Today we are going to go over different types of strength training. There is 3 different types: isometric, concentric and eccentric.
1. Isometric: This type of strength training occurs when the muscle length and joint angle do not change during the contraction. They are done in static positions; not through the range of motion. Isometric exercises are good post surgically or for abdominal strengthening post pregnancy. For example, you know when you really have to pee and you’re holding it. That is working on isometric strengthening of the pelvic girdle muscles. Isometric strength training can work multiple muscles at once. For instance, a plank is an example of isometric strength training of multiple muscles.
2. Concentric: This type of strength training is when tension on a muscle increases as it shortens. They are important in achieving hypertrophy of a muscle. The best example of this is a bicep curl. As your lift the dumbbell the bicep muscle will shorten causing concentric activation. Like isometric muscle activation, concentric muscle activation can occur with multiple muscle groups at the same time. For example, the upward motion of a jump squat.
3. Eccentric: This type of strength training is when tension is placed on a muscle while it lengthens. Eccentric muscle training slows down the elongation of the muscle fibers in order to challenge the muscle. It can lead to stronger muscles and improves muscle repair speed. Eccentric muscle training is one of the best things you can do for your body. It helps with the following:
a. Improves muscle force
b. Stores more energy in the muscles for the next movement
c. Less vulnerable to injury
An example of eccentric strength training is an eccentric split squat
Let’s break each down in a specific exercise. For a squat, the down motion if done slowly is working on eccentric strength while the upward motion is working on concentric. You can perform isometric strength by doing a hold halfway.
Eccentric strength is harder than Concentric strength but it is also more functional. For example an easy way to remember it is: let’s say you are sitting on your couch. You are about to use your right arm to put a potato chip in your mouth. This would be concentric strengthening of the biceps. Putting the potato chip back in the bag is eccentric strength of the biceps because it is lengthening. It is harder to put the potato chip back in the bag and not eat it than to put it in your mouth. Make sense?!
So how can I get the most bang for my buck when performing a workout with Nkfitsquad?
Natalie will definitely help you with this. However, always remember that combination of movements is always the best so that the muscles can be challenged. Concentric strengthening will help with girth of the muscle and eccentric strength will help with power. So remember to slow down with the exercises in order to achieve the results you want.
For more information, contact NKfitsquad to join!
amy carollo, dpt,gts
Having a healthy gut might seem like a nitpicky concept that's being sprung upon you because of the current popularity of probiotics. But considering how your gut affects different aspects of your health, including your immune system and balancing your hormones, it's important to keep it in good health.
Read on for six ways to keep your gut healthy.
1. Eat More Fiber
As we all learned early on, fiber is an important component in keeping digested foods moving through our bodies. Making sure you're eating enough fibrous foods ensures healthy movement, which means your body isn't holding onto any toxins. Skip the inulin supplements, as they can make irritable bowel symptoms worse.
2. Take a Probiotic
Taking a probiotic is highly beneficial to your health because it can be engineered to contain potent strains of bacteria that can help balance and restore the good bacteria in your gut. With the popularity of probiotics supplements, however, it seems that every brand is different with a different regimen. Many probiotics come with prebiotics, which is fiber built into the capsule or powder to serve as food for the probiotic strains. If you plan on taking your probiotics on an empty stomach, this is fine. However, because the pH in the stomach is so acidic, it could destroy the supplement’s bacteria. Eating food increases the pH and decreases the acidity. A 2011 study tested taking probiotics with oatmeal and milk found that taking the probiotic 30 minutes before or when eating increased probiotic absorption. Another thing the study noted was that absorption also improved when the meal contained some fats, so be sure to include healthy fats.
If you choose to take your probiotic with your meal, opt for a supplement without prebiotics, as the fiber in the food you eat is actually more beneficial to your gut than synthetic add-ins.
Not sure of your dosage? Start out small and build your way up. Your first bottle should measure 5 to 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units). After you finish that bottle without GI upset, buy a stronger probiotic up to 25 billion CFUs. Move up as you feel your best. If you struggle with consistency, watch the expiration date and continue the same strength until you feel your body has adapted.
Another fact about probiotics that you should keep in mind: Some probiotic properties are strain-specific. This means that the effects of one probiotic could be different than the effects of others. For example, Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast that is marketed as able to treat diarrhea, while species that fall under the Bifidobacterium genus are said to be able to treat constipation. Both are considered to have probiotic properties.
Going into stress mode affects our health as much as it does our mental well-being. There's a reason why many of us experience stomach upset when we're stressed or anxious — when the principal stress hormone called cortisol is released, it can cause an inflammatory response in your gut that makes it a less than ideal place for good bacteria to thrive.
4. Avoid Antibiotics
Because antibiotics can’t always tell the good bacteria from the bad, they sometimes end up wiping both out, leaving your colonies of good bacteria depleted and disrupting the ecosystem in your gut. When antibiotics disturb your gut, some of your body’s crucial processes go haywire, including your body’s ability to produce some vitamins such as vitamin K. Antibiotics can also disrupt your microbes’ ability to regulate their own behavior and production, which can make you susceptible to over- or underproduction of candida.
