Please check out my YouTube video review of Phi Naturals Collagen Peptides:
What’s the big deal with drinking water every day anyway?
Well, it turns out that there are a myriad of health benefits which come from drinking water. After all, we are made up largely of water, which exists in our tissues, blood, bone, and organs. In addition, we lose fluid constantly through processes such as breathing, urination, defecation, and skin evaporation. You may not realize it, but proper hydration maintains blood pressure, flushes wastes from the cells in the body, regulates body temperature, and maintains humidity in the airways for optimal oxygenation.
When fluid intake is adequate, the natural process of digestion keeps humming along, and waste products which form are softened by the water content. One sure way to impede the natural process of digestion is to deprive your body of water, which will result in slow transit and constipation. Low water intake can also create an environment in which kidney stones are prone to form.
As if that wasn’t enough, adequate water intake actually enhances physical performance and lubricates the joints. If you have ever struggled through a workout when you haven’t been drinking enough fluids, you know how agonizing it can be to try to power through a routine when you are dry as a bone. And since water is so plentiful in the tissues of the brain, dehydration has a major negative effect on energy levels and concentration. If you’ve ever gotten a headache from dehydration, you know that it can be next to impossible to focus when your head is pounding.
The simple solution? Drink some water!
Lastly, water forms a protective barrier in the skin to plump it up and minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Proper hydration is a simple anti-aging secret which you can easily adopt.
So tell me again why you don’t like to drink water?
Perhaps you are one of those people who never drinks water. If you simply can’t deal with the “taste” of water, then try infusing water with fresh fruits such as lemon, lime, oranges, blueberries, cucumber, strawberries, kiwi, or watermelon. Another option for flavoring your water in a healthy way is to make herbal tea and drink it either hot or cold. You can also turn to foods which have a high water content, which will hydrate you, while also fill you up faster and aid in weight loss if that’s your goal. Most fruits and vegetables are high in water content, but you can also incorporate yogurt, soups or bone broth into your regimen to increase water intake.
Here are my top three guidelines to encourage you to drink more water:
1. Carry an attractive stainless steel or BPA-free plastic container with you everywhere you go. I generally suggest a 1 liter size (which is about 34 ounces), and I also recommend a container which has a sip spout for easy drinking, as well as a handle at the top for easy portability. Ideally, you will consume a full container of water in a day, preferably two. I honestly always have a drinking container with me which I take everywhere. It never leaves my side.
2. Drink a beverage every time you eat something. This way, you will get into the habit of consuming fluids with every food item, which will help wash down the food and will get you to your hydration goals more easily.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Remember that fruits and vegetables have a high water content, and contribute to total water intake.
What’s all this talk about how consuming certain fats can make your body shed fat? Well, it turns out that it’s all true. So for those of you who shun all types of fat in an effort to lose weight, you may be doing yourself a disservice. That doesn’t mean you should go hog-wild and gobble fat bombs, but if you keep a moderate amount of healthy fats in your meal plan, you’ll have a greater chance of reaching your weight loss goals.
Keep in mind that dietary fat supplies fatty acids which transport certain vitamins across cell membranes, regulate body functions, and are integral components of growth and overall health. Fat can also be stored as energy in fat cells, cushioning internal organs and providing an energy bank which can be utilized in times of starvation.
When you consume dietary fat, you are increasing the palatability and what’s called the “mouth feel” of foods, which makes the whole process of eating more enjoyable. In addition, fat creates a feeling of satiety which lasts longer than if you were to scarf down a carbohydrate-rich meal which is digested much more rapidly. That’s why rifling through a bag of potato chips can often trigger more munching, until you find that you’ve polished off the whole bag, hence the phrase “empty calories”.
Just make sure to stick to healthy fat sources like avocado and nut butters, and skip the trans fats, which are partially hydrogenated, and found in processed and prepared food items like cakes, cookies, margarine, donuts, fried foods, and frozen pizza. Saturated fat intake should also be kept to a minimum (found in meats such as beef, pork, poultry skin, butter, cream, and cheese).
