The Nutritional Needs of a Young Adult

It is often very easy to get caught up in our daily stresses of school and work. Many of us put our health on the back burner and look for easier, usually unhealthier, dinner options while neglecting our nutritional needs. This post will go over some of the nutrients every young adult needs on a daily basis and ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into our busy lives.

The 10 main essential vitamins include:

  • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin A has the ability to protect the eyes, support the immune system, reduce the likelihood of acne, support healthy bones, and promote healthy growth.
  • B Vitamins
    • The benefits of B vitamins are numerous. They ensure that nerves stay healthy, protect the brain and immune system, combat everyday stress, and boost energy.
  • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin C is known as the vitamin that boosts the immune system. However, it also is essential for excellent cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin D
    • Vitamin D is extremely beneficial for the body. A majority of young adults have a deficiency in Vitamin D. It can lower inflammatory markers in the body, prevent certain psychiatric diseases, help with autoimmune disorders, and help with insulin resistance in diabetic individuals.
  • Vitamin E
    • Vitamin E helps the immune system, brain, skin, vision, and reproduction systems in the body. It has vital antioxidant properties. Antioxidants essentially counteract the negative effects of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are created by stress and can cause long-term damage to the body.
  • Vitamin K
    • Vitamin K is extremely important because it plays a role in healthy blood clotting. It helps produce four of the thirteen proteins needed for clotting.
  • Magnesium
    • Magnesium can help calm the nervous system and encourage deep sleep. It also can help alleviate anxiety symptoms and keep the brain healthy.
  • Calcium
    • Calcium is needed for strong bones. The heart also needs satisfactory amounts of calcium in order to function properly.
  • Zinc
    • Zinc is particularly great for the immune system. It encourages proper wound healing and can provide a shorten the span of a cold.
  • Iron
    • Iron plays a huge role in the production of red blood cells. It carries oxygenated blood to the brain and can help with neurotransmitter synthesis.

Figuring out a morning routine can help ensure that vitamins are taken every day. Meal prepping on the weekends can also help with keeping away from unhealthy foods throughout the week. It is also important to find a way to stay active. It can be as simple as dancing in your room for thirty minutes, walking around campus for a set time, finding an at-home workout to follow, or doing some simple yoga poses to stretch your body.

As always, it is crucial to find reputable brands for supplements. It is important to avoid brands that add fillers, dyes, or preservatives. Some recommendations for supplement brands are Douglas Laboratories, Standard Process, and Life Extension.



Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms usually are known as a vegetable that is added to dishes to make them tastier. Interestingly, there are many different types of mushrooms and each one has a variety of benefits for the body. The most talked about mushrooms are Reishi Mushroom, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Cordyceps, and Chaga. This article will break down the benefits of each and the ways each one can be consumed.

Reishi mushrooms are known to help increase longevity, have anti-cancer properties, can help restore the liver, enhance the immune system, and improve mood. This specific mushroom is also known for the neuroprotective properties it has. Intriguingly, it can protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases and has properties that increases the nerve growth factor in the brain. The nerve growth factor in the brain is extremely vital for healthy neurological function and controls the way neurons develop and survive. It can be consumed as a supplement or as a tea. It also might be easier to consume it as a latte (Reishi Chocolate Latte).

Lion’s Mane is known as the “mushroom for the brain”. It improves memory and focus, can reduce depression and anxiety, can stop or reverse damage caused to the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, and significantly lower inflammation. Lion’s Mane can also be consumed as a tea, supplement, or a latte (Lion’s Mane Mushroom Matcha Latte).

Maitake is especially beneficial for immunocompromised individuals or with individuals that have sugar resistance problems.  These mushrooms can be roasted and added to soups or be eaten with rice.

Cordyceps can help boost endurance during exercise, prevent the effects aging can have on the brain, fight insulin resistance problems, protect cells from cancer, and can even help with viral infections like strep throat. Like the others, Cordyceps can be consumed as a supplement, tea, smoothie (Cacao Cordyceps Smoothie), or a latte (Cinnamon Vanilla Cordyceps Latte).

