At Utzy we are dedicated to providing truthful, honest information that helps you to live a healthier lifestyle
December 07, 2017 | 0 comments
There’s a lot of study and talk these days about the potential mental health drawbacks of social media. Silly social media trends are also a favorite talking point of folks who bemoan the millennial generation — like the guy who told millennials they could afford houses if only they would just stop eating avocado toast.
Now hold on a minute. Don’t mess with the avocados! Just like everything else, social media can be a force for ill or good depending on the amount and the context of its use. The popularity of avocados is just one example of ways that social media can promote healthy choices.
There are some great points we could get into. There does seem to be a correlation with social media use, mentally unhealthy habits, and sedentary lifestyles. But the solutions are going to come from embracing technology constructively, not blaming it.
New technology is not inherently unhealthy, and when embraced by healthcare providers and patients, can be used to improve health. Healthcare providers are making use of mobile technology and social media to provide better service and gather more accurate information about lifestyle and its relevance to health.
There’s also an argument to be made for fitness technology actively fighting the degenerative effects of social media by embracing it and making fitness social. At least the physical effects.
There are a number of examples of this: fitness trackers that are connected with social networks, apps that encourage physical activity and sharing one’s time outside.
Despite what you’ll read from online columns, the rapid increase in obesity in North America is actually a complex web of modern day realities, all coming together to create new health problems and crises. National health issues are no new phenomenon, the type of problem just tends to shift with current circumstances.
The prevalence of office jobs and the convenience of travel and sit-down entertainment are just a few contributors to rising obesity rates, and that’s before we even get into high-fructose corn syrup and the popularity of cheap, calorie-dense fast food.
So, yes, in excess social media does contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. But what doesn’t? Let’s stop talking the evils of popular socials, start talking dosage and transformative potential.
Avocados are stuffed full of nutrients and healthy fats. Studies have found correlations between avocado consumption and improved diet balance, and avocados are great for cholesterol health. So while some people are busy scoffing at millennials for being obsessed with avocado toast, they’re busy eating avocados and reaping the health benefits.
It would be difficult to accurately measure the true impact of a viral trend, but in this case social media is being used to disseminate information about a healthy diet, and recipes based on nutrient-rich foods.
Avocados are often paired with eggs, lean meats like chicken, and feature prominently in vegetarian and vegan meals.
The problem with social media reaction-ism is, once again, the issue of dosage. Yes, when not combined with offline interaction, social media can provide people with false senses of intimacy and community. The avocado toast thing has been interpreted as unhealthy financial decision-making. In reality, it’s a red herring that rich people are using to blame younger generations for habits that are, in fact, healthy!
To make a blanket claim that social media is bad for relationships and health demonstrates a flawed, narrow understanding of community-building.
It should also be mentioned that for many people who do suffer from legitimate mental illness, social media is actually a helpful coping mechanism that connects them to support networks, communities of other people who suffer, and allows them to express themselves.
In addition to this, the potential for community good on social media has yet to be fully explored. People often deride “slacktivism” -- the act of sharing social media posts about issues you care about -- but there is some evidence that this social sharing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and does in fact encourage real community involvement: Health-positive, community-positive social media exists. Moving networks in positive directions is the responsibility of community members, influencers, and businesses who take part.
The avocado example is just one way that social media can be used to promote health and active lifestyles. There are other examples of social media’s power in creating a sense of community responsibility and connection, such as the community cleanup initiative mentioned in the Guardian above.
The most important, and most difficult way to create positive outcomes is to combine online engagement with offline action. When social media can be used as a source of inspiration and energy -- impetus to action, then it’s working in a healthy way for everyone involved.
Just because it’s difficult, however, doesn’t mean that it can’t or shouldn’t be done. We can leverage supposedly unhealthy habits and turn them on their heads. Avocados might be the first step!
Avery Phillips is a freelance human based out of the beautiful Treasure Valley. She loves all things in nature, especially humans. Comment down below or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or comments.
November 06, 2017 | 0 comments
Logically, it seems like MOST fiber supplements should be gluten free. After all, they’re usually made from ingredients like psyllium husk and flax seed, which are naturally gluten free.
How is it possible for the controversial wheat protein find its way in there?
