Health & Nutrition Q&A
Serotonin, Found in blood platelets, constricts blood vessels. It is used as a neurotransmitter. It is a mood enhancer that regulates hunger and the feeling of well-being. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a form of depression that affects several million Americans. The depression is present during the winter months when there is not much sun and it gets darker out earlier. Research has shown that it mostly affects women. Much research has been done on this disorder. Research has shown that serotonin levels are low during the “dark and gloomy” days of winter.
Three ways to boost serotonin:
1. Expose yourself to lots of indoor light. Bright light has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the body.
2. Exercise. Many people find it hard to exercise when they are feeling down, but it will really be beneficial to your body. All you need is 15-20 minutes. You don’t have to go to the gym every day. You can go for a short walk or play the radio in your house and dance around.
3. Eat wisely. Stay away from junk food and eat sensible carbs instead. White rice and white bread raise your blood sugar and then immediately make you feel down and without energy.
Foods you should eat to boost serotonin:
• Protein! Eating bright colored veggies will make you feel better.
You should have 3 servings of these a day to feel the results.
• Egg whites
• Peanut butter
• Whole grain crackers and bread
• Cottage cheese
Depression and Exercise
• Exercise releases feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and neurotransmitters
• Exercise reduces immune system chemicals that can actually make you feel worse.
• Exercise increases body temperature, which in return can have positive effects on your body.
• Exercise can also help you feel better about yourself, keep your mind off of worries, increase social interaction and cope in a healthy way.It is recommended that you get 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week. However, just 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. Find activities you like to do and stick with them. Setting goals for yourself is a good way to make sure you stick with an exercise regimen. Research and studies have found that aerobic exercise is the preferred form of exercise to help reduce symptoms of depression. Resistance training is also a good form of exercise to reduce depression symptoms.
Exercise vs. Medication
Studies have shown that the effects of exercise are similar to the effects of certain medications. Medication seems to work better in the long run though. Your body and brain can build up immunity to medication; it never builds up immunity to the release of endorphins during exercise. When your medication stops working for you, then what do you do? Pay more money for an even more expensive medication that your brain will ultimately build up immunity to as well. The effects of medication usually last between 18-24 hours.
My anxiety/depression has spiked over the past two weeks, what type of foods can help?
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Fortunately, there are some great alternatives for people who are vegetarian or don't care for meat.
Here is a list of alternatives with how many grams of protein can be found in each recommended serving size:
Nuts per ¼ cup
Peanuts 9g protein
Pistachios 6g protein
Walnuts 4g protein
Seeds per ¼ cup
Pumpkin 9g protein
Sesame 6g protein
Sunflower 8g protein
1 scoop protein powder with fruits or veggies. Green shakes are extremely healthy and good for you.
Here are some green shake recipes
I've recently decided to cut out meat; beef & poultry. I'm still eating seafood and eggs, but what are some high protein foods that can replace meat.. or what are some vitamins/supplements I should be looking into?
Beans per 1 cup cooked
Blackbeans 15g protein
Chickpeas 15g protein
Lentils 18g protein
Tempeh 21g per 4 ounces
Fat free yogurt
There are conflicting research results as to how much the pill affects weight gain or not. Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones.
Texas A&M University conducted a study in which some women were given the pill and some were not and then provided a resistance training routine. The results showed that 60% of the women that were using the pill did not gain as much lean muscle as the women who were not taking the pill. This is believed to be because the hormones found in birth control pills actually cause muscle break-down instead of muscle-building proteins.
Lower-dose estrogen containing birth control pills have been found to cause less weight gain. If you look up different brands of the pill, they all contain different amounts of the hormone estrogen.
Researchers are not quite sure why some women gain weight when on the pill, while others experience little to no weight gain at all while on it. Your body itself can be a factor. Sometimes the pill can cause your thyroid to work slower than normal. When this happens, your body begins to gain weight more quickly.
The fear of weight gain is why many women never start taking birth control pills. Tests will continue to be done until an answer is found and a solution can be made.
