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The Truth About Your Healthy Snacks

The Truth About Your Healthy Snacks 0

truth-about-healthy-snacks

We’ve all tried to swap out a bag of chips for some whole grain pretzels or a granola bar in an attempt to eat better and be more healthy. However, what we’re perceiving as the better option may be just as bad as our original guilty pleasure or indulgence. As people study food more, it has come to light that many things we thought were good for our health and our waistlines might not be as beneficial as we thought. Let’s take a look at some popular “healthy” snacks and see what the truth is.

 

Granola Bars: These can be great if you avoid the ones loaded with sugars. However, many granola bars are super sugary and sacrifice health for taste. Granola isn’t good for you if it’s been over processed and covered in multiple layers of corn syrup and sugar. The challenging part about finding truly healthy granola bars is most people don’t like the taste of a dry, unsugared granola bar (go figure!) Because of this many granola bars contain chocolate, caramel, and other ingredients that you wouldn’t eat alone and think they’re healthy.  So why does having them loaded in your healthy snack make it any better? Look for options that don’t contain added sweet ingredients, and stick to natural flavors.

 

100 Calorie Packs: People think these are “healthy” alternatives, but they’re actually only marketed this way because there is a limited number of calories in them. Calorie count aside, these are usually snacks high in processed fats and carbs. Instead of the entire bag of chips, you’re just getting a small portion of the same unhealthy products. You’re hard pressed to find an element of these little packs that can be construed as healthy. Furthermore, many people think that since there’s only 100 calories in one pack and it isn’t bad for you, they can eat multiple, leading to the consumption of calories that are equivalent to the full-sized snack. 

 

Pretzels: For some reason, we have the perception that pretzels are a healthy alternative to snacks like chips or cookies. But when it comes down to it, pretzels are basically just flour and salt, and all carbs, which are all a huge no-no. They’re also nutritionally empty. If you’re going to fuel your body, try choosing something a bit more nutritional. Pretzels will do absolutely nothing for your body. They also have a ton of sodium stemming from all that salt on top - with one serving size containing about 25% of your recommended daily consumption.

 

Veggie Chips: Just because you see the word veggie on these packages doesn’t make them as healthy as a vegetable. These products are often misleading, with the only veggie in sight being vegetable powder that fools you into thinking your veggie chips have the nutritional value of the vegetable they share a color with. The nutrients from vegetables are not in your veggie chips, despite the artificial flavoring that might give you that impression. If there actually are veggies in your chips, their presence is so minuscule due to over processing that any nutritional value that could possibly come from them is gone. Veggie chips are also made of mostly potato starch and corn flour. So unless potato starch is your idea of a nutritional vegetable, steer clear of veggie chips. 

 

Dried Fruit: Many are fooled into thinking since fruit is good for me, dried fruit must be too. The truth is, many dried fruit products contain a ton of additives like sulfur to extend their shelf life. Do you really want to be consuming sulfur when you’re trying to be healthy? Additionally, many dried fruit is thoroughly sweetened with a ton of sugar to balance out the taste, totally canceling out any health benefits. Unsweeted and unsulfured products are available at certain health food stores, but you might as well save yourself the hassle and just stick to fresh fruit instead.

Your Phone May Be Interfering with Your Good Night's Sleep

Your Phone May Be Interfering with Your Good Night's Sleep 0

phone-light-interfere-with-sleep

Chances are, you sleep with your phone close by your bed in case of boredom, the urgent phone call, or a quick Google to answer a question. You probably also spend your last few minutes before shut-eye browsing your phone and updating yourself on anything you may have missed throughout the day. How well do you usually sleep? Science is now telling us there is a connection between your phone and your sleeping habits. As it turns out, checking your phone before bed and keeping it close by may be damaging to your sleeping patterns, because of the light emitted by your phone’s screen.

 

All artificial light (that means LEDs, fluorescent bulbs, and incandescent bulbs) interrupt normal sleeping patterns. LED lights are frequently used because they happen to be more energy efficient and provide better lighting than your average incandescent light bulbs. They are also present in your phone.

 

To understand why this is bad for your sleeping habits, you must first understand how your body works. Your body’s natural biological clock is set in motion by the amount of light and dark you are exposed to, called the circadian rhythm.The circadian rhythm of your body also has the ability to control many other physiological processes, or many other individual clocks, like sleeping and feeding patterns, brain activity, hormone production, and cell regeneration. Light is the most powerful cue for shifting the phase of these rhythms.

