Happily Ever After

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When you meet someone who is genuinely happy, you automatically feel better—it’s hard not to feed off their energy. However, it’s not uncommon that we fill our days, weeks, and months to the point where we have no free time. As someone who has always enjoyed being busy, I’m starting to realize how much an over packed schedule can bring down one’s happiness.  Continue reading

Take a hike

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If you’re looking for a way to get in shape while enjoying the great outdoors at the same time, try hiking. Not only is hiking a great way to participate in aerobic exercise, it also helps clear your head and think more creatively.

So, in recognition of National Trails Day, let’s chat and chew about the benefits of hiking and how to prep for one!

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HIKING

Hikers are fit. Depending on the level of incline and the weight of the pack you’re carrying, just one hour of hiking can burn over 500 calories! Not to mention, hiking usually puts less stress on your body and joints, so you’ll find that while you’re getting a great workout, you’re putting less pressure on yourself along the way.

Hike for your heart. Hiking along different trails on a regular basis helps decrease blood pressure and cholesterol. Getting in a cardio workout in the form of hiking can lower blood pressure by four to ten points, which ultimately reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes—especially for those at high risk. Even on your return trip back down a trail you will soak up the benefits—hiking downhill is two times for effective at removing blood sugars and improving glucose tolerance.

Hike your way to happiness. Research shows that hiking can help people with severe depression—they feel less hopeless, depressed and suicidal. It can even improve the desire in those suffering from depression to lead a more active lifestyle. Being in the nature and away from the business of our lives, or whatever makes a person feel down, can allow them to connect with other people or with nature and eventually find peace with their lives. Being away from technology and the constant pinging of email and text messages can do wonders for a person’s mental state—try it one weekend and see the difference!

PREPARING FOR A HIKE

Start small. While you might be in great shape, walking up a mountain or trail—crossing over tree roots, big rocks, and possibly streams—can be more tiring than you think. Start out with a couple miles of trails and eventually build up to high-endurance journeys. Also, practice carrying a heavy backpack around at home—that added weight could really throw a person off if they’re not prepared.

Prepare for the worst. While you hope that everything will go smoothly along your hike, you can never be too careful. It’s recommended you carry extra water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and a small first aid kit just incase someone slips or brushes up against something that causes an allergic reaction.

Use the buddy system. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or going out for your first time, take along a partner! If you do choose to hike alone, always tell someone where you’ll be and what time you expect to be back. As a general rule of thumb—you can expect to cover about two miles an hour. Add an additional hour of time for every 1,000 feet of elevation you gain.

Next time you decide you want to mix up your workout routine, try hiking! It not only offers great cardio and heart-healthy benefits, it can provide you with break taking views—right in your own backyard even! If you’re someone who enjoys nature activities or has some hiking tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

‘C’ the Benefits

vitamin-c-dayGuest Blogger: Lindsay V., Communications Coordinator, CRBG


You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat.” While you won’t turn into a donut if you eat one, your body is relying on that donut to provide the nutrients it needs—one of those being Vitamin C.

It is hard to explain what Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) is without getting technical, but we can chat and chew about its countless health benefits, suggested intake amounts and good sources.

The Health Benefits of Vitamin C

You have probably seen someone drink a glass of orange juice or eat more fruit to help fight off a cold—they’re definitely on to something. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight cold symptoms. Studies show that Vitamin C won’t lower the number of colds you get, but can shorten the duration of a cold or flu once it has started. It also breaks down stress hormones; and stress could have been the reason you got sick in the first place!

Though Vitamin C is used most frequently for preventing the common cold, there are many other benefits.

Vitamin C is important to our skin as well. It plays a key role in forming collagen, helps heal wounds and fights free radicals. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who eat foods rich in Vitamin C have fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who don’t. Vitamin C can help protect your skin from acne scarring and improve damaged or irritated skin. It also helps to deflect free radicals, which cause damage to healthy skin cells and can break down the skin’s elastin and collagen—leading to fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.

