provide you with a plethora of benefits from improving your intestinal health to helping your immune system fight off the common cold! One thing to make sure when choosing a probiotic is that it contains multiple strains of clinically tested bacteria and that it has a 109 CFU count. Whether you get your probiotic fix from yogurt, sour cream, sauerkraut, or a supplement it’s amazing what a tiny microorganism can do!

SEE ALSO: Why You Need a Healthy Balance of Intestinal Bacteria and  6 Secrets to Better Digestive Health

For more at-home fitness, workouts, and nutritional tips visit Always Active Athletics: Your #1 Source For At-Home Fitness. 

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Rec-League Summer Sports Safety

Adult recreation league sports are a great, fun way to get a little exercise while enjoying your friends. Every time I've played in a league I find it a nice break from my competitive sports days. And even though you may not feel the need to go all out to dive after a softball, chase a soccer ball or block a shot during a basketball game, you still run the risk of getting injured.

In adults, injuries typically come from overuse. As adults, are bodies aren't quite as limber as they were when we were kids. And, previous years as a competitive athlete may mean you have more wear and tear on your joints than some of your sedentary friends. Also, excess body weight can take a toll on your joints. Combine excess weight with athletics and you will definitely stress your knees, back and other joints.

So, how can you stay limber and lower your risk of injury?  

1) Keep trying to lose excess body fat (rec-league sports are a great start!) In addition to putting you at risk for a variety of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, being overweight or obese stresses your joints. In fact, those who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis (wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions joints). Osteoarthritis can cause painful, stiff joints and limit your activity.

2) Talk to your physical therapist or physician about glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.  They may be right for you, and can help make an active lifestyle more comfortable on your joints.

3) Warm up. Dynamic warm-ups (as opposed to just sitting and stretching) help get your body ready for activity.

4) Wear the right equipment, safety gear, clothes and shoes that fit properly. Also make sure you are wearing the right type of shoes for the sport you are playing.

5) Cool down to get your heart rate down gradually when you are finished.

6) Build up your exercise routine or training gradually. And, if you are in pain, stop.

If you have nagging injuries, consider going to a physical therapist that specializes in sports and can help you correct muscle imbalances, areas you are tight, poor bio mechanics and more. Poor movement patterns can increase your risk of developing an acute or chronic overuse injury. And finally, see an orthopedist if you are hurt. “Toughing it out,” can lead to a bigger problem than you started with. For more information about preventing and treating injuries, click here

SEE ALSO:  Concentrating on Long-Term Joint Health

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The Healthy Way to Road Trip This Summer

Last summer I decided I would drive 20 hours round trip for vacation. And because I try was trying to make each part of my drive as short as possible, I made 2 brief stops during each 10-hour drive. As a dietitian I had plenty of healthy snacks with me but there are two things I neglected – moving my body and better posture while driving. As a result I ended up at a rest stop in one of the Carolinas bending over to stretch my back, hamstrings and butt muscles that seemed to be stuck in a sitting position. Needless to say I’m better prepared this year after finding a few solutions to a more comfortable drive: 

Better Posture

When I get lazy, I slump. So, I have to remind myself to sit up straight or wear an intelliskin, which prompts me to maintain better posture. Also, it helps to make sure I’m close enough to the steering wheel so I’m not reaching and so my shoulders are square against the back of my seat, my head is against the head rest and the creases at the back of my knees are not flesh with the end of the seat (this may cut off blood flow). For more information on sitting posture (including pictures), click here. Also, if your car seat doesn't adjust to meet your needs, consider checking out removable back supports, butt cushions and neck supports to make it more comfortable.

Food & Drinks

Staying well hydrated will make you feel better, ensure you can focus and concentrate, keep your body from overheating and make you get up every few hours to go to the bathroom (and therefore, walk around). How do you know if you are well hydrated? You should need to use the bathroom every few hours (at least) and your urine color should look like dilute lemonade (though some medications, B vitamins and supplements may make urine bright yellow, so if this is the case, just ensure that you are producing a good quantity of urine). Caffeine is okay and will not dehydrate you but keep it to a minimum – you shouldn't need to constantly sip on caffeine in order to stay awake.

