BEWARE! The Secret Cause Behind Common Health Issues!

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We live in a world where our bodies are being taxed ALL the time by stress–our jobs/career, families, environment, medications…you name it. It’s no secret that stress is NOT benign! Furthermore, our body has to use many nutrients just to keep your organs healthy, especially under chronic stress.

As with everything, there are consequences and eventually all that stress and strain on our bodies can cause nutritional deficiencies. In the cases of chronic stress-induced fatigue, headaches/migraines, constipation, sleep issues, anxiety, Restless Leg Syndrome or muscle cramps, it could all be caused by a hidden nutrient deficiency. MAGNESIUM! Yup, the hidden cause your doctor may be overlooking is hypomagnesemia or low magnesium.

magnesium-rda-intake

Health experts claim most of us are magnesium deficient due the body’s high demand for this nutrient in metabolic processes. Recommended daily intake is 310-320mg for adult women and 400-420mg for adult men. Adults can safely take up to 1000mg, however, be careful and gradual with dosing because sudden high intake of extra magnesium can quickly reverse the constipation into diarrhea.

Also, be sure to ask your doctor if you’re on any medications that can deplete magnesium stores such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, or even antibiotics. Sometimes taking too much calcium or vitamin D can create a magnesium imbalance too!

Click this link to learn more about magnesium.

Magnesium can easily be supplemented into your diet from eating the following foods:

mgfoods

Courtesy Google Images

For those of you who don’t want to put the extra effort to supplement your intake all by food, take a daily supplement! My favorite magnesium product is Alka Calm by Professional Complementary Health Formulas.* It is a combination of powdered magnesium and potassium that morphs water into a fizzy yummy drink. I usually drink my cup about 30-60mins before bedtime to calm my nerves, muscles, and thoughts, into a relaxed state ready for sleep!

As always, please consult your doctor first before making any changes in your health regimen. Cheers to health!!

*No company affiliation or compensation are associated with the recommendation of this product. 

Fitness Challenges: Necessary Evils!

Well folks, I survived another quarter of midterms

What’s next? Well,  I decided to commit to a month of Crossfit. Yea, I caved in to join the paleo-diet, fitness-crazed fanatics to liven up my exercise routine (or lack there of). Living Social finally made me an offer I couldn’t refuse 😉

I realized that typical exercise routines bore me! When I’m bored, then I just won’t do them. This happens more so when I’m stressed and tired. So I came up with the idea to make myself do a new fitness challenge each month. If I commit to one fitness challenge for 30 days, it’ll keep things interesting, be short enough time for me to not get lazy, and expose me to differ movements that can keep my body always guessing, thus, encouraging more muscle tone to develop.

I challenge you all to pick your own fitness challenge for this month. Set a 30 day exercise challenge and commit! You don’t necessarily have to do it everyday, but decide on a routine (2x/week, 3x/week, etc.) and see what happens. See what benefits and difficulties may arise for you. The best advice that has worked for me is to PREPARE for it. Preparation can make all the difference in achieving success!

I leave you with these final words…

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Working out since being in med school

The first five minutes..

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After that…

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Oh how I covet the day where I won’t feel so out of breath after climbing one flight of stairs! I still have hope!!

The top 10 breakfast cereals most likely to contain Monsanto’s GMO corn

As a follow-up to last week’s post, here is an article that names popular cereal brands that contain genetically modified corn products. Many of us probably consumed a lot o these cereals either as children or at some point in our adulthood. I know they taste good (coming from a former sugar cereal lover)..but here is more proof why these cereal brands are not good for you and your long-term health. Despair not!! There are yummy healthy and non-GMO alternatives you can switch to 🙂

The top 10 breakfast cereals most likely to contain Monsanto\’s GMO corn

via The top 10 breakfast cereals most likely to contain Monsanto\’s GMO corn.

MEAN GREEN ANTIOXIDANT MACHINE!

Greetings Everyone, I have a treat for you today! Since the weather is beginning to warm up, the cold smoothies and drinks are making a come back! If you’re like me, I never stop drinking them even when it gets below freezing outside and you’ll soon understand why.

Today, I’m sharing my smoothie recipe for the Mean Green Antioxidant Machine. It is a recipe that is highly adaptable based on your tastes or different needs, but below is the basic recipe that is great as itself. In this recipe, you will receive great doses of vitamins A, B, C, E, K, iron, potassium, folate, and many more to boost your vitality. I usually drink this smoothie 3-5 days a week. For you “dieters” and “detoxers,” this drink is low calorie, so you can sip away knowing you’re not filling up on empty, nutrition-deficient calories as you would with a diet soda or diet shake.

