WORKOUT OF THE DAY

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‘They say’ maybe you don’t need fish oil, after all. And maybe you don’t even need Vitamin D!?

Ten percent of the population in North America is reported to take both a fish oil and vitamin D supplement on a regular basis. We, too, have frequently pushed the importance of both of these supplements for good health.

But, in the name of being balanced, I wanted to report about a new study that was recently presented at an American Heart Association conference and published in the New England Journal of Medicine (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1809944) that is trying to prove us all wrong!

The research makes the bold claim that neither fish oil nor vitamin D—when taken by healthy people—is linked to lower rates of either cancer or heart disease.

(However, high doses of prescription fish in people with high triglycerides and other risk factors for heart disease DID, in fact, reduce the chances of heart-related death, according to the research).

The research included close to 26,000 healthy adults in the 50-plus category with no history of cancer or heart disease.

Participants were divided into groups. One group took 1 gram of fish oil and 2,000 international units of vitamin D daily, while another took the same dose of vitamin D plus a fish oil placebo. A third group took 1 gram of fish oil plus a vitamin D placebo, and a final group took two placebos.

After five years, the researchers concluded, when it came to cancer and heart disease, there was no benefit to taking either supplement.

So. Yeah. What do you think about that?

Here’s what I think: I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment…

The first thing that came to my mind was that the participants in the study only took 1 gram of fish oil per day, which I’d argue might not be a high enough dosage to receive many benefits. Check out our Fish Oil post here, where we discuss dosage (https://stoneagefuel.com/fish-oil-guide-better-heart-brain-health/).

To recap what we wrote about in our blog, one popular suggestion for figuring out how much fish oil you should take is as follows:

0.5 grams of EPA and DHA PER 10 POUNDS OF BODY WEIGHT. And if you’re recovering from an injury, are overweight, stressed out, not sleeping well or have a poor diet, this can even be upped to 0.75 to 1 grams per 10 lb. of bodyweight.

This means if you weigh 150 lb., then:

  1. Divide 150 by 10 = 15
  2. 5 g (of fish oil) and multiply that by 15
  3. 5 x 15 = 7.5 g

7.5 grams is considerably higher than the 1 gram of fish oil consumed by the participants in this study!

Second of all, while this new study might show there’s no link between fish oil in healthy adults and heart disease and cancer, as we have reported before, fish oil and vitamin D are linked to having health benefits beyond just cancer and heart disease. For example:

Fish Oil:

Known to:

-Improve mood

-Reduce inflammation

-Improve concentration and focus

-Improve bowel health.

And many people we know report it helps their athletic recovery at the gym (i.e. reduces DOMS).

Vitamin D:

Known to:

-Help maintain healthy bones and teeth

-Support immune system health

-Support brain health

-Support nervous system health

-Help regular insulin levels

And, of course, there’s the whole sunshine vitamin thing. If you go months at a time in colder weather climates where you don’t see much sun, then it’s super important to keep getting Vitamin D in the winter. Often times, the only option is a supplement. 

What do you think? Is this study onto something? Do you take fish oil? Vitamin D? Do you notice any benefits when you do?

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6-Week Challenge versus Lifelong change

2018 is wrapping up and 2019 is getting closer. In other words, BOOTCAMP season is here to rally the short-term fitness and diet enthusiasts far and wide!

 

30-day or 6-week fitness and diet challenges can be tempting. They make you feel like you’re committing to something valuable and manageable, as the short time frame of just 4 to 6 weeks seems less overwhelming than committing to something for one year, let alone for life. And they seem like a way to bring quick success in your life.

 

For the record, this doesn’t mean short term challenges aren’t valuable ever. They can be valuable to kick start you into something larger, but there needs to be a plan AFTER the 6 weeks are up! We find they’re also valuable when you are already on a fitness and diet journey, as a way to tighten up some of the changes you have ALREADY made. But a 30 day or 6-week challenge in a vacuum in your life, with no pre or post 6-week challenge plan, are generally not that useful for long term change.

 

Generally speaking, though, the whole concept of a short-term challenge is flawed. What happens after the 6-weeks are over?

 

Well, usually people just go back to their old habits of sluggishness and eating like crap, often because they exhausted all of their mental capacity during those six weeks, or because they didn’t see the IMMEDIATE results they were hoping for, so they wonder what it was all for anyway…

 

Here’s a TWO-STEP challenge to you:

 

  1. Commit yourself to a training program and a healthy way of eating for ONE YEAR minimum before you assess the results.

 

  1. Hire a coach for both fitness and diet, and surround yourself with a support team

 

Here, we’ll steer you in the right direction:

 

Diet: Commit for a year

 

We’re a big fan of Precision Nutrition because when you sign up as a client with them, you get a personal coach and coaching for an entire year, as well as daily lessons to complete and access to an online community, where you can connect with others who are also going through the PN program.

