Six Health Trends to Shake Off Those Winter Blues

Looking for a new workout, an energy boost or a clear mind? Try these new trends in healthy living and jump start the rush to summer.

March 1, 2018

It’s been a long winter. Cold weather. Rainy days. Piles of homework. No motivation. No energy. But with Spring Break, eyes turn toward summer. How do you shake those winter blues and get the mind and body in shape? New trends in healthy living offer good alternatives for doing just that. Some of these trends are brand new and others offer a fresh look at an old standby.

Whether it’s trying out a “superfood” or downloading a new fitness app, these alternatives may be just what you need to get active, eat right, clear the mind and finish the year strong.

It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superfoods

They may be crunchy, leafy or smooth. Some are common. Some are hard to say. What they all have in common is their reputation as a nutrient powerhouse.

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It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superfoods

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. You are what you eat. Knock knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? Food is a part of daily life. Humans need it to live, to function and to think. It dictates routines and encompasses the culture.

However, in a world of increasing commercial opportunity and the need for instant meals, the population is slowly becoming uneducated about the foods that are actually good for them; foods commonly known today as “superfoods.”

In the feature “Superfoods You Need Now,” Health.com wrote, “Though there is no legal or medical definition, superfoods are nutrient powerhouses. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease, and prolong life, and people who eat more of them are healthier and thinner than those who don’t.”

Though superfoods are not formally recognized by the Food and Drug Administration and do not have an exact definition, they have become commonly known as foods that have increased levels of nutritional value. Superfoods contain vitamins and minerals and have more protein, more fiber and more antioxidants than other foods. Antioxidants are substances that protect from cell damage and help prevent disease. These healthy foods can provide anti-aging effects, enhance skin, help with weight loss and strengthen the immune system.

Foods like avocados have faced a recent surge in popularity among young people who have a desire to be healthier. Acai juice and kale chips are also popular products within the food industry that have garnered the attention of millennials and those interested in preserving their health. Chia seeds and flax seeds add a little crunch to a meal while making it healthier, a simple way to keep the body clean. Quinoa and green onions have become a staple in the health guru’s toolbox as they go forth to create new, inventive dinner options.

But what do these foods actually taste like? Is it worth it to go healthy? Here is a comprehensive review of the most common superfoods.

Avocados.

Avocados are a superfood staple. One of the rising stars in the health world, they can be put on just about anything: toast, rice and even eggs at breakfast. High in healthy fats, avocados are actually a fruit. This fruit boasts that it can help with eyesight, weight loss and clearing skin.

Senior Joy Wada said, “What’s not to love about them? They’re green, they’ve got a cool shape, and they’re delicious!”

Acai.

High in antioxidants and fiber, acai berries are a sweet treat to keep organs healthy. They are very popular in the juicing world, and hot spots like Nekter feature items such as the acai bowl. The reason acai is so healthy is its high levels of fiber and heart healthy fats. These benefits help to clean up your digestive system and keep your body functioning properly. It also ensures maximum results for whatever you put your mind to.

Senior Caroline Dow said, “When I am low on energy, I love to swing by Nekter and pick up an acai bowl. It’s a great pick-me-up and keeps me energized when I need to focus.”

Quinoa.

Though the name may be hard to get right away, the benefits of the seed quinoa are not hard to see. Quinoa can be prepared like rice and is a great filler for burritos, vegan bowls and salads. Because it is a rice substitute, it is often compared to the whole grains. It is by far a healthier option– its protein content is almost twice that of its cousin rice. It also provides nine essential amino acids for building the proteins your body needs after it has been digested. Its high fiber content keeps your heart happy and healthy.

Quinoa is also vegan friendly. Senior Courtney Villa, newly vegan, said, “Quinoa is something that goes great with veggies and really adds a bit of texture, color and flavor to whatever I am preparing.”

Kale.

Hipsters and health nuts alike enjoy the many benefits of kale. The leafy green superfood is wonderful for detoxes, juices and smoothies. Another popular way to ingest the health benefits of kale is to make kale chips. An easy DIY recipe, a little olive oil, salt and pepper can turn limp leaves into crunchy chips that are a great substitute for potato chips. Because kale has many beneficial vitamins and antioxidants, it has earned its rightful spot in the superfoods hall of fame.

Green Tea.

Green tea, though not necessarily a food, is pretty super. It contains something known as catechins, which help to repair cell damage. Green tea can help brain activity increase and is a smart choice for a morning drink. Drinking tea can help reduce chances of cancer and can help clean out your digestive system.

Junior Karen Sculley said, “I love drinking green tea in the morning. It is something warm and refreshing to get my day started.”

Greek Yogurt.

Greek yogurt is good for your digestive system and keeps your skin clear and clean. A healthy alternative to regular yogurts, Greek yogurt has twice the protein and less sugar. The extra protein gives you a kick to keep you going for hours and satisfies your immediate hunger.

