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    Eat This Exact Fruit-to-Vegetable Ratio Every Day to Live Longer

    It’s no secret eating five servings of fruits and vegetables is a boon for your overall health and well-being. We’ve known that for years. But it’s always been a little vague in terms of the breakdown. In a new study from the American Heart Association, published in Circulation, there’s actually an optimal ratio of fruits to vegetables that can help you live longer.

    Turns out two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables is the sweet spot. The study was based on health data, including dietary feedback, from more than 100,000 people over 30 years. Those results were combined with data on fruit and vegetable intake in corroboration with death from 26 international studies representing 1.9 million people.
    Analysis of the combined studies associated five servings of produce each day with the lowest risk of death. Interestingly, eating more than five servings did not provide additional benefits. The study found some powerful numbers that back up their findings. For example, participants who had a “5-a-day” diet had a 13 percent lower risk of death from all causes, a 12 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a 10 percent lower risk of death from cancer, and a 35 percent lower risk of death from respiratory disease.

    Of course, the diet only works if you follow it. But, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in 10 adults eat enough fruits and vegetables. So, if you want to live a little longer, spend some more time in the produce section. And, just to be clear, the researchers pointed out that fruit juices and starchy vegetables such as peas, corn, and potatoes should not count toward your five servings (sorry).

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    Can WHOOP Strap 3.0 Replace a Personal Trainer?

    This article was produced in partnership with WHOOP. 
    We’re hardwired to think getting fitter, faster, and stronger requires high-octane efforts all the time. If you’re not limping around post-leg day, it’s not contributing to your gains. If you’re not gassed by the end of your runs, you won’t hit a personal best. But if there’s one thing you should work toward in 2021, it’s training smarter. With a wearable like WHOOP Strap 3.0, you can monopolize your health and fitness data to see how your daily workout intensity in conjunction with work and life stress impacts your body’s ability to recover. It’s like having a personal trainer on your wrist.
    WHOOP Strap 3.0 Courtesy Image
    How WHOOP Measures Daily Strain and Recovery
    WHOOP scientists pored over a million different days of “Strain” and “Recovery” metrics from users to see exactly how they impacted peoples’ heart rate variability (HRV) the following day. Quick primer: HRV measures fluctuations in time between heartbeats. At rest, it can swing between, say, 55 and 65 beats per minute, since inhaling speeds up your heart rate while exhaling slows it down. A lower HRV means your body is struggling to handle stress and fatigue, while a higher HRV means your body is well-equipped to handle exertion. Since heart rate is the only objective measure of recovery, it’s WHOOP’s main deciding factor in how intensely you should be training on a day-to-day basis. To help users discern data, WHOOP scientists created the Strain metric to quantify overall stress put on your body. Based on your recovery each morning, WHOOP provides a target strain goal based on what your body is signaling it can handle for the day.

    Now that’s not to say you always want to be in the green. If you’re training for a triathlon, you’re likely going to have training blocks of intense exercise where you’re overreaching, in which you’re prioritizing fitness gains over full recovery. That’s necessary for your short-term goal. When you near race day, you’ll taper and enter a restoring phase to help your body recuperate before the big event. That’s also necessary for your short-term goal; if it’s a long-term pattern, however, you’ll begin to detrain and lose endurance and/or muscle mass, depending on what you’ve been training for. Likewise, if you’re hitting your max effort every single day, without taking time to fully recover, that can culminate in overtraining, injury, and exhaustion.
    On the app, there are two rings that indicate your strain and recovery for the day—a quick overview of your insights. Bigger efforts can be anywhere from a 14-19+ on the Strain scale, and it’s indicated as a blue line that inches closer to being “completed” depending on how close you get to your target strain (again, everything is relative; it’s not necessarily good or bad to hit the max). Your recovery is similarly presented as a circle within your Strain ring, although it’s color-coded to reflect the above Training Zones. Toggle to Strain, Recovery, and Sleep for a deeper dive into your analytics for the day and month (shown below).
    WHOOP app insights Courtesy of Brittany Smith
    Because WHOOP is combining yesterday’s Strain metrics with the night’s duration and quality of sleep, some athletes can naturally perform at a higher caliber—clocking more workouts at a higher intensity without teetering into the Overreaching zone if they’re also prioritizing optimal recovery. Sleep recharges your body. It regulates growth hormone to help build and repair muscle by healing those microtears caused during exercise; and regulates cortisol, the stress hormone, which can lead to inflammation in the body and inhibit recovery.

