Archive for the 'Wellness' Category

Apple Cider Vinegar: Fad or Fail?

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My mom has always sworn by apple cider vinegar, but is this just a trend or does the benefits really amount to all the hype it has received? Let’s investigate as to why this magic elixir has gotten so much buzz in the health industry and come to a conclusion whether it is something you should consider implementing into your daily routine!

What is apple cider vinegar?

It i made out of crushed apples or apple cider that is then exposed to yeast. The sugars eventually ferment into alcohol. Bacteria is then added to the alcohol solution, which further ferments it to acetic acid – an active ingredient in vinegar.

1. Regulates blood sugar levels

Consuming apple cider vinegar was found to decrease blood sugar levels by an average of 31% percent. Further studies proved that giving diabetic rats apple cider vinegar managed to reduce blood sugar levels over a span of as little as four weeks. In relation to blood sugar levels, vinegar ingestion improves insulin sensitivity to those facing diabetes.

2. Helps promote weight loss

Studies show that vinegar can increase satiety, causing you to eat 200-275 fewer calories than usual.

A study in 175 people with obesity showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss (13):

  • 15 mL (1 tablespoon): Lost 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms.
  • 30 mL (2 tablespoons): Lost 3.7 pounds, or 1.7 kilograms.

Despite the results not being too significant during a three month span, this has the potential to make a difference and add up over a matter of time if done consistently.

3. Improves heart health

With vinegar having the ability to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it eventually translates to reducing heart disease risk factors in the long run. Improvement seen within blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes all contribute to reducing the risk of developing heart complications. 

4. Harnesses properties that could fight against cancer

Apple cider vinegar contains properties that have the capability to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors according to some studies that have been tested on rats. However, studies that have been tested on humans that show that vinegar consumption is in fact linked to a decrease in esophageal cancer in China.

5. Improves skin health

Vinegar has antibacterial and healing properties, which treats both active acne and the scarring that is left behind. The lactic acid in the vinegar is responsible for lightening pigmentation caused from acne and is proven to show the results in as little as three months under consistent use.

 

Sleep Tight! Don’t Let the Sleeping Cycle Bite!

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Sleeping is essential to staying healthy and functioning productively throughout the day. It is suggested to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep, but who said that all those hours have to take place sequentially after one another? Believe it or not, there are four different types of sleeping cycles that exist to get rest in different amounts and times throughout the day in accordance to people’s differently lifestyles. Find one that is right for you!

Now the standard sleep cycle that we all have come to know and love, along with have highly adapted to is the Monophasic Cycle. As you probably already know, It consists of 1 set of sleep that should lasts from 7-9 hours at night. This cycle is known to be the most convenient since it works for most people’s schedules in regards to 9-5 jobs, school, taking care of kids, etc. If the right amount of hours of sleep is met, there is minimal risk of sleep deprivation along with flexibility in sleeping and waking hours. The fact that the whole set is done all at once as a big chunk at night poses as an inconvenience to those who work late night shifts.

The Biphasic Cycle consists of a split sleeping cycle – one set in the day and one set at night. This method may be more popular than you think, you just might not associate it falling under another sleeping cycle category. The day set consists of a 1.5 hour nap and the night set lasts for only 5-6 hours. Napping during the day boosts memory and cognitive functions can be that needed pick me up to turn a sleep deprived day around. If done regularly, especially after lunch, napping can improve cardiovascular health and reduce stress. Despite these benefits, napping can be considered as a bad habit to for who are insomniacs, ill, jet lagged, or stressed.

The Everyman Cycle consists of 4 sleeping sets – 3 sets of 20 minute naps throughout the day and then a set of 3.5 hour rest at night. Since the naps are brief, but frequent, it allows for more flexibility and more waking hours than the Uberman Cycle. In total, those who participate in this specific sleep cycle will only be sleeping for 4.5 hours a day, making daytime napping necessary.

The Dymaxion Cycle consists of 4 sets of 30 minute naps, resulting in only 2 grueling hours of sleep in total. This cycle is notorious for being the hardest to adapt because it has the most amount of waking hours than any of the other cycles. Surprisingly, this cycle suits people who don’t require much sleep to function, or those with the DEC2 gene that makes someone a “short sleeper”.

Despite the Uberman Cycle existing, it is by no means practical to adapt into any person’s schedule. The cycle consists of 6-8 20 minute naps totalling to 2 hours of sleep a day. Once fully adapted, it has the flexibility of being able to fall asleep anywhere.

Reading all these sleeping cycles made me tired. I can’t believe that some of these cycles even exist! Sleep is vital and should be considered as a treat that we give to our bodies everyday. It is our bodies chance to replenish itself from a day of hard work to prepare itself for the day ahead!

