What are Adaptogens

Adaptogens are natural substances, like herbs, that work to regulate certain hormones and balance the body. They can help to increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function (Duke,1).  These herbs have been used for thousands of years for their natural health benefits, like boosting the immune system, restoring balance, managing weight, increasing physical endurance, as well as mental focus and mood.

Adaptogens grow in various environments, such as high altitude, rugged mountain regions, extreme cold, low oxygen and other stressful conditions. Many types grow in China, India, Korea, and Russia, while others are native to Europe and North America. Some are ready to harvest in a year, while others take years to mature to have the medicinal properties that they are used for.

4 Popular Adaptogens:

  1. Panax Ginseng: (AKA Asian Ginseng)
    Panax Ginseng grows in the mountainous forests of eastern Manchuria, northern China, and Korea. It is almost extinct in the wild. This type of adaptogen is used to improve calmness and memory performance. Some research states that it can help lower blood sugar levels.
  2. Astragalus:
    Astragalus is native to china and is grown in full sun and sandy soil with low nitrogen levels. It is used in Chinese medicine to decrease stress hormones and improve the stress response. It has also been shown to boost immunity. Many studies show that it can boost cortisol levels, allowing the body to respond better to types of stress. Today, it is commonly used for lack of appetite, organ prolapse, fatigue and wasting and thirsting syndrome. It is also used to enhance the immune system, preventing colds, and other illnesses.
  3. Cordyceps:
    Cordyceps is a type of fungus that grows on the Himalaya Mountains in Tibet and Bhutan. It is rare to find. They are high in antioxidants and contains immune-enhancing properties. It is now used to treat illnesses associated with the kidneys. It is also used to treat infertility in men and women, frequent urination, night sweats, dizziness and fatigue.
  4. Holy Basil:
    It is found throughout the lowlands of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Southern China and Malaysia. It is known for its antibacterial, antidepressant, antioxidant and antiviral properties. It is also a diuretic, and galactogogue.
References
Winston, D., & Maimes, S. (2007). Adaptogens: herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

 

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Easy Veggie Chips!

This recipe is very easy and you can use a variety of vegetables! I used beets, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Veggie Chips

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5 potatoes or vegetable of choice
2 tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)
1 tbsp salt
Seasoning of choice

Slice vegetables thin and place in a bowl and add oil, salt and seasoning of choice. I used garlic powder and pepper. Place in air fryer and cook for 20 minutes or until they are hard like chips. Make sure to shake the basket every 5-10 minutes. Take them out of air fryer and toss with salt and seasoning. 

Enjoy!

Collagen Brownies

The mushiest, chocolatey-est brownies ever! With added collagen to help keep your skin, hair and nails healthy.

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Collagen Brownies

1/2 cup melted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 scoop collagen powder

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 inch pan. Whisk butter, olive oil and sugar in a large bowl. Add apple sauce and vanilla and whisk until blended. Sift flour, cocoa powder salt and collagen in a separate bowl and fold it into the wet ingredients. Spread the mixture into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Tip: To check if brownies are done, stick a fork into the brownies. If the fork comes out clean they are done!

Turmeric Benefits

Growing up, my father put turmeric on everything, from eggs to pasta. It was such a common spice in my household that I thought everyone used it as much as we did. Until I went away to college, I never realized how diverse this spice actually was. To my astonishment, none of my roommates have ever seen it in real life, let alone tasted it, and have only heard of it through social media. Now, it is one of the most popular spices as it is popping up everywhere for its abundant nutritious properties.

Turmeric is a yellow root that comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It has been used for over 4,000 years.  It grows in India and Southeast Asian countries. Turmeric contains a compound called curcuminoids and the active substance in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is a polyphenol that has many health benefits. The amount of curcumin in turmeric varies from species to species, growing conditions, and timing of growth and harvest.  Many studies look at the health benefits of curcumin itself instead of the whole turmeric. Turmeric has much more beneficial qualities than its popular active substance.

Health benefits of turmeric:

  • Inflammation: Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory substance. Chronic inflammation can stress the body, causing your body to age more quickly and lead to many health problems including a poor immune system. It causes wrinkles and forces your organs to not work as well as they should. Similarly, consuming turmeric daily can help reduce arthritis pain caused by inflammation.
  • Decreased cancer risk: Since the spice is a natural anti-inflammatory, it has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. It can halt the growth of blood vessels in tumors, reducing the risk of cancer spreading throughout the body.
  • Detoxifies the body: Turmeric has been shown to improve liver function and reduce toxicity in the body. The antioxidants in turmeric can remove toxic materials and reduce ailments in the liver.
  • Natural pain reliever: the curcuminoids in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, while curcumin is a natural pain reliever. It has been used for centuries as a topical agent; however, it does stain clothes and skin. It is also more effective when mixed with black pepper since the pepper helps your body absorb the curcumin.
  • Weight loss: curcumin has been shown to speed metabolism and aid digestion, while also detoxifying the body. It has also been shown to prevent fat accumulation in adipose tissue, reducing weight gain.

You can purchase turmeric in powder form, capsules, and tablets. It is ideal to look for products that state 95 percent curcuminoids. I use turmeric in my cooking rather than taking it in capsule or tablet form.  Turmeric root that is purchased from the grocery store can also be juiced or added to smoothies.  It goes great when sautéing onions and other vegetables.

Ketogenic Diet 101

The Ketogenic diet is the newest fad diet that has been buzzing around the news. Although this diet seems new to us, it has actually been practiced for decades. It is based on science and physiology, so it has been shown to work well for many people.

So what is it and why is it so popular?

The Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet that is intended to help you lose weight and improve your health. The notion of this diet is to put your body in the metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis is when your body breaks down fat for energy. This is a natural survival state your body initiates when you are low on food. During this process, your body produces ketones in the liver when it breaks down fats. Since your body’s main source of energy is from carbs, when you do not eat adequate amounts of carbs, your body looks for other sources of energy, like fat and protein.

This diet does not force you to count calories or reduce portion sizes, it is a different approach to weight loss. It is basically changing your main sources of food, so your body reacts differently, causing you to lose weight.

Benefits:

Weight loss: since your body will be using fat for energy, your body will burn more amounts of fat than usual. It has been shown that this diet has better results than a low-fat diet.

Blood sugar: since you will be eating minimal carbohydrate and sugar, your blood sugar levels will drop. This may be a helpful way to manage diabetes when compared to other diets.

Acne: Since you will be consuming less processed foods and sugar, you may have less acne.

What can you eat?

Healthy fats: 80% of your diet
Olive oil
coconut oil
grass-fed butter
some nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds)
MTC oil (medium chain triglycerides oil from coconuts)

Non-starchy vegetables:  5% of your diet
(aka low carb veggies)
leafy greens
cucumbers
zucchini
asparagus
avocados
tomatoes
onions

High protein foods: 20% of your diet
Grass-fed meat
cage free eggs
bone broth
wild caught fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
Full-fat dairy products (butter, cream)

Foods to avoid

Sugary foods (soda, cake, etc)
grains or starches
fruit
root vegetables and beans
Alcohol

Example meal plan:

Breakfast: eggs with tomatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese
Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken, almonds, and veggies
Dinner: Zoodles with tomato sauce and mozzarella
 

 

Amazing Benefits of our Favorite Spice

While studying yesterday, I came across the beneficial properties of cinnamon and became very intrigued by its history of medicinal uses.  It has been used for thousands of years, dating back to ancient Egypt. Little did we know that the fragrant spice that fills the air on Christmas morning could help reduce blood sugar and prevent many common diseases.

Cassia Cinnamon is the most common type of cinnamon that is used in America today. While Ceylon cinnamon is used in many other countries and is known as “true cinnamon.” The spice is made from the bark of Cinnamomum trees, while the essential oil can be made from the bark, leaves or twigs. The smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the compound known as cinnamaldehyde. This compound is also responsible for the beneficial properties of cinnamon.

Ceylon is milder and sweeter in flavor and is the best version for your health.

Health Benefits

Antioxidants: as we know, antioxidants reduce free radical damage. This warming spice has been shown to have one of the highest antioxidant levels when compared to other commonly used spices. They contain polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids. These antioxidants can help reduce free radicals, which can help reduce risks of many diseases and illnesses.

Anti-inflammatory properties: the beneficial antioxidants in cinnamon also help reduce inflammation. This can lower the risk of many diseases, like cancer, heart disease, infections and repair tissues. In relation, this can help reduce pain, allergic reactions, relieve muscle soreness and many other common inflammatory issues.

Heart Health: cinnamon has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure.  The compounds in cinnamon help reduce LDL cholesterol while keeping HDL cholesterol stable. LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol, while HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol.

Improve Sensitivity to Insulin: Insulin is the hormone that is needed to keep blood sugar balanced. Cinnamon is beneficial to people who are resistant to the effects of insulin since it increases the sensitivity to insulin. Diseases that revolve around insulin resistance are type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

While there is no established dose that is recommended for cinnamon, it has been shown that ½ to 1 teaspoon of powder added to your daily diet can have beneficial properties. You can add it to your shakes, oatmeal and much more. It is found in more dishes than you think!

The Nutritious Reality of Life

The thought of health and wellness seems to revolve around $30 dollar protein powders and even more expensive barre and anti-gravity yoga classes. Instagram stars give the impression that you have to live in a tropical dreamland with fresh fruit hanging from the trees and make the ultimate smoothie bowl to eat nutritiously. In reality, living a healthy life is pretty simple.

It is not about “clean eating” or finding your “swolemate,” it is about treating your body well so you can live a long, happy life. There are so many lifestyle choices we need to make every day to stay healthy and be happy.

  1. It is important to exercise. Exercising vigorously is not a necessity but it is important to get up and move every day. Working out has positive effects on your heart, mind, and metabolism. Just 30 minutes of walking each day can help lower your risk of heart problems.
  2. Drink more water! As stated in my previous post, water is very important for your body to function properly. Not only do our bodies consist of mostly water, but water can also help remove waste and carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

 

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables! Not only can eating fruits and veggies give you more control over your weight, but they can make your skin clearer and brighter. It gives you a glow without pounds of makeup. Bright colored fruit and vegetables are full of antioxidants, helping to remove the free radicals in our bodies and remove toxins.
  2. Living in a healthy environment, to limit stress and clutter is also important. Organizing your home environment can help make your work, school and daily life less stressful. Knowing you do not have anything to do when you get home is a great way to help you live a longer, healthier life. Excess stress can lead to high blood pressure, bad eating habits and much more.
  3. You should try to be social. Hanging out with friends and family can help lower stress and make you happy. Many research studies show that you are at a greater risk of heart disease if you do not network with friends and family. Loneliness can not only cause depression, but it can be just as dangerous as smoking since it causes inflammation.
  4. Love yourself! I feel that the most important aspect of life is to accept yourself for who you are. You cannot change yourself, so it is important to accept your body and your personality. Confidence is the start to living happy and healthy.

The point I am trying to make is that you should focus on living a healthy lifestyle, instead of following a fad diet or what is trending on Instagram. Nutrition and living healthy are much easier than what they are made out to be.