Posts tagged with "diet"

Five Tips for Starting a Gluten-Free Diet

In 2022, consumers have a large selection of gluten-free options, improving their quality of life. For individuals diagnosed with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivities (NCGS) in past decades, their dietary selection was minimal. Whether you live in a region with a vast selection of gluten-free options or a limited variety, you may utilize these five tips to effectively start your diet.

Many individuals struggle to maintain a celiac-friendly diet because of limited awareness and education. When consumers increase their recognition of gluten-free labels and naturally allergy-safe foods, they can achieve a healthy diet without stress. Before evaluating the five tips, individuals may benefit from exploring gluten allergies and their physical impacts.

What Are Gluten Allergies?

Celiac disease results in an immune reaction when one’s intestines come in contact with gluten. The physical response damages the small intestine over time, causing malabsorption. Intestinal degradation causes anemia, weight loss, bloating, fatigue, and diarrhea.

The disease may also cause osteoporosis, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, migraines, and fatigue. Other individuals with the condition experience numbness of the feet, legs, and hands, as well as joint pain. People effectively reduce their symptoms over time by consuming a strict gluten-free diet.

Individuals also treat NCGS with gluten-free diets. The illness is similar to celiac disease, except the condition is non-detectable by certain testing. People with NCGS experience brain fog, abdominal pain, migraines, chronic fatigue, bloating, joint pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

A team of researchers at Columbia University identified the effects of gluten on the intestinal health of individuals with NCGS. They discovered similar immune responses and stomach cell destruction associated with consumption. Researchers believe the reaction may relate to a different component in gluten that causes its lack of appearance on celiac tests.

Scientists look at individuals’ reactions to amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) and fructans when assessing the cause of NCGS symptoms. Understanding the severity of gluten allergies and their probable causes can support informed dietary choices. The first step to starting a successful gluten-free diet is deepening your understanding of the allergen.

1. Expand Your Gluten Education

Gluten is a protein found in various grains like wheat and rye. It is a naturally occurring part of many plants, and researchers discovered a way to extract the protein. Many processed foods contain gluten as a binding agent, holding them together and adding texture.

The protein is present in bread and pasta because it comes from barley, wheat, spelt, rye, durum, emmer, farro, triticale, and other grains. Some naturally gluten-free grains include rice, quinoa, and oats. It is important to look out for specifically gluten-free oats at the store because some products experience cross-contamination.

If oats grow in a field with wheat or rye, they may receive a coating of gluten, decreasing the safety of their consumption by individuals with allergies. When oats are processed in the same facilities as gluten-containing grains, they also may experience cross-contamination. Remaining aware of the naturally celiac-friendly foods and the risk of contamination supports a successful diet.

2. Identify Sneaky Sources of Gluten

Another beneficial tip for starting your gluten-free diet is remaining aware of the sneaky sources of allergens. Medications and supplements often use gluten as an external coating or filler. Before consuming a new pill, it is important to contact your doctor to evaluate its dietary safety.

Processed meat, poultry, and fish often contain wheat as a filler or bast. Most deli meats, hot dogs, and sausages contain gluten, making them not suitable for consumption by individuals with celiac disease or NCGS. Some meat substitutes also use the protein as a filler, creating dietary challenges.

Imitation seafood, like the crab inside sushi rolls, and seitan, always contain gluten. Some veggie burgers also use wheat and other grains to bind the other ingredients. Many sauces additionally utilize wheat as a thickening agent.

Soy sauce is a common culprit of accidental gluten exposure. Restaurants also regularly add barley to miso, making it not suitable for gluten-free consumers. Fortunately, there are many safe alternatives to wheat-containing foods, like tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

3. Plan Ahead When Eating Out

The worst feeling is showing up to a dinner out with friends only to realize you cannot eat anything on the menu. Researching a menu before attending a restaurant is the best way to avoid dietary mishaps. Some eateries have designated gluten-free menus whereas others may have zero options.

Calling a restaurant ahead of time is the best way to ensure your ability to safely eat there. Some chefs may even encourage individuals to bring their own gluten-free bread, flour, or pasta to accommodate their dietary restrictions. Individuals can also plan ahead when eating at a friend’s house by bringing a celiac-friendly option.

4. Convert Your Favorite Home-Cooked Meals to Gluten-Free Options

While traditional Italian dishes often contain gluten, individuals can substitute wheat components with chickpea, almond, or rice flour. Consumers with celiac disease and NCGS may make their favorite dishes like pizza using gluten-free substitutes. One pizza recipe uses rice and tapioca flour instead of wheat to create the crust.

It also utilizes xanthan gum to keep the dough together, binding it as gluten would. The crust is also dairy-free and egg-free, making it a suitable option for vegans and lactose-intolerant individuals as well. When making celiac-friendly pizza, it is important to prepare the dough away from wheat-containing dishes to limit cross-contamination.

5. Beware of Cross-Contamination

The final tip for starting a gluten-free diet revolves around cross-contamination. When individuals cook celiac-friendly foods in a wheat-containing kitchen, the meal may come in contact with gluten. Sharing cooking surfaces, utensils, and containers with wheat-containing items can create unsafe dishes for consumers with celiac disease and NCGS.

Flour containing wheat can remain airborne in bakeries for hours, increasing the rate of cross-contamination. Before ordering food from a restaurant or eating at a friend’s house, ensure they have a celiac-friendly kitchen. Many Individuals designate a section of their kitchens to gluten-free meal prep to decrease the risk of cross-contamination.

The Benefits of Eating Gluten-Free

Many individuals benefit from eating a gluten-free diet, especially consumers with celiac disease and NCGS. When you eliminate gluten from your diet, you preserve your small intestinal lining. The diet also decreases abdominal discomfort, migraines, brain fog, and rashes, helping individuals live a normal life without adverse symptoms.

Heather Skovlund for use by 360 Magazine

Multivitamins: Are They Worth It?

Multimineral and multivitamins are two of the most common and most popular supplements in the world. It’s obvious as to why that is since they are supplements that help your body be healthier. Over the decades, their popularity has increased exponentially, and it seems that even today, they are still as relevant as sliced bread. 

More or less 50% of Americans take them, especially the older population. People take it for various reasons, too, like compensating for their poor diet or even to help them lose weight. Certain diseases are brought about by the lack of vitamins in our body, for example, scurvy or beriberi. 

However, these conditions are certainly rare in the US since the country has accessible food supplies. So is there any reason to take multivitamins? Plenty. But if you’re still not convinced, here are some things you should know about multivitamins.

What are Multivitamins?