 

Sweet dreams,

Diana Banzon

Hasta la Pasta, Hello Zoodles

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Lately, I have been experimenting with healthy recipes, testing out the meals that I genuinely enjoy eating, while ditching the meals that I feel like I am being forced to eat only because of its health benefits. Since being healthy is a lifestyle choice, it should be enjoyable in order to help the routine to stick and maintain that lasting motivation to keep continuing it. Zoodles (zucchini noodles) have been all the rage lately, so I wanted to hop onto the bandwagon and see what the fuss was all about. As a highly dedicated advocate of all things pasta and carbs, I could not see myself finding an alternative that was better for me, let alone GOOD! But low and behold, I proved myself wrong when I made zoodles for the first time. The manner in how they absorb the flavor of any sauce you put on top, the quick speed it takes to thoroughly cook them, and the sweet, nutty flavor are only a couple reasons that made this a immediate go-to staple for me!

Ingredients

  • Zucchini (spiralized)
  • Choice of Vegetables (I prefer broccoli and mushrooms)
  • Choice of Meat (I prefer no meat)
  • Sauce (Sriracha, Peanut Butter, Soy Sauce, Honey)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Peanuts

Directions

  1. Turn stove to medium heat
  2. Drizzle pan with olive oil
  3. Saute garlic into pan when it medium temperature
  4. Saute vegetables in the pan – follow up with meat if desired
  5. Mix sauce ingredients together and drizzle some of it onto the vegetables (and meat)
    1. I don’t follow strict measurements and usually eyeball the ratio, while trying it out periodically to get the taste and consistency to fit my liking
  6. Saute the zoodles with the vegetables and meat
  7. Let simmer until everything is cooked thoroughly
  8. Serve onto plate and top with crushed peanuts

I personally like my zoodles prepared incorporating Asian flavors, but if you are more open to other varieties, here is a list that I plan on trying in the future! Experiment, try some out, and modify it to your liking! Just know that you are doing your body good using zoodles as an alternative to your traditional pasta noodles! 

Diet plays a significant role of what keeps us going throughout the day, so why not make it the part of our day that we are are looking forward to instead of dreading!

30 Day Water Challenge

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I came across this video from Buzzfeed that challenged some of their very own employees to drink the recommended full eight glasses a day. Seems pretty easy right?  At first, I was waiting for there to be some sort of catch that made this challenge difficult, but to my surprise it was simply just drinking 8 glasses a day within 30-day span. This challenge only provided benefits, so I decided to try it out on my own in hopes to see positive results and gain a new healthy habit on my wellness journey!

My history with drinking water was a process that definitely took some time and patience. When I was younger, all I craved was anything loaded with sugar and always found drinking pop or juice as a treat that would only occur during special occasions, which only made me crave unhealthy beverages more. My parents were strict about this rule and made an effort to avoid keeping pop or any sugary drinks within the household. Not being exposed to it as long as I have was what I needed to slowly convert to drinking water, which eventually lead to craving it.

For someone that is already a big fan of water, drinking it wasn’t the difficult part of this challenge. I found myself sipping water constantly throughout the day, whether I was bored or feeling hungry. All this sipping that I wasn’t really noticing added up real quick, resulting in my frequent trips to the bathroom. Being smaller in height at 4’11.5 feet, I wasn’t surprised that my small bladder wasn’t going to respond well with my sudden intake of large amounts of water . It got annoying because the urge would always come out of nowhere and my trips were so close to each other that it disrupted my work flow and concentration on some occasions.

Despite all these discrepancies, the benefits make it all worth it. My skin has shown significant improvement in the clarity and moisture of my face and body. I feel more energized and focused at work, resulting in an increase in productivity. I feel more satisfied for both during and between meals because I have water to fill me up. These are only some of the many reasons as to how water has changed my life that I have physically noticed and seen, but just imagine the wonders it is doing for my body internally.

Your health and wellness journey is going to be a never ending process. So why not challenge yourself by taking part in drinking your recommended eight glasses a day! 

Diana Banzon

Let’s Get Personal: Update on MY Wellness Journey

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I’m going to get personal with you and say that my health and wellness journey hasn’t necessarily been a top priority in my life, even though I encourage it throughout all my writing for Marquette Employee Wellness. I would judge people for being so caught up in wanting to better their life and looks, simply because I was jealous that I didn’t have the motivation to do it myself in addition with the consistency to keep it up. Going into this summer, it finally hit me that I needed to make a lifestyle change. I am only getting older and what better than to establish healthy habits while I am still young, in hopes to instill it as a part of my routine in the future. Here are some easy tips for beginners like me on how to start their health and wellness journey today because you are never too late!