Sophomore Rebekah Bynum said, “Greek yogurt is something I like to eat before a big workout. It keeps me sustained while I put in that work.”

Almonds.

Almonds are a healthy nut that keeps your body sustained through intense workouts and is a great food to prep for a day full of physical activity. They have fatty acids and fibers that clear out your digestive system and keep your immune system strong.

Senior Sydney Johnson said, “They taste sweet, and they make me feel better about myself when I eat them.” This is because they satisfy hunger but are very easy to eat.

Healing Mind and Body the Natural Way

Natural extracts linked to treating ailments hit the mainstream. Mist them, soak in them, take them by mouth or apply them to the skin. Essential oils are more than your grandmother's secret remedy.

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Healing Mind and Body the Natural Way

Lavender for sleeping, coconut for moisturizing, peppermint for fevers, and tea tree oils to heal cuts. Many people trust organic ingredients passed down from generation to generation as all-natural remedies for common ailments.

Called “essential oils,” these organic and natural oils can be used for medicinal and health purposes. They are extracted from plant materials and have been used for thousands of years in various cultures as a natural medicine.

Used for aromatherapy, in household cleaning products, for personal beauty care, and for natural medicine treatments, essential oils all hold different purposes. Some relieve headaches, reduce coughs, soothe bug bites, strengthen nails, whiten teeth and even fight acne.

“There’s not a lot of science behind essential oils, but if a person feels relief using them, and it doesn’t hurt them, then, ‘Why not?’” said School Nurse Mrs. Lori Liles. She said, “Some, such as peppermint and lavender, are ancient remedies and do have science behind them.”

One of the most popular oils used is Bergamot, a citrus-scented oil extracted from a Citrus Bergamia tree, a native of Southeast Asia. It is used in perfumes and colognes, and can be used to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, anorexia and many skin infections.

Eucalyptus is another popular essential oil that comes from the tree of Eucalyptus plant, which is native to Australia. It fights against respiratory diseases, as well as treats migraines, muscle aches and fevers.

Sophomore Riley Wiest said, “I got a Sleep Mist as a gift from Bath and Body Works that I sometimes use. It has eucalyptus oil that is supposed to help you sleep better.”

Lemon is a widely appreciated oil for its clean smell and help with improving concentration, aiding digestion, and easing symptoms of acne. It has many different qualities that help to improve a person internally and externally.

Tea Tree Oil is a common essential oil used for aromatherapy. It is known to fight infection and boost the immune system. It can be found in shampoos, lotions and mouthwash because of its healing properties.

Lush: Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is well-known for its use of essential oils in organic bath bombs, shower gel and face masks. They mainly use rose oil, tea tree oil and lavender oil. All of Lush’s cosmetics are fresh, 100 percent vegetarian and handmade. For example, their Razzle Dazzle bath oil is a blend of Persian lime oil, bergamot oil and violet leaf absolute, as well as organic shea butter, cocoa butter and jojoba oil.

Sophomore Noelle Piatas said “I love to use bath bombs from Lush. The essential oils make it awesome.”

Some may have sensitivities to essential oils. According to livestrong.com, side effects may include: allergic reaction, sensitivity to light causing sunburn, headaches, lightheadedness and nausea. These are typically resolved by discontinuing use.

Juice 2.0

No longer just orange juice with breakfast, juicing uses natural ingredients to boost energy, remove toxins and help the body in a host of other ways. New juice places serve up quick, healthy concoctions in a to-go cup.

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Juice 2.0

Nekter, the Juice Bar, Buda Juice. The Greenie, Pink Cadillac, Vitality. Figuring out the juicing world might take some decoding, but the benefits just might be worth it.

Juice places are in. Arriving on the scene in Los Angeles in the mid 1970s, juice is now at home all over the nation bringing vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to consumers on the go. Whether looking for a meal replacement, a shot of energy to boost the immune system or just a yummy snack, there’s a juice concoction for everyone.

The popularity of juicing has grown with the rise of clean eating. Social media also played a role in the growth with people posting their healthy food choices. According to Forbes, the fresh pressed juice business has grown to a $3.4 billion industry.

The health benefits of juicing include everything from glowing skin to a cleansed inside. Vince Dubose, who works at Nekter, said, “Juicing can help with headaches, prevent nausea, improve skin health, help with inflammation, add antioxidants and provide a good morning energizer.” Their most popular juice is the toxin flush which is described on the menu as, “Parsley, spinach, apple, lemon, and ginger. This drink will help your body to naturally rid itself of toxins in the blood and liver and soothe your tummy too.”

