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Digestion and Your Body

Take a moment to think about your absolute favorite food. Did your mouth fill with saliva? Guess what! You just activated the amazing digestive system in your body. Your digestive system is incredible – and surprising. It takes about 1-2 days to fully process your food… and here’s how:

Things to remember: The G-I tract is made up of the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. It is the tube that starts in your mouth and ends in your anus. Your GI tract contains helpful bacteria.

First, you think about food. YES- you just think about it, and your body starts working.

Then you chew and moisten your food with saliva to make it easier to process.

The saliva-mixed mushy food is called bolus. It moves from your throat to your esophagus.

In under a minute, your muscle contractions in your esophagus push the food through to your stomach which contains acid that destroys bacteria that the food may contain.

After 4 hours, that stomach acid breaks down your food further.

Your food, which is now liquid-y, it goes into the small intestine. The small intestine is a long tube.

Your small intestine converts that liquid into energy and fuel.

Different chemicals in parts of the body like the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver break down the energy into tiny particles that the blood can absorb.

After 1-2 days since chewing your food, everything that is nutritious in absorbed.

The rest is considered waste, and moved to the large intestine, which is a wide tube.

This waste is stored in the rectum, which sends a notification to your brain that something needs to be released.

Your anus can tell if your waste is liquid or solid. The external sphincter helps you keep that waste in your body until you find a safe place to release it.

Once in the bathroom, your brain tells those muscles to relax and the waste is expelled.

This system inside a healthy body works like a well-oiled machine. All the while, you are likely not even thinking about the work that your body is doing! It is like having a very trustworthy assistant.

Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or fitness program, especially if you are currently being treated for any illness or medical condition, taking prescription medication, or following a doctor recommended diet.

Take a moment to think about your absolute favorite food. Did your mouth fill with saliva? Guess what! You just activated the amazing digestive system in your body. Your digestive system is incredible – and surprising. It takes about 1-2 days to fully process your food… and here’s how:

Things to remember: The G-I tract is made up of the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. It is the tube that starts in your mouth and ends in your anus. Your GI tract contains helpful bacteria.

First, you think about food. YES- you just think about it, and your body starts working.

Then you chew and moisten your food with saliva to make it easier to process.

The saliva-mixed mushy food is called bolus. It moves from your throat to your esophagus.

In under a minute, your muscle contractions in your esophagus push the food through to your stomach which contains acid that destroys bacteria that the food may contain.

After 4 hours, that stomach acid breaks down your food further.

Your food, which is now liquid-y, it goes into the small intestine. The small intestine is a long tube

Your small intestine converts that liquid into energy and fuel.

Different chemicals in parts of the body like the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver break down the energy into tiny particles that the blood can absorb.

After 1-2 days since chewing your food, everything that is nutritious in absorbed.

The rest is considered waste, and moved to the large intestine, which is a wide tube.

This waste is stored in the rectum, which sends a notification to your brain that something needs to be released.

Your anus can tell if your waste is liquid or solid. The external sphincter helps you keep that waste in your body until you find a safe place to release it.

Once in the bathroom, your brain tells those muscles to relax and the waste is expelled.

This system inside a healthy body works like a well-oiled machine. All the while, you are likely not even thinking about the work that your body is doing! It is like having a very trustworthy assistant.

Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or fitness program, especially if you are currently being treated for any illness or medical condition, taking prescription medication, or following a doctor recommended diet.

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Supplements / Vitamin Usage

Vitamins are very confusing for most. There are all these options and benefits, but more often than not, we don’t know how and when to use them. Let’s break it down:

Vitamins are grouped into 2 categories: Fat-soluble (stored in fatty tissue) and Water-soluble (must be used right away with the exception of B12).

There are 13 vitamins that the body absolutely needs. Below, the vitamins listed in blue represent water-soluble vitamins, while the rest are fat-soluble. We’ve included the vitamins main functions as well:

Vitamin A: For healthy teeth, bones, and skin.

Vitamin C: For healthy teeth, gums. Helps with healing wounds.

