In these crazy times, people are giving lots of advice on how to keep viruses from getting to you and spreading to others. A few examples that the government has given on preventing the spread of the coronavirus are avoiding handshakes, isolating yourself, and remembering to use soap and water. While these are simple and practical tips, there's some advice from experts that I think is helpful and not as well known that I would like to share.
Let's face it, most millennials like myself are pretty good at isolating themselves and seem to have been training for this scenario our whole lives but I don't think quarantining yourself and being in fear of germs is the greatest way to live.
Here are some actionable tips that experts have given on how we can improve our immune systems:
1. Eat Plenty of Leafy Greens
Salads are a great way to get the antioxidants your body needs. Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are essential but other vegetables help as well.
Dr. Steven Gundry and Dr. Catherine Shanahan are well-respected nutrition experts and strong advocates for ensuring you get plenty of vegetables in your diet. On the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast, Dr. Cate suggests that 4 days a week, you should have a salad that includes 4 cups of vegetables of 4 different colors. In Dr. Gundry's book, Diet Evolution, he states that garlic, onions, leeks, mushrooms, asparagus, and artichokes are all great vegetables that help with immune function as well (p. 81).
Here is another tip that Dr. Cate gives in her book, Deep Nutrition - “Remember, cooking burns up antioxidants and damages many vitamins. So the more you eat cooked foods, the more you need to balance your diet by eating fresh, uncooked, pungent-tasting herbs and vegetables (p. 265).”
2. Get Your Vitamin D
If there is one supplement that all health experts seem to agree on, it is Vitamin D. Unless you get more than 30 minutes of direct sunlight per day, you are insufficient on a critical vitamin that has been shown to benefit mood, heart function, bone health, and immune system function.
Dr. Steven Gundry, nutrionist and former cardiac surgeon, has strong evidence that supports Vitamin D is beneficial for anyone looking to better their heart and immune system. He has tested this theory with thousands of patients and suggests between 5,000 and 10,000 IUs per day (which is actually just 1-2 tiny pills per day and is reasonably cheap - $15 for 360 pills that are 5,000 IUs each here).
Some nutritionists have even suggested 10,000-15,000 IUs per day around times that you want to protect yourself from being sick and that no negative health benefits are observed from this amount.
3. Get in a Cold Bath and Sauna
Ben Greenfield, triathlete, blogger, and highly respected health and fitness expert, suggests that exposing yourself to extreme temperatures, hot or cold, greatly benefits your immune system. In his book, Beyond Training, he explains how Cold Thermogenesis has been shown to increase the amount of natural killer cells and the activity of them and how heat from saunas have been shown to increase your white blood cell count. He also states that German and Finnish studies have shown "regular sauna bathing leads to a 30 percent less chance of getting colds and influenza (p. 73-78)."
I know this may seem extreme and many of us do not have access to saunas or cryogenic chambers but hot and cold baths have been shown to have similar effects, just to less of an extent.
This post is not to discount what the CDC has provided us on how we can prevent the coronavirus and other illnesses from spreading. If you haven't already, I highly suggest going to CDC.gov to get information on the coronavirus including: symptoms, how to prepare your family, areas COVID-19 has reached, etc.
I'm not a doctor but think that the advice these respected experts have to share is valuable and should be shared.
Thank you for reading and if you would like to subscribe to my blog, please go to my Contact page. Also, please give this post a like and share as well if you found it beneficial. Simply copy the link to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever or if you clicked on a post to arrive at this page, just hit the share/like button there. Comment if you have any questions.
Stir-Fry is a pretty typical food prep I will do about once every 6-8 weeks. It is not always like this - I alternate vegetables, meat, and sauce but I made this is one yesterday and it's of my favorites. Since I am working on bulking up, I am less worried about carbohydrates but still care about getting plenty of vegetables and protein. This is a great, easy way to get a couple cups of various vegetables in each meal.
Thanks for reading! Comment with your favorite stir-fry ingredients!
Also, go to my Contact page to subscribe to the Twelve Paths blog!
Fittingly, Taylor and I are just coming back from a trip down to Florida from New York, in which we flew. I'd much rather take a 4 hour flight than a 20 hour car ride, especially for a short trip but there are obviously some negatives to flying. There are a lot of unknowns on what it does to your health but even just being in an enclosed space with that many people for that long can inevitably get you sick. This post is to share some tips I have learned from health experts like Ben Greenfield and Shawn Stevenson, that they give to help with things like jet-lag.