Mean Green Antioxidant Machine Recipe

Extracted from Google Images. One day folks...I'll invest in a good camera and take my own pics 🙂

2-3 cups of fresh organic spinach leaves

1/2 cup of fresh organic parsley leaves

3/4 cup of water

2-3 ice cubes

1/2 a small apple (chopped)

1/2 a banana (sliced)

1/2 tbsp of lemon juice

*1/4 tsp of powder probiotic (optional)

*1 tbsp of ground flax seed (optional)

Blend all ingredients in blender on high until completely liquefied. If you don’t have a Vitamix or something similar, you may need to use a spoon to help coax along the blending. Avoid adding too much extra water or it will become too watery and bland. 

Bottoms up….drink to your health!

**Feel free to tweak the recipe around to your taste. Sometimes I add frozen blueberries or strawberries. You can also use other types of greens such as kale, romaine lettuce, etc. If you want it as a meal replacement, you can add protein powders, milk, yogurt, avocado or even nut butters. The sky is the limit!

Want more drink ideas? Additional Vitamin Ray-Approved super-drink recipes  are at Dr. Oz.com.

Also, check out this link to see the vitamin and nutrient information for different fruits and vegetables. This can be a great tool for helping you to tailor your super drinks to what you feel your body needs in nutrition. (link extracted from healthalternatives2000.com)

Hot Dog Lovers…BEWARE!

The HOT DOG…such a typical “American” food!  Did you know that the average American consumes up to 70 hot dogs a year?!! I think the last time I ate a hot dog was 12 years ago, and my stomach and liver are deeply grateful for it.

If you enjoy partaking in this grilled American classic, it’s time to learn about what you’re consuming. Check out the video below courtesy of Joy Bauer (celebrity nutritionist) from her website joybauer.com (Food Cures).

Show Me The Money: Eating Healthy On A Budget!

If  I had a nickel for every time I heard someone tell me that eating healthy is expensive or inconvenient…I could probably pay off my entire student debt! This is a HUGE misconception. In fact, you’d be surprised at how easy and affordable eating healthy whole foods can be! Please check out the link below from Health.com for some great tips you can carry with you into the New Year that can help you with those healthy New Years resolutions.

11 Ways To Save Money On Healthy Food

Additionally, have a game plan the next time you go grocery shopping. That’s right, know what you want before you go in order to prevent yourself from purchasing too many splurges and unecessary items. Try this:

  • Plan your Weekly Menu:
    • Pick 2-3 big meals (i.e. a meal that can feed you and your family for at least 2-3 meals) that you want to eat for that week and make my shopping list based on the ingredients I’d need in order to prepare those meals.** Only buy what you need.
  • Read Grocery Newsletters:
    • Check out the grocery ads and see which produce, meat, and dairy products are on sale for that week. Often times, there are also additional coupons you can use for those items too. **Short on time? Either opt to have these ads/fliers delivered to your email accounts or grab one at the customer service desk and briefly peruse it prior to shopping. Honestly, it takes just a few minutes and your wallet will thank you.
  •  Swap Junk Food Snacks for Whole Food Snacks:
    • Aim to buy healthy snack options for the week (i.e. fruit, veggies and hummus, almond butter, whole grain rice crackers, yogurt, etc. For more examples click here). However, take an easy on those 100 calorie packs and diet bars. Think whole foods for WHOLE nutrition.

And remember, keeping an open mind on different food options can really help you save too. If you see a certain vegetable or fruit on sale for a great deal and you’ve never had it then try it! Not unless you’re allergic, it’s worth expanding your palate. There are too many recipes out there to say you don’t know how to cook or eat it. A little bit of effort can go a LONG way in terms of improving and maintaining your health!

Peace, Love, & Blessings!

Vitamin Ray

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe…A Guide to Choosing Your Vitamins

Due to popular demand, I decided to post a quick guide that can help make the task of choosing a good vitamin less daunting. This guide contains suggestions on the kinds of vitamins you can take daily, the recommended daily allowances, the best vitamin brands to purchase, and where you can find these brands.

Before we get started, please remember these are my personal recommendations, and you should first consult your physician before beginning a new vitamin or supplemental regimen. If you are currently taking any prescription medications, please do your proper due diligience to make sure your vitamins and supplements do not adversely interact with your prescription drugs.

I.) BEST DAILY VITAMINS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR DAILY DIET

A.) MULTIVITAMINS: The easiest way to get a comprehensive amount of all the daily supplements you need to keep your body in internal balance is a multivitamin. Many of us lack the patience and the time to sit down and pop back 20-30 different vitamin supplements individually or juice a large variety of fruits and veggies.