EAT BREAKFAST

I don’t always have the biggest appetite waking up in the morning, but the hunger immediately hits me when I am going about my day highly anticipating for lunch time. When lunch and dinner come around, I subconsciously overindulge to compensate for skipping breakfast. Break this habit by starting of the day right with a hearty breakfast. It helps kick start your metabolism, which is responsible for keeping you energized throughout the day and essentially increases your drive to work out. We all live in a fast pace world, so remember to keep up with it by not neglecting the most important meal of the day!

DRINK PLENTY OF WATER

Wanting water to go with every meal has been something that took years for me to gain. Now I can’t even imagine my meals being accompanied with anything else. I have witnessed a positive significance in my skin’s clarity and radiance. I notice that I eat less since the water fills me up throughout meals, which helps me snack less. Since I don’t drink or ever really rely on coffee, it is something that gives me a little pick me up at work when I feel like my energy levels are at a low. The benefits are absolutely endless!

AVOID EATING OUT

All it does is drain your wallet and you tend to lose sight on eating healthy because of all the tempting options that are presented in front of you. The beauty of making your food at home allows for you to have full control of portions and what exactly goes in it. I like to make exceptions to eating out if it is for a special occasion or if I know I will have some good company, but if you are resorting to takeout for a quick bite by yourself out of sheer laziness, I’d recommend to save it for another time when you don’t want to miss out on a social experience. 

DIET

I have never liked the term diet because it sounds so restricting, but it only sounds negative if you think of it that way. I have been experimenting and eating more of the healthier foods I do like, then cutting out unnecessary food that I can deal without. Growing up Asian,  my diet always consisted of rice being paired with some form of protein. Since I can go without rice, I tend to swap it out for veggies knowing that the protein is where I am going to be indulging the most. Little gestures like that all amount to big results!

SKIP NAPS

Naps can provide benefits, but I personally find that it only acts as road bump on a day of where there is potential for so much productivity! It gets me groggy and less motivated to finish off my day strong. After the initial grogginess wears off, I am more alert than ever, which can pose as more harmful when you are trying to get a good night’s rest to reenergize yourself for the next day. So if you can, try to push through and reward yourself with some rest after the day is done!

WORKOUT ROUTINE

I’m wouldn’t consider myself as necessarily a lazy person, but I can say a workout regime of any kind has never been instilled in me, even as a kid since I never participated in any sports. So I really was clueless on where to start. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. I made a pact with a friend to get fit this summer and work out Monday through Friday after work. Having someone else give you that kick start to get started and keep each other accountable helps eventually turning it into a routine that you can eventually do yourself. I personally HATE running so instead I like to opt for dancing or biking to get that heart pumping, then proceed to do some strength training with weights. There are many alternatives to being active than just your standard jogging, which for me personally is too boring. It is just a matter of finding what fits YOU and playing that perfect music playlist to get you pumped and motivated throughout the whole workout!

GET INTO A ROUTINE

Consistency is the hardest, yet more crucial part to seeing results when embarking on this journey. Your brain thrives off of a routine, so once you have it down within a week, it will only get easier from there and you will become nothing but motivated to stick to it. The brain goes into an auto-pilot mode where these habits eventually  become second nature!

I have never been happier and more comfortable in my own skin than where I am today. I can’t help but assume that my lifestyle change and newfound routine is to blame for this. I am by no means where I want be on my health journey, but the progress that I have been making allows for my goal to seem that much more attainable and constantly reminds me that I am that much closer to it if don’t give up. I am not alone on my health and wellness journey and plan to tune into other people’s experiences to gain inspiration to push myself further. Everyday is a new chance to begin your journey to ultimate health and wellness, so why not start today!

Diana Banzon

Feast for the Fourth

When any holiday rolls around, there always seems to be a common misconception that the food provided HAS to be unhealthy in order to enjoy the festivities with loved ones. In honor of Fourth of July being last week, preparing meals can be fun and patriotic without sacrificing flavor. Here are some healthy alternatives covering each course that will get the crowd satisfied, without feeling the guilt.

Appetizer | Watermelon Arugula Salad and Feta Salad

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups seedless watermelon, cubed and chilled
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 7 oz arugula
  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced very thin
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper

Directions

  1. Wash arugula and dry well.
  2. In a large bowl whisk vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Toss with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Main Entree | Grilled Blackberry, Strawberry, Basil and Brie Pizza Crisps