Dr. Cate Shanahan
I have not heard Dr. Cate specifically talk about flying but one of her common nutrition tips is, "there is no such thing as a healthy snack (p. 334 - Deep Nutrition)." She states that you should avoid snacking and that if your only option for a meal/snack is unhealthy, skip that meal and just wait for the next. This is very suitable to flying because it is difficult to find a healthy snack in an airport (or on a plane) and most of the restaurants are McDonalds, Starbucks, or the like so the healthier option is to just wait until you get off the flight.
The biggest thing that flying negatively affects is your energy levels because of how it drives several hormones out of whack. Shawn's book, Sleep Smarter, is all about the topic of circadian rhythm - providing tips on napping and getting the best quality sleep while giving you an extensive knowledge on hormones like cortisol and melatonin. One suggestion he gives in his book when it comes to flying is to "get grounded" after a flight. Grounding is making contact with the ground with bare feet, which has been shown to reduce stress, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk (p. 183-184 - Sleep Smarter).
Ben Greenfield is the most qualified expert that I know for this topic because of how much he travels and for the fact that he has done speaking events for CEOs and a hot topic is avoiding jet-lag so that they can be at the top of your game after a flight. He goes in-depth into this topic in his book Beyond Training, laying out nine useful tips, and he also discusses this topic in multiple podcast interviews. To keep this post short, I will give you some key points.
Essentially, the key to flying is minimizing the negative affects on your circadian clock and making sure you are eating healthy so that you have a strong immune system. These are all helpful tips, which I have found to help (especially exercising when you land by swimming or running outside). I highly suggest reading the books these tips come from. Deep Nutrition is all about the topic of nutrition by researching our ancestor's diets from all over the world, Sleep Smarter is full of sleep knowledge and hacks, and Beyond Training is full of all types of bio-hacking. Go see my Recommended Books page for summaries or my post on Deep Nutrition.
One of the things almost everybody, especially athletes, has to deal with is issues with digestion - whether it is constipation, bloating, or what have you. Family Physician/Health Expert Dr. Cate Shanahan has some interesting tips on this topic that I want to share because I believe they do help.
I know this is a short post but these are not your usual tips. Personally, the first tip I do believe has helped me a lot. I make sure to start my day with at least a cup of yogurt and have noticed vast improvements with my digestive system. Obviously, having enough water and vegetables in your diet are likely the things that will benefit your gut the most. So, before you think you found a simple fix, you may find more helpful tips on how much water and vegetables you should be including in your diet in my other blog post, 4 Easily Implementable Tips From Health and Fitness Experts.
There are a few things that I do every day - just like I make sure to brush my teeth, take a shower, kiss Taylor goodbye, and take my supplements in the morning. I feel routine is definitely important and I'm always working to improve my routine so I can make sure my energy level and mood is consistent.
This was brought to my attention mainly by Shawn Stevenson. He shares a lot of great health tips and one episode worth listening to on The Model Health Show is the Hydration and Water Masterclass. I always aim for around a gallon of water each day (about 130oz), and one reason why I drink about 30oz before I head to work is to get a jump start on that. A couple other reasons are because it is very refreshing and I think it is good to flush your system a bit first thing in the morning.
2 Cups of Vegetables (Minimum)
Mainly from Dr. Gundry's books, Diet Evolution and The Plant Paradox, I realized how important vegetables are as a daily staple in order to keep a healthy gut. Every day, I try to make sure to have at least 1 cup of vegetables with my lunch and 1 cup with dinner. Usually my dinner includes leafy greens like lettuce and spinach while my lunch includes veggies like onions, peppers, corn, carrots, etc. Multiple health experts have explained that vegetables are MUCH more important than fruit even though we usually stick them together as "fruits and vegetables." Most fruit is overloaded with sugar and lacks much nutrition, so you should not have more than 1 serving a day (this is advice from Dr. Gundry, Dr. Cate Shanahan, Ben Greenfield, and Shawn Stevenson).
