Icelandic Fitness

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Coconut Oil: The New Superfood

Coconut Oil: The New Super Food?

coconut oil

It’s become one of the most talked about foods on the Internet, with some calling it a “super food.” Coconut oil is said to slow aging, help your heart and thyroid, protect against disease and assist you in losing weight. Still, organizations such as the American Heart Association continue to caution consumers against all tropical oils, including coconut oil. So what’s the real story?

 

For most Americans, coconut oil was something we never heard of. Now, it’s becoming more of a staple cooking oil in many homes. The reason is that its unique combination of fatty acids has been found to have positive effects on health. Plus, coconut oil contains antioxidants, known to protect us from cell damage, aging and disease.

 

This might sound scary – coconut oil is mostly saturated fat. We’ve all been told to avoid saturated fat. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is not the average run-of-the-mill saturated fat that you would find in cheese or steak. The fat in coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) – which are fatty acids of a medium length.

 

So, what does that mean? Well, medium-chain fatty acids are metabolized differently. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they’re used as a quick source of energy.  Which can help you burn fat and lose weight.

 

Of course, it may sound a little strange that weight loss can come from eating something that’s pretty high in calories. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains an average of 117 calories and 13 grams of fat. But, what you weigh is not just a matter of calories; it’s the quality and the source of those calories. It’s a fact that different foods affect our bodies and hormones in different ways. The bottom line- a calorie is not a calorie.

 

And, body fat is not just body fat. Coconut oil appears to be especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, which makes itself at home in the abdominal cavity and crowds around organs. Abdominal fat is thought to be the most dangerous fat of all and is associated with many diseases, like diabetes. Two studies, one with 40 women, another with 20 obese men, found that including an ounce of coconut oil in their diet each day led to a pretty significant reduction in abdominal fat. And the test subjects did not change their eating or exercise habits. They just added in coconut oil.

 

So what about the cautions from the American Heart Association? Well, it’s mostly about moderation; the Association would like you to limit your saturated fat intake to no more than 16 grams a day. And, like any oil, you should use coconut oil in moderation.

 

However, not all coconut oil is created equal. Avoid the refined coconut oil; go for the organic virgin coconut oil. It’s probably sitting right there on your grocery store shelf. There are a variety of brands with a range of prices.

 

And, once you try it, you might want to look into all the other uses for coconut oil. Like, hair conditioner, toothpaste, moisturizer, makeup remover; the list goes on. For some people, coconut oil is a “miracle” they can’t live without.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

 

You’re Sick – Should You Work Out or Not?

 

We’re smack in the middle of cold and flu season. And one of the questions my clients are asking – should I work out, even though I’m feeling under the weather?

The answer – it depends.

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was diagnosed with the flu, and believe me, it hit hard. I was out for a good week and certainly did not feel like doing much. It set me back a bit and I’m just now getting back into my regular workout routine.

 

So if you’re sick and wondering about working out – one of the first things to consider is – what are your symptoms? Most viruses make themselves known with a combination of things – fatigue, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, fever; maybe even nausea and vomiting. Obviously, with the more severe symptoms, you’re not going to feel like doing much. But, with the lesser symptoms, if you have the energy, then go ahead.

 

That being said, keep these things in mind: if your nose and ears are stuffed up, your balance may be off and it will obviously be harder to breathe. If you have a fever, you will be more prone to dehydration.

 

The bottom line – take it easy and rest if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Fever over 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe muscle fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Feelings of dizziness or faintness when you stand

 

If you are feeling just a bit off, it’s probably safe to proceed with your workout but it’s a good idea to lower the intensity. This is really a time to listen to what your body is saying.

 

Some trainers suggest that you do what’s called a “neck check.” Basically, are your symptoms above the neck – are you sneezing, do you have a sore throat, a runny nose? If so, then it’s probably okay to work out. Keeping in mind that you probably can’t do your regular workout. Remember – it’s going to be hard to breathe.

 

If your symptoms are below the neck – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea – it would be better to take it easy. Rest. Recuperate. Take a few days off. Get well.

 

Regular exercise can do wonders for your immune system, but, when you’re sick, working out can make you feel worse and slow down your recovery.

 

Just listen to your body and know that if you decide to rest, you can get right back to it when you’re well.

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

Magnesium, the supplement you probably are not taking

 

There are hundreds of supplements out there and you can go crazy trying to figure out the benefits and drawbacks to each one. Doctors sometimes tell their patients about the benefits of different supplements; for example, COQ10 is a great supplement to help you keep muscle mass if you’re taking statins for cholesterol. Statins will rob your body of the COQ10 you naturally create, so replacing it is a good idea.

 

Magnesium is another supplement- a mineral- that is crucial to keeping your body functioning well. Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady.

 

Most people should take a magnesium supplement because as a whole, Americans don’t eat enough foods that contain magnesium. Adults who take in less than the recommended amount of magnesium are more likely to have elevated inflammation markers. Inflammation has been associated with major health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and an elevated risk of osteoporosis.

 

Every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys, uses magnesium. In fact, if you’re experiencing unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.

