Small Weight Training Changes For Big Results

While you can go to the gym every day and spend hours weight training, if you aren’t doing it correctly, it can cost you some desired results. Strength training needs to be done in a very specific way, and even small changes such as properly breathing can have a negative impact on your results. Whether you are aiming to build strength, increase your muscle tone, or burn calories, here are some small changes will make a big difference.

Your Form

Your form is more critical to your weight training than the amount of weight you are lifting. Start off with lighter weights to perfect your form and then increase the weight from there. If you are not sure about your form, don’t be afraid to watch yourself in the mirror. Watching yourself move can easily tip you off that part of your body is overstepping its boundaries.

It is also important to engage your whole body while perfecting your form. For example, for effective planks, think about more than only your core. The muscles in your legs should be properly engaged as well. Flex each muscle as it starts to fade to last a little longer in perfect form.

Additionally, pay particular attention to how your arms are placed while doing pushups. While it may be easier to do pushups with your elbows pushed out, keeping your elbows tucked in by your side helps create more engagement with your triceps and reduces the stress that you are putting on your shoulder joints. It will help your arms become leaner and more toned.

When it comes to deadlifts, remember that the form must be perfect. This includes a flat back, your chest leaning toward your thighs, and your hips initiating the movement. Again, look in the mirror to make sure you are doing this correctly.

The Weight

Use heavy weights when doing deadlifts. This will help create a muscular and metabolic response with the increased intensity of the deadlift drill. Working with light weights will tempt you to increase the tempo of your lifting which can result in injury.

Pay Attention to Your Glutes

Begin your leg workouts with activation exercises such as hip extensions and single leg glute bridges. These exercises activate your glutes which will improve your strength and the efficiency of your workout.

Combine Movements

To be efficient, combine movements such as a single-leg deadlift and a bicep curl. This will help challenge your glutes, core, hamstrings, and biceps and improve your balance and coordination. Also, consider doing compound exercises to work more than one muscle group at a time, which will help burn the most calories.

It is also important to keep in mind when moving that it is best to strengthen through a joint’s entire range of motion, meaning if you are doing a bicep curl, move your arm in its full range of motion to get the entire benefit of the exercise. Remember that work needs to be done in both directions. Make the eccentric contractions just as important as the concentric contractions. Do not drop a weight when the lifting part has been accomplished.

This also helps you remember to focus on your breathing. Connect your breathing with your motion. Exhale when you are asserting effort and inhale when you are letting a lift down.

Use Resistance Bands

Use resistance bands instead of weight during some of your workouts. Resistance bands give your muscles constant tension to help isolate them and get them toned. This is one way to mix up your weight lifting regimen to keep your body guessing.

A few other ways to keep your body from becoming complacent are to switch up your lifting pattern, alter your tempo, and challenge your muscles by doing various exercises every day. You can also lower your weights and increase your reps depending on your fitness goals. You can even mix up your range to help strengthen your muscles in different ways.

Stabilize Your Core

It is important to remember that keeping certain muscles still while lifting weights can be equally as important, and sometimes more so, than focusing on what is moving. Pay particular attention to your core and other stabilizing muscles throughout each exercise to keep your movements functional and healthy.

Paying attention to these details and focusing on the muscles you are engaging to perform a movement will help you to better feel the muscle firing. Focus on what you are doing for maximum benefits.

Part of stabilizing your core also means perfecting your posture. Keep your shoulders back and your posture straight to help prevent injury.


Use a foam roller to increase your mobility. If you are having trouble with strength or a certain lift, your range of motion may need some work. Use a foam roller on your upper back, pecs, and lats at least once a week to maintain a wide range of motion and improve the effectiveness of your strength training.

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The Importance of Stretching

In order to build healthy muscles, you must keep them flexible, properly fueled, and maintained. Muscle is built when tissues are broken down and repaired and redeveloped into new muscle. While building muscle is one thing, maintaining it is quite another.

You must take care of the muscles you have worked so hard to get by keeping them flexible, limber, and lengthened. Having healthy muscles will help your workouts be more effective and burn more calories. Here are some effective stretches you can do to keep your muscles healthy.

The Cobra Roll-Up

To do this stretch, simply lay down on the floor with your stomach on the floor, your hands flat on the floor, and your elbows up. Push up with your hands so your back is arched and you are looking straight ahead.

This helps to stretch the area of the spine that is in the upper and middle back. It helps to create mobility and clarity in the upper body muscles. Having proper mobility in the upper back in very important to maintaining a healthy core, which then helps properly lift weights.

Core muscle health is important in overall muscle health because training and stretching the core targets all of the muscles groups that work together to stabilize the spine and the pelvis. These muscle groups are critical when the body is transferring energy from large to small areas of the body during various sporting and weight-lifting activities.

Hip Flexor

There are a few ways you can stretch your hips, but this is a great way to have the most control over the stretch. Lie face down with both feet stretched out behind you on the floor. Bring the inside of the heel of one leg up to the opposite pants pocket by bending your knee. This helps align your hips, allowing you to drive them as much or as little as you need to into the floor, which will accentuate the stretch.

This helps release the most overworked part of the body. Many people spend the bulk of their day sitting and working at a desk, which prevents these muscles from being stretched on a regular basis. This can cause the muscles to get tight, which can lead to other health issues such as lower back pain.

Keeping your hips flexible will help prevent injury to the body and is important in gaining strength throughout other areas of the body as well.

Floor Bar and Roller

Using a foam roller on your muscles helps to keep them lengthened and flexible. Using a foam roller gives your muscles many of the same benefits that a massage does, including reducing inflammation, stress on your joints, scar tissue, and improving circulation and flexibility.