Multivitamins are supplements with many different types of vitamins and minerals, and sometimes, some brands incorporate other helpful ingredients. Since this supplement has no standard, every brand has its formulas and ingredients, resulting in varying nutrient compositions.

Multivitamins also come in different forms, such as pills, powders, capsules, tablets, and chewable gummies. Most brands typically recommend taking two per day for the full effect. That said, make sure to check the label before consuming. Also, be sure to check on your doctor to see if you’re allowed to take multivitamins. Some doctors even recommend some multivitamins themselves.

Multivitamins can be found in drugstores, discount stores, supermarkets, or online if you don’t want to get out of the house.

Nutrient Deficiency

One of the reasons why people take multivitamins is their poor diet. A poor diet lacks an essential mineral or something else that is essential for humans to be healthy. Not to mention that many people don’t only have a poor diet, but also poor eating habits. With that combination, it’s no surprise that many people lack vitamins and minerals in one way or another.

A balanced diet consists of good protein sources, healthy fats, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. This kind of diet has enough vitamins and minerals that a human needs. However, not everyone has the time or energy to prepare one. Not only that, but certain age groups and human conditions are in danger of lacking the essential vitamins.

For example, suppose you’re in the older age group. In that case, the risk of having a poor diet resulting in a lack of vitamins and minerals is higher for various reasons. One example is when an individual has a more limited diet because of health conditions or a poor appetite due to medications.

Pregnant women are also at risk of nutrient deficiency. Getting enough folate is essential for a pregnant woman. This vitamin is important because it reduces the risk of your baby having a spina bifida or anencephaly. Fortunately, you can get this nutrient from various multivitamins for women.

Multivitamins against Whole Foods

When it comes to essential vitamins and minerals, nothing beats what nature provides. This is because most of the vitamins and minerals that you get from whole foods are vastly superior to those you get from supplements. There are even studies that recommend you to consider some things first.

Take broccoli as an example. Broccoli and other cruciferous products have components that are considered anti-cancer and reduce inflammation. Although there are some studies that show that multivitamin supplements have negative effects on the human body, they are in a controlled environment, and the cases these studies have shown are only rare instances.

But of course, not all multivitamins come with health risks and even better in providing some vitamins in our bodies. For example, folic acid is essential for pregnant women since it reduces the risk of certain conditions. That said, folic acid is best when taken in a supplement.

So Which Multivitamins Should You Choose?

Multivitamins come in various forms and sizes like tablets, capsules, powders, and even gummy bears. Their packaging advertises their specific combination of vitamins and minerals. However, supplements are a multi-billion industry, and there are thousands of designer brands out there which makes it hard to choose. 

With that in mind, look for one that contains the Recommended Allowance amounts and the USP approval. This seal ensures that the combination of vitamins and minerals is contained in the supplement. Also, USP conducts tests that ensure that the multivitamins you’re about to make don’t have harmful substances like heavy metals and pesticides.

Final Words

If you’re already eating a balanced diet with lots of water, fruits, and veggies, then you may not need to take multivitamins. If you’re considering taking them, make sure to talk to your doctors first. If they allow it, you can even ask them for recommendations.

yoga illustration by Heather Skovlund for use by 360 Magazine

How an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Helped Me to Overcome PTSD

By Beth Lauren, certified Ayurveda Wellness Counselor, founder of Sangha NYC and author of Reeling: Misadventures in Moviemaking, Money and Love

It can be challenging to assess how the mind contributes to a person’s overall physical health. Still, the mind-body connection is now widely accepted by Western medical traditions as it has been by Eastern medicine for centuries.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that can occur in people who have experienced a traumatic event such as combat, a severe accident, or sexual assault. Studies have shown that the hyperarousal symptoms of PTSD may also put a survivor in a constant state of stress and anxiety. It’s common knowledge that both put tremendous strain on a person’s body, increasing the risk for physical health problems including cardiovascular disease, asthma, chronic pain, sleep apnea, and a host of gastrointestinal disorders.

The mind and body work together in both harmony and disharmony. For years PTSD troubled my mind and continued its descent through my body, resulting in bouts of IBS, sleep apnea, and insomnia. PTSD was my enduring legacy as a rape survivor. I was just 12 years old at the time of my assault. I would be 46 when I first began to process this violent and painful experience that was too much for both my brain and body to handle for 34 years.

Five years later, I became an Ayurveda Wellness Counselor and adopted the daily routine, or dinacharya, an Ayurvedic lifestyle recommends practitioners follow. And now, at the age of 55, I’m experiencing the best mental and physical health of my life.

Ayurveda is an ancient healing system. Using a holistic approach, Ayurveda balances manas (mind), shareera (body), and atma (soul) for optimal health. The goal of practitioners is not merely to prevent and cure disease but to focus on optimizing physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being. Managing both mind and body together is the approach needed to treat symptoms of PTSD successfully.

Ayurveda also offers a personalized methodology that is well-suited for treating the individual needs of those who have PTSD. No one’s pain is the same. How trauma manifests in the body can be affected by climate, pre-existing health issues, age, genetics – so many factors.

An Ayurvedic way of living: diet, daily routine, yoga, and meditation 

On my journey, I found that I wanted my body and soul to follow once my mind was free from suffering. I began by paying close attention to how my eating habits affected my mood, digestion, and weight. It wasn’t just what I put into my body, but when I ate—the time of day and my state of mind when I was eating contributed to my malfunctioning digestion. Emotional eating was an issue for me, as it is for so many survivors, especially women. How many television shows and movies have we all seen where the heroine soothes her broken heart with a pint of ice cream?

In Ayurveda, food is medicine, not a consolation prize. Choosing foods that are in harmony with the season, grown locally, and favor one’s dosha—the energetic force of nature that comprises one’s unique body constitution—is essential for following an Ayurvedic lifestyle. I also found that eating primarily hot cooked foods and adding warming spices such as turmeric, cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon nourished my body and brain.

The more I learned about what an Ayurvedic lifestyle could offer, the more it seemed intuitive. Simple adjustments such as having my largest meal for lunch instead of dinner made sense to me. Why wouldn’t I give my body as much waking time as possible to digest heavy foods?

Digestive strength is paramount in Ayurveda. Maintaining strong agni or digestive power supports the body’s immunity, and a robust immune system is essential for managing daily stressors. Digesting doesn’t just apply to nutrition. We are constantly digesting our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Healthy agni is key to a calm and peaceful state of mind, so all three don’t overwhelm us.

My daily practice includes 1-2 cups of Cumin, Coriander, Fennel (CCF) tea, a traditional Ayurvedic blend that supports digestion and gently detoxifies the liver. CCF’s calming and cooling qualities work well with all constitutions.