I keep snacks with me when I travel and I like having smaller meals (or mini meals) every few hours rather than big meals that can make me tired. I love snacking on:

  • Apples (though a little messy), bananas, grapes
  • Baby carrots
  • Protein bars
  • Nuts (un-shelled of course)
  • Cheese sticks or mini cheese snacks (if individually pre-packaged these can be left un-refrigerated for hours)
  • Peanut butter sandwiches

More Breaks

And finally, this year I’ll take more breaks. Sitting all day makes my body stiff. Not to mention sitting for hours is hazardous to your health

SEE ALSO:  Staying Cool this Summer While Exercising

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Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Financial Impact

Third post in series - Is it different being an older athlete?  Let’s talk finances.

Committment to any sport has a financial impact.

Even if you are a marathon runner; which some might think is not as expensive as skiing or buying a skeleton sled and perhaps that is true.   That being said, we all have new technology in the shoes, new biomechanics data and increasingly better all-around nutrition and supplement information and maintenance medical.  All of these buckets have costs that add up.

All to say, no matter the sport, it can be costly.  Gear, supplements, entry fees and travel (luggage fees too) are just a couple of the financial commitments we make all the time. 

So how does being an older athlete and finances play or not play so well together? 

Let’s start with gear.  Most gear is now marketed to “improve performance,” whether right or wrong. An older athlete will not waste time or money working their way up the gear cost chain.  Make sense?  First, financially we often decide, buy the best to start; but we also do not have time to waste on a potentially inferior product. The more expensive product might wear out faster or require more money to maintain, yet we make that choice.  Learning curve be damned!  Buy the best, go all in!   But wait, what if there is a shared budget?

An older athlete in competitive sports is often married or in a relationship.  Money for equipment, hamstring rollers, home weights, muscle creams, and medical physical therapy all cost.  This is money that is taken away from other household or family commitments. 

A younger athlete may not have this issue.   Specifically, they are not the ones making the difficult financial choice to reallocate funds that may impact the family.   Parents make the choice and perhaps the most awesome part of this is the child does not have any guilt over the decision or otherwise emotional gyrations to go through.

Consequently, for an older athlete in a marriage with or without children; the financial impact is not insular.  

When we spend money on our gear or an extra massage, chiropractic, doctor visits or travel, then we are or can be perceived as taking away from the family.   College funds, retirement funds for the family, even family vacation time can be sacrificed. 

These are non-trivial choices that in a gritty way do not stop with financial impact; there is also an emotional struggle of selfishness and sometimes resentment from your partner.  We also spend time on our given sport that would otherwise be allocated to a partner or the family.   Training takes time, but so does research for equipment or the sport in general.

There is also the food issue.  Increasingly and even for myself the supplement world is changing fast and nutrition can arguably be one of the best competitive advantages an athlete can have so, “If you are what you eat” then spending money on special food or supplements to maintain muscle is a financial hit to perhaps the food budget.    Supplements can easily cost upward of $300 a month that is $3600/year.    At the end of the day, as an older athlete making a choice to buy the months’ supply of protein powder or fresh salmon can have ripple effects because we are trading financial priorities and almost always there is a sacrifice by someone or taking from another bucket.  Even if you are single your choices are often directly impacting the nest egg of your retirement. 

These important financial choices can affect an athlete physiologically and emotionally, and depending on the strength of support at home, performance can be easily impacted.   

At the end of the day – there is a measurable financial price to being an older athlete! A younger athlete can skip merrily through the day, in new high tech gear, sucking down all the protein shakes they want, while holding the refrigerator door open and not worrying about the electric bill, the 401K or staying up to wipe down their sled after training (to keep it from rusting) in -10 degrees in the middle of the night, then cook and get the calories back in you and try to make sure the snow is out of the wheel wells before it freezes to your chains delaying your next 6:00 AM training session …… because that is what parents are for.

SEE ALSO:  Is There Anything Different About Being An "Older" Athlete?

Anna Prata is an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day.   In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround.  Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR.  Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical  or psychological advice. 

P/S Prata is 50 Years of age!

 

 

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Is It Different Being an Older Athlete? The Medical Impact

Hello one and all!  I am back with more gritty tales of being an older athlete.

Athletes get hurt, they always have....

We see this play out increasingly on TV.  As the demands for what it takes to be competitive get higher, so do the injuries.  TV and YouTube can replay for hours an ACL being blown or a bobsled crash.

Most of us all go to the doctor from the day we get hatched; but if you are an athlete, do you go more or less?  Does this change if you are an older athlete vs. a younger one?  Yes, it does, but perhaps not necessarily for the reason you are thinking.

