Healthy Study Snacks for the School Year

It can be a challenge to stay healthy and fit when everything becomes hectic during the school year. It is important to maintain balance and to also have cheat days, but there are plenty of snacks you can eat that are quick and healthy.

Here are some fresh and healthy snack ideas:

  • Nuts
    • Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, etc. 
  • Cheese and Crackers
    • This is a fun snack because it is also versatile! There are many different kinds of flavored cheeses that can help switch it up. 
  • Protein Shakes
    • Standard ProcessWhey Protein Shakes or Orgain Plant-Based Protein Shakes 
      • These shakes can be made with fruits and leafy greens to ensure that they are healthy and nutritious. They can also be an easy on-the-go snack. 
  • Granola Bars or Nut Bars
    • My current go-to snack is a grain-free nut bar by Autumn’s Gold made with almonds, pecans maple syrup, honey, coconut, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla. It is a very simple, satiating, and healthy snack.
  • String Cheese
    • String cheese can be a convenient and filling snacks when combined with things like fruit or nuts. 
  • Yogurt
    • Yogurt is another suitable snack as it is high in calcium, probiotics, and protein. 
  • Veggies and Hummus
    • Vegetables like baby carrots or celery taste great with hummus.
    • Hummus can either be bought readymade or it can easily be made with a quick recipe.
  • Popcorn
    • Popcorn is a low-calorie and high fiber snack. Companies like Skinny Pop have portion-sized bags which can easily go in your backpack for whenever you’re hungry. 

More snack and meal ideas can be found on Pinterest or blogs like Wholesome Yum. 

Resources:

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/20-healthy-snacks-college-students

Cognitive Support​

With the school year back in full swing, it can feel like all assignments and exams come up at the same time. This can cause many students to become extremely overwhelmed and prevent them from doing their best. This post will go over several tips to ease some of the stress associated with these deadlines. 

  • Proper Nourishment
    • According to Harvard Health, there are foods that are linked to increased brainpower. Consuming nutrient-dense foods like green vegetables, fatty fish, berries, nuts, and tea or coffee can improve brain health. Optimal brain health can also mean having a better memory which can always help when it comes to school.
  • Taking Vitamins 
    • It is important to have regular checkups with a physician to ensure that all vitamin levels are in check and that the body is not suffering any preventable side effects from deficiencies. Vitamin D is a common deficiency and it is a crucial vitamin for the brain as it supports neurogenesis and can slow down cognitive impairment. If deficiencies are detected, Metagenicsand Life Extension are two reputable supplement companies.
  • Quality Rest 
    • As always, there is no replacement for adequate sleep. It is vital to lowering levels of stress/anxiety and promoting excellent cognitive function. 
  • Taking a Break
    • Taking a minute to pause and be mindful is the best way to reduce stress levels. It can be as simple as taking a quick nap, going for a walk, or talking to a friend but it can help break up a monotonous study routine and allow one to go back to their work feeling refreshed. 
  • Writing Things Down
    • Writing things down can help to prioritize assignments or tasks. It can be helpful to start with the smallest thing first to get the ball rolling.

Resources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower

https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2018/ss/new-way-vitamin-d-protects-the-brain/page-01

Study Tips for Another School Year

As soon as the semester starts, it always feels like the first exam isn’t too far away. It can also be hard adjusting to long days of classes after a relaxing summer full of warm and sunny days. Nonetheless, there are tips to help ease the change and help students get back into the flow of things.

The first tip would be to have a very clean environment. This can especially help when feeling overwhelmed as the messiness can prevent students from wanting to complete any tasks. Everything can seem daunting. It can help to organize clothes, vacuum or dust, do laundry, and wash the bedsheets. This ensures that there is a calm and peaceful environment to rest in. 

It can be of help to make the desk area bright and cheerful. Restocking any school supplies in drawers, making sure that there is proper lighting, and adding something cozy like a plant can be encouraging. 

Another tip would be to print out syllabi, stock the backpack up (pens, pencils, clickers, snacks, hand sanitizer, notebooks, chargers), and either buying or finding online versions of textbooks. 

