5 Foods that Increase Your Productivity

 

 

 

By: Viktoria Cojan

We all strive to be the best we can, striving for optimal productivity in our lives. Whether we want to be more productive at school, at work, at home, in our hobbies, daily activities, sometimes we look for something to give us that little boost. Many times, we find that we just don’t have the energy or the will to do what we need or want; many of us run to coffee and energy drinks to get our day going. However, there are healthier alternatives to enhance your efficiency. Here are a few foods that you can include in your diet to make you more productive in one way or another.

  • Salmon
    • Salmon is the number one source of vitamin D, which is hard to get from diet, but readily available from the sun. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce cognitive decline over time. In addition to its vitamin D content, salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are really good for improving memory and mental performance, particularly helping depression, which can decrease productivity. Therefore, try eating more salmon or taking a fish oil supplement to promote productivity.
  • Berries
    • Berries are extremely useful in boosting productivity due to their high number of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a very effective antioxidant, which reduces inflammation and stops free radicals from doing damage to our bodies. In addition, antioxidant-rich foods are excellent for increasing memory. Keep in mind that the darker the berry, the more antioxidants it contains, and the more benefit it has.
  • Dark chocolate
    • Like berries, dark chocolate contains antioxidants which enhance focus and concentration. In addition, chocolate contains caffeine, which makes you feel more energetic and focused. It also has magnesium, which naturally relieves stress. Don’t feel guilty about indulging on a moderate amount of chocolate (suggested amount is 1 ounce) when you’re in need of an energy-boost!
  • Nuts
    • Nuts, like almonds and walnuts, contain antioxidants, vitamin E, and amino acids. These things contribute to you memory and brain performance, which are essential for a productive day. Nuts have other benefits as well. They are known to lower blood pressure and stress, and they are a great source of protein and natural fat, which are essential for a healthy body.
  • Bananas
    • A single banana contains high amounts of glucose, a carbohydrate your body needs to have energy. Bananas are also a better alternative for glucose than other sources that have excessive amounts of added sugars. Because the fiber in bananas make them very filling, you can focus on your studies for a longer period before feeling hungry again.

If you are looking for ways to be more productive, you don’t have to go too far. Aside from salmon, which needs a touch of preparation, these food items are easily accessible and easy to grab on-the-go. Give them a try for a healthy boost of energy!

References:

 

 

How Long Does Food Keep in the Fridge?

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By Anran Shao

When we are busy with approaching exams or assignments, we often cannot squeeze in enough time to cook at home. In an effort to save time and money, leftovers and/or prepackaged frozen meals become a first choice for students on-the-go. However, processed foods tend to be less nutrient-dense, and leftovers have the risk of introducing potential toxic substances if not stored correctly. Here are some tips to safely preserve your food and make it last longer!

Choose High-Quality Containers  

Before putting food into the refrigerator, proper containers are essential for food safety. It is better to use glass containers or choose bags that are labeled BPA-free. Good bags will keep food’s moisture and nutrients better. Never use plastic shopping bags to directly store food because the toxic substances can leach into food. Start the habit of writing down the date you stored your food in a container if you have trouble remembering when you put the food in the fridge. Inadequate use of containers can easily lead to food contamination or food going bad. Make sure to seal the bag or container tightly!

Controlling the temperature

Freezing and refrigerating will indeed prevent lots of harmful bacteria from growing in the food due to the low temperature. However, keeping control of the temperature is an important step to keeping food fresh. Your refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, and the freezer should be at at 0 degree Fahrenheit or below. Without the adequate temperature control, bacteria will grow quicker. This is especially critical for meat, because protein is a nutrient source for bacteria, even if the meat has been cooked well. Be careful about storing hot food in the fridge—it can change the temperature of the refrigerator, and can jeopardize other surrounding foods. Cool off the food by placing it in a thin layer or putting it in an ice bath prior to placing it in the refrigerator.  By cooking food ahead of time (i.e. pasta, veggies, chicken, or other foods), you can allow it to cool and store them for on-the-go lunches during the week.  When properly stored, food will last for seven days!