Unfortunately, gluten has found a way to sneak into many of the top-selling fiber products on the market.
Is it in the one you take?
Read this guide to find out!
For people with gluten allergies or sensitivities (or people simply looking to eat more cleanly) it’s crucial to understand why and where gluten might be lurking in your fiber supplements – and more importantly, how to find the best gluten free fiber supplement.
Despite the fact that gluten has been vilified in recent years, wheat protein actually does some pretty amazing things. For instance, is is used as the “glue” to keep bread together. This is a good thing for bakers and artisan bread makers (not so great for those of us who are sensitive to gluten).
But what does a wheat protein have to do with fiber supplements?
Quite a bit, unfortunately.
Many times cheaply made supplements will use gluten-laden ingredients to aid their powders in mixing together better. Adding gluten is a quick fix for manufacturers who want to improve the texture of their fiber supplement without harming its nutritional profile (you can learn other ways that supplement companies scam you here).
In addition, Gluten is sometimes used, in the form of wheat bran, as an insoluble fiber in fiber supplements. While wheat bran has a high amount of fiber, it is obviously not a good source for those that are sensitive to gluten.
Alternative high fiber ingredients that are gluten free should be used instead, such as Psyllium Husk Powder, Flaxseed Flour, and Apple Fiber. These GF ingredients are found in our Fiber Food daily fiber product (save 50% off your first bottle here).
Lastly, if a manufacturer isn’t thorough with how they create their products, cross contamination can occur. Wheat protein can leach into products that it was never intended to be in. This happens when machines aren’t cleaned thoroughly between batches.
This is why it is important for a company to not only formulate products to be free of gluten, but to also test for gluten after each batch is created. This ensures complete safety.
We do thorough testing on our Fiber Food product to ensure that it is free of gluten and other potentially harmful ingredients.
Never trust a supplement as being safe unless it has been tested and shown to be free of gluten.
There are many different ingredients that are used to create fiber supplements. Some of them are completely safe, some are borderline safe, and others are completely fine. Below is a list detailing whether coming fiber ingredients are safe or not.
If you deal with gluten sensitivity, then you need to be careful. Gluten is hiding everywhere!
So how can you find the best gluten free fiber supplement?
First, select a fiber source that is naturally free of gluten and any other ingredients you may have sensitivities towards. Thankfully, there are many common fiber supplement ingredients – from Psyllium to Flax – that are naturally gluten free. Still, you’ll have to consider if you have any other food restrictions and allergies that limit your options.
You’ll also want to be sure that your fiber source is certified Organic. This will limit the amount of other potential irritants and nutritional troublemakers that are in your fiber supplement.
Organic products are higher quality products. This is true for meat and produce as well as supplements.
Finally, check the label to be sure that no gluten has been added to your supplement. This can be tricky since most fiber supplements available have incredibly long lists of ingredients and sometimes even use code names for gluten, like “wheat protein”.
This might take some extra research, and in some cases, even require a call to the company.
If you are extremely sensitive, you will also want to avoid powders that are processed in facilities that handle gluten-containing products. Either that or make sure that the company that created the product tested for wheat in the final product.
Of course, many of the above steps can be avoided if you select a fiber supplement that is Organic and made from only fruits, vegetables, and plants!
Our fiber supplement is Vegan certified and is naturally gluten free. Additionally, we test each batch of Fiber Food to ensure that there is no trace of gluten.
Use this link to save 50% off your first bottle - take advantage and save!
We do this so that you can supplement with confidence!
When you think of the word “supplement”, what’s the first word that comes to mind?
Hopefully not! At Utzy we are advocates for clean, natural products produced with transparency. That being said, reading a supplement label can be overwhelming!
Where do you start? How can you see through a supplement scam?
Below are 5 things to be wary of when it comes to supplements.
The number one sign of a supplement scam is if the product ingredient list contains a “proprietary blend”. Many companies hide behind proprietary blends because they don’t want to list ev erything in their “secret” formulas.
Major red flag!
The idea of putting something you are unsure of in your body is downright scary. An honest, trustworthy brand will include the ingredients and amounts of everything on their product label. If you see the words “proprietary blend”, run!
Below is an image of what a “Proprietary Blend” looks like. While the types of ingredients are listed, this label obscures the amount of each ingredient.