Floor bar and roller exercises can be performed separately on an as-needed basis, or they can all be combined into a pre- or post-workout routine. When rolling your muscles, slowly move the muscle back and forth over the roller for 20 to 30 seconds. Take slow, deep breaths as you are doing the rolling to encourage your muscles to relax.

The body actually loses space when weight training. Floor bar and roller stretches will counteract the compressive forces of areas such as the chest, arms, and shoulders. This will allow your muscles to easily function through a longer range of motion, which will then provide you with extra gains during your workout.

So while stretching is very important in the prevention of injury to your muscles, it is also a critical part of getting the most out of your workouts and maintaining proper muscle health. While your actual workout is what gets your muscles started, how you treat your muscles when you are not working out will also have an effect on their health.

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The Role of Vitamin B in Mental Health

While many people are aware that nutrients such as healthy fats and DHA are important for brain health, it is less known that other vitamins are critical for one’s cognition and for the prevention of mental diseases.

Modern medicine is heavily relied on when the symptoms of mental illness begin to present themselves in people, however, nutritional interventions can actually have a huge impact on psychiatric problems.

Niacin, otherwise known as vitamin B3, is one nutritional deficiency that can wreak havoc on one’s mental health. One mental condition that can be caused by a deficiency in niacin is pellagra1, which can lead to both delirium and dementia. Schizophrenia also has some of the same features that pellagra presents.

Additionally, other vitamin B deficiencies such as B1, B2, B6, B8 and B12 can also produce symptoms of mental disorders, meaning that supplementing the diet with these vitamins can be a valuable treatment.

B Vitamins and Psychiatric Conditions

When used alongside modern medicine, B vitamin supplements have been found to be effective for improving the symptoms of schizophrenia. Once these vitamins in the body are restored and oxidative stress is minimalized, the neurological pathways are able to function better.

B vitamin deficiencies also play a role in the development of mental illness and can make psychiatric symptoms worse, which then may even cause a patient to create an even larger deficiency of vitamin B in their system, due to a poor diet.

Vitamin B for Schizophrenia

Studies have shown that using high doses of vitamin B in combination with other medications is very effective in improving the symptoms of schizophrenia. However, low dose supplements seem to have no effect. It is also important to note that the earlier a patient is treated with vitamin B, the more benefit they are able to get from it.

One of the reasons that B vitamins have such a profound effect on many mental conditions is due to the fact that B vitamins effect one’s methylation cycle, and they are required for the body to be able to produce neurotransmitters and maintain the health of nerve cells.

Without proper amounts of vitamin B, nerve signals can become slow and even stop at times, which may lead to problems with motor function, cognition, and impact one’s mood. B vitamins help cells communicate and allow the messages that are sent and received through neurotransmitters to do so properly.

Vitamins B6, folate and B12 work to regulate the brain chemicals that are directly involved in controlling one’s mood, such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin. Having a deficiency in these B vitamins can therefore play a huge role in the development of depression.

Vitamin B3 and Schizophrenia

Studies linking nutrition with psychiatry date all the way back to the 1950s. This is when researchers were able to note that the symptoms of schizophrenia were similar to the symptoms of pellagra.

While pellagra is related to complete niacin deficiency and results in skin problems, it also causes symptoms of mental illness. Once vitamin B3 was added to the foods that people were eating in mental institutions, many were able to show such a decrease in their symptoms that they were sent home. This creates a link between malnourishment and psychiatric disorders.

This led to studies on the treatment of schizophrenia with high doses of niacin, which were shown to be successful.

Niacin and Other Mental Disorders

Studies have shown that some people need much more niacin than others to stay mentally healthy. This has led researchers to find that niacin is also helpful in the treatment of other mental disorders, such as ADD, anxiety, general psychosis, OCD, and depression.

Another B vitamin deficiency that can trigger mental disorders is B12, whose deficiency can trigger mania, paranoid delusions, and psychosis. The mental symptoms of B12 deficiency are variable and can include anything from mild mood disorders to severe violent maniacal behavior and conditions such as epilepsy.

B12 Deficiency Is Common

Vitamin B12 is commonly found in most diets, however, advancing age can hinder your body’s ability to absorb B12 from food. The body needs adequate pepsin, a stomach enzyme, to absorb vitamin B12. With age, this stomach acid diminishes, which can lower one’s levels of B12.

Because B12 is most commonly found in animal products, people who eat a vegan or strict vegetarian diet are also at risk for having a B12 deficiency. This is why it is important to supplement with a high quality product. With age and depending on one’s diet, supplementation of B12 can be a crucial factor when it comes to one’s mental health.

B Vitamins Protect Against Dementia and Slow Alzheimer’s

Mental fogginess and memory issues are two of the first warning signs of a deficiency in vitamin B12, which easily indicates its importance for brain health. Studies have shown that high doses of B vitamins help to control homocysteine levels, which then prevents brain shrinkage, which will slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

How to Get B Vitamins From Food

It is important to address your diet first when you are looking at your overall health. Any nutritional deficiencies can impact your brain function, as well as harm your gut health. It is best to get most of your nutrition from real food rather than supplements, but if necessary, supplementation may be beneficial.

It is best for your health to limit sugar and consume fermented foods. B-complex is produced within the gut if you have healthy gut flora. Real, organic, food, along with fermented foods, help your gut with fiber and beneficial bacteria to optimize your body’s ability to produce vitamin B.

B vitamins are very present in foods such as chicken, eggs, turkey, sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas, nuts, broccoli, beans, lentils, salmon, scallops, and dairy products. Try to balance your diet as much as possible with these foods in order to maintain proper mental health.

