Exercise Tips that are Actually Myths

Before committing to an exercise regimen, one needs to distinguish the facts from the myths. Unfortunately, it is common for people to not only get injured from exercising improperly, but to also get the opposite results of what they desired. Sure, you could get a trainer to teach you what to do, but they can get very expensive after a while. So, here are some tips that are actually myths that you should avoid the next time you go to the gym.

-The biggest fitness myth around is to stretch before you exercise. When you stretch stiff, cold muscles, you are more likely to cause harm than good. Try warming your body up a bit before stretching by walking on the treadmill or jumping rope for about 15 minutes. Then, once your body is warmed up, your muscles will be looser and easier to stretch without causing injury.

-Another popular myth is to do crunches to slim down your waist. Crunches actually burn very few calories. They help strengthen the abdominal muscles, but do not actually help shrink your waistline. You must combine crunches with cardio in order to see optimal results.

-Exercise myth #3 is to do the same workout everyday. Your body is smarter than you think. The best way to workout is to trick your body and switch up your workout routine in order to work more muscle groups. This way you will burn more calories and prevent your body from getting used to that one monotonous workout you love to do.

-Myth #4 is that using the elliptical is less strenuous on your joints than running on the treadmill. This is not true because you are still mimicking the motion of running when on the elliptical. Also, the incline at which the elliptical is usually positioned can cause more strain on your hips and knees than running on a flat surface.

-Myth #5 is working out in the heat burns more calories. Just because you sweat more doesn’t mean you are burning more calories. In fact, sweating too much can potentially be dangerous due to the excess loss of electrolytes and water, which can lower one’s blood pressure and even cause them to faint.

-Last, but not least, myth #6 is that cardio is all one needs to lose weight. Even tho cardio does burn many calories, incorporating weight lifting into your regimen will help you lose weight faster. When you build lean muscle, your metabolism increases and your muscles will continue to burn calories even when you are not working out. Light weights with high repetition will help you tone up without bulking up, but heavy weights with low repetition will create larger, bulkier muscles.

So, the next time you go to the gym, make sure you ask questions and research which exercises are best for you before jumping on the first machine you see. Learning the proper way to exercise will help prevent injury as well as help you achieve your goals faster. Remember, separate the tips from the myths.Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.



Having Fish Oil Everyday Will Keep the Doctor Away!

Fish oil is another one of my favorites that I have been promoting to my friends and family for as long as I can remember. Whenever someone asks me what basic supplements are best to take everyday to maintain optimal health, fish oil is always at the tip of my tongue. It comes with a multitude of health benefits and is recommended for anyone at any age. Studies on fish oil are continuously being published as scientific research unveils more and more of its benefits on a daily basis. So, if you are one of the few I haven’t previously preached to about fish oil, please read on to find out more about this wonderful supplement.

First off, picking the right fish oil is very important and there are a few specific things you need to look for. Fish oil supplements that only contain omega-3 are the ones that have been proven to be most beneficial because the other omegas (such as omega-6 and omega-9) have actually been shown to induce more inflammation in the body rather than quelling it. Also, look for fish oil that is extracted from wild Alaskan salmon because it is one of the purest forms of fish oil that does not have to be processed in order to get rid of any impurities and is naturally mercury free. Now that you know which fish oil to pick, let’s talk about why you need to include it in your dietary regimen.