Multivitamins are perfect for delivering great nutrition in just one pop. Look for a one-a-day type of multivitamin that contains usually 100% or more of the daily requirements of Vitamin A, Vitamin B complexes, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin  K (K1 & K2), etc. In addition, you want it to contain a good amount of Calcium, Magnesium, Iron (for women only), Folate, Chromium, etc. To make sure you’re getting what’s best for you body, women and men should avoid buying the unisex vitamins and aim for either the women’s formula or men’s formula respectively.

B.) ADDITIONAL VITAMINS: There are optional vitamins you can take in addition to your multivitamin that further aids the body in achieving balance and boosting immunity. The two most popular ones are Vitamin C (1000-2000 mg/day) and Vitamin D3 (1000-4000 IU/day). Research has now proven that these two vitamins are dietary necessities due to their multifunctional properties and incredible abilities in fighting cancers and other adult diseases. Both can be taken in mega doses without any report of adverse side effects. To determine the right amount you should add to your regimen, talk to your physician or nutritionist.

II.) ALL VITAMINS ARE NOT MADE EQUAL

A.)  SYNTHETIC vs. WHOLE FOOD INGREDIENTS: It’s no question that the vitamins we buy in the store are synthetically produced. However, not all vitamins are made of the same ingredients. Now, this may seem a tad puzzling because you would assume that if the label says “Vitamin C” then the ingredient is indeed just Vitamin C. But you have to account for how they MAKE the vitamin itself. What holds the Vitamin C in that particular vitamin? What makes a vitamin look like a vitamin pill or capsule?

Well my friends, the answer to those questions are other ingredients and additives of course. Hence, why you need to develop good label reading skills to determine which additives are good and which are excessive and unnecessary. Read the ingredients list on the vitamin bottle and avoid buying vitamins that contain artificial dyes and colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and other fillers that you cannot pronounce or don’t know what they are. Usually vitamins that are vegetarian or vegan formulated are less processed with filler ingredients. Double click on the labels below to see a comparison of a synthetic ingredient vitamin versus a whole foods one.

You also want to look for the certification on the bottle that confirms the vitamin has a high absorption rate once it is consumed.

Synthetic Vitamin Label

Whole Food/Raw Vitamin Label

 

III.) BEST BRANDS & WHERE TO BUY

My top three recommended brands are the following:

1.) New Chapter: They specialize in producing an organic whole foods type of vitamins that are mild on the stomach and easily absorbed into the body. Look at their ingredients lists on the vitamins and see the powerhouse of herbs and minerals. Where to Buy: GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods, etc.

Website: http://www.newchapter.com/vitamins

2.) Garden of Life: They are the makers of RAW One for WomenRAW One for Men multivitamins. The Raw ONE for Women is my personal favorite multivitamin to take. Again, these type of vitamins show to have a higher absorption rate due to the formula and its use of whole foods ingredients in the vitamins. They offer other great vitamin as well. Where to Buy: Whole Foods, TheVitamin Shoppe, etc.

Website: http://www.gardenoflife.com/ProductsforLife/THEVITAMINCODEsupsup/MultivitaminFormulas/tabid/1647/Default.aspx

3.) Nature’s Way: This company manufactures another great whole foods vitamin called Alive! They have formulas for men, women, seniors, etc. They also have additional vitamin complexes you can take in conjunction with the multivitamin that are great for improving heart health, colon health, immunity, and more. Where to Buy: Walmart, Rite Aid, Walgreen’s, Publix, Whole Foods, CVS Pharmacy, Meijer, etc.

Website: http://www.feelalive.com/

**All of the manufacturer’s websites have either  a “Store Locator” or “Where to Buy” link that can further aid you in finding these brands of vitamins.

FINAL NOTE: Vitamins are a great way to get added supplementation, but they do not replace the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Please make sure you continue to get at least 5-6 servings of fruits and veggies each day. Eating vitamin rich foods is ultimately the best way to obtain and absorb the proper amounts of vitamins and nutrients.

The best time to take your vitamins is with a meal. Vitamins containing the B-complex or C should be taken earlier in the day at breakfast or lunch since they have a tendency to rev up your energy level and affect sleep. However, there are certain exceptions such as calcium, which is taken at night for better absorption.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

http://www.naturalnews.com/023628_health_vitamins_multivitamin.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/026670_vitamins_calcium_fiber.html

https://www.drweilvitaminadvisor.com/?aid=333316&aparam=VArosnav

YOGA CORNER: MOUNTAIN POSE

Hello All! On this post, I have a nice treat for you…Mountain Pose. Whether you practice yoga regularly, occasionally, or you’re a complete newbie, this particular pose is great for everyone.

