Who doesn’t enjoy sitting by the pool or on a patio to enjoy a cold summer beverage with chips and guacamole? Even though guacamole may taste like a splurge, you will be happy to hear that its key ingredient is a super food! We at iGnite have been singing the praises of avocados for years, and now iGnite member and Health Coach Nancy Dacy gives us the full run-down on what makes these little green guys so incredibly fantastic for our bodies:
An avocado is a fruit, not a vegetable, and many consider it a ‘perfect food.’
It has 18 amino acids that are required to form a complete protein, and it is used more efficiently by our bodies than the protein in meat.
It is high in fiber, containing more natural fiber than any other fruit!
It is free of sodium and cholesterol and provides 20 essential nutrients.
It is rich in GOOD fats and contains the vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B’s.
It has more potassium than a banana.
They are good for your brain and can help prevent Alzheimer’s.
Avocados are heart healthy: they are full of omega 3’s that help lower blood pressure and will lower LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) and raise HDL (‘good’ cholesterol).
They are great for expectant mothers as they are full of folic acid.
They are good for the eyes.
They are good for your blood sugar: the soluble fiber prevents blood sugar spikes and will help prevent type 2 diabetes, as well.
They are very anti-inflammatory.
They are very anti-aging and great for a strong immune system.
They are great for digestion.
They can help protect against breast cancer and prostate cancer.
They will help keep your nervous system healthy.
They are a very nutritious food for your toddlers and children.
And, don’t forget the skin! Just mash an avocado and apply directly to your skin. It is closest to your body’s natural skin oil. It will help with sunburn as well.
If you do not like avocados, throw some in the blender with a smoothie. You will get all the benefits without even knowing it is in there. And, if you can…..throw in the seed, too!
So, how much should you eat? We recommend eating up to 1/2 of a medium avocado (or about 1/4 cup) per day.
Because many of us store tension in our necks, shoulders and backs, it is crucial to know what we can do to help relieve that tension and physical stress in a safe and healthy way. Whether you spend your days sitting at a desk, running kids around, driving in the car, or however — take the time to do these moves a couple times a week and watch the tension begin to fade!
BENEFITS: This pose is beneficial for warming up the spine and stretching the torso and neck while focusing on deeply inhaling and exhaling. It is a great first exercise to begin to tune into the breath, bring suppleness to the spine and create awareness of where you are holding tension. Focus on the breath, each time trying to go a little deeper.
TRY IT! Step 1: Start on all fours in table top position, lining up wrists and knees and keeping your spine and head in a neutral position. Step 2: On the inhale, draw your chest and tailbone up to the sky, allowing your belly to sink down and your eyes to look straight ahead. Step 3: On the exhale, reverse the tilt of your pelvis by curling your tailbone down and rounding your spine toward the sky as you release your head towards the floor. Repeat several times.
2. Bridge Pose
BENEFITS: Great for stretching the chest, neck and spine while calming the mind and stimulating the abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid. Bridge is a great release for the low back while energizing the legs and stretching the iliopsoas and thighs.
TRY IT! Step 1: While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet hip distance apart, about 8 – 10″ from your sit bones. Step 2: Press your feet and arms actively into the floor and lift your hips, keeping your knees directly over your heels. Step 3: Draw your sternum towards your chin and try clasping your hands and reaching your fingers and tailbone towards your heels, creating length in the neck and broadening across the front of the chest.
3. Reclined Abdominal Twist
BENEFITS: Stretches the lower back and tones the abdominals while stretching and strengthening the abductors and obliques. Twists aid digestion, improve breathing and ease back and neck tension.
TRY IT! Step 1: Bend both knees into chest, tuck the chin in slightly and gently push the lower back and sacrum toward the floor. Step 2: Extend your arms out to the side in touchdown position, palms facing up. Step 3: On an inhalation, pin your inner thighs and knees together. Step 4: On an exhalation, lower both knees to the right, twisting through the abdomen as you turn your head and look to the left. Try to keep your shoulder blades looped down your back pressing towards the ground. Step 5: On the inhalation, return the knees and head to center. Step 6: On the next exhalation, lower your legs to the left as you turn your head to the right. Inhale and return the knees and head to center. Repeat 2 – 3 times.
4. Forward Fold with Arms Washing Overhead
BENEFITS: Calms the brain, helps relieve stress in the neck and shoulders, stimulates the liver and kidneys, releases the low back and stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips.
TRY IT! Step 1: Clasp your hands behind your back, draw your shoulder blades down your back, broaden across the chest, and reach her knuckles down towards the ground as you straighten your arms. (You can also clasp a belt or towel behind your back if your shoulders are tight.) Step 2: On an inhalation, lift your clasped hands up behind you and begin to fold forward, bending from the hip joints, not from the waist. Step 3: Release your head towards the ground and melt your chest towards your thighs. Keep a gentle bend to your knees if your hamstrings are tight. Step 4: Let your extended arms wash overhead. With each inhale, try to expand and lengthen; with each exhale, try to relax and soften deeper into the pose. Stay here for 8 – 10 breaths.
Better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and increased happiness are just a few of the impressive benefits that studies have traced to the simple act of writing down the things for which we are grateful. Research shows that translating thoughts into concrete language—whether oral or written—has advantages over just thinking the thoughts: it makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.
Keeping a gratitude journal is simple because there is no one “right way” to do it. Just keep in mind these research-based tips from UC Berkeley and you’ll be on the path to reaping the greatest rewards from the process:
Don’t overdo it. Writing occasionally (once or twice per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling.
Get personal. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
Go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.
Savor surprises. Try to record events that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude.
It doesn’t matter what time of day that you write, the quality of your spelling and grammar, or how pretty your journal is. The most important thing is to establish the habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events.
…when will you begin?
Source: University of California at Berkeley: The Greater Good