Stress relief strategies

“When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still.”  – Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Strategies for Stress Relief

As the holidays are just around the corner, how about three new strategies to handle stress better? There’s no simpler way to help you reach a relaxed state than a quick intentional breathing exercise. I mentioned in a previous post how to practice box breathing, belly breathing, and the 4-7-8 breathing. Today, I am going to go over the one-minute breath, the 4-4-6-2 breathing, and body scan relaxation. Taking a few minutes each day to unwind can make a world of difference in how we can handle life’s daily stressors.

The One-Minute Breath

  • Inhale for 20 seconds
  • Hold for 20 seconds
  • Exhale for 20 seconds

I still find it difficult to breathe in for a full 20 seconds, so I just do 10 seconds for now, with a 10-second hold, and breathe out for 10 seconds. See what works best for you.

The 4-4-6-2 Breath

  • Inhale through the back of the throat for 4 seconds
  • Hold for 4 seconds
  • Exhale slowly through the back of the throat for 6 seconds
  • Hold empty breath for at least 2 seconds

Body Scan Relaxation

Body scan relaxation can be very helpful after a stressful event or simply as a daily practice to reduce any possible tension. It is about tensing one muscle group at a time, for 3-4 seconds, from head to toe. With each flex, breathe in through the nose for 3-4 seconds. When you release, breathe out slowly through the mouth for 5-6 seconds.

On a Final Note

You may also want to try Non-Sleep Deep Rest, another type of body scan relaxation/meditation. In just 10 minutes, a Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) protocol can help you feel better if you don’t have the time to take that most-needed nap, for instance. See which breathing exercise or body scan relaxation works best for you, or alternate like I do, depending on the day.

Until next time!

References

Asprey, Dave. “3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Calm down from Every Stressful Situation.” Dave Asprey, 20 Dec. 2017, daveasprey.com/deep-breathing-exercises/. Accessed 22 Oct. 2022.

—. “Step 3: 6 Ways to Hack Your Nervous System to Consciously Manage Stress.” Dave Asprey, 14 June 2012, daveasprey.com/hack-stress/. Accessed 22 Oct. 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Outdoor exercise

Keep Exercising

The colder weather may be upon us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep exercising just like you did this summer. The gym is definitely a good option when it’s raining, but otherwise, outdoor workouts and trail time are still a great choice to stay fit this fall.

Trail Time

Hiking in the fall, with all the beautiful colors and lovely sounds nature has to offer, is a wonderful way to enhance your mental and cognitive health. Try power walking or jogging. Take a few breaks to do some yoga or Tai Chi. How about walking meditation?

Outdoor Workouts

Along with running and/or cycling, include some simple lunges, hill sprints, bench dips, or wall sits, for instance. Doing a circuit workout or weight training session can be a nice way to challenge yourself in the colder weather. Some traditional dynamic stretches before working out might include:

  • Wide arm and leg circles
  • Shoulder and neck shrugs
  • High steps
  • Air squats

Outdoor Workouts Benefits

Exercising in colder weather helps:

  • Burn extra calories
  • Boost endurance
  • Fight depression and seasonal affective disorder
  • Wind down and sleep better
  • Enhance heart and metabolic health

On a Final Note

Don’t forget to dress in layers to keep warm. A hat, gloves, scarf, and warm socks may be needed too. Enjoy your workout!

Until next time!

References

Team Equip. “4 Keys to Maintain Fall Fitness.” Equip Newsletter, 6 Oct. 2022. hello@equipfoods.com. Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

“What Are the Benefits of Working out in the Cold? (plus Safety Tips).” Dr. Axe, draxe.com/fitness/working-out-in-the-cold/. Accessed 9 Oct. 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

photograph of a dish with lemon slices and salmon
Photo by Алекке Блажин on Pexels.com

Eye Health

As I am getting older, eye health has of course become one of my top priorities. And when I find tips easy to implement that can benefit my eyesight, I try to execute them as much as possible. Today, I am going to go over what foods are particularly beneficial for your vision.

Foods for Eye Health

Some nutrients are extremely beneficial to eye health. 

  • Vitamins A, C, E, and zinc, all rich antioxidants. Avocados, strawberries, broccoli, red peppers, carrots, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes, for instance, offer quite a bit of these nutrients.
  • Omega 3’s (especially DHA) like in salmon, sardines, and herring, aid in maintaining eye health.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, which can be found in egg yolks, zucchini, brussels sprouts, and green leafy vegetables, for instance, help with boosting eye health.
  • Astaxanthin and bilberry. Astaxanthin (a remarkable antioxidant) is found in abundance in wild-caught sockeye salmon, krill, algae, red trout, lobster, crab, shrimp, crawfish, salmon roe, and red seabream.