Several Ayurvedic herbs nourish and calm the brain and body, but the one I recommend as the most productive is ashwagandha.

A powerful herb in Ayurvedic healing, ashwagandha has been used in India for centuries for a wide variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, insomnia, joint pain – the list is endless, and it includes some of the most common PTSD symptoms. In Ayurveda, specific herbs are adaptogens, which help the body cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment and internal stresses such as anxiety and insomnia. Ashwagandha is one of them.

Yoga is so much more than a way to stretch and strengthen muscles. Daily practice can provide mental clarity and peace, providing a spiritual and psychological foundation for Ayurveda. It’s no mystery why certification as an Ayurveda Wellness Counselor includes a yoga module. For me, slow-paced yoga postures such as paschimottasana (seated forward bend pose) and matsyendrasana (half spinal twist pose) help to keep me calm and relaxed.

Given that the mind-body connection is fundamental to Ayurveda, it’s evident that meditation would be, like yoga, an integral component of its practice. Meditation helps us to attain awareness and harmony by experiencing inner calm and deep relaxation. While the violence I survived will always produce lingering feelings and thoughts resulting in anxiety, sadness, and eyes that fill with tears, all those emotions are less charged now. Those memories no longer imprison my body and brain. I can honestly write that a 5,000-year-old modality has been a massive part of my recovery, and for that, I am very grateful.

ABOUT BETH LAUREN

Beth Lauren spent over a decade in the film industry as a writer, producer, and director. She poignantly and humorously documents the devastating journey to produce her second feature in her memoir, Reeling: Misadventures in Moviemaking, Money, and Love. Beth wrote and produced the feature film, Fairytale of New York, which premiered at the New Filmmakers Series 2000 in NYC. She wrote, produced, and directed the short films: Immaculate Concoction and Getting Ned, in addition to co-producing and consulting on several plays and short films.

She is a certified Ayurveda Wellness Counselor and is the owner of Sangha NYC, where she offers virtual and in-person Ayurvedic counseling services and products. Sangha NYC enjoys a partnership with Nirogam, one of India’s largest and most trusted suppliers of Ayurvedic medicines. Beth is the Well-Tech World Summit organizer, which will take place in Dublin, Ireland, in March 2022.

Beauty Art by Symara Wilson of 360 for use by 360 Magazine

Ten Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Acne

Breakouts are the worst. They steal your self-confidence and often happen when you need to look your best. If you’re struggling with keeping your face clear, you don’t have to worry about paying for an expensive appointment with a specialist. Make a few of these simple lifestyle changes to reduce acne and feel more confident every day.

1. Start Washing Your Face

You’d be surprised by how many people live their lives without washing their faces. Unless you began prioritizing your skincare at a young age, it’s something that might slip your mind as you get older and handle more responsibilities.

If you don’t already wash your face, add it to your daily routine. Enjoy experimenting with different brands and products to see which have the best effects on your skin. You’ll quickly notice any unexpected side effects and adjust your routine from there.

2. Time Your Face Washing

Washing your face in the morning or at night is a standard way to add it to your routine, but it might not be best for your skin. It could be more advantageous to wash your face after a workout or any other time you find yourself sweating. You’ll prevent the sweat from sitting on your face all day and potentially turning into acne.

3. Eat More Healthy Fats

Consider your diet. How often do you get omega-3 fatty acids? You can find them in foods like fish, eggs, beans, and nuts. They’re great for your physical health and can reduce your breakouts.

Research shows that people who increase their intake of fatty acids deal with less inflammation that triggers acne. Adding these foods to your diet could improve your skin’s health overnight.

4. Switch Your Cosmetic Products 

You’d never leave home without your makeup on point, but the ingredients in your favorite products could be the source of your skincare worries. There are a few common ingredients that may cause breakouts for people with sensitive skin, like:

  • Almond oil
  • Beeswax
  • Cocoa butter

Looking closely at your preferred products is the best way to narrow down which ingredients might bother your skin. If they contain these comedogenic ingredients, find replacements that don’t rely on them to see how your skin changes with new cosmetics.

5. Drink Lots of Water

When your body senses an excessive amount of drying on your face, it automatically produces more natural oils. Although it helps your skin become more elastic and durable, it can also increase your acne.

Drink plenty of water every day to help your skin stay hydrated. If your dry skin remains a problem even after increasing your water intake, talk with your doctor. Prescribed lotions may help your underlying case of eczema along with your improved hydration.

6. Take a Daily Probiotic

Your skin has its own microbiome. When it becomes off-balance due to oil-stripping products or a change in your diet, you could experience more breakouts. Sometimes taking a daily probiotic can mitigate your acne. When your body’s microbiome finds balance again with the additional healthy bacteria, your skin won’t struggle with as many breakouts because it’s in harmony with the rest of your body.

7. Exercise More Often

Stress hormones are part of everyday life, but you shouldn’t feel constantly overwhelmed by them. When cortisol builds up in your body, the stress hormone can trigger frequent breakouts even if you’re already washing your face or drinking water. It’s your body’s call for help and a change of pace.

Exercising is an excellent way to reduce stress. Start walking a couple of times each week or biking around a local trail. The activity eases stress levels and leaves you feeling content instead. A peaceful mind may result in skin that doesn’t constantly battle acne.

8. Remember Your Sunscreen

Sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays while secretly benefiting your body in other ways. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. The ingredients keep your skin from being sensitive to the sun and reduce the microscopic inflammation that results in acne.

It’s always wise to apply sunscreen whenever you’re going outside in direct sunlight. Protect yourself with daily applications and it might help reduce your breakouts during the spring and summer.

9. Sleep More Every Night

Good nightly rest is a cure-all for many things, including breakouts. As you sleep, your body resets its biological processes and restores your hormonal balance. It releases lingering stress that might otherwise trigger a breakout. Sleep also promotes blood flow for optimal skin health.

How much sleep do you get every night? Everyone’s heard that the average adult should get eight hours of daily rest, but that isn’t always the case. Your body is different from that of an adult who’s older or younger than you. You might feel well-rested after six hours of sleep or only feel refreshed after nine hours.

Play around with your sleep schedule to determine the best amount of sleep for your body’s needs. The extra rest will benefit your physical health and keep you from suffering from additional breakouts.

10. Limit Your Dairy Intake

Some people suggest that anyone with acne problems should limit their dairy intake. It may cause minor digestive inflammation even if you’re not lactose intolerant. The inflammation could continue to affect your skin long after you eat that ice cream cone or mac ‘n’ cheese.