Putting Food in Right Places

Although you may have adjusted the temperature of your refrigerator, the overall temperature may not be uniform over all the shelves— temperature will vary in different parts of the fridge depending on how close they are to the cooling element. Doors are the warmest area, so they should be used for foods that are resistant to spoiling like juice and commercially prepared sauces. Upper shelves have the most constant temperature that are best suited for leftover or cooked food such as hummus or precooked pasta. If you want to keep meat and eggs stored for a longer period of time, the lower shelves will be a best choice because they have the coolest temperature. Also, putting raw meats on the lowest shelf will prevent bacteria on them from dripping on to other ready to eat foods.

Saving and storing prepared meals in a proper and safe way will help you enjoy your food even more when you’re on your study break. Here’s to clean and healthy eating!

References:

http://lifehacker.com/5814958/how-to-store-food-properly-in-the-freezer-and-fridge

http://greatist.com/eat/ultimate-way-organize-your-fridge

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/how-to-preserve-food-zm0z71zsie

 

 

Potassium-Rich Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet

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by Isabelle Huang

Potassium is an important mineral that helps our bodies have the energy we need to go about our daily lives. However, for most Americans, we consume more of its adverse counterpart, sodium, causing an ion imbalance for our cells’ sodium-potassium pump, the ever important transport channel that helps us produce energy and maintain fluid balance.

You may have heard that consuming too much sodium can result in high blood pressure and heart disease, and that’s because when we consume a lot of sodium, the amount of water in our body also increases to counteract the mineral build up. However, if we incorporate enough potassium into our diet, the balance is restored. So what can you do to keep your body functioning smoothly?

While it’s not beneficial to get rid of sodium altogether, it is important for people to make sure they are meeting their potassium requirements by eating more fruits and vegetables, two potassium-rich food sources.

Here are just a few examples of foods that have a high or moderate amount of natural potassium:

  1. One cup of Plain Yogurt: 531 mg Potassium
  2. One cup of Blackberries: 233 mg Potassium
  3. Half a cup of Sweet Potatoes: 475 mg Potassium
  4. One cup of cooked Spinach: 839 mg Potassium
  5. One cup of cooked White Beans: 1,004 mg Potassium
  6. One cup of Lowfat Milk: 366 mg Potassium

Additional sources of potassium include: citrus fruits, nuts, kale, salmon, and of course, bananas!

If you’re ever unsure of whether or not you have enough potassium in your life, take a look at your diet and see what foods you can substitute for mineral-rich products, or reduce your sodium intake. While fresh foods pack the most vitamins and minerals, check out the nutritional labeling for packaged, frozen, or canned products to see how they rank, and help your body get the nutrients it needs!

Sources of information:

https://pdb101.rcsb.org/motm/118 

http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/salt/Home/Whypotassiumhelps

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sodium-potassium-balance/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-potassium#1

Staying Healthy While Traveling

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By Wilson Ho

With spring approaching, we’re headed toward peak travel time. Here are tips on how to stay healthy while being away from home.  Whether you are in a different country or in a different state, it’s important for you keep the same mindful habits while traveling no matter where your adventures take you.

  1. Stay hydrated

One of the most imperative habits to keep up daily basis is staying hydrated.  Staying hydrated can be a preventative measure against the common cold and headaches.  When you drink enough water you will also feel energized and awake!

When abroad in a different country, the water filtration system may be different from what you’re used to at home; beware of drinking from the tap and consider always having bottled water on hand. Traveling with a hydration pack can make it more convenient if there are not a lot of grocery stores around. Find a list of hydration packs here!

  1. Eat fruits and vegetables

With all the delicious cuisines to try while  in a foreign place, remember to still include fruits and vegetables into your diet! Although it’s tempting to snack on the variety of desserts and snacks, keeping your plate balanced will maintain the highest energy levels for all the places you adventure to. An easy way to get your daily dose of fruits is by going to a nearby market or grocery store and buying the local fruits and veggies to keep in your hotel– enjoy them as a snack whenever you are hungry!  Another benefit of going to a local grocery store is that you can try all the regional fruits that are unique to its area.

