Monthly Archives: January 2012

Healthy Habits for Your Brain

 

Uh-oh. It’s that time. You know, that time where all your work just piles onto you in one dreadful, stressful, time-consuming week? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, it just happens to be one of those weeks for me! Here’s how I’m getting through it.

Chia Seeds

Remember chia pets? Well, believe it or not, those little seeds that were once used to create your green little plant friends can also give you tons of energy and mental stamina! The Tarahumara tribe—also known as “the running people”—have a diet primarily consisting of these seeds, which helps them to sustain 40 mile runs with ease. In addition to containing tons of omegas and protein to keep you alert, these seeds also expand when you soak them in water, keeping you full and away from distracting study snacks! Fill up a glass of water with chia seeds, or make a chia seed smoothie with almond milk and almond butter for long-lasting stamina. Buy them at any health food store.

B-Vitamins

B vitamins are essential for regulating the nervous system and increasing circulation, thus helping brain functioning. Studies also show that a diet high in vitamin B can help increase memory and recall. Eating a wide variety of greens will help you get a great amount of B-vitamins; cauliflower itself also has a ton of b-vitamins alone. The only B-vitamin that is not easily available in vegetables is b-12; for this reason, it is important that vegans take either a b-12 supplement or chlorella and blue-algae tablets—although these are a bit harder to find.

L-Tyrosine

For those of you who take Adderall (and hopefully with a legal prescription!) you probably know that although it does increase mental stamina, it does so with the horrible side effects of irritability, increased heart rate, and loss of appetite. L-tyrosine acts as a great alternative. Adderall acts by regulating the production of dopamine in the brain; this is a good thing for those of us with ADD symptoms. However, it also decreases the amount of serotonin produced in the brain, which can result in depression. Not so good! L-tyrosine regulates dopamine without decreasing serotonin, so you can be focused and happy! L-tyrosine can be found in pumpkin seeds, spinach, spirulina, and mustard seeds. If you need a more concentrated dose, you can also take a 500 mg tablet in the morning on an empty stomach.

Exercise

Exercise is incredibly important to increase mental alertness and energy. However I know that going to the gym can take up a good amount of time if you’re in a crunch.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t fit exercise into your life.  My friend David likes to set a 30-minute timer while he is studying to do push-ups. It keeps his heart rate up so that he’s pumped to study for the next 30-minutes. I personally like to jump rope, do crunches, or have a mini dance party every half-hour. It’s not like I’m going to the club while in law school, so I might as well set one up in my apartment!

On that note, I’ve got tons of law school reading and research, so I’m signing off. Good luck getting it all done!

Alana’s Be-Detoxed Juice

I’m sure you’ve heard that everyone–from Gwyneth Paltrow to Nicole Ritchie– has been juicing, and for good reason. Juicing is amazing for your body. For those of us who don’t love the taste of raw vegetables, it provides an easy way to get 4 servings of veggies in one sitting. It is also a great way to allow all the nutrients from raw vegetables go straight to your system while relieving your body of the task of digesting.  I’ll definitely be writing more about juicing throughout this blog, but for now I want to give you my recipe for a tasty (even for those who don’t like the taste of green juices) immune boosting, detoxifying juice. This is something I drink whenever I feel low on energy, or when I just feel like I need to get rid of something in my system. The lemon and apple cuts through the taste, so you won’t even feel like you’re drinking greens!

Alana’s Be-Detoxed juice

1 Beet Leaf (beet leaves are VERY detoxifying, so make sure to keep it to one if you are a beginner)

1 Bunch of Cilantro–Cilantro has amazing benefits! It aids digestion and is reported to act as a natural chelation treatment for the removal of heavy metals.

1 Bunch of Chard (with the stems)

1 Cucumber

2 celery stalks

1 Lemon

1/4 of a Ginger Root

1 Apple (Cored and Sliced)

Place all items in a juicer and let it do its magic! For those of you that don’t have a juicer, most juice spots/health stores have these ingredients and will be happy to juice them all together for you!

How to Digest After a Big Meal

We all know the feeling. You went to mom’s house, your boyfriend/girlfriend made you a huge, delicious, and fattening meal that you couldn’t refuse, or you were caught in the only restaurant that you could find off the freeway. Or maybe you just had a craving and couldn’t resist. And now here your stomach is, in pain. Not to fear! There are answers to make the pain, bloating, and “Why did I do that?” feeling go away!

Stop Eating and Start Chewing!

Sometimes after a big meal, it’s easy to say, “I already blew it, it won’t make a difference if I keep going.” It does make a difference. Your body will have a great deal of difficulty digesting if you don’tstop eating because it will have the joint job of digesting the heavy food you’ve just eaten and the food you are continuing to eat. So chew something else instead, like sugar-free gum (If you can find it at a health-food store, try a brand that only uses xylitol) or an even better option, fennel seeds, which are great for digestion and keep your mouth feeling clean.

