inner engine fitness

building a better body

Brain Health

I hope you are all getting a chance to get out and enjoy this gorgeous weather in Seattle!  We need to get all the natural Vitamin D we can while it’s here.  Hopefully, too, you are taking your vitamins and eating tasty, nutritious combinations of foods.  It’s a great way to keep your body healthy and help keep your immune system strong!

Next up, I’m going to tell you how to take care of your brain’s health.  Omegas provide great nutrition for your brain, but exercise is important, too.  Lumosity is a favorite website of mine to keep my brain healthy.  I know that I have mentioned Lumosity to some of you, but once again I am encouraging you to get your brain exercising.  Just as you move your body to keep the muscles from getting smaller as you age, so too can you thwart cognitive decline with regular brain exercises.  Don’t forget (ha!) that the brain is a muscle, and as such, it should be worked out, too!

Using the Lumosity website, you can track your progress, read plenty of information on brain health, and play a bunch of fun games.  If the site isn’t for you, then here are a few other options to keep your brain healthy.  Some of them you may already do!

  1. Learn how to play an instrument or learn a new skill.  Taking a cooking class or learning to play the piano will challenge your brain.
  2. Play games!  Video games, crossword puzzles, and golf are all good ways to keep your mind guessing.
  3. Exercise!!!  The varied exercises and challenges to your balance are good ways to keep your brain in tune with your body.  I know you all have this one down 😀
  4. Read a different genre than you’re used to reading.  The same type of book won’t stimulate your mind as much as reading something you’re totally unfamiliar with.
  5. Turn off your television and practice your storytelling skills.  Storytelling is a great way to enhance your memory and recall skills.  It’s also a great way to spend a night around the campfire!
  6. Practice doing tasks with the opposite hand.  If you always use your right hand for opening the door and brushing your teeth, try using your left hand.  It gives the other side of your brain a workout and creates new pathways for your brain to use!
  7. Get creative!  Make up new recipes or walk a different route than usual.  The more you change your routine, the more you give your brain a workout!

So, have fun and challenge yourself!  Brain workouts sure won’t leave you sore, but they will definitely improve your cognitive function.  Bring on the games!

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Nutritional Food Pairings

We all know that we need to eat salads and fresh fruit to stay healthy. But did you know that pairing certain foods together has been shown to make a difference as to how you absorb the nutrients in individual foods? Well, I’m here to help you delve a little further into your nutritional horizons!

Lately, there has been a lot of press on this issue and some believe that is because we are lagging a bit in nutrition. In the last post I shared with you, I discussed supplements that we all could benefit from. Now, I am going to show you some power foods that will help you fill in the gaps that you may have nutritionally, so that you may not have to take your multivitamin or green powder every day. In addition, absorbing the minerals from real food can be way more fun!
Here are important and well-loved food combinations sure to jumpstart your nutritional, or at the very least, your taste bud slump:
1. Citrus and spinach – next time you have a spinach or kale salad, add some strawberries or grapefruit. The iron and vitamin C work well together to help your body absorb more nutrients from your veggies!
2. Tomatoes and olive oil – beta-carotene needs to be eaten with fat in order for it to be absorbed efficiently by your body. So make sure to drizzle a bit of olive oil on your slow-roasted tomatoes!
3. Yogurt and bananas – prebiotics found in bananas pair well to feed the probiotics in yogurt. Add a little granola for a tasty parfait for breakfast or a snack!
4. Eggs and broccoli – broccoli is a powerhouse itself with lots of calcium, but adding eggs boosts the absorption, as eggs contain a large amount of Vitamin D. Try this cloudy day-busting combo with a little salsa and potatoes for a breakfast treat!
5. Cookies, or cereal, and milk – Yes, you heard correctly! Homemade oatmeal cookies or whole grain cereals have magnesium to help your body absorb the calcium in the milk, making a powerful and nostalgic combination. If you prefer soy milk, it works just as well!
I hope that you are able to incorporate some of these yummy combinations into your diet. Remember, too, that salads (with a bit of oil-based dressing) are a great nutritional powerhouse, as we tend to naturally combine different colors and vitamins with ease when we concoct our favorite bowls of greens! Have fun creating and stay healthy and happy!

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Supplements to Consider

As you all know, I am not a huge advocate of supplements. However, there are a few additions to a healthy diet that are becoming increasingly important. Here are the 5 powerhouses I know we could all use in our diets:

1. Multivitamin – This is a must now! I have read plenty of reports that are saying that we cannot possibly get enough vitamins and minerals from the soil, no matter how much kale or spinach we eat a day. The soil has been too depleted to give us everything we need. When you look for a vitamin, choose a brand that is made from whole foods. The ingredient list should not just be the vitamin names. It should say that they are taken from real sources or include parentheses afterward, such as Thiamin (as thiamin mononitrate). This tells you that it is not just a synthetic vitamin. My pick is Alive! It is full of whole foods and it is quite reasonably priced. It comes in tablets or a liquid. By the way, even if you take the vitamin every other day, you will still benefit from the extra vitamins and minerals! And remember to take it with food!

2. Calcium/Magnesium – Even with a multivitamin, many of us are not getting the amount of calcium and magnesium that we need. Your body needs both minerals for strong bones and teeth. Calcium is very important to an active body to stave off fractures, especially as we age. Magnesium is important to help with calcium absorption and it helps to regulate blood sugars, as well. Calcium and magnesium work to calm the body, so take it before bed! My pick is Rainbow Light Food-based Calcium.

3. Omega 3 Fish Oil – The benefits of fish oil are many. This is a great supplement to take to help keep your heart healthy. It gives you protection from diabetes and heart disease. It also helps to reduce inflammation. My pick is Nordic Naturals. If you already use one, check this list to see if it is free of metals:

4. Vitamin D3 – The best way for us to get Vitamin D is from the sun. When it is here (the sun, that is!) we should strive to get 15-20 minutes every day, preferably without sunscreen, as sunscreen stops the absorption of the vitamin. When it is gray and rainy, a vitamin D3 supplement for us is necessary. It is vitally important, as it aids in immune function and proper calcium absorption. Please make sure the supplement is not D2, as that is not easily absorbed by the body. My pick is Natural Factors soft gels.

5. Green super food drink! – This one is extra insurance, but it gives you quite a boost. I’ve tried more than a few and I have to say that I like Amazing Grass the best. Natural energy and high mineral content are just a few benefits. We could all use a little more green in our diets, so for those salad-less days, this sure comes in handy! And what better to add to your smoothies?!