    WHOOP Strap 3.0 Courtesy Image
    Can a Strap Replace a Personal Trainer? It Can—If You Know How to Leverage Your WHOOP Data
    1. Do a Deep Dive Into Your Recovery
    When most individuals work with personal trainers, they’re not always honest about their diet, stress, sleeping habits, and how much they drink throughout the week. But WHOOP provides a subjective view of how your body is faring internally in ways a personal trainer could never infer. Based on recovery, having a target strain goal makes it easier to understand when you should aim to have a more intense workout or focus on rest and active recovery. The app creates a holistic picture that connects the dots between data and lifestyle behaviors so you can draw parallels and uncover what’s hindering your recovery.
    For example, in the monthly performance assessment (you can look over the year too), WHOOP breaks down your quality of sleep over the last 30 days. If your restorative sleep is on a downward trend, make a concerted effort to close the gap between the sleep you’re getting and what your body optimally needs. A coach or trainer would tell you to perfect your sleep hygiene, but won’t know what that means for you. Look at your nightly journal. If alcohol is wrecking your recovery, rethink how and when you drink. Maybe you save the beers for your recovery day, rather than the night before a strenuous workout. (Also check out these science-backed natural sleep aids experts swear by.) Take sleep as seriously as you do your workouts, and you’ll unlock new levels of athletic potential.
    2. Use Strain to Measure Stress in and out of Training
    Most wearables track calories, steps, distance, and pace. But workouts impact us all differently based on how fit we are and our body’s ability to perform. With the Strain metric, WHOOP helps quantify how strenuous your workout and day is based on your fitness level. For example, running a 5K for an advanced runner might register as a light strain of 7-9, but it might be closer to a 14-17 for someone new to running. The distance is still the same, but the effort required from the body is different in each case. WHOOP is unique in that it helps quantify this type of stress on an individual level. You’ll learn which of those are true for you by clocking different types of workouts at varying intensities and durations.
    3. Take Actionable Strides From Journal Findings
    The great thing about the app is it gives you the chance to journal. In the morning, you’ll indicate if you consumed caffeine (how much and when), alcohol (how much), took prescription sleep medicine, viewed a screened device before falling asleep (how long), read a book, and shared your bed with a partner. If you find too much coffee late in the day keeps you up, scale back or cut yourself off at noon. If you find your smartphone or laptop is making it harder to fall asleep, nix the electronics an hour before bed. The WHOOP Strap 3.0 and app are less fixated on hitting arbitrary goals like getting in 10,000 steps, and more focused on interpreting empirical data. Make parallels. If you’re able to fall asleep faster when you listen to a meditation before bed, make it a nightly habit.
    4. Lean In to Heart Rate Variability
    When your HRV increases, indicating you’re more recovered, you can engage in more demanding sessions, which can be longer in duration or higher in intensity. Likewise, when HRV decreases, you can prioritize low-intensity sessions. Studies have shown this type of intuitive programming yields greater fitness gains than following a fixed program that doesn’t factor in your individual needs. This is where WHOOP outshines a personal trainer. Your coach might have a specific order of workouts for the week that might not be the most conducive to your fitness gains. However, WHOOP can help you fine-tune your training programs to prevent burnout via HRV. As gym culture drastically shifts, putting more of the onus into our hands, isn’t it time you take greater autonomy over your health and fitness? WHOOP thinks so—and we agree.

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    The Weird Way Coffee Can Make an All-Nighter Worse

    Maybe you were up every other hour with your newborn, or you pulled an all-nighter for the company’s annual report. Or maybe you just spent the night tossing and turning for no good reason. Whatever the case, when your alarm goes off at 6 a.m., you need help or you’ll never make it through the day. Instinctively, you brew yourself a cup of coffee—nature’s perfect antidote to feeling like death warmed over. But it turns out, while it may give your system a jolt, it’s weighing pretty heavy on your long-term health.

    A report in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a night of poor sleep followed by a morning cup of black coffee caused blood sugar levels to spike 50 percent in otherwise young and healthy study participants. One suspected reason: Caffeine may contribute to insulin resistance, says lead study author Harry Smith at the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise & Metabolism at the University of Bath in the UK.

