The Ultimate Good Mood Guide

About 21 million adults suffer from mood disorders such as depression and bipolar, and 40 million have an anxiety disorder. What’s worse, a report last year by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that 40 percent of Americans are more anxious than they were the previous year. As for stress: three out of four adults say they’re stressed, 45 percent report lying awake at night, and 36 percent say they feel nervous or anxious.

What all this means is that more than a third of Americans struggle with depression, anxiety, or stress—and sometimes, all three. If you’re among them, you don’t have to suffer. Natural herbs, vitamins, and supplements can calm anxiety, soothe stress, and ease depression without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. Check with your doctor first to identify serious disorders, and if you’re taking prescription medication, rule out any interactions. Then try these 9 mood fixing solutions to feel better, faster.

1 PASSIONFLOWER

This flowering vine (Passifloraincarnata) grows throughout South America and in some parts of the southern United States. It’s been used in traditional herbal medicine for hundreds of years for a variety of conditions, and modern studies document the effectiveness of passionflower in relieving stress and anxiety. Passionflower appears to work by increasing the brain’s levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a compound that helps regulate mood. Some research shows that passionflower is as effective as prescription anti-anxiety medications without causing sedation or impacting job performance. It’s also helpful in promoting sleep. In one study, people who drank passionflower tea daily reported significant improvements in sleep quality

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for standardized whole-plant capsules or extracts with at least 0.8% flavonoids or isovitexin; 45–90 mg per day has been used for anxiety and stress. Pregnant women should avoid passionflower..

2 SAFFRON

From the threadlike red stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower, saffron has been revered for centuries as a culinary herb and a traditional medicine to treat depression, anxiety and inflammation. Saffron contains safranal and crocin, compounds that may ease depression by interacting with the brain’s serotonin and noradrenaline system. The antioxidants in saffron are also thought to protect brain cells from oxidative stress, linked with mood disorders. A number of studies show saffron can significantly reduce depression and, in some cases, may be as effective as a prescription antidepressant. Another study found that people who took crocin along with their antidepressants showed significantly improved scores for relief of depression and anxiety compared to those who took a placebo or antidepressants alone.

Other studies show that saffron helps treat depression related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

HOW TO TAKE IT: Choose a saffron extract or capsules standardized to at least 0.3 percent safranal; 15–30 mg a day has been used for depression.

3 SAMe (S-ADENOSYL-L- METHIONINE)

This compound is naturally produced in the body from methionine, an amino acid found in certain foods. It is important for many key cellular functions. Researchers suggest that it may influence the expression of genes involved in depression, impact receptors and structures that transport neurotransmitters, or help create neurotransmitters. In one study, 36 percent of people taking SAMe with an antidepressant showed improvement compared with a control group that took a placebo with the antidepressant.

Additionally, 26 percent of the SAMe group experienced a complete remission of symptoms. One analysis found that taking SAMe resulted in clinically meaningful benefits to depressed patients, and the supplement worked as well as tricyclic antidepressants, a class of prescription antidepressants.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for SAMe in blister packs, since it degrades easily. Studies have used 200–1,600 mg daily to treat depression. If you have bipolar disorder, ask your doctor before taking SAMe, and don’t take SAMe with prescription antidepressants or antipsychotics. Some studies also suggest that you shouldn’t take SAMe with St. John’s wort.

4 ASHWAGANDHA

This traditional Ayurvedic remedy (Withania somnifera) is considered an adaptogen—a substance that normalizes and balances the body’s own systems and stabilizes the body’s response to stress. It’s rich in withanolides, the active compounds in the ashwagandha root, and appears to work by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system. Ashwagandha has effects on anxiety similar to those of prescription benzodiazepines. Studies show that ashwagandha extract improves resistance to stress and quality of life, and one review concluded that ashwagandha was significantly more effective than a placebo or psychotherapy at relieving anxiety and stress. Another study found that ashwagandha reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and significantly lowered stress and anxiety. It may also act as a mood stabilizer in treating symptoms of depression.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for capsules or extracts standardized to 2.5–5 percent withanolides, and don’t take it if you’re pregnant; 500 mg has been used to treat stress and anxiety.

5 LEMON BALM

Also called melissa or Melissa​ Officinalis, this member of the mint family has been used in herbal medicine for hundreds of years to relieve stress and anxiety. In studies, compounds isolated from lemon balm showed effects on mood, cognition, and memory, and it works in part by interacting with the brain’s neurotransmitters. Studies show that lemon balm can treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia. In one study, lemon balm extract reduced anxiety by 18 percent and lowered insomnia by 42 percent. Ninety-five percent of all subjects responded to treatment, while 70 percent showed full remission for anxiety and 85 percent showed full remission for insomnia. Lemon balm maybe even more effective when combined with valerian.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Lemon balm is available in capsules, tinctures, or essential oils; 80–300 mg of lemon balm extract taken twice daily has been used for anxiety.

6 OMEGA-3S

These fatty acids found naturally in fish have been shown to calm anxiety, ease depression, and improve mood. They work partly by reducing stress hormones, decreasing brain inflammation, and supporting neurotransmitter function. Research suggests that people with different forms of depression, including minor depression, postpartum depression, and suicidal ideation, may have lower levels of omega-3s in their bodies. A number of studies show that omega-3 supplements have significant effects on reducing depression and managing symptoms of bipolar disorder. In one review, researchers found that people who took omega-3s showed significant improvement compared to those who were taking a placebo, and those with bipolar depression showed a 50 percent improvement. In another study, omega-3 supplements were as effective as a common antidepressant.

HOW TO TAKE IT: It’s best to get omega-3s from cold-water fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring, or wild Alaskan salmon. For supplements, choose one that’s been independently tested and guaranteed to be free of heavy metals and other environmental toxins; aim for 700–1,000 mg of EPA and 200–500 mg of DHA daily.

7 L-THEANINE

This compound found in green tea has a measurable calming effect on the brain. In one study, people who took L-theanine supplements produced more alpha waves, a sign of relaxation. L-theanine helps relieve anxiety in part by interacting with neurotransmitters in the brain, binding to receptors for excitatory compounds and enhancing the production of relaxing neurotransmitters. Research shows that L-theanine can treat anxiety, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression in people with major depressive disorder. In one study, people were subjected to experimentally induced anxiety and given either L-theanine or an antianxiety drug The people who received L-theanine had lower anxiety throughout the trial than those who took the prescription drug.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for capsules, tablets, or extracts, or drink matcha, a powdered form of green tea that’s high in L-theanine; studies have shown calming effects at 200 mg of L-theanine per day.

5-HYDROXYTRYPTOPHAN (5-HTP)

This amino acid is an immediate precursor of serotonin naturally produced by the body. Because low serotonin is linked with depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, boosting the body’s production can help. Some small studies show that 5-HTP relieving symptoms of depression, and one found that it was as effective as a commonly used prescription antidepressant. Research also suggests that the effects are more pronounced when 5-HTP is combined with antidepressant medications, especially in depression that’s resistant to drug therapies. Other studies suggest that 5-HTP improves sleep quality and duration, especially when combined with GABA.

HOW TO TAKE IT: For mood enhancement, studies have used 50–100 mg three times a day, with meals; for sleep, 100–300 mg before bed has been used.