Vitamin D: Aids in acquiring calcium for teeth and bones.

Vitamin E: Helps form red blood cells.

Vitamin K: Aids in injury response.

All B vitamins convert carbs to energy. They also…

Vitamin B1: For a healthy nervous system and reduction of stress.

Vitamin B2: Produces blood cells and helps the body grow.

Vitamin B3: For healthy nerves and skin.

Pantothenic acid (B5): Reduction of stress, hair loss, and heart problems.

Biotin (B7): For healthy hair, skin, nails, and metabolism.

Vitamin B6: For healthy brain function and eye health.

Vitamin B12: Essential for the brain, improved sleeping patterns, skin.

Folate (folic acid and B9): Essential during pregnancy, creates genetic material.

A good rule of thumb to obtain these daily vitamins is by eating a balanced diet and being mindful of what you are getting too much of or not enough of. Supplements can be taken to ensure balance. Seems obvious; however, it becomes complicated once you are faced with the task of determining what that diet is. To help you, we’ve listed a few foods associated with each vitamin on the following page.

Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or fitness program, especially if you are currently being treated for any illness or medical condition, taking prescription medication, or following a doctor recommended diet.

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How Nutrition works in your Body

It should be easy to keep energy levels high; however, lately it feels more like a fantasy than a reality for most people. What many don’t know is that energy – the thing that makes us feel alive – is dependent on what we are putting in our bodies. You may think that the extra coffee will make you feel more alert, but that coffee is a quick fix with long term consequences that leaves you short of energy in the end. Shortness of energy makes our bodies more susceptible to stress and even disease.

We are here to guide you on how to properly maintain your energy. Energy has everything to do with metabolism, which has a lot to do with nutrition. You need to eat foods with:

Vitamins

Minerals

Antioxidants

You’ve heard the term “empty calories.” But what does that really mean? It means that the calories that you are consuming have a very low nutrient per calorie ratio. A candy bar may have 200 calories and hardly any vitamins or minerals. Half an apple + 1 tablespoon of peanut butter also has 200 calories. The vitamins and protein within that snack will make your body feel like it got what it needed, and you will be satisfied. The candy bar will just make you want another candy bar, or it will make you feel sick.

The time of day in which we feed ourselves is also important.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It starts your body off for the day by launching your metabolism.

Healthy snacking keeps that going.

A healthy dinner before 8 PM satisfies you for the night.

This may come as a surprise, but a “diet” is not great for you. It is actually truer to say “way of eating” or “fueling your body” instead of using the word “diet”. Because the word diet is often associated with restricting calories. The word “restriction” can sometimes makes someone feel limited. Think of how “fueling your body” makes you feel good! Your “way of eating”and the way you choose to “fuel your body” is something you should pay attention to, but counting calories does not help. It is why many don’t eat breakfast and then cheat on their so-called “diet” later with junk food. Pay attention and try your best to steer clear of candy, processed foods, and alcohol. If you can accomplish “fueling your body” with a nutritious,“way of eating”it will run itself without you needing to count because you will feel awake and satisfied.

Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or fitness program, especially if you are currently being treated for any illness or medical condition, taking prescription medication, or following a doctor recommended diet.

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Fitness, Performance, Diet, Lifestyle Balance

With all the chaos that daily life can bring, it can be difficult to remember that we need to take care of our physical well-beings in order to succeed. So many people forget how important certain foods and ingredients are. Did you know that eating an orange or apple will provide more sustainable energy than a cup of coffee? Did you know that studies have tied to a large consumption of fast food to depression? And more obviously, exercising produces endorphins which lead to happiness? We are our bodies, and we actually are what we eat. This blog is here to help streamline the clutter into a manageable plan to keep your body healthy.

It begins with your groceries. Ordering food or going to restaurants can feel easier, but one is never able to truly tell what is going into their foods (Additionally – grocery shopping saves you so much money!). The first thing you should do is create a list. This can be a list you refer to every week or you can change it up if you find cool recipes that you’d like to try.