Mountain Pose (or Tadasana) is a basic foundation pose practiced in yoga that stretches the back,  strengthens your core and  posture muscles, and improves overall alignment. I love practicing the Mountain Pose  in my daily life when I take breaks from my desk job, at a rest stop on road trip, and whenever I just need a good stretch and crack in my back and shoulders.

Follow the pictures and guide below, and you too can  also start reaping the great benefits. Who knows, this might entice you newbies to actually embark on a yoga class or two.

 

Begin your Mountain Pose by standing up with feet close together and your hands and arms in a prayer position. Take a few deep breaths to relax your muscles and core. This helps to alleviate stress and tension so you can achieve a good stretch.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, raise your hands and arms to an overhead position.

Remember to inhale as you do this.

 

 

 

 

Now for the best part!

Exhale your breath as you bend backwards and hold this position for a few seconds.

Only go as far as your body will allow while still feeling comfortable. Please don’t get too zealous and throw your back out. This isn’t Cirque Du Soleil or a yogi retreat. This pose  is meant to relax and stretch you in a GOOD way 🙂

 

 

 

 

Reverse your steps until you’ve returned to the starting position.

Didn’t that feel good?! I hope so for you sake 🙂

Namaste Everyone!

 

 

 

Need a little more visualization? No prob, check out my  video above to see how the Mountain Pose looks when I do all the steps together.

Dashed out the gate…but then fell HARD!

A new year is a symbol of a fresh start, new goals, and new experiences. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with the hopes of being able to accomplish them before the year is out. Two of the most popular resolutions pertain to losing weight and becoming more healthy.

With that said, how are you guys doing on those  resolutions? Have you fallen off the wagon? Or better yet…did you even get on it to begin with? Ha! The truth is nearly 75% of us abandon our resolutions before the end of the year. Wow…talk about commitment-phobia!

And I will admit, I have been guilty of it too. But I realized that many of our health and fitness resolutions can be too ambitious and lack a realistic game plan or routine. People want fast results in a short amount of time. A side effect of living in the “instant gratification” era.

My solution: BABY STEPS! Small changes lead to big results- Start first by finding and making a small, but significant, change and gradually build on it over time.

VITAMIN RAY’S ULTIMATE BABY STEPS TO GREAT HEALTH & FITNESS IN THE NEW YEAR:

1.) Don’t cut out desserts if you love them. Instead, limit yourself to one single serving sweet treat a day. Keep it 200 calories or less (i.e. 1/2 c of ice cream or frozen yogurt, a piece of chocolate or candy, a small cookie, etc.). Eventually, you will build to replacing one or two desserts with a fruit servings.

2.) New to exercise…no problem! Do not start yourself on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s old gym routine or try to run/walk  5 miles. Start yourself off slow. Begin with engaging in a light to moderate exercise 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. Forget about counting the miles and calories. Just focus on elevating your heart beat and pacing yourself. Also, try to get a workout  buddy! Research shows having a workout buddy will not only help you burn more calories but also make exercise fun 🙂

3.) Eat Your Breakfast! Yes, it is the most important meal of the day. You need to break your fasting mode to jump start your metabolism. Aim for a healthy breakfast averaging 200-300 calories (i.e. egg white omelet and a bowl of oatmeal, homemade smoothie and peanut butter toast, a bowl of cereal (avoid the high-carb, sugary kinds) with a bowl of fruit, etc).

4.) Add A Few More Veggies, Kids! Find a way to incorporate one serving of  fresh raw fruits or vegetables to at least 2 of your meals a day. It can be as simple as eating fruit at breakfast and carrot sticks and dip at lunch. Or, if you have a juicer then juice up your rabbit food if it’s easier for you to drink it.

5.) That’s High Quality H2o- By far the most important baby step is to try to drink more water. The benefits of water are endless. If you are addicted to soda and sugar juices, try to reduce your intake to no more than 12oz a day. You eventually want to eliminate these crap liquids from your daily diet completely. But for now, gulp down at least 32-48oz of water a day. Your goal by the summer is to drink 64oz of water each day and zilch sugar crap liquid. You will whine at first, but I know you’ll see and feel the difference in a couple of weeks.

My list can go on and on, but let’s not stray from the theme…Baby Steps. Choose your baby steps to best suit the  healthier lifestyle you are trying to achieve, and remember it takes TIME to yield those big results. Additionally, allow yourself room for human error, and don’t beat yourself up if one day you wander a bit from the  path. Simply refocus your goals and just get yourself back on track the next day. Whether your reason for becoming healthy is to lose weight, slow down aging, gain more energy, live longer or rev up your libido, it’s clearly advantageous on any level.

Lesson Overview: Aiming small and achieving long-lasting results is better than starting  big and then crashing hard.