Chaga stimulates and regulates the immune system, reduces inflammations, helps with gastritis, normalizes blood pressure, prevents aging, and improves the skin. Chaga can also be consumed in the same way as the others. The most common way to consume it is to drink it as a tea or make it into an elixir so that it is tastier (Spiced Chocolate-Chaga Elixir).

It is extremely important to buy medicinal mushrooms from reputable and certified suppliers. This is because mushrooms tend to mimic the qualities of a sponge. They absorb whatever they are grown in. This means that they can easily absorb toxins and be high in pollutants or heavy metals. Fungi Perfecti is one of the brands that strives to make high-quality supplements. They make various products that provide immune system support, respiratory support, brain and nerve health, heart health, energy levels, and help in aiding stress responses.



Preventing or Treating a Cold by Giving the Immune System a Boost

The flu season is quickly approaching. The good news is that there are many ways that you can help your body out during this season.

  • Sleeping is the best way to heal and repair the body. Many studies have concluded that not enough sleep can compromise the immune system. This can lead to being more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. Lack of sleep can also prevent the body from healing quickly.
  • Hydration
    • Lots of water and tea can ease a sore throat or loosen the congestion.
    • Note: It is important to avoid sugary drinks.
    • Matcha is another option and is excellent for the immune system.
      • Matcha is extremely high in antioxidants and EGCGs. It can help your body produce more T-Cells and fight off viruses more efficiently.
      • Matcha also has a naturally high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll detoxifies the body and gets rid of any chemicals, toxins, and heavy metals. This ensures that the immune system can focus on fighting off pathogens instead.
      • Matcha has the ability to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation in the body.
      • A recipe for Matcha Ginger Immunity Tea:
        • 1 Teaspoon Matcha Powder
        • 1 Tablespoon Grated Ginger
        • 1 Tablespoon Honey
        • Hot Water or Nut Milk
        • Optional: ½ Lime
  • Try drinking your nutrients by having something like bone broth.
    • It is easy to digest and the vitamins and minerals in it help boost the immune system.
    • More information about the benefits of bone broth.
  • Vitamins for the Immune System
    • Vitamin C
      • Vitamin C helps to strengthen the immune system.
    • Vitamin E
      • An antioxidant that aids the body in fighting infection.
    • Vitamin D
      • A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to the body being more susceptible to infections.
    • Probiotics
      • Probiotics add good bacteria to the gut and this is crucial because gut bacteria helps to regulate the immune system.
    • Turmeric
      • Turmeric enhances antibody responses in the body.
  • Sauna or Steaming or Sinus Rinses
    • These three options can help flush out the sinus cavities from any allergens or bacteria.
  • Invest in a Humidifier
    • Humidifiers take care of dry indoor air and can ease sinus related problems. Moisture in the air makes it easier to breathe when congested.
  • Essential Oils
    • Eucalyptus, peppermint, and spearmint essential oils are the best for congestion-related sinus headaches.
  • Shower Melts” can also help with congestion and are easy to make.

All of these remedies can help take some stress off of the body and help with getting back to optimal health.



Benefits of Having a Pet and How to Care for Them Properly

There’s no denying that having a pet can be a lot of work. Pets can be very time consuming but the benefits of having one are endless. Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” and there are many justifiable reasons for this.

Dogs provide companionship, can help with anxiety, relieve stress, make their owners more social, lower blood pressure, and even lower the risk of heart disease in their owners. Intriguingly, a study concluded that there was a correlation between cardiovascular health and dog owners. Dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases. This conclusion was still found to be true even after accounting for various factors (smoking, socioeconomic status, and body mass index).

Pets can do so much for us but how can we ensure that we are treating them in the best possible way? A lot of “premium” dog food on the market is full of ingredients that furry friends do not need. Many people are not aware that pet food is made up of the waste products from food that is made for human consumption. Pet food advertisements will make it look like the pet is getting top of the line chicken in their food. The truth is that there is barely any chicken in it. It is essentially just what was left over from manufacturers for human consumption. These “premium” pet foods also often consist of corn and soy as their main ingredients. Corn and soy are sprayed heavily with toxic pesticides and a lot of it is genetically modified. Many of us have realized that humans should avoid those two genetically modified ingredients so shouldn’t they also be removed from the diet of our pets? Eating these ingredients may potentially lead to chronic health problems in, pets but it is preventable.