 

Magnesium is also an antidote to stress; it’s the most powerful relaxation mineral available and can help improve your sleep. You can think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff  – whether it’s a body part or even your mood- is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

 

So what do you do? Whenever possible, you should try to get your magnesium and other nutrients the natural way- including foods that are good for you in your diet. Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic all have higher magnesium content. And, of course, eating whole foods is best. Refined and processed foods often lose vital vitamins and minerals.

  • What to avoid: drinking excessive amounts of soda or caffeine. Also know that certain medications and certain antibiotics can rob your body of magnesium.

 

But, like we said, most Americans can’t get enough magnesium through diet alone. So, talk to your doctor about magnesium supplements. The RDA (the minimum amount needed for adults) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.

 

 

Also- be sure to check the label on your multi-vitamin before buying a separate magnesium supplement. Your multi-vitamin may contain what you need.

 

  • And, last, but not least, another enjoyable way to get magnesium- a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Your body actually absorbs the mineral while you soak. You can unwind and relax while doing something good for you.

 

 

Step Away from the Juicier, Grab Some Bone Broth

It’s the newest thing in healthy eating, but your grandmother probably knew all about it. She most likely had a full pot simmering on the back burner.

Bone broth- some folks call it stock- is the first new big health craze of 2015. The trend has been quickly gaining traction all over the world, and is now right here in Colorado.

What is it? Exactly what it sounds like. Broth made from animal bones. Used as stock in soups and stews and other recipes, you can buy it ready made at some grocery stores, online, or at Denver area restaurants. And yes, you can make it at home.

What can bone broth do?

• Reduce joint pain and inflammation. The glucosamine and chondroitin in bone broth can encourage the growth of new collagen, help repair damaged joints, and reduce pain and inflammation.
• Help with bone formation. You’re drinking (or eating) what’s basically bone in liquid form. Calcium, magnesium, collagen, and phosphorus. They all help bones to grow and repair and are the perfect way to fight osteoporosis.
• Support skin, hair and nail growth. The collagen and gelatin in bone broth support hair growth and help to keep nails strong.
• Relieve stress. Amino acids in bone broth can be very calming. (and can help you sleep).

Three Boulder fooderies- Fresh Thymes, Blackbelly and Cured- have jumped on the bone broth bandwagon are preparing and selling broth by the bowl or cup or by the quart.

http://denver.eater.com/2015/1/21/7861995/bone-broth-trend-crashes-into-boulder-with-three-new-options

You can make your own bone broth at home- it’s pretty simple. Even though it has to simmer for hours, it only takes a few minutes to get it started.

The most important thing is to get high quality bones. Wild, grass fed, organic, or at least all natural chicken, beef, pork or fish bones. Remove the meat and put the bones in the pot, cover with fresh water, add a splash of apple cider vinegar (to help extract the minerals from the bone). Now simmer for 3-24 hours. Or, put it in a slow cooker.

Make it better by adding any or all of the following: garlic, onions, vegetables like carrot and celery and herbs. When it’s done, strain out the bones and vegetables and divide the broth into usable potions. It will stay good in the fridge for about 5 days and in the freezer for months.

Here’s a how to guide: http://wellnessmama.com/5888/how-to-make-bone-broth/
And, a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fmSfaORNq0

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness

5 Common Garden Herbs

5 Common Garden Herbs

 

Every year I plant a vegetable and herb garden. Getting outside provides great health benefits, and by planting an herb garden I bring those benefits into the kitchen all year long. Five of the most common herbs you can grow yourself are basil, mint, cilantro, dill, and chives. Each herb provides different health benefits.

Garden Herbs

Garden Herbs

 Basil

Basil for instance, has flavonoids that help prevent damage to our cells from radiation and oxygen-based damage. Basil helps prevent more common illnesses too. The volatile oils in provide protection against unwanted growth of bacteria in our bodies, preventing bacterial infections. Basil has also been found to be an anti-inflammatory, so if you have arthritis or IBS try including more basil in your diet – you will feel better! One extra use for basil is as a solution to rinse the rest of your fruits and vegetables with.

 Mint

We all know mint for the wonderful taste it can provide. There is more mint can provide you though. Mint can be mashed with oil and applied to your forehead to relieve a headache. Mint can also serve as a decongestant, so you definitely want to keep some on hand for your next cold. For ladies, mint is a great natural way to deal with menstrual cramps. Finally, mint is anti-bacterial, so if needed you can rub it on wounds.

 Cilantro

Cilantro is one of the best tasting herbs – just try it on a taco! There’s more than just taste to cilantro, though. Studies show it may help prevent cardiovascular damage. Cilantro can also help cure diabetes. Cilantro may improve sleep quality because it is also believed to have anti-anxiety effects. Cilantro can even clean your teeth and gums.

 Dill

Dill is similar to basil. Dill has properties that help prevent body damage from harmful environmental agents, particularly those found in all types of smoke. Dill also has bacteria regulating effects like basil. In addition, dill can aide in preventing osteoporosis.

 Chives

Chives are a great low-calorie flavor addition to your meals like the rest of these herbs. Chives also have a lot of fiber too, which is an important part of a healthy diet. The high sources of vitamins A and K in chives make it a great resource for preventing cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are pregnant, chives are also a great source of folic acid, a key to preventing defects in newborns.

 

My favorite part of including herbs in my diet is that they are a low-calorie taste provider. So there is no guilt about using them. How do you enjoy herbs?