 

The idea with PN is that it’s a full year long commitment, and they really focus on helping you make small changes slowly build into big, and more importantly, lasting change. Check out more on the PN website here: (https://www.precisionnutrition.com/). They also have a great blog with a wealth of reliable and useful information.

 

Fitness: Coach for life and community

 

While Precision Nutrition does a great job tackling the psychology of change and putting you on the path to eating and moving better for life, what’s missing is that all-important IN-PERSON coaching and greater community of people to keep you on track (PN is a 100 percent online program). If you become a PN client, they strongly encourage you to also create a support network of people in your real life.

 

This is where we come in:

 

With us, you’ll also have a coach (not just for a year) but for life to work with you at whatever fitness level you’re currently at to improve how you move, heal injuries, and become more fit than you ever could have imagined. You’ll also be surrounded by likeminded, health conscious people who will quickly become both your supporters and friends, making your new, healthier way of living much easier to stick with.

 

Contact us now for more information.

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Are you eating enough sumac? What about sorghum? Or Wakame?

You’re a full grown adult. It’s rare you come across a new food you didn’t know existed, right? It would almost be like someone telling you there’s a new color you have never seen before? It just doesn’t happen…very often, that is.

Today’s the day: I’m about to tell you about some spices and foods that likely aren’t on your radar, and that might be hugely beneficial to your health.

Starting with…

Sumac

Sumac is a spice, from the Middle East, that has an antioxidant measurement that legitimately raises the bar. Truth: Antioxidants are higher in sumac than any other food!

You know how they say kale is a superfood because it’s ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is high? In other words, kale is high in antioxidants. Well, sumac puts kale to shame, as it’s 176 times higher than kale.

Beware, though, you only need a little bit of sumac sprinkled on your salad. It’s salty and lemony (a great salt substitute if you’re afraid of too much salt in your diet), and a little bit goes a long way.

Baobab Fruit

That’s right: A new fruit is in town. It’s tangy and a little citrusy, and it’s called baobab fruit. From a tree grown in Africa, its fruit and seeds and leaves have only come to the western world recently (since about 2008). At least, that’s the year the European Union authorized it as an ingredient.

Like Sumac, Baobab fruit is incredibly high in antioxidants. Acai is another popular fruit known for being high in antioxidants, but Baobab’s ORAC is 40 percent higher than Acai! It also boasts six times amount of vitamin C as oranges and twice the amount of calcium as milk.

Sometimes you can get it at Whole Foods, but other times you need to go to an African grocery store to find it (which can be quite rare depending on where you live). Read more about this fruit here: (https://www.powbab.com/blogs/news/6051886-what-does-baobab-fruit-taste-like).

Sorghum

You may have heard the word sorghum, as it is becoming more and more common on superfood lists these days, but you likely haven’t thought about what it actually is.

Basically, it’s an ancient grain (also from Africa) and can be prepared like rice, or ground into flour, or even used in beer. What’s great about it, however, is it’s gluten-free and is a good source of protein. And once again, antioxidants are high. Check out more here: (https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jane-dummer/sorghum-ancient-grain_b_6888394.html)

Teff

Similarly, teff is a cereal grass (from North Africa) that is high in minerals like iron and zinc. Like sorghum, it’s also gluten-free. It can be cooked into things like polenta of flat-breads, or you can turn it into gluten-free pancakes!

Wakame and Arame

It’s probably not news that seaweed has become more popular and healthy than it appeared to be when you were a child, but did you know certain types of seaweeds are better than others: Enter Wakame and Arame.

What makes wakame, a seaweed, particularly beneficial is its high mineral and vitamin levels—magnesium, iodine, calcium, and iron, as well as Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and K. Pretty much all the vitamins, are found in this seaweed. It’s also high in folate, which helps your body make new cells (and is especially important for pregnant women).

As for Arame, it’s actually a type of kelp that usually gets reconstituted as a liquid and is then added to soups and casseroles. Like Wakame, Arame is high in vitamins and minerals and also super high in antioxidant capacity.

Arracacha

If you’re looking to replace potatoes or sweet potatoes and are tired of yucca root, this South American root vegetable Arracacha might be the right call for you. Its flavor is a cross between celery root and carrot, and it’s great for purees, mashes, and soups. However, unlike potatoes and sweet potatoes, Arracacha is pretty low in calories and is also high in calcium.

