Very simple and incredibly yummy, combining a quality whey protein powder with Greek yogurt gives you a perfect muscle building, low fat, recovery-promoting snack that is as simple as it gets to prepare. I love Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein (got to get the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor) which gives me 30 grams of high quality protein with all essential and non-essential amino acids per scoop (they don't pay me to say that, although I wish they did). This stuff is around $15 at Wal-Mart and it mixes well with milk, almond milk (my fav) or water.
Adding a scoop to one cup of Greek yogurt gives you close to 50 grams of protein, along with the valuable probiotics in the yogurt and a nice balance of carbs to really jump start recovery after an intense workout. I like Cabot's Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt, but there are as many varieties out there as one can imagine. Some of you guys might prefer the fat-free Greek options available and the plain is almost as yummy when you mix in the whey powder. Obviously the plain has a significantly lower sugar content which is something that many people need to be aware of, and yes there are sugar-free whey protein powders out there for y'all too :)
This is also a great option as a mid-day snack or meal for those of you looking to start eating 5-6 smaller meals a day, verses the old 3 meals a day routine. If you aren't doing that, you should be as a way increase your metabolism (read: burning calories) and maintaining a healthier and more stable blood sugar level throughout the day.
In Wellness and Love,
Two ways to go about treating and managing mild to moderate depression naturally are among the easiest and healthiest things that you can do for yourself. First, getting an adequate amount of Vitamin D is essential for mood regulation. Our bodies are capable of producing Vitamin D through sunlight exposure, yet those of us living north of Atlanta, GA can have a difficult time producing enough Vitamin D through sunlight exposure alone. If this is geographically the case for you, work towards consuming more Vitamin D rich foods (dairy or foods fortified with Vitamin D). You can also take a Vitamin D supplement, which is recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, as a means to getting an adequate supply of Vitamin D each day. His recommendation is to supplement with 2000 IU's of Vitamin D per day. As always, prior to taking any food or sports supplements, consult with your trusted healthcare practitioner beforehand. If you are on certain medications, too much sunlight exposure can negative side effects. Each of us has to be intelligent with how much sun exposure that you get, obviously you don't want to stay in the sun long enough to burn.
The second way to naturally treat and manage depression is by exercising. In fact, exercise has been scientifically shown to be more effective at treating mild to moderate depression than current antidepressant medications. Even light to moderate exercise performed 3-4 times per week for a duration of 20-30 minutes can have a profoundly positive impact on depression and overall feelings of well-being. As a fitness trainer, I always recommend that you start slow and focus on increasing movement and physical activity each day. As your fitness levels improve, begin more structured workouts and increase intensity as appropriate. Always engage in activities that you enjoy and if you can perform them outside in the sun, you're double-dipping! Just remember to stay well hydrated before, during, and after exercising! Check with your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program, particularly if you have any health conditions. If you are taking antidepressant medications, never stop taking the medications without consulting your prescribing physician.
In Wellness and Love,
Given the current Covid-19 pandemic that we as a planet are facing, the importance of taking steps to increase your body’s natural immunity is more important that ever. The great news is, there are simple, easy-to-implement steps that you can incorporate into your daily activities that can help your body have its best chance at warding off bacteria, virus, and other disease-causing agents. Below, I have complied a list of what I personally think are the top 10 ways to naturally improve immune function. This is not an all-inclusive list, as there are certainly other healthy ways and steps to improve immunity in addition to these ten steps I have listed. As always, before changing your diet or exercise routines, check with your trusted healthcare provider to make certain it is beneficial for you.
That being said, let’s get to the good stuff! The steps below are in no particular order, but here are my top 10 favorites:
(1) Eat an Abundance of Fruits and Vegetables: When it comes to fruits and veggies, think COLOR! The colorful varieties are high in antioxidants, which help to repair the damage caused by free radicals we both ingest and encounter from our environment. Free radicals basically cause oxidation (think rust) inside of the body, which can damage or kill otherwise healthy cells in our bodies. The less healthy cells we have, the more opportunity there is for unhealthy and diseased cells to exist inside of us.