Conscientious pet owners should do their research before buying food for their pets. The internet is a great resource, but a veterinarian can also usually suggest the best pet food options. Many pets will face various ailments throughout their lives and companies like Pet Wellbeing offer gentle and natural options to help with those minor symptoms. It is important to take care of our pets properly. It is our job to ensure that they get the proper nutrition that they need.



Neuroscience: The Mind-Body Connection

I recently read the book “Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself”. The book emphasizes the importance of the mind-body connection. It is said that the mind is a powerful thing, it can play tricks on us, but it can also help us heal ourselves in an essentially natural and more sustainable way.

Thoughts can most definitely affect the body and the book highlights how thoughts can manifest into a reality. The neuroscience explanation for this would be that thoughts have a direct impact on the neurotransmitters in the brain. For example, a state of chronic stress usually leads to negative thoughts. Those thoughts and the state of chronic stress reduces serotonin and increases the hormonal levels of cortisol in the body. Naturally, neurotransmitter depletion and hormonal imbalances have a negative influence on the body. Stress can also deplete the natural killer cells in the body, leading to a decrease in immune system function, which can contribute to chronic illnesses. This sounds overwhelming, but there are ways to conquer the mind and prevent the negative effects it can have on the body.

Conventional medicine often diminishes the fact that the mind-body connection is very powerful. Little things are overlooked and missed. Not enough time is spent with patients to realize that other natural approaches can be integrated along with medication. This approach would ensure that the body does not get dependent solely on the medication and that the ease in symptoms is more long-term. As mentioned in the “Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection” post, the gut will always tell the mind when something is wrong or imbalanced in the body. I do believe that allopathic medicine is a wonderful thing, but I also think it can cause serious side effects or other problems if it is not necessary.

The body is a miraculous thing that often has the ability to heal itself naturally with a little bit of help. Practices like concentration meditation, heart-centered meditation, mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, visualization, positive thinking, acupuncture, reflexology, and massage therapy can help restore the body. These practices can also help the body respond better to allopathic treatments. In essence, taking care of the mind will help with taking care of the body and vice versa.



Kicking off the Semester Right

Classes have started again, and things have already started to get hectic for a lot of us. It is extremely important to start off the semester right so this post will go over some tips in order to ensure a successful semester.

  • Try to sleep a little earlier and wake up earlier.
    • Apps like Sleep Cycle can help make waking up a little easier.
      • The Sleep Cycle app monitors your sleep cycle and wakes you up when you are in the lightest sleep phase. This ensures that you wake up feeling refreshed. It can tell when you are awake, sleeping, or in deep sleep. It can also detect if you snore and will notify you in the morning.
      • Establish a morning routine that works for you.
    • Drink at least 8 ounces of water.
    • Try to plan out your outfit the night before so that time is saved in the morning.
  • Find a light workout routine, do some simple stretches, meditate, or go to a sauna.
  • Make a healthy and easy breakfast.
    • There are a lot of easy recipes on Pinterest.
      • Smoothies can be a very easy way to get nutrients in. It is even easier if you cut up your favorite fruits or veggies and freeze them in baggies ahead of time. This saves time and effort in the morning. All you have to do is add water, milk, or a nut milk.
    • Make a to-do list or write a journal post.
      • Can write this on an agenda, on a calendar whiteboard, or on an app like the 5 Minute Journal.
    • Take your vitamins.
      • It is important to make sure that you are taking your vitamins from a reputable brand. Many brands will add preservatives and many extra ingredients that are not needed.
      • Organize your supplies and write down the important dates for each class.
      • Use one notebook for lectures. This notebook can be messy and all over the place. Use another notebook to neatly write notes out and work out practice problems after class.
        • This makes it easier to study when it comes time for exams and also ensures that you have seen the material more than once. The retention of the information will be even higher if this is done within a few hours of class.
      • Utilize tutoring sessions and office hours.
      • Make a friend in every class in case you have to miss a day.






