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BodyBannerWhile doing research on Chia seeds last year, I came across a study that showed how increasing the daily intake to 8 TBSP for 12 weeks helped people with Type-2 diabetes lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve blood sugar regulation.

I decided to experiment on myself. Would consuming the same amount also have a noticeable effect on a perfectly healthy 29-year-old?

I splurged and bought this massive 10 lb bag of Chia seeds. It was bigger than a baby, and it was awesome.

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It’s a boy! 10 lbs 0 oz.

It took 40 straight days of eating 8 TBSP to kill that bag. Man, that was a lot of seeds.

The Results

In the original University of Toronto study, participants continued to eat their usual unhealthy diet and simply added chia seeds to it. This allowed researchers to better isolate the health effects of the chia seed variable.

I on the other hand, added chia seeds to an already healthy diet and low-stress lifestyle. My results are subjective, but I can say that I did notice a tangible difference in the following areas:

Overall Energy

It’s not surprising that the word “Chia” comes from the Mayan language meaning strength, as Chia seeds have linked to increased stamina and energy levels. From my experience, I also found this to true.

While eating 8 TBSP didn’t give me consistent Energizer Bunny-like endurance, I did notice a significant reduction in the rest needed between activities. For example, it became easier for me to workout immediately after returning home from running errands all day. Once I made the decision to run or work out, my body often felt instantly on board, almost completely drowning out that complaining, lazy voice of resistance in my head.

I’ve found that the best way to maximize energy throughout the day is to eat the majority of the 8 TBSP in the morning with breakfast. Since it takes up to four hours for Chia seeds to digest, consuming it in morning will help strategically release the energy needed to combat that dreaded afternoon food coma.

I began to notice this beneficial change in energy at about the 3 week mark.

I loved my Bag O' Chia just like Kumar and his bag...

I loved my Bag O’ Chia just like Kumar and his bag…

Muscle Mass

At 29, I have better muscle definition than when I was 20. Back then I worked out three times as often, ate an average of 1.5 chicken breasts a day, drank a gallon of milk a week, and had a protein shake after each workout.

Since then I have completely cut out protein powders, milk, and toned down my meat and cheese consumption, while fine-tuning my diet to be vegetable dominant.

I now get my protein from only natural sources (chia seeds, kale, nuts, fish, eggs, tofu, quinoa, beans etc.) and it keeps my muscles firm and lean. I may not as huge as I used to be, but my diet upgrade is clearly responsible for the stronger, leaner, more muscular body that I have now.

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There are 24 grams of protein in 8 TBSP of Chia seeds. That’s the same as eating a chicken breast.

For me, increasing my protein consumption didn’t have a noticeable effect (I wasn’t trying to bulk up), but I’m sure it helped with muscle growth and maintenance.

Why I Think I Have More Muscle Mass at 29.

I have never counted my protein (or calories, or fat) intake because I believe that obsessing about numbers does way more harm than good, but clearly, my change in diet has resulted in a reduction in protein consumption. This begs the question, why am I in better shape now, being a decade older, working out embarrassingly less than I used to, and eating fewer grams of protein?

My theory for this illogical result is that

  1. My vegetable-dominant diet helped trim my body down to a lower body fat percentage, and keep me slim.
  2. Having a leaner body allowed for muscle to be more visible and easier to sculpt (tacking on muscle rather than converting excess fat into muscle).
  3. I’m also convinced there is a huge mental component, aside from stress management, to physical health and aging. I’ll write more about my thoughts on this in a future post.

Running Endurance

Not the only runner fueled by seeds.

Not the only runner fueled by seeds.

Chia seeds are a hot item in the running community because it helps increase endurance levels as well as provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Chia seeds may also help keep the body better hydrated as they are hydrophilic and can absorb up to 12 times its weight in water.

I recently started getting into running, but for the longest time I hated it. Like a lot of people, I had an aversion to running. It was boring and I associated it with punishment, like running suicides for missing basketball practice in high school.

I still had an aversion to running while I was doing my Chia seed experiment, and as a result, I did not run enough to be able to observe consistently higher endurance levels.

However, during the few times that I did run, I surprised myself.

Usually when I run around Lake Merritt in Oakland (3 miles), I get gassed by the first mile. That’s when that negative inner voice kicks in and I contemplate quitting. Before Chia seeds, only a perfectly-timed pump up song or a pair of sexy runners just ahead of me could snap my motivation back online.

