Healthy eating ingredients: fresh vegetables and fruits

Healthy eating ingredients: fresh vegetables and fruits

When it comes to nutrition, one phrase pops up time and time again: eat your fruits and veggies. This bit of conventional wisdom seems simple, but it’s actually a great piece of advice. Fruits and vegetables, it turns out, are rich in vitamins and minerals also known as micronutrients.

What Are Micronutrients?

The nutrients your body needs are classified as either macronutrients or micronutrients. Macronutrients are the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that give you energy and make up the building blocks of many of your body’s structures. Micronutrients include all the essential vitamins and minerals you eat that play a vital role in your health—everything from bone development to immune system function.

Needless to say, it’s important to have sufficient quantities of various micronutrients in your diet. If your body isn’t getting enough of a particular micronutrient, you have a dietary deficiency. Too little iron, for instance, causes an iron deficiency. Micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs) can have devastating effects on your health when left unaddressed. And unfortunately, they are incredibly common around the world. This article breaks down some of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in various regions around the globe, explores the causes of these MNDs, and offers some strategies to address micronutrient deficiencies in your own diet.

Common Micronutrient Deficiencies Around the Globe

Although micronutrient deficiencies can—and do—affect anyone, they pose the biggest threat to infants, children, and pregnant women. And much of the data gathered from various global studies focuses on these three areas. Most of the time, however, it’s safe to assume the dietary trends presented in these groups also reflect the trends of the region’s general population.

Let’s look at some of the most common MNDs around the world:

Iron: Roughly two billion people do not have enough iron in their diet, making iron deficiency the most common micronutrient deficiency across the globe. This can lead to anemia and may affect the regular function of the immune and endocrine systems.

Iron deficiency is most common in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East. Globally, the rates of anemia—an indicator of iron deficiency—have been dropping amongst pregnant women and children for the last 20 years.

Iodine: When it comes to growth and development, there’s nothing as important as the thyroid. And for your thyroid to function properly, your body needs iodine—a mineral that does not naturally occur in many foods. To combat iodine deficiency, many countries have iodine fortified table salt. But more on that later!

Although most countries have taken steps to combat iodine deficiency, it remains a pressing global issue. Almost a third of all school-aged children don’t get enough iodine. This deficiency is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Though the global rate for iodine deficiency has been on a downward trend for the last 30 years thanks to fortification efforts.

Vitamin A: A jack-of-all-trades, this vital vitamin plays a role in vision, bone development, and immune function. Vitamin A deficiency, sometimes called VAD, is linked to visual impairments (especially night blindness) and increased susceptibility to infection.

Vitamin A deficiency data shows VAD is most common among children in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions of children are blind as a result of vitamin A deficiency—and half will die within a year of the onset of their blindness.

Zinc: As with most micronutrients, zinc’s role in the body is multifaceted. It aids immune function, DNA synthesis, childhood and adolescent growth and development, and more.

Zinc deficiency is thought to be one of the leading causes of nutrition-related deaths around the world. In developing nations, improper zinc intake has been tied to higher mortality rates from diarrhea, malaria, and respiratory infections. Additionally, zinc deficiency is associated with increased maternal and newborn mortality rates. It’s common in impoverished areas and is most prevalent in parts of Indonesia, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Folate: Vitamin B9 comes in many forms—collectively known as folate. While folate does occur naturally, more than 75 countries have started fortifying foods with a synthetic form known as folic acid. Functionally, folate and folic acid are identical.

Folate’s main role in the body is to help produce new cells, but it also plays an important part in fetal and newborn health in pregnant women. Folate deficiency in pregnant women increases the chances of premature birth, low birthweight, and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Causes of Micronutrient Deficiencies

The causes of MNDs vary, but there’s almost always a common denominator: poverty. Across the board, rates of micronutrient deficiencies are highest in low-income and developing nations. And within wealthier countries, micronutrient deficiencies are most common in impoverished communities.

This raises one big question: why is poverty tied to micronutrient intake? The answer is simple. Money affords people the ability to eat varied diets. Micronutrients occur naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, animal products, and more. To obtain all the micronutrients you need, you should be eating a well-balanced, varied diet. In poorer areas, people often eat energy-dense foods with little nutritional variety. Over time, this leads to micronutrient deficiencies.

Some micronutrient deficiencies are caused by specific dietary choices. Anemia, as mentioned above, stems from an iron deficiency. Iron comes in two forms, heme and nonheme. The former is found in meats and fish, whereas the latter is found in plants. Heme is far easier for the body to process than nonheme—and a diet supplemented with meat and fish tends to give the body more iron than, say, a plant-based diet. This doesn’t mean vegetarians and vegans inherently have iron deficiency, but followers of these diets should consider taking an iron supplement.