    “Caffeine has a negative impact on sensors in our muscles that help the muscle take glucose out of the blood, hence why we saw the elevated blood glucose in the coffee condition,” he explains.
    Since high blood sugar is the first step toward diabetes and other heart issues, it’s best to avoid it. One solution, suggests Smith, is to drink your coffee after breakfast, rather than before, which can help negate some of the effects of caffeine on blood glucose control.
    Another fix: “Physical activity is a great way to control blood glucose levels and it is entirely possible that some morning exercise could be enough to negate the effect of caffeine on blood sugar levels as well,” he says, also noting that moderate coffee consumption has been linked with other positive health effects so there’s no reason to ditch the java entirely, especially if you pull an all-nighter.

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    Binge-Drinkers Have a Harder Time Feeling Empathy

    A glass of wine may be good for your ticker, but too much booze can damage your heart in a more metaphorical manner: Researchers at the University of Sussex in England found that binge-drinking (defined as drinking three-quarters to a bottle of wine at once) impedes people’s ability to empathize with another person’s pain.

    To study this, the scientists monitored brain activity in binge-drinkers (sober at the time) and non-binge-drinkers as they were shown images of an injured body part and asked to rate the pain experienced by a person with this injury. It took binge-drinkers longer to respond, they perceived the pain to be minimal, and the areas of their brains responsible for feelings like empathy lit up on the screen—suggesting binge-drinkers have to work overtime to imagine someone else’s angst.

    Why does binge-drinking mess with your ability to tune into other people’s feelings? “During a binge-drinking episode, large amounts of alcohol enter the brain within a limited time period, followed by a period of no drinking—as opposed to regular drinking in which a person might consume similar weekly amounts of alcohol, but without the extremes of intoxication and withdrawal,” says study author Dora Duka, M.D., Ph.D.

    Tthese swings in alcohol levels appear to cause dysfunction in part of the brain. “The pattern of binge-drinking seems to poison the brain both during intoxication and during withdrawal.”
    Bottom line: Go steady on the booze and practice moderation.

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    The Best Toothpastes to Freshen Up Your Brushing Routine

    Toothpaste has come a long way since the late 19th century, when it first saw wide use. Nowadays, the market has grown beyond the many indistinguishable drugstore varieties to include natural alternatives, unique flavorings, and more. Choosing the best toothpaste involves parsing a lot of options—here’s what to look out for.

    To Fluoride or Not to Fluoride?
    Many of the new oral care brands tout their fluoride-free formulations as a selling point. But is fluoride really a bad thing? Because of its ability to prevent tooth decay, fluoride is typically added to both oral care products and tap water. But some people fear potential long-term effects of fluoride exposure, and brands have begun to offer fluoride-free alternatives.
    Fluoride-free formulas won’t offer the same prevention against tooth decay as traditional ones, but that may not matter much: The brushing action of your toothbrush is more crucial in oral hygiene than the toothpaste you use. Using toothpaste offers other benefits, however, such as teeth whitening and breath freshening.
    If you’re looking to upgrade from the usual drugstore tubes, new toothpaste brands offer perks like unique flavors, natural ingredients, and sustainable packaging. To help you in your search, we’ve rounded up some of the best natural and notable products on the market.

    Buly 1803 Opiat Dentaire Mint Coriander Cucumber Courtesy Image
    Buly 1803 Opiat Dentaire Mint Coriander Cucumber
    French brand Buly 1803’s Opiat Dentaire is hard to resist just for its stylish, plastic-free packaging alone. But the fluoride-free formula also incorporates thermal spring water from the Castéra-Verduzan region of southwestern France, which is famed for its ability to treat periodontal maladies.
    Get it Hello toothpastes Courtesy Image
    Hello Activated Charcoal Epic Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste
    Hello’s vegan, cruelty-free ‘pastes are made in the USA and stand out for offering both fluoride and fluoride-free options. For an extra boost of whitening, try the activated charcoal variety, which is made with mint and coconut oil for fresher breath.
    Get it