5. Avoid the Fake Sugar
Qualitative studies have associated sugar substitutes to lower microbiome counts. Also, sugar alcohols in particular, can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea in some people. This additional irritability can inflame your gut even more, making it a worse environment for your good bacteria. Be sure to read your food labels as well as your supplements and medications for “Sucralose,” “aspartame,” “malitol,” and “saccharine.” While stevia is the new kid in candy town, research is too new to determine is the microbiome is affected.
6. Eat the pickle
Fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and traditional sushi have beneficial bacteria from the fermentation process. There’s a reason why so many cultures throughout human history have developed fermented dishes. We figured out centuries ago that the bacteria in fermented foods make us feel good. Researchers are beginning to confirm this by linking these tiny creatures to all sorts of health conditions from obesity to neurodegenerative diseases.
Aim to eat at least one fermented food every day, but read your food labels. The jars of pickles you can buy off the shelf at the supermarket are sometimes pickled using vinegar and not the natural fermentation process using live organisms, which means they don’t contain as many probiotics. To ensure the fermented foods you choose do contain probiotics, look for the words “naturally fermented” on the label, and when you open the jar look for telltale bubbles in the liquid, which signal that live organisms are inside the jar.
Taking a probiotic supplement can be very helpful. However, research is in its infancy. Be sure to eat real, whole foods with plenty of fiber. When you have a salty craving, grab a pickle or kimchi instead of potato chips. With consistency, you will help your gut reach homeostasis.
Nutrition impacts everything; your metabolism, mood, and organs, including your skin. As scientists learn more about diet and the body, it's increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin. Here are 11 of the best foods for keeping your skin fresh and glowing.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin. They are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary to keep skin thick, supple and moisturized. In fact, a deficiency in omega-3 fats can cause dry skin.
The omega-3 fats in fish reduce inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. They can even make your skin less sensitive to the sun's harmful UV rays. Some studies show that fish oil supplements may fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions affecting your skin, such as psoriasis and lupus.
Fatty fish is also a source of vitamin E, one of the most important antioxidants for your skin. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for protecting your skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation.
Lastly, fish provides zinc, a mineral vital for regulating inflammation, the production of new skin cells and overall skin health. Zinc deficiency can lead to skin inflammation, lesions, and delayed wound healing.
Natalie’s all-time favorite are back again! Getting enough of the monounsaturated fats in avocados is essential to keep skin flexible and moisturized. One study in over 700 women found that a high intake of monounsaturated fats found in avocados was associated with more springy skin. Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps protect your skin from oxidative damage from sun exposure.
Interestingly, vitamin E seems to be more effective when combined with vitamin C. Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. A deficiency in vitamin C is rare these days, but common symptoms include dry, rough and scaly skin that tends to bruise easily. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that protects your skin from oxidative damage — caused by the sun and the environment — which can lead to signs of aging.
Walnuts have many characteristics that make them an excellent food for healthy skin. They are a good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself. In fact, they’re richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A diet too high in omega-6 fats may promote inflammation, including inflammatory conditions of your skin like psoriasis. On the other hand, omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body including in your skin. While omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in the Western diet, sources of omega-3 fatty acids are rare. Because walnuts contain a good ratio of these fatty acids, they may fight the inflammatory response to excessive omega-6.
Walnuts also contain zinc, which is essential for your skin to function properly as a barrier, as well as necessary for wound healing and combatting both bacteria and inflammation. Walnuts also provide small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium, in addition to 4–5 grams of protein per ounce.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which functions as provitamin A, which means it will be converted into vitamin A in your body. Carotenoids like beta-carotene keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock. When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into your skin and protects your skin cells from sun exposure. This may help prevent sunburn, cell death and dry, wrinkled skin. Interestingly, high amounts of beta-carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthy glow.
5. Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin C, necessary for creating the protein collagen which keeps skin firm and strong. A single cup of bell pepper provides an impressive 317% of the RDI for vitamin C. A large observational study in women linked eating plenty of vitamin C to a reduced risk of wrinkled and dry skin with age.
Broccoli is full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C. It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta-carotene. Lutein protects your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled. Broccoli florets also pack a special compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is also a powerful protective agent against sun damage by neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in your body. Evidence suggests sulforaphane may also maintain collagen levels in your skin.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene. Beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They may also help prevent wrinkling. Consider pairing carotenoid-rich foods like tomatoes with a source of fat, such as cheese or olive oil. Fat increases your absorption of carotenoids.
Soy contains isoflavones, a category of plant compounds that can either mimic or block estrogen in your body. Isoflavones may benefit several parts of your body, including your skin. One small study in middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. In postmenopausal women, soy may also improve skin dryness and increase collagen, which helps keep your skin smooth and strong. These isoflavones not only protect the cells inside your body from damage but also your skin from UV radiation, which may help prevent some skin cancers.
9. Dark Chocolate
If you need one more reason to eat chocolate, here it is: The effects of cocoa on your skin are pretty phenomenal. Real cocoa powder has so many antioxidants known to make skin less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn and have better blood flow, which brings more nutrients to your skin. One study found that eating 20g of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning versus eating low-antioxidant chocolate. Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa in order to maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum.