But after weeks of having Chia seeds flowing through my veins, I found myself turning on the afterburners, kicking it into high gear, and easily finishing the last 2 miles like this persistent policeman:

 

Chia seeds. Try it out and let me know what it does for you.

Find my original post on Chia Seeds HERE,

and my other post– EAT THIS EVERYDAY: 4 TBSP CHIA SEEDS.

 

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3

 

BodyBanner

The daily recommended amount is 1 TBSP.

F$#% that.

You’re better than that. Let’s do 4, and if you’re really overweight, 8 TBSP a day.

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You really can’t go wrong loading up on chia seeds. Even if you don’t have the best diet right now, simply by adding chia seeds you’ll start slimming down and feeling better. Eating chia seeds is like collecting $200 for passing GO–it’s an easy freebie to get you back on track to your optimal body. So go pick some up ASAP and don’t be lazy. There are no excuses with this one.

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This is going on my future driveway.

Health Benefits:

In addition to being packed with Omega-3s, fiber, and being the highest source of protein of any seed or grain, it also has

  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • 18% daily recommended amount of calcium
  • 27% daily recommended amount of phosphorus
  • 30% daily recommended amount of manganese
  • copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, zinc

“But Matthew, how do you expect me to eat 4 TBSP a day?!” 

Easy.

  • Toss a couple spoonfuls into your oatmeal.
Mix it all up. It tastes amazing!

This is the delicious way I start my mornings. It only has the best of the best in it—every ingredient tastes great and makes me healthier. The chia seeds are buried in there somewhere…

Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve had a green juice almost everyday for the past two years. It is clearly the single best change that I’ve made to upgrade my diet and elevate my health.

green-juice

With green juices, we now have the opportunity to consume more vegetable nutrients than was ever humanly possible. One 0.5L juice can contain the equivalent of eating about five plates of vegetables, and that’s a lot chewing.

Studies show that plant-based nutrients are what the cells in our bodies need most, and that our current diet does not contain nearly as many vegetables as it should.

We all know that we need to eat more veggies. Juicing provides an efficient way to pack it all in and still have room to eat.

Benefits

Since I started drinking green juices daily, I noticed that I began benefitting from the following:

  • an instant energy boost. It works better than coffee for me, and is great for workouts.
  • better stamina
  • a more positive mindset
  • reduced stress and irritability
  • brighter eyes
  • greater mental clarity and focus
  • clearer, more radiant skin
  • weight loss, muscle gain Read the rest of this entry »

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Yes it looks very girly, but this DVD changed my life.

crunch-pyblend

 

 

 

I threw out my lower back during my senior year in high school. It was the morning of the Homecoming dance, and I had over slept. I jumped out of bed and immediately began washing my car. Being parked on a sloped driveway, I was forced to vacuum and soap the entire car hunched over. That’s my back suddenly gave out and I collapsed onto the concrete. I couldn’t move. Luckily however, my dad had just completed his acupuncture training and was able to patch me up in time to make it to the dance.

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Yah… something like this.

Over the next five years I suffered from chronic lower back pain. I couldn’t sit for longer than a few minutes without having to shift positions.

I tried physical therapy. It didn’t help.

At the gym I focused more on working out my back and abs. Still nothing.

I had just about given up on the idea of regaining a normal range of motion when I stumbled into the movie section in the Santa Barbara public library one summer and found this yoga DVD.  Read the rest of this entry »

BodyBanner

Find the time to squeeze one lemon into your daily routine and start drinking your way to better health.

 

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The Health Benefits:

What’s inside:

  • high in vitamin C
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • rich in flavonoids and antioxidants

Lemons Promote Heart and Respiratory Health

The vitamin C and the flavonoids (naringenin, hesperitin, and quercetin) found in lemons and limes help prevent the development and progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Lemons may also help in protecting against cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes, as intake of these flavonoids have been linked with lower incidences of these diseases.

For lung health, studies show that people with low levels of vitamin C in their diets are at high risk of reacting to pollutants in the air. Research also suggests a positive correlation between high intakes of these flavonoids found in lemons and a lower incidence of asthma.

Lemons are an Alkaline-Forming Food 

Lemons, although acidic going down, are actually highly alkaline when digested. Eating more alkaline-forming foods (fruits, vegetables and water) rather than acid-forming foods (meat, fried or processed food, and soda) will help detoxify the body and keep it healthy and balanced. 

Some suggestions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Everyone’s new years resolution should be to cut out sugar completely. It’s really that important.