On a Final Note

Our food choices have a clear impact on our overall health and eye health. The eyes being an extension of the brain, I also apply myself to consume brain-boosting foods on a daily basis. And supporting our mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cells) may be just as important. Consult your personal physician and see what would work best for you to maintain long-term eye health!

Until next time!

References

Asprey, Team. “Hacking Your Eyes: Improving Vision and Eyesight.” Dave Asprey, 1 Apr. 2021, daveasprey.com/hacking-your-eyes-improving-vision-and-eyesight/. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Seymour, Jacqueline. “Health Coach Tip – Promote Eye Health Naturally.” Frank Lipman MD, 17 Aug. 2022, drfranklipman.com/2022/08/17/health-coach-tip-promote-eye-health-naturally/. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Grow your own sprouts to consume more sulforaphane!

Sulforaphane in Cruciferous Vegetables

As outlined in the Primal Blueprint food pyramid, the bulk of any meal should be vegetables – lots of fresh, organic, or farmers’ market vegetables ideally. The non-starchy ones might be the best picks if you have to watch your blood sugar levels closely. And along with leafy greens, cruciferous/Brassica vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts) probably give you “the most nutritional bang for your buck.” 

Cruciferous vegetables are high in a sulfur-based phytochemical compound called sulforaphane or SFN. SFN is created when the cruciferous plant’s enzyme myrosinase and the plant’s compound glucoraphanin combine by chewing, chopping, or cutting the given plant. Because of its substantial bioavailability, SFN is found to have many protective benefits.

Sulforaphane’s Health Benefits

SFN has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-like effects and aids in fighting oxidative stress. Here’s a brief list of sulforaphane’s health benefits:

  • Aids by lowering inflammation and strengthening the immune system
  • Can aid in staving off diabetes
  • Can aid with treating certain cancers
  • Assists liver function and detoxification
  • Enhances synthesis of glutathione (a “Master Antioxidant”)
  • Protects against lung damage
  • Helps with gastrointestinal function
  • May shield the brain from damage, in some instances 

Vegetables Rich in Sulforaphane

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli sprouts
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsnips
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Wasabi
  • Watercress

On a Final Note

As you can see, there are plenty of vegetables to choose from to get a little bit of sulforaphane into your diet every day if you wish. Last winter, as vegetables are definitely more scarce then, I decided to grow my own sprouts for the first time. I got a basic sprouting kit and some seeds, after purchasing The Sprout Book, by Doug Evans. Of course, you don’t have to wait for winter to grow your own sprouts. And no need to have a green thumb for that either. Give it a try!

Until next time!

References

Levy, Jillian. “Sulforaphane Benefits: The Secret to Broccoli’s Superfood Status.” Dr. Axe, 16 July 2022, draxe.com/nutrition/sulforaphane-benefits/. Accessed 31 July 2022.

Lipman, Dr Frank. “Protect Your Heart, Brain and Life with Sulforaphane.” Frank Lipman MD, 5 Apr. 2021, drfranklipman.com/2021/04/05/protect-your-heart-brain-and-life-with-sulforaphane/. Accessed 31 July 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Working Out as a Daily Habit

Even though a lot of us think about tackling a new exercise program when the new year starts, summer can also be the perfect time to build new simple exercise habits. The nicer weather can make it easier to start moving more throughout the day. Maybe take a few breaks from work, enjoying a stroll around the block. Maybe plan some new fun outdoor adventures on the weekend that you meant to do a long time ago. With its numerous health benefits, exercise is a powerful tool at your disposal, not to dismiss.

Exercise Health Benefits

  • Enhances your happiness levels
  • Helps lessen your risk of heart disease
  • Can help you sleep better
  • Gives you an energy boost
  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Helps better memory
  • Can boost self-confidence and increase performance at work
  • Helps strengthen your immune system
  • Can help improve your life span

On a Final Note

Working out can be so beneficial to your health and wellness. Don’t forget that in order to build a new habit for good, you want to take steps that are easy to implement on a regular basis. And of course, consult your personal physician to make sure the exercise regimen you want to do is the right one for you. As Stanford professor Andrew Huberman recently stated in a Joe Rogan podcast, “Being physically active is superb at extending your life and improving your life.”

Until next time!

References

“#1842 – Andrew Huberman. The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast.” Open.spotify.com, 12 July 2022, open.spotify.com/episode/2BGyj7ukaq8aA29BsA1Yuk. Accessed 16 July 2022.