This is usually done to hide the fact that the “blend” contains primarily cheaper ingredients (and microscopic amounts of the more expensive ingredients listed).
One major tell for supplement quality is whether the company that sells the product makes the product. When a company self-manufactures, it means that they are invested in the production and quality of the product they sell.
Sadly, the majority of supplement companies use 3rd party manufacturers. This means that the brand selling the product has little to no say in how the actual product was made.
At Utzy we manufacture our own products. We have intimate knowledge of the ingredients and manufacturing processes that each product goes through. We do this to ensure the quality and effectiveness of each product.
Did you know supplement ingredients can have “brand names”? Yes they can! Most supplement companies use cheap, generic ingredients (usually sourced from China and India).
If your supplement label has Trademarked or Reserved names and icons, it usually means that the ingredients in the product have been tested and have been shown to be effective. Some ingredients may even be clinically studied, which is the gold standard for efficacy.
At Utzy we use ingredients like Albion’s chelated minerals, USP-grade vitamins, and sleep ingredients with clinical trials (see Suntheanine and PharmaGABA).
These ingredients have gone through scientific study to show their effectiveness. The manufacturers of these ingredients have also been around for decades and have shown themselves to be trustworthy.
A quality brand should have some sort of 3rd party testing to verify their product. Third party testing keeps everyone honest and helps to give you, the consumer, peace of mind.
There are quite a testing organization out there, but the big ones to look for are:
•NSF and NSF Certified for Sport
•Non-GMO Project Verified
•GOED (for Fish Oil, shows sustainability)
We use NSF to test and verify our product and facility. We also use 3rd party auditors to come into our manufacturing facility throughout the year to ensure that we are up to par with all of the latest regulations.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as a “GMP Certified” supplement. All supplement manufacturers are under what are called GMP’s (Good Manufacturing Practices). The FDA controls this process. While the FDA will audit and check in on manufacturers periodically, they offer no such thing as a “GMP Certification”. So if you see a supplement brand with a ”GMP Certified” icon, run! No governing body offers this type of certification.
Lastly, be on the lookout for a lengthy list of “Other Ingredients” on your supplement's label (below the Supplement Facts Box). This is where sketchy brands will hide all of their dirty secrets. Below is an example:
In particular, artificial colors and flavors are two items to be on the lookout for. Also, check carefully for
•Rice Flour (filler, to make the capsule look full)
•Gelatin (cheaper, animal sourced capsules)
•Carmel color (use for color)
Interested in high quality, trusted supplements? Look no further than Utzy Naturals. We offer a complete line of trustworthy products, manufactured with integrity. With Utzy you can supplement with confidence!
Some people swear by an early morning jog, while others love to hit up a workout after a long day at work, so who is right?
Is there a specific time that is better for exercising?
New research shows that there is a best time of the day to exercise.
As you go throughout your day, your body’s internal energy system changes and adapts to its environment.
This interactive system changes throughout the day, it's called your circadian rhythm. Included in this daily cycle is your body’s internal temperature, which fluctuates throughout the day.
Research shows that the best time of the day to workout is when the body’s temperature is at its peak. For most, this is during the mid-afternoon, between 2:00 and 4:00 pm.
When your body is at peak body temperature, it moves better. Joints are better warmed up, muscles are easier to stretch, and your body is ready to expend energy.
During this time of the day you have your best capacity to move and do dynamic exercise (this would include Crossfit workouts, olympic lifting, etc...).
Additionally, your nervous system and hormone production reach their peak at this time of the day. Essentially, your system is primed and ready to go.
All of these factors make mid-afternoon the best time of the day to train.
While the afternoon might be the best time to train, is it the best time for you?
If you are like most people and have a hectic, busy schedule, working out in the middle of the afternoon is not feasible. Hitting that 2-4pm time window can be downright impossible.
So what are your alternatives, is an early morning run or a late night weight-lifting session still beneficial?
Despite the research, the best time to workout is when you have time!
The best kind of workout is the one that you actually do. Don’t worry so much about the time of day, simply focus on putting the work in.
Setting up a consistent workout routine is the best thing you can do when it comes to maintaining your health.
If you can’t fit in that mid-afternoon workout, below are some pro’s and cons on morning and evening workouts and how you can incorporate them into your schedule.