9 B-COMPLEX VITAMINS

B vitamins are critical for a healthy nervous system, and low levels or deficiencies are linked with an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders. Several studies suggest that B-complex supplements improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance overall quality of life. In one study of people with depression, a B-complex vitamin significantly improved symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to a placebo. Other research shows that a combination of vitamin B 12, vitamin B 6, and folic acid enhanced the effectiveness of antidepressant medications compared to a placebo.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for a B-complex formula that contains a balanced blend of all the Bs, and take one daily, or as directed on the package.

20 Proven Foods To Heal

Looking for a health superhero? Head to the grocery store. Some foods have the power to fight diabetes, heart disease, or cancer—in other words, they can literally save your life. That’s not an exaggeration. A large study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people of any age who started including healthy foods in their diets improved their chances of living longer. Replacing one serving of red or processed meat a day with one serving of nuts or legumes, for instance, was linked to an 8–17 percent reduced risk of premature death.

But how do you choose the best options for you? We talked to health experts and asked them a tough question: What one nutrient-packed food would you like people to add to their diets? Here are their picks, along with some of the health issues each one may help prevent or treat.

MIXED NUTS

Heals: Heart disease

• High cholesterol

• Cancer

• Low energy

• Constipation

• Anemia

• Weight gain

• Diabetes

SELECTED BY MAYA FELLER, MS, RD, CN

1 “NUTS ARE A GREAT SOURCE of heart-healthy fats, along with some protein. Depending on the nut, you’ll also have some fiber, calcium, or magnesium. Almonds, for example, have 75 milligrams of calcium in a 1-ounce serving. Walnuts are high in antioxidants, which can help prevent certain cancers. If I have a handful of mixed nuts every day, I’m getting everything.” Serving size: Approximately ¼ cup (1 oz. or 28 g)

Maya Feller is a registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition for chronic disease prevention. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and runs a private nutrition practice.

GOOD TO KNOW: Oils in nuts quickly turn rancid. Store nuts in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to six months.

KALE

Heals: Eye conditions

• Heart disease

• Cancer

• Bones

SELECTED BY TERRY WAHLS, MD

2 “Kale is packed with carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which are particularly beneficial for eye health. Not to mention that there’s a hefty amount of glucosinolates (organic sulfur), which help the body rid itself of toxic substances. Kale also has tons of vitamin C, which improves immune-cell function; magnesium for bone health; vitamin K for blood vessels and heart valves; and folate for brain health.” Serving

Dr. Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and using a wheelchair for four years, she restored her health by following a paleo-based diet and lifestyle program she calls the Wahls Protocol.

GOOD TO KNOW: People prone to kidney stones should opt for kale over spinach. Kale has a lower level of oxalates, so your body won’t create those painful masses of minerals and salts after you eat it.

SALMON

Heals: Brain function

• Stroke

• Inflammation

• Heart disease

• Rheumatoid arthritis

SELECTED BY RIMA KLEINER, MS, RD

SALMON—WHETHER FARMED or wild-caught, fresh, frozen, or canned—is rich in protein, omega-3s, B vitamins, vitamins D and A, and selenium. All of these nutrients are critical for good health, particularly omega-3s. These fatty acids help protect against age-related brain and eye diseases, reduce the risk of heart disease and depression, maintain healthy skin, calm inflammation, and boost immune function. (Besides salmon, the best sources of omega-3s are trout and anchovies; plant sources include walnuts and flaxseeds.)

“Studies show that pregnant women who eat seafood two to three times each week during their pregnancy go on to have babies with optimal brain development, including an IQ boost. Other research has associated low seafood intake with 84,000 annual deaths in the United States.” Serving size: 3 oz. or 85 g

Rima Kleiner is a North Carolina–based registered dietitian who educates people about the benefits of seafood at dishonfish.com and about healthy eating at smartmouthnutrition.com.

GOOD TO KNOW: Fish oil supplements may be advisable for some people, but check with your doctor before taking them. They may thin the blood, which could be a problem for those on warfarin, heparin, or other blood-thinning medications. Look for a product with a combination of DHA and EPA (two types of omega-3 fatty acids). Avoid fish liver oil capsules, which are a concentrated source of vitamins A and D; these vitamins can be toxic when taken in large amounts for long periods of time.

4 PUMPKIN SEEDS

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, iron, and magnesium. They provide a good amount of protein and healthy omega-6 fatty acids, along with antioxidants and various forms of vitamin E. Their high fiber content supports healthy digestion, heart health, and blood sugar regulation.

5 EDAMAME

These green soybeans pack about 9 grams of plant protein and 4 grams of fiber in only ½ cup. They are a great source of vitamin K, folate, and fiber and contain no cholesterol. People who eat more whole soy may have lower rates of heart disease and certain cancers.

6 STRAWBERRIES

Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, folate, and antioxidants. They may help interrupt the development of type 2 diabetes, reduce inflammation in the colon, and slow cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years.

7 OLIVE OIL

Olive oil is rich in vitamin E and a great source of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. It helps reduce triglycerides and the density of your “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and it may make your platelets less likely to stick together, decreasing your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

8 CAULIFLOWER

Cauliflower contains a compound called indole-3 carbinol, which can decrease inflammation and slow cancer-cell growth. Plus it’s a source of folate, fiber, and vitamins C and K.

9 FARRO

Higher in calories than most other grains, farro is also higher in fiber and protein. It provides magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins, including niacin and thiamine. Farro is a major part of the Mediterranean diet, which studies show is great for losing weight, reducing inflammation, and preventing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and dementia.

10 TURMERIC

This spice contains curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. It may reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

11 SARDINES

One 3.75-ounce serving of sardines has 17 grams of protein, close to 50 percent of your calcium requirement, and over 300 percent of your daily vitamin B12 need. Sardines are also full of niacin, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, an essential trace element lacking in many of our diets.

12 LENTILS

Heals: Blood sugar spikes

• High cholesterol

• Weight gain

• Constipation

• Anemia

• Heart disease

•Reproductive health

• Cancer

SELECTED BY ROBERT GRAHAM, MD

“LENTILS CONTAIN THE HIGHEST amount of protein of any plant. They are also a great source of dietary fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels, and provide excellent amounts of iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium. They are consumed in the Blue Zones, regions of the world identified by author Dan Buettner as having the longest-living and healthiest people. Lentils, which belong to the legume family, have more fiber than beans. A quarter cup of dry lentils contains about 13 grams of fiber, and red lentils, 15 grams. A quarter cup of kidney beans has about half that.” Serving size: ½ cup, cooked (4 oz. or 114 g)

Dr. Robert Graham is an internal, functional, and integrative medicine specialist and the founder of FRESH Med at Physio Logic in New York City. He also received a culinary degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute.

GOOD TO KNOW: Don’t mix new lentils with older ones, because the older lentils will take longer to cook.