Dr. Axe. “11 Benefits of Exercise … Start Working out Today! – Dr. Axe.” Dr. Axe, 12 Sept. 2017, draxe.com/fitness/benefits-of-exercise/. Accessed 16 July 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Refreshing summer beverage
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Refreshing Beverages Anyone?

With summer being in full swing, who doesn’t feel the need to drink more water or other refreshing beverages during the day? Of course, clean, pure water is the best Primal beverage you can pick. But suppose you want a bit more variety. There are many acceptable options you can choose from that are not full of sugar, stimulants, thickening agents, or other artificial or detrimental ingredients.

Beverages Okay to Consume

  • Preferably filtered water; you can add cucumber slices, mint, or lemon wedges to it – so refreshing on a hot summer day! Avoid any waters that have flavoring, coloring, or sweetening. Steer clear of Vitamin water and other “enhanced” waters.
  • Sparkling water such as Perrier, San Pelegrino, or La Croix, with a squeeze of lime or lemon if you’d like. 
  • Homemade green juices, shakes, and smoothies (without any high-sugar fruits). As mentioned in a previous post, smoothies can be very simple by blending together just 2 or 3 ingredients of your choice. For example, you can have some coconut milk with frozen berries. Another idea is blending ice, cucumber, avocado, and tomato. There are tons of possibilities here! 
  • Tea, brewed at home. In general, black tea has the most caffeine, followed by green tea and then white. Herbal teas are yet another option. Avoid sweetened or flavored iced teas. As Mark Sisson specifies, “Homemade drinks are truly Primal.”
  • Coffee, in reasonable amounts. Steer clear of sugary or artificially sweetened coffee drinks.

On a Final Note

For a homemade sports drink, keep in mind that what really matters are the electrolytes sodium, chloride, and potassium. You will find sodium and chloride in basic table salt. You can get potassium from various foods like yogurt, broccoli, avocados, bananas, and spinach. Also, knowing that an average-sized lemon offers a nice amount of potassium, you can squeeze some lemon and add a teaspoon of table salt to your water for a simple “Primal” sports drink. Alternatively, there are brands like LMNT that can provide the needed electrolytes.

What is your favorite summer beverage?

Until next time!

References

Hyman, Mark. Food : What the Heck Should I Eat?. Little Brown & Co, Feb. 2018, pp. 251–52.

Sisson, Mark. “Soda Alternatives – Healthy Drinks.10 Ways to Quench a Primal Thirst.” Mark’s Daily Apple, 30 Sept. 2009,  Updated on March 27, 2014. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/soda-alternatives/. Accessed 4 July 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Why Cooking at Home Is Important

As mentioned in a previous post, convenience foods are everywhere nowadays and cooking from scratch has become quite rare. Who has the time to prepare home-cooked meals on a daily basis? We are always on the go, and weekends can be just as busy as the rest of the week. What we don’t realize, though, is that when we reach for convenience foods and on-the-go meal options, we do not necessarily fuel ourselves with real food – with nutrient-dense food. Only home-cooked meals made with whole foods can give us the right nutrients required for proper metabolic function. 

How to Make Homemade Dinners in No Time

You don’t have to cook every single day in order to obtain an optimal level of health and wellness. Most of us have busy schedules and aren’t able to set that time aside each day. Instead, you can implement a few different strategies into your weekly routine in order to obtain the same goal. Here are a few tips to make cooking easy, as explained in How to Be Well, by Dr. Frank Lipman:

  • If you usually don’t cook much, just make one or two dinners a week at first. Pick some very basic recipes.
  • Set some time aside on the weekend (“put it on your schedule”) to prep several dishes for the week. You can store these in the fridge or freezer, as required. 
  • Use a few essential time-saving tools like a slow cooker or pressure cooker, a steamer pot, an enameled cast-iron skillet or stainless-steel pan, an immersion hand blender, and maybe a veggie bullet.
  • How about Cooking Without a Recipe? Simple primal/paleo meals and snacks take no time to put together.
  • When cooking, always make extra so you have leftovers for the next day.
  • Meal kit delivery options like Blue Apron, Sunbasket, Green Chef, and Hello Fresh are yet another way to help you cook more often at home.

On a Final Note

Don’t forget to make kitchen time fun! Cooking can be the perfect time to listen to a podcast or some relaxing music. Cooking with friends and family can also lead to sharing new cooking techniques and ideas, along with a few laughs. What is your favorite strategy to cook more from scratch?