If you do have lactose intolerance, your irritated stomach lining may trigger stress hormones which result in acne. Either way, there’s no way to know until you’ve eliminated dairy and reintroduced it to your diet. You’ll know it’s a cause of your acne if your breakouts stop when dairy isn’t part of your daily routine.

Consider Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Acne

Skincare products can do wonders for breakouts, but they’re not your only option when it comes to battling acne. These are a few lifestyle changes to reduce acne that anyone can try. Whether you want to play around with your diet, get more sleep, or change up the cosmetics currently in your bathroom, you’ll eventually notice an improved difference in your skin by trying new things with your routine.

Finding Balance by Modulating the Immune System

By: James B. LaValle, R.Ph., CCN

Recent world events have caused a healthy immune system to be on everyone’s mind.  One of the big revelations to most people over the last few months is just how important our overall health and lifestyle are for our immune system.  It’s especially important for people who are overweight or have an existing medical condition, because these conditions can significantly compromise immune responses.

One of the biggest things that can work against us when it comes to mounting a strong immune defense is increased inflammation. When your immune system is working to kill a bacteria or a virus – the immune cells themselves creates inflammatory substances.  That’s part of how they fight the bugs.  If your body is already inflamed (due to unhealthy diet, being overweight or having a condition like heart disease or diabetes), the additional inflammation from the immune cells can create problems.  Anything that causes inflammation hurts our immune response and anything that prevents or fights inflammation helps it.  

This is why things like managing our weight, eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and adequate sleep are so important.  Good stress management is also important for a good immune response to cold and flu bugs, and it is an often-overlooked factor.  Many of us struggle to accomplish healthier diets and overall lifestyles, and this is where supplemental support can help.  There are also some precautions to be aware of not only with supplementation, but with lifestyle as well.

Nutrients to Support Immunity

There are nutrients that are safe to take on an ongoing basis to support your immune system function.  Vitamin C helps the body make white blood cells as needed.  Quercetin is a polyphenol derived from plants that has good anti-inflammatory activity. So, it supports healthy immunity by helping to control silent internal inflammation. Zinc is a trace mineral that is needed to make all immune cells: antibodies, T cells and natural killer cells.  Daily recommended intake of zinc is 8 mg for women, and 11 mg/day for men, but we can take dramatically increased dosages when we are fighting a cold or flu (up to 200 mg per day.)  However, it is important to go back to the daily-recommended intake once you are better because over-intake of zinc can cause micronutrient imbalances and very high dosages can actually have an inhibitory effect on the immune system.  So this is one of the cautions.

Vitamin D is another key nutrient to make sure you are getting enough of for a healthy and balanced immune system.  I’ll discuss more on its role in immunity later.  Vitamin D levels in the range of 30 – 50 ng/mL is considered an adequate level.   

Immune Boosters

There are some ingredients that directly stimulate increased immune cell production.  A well-known one is the herb echinacea.  Echinacea has long been used to help people get over colds and flu bugs. It is most helpful when taken at the first sign of a cold or flu. However, you should only use echinacea when you are actively fighting a bug, because over stimulating an immune response by taking immune boosters daily can end up fighting against the immune system over time.  Also, echinacea is part of the daisy family, so anyone with hay fever or ragweed allergies should not use echinacea. 

Imbalanced Immunity

This brings me to an often-overlooked but very important topic for a vigilant immune response to cold and flu bugs – immune modulation.  Many people have conditions that create an imbalanced immune system, which is made up of two main sides:  TH1 and TH2 immunity.  TH1, also known as innate immunity, is the side that fights bacteria, viruses, damaged cells and cancer cells.  You need to be able to upregulate TH1 immunity quickly when you are exposed to a cold or flu bug.  TH2, also known as acquired immunity, is the side that makes antibodies and causes allergic responses to food and environmental allergens like dust and pollen.  This side gets upregulated in people who have allergies and some autoimmune conditions.  It can also get upregulated in response to chronic stress, even ongoing physical stress such as occurs in overtraining.  Overtraining is most common in professional or amateur athletes, but can occur in anyone who exercises too much, i.e. 2 – 4 hours a day.  So this is my lifestyle caution.  Be careful not to over-exercise.  Signs of overtraining are noticing you take longer to recover from exercise, difficulty sleeping at night and getting sick more often. While it is important to get regular physical activity – moderate activity is best. Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity five days a week and work your way up to an hour, five days a week.  

One of the most important supplements I teach about and recommend in my practice is Moducare. Studies show it helps restore balance to between TH2 and TH1 immunity, and by helping to down regulate overactive TH2 immunity, the TH1 side improves so you are ready for colds and flu when you are exposed.  So it is one of the best supplements for people to take when they have allergies or autoimmunity. I also recommend it for people who have chronic stress, because chronic stress elevates cortisol, and cortisol suppresses immunity. This is why it is common to come down with a cold or flu when you have been under a lot of stress.  It is also why people who have been under stress for years are at increased risk for getting cancer.

Moducare is a blend of plant-based compounds known as plant sterols and sterolins, combined in a very specific 100:1 ratio. Research has shown that the blend of sterols and sterolins in this specific ratio exhibit the best immune balancing activity.  One study showed that marathon runners who took Moducare did not get the same immune deficits or cortisol spikes as people who did not take it, resulting in less post event upper respiratory infections for those runners taking Moducare.  Because Moducare controls overactive TH2 immunity, this also results in decreased inflammation. Vitamin D is also an immune modulator and this is why it is also a great nutrient for immune support.

One final note – because chronic stress has such a profound impact on immune function, anyone dealing with high stress levels should consider using supplements like rhodiola extract, which is known to help reduce elevated cortisol, as well as Moducare for more direct immune support.

Immune support is probably more involved than you realized, but there is a lot we can do to be smarter in the steps we take.  Not only do we need daily good health practices, we can supplement with nutrients and specialized ingredients to support the maintenance of immune cells and immune system balance, and it may well be the single most important thing you can do for your healthy longevity. In turn, when your immune system gets out of balance, it can affect inflammation, mood, and your overall energy, so knowing how to take of our immune system truly can have a positive impact on your daily life.  It truly pays to be smart about taking care of ourselves with an eye on our immune system.

Bio: James B. LaValle, R.Ph., CCN, is an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board certified clinical nutritionist and naturopathic doctorate with more than 35 years of clinical experience. In addition to his LaValle Metabolix Practice he works with players and teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL and is the Clinical Director of the Hall of Fame Health and Performance Program. He is best known for his expertise in metabolic and integrative medicine, with an extensive background in natural products, lifestyle drug/nutrient depletion and uncovering the underlying metabolic issues that keep people from feeling healthy and vital. LaValle is an appointed faculty member and course educator for the Integrative Medicine postgraduate program at George Washington University School of health sciences. He is author of more than 20 books including, “Cracking the Metabolic Code,” and serves as a scientific adviser for Probiotics.com.

pain relief illustration by alex bogdan for use by 360 magazine

10 Unexpected Causes of a Headache and How to Prevent Them

What causes headaches? Is it your boss? Your friends? Maybe it’s something you ate or the song you jammed out to on the way to work. Either way, your head hurts, and you don’t know why. If you did, you might be surprised by what’s to blame. 