Senior Karsen Burgess said, “My favorite juice at Nekter is the Greenie. I love the juices there because they are so refreshing and make you feel so good after. Not only are they healthy but they are an easy way to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need.” Nekter is widely known for its array of juices, detoxes and acai bowls.

These juices are not like apple or orange juice from the grocery store, but rather extracted with an intense hydraulic press. The juice is served fresh or bottled and put into a chamber filled with cold water to preserve the nutrients. By doing this, a single serving can equal multiple servings of fruit or vegetables.

One thing it doesn’t provide, though, is the fiber. According to the article “Cold-Pressed Juice: Hipster Hype or Health Hero?” on foodinsight.org, “Calories can quickly add up, without the feeling of fullness you’d get from a whole fruit or vegetable. Think about it this way: For most people, it would be next to impossible (or at the very least, uncomfortable) to eat nine apples or 12 carrots in one sitting — that’s about three pounds of food. The average cold-pressed juice packs the liquid from that amount of produce into one 16-ounce bottle. Because liquid calories may not provide us with the same feelings of fullness as solid foods, you could end up eating more to satisfy your hunger.”

Nekter is attempting to change habits. Vince said, “Our goal is to give people a healthy alternative to what they may normally want instead.” They can pass on the processed foods that they are tempted to grab on the go, and swap that for fruits and vegetables.

Like anything trendy, people may just come to be part of something new. “We have a good amount of people who come in for health benefits and believe they can do it through juice routines. However, we do have a few that come just for the pretty bowls they see online,” said Vince.

Just Track It

Technology that allows users to track exercise, eating and sleep habits keeps those wanting to making healthy choices accountable and motivated.

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Just Track It

Time spent in front of a screen, be it TV, phone or computer, seems anything but healthy. However, some technology in the form of apps such as Health and devices such as the Fitbit can encourage healthy living and make it easier to be accountable for food choices and activity level.

Many people live complex and busy lives, and sometimes their health habits fall by the wayside. But now they can easily monitor vital signs, track daily habits, and catalog food choices at the touch of a button or flick of the wrist.

Designed to reverse unhealthy habits, new health apps have flooded the app store. Whether someone is trying to up their daily steps, eat healthier foods or get better sleep at night, new technologies can assist in bringing about healthy change.

Devices such as the Fitbit and Apple Watch have a variety of features that encourage healthy living. With a simple notification, it can remind you to stand, exercise or have a glass of water. These devices along with apps help in these areas: exercise, sleep, diet and mental health.

Exercise

Many people are visual and being able to track and analyze their current health habits helps them to become more aware of their activity level. Senior Kyrie Young said, “When I used to run track, I would keep account of the number of steps I took while running. I loved how my Fitbit app enabled me to see the distance I ran each day and showed me the GPS outline of my route.”

The Apple Watch comes with an Activity app that tracks exercise minutes, standing hours and total steps throughout the day. With a simple design and an easy interface, the app encourages an active lifestyle and can allow users to analyze their daily habits.

Apps to try:  Runkeeper, Yoga Studio, Sworkit, Activity

Sleep

Not only do sleep apps allow people to track the number of hours they sleep, but also the quality and depth of sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. After collecting data on sleep patterns and depth, Sleep Cycle can wake you up in your lightest sleep phase in order to help you wake up easier in the morning. Apps such as Relax Melodies help people to unwind at night and provide restful melodies to encourage deep and restorative sleep.

Apps to try: Sleep Cycle, Sleep, Relax Melodies

Diet

Because of people’s busy schedules, they might often overlook the foods they choose to eat. Whether it be picking up fast-food on the way home from work or eating an entire bag of chips while watching TV, it is difficult to truly keep track of the amount and quality of calories eaten in a day.

Senior Liam Hessing said, “Lose It! helped me become more aware of the foods I was eating and allowed me to better balance my nutrition.” These apps can also track and analyze nutrients, vitamins, minerals and the proportion of fat, protein and carbohydrate intake.

Apps to try: MyFitnessPal, ShopWell, Lose It!

With many technologies keeping people indoors and looking at their screens, these new health apps and devices encourage a balanced and wholesome lifestyle through sleek design and detailed analysis. Only when people are aware of their unhealthy habits will they do something to change them. These apps will help and challenge users to be the best they can be.

Dinner to Your Door

They have cute names and fresh ideas for the family meal. Meal subscription services bring the ingredients for healthy menu choices right to the door. All you have to do is whip them up.

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Dinner to Your Door

From Blue Apron and Home Chef to HelloFresh, the business of delivering fresh foods to make meals at home is on the rise. Each meal kit comes with a recipe and fresh ingredients in order to whip up a fresh, home-cooked meal.

Meals include spices, fresh, organic veggies, a protein and other additions so all that is needed is someone to put it together. The subscription method makes ordering easy, relieving the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping throughout the week.