Most people think if you are an athlete, you are healthier than the average bear and less likely go to the doctor which could in fact be true.  But times have changed and so has expectations from training, medical care and competitive athletic performance.  

One could suggest that these days, because an athlete pushes so hard, they need to go to the doctor more often.  All age groups do!!   Many of my friends with children who are athletes have no problem hitting the IRS tax deduction of the required 10% of adjusted gross income for the medical deduction.  Having children who are competitive athletes is expensive.

Training, medical care, competition metrics and supplements are changing insanely fast.

If this is the case for a younger athlete guess what happens to an older one?  Well, we are older and arguably wiser and hopefully smarter as a result; consequently, we actually DO go to all the PT appointments that the doctor prescribes after the ACL is torn and after the surgery.  Then of course we add the NMT (neuromuscular massage therapist, perhaps an acupuncturist, etc.) at the end of the day, you get the point. 

Older athletes may or may not get hurt more or heal slower but if the injury is the same for a 20 and a 50 year old, the older one will have more appointments, be more responsible about keeping them, may take longer to heal and will incur more costs.  

Now, what happens if an older athlete gets bad medical advice and is injured as a result?  This is the gritty topic that is potentially career ending and catastrophic.  I have had bad advice that caused an injury – I know many have.   You get hurt, you need help, you go to a doctor who says they can help but they do more damage and you are set back.  A bone is not set correctly or surgery is delayed creating a bigger issue.  As a competitive athlete, I see it a lot.  

But a younger athlete has time to take a year off.  Coaches and parents will insist.  When an older athlete gets hurt – we miss milestones that are expected and we do not have the luxury to take a season off to stay on the coach’s radar.  For an older athlete, we cannot afford to miss a season and come back later. 

Being a competitive athlete is full time work – you work to hit dictated milestones, to stay on the team, on everyone’s radar and to be competitive. “

If this has happened to you – you are not alone.    If a doctor advertises that he or she is an expert, first find out about their experience and ask others who have been treated by that person before you become the guinea pig.  Bad doctors will cost you greatly financially and emotionally and their mistakes can be career-ending.   

As always, any feedback, input or other blog suggestions that this inspires are most welcome. It is much more fun when we all play!  

Share your story! 

SEE ALSO:  Broken Bone Healing - How Can You Help Your Body Mend Broken Bones Faster?

Anna Prata is an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day.   In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround.  Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR.  Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical  or psychological advice. 

P/S Prata is 50 Years of age!

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The Importance of Protein Variety - Great Protein Alternatives to Meat

We all need protein; that’s a given. From building muscles to daily physiological functions, it helps us survive. 

As with all things in nutrition, not only do we need protein in balance with other food groups, we also need to consume each of our sources of protein in moderation.

What I mean is this: you shouldn't only get your protein from meat, only from dairy, or only from legumes.

There are many other great protein alternatives out there that can fill you up and balance out your diet ~ variety is the spice, and health of life!

Beans

We all know the bad stink that beans have a reputation for, but don’t let that scare you away! In general, beans are one of the best sources of protein out there plus they are usually really cheap! They sure do pack a protein punch for their size. For instance, one cup of beans (most varieties) has about 15g of protein in it!  (not to mention the added fiber we all need)

Yogurt (dairy) 

All dairy in general really has a great deal of protein to offer, but most especially in the form of yogurt! Yogurt is simply delicious, can be used in lots of different recipes and food combinations, and has plenty of protein (plus the benefit of probiotics). One cup of plain yogurt made from skim milk has an incredible 14g of protein, and some Greek varieties have even more! Think about adding a cup of protein to your next smoothie!

Nuts 

Need an easy protein snack you can always take with you when you are on-the-go? Nuts make a great snack because they are delicious, convenient, have heart healthy fats, and have a great deal of protein. For instance, 1 cup of peanuts has 35g protein; 1 cup of almonds has 30g; 1 cup of walnuts has 30g. While you probably won’t eat an entire cup (they do have a higher caloric content) they still are an important alternative when it comes to protein!

Eggs 

Eggs are incredible and can honestly be a staple of everyone’s diet. By incorporating eggs into your morning routine not only are you ramping up your metabolism for the long day ahead but you are also getting a great dose of protein. 1 large hardboiled egg has 6g of protein.

Vegetables

I literally cannot say enough about vegetables! They really are what make a nutritional plan work because they have so much to offer. Besides nutrients and minerals (and a hundred other things) vegetables can be a great way to supplement your protein intake! For instance, a cup of most raw vegetables (kale, broccoli, cauliflower) contain 2-3g or protein. Considering you can eat a ton of vegetables for a low amount of calories, makes vegetables a great alternative protein source!