 

Natural light stimulates your retinas, which send a signal to the hypothalamus in your brain, telling it to set sleeping patterns according to perceived “daytime (sunlight)” and “nighttime” (no sunlight). When it starts to get dark, your brain gets another signal from the hypothalamus that tells it to start creating sleep hormones, like melatonin, and prepare for sleep in other ways like dropping your body temperature. When light is sensed in the morning, your body gets the signal to warm up and produce hormones that wake your body up. This is how a normal circadian rhythm should work.

 

So now that we know how your body naturally works, what’s the deal with phones?

 

Artificial light, blue LED light specifically, has a substantial effect on shifting these phases and melatonin suppression. Artificial light confuses your body’s natural circadian rhythms. Since your retinas are receiving light all throughout the day, not just during sunlight hours, your body is unsure about when to prepare for sleep.

 

Guess what produces huge amount of blue light? Phones, tablets, TVs — everything you probably use right before bed. This blue light specifically suppresses melatonin more than any other type of light. This is due to the short wavelengths in blue light, which the human body is far more sensitive to than any other type of wavelength. Studies have found this does two disastrous things: suppress delta brainwaves (which induce sleep), and boost alpha wavelengths (which create alertness).

 

So what are we saying, that you have to stop using your phone or limit your time around artificial lighting to get a good night’s sleep? Not exactly, especially since in today’s day and age it would be near impossible to do that. There are some small steps you can take to improve your sleep, though.

 

For one, you can stop using your phone 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. This will remove most of the blue light that interrupts your sleep. We know it sounds pretty difficult, but before mobile phones became so prominent in our lives, people had many other bedtime rituals that helped them to settle into their slumber. Try reading a book (not an e-book!) or making yourself a cup of tea to wind down. A dimly lit environment with no blue light will signal your body to start getting ready for sleep and produce melatonin that will begin to diminish your wakefulness. If you absolutely must use your phone, turn your brightness all the way down to limit the intensity of the blue light. These small steps may help you to improve your sleep, which can lead to bettering your overall health.

12 Quotes to Drive You to Fulfill Your New Years Resolutions

12 Quotes to Drive You to Fulfill Your New Years Resolutions 0

12-quotes-fulfill-new-years-resolutions

 

2017 is here! That means everyone is doing their best to stick to their resolutions, some being far more difficult than others. As we know by now, resolutions aren’t always a one-stop fix. They’re an uphill climb, hard to stick to, and you will most likely face many steps backwards while trying to move forward. When your resolution involves making healthier choices and getting your body in better shape, you’ll need some motivation to push you through those difficult times. We’re here to help motivate you — after all, we’re on this journey of health together. But some motivation from those who are more wise than we are can be immensely powerful. Here are 12 quotes we think represent this journey to a better you. We hope these quotes free you from what was holding you back in 2016, and get you in the healthiest mindset for the trials and triumphs of 2017.

 

“Change doesn’t come in nickels and dimes. It comes in dedication and sweat.”
- Toni Sorenson
“Exercise is a great leveler. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, you can’t just buy your way into a great body. You have to do the work. I find that comforting. It’s one of the few things in life where we’re all on a level playing field.”
- Vinnie Tortorich
“A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”
- Tom Stoppard
“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
- Carlos Castenada
“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”
- Unknown
‘I’ve realized that I’m more important than food is. I love a big slice of pizza, but I love myself more. It’s about saying you deserve to be healthy.”
- Valerie Bertinelli
“Transformation isn’t a future event, it’s a present day activity.”
- Jillian Michaels
“Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel.”
- Kevin Trudeau
“Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.”
- Samuel Johnson
“Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up at the steps; we must also step up the stairs.”
- Vaclav Havel
“There is always a step small enough from where we are to get us to where we want to be. If we take that small step, there’s always another we can take, and eventually a goal thought to be too far to reach becomes achievable.” 
- Ellen Langer
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.”
- Ann Wigmore
Delicious and Good For You: The Benefits of Green Tea

Delicious and Good For You: The Benefits of Green Tea 0

the-benefits-of-green-tea

 

Green tea has to be one of the healthiest drinks out there. If you’re looking to give your immune system a boost, speed up your metabolism, or improve your brain function without moving a muscle (except to grab your favorite mug), then green tea could be the secret ingredient you’ve been needing in your life.