10. Green Tea
Green tea may protect your skin from damage and aging. The powerful compounds found in green tea are called catechins and work to improve the health of your skin in several ways. Like several other antioxidant-containing foods, green tea can help protect your skin against sun damage. One 12-week study in 60 women found that drinking green tea daily could reduce redness from sun exposure by up to 25%. Green tea also improved the moisture, roughness, thickness and elasticity of their skin.
11. Red Wine
Red wine is famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes. Resveratrol is credited with a wide range of health benefits, among them reducing the effects of aging. It may also slow the production of harmful free radicals, which damage skin cells and cause signs of aging. Unfortunately, there's not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to impact your skin. And since red wine is an alcoholic beverage, there are negative effects to drinking it in excess. It's not recommended to start drinking red wine just because of its potential health benefits. However, if you already drink, you might enjoy red wine as your alcoholic beverage of choice.
The Bottom Line
What you eat can have a big impact on your skin health. Make sure you're getting enough essential nutrients to protect your skin. The foods on this list are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong and gorgeous.
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
Have your every had pain in your butt or down the leg and you are unsure why? Here are some reasons this may be occurring.
Difference between Piriformis Syndrome & Hamstring Syndrome
Piriformis syndrome is pain in the buttock or posterior thigh and calf caused by inflammation of the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle lays on top of the sciatic nerve (in most cases); when tight it pinches the nerve as it exits the pelvis. Most people will complain of pain with walking, trunk rotation and stairs.
Hamstring syndrome is caused when the sciatic nerve becomes trapped by adhesions in the proximal hamstrings (where the hamstring attaches to your bottom). This can cause repetitive strain. It occurs mostly in sprinters. Pain usually occurs with sitting or stretching.
Well that is a big word. Lumbar radiculopathy is a condition that occurs when a nerve in the low back is compressed causing pain in the area of the nerve. Lumbar radiculopathy turns into sciatica when the nerve that is being pinched is in the area of L5/S1. There is L1-L5 vertebrae in the low back; the sciatic nerve comes out between L5/S1.
Think of the nerves in your back as the wires behind your TV. The wires are needed for the TV to turn off, to change the channel and to mute. Like the wires of the TV, the nerves will turn a muscle off, on and move the muscle. If the nerves are not working correctly, the muscle is not going to work. Usually the symptoms are muscle weakness, pain and weakness of a specific area of the legs. With sciatica, this is knee flexion and foot weakness.
4 exercises to reduce butt pain
Prone press ups
Prone means lying on your stomach. Most of the time when a nerve is irritated due to a nerve, it is because the disc is bulging posteriorly. When lying prone (or on your stomach), this will push the disc back into place reducing the stress on the nerve.
People usually use one side of their body more than the other. When this happens the pelvis will be off. The muscles on the side of your pelvis (the gluteus medius) will become weak. This exercise will help to improve the glut medius strength, therefore improving the alignment of your pelvis.
Sciatic nerve flossing
No this isn’t the flossing dance. Although that would probably be more fun. Remember how I said with hamstring syndrome the sciatic nerve will get trapped in the adhesions of the hamstrings. This exercise will help to reduce the adhesions in the muscle and let the sciatic nerve move like it is supposed to.
The Piriformis is a muscle in the bottom that goes over the sciatic nerve. When tight it can cause the sciatic nerve to become pinched. This exercise helps to stretch out the piriformis muscle and let the sciatic nerve do its job
Things you can do to prevent butt pain
Guys, for the love of god please stop wearing your wallet in your back pocket. This puts pressure on the sciatic nerve
When holding a baby, switch from one hip to another. This will help to keep the pelvis even
Adults need tummy time too. Since we are sitting most of the time, this will cause our back to be in a flexed position, lying on your stomach 20 minutes a day will help to reduce any disc issues in the future
For more information on Personal Training, Nutrition & Physical Therapy join the NKFitsquad!
AMY CAROLLO, DPT
Last week, we talked about a few foods that can help with hormone dysfunction. But with so many diet fads popping up in your newsfeed, it is hard to wonder if one of the fads would be beneficial. Here are four popular diets and the potential effects they may have on your hormonal health.
1. Ketogenic Diet
This low-carb plan is intended to put your body into ketosis, which occurs when you restrict glucose and start burning fat as a fuel source. Used medically for children with epilepsy and some oncology patients, this diet breaks down to about 80%-85% fat, 10% protein, and only 5%-10% carbs. While studies suggest that the diet may have health-promoting potential, the protocol restricts carbs so severely that most experts recommend doing it only with medical supervision. No one, whether you wrestle with hormone imbalances or not, should undertake a ketogenic diet lightly or without trusted medical support.
Potential upside: You may lose weight. People who follow a ketogenic diet tend to feel full for a long time after each meal (because fat is so satiating) and this can lead to eating fewer calories overall. It also means most junk food is ditched from your diet because almost all packaged foods have more than the allowed limit of net carbs.
Hormonal downside: You may stress yourself out even more. Some studies suggest that Keto may negatively affect T3 production. The thyroid is one of the master glands of the endocrine system and for optimal hormone health women need optimal thyroid health. The very low number of carbs can put stress on the adrenal system, slowing T3 production. Also, adrenal fatigue is, by definition, a hormone imbalance.