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Benefits of Exercise for Cancer

It is important to think of food as being the fuel and medicine for your body. You wouldn’t fill up your extremely expensive car with the cheapest gas you could find, right? Properly fueling your body helps it to continue to run smoothly and stave off chronic diseases.

Getting proper exercise is a crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle. What some people don’t know is that getting exercise can benefit your body to the point of fighting off cancer. Exercise is a powerful signal for mitochondria to reproduce and multiply in a healthy way. When this does not happen and mitochondrial start to dysfunction, this can create the foundational core of almost every form of cancer. Here are some of the many benefits that exercise has on fighting cancer.

How Exercise Improves the Outcome of Cancer Treatment

Aside from adding back some depleted energy from the side effects of chemotherapy, exercise has been found to allow cancer patients to experience less of the typical side effects of chemotherapy, especially when it comes to nausea and fatigue.

Doing any exercise while being treated for cancer, whether it is higher in intensity or just moderate, can have a great effect on the patient.

Studies show that even if people do a very modest amount of exercise, they will likely more than double their chances of successfully beating their cancer.

Cancer patients who are undergoing treatment can help to retain their muscle mass by exercising, while those who do not exercise tend to lose up to 15% of their muscle mass during their drug therapy. However, patients who participate in an exercise program of some sort lose little to no muscle mass, and some patients are even able to gain some muscle.

Exercise Should Be Standard in Cancer Care

There have been strong arguments made for the addition of exercise in any standard cancer care. This treatment involves moderate exercise for 150 minutes throughout the week for anyone who is receiving drug therapy for cancer.

Physical activity is a critical part of almost every program that works to treat cancer. One of the reasons for this is that exercise can help reduce the most common side effects of cancer treatment, such as:

  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • depression
  • low mood
  • low appetite
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • weight maintenance

European Studies Report Exercise is Beneficial in Fighting Cancer

Studies have shown that exercise truly does help to fight cancer. This has urged scientists to come to the conclusion that the body systemically produces cancer-fighting agents while it is active.

Studies done on mice revealed that tumors in mice that exercised contained cells that naturally destroy cancer. Researchers also noted that the epinephrine and interleukin 6 in the mice were released while they were exercising, which then increased both the release and the effectiveness of natural cancer-killing cells. Ultimately, these results link exercise to the rate of tumor growth.

Exercise and Breast Cancer

Although patients suffering from breast cancer may not think they feel up to exercising, it can actually help to improve their symptoms and make them feel better.

One study showed that aerobic exercise slowed the growth progression of breast cancer tumors in mice. When researchers surgically implanted breast cancer cells into female mice, they found that mice who had access to exercise had a slower rate of the growth of their tumor than the mice who could not exercise. Additionally, exercise made the cancer cells react better to chemotherapy.

Based on these findings, researchers have confirmed exercise as a critical therapy for patients who are suffering from breast cancer. Studies are now being scheduled to test if exercise can actually stop the growth of a tumor and decrease its risk of recurrence in humans.

Exercise and Prostate Cancer

Studies also show that men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer can benefit from exercise. Research done on men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer showed that men who were the most active before their diagnosis were 30% less likely to die from their prostate cancer than those who were sedentary. Additionally, the men who were most active after their diagnosis were 34% less likely to die from their prostate cancer than those who were sedentary.

Although men who are receiving treatment for prostate cancer are typically prescribed anti-androgen drugs, causing them to be fatigued, gain weight and even sometimes lose bone loss, studies have shown that exercise can help to maintain their bone density and energy levels.

Clearly, there is a lot of strong evidence that supports exercise as an effective way to reduce the growth of cancerous tumors and the risk of cancer recurrence. Cancer patients and their families would be surprised to learn the extent of the benefit that physical activity may have on their recovery and overall health in the long-term. People who have been diagnosed with cancer should make an effort to be physically active, even if it is nothing too intense. All forms of activity can help to benefit the body.

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The Best Superfoods For Your Budget

It is important to think of food as being the fuel and medicine for your body. You wouldn’t fill up your extremely expensive car with the cheapest gas you could find, right? Properly fueling your body helps it to continue to run smoothly and stave off chronic diseases.

However, while all whole foods are great, some give you better nutrition on a budget. For example, lettuce is a common vegetable, but there are more cost-effective vegetables that will provide your body with higher quality nutrients.

Here are 16 nutrition-boosting superfoods that are great if you are on a budget.

1. Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon

The “super” part of this food is in its omega-3 fatty acids. Research continues to show the vast health benefits that come from this nutrient. It is important to know, however, when it comes to salmon, it is crucial to buy the correct type.

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon has the healthy levels of omega-3 fats that your body is looking for, while farmed and genetically engineered varieties do not. Almost all of the salmon that is sold in stores and marked “Atlantic salmon” actually comes from toxic fish farms, and they contain about 50% of the omega-3 fats that wild-caught Alaskan salmon do.

If you want to be really cost-conscious, canned salmon that is labeled “Alaskan Salmon” is much cheaper than buying whole pieces of salmon. There are other fish too that have the benefits from omega-3 fats, including anchovies and sardines that are canned in water.

2. Avocado

This anti-inflammatory fruit is a great source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Avocados also have compounds that stop the growth of and destroy certain cancer cells.

Due to their thick outer skin, avocados are very safe to buy conventionally-grown, so you do not need to spend more money to seek out the organic ones. Also, if you keep avocados in the refrigerator, it will slow down their ripening process and save you some money if you can buy them in bulk.

3. Microgreens

Microgreens have a very high concentration of nutrients when they are in their early stages. Because of this, you do not need to eat nearly as much of them as you would a mature plant. Microgreens are usually harvested after about two weeks, or when they have grown to be 2 inches tall.