Senior Avery Rudd said, “I love Blue Apron because it gives me the chance to cook adventurous things without having to search hard to find the ingredients.” The new recipes offered by these companies diversify the consumer’s palates by providing them with recipes and flavors that they would otherwise not get the chance to try.

HelloFresh has 850,000 subscribers globally and delivers 9 million meals per month according to the Financial Times. The average meal through their service costs $10-$11. Blue Apron has 746,000 subscribers paying $9.99 per meal and, according to Food Navigator, Home Chef delivered 2.5 million meals in January at $9.95 each. There are now over 150 meal kit services, and packagefacts.com reports one in four adults ordered a meal kit in 2016.

HelloFresh has seen fast growth in part because they use celebrities, such as Sean and Catherine Lowe, to promote their meal kits and famous chefs, such as Rachael Ray and Emeril Lagasse, to plan meals for them.

While kits can make life easier, the recipes can take a while to prepare, anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. That’s still a time-saver compared to spending hours at the grocery store wandering around hoping to end up with everything needed for the week’s meals. The preparation time is a small sacrifice for the memories made cooking with the family and the new recipes learned in the process.

Avery said, “The prices are reasonable for what you are getting, and it gives me a fun, easy way to connect with other people through cooking.”

Home Chef subscriber Senior Kaci Carter said, “The meals are fun to cook with friends. It’s also good for my mom to have all the stuff she needs for dinner when she’s had a busy day.”

Most of these services include paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and children’s options for those with specific needs and are sold on a weekly basis. For people who are not home often, that may make the kits a poor option.

The bottom line really is how do the meals taste? Kaci said, “All the meals are good and allow me to branch out in what I eat. My favorite is Korean pork tacos.” “I loved the kit for pork bao buns with pickled cucumber and carrots. Asian dishes are my favorite, and it was fun having my friends come cook it with me.”

Tired of boot camp, barre and CrossFit?

Orangetheory brings high energy workouts to a sleek, stylish setting. Cardio and weights combine to burn an average of 500 calories in a 60 minute class.

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Tired of boot camp, barre and CrossFit?

Called “the best one-hour workout in the country” by “The Today Show” and the New York Times, Orangetheory sets themselves apart from other workouts with their high intensity, high results format. Sixty-minute classes take participants through treadmill, rower and floor work with each class different than the one before. With an average burn rate of 500 or more calories per class, Orangetheory Fitness seems to be effective.

“My sister and I have been going to Orangetheory for a while. I like that it’s something we get to do together and stay in shape at the same time. I’d definitely recommend it to anybody looking to stay fit while avoiding boring exercises,” said Sophomore Jenna Gile.

“I’m fairly new to Orangetheory, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for an upbeat, engaging exercise routine. The flexible class schedules allow it to fit within my busy schedule, and the workouts change every time, so it never gets old,” said Senior McKinley Halliwell.

The workout is individualized but done in a group setting. A coach for each workout checks on individuals offering instruction and motivation. This results in the energy of a group workout coupled with the attention and assistance of a personal coach.

Class members wear an individual heart rate monitor while working out that keeps record of weight, age, etc. During the class, each participant’s current heart rate is projected in a particular color on monitors around the room. Each color represents one of the five heart rate zones, displayed on the screens as gray, blue, green, orange and red. The goal is to stay in the orange or red zones for at least 12 minutes of the class which translates to the user reaching 84 percent or more of their maximum heart rate for that length of time.

Along with the heart rate and color zone, the monitor shows calories burned and minutes spent in the orange or red zone for each user. Seeing how others are doing inspires members to strive harder and reach the orange zone. Each minute spent in the orange or red zone gains the user a splat point. If a user gains 12 splat points, the body launches into the after-burn effect, burning extra calories for 24-36 hours after the workout concludes.

This after-burn effect comes from research on what’s known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC. Studies at the University of New Mexico recommend that, “When working with clients who want to maximize energy expenditure through EPOC, focus on developing their training status so they can perform higher intensity exercise for periods of 30 minutes or more. In addition, regularly incorporate interval training workouts, as this type of training positively enhances EPOC.”

The Orangetheory Fitness design helps individuals all over the fitness spectrum, from professional athletes to beginners. The coaches provide additional options for the workouts, allowing users to safely perform movements that work around any physical issues. They encourage participants to push until an uncomfortable feeling hits, and then maintain that pace, weight or speed.

Their studios provide top-of-the-line equipment and lively music in addition to men’s and women’s restrooms and showers for those going straight to school, work or the like. The equipment is cleaned numerous times throughout the classes, as well as after a class has come to a close.

Classes are often full so plan ahead and arrive early. Also, plan to focus so the music doesn’t interfere with instructions from the leader.

There are locations in Plano, Frisco and Castle Hills, and the first class is free with online registration.

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