2. Raw Vegan
Eating an abundance of rainbow colored vegetables and fruits, whether cooked or raw, is a major win for health and hormone balance. But a true raw diet consists only of plant-based foods that haven’t been heated over 104°F -118°F. The diet also dictates that nothing you eat is pasteurized, refined, or processed. Advocates of raw veganism believe cooking food destroys important enzymes and reduces their nutritional content.
Potential upside: You fill up on natural nutrients. Raw fruits and vegetables have more fiber. Also, water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C aren’t cooked out of your lunch, leading to better absorption. An abundance of organic, phytonutrient-rich foods can improve digestion, enhance heart health, reduce inflammation, support cellular health, and have anti-aging benefits.
Hormonal downside: You miss out of some vital vitamins and minerals. Many vegans develop iron anemia as the best sources of absorbable iron are from animal sources. Some studies have linked strict raw food diet to amenorrhea because of this. Also, we normally cook out the natural phytic acid in vegetables, which blocks the absorption of vitamins and minerals. We normally add fats to cooked vegetables, which we need to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins D, A, K, and E. On top of this, your gut microbiome may be out of whack due to hormonal imbalance or synthetic birth control, which will also inhibit absorption of these important nutrients in raw foods. Nutrient deficiencies can compromise your entire hormonal system and show up as a host of symptoms, from missing periods to mood issues to weight gain.
This diet started with the discovery or Celiac disease. Relative to the Paleo diet, Grain-free cuts out all grasses: wheat, barley, rye, rice, corn, spelt, amaranth, millet, oats, bulger, and buckwheat. This diet allows carbs in the form of quinoa, beans and legumes, potatoes, and root vegetables.
Potential upside: You may lose weight. Since you cut all grains and replace them with healthy fats, proteins, and complex, phytonutrient-rich carbs, you may lose weight in the short-term. Some people also report a reduction in brain fog and general well-being due to the cut processed trigger foods.
Hormonal downside: You may experience emotional turmoil. Your body uses carbs to make serotonin, a feel-good hormone. Without it, you’ll initially get mood swings and more frequent drops in blood sugar. This can make you vulnerable to moments of binging carbs, which can lead to blood sugar and insulin spikes. This turbulence in blood sugar and insulin can interfere with ovulation and wreak havoc on metabolism and fat loss.
4. Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Intermittent fasting is going for short or intermediate periods of time without food. This “not eating” window can be as short as 12 hours and include sleep time, or as long as 16 or 24 hours. Some people try to go 12 or more hours without eating every day. Others try to go 12 or 16 hours without food a couple days a week. Some people don’t eat for a full 24 hours one day each week.
Potential upside: Your body learns to depend on itself. Without the frequent blood sugar spikes from food, your body adjusts the amount of insulin from the pancreas. This keeps your blood sugar stable, which can help your adrenals and thyroid rest. The stabilization of digestive leptin and ghrelin can help you regulate your appetite and moods. Because of this, studies suggest that intermittent fasting may promote weight loss.
Hormonal downside: Your hormones may retaliate. Without the proper amount of nutrients, you put even more stress on the body as it tries to hold onto the nutrients you’ve already eaten. This will increase cortisol and decrease estrogen. Less estrogen may lead to decreased bone mass, infertility, thyroid dysfunction, and weight gain. If you notice a difference in your period, experience dryer skin or insomnia, or experience dark colored urine, you are cutting too much too quickly. Stop your diet immediately and be sure to schedule a consultation with a Registered Dietitian and/or doctor.
Bottom Line: These diet trends are new and fun to try. However, everyone has different hormone levels each part of each day. If you struggle with any hormone-related symptoms, including weight loss resistance, severe PMS, irregular or heavy periods, PCOS, fibroids, hormonal acne, or impaired fertility, it’s imperative that you see an endocrinologist and find the best course of action. It is also important to read your body before you jump on the next diet trend bandwagon.
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
When your reproductive hormones are out of whack, the signs are glaringly obvious.
What's not so straightforward?
How to get things back into harmony. After all, there are almost as many culprits for hormone imbalance as there are symptoms, including your exercise routine, your birth control pills, stress, and—this is a big one—your diet.
Fortunately, changing up your diet can make a big difference in your hormonal health. The first step is to clear your kitchen of inflammatory processed foods and high-sugar snacks, plus meat and dairy from conventionally raised animals that have been injected with antibiotics and growth hormones.
Here are five foods that have shown to be beneficial for hormonal health.
1. Salmon - The protein found in wild-caught salmon can balance your hunger hormones and increase satiety. In addition, salmon provides a hefty dose of healthy fats in the form of omega-3s, which are called essential fatty acids because your body cannot make them. Omega-3s are needed for synthesizing hormones that regulate blood clotting, arterial function, and inflammation. Salmon is known for being heart-healthy, and its ability to tame your body’s inflammatory response can also help control autoimmune diseases including lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may even protect against cancer and other chronic illness. Salmon is a source of cholesterol, which has gotten a bad rap in the nutrition world. However, cholesterol is necessary for building sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone that tend to decline in middle-age, as well as the “sunshine hormone” vitamin D, which you need to maintain strong bones. Supplementing with fish oil has been shown to reduce the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline during stressful situations.