  1. Stay active

Depending on how you are traveling, you may already be doing a lot of walking or you may just be in a car all day. Always remember to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.  Staying active will give you an extra boost on burning off all the desserts that you are sampling.  One option you may consider is going on a run in a brand new place, like a local park, hiking trail, or even a jog around the city streets!.  You will have the benefits of getting your exercise in as well as seeing different parts of the community.

  1. Sleep

With all the excitement being in a new environment, you run the risk of exhausting yourself from exploring new places all and meeting new people. That’s why it is essential to get enough sleep!  With the right amount of rest, you’ll be reenergized and ready to go sightseeing.  The culture shock can distract you from getting the adequate rest, so remember that 6-8 hours is your optimal amount of sleep.  Even naps (or siestas, if you’re abroad in Spain or Latin America) are an effective way of quickly replenishing your energy supply. According to The sleep Foundation, twenty-minute naps are the most effective.

Traveling is both an energy draining but exhilarating experience—make the most of it by preparing yourself with these travel health tips. Keep your daily habits of adequate water intake, sleep, mindful eating, and exercise intact to to maintain your overall well-being so you’re on top of your health both when you’re abroad and when you return home. Happy travels, Aggies!

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping

Powering Through the Winter Blues

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By Bernice Kwan

Winter quarter can be tough on many people. With the holiday season gone, the lack of sunshine and biting cold, it can be hard to stay on top of day-to-day activities. Sometimes, staying healthy in the wintertime can pose a whole other challenge in itself. However there are many things you can do to make sure you are treating your body right during this cold weather season.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common form of depression that comes with the changes in seasons; there are about 3 million people in the US suffering from SAD today. With SAD, the lack of sunlight causes the brain to produce more melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates your sleep patterns and has been linked to depression. One may find themselves feeling irritable, having low energy, having trouble sleeping, and experiencing weight gain.

Whether or not you are experiencing the full effects of SAD, you may be burdened by some of these symptoms, and could use some spirit lifting. Here are some tips and tricks to fight the frost!

Go for morning walks – It may be a challenge to find the motivation to get out of bed and go for a walk first thing in the morning but getting through this first obstacle can help you prepare your body for the rest of your day! This is because the direct sunlight entering your eyes jumpstarts your body’s internal clock to start the day. Take a stroll in the arboretum before heading to class, or just stop and take a minute to soak up whatever sun you can before going into lecture.

Spend quality time with friends – Whether or not you feel like it applies to you, people are social beings. We need support from one another, and sometimes, all it takes is a conversation with a friend to satisfy that need of human connection. Hit up a friend or two and ask them to join you for that morning arboretum stroll!

Get your blood flowing – Exercise is one of the most effective ways to alleviate a dampened mood and reduce anxiety levels. For a twist on your typical exercise regime, try doing yoga. Yoga has a wide range of benefits that help your mind and body relax. Check out this article for some insight on why you should start doing yoga!

https://healthyaggies.com/2016/12/21/why-college-students-need-yoga/

Avoid processed foods – Processed foods generally have a higher glycemic index. This means that it spikes up your blood glucose levels after a meal, but later drops it lower than it was prior to the meal. This is sometimes known as “sugar-crash.” The result of this reduced energy, which could worsen an already sluggish mood from the winter blues. Instead, eat more complex carbs, which have lower glycemic index, found in things like vegetables, beans, and fruit.

The winter months can be a challenge, but remember that the sun will shine again! Be mindful this winter season to stay happy and healthy, but remember, you can always reach out if you need help. UC Davis offers a wide range of mental and physical programs to make sure all aspects of your life are in check. For more information, check out the Student Health and Counseling Services website.

https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/

 

Resources

http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/beating-winters-woes#1

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad.htm

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution Fitness Goals

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By Bree Weeden

We’re already one month into 2017, so it’s time to assess how well you’ve been doing on your New Year’s resolutions. Did you promise you’d actually work out more this year? If you’ve been struggling to keep that resolution check out these helpful tips!

