Hello friends and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
I received dozens of emails after last month’s Italy travelogue, so thank you all so much. It’s always a highlight to hear from you!
This month here are some practical guidance on three foods that will improve your health and then three tips to make sure you’re maximizing your cardio workouts.
Summer is one of the best times of year to get fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s fun to visit local farmers’ markets on Saturdays and pick up fresh produce, especially items you might not be growing in your own garden. Hopefully though, you have a garden full of nutritious foods like blackberries, raspberries, peaches, rhubarb, tomatoes, and many different kinds of herbs.
Eating the right foods is a simple way to improve your health. The right foods increase your energy levels, help you sleep better, decrease your risk of cancer, and deliver a myriad of other benefits. Over the years, I’ve mentioned some of my favorite foods that improve your health, so here’s a reminder.
These three foods will instantly improve your health because they stand out above all the rest: berries, avocados, and broccoli.
I’ve written about blueberries for years. Eating blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries have many of the same health benefits as well as a few extra benefits.
I call blueberries the “perfect blue food.” They can help lower cholesterol, fight cancer, and improve digestion. They even aid your metabolism.
New research shows blueberries are even better for your health than I previously thought. One study shows that probiotics, in foods like yogurt, help break down the antioxidants in blueberries (called polyphenols) to more usable forms. This allows your body to absorb more of the nutrients and reap more benefits. A tasty combo indeed.
Blackberries also help lower cholesterol and fight cancer. They also improve your immune system because they’re packed with vitamin C. Their high amounts of potassium and salicylate (an ingredient you might know because it’s in aspirin) may help protect you from high blood pressure.
Raspberries are packed with flavonoids like ellegic acid. Research shows ellegic acid inhibits tumor growth in certain cancers. And according to the American Cancer Society, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Strawberries are also full of ellegic acid. Like all berries, they have lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants and create an anti-inflammatory response. They relieve many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, especially pain.
There is one drawback though. Store-bought strawberries and raspberries tend to be highly contaminated with pesticides. So, mix a little white vinegar with water and soak your produce. Then, rinse the solution off with water before eating it.
Berries are great for eye health. Current science shows unique micronutrients that make berries high in antioxidants, offering special benefits for the eye.
Avocados are another amazing food, but they’ve gotten a bad reputation over the years. Many people avoid avocados because they’re high in fat. That’s true. A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat. However, much of the fat is monounsaturated fat which is known to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Avocados also contain a sugar called mannoheptulose, which inhibits the secretion of insulin. If you have hypoglycemia, low blood-sugar levels, eating avocados is a healthy source of glucose. However, because it inhibits insulin, avocados can cause “instant diabetes”, a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Most people with healthy blood-sugar levels don’t have to worry about this. But if you’re diabetic, monitor your blood sugar when eating avocados.
I enjoy eating avocado in a salad or in guacamole.
Broccoli is one of the best cancer-fighting foods. It includes a compound called isothiocyanate and a phytochemical known as sulforaphane, both of which are shown to help fight cancer. Broccoli also contains an antioxidant known as indole-3-carbinol. Some studies link this antioxidant to a lower risk of breast and cervical cancer.
Broccoli also has more vitamin C than a medium orange and is one of the best sources of vitamin A.
Eating just four servings of broccoli a week can cut your risk of prostate cancer in half. One cup of raw broccoli or one half-cup of cooked is equal to one serving. Do what I do to improve the taste: steam the broccoli and add a little lemon juice and olive oil. But don’t overcook it. Boiling or over-steaming broccoli reduces some of the nutrients, like sulforaphane and vitamin C.
If you want to start living a healthier life today, make sure these three foods are part of your weekly diet.
On to part two of this newsletter!
Are you maximizing your cardio workouts? In other words, is what you’re doing the most effective approach?
Here are 3 tips and things to watch out for to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
1. Many early morning exercisers think you’ll burn the most fat on an empty stomach. Research has shown the body burns the same amount of fat whether you eat before you exercise or not. After a night’s sleep your body is depleted of glycogen, which is needed for muscles to go longer and harder and also needed for brain function. Notice if you exercise less intensely when you have an empty stomach. This can decrease the total number of calories burned. Try eating a banana or slice of bread or any rapidly digestible carbohydrate 30 minutes before exercise.
2. I still see many people using hand-weights during exercise, particularly walking. Research shows it provides little to no benefit when it comes to calories burned. And more importantly, it can place undue stress on your shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Try instead a weighted vest or vary the intensity by using hills or intervals. This will give you the extra “burn” you’re looking for.
3. Are you doing the same old cardio routines? I guarantee you’ll hit a plateau both physically and mentally.
Cross training is the way to go. This means that your exercise plan incorporates a variety of modes of training. Research shows that this will decrease potential injuries, control body fat accumulation, and improve your functional capacity. You can either vary your activities, like running, biking and swimming, or within a single workout you can mix it up. If you go to a gym spend some time on different equipment or create your own mixture of activities you enjoy.
This past week for instance, here’s what I did for cross training. I swam, played golf, walked using intervals, and helped a friend move (don’t underestimate the benefit of hauling boxes up and down stairs).
Until next month, move with joy, and eat berries, broccoli and avocado!