Mike Matthews and his book Bigger Leaner Stronger really pushed the point that, while nutrition is important, it is important to know your calorie intake and make sure it is aligned with your goals. If you are trying to cut weight, you need to make sure you are not overeating and if you are trying to gain muscle, you need to make sure you are eating enough calories to do so. From playing around with my diet just over these past 10 months, I've learned how to be comfortable whether I want to do either - when I want to gain muscle, like right now, I aim for at least 3,500 calories per day and when I need to cut some of the fat off, I will go back down to around 1,800 calories per day. By just counting calories and macros for a month, I learned where my macros should be and how to easily keep track of both calories and macros.
Take these habits as you will - I'm sure there are ways I could improve them. For instance, I could write a reflection after each daily reading or possibly increase my number of vegetable servings. There really is no excuse not to include these daily habits or your own version of them into your routine - they don't take much time and if you try it, I'm sure you will find it's time well invested.
Comment with any questions and subscribe to my blog if you enjoyed this post!
What are your daily habits that you swear by?
I spend a good amount of time researching health/fitness experts. I usually immerse myself in information on one expert I am interested and spend time reading their books, listening to their podcasts, reading their articles, and watching their conferences on YouTube and get a good picture of their background before moving to the next expert I want to research.
Thinking back to experts I have done deep research on in the past, here are things that resonated the most when I think of their work...
Dr. Steven Gundry
These tips give a decent look at the information these experts have to share. Almost all of my other posts are related to the experts above so you can find more information on other posts or go to my Recommended Books page to find books from them.
Here are some examples of related posts:
Thank you for reading!!
Go to the Contact page to subscribe!!
This has been shared a couple times on Facebook recently and a couple weeks ago I decided to try it. It is gluten-free, low-carb, and the only not-so-good thing about it is how much cheese is in it. Most gluten-free pizzas are loaded with corn starch and sugars so in reality they may not be any healthier (or possibly worse for you) than regular pizza. Anyways, I find this pizza delicious and easy to make.
Here is my rendition of the recipe:
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella/cheddar cheese mix
2 tbsp cream cheese
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup pizza sauce
+Toppings (Jalapeños, bacon, BBQ sauce, and extra cheese in the picture above)
Let me know what you think!
Like I said, this is very easy to make and delicious. I split it up into 2 meals since there is so much cheese (even with that I would not want to make this more than once a week because of all the cheese). If you end up trying it, comment on here how you liked it or what could be done better!
Thank you for reading - subscribe to my blog here!
A couple days ago, on a trip to the grocery store with my girlfriend, Taylor’s, family, I got some looks and questions like, “why do you eat healthy?” All I said back was, “because I enjoy it.” While that’s true, to give a full answer I would say it’s because I want to optimize my performance in the gym to achieve my ideal body while also doing minimal damage to my body. I’ve also learned to really enjoy it because I feel better than ever. Another question that I got was about the organic whole milk that I bought and I’m glad they asked me - “what’s the difference between organic and not organic?” While I had a decent general idea, before now I never actually looked into the USDA standards so I did some research and now want to share what I found!
I was surprised to see that the USDA has good regulations set up in order to certify anything as organic. On-site inspections are held prior to approval and annually from then on to verify standards are being met, even including record keeping done by the farmer. To be able to call something “organic,” The farmer must provide a organic production and handling system plan, showing the practices, procedures, a list of all substances used, and more. Even to say “made with organic ingredients” without the USDA seal, at least 70% of the ingredients must be produced and handled to Federal standards.
Let’s get into what these standards are...
The USDA works to make sure animals are raised in humane living conditions, provided organic food, and not given any antibiotics or hormones that are deemed harmful to the animal itself or the nutrition they provide us.
Here are some key points in their standards pertaining to livestock:
When it comes to crops, the USDA holds standards and also gathers tests and samples of soil, water, waste, seeds, and plants themselves to ensure practices are being done to minimize damage to the environment and to the health and nutrition of the crops.
Here are some key points in their standards pertaining to crops:
The standards go far beyond this post but this was just to give an overview of what the USDA standards look like for anything to be called “organic.” This set of standards, I feel, is very important and eye-opening because it shows:
Before looking at this, I just trusted experts when they said how much of a difference it makes, but now I know that it is worth spending the extra: I would rather get quality and care than cheap and convenient. When foods are not organic, you could very well be eating meat from cows who are sick, overcrowded, and overfed and eating fruit that lacks a lot of the nutrition.