 

Green tea helps with the best of both worlds, because it can help improve your outside by starting from the inside. Green tea is also completely natural. What more can you ask for? With how many benefits are jam-packed in this tasty little drink, you’d wonder why absolutely everyone hasn’t taken advantage of it yet.

 

Let’s start with the basics green tea is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. You’ve heard it all your life, I’m sure— these things are awesome for you. But let’s break it down a little for those of you interested in the details. How do these things actually affect the health of your body? Antioxidants are nutrients and/or enzymes, meaning they play a huge role in fighting free radicals, substances that attack your DNA and other healthy cells. Antioxidants boost up your ability to fight off these free radicals, and push back against things like visible aging and cellular damage, and reduce the chance of disease. Antioxidants mop up these unstable free radicals to repair and limit cell and molecule damage that comes from our everyday contact with them.

 

Green tea contains a superpower called Epigallocatechin Gallate, which we’ll call EGCG. This compound has been tied to numerous studies that show it is effective in treating various diseases, making it a big contributing player in green tea’s health-boosting reputation. Green tea has also been known to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate.

 

Green tea also helps to keep you awake. Are you someone that needs your morning coffee in order to make it through the day? Green tea is likely a better alternative for you. Although it doesn’t contain as much caffeine as coffee does, green tea doesn’t contain the added cream and sugar that many of us coffee drinkers love. Instead, you get an all-natural option with all the aforementioned health benefits. Green tea contains this active stimulant, but because it does not have the same amount that you find in coffee, you won’t get the same jittery effects, which is oftentimes our least favorite part about getting our morning java. Instead, you’ll have a more productive, stable buzz. You’ll still reap the benefits of being more energized, but you won’t find yourself tapping your foot against your desk all day.

 

Hate drinking your tea plain? You can add some natural ingredients that serve up excellent health benefits themselves. Boost up the flavor and nutrition with lemon or honey.

Lemon is packed with nourishing elements like vitamins C, B6, A, E, and iron, magnesium, potassium, and protein, among others. Lemons also help to restore balance to the body’s pH, and is known to fight infections and cold through flavonoids.

Honey will add a sweetness to your tea that rivals sugar in your coffee. Besides its delicious taste, honey also aids in soothing things like allergies and sore throats. Honey will also help you to get yourself off to sleep, as it is a natural sleep aid. Honey is additionally overall anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, regulates blood sugar, probiotic (meaning it contains friendly bacteria!), and helps to strengthen the immune system by way of producing immune cells. How’s that for a super-packed drink?

 

We've only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to what green tea can do for your body. It's all-natural, has a comforting taste, and produces a multitude of beneficial changes that will become visible after adding a few cups to your diet. What's not to love? Now go ahead and brew yourself a cup, you can thank us later.

5 Apps to Increase Mental Clarity

5 Apps to Increase Mental Clarity 0

5-apps-to-increase-mental-clarity

 

We all have stressors in our day-to-day that get into our heads and hinder us from reaching a place of peace. Fortunately, scientists and techies are coming up with creative ways to help us combat these things. We’re living in the 21st century, so technology has now come into play as a valid tool to help improve your mental state. You can now utilize brain training apps as a tool to increase your mental clarity.

Some of us want to be able to focus better while at work, release ourselves from distracting thoughts, or even just boost our mood. Mental clarity can be a component that leads to your fulfillment, and allow you to achieve peace and balance through brain training activities. These apps aim to train your brain in several different categories— like positivity, meditation, communication skills, awareness, or memory— and in turn lead you towards a new direction. Many have attributed the change to a healthy lifestyle to these apps, so what have you got to lose? Here are 5 of our favorite apps that increase mental clarity.


Elevate: This app focuses on cognitive function, like reading, writing, and listening. This colorful game gives you three training sessions a day that focus on improving your communication skills. It might sound like your high school english class, but Elevate makes these trainings a lot more fun and intriguing. By using bold color schemes, playful animations, and goal-based directions, you feel as though you’re playing a game instead of teaching yourself a lesson about sentence fragments. Elevate aims to improve things like memory, calculation, decision making, and focus through a variety of games that are short and sweet.