2. Kale - Kale is an excellent source of fiber, which feeds your good gut bacteria. Research shows that friendly gut flora may play an important part in clearing estrogen from your system and encouraging hormone balance. Fiber also helps to increase insulin sensitivity and feelings of fullness. Dark, leafy greens such as kale are rich in magnesium, which supports healthy levels of estrogen and testosterone. Low hormone levels in both women and men have been linked with an increased risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. On the flipside, cruciferous veggies help your body process and eliminate excess estrogen so you can avoid estrogen dominance and reduce your risk of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. I am often asked whether cruciferous vegetables are harmful to your thyroid gland because they contain goitrogens (substances that interfere with iodine uptake). However, the benefits of cruciferous veggies far outweigh any risks. As long as you get plenty of iodine from foods or supplements, you can enjoy as many kale salads as you’d like!
3. Grass-fed Beef- Grass-fed, pasture-raised beef is an excellent source of the four nutrients that are essential to thyroid health: iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron. Iodine is one of the major building blocks of thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of thyroid enlargement, goiter, and hypothyroidism worldwide. Selenium helps convert inactive T4 hormone into active T3. Insufficient amounts of selenium means your thyroid hormones are stuck in their inactive state, leading to hypothyroidism symptoms including brain fog, weight gain, low libido, fatigue, and depression. Eating high-quality food sources of selenium can even help reverse autoimmune thyroid conditions by lowering the levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) in your system. Zinc and iron also play a role in the conversion of T4 to T3. Also, zinc triggers your hypothalamus to increase thyroid hormone production when levels are low, and iron helps the enzyme that converts iodide (the form of iodine you eat) into iodine so it can combine with tyrosine to build thyroid hormones.
4. Cherries - Cherries are a natural source of melatonin–the “sleep hormone” released by your pineal gland. Studies have found that cherries have the ability to increase melatonin levels, total sleep time, and quality of sleep. Cherries also contain other hormone-balancing nutrients including magnesium and vitamin C. Like melatonin, magnesium improves sleep by supporting optimal levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes restful sleep. Magnesium also helps calm the body’s stress response by preventing the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Vitamin C is essential for creating and regulating hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Vitamin C can enhance the effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and work with estrogen to promote bone growth, which is particularly important for postmenopausal women who are at an increased risk of osteoporosis due to low estrogen.
5. Maca Root - Chronic stress is the type that never lets up, and keeps pumping out cortisol and adrenaline nonstop until your adrenals are shot. Maca root is an adaptogen, meaning it helps your body “adapt” to ongoing stressors by mediating the body’s stress response. When used over time, maca nourishes and enhances the function of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which restores balance to your overworked adrenal glands. Maca also supports healthy thyroid function and bone density, making it an all-around superfood for women struggling with imbalanced hormones.
Bottom Line: As we get older, our bodies change. Our diet lifestyle should change too. By eating foods that feel good to your body, you will be able to strengthen it by joining the #NKFITSQUAD and stave off aging a little more. Remember, there’s not a one size fits all plan, but these five ingredients are a good place to start, no matter what kind of imbalance you’re dealing with.
And, as always, you should always seek out your doctor’s advice if diet alone doesn’t start to soothe your symptoms.
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
Do you ever wonder why Disney didn’t have a dance number in which Quasimodo did the limbo? This is because there is no way he could have; he presented with severe kyphosis. But before I can describe what kyphosis is and why it wouldn’t let him break out those dance moves, it is important to explain what the thoracic spine is.
The thoracic spine is the longest region of the spine. It is made up of 12 vertebrae. It is the only spinal region attached to the rib cage. Most of the back’s rotation comes from the thoracic spine with an average of 30-35 deg total to each side. Kyphosis is a curve of the thoracic spine in which it is bent forward. Kyphosis can be caused by degenerative diseases or in most cases poor posture overtime.
So why is it important to keep the thoracic spine so healthy?
My neck, my back, my PAIN just like that
The thoracic spine is responsible for most of the rotation of your back. If the thoracic spine is hypomobile (decrease in mobility) then the other spinal segments of your cervical and lumbar spines have to make up for it. Because most people lack strength of the deep core, increased rotation can cause low back pain.
Every breath you take…
Remember how I said that the ribs attach to the thoracic spine? Well if the thoracic spine lacks movement, so will the ribs. This will not allow the ribcage to expand like it should. When this happens, people will use accessory muscles for respiration. These muscles are: Sternocleidomastoid, pectoralis major and minor, latissimus dorsi. When these muscles are overused, they can cause neck and upper back pain. And you know what else?! The diaphragm attaches to the 11th and 12th ribs. So the diaphragm wont expand well and those deep breaths will be harder to take. Improving your thoracic mobility will actually increase lung capacity!
Scaps are Wack
The Shoulder blades or scapulae lay on the rib cage. When the thoracic spine is in kyphosis, the scapulae will move away from the spine with lack of thoracic mobility. This will make overhead motions with her shoulders painful and hard to do. Hello rotator cuff injury, I am talking about you! The scapula has to glide appropriately on the rib cage when you lift your arm, and if it is not doing this then that it is a sure fire way to cause pain in the shoulder.
So you might be wondering what you can do to improve thoracic mobility?