Wrap-Up

Keep your mind open when it comes to consuming protein. There are so many alternatives out there that you can achieve your daily recommendations with a well balanced diet. We didn't even mention whey or collagen protein sources that can also make for a great alternative. As with all things in nutrition, have a well balanced diet and consume everything in moderation!

SEE ALSO:  Cutting through Yogurt confusion - which type is right for you?

GUEST BLOGGER: JOSH ANDERSON  Josh is a fitness professional who runs Always Active Athletics where he provides sustainable at-home fitness and nutritional tips to help you get in the best shape of your life!

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Dancing for Cardio Exercise

I always wanted to be a runner.  It seems like this really popular club that everyone belongs to now:  mini-marathons, full marathons, holiday runs, etc. etc.  I see posts all over my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I always long to be part of that club.  To wear the cute athletic clothing, buy the running sneakers, get the gear...oh wait a second.  I don’t want to run, I just want to shop and wear cute athletic clothing!  I knew there was something wrong with that.

Here’s the problem:  I’ve tried running. I’ve tried jogging.  I’ve tried fast-walking.  I hate it.  I don’t just hate it:  I DESPISE IT.  

As a gastric bypass post-op who has never had any reconstructive surgery, running is not an easy task.  Before I even hit the pavement, I would have to strap myself in with several shapewear and compression garments.  When you have hanging skin, running is probably the least comfortable activity you could participate in, at least, it was for me.

Yet I knew that cardio exercise is super-important, so I had to find an alternative.  I found it in dancing.

I’ve loved to dance since I was just a little girl.  In middle school and high school, all of my friends belonged to the local dance company and got to dance in these big productions all year long.  As a young girl battling her weight and self-esteem, I never allowed myself to participate in any of those activities, even though that I knew as a musician, my sense of rhythm and movement was pretty good.  But as a post-op, I didn’t care what anyone thought, and I decided to dance.

When I was morbidly obese at 311 lbs, I went out one night with a friend to a local jazz club in Boston. They always had great music playing live downstairs, and swing dancing upstairs with a live band.  We decided to go upstairs one night and just sat and watched - it was AMAZING.  People of all shapes and sizes, in period-retro clothing and get-ups dancing to a live swing band.  I immediately fell in love and decided to take the dance lessons.  It felt like a club that I *could* belong to.  It felt musical to me.  I loved it.  

I went religiously every Saturday night, and now - years and many, many classes later - I can dance a variety of ballroom styles:  east coast swing, west coast swing, salsa, samba, rhumba, meringue, bachata, fox trot, and more.  

I love to get dressed up, go out to someplace really fun and social, and trick myself every time into getting the best form of cardio exercise that my body has ever gotten.  

Plus, the people at these clubs and dances are some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met. It’s such a social type of dancing, and everyone is always welcome.  Even better, stronger dancers are always happy to jump in and help those just getting started.  It’s really the nicest community of folks that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

I’ve also tried Zumba and adult modern dance.  I love those classes too.  Thankfully, being a musician allows me the confidence to know that I won’t make a complete fool of myself rhythmically, and I’ll try almost every form of dancing at least once.  Zumba feels a lot like Latin dancing to me:  it’s challenging physically, but also very expressive and “adult” in a way.  I try to make those classes when I can, but I can also find some great free resources online.   

Interested in seeing if dancing is something YOU could do?  Check out these free resources online and you can practice right in the comfort of your own home AND get some great cardio exercise:

LEARNTODANCEONLINE.COM

BALLROOMDANCERS.COM

FREE YOUTUBE EAST COAST SWING DANCE LESSONS (easiest ballroom dance to first learn)
FREE YOUTUBE SALSA DANCE LESSONS

FREE ZUMBA LESSONS

SEE ALSO: The Shape of Things to Come

Diva Taunia is a professional musician and music educator living in the Greater Los Angeles area.  She can be found at www.divataunia.com or www.twitter.com/divataunia

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Fighting Perimenopause

I decided to have weight loss surgery at almost 36 years old.  You may recall that I wrote a post earlier here on the Wellesse blog stating that the one thing I wish I had done differently was to make the decision earlier.  Still, life is what it is, and at 42, I now face the challenge of working through perimenopause and my erratic mood swings. (Note:  the challenge probably lies more with my husband, who feels the brunt of my emotional antics. He should be knighted.  Honestly.)  Read more about perimenopause and it’s symptoms here and here.