13 BLUEBERRIES

Heals: Memory

• Cancer

• Diabetes

• High cholesterol

• High blood pressure

• Birth defects

• Macular degeneration

• Constipation

• Aging skin

SELECTED BY L. J. AMARAL, MS, RD, CSO

“BLUEBERRIES HAVE a ton of nutrition packed in such tiny berries! They have plenty of fiber to keep you full and keep your colon moving. They have folate, which helps make DNA. They also have vitamin C, which helps create collagen in your skin and joints, and they are very rich in phytonutrients, which can help protect our cells against damage. Eating blueberries has also been shown to improve memory and potentially reverse cognitive decline. In preliminary studies, blueberries were helpful in reducing the risk for breast, pancreatic, stomach, colon, and lung cancer.” Serving size: ½ cup (2.6 oz. or 74 g)

L. J. Amaral is a clinical and research registered dietitian who specializes in oncology nutrition. She works at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Cancer Center in Los Angeles.

GOOD TO KNOW: Though it’s not a health risk, blueberries can make stools dark and tarlike, which could be mistaken as a sign of intestinal bleeding.

14 GARLIC

Heals: High blood pressure

• Atherosclerosis

• Heart disease

• Diabetes Infections

• Colon and rectal cancers

SELECTED BY KYLENE BOGDEN, MS, RDN

“GARLIC IS WONDERFUL for keeping high blood pressure at bay—something I find very useful for individuals under a ton of stress. One of the most underrated properties of garlic is its antifungal ability. Allicin is the biological compound responsible for this magical power. I often recommend fresh garlic and sometimes a garlic supplement when someone is dealing with athlete’sfoot or even frequent urinary tract infections as a result of yeast overgrowth. It is believed that garlic can reduce the risk of various cancers, as well as prevent cognitive decline.” Serving size: 3 cloves or 3 teaspoons, minced (â…“ oz. or 9 g)

Kylene Bogden is a Cleveland-based registered dietitian nutritionist who works with NBA athletes. She is also the co-founder and COO of FWDfuel Sports Nutrition.

GOOD TO KNOW: Garlic is most potent when eaten raw, but it may upset your stomach. Lessen your chance of experiencing stomach irritation by eating raw garlic with a balanced meal.

15 OVERNIGHT OATS

Heals: Diabetes

• High cholesterol

• High blood pressure

• Heart disease

• Constipation

• Weight gain

SELECTED BY ELENA IVANINA, DO

“OVERNIGHT OATS—RAW rolled oats soaked in milk (preferably nondairy) and refrigerated overnight—are a terrific source of resistant starch. (Oats prepared by other means also contain resistant starch, but some is lost when oats are cooked.) Resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine and is therefore fermented in the colon. This increases good bacteria and decreases bad bacteria, which can help with constipation and lower colon cancer risk. In addition, it reduces the amount of glucose released, therefore lowering insulin demand and reducing absorbed calories. This helps with insulin resistance, diabetes, and weight loss. Resistant starch is also one of the best sources of short-chain fatty acids, which help control your hunger.” Serving size: ½ cup (4 oz. or 114 g)

Dr. Elena Ivanina is a gastroenterologist at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital. In addition to gastroenterology, she is board-certified in preventive medicine and public health, obesity medicine, and internal medicine. She is also an assistant professor at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

GOOD TO KNOW: Play around with your favorite flavors—add almond butter, chia seeds, flax, and fruits such as berries and bananas. Mix together, then put in the refrigerator overnight, and you’ll have a nutrient-packed breakfast waiting for you in the morning.

16 AVOCADO

Heals: High cholesterol

• Heart disease

• Insulin resistance

• Cancer

• Blood sugar swings

SELECTED BY WILL COLE, IFMCP, DC

“AVOCADOS HAVE BEEN SHOWN to help improve cardiovascular health and can significantly lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, because of their monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat content. These fatty acids have been shown to improve cognitive function, depression, anxiety, and brain fog, as fats are a more efficient fuel source for your brain than glucose. Avocados also contain essential fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K and important electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium. They are a great source of plant-based protein, with approximately 4 grams in one whole avocado, and boast 4.6 grams of soluble fiber per serving.” Serving size: ½ cup, cubed (2.6 oz. or 75 g)

Will Cole is a Pittsburgh-based functional-medicine practitioner and doctor of chiropractic. He is the author of the book Ketotarian and the co-host of goop.com’s newest podcast, Goopfellas.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you want your avocados to ripen faster, store them in a paper bag at room temperature, and they should be ready to eat within two to three days. Placing an apple in the bag with them speeds up the process even more. Don’t want to wait? Avocado oil is one of the healthiest oils you can cook with. Plus it has a higher smoking point than olive oil, so you can cook at higher temperatures.

17 POMEGRANATE JUICE

Heals: Inflammation

• Immune system

• Bones Hypertension

• Cancer

• Heart disease

SELECTED BY SAMANTHA ATTARD, PHD

“STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT pomegranate juice has more anti-inflammatory compounds than blueberry juice, Concord grape juice, or black cherry juice. With my clients, I recommend pomegranate juice if they’re having painful periods because it reduces inflammation and cramping while also providing a small (but healthy) sugar boost during a time when many women experience low blood sugar. Studies have also shown that pomegranate juice helps cholesterol and prostate-specific antigen levels in men with prostate cancer, and it has been used for hundreds of years for those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. I choose pomegranate juice because the fruit is hard to find year-round. The juice also provides concentrated vitamins and anti-inflammatory phenols and is easier to digest than the whole fruit.” Serving size: 1 cup (8 oz. or 250 ml)

Samantha Attard is a yoga instructor, doula, and Ayurvedic coach in Washington, DC. She hosts the podcast Happy Healthy Human Radio. She received her PhD in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

GOOD TO KNOW: Tossing pomegranate seeds on your salad may be good for your skin. Scientists have discovered that nutrients in pomegranates can help protect skin from sun damage and possibly even from cancer.

18 DARK CHOCOLATE

Heals: Mood disorders

• High blood pressure

• Heart disease

SELECTED BY ASH NADKARNI, MD

“FLAVONOIDS, WHICH ARE found in dark chocolate, may boost mood by affecting blood flow in the brain and enhancing executive functioning. Additionally, flavonoids help increase the amount of serotonin and other naturally occurring mood-boosting chemicals in the blood. This is separate from the experience of enjoying what you’re eating, since chocolate can also stimulate the release of endorphins. Because of its antioxidant properties, dark chocolate is increasingly being researched for its effect on boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure, and protecting the heart.” Serving size: 1 oz. or 30 g

Dr. Ash Nadkarni teaches at Harvard Medical School, is an associate psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and conducts research on health-care innovation and medical psychiatry.

GOOD TO KNOW: To obtain the most flavonoids, choose a dark chocolate with 70 percent cacao or greater and limit yourself to one ounce per day.

19 WATER KEFIR

Heals: Poor gut health

• Immune system dysfunction

• Infection

• Inflammation

• Cancer

• Low energy

• Allergies and asthma

SELECTED BY ROBYN OPENSHAW, MSW

“WATER KEFIR, a fizzy, fermented drink, is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to get live probiotics to your gut. Making your own kefir—preferably with organic coconut water—is the superior option (see recipe on the next page). In just one day, the coconut water is bubbly like soda and wonderfully tart. I can’t overstate the importance of eating fermented and cultured foods: The live probiotics and enzymes are essential for gut health, which ripples out into every other area of wellness. Most of our immune system lives in the gut, so when the gut is functioning well, we see benefits beyond digestion. Probiotics help protect from illness, increase your energy, improve the appearance of your skin, and contribute to cognitive function and positive mental health.” Serving size: 1 cup (8 oz. or 250 ml)

Robyn Openshaw is a psychotherapist turned nutrition researcher who promotes plant-based eating. She is the founder of greensmoothiegirl.com and the author of 15 books on health and wellness.