When creating your list, keep in mind your necessary food groups and what kind of diet would work for you: Carbs, Proteins, Veggies, Fruits, Dairy and Fats/Sweets (think of amounts going from largest to smallest in that order). Think of actual meals you’d like to prepare and eat to avoid snacking. Allow yourself to have treats occasionally – frozen dark chocolate can be delicious! If you need a little extra help, there are a ton of food plans online and one is bound to work for you! Your diet should be specific to your needs. For example, if you are looking to burn fat you should incorporate more protein and veggies.

There are a lot of different beliefs in how to approach your meals but in short, eat when you are hungry but don’t overeat. If you want to eat 6-smaller meals, that is OK. If you’d prefer 3 regular meals and a snack – that is OK too! Keep your schedule in mind and plan ahead. Portion control is very important. Some of us have a hard time recognizing when we are full which is a learned skill.

Once you understand what you need in terms of food, begin to think about your fitness. Generally speaking, 30-45 minutes in the gym 3-5 days a week will do anyone good. It’s important to get a safe and productive workout. That means that you don’t overwork, but you work hard and properly. Once you figure out how to integrate that into your schedule, you can begin to target areas and alternate your workouts. Maybe you run as a warm up every day and work on arms and the next day legs. This of course depends on your individual bodies.

Within 3 days of eating clean and working out, you will find your mood elevating and your fatigue disappearing. It’s proven that living a healthy lifestyle scientifically produces more serotonin and sustainable energy. This means you will get a good night’s sleep after a happy energetic day consistently. Working out produces endorphins which give you even more energy and the ability to take on your world! And don’t forget to DRINK WATER.

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Building a Healthy Meal Plan

Each meal is a building block in your healthy eating style. Make sure to include all the food groups throughout the day. Make fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein foods part of your daily meals and snacks. Also, limit added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Use the MyPlate Daily Checklist and the tips below to meet your needs throughout the day.

Make half your plate veggies and fruits Vegetables and fruits are full of nutrients that support good health. Choose fruits and red, orange, and dark-green vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

Include whole grains Aim to make at least half your grains whole grains. Look for the words “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the food label. Whole grains provide more nutrients, like fiber, than refined grains.

Don’t forget the dairy Complete your meal with a cup of fat-free or low-fat milk. You will get the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk but fewer calories. Don’t drink milk? Try a soy beverage (soymilk) as your drink or include low-fat yogurt in your meal or snack.

Add lean protein Choose protein foods such as lean beef, pork, chicken, or turkey, and eggs, nuts, beans, or tofu. Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

Avoid extra fat Using heavy gravies or sauces will add fat and calories to otherwise healthy choices. Try steamed broccoli with a sprinkling of low-fat parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon.

Get creative in the kitchen Whether you are making a sandwich, a stir-fry, or a casserole, find ways to make them healthier. Try using less meat and cheese, which can be higher in saturated fat and sodium, and adding in more veggiesthat add new flavors and textures to your meals.

Take control of your food Eat at home more often so you know exactly what you are eating. If you eat out, check and compare the nutrition information. Choose options that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

Try new foods Keep it interesting by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before, like mango, lentils, quinoa, kale, or sardines. You may find a new favorite! Trade fun and tasty recipes with friends or find them online.

Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way Indulge in a naturally sweet dessert dish—fruit! Serve a fresh fruit salad or a fruit parfait made with yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.

Everything you eat and drink matters The right mix of foods in your meals and snacks can help you be healthier now and into the future. Turn small changes in how you eat into your MyPlate, MyWins.

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Strategic Eating Options for Athletes

Upon interviewing various nutritionists, registered sports dietitians, and elite athletes, I have found that there is a strategic way to eat to maximize potential for individual sports. My notes, observation, and my own professional experiences as a former elite athlete have lead me to believe in this theory. Below you will find see my conclusions regarding strategic eating for athletes:

In the world of athletics, there are several factors that contribute to the players’ needs. For example, most athletes sweat profusely throughout a game. Additionally, some sports like hockey, soccer, and lacrosse require players to think and move quickly, demonstrate a high level of agility, and endure various physical movements at very intense speeds. Believe it or not, there are strategic foods and shakes that can be eaten to fuel these exact needs for performance and recovery.