    Marvis Whitening Mint Toothpaste Courtesy Image
    Marvis Whitening Mint Toothpaste
    Hailing from Florence, Marvis has been beloved for years for its colorful packaging and delectable flavors, ranging from jasmine to liquorice. Although it’s not all-natural, the Italian brand’s fluoride-free whitening toothpaste is particularly popular for eradicating stains from too many glasses of vino.
    Get it

    byHumankind Toothpaste Tablets Courtesy Image
    byHumankind Toothpaste Tablets
    byHumankind offers a new way to shop for personal care products (and cuts down on packaging waste) by selling refillable containers and all-natural formulations. Its toothpaste tablets, made with fluoride and microcrystalline cellulose to polish the teeth, are no different: Choose your container and purchase a one-time set of tablets or subscribe for discounted refills. To use them, just chew one and start brushing—no squeezing from a tube required.
    Get it Aesop Toothpaste Courtesy Image
    Aesop Toothpaste
    Certified B-Corp company Aesop has won fans the world over thanks to its high-quality skincare products, and the Australian brand brings its same mix of natural, luxurious formulations to its oral care line. This product offers a distinct mint and anise flavor, and there’s a matching mouthwash available for added freshness.
    Get it Davids Premium Natural Toothpaste Courtesy Image
    Davids Premium Natural Toothpaste
    Eric David Buss launched Davids in 2015 with the goal of making the best natural toothpaste on the market. The result? This fluoride-free formula with baking soda for whitening. The brand also includes a metal tool with purchases to help you get the last drop out of the recyclable metal packaging.
    Get it

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    The Longer You Stare at a Screen, the Worse Your Health Habits Become

    Screen time is way up since the global pandemic began. While it’s an understandable diversion from life during COVID-19, it’s problematic when it comes to the rest of your health. A new study from scientists at Arizona State University shows the longer someone stares at a TV, phone, or computer screen during the day, the worse their health habits are.

    Interestingly, when researchers broke down the screen use and health behaviors of the roughly 1,000 study participants, they found watching TV was linked to the worst eating habits, while smartphone use was most directly correlated to poor sleep. All screen use has some negative health consequences, says Christopher Wharton, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition at
Arizona State and co-author of the study, but if you’re going to pick your battles, start by limiting the Netflix binges and shutting off your phone an hour before bed. “Different devices matter for different health behaviors, and we can make more targeted health improvements if we think about use of particular devices,” he says.

    Getting away from your devices during COVID takes discipline. “For those who are having to spend more time in front of screens right now for work, such as myself, I take every opportunity to move away from them when work is done,” says Wharton. “I go play with my kids, work out outdoors, do woodworking projects, and pursue new COVID hobbies—I’m learning the violin. All of that delivers way more value for me personally than watching TV, especially after spending my whole day staring at a screen.”

    Meanwhile, when you do choose to zone out in front of the tube, keep a bowl of fruit on your coffee table and pre-sliced carrots and cucumbers in a ziplock bag in your fridge so you can pull it out when the game is on. Mindlessly noshing on an entire bowl of fresh veggies with salsa dip vs. a bowl of chips with sour cream dip will save you about 2,000 calories.

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    Are Turmeric Benefits Worth the Hype? A Sports Dietician Sounds Off

    You’ve probably heard of turmeric by now, the golden spice that’s been promoted for a host of health boons. But what exactly is it? Can turmeric benefits make a difference in your day-to-day life? And what are the best ways to consume it? Here’s everything you need to know.

    What Is Turmeric
    Turmeric is a spice that’s derived from the curcuma longa root, which is part of the ginger family. In fact, it looks remarkably similar to ginger root. The major difference, however, is turmeric has an intense golden-yellow color. That pigment comes from its active compound, curcumin (more on this below). The spice is used worldwide, but is especially common in Indian cuisine and as a remedy to treat certain health conditions such as arthritis and heart conditions.

