Much research has shown that omega-3s are an essential nutrient for various body systems. Omega-3s are important for heart health because they can reduce the bad cholesterol in the body and lower bad fats called triglycerides. Other research has established that these essential fats can improve joint health by reducing inflammation throughout the body, which is especially important for our bodies as we age. Finally, omega-3s can improve cognition, learning and memory in both adults and children. Thus, it's vital that we try to include omega-3s in our daily diets because they aren't produced naturally by our bodies. Here are foods packed with this important fatty acid:
- Various fish and seafood are great sources of omega-3s, including rainbow trout, wild salmon, canned albacore tuna, scallops, crab, cod and the small but mighty sardines and anchovies, both of which are also excellent sustainable options. However, when choosing fish for your diet, it's important to do some research first and balance the need for omega-3s with the fact that some fish could be high in mercury, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women.
- Ground flax seed is another great omega-3 source. Add it to your morning smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal and even at dinner in pastas. Its subtle, nutty flavor will be easy to incorporate into many dishes, and it add a major kick of heart-healthy fatty acids to boot.
- Walnuts are another good source. Eat a handful for a snack, add crushed walnuts to a salad or even top your oatmeal with them. They're also packed with protein.
- Cook with soy or canola oil, or use them in your salad dressings.
It's recommended that everyone eat one omega-rich food per day, but if you have food allergies or can't for other reasons, there are more ways to get omega-3s in your foods. Try enriched eggs, available at most grocery stores, or a fish oil supplement.
When you're trying to build muscle, it's important to do it right so you'll see results and not get discouraged, especially if it's the first time you've set off on this type of fitness endeavor. The best foods are those high in protein and low in fat, because protein is the main macronutrient that builds muscle mass. Here are some of the top foods to include in your diet for building muscle:
- Eggs: These small but mighty spherical wonders are a powerhouse of nutrition. The whites are low in fat and very high in protein, which is why so many people are a fan of straight egg white omelets. But don't discount the yolks! They contain vitamins D, B6 and B12, E, folate, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin and zinc, and they also contain plenty of protein. Calorie for calorie, eggs have the highest biological value when it comes to protein intake, making them a true, underrated superfood.
- Salmon: Not only is this lean fish a great protein machine, it also improves heart health with omega-3 fatty acids. These are also important because they improve your recovery time after a major workout by decreasing the muscle-protein breakdown that occurs. Omega-3s have been shown to potentially reduce fat accumulation as well.
- Quinoa: This super grain has had a drastic rise in the popularity in the fitness community in the past few years, and for good reason. Quinoa contains essential amino acids and complex carbs, which give you sustainable energy to make it through an intense workout. The high fiber content in this nutritious grain is a great fat-buster.
- Yogurt: You'll find an excellent combination of protein and carbs here. It's not necessary to eat plain yogurt either. However, you also don't want to buy yogurt that has too much added sugar, but the types with fruit on the bottom provide a good boost of energy from insulin to keep a protein breakdown from occurring after you work out. Pack in the protein – nearly 20 grams – with Greek yogurt.
- Almonds: These crunchy nuts contain plenty of alpha-tocopherol, or vitamin E, which is an antioxidant believed to prevent free-radical damage and thus promote muscle healing. Grab a handful for an easy, high-protein snack.
- Water: Drinking enough water for muscle growth should be a no-brainer. Water keeps the entire body healthy and functioning properly.
Sometimes, the best kind of exercise happens when you don't even know you're getting a workout. Autumn is an excellent time for some of these "hidden" workouts, because there's typically plenty of yard work and maintenance things to do around your home.
Raking leaves is just one of these hidden exercises. Why? When you rake leaves, aside from filling your lungs with fresh air, you will also work the major muscle groups in your back, shoulders, arms and legs, as well as improving your cardiovascular health by raising your heart rate. In just 30 minutes of raking leaves, you can burn around 150 calories! Just thirty minutes of raking and squatting to scoop the leaves up and transport them fits into the CDC's recommended daily exercise for adults of 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
However, you probably don't have enough leaves to rake your yard every day, so here are some other ideas for an outdoor, maintenance workout:
- Fertilize your lawn – using an aerator requires a lot of upper body strength and can help you work up a real sweat!