Thread the needle
Start on your side on the floor with your elbow directly underneath your shoulder and feet and knees stacked. Lift your hips up into a side plank with your free arm up toward the ceiling. Take your free arm and thread it through the open space underneath you while you rotate your shoulders and hips toward the floor.
Lay on floor in a side lying position, flex the top hip to 90 degrees and support the knee with a foam roll and keep the foot on the ground. The head is supported by a towel roll. Reach under your ribs with the top hand. Begin rotating your top shoulder to the floor and pull the ribs in the direction you are rotating. Maintain contact between the knee and the foam roll. Then return to the starting position by rotating back to a neutral position.
Thoracic Extension on foam roller
Put the foam roller under your upper back / thoracic spine. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head and pull your elbows as close together as they'll go. Let your head fall to the floor and try to wrap yourself around the foam roller, extending the thoracic spine over the roller. Roll, slowly up and down the vertebrae, pausing on any painful parts (do not roll the neck or lower back, focusing solely on the thoracic spine).
How can you get more information on exercises for thoracic mobility?
Contact Natalie Kimball Fitness and Join the #NKFitsquad!
& Drop a like if you found this to be helpful!
Amy Carollo, DPT
The low fat craze of our childhoods did not work out for us. We all stopped eating many of our favorite foods thinking they were bad for us and ended up overweight, overly full of refined carbs, and sick. For the first time in 35 years, the USDA and HHS removed the limit on total fat consumption in the American diet (though they still recommend getting less than 10% from saturated fat) in 2015. Evidence clearly shows that eating more foods rich in healthy fats like nuts, oils, and fish have protective effects, particularly for cardiovascular disease. They also help you absorb some vitamins, fill you up so you eat less, and taste good, too.
Here are 9 to enjoy today:
1) Olive Oil - Olive oil is the original healthy fat. A tall body of research finds that it helps lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Most recently, Spanish researchers publishing in the journal Molecules reported that the various components of olive oil including oleic acid and secoiridoids slow the aging process. To get the most health benefits, choose extra-virgin olive oil, as it is extracted using natural methods and doesn’t go through as much processing as regular. Research also shows that veggies sautéed in olive oil are also richer in antioxidants than boiled ones—and they taste better too!
2) Fish - You may have heard your mother or grandmother describe fish as "brain food." That’s because fish are brimming with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function. Your brain is made up of mostly fat, so you need to consume them in order to stay sharp and healthy. The new Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 8 ounces per week to get healthy amounts of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), all of which feed your brain and fight inflammation and chronic disease. If you're concerned about mercury, choose salmon, anchovies, herring, shad, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel (not king mackerel), according to the USDA.
3) Avocado – As one of the NKFitSquad, you probably already know how awesome avocadoes are! But they’re more than just Natalie’s favorite food! They also help lower inflammation, which is linked to cardiovascular disease. In a 2014 study, a team of Mexican researchers fed a group of rats too much sugar, which gave them symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including high blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. They then fed the rats avocado oil, which lowered levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol in their blood, while keeping protective good HDL cholesterol levels intact. You also need to consume healthy fats in order for your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
4) Eggs - The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines lifted the longstanding limit on cholesterol, as we now know the cholesterol you eat doesn't have that much bearing on the amount of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol floating in your bloodstream, and that saturated fat and genetic makeup are the real driving force behind dangerously high cholesterol. That's good news, since research finds that eating eggs in the morning can help you feel full and satisfied longer, making it easier to resist those pastries in your office pantry. Eggs from hens that are raised on pastures or fed omega-3 enriched feed tend to be higher in omega-3s.
5) Nuts - Nuts are nature's most perfect portable snack. Each handful packs a powerhouse of nutrients including amino acids, vitamin E, and unsaturated fatty acids. In one study in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating a daily one-ounce serving of nuts was associated with a 50% lower incidence of diabetes, a 30% reduction in heart disease, and a nearly 50% lower incidence of stroke. Before you chow down, beware the "candyfication" of nuts. Skip any that say "candied," or "glazed," and make sure there aren't any added ingredients, such as sugar and other vegetable oils. There is no need for oils to be added to nuts because they already have their own!
6) Seeds - Seeds like pumpkin, hemp, flax (grind these in a coffee grinder to release nutrients), chia, and sunflower are rich in monounsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which suppress inflammation. They're also a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, iron, and magnesium. Pumpkin seeds have been found to be especially helpful for balancing blood sugar.
7) Coconut Oil - Coconut oil used to get a bad rap because its calories come predominantly from saturated fats. Now it's receiving some well-deserved vindication. The main type of saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Coconut oil is also unique from other sources of saturated fats because it contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are metabolized differently—they go straight from the liver to the digestive tract and can then be used up quicker than getting stored. It's also a very stable fat and is great for cooking with high temperatures.
8) Grass-fed Cheese - Cheese has long been regarded as dietary villain that clogs your arteries. However, some studies have found that people who regularly eat cheese have lower risk of high LDL cholesterol and heart disease. Aged cheeses like Parmesan are also a good source of probiotics, which promote healthy digestion and weight. Grass-fed cheese is full of good nutrients like MCT’s, phosphorous, protein, and calcium. It also increases levels of butyric acid in the body, which has been linked to lower obesity risk and a faster metabolism.