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We all know that sugar is bad, but many of us are in the dark about the actual effects it has on the body.

Sugar, especially fructose is toxic. Consuming too much fructose will

  • Make you fat.
  • Age your cells faster.
  • Slow down your brain.
  • Can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you’re full.
  • Can be as toxic to the liver as alcohol.

If you haven’t watched Sugar: The Bitter Truth by UCSF Professor Dr. Robert Lustig, please find the time to watch it this week. It just might be the most important video on health out there. 4 million views can’t be wrong.

Read the rest of this entry »

BodyBannerBeauty

Where to Buy:

  • Trader Joe’s
  • Whole Foods

Cost: 

  • $9.99 (Trader Joe’s) for 1L bottle (lasts me about 5-6 months)

dr bronner

I’m a minimalist in the bathroom.

There are only two things in my tub: a 1L bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, and a loofa.

I use only about a 1-2 tbsp each time I shower (a little bit creates a lot of lather), and that’s enough to use as a face wash, body wash, and shampoo.

I made the switch a few years back when I took the time to look at the ingredients of the body wash I was using in the past. Whether it’s Old Spice, Axe, or Dove, I found that the main ingredient was water, followed by a ton of chemicals that I had never heard of.

Dove's Men+Care

Dove’s Men+Care

In contrast, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is made up of coconut, olive, hemp, jojoba and peppermint oil. It was pretty clear which one was going to be better for your skin. Plus, I prefer smelling like fresh peppermint rather than a cheap cologne sample insert found in a Maxim magazine.

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s nothing more uplifting and healing than being in the presence of a newborn baby. They’re so full of life, joy, and wonder.

baby-1

While infants can serve as a bundle of love to brighten your day, there is actually much we can learn by observing these little ones.

Infants are the purest expression of human life. They are the closest example we have to a life driven solely by nature. In the beginning, there is no sense of self, no “I.” As we grow up we develop this ego, attach to it, and create a lot of unnecessary psychological suffering for ourselves.

Babies however fully accept their world, unaffected by the opinions of others. All they know is simply how to live. Just as animals are born with a wiring to act a certain way from birth (such as baby turtles knowing how to find the ocean from the beach and start swimming), all babies live from their innate human wiring.

Over time we learn to suppress our nature through social conditioning.

Babies give us the chance to remember what it means to act human. There are certain universal behaviors all infants share.

Take breathing for example. Read the rest of this entry »

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DID YOU KNOW: If you start eating only healthy foods, you will begin to crave only healthy foods. Fast food cravings will become a distant memory.

Sasha Pivovarova003

Over the past year I’ve been suggesting new ways to eat to my friends. What I’ve come to learn is that quite a few people do not have the willingness to change even though they know that they must. Old habits die hard. The most common resistance is the belief that choosing to consistently eat healthier is a tradeoff to taste, and a sacrifice of comfort food.

The first objection is completely false. Eating right SHOULD always taste good. I don’t believe in “diets” where people switch from eating like crap and then detoxing like crazy to somehow make up for poor eating habits. This does not bring balance to the body nor does it reinforce a healthy, loving relationship with food or with yourself.

I believe in making eating a pleasurable experience, but also to make food serve in bringing you back to your optimal state of being. Food heals the body, not working out. No matter how many crunches you do, it won’t heal your liver or your digestive system. Eating the right foods will heal the inside, which automatically will express itself more beautifully on the outside. Working out is like icing on the cake, but remember, it’s not the cake.  Read the rest of this entry »

BodyBannerBeauty

The other night I took a bath for the first time in years.

I decided to go all out and put a glob of coconut oil (3-4 tbsp) in the tub, dumped in some used green tea bags, and turned up the Heart Meditations Pandora station.

I might as well have put in some raw honey to complete the trifecta of brewing myself like my morning tea…

cheeky monkey

Bathing like a cheeky monkey.

Read the rest of this entry »

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tomato broccoliPairing cooked tomatoes with cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) have been shown to help prevent certain cancers, especially prostate cancer. What’s more interesting is that recent research shows that eating tomatoes and broccoli together has even greater synergistic health benefits.

A study published in Cancer Research showed that prostate tumors grew much slower in rats fed both tomato and broccoli powder, compared to rats that ate either broccoli or tomato powder alone, or rats given lycopene as a supplement to their regular diet.

Cooking Tips

To get the most out of this dynamic duo, they must be cooked in a way that optimizes their nutritional value.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Where to buy: Whole Foods

Cost: $4 for a 1/2 lb

If you’re going to eat butter, might as well eat the healthiest butter out there.