As for actual study tips, it has been proven beneficial to use a technique like studying for thirty minutes and then taking a five-minute break to rest the mind. It can help to exercise and get the blood flowing to the brain in between breaks as this allows the brain chemistry to change. The next major study tip has to do with effectively planning study time and assignments out. This is a vital tip as cramming never helps and can create an excess amount of stress and pressure. Writing assignments out or trying to break up assignments ahead of time can help to alleviate any of those unwanted emotions. 

All things considered, it is extremely important to sleep, take breaks, and properly eat. Best of luck with this upcoming school year!

Resources:

A Natural Approach to Beauty

The skin is the largest organ which means that many toxic chemicals can also enter the body when applied to the skin. Many conventional products contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful when absorbed. This is why natural beauty products have been receiving more and more attention. While it can be difficult to make the adjustment initially, there are various high-quality products out there that can be used in place of these typical beauty products. This post will go over some alternatives to the basic beauty staples. 

Many drugstore face masks are loaded with many chemicals; however, it is relatively easy to make just as effective face masks at home.

·     Cocoa Dream Hydration Mask

·     Nourishing Honey Mask

·     An Otherworldly Glow

·     DIY Charcoal Face Mask

There are many simple and cheaper do-it-yourself ideas for natural alternatives with makeup removers and face washes

The most difficult switch is usually makeup as a lot However, as many individuals are becoming more and more conscious of what they are putting on their bodies, there have been brands like Jane Iredale that have a wide-range of products that can be used in place of the typical products. 

Moving on, it can be really fun to make bath products at home as baths can be extremely calming. Some fun do-it-yourself ideas are listed below:

·     DIY Bath Bombs

·     DIY Lush Bath Bombs

·     Lavender Mint Bath Salts

·     15 Soothing DIY Bath Salts

·     DIY Peppermint Bath Salts

·     DIY Calming Detoxing Bath Salts

·     6 Aromatherapy Blends for DIY Bath Salts

All in all, it can take some time to adjust but there are definitely companies like Jane Iredale and other resources are there to ease the change! 

Easing Stress with Essential Oils

As the school year approaches, learning about natural stress-relieving tips can never hurt! Essentials oils have gained a lot of attention because there are many individuals in the holistic world that truly believe in the ability that they have to ease various symptoms or ailments. It can never hurt to try a more functional approach as well since the side-effects tend to be minimal.

Chronic stress can leave an individual with common symptoms like headaches, respiratory issues, and digestive issues. All of these are unwanted symptoms and can hinder daily activities, especially as a student with many demanding commitments. There is science-backed evidence that states essential oils can have a positive effect on heart rate, immunity, breathing, stress levels, and blood pressure. It has been found that the molecules can cross the blood-brain barrier. This has a clear impact on the areas of the brain that control overwhelming feelings of panic and depression. 

While essential oils are not a cure, they can certainly help ease tension related symptoms like headaches. The most common scents that help with easing stress are lemon, lavender, yuzu, bergamot, ylang ylang, clary sage, and jasmine. Dr. Mercola, NOW Foods, and doTERRA are some high-quality essential brands that carry these specific ones. 

Essential oils can be applied topically but they also can be blended and be diffused through a diffuser:

5 Essential Oil Blends for Stress

Aromatherapy Recipes for Stress Relief

Roll On Essential Oil Blend for Stress Relief

57 Essential Oil Blend Diffuser Recipes for the Mind, Body, and Soul

It can take some time to find the right combination of scents but there is a lot of inspiration on websites like Pinterest. 

Resources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201604/six-aromatherapy-essential-oils-stress-relief-and-sleep

Natural Approaches to Self-Care

As the school year quickly approaches once again, it is always nice to come back refreshed and mentally prepared to start up another year. This post will go over some quick tips to get organized and feel physically and mentally ready. 

It can really help to set the tone for each day by visualizing goals, writing tasks down, and taking five minutes to either meditate or be mindful by putting electronics away. Apps like Simple Habit or Headspace can help with this and help ward off the stresses of the daily rat race.