(2) Take an Elderberry Supplement: Elderberries have an insanely high antioxidant count, and have actual clinical trial findings to support their effectiveness in battling viral infection symptoms. A clinical trial conducted by Thom, Wadestein, Wollan, & Zakay-Rones in 2004 found that a control group of adults infected with the influenza virus that were given 15ml of elderberry syrup 4 times per day for 15 days, had their influenza symptoms relieved on average of 4 days earlier compared to the group given 15ml of placebo. While more research is needed to further evaluate elderberry’s positive effect on treating symptoms of the flu virus, these findings are extremely encouraging and worth consideration.
(3) Eat Garlic: Garlic has been used for medicinal reasons for centuries and for good reason! It is great for cardiovascular health, but also has a powerful positive effect on our digestive system. By helping to improve digestion, it helps support the healthy gut flora needed for proper immune function. Garlic also provides a nice natural supple of Vitamins C and B6, and the mineral manganese, copper, and calcium. Garlic has strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
(4) Get Enough Vitamin D: While sunlight does stimulate the production of Vitamin D in the body, for most of us it is difficult to get enough sunlight in order to have ample amounts of vitamin D needed for proper health. Therefore, looking into a quality vitamin D supplement can help ensure you have the amounts needed from optimal health. Vitamin D has natural antibacterial and disease-fighting properties. Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s important to ask your healthcare provider prior to supplementing this vitamin.
(5) Get Plenty of Sleep: In today’s hustle and bustle societies, getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night as an adult can be challenging. The thing is, with less that 7 hours of sleep per night, there is a marked decrease in the body’s immune system function. It could mean getting creative, but if you struggle to get this amount of sleep on a daily basis, find potential activities that you can omit from your life in order to carve out more time for sleep. And yes, naps do count toward this daily total!
(6) Decrease Your Levels of Stress: Stress increases the production and release of a hormone called Cortisol which has a negative effect on the body. Cortisol increases the level of systemic inflammation in the body and can also stimulate unwanted weight gain. Not maintaining a healthy body weight can lead to a whole separate list of health conditions, but in terms of immunity, Cortisol kills. Meditate, exercise, engage in healthy activities with others, and search for other ways to naturally reduce stress and your body will thank you!
(7) Consume Probiotics: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can replenish the healthy flora found in the digestive tract. Not only do these healthy bacteria aid in digestion, but they also improve immune system function. You can easily find probiotic supplements at health food stores and pharmacies, but foods such as Greek yogurt, Kombucha tea, and other fermented foods often times contain large amounts of probiotics.
(8) Get Regular Chiropractic Adjustments: While Chiropractic adjustments can make no claim of curing any disease, what we do know is adjustments cause a spike in immune system competence. Up to a 200% increase in fact, as found in a study conducted by Dr. Ronald Pero, Ph.D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York’s Preventive Medicine Institute and professor of medicine at New York University. Again, while Chiropractic care can make no claim of curing any infection or disease, it can have a drastic impact on your body’s natural ability to fight off infection and to heal from the inside out. Get you, your kids, and loved ones regularly checked and adjusted by a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic.
(9) Get Enough Exercise: Getting an ample amount of exercise on a daily basis is one of the most important, yet under-utilized means of improving the immune system. The thing is, you can keep it simple when it comes to exercise and still reap the benefits. Simply walking at a brisk pace 20-30 minutes 4 to 5 days a week can provide drastic improvements to overall health. If walking is not an option, look into low impact ways to get the body moving.
(10) Take Vitamin C: We have heard if for years, Vitamin C helps to build the immune system. So why aren’t more people using vitamin C supplements to improve immunity? That’s the Million Dollar question! Vitamin C is essential for growth and repair of healthy tissue throughout the body and is a powerful antioxidant. 500mg a day has been shown to help boost the immune system.
So, there you have it, my top 10 list of natural immune system boosters! Hope this helps open the door for more investigation, conversations, and action steps towards improving your overall health. Have a discussion with your healthcare provider to see which steps are safe for you!
