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.