Take a look at your diet, weight, environment and personal habits to determine whether one of the following unexpected causes is contributing to the pain. 

1. Obesity 

If you’re carrying around a few extra pounds, you’re likely to suffer migraines and headaches more frequently. Some research suggests that low physical activity may be to blame for this co-occurrence. However, scientists still aren’t entirely sure how obesity causes more severe and frequent attacks. Maybe it’s due to inflammation or dietary choices. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to focus on your health and fitness. 

Hit the gym or try incorporating a few cardio or strength-based exercises into your daily routine. Head to the kitchen and prepare a few healthy dinners, too. Eventually, your hard work and determination will pay off so you look and feel happier and healthier. 

2. Poor Posture

How many hours do you spend in an office chair every day? Poor posture or sitting in the same position all day can cause tension in your back, shoulders and neck, which can easily lead to a migraine. Typically, the pain will begin at the base of the skull and radiate up through your head. Sometimes, your forehead and face will ache, too. 

Luckily, you can prevent these headaches by frequently switching positions and practicing better posture when you do have to sit or stand for long periods. A midday stretch or a more ergonomic office chair may also minimize symptoms and alleviate pain. 

3. Sex

You’ve probably heard that a little hanky panky can cure a headache but, sometimes, sex can actually cause one. That’s right. Any type of sexual activity — especially the big O — can trigger a dull ache or sudden, throbbing pain in your head. Symptoms can last anywhere from several minutes to multiple days. 

If avoiding sex altogether isn’t an option, try taking a more passive role during intercourse. Drinking water before and after may also help prevent headaches. However, if your symptoms grow more severe, there may be an underlying issue. In that case, it’s best to consult your doctor. 

4. Bruxism

Have you ever woken up with a sore jaw or toothache? Odds are you’re subconsciously clenching or grinding your teeth at night. This condition is called bruxism, and it often causes headaches and worn-down teeth. However, it may lead to more serious problems like temporomandibular joint disorder, which can cause lockjaw and chronic soreness in or near the ear.

What can you do to stop clenching and grinding in your sleep? Wear a mouthguard and try reducing your stress levels. Up to 70% of bruxism is triggered by stress, so consciously relaxing your face and investing in self-care throughout the day may help. 

5. Pollutants

Various air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds, lead, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, can rob your body of oxygen and alter blood flow. These acute effects often result in headaches but can also trigger migraine attacks in sensitive populations.

Unfortunately, air pollution is unavoidable, especially if you live in a metropolitan area or someplace that experiences frequent forest fires. However, you can limit exposure to some pollutants inside your home by avoiding harsh chemical cleaners and paints that contain VOCs. Opt for all-natural products instead, and periodically open windows to increase airflow and improve ventilation. 

6. Weather 

Gray skies, high humidity, storms and temperature fluctuations can all incite head pain. These weather conditions alter atmospheric pressure and create an imbalance in your sinus cavities and inner ear. Chemical imbalances can also occur within your brain, so headaches are common whenever the weather changes. 

You can’t control the weather, so preventing pressure-related headaches ultimately comes down to taking care of yourself. Drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep, avoid stress triggers and keep some pain relievers nearby just in case. Limiting your time outside may also help. 

7. Hunger 

Most people know you can get a headache from being dehydrated, but few realize hunger can have the same effect. When you skip a meal, your body releases hormones that tell your brain you’re hungry. These same hormones raise your blood pressure and tighten vessels, triggering a headache. 

The most obvious way to prevent these symptoms is to eat something. Snacking throughout the day will also help ward off hunger-induced migraines. Plan ahead and pack meals for work, long car rides and other situations that limit your access to food. 

8. Coffee 

For most people, a morning cup of joe is nonnegotiable. In some cases, it can even relieve a headache. However, drinking too much coffee can trigger caffeine rebound, which occurs from withdrawals after repeated overconsumption. 

If you consume more than 200 mg of caffeine per day and often experience headaches between lattes, you might be dealing with rebound. In this case, it’s best to slowly decrease your intake, enjoy coffee in moderation and find more natural ways to boost your energy. 

9. Hair Accessories 

How you wear your hair can also take a toll on your noggin. Tight ponytails, headbands, twists and braids can pull on your hair and strain the connective tissue on your scalp. Eventually, these styles can cause headaches and even hair loss. 

If you suspect your updo is hurting your head, let your hair down and give your scalp some time to recover. You can also try switching up your style to include loose braids or messy buns that don’t put so much stress on your scalp. 

10. Lunchmeat

Cold cuts and other processed foods often contain tyramine and nitrates, additives that can constrict blood vessels in your head and brain. If you’re sensitive to these substances, you’ll typically develop a headache within 24 hours due to the stress on those nerves and vessels. 

Avoid food-induced headaches by skipping the premade grocery store subs and cured or processed lunch meats. Opt for deli meat and fresh protein sources like chicken, pork and fish instead.  

Talk to Your Doctor

Taking preventive measures is key to keeping headaches at bay. However, if you take precautions and still suffer frequent or severe migraines, it’s time to seek professional help. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and consider potential causes. They may also schedule an MRI or CAT scan to take a closer look at your brain and rule out any underlying conditions. At the very least, they’ll offer a diagnosis or prescribe treatment to alleviate or prevent symptoms.

15 Tips for Starting a Plant-Based Diet

Moving to a plant-based diet can be difficult, especially if you’re used to eating mostly animal products or processed foods. However, this switch can challenge you and nourish you better than your former lifestyle. Luckily, you’re not the first person to make this change, so it’s easy to find techniques that will help make the adjustment a little easier for you.

1. Know Why You’re Transitioning to a New Diet

Plant-based diets don’t necessarily mean you’re only eating plants. You can have meat and dairy on the table, too. A plant-based diet simply signifies that the majority of what you eat comes from produce.

You might have chosen to transition to this diet to decrease your carbon footprint. Eating less red meat can make your household more environmentally friendly, particularly since livestock takes up so many resources. Whatever your reason for transitioning to a plant-based diet is, make sure you’re doing it for your own benefit rather than anyone else’s.