GOOD TO KNOW: It’s easy to make your own kefir. You can find water kefir grains online and at health food stores. Also known as tibicos and Japanese water crystals, they are not actual grains but rather clusters of bacteria, yeast, and dextran (a type of sugar) that look like grains of jelly. Add 3 cups organic coconut water (or a sugar-water solution) to 2 to 4 tablespoons of grains. Cover and keep warm (68 to 85 de – grees F) to let it ferment. Pour the liquid out after a day (drink it or use it in smoothies or other drinks), leaving behind the crystals and the jellyfish-looking “mother.” Then add more liquid to make a batch for the next day. You can use the same grains numerous times.

20 BROCCOLI SPROUTS

Heals: Cancer

• Liver dysfunction

• Inflammation

• Diabetes

• Heart conditions

• Age-related mental/physical decline

SELECTED BY LISA REED, MS

“BROCCOLI SPROUTS HAVE sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting antioxidant that has also been found to be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective; it may even protect against aging and diabetes. Broccoli, cauliflower,brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy have it, too, but broccoli sprouts have the highest identified concentration—up to 100 times the amount as mature broccoli. You can buy broccoli sprouts, but it’s fun to grow them in a Mason jar (see instructions below). Because cooking destroys sulforaphane, I put the sprouts in a salad or throw them on top of my egg-white omelet in the morning.” Serving size: ½ cup (2.25 oz. or 64 g)

Lisa Reed is a Washington, DC-based fitness expert and the owner of Lisa Reed Fitness. She was the first female strength and conditioning coach at the United States Naval Academy. She has a master of science in exercise physiology.

GOOD TO KNOW: To grow your own, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of broccoli seeds in a quart or half-gallon Mason jar and cover with a few inches of filtered water. Put a wire sprouting lid on the jar and place it in a slightly warm, dark spot. After 8 hours, drain the water and rinse the seeds. Leave the jar upside down in its dark place and rinse the seeds twice a day. Eat the seeds when you see some dark green leaves (after about a week).


9 Incredible Heart-Healthy Foods

What you put on your plate can influence just about every aspect of heart health. Dr. Subodh Tamhankar suggests some food items that must be included in your diet to keep heart ailments at bay.

 

 

Diet plays a major role in heart health and can impact your risk of heart disease. In fact, certain foods can influence blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Here are some foods that you should be eating to maximize your heart health.

Leafy Green Vegetables: Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens are well-known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In particular, they are a great source of Vitamin K, which helps protect your arteries and promote proper blood clotting. They are also high in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness, and improve the function of cells lining the blood vessels.

Whole grains:

Whole grains include all three nutrient-rich parts of the grain: germ, endosperm and bran. Common types of whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oats, rye, barley, buckwheat and quinoa. Compared to refined grains, whole grains are higher in fiber, which may help reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. When purchasing whole grains, make sure to read the ingredients label carefully. Phrases like ‘whole grain’ or ‘whole wheat’ indicate a whole-grain product, while words like ‘wheat flour’ or ‘multigrain’ may not.

Berries:

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are jam-packed with important nutrients that play a central role in heart health. Berries are also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease. Another study found that eating blueberries daily improved the function of cells that line the blood vessels, which help control blood pressure and blood clotting.

Avocados:

Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to reduced levels of cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One study looked at the effects of three cholesterol-lowering diets in 45 overweight and obese people, with one of the test groups consuming one avocado per day. The avocado group experienced reductions in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, including lower levels of small, dense LDL cholesterol, which are believed to significantly raise the risk of heart disease.

Fatty Fish and Fish Oil:

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been studied extensively for their heart-health benefits. In one study in 324 people, eating salmon three times a week for eight weeks significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure. Another study showed that eating fish over the long term was linked to lower levels of total cholesterol, blood triglycerides, fasting blood sugar and systolic blood pressure.

Walnuts:

Walnuts are a great source of fiber and micronutrients like magnesium, copper and manganese. Research shows that incorporating a few servings of walnuts in your diet can help protect against heart disease. According to one review, eating walnuts can reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by up to 16%, lower diastolic blood pressure by 2–3 mm Hg and decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.

Beans:

Beans contain resistant starch, which resists digestion and is fermented by the beneficial bacteria in your gut. According to some animal studies, resistant starch can improve heart health by decreasing blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. What’s more, eating beans has been linked to reduced blood pressure and inflammation, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Dark Chocolate:

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, which can help boost heart health. One large study showed that those who ate chocolate at least five times per week had a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease than non-chocolate eaters. However, keep in mind that these studies show an association but don’t necessarily account for other factors that may be involved since chocolate can be high in sugar and calories.

Tomatoes:

Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, a natural plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, preventing oxidative damage and inflammation, both of which can contribute to heart disease. A study in 50 overweight women found that eating two raw tomatoes four times per week increased levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol can help remove excess cholesterol and plaque from the arteries to keep your heart healthy and protect against heart disease and stroke.

Garlic:

For centuries, garlic has been used as a natural remedy to treat a variety of ailments. In recent years, research has confirmed its potent medicinal properties and found that garlic can even help improve heart health. This is thanks to the presence of a compound called allicin, which is believed to have a multitude of therapeutic effects.

Fun Ways To Be Active With Your Kids

Research shows that exercise not only improves your child’s current health but also sets them up for better health in adulthood. Here, the team from Bupa outlines a few easy ways to get the young ones moving by joining in yourself.

How active should kids and adults be?

You might find there are days when your child doesn’t want to get off the sofa or is glued to their favorite TV program, video game or toy. And of course, that’s OK sometimes – and very normal! At the same time, they should ideally be doing a fair amount of physical activity most days too. Many experts recommend an hour a day for children over five, and three hours or more of active play a day for toddlers. You also need a good amount of physical activity as an adult – around two and a half hours of “moderate to intense” exercise spread across each week. That means to exercise that gets you a bit sweaty or breathless and raises your heart rate.

Since everyone in your family will benefit from staying active, why not do it together? Here are five suggestions for how you could do just that.

#1 Make it part of your routine

Being active comes easily if it’s part of your daily lives. Could you walk or cycle part of the school run together, for instance? Cycling helps to improve children’s balance, movement and confidence. It could also be about building exercise into your weekend routine. For example, maybe you could go swimming together every Saturday. Swimming helps improve heart, lung and muscle health for adults and children alike. And heading to the pool doesn’t always need to feel like an exercise session – even just playing around with inflatables can contribute.

#2 Take your child’s lead

See what your child enjoys and do it together. That could mean anything from walking the dog, having a scavenger hunt, hiking, playing with a ball in the park, flying a kite or trampolining to joining fun runs. Just like you, your children are more likely to want to keep up forms of activity that make them feel excited.

#3 Make the most of the seasons

Spring and autumn days or early summer can be the perfect time to visit outdoor pools or organize a sports day with friends in the nature area. When the heat gets too much, or when winter is really biting, there are plenty of indoor activities in Hong Kong to enjoy, from ice rinks to escape rooms, laser tag, mini-golf, bowling and more.