"How does the birth control pill affect your weight? I have heard that it can increase weight gain and have found that over the years the only time I have not been overweight was when not on it and trying to conceive. Could this be coincidental?"
The most important thing to remember before working out in the cold is to warm up! Your muscles are already cold from being minimally used. Putting your body out in cold temperatures makes your muscles more apt to get strains or sprains if you are not fully warmed up. Make sure to jog, lunge, side shuffle and use your arms to get your muscles warm and ready to work. Your warm up should be 5-10 minutes long. I would warm up for closer to 10 minutes if it’s cold out. Give your muscles adequate time to get used to the cold temperatures.
Don’t over-dress or under-dress. Keep in mind that you may be cold in the beginning, but once you start to move and work your body, your body temperature will rise. This causes you to sweat. If you have on too many layers, you may overheat your body which can cause illness. If you under-dress, you can risk hypothermia. Running or working out in below freezing conditions is not safe. Dress warm and if you still are freezing and are having a hard time breathing, take your workout indoors. Don’t be afraid to tell yourself you need to move inside. This isn’t a sign of defeat, it’s a sign that your body simply cannot handle the harsh conditions that it is being put in.
Just because it isn’t 90 degrees out, doesn’t mean that you don’t need water during your workout. Your body’s temperature still rises even in the cold and can still become dehydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and take sips from it. Remember not to take big gulps. This can cause cramping or give you an upset stomach.
Unless you are preparing for a marathon or 5k, please do not do all of your workouts in the cold. It is safer to stay inside. You could risk slipping on black ice and hurting yourself. Also, going from cold to hot or hot to cold temperatures all of the time can cause you to get sick. If it is 32 degrees or lower out, keep your workout indoors. You can still get in a good run on the elliptical or treadmill indoors.
Also, remember to stretch at the end! This is so important to reduce the risk of muscle soreness. Stretch out the muscles you used during your workout. Stay safe and listen to your body. If it is telling you it can’t bear being out in the cold anymore, go indoors!
"Now that the very cold weather is here, what extra steps should we take to keep our bodies healthy and happy when we take the workout outdoors?"
Traveling can put a hold on people’s exercise routines. Fortunately, there are ways to workout while you are on the go and in different states! Many hotels have gyms or small fitness centers.
If you are staying at a hotel that offers this, take advantage of it! Go for half an hour or 45 minutes and do a mix of cardio and muscle. If your hotel does not offer a fitness center, you can always do a work out in your hotel room. Since cardio can get loud (banging or jumping on the floors), you may want to avoid exercises that will disturb the people in the rooms next to you or under you. Muscle and strength training are your best options if you are forced to exercise in the hotel room. If you have a pair of dumbbells and can bring them on the trip with you, then do it. If not, you can always do exercises that require just your body weight. If you want to focus on your upper body, do bicep curls, tricep extensions, tricep kickbacks, push ups, and chest presses.
You can always use items that you have in your hotel room as weights.There are some great exercises you can do for the lower body without any weights. You could do sqsuats, lunges, leg lifts while lying on the bed, side leg lifts, reverse lunges, and hip abduction exercises. Don’t forget that you can always add in abs as well! Lie on the floor or on the bed and do crunches, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, vertical leg crunches or whichever ones you prefer.
"What exercise could you recommend for a busy traveler? I am thinking about something that will not take too much time and could be done in a hotel room."
That is a myth. While your body may want to maintain a certain weight, it does not always know what is healthy or comfortable. For example, some people may be very small and need to put on extra weight. They could add in extra calories and up their protein and/or carbs and still not really see their weight increase at all. This is also the same with someone who wants to lose weight.
Many times, people come to a plateau with their eating and exercising habits. Their body may get so used to what they are eating or doing for physical activity, that it becomes “immune” in a sense. This means, that a person may start eating really healthy and see a huge difference in the way that they feel and also in the numbers on the scale. If a person continues to eat the same thing and not change anything, their body may become used to it. This is when your body simply does not show you anymore changes.