Purslane

A new lettuce has emerged, except it’s actually a weed, like a dandelion, and it’s called purslane. It’s popular in both Greek and Mexican cuisine and is super high in Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as in vitamin C and E, and it’s also a great source of soluble fiber. Basically, though, it’s a lettuce. It’s crunchy, but also offers a bit of a lemony kick. It’s a perfect addition to mix with other lettuces, or spinach, in a salad.

Feel free to add to the list: What foods and spices do you use that have health benefits that others might not know about? Share your secrets!

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Control your serotonin levels and become resilient to seasonal depression this winter

One minute the sun is shining at the hot beach, the next minute you’re stoked for the leaves to change colors and the slightly cooler weather to roll in. Fast forward another month, and there you are sitting at home wallowing in the dark, your energy levels at an ultimate low and nothing can convince you to leave the house.

Yep, seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as they call it, is a real thing, for many many people.

In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health says five percent of the population in the U.S. suffer from SAD to some degree—and many more suffer from a milder form of SAD generally referred to as the Winter Blues—and 80 percent of those who do are women.

This has led to a theory that women are genetically predisposed to SAD.

Being genetically predisposed to depression isn’t a radical new thought.

Past research, for example, tells us those who carry a gene called 5-HTTLPR are more likely to develop depression and SAD.

This gene essentially plays a role in regulating how effectively serotonin—the happiness neurotransmitter—gets removed from the brain. Those with the gene = more likely to become depressed or develop SAD.

Whether you’re genetically predisposed or not, anyone can become a victim to SAD—or at the very least anyone can be affected by the winter blues—as SAD simply stems from insufficient sunlight.

This, of course, means the condition is generally worse in places around the world where months go by with days with little to no sunshine.

Hormonally speaking, more daylight stops serotonin from being removed from the brain. Thus, sunshine sort of acts as a natural anti-depressant.

Without enough of it, your serotonin levels can push you to become SAD. Read more about serotonin and how it affects your mood here: (https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin#mental-health).

Back to the genetic predisposition for a minute…

Being genetically predisposed to SAD was the impetus behind a recent Danish study published in the Journal European Neuropsychopharmacology (https://www.europeanneuropsychopharmacology.com/article/S0924-977X(18)30164-0/fulltext).

The research team sought to discover why some people, though they carry the 5-HTTLPR gene, manage to become resilient to SAD and depression.

The research is pretty fascinating:

The study looked at 23 participants who have not experienced depression but who carry the 5-HTTLPR gene. It then looked at their serotonin levels in both the summer and the winter months.

Generally, serotonin levels are higher in the summer and lower in the winter (about 10 percent higher) but the participants in the study—who were all allegedly susceptible to SAD because of their 5-HTTLPR gene—were able to control their serotonin levels, so their levels of serotonin remained the same during all seasons, making them essentially naturally SAD-resilient!

Obviously, this study is a super small stud with only 23 participants, but the researchers are hopeful this can lead to new research about ways to control and prevent people from developing SAD and other forms of depression.

Until then, here are some practical ways to ensure you don’t become SAD this winter:

Keep Gymmin:

Though we might be admittedly biased, there’s tons of evidence—including a study from the Cochrane Review that reviewed 30 other clinical studies—suggesting exercise improves symptoms of depression, including those associated with SAD.

Basically, working out helps stabilize your mood. Bonus if you can get outside for walks or runs or hikes even in the colder months, as you will probably benefit even more from at least a little bit of natural sunlight during the shorter days of winter. Or…start skiing this winter!

Don’t give in to the carb cravings:

It’s natural for a person who is depressed to have cravings for carbohydrates because they promote serotonin production, but as you know refined carbohydrates cause more damage than good—sugar spike leads to a sugar crash, obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and on and on.

So keep on selecting whole, unprocessed foods to keep your body functioning well.

Fish Oil:

Some science has linked SAD and other forms of depression to Omega-3 deficiencies. Omega-3 fatty acids seem to help serotonin pass through cell membranes more effectively.

So if you’re not already doing so, consider taking a fish oil supplement this winter. Read more about the importance of fish oil in a recent piece we posted HERE.

Vitamin D:

Same goes for Vitamin D—the sunshine vitamin. If you’re not already taking vitamin D, do it! Especially in the winter.

SAD-Vacation Planning:

If you know February, for example, is when seasonal depression hits you hardest, try to get away sometime in February, if life and work permits, to somewhere with reliable sunshine.