For morning workouts, one of the key things is to make sure that you are fully warmed up before you start.
In the mornings, your body’s temperature is at it’s lowest, which means your joints, tendons, and muscles will all need a little extra warming up. A good way to do this is by creating a morning routine.
To protect against injury, make sure to spend a little extra time warming up the areas of your body that you plan to work.
For example, if you plan on going on an early morning run, a solid warmup would include stretching your ankles, calves, and hips. You might also add in a few minutes of dynamic running drills (such as butt-kicks, high knees, and light sprints) before you hit the pavement.
Doing little warmups like this are key to improving the quality of your workout and reducing your potential for injury.
Besides the extra precaution for warming up, morning workouts are a great option for those trying to get on a regular exercise routine. Getting your fitness on early in your day gives you energy for the rest of your day.
Morning workouts are also a great option for those that struggle with sticking with a consistent exercise routine, since your motivation tends to be highest in the morning after a good night’s sleep.
If you are new to exercising, check out this article with helpful workout tips.
Working out later in the afternoon or at night can be a great option for those that have a busy schedule.
Energy and motivation tends to lessen the further you get into your day, so working out later on can be a bit tricker to get into.
While a night time gym routine can be be difficult to get started, a benefit of working out after work is that it allows you to destress and blow off steam from your work day..
Another benefit of night time exercising is that most people tend to have more free time later in the day, so you won’t feel like you have to rush through your workout so that you can get to the office on time.
Night time workouts can also be beneficial in aiding you in falling asleep, since it tires out your body (just don’t workout within two hours of your planned bedtime!).
For those working out at night, taking Magnesium is a good idea. It has been shown to be beneficial for post-workout recovery.
It can also help ease cramps and relax your body, you can check out a great magnesium supplement here.
So what’s stopping you? Get started on your fitness routine!
Remember that the only bad workout is a missed workout.
Whether in the morning, afternoon, or at night, every workout you get in is beneficial to your body and goes a long way towards helping you achieve your goals of health and wellness.
Daniel Powers is a health and fitness enthusiast. He has a degree is business and has allowed his passion for entrepreneurship flow into researching health topics. Outside of work, Daniel enjoys Crossfit, reading large books, and drinking coffee.
August 31, 2017 | 1 comment
-Written by Dr. Allison Brager
How often have you heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? Likely to the extent that you just roll your eyes when you hear it. But emerging discoveries on our gut microbiome are showing direct links between what we eat and how we behave, this is called the gut-brain connection.
Simply put, what we eat affects how we react and adapt to stress, as well as how much and how well we sleep (you can read a list of sleep tips here). So let's talk about the gut-brain connection and how it impacts our health.
Looking to sleep better? Get our Free Sleep Diary!
First off, let's define the word "Microbiome". The word 'microbiome' is intimidating. This four-syllable word is cleverly used to describe the trillions (yes, trillions) of microbes - bacteria, viruses, fungi - currently occupying your gut.
While this may sound kind of scary, the majority of these microbes are not bad. In fact, most of the microbes that occupy your gut contribute to your general health and well-being.
Since gut heath is so impactful on overall health, it is important to try and increase ‘good bugs’ and to decrease ‘bad bugs’. You can do this by focusing on getting good nutrition, reducing your stress levels, and by making quality sleep a priority.
Having a healthy gut leads to good health across the board. Below are some of the benefits of maintaining a healthy microbiome.
Did you know that 90% of the body's serotonin supply is stored in the gut? Serotonin is one of a few 'happy, feel good' chemicals produced by the body. This is why the gut is often called out body's "second brain".
Serotonin also is the largest driver of how awake we feel throughout the day and how easily we fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Serotonin is typically described as a chemical 'stimulant' but often interacts with a chemical 'depressant' - GABA - to control and fine-tune our levels of happiness as well as our depth of sleep.
These highways of serotonin and GABA line the gut and in turn, influence our behavior not only during our awake hours, but also while we sleep.
One can't argue that a quality day is a day free of stress, right? A good night's sleep often leads to a good day once you awake.
The gut-to-brain connection and sleep-to-gut connection can also protect against bad days. Because Serotonin is a 'happy, feel good' chemical and GABA helps to fine-tune the level of happiness and overall energy.