If you look back at my previous post on aloe vera, you will see I talked a bit about the dangers of chronic inflammation and how it is the root of most common health problems that people face. Fish oil is a key player in combating chronic inflammation and in turn reduces the risk of diseases and ailments associated with it such as heart disease, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, acne and even cancer. Fish oil also helps lower triglycerides (the building blocks of fat) thus helping reduce the risk of obesity. Also, for people with hypertension or high cholesterol, fish oil is a natural blood thinner, which helps prevent strokes and heart attacks. Fish oil also helps improve blood circulation and the delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients to cells all around the body as well. Something that most people may find hard to believe is that fish oil also helps with many cognitive disorders. For example, fish oil has been proven to protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease and even Parkinson’s disease. Also, fish oil acts as a potent mood stabilizer. For people with signs of bipolar disorder or depression, fish oil has been shown to help tremendously in restoring normalcy in mood and behavior. For pregnant woman, fish oil helps build fetal and infant brain health and the development of psycho motor skills. Fish oil also has many aesthetic purposes as well including maintaining beautiful and strong hair, skin and nails. For people with dark cirles under their eyes, since fish oil helps thin the blood, it also promotes proper blood circulation to help those dark circles vanish. Last but not least, along with getting rid of your dark cirlces, fish oil also helps significantly improve eye health and vision.

The proper daily dose of fish oil is 1000mg a day. Some of you who are already familiar with fish oil may also, unfortunately, be familiar with the “fish burp.” For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, that is the fish taste you get after consuming fish oil. However, have no fear. That problem can easily be solved with a shot of lemon juice, and in all honesty, it’s really not as bad as it sounds. I have also seen capsules that gaurantee the absence of this aftertaste so if it truly is something that you cannot handle, just know there are other alternatives out there. Don’t let this last bit deter you from going out and getting these magical pills. I promise you, you will be a believer. Thanks for reading! This has been your dose of vitamin Jas.

Music is Medicinal

The power of music is quickly pioneering a new approach to therapy. Recently, music has been proven through numerous studies to benefit the body both mentally and physically. Songs that make us happy, energetic, or even reminiscent of good times can bring on a multitude of medicinal effects unmatched by any other form of treatment that exists today. I guess you could say Lady Gaga is the new Prozac.

Music therapy has been practiced as a way to treat many neurological conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and even depression. It has been shown that music can help with improving impaired movement in people with Parkinson’s by giving them rhythm and coordination. For people with speech problems, since the area of the brain that processes music overlaps with speech networks, music therapy can help improve the flow of words and enhance vocabulary. Anxiety and blood pressure are reduced when listening to music because music stimulates the hypothalamus, which is the part of our brain that controls heart rate and blood flow. Alzheimer’s is improved by music since certain songs can help trigger old memories. It has also been shown that endorphins are released by the brain when listening to upbeat music, which can help treat depression. Most importantly, studies have proven a 50% spike in pituitary growth hormone levels, which is a hormone that promotes healing, in people that listen to music.

Listening to music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. That fact alone was enough to instigate studies to determine how music could be incorporated into the health field as a form of therapy. I recently watched a video about a man who was physically alive, but mentally and emotionally dead. He had been living in a retirement home for years and had not been showing any signs of interest or engagement in any activity until he was given an iPod filled with songs his daughter knew that he loved. He instantly perked up and felt alive again as soon as he put his headphones on. Please watch this clip to see for yourselves what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player. Now go put on your favorite song and dance like nobody’s watching! Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

The Health Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa seeds may be tiny, but they pack a big punch. Quinoa is filled with nutrients that will help boost energy, metabolism and even mental clarity. Let me elaborate…

Quinoa is considered one of the best sources of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein). It also contains iron, which is crucial for proper oxygen transport throughout our body, aiding in the contraction of our muscles, increasing brain function and speeding up our metabolism and energy production. Quinoa also has a substantial amount of fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, relieve constipation, lower blood pressure, and keeps us feeling full for a long period of time. Quinoa is also rich in magnesium, assisting in proper nerve functioning and the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. You will also find manganese in quinoa, which is a potent antioxidant that protects our cells from damage by free radicals in our body. Quinoa also contains lysine, an amino acid known to aid in tissue growth and repair, shortening recovery time after an injury or illness. Lastly, quinoa is a great source of riboflavin, a B vitamin that helps increase energy production in the brain and muscle cells.