1. Pencil It In
Pull up your school, work, and personal schedules and find any overlapping free time. Then, pencil your gym time into your schedule for every week. Treat working out just like you treat going to class or work – you wouldn’t just not show up for your shift, so you shouldn’t just skip the gym!

2. Find a Friend
Working out with a friend or two has multiple health benefits. Most importantly, you can hold each other accountable. You’ll be less likely to skip a workout if you have other people counting on you. In addition, partner exercises are fun ways to challenge each other to try new things. An exciting new workout class or weight machine will seem less scary with a friend!

3. Track Your Exercise
Free apps such as MyFitnessPal and PumpUp let you track your daily exercise and even provide you with fun personalized workouts. If you’re willing to spend a little extra cash, fitness tracking devices like Fitbits log your exercise for you by monitoring your movement and heartrate. Fitbit also tracks your sleep and lets you have fun competitions with your friends!

4. Go Shopping
If you’re anything like me, you usually work out in all of your free tanks and tees from various UCD clubs and events. While these shirts seem like great workout attire, most are made of cotton or cotton blends and absorb sweat rather than release it. I recommend you invest in some real exercise apparel that wicks sweat away to enhance performance from brands such as Lululemon, Victoria’s Secret, Nike, or Adidas. In addition, if you purchase workout clothes that you actually like and feel confident in, you’ll want to wear them more often and thus will want to go to the gym more (#science).

5. Fix Your Music
An effective workout playlist should consist of songs which match your elevated heart rate. Pick songs with a speed from 120 to 190 bpm (beats per minute). Spotify makes great playlists designed for cardio, weightlifting, and other types of workouts!

Hopefully these tips help motivate you to get fit in 2017! We’ll see you at the ARC, Healthy Aggies!

Nutritional Benefits of Non-Dairy Milks

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By Elizabeth von Klan

Although cow’s milk remains a staple beverage in our culture, there’s still a variety of non-dairy milk options to choose from, like soy, rice, almond, and coconut milks. With so many choices, it can be difficult to know which non-dairy milk to choose. Here is a short n’ sweet guide on how to switch up your dairy routine with the benefits of each alternative milk choice!

Soy Milk
Soy milk is often forgotten as a fantastic protein source. It’s a great option for vegans that still need to fulfill their protein needs, or can’t resist a bit of milk in their daily cup of coffee. Drink more soy milk in the morning to allow proper protein digestion throughout the day, and to balance out the higher intake of protein eaten at dinner time.

Rice Milk
For those looking to lower their cholesterol levels, all plant milks are cholesterol free. Although rice milk doesn’t have the protein that soy milk has, it can be a great option when a soy allergy is present. It is also fortified with all of the vitamins and minerals usually found in cow’s milk, like calcium or Vitamin A and D.

Almond Milk
If healthy skin is what you want, almond milk contains plenty of Vitamin E to keep your skin supple and soft. In addition to the many vitamins and minerals almond milk has, it even contains fiber, often forgotten in our diets due to inadequate consumption of vegetables. However, its protein content is not as rich as soy, so don’t rely it on a major source of protein.

Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is different in composition from almond, rice, and soy milk because of its high saturated fat content; however, the fatty acids found in coconut milk have been proven to lowering risk of heart disease. Look for “cold-pressured” coconut milk that’s been less processed and still contains a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals.

Here’s an extra tip: Try to avoid milks flavored vanilla or chocolate to maximize your nutritional benefits and prevent consumption of excess added sugars.
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/the-amazing-world-of-plant-based-milks-rice-milk-choices/
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/soymilk.html
http://www.nextavenue.org/milk-alternatives-are-they-really-better-you-or-it-hype/
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/almond-milk.html