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What is pasture butter?

Pasture butter is different from the standard stick of butter because it’s made from the milk of pastured cows. Most of the butter in our country comes from cows in large commercial farms. To cut cost, these cows are raised in cramped living environments (often unsanitary and probably stressful to the cows) and fed grains (unnatural diet). Pastured cows on the other hand can range freely, and feed on fresh grass (natural diet). Additionally these cows are raised without any antibiotics, hormones or pesticides. As a result, pasture butter more closely resembles its pure state and is also richer in nutrients than regular butter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Continued from Part 1

Wait, isn’t coconut oil full of saturated fat and bad for your heart?

It’s true, coconut oil is high in saturated fat. However, contrary to popular belief, coconut oil does not contribute to higher cholesterol levels. The reason for this is because of the MCFAs. By nature, these medium-chain fatty acids are burned almost immediately for energy production and thus are not converted to body fat or cholesterol like other fats do. Additionally, coconut oil’s high lauric acid content has been shown to increase HDL levels (good cholesterol) and decreasing the LDL/HDL ratio.

People who live in tropical regions have traditionally consumed diets high in saturated fats. This includes consuming more coconut oil than other parts of the world. According to the University of Michigan Health System, tropical populations, such as the Polynesians, tend to have lower instances of heart disease than those in Western countries. Eating coconut oil with a healthful diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a study conducted in 1981 by I.A. Prior, which examined the relationship between coconuts and cholesterol in the Polynesian diet.

Coconut oil as a cooking oil.

Coconut oil is an ideal oil to cook because its high saturated fat content enables it to remain stable at high cooking temperatures while still retaining its nutrients. Healthy oils such as olive oil can become harmful to your health if they are overheated and begin breaking down. Additionally, coconut oil does not go rancid easily and can be stored for long periods of time without becoming oxidized.

Keep banging those coconuts together.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Where to buy: Nutiva.com, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Amazon

– make sure to buy organic unrefined extra-virgin

Recommendation: Small jars can be bought from TJ’s and Whole Foods (but more expensive). Costco sells a big jar of Nutiva.

The best deal is buying direct from Nutiva. Shipping is free and you can save $10 by using a coupon from Retailmenot.com. I buy a 1 gallon tub from Nutiva for $50. I eat it, use it as a cooking oil, and body/face moisturizer. It lasts me about 5-6 months.

Cost: $10 for 14 oz — $50 for 1 Gallon.

How much to eat

Up to 3 ½ tablespoons a day = 50g of medium-chain fatty acids

Making the switch to coconut oil as my go-to cooking oil while also adding it to my diet has been one of the most important things that I’ve done for my health.

It’s all about medium-chain fatty acids…

Coconut-Oil

Solid at temperatures below 75 degrees.

What makes coconut oil unique is that it is composed primarily of medium-chain fatty acids. At 64%, coconut oil is its best natural source. MCFAs are healthy fats that may help you lose weight through a boost to your metabolism and also protect you with its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

Losing weight with coconut oil

  • Coconut oil produces energy, not fat

Most fats, if not used immediately as an energy source, are stored as fat tissue on our bodies. But MCFAs are a unique breed of fats. Due to their smaller carbon-chain structure, they are digested differently than the typical long-chain fatty acids found in meat and vegetable oils. When consumed, coconut oil is sent straight to liver and converted to energy like a carbohydrate (though it does not raise blood sugar levels), and thus does not get stored as body fat or as deposits in the arteries. Read the rest of this entry »

BodyBannersnackupgrade

Forget about what I wrote in the original kale chips post. I figured out how to make them perfectly crispy and flaky.

The key is to not bake the kale on a pan, but to place the kale leaves directly on the oven grill. By doing this, all the moisture is zapped out and the kale starts getting toasted.

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STEPS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Rinse the kale and pat dry.
  3. Spread the kale leaves evenly across the oven grill.
  4. After about 3-4 minutes, flip each leaf over once
  5. Remove from oven once the kale is crispy and flaky (an extra 2-3 minutes)
  6. Use scissors to cut up the kale into a large bowl (stems included).

Baking the kale this way turns them into chips faster, so make sure you’re close by to take it out before it starts burning. Also be careful when opening the oven to flip the leaves. Baking kale directly on the grill creates a lot of steam and sometimes smoke.

Once you get all the chips in a bowl, try out this more addictive new recipe.

Read the rest of this entry »

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