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, chop wood and then carry and stack it. This involves aerobic exercise, squatting, bending and it also works your shoulders, back and arms. In 30 minutes of chopping, you can burn more than 200 calories!
- If you live in an area where year-round lawn maintenance is a must (for example, there's no snow on the ground), then you can get some good exercise by mowing your lawn with a push mower rather than the riding variety.
- If your home is in a snowy area, break out the shovel and snow blower. Shoveling can burn a whopping 225 calories in 30 minutes, while pushing a snow blower for 30 minutes uses more than 150 calories.
- Climb a ladder and clean out the leaf-clogged gutters, which will take core energy to stay balanced while you work with your hands.
For some of us, exercising is the cherry on top of an already wonderful day, or the thing that makes a bad day good. For others, working out just feels like another task added to an already busy day. Maybe you'd rather be spending precious hours with your kids, spouse or other family members, or perhaps they could all use a bit of exercise too. Get everyone off of the couch and make it more fun with these family-friendly workout ideas:
- If the weather isn't optimal, do a fitness DVD together, which will likely be entertaining and prove to be a good work out.
- Turn on some music and clean the house together, which will burn a lot of calories between dancing and scrubbing the floor. You will also be doing three important things at once: keeping the house clean, getting some exercise and spending time with family.
- Train for a race together. Sponsored walks, half-marathons and various fun-runs are all the rage right now, and they often have shorter distance events for kids. Choose a race or walk for a good cause and train with your kids and spouse to get some quality family time.
- Head to a new public park that you've never visited before. Spend the day walking and exploring together.
- Celebrate special days like birthdays or holidays off from school with fun physical activities. You can bike together to get frozen yogurt or head to a local wilderness site for camping, hiking and connecting with nature.
- Visit a working farm together. As we become more urbanized as a country, we are less connected to where our food comes from. Many farm owners are trying to remedy this and get a little help by offering opportunities to work on a farm for a day. You and your kids can volunteer your services – cleaning up, pulling weeds, caring for animals or working in the garden - and also learn more about our food system. You'll burn some serious calories from all the walking and working, and your kids will learn respect for animals and nature.
- Organize a neighborhood-wide or extended family sporting event like a soccer, softball or kickball game. This will be a lot of fun for everyone and you'll hardly know you're getting a workout!
Ask yourself these three questions:
Are you having trouble getting motivated to get your health and fitness under control?
Are you easily bored with just doing the same old thing over and over and over and over?
Do you want to start training for fun but have the chance to do more over time as you progress?
If you answered yes to these then I have a simple solution, Triathlon.
Q.) What is triathlon?
A.) A triathlon is a race that combines swim, bike, and run (in that order) to allow you to work the whole body, get a mental challenge in the water, feel speed on the bike, and obtain the glory of finishing a hard run and crossing the finish line.
Q.) Ok Dustin, but that’s too hard! I can’t train for those super long races. Don’t those people stay out there for like 17 hours? Isn’t that the Ironman?
A.) Great question and you will love the answer. Actually, Triathlon comes in TONS of distances. There are Sprints, Olympic, Half Ironman, and Full Ironman. I will break them down below.
Sprint Distance Triathlon – 1/2 mile swim, 12-14 mile bike, 5k run (3.1 miles)
Olympic Distance Triathlon – 1500 meter swim (.93 miles), 40k bike (24.85 miles), 10k run (6.21 miles)
Half Ironman Distance Triathlon – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Full Ironman Distance Triathlon – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 run
Q.) Why should I pick Triathlon?
A.) You will never be bored. When you are bored with swimming, you can bike, and when you are bored with the bike, you run, and when you get bored of the run, you swim! It’s a great thing! I love training for triathlon because it keeps my whole body trained, it keeps me mentally stimulated and excited about learning all three disciplines to the best of my ability. Triathlon has become such an important part of my life. Since there are so many distances to race I never get bored and I can always challenge myself to do more. Also, since you are training swim, bike, and run you can participate in solo events of all kinds. If there is a 5k, 13.1, 26.2 race then jump in! A 25, 50, 100 mile bike tour? Go ahead and ride! An open water swim? Have at it! If you only run then you can only do races involving running. This gives you unlimited training, racing, and FUN opportunities!
Q.) Ok, This sounds cool… But how can I afford all this stuff? Won’t I need to buy a TON of stuff just to train?
