Health and Fitness

Vegetables Make You Happy

It’s true. Eating fruits and vegetables may help you feel happier. A 2016 study of more than 12,000 Australian people examine their food diaries. It demonstrate unequivocally that eating more fruits and vegetables makes you happier and boosts your well-being. Further, it is a dose dependent effect all the way up to seven servings a day!

There are certain things everybody seems to just know. It may be the feeling that someone you care for is someone you’ve known all your life. It is analogous to the fact that we have known all our lives that fruits and vegetables are good for us. This gives us one more powerful reason why.

Significant benefits begin with just 2 1/2 servings a day. At this level you may notice a significant change in your overall happiness. Individuals who consume eight or more servings of fruit and vegetables had a significantly higher life satisfaction.

There are many reasons why that is true. The obvious one is that you most likely are going to feel better if you eat healthy foods and it will be easier to achieve and maintain happiness. Research, however has suggested that there is a link between B vitamins, found in spinach brussels sprouts and oranges and serotonin production. This is one of the primary chemicals in the brain that helps produce your happy mood.

Another study demonstrated the connection between higher levels of carotenoids, an antioxidant that gives foods like carrots or tomatoes of the rich color, and optimism. This along with hope and gratitude significantly contribute to happiness.

This is a win-win situation as eating more fruits and vegetables will make you both healthier and happier!

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Why Do We Exercise

I recently started to listen to the Art of Happiness podcasts with Arthur Brooks. I have to admit that I am hooked. He provides great insight into how to achieve true happiness and live a life that has more joy, satisfaction, and purpose.

Recently, he had an interesting conversation with Sal DiStefano the host of the Mind Pump podcast. He has been a trainer for approximately 15 years. The goal of his podcast is to promote accurate information about health and fitness.

He spoke of the different mindsets that people bring to their diet and exercise regimens. They present science-backed solutions that result in improved performance while emphasizing health.

Basically, the two opposing views are 1: “I hate how I look and feel and therefore I am going to beat myself up exercising and starve myself with this restrictive diet.“ or 2: “I Love myself and therefore I am going to exercise and consume healthy food so that I can lead a long and healthy life.” The second option is much either easier to maintain. When you approach diet and exercise from a negative standpoint it feels like you are punishing yourself instead of rewarding yourself.

I once told someone I care about that “I want to live forever.“ in truth, what I meant was that I want to live until I die. Finding healthy foods that you enjoy consuming and a varied exercise routine that helps you maintain strength, flexibility, and endurance will help you to stay active until late in life.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Lifetime Sports

As I’ve gotten older I realized how important it is to stay active with sports and games. I’ve given up contact sports as well as long-distance running but I love to participate in lifetime sports.

Activities such as walking, biking, golfing, pickle ball and swimming are just a few of the many sports that we are all able to do throughout our whole lives. Golfing has the added advantage of enabling you to spend time with someone you truly care about and may even give you a chance to make new friends!

Sports for children can truly be life-changing. It can enable them to gain confidence, stay in good health, sleep better and perform better in school. Virtually all these benefits are true for middle-aged and older adults as well. Gaining and developing new skills enables growth and fosters confidence at any age.

Bob Hopper, author of “Stick with Exercise for a Lifetime: How to Enjoy Every Minute of it!” has a great quote. He stated that “If you pursue a physical activity program with the goal of having fun, learning new skills, and improving performance, better health and fitness will come along as natural byproducts.“

It’s important to be flexible. Don’t stick with a sport you once loved if it no longer fits well into your life or is causing you pain. If your exercise program is fun and makes you feel good, it will be easy for you to stick with it.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Types of Eating

So many activities in our lives can be better if we approach them with intention. This is true for watching television, having a conversation, sleeping and of course eating, just to name a few. Intentional eating is about eating mindfully and choosing to consume foods that make us feel good and reflect our values.

The opposite of intentional eating is emotional eating. Gaby Vaca- Flores, A registered dietitian states that “Stress is one of the main culprits behind emotional eating. Stress eating is a form of emotional eating, which is defined as eating in response to an emotion instead of hunger.”

Turning to foods that taste good or are comforting can provide temporary joy. Manufacturers intentionally make foods hyper-palatable by adding excessive salt, sugar and flavors. These lead to a temporary boost of the feel good hormone dopamine.

Unfortunately, emotional eating can have negative health effects and lead to significant weight gain. Mindless or emotional eating when you’re simply bored or upset and not even hungry can easily lead to consumption of a whole box of cookies or bag of chips before you even realize it.

Whether savoring a shot of bourbon from a custom decanter or eating a delicious piece of salmon, I always remember how special and precious it is that we have enough food and that we have the ability to savor the taste and smells of great cooking.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

When to Eat

This past week I found a great book in my local library which I was able to check out and read through the Kindle app on my phone on the airplane. This is a technology that provides great convenience. No more needing to drive to the library to search for and request a book you may want.

The book was titled “What to Eat When” by Michael F Rozien , MD and Michael Crupain, MD, MPH. In it, they wrote that you should eat at least 75% of your calories before 2 PM. There are many reasons why this is true. Insulin resistance becomes worse throughout the day and is worse late at night. This decreases our ability to metabolize food and the subsequent increased insulin in our system stores more fat.

Further, the levels of the hormone leptin which helps us lose weight compared to ghrelin which makes us gain weight, worsen throughout the day. A large, rich breakfast just does not have the same negative affect on our weight and metabolic balance has the same food eaten after dark.

I’m not saying that there is never exceptions to this rule. Obviously the joy and love that comes with the rare late night holiday meal is worth every bite. Christmas Eve meatballs with people we love or homemade delights can remind us of the joy of eating.

But as a daily rule, when it comes to nutrition, “timing is everything“. In addition to what you eat and how you prepare it, when you eat is essential. The authors state that this is critical for maintaining a good weight, preventing and curing some diseases, and living a long energetic and happy life.

Ultimately, what you choose to put into mouth is most important. Close behind however is when you choose to consume your nutrition. Timing your food consumption with your circadian rhythms and eating majority of your calories before the mid afternoon will lead to better health. As a general rule, never eat after the sun has a set.

Stay well!