What products do you make sure are labeled "organic" when you buy groceries? Do you notice a difference in taste?
Thank you for reading!! If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to my blog here!
If you are going to a sports game, what do you think of when it comes to food and beverages? Gatorade. Cheeseburgers. Hot dogs. Candy. And when a high school football team finishes a game, what's the first place players usually head to? McDonalds or Burger King to get 3 cheeseburgers, a large soda, and maybe some ice cream. Because that makes sense. The information we've gotten from Gatorade, Coca-Cola, and other Big Food companies like Kellogg's has fed us so much misinformation that we have completely thrown nutrition out the window. As Cate Shanahan has said, you can't out-exercise bad nutrition (https://legionathletics.com/dr-cate-shanahan-podcast/). Unhealthy eating habits will catch up to you sooner or later. This post isn't to bash the Standard American Diet but to share what I find to be the most important nutrition tips from these two experts. Dr. Steven Gundry is a physician and dietitian while Mike Matthews is a muscle building coach.
Dr. Steven Gundry
This is a controversial name, since his book The Plant Paradox where he has some fringe claims on nutrition - that all veggies, even tomatoes, should be de-seeded prior to consumption and to consume a liter of olive oil per week. That being said, his book Dr. Gundry's Diet Evolution is well-worth reading and is full of great tips including:
Unlike many muscle building coaches, Mike is a strong advocate for nutrition. "Your body won't positively adapt to your training if you don't support it with proper nutrition (Bigger Leaner Stronger - p. 160)." Here are some important tips that he shares:
I trust these experts when they say these tips can dramatically improve your health. This is how I have been implementing these tips:
If you would like that information on more specific topics like supplements, macronutrient recommendations, or sleep hygiene - check out these blog posts:
We all need a wake-me-up sometimes - in the morning, before a workout, or sometimes just to get the productivity juices flowing. You'll be happy to hear that some experts have shown that caffeine doesn't have any bad side effects, for most people, if used in a smart manner. Let's break it down.
Mike provides the best advice that I have read when it comes to caffeine in his books Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger as well as on his podcast, Muscle for Life. In an episode called Making a Good Supplement, Mike goes into how caffeine is not nearly as dangerous as everyone makes it seem and suggests that if your daily intake does not go over around 400mg, there are no serious risks for the average active person.
Being a supplement formulator for his company Legion Athletics, he also advocates the use of caffeine and provides it in his pre-workout as well as recommends taking it with his fat loss supplements because of how it increases your performance, fat loss, and strength.
Lastly, Mike suggests to play it smart and preserve your tolerance by using caffeine sparingly, only before your hardest workouts or, if you take it daily, to take a week off every 2-3 weeks.
There are definitely a couple factoids that stuck with me from Shawn's book, Sleep Smarter. He has an entire chapter on the topic called Have a Caffeine Curfew. Shawn states how caffeine can be beneficial to increase your cortisol levels in the morning, "increase alertness and focus, and even improve liver function if used the right way (Sleep Smarter - p. 34)." The key words here are "if used the right way."
At the start of the chapter, he talks about a study done by Christopher Drake, PhD and professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, and how it shows that having a cup of coffee as much as 6 hours before bedtime causes you to lose an hour of sleep without you feeling a difference in sleep quality psychologically. Shawn explains that the half-life of caffeine is between 5 and 8 hours. To explain what this means, if we said the half-life was 6 hours and you consumed 200mg of caffeine at 4:00 PM, you still have 100mg at work in your system at 10:00 PM.
To avoid the negative effects of caffeine, Shawn suggests the following:
In Ben's New York Times Bestselling Book, Beyond Training, he stays more on the hazardous side of caffeine, stating that it can stunt muscle growth, cause adrenal fatigue, and overwork your central nervous system. The one positive thing he states is that 100mg of caffeine has proven to increase memory recall (Beyond Training - p. 438). But when it comes to performance, Ben suggests limiting your intake as much as possible and simply getting the sleep your body needs instead.
I know there is a bit of mixed information here, but these are all experts who back their suggestions up with quality research. The biggest takeaway from this would be to take advantage of these tips from Mike, Shawn, and Ben:
Overall, I believe that caffeine can be very useful but realize that if you need it, it probably means you are lacking the adequate sleep your body needs. Enjoy its benefits but be smart about it.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.