It makes more sense to go on vacation when your body really needs it than in July when there’s plenty of sunshine at home, doesn’t it?

Keep Socializing:

This might sound obvious, and maybe a little lame, but when you’re feeling down it’s easy to want to hibernate yourself when the reality is connections with other human beings is one of the most, if the not single most important thing, for our happiness.

Schedule social events in advance with people so you’re less likely to bail, to ensure you get out and get social even when you’re tempted to stay home.

Light Therapy? Tanning?

This one might be a little more “out there,” but there’s evidence that 30 minutes of light therapy can help boost energy levels.

Essentially, light therapy devices are designed to give off light that tricks you into thinking it’s real sunlight. Read more about light therapy here: (https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/light-therapy/about/pac-20384604)

In short, there are several different types of light therapy devices—dawn simulation, portable light boxes, and battery-powered head visors to name a few. Some doctors event prescribe various forms of light therapy to their patients with SAD.

And although this one is going to be a tough sell because of the whole cancer thing, your mood is also important, too, right?

Soooooooo, an infrequent tan in a tanning bed in the winter (as long as you don’t let yourself burn) might be something else to consider. Just a thought.

Please share your best tips for staying HAPPY and avoiding SAD this winter.

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Embrace the pumpkin this pumpkin season

 

It’s the pumpkin-spiced everything season, and there’s some beneficial health value in getting more involved with this unassuming fruit this year in greater ways than just carving one up for Hallowe’en…

 

Five Health Benefits of Pumpkin include:

  1. Immune System

One cup of cooked pumpkin has 245% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. It’s also a great source of beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A.

Vitamin A is important for strengthening your immune system. Research has also found those will low levels of vitamin A tend to have weaker immune systems. Check out this 2015 study for more (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26121194). Further, it’s also a good source of vitamin C, which, among other things, is an important vitamin for increasing your white blood cell production—another key to a strong immune system.

 

  1. Heart Health

If you don’t like bananas, pumpkin is another great source of potassium, which is helpful for the heart. Specifically, those with higher potassium intake have lower blood pressure and are at a reduced risk of having as stroke (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27792643), two risk factors in developing heart disease.

 

  1. Eye Health

If you have never heard of lutein or zeaxanthin, I admit I hadn’t either. They are two compounds linked to lowering the risk of age-related eye problems, eyesight loss and cataracts. And they are found in high levels in pumpkin.

 

  1. Weight Loss?

Pumpkin has fewer than 50 calories per cup, as 94 percent of it is just water. Check out its full nutrient profile here (https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2601/2).

This means you can consume more pumpkin than other carbs, such as potatoes, yet feel satiated. On top of this, it has lots of fibre, so some consider is a great food for weight loss.

 

  1. Skin Health

It’s also high in carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which is believed to act as a natural sunblock. Sounds kind of strange, but essentially when you eat it, the carotenoids get transported to various organs, including the skin. When in the skin, they help protect against UV rays from the sun. Don’t believe me? Read more in this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23053552).

If nothing else, it’s high in vitamin C, a vitamin that promotes healthy skin, as your body needs it to make collagen, a protein that keeps the skin (and bones) strong and healthy.

On top of this, it’s incredibly culinarily versatile and can be substituted in many delicious dishes—both savoury and sweet—for less healthy products like wheat flour and potatoes!

Note: If you buy canned pumpkin, make sure there’s no added sugar!

Here are some recipe ideas:

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes!

Pancake Mix ingredients:

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 4 Tbsp. coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves

Proceed as always with pancake making!

Pumpkin Soup topped with Roasted Pumpkin seeds that only takes 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups pumpkin
  • 1 onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt, pepper, cinnamon to taste
  • Optional: 1 sweet potato
  • Butter for frying the onion
  • 1 Cup coconut milk, coconut cream or heavy cream

 

Directions:

Sautee the onion and garlic in butter (or ghee) until soft. Add chicken broth, water and bring to a boil. Add pumpkin and sweet potato. Cook until soft. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Put back in the pot and add salt, pepper, cinnamon and coconut milk or heavy cream.

 

Top with roasted pumpkin seeds!

Healthy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp.pumpkin pie spice (or make it yourself with 1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (or use a banana as a sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts

 

Directions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients
  2. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin, butter or coconut oil and honey/maple syrup
  3. Put wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until smooth
  4. Spoon into a muffin tin
  5. Bake at 350 to 375 F for 20-25 minutes

What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? Add your recipe to comments.