I found out that I was in perimenopause about two years ago.  My husband and I had talked about having children, and since we were both 40+, we knew we would need to see where we stood with fertility. I had the very unfortunate experience of learning that I was in perimenopause and that my chances of having a child were at 1%.  I spent most of the first year of perimenopause grieving that fact, and fighting off the initial stages of hot flashes.  It was not pleasant, but I got through it.

Now here I am over two years later, knowing that there are many more physical and emotional changes ahead for me in menopause.  My body is physically feeling the affects:  

  • I have gained 10 lbs, and have to work even harder now to keep the weight off (or stop myself from gaining more)
  • The hot flashes have increased in frequency and duration  
  • My mood swings are much more dramatic now
  • I often times feel like I am unable to control my mood despite any amount of logic and reasoning I try to apply

I know that I need to give my body better nutrients and supplements to help stave off some of the unfortunate side effects. So I began to research what vitamins and supplements help with this.

Now before I even begin to write what I found, I want to put the disclaimer out there: I am not a doctor (obviously), nor do I have any medical training.  This is just information that I have found from trusted resources from my own personal research online.  Please always check with your doctors and nutritionists before trying anything new.  (End disclaimer)

The following are natural herbs and remedies for perimenopause symptoms, many of which I have already implemented, some of which I still need to try.  If you have any experience with any of these, please tell us about it in the comments section.  Here is my list, and I wish anyone dealing with the same issues the best of luck!

CLICK HERE FOR DIVA TAUNIA’S LIST OF PERIMENOPAUSE REMEDIES

SEE ALSO:  What Would I Have Done Differently with My Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery?

Guest Post by Diva Taunia, a professional musician and music educator located in the greater Los Angeles area. More information can be found at www.divataunia.com 

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Keep A Look Out For Nutrients That Protect Your Eyes

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun’s bright rays and safety goggles decrease the amount of dust, particles and harmful substances that could bother or hurt your eyes. Though both sunglasses and goggles are important, there’s more to eye health than just covering your eyes. Specific nutrients can help protect your eyes and vision from the inside out.

Bugs Bunny eats his carrots and you should too. Or consider sweet potatoes, beef liver, spinach, cantaloupe, red bell pepper, mango, black-eyed peas, apricots or broccoli. All are excellent sources of vitamin A. Most quality multivitamins will also have a daily serving of vitamin A if you have trouble getting enough in your diet.

Vitamin A is needed for normal vision and a deficiency can lead to dry eye syndrome and, over time, night blindness and blindness.

In addition to vitamin A, two other carotenoids (carotenoids are red, orange and yellow pigments) can help your eyes.

Lutein and zeaxanthin also protect your eyes from some of the harmful effects of the sun’s rays (blue light in particular).

They may also improve your vision when outside on bright sunny days by decreasing eye sensitivity and pain as well as glare from light exposure. And finally, these nutrients may help reduce a person’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach (high in lutein but low in zeaxanthin), orange bell pepper, egg yolks and corn.

Two other nutrients that are essential to eye health are the fatty acids EPA and DHA. 

Research shows that adults who consume higher intakes of EPA and DHA seem to have a lower risk of developing AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and those who already have AMD but eat plenty of fatty fish (like salmon) have a slower progression of AMD. 

Found in fatty fish, EPA and DHA help protect your eyes from chronic light exposure while also decreasing some of the symptoms associated with dry eyes. If you don’t eat fatty fish, consider a fish oil supplement since these two nutrients aren't found in other foods (unless they are fortified in which case the food may contain them in very small amounts).

SEE ALSO: Healthy Hair Skin and Nails the Natural Way

References:

Journal of Nutrition 2008;138:1835-1839.

Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2001;20:106-118.

Archives of Ophthalmology 2008;126(6):826-33.

Progress in Retinal and Eye Research 2011;30; 188-203.

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Sunshine, Sunscreen and Vitamin D - What's most beneficial?

Your body can make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. But as you probably know, those rays will also cause skin damage and can lead to eye damage.

Since there are other ways to get your vitamin D – through a few foods and from quality supplements, it makes sense to protect your skin and eyes from the damaging effects of UV rays and get your vitamin D elsewhere.