In Wellness and Love,
Creatine is one of the most widely used sports supplements in the world of athletic competition. Although bodybuilders and power lifters are primary users of this supplement, athletes from ranging from sprinting to golf can be found using creatine in attempts to increase athletic performance. Creatine is even used in the treatment of conditions and diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure, arthritis, high cholesterol, and emotional illnesses including bipolar disorder and depression. WedMD reports that creatine is also used to assist in slowing the negative effects of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Believe it or not, I am so old that I remember when creatine supplements hit the market back in the 1990’s. I even did a term paper on creatine monohydrate (the most popular variety of creatine supplements) back in my Exercise Physiology class in undergraduate school! So what exactly is creatine? Very simply, it is a compound that is used in energy production within the body, in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The theory behind creatine supplementation is that it increases the amount of ATP available to the muscles, thereby helping to fuel high intensity exercise. Creatine is naturally occurring and it is found in meat sources including red meat and some fish, but most of the creatine is destroyed in these sources once they are cooked. The body also naturally produces creatine in the form of the amino acids L-arginine, glycine and L-methionine.
So what’s all the buzz about in terms of increased athletic performance? Understand that the main theory behind creatine, being that it is naturally produced and can be naturally derived from whole food sources, is this: More is Better. There is research that suggests that it can help improve athletic performance in high intensity activities such as weight lifting and sprinting because of its suggested ability to increase ATP production. Creatine is also promoted as a supplement that can increase muscle mass, and there is science to support this claim, particularly in those with injuries and diseases affecting the skeletal muscle. It does not appear to be effective at increasing muscle mass in older adults over the age of 60. Some other claimed benefits include aiding in the recovery from intense exercise, decreasing the amount of lactic acid build up after exercise, and an ability to decrease muscle fatigue. Research shows that creatine does not improve endurance performance, and that it does not have an anabolic effect on the muscles (meaning ability to increase muscle mass).
Because creatine is found in red meat and fish, vegetarians and vegans typically have a lower amount of creatine in their bodies, therefore supplementation for this population seems to offer the most benefit. Skeletal muscle can only store a certain amount of creatine and any excess consumed is excreted in the urine in a by-product called creatinine.
Insulin is needed in order for creatine to be transported and assimilated by the muscle tissue. Many creatine supplements combine it with simple carbohydrate sources (sugar) to increase uptake, so a good deal of the supplements available are sports-type drinks and the consumer simply adds the supplement powder to water and drinks it. Others suggest that you take the supplement with fruit juice.
There are some side effects to be aware of if choosing to add a creatine supplement to your diet. High doses can have a negative impact on you liver and kidneys. There is also some evidence that over-consumption can result in formaldehyde being formed in the body as a by-product (not good). It also increases water retention, which can account for some of the increase in the appearance of muscle mass. Other potential side effects include muscle cramps, stomach cramps, diarrhea, loss of appetite and nausea. Always check with your healthcare provider before adding any supplement to your diet and always do your homework J There is a potential for drug interactions if you’re currently using OTC or prescription medications, particularly those used to treat or manipulate kidney and liver functioning. So definitely use caution when using this supplement.
In Wellness and Love,
There are several varieties of the leafy vegetable chard, such as Swiss and Rainbow chard, and it’s among the healthiest food options available to us. Here a quick list of some of the health benefits that chard offers:
(1) Chard is high in micronutrients including vitamins E, K, Niacin, Folic Acid, and the minerals potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc.
(2) Chard is high in cancer-fighting antioxidants including lutein and quercetin. Lutein is extremely important in eye health and can drastically reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in older adults).
(3) Being high in phytochemicals and cholorphyl, chard can help reduce the risk of cancer.
(4) Chard is a good source of fiber which is important for digestive health, cancer prevention, and weight management.
(5) Because of its high fiber content and the presence of syringic acid, chard can assist in regulation of blood sugar levels, which is important in prevention and management of Type-II Diabetes.
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.