Though I am not desperately reliant on a daily cup of joe to get me through each morning, I thoroughly enjoy a delicious, aromatic cup of high quality coffee. When it comes to undoubtedly the most well-known coffee store chain (you know, the ones with the telltale green logo on the storefront?), I honestly can’t drink their blends, because they are harsh, bitter, and lack the flavor nuances I want from a truly top-notch coffee.
Enter the coffees which are offered by Trade. Established in 2018, Trade offers a unique, customized experience which I totally dig. Trade unites the nation’s top roasters directly with coffee lovers, and includes over 400 roasted-to-order coffees in their selections. It’s like a dating site, but with coffee! You get matched by answering questions about your level of coffee knowledge, roasting method (coffee maker, French press, pour over, cold brew, Chemex), flavor preferences, and they will make a suggestion for you. If you don’t like your very first match, they will find you one you love. You get to rate coffees as you go along, you’ll get 15% off bags as long as you have a subscription, and you will always get free shipping.
The other thing I love about Trade is that they only offer specialty coffee, a term which refers to any coffee that receives a quality grading score of 80 percent or higher. I guess I might have to consider myself a coffee snob, since I prefer to drink higher quality, tasty coffees over bitter, low grade coffees.
When I ordered my first bag of coffee from Trade, I sort of went by feel for the flavor notes I would like in a coffee selection, and because Trade has taken the guesswork out of shopping by grouping coffees based on “popular taste types”, the process was pretty easy. If you don’t want to browse the selections like I did, you can let Trade match you with a coffee which they think you’ll love.
As I scrolled down the screen, “Comforting and Rich” and “Chocolaty and Sweet” both caught my eye, since I like a rich, flavorful, inviting coffee over something fruity or bright. My eyes alighted on “Eclipse” by Onyx Coffee Lab, which is described as:
“Dark and sultry, subtly smoky, this coffee absolutely smolders with rich, chocolaty depth and vanilla sweetness. Perfect sipped solo, but works beautifully with your milk of choice.”
After reading that description, my immediate thought was, oh yes, I’m in! So I ordered it without hesitation.
When the coffee arrived, the aromas which emanated from the box were so deep, rich, chocolaty and smoky that I had to restrain myself from making a cup right then and there, since it was about 11 pm and I needed to get some sleep! So I tucked that bag of coffee in a safe spot (I live with coffee lovers and didn’t want my new gem to be attacked by them) and went off to sleep. A couple of days later, I opened the bag, and was rewarded with the most delectable wave of chocolaty goodness, and it just smelled so FRESH! I looked at the bag and saw the roasting date and roaster’s initials on one panel, which proved right there how fresh it truly was.
I brewed a large cup, refrained from adding any creamer so I could get the true taste of the coffee, and took a sip. Oh. My. Goodness. The tasting notes for me were mostly deep, smoky, and chocolaty, which I loved. There was no bitterness to this coffee, which is a big plus for me because I can’t stand bitterness in my brews. The sweetness level in this selection is very subtle, which is fine for me. So now my biggest concern is where I can hide these awesome grinds so no one ever finds them before I finish the bag!
What is even more exciting than experiencing my first coffee selection from Trade is knowing that I can look forward to other delicious and aromatic coffees in the ensuing months which will be delivered to my home. I highly recommend Trade for anyone who loves coffee and wants to try different superior quality coffees from top roasters across the United States.
To subscribe to Trade, go to this link:
One of the most common questions I get from people is how to lose belly fat and get defined abs. Since a tight midsection is one of the most enviable and desirable body attributes, I am never surprised by these inquiries. I have noticed that there is a relatively common misconception that defined abs come solely from exercise, which is definitely not the case. While a certain amount of development in the abdominal muscles must be present for the washboard appearance which many people covet, an individual’s food choices often interfere with the quest for six-pack abs.