Quinoa is not a grain, but when it is cooked, it has a light, fluffy texture similar to white rice, and is subtly flavored. It actually cooks and tastes like a grain, which is why it is a great replacement for grains that are difficult to digest or pack a higher number of calories and carbohydrates. So, the next time you are preparing a dish that calls for white rice, try using quinoa. You will be pleasantly surprised and your body will thank you in the long run. Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.


Hemp Seeds: The Amazing Superfood

Let me start off by addressing the elephant in the room: It is common to associate the word hemp with marijuana, however, hemp is a different strain of the plant Cannabis Sativa that only contains less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (better known as THC) whereas marijuana contains about 10%. The minuscule amount of THC found in hemp seeds has not been found to compromise, influence, or impair one’s cognition or judgment and is completely safe and legal. Hemp is actually considered to be one of the most nutritional plants in the entire world. Its seeds are often described as what is known as a “superfood” due to their low calorie and high nutrient content, and they provide a multitude of health benefits. In short, hemp seeds may be small but they pack a big punch.

Hemp seeds deliver enough nutrition to maintain healthy human life. That means you could survive off of eating hemp seeds, and only hemp seeds, for the rest of your life (not that I would recommend that). That’s how nutritious these little seeds are! Hemp seeds were actually one of the primary treatments used  for nutritional deficiencies brought on by diseases such as tuberculosis. One of the many reasons for that is that these little seeds deliver more essential fatty acids than any other plant source. The human body needs essential fatty acids to manufacture and repair cell membranes, allowing cells to obtain proper nutrition and get rid of harmful waste products. Essential fatty acids also aid in the production of prostaglandins, which help regulate the body’s heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting ability, fertility and also play a role in immune function by regulating inflammation and preparing the body to fight infection. Essential Fatty Acids are also needed for proper growth in children, particularly for the development of their nervous system. Hemp seeds also deliver all 20 amino acid, including the 9 essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own. Amino acids are necessary for such things as  building muscle, strengthening the immune system, enhancing oxygen transport, providing energy, and supporting healthy hair, skin and nails. On top of all of that, hemp seeds are rich in phytonutrients that protect your cells, tissues and organs from damage, which helps slow down the aging process and lower the chance of disease.

Eating hemp seeds may sound a little funny, but the nutritional value they bring is no joke. The Chinese have been consuming hemp seeds for years now, and it has only recently gained popularity here in America. Hemp seeds are actually very delicious and have a sweet, nutty taste that many people seem to like, including myself. You could eat them alone, or sprinkle them on a variety of dishes such as cereal, pancakes or even salad. Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.



The Kale Craze

Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables known to man. Its health benefits have slowly surfaced over the years, giving it its well deserved title as the “queen of greens.” It is an exceptional source of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber making it a nutritional powerhouse and an essential addition to anyone’s daily diet.

Kale, also known as borecole, belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as collards, cabbage, and broccoli. It is packed with numerous vitamins and minerals including:

  1. Vitamin A- for healthy skin and vision
  2. Vitamin C- to build a strong immune system
  3. Vitamin K- to help prevent cancer and improve blood clotting functions
  4. Calicum- to prevent osteoarthrits and maintain bone health
  5. Magnesium- for energy production and a healthy cardiovascular system
  6. Sulfur- to detoxify the body by supporting healthy liver function
  7. Iron- for energy production and proper oxygenation throughout the body

Kale is also packed with fiber, providing 5 grams of fiber in just one cup. Fiber is very beneficial because it helps lower cholesterol, improve digestion and increase regularity. Kale is also a wonderful source of antioxidants, known as carotenoids and flavonoids, that help protect your cells from damage and lower your chances of developing cancer. Last but not least, kale has a high percentage of omega-3, which is a wonderful anti-inflammatory agent that  promotes heart health, mental stability, proper vision, joint function, and healthy hair, skin and nails.