Until next time!

Reference

Lipman, Frank M D. How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life. Houghton Mifflin, 2019, pp. 52-3.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Importance of Whole Foods

Nutrient-dense foods give us an array of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids, among other things. A nutrient-dense whole foods diet can also be defined as an anti-inflammatory diet; of course, knowing that we are all unique individuals with specific requirements and sensitivities, always see which foods work for you and buy accordingly. Minimizing inflammation in the body helps in the prevention of chronic diseases and risk factors such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

As mentioned in my previous post, according to a new Frontiers in Nutrition study, our daily meals can easily be insufficient in iron, zinc, folate, calcium, and vitamins A and B12. Among the many nutrient-dense foods we can consume, some are specifically high in those nutrients: organs, small fish (and canned fish with bones), eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, bivalves, crustaceans, beef, lamb, goat, and goat milk. I discussed organ meats, small fish, and eggs in my last blog, so today I will discuss the other nutrient-dense foods listed above.

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Dark leafy greens offer a great amount of nutrients like calcium, iron, folate, fiber, and polyphenols. In How (& Why) to Eat More Vegetables, Dr. Thomas Cowan explains that when it comes to the chlorophyll in green vegetables, the “[i]ngested chlorophyll has many roles in mammals; it serves as a primary detoxifier of our tissues, it prevents cancer, improves vision and is usually found in plants with abundant vitamin C and folate, both crucial for cellular health and overall disease prevention.” 

Since we can easily find a great number of green vegetables to consume, benefiting daily from what chlorophyll offers in abundance (the greener the plant) is an easy way to sustain our health and wellness goals. I eat salads almost every day. And I Iove using some of Dr. Cowan’s Garden powders in order to have a greater variety of plants in my diet. These powders are very helpful, especially in winter. Do not forget to add herbs to your daily dishes too! And consuming algae (like chlorella and spirulina) when you can is a plus!

Bivalves and Crustaceans

Bivalves like clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops are highly nutritional, loaded with protein, minerals (especially zinc and B12), and healthy fats. 

Consuming crustaceans like shrimp, crayfish, crab, and lobster will add more iron, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B12 to your meals. Wild-caught seafood is best for most picks. If unsure, refer to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide, the EWG updates, and ConsumerLab.

Grass-Fed Beef, Lamb, Goat 

Grass-fed meat has more nutrients and fewer toxins than conventional meat. It offers omega-3 fatty acids, CLA (a kind of fat that aids you to burn fat), trace minerals, and vitamins. So with the understanding that it is always better to buy local, pastured and 100 percent grass-fed (also called grass-fed and grass-finished, as opposed to grass-fed and grain-finished) is the way to go. 

The next priority would be to make sure the meat is USDA-certified organic. The extra cost is worth bypassing CAFO meat. If you have to eat the latter, avoid consuming any fat on it as this is where some of the meat toxins are stored rather than in the liver. The same goes for pork and mutton if you eat those, too.

Goat Milk

Goat (and sheep) milk are substantial sources of protein, MCT’s, and calcium, without containing the usual allergens that are linked to cow’s milk. Conventional cow milk has a protein (A1 casein) that can trigger inflammation in the gut. The A2 casein found in goat and sheep milk is usually fine, on the other hand. As highlighted in a previous post, full-fat raw dairy is probably the best pick, being high in vitamin A, K2, protein, and healthy fats.

On a Final Note

It may be more difficult nowadays to get all the nutrients we need in part because of the mass production of processed foods, soil depletion, and sometimes hard to get fresh, organic, local foods. But with a little effort and dedication, we can manage to improve the nutrient density of our everyday home-cooked meals. To your next delicious nutrient-dense dinner!

Until next time!

References

Dr. Axe. “The 30 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on the Planet.” Dr. Axe, 26 Sept. 2021, draxe.com/nutrition/nutrient-dense-foods/. Accessed 26 May 2022.

“Most Nutrient-Dense Foods for Biohackers.” Dave Asprey, 26 May 2022, daveasprey.com/nutrient-dense-foods-for-biohackers/. Accessed 26 May 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Nutrient Density

How about upping the amount of nutrients you get from your meals? Just making a few swaps and/or adding a handful of superfoods to your recipes can do the trick. 

Nutrient density is about the number of beneficial nutrients a food has in proportion to its calories (or energy content). As explained by Dr. Josh Axe, nutrient-dense foods are “real and unprocessed,” and not “chemically altered, manmade, or filled with synthetic ingredients.” 