9) Dark Chocolate - For years, many of us reserved chocolate for an occasional indulgence. Now we know that a daily chunk of dark chocolate, which is a source of healthy fats, actually protects the heart. Researchers from Louisiana State University reported that when you eat dark chocolate, good gut microbes like Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria feast on it and they grow and ferment it, which produces anti-inflammatory compounds that protect your cardiovascular health. The sweet may also keep you slim. One study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that folks who eat chocolate five times a week have a lower BMI and are about 6 pounds lighter than those who don’t eat any.
Bottom Line: There is no need to avoid fat. Eat what you love and what loves you back. Reach for the organic dark chocolate. Sprinkle extra seeds on your salad and use the full-fat dressing. Bake eggs in avocado and sprinkle with cheese. By shifting your focus away from the fat content on the food label, your brain, gut, skin, and bones will thank you. Avocado toast anyone?
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
If your local coffee shop’s menu has grown more confusing in the past few years, you’re not alone. Nondairy milk alternatives have expanded to include a wide variety of options (pea milk, anyone?), all of which maintain a healthy reputation. It can be tricky to keep them straight, much less sort out which ones are actually good for you or even worth the price. Don’t assume that all plant-based milks are all created equal; it is best to think of these alternatives as the liquid form of their original food. Whether you’re eating around dietary restrictions or simply looking for a new flavor profile, more protein, or something more natural, here’s what you need to know about the many products labeled as milk:
The presence of both naturally occurring and genetically modified hormones in dairy today has made it a hot topic with many dietitians. All dairy contains small levels of hormones like various estrogens, but organic brands will help you steer clear of GMOs like rBST.
However, across the board, cow’s milk has the most detrimental environmental impact: according to an Oxford review of over 150 studies, a single glass of cow’s milk uses more land and three times the greenhouse-gas emissions of any of the plant-based alternatives.
2. Lactose-Free Milk According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 65% of the human population (and 90% of adults of East Asian ancestry) have a reduced ability to digest lactose, a complex sugar found in milk, after infancy. Lactose-free milk has a nutrition profile similar to regular milk and offers a nice compromise for those who can’t digest the standard milk. Lactose-free milk isn’t made by removing lactose. Instead, manufacturers add the enzyme lactase, which breaks lactose down into easily digested sugars. This enzyme won’t help anyone with a whey or casein allergy though, as these components remain in the milk. It also tastes slightly sweeter than regular milk, since our tongue recognizes simple sugars as sweeter than complex ones.
3. Goat’s Milk Goat’s milk naturally contains less lactose than cow’s milk and is more nutritionally dense, with 168 calories per cup and around 10g each of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamin D, calcium, and potassium. It has a creamier texture which makes it great for lattes and thick sauces. The flavor of goat’s milk can change depending on goat breed and processing, so you may find that some brands taste sweet and mild, while others have a strong, more pungent flavor.
4. Rice Milk Unsweetened rice milk is primarily carbs, with 11g per cup and essentially no protein, making it a no-go for low-carb diets. At 70 calories per cup, it sits between cow’s milk and almond milk on the caloric spectrum, and it contains 25% of your daily calcium requirement.
Often rice milk contains brown rice syrup in addition to just plain rice, which is sugar by another name. I would recommend looking for milk alternatives that aren’t sweetened, and rice milk is a big offender. Check the label for other common additives, like canola oil, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum, used to thicken the texture.
5. Oat Milk Oat milk has grown in popularity in recent years and is very big in lattes now, thanks to its creamier texture. It’s also closer to cow’s milk in terms of caloric content: 120 calories per cup, 16g carbs, and 5g fat into each serving. Oat milk is also fortified with vitamins A, D, and B12, as well as calcium.
6. Hemp Milk This other recently trendy milk alternative has more fat and protein than almond or rice milk, with 4.7g protein and 7.3g fat (in the form of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) per 83-calorie serving. Unlike many plant-based options, it contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Like other alternatives, it’s fortified with sugars, thickeners, and vitamins A, B12, and D to mimic cow’s milk. Overall, this is a nutritional all-star.
7. Almond Milk Almond milk is great if you’re looking for a traditional milk flavor and texture with fewer calories. A serving of unsweetened almond milk is around 40 calories.
Almonds themselves have a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids that are considered helpful for weight loss, and marketing for almond milk can give the impression that each bottle is packed with almonds. But a lawsuit against Silk (one of the largest milk-alternative brands) in 2015 alleged that each bottle contained less than 2% almonds. The environmental impact is also worth noting: 80% of nuts used in almond milk are grown in drought-prone California, yet it takes over a gallon of water to produce a single almond.
8. Cashew Milk Like almond milk, unsweetened versions of cashew milk are low on macronutrients. So if you’re mainly trying to reduce overall daily caloric intake, swapping whole milk for a nut milk might be a place to start, but for an athlete looking to fuel performance, cashew milk comes up short. Compared to almond milk, cashew milk is slightly creamier, but a one cup serving is a mere 25 calories and less than 1g of both protein and carbs.