A.) Yes, you need stuff but NO it won’t cost you an arm and a leg… You need a bike (any kind will do for starters.. Mountain, Road, Hybrid, etc), goggles, a pool or any body of water, bathing suit, running shorts, and some running shoes. That’s it! Keep it simple at first until you start learning about the sport. I am a 2X Ironman Triathlete and I still use an old road bike that I traded some junk for on craigslist, it’s a $175 bike. Yes, people spend a lot of money on expensive race stuff but you don’t have to get that stuff to do these races. Use the K.I.S.S method, Keep It Simple Stupid! This method saves you money, time, and if you keep it all simple you won’t over think things. It’s a swim, a bike, and a run, that’s it!
Q.) This sounds like it’s going to take up a TON of my time… I don’t think I can commit to that kind of grueling schedule.
A.) Whoa, hold on there cowboy! Who said you had to commit to ANY schedule. Even if you do ONE swim, ONE bike, and ONE run per week it’s probably WAY more than you are doing right now. So don’t worry about putting together a crazy schedule that you cannot stay with. Remember, you are trying to change your lifestyle, have fun, and get your health and fitness in check. Don’t over do it!! Too far, too fast, too much, too soon = Injury. I would rather you take it nice and easy and keep it FUN!!! Ideally you want to do 2 swims per week, 2 bike rides per week, and 2 runs per week. I don’t care what distances you cover at first, just get out there and get moving
Have more question? Let’s get you outside and moving. As a Team Naturade Athlete I am here to answer your questions FREE anytime. Just contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account. Cheers and Happy Training!
I’m Dustin, and this is my son Boston… First, I’m a dad before anything else, after that I’m a 31 year old vegan expatriate Hoosier living right outside of New Orleans, LA.
On June 12th, 2011 I had a bit of a wake up call and began my road to the ironman 140.6 mile endurance event and after that I’ve got some big plans, so it won’t end there… This is my outlet to vent, rant, promote, and let everyone know what’s up.
If you compared our bodies to machines, they would be some of the most complex, with very intricate processes that need careful maintenance and proper fuel. In our well-oiled machine-bodies, trans fats are the substances that will gunk up the system – invading our arteries and affecting our hearts. Here's what you need to know about these unhealthy fatty acids that are terrible for us:
What are trans fats?
Trans fatty acids don't occur naturally, except for very small amounts in meat and dairy products from grazing animals. In fact, trans facts are manufactured through a process called hydrogenation, in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it less likely to go bad. Manufacturers of processed foods often use trans fats because they are inexpensive, keep oils solid at room temperature and give foods longer shelf lives.
So, what's the problem?
Until the 1990s, little research was done on trans fats. Today, we know that they are bad for the heart because they raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good cholesterol (HDL) – something that contributes to heart disease and stroke. Trans fats have also been linked with certain cancers. Researchers still aren't sure why trans fatty acids are so bad for people, but they think it is because hydrogen makes the oil difficult to digest and our bodies recognize it as saturated fat.
Where will you find them?
On the ingredients list of various manufactured food items, trans fats are also likely to be called "partially hydrogenated oils." These are often found in the followingtems:
- Fried foods
- Commercial baked goods (cookies, donuts, crackers, cakes, etc.)
- Fast food
- Canned soup and instant noodles
- Cake mixes
- Frozen foods (pot pies, waffles, pizza, fish sticks, etc.)
Being sick with the flu is the worst, especially during the holiday season when you would rather be eating cookies and sipping on spiked eggnog. So, it might be a good idea to get the flu shot to protect your immune health, especially if you're one of those people that just seems to catch everything that's going around.
The flu vaccine is available in a shot or nasal spray form. While the vaccine doesn't protect against every type of influenza the same as others, it's formulated to reduce your symptoms of the most virulent and common strains of influenza each season. The flu vaccine is advised for anyone older than six months. and it's especially recommended for seniors, pregnant women, children, people with disabilities, those living in nursing homes, people who are overweight or people with lowered immune systems due to health conditions.
You can get the flu vaccine whenever it is available in your area, which often begins as early as September. Most people should try to be vaccinated by the end of October, as there are occasionally shortages of the shot. The flu season typically peaks in January or February, and it has been known to last until May. Thus, even if you don't receive the flu shot until December, it will likely still be worth it.