Microgreens are very accessible, as they are easy and inexpensive to grow inside at home.

Microgreens also do not have to be cooked. An easy way to get their nutritional benefit is to simply use them in your salad rather than lettuce. You can also put them on sandwiches, burgers, or tacos.

Some of the key nutrients in microgreens are vitamins C, E and K.

4. Kale

Kale is another leafy green that packs a punch in nutrition. The nutritional density of kale is almost unprecedented among all of the green leafy vegetables available. Kale has all of the essential amino acids, as well as 9 non-essential ones. A half a cup of raw kale will complete your entire day for vitamin A, give you 340% of the vitamin K that you need, and 67% of your vitamin C for the day. Kale also helps to keep the eyes healthy with its lutein and zeaxanthin contents.

Kale is considered to be a superfood due to its cancer-fighting agents, such as the phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory benefits help prevent and soothe arthritis, cardiovascular disease and, several autoimmune diseases.

5. Spinach

Spinach is another leafy green that is rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, and critical vitamins and minerals that help to slow the aging process.

However, it is important to remember that because spinach is high in oxalate, it must be avoided by people who have calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Spinach is best eaten raw, as boiling spinach will cause it to lose valuable nutrients such as vitamin C. In fact, after just 10 minutes of boiling, spinach loses 3/4 of its phytonutrients.

6. Broccoli

Research has shown that broccoli can actually help reduce your risk for several diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and more.

Broccoli gives your body dozens of power nutrients to support optimal health, including sulforaphane, fiber, glucoraphanin, anti-inflammatory compounds, and it also helps to boost the immune system.

Eating just three servings of broccoli each week can reduce your risk of certain cancers by over 60%. Its nutrients also help to raise testosterone levels, stop the retention of body fat, detox the body from carcinogens, and protect your muscles from exercise-induced damage.

Raw broccoli is best, as many important nutrients are lost during the cooking process.

7. Fermented Cabbage

Cabbage is great for a few reasons. First, it is inexpensive. Also, you can maximize its health benefits by fermenting it, which will also extend its shelf life. The process of fermenting foods produces a lot of health-beneficial microbes that balance the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract and boost your immune system.

Having balanced flora in your gut can help to normalize your weight, prevent type 2 diabetes, and mood disorders such as depression.

8. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is dense in natural saturated fats. These fats increase the healthy cholesterol (HDL) in your body, as well as convert the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) into healthy cholesterols. With more HDLs, your body is likely to have a healthier heart and a lowered risk for cardiovascular disease.

You can buy coconut oil by the gallon to save money. Because coconut oil is very resistant to oxidation, it retains its health benefits if it is exposed to air.

9. Organic, Pastured Eggs

Pastured eggs are an inexpensive and great source of high-quality protein and fat, among other nutrients. Just one egg has nine essential amino acids, as well as high-quality protein, lutein to benefit your eyes, choline to benefit your brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems, and B12.

To get the most nutrition out of your eggs, eat them as close to raw as you can. Some good ways to do this are to poach or soft boil them.

Scrambled and fried eggs are not very beneficial to your health, as this process of cooking the egg oxidizes the cholesterol in the yolk. It is also important for several health reasons to include the yolk when eating eggs because it holds many health benefits that the egg white does not.

10. Berries

Berries are a great superfood as they are loaded with health-benefitting vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. Their antioxidant power fights free radicals and inflammation as well. Some of the most valuable antioxidants that can be found in berries are:

  • anthocyanins
  • ellagic acid
  • flavonols
  • resveratrol

Studies say these antioxidants can help protect cells and stave off disease.

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some of the best dietary sources of bioactive compounds that are associated with a reduced risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, cancer, inflammation, and diabetes.

One cost effective way to purchase berries is to buy them frozen. Berries tend to go bad quickly, but when they are frozen, they are done so at the peak of their freshness, so those health benefits are maintained.

11. Kiwi

Kiwi is rich in vitamins C, E, and K, fiber, potassium, and powerful antioxidants that help keep chronic diseases at bay. Studies have also found that kiwis have been shown to lower blood pressure.

While some fruits, such as acerola cherries, are better, they are not available commercially in the United States and must be grown in subtropical environments. These cherries are less than one-tenth of the size of a kiwi, yet contain even more vitamin C.

12. Grassfed Beef, Beef Liver, and Butter

Switching to organic grass fed from grain-fed animal products that come from concentrated animal feeding facilities is worth the price because you will get higher quality nutrients and a decreased exposure to bacteria and antibiotics.

Organ meat, in general, is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are lacking in the average diet. Liver, especially, is more nutrient-dense than any other food, with its top nutrients including:

  • choline
  • bioavailable iron
  • B vitamins
  • CoQ10
  • vitamin D

When it comes to grass-fed butter, it is much more healthy for your heart than grain-fed, and it is also rich in CLA, which helps to diabetes and fight cancer. It is also important to note that this butter should be labeled as “raw”.

For a more cost-friendly option, you can make your own butter from grass-fed milk. You might also be able to find grass-fed butter at a local farmers market.
When it comes to your health, just make sure to always avoid margarine or spreads. These are in no way beneficial to your body.

13. Raw Yogurt and Kefir

Many commercial yogurt products are essentially glorified desserts that are made with a lot of sugar. However, yogurt and kefir that is made from organic, cultured, raw, grass-fed milk are very beneficial for your health and considered to be a real superfood. They provide your gut with a wide variety of healthy bacteria, high-quality protein, B-vitamins, calcium, and even linoleic acid.

Organic yogurts are actually typically less expensive than heavily processed yogurts, which makes this a great choice for your budget. Your best (and least expensive) bet is to make homemade kefir or yogurt with organic grass-fed milk. It is surprisingly easy to do and it requires nothing other than milk, some starter sugar, and some jars.

14. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are actually very beneficial in boosting the immune system. Mushroom are actually so beneficial to your health that they help prevent and treat cancer.

Mushroom are also rich in fiber, protein, vitamin C, B-complex, calcium, selenium, minerals, and specific antioxidants that are only present in mushrooms. One of these antioxidants is ergothioneine, which has been recently discovered to be a super-antioxidant.

Make sure the mushrooms you eat are organic because mushrooms absorb toxins from air, soil, and water. It is a great idea to grow your own mushrooms, however, you should avoid picking them up in the wild unless you are positive you know exactly what you’re picking, as certain mushrooms are deadly.

15. Onions

Onions are a strong anti-inflammatory food that also helps to fight cancer. Research has actually shown that the stronger the flavor that an onion has, the more anti-cancer benefits it has as well. Even cooked onions have anti-cancer compounds.

Onions also help protect against heart disease and neurological decline. Onions can also inhibit certain enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract that helps to prevent obesity and diabetes, and support healthy blood sugar.

The outer layer of an onion contains the most antioxidants, so it is best to peel off only the outermost layer prior to consuming this super-food.

16. Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey protein concentrate in a dense source of nutrition with many health benefits, including:

  • help to maintain blood sugar
  • helps to maintain blood pressure
  • supports the immune system
  • helps to absorb proteins, fats, and
  • carbohydrates

  • promotes healthy insulin secretion
  • helps preserve lean body tissue

Whey protein concentrate is a powerful superfood, as it is a rich source of amino acids and the best food for maximizing glutathione. Glutathione is a tripeptide that is found in every cell of your body and is known as the body’s strongest antioxidant.

Being on a tight budget does not mean that you can not eat a healthy diet. Stick to these inexpensive superfoods to stay healthy while also saving money.

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How to Effectively Meal Prep

People who take the time to plan out their meals for the week are more likely to stick to their healthy intentions and resist random snacking temptations.

When you have a hectic schedule, it is tough to take the time to create healthy meals, especially when it is so easy these days to buy a pre-made meal. The work schedules of young adults are certainly a barrier to clean eating. Men, in particular, are at a high risk for gaining weight while trying to make it through their week.

Poor decision making when it comes to food choices when you are rushed and hungry are almost inevitable. To keep yourself from falling down this slope, you should prepare your meals ahead of time for the week, which leaves out the option of making a decision. You have already done the work for yourself, so you have no excuses to grab a meal from a fast food restaurant.

While prepping a week’s worth of food may seem daunting, it gets easier the more you do it. The best thing is that it will certainly save you time and money in the long run.

Here are 4 simple steps to proper meal planning, plus two weeks’ worth of sample meal plans to help you get started.

1. Check your calendar.

How total meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, will you need this week? While meals will require prep work or extra time? Thinking about every time you will need a meal this upcoming week, plus the times you won’t, can help you plan more efficiently and avoid wasting money and food.

2. Create a menu.

Once you know how many meals you will need, here is how you decide what to make.

Make sure that your meals are nutritionally balanced. For each meal, aim for up to 40 grams of lean protein, such as turkey, fish, chicken, eggs, up to 20 grams of fat, such as avocados and nuts, and up to 60 grams of carbohydrates, such as quinoa and whole wheat bread.

It is important to get creative so you are able to look forward to your next meal. Prepping food in bulk is easier than working with different food every night of the week. However, eating the same foods all week is boring, so need to consider other ways to use the ingredients that you prepare in bulk in different ways. For example, you can slice bell peppers and eat them plain as a snack, you can sautee them add them to a stir-fry, or you could cut them in half to make stuffed peppers.

Leftovers do often taste better the next day after the flavors have been given time to meld together. Make dinner for two and package half of it up for the next day for lunch at work. Double up the recipes you love so you can enjoy them for a few days after.

Keep your meals simple. You don’t have to try to create things you have never heard of before or try to make yourself fancy foods. This can be an uncomplicated process to take the additional stress of meal planning off of your plate for the week.

3. Go food shopping.

After you have decided what you are going to prepare, make a list of what you need and go to the store. Try to do your big shopping on Saturday or Sunday so you can allow yourself to have the needed time to prepare your ingredients on Sunday night before the work week starts.

4. Pack up your meals.

It is easiest to prepare and package your meals during the weekend before the crazy activities of the week begin. Make sure to clean all of the produce you purchased, simmer any grains, chop the vegetables, and cook rice.

Once you have done this, you can separate and assemble anything that makes sense, such as making dinners all ready to stick in the oven or separating fruit in proper servings for smoothies. This will help you to not have to worry about portion sizes throughout the week or putting dinners together at the last minute.

For your to-go meals, make things like sandwiches and leafy salads the night before you plan to eat them. If they sit for too long in the fridge, they can become soggy, but putting them together just the night before is fine.

Meal Prep Template

Here are a few easy recipes to inspire you to start meal planning and prepping. They use a lot of the same ingredients, which makes it easier for you in the grocery store and when it comes time to prep your food.

The benefit of making multiple servings allows you to eat the meal more than once that week if it is something that you particularly enjoy, without much additional effort. Remember that these are just your meals, and you will likely need to supplement them with snacks throughout the day such as vegetables and hummus or a piece of fruit.

Here is a general template for what a day’s worth of meals should look like:

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs on toast with 1 slice of avocado

Snack: small apple with peanut butter

Lunch: chicken, broccoli, and brown rice bowl

Snack: raw vegetables and hummus

Dinner: Meatballs over 1 cup of cooked whole wheat pasta and 1/2 cup marinara sauce

This is only a template. You don’t need to try to be creative every week and come up with new ideas. Rather, use this template to swap in different flavors and ingredients to create new meals. For example, have a banana instead of an apple for a snack, or change up your proteins to include heart-healthy fish like salmon. You can also choose your own herbs and spices to make the food palatable to you.