If you are trying to lose weight, I would not cut down on your calories, especially since when a person is physically active, they need those extra calories to help them get through their workouts. When people hear “extra calories” they freak out and think that it’s going to make them gain weight. This is far from the truth. Your body will burn off those extra calories during the workout so your body will not have any weight gain because of it.
A good recommendation is to switch up your exercising habits. Maybe add in some extra cardio during the week. Also, it is important to remember that muscle weighs more than fat. If you are doing weight training at all during your workouts, you are bound to gain muscle or muscle tone. While you may not notice a huge difference in your muscles, it is there. You won’t be able to see that you put on any weight because of it. Muscle is healthy and essential for everyday activities.
"Does your body "know " what is a heathy or comfortable weight?"
There are a few things that people can do to help enhance and/or protect their memory later on in their lifetime. One of the main things is getting physical activity! Studies have shown that exercise stimulates brain activity to form new neurons or brain cells. The areas of the brain that are stimulated during exercise are those that relate to memory and learning. Also, it is believed that daily physical activity can decrease a person’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s or dementia.
It is also encouraged to broaden your knowledge and keep learning as you age. Take up a new hobby such as bicycling, skiing, running, dancing, etc. Another hobby that keeps your learning is cooking. Start looking up healthy recipes and make one a week. It may seem like a little, but it could help you out in the long run later on in life.
Get an adequate amount of sleep and take a nap if you can. Naps are not always an option in people’s busy lives, so getting the right amount of sleep at night is key! If you are not getting a good amount of sleep (around 8 hours), you are not giving your brain enough time to form new neurons or repairdamaged ones. REM sleep helps improve our procedural memory. This includes anything that involvessteps such as riding a bike, cooking, memorizing the new steps you learned in fitness class that night.
Eat a healthy breakfast! Eating breakfast helps improve a person’s concentration, reaction time, learning ability and memory throughout the day. Consume omega-3 fatty acids. These can be found in canola, sunflower and flaxseed oil, tuna and salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids help the gray matter part of our brain. French researchers found that those who consumed adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids reduced their risk of dementia by 60%. Research also says that eating blueberries, green and/or leafy vegetables and vitamin E can also help improve your memory later on in life.
Next time you think you can take a few months off from your diet or exercise regimen, think of your memory in the future. Do you want to have a hard time remembering things that happened in your younger years or have a hard time recalling friends or family member’s names? Exercise and healthy eating is so important for more than just your health!
"What can someone do now to help protect (or enhance) their memory?"
"What kind of vitamins/supplements should I be taking daily? I heard a new rumor that multi-vitamins do nothing for you."
Many recent research has shown that certain vitamins are basically crap. They aren't regulated by the FDA so they choose what goes in themAnd no one checks. Many vitamins are made up of fillers and some have been shown to contain 0% of the marketed herb/vitamin. There are some that I have tried and incorporate into my daily regime that I would recommend and have done thorough research on.
1. Get a multi for your gender and pay a little extra to find a FDA approved brand which you can order online there are a couple just research. Women get a multi for women and men same.
2. Fish oil-I recommend a gel capsule and freeze it to take away that fishy after taste. They also have some flavored packets that I love. I actually show it and some others in my recent millbury blog cookie protein recipe day we did vitamins I'm loving. This will be up on our YOUTUBE station soon.
3. Calcium-a lot of people are going lower dairy these days with the soy and almond milk so popular. Make sure you take a calcium and vitamin D supp. I love viactiv caramel chews
!4. L-glutamine- this is a building block for muscle and helps with repairing. I add one serving in my water in the morning it is odorless. Adding a BCAA is also beneficial with recovery and repair. Muscle martini watermelon is my fave.
I am looking into carrying some of these in the brands I've tried and notice a benefit this coming January so I will let everyone know as soon as the shipment comes in.
Remember, since we will never really know what is in all of these it is vital that you get a balance of your vitamins from food. The name of these are supplements and it is just that.