#4 Try group activities

Does your child have the opportunity to swim with other kids at school or with a club? They might also enjoy a dance class or playing netball, hockey, badminton or football. While your kids are doing these group activities, you can use this time to do your own favorite exercise – perhaps you could join a group too.

#5 Focus on muscles and bones

Many traditional childhood games are great for building muscle and bone strength. It could be climbing a tree (with adult supervision), playing on swings, skipping or playing hopscotch. Gymnastics and dancing are good muscle and bone builders, as is touch football. As an adult, keeping your muscles and bones strong is also important as you age – so why not try these things together!

5 Easy Memory Tricks that can keep you sharp

You know that eating healthy, staying active, and solving a few brain games can help keep you sharp. But these lesser-known habits work wonders too.

1 Sit Tall

When we are sad or afraid, we naturally collapse or cower. Studies show that the converse is also true: When we slouch, this defeated position actually causes us to feel anxious or depressed—which makes it harder to think clearly and remember things. In a study of 125 college students, 56 percent found it easier to do math problems when they sat up straight than when they slumped down.

Erect posture apparently improves memory because it boosts blood and oxygen flow to the brain—by up to 40 percent, according to one estimate.

2 Exercise—Once

Having trouble remembering faces? Break a sweat. In a small study, researchers at the University of Iowa showed pictures of faces to older folks (average age: 67) on two different days and after two different kinds of workouts. On one day, they pedaled a stationary bike for 20 minutes at a pace that was intense enough to make them breathe heavily but still be able to talk. On the other day, they simply sat for 20 minutes on a self-pedaling bike.

On average, people remembered the faces better after the intense exercise. What’s more, the memory gains after a single workout were similar to the gains after three months of regular exercise.

3 Limit TV

Every parent and grandparent has heard that too much screen time can hurt a child’s cognitive development. But what about those at the other end of their life span?

To find out, researchers at University College London analyzed data from more than 3,500 participants in a long-term study who were age 50 or older and did not have dementia at their initial assessment. Controlling for physical activity, health conditions, and demographic factors such as education, they found that people who watched more than three and a half hours of TV a day for six years experienced a greater drop in verbal memory test scores (an average decrease of 8–10 percent) than those who watched less (an average decrease of 4–5 percent).

On a related note: Another study found that watching violent programming elevates stress hormones, which impairs memory.

4 Doodle

Researchers at the University of Waterloo recruited a group of younger adults and a group of older adults, gave them a series of 30 words, and asked them to either draw or write them out. After a short break, both groups were asked to recall as many words as they could. In both age-groups, those who drew the words remembered the most. The effect was actually greater in the older adults.

According to one of the study’s authors, this happens because while some parts of the brain involved in memory retrieval deteriorate with age, the visual-processing regions usually don’t. Hence, sketching can help adults of any age keep their memory as sharp as a college student’s.

5 Walk Backward

Next time you’re trying to recall something, don’t just think back—walk back. In a series of experiments, participants viewed a video of a staged crime, a word list, or a set of pictures. Then they imagined walking forward or backward, watched a video that simulated forward or backward motion, or actually walked forward or backward. Some people also sat still.

Backward motion—whether real, imagined, or watched—helped people remember the information better than sitting still and, in most instances, better than forward motion. It may be that moving backward in space mentally helps us move back in time to the moment we learned something.

Body Fat – The Good, Bad and the Beige

Even though you may loathe it, not all body fat is bad. In fact, having more of certain kinds can actually be beneficial.

When talking about body fat, you likely lament those areas of the excess cellular collection — such as your saddlebags, belly pooch and side-boob areas. This overage can be annoying when it comes to physique goals, and excessive amounts of fat are hazardous to your health. But not all body fat is bad news, and you are host to a spectrum of adipose tissues, including white, brown and beige varieties. And while having too much of certain kinds can increase your risk for disease, other kinds have the exact opposite effect.

FAT — WAT FAT?

First things first: Body fat and dietary fat are not the same thing. “Dietary fat is a calorie-dense macronutrient found in food, while body fat is [energy] stored in the human body,” explains Corey Phelps, an NASM-certified personal trainer and nutritional expert. Healthy dietary fat comes from foods such as olive oil, avocado and nuts, and it assists with a host of metabolic functions, including metabolism, nutrient transport, and hormone creation and regulation.

Body fat, for the most part, is the physical manifestation of stored energy — extra ingested calories that the body did not have an immediate use for at the time of their consumption and that are now in holding cells (literally) until it’s time to burn them off. This kind of fat is called white adipose tissue, or WAT, and is what composes that cringe-worthy subcutaneous bulge you see in high-def when trying on a body-hugging garment. WAT contains fewer mitochondria — the brown, calorie-burning powerhouses of cells — making the tissue appear white.

But while unsightly, WAT actually has several functions within your body: It insulates and protects your organs, regulates body temperature and balances hormones such as cortisol, growth hormone and leptin. However, where you store WAT on your person is of primary concern, especially if your body tends to house it viscerally — around your organs. An excess of visceral fat is associated with metabolic dysfunction, heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and other serious conditions.

Your accumulation of WAT is controllable through exercise and diet, and as long as you’re not consuming more calories than you burn, you should remain in check.

UP TO BAT

Brown adipose tissue, or BAT, is the subject of many current studies, and for a while, it was believed that only babies harbored this kind of fat, which helped them to stay warm. But as it turns out, human beings of all ages have BAT, which is found along the front and back of your neck and in your upper back. Because it contains a lot of mitochondria, BAT is brown in appearance, and unlike WAT, BAT is a highly active tissue, and its purpose is to generate — not store — energy: When you’re cold, BAT fires up to generate heat within your body, which in turn burns a ton of calories and contributes to a leaner body composition, improved blood sugar control and reduced overall body weight. In other words, the more BAT you have, the leaner you will be.

The amount of brown fat you have may decrease as you age, but there are several ways to increase and activate this kind of fat:

Sleep On

Sleep has also been shown to boost BAT production: The more melatonin you produce as a result of quality sleep, the more activated brown fat you have and the higher your calorie-burning capacity, according to a study published in the Journal of Pineal Research.

Chill Out

Turning down the thermostat or going outside in cooler weather can help activate brown fat and even boost its production: Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the sweet spot for BAT activity landed between 61 and 66 degrees. This is where the mitochondria kick in and contribute to the calorie burn, heating you up from the inside out to maintain a normal body temperature.

Feed Your Fat

Some foods take more energy to digest than others, and brown fat appears to play a role in heat generation because of muscle activity in the intestines and other digestive processes, according to researchers from the Technical University of Munich. That same study found that eating a carbohydrate-rich meal had the same thermogenic effect — and activation of brown fat — as did exposure to cold.

Work It Out

Exercise can contribute to the reduction of white adipose tissue, but it also can stimulate the conversion of white fat cells to brown cells: Evidence suggests that exercising boosts uncoupling protein 1, a protein that is present only in brown and beige fat cells, which redirects the energy flow in mitochondria so they produce heat, according to research published in Nature Medicine.