2. Do Your Research

Learn the macros in your food. To plan your diet correctly, you need to understand what nutrients you need and which foods offer them. Switching to a plant-based diet can help you become healthier, but you’ll only reap the benefits if you put in the work and acknowledge what your body needs.

To keep yourself nourished and healthy, you’ll have to learn which foods your body needs on what day. Learning more about your needs can help you educate others and make the choices that will benefit you in the long run.

3. Make Meal Plans

Sometimes, planning your macros for a single day can feel overwhelming. That’s why you should plan to get a whole week’s meals under your control and manage your nutrients effectively. Meal planning means you won’t be scrambling to think of something to eat for dinner that provides the nutrition you need.

Meal planning correctly can also help you cut down on food waste, as you’ll be using everything you bought. You’ll also save money and time since you won’t have to head to the grocery store every evening by planning the week at once. You can breeze by the snacks you used to eat without feeling tempted to pick them up.

4. Build a Budget

It’s entirely possible to eat completely healthy and clean on a budget. You just have to plan around the staples of your meals for a week and save leftover money or use it to buy healthy snacks that can keep you nourished throughout the day.

Budgeting goes hand-in-hand with meal planning. Planning your meals for the week ahead requires you to build a budget based on your needs. Without meal planning, you might stray from your intended plan and end up devoid of the nourishment your body requires.

5. Find and Use Coupons

Coupons can be your best friend when it comes to changing your lifestyle. If you aren’t sure how to afford some items you want on your budget, see if you can find coupons for some of the items in your cart.

You can subscribe to grocery stores’ email lists to receive daily or weekly coupons. If you shop somewhere frequently, it’s worth subscribing to get discounts from them. It’s even handier if you have a store card that takes down the price of your grocery trip.

6. Eat Breakfast

Going plant-based doesn’t mean you need to give up breakfast. Consider whole-grain cereal options. The sugary stuff may taste great, but it’s not necessarily on the dietary plan you want to follow.

You can couple whole-grain breakfast foods with all-natural animal products to keep you full. Having a few hard-boiled eggs can satisfy you throughout the day, and they pair well with toast. If you want a dash of sugar, consider spreading jam on whole-grain bread.

7. Remind Yourself of the Benefits

Plant-based diets offer numerous benefits. When you feel close to quitting and going back to junk food or eating excess meat, remind yourself of how much healthier you’ve been since you began.

You’ll obtain more vitamins naturally when consuming a plant-based diet, without the help of supplements, due to the nature of the food you eat. You may also lessen or eliminate your risk of contracting certain ailments and diseases. If you want to stick with your plant-based diet, keep reminding yourself of the good you’re doing your body while on it.

8. Curb Your Sweet Tooth

Look into foods with naturally occurring sugars if you have cravings. Fruits would make for a great dessert or midday snack — and there’s no sugar added to them. They will never taste like cake, but you can train your brain to enjoy them just as much by saving them as a special after-dinner snack.

You should check to see which fruits are in season before buying them, as you’ll likely find higher quality if you choose them based on their optimized growing times. For example, strawberries are plentiful in the summer, but blackberries are great in the winter.

9. Find Supporters

If the rest of your household isn’t switching to this diet with you, consider getting them involved. Changing your eating habits can feel a lot less lonely when you know someone’s in your corner and having the same cravings as you. Plus, you can motivate one another if you start to slip from the habits you want to keep.

10. Keep a Journal of Your Progress

A journal is a great tool you can look back on in the future to motivate yourself. If you mark your daily food intake every day, you can glance at it to see how far you’ve come when you’re feeling hopeless. You can also gain more ideas for meal plans from your journal, and sharing it with your family members might motivate them to join you in your lifestyle change.

11. Take a Cooking Class

When you don’t know which recipes go best with your new diet, consider learning from the professionals. You may have to pay for a cooking class, but making food at someone else’s teaching could be fun, especially if you’re doing it with a friend. You’re paying for the experience and some quality recipes you can take home with you.

12. Eat Enough Food

You might feel fuller longer due to the quality of the food you eat, but you still need to maintain a caloric intake that supports you. Your recommended daily calories may change depending on your age and activity level, so you shouldn’t assume something that works for someone else will work for you. Even if you feel fuller for longer, you should strive to meet your maintenance caloric needs to remain healthy.

13. Make Snacking More Challenging

Remove snack foods from your home. If you have family members or roommates who aren’t embarking on this adventure with you, ask them to keep the junk food out of your area so you feel less tempted to eat it.

People often drift toward snacks because they’re more convenient than cooking a meal. Consider finding healthy items you can simply grab and go, such as bananas or nuts. When you have these nutritious options and eliminate or hide unhealthy snacks, you may feel more inclined to eat them.

14. Prep Your Meals the Day Before

Get your lunches for the next day ready in the evening so you don’t scramble to find something to take to work with you. Worse, you could forget your lunch entirely and have to find something nearby that may not be part of your new lifestyle. By taking extra time the evening before, you’ll become more mindful of the food you put in your body and support your new diet with little effort.

15. Throw It in a Salad

When you don’t know what to make, just throw everything into a salad. Lettuce is an excellent base for a healthy meal because you can add several foods and top them with a tasty dressing. Consider choosing something for protein, such as chickpeas or eggs, as well as a handful of vegetables or fruits to nourish you.

Plant-Based Diets Made Easy

While it initially may be difficult to change your eating habits, it will get easier as time goes on. Learn what meals to make before committing to the switch, and focus on getting enough nutritional food every day. As long as you have others to keep you accountable and a record to look back on, you’ll find that it’s easy to keep up with your new plant-based lifestyle.

Kaelen Felix illustrates beauty and dental article for 360 MAGAZINE

Ten Tips for a Whiter, Healthier Smile

There are plenty of occasions where you’d want a gorgeous smile. Birthdays, weddings and graduations are just a few of the celebrations in which you should beam confidently. When looking back on photos, you might feel so much happier knowing you smiled with your whole heart instead of hiding it away.

Luckily, there are quite a few ways you can boost your grin. You should love your smile no matter what it looks like, but you can make it even better with simple tasks and lifestyle changes.

  1. Drink Water 

Water doesn’t leave stains like other liquids, nor is it bad for your health. It can help free your mouth of any food debris left in it, and it’s the best liquid option for your teeth by far. Sugary drinks can increase the rate of tooth decay, while water can contain the fluoride you need to promote healthy teeth. 

Make sure to drink tap water if you want a dose of fluoride. Because it occurs naturally in tap water, it’s easy to get the recommended amount to protect your teeth. You should be aware of the levels of fluoride in your water, though. Too much isn’t a good thing, but too little of it can lead to weaker teeth and more cavities.