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The Best Butt Exercise You Never Do!

Let me guess. If you had to choose between the fast, exhilarating cardio workout that gets you amped up or the slow and steady weight training routine that you dread, you will always pick the cardio.

While the back extension sure sounds like it would be working your back, its focus is actually on extending the lower back at the climax of each rep to help strengthen the spinal erectors.

While these moves are great for professional powerlifters, an average weight-lifter is not usually trying to go for these hyperextension moves. Average weight lifters would need extra work to learn about hyperextending their lower backs. The goal instead should be to minimize any movements at the lower back and create larger movements with the hip area. This exercise would be better suited to be referred to as hip extensions.

A new way of getting a great exercise for your butt can be referred to as a “back extension.” The focus of this exercise is largely on purely the hip extension, making it arguably of one the best glutes exercises out there.

Here are some tips to get the most benefit out of this workout.

1. Turn your feet out 45-degrees

Holding your feet at a 45* position rotations the hips out, creating a need for the glutes to work harder. It is difficult, but important, for your hamstrings to help maintain this setup, which leaves your glute muscles alone.

2. Round your upper back

While we have always heard to never round our spines, here, we are only rounding the middle of the back, which allows you to create a backwards pelvic tilt to limit any lower back movements and maximizes the motions of the hips. This technique does come along with a shorter range of motion, however, your glutes will become activated a lot more than they would if you chose to use the typical approach.

3. Add weight

When your body is straight, cross your arms in front of you and add a weight plate for extra resistance

4. Slowly bend forward at the waist while keeping your back flat.

Breathe in motion with this movement. Move forward until you feel a stretch on the hamstrings, and you can not keep going without rounding your back.

It is important to never round the back during this exercise. While some people may be able to go farther than others, it is best for you to allow your body to do the motions that it is comfortable with doing. Some people can easily go farther than others, but the key thing is to do as much as your body allows without rounding your back.

5. Slowly return your torso to the initial position as you inhale.

Try to avoid the temptation of arching your back past a straight line. It is also important to refrain from swinging the torso during the movement to protect the back from getting injured.

There are many factors that make this a beneficial exercise. First, you are able to choose if you want to do higher reps with your body weight or lower reps with extra weights. This is is so versatile that people often add in band tension to the stretch as well. Adding band tensions helps to create peak tension at the top of the exercise when the hips are fully extended. This exercise can be tailored is many ways to suit your needs, which should allow this exercise to become a staple in your exercise routine.

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Four Things That Happen When You Only Do Cardio

Let me guess. If you had to choose between the fast, exhilarating cardio workout that gets you amped up or the slow and steady weight training routine that you dread, you will always pick the cardio.

Cardio is great. It helps you lose weight, stave off chronic diseases, and keeps your heart healthy. However, if you stick to only doing cardio training when you exercise, you are missing out on a lot that your body needs. Your body’s muscular needs will not be met if you do not take the time to do some weight training. Here are four things that happen when you only do cardio.

1. You lose muscle mass.

If you are not challenging your muscles with weight resistance, your body will stop building muscles. If you have previously spent time building up muscle, you will lose it faster than it took you to gain it if you decide to only stick with cardio.

During weight training, your body makes enzymes that build your muscles and help to keep them strong. However, if you stop weight training, your body stops producing its muscle-maintaining enzymes, which will cause your muscles to atrophy. The enzymes that are responsible for metabolism are in your muscles, so your metabolism will therefore decline.

You actually lose muscle mass very quickly if you are not lifting weights, due to a chain reaction. After just one week, the amount of blood your body has for your heart to pump will begin to decline. Also, the mitochondria in your muscles begin to decrease.

Also, your nervous system will stop sending messages through the pathways that your body uses to control muscle contractions, which will cause muscle weakness and a decrease in power. The loss of muscle means your body will require more oxygen to do anything that it used to be able to do with less fuel. Altogether, without weight training, you are unable to push your muscles, heart, and lungs, as hard as you possibly could.

2. You won’t lose fat.

If you stick to cardio, your body will adjust to your routine, which will cause you to burn fewer calories. When you vary your exercise schedule with different movements, as you do in weight training, you keep your body guessing and therefore burning calories.

Additionally, the more muscle that you are able to build from weight training, the more efficient your body will be in burning fat throughout the day. Doing cardio alone will not help you burn calories as effectively as if it was paired with weight training.

It is best to pair strength training with quick bursts of cardio to help increase the body’s resting metabolic rate for up to a full 24 hours after exercising.

3. Your muscles will stay sore.

If you stick to only doing cardio without any other forms of exercise, your body will become stressed and tired. This is because you are constantly using the same muscles over and over and ignoring the rest. This can result in overuse injuries or strains on your muscles.

However, if you change up your cardio routine and add in some strength training, it will allow those muscles that you typically overuse to rest and regain their strength. Letting each part of your body recover from a workout is important in maintaining proper health.

4. You may develop long-term health issues.

Losing the lean muscles that you obtain during strength training puts more tensions and pressure on your body, which can lead to serious damage over time. Cardio-only workouts will increase one’s risk for joint pain, injury, and breakdown, since strength training is an important part of maintaining bone density, strong ligaments, and strong tendons.

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The Effect of Enzymes on Overall Health

Digestive enzymes are a critical part of the digestion process and help our bodies absorb the nutrition that it needs. While this is well known, many don’t realize the important role that enzymes play in our overall health and other biological functions aside from digestion.