BEIGE RAGE

There is a third kind of body fat that exists in pockets within white adipose tissue called beige fat. This specialized tissue contains more mitochondria than WAT but less than BAT, giving it a beige appearance. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, beige cells have the ability to harness heat production by incinerating excess glucose, and more recent research published in PLOS Biology found that blocking certain hormones can boost the activity of beige fat and increase its potential to burn energy. Besides working to increase your brown fat percentage, you also can try to boost your beige, further improving metabolism, body composition and overall health:

HIIT It

The best way to boost your beige fat cell percentage is to exercise. The hormone irisin is secreted from muscles in response to exercise and actually converts white fat cells to beige, effectively turning them into furnaces rather than storage units. And according to research, the best form of exercise to increase irisin production is high-intensity interval training.

Cuckoo for Cocoa

Outside of exercising, a very recent study published in the June 2019 issue of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that supplements also might be of use: Scientists discovered that the phenolic compounds in cocoa bean shells can cause the browning of white fat cells, and further studies are being done to determine whether these shells can help assist in the fight against obesity.

Why Am I Always Hungry?

You eat, but then an hour later your stomach is screaming. Here, what’s going on, and how to stay satisfied.

Most of the time, hunger has an obvious cause, like not eating enough or choosing meals that don’t contain the right amount of nutrients (carbs, protein, and fat), says D. Enette Larson-Meyer, a professor of human nutrition and the director of the Nutrition and Exercise Laboratory at the University of Wyoming. Other times, though, it’s mysterious. Your appetite appears to defy explanation, and nothing you eat seems to tamp it down. But those hunger pangs have a cause, too. Read on to find out what’s behind them and how to fuel up to feel comfortably full.

Salt is stoking your appetite

Yes, it makes you thirsty in the short term. But over time, a high intake of salt actually causes you to drink less but eat more, recent research shows. after weeks on a high-salt diet, participants in studies published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation reported being hungrier. Salt triggers the body to conserve water, which it does by producing a compound called urea. that process requires a lot of calories, so it revs up your appetite, the study’s authors explain. processed food often has hidden sodium, so aim to eat more of the fresh stuff.

You’re bored

When we’re aimless, we look for something stimulating, like food, says Rachel Herz, author of Why You Eat What You Eat. and research shows we tend to seek out things like chips and chocolate. “if this sounds familiar, tune in to your body and notice true signs of hunger, like a grumbling stomach,” Rachel says. “When you eat, focus on the experience and enjoy it.” the more you do this, the better you’ll get at distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger.

You need veggies at breakfast

When you start the day with starchy, quick-digesting carbs – like cereal, waffles, or toast – you “wake up” your hunger hormones and make them more active all day, says Brooke Alpert, a dietitian, and nutritionist. that’s because these foods cause your blood sugar to spike, leading to a rise in insulin and cortisol (a hormone that promotes fat storage), which makes your blood sugar plummet, so you get hungry again. this up-and-down cycle happens whenever you eat starchy foods, but research shows that it’s most volatile when you wake up with an empty stomach. to keep your blood sugar stable, Brooke suggests having a breakfast of protein and low-starch carbs, like eggs and vegetables, and saving bread and grains for lunch and dinner.

You’re on the edge

If anxiety and worry are keeping you up at night, the lack of sleep can increase your appetite, D. Enette says. plus, “stress raises your levels of cortisol, which can stimulate hunger,” she adds. to decompress, try hot yoga. Studies show that working out in the heat can prolong the natural appetite-suppressing effect of exercise, while yoga helps you relax.

You eat too often

Grazing all day throws your hunger hormones out of whack, says Brooke, author of The Diet Detox. “When you eat small bites and don’t sit down to real meals, you never feel truly hungry or full,” she says. “Eventually, your appetite cues become muted, and you’re vaguely hungry all the time.” instead, eat every four hours or so. have a meal with protein, fiber, and healthy fat three times a day, and supplement with good-for-you snacks when meals are more than four hours apart. a smart choice: walnuts. Eating them activates an area of the brain that regulates hunger and cravings, a recent study found.

Discover the Health boosting benefits of Mushrooms

At first glance, mushrooms might seem unimpressive, but apparently they are the new “it” food and are good for more than just mealtime. “Mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries,” says Bart Wolbers, MS, a researcher at Nature Builds Health. “Though each variety has its own unique properties, they are generally known for promoting heart health, well-being and immunity.” Here’s what you can expect from a few popular varieties.

Shiitake

This mushroom adds a distinct flavor to spaghetti, stir-fry or salads, and recent research shows it can aid in heart health and help decrease blood pressure. Shiitake also can help reduce cholesterol because of the presence of compounds called sterols and beta-glucan, according to a Japanese study. “Beta-glucans are a fiber that makes the gut lining thicker,” Wolbers explains. “That thicker lining prevents the dietary absorption of cholesterol.”

Mushrooms can serve as a flavorful meat substitute in plant-centric meals, and their inherent umami or savory essence makes them a great addition to many dishes.

Reishi

Because of their woody texture and bitter flavor, reishi mushrooms are typically found only in supplement form. This variety is reputed to reduce inflammation and help prevent the onset of certain cancers by acting as an antioxidant when ingested, scavenging for and disposing of free radicals that can cause cellular damage. A study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications determined that reishi may even inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells.

Cremini, Portobello and Button

Fun fact: All three of these mushrooms are of the same variety, and it’s simply the level of maturity that dictates its name — portobello being the most mature. Another fun fact: Mushrooms are the only natural source of vitamin D in the produce aisle, and these three contain the most. All three are also excellent for GI health. “They contain conjugated linolenic acid, which improves gut function and provides your system with new gut bacteria, which you may lack from other food sources,” Wolbers says.

Lion’s Mane

If you’re looking to improve brain function and prevent brain disease, then this mushroom should be on your radar. “The carbohydrates in lion’s mane can travel to the brain and reduce oxidative stress, a damaging process that is the byproduct of both energy creation and aging,” Wolbers says. In studies done on aging mice, lion’s mane mushrooms induced an improvement in recognition memory. “A compound called NGF stimulates the creation of new nerve cells while also helping existing cells thrive,” Wolbers says. “Through that mechanism memory is also improved.

Maitake

Known as the “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, maitake mushrooms may help prevent the side effects associated with diabetes by normalizing the immune system. “Type 2 diabetes is characterized by an excessive immune response and has some characteristics of an autoimmune disorder,” Wolbers explains. They also show promise in promoting fertility by counteracting polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that inhibits ovulation in women. “Maitake helps reverse insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for PCOS,” Wolbers adds.

CANCER COMBATANTS

Another area in which fungi are improving health is in the realm of cancer treatment. “Medicinal mushrooms are thought to improve immune system function and reduce the incidence of treatment-related side effects,” says Jonathan Stegall, M.D., oncologist and director of the Center for Advanced Medicine in Atlanta. “Some studies also show them to have a cancer-cell killing effect.”

Stegall mainly uses maitake, turkey tail, reishi, shiitake and almond mushrooms in his treatment protocols because their clinical prowess is the strongest. “The evidence for their exact effects is limited, so medicinal mushrooms should serve as a complementary therapy alongside more traditional treatments rather than as stand-alone therapies,” Stegall advises.

Not all oncologists are familiar with the use of mushrooms in cancer treatment, so ask plenty of questions before deciding on a practitioner. And of important note: Patients on blood thinners may be at an increased risk for mushroom treatment because of the anticoagulant and antiplatelet properties of the fungi.