Studies show that Vitamin C also has mood-elevating effects by increasing your energy and lowering anxiety.

How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to knowing how much Vitamin C you need.  The amount depends on factors such as gender and age, and increases as you get older. Check out this chart from The National Institutes of Health (NIH) for recommended daily dosages of Vitamin C. 

When you feel a sickness coming on, it is easy to take Emergen-C®, Airborne®, or other supplements. Though these can give you the Vitamin C intake you need, your body’s main source of Vitamin C should come from the foods you eat.

When you think Vitamin C, your initial thought might be citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, but there are many other fruits rich in Vitamin C such as melons, strawberries and raspberries. A cup of strawberries provides more than your daily requirement for Vitamin C and raspberries provide about 40 percent—and both are just 50 calories!

Want Vitamin C for its skin benefits? Add some mango to your diet. This fruit has nutrients essential for your skin’s health: Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Folic Acid. What’s more, just one cup of mango provides 100 percent of the suggested daily Vitamin C requirement.

Not a big fan of fruit? A serving of kale has almost as much Vitamin C as an orange, and is also a good source of fiber.

It’s not wrong to take supplements when you get sick, but you should always consult your doctor first. Why rely on supplements when there are many fun ways to get a good Vitamin C intake such as smoothies and homemade gummies! Have Vitamin C recipes of your own? Share them below in the comments section!

Fruits of February

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When the weather is chilly, or you’re faced with having to shovel your way to the car, you’re likely not thinking about fruits and vegetables. Throughout the winter months, it’s harder to motivate yourself to stay healthy—trust me, I enjoy being surrounded by comfort foods too—but it’s important to choose your snow day treats wisely.

In preparation of six more weeks of winter, consider adding avocados and bananas to your grocery list this month. Both make great snack options, but more importantly, have a ton of nutritious value.

So, let’s chat and chew about the health benefits of avocados and bananas—recipes included.

Nutritional Breakdown

POTASSIUM

  • Bananas: Rather than go bananas this winter, eat one. Bananas are jam-packed with potassium, which protects your cardiovascular system; it also helps guard against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and stroke.
  • Avocados: Although bananas give this green, pear-shaped fruit a run for its money, it comes up short in the end. One avocado actually contains more than twice (975 mg) the amount of potassium in a banana.

FIBER

  • Bananas: No one would ever deny better digestion—one thing you won’t find with high-fat and sugary foods. Bananas suppress acid in the digestive track, which helps alleviate heartburn and prevent ulcers.
  • Avocados: Both bananas and avocados contain soluble fiber, which can aid in weight loss, decrease blood sugar spikes, and is also linked to lower risk of various diseases. In addition, soluble fiber “is known to be able to feed the friendly gut bacteria in the intestine,” which are important for ideal body function.

HELP PREVENT CANCER

  • Both bananas and avocados may help prevent cancer. Bananas are good sources of Vitamin C, which can help fight the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Research also states, “consuming bananas… in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia.” (more)  Avocados on the other hand, are rich in phytochemicals. These chemical compounds have been shown to help prevent the development of certain cancers.

The list continues…

Both fruits have a laundry list of health benefits—many of which overlap one another. While the reasons above prove why bananas and avocados are valuable to any diet, there are other benefits worth noting.

  • Reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, and coronary heart disease
  • Promote a healthy body weight
  • Help overcome depression and improve mood (bananas)
  • Protect our eyes and vision / Vitamin A (bananas)
  • Lower cholesterol (avocados)

Now knowing just how beneficial bananas and avocados are for your health, if you find yourself stuck inside on a cold day, try whipping up one of these recipes:

It’s amazing how something as simple as a banana or an avocado can make such a big impact. I encourage you to try them, or if you’re already a fan, get creative with a new recipe. If you missed our previous blog post featuring a yummy guacamole recipe, check it out here. As always, feel free to comment and share your secret to staying healthy!

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