Addressing Micronutrient Deficiencies: Individual and Collective Strategies

Micronutrient deficiencies exist on two levels: individual and global. The former focuses on your personal diet. How can you ensure you’re getting the micronutrients you need? The latter deals with global dietary trends. How can governments and other organizations implement changes to help address micronutrient deficiencies on a global scale? Naturally, the strategies associated with each level are very different.

MNDs on the Collective Level

For the past several decades, nearly every micronutrient deficiency discussed in this article has been on the decline globally. This is thanks largely to food fortification programs. Fortification is the process of adding a nutrient to a food that otherwise would not contain it. One common example is adding iodine to table salt, but many countries have started fortifying cereals and other staple foods with zinc, folate, and iron as well.

Because poverty is one of the driving factors behind malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, global efforts to combat MNDs are inevitably tied to poverty-reducing measures. Other strategies include increasing access to fresh produce and implementing nutrition education programs within at-risk communities.

MNDs on the Individual Level

Global nutrition takes time, cooperation, and resources. Focusing on your individual nutrition is far easier. The best way to get the right amount of essential micronutrients in your diet is to eat a wide variety of foods from the five food groups: dairy, grains, fruits, vegetables, and proteins.

female writing goals

female writing goals

If you ask just about anyone about their health and wellness, they’re probably willing to admit there’s room for improvement. Most adults simply aren’t as healthy as they want to be. And, at one time or another, most have tried to change this.

All too often, the story is the same. You decide to be healthier, and you come up with an action plan. Whether it is exercising more, eating nutritious meals, or a combination of the two. You stick to your plan for two weeks. Or a month. And then life gets in the way and your new habits get dropped just as fast as they came.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Creating new health habits is a challenge, to say the least. Successfully adopting a healthier lifestyle requires persistence, the ability to identify good mistakes, and, in most cases, the willingness to start something again.

Step One: Identify Good Mistakes and Commit to Starting Again

Falling back into old habits can be discouraging. After all, nobody likes to set their sights on something only to fall short. But when it comes to health and wellness, as with so many other aspects of life, you can learn from your failures. It’s all about identifying good mistakes.

The term “good mistakes” sounds like an oxymoron. Mistakes are bad, right? Well, sometimes. It all depends on how you frame your thinking.

Mistakes without reflection can be bad, sure. But mistakes with reflection can be a powerful tool for change. Let’s think about this in terms of your lifestyle journey. If you tried to make positive changes to your lifestyle, but struggled to maintain those changes, you likely made a few “mistakes.” These mistakes could be things like skipping your workout for a few days in a row, allowing yourself too many “cheat” days with your meals, or simply trying to implement changes in your life that don’t fit your interests or abilities.

Turning these mistakes into good mistakes will require a little bit of self-reflection. Why did you fail to achieve your health goals? Did you set realistic, measurable goals for yourself? Did you schedule early morning workout time even though you are absolutely not a morning person? You know yourself better than anyone, and so you will be able to identify where you went wrong.

With this knowledge under your belt, it’s time to commit to starting again. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and dive right back into your health journey—but this time with a few changes.

The Psychology of Habit: Creating Routines That Stick

In most cases, you can’t change your health overnight. It’s an ongoing process that requires diligence and consistency—and the easiest way to maintain consistent behavior is to form habits. When people make lifestyle changes and then drop them within a few weeks, it’s often because the newly adopted behavior never became a habit.

This is all fine and good, but it raises a crucial question: how can you successfully create habits that stick? Fortunately, this is a question that psychologists have already sought to answer.

Studies show that one of the key elements of forming health-related habits is specificity. The more specific the desired behavior, the easier it will be to solidify as a habit. Take healthy eating, for instance.

Many people have a common goal: they want to “eat healthier.” While this is a great lifestyle change to try to make, this goal is very vague. A more specific goal might look something like this: “I want to eat more fruit every day.” Still, this isn’t as specific as it can get. Taking it a step further, we end up with this: “I want to eat an apple with lunch every day.”

The final version of the health goal outlined above has two key elements of habit-forming behavior: a when and a where. This hypothetical person will eat an apple with lunch (that’s the when—during lunchtime), wherever they happen to be eating (that’s the where).

When goals are specific, it becomes easier to measure progress and fidelity. If you struggle to keep yourself accountable, you may benefit from a log or other method for tracking your consistency. Going back to the example above, you could track that goal with a calendar and a simple yes or no mark. For each day that you ate an apple with lunch, you’d put a yes, and for each day that you didn’t, you’d put a no. With enough yesses, the behavior will become habitual—it may even start to feel strange to eat lunch without an apple.