9. Soy Milk A 2018 study that compared plant-based milk alternatives found soy to have the most balanced nutritional profile of the bunch. Soy milk has 80 calories per cup, with 4g fat, 7g protein, and 3g carbs, making it similar in protein and fat to a glass of 2% milk. Silk also fortifies its soy milk with vitamins A, D2, and B12, and adds gellan gum to make it thicker.
10. Coconut Milk Coconut milk used to come exclusively in a can, and more often in curry than a latte. But now, more processed, drinkable forms of coconut milk are sold in cartons by the gallon, with a texture similar to almond milk. Both varieties are higher in fat and potassium and lower in protein than other milks. The caloric difference between a cup of canned coconut milk versus a cup of coconut milk is noteworthy: a cup of canned milk has 445 calories with 48g fat, while the carton milk has a mere 45 calories and 4.5 fat. Both offer a full daily dose of vitamin B.
10. Pea Milk Pea milk is derived from pea protein and offers a similar amount of protein and fat as regular whole milk 8g protein and 4g fat. It is higher in carbs, racking up 15g per cup. Pea milk has twice the amount of calcium of cow’s milk—as well as potassium. Most brands making pea milk boost it with additives like sunflower and algal oils, which offer a smooth texture and additional nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
Bottom Line: Get in touch with your own individual body. While cow's milk is inflammatory for many people, nuts and seed milks are some of the most prevalent allergens too. Also, carb-heavy milks such as oat milk could be inflammatory if you've been consistent on a low-carb eating plan. This shows that every body will react differently to each milk. Choose a milk that both your taste buds and body enjoy the most.
JACQUELINE CORBETT, MS RD LD
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WHY WE NEED PROTEIN
Protein is essential for a variety of bodily functions, including building and repairing muscles, curbing hunger and stabilizing blood sugar, and growing healthy hair and nails. So if you're not getting enough protein, it can impact everything from your weight to your mood. Look out for these red flags:
1. You're working out but that belly fat won't budge.
When you weight train with Natalie, muscle fibers break down. To help you repair muscles and make them stronger than before, post-workout protein is paramount. If you don’t refuel with protein after weight training, you’ve only broken the muscle down, which results in muscle loss. Be sure to eat a protein-rich snack within 4 hours of your session.
2. You're constantly craving sugar and carbs.
When you eat a meal that lacks enough protein, you're more likely to feel unsatisfied and reach for sugary, fatty foods. Protein stabilizes blood sugar, stops cravings, and keeps us full longer. Be sure to consume enough protein at every meal to keep your sweet tooth in check. If you’re out for a splurge, “chasing” a special high-carb treat with chicken, eggs, or tuna can keep your blood sugar from spiking as high and helps your insulin recover more efficiently to alleviate crash symptoms.
3. Your skin is dry and flaky.
If you used to have plump, glowing skin that's now dull and flaky, it might be a sign. Protein makes up collagen, the building blocks of our hair, nails, and skin. If you’re not getting enough, you might develop brittle, dry hair or dry, flaky skin. You don’t have to shell out big bucks for the fancy collagen powder; increasing your protein intake throughout the day would be enough to bring back your youthful glow.
4. You feel tired all the time.
If you’re skimping on protein, you may feel brain fog. Protein stabilizes your blood sugar while carbs shoot up and then crash, leading to a mental lull. An iron deficiency, also known as anemia, can also cause extreme fatigue. Some foods high in iron happen to also be high in protein, such as beans, quinoa, beef, and chicken liver.
5. You're losing weight, but your clothes are still tight.
It's possible to weigh less but look like you haven't lost a single pound if you're losing muscle instead of fat. Also, we tend to lose muscle mass with age. Preserve hard-earned muscle by piling on the protein and nixing empty calories from sugary and highly processed foods.
6. You're moodier than usual.
Protein can boost your mood by providing the amino acids to make feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Without these, you are likely to experience depression, mood swings, and anxiety. Next time you’re feeling down, reach for a hard-boiled egg or heart-healthy nuts before grabbing candy or cookies.
7. You're always bloated.
Even if you already avoid bloat-inducing beverages and foods, you can still experience swelling in your belly, legs, and ankles due to lack of protein. Protein is necessary for fluid balance. So without it, your body can retain the water longer than intended. Bring your body back into equilibrium by incorporating more protein into your dishes, like swapping Greek yogurt for sour cream or chocolate protein powder for cocoa powder while baking.
8. You’re taking more sick days
Protein powers the antibodies that fend off sickness, making it a major immune booster. If you keep feeling sick, you may need to add more protein. Most high-protein foods also contain zinc, which helps fight infection and heals wounds.
So how much protein should you be intaking to promote health?
Protein needs vary by age, gender and activity level. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American College of Sports Medicine, athletes should aim for 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (60% to 100% of the RDA for non-athletes).
Distribution of protein intake is key—it should be spread out evenly throughout the day with 15g to 30g following exercise. Our bodies can absorb only 20g to 30g of protein at once, so try getting at least 20g protein at each meal. Remember, it is best to include some fat and carbs with your protein. That breaks down to 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbohydrate per meal. Consuming this amount will help you stay satisfied and have enough energy to power through your day.
Want to learn more, start by joining the NKFITSQUAD!
Talk to our specialist and see if we are the right fit for you!
JACQUELINE CORBETT, MS RD LD
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