According to a new Frontiers in Nutrition study, our daily meals can easily be insufficient in iron, zinc, folate, calcium, and vitamins A and B12. Among the many nutrient-dense foods one can consume, some are specifically high in those nutrients: organs, small fish (and canned fish with bones), eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, bivalves, crustaceans, beef, lamb, goat, and goat milk. 

Organs

As mentioned in a previous post, including organ meats into our diet provides such an array of beneficial nutrients! Even just once a week can be sufficient, especially when it comes to a superfood like liver. (And consuming liver is okay, as most of the toxins are stored in the fat of the animal, and not the liver). 

Most ancestral diets included organ meats, alongside bones, cartilage and skin, fats, seafood, and wild plants. You can consume organ meats (such as liver, heart, brain, and intestines) from cows, pigs, lambs, goats, chickens and ducks, for instance.

Small Fish

Wild-caught seafood provides an abundance of healthy fats and micronutrients. It is usually recommended to avoid the bigger fish (tuna, shark, swordfish, etc.) in the food chain as there is more chance for them to be contaminated with a high amount of mercury. So the best picks are probably anchovies, haddock, sockeye salmon, petrale sole, wild tilapia, sardines, and wild trout. If you buy canned fish, it is better to buy fish canned in water, as even the olive oil used by some brands can be questionable.

Eggs

Egg yolks contain omega-3 fats, saturated fats, vitamins A, E, K2, and B complex, choline, healthy cholesterol, a complete amino acid profile, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. As explained in a previous post, in order to get the full array of nutrients, animals have to eat what they are meant to eat. When it comes to chickens, they should be eating things such as bugs, lizards, worms, and grass. So if you buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens, the yolk is going to have a deep-yellow/slight orange color. This color is a sign of a nutrient-rich egg. If you buy eggs of mostly grain-fed chickens, the yolk is going to have a pale-yellow color. 

On a Final Note

Organ meats, small fish, and eggs are my favorites. I consume these every week. There are many more nutrient-dense foods, of course, and I will expand on a few more in my next blog post. In the meantime, have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Until next time!

References

Dr. Axe. “The 30 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on the Planet.” Dr. Axe, 26 Sept. 2021, draxe.com/nutrition/nutrient-dense-foods/. Accessed 26 May 2022.

“Most Nutrient-Dense Foods for Biohackers.” Dave Asprey, 26 May 2022, daveasprey.com/nutrient-dense-foods-for-biohackers/. Accessed 26 May 2022.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Cycling

I recently got a Trek FX 1 bike and I thoroughly enjoy it! Riding a bike outside allows me to easily do at least 3 hours of cardio each week, which I have found difficult to accomplish on a regular stationary bike so far. More than anything, I love the positive mood and overall well-being that ensue, ideal for any type of mental work one has to do.

As psychiatrist John Ratey, MD, mentioned, “The real reason we feel so good when we get our blood pumping is that it makes the brain function at its best.”

Numerous Health Benefits

As with any other type of cardiovascular activity, cycling lets you tap into fat burning, aids in muscle building, provides endurance training, boosts cognitive function, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances heart disease risk markers (such as triglycerides, HDL, and blood pressure).

Biking ideally a little bit every day can offer these more specific health benefits:

  • Helps with chronic inflammation
  • Lessens risk of cancer
  • Enhances joint health
  • Aids with maintaining weight
  • Ameliorates mobility
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Decreases all-cause premature mortality

When it comes to brain health more precisely, Ratey, who wrote Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, explains how research has confirmed that exercise intensifies alertness and perception, along with strengthening movement and coordination, improving attention and concentration, and helping with learning and memory; exercise “keeps the brain young.”

On a Final Note

Of course, within the Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid, cycling (or any other cardio activity) should be paired with strength training and some sprinting (safer on a stationary bike). Also, a little flexibility/mobility work is always welcome at the end of the day, or whenever you have a few minutes. So enjoy your cardio workouts for all of the above benefits. And if you don’t have a bike yet, maybe you should give cycling a try!

Until next time!

References

Mark, Sisson. “Benefits of Cycling for Health and Fitness.” Mark’s Daily Apple, 19 Apr. 2022, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/benefits-of-cycling-for-health-and-fitness/?utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=mda&utm_content=MDA&_kx=mk0fqpukHTKgWpX3wQ7I8fwKBsCt-EYRqPuvWUBzzwA%3D.QazHWz. Accessed 8 May 2022.

Dregni, Michael. “Healthy Revolutions.” Experience Life, Apr. 2022, pp. 58–63.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.