Goal setting is a bit of a balancing act. You want to set goals that are achievable, while also ensuring that your goals push you to reach your potential. In business settings, many teams and individuals use the SMART framework for creating their goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—all of these are qualities that your goals should have.

This framework can be applied to your health goals as well. Let’s go back to the apple a day example. This goal is specific, measurable (either you ate the apple or you didn’t each day), achievable, and relevant (it ties into the more general goal of eating healthier). But what about time-bound? Is there a time frame in which the goal should be reached?

To make this goal time bound, there needs to be some sort of deadline. Let’s rewrite it: “within one month, I will be eating an apple with lunch at least six days a week.” Now the goal meets all of the SMART goal criteria.

Choosing a Method That Works for You

There’s no one right way to make lifestyle changes. It’s an individual process that varies from person to person. So if SMART goals don’t seem like your thing, don’t worry! Find a method that works for you. And remember: failure doesn’t have to be the end. Reflect, turn your mistakes into good mistakes, and start again.

no more scales

no more scales

In recent years, society has made a noticeable shift towards greater body positivity and body acceptance. People are encouraged to evaluate their health and wellness not based on weight or appearance, but rather on how they feel. After all, everybody—and every body—is different. And so, naturally, wellness looks a little different for everyone.

The same is true of fitness. And yet the rhetoric and practices surrounding personal fitness haven’t really caught on to this fact. Most people think of fitness in limited terms. A “fit” person, according to most, is someone who goes to the gym, someone who counts calories, someone who jogs five times a week. This version of fitness works for some people, but for others it can be discouraging. But here’s the truth: fitness looks a little bit different for everyone.

So if you’ve found yourself getting discouraged when it comes to reaching your fitness goals, it might be time to take a step back and redefine what fitness means to you.

Rethinking Fitness: Finding Your “Why”

If you’ve ever wanted to “get in shape” or improve your fitness, welcome to the club. It’s one of the most common goals people have for themselves. And one of the most poorly defined.

Far too many people think of fitness solely in terms of weight. “Getting in shape” means shedding a few pounds. Society seems to have this preconceived notion of what “fit” people look like and how much they weigh. But this is just one way of approaching and measuring your own fitness. The benefits of exercise are far-reaching, to say the least. And so there are dozens of ways to define fitness for yourself—and just as many ways to measure your progress towards that goal. So how do you choose which elements of health and wellness to focus on? That depends on your “why.”

Before setting fitness goals for yourself, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of why you want to improve your own fitness. Are you hoping to improve your stamina as you run errands and face the physical demands of day-to-day life? Are you training for a sporting event or season? Are you trying to shed a few pounds? Or are you hoping to just feel better? Your motivation could be anything, really, but only you can identify it.

Once you’ve identified why you want to improve your fitness, you can begin defining what that journey will look like for you. But more on that in the next section!

Defining Fitness for Yourself

A hardcore cyclist probably isn’t going to measure their fitness with timed swimming splits. And a long-distance runner probably won’t meticulously track how much they can bench press. You get the point: the guideposts on your fitness journey need to match your goal.

Here’s an example. If your goal is to improve your mental health—an often overlooked benefit of exercise—fitness might mean taking daily walks. As you pursue that fitness goal, you might keep a daily journal monitoring your mood, thoughts, and emotions. You’re probably not going to be focused on the distance of each walk, or your heart rate each time you go out. That information doesn’t help you measure your progress towards your own personal fitness—which, for you, is mental wellbeing from day-to-day.

Whatever version of fitness you choose to pursue, try to take a holistic approach. It’s good to set goals and measure your progress, but don’t let that get in the way of your feelings. At the end of the day, what good is fitness if you feel lousy? If you find that you are making yourself miserable in pursuit of fitness, that’s a good indicator that you need to take a step back and reevaluate: is the version of fitness you are chasing right for you? Or do you need to redefine fitness again?

3 Ways to Measure Physical Fitness Without a Scale

When it comes to redefining personal fitness, people often struggle to get away from the scale. It’s an understandable challenge. Weight gives you a single number that you can track over time, making it incredibly easy to set weight-related goals. But there are countless other aspects of physical fitness, many of which will more accurately reflect your fitness growth. Here are three areas of physical fitness you can track instead of weight:

  1. Aerobic fitness: Your body’s cardiovascular system (i.e. heart and blood vessels) carries oxygen to your muscles to help them, well, do what muscles do best: move. The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your body can transport oxygen. One of the easiest ways to measure aerobic fitness is by monitoring your resting heart rate. Just like weight, this will give you a single number that you can track over time. For most adults, doctors consider a resting heart rate anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute (BPM) as normal or healthy. If you regularly perform aerobic exercise (running, swimming, anything that gets