  1. Quit Smoking

In addition to being bad for your lungs, smoking can impact your smile by staining your teeth. If you’re smoking often enough or don’t tackle the stains when you can, the pigments can go deeper and root permanently on your teeth.

Smoking can also give you fine lines around your mouth. Procedures such as injecting Botox can help reduce these wrinkles. If you don’t want to undergo a process, quitting smoking now is the best way to reduce the appearance of those lines.

  1. Improve Your Overall Health

Consider your overall health when looking for a way to improve one area of your body. Taking proper care of yourself means you’ll be able to devote more attention to your teeth. 

You’ll also likely feel happier, healthier and more confident in yourself if you focus on more than just your teeth. Adopt healthy habits, like exercising and eating right, and you’ll find that improved oral health will follow.

  1. Watch What You Eat

While sugar is a definite food group to avoid if you want an effortlessly beautiful smile, plenty of other substances can affect your teeth, too. Salty snacks can stick to your teeth. Since there are a lot of starches in processed foods, you’ll likely find more plaque buildup if you eat them constantly. 

Fibrous foods can increase your saliva production, which in turn protects your teeth. Eating foods that are higher in fiber can keep your teeth cleaner and, potentially, whiter. After snacking on any kind of food, make sure you brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water to rid yourself of anything that remains.

  1. Use the Right Toothbrush

Make sure the toothbrush you use daily is optimized for your teeth. Soft bristles are a great option because you don’t want too much force to affect your tooth enamel and gums. Buying an electric or angled brush can guarantee you can clean your teeth thoroughly.

Many electric toothbrushes have settings for whitening or sensitive teeth. However, they can be expensive, so you might want to opt for an angled brush if you’re on a budget. Make sure the bristles are firm enough to remove debris and plaque from your teeth yet soft enough to treat your enamel and gums with the care they need.

  1. Try at-Home Whitening

Choosing a whitening toothpaste might be the most effective way to treat yellow teeth or stains on a budget. While you have to use it often to work, you should ensure it’s not too abrasive on your teeth. Toothpaste that is too abrasive will break down your enamel, which leaves your teeth vulnerable.

At-home whitening kits can also help you achieve a flawlessly white smile. Different kits may require various steps. Some may include whitening strips you leave on your teeth, while others might require you to use gel. Whichever you choose, make sure to follow the directions to avoid weakening your teeth while whitening them.

  1. Go to Regular Checkups

Make sure to visit your dentist regularly. Periodic cleanings can help you keep a benchmark on your oral health and identify any problems before they escalate. Most insurance plans cover basic cleanings and some treatments, so it could be in your best interest to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later.

You should visit your dentist at least twice a year to keep up with your regular health checkups. Depending on your personal needs, you may have to go more frequently to maintain the smile you love. Routine cleanings mean you shouldn’t have to worry about something out of your control happening inside your mouth.

  1. Limit Alcohol Intake

Wine, along with coffee and tea, has the potential to stain your teeth. Stains can be challenging to remove, but you shouldn’t see much of a problem if you keep your alcoholic intake in check. Staining liquids can be mitigated by using a straw. It can also slow down tooth decay because the liquid won’t be touching your teeth if you do it correctly.

  1. Use the Right Makeup

If you’re worried about yellow teeth ruining your night out, consider wearing lipstick with pink or blue undertones. These colors will make yellow less apparent, so your teeth will appear white even if you might have some discolored areas.

If drawing attention to your teeth in general makes you squeamish, make up for it by playing up other features. Maybe you can add more color to your cheeks, or perhaps you can create a gorgeous eye look that will bring people’s attention elsewhere on your face.

  1. Keep up With Your Hygiene

Brush and floss your teeth daily, if not more than that. You should brush your teeth after you eat a meal. If your toothbrush and toothpaste aren’t available to you after you’ve eaten, consider rinsing your mouth out with water to remove any food debris that’s been left behind.

Keep up with your daily oral hygiene, and you’ll find it’s an easy habit to stick to over time. As long as you work toward it every day, you can follow your routine without even thinking about it.

Smile With Confidence

No matter who you are, your smile is one of the most extraordinary things about you. It draws people in and conveys when you’re happy. Treat your mouth right, and you’ll have a grin that lasts for years. Ensure you care for your teeth and gums correctly, like using the right toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste, and you’ll gain the confidence you need to beam at the world.

A Simple Guide To Beef Cuts And How Best To Cook Them

Many people get stuck in a cooking rut. The problem is that we tend to keep cooking the things that we already know. And since there is a lot of mystery surrounding the different cuts of beef, many people either cook a steak or a simple beef stew. They don’t have the knowledge of the cuts to add some variety. 

With so many people becoming foodies these days, there is more interest in learning the best ways to cook various cuts to add some variety. This is especially true with so many people getting interested in some prime cuts of meat that cost quite a bit. They don’t want to risk ruining a wagyu picanha, for example, by using the wrong cooking method. 

In this article, we will go over several cuts of beef with the preferred cooking method to be able to get the most out of them. 

The Basics

When a butcher receives a whole beef carcass, it needs to be divided up. This is so that the parts can be sold, otherwise there would be nobody buying meat if they had to cut it up themselves. 

Besides the commercial aspect, the meat needs to be divided into cuts since the various muscles will cook differently. To make sure they have a cut that cooks the same way throughout they turn a side of beef into primal cuts. From there it gets further divided into sub-primal cuts. 

The general rule of thumb is that the further the cuts are from the hooves or the horn of the animal the more tender they will be. Tender cuts should be cooked quickly and tough ones more slowly.

Chuck Beef

The forequarter includes parts that are generally called chuck but there are various parts within that description. It includes parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and what could be imagined as the upper arm as cows don’t have arms. These are generally parts that have quite consistent fat marbling and some collagen.

As such the chuck is good for braising and stewing. Any long cooking method that slowly melts the collagen and makes the meat soft and tender. 

For quicker cooking, it is often ground up and used as burger meat. The amount of fat and connective tissue makes for a juicy burger.

Not all of the chuck cuts from the forequarter are all for low and slow cooking. Part of the ribeye is also from the end of the chuck off of the ribs. This is a tender and very juicy steak that should be cooked to medium-rare.

Brisket, Flank and Plate

These parts are getting closer to the hoof which means that they are muscles that are worked quite a bit. As such, they can be tough if not cooked properly. This isn’t to say that they all need slow and low cooking methods. 

The brisket, however, is inedible if it is not cooked for long periods. It stands up very well to smoking and cooking over coals at a very low temperature. It is most famous as a classic Texas barbecue meat

The flank is a piece that is very good as a steak although it can be tough if not treated properly. It should be marinated for a while to help break down the connective tissue. Then it has to be cut a certain way for the grain of the meat to be such that it is easy to chew. It will never be totally tender, but the flavor makes up for that. It’s great in tacos, for example. 

