website creator Welcome to part two of my Think Lifestyle series. You know I’ve always promoted implementing nutrition and fitness strategies to enhance your lifestyle. Now I’m including sleep in what I like to call the Healthy Lifestyle ‘Triple Reality Equation = Food + Fitness + Sleep’.

Food

It is important to have a personalized meal plan specific to your lifestyle and health needs. Here are my top three must have foods to include in your plan:

  • Whole grains are a great source of carbohydrates, fibre, B-vitamins and iron, which regulates blood glucose levels (1), keeps your digestive tract moving and gives your brain fuel.
  • Eggs are a source of the nutrient called choline. It plays an important role in keeping your brain healthy (2).
  • Dark chocolate (one ounce or 28 grams/day) contains magnesium, which is a cofactor in protein synthesis, muscle relaxation and energy production (3).

My Food Tips:

Choose whole grain over white bread, dark chocolate over milk chocolate and include eggs for dinner once/week to increase both your mind and body energy for your healthy lifestyle.

Fitness

Adding a fitness strategy to your healthy lifestyle will provide a more positive mood and energetic body!

  • About four years ago my fitness routine hit a plateau, so I decided to shake it up by conditioning once or twice/week with a boxing class. Mission accomplished – I lost eight inches and my strength and energy level reached new heights.
  • Fitness and activity are important for both sustained mental and body energy throughout the day. When we exercise there is a release of chemicals, called beta-endorphins. These chemicals enhance a state of euphoria, commonly referred to as “runner’s high”.
  • A research study investigated the relationship between this euphoric mood state and endorphin release during physical activity and proposed that there is a direct relationship between the two. At rest and after two hours of running (approx. 20km), the athletes, both, answered a questionnaire that asked about their current affective state and were scanned using a positron emission tomography brain scan. Results showed that the euphoria and happiness ratings showed significant change with exercise (4).

My Fitness Tip:

Choose exercise and activities you enjoy and before long they will become a regular part of your healthy lifestyle.

Sleep

I’m a person who needs at least 7 to 8 hours of unbroken sleep to be at my best. And research confirms this is true. It is recommended that adults get 7.5-9 hours of restful sleep each night. If we get less than 7.5 hours, then it has negative influences on both our mind and body.

  • Not getting enough sleep can cause a decrease in the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and can increase the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin. This is not good news! As this change can make us crave high sugar, salty and starchy foods leading to overconsumption.
  • A study involving 12 healthy men determine that the group that slept for 4 hours had leptin (appetite-suppressing) levels that were 18% lower and ghrelin (appetite-stimulating) levels that were 28% higher than the group that slept for 10 hours. Also, the results from the questionnaires measuring appetite and hunger for the group who slept for only 4 hours showed a 24% increase in hunger ratings and an increase in appetite for sweet, salty and starchy foods (5).

My Sleep Tip:

Develop a relaxing routine before going to bed at the same time each night.

Think Lifestyle and live out the Triple Reality Equation = Food + Fitness + Sleep! All three of these components work together and influence each other giving us the energy to take on the day.

Recipe

When time is tight on a busy weeknight try this easy egg omelet recipe from MarthaStewart.com with whole grain toast and a piece of dark chocolate for dessert!

Stay tuned for Think Lifestyle Part Three: Debunking Diet Quick Fixes.

References:

  1. Slavin J et al. The role of whole grains in disease prevention. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2001;101(7):780-785.
  2. Zeisel S, da Costa K. Choline: An essential nutrient for public health. Nutrition Reviews. 2009; 67(11):615-623.
  3. Ali A, Doughty K, Katz D. Cocao and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling. 2011;15(10):2779-811.
  4. Boecker H et al. The runner’s high: Opiodergic mechanisms in the human brain. Cerebral Cortex. 2008; 18(11): 2523-2531.
  5. Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P, Van Cauter E. Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Annuals of Internal Medicine. 2004; 141(11):846-850.