    Health Benefits of Turmeric
    Turmeric contains many plant-based substances that have a number of proposed health benefits. One group of these substances is called curcuminoids, which provides the greatest health-promoting benefits. That includes the powerhouse we mentioned before, curcumin, which is revered for its anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties. In fact, it’s arguably the most potent, naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory agent around.
    Now post-workout, inflammation increases in your body as a healing measure. But excess inflammation can be disruptive to healthy cellular processes, like metabolic function, and can damage certain cellular structures, like arteries. By prioritizing a spice like turmeric—and nixing bad behaviors like smoking, being sedentary, and consuming foods that are processed or high in saturated fat—you can boost recovery and overall well-being by lowering inflammation.
    The downside to curcumin is that it isn’t absorbed very well in the gut when consumed. To get the dosage that’s going to be most beneficial, supplementation is often needed. Luckily there are many methods that can help increase absorption. Two of the most common: Pair turmeric with piperine (or black pepper extract), or combine it with fats. We’ll show you how below.
    How to Consume Turmeric for the Greatest Health Benefits
    It’s easier to combine fats and turmeric than you’d think. Add the spice with black pepper, avocado oil or coconut oil, and veggies, tofu, and/or chicken to boost its bioavailability. Golden lattes have also become incredibly popular: heat together coconut oil, almond milk, fresh turmeric, honey, and cinnamon. (Make it at home so you know you’re getting high-quality turmeric.) You can even blend turmeric into your post-workout or morning smoothie; just make sure you use almond milk or full-fat dairy as your liquid to get those healthy fats to bind to the turmeric. There’s one caveat: When you add the spice to meals, it might contain as little at 3 percent curcuminoids, the beneficial active compound. In this case, supplementation is your best bet to get the benefits of turmeric and curcumin.
    Take 1,500 mg of curcumin with 60 mg of piperine per day. Or, try supplementing with Meriva, a patented form of curcumin; take 400–1,000 mg per day. Extracts like these are the most potent forms and yield the greatest health benefits.

    Top 3 Turmeric Supplements to Take:
    Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.

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    How to Make Food Your First Line of Defense Against Depression

    In June 2020, depression and anxiety were up threefold across America compared to the same time last year, reports the CDC. The knee-jerk reaction is too often popping a pill. What if we looked at food more methodically to engineer homeostasis within? Eating healthier can improve symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and nausea, says psychiatrist Leela Magavi. Feeling more alert and energetic can domino into other mood-boosting behaviors like exercise and self-care. What’s more, a growing body of research suggests certain nutrients may help rein in anxious feelings and curb depression.

    Fatten Up Your Diet
    People who eat a Mediterranean-like diet—high in omega-3-rich fish, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, but low in meat and dairy—are the least likely to develop anxiety. Healthy fats lower inflammation (linked to depressive symptoms) and boost production of a specific brain protein (BDNF) that influences neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to form new connections and communicate effectively, says Jody Bergeron, RN.
    Try it: Eat fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and avocados, or take a supple-ment with EPA and DHA to get up to 2,000 milligrams of omega-3 per day.

    The Whole of It
    Twelve key vitamins and minerals—including iron, omega-3s, magnesium, zinc, plus vitamin C, B6 and 12—help prevent and treat depressive disorders. An international meta-analysis concluded that ingesting a full spectrum (30+) can ease mood dysregulation, ADHD, aggression, and anxiety. Your gut and brain have a direct line of communication, so micronutrients impact inflammation levels and mood, Bergeron says. Vegetables and whole grains keep your gut microbiome diverse and healthy—necessary since nearly 90 percent of the happiness hormone serotonin is produced in the GI tract, she adds.
    Try it: Every day, load up on leafy greens, fresh herbs, whole grains (oats, farro, wild rice), quinoa, beans, nuts, cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage), berries, and other colorful produce. Get more probiotic foods like miso, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt, too.
    Ditch the Sugar to Dampen Depression
    Men who consume a lot of sugar are nearly a quarter more likely to develop anxiety or depression over five years, while the low-sugar DASH diet helps older adults stave off depression. Too much sweet stuff creates insulin resistance, which increases inflammation and releases chronic stress hormones, Magavi explains. Higher glucose levels slow brain cell growth and lower overall connectivity.
    Try it: Cut back on added sugar, at least to the RDA of 6 percent of daily calories.

    The Nutrition Plan to Boost Mood and Fight Depression
    Breakfast: Green tea, half a grapefruit, an omelet with sautéed veggies, fresh herbs, a small amount of cheese, and olive oil, plus a side of whole-grain toast.
    Mid-Morning Snack: Cottage cheese and blueberries topped with honey crunch wheat germ.
    Lunch: Mexican bowl with black beans, farro, corn, red cabbage, leafy greens, avocado, salsa, and cheese.
    Afternoon Snack: A few squares of 60 percent dark chocolate with almonds.
    Dinner: Broiled wild sockeye salmon or steamed mussels with a side of brown rice and steamed asparagus or broccoli.
    Dessert: Plain Greek yogurt topped with berries and whole-grain granola.

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