Forgetting to drink sounds almost as silly as forgetting to breathe, yet there's a dehydration epidemic, according to a new Harvard study. Researchers found that over half of 4,000 kids studied weren't drinking enough, with 25% saying they didn't drink any water during the day. And this isn't just a kid problem: A separate study found that adults may be doing an even worse job of hydrating. Up to 75% of us could be chronically dehydrated!
Being a little low on water won't kill you, but it can decrease muscle strength and aerobic and anaerobic ability, as well as cause poor mental performance, headaches, and make you feel sluggish. So how do you know if you're drinking enough H2O? Your urine should be pale yellow or very clear. But there are several other less-obvious signs your water tank needs a refuel.
1. You're Hungry
When your body wants a drink, it's not picky about where that water comes from and will happily accept food sources as well as glass of plain water. That's why many people assume they're hungry when they start to feel weak and tired. But it's harder to get hydrated through food (not to mention more caloric). Therefore, if you have a sudden craving (especially for ice cream or beer after a run), drink a cup of water before eating to see if that takes care of your "hunger."
2. Your Breath Reeks
One of the first things to get cut when you're dehydrated is your saliva production. Less spit means more bacteria in your mouth and more bacteria means stinky breath, according to research published in the Orthodontic Journal. In fact, the study writes that if you go see your dentist about chronic halitosis, usually the first thing they suggest is drinking more water. That often takes care of the problem.
3. You're Grouchy
A bad mood may start with your water levels, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Scientists found that young women who were just 1% dehydrated reported feeling more anger, depression, annoyance, and frustration than women who drank enough water during a lab test.
4. You're a Little Fuzzy
That afternoon brain drain may be your body crying for water, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Researchers found that people who were mildly dehydrated during the experiment performed worse on cognitive tasks and reported feelings of wanting to give up and an inability to make decisions.
5. Your Head Is Pounding
That same study that found that dehydration increased moodiness in women also found an increase in headaches in the dried-out ladies. The researchers added that dropping water levels could decrease the amount of fluid surrounding the brain in the skull, giving it less padding and protection against even mild bumping.
Your Bottom Line
A tall glass of good ol’ water should be your go-to as soon as you start feeling less than 100%. But there is no need pound gallons a day. Take half of your weight in pounds-this is the number of ounces you should reach for to start out. Once you have a consistent habit of reaching this amount, your body will develop natural cues to tell you to drink more water. It will become an afterthought to remain the hydrated, beautiful mermaid you’re meant to be!
You've been there: You had an amazing workout with Natalie and had no problem eating healthy, well-portioned meals even after Muscles and Mimosas. But the next day, your much-deserved rest day, you're suddenly ravenous. Instead of that veggie- and lean-protein-packed salad you planned to eat, you can't stop thinking about all the other delicious things around the office or around town running errands: pizza, burgers, tacos...you get the drill. You start to feel foggy-headed and irritable. This is known as Hanger, an often comical combination of hunger and anger due to the hunger. And this is not a fun state of mind to be in. So why is it so freaking hard to stay on track on the days when you're not working out? And is it all in your head, or is something else going on?
Long story short, it is not your imagination playing tricks on you when you feel hungry on rest days. As it turns out, there are quite a few factors that could be at play. Read on for 6 reasons and 6 tips for dealing with hangry rest days.
1. Your hunger hormones are affected by exercise. When you exercise, you create an energy deficit. If you're not eating more to replace that deficit (like when you're trying to lose weight), it's only natural to feel hungry. Sometimes people may feel less hungry on days when they have heavy training loads due to blood flow being distributed away from the gut into extremities. When this is the case, your body may regulate itself in the following one to two days post-exercise to compensate for the food that wasn't eaten after exercise to make up for the energy deficit. This means you see an increase in the hormone ghrelin (which makes you feel hungry) and a decrease in the hormone leptin (which makes you feel full and satisfied).
If you don't have a specific caloric or macro goal for the day, then the solution to being hungry on a rest day is simple: Eat more. If you're someone who is trying to maintain your weight, then you should eat more to make up for the calories you burnt off after intense exercise. If not, you will lose weight unintentionally, which can hinder your athletic performance.
But if you do have a reason to limit your food intake on rest days, such as weight loss or body composition goals, here are some strategies to try:
When in doubt, there is truth in math. Have your nutrient needs calculated and plan you macros. Be sure to incorporate enough protein especially on your rest days for muscle recovery and to keep you satiated enough to truly relax and enjoy your hard earned rest days.
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. Join the new 3 month Online program for the best results!
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