The body contains thousands of enzymes that assist the body in normal functions that it otherwise would not be able to do. Every organ has a unique set of enzymes that all have their own function and create their own biochemical reactions.

The Benefits of Enzymes

Researchers are continuing to discover enzymes that play all kinds of roles in our bodies, from optimizing digestion to treating cancer. This has led researchers to believe that enzyme preservation is a critical part of longevity, as one’s level of enzymes decreases with age.

For example, people who are in their 20s have around 30 times more amylase in their saliva than those who are approaching their 70s, and they also have twice as much lipase than those in their late 70s. People suffering from a chronic illness also typically have lower levels of enzymes than healthy people.

A study on an enzyme that is involved in energy metabolism was done on mice and it had interesting findings. This enzyme that is found in broccoli, cabbage, and cucumbers helped to regenerate aging cells, which in turn prevented certain age-related genetic changes. The mice who were fed these enzyme-rich foods gained less weight than the control group and had improved eyesight.

Digestive enzymes

These are involved in the process of digestion. They work by breaking down food into nutrients that your body can use and eliminating any waste products. These enzymes are found outside of the cells. There are eight types of digestive enzymes, each of which breaks down different types of food.

  • Protease: Digests protein
  • Amylase: Digests carbohydrates
  • Lipase: Digestis fats
  • Cellulase: Breaks down fiber
  • Maltase: Converts complex sugars into glucose
  • Lactase: Digests milk sugar in dairy products
  • Phytase: Aids in overall digestion, especially in producing B vitamins
  • Sucrase: Digests most sugars

People Who May Benefit From More Enzymes

Because enzymes play such a large role in overall health, some people may benefit from consuming more enzymes in their diet. By eating more raw foods or taking a supplement, many can improve their health.

For example, those who mainly eat cooked, processed, or microwaved foods. When you eat these foods that have been through these unnatural processes, you are putting a burden on your body to produce the enzymes that it needs. Instead, if you eat raw foods, your body can easily make what it needs for digestion and other processes.

Any enzymes that are not used during the digestion process are available to help with other physiological processes that are vital to the body’s health.

People who are over the age of 30 can also benefit from additional enzyme consumption. The body’s production of enzymes decreases by over a tenth every decade, so once you are 40, your enzyme production is likely to be 25% lower than it was as a child. Once you reach 70, you are likely producing only a third of the enzymes that your body needs. What makes things worse is that your stomach creates less hydrochloric acid with age, and this acid is needed to activate the digestive enzymes in your stomach.

People who are acutely or chronically ill can benefit their bodies with the consumption of more enzymes, including people who have digestive problems, high blood sugar, endocrine gland imbalances, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, large amounts of stress, arthritis and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Supplements that have the enzymes that break down starches, proteins, and fats appear to benefit people who have food sensitivities. In order to have the best digestion, you need all three of these enzymes.

Enzymes and Coenzymes

Enzymes cause biochemical reactions to occur. They speed up reactions, sometimes to the speed of several million reactions each second. This significantly lowers the amount of energy that is needed from the body to digest food. Without enzymes, some reactions would not even be possible. Here are some things your body does that requires enzymes:

  • produce energy
  • absorb oxygen
  • fight infections
  • heal wounds
  • reduce inflammation
  • distribute nutrients to the cells
  • eliminate toxic waste
  • dissolve blood clots
  • break down food
  • regulate hormones
  • regulate nerve impulses
  • slow the aging process

Enzymes combine with vitamins and minerals to create coenzymes to conduct these processes. While the body can create its own enzymes, the ability to do so begins to decline around the age of 30. If your diet consists of mainly processed foods, this process will happen faster, as usable enzymes are only found in fresh, whole foods. This is another reason why people are urged to eat plenty of fresh produce, as it has a large impact on enzyme health.

Pancreatic Enzymes in the Fight Against Cancer

Pancreatic enzymes are useful in treating cancer. When they are used for this, pancreatic enzyme supplements are taken in between meals, when the body does not need them for digestion. The enzymes then work systemically, helping the body’s organs through your blood.

One way enzymes fight cancer is by dissolving cancer cells’ protective fibrin coating. Because this coating is fibrous, it is 15 times thicker than the protective layer of a normal cell. By dissolving this layer, the enzymes help the immune system find the antigens in the cancer cell so the cell can be killed and naturally disposed of.
Enzymes and Leukemia Treatment

The enzyme L-asparaginase has a history of being used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common form of leukemia in children. This enzyme is also often used to treat certain cancers in cats and dogs. This enzyme starves cancer cells of asparaginase, which is the enzyme needed to produce proteins. While healthy cells only need a little asparaginase, cancer cells need a lot and cannot produce it on its own.


Seaprose is a systemic enzyme with many health benefits. It is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory that can also help break up mucus. Studies also suggest that it has antibiotic properties. This enzyme has been shown to benefit:

  • Arthritis
  • Edema
  • Venous inflammatory disease
  • Peritonitis
  • Vein inflammation following a blood clot
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Bronchitis
  • Pulmonary emphysema
  • COPD
  • Bronchiolitis

Seaprose-S should be taken in-between meals so it can work systemically. By passing through the digestive tract, this enzyme can enter the bloodstream, reaching all the tissues in the body.