A gut full of good bacteria can help ensure that the highways of Serotonin and GABA that line the gut are primed for happiness and goodness throughout the day.
Below are top tips on how to increase the health of your gut.
Probiotics promote the production of good gut bacteria. Prebiotics are the fuel source for probiotics. Hence, prebiotics are the catalyst for a healthy microbiome and as a recent study in mice has found, prebiotics promote healthy, quality sleep (Source).
Sleep optimizes body repair and rejuvenation and the gut is no exception to repair and rejuvenation by sleep. Fermented foods are a natural source of prebiotics and probiotics. The process of fermentation favors the production of healthy bacteria. Eat some kimchi (or even sauerkraut!).
Better yet, grab a bottle of blue-green algae kombucha for a double bang for your buck! You can read out list of the best kombucha brands here
Antibiotics destroy healthy gut bacteria. I need not mention a well-known side effect of taking an antibiotic. In fact, in the act of spending those extra painful minutes in the 'toilet reading room,' your body's healthy gut bacteria is literally being flushed from your system.
Instead, recent studies suggest banking on prebiotics and probiotics to help protect against unforeseen illness.
In the sleep field, we have seen antibiotics disrupt and destroy the gut, while simultaneously destroying circadian rhythms of sleep and behavior in mammals. Antibiotics can set the 'body clocks' on a whacky, shift-work like schedule, leading to disrupted sleep and unusual activity patterns (including over-eating!).
Exercise is stressful on the body and our physiology. But much like how gut microbes are mostly good, exercise-induced stress is also (really) good. Exercise-induced stress actively re-wires the body, physiology, and our gut to help protect us from harmful stress or to help us adapt and recover quicker from stress.
The gut is no exception to exercise-induced adaptation. Exercise favors the production and sustainment of good over bad bacteria.
Exercise can be as simple as taking a long walk every day. However, keep in mind, that with exercise, you get out what you put in. So push the intensity (while keeping it safe) and start reaping the benefits of exercise!
As we have discussed in several posts, sleep is restoration for your body (you can read our recent article on non-REM sleep here). Sleep helps to keep our 'body clocks' on schedule. Sleep helps to repair and rejuvenate the body so we can be our best day after day. The process of repair and rejuvenation via sleep is widespread, and the gut is no exception.
If you are looking for a high quality sleep aid supplement, check out our line of natural sleep aids!
Nourish your gut-brain connection, sustain your sleep-gut connection, and thrive on a fit and happy microbiome!
Dr. Allison Brager is a neuroscientist specializing in the physiology and genetics of sleep and performance. She is author of Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, which debunks the myth of the "dumb jock" and serves as a manual for optimizing athletic performance through neuroscience. Outside of the laboratory, she is a former college athlete, Crossfit Games team athlete, and is still active in track and field: pole vault and hurdles.
Other Resources for Optimizing Sleep:
1. My book, “Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain” describes several "neurohackers" for bettering athletic performance through science.
2. Podcast on How to 10x Your Sleep.
Congratulations! You have purchased a bottle of supplements and you are excited about integrating them into your active lifestyle.
But what is the best way to do that?
And how can you get the most benefit out of your purchase? No worries, we have a guide for you on how to get the most out of your supplements.
There are 2 key factors when it comes to getting the most out of your supplements.
A key factor in getting the most out of your supplements is taking your supplements at optimal times throughout the day. Different supplements are best taken at different times of the day, or before (or after) different activities. For example, minerals/multivitamins are generally best taken after a meal, due to the fact that taking them on an empty stomach can lead to poor absorption and/or nausea.
Follow these rules of thumb to get the most out of your supplements:
Also, pay careful attention to the Suggested Use panel on your supplement's label. Special care is put into writing this info, so following the specific steps can be very beneficial, especially when it comes to specific usage products, like our line of natural sleep aids.
Supplements contain nutrients that deteriorate over time. Keeping them in a safe, dry, and moderately cool environment will go a long way towards keeping your supplements at maximum potency.
Contrary to popular belief, not all supplements need to be refrigerated, many are completely stable sitting on a shelf. However, there are a few supplements like probiotics and fish oil that are especially vulnerable to environmental changes.