Tasty Trend

Trading out half your ground meat/poultry for chopped mushrooms adds vitamins and fiber while reducing sodium and fat, according to Eric Davis, a spokesperson for The Mushroom Council. The flavor and texture are hardly affected, and carnivores and veggie-averse kids will never know what’s missing or, more importantly, what’s been added!

DIRECTIONS

Add mushrooms to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combine mushrooms and turkey in a large bowl, mixing with hands. Place a skillet over medium-high heat, then add turkey mixture. Cook, stirring often until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook another 7 minutes, or until turkey is no longer pink. Drain excess liquid, then add barbecue sauce and heat through. Preheat broiler to high. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Add flesh to turkey mixture and stir to combine. Place potato shells on a baking sheet and spoon in turkey mixture, topping with cheese. Broil 5 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbling. Remove, sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Recipe adapted from TheMushroomCouncil.com.

TURKEY AND MUSHROOM BARBECUE STUFFED SWEET POTATOES

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS

16 oz white button mushrooms, halved

1 lb lean or extra-lean ground turkey

1 small yellow onion, diced

¾ cup low-sugar barbecue sauce

4 large sweet potatoes, baked and cooled

½ cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese

The Top 10 Supplements for Healthy Aging

In different ways, these 10 nutrients address changes that occur as we live longer. In some cases, our need for the nutrient simply increases with age. In others, a supplement can help our bodies counteract situations that are more likely to develop later in life, including lack of energy, inflammation that underlies most age-related diseases, and a less-effective immune system that lowers resistance to infections and slows healing from injuries or surgeries.

COQ10 (COENZYME Q10)

A vitamin-like substance, CoQ10 feeds mitochondria, the energy-generating components of our cells. Our bodies naturally make CoQ10, but levels decline as we get older—just when we need it most. Low levels of the nutrient have been linked to heart disease, brain diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

In studies, CoQ10 supplements improved heart function in people with heart failure; protected the heart against damage from some chemotherapy drugs; improved exercise performance, sugar metabolism, blood pressure, brain function, and fertility; and helped relieve chronic fatigue syndrome, gum disease, diabetic neuropathy, and headaches.

We can get small quantities of CoQ10 from food: 9–12 mg in a 3.5-oz. serving of organ meats; a few milligrams in muscle meats and fish; and less than 1 mg per serving from most plant foods. But these amounts are too small to be therapeutic.

Typical daily doses: 30–200 mg, or more to treat diseases.

PQQ (PYRROLOQUINOLINE QUINONE)

An antioxidant found in trace amounts in plant foods, PQQ promotes the growth of energy-producing mitochondria in all cells and enhances the health of nerve cells. Lab studies show that it may help inhibit the growth of brain plaques and cancer cells.

Preliminary human studies of PQQ have shown that it can enhance memory, mood, and other mental functions. It also promotes sleep and reduces fatigue and inflammation. Because both CoQ10 and PQQ enhance mitochondria, they are often combined in supplements.

Typical daily doses: 10–40 mg, often combined with CoQ10.

ASTAXANTHIN

A powerful antioxidant that comes from certain algae, astaxanthin gives salmon and other sea creatures their pink color because they eat the algae. Astaxanthin protects skin against damage from the sun’s UV rays—which are well known for speeding up aging—and reduces signs of aging that stem from a slower turnover of skin cells as we get older.

Studies have found that astaxanthin enhances skin elasticity and reduces wrinkles, age spots, and skin inflammation. Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can also enhance muscle recovery and decrease soreness after exercise. It’s also been shown to help relieve carpal tunnel syndrome and is taken for heart, brain, eye, and overall health.

Typical daily doses: 4–12 mg. Astaxanthin can also be found in topical skin creams and serums.

RESVERATROL

The main therapeutic ingredient in red wine, resveratrol has a beneficial effect on sirtuins, enzymes that control various pathways involved in the aging process. In animal studies, it has extended lifespan.

By activating sirtuins, resveratrol enhances the body’s ability to withstand stress and may slow down the aging process. Studies have found that it helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol; improves heart, brain, and joint health; and helps to protect against cancer.

In addition to wine, resveratrol is found in grapes, some berries, peanuts, and other foods, but amounts are too small to produce the therapeutic effects observed in studies. Supplements are generally made from Japanese knotweed (Polygonum Cuspidatum), a rich plant source of resveratrol.

Typical daily doses: 200 mg or more.

FISH OIL

Scientists became interested in fish oil after studies in the 1970s discovered that Greenland Eskimos enjoyed surprisingly healthy hearts, despite eating a very high-fat diet. The omega-3 fats in fish oil—EPA and DHA—seemed to be responsible. Since then, many studies have been exploring just how fish oil produces beneficial effects.

Fish oil reduces levels of triglycerides, blood fats that contribute to diabetes and heart disease when elevated. It also lowers inflammation in plaque deposits within artery walls, which reduces the odds of a heart attack or stroke being caused by rupture of the plaque. Where blood pressure is elevated, omega-3 fats can help lower it.

Reducing chronic inflammation— which generally increases as we get older—is the mechanism underlying the various benefits of fish oil. Studies have found that it has therapeutic effects on depression, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psoriasis, arthritis, and other inflammation-related conditions.

Typical daily doses: 500 mg of a combination of EPA plus DHA, usually found in 1,000 mg fish oil; 1,000–2,000 mg of an EPA-DHA combination daily for health conditions. Vegan sources of EPA and DHA are also available.

PYCNOGENOL

A patented extract from French maritime pine bark, Pycnogenol enhances blood circulation, reduces inflammation, and helps maintain healthy skin and joint tissues. It binds to collagen and elastin, which give skin and other tissues structure. It also helps to regenerate hyaluronic acid, which maintains moisture.

Studies have found that Pycnogenol supplements may help improve memory, vision, attention span, blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, menstrual problems, erectile dysfunction, gum disease, osteoarthritis, skin conditions, blood sugar in diabetics, menopausal symptoms, leg cramps, and jet lag.

Typical daily doses: 30–150 mg.

LUTEIN

With age, risks increase for eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts and reading glasses become all too common. Lutein is an essential and well-studied nutrient for eye health. It protects eyes against damage from UV rays, aging, and eyestrain from blue light that emanates from electronic devices. For eye health, it works synergistically with zeaxanthin.

Recent research has found that lutein is also needed for a healthy brain. Studies have found that lutein supplements increase blood flow to the brain, protect it against damage, and enhance memory, attention, and overall mental function.

Typical daily doses: 10 mg lutein with 2 mg zeaxanthin.

TURMERIC OR CURCUMIN

Curcumin is the key active ingredient in turmeric, the plant that gives curry its yellow color. In studies, supplements of both turmeric and curcumin have reduced inflammation and provided relief from a wide variety of conditions, including different forms of arthritis, low back pain, depression, Crohn’s disease, heartburn, genital herpes, HIV, and inflammation after surgery.

Although many nutrients decrease inflammation, turmeric and/or curcumin are especially helpful for inflammatory conditions, whether they affect joints, the heart, the digestive system, or any other area. And these often develop later in life.

Typical daily doses: Follow product instructions, as extracts vary.

ZINC

Zinc lozenges are popular as a cold remedy, but the mineral is essential for ongoing healthy immune function. Yet, both zinc intake and immunity tend to decline with age.