Skin protection starts with good sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, the only ingredient that protects from UVA1, UVA2 and UVB rays. My dermatologist recommends choosing one with a minimum of 7.5% zinc oxide, reapplying every two hours, year round, and even if you are driving in the car! Be sure to apply it to all exposed skin including your ears and feet.

Its a good idea to also wear a wide brimmed hat in the sunshine and wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays too. They should say “UV 400 protection” or “blocks 99% of UVA and UVB rays”. Some types of clothing also protect you – for sun protection that allows you to still enjoy the outdoors, check out Coolibar.

If you think the damage to your skin is done, think again, skin damage from the sun is accumulated throughout our lifespan. 

Survey Finds 64% of Americans Unaware Sunscreen Inhibits Vitamin D Production

Now that you are thoroughly protecting your skin from the sun, how can you be sure you are  getting enough vitamin D?

First, take a look at your diet. From ages 14-70 healthy, non-deficient adults need 600 IU per day whereas those over 70 need 800 IU/day.

The best dietary sources of vitamin D3 are:

  • Fatty fish including salmon, tuna and mackerel,
  • Milk (one glass contains about 100 IU; check the label)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals, orange juices and soy beverages

Second, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about your vitamin D intake and consider using a supplement if you are not consuming enough in your diet.  Also, ask your doctor about vitamin D testing – many people are deficient or have insufficient levels and if your physician knows where your levels are, they can better prescribe a prescription for vitamin D or recommend an over the counter supplement.

The sunshine may feel nice and warm and boost your mood, but sun protection will go a long way toward maintaining skin health, helping prevent skin cancer and damage to your eyes.

Just remember that it isn't necessary to expose yourself to the damaging effects of ultraviolet light just to get your #vitamin D!

For healthier sunscreen choices see this article  Sunscreen Risks and Rewards - Healthier Sunscreen Choices

 

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How Exercise Helps Joints

It may seem counter intuitive if your joints are sore, swollen and stiff, but truly, in scientific terms, exercise is one of the best things for you!  Exercise helps joints by increasing range of motion, and decreasing the overall discomfort you experience.

Joints are surrounded by soft tissue, often referred to as the synovial membrane, which makes fluids that act like an oil can, lubricating joints move more smoothly within their surrounding tissues.

Physical activity encourages circulation of joint fluid, which in turn makes joint movements more fluid.

Better Blood Flow

Get your heart pumping! Blood flow circulating through your joints at an increased rate allows better flow of oxygen and nutrients throughout joint tissues.

The Right Nutrients

Bearing weight on your joints, like you do when you exercise, pushes water molecules out of the cartilage just like squeezing a sponge.  And also like releasing a sponge you’ve squeezed under water, the proper joint nutrients and fresh oxygen are soaked right back up in place of the water that was pushed out.

Joint-Gene Activation

Some research even shows joint movement turns on joint-repair genes.  Careful though, it is also possible that over impacting and over exercising your joints can have the opposite effect.  The best way to not push too far is to listen to your body – it’s the perfect judge of the right amount of exercise.

Waste Removal

On a cellular level, exercise triggers all sorts of biological processes.  One called autophagy in particular is important to healthy joints.  Broken and damaged cells in your joints are broken down further and removed, making room for new and healthy cells.

Muscles from Brussels

Strengthening ligaments, tendons and muscles that encase your joints is a sure-fire way to brace and protect, lessening pressure on the joint itself with the strength of their support.

So despite the bit of stiffness or soreness, do your best every day to keep exercising.  Supplementing with a joint health formula is always a good consideration as well, to keep your movements fluid.  Even at a light level, weight-bearing exercise like walking will help keep your joints healthier and you happier in the long run.  

SEE ALSO: Age is Just a Number – How Exercise and Diet Keep You Young for Life

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Men Take Note! Men's Health Month 2014

Men, stop hiding and take note! June is National Men’s Health Month.

It’s your turn for a focus on preventive care and healthy lifestyle planning. This is a perfect chance for you to become aware of the health risks specific to men, and get support from your family and friends to pursue any testing or treatment you may have been putting off.  

Your health and wellness is just as important as your female counterparts, so investigate your resources and start taking care of yourself the way you deserve.

“The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys."   

This month gives health care providers, the media and individuals the opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.”  Check out the organization website for more info. www.menshealthmonth.org

 They have a handy screening checklist (Click here to view the list), page two shows what and when men should have checked, taking the guesswork out of preventive care issues like pre-diabetes.  Check out this article on preventive care Easy Steps for Prediabetes Proactive Care.  