-Do store your supplements in a low humidity, cooled environment. Keeping them on your desk at work is a great option. Not only are your supplements protected, they are also readily within reach.
-Do store your supplements out of the reach of children. Not all supplements come with a child protective cap. Make sure to keep your supplements in a place that is not easily accessible for a child.
-Don’t store your supplements in a high humidity environment. Studies done on Vitamin C have shown that it starts to deteriorate much faster when in an environment with humidity levels over 80%. Storing supplants in your bathroom, or near a sink or stove in your kitchen is less than ideal.
-Don’t not leave your supplements in your car, constant heat fluctuations (especially in warmer states) can expedite the nutrient deterioration process in your supplements.
Coffee has been a staple in people’s morning routines for decades. However, energy drinks have recently taken the market by force, providing a stronger caffeine high that can last for hours. And it makes you wonder, are energy drinks really better than coffee? While some prefer the taste of energy drinks over coffee, there are new studies that show that the contents of some energy drinks can do more harm than good.
Energy drinks can have a mass concoction of a ton of different ingredients containing caffeine and other substances. Coffee is a much more natural method to getting your caffeine intake. Organic coffee (and some specialty brands) will have little to no preservatives or additives in their blends, which is a much healthier route to take. Energy drinks have preservatives, flavorings, dyes, and enough sugar to jump start a car if needed. Coffee is plant-based, more natural, and has added health benefits
Many people need their morning cup of joe to get their day started. Coffee has benefits other than the morning or after-lunch caffeine boost that we seek. Coffee has been around for hundreds of years and has had numerous studies to prove its benefits. It can improve your mood and provide a source of antioxidants. Energy drinks are newer to the caffeine game and their problems outweigh any benefits.
While the overuse of any source of caffeine can be dangerous to our health, there are many reports of issues with energy drinks, due to their extremely high caffeine and sugar content. Too much sugar can cause dental problems, and while you may experience a noticeable energy boost from an energy drink, their sugar content is usually so high that the crash that follows is very pronounced.
This may leave you feeling overly tired and unable to focus because of the extreme spikes your body is experiencing. Additionally, energy drinks can mess with your body's ability to fall asleep later on at night.
Sugar is delicious, but it presents a ton of health issues. Energy drinks are packed with sugar. They are pre-made, ready to go, off the shelves drinks that we merely have to pop open and guzzle.
Coffee can also be loaded up with sugar. However, the difference between coffee and energy drinks is that we control the sugar content that goes into our cups. Adding less sugar or none at all to your morning cup can easily be accommodated. At coffee houses, we can ask for special concoctions or a healthier option with less sugar (sugar free syrups, stevia, etc….)
While it may come down to the preference of caffeine intake, coffee definitely has some great benefits to it. The smell throughout the house as you brew coffee can’t be beat, and it has less sugar and additives in it making it one of the healthiest “energy drinks” still on the market today.
Do you a particular type of coffee that you love? Or any tips for drinking coffee? Share your advice in the comments section, below!
Sarah is in love with coffee, but she takes care to consider the benefits and precautions needed to indulge in this amazing drink. By discussing her findings on We Dream of Coffee, she hopes to inform more people about the benefits of this power drink.
Written by Dr. Allison Brager
Brain power is important. As a neuroscientist, I have researched the brain inside and out. The ability to optimize your brain power will effect every aspect of your life.
Did you know that the brain is the only organ in the human body that works 24 hours a day.
That's right, the brain works all day long AND all night long.
That being said, the brain is without a doubt the most neglected organ of general health and fitness, yet it is the central driver of both mental and physical performance.
In this post, I am going to outline simple ways that you can optimize your mental and physical performances simply by optimizing brain health.
The best way to optimize brain health is a multi-faceted approach. Naturally improving brain health can be a tricky topic, below are some helpful tips on how you can increase your brain power.
Mediterranean diets, which promote the consumption of fish and healthy oils - typically high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids - help to keep the brain healthy.
A balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids is recommended. Most Western diets offer too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3. Hunter-gatherer tribes were projected to have a 2:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid consumption, and not a 16:1 ratio, which is more typical of Western diets.
Embrace your inner caveman, and aim to intake more Omega-3 fatty acids. This involves eating more fish in your diet, or alternatively, taking a high quality fish oil supplement.