One of my favorite ways to prepare kale is by slicing it into bite size pieces, drizzling a little bit of olive oil on top with a pinch of salt, and baking them for 10-15 minutes. You will come out with healthy and nutritious kale chips that will far surpass the calorie filled, ordinary potato chips out on the market today. I also like to chop kale up into fine pieces with other vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, celery and cucumber to make a delicious and filling salad. Now, go be creative and find out how to incorporate kale into your daily diet. Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.


The Truth Behind Energy Drinks

Energy drinks may help us stay awake and give us that extra push to get through the day, but at what cost? How many of us really know what the ingredients are in these drinks? Companies pay advertisers millions of dollars to make their products look appealing while masking the negatives, leaving us misinformed and unaware of any dangers. They claim these drinks will revitalize the body and mind, increasing endurance and concentration. However, what they do not tell us is that these drinks have about 3 times as much caffeine as a regular cup of coffee along with multiple other ingredients that act as stimulants, all of which can weaken one’s cardiovascular system and even lead to a heart attack. That doesn’t sound as appealing though, does it?

Recently, multiple deaths, one of them being a 14 year old girl, have been linked to the energy drink known as Monster. Many people do not know how the over-consumption of such energy drinks can be dangerous to one’s health. People see the commercials that show these drinks giving people ample stamina or even wings to make them “fly.” Without any knowledge of how these drinks could negatively affect one’s health, who wouldn’t be tempted to have these drinks all day long? However, the truth is that these drinks not only have up to 3 times the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee, but they have other ingredients, such as taurine, ginseng and guarana, which act like caffeine as well. Caffeine releases a neurotransmitter in the body known as norepinephrine, which then releases a hormone into your blood that causes your heart rate to increase and your blood vessels to contract. If too much norepinephrine is released in one period of time the heart can go into overdrive and possibly even lead to a heart attack. Excessive caffeine consumption can also cause other serious side effects over time such as chronic hypertention, thyroid dysfunction, nerve damage, and heart disease. As you can see, having more than one of these energy drinks a day can definitely take a toll on one’s health, which is why this matter should not be taken lightly.

Having one energy drink here and there when undergoing strenuous activities, like studying for finals or working a 12 hour shift, is not the issue at hand. The issue is that people do not understand the severity of excessively drinking these energy drinks day-after-day whenever they feel the need. To make things worse, people can also build a tolerance to caffeine, which would require them to drink more and more as time goes by to get the same effects they once had with just one drink. Trying new methods to stay awake or to get re-energized is one solution to this problem. Taking a 20 minute power nap is one of the best methods to rejuvenate the body as well as the mind. Exercising, or even jogging in place for a few minutes, also gets the blood flowing through your veins to wake your brain and muscles up. Green tea and Kombucha are natural drinks that contain a minimal amount of caffeine compared to the average energy drink and also work as potent antioxidants to eliminate dangerous free radicals from the body. Also, taking a daily multi-vitamin containing B-vitamins, such as B-12 and niacin, will help supply your body with the energy it needs to get you through your day. Lastly, sleeping at least 6 to 8 hours a night will give your body a chance to recuperate and regain enough energy to face a rigorous schedule ahead. Hope these tips help and thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

Fiber is Your Friend!

How many people associate fiber with cardboard? How many people think that fiber is something that only their grandparents have because people only need fiber when they’re old? Well, fiber can actually benefit us at any age and doesn’t always necessarily have to taste bad. Fiber can be found in many tasty foods such as fruits, beans, nuts and even popcorn! So, stop thinking about fiber so negatively and learn why fiber is one of the most essential additions you can make to your diet.