The Mayo Clinic is also involved in helping men assess and be proactive about common health risks – Take a look at their Top 7 Threats to Men’s Health article here. 

All men, and everyone truly, should start with the basics of a healthy lifestyle — eat a healthy diet, stay physically active, quit smoking if you haven’t already, get regular checkups and keep safety top of mind in your daily activities.

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Sunshine Safety - Sunscreen is a Must Have

Most of us have had a bad sunburn at least once in our lives ~ My mother was raised under the Hawaiian sun, burning and peeling was just part of everyday living and a fine trade for getting to play on the beach all day.  Now we know how bad the sun’s rays, and especially repeated burns, really are for our skin.

There is more and more press about sunscreen use, and claims of unhealthy chemicals used to absorb UVA and UVB rays.  Some studies and analysis show these claims to be in need of further research, and as yet unfounded, with the risk of skin cancer far outweighing potential negative effects.  Yet there have always been more natural sun protection options, containing minerals rather than chemicals.  (Here’s a good list http://www.blisstree.com/2011/07/13/beauty-shopping/natural-sunscreens-pros/ ) Either way, as summer approaches, it’s a given that our skin will fare better in the short and long term when we use sunscreen.

TIPS FOR SUNSCREEN USE:

  • Be sure to apply 1 oz. of sunscreen (about a shot glass full) over all exposed skin every 2 hours (or every 40 minutes, if you are playing in the water)
  • Use a sweat-resistant, water-resistant sunscreen if you can, with at least an SPF of 30.
  • More expensive does not necessarily mean better.  Just make sure it is one that blocks UVA and UVB rays.
  • Even if you have darker skin, you still need sunscreen. Skin cancer is color blind.
  • Since its best to block the sun from your skin, be sure to keep you vitamin D levels healthy with a vitamin D supplement and lots of vitamin D rich foods. 

Have a safe and happy summer with no sunburns!

SEE ALSO: Why You May Still Need a Vitamin D Supplement in Summer

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Top 10 Best Foods For Stress Relief

Stress is known to be one of the most prominent health afflictions facing Americans today.  There are many ways to deal with stress, but some of the least thought of solutions can come from nutrition.  Eating the right food during stressful times can greatly increase your ability to cope as well as curtail the negative impacts stress has on your body.  The top ten foods for stress relief are:

Avocado and Banana

These two foods are loaded with potassium which is a mineral vital to keeping blood pressure low. 

Green Tea

Green tea contains a compound called L-theanine, which is the active component found in green tea leaves. Theanine is a natural substance derived from the amino acid glutamate. Theanine enters the central nervous system and is said to lower stress and anxiety.

Swiss Chard

The magnesium levels in Swiss Chard and other green leafy veggies helps balance cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is loaded with vitamins A and D, both of which can help reduce the effects of stress. Vitamin A plays an important role in immune function, skin health, and healthy vision and offers antioxidant value. Vitamin D plays a role in modulating neuromuscular and immune functions, and inflammation reduction.  Stress and inflammation go hand in hand, and decreasing one can reduce the other.

Milk

Having a glass of milk provides a good source of B vitamins, protein, Vitamin D and bone-building calcium all of which can help relieve tense muscles.

Yogurt

Studies have shown eating probiotic-filled yogurt can relieve anxiety and stress by reducing activity in the emotional area of the brain.

Nuts

Nuts such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts have been known to boost the immune system with vitamins and zinc.

Chocolate

Research indicates that dark chocolate may lower levels of stress hormones.  When eaten, the body releases mood-enhancing serotonin.

Asparagus

Asparagus is high in folic acid which is needed to make serotonin, which can in turn affect your mood in a positive way.

Beef

Even though beef often gets a bad rap, it's a great dinner option for a stressed-out family. Beef contains high levels of zinc, iron, and B vitamins, which are also known to help stabilize your mood.

Next time you’re stressed reach for one of these foods.  In fact, make these a regular part of your grocery list so that they are always available when you need them.  Also, be kind to yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  It’s okay to go ahead and take a stress-free break for a minute to sip some tea and remember what’s really important to you.

SEE ALSO: Vitamins and Supplements that Fight Inflammation

GUEST POST by Blogger, Website Designer and CEO of a2zWellnessSupplements.com Nicole Perry.  

Visit her at http://www.a2zwellnesssupplements.com

 

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