Exercise enables your body to better adapt to stress. Although exercise is physiologically stressful, it's more of a healthy stress response. Exercise primes and re-wires your brain, immune, and endocrine systems in order to better adapt and respond to environmental stress. In my book Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, I discuss many positively functional and structural changes in the brain that take place with routine exercise.
As an example, exercise increases the production of neural growth factors. Neural growth factors contribute to repair and maintenance of the central nervous system. The two most common growth factors studied in the realm of exercise physiology are nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Exercise ramps up the production of NGF and BDNF, ramping up the speed of communication between nerve cells in the brain and fine-tuning the level of communication.
The body recovers by repairing itself and replenishing fuel sources with sleep. Sleep has always been thought to be "by the brain, for the brain, and of the brain," and this is absolutely true.
Sleep leads to brain readiness. Sleep prepares us for responding quickly and accurately to people, events, and facts. Sleep helps to clear waste products that build up across a stressful day. It also helps us to encode and form new memories, and sleep allows nerve cells to take turns going "offline" for a bit.
I often tell coaches, athletes, and soldiers that we have no excuse not to sleep at least 10 hours a night because Lebron James, Roger Federer, and other huge global celebrities do, and I can guarantee that their days are way more productive than most of ours.
Meditation-based exercises much like yoga or tai chi effectively calm individuals, behaviorally and physiologically. Behaviorally, researchers have found that subjects who engage in meditation-based exercises evolved to become less reactive to negative stimuli generating embarrassment or shame. Physiologically, meditation induces a sleep-like state, allowing us to further reap the benefits of sleep: rejuvenation, replenishment, and restoration.
Recent findings show that supplementing with these essential nutrients can help make the brain more efficient.
Half of the US population is magnesium-deficient. This nutrient is vital because it is the gatekeeper of nerve cell communication. Some nerve cells have magnesium plugs that determine the extent of communication. Because communication ramps up, in general, with any type of running and strength & conditioning training, it is imperative for athletes and regular people alike to keep up with magnesium supplementation. Utzy's U-Mag is a lemonade flavored Magnesium drink mix without sugar, give it a try!
Similar to magnesium, an active lifestyle requires iron replacement or maintenance. If you can just envision all the blood flow ensuing in the brain, just imagine what a little bit more iron in your diet can do. You can also supplement Iron through a high quality Multi-Nutrient.
This nutrient interacts with the endocrine system, regulating more than 200 genes throughout the body; the central dogma of biology. Healthy genes that "fit," make for a healthy and happy brain and body. It is inexpensive and easy to take. Consider Utzy's Natural D3 5,000 product available here.
Dr. Allison Brager has a PhD in physiology. She is author of Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain, which debunks the myth of the "dumb jock" and serves as a manual for optimizing athletic performance through neuroscience. She is a former college athlete and Crossfit Games team athlete, and is still active in track and field: pole vault and hurdles.
As the weather warms and green things begin to grow again, most of us look forward to the start of the farmer’s markets. We love following the natural progression of the seasons, starting with spring asparagus, artichokes, and radishes.
Soon after, peas and lettuce start coming, gradually leading into summer when strawberries, peaches, and tomatoes start to show. One of my favorite things about farmer’s markets is the opportunity to try new things, like purple carrots, scapes, and, a new favorite, husk cherries.
I hope you have had the chance to experience a market, as they grow more popular, there really is no excuse to miss out!
If you are looking for a local market, here are a few places to check out:
The USDA has a Farmer’s Market Directory. All you need to do is enter your zip code and select the distance you’re willing to travel. A list of locations will pop up.
Local Harvest works to connect people with the farming community around them. They help locate not only farmer’s markets, but CSA’s, co-ops, u-pick farms, and even restaurants that feature locally grown foods.
Sometimes it’s easier to go directly to the source, especially when buying in bulk. Many Organic, local farms are open to the public, and if you call ahead, they may even give you a tour! Our favorite local farm to get Organic, grassfed beef and chickens is Alden Hills Organic Farm.
I hope these resources help you find a local market. Buying from your local farmer supports your city’s economy, strengthens your relationship with your community, and helps you to get the freshest possible produce and meats!