Drink Peppermint Tea with Ginger, Lemon, and Cayenne Pepper

All of these ingredients—peppermint, ginger, lemon, and cayenne—are great for digestion and overall health. I also drink this when I am sick, as it acts as a great immunity boost and detoxifier. Ginger acts as a natural antibacterial and will help to soothe any uneasy feelings in your stomach. Chop ginger into pieces and put into a tea-pot before boiling it. Then pour the tea into a cup and add lemon and cayenne pepper. Lemon is extremely helpful in getting rid of bloating and gas, while cayenne pepper helps to speed up the metabolism. Wait for the tea to cool down before squeezing some lemon and adding a few shakes of cayenne pepper on top.

Squat!

I know, I know, it sounds weird, but doing a yogi squat can really help! The malasana pose helps to open hip joints, strengthen the back, and support the digestive system. Place your feet hip-length apart andsquat so that your butt almost touches the floorMake sure to take deep breaths will doing this pose, as breathing will also help the flow of the digestive system.

Always Carry Digestive Enzymes

If you get one takeaway from this post,let it be this: Digestive enzymes are your best friend. Our body naturally produces various enzymes to digest fats, proteins, and vegetables. However our bodies were not naturally designed to digest the mass-produced junk that we throw into our bodies on a daily basis. Lucky for us, someone invented multi-enzymes. These consist of various enzymes—including lactose, which helps to digest dairy—that will better help to digest large meals. Try and remember to have them before the big meal, but taking them directly after will work too.

Drink Water

Water will help the food to move through your digestive tract and will also help you to feel a little bit more refreshed after a huge meal. Make sure you wait to drink at least twenty minutes after eating though, as you don’t want to dilute any digestive enzymes.

Don’t Kick Yourself

At the end of the day, bad food is everywhere and it is impossible to avoid it one-hundred percent of the time. Whenever I start to get upset with myself after a big meal, I just remind myself that I’m only human, and that life is too short to cry about it. Plus, getting upset will only upset your body even more, which will delay your digestion. So just relax, drink a cup of tea, and remember that tomorrow is a brand new day.

How to Give Up Coffee

Coffee–it is delicious, energizing, and gives you that warm feeling that helps you get up in the morning. But addiction doesn’t come without a price. Coffee leaves you dehydrated and can often come with a crash. In addition, it is taxing on the liver, highly acidic, and often made from pesticide-infused beans. However I, more than anyone, know how difficult it is to go without it. Up until a year ago, I was drinking at least two cups a day–which is something I had been doing since the age of fourteen. After my consumption had risen to about four cups, I decided it was time to stop. Here’s how I did it.

Drink Something Else in the Morning 

Part of coffee’s appeal is the simple habit of drinking it. After drinking it every day, you get used to it, and can’t imagine a day without it. So why not replace it with a more natural and energizing drink? If you want something hot in the morning, try drinking a cup of rooibos tea or–if you’d prefer to slowly wean yourself off caffeine–a cup of black or green tea. If it’s the sweetness of coffee that appeals to you, try drinking a fruit smoothie (but make sure you make it yourself–Jamba juice does not count). You can also try several other bottled drinks –celebrity news personality Guiliana Rancic,  drinks yerba mate and kombucha instead of coffee.

Keep Some Energizing Snacks on Hand 

The best way to beat the 2:00 slump that makes you dive towards the coffee machine is to instead opt for snacks that give you energy. These are some snacks that will help you feel energized throughout your day:

Apples and almond butter: Apples give you just enough natural sugar to stimulate your brain, while almond butter helps to keep steady blood-sugar levels.

Dark leafy greens: Greens like kale, chard, and spinach are filled with vitamins, minerals, and fibers that will keep you full and energized. Have them either in a salad or in a green juice mixed with apple and ginger. Yum!

Walnuts: Walnuts are filled with omegas that help your brain to stay more alert. Eat about 10 as a 2:00 pick-me-up.

Avocados: Avocados have plenty of good fats that help you to feel full. You can eat them with crackers or scoop it out alone with a spoon!

Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate–when consumed in moderation–has various positive benefits. It can help reduce the effects of aging and is good for your heart. It has some caffeine though, so make sure you don’t eat more than one or two pieces. Always opt for brands that are dairy free and have organic/raw sugar.

Eat a Light Lunch

After a big lunch, you feel tired and sluggish. This is because your digestive system takes up the majority of your body’s energy, so the more you put it to work, the more tired you will feel. That sluggish feeling will tempt you towards the coffee machine! The best lunch is always a salad or a light wrap. Make sure you eat slowly and are conscious of not overstuffing yourself.

I know getting off coffee is not easy. But once you are completely weaned off, you will see amazing benefits in your health, energy-level, and skin. Good luck!