Zinc is needed for many processes in the human body, and lack of it manifests in ways similar to the aging process, with increased susceptibility to infections and diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer, poor wound healing, and degenerative diseases of the brain and nervous system. The technical term for this decline, “immunosenescence,” means an aging immune system.

Studies of zinc supplements have found that it reduces infections, improves healing from injuries and many diseases, and helps resolve skin conditions—sometimes making warts disappear. Typical daily doses: 15 mg (an amount found in many multivitamins), or more.

PROTEIN POWDERS

Two types of protein powders can be especially beneficial for healthy aging: whey and collagen. Each delivers different benefits—for muscles and connective tissues in joints and skin—and the two are complementary.

Research shows that whey is most effective at maintaining and rebuilding muscle in older people. It works best when combined with strength-training exercises. It’s especially beneficial in cases where recovery from injury or illness have made people less active than usual, as inactivity speeds up age-related muscle loss. Some protein powders also include concentrated greens for added nutrients.

Collagen is a building block of connective tissues in skin, joints, blood vessels, and organs. Our bodies produce collagen, but that process slows down with age. Collagen protein can help buck that trend.

10 Food Rules For Success

We follow rules in areas of our lives where we are successful— and we need them around food and exercise, too, to stay fit, strong, and at our ideal weight.

“What can I eat?” This is a question I hear often. So many of us want someone else to tell us what foods we can and can’t eat. At first thought, that seems to make life so much easier. The problem is that human nature is such that when we are given rules from outside ourselves our instinct is to rebel. However, this does not mean that we can lose weight and get healthy without an eating plan; obviously, the opposite is true.

MAKE YOUR OWN RULES

For PERMANENT change, you must follow rules. But to get the results you want, you must make your own rules, and these rules need to make sense for you. What foods are you going to eat and what foods aren’t you going to eat? You have rules in other areas of your life where you are successful—you need them around food and exercise, too.

In fact, the reason you struggle weight and/or health is not because there is something innately deficient in your life. It’s not because you are an out of control person, weak-willed, or had a more difficult childhood than everybody else (although, please give yourself compassion for all the challenges you have faced).

The great news is you have followed rules for success in other areas of your life, so you know how to do it! These are areas where you base your actions on the results you want—not on transient feelings.

YOU ARE NOT WEAK-WILLED

If you want to understand how fit people stay that way, realize that they are simply doing what you do naturally in areas of your life where you are successful.

Does she have some super inner power that you don’t have? Of course, not!

You will learn to do the same once you tune into the reality that it’s not about dieting, it’s about following food and lifestyle rules that work for you, while reprogramming your subconscious.

Before you get too down on yourself and call yourself weak for living so long without following food rules, realize that this is most likely because following food rules wasn’t modeled to you. In the same way, people who break social rules do so because treating others with respect failed to be instilled in them as a pattern of behavior.

NOW IS THE TIME

It’s never too late to create rules for yourself. The first step is believing that they are necessary. To do that, take a moment and think about what makes you successful in other areas of your life. Instead of seeing willpower as something that you don’t possess, take a moment to reflect on the amazing amount of strength and courage you have within. If you can’t see strength and courage inside yourself, take a moment to acknowledge the incredible hardship it is to carry around excess weight and still lead a productive life. Now, let’s turn your strong will into a tool that will allow you to be happy, healthy, and live at your ideal weight.

In every area of your life where you are getting the results you want, you have rules. Do you blurt out your every thought? Unlikely! You have rules about the way you treat people and about what you do and don’t say to others. You have rules about how you care for your children and pets, and you follow them—whether you feel like it or not.

Create rules with food that will lead you to be successful. Rules are not predicated on whether you feel like adhering to them in any given moment. Rules are rules because they lead to specific outcomes that are desirable.

Let’s take a look at some good examples of rules to pick from. Think about what makes sense for you and your lifestyle. Remember that, ultimately, you must make your own rules.

Rule #1: What foods do you eat?

“I eat clean food, from the earth, in as natural a state as possible, as unprocessed as possible. Example: If I am going to eat bread, it will only be made from whole wheat flour, water, and sea salt.” This rule alone would limit your bread intake due to convenience, and yet you wouldn’t be deprived because you could always go buy a loaf of natural wheat bread at a bakery and keep it in your freezer, having a small slice at a time if you feel that you need bread in your diet/eating regime. Or, “I can eliminate bread all together because I see it as a trigger food that puts fat on my body.”

Rule #2: Eat with Balance in Mind

“If I do eat a carb/starch like a whole grain cracker, I ONLY eat it with a protein food (chicken, fish, meat) and a vegetable so my blood sugar stays balanced. I never just sit and eat a box of crackers plain.”

Rule #3: Enjoy the Healthy Foods You Select

“I make sure to have protein and vegetables (fresh) with every meal, with only a small amount of complex carbs (like a whole grain or root vegetable) and healthy fat (such as extra virgin olive oil, or a little cheese or nuts) to make the food taste good.” The key is to enjoy everything that you do eat so you don’t feel deprived or like you are dieting; however, have only JUST enough “fattening food” to make it taste good.

Rule #4: Stick with the Basics

“I continuously eat a group of foods that are healthy and appeal to my tastes.” Studies show that the less variety in your food choices, the more likely you are to be at your ideal weight. Know what foods you do and don’t eat and stick to the plan (without ever thinking that you are on a diet).

Rule #5: Get Rid of Trigger Foods

“I eliminate the foods that are triggers for me. I know they are triggers because when I eat them, I eat too much in general, or I crave more of that specific food.” Get rid of trigger foods and leave the area when they are being served if possible, especially in the early stages of your weight loss/healthy eating quest.

Rule #6: Don’t Let Yourself Get TOO Hungry

Eat healthy treats that aren’t trigger foods when you are physically hungry. You may enjoy almond butter, cheese, avocado with healthy crackers, or other “treats” that don’t create fuel the compulsion to consume too much food. This is what “everything in moderation” means.

The more balanced and healthy you are, the easier it is to have small amounts of healthy treats without reaching a “tipping point”— that place where you are overeating or binge eating.

Rule #7: Don’t Starve Yourself

Eat only when you are physically hungry and eat just enough to satisfy your physical hunger. Make sure that you aren’t too hungry because when your blood sugar dips, you often can’t think straight enough to make healthy choices.

Rule #8: Plan Ahead

Make sure you have plenty of healthy food available at all times. I never leave the house without a healthy snack in my bag. If you go to a restaurant, plan what you are going to order ahead of time. If you’ll be on the go all day, pack enough food with you so you won’t find yourself starving with no good food choices to make. A new mother doesn’t leave the house without a diaper bag. You need to treat yourself like a baby who needs your care.

Rule #9: Honor Your Emotions

Let yourself feel your feelings, but don’t let them dictate your behavior. Express them, if that is the wise thing to do, or write them down. Burn them off by taking a walk or going for a swim. NEVER eat just because you are feeling a certain way. Let your emotions pass like the weather.

Rule #10: Stay Focused on Your Goal

Have a plan to eat healthy and move your body every day. Not because you have to but because you want to! If ever you feel weak, just think of the alternative to healthy living and know that it’s not an option for you. See and feel yourself as if you’ve already achieved your ideal weight. Practice meditation or self-hypnosis every day and imagine yourself healthy and strong.