Healing the Body Naturally

It’s true that our lives have become a rat’s race. There’s constantly something to do and we do it all but that can result in our mind and bodies becoming overwhelmed. Finding a balance in life can be hard but it is most definitely achievable. Taking care of our mind and bodies should be a top priority since it can hinder all of our other goals in life.

Establishing a morning and nighttime routine can be extremely beneficial. A set routine is important for the mind and body. The body will slowly get used to the bedtime routine and will start to unwind because it will recognize that it is time to sleep. The nervous system will slowly start to calm down and that can ensure a good night’s sleep.

Examples of things that can be added to a morning routine:

  • Stretching
  • Showering
  • Meditating
  • Drinking Lemon Water
    • Lemon water has many benefits including hydration, providing a dose of Vitamin C, clearing skin, and aids in digestion.
  • Taking supplements or medications
  • Eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast
  • Listening to upbeat music to start the day off on a right note

Example of things that can be added to a nighttime routine:

  • Meditation
  • Taking a bath
  • Bedtime Yoga
  • Reading a book
  • Journal/Brain Dump
  • Making a cup of Tea
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • No electronics before bedtime
    • The blue light in phones and laptops causes a surge of cortisol in the body. Cortisol depletes and inhibits the production of melatonin. A loss of melatonin messes with the sleep/wake cycle of the body.
  • Turning on an essential oil diffuser
  • Setting out clothes for the next day
  • Writing a To-Do list for the following day
  • Deep Breathing
    • 4-7-8 Breathing Technique. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.

There are other ways to relax and take care of the body too. As pointed out in the last post, listening to your gut is super important as the body will tell you what it needs. It’ll guide you in the right direction. Lots of sleep, engaging in a hobby, getting away for the weekend, catching up on chores, cleaning the space around you, and exercising can all help an individual reset. Sleep will help the body recharge, engaging in a hobby will help distract the mind, and exercise will give the body a boost of endorphins.

It is crucial to take care of the body and the mind.  Helping it out as much as possible is the key to preventing illnesses.

Neuroscience: The Mind-Gut Connection

The correlation between the gut and brain has recently been brought into the spotlight. It has been found that there is a direct communication system between the gut and brain known as the gut-brain axis. The gut-brain axis consists of the central and enteric nervous systems and links the emotional and cognitive parts of the brain to peripheral intestinal functions. There are around 100 billion neurons in the brain and around 500 million neurons in the gut. Those 500 million neurons in the gut are connected to the brain and this is noteworthy because neurons are responsible for conveying information throughout the body.

This is also why it has been found that the gut-brain connection can contribute to anxiety and many digestion problems. Emotions like sadness, happiness, and anxiousness can elicit symptoms in the gut. There are many feelings and expressions that also allude to this like feeling nauseous, having a gut-wrenching/gut feeling, or having butterflies in your stomach. These expressions have some truth behind them as there is a direct connection between the brain and the gut. Our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode as soon as a fear of danger is perceived, and the enteric nervous system responds by slowing down or stopping digestion to conserve energy.  The gut is also known as the “second brain” since the gut sends signals to the brain. This is what allows us to make decisions based off of our gut. It also means that nervousness and anger can cause our bodies to produce unwanted symptoms like heart palpitations or stomach problems.

There are trillions of microbes in our bodies. These microbes make up our microbiome. A microbiome is an ecosystem of bacteria that helps out the cells in our body. A lot of these microbes are in our gut and help to balance blood sugar, absorb nutrients, combat inflammation, aid in digestion, and control the immune system. Gut health has a direct effect on the brain, so this also means that things like probiotics can have an effect on memory. The good bacteria in the gut produce a bulk of the neurotransmitters in the body and those neurotransmitters send signals to the rest of the body. Naturally, that can have an effect on brain health.


Caring for the Body with Carotenoids

Carotenoids have been researched for a while now and are known for their incredible benefits. Carotenoids are essentially the pigments that give foods their color. For example, they give sweet potatoes their orange color and blueberries their bright blue color.