Headspace: This app is all about meditation, promising to teach you how to meditate in just 10 minutes a day. Meditation is the holy grail of peace and relaxation for many, and this app aims to expose it to those who are having difficulty or are unaware of how to go about meditation. The goal is to get you to a place where you can focus better, stress less, and smile more. Headspace will teach you the basics of meditation through breathing and visualization, and from there you can choose a category you’d like to focus your session on. Categories include foundation, health, relationships, and performance.


Lumosity: Arguably one of the most popular brain training apps, Lumosity aims to improve skills that can easily translate to real-world tasks, like remembering a list or making decisions. The format is split into sessions of three race-against-the-clock training games tailored to your goals, including but not limited to: memory, attention, problem solving skills, processing speed, and flexibility of thinking. This app feels like a true educational tool that is used to hone in on your cognitive abilities, so you can gain skills that you can apply in your everyday life.


Personal Zen: This app focuses on two animated characters: a happy, friendly little guy, and an angry, negative one. As they burrow through a field of grass, the player must follow the happy character and remember it’s patterns and routes. The point of the game is for the user to focus on the positive, and not the negative. The scientists who created Personal Zen call it’s method “attention bias modification training”, which means it intends to train your brain to pay attention differently. The game aims to reduce stress and anxiety, hoping that the players exit out of the app feeling happier and more positive having focused on the character that reflects those traits. It has also been used in studies as a precursor for an event that can be stress-inducing, like giving a speech, in order to lessen the anxiety associated with the event. Those who played had significantly less stress levels than those who played a placebo version.


Happify: This app trains you to conquer negative thoughts, and in turn hopes to help you show gratitude, cope with stress, and empathize, leading you to live a happier and more fulfilled life. Happify focuses on “positive psychology” meaning strengths and virtues that the player finds within themselves. Features of the app are quizzes, identifying positives polls, and lists that will grant life-changing new habits to the player. Happify aims to improve your mood and your general outlook on life, by retraining your brain to be happier. Performing these guided reflections daily will surely bring you some newfound positivity. Helping you to become more aware, grateful, and be able to focus on the driving forces in your life.


Mental health is just as important as physical health. Keeping your mind positive, sharp, and aware will lead to a mental clarity that you can’t find from a simple workout. Trying out an app as a source to increase mental clarity can only benefit you!
5 Ways to Travel Stress-Free

5 Ways to Travel Stress-Free 0

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Sometimes we find ourselves stressing before we have to travel when we should really be preparing to enjoy ourselves. Whether it’s for a vacation, business trip, or a day trip, many of us are frequently on-the-go. It’s not always fun though, and traveling can oftentimes be a huge stressor in our lives that adds a lot of unnecessary worry or anxiety. Here are 5 ways to reduce that stress and enjoy your travels!

 

  1. Make a list. What to pack, an itinerary of places to visit, or a list of people you need to buy a gift for. A list is a great way to let your mind relax and release the information you need to know without the worry of forgetting something. You can double or even triple check if necessary, and it also allows you to manage your time better when you have everything written out in front of you.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep before you embark on your travels will leave you energized, refreshed, and ready to take on the day. You’ll be able to accomplish more, and having a full tank of gas will even allow you to be more prepared to try something new! Of course, sleep doesn’t always come easily for us, so check out the blog for some tips to combat sleep anxiety.
  3. Have a backup plan. Your mind will rest easier knowing if something goes wrong, you’ll be prepared. Have an alternative means of transportation in case an issue arises, or a second choice for an activity or place to visit if something you want to do gets rained out. When you prepare for the worst, you leave a lot less to chance.
  4. Research your place of interest beforehand. Oftentimes we take a chance on traveling somewhere we’ve never been before, maybe even in another country. It’s important to research your destination beforehand, so you won’t be thrown into any surprises or undesirable situations. You’ll also get a better grasp on the culture and what to expect upon arriving!
  5. Change your mindset. If you begin to find yourself stressing about your upcoming trip instead of being excited for it, try and change your outlook. Don’t look at your travels as a stressor. After all, most of us travel for pleasure, it shouldn’t make you uneasy! Have something to look forward to. Try to find an element of your trip you really want to experience, and if nothing else, let that guide you.