Naturally Boosting Enzyme Levels

There are four things you can do to increase your enzyme levels:

  • eat more raw, living foods
  • thoroughly chew your food
  • fast
  • stop chewing gum

The best way to increase your enzymes is to make at least 75% of your diet consist of raw foods. All raw foods contain enzymes, however, the most useful enzyme-rich foods are raw foods that are sprouted such as seeds and legumes. Other foods that are rich in enzymes include:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado
  • Kiwi
  • Grapes
  • Raw meat
  • Dairy
  • Fish sauce
  • Mango

Eating these foods will give your body the amino acids and enzymes that your body needs to boost its natural production of enzymes. You can lower your body’s demand for enzymes by reducing your caloric intake. This will reduce your need for digestive enzymes, allowing your body to use its energy to create metabolic enzymes.

When it comes to chewing, this action stimulates the production of saliva which lessens the workload of your digestive system to create enzymes. This is also why you should avoid chewing gum because it tricks the body into thinking it is about to digest something, so it unnecessarily creates digestive enzymes.

Digestive Enzyme Supplementation

If you believe your enzyme production is low, you may consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement alongside the addition of eating more raw foods. Digestive enzymes should be taken with a meal, and should ideally contain a mixture of various enzymes to aid in the digestion of all of your food.

Systemic Enzyme Supplementation

Enzymes can be used systemically between meals on an empty stomach so they are absorbed directly into your bloodstream. Your cells can then use the enzymes metabolically for health benefits. Systemic enzyme supplements are often given an enteric coating so they don’t break down in the stomach, but rather wait until they are in the digestive tract.

Systemic enzymes are used to treat various problems such as sports injuries, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. While this is often done in other countries, the U.S. is only now beginning to adopt this practice.

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The Relationship Between Stress and Heart Health

Excessive stress has a great effect on overall health. The fight or flight reaction is embedded into all of us, even though we are no longer facing archaic predators. The modern day causes of stress are typically not life-threatening, although your body may think they are.

Having chronic stress can impact your health with fat accumulation, a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. Acute stress may even lead to a heart attack.

Stress and Heart Attacks

Research shows that stress causes overactivity in the part of your brain called the amygdala, which controls fear, and in turn increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Because the amygdala works to biochemically prepare you to fight or flight, over stimulation can put too much pressure on the body.

In a study done on the amygdala, the inflammation levels and brain and bone marrow activity of healthy participants were measured. By the end of the five-year study, 22 out of 293 participants had experienced a cardiac crisis such as a heart attack, stroke or severe chest pain.

After looking at brain scans, researchers found that those who had higher activity in the amygdala had an increased risk of experiencing a cardiac event. This has also been confirmed in further studies.

Overactive Fear Response Can Lead to Heart Attack and Stroke

People with chronic stress have more activity in their amygdala than those who do not experience intense stress. This triggers inflammation, which can lead to heart disease.

However, other studies have shown that stimulation of the amygdala may result in arterial inflammation by triggering the production of immune cells in bone marrow. Amygdala is a crucial part of the brain because if it is healthy, it will protect you from stress, but if it is overworked, it can make stress worse.

Reducing stress will help to decrease any inflammation in the arteries that may lead to heart problems. It could also produce benefits that include an improved sense of psychological health.

What Causes Chronic Stress?

As the levels of stress continue to rise with the years, one might wonder what the root cause is. It could be different for everyone, but common factors include heavy workloads, poverty, job insecurity, or financial troubles.

How Else Can Stress Trigger a Heart Attack?

As your stress levels rise, so do your white blood cells, which can help to promote disease. Stress can lead to such health issues as atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and plaque rupture.

During intense stress, the body releases norepinephrine, which can cause bacteria to disperse from the arteries’ walls. This can result in plaque deposits to break loose, which can trigger a heart attack.

When intense stress is brought on suddenly, and blood pressure is elevated, this could trigger a heart attack or stroke even if there is no pre=existing heart condition. The sudden weakness of the heart may be due to the rapid overflow of adrenaline and other stress hormones.

While most people recover from these heart issues, in some cases, the heart attack is fatal. You are at a higher risk of dying from a heart attack if you have a history of neurological problems or a history of mental health problems. However, while the condition is possibly life-threatening and needs emergency medical attention, it is typically a temporary problem with no permanent damage.

What Are Some Signs of Stress?

So many people do not realize how stressed they are because it has become their normal state of being. You first need to recognize that have significant stress and then address it. Some common signs are:

  • trouble sleeping
  • fatigue
  • binge drinking
  • either no eating or overeating
  • being quick to anger
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • feeling irritable
  • headaches
  • general aches and pains

Taking a Stand Against Your Amygdala

Knowing its role in heart attacks, you now probably want to learn how to reduce the activity in this part of your brain. When your amygdala is triggered, oxygen is not being delivered to your internal organs or your brain, as it is preparing for fighting instead of thinking.

However, in or developed society, critical thinking is what is necessary when you are facing a stressful situation. Using your muscles or fist-fighting is no longer the solution to a conflict, yet due to the stress response, your brain’s activity has diminished so you need to return some oxygen to your brain.

Helpful Breathing Methods to Reduce Stress

There are a lot of breathing techniques you can learn to help you manage your stress. The Emotional Freedom Technique is one of these options, however, you may want to experiment with a few to see what works best for you. You can practice deep breathing, which helps you to accumulate and retain carbon dioxide, which will calm your breathing and reduce anxiety.

Once your brain is restored with oxygen, practice a physical relaxation technique to relax your muscles. One physical relaxation technique involves tightening your muscles in one area for a few seconds before releasing them. Do this for each muscle section in your body. Begin with your toes and move upward.

Visualization techniques are very helpful in reducing stress as well. Think of a relaxing thought or somewhere you would rather be and really paint a clear picture of the space around you. This can help your body relax as if you were in this place.

You can put all three of these techniques together by breathing and relaxing your body, then imagining being in your peaceful and safe place. Spend at least 10 minutes or 20 minutes here to interrupt any stress and to disengage the fight or flight response.

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