Dietary carotenoids are known to protect the body against cancer. They are thought to be very beneficial because of their ability to function as antioxidants in the body. The most well-known carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and astaxanthin.

Beta-Carotene is known as a carotenoid that has the ability to be converted to vitamin A in non-toxic doses. This is great news since a supplement of vitamin A usually gives the body more vitamin A than it can handle and can damage the liver. Since beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, it has the same benefits of vitamin A. These benefits include the ability to protect the brain from cognitive decline, keep the eyes and lungs healthy, and replenish the antioxidants in the body. Some natural sources of beta-carotene are apricots, broccoli, asparagus, kale, spinach, peppers, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes.

Lycopene is an antioxidant in fruits that are red or pink. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants, has numerous benefits for the skin, helps prevent cancer, helps keep the eyes and heart healthy, is beneficial for the brain, can lessen neuropathic pain, and can lessen oxidative stress in our bones. Some natural sources of lycopene include tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, asparagus, red cabbage, grapefruit, guava, and mango.

Lutein is an antioxidant found in the eye and can be found in yellow or orange foods. It helps protect the eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts. Natural sources of lycopene include mangoes, corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, squash, collards, and bok choy.

Astaxanthin is a dark red color and can support the muscles, nerves, skin, and eye health. It can also protect the brain, digestive system, and can support exercise recovery. Astaxanthin can protect the nervous and immune system from oxidative stress. It is seven times stronger than vitamin E and suppresses DNA damage. It is also different from the other carotenoids because astaxanthin is primarily found only in seafood. Common sources include krill, shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish, and salmon.

Overall, carotenoids are very beneficial in protecting the body against oxidative stress. It is very important to keep the levels in the body balanced since a decrease in antioxidants and an increase in free radicals is a critical factor of the pathogenic processes to chronic illnesses.


Ashwagandha for Anxiety

Ashwagandha is a herb that is native to India. It has been used for many years in order to reduce the effects of stress on the body. It encourages a healthy stress response and can also help with anxiety, adrenal fatigue, inflammation, thyroid problems, and joint pain.

Anxiety and panic attacks cause the brain to release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol continuously. Naturally, this can lead to headaches, dizziness, and a strain on the central nervous system.

Ashwagandha helps because it has very powerful protective effects on the nervous system and can prevent neural damage. Preventing neural damage is crucial for protecting the brain and nervous system against neurodegenerative diseases. The stress, environmental toxins, and lack of healthy food that we are constantly exposed to impacts our nervous system. Since ashwagandha can protect brain cells, it has the ability to be used as a tranquilizer or antidepressant. It can protect individuals exposed to chronic stress or chronic nervous tension.

Ashwagandha creates a “stress-response modifier” which is also known as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help manage the hormones in the body and the response to tension. Adaptogens are essentially a group of herbs that improve the health of the adrenal system by enhancing the body’s capability to cope with stresses and anxiety. They prevent the body from being in a constant fight-or-flight mode. They normalize the hormonal imbalances in the body and they create a more stable source of energy for the cells in our body.

As mentioned earlier, ashwagandha can help with inflammation in the body by regulating inflammatory factors in the immune system. A common misunderstanding is that all inflammation is harmful to the body. The truth is that the immune system uses inflammation in order to protect and heal cells from injury. However, an excess of inflammation can have adverse effects on the body, so it is important to manage the amount of inflammation in the body. Helping with inflammation can also help ease joint pain and mobility problems.

Ashwagandha can help with hormonal imbalances so it also naturally affects thyroid health. It contains antioxidants that encourage thyroid activity and shield hepatic tissue from impairment. Ashwagandha has a direct effect on the adrenal glands and HPA axis in our bodies. This means that it can prevent the aches and pains that are associated with adrenal fatigue.

Lastly, sleep can help the body recover in miraculous ways. It can calm the mind and body down and allow cells to repair. Ashwagandha, GABA, and melatonin supplements can all naturally support the body to ensure that it self-repairs.