It also can help to break a sweat early in the morning to get a rush of endorphins. It can be as simple as walking, going to a spinning class, dancing, yoga, swimming, or working out at home with an app like Daily Burn. As always, it is important to refuel the body with nutritious foods. Cooking can also be a mindful time and it can help for individuals that are trying to be a little more health-conscious.

Tackling the easiest tasks on a to-do list can help get the ball rolling with productivity. It is recommended to write down even the littlest chores so that the mind can be at ease as “brain dumps” can help relieve some stress. Working in increments of thirty minutes and taking five-minute breaks can make the work a little less monotonous. 

Creating a very calm atmosphere can also help to get things done and ensure a restful night of sleep. Having a consistent bedtime routine like showering, lighting a candle, drinking herbal tea, and reading a book can help the mind to know when it is time to unwind and rest. Nothing can make up for a lack of sleep. Both the body and brain require adequate rest to function optimally. Taking a bath with Epsom salt or applying something like Tiger Balm can help to relieve muscle aches and pains. A good book like “Good Vibes, Good Life” by Vex King can help ward off stress and encourage positivity in everyday life. Herbal teas like chamomile or valerian can help calm the nervous system down and ensure restful sleep. 

The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet has been increasingly receiving hype over the past few years. This lifestyle essentially focuses on incorporating healthy fats, a lot of protein, and a minimal amount of carbs. The goal is for the body to enter “ketosis”, which allows the body to burn fat and use ketones for energy. Ketosis is a natural state that occurs when the body does not have enough carbs to burn for fuel. However, this state can be mimicked when following the guidelines above (high fat, protein, low carbs). 

Evidence based research has shown that the ketogenic diet can help with neurological disorders like epilepsy, improve cognitive function, boost weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, protect against neurodegenerative illnesses, reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases, and even acne. In order to jumpstart the process, it is recommended to limit carbs to twenty grams per day. The number can gradually increase to fifty grams, once the individual has become accustomed to the dietary changes. Emphasis is placed on foods like ghee, avocados, MCT oil, seafood, low-carb vegetables, cheese, eggs, meat, yogurt, olive oil, nuts, seeds, olives, butter, and cream. All of these foods have minimal carbs but are either high in protein or fat. It is important to point out that once the body is in ketosis, it can be extremely satiating and not much effort is required in terms of meal prepping. 

Here are some very easy ketogenic recipes to make the adjustment process a little easier:

·     Zucchini Noodles Recipe (Keto Zoodles Alfredo)

·     Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup

·     Spicy Keto Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wrap

·     Baked Avocado Egg Recipe (Egg Stuffed Avocado)

·     Keto Low Carb Milkshake Recipe – Vanilla

·     Low Carb Keto Microwave Bread Recipe with Coconut Flour

·     Low Carb Gluten-Free Keto Soft Pretzels Recipe

·     Easy Low Carb Keto Custard

·     Baked Salmon Foil Packets with Vegetables 

·     The Best Keto Mashed Cauliflower Recipe

These recipes incorporate low-carb alternatives to some classic starchy dishes. With that being said, it is important to exercise caution when implementing such a big dietary change and it should only be done after thorough research. 

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-ketosis

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-foods#section15

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-1-diabetes-guide/what-is-ketosis#1

The Benefits of Wheatgrass

If you have heard about wheatgrass shots, then you probably have heard that they do not taste the best. Nonetheless, the health benefits most definitely make up for the acquired taste. The good news is that this taste can often be masked by other fruits or vegetables in smoothies!

Wheatgrass is extremely high in nutrients such as chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Around seventeen amino acids, iron, magnesium, calcium, glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A can be found in a typical wheatgrass shot. This drink is also a good source of antioxidants that help to protect health cells and to remove free radicals from the body. Some individuals will drink a wheatgrass shot in order to detox since it is high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is believed to help regulate a healthy inflammation response, has antimicrobial properties, support blood product and the immune system, and help with feelings of vitality.  