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound recipe of your favorite pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 16 leaves basil chopped + divided
  • 8-12 ounces brie sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries chopped
  • 3/4 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare the dough 1-2 hours ahead of time.
  2. Well the dough rises make the honey balsamic glaze. Add the balsamic vinegar and honey to small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.
  3. When ready to grill the pizzas preheat the grill the high heat.
  4. Add the blackberries to a bowl and add about half of the basil. Lightly mash the blackberries with a fork.
  5. Invert a baking sheet and generously dust with flour.
  6. Divide the pizza dough in half and roll each half as thin as you can, but make sure not to rip the dough. Cut the dough into 12 to 16 squares or circles (I did both). Add the olive oil to a small bowl and brush both sides of the pizza rounds with the olive oil and place on the baking sheet.
  7. Carefully add half of the pizza rounds to the hot grill and grill for no more the 2 minutes. The dough will bubble up, this is good! Remove the pizzas using tongs and repeat with the remaining pizza rounds. When all the pizzas are grilled, turn the heat on the grill down to medium.
  8. Top the grilled side of each of the pizzas with slices of brie, but make sure to leave a 1/2 inch border around the edges so the brie does not melt all over the grill. Then top with lightly mashed blackberries and the chopped strawberries. Carefully return the pizzas to the grill and grill another 3 to 5 minutes, our until the brie has melted and the pizzas are crisp. Top with the remaining fresh basil and drizzle on the honey balsamic glaze.
  9. To make the American flag pizza place the the blackberries in the left hand corner of a square pizza crisp and then push the strawberries into the brie in rows. Grill as directed above.


Dessert | Gluten Free Fruit and Yogurt Granola Cups

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
  • Cooking oil spray
  • 1 egg
  • 1 12-ounce bag Udi’s Gluten Free Au Naturel Granola
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • Fresh berries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin tin with cooking oil spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, coconut oil, and egg; stir. Add granola and stir to combine.
  3. Spoon granola mixture into 10 muffin cups, filling each ¾ full. With your fingers, press the granola into the muffin cups and create a small indentation in the middle of each granola cup. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to rest 5 minutes in the muffin tin before removing.
  4. Once cooled, fill the muffin cups with yogurt and top with berries. Serve.

 

Drinks |  Blueberry Sangria

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Ingredients

  • 1-½ cups ready-to-serve blueberry juice
  • 1-½ cups chilled white wine or apple juice
  • ¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur, optional
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1-½ cups chilled lemon-lime soda, such as Sprite

Directions

  1. Into a 2-quart pitcher, combine blueberry juice, wine and liqueur, if used
  2. Add orange and lemon slices and fresh blueberries
  3. Chill until ready to serve
  4. Just before serving, stir in soda
  5. Serve in tall glasses over ice cubes, if desired

 

These patriotic-themed delights are not strictly reserved for the holiday season and can be implemented into any outdoor barbecue occasion. The light and fresh ingredients of each recipe are perfect to satisfy anyone this summer season!

 

Bon Appetit!

Diana Banzon

Benefits of the Beat

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In honor of Summerfest quickly approaching us, what better way to celebrate how music brings us together than acknowledge the impact it provides for our health. Music is often disregarded as a factor that contributes to overall health and wellness, but its effect and overall message are nothing but powerful. Something as simple as sound has the capability to motivate and inspire people into living their best life. Here are a list of the benefits it has on us and why we should be constantly jamming out to our favorite beats!

Strengthens Running Performance

Working out exerts an immense amount of energy and effort! It would only make sense to reflect that in your music of choice that pumps you up for the work you are going to endure. I personally could NEVER work out without music because I find that it gives me that extra boost of motivation that I need to pull through and finish off strong!

Enhances Sleep Quality

Unfortunately, about 30% of Americans deal with insomnia. Studies showed that students who listened to relaxing music before bed significantly experienced better rest in comparison to students who listened to an audiobook or didn’t change anything from their usual routine.

Limits Food Intake

Studies done at Georgia Tech University showed that dimming the lights and softening the music while people ate led to the consumption of fewer calories and an increase of enjoyment within their meals. Set up the ambiance and make the most out of every meal experience.

Reinforce Learning and Memory

Studies showed that music reinforces your memory but depends specifically on the person, whether or not they were a musician, and what type of music is being presented. As as a result of the research, subjects who were musicians learned and retained information better with more neutral music, as opposed to subjects who were not musicians that learned better with music of their liking. I always find myself associating songs with memories that occurred during the time I listened to that song, that it can only makes sense that one triggers the other!

Makes You Smarter

A study at York University showed that a month of music lessons involving rhythm, pitch, melody and voice contributed to an 90% increase in verbal intelligence among children between the ages 4 to 6. The music training implemented within the lesson has a “transfer effect” that enriches the children’s ability to comprehend words and their meaning.

Alleviates Pain

Music treatment such as softer genres such as classical pieces, meditative music, etc. is used for various patients that is said to reduce pain.

Ability To Shift Mood

Whether you are happy or sad, music has the ability to reflect your current mood. Various beats and messages really resonate with people and their life experiences, making the love for music so universal!

 

Diana Banzon


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