If you really want to see abdominal definition, you need to eliminate the following foods from your diet:
Processed foods (including crackers, luncheon meats, cheese, chips, breads)
Foods high in saturated fat (red meat, fast foods)
Though it may be difficult at first to eliminate the foods listed, you will notice over time that your palate will adjust and that food cravings will subside. That’s because processed foods and sugar set up a vicious cycle in which you crave more bad foods when you consume them. Cut them out of your meal plan, and your cravings will subside. Another benefit of avoiding these foods is that you will avoid the rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin which they trigger. Why is this important? Because sharp spikes in insulin release promote increased fat deposition in the midsection.
Another dramatic change which you need to make is to drink plenty of water daily. My general rule is to buy an attractive 1 liter bottle, fill it 3 times during the course of a day, and drink all the water you put in that container.
If your abdominal muscles haven’t seen a sit-up in years, you should also incorporate abdominal exercises into your regimen. Here are my three favorite abdominal exercises which work for everyone, from beginners to advanced athletes:
If you are consistent with making healthy food choices and getting regular exercise, chances are good that you will see a toned tummy if you are already at a normal weight. If you are overweight, the healthier food choices will help you to slim down and get rid of belly fat, putting you on course for a tighter midsection.
If you’re very serious about bone health, then you need to make sure that you have optimal levels of four key nutrients. The four big players in the battle for good bone health are:
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the body, comprising the bulk of bone and tooth material, and is also involved in numerous vital body functions. Blood levels of calcium must be high enough to prevent Vitamin D3 from stealing calcium from the stores in your bones. Otherwise, the process of leaching calcium from the bones will result in the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis over time.
Common dietary sources of calcium include seafood, leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, tofu, milk, cheese, and yogurt. The U.S. recommended daily allowance is 1,300 milligrams daily for children, 1,000 milligrams daily for most adults, and 1,200 milligrams daily for women over 50 and elderly individuals over the age of 70. The dosage should be split up, since the body typically cannot absorb more than about 500 milligrams at a time.
Vitamin D3 is an important regulator of calcium levels in the blood, maintaining those levels primarily by enhancing the absorption of calcium from food consumed. However, when insufficient calcium is provided by food sources, vitamin D3 will draw on the calcium which is stored in bones. Vitamin D3 also acts as a hormone in the body and is responsible for a myriad of physiological processes. Dietary sources of Vitamin D include primarily fatty fish like salmon and tuna, egg yolks, and cheese. Some foods like dairy, cereals, and orange juice are often fortified with vitamin D as well.
If you prefer to take a supplement, vitamin D3 is available in several potencies. I generally recommend 5,000 IU per day, especially if you have confirmed low serum vitamin D3 levels.
Known more for its essential role in the blood clotting sequence, vitamin K plays an important role in the prevention of fractures by promoting the accumulation of calcium in bones and teeth. It promotes calcification in bones and teeth by activating osteocalcin, while also preventing calcium from accumulating in soft tissues such as blood vessels. It is found in leafy greens such as parsley, kale, brussels sprouts, lettuce and spinach, fermented legumes and vegetables, as well as in some fatty, animal-sourced foods, such as egg yolk, liver and cheese.
Adequate daily intake of vitamin K is 90 mcg for women and 120 mcg for men. Since it is fat-soluble, it’s a good idea to consume it with a healthy dietary fat source. Vitamin K levels should not be ignored when supplementing one’s diet with vitamin D3, as high levels of vitamin D3 have been shown to cause blood vessel calcification when vitamin K levels are low.
While calcium makes up most of the tissue found in bone and teeth, magnesium gives those structures their strength and rigidity. In addition, adequate levels of magnesium must be present for the absorption and metabolism of calcium to occur.
Dietary sources of magnesium include spinach and other leafy greens, whole grains, dark chocolate, nuts like almonds and walnuts, legumes, and avocado. Magnesium can also be taken in supplement form, and comes in many varieties.
Make sure you are taking all four supplements to optimize bone health. It’s always a good idea to get bloodwork to determine serum levels of these substances. Make sure to consult with your physician before starting any of these supplements, especially if you are taking medications which may interfere with or interact with supplementation.