Because of the intense movements in the sport, hydration is of upmost importance. Before a workout (game or practice), players should be hydrated via water or a natural and organic powder mix that is complimented with vitamins, electrolytes and water/coconut water so they can keep their bodies hydrated and fueled. This allows players to play at a high performance levels with the ability to recover fast.

A good way to see if you are hydrated is to talk to your registered sports dietitian or registered dietitian professional.

Sports drinks can be OK too; however, in my experience as a player, water has always served me best. Caffeine and sugary drinks should be a hard no as they deplete energy while they take effect.

Due to the quick movements and bursts of high intensity intervals, athletes need to focus on their ability to recover quickly. The foods that lend themselves to aiding this are those that have the primary job of providing good calories to burn (energy). This energy can be found in protein, fat, and carbs (which will make up most of your diet).

When it comes to protein, an athlete must remember that they need to consume the recommended amount of protein per body pound daily via their professional registered dietician.

Proteins contain amino acids which are the foundation of the ability to recover. Because of this, athletes should incorporate lean proteins into every single meal. This can include lean meats, cottage cheese, eggs, or beans. Fattier proteins can negate some of the great effects of the proteins themselves, so sticking to lean is important. While fats can be damaging in large quantities, they are not the enemy for athletes. In fact, good fats should be incorporated. There is not a set amount of fat that a player should have unless they are looking to lose or gain weight. Good fats include nuts, avocado, oils, etc…

As aforementioned, carbs are going to be the focus of the athlete’s meal plan. Like fats and proteins, there are types of carbs that are better than others. A good rule of thumb is to go for grainy breads rather than white breads or brown rice over white rice. The white carbs are much harder to process. In addition, good carbs can include dairy (such as milk) and fruit/vegetables. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, around 5 servings a day is necessary to obtain the correct vitamins and minerals needed.

Carbs and protein should be the focus of a pre-game or pre-practice meal and should be eaten about 3 hours beforehand. The effects of healthy carbs and proteins will last and do their jobs despite the fact that your stomach does not feel overly full after 3 hours. When recovering, go for something that is carb-heavy.

Athletes are constantly on the go, a great tip to get these nutrients in is with a great shake! A clean shake is one that is chemical free and natural. It is a good and healthy choice. They is especially helpful for obtaining the correct amount of protein.

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Fitness and Diet in Sports

If you’re an athlete, diet and fitness regimen, and how you care for yourself are explicitly important. It may be something you tell yourself but it can also come from your coaches, trainers, dietitians, etc. Paying attention to what goes into your body is paramount to succeed in the world of sports. An athlete should follow the below steps rigorously if they are serious about success:

Get at least 8-10 hours of sleep everyday

As an athlete, you are constantly pushing your body to the limit. Rest to recover properly and build strength instead of building fatigue. You want to make the most out of your energy and need a chance to recharge.

Listen to your coach

Listen and stick to the fitness plan that your coaches give you. Different sports require a different set of bodily skills, but keeping in shape is universal. Remember what muscles you need to work (throw in some cardio) and continue to strengthen your body every day – and – leave room for recovery days.

Eliminate soda and refined sugars from your diet.

Professional athletes are special because of the care they give their body. They blow off steam once in a great while on the off-season. Alcohol and junk food will completely slow your body down and affect your body’s natural state by throwing everything off. There is no reason, as an athlete, to slow yourself down.

Eat and drink to compete

Eating clean and drinking PLENTY of water is just the first half of what you need to think about when it comes to diet. Athletes eat strategically. This can mean something different for everyone, and there are too many “athlete diets” out there to follow. Try to keep it simple and, again, strategic. Always eat breakfast. Eat complex carbohydrates on the nights before games and on game days (for lasting stored energy). Eat protein after a practice to rebuild strength.

Take care of your injuries

If something does not feel right in your body, it needs to be addressed immediately. It may be more serious than you realize. Ignoring the problem could do permanent damage. It is very important to listen to your body’s needs.