Fiber is most commonly known for increasing regularity, but the list of benefits goes way beyond that. Aside from relieving occasional constipation, fiber can also lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber binds to LDL, which is known as “bad cholesterol,” and carries it out of our bodies through our feces. For people with diabetes, or at risk for diabetes, fiber helps decrease blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar and preventing large spikes in insulin secretion. Fiber also aids in weight loss because it gives our meals bulk, making us full faster and keeping us full for a longer period of time. Also, foods high in fiber tend to have less calories, so there is less potential to gain weight. Fiber has also been linked to lowering blood pressure because it absorbs excess water in the colon. Most importantly, fiber binds to toxins and harmful bacteria that may have entered the body through our food and eliminates them through our feces so that they cannot be reabsorbed into our bloodstream. This also helps decrease inflammation in our bowels, which decreases the chances of developing such illnesses as irritable bowel syndrome.

As mentioned earlier, foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, whole grain bread, nuts, and beans. If none of these foods stimulate your appetite, you could also take fiber supplements. There are fiber caps or even fiber chews out there, such as Fiber Choice, that would deliver the full daily dose of fiber you would need. Women need about 25 grams of fiber a day and men need around 38 grams. Do not confuse fiber with laxatives. Laxatives are often stimulants that can make your body dependent if used for longer than 2 weeks. They also deplete your body of essential electrolytes, which can be very dangerous, especially for your heart.

So, now when you think of fiber, I hope you don’t just think of old people eating prunes or Metamucil. Instead, think of all the benefits fiber can bring and how it can help regardless of what age you happen to be. One last thing, make sure to drink plenty of water with a high fiber diet to get optimal results. Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.


Got Milk…Which One?

Milk…it does a body good, but which one is right for you? Before, our only options were  nonfat, low fat or whole. Now, we have the option of getting almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk as well. Some are enhanced with vitamins, made lactose-free, or even flavored for those of us who do not particularly like the taste of regular milk. However, how many of you really know the difference between all these options?

Before getting into which milk is best for you, let’s talk about why milk is an important part of a healthy diet. Milk is an excellent source of protein and calcium, both of which are major factors in maintaining a strong and healthy body. The average sized adult needs about 1,000mg of calcium and at least 45gm of protein a day, which can be met with about 3 to 4 glasses of milk. Some people worry about milk increasing their cholesterol, however, skim (or nonfat) milk doesn’t have the potential to clog your arteries and still delivers the essential nutrients as other types of milk do. According to the National Dairy Council, milk is actually filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:

  • Calcium:Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
  • Protein:Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium:Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus:Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
  • Vitamin D:Helps maintain bones
  • Vitamin B12:Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
  • Vitamin A:Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision  and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2):Converts food into energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids

Even though milk is an essential part of a healthy diet, there are some issues people have with it other than the possibility of increasing their cholesterol. People who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme needed to digest lactose, a sugar found in all dairy products including milk. However, there are lactose free alternatives. Milk that is labeled “lactose free” has the enzyme lactase added to it by the manufacturers to predigest the sugar in order to be suitable for those who are intolerant. Almond, soy, and rice milk are also well tolerated since they do not contain any lactose to begin with. There are also supplements found over the counter, such as Lactaid, that contain lactase to help digest dairy products as well.

Hormones are also an issue for milk drinkers. Hormones are often injected into young livestock to make them grow larger in order to provide more meat and milk. These hormones can come out in their milk and enter our bodies when we drink it. It is said that the amount of hormones that enter our body is very minimal compared to the amount our bodies produce, however the issue is debatable. Organic milk that has the claim “rBST-free” is your safest bet when it comes to trying to avoid this issue as a whole because the milk is collected from cows who are organically fed and not injected with any growth hormones.

Almond milk is one of the most nutritious, dairy free, milk substitutes available today. Unlike soy or rice milk, almond milk doesn’t need to be fortified with additional vitamins since it already provides omega-3, vitamin E, manganese, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, protein and plant flavanoids. Also, almond milk is naturally low in fat and calories making it safe for people with high cholesterol. Lastly, as mentioned before, almond milk doesn’t contain lactose so it is compatible with those who are lactose intolerant.