Fresh wheatgrass can typically be purchased from various health food stores or the powdered version is also available through companies like Amazing Grass. Here are some different ways to incorporate wheatgrass into meals:

Wheatgrass Shot

Wheatgrass Lemonade

Matcha Wheatgrass Latte

To the Max Green Smoothie

Orange Wheatgrass Smoothie

Wheatgrass Avocado Kiwi Smoothie

Green Tea and Wheatgrass Smoothie

Lime + Avocado + Wheatgrass Smoothie

Baby Spinach, Blueberry, and Wheatgrass Smoothie

Alkalizing Green Mango, Banana, and Wheatgrass Smoothie

All in all, there are other unsubstantiated claims that it can kill cancerous cells, reduce cholesterol, and regulate blood sugar. It is believed that wheatgrass can be beneficial to patients with chronic illnesses as wheatgrass can lower harmful amounts of inflammation. As always, it is important to make sure these claims are scientifically proven before believing them. 

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/wheatgrass-benefits

https://www.healthline.com/health/liquid-chlorophyll-benefits-risks

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/wheatgrass/faq-20058018

Ways to Get an Adequate Amount of Protein if You’re Vegetarian or Vegan

It used to be believed that there was no real way for vegetarians or vegans to get an appropriate amount of protein without eating meat. However, it feels as if many individuals have switched over to being vegetarian or vegan within the past few years. It is also being recognized that there are plenty of ways to get plant-based protein. This post will go over some of the easiest and healthiest ones. 

Lentils, chickpeas, green peas, almonds, peanuts, spirulina, quinoa, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are some of the most common sources. Soy products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are also some rich sources of protein. With that being said, it is essential to make sure that the soy is organic and non-GMO as soy is one of the most contaminated products in the United States. 

Another common way is to make protein shakes with a variety of added superfoods. Orgain is a popular brand that is known for their high-quality organic protein powder and they avoid common allergens like gluten and soy. They also sell convenient pre-made protein shakes that include twenty-one vitamins and minerals and can be used as a snack, workout booster, or meal replacement. 

Soups, salads, smoothies, shakes, or hearty Buddha bowls might be some of the easiest ways to incorporate the protein-rich sources mentioned above. Here are some ideas:

Baked Tofu

Green Pea Soup

Asian Garlic Tofu

Vegan Lentil Soup

Spicy Chickpea Salad

1-Pot Vegan Lentil Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Sweet Vanilla Green Smoothie

Protein Packed Berry Smoothie

Simple, Hearty Vegan Lentil Soup

Chickpea Salad with Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs

Resources:

https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20718479,00.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians

Evidence-Based Benefits of 5-HTP

There are always new supplements in the spotlight for things like sleep, anxiety, and depression. 5-HTP is one of those supplements that has been around for a while and is known to help individuals that suffer from illnesses related with serotonin-deficiency. 

5-HTP stands for 5-Hydroxytryptophan. It is an amino acid that the body produces, and it is used to produce serotonin. The production of serotonin is vital as it is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for sending signals to nerve cells. It plays an integral role in mood, social behavior, memory, sleep, appetite, and cognitive function. The depletion of serotonin is known to lead to ailments like insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, and depression, so this is where 5-HTP can come in handy. 

It has been found that 5-HTP can aid in weight loss as it can send signals to the brain that tell the body that it has eaten enough. It can also alleviate some symptoms of depression since it increases the levels of serotonin. The role of serotonin in depression is still a little unclear but several studies have found a correlation. While correlation does not mean causation, it does provide some hope to those suffering from mental health illnesses. 5-HTP can also improve the aches and pains caused by fibromyalgia, reduce migraines, and increase melatonin production in the body. 

5-HTP typically only comes in capsule form and can be purchased from a reputable company like Biotics Research. As a side note, Biotics Research does require a consultation with a healthcare practitioner to ensure that the right supplements are being taken. It is important to talk with a professional before taking a supplement like 5-HTP to ensure that the side-effects won’t outweigh the benefits and to also check for any potential interactions with medications. 

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-htp-benefits

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/serotonin-facts-232248