While the vaccine has been shown to be effective in making one's symptoms less severe, it doesn't automatically prevent you from getting the flu. There are other things you can do to protect yourself. Try an immunity booster like Symbiotics Colostrum Plus Immune Formula, which supports a robust gastrointestinal tract and helps protect you by keeping your immune system strong.
Multivitamins are dietary supplements that contain a combination of vitamins, which are organic substances in plants and animals that our bodies depend on. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in an April 2012 study, the majority of Americans get enough vitamins every day in their diets. However, there are plenty of people who can benefit from a multivitamins. It's important to talk to your doctor first, but here are people who might really need to take a vitamin supplement to support their daily diet:
- Adults who are 50 or older could benefit from a multivitamin that contains vitamins B-12 and D, especially if they don't eat enough B-12-foritified foods. It's common for older adults to be deficient in B-12 for various reasons, and they often can't absorb as much vitamin D as their bodies need.
- People who have several food allergies, are lactose intolerant or are limiting foods from their diets for other reasons will often need a multivitamin.
- Strict vegetarians with limited diets should consider a multivitamin, especially because it can be difficult to get vitamins D and B-12 from vegetarian meals.
- Doctors will often recommend a multivitamin for those with an acute or chronic medical condition who are unable to absorb adequate nutrients from their foods, such as going chemotherapy.
- Pregnant and lactating women will need to take a special prenatal multivitamin.
Sometimes extreme changes aren't as weird as they seem. When Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic took the advice of his doctor to make some major dietary changes in 2010, people called him eccentric. Turns out, the tennis pro – then ranked in the top-10 in the world – had some major surprises up his sleeve, as soon after his dietary restrictions, he became the number one tennis player in the world.
So what were dietary changes did he make? Djokovic decided to go completely gluten-free. He also avoids dairy and caffeine, including two favorites in most people's diets: coffee and chocolate. For some unknown reason, he has also reduced his intake of tomatoes. Djokovic swears by this diet, saying it gives him more energy and he lost 11 pounds right away. Still, in an August 2013 Wall Street Journal interview, he admitted it was difficult at first.
"First few months, you know, I felt that need for sugar instantly after the meal, if you know what I mean. I would just take teas now and kind of try to satisfy my needs. But it wasn't as easy, you know," Djokovic said.
While gluten-free and various other dietary restrictions aren't for everyone, Djokovic surely benefited. He was up against Rafael Nadal in the championship game of the U.S. Open this year. Though Nadal bested him, Djokovic certainly has come a long way and will most likely remain a major force in the tennis world.
If you're interested in going gluten-free or making other dietary restrictions, either for health or weight-loss reasons, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist first to find out if you should supplement your new diet with a multivitamin.
Everyone has heard talk about GMOs recently. These genetically modified organisms have been all over the news, blogs and various social networking sites for awhile. Some people are concerned about them while others are not. If you don't know what the discussion is all about, here's some info to get you tuned in to the conversation:
What are GMOs?
Despite the semi-frightening name, genetically modified organisms are not extra-terrestrial blobs that are ready to take over the world. GMOs in fact are plants or animals whose genes have been modified in a lab by scientists using bacteria or viruses to make them more resistant to pesticides or crop blights or to produce their own insecticides.
What are they in?
According to a study by the Center for Food Safety, GMOs are in 60 to 70 percent of the products on our supermarket shelves. The most common genetically modified crops are soybeans (at least 85 percent of soybean crops in the U.S.), corn, oils for consumption and animal feed. As corn products, soy and various oils make up a large part of processed foods and the majority of farmed animals likely eat GMO feed, some people are very concerned about the amount of GMOs consumed in the U.S. There are various movements to limit GMO production and to label foods containing GMOs, though little research can be done on GMOs because most of the seeds are patented.
Many people say that GMOs cause various health problems in humans. More research needs to be done on their impact on the human body, but GMOs – 80 percent of which are meant to be pesticide-resistant – are likely bad for the environment because they encourage liberal use of pesticides, which have been shown to wreak havoc on the environment, animals and human bodies.
However, not everyone is against GMOs. Genetically engineering crops to resist common diseases or drought can help feed hungry people. Additionally, if the technology is used for good, it can improve the diets of impoverished people around the world, as is the case with the development of golden rice, which includes beta carotene, a very important nutrient for health.