The Short Loin

This is the area with the most expensive cuts of meat since they are the most tender. They don’t require slow cooking or marinades to make them tender. 

The T-bone, porterhouse and sirloin steak all come from the short loin and are what you will be served in any steakhouse. They have excellent flavor and do well with quick, dry cooking such as grilling or being cooked on a flat top. 

The most expensive cut is the tenderloin, however, this comes from its own primal cut area and not the short loin. Although the name implies it should be from the short loin area, it is located right next to it. It is a muscle that does little movement so it is extremely tender but lacks the flavor of other cuts like a ribeye or sirloin. To make up for the lack of flavor, tenderloin is often served with a sauce of some kind. 

Eleven Foods to Stimulate Creativity in the Brain

Are you seeking a way to supercharge your imagination? Why don’t you start with your dinner plate?

Certain meals contain the ideal combination of nutrients to help your neurons do their jobs well. What should you put on your plate? Chow down on these 11 foods that stimulate creativity in your brain.

1. Cruciferous Vegetables

Did you know that the bacteria in your teeth can travel to your brain, where it may hinder your creativity and increase your Alzheimer’s risk? Scientists discovered a species of bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis could travel to this organ, releasing enzymes called gingipains that can destroy nerve cells. This destruction leads to memory loss and, eventually, disease.

However, what if you don’t always have a toothbrush or time to use one after meals? The solution is to pack some carrots and cauliflower along with your lunch and eat it after your sandwich. The rough, fibrous surfaces scrub away dirt and debris from tooth surfaces, decreasing the food source your oral bacteria need to thrive.

2. Nuts

Depression can wreak havoc on your creativity. One way to reignite your spark is by eating foods high in the minerals zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Research published by the National Institutes of Health suggests sufficient intake can alleviate this condition as effectively as antidepressants, especially among individuals with an underlying deficiency.

Where do you find these substances? One plant-based source comes from nuts. A single Brazil nut contains your full day’s recommended daily allowance of selenium alone — you must use care not to eat too many. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans are also excellent snacks.

3. Seeds

Another rich source of zinc, selenium, and magnesium lies in seeds. Fortunately, these tiny wonders are among the most versatile foods, making it a snap to add them to your diet.

A sprinkle of sunflower seeds or pepitas brings a pleasant nutty crunch to salads. They’re far more nourishing and satisfying than croutons made with white flour. Chia and flax seeds are excellent plant-based sources of omega-3s along with minerals, so add a liberal handful to anything from stir-frys to soups.

4. Seafood

Have you ever tried to come up with an engaging advertising slogan or even pen the next line of an essay when your temples pound and kaleidoscopes of migraine yuckiness dance before your eyes? How did that work out for you? Probably not well.

Seafood can help stimulate creativity in your brain by running interference against the pain that inhibits imaginative thought. Fish and crustaceans are high in riboflavin or vitamin B2. Research published by MedlinePlus indicates that regular intake of this nutrient can reduce your number of migraine headaches by two attacks a month. If your attacks last an average of two to three days, you reclaim up to six days out of every 30. It also reduces the severity when you do get hit.

Another way that increasing your seafood intake stimulates creativity is by lowering your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, preserving the neural channels that allow for rational thought. Sufficient intake of the DHA and EPA in fatty fish promotes brain growth in infants and children and may boost cognitive brainpower in adult women.

Omega-3s also help fight depression, which can stifle creativity. Why not make like the Catholics and make fish Friday a tradition, along with some mackerel on meatless Monday to meet your intake requirement?

5. Kale

Kale is an excellent plant-based source of B vitamins, including riboflavin. Plus, this versatile veggie makes an interesting alternative to tortillas when making wraps. Create a speedy lunch in seconds by adding a slice or two of lean protein like turkey, some cheese, and a few tomato or red pepper slices to a leaf and rolling it. Add a dash of oil and vinegar and some salt and pepper, and it’s like eating a sandwich without the white bread.

You can also braise kale and serve it as a side dish. The only people who should use caution with this veggie are those prone to kidney stones or taking blood thinners — check with your doctor or dietitian to be sure.

6. Green Tea

You might reach for coffee for a caffeine injection to supercharge your creativity when the afternoon doldrums strike. However, opting for a latte could keep you awake into the wee hours, disrupting your sleep patterns and giving you an even worse time concentrating.

While green tea does contain caffeine, it’s a mild dose — delivering a jolt of only 96 mg instead of 400. Therefore, you might do better busting the afternoon slump with this substance, as you’ll feel less jittery at night.

7. Curry

One reason why you might struggle to stir your creative juices has to do with inflammation. This condition often brings with it more than its fair share of distracting aches and pains.

Turmeric contains curcumin, one of the most potent anti-inflammatories you can find. It gets even more powerful when you add black pepper. A traditional Indian curry contains both substances in droves, so enjoy.

8. Quinoa

You know how the commercial tagline goes: you’re not yourself when you’re hungry. You’re probably not very creative, either.

Quinoa will fill you with lasting energy for much longer than a candy bar. The fiber in this ancient grain keeps tummy rumbles from distracting your concentration. Best of all, it’s safe for many people with celiac disease, although those who are particularly sensitive might find that the proteins are similar enough to cause trouble.

9. Garlic

Could that slice of pizza supercharge your creativity? Perhaps if it comes with a garlicky crust.

Garlic contains allicin, a compound this root herb emits when crushed or chopped. This substance can help lower your blood pressure, which is helpful if stress impacts your creative power. It may also ease any distracting muscle soreness from your last power workout more quickly.

10. Berries

When it comes to anthocyanin intake — a vital group of antioxidants — you can’t do much better than berries. Best of all, these tiny fruits are versatile and easy to add to numerous dishes.

Add a sprinkle of dried blueberries to your lunchtime salad. Blend some raspberries into your morning smoothie to counteract the sweetness of the bananas and milk with a little tartness. Your taste buds and neurons will thank you.

11. Mushrooms

Some mushrooms have long-standing reputations for increasing mental clarity. For example, reishi and cordyceps have neuroprotective properties that make them worth the bitter taste.

However, you don’t have to pucker your lips to get the benefits. You can find these extracts in liquid supplemental form. Add a dropper to your green tea and enjoy the dual perks of antioxidants and adaptogens.

Stimulating Creativity With Food

If you want to stimulate creativity in your brain, why not start with your diet? Add more of these 11 foods to your plate and watch your imagination come to life!