Soy milk is another great substitute for cow’s milk that is very high in protein. Although soy milk doesn’t naturally provide as many vitamins as almond milk, it does provide about 3 to 4 more grams of protein per serving. Soy milk also provides more fiber, which is very beneficial to the heart and can help lower cholesterol. For premenopausal women who suffer from lower levels of estrogen, soy milk helps replace lost estrogen and alleviate symptoms associated with menopause. However, for those who do not need extra estrogen, like women below the age of 40 or men of all ages, drinking soy milk on a regular basis may not be the best option since it could elevate the body’s estrogen levels above the norm.

Rice milk is also a popular dairy free alternative for cow’s milk, but may not provide as much nutrition as the other options. It is a good option for those who are allergic to soy and who are lactose intolerant, but contains more carbohydrates and less protein than both soy and almond milk. This is because rice milk is made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. People usually prefer rice milk because it is sweet on its own and doesn’t need to be enhanced with additional sweeteners or flavors. However, it does usually have to be fortified with niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, and iron along with other nutrients to give it more of a nutritional value since it doesn’t have much to offer on its own.

Who knew there would be so much to think about when choosing milk? Times have definitely changed since going out and filling up a bucket with milk from the local cow before breakfast. Personally, I am an almond milk drinker even though it isn’t the tastiest choice because I am lactose intolerant and like the natural nutritional value it brings. However, now that you know more about your options, pick one that is right for you and make it part of your daily diet. Thanks for reading, this has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.



Coconut Oil and its Long List of Benefits

From cooking, to massaging, to styling your hair, it seems as though coconut oil does it all. Coconut oil has a wide range of health benefits and can be used for aesthetic purposes as well! It has been used by those who live in native, tropical areas for thousands of years now and has been proven to be one of the primary contributors to their great shape and health. Coconut oil consists of naturally occurring, saturated fats that have been shunned by health professionals for years now. However, with all the benefits that have been shown to come along with using coconut oil, we are slowly realizing that not all saturated fats are bad.

Coconut oil mainly consists of a naturally occurring saturated fat called lauric acid. We have constantly been told that saturated fats are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. However, the saturated fat they are referring to is man made by a process known as hydrogenation. This process is used by manufacturers to improve the shelf life of their products even though it is detrimental to our health. However, lauric acid is a rare, naturally occurring saturated fat that does not share the same properties as man made fats. Lauric acid does not clog your arteries, increase cholesterol, cause heart disease, nor contribute to obesity. In fact, it does the complete opposite and more.

Coconut oil can help improve your health in many ways. Lauric acid is metabolized by the body into monolaurin, which is known to have anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. This helps boost your immune system and protect you against such common diseases as herpes, influenza, H. Pylori and even HIV. Lauric acid also helps increase HDL, which is known as “good cholesterol.” HDL helps remove the “bad cholesterol” in the body known as LDL, which then lowers the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Coconut oil is also very useful in reducing weight since it helps support healthy thyroid functioning and digestion. It also helps improve the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids so you get the most out of the food you eat. Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin, thus lowering the chances of developing diabetes. Last, but not least, it is a great source of energy since coconut oil is also made up of medium chain triglycerides, which are quickly and easily metabolized by the liver.

Coconut oil can also benefit you on the outside as well as the inside. Coconut oil consists of essential proteins that help repair damaged hair and improve hair growth. It can be used on the scalp to reduce dryness and itchiness as well as dandruff. It has also been shown to be effective in killing hair lice and their eggs. Coconut oil can also be used on the skin as a moisturizer. It helps treat dry, flaky skin and even improves the skin’s elasticity to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Coconut oil can also be used to help treat various skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin infections. Most importantly, it can help alleviate stress and loosen your muscles when massaged into the skin, which I’m sure all of us need from time to time.

Now that the secret is out, go take advantage of it. Not all saturated fats are created equal! Replace your cooking oil, your moisturizers and your conditioners with coconut oil and you will see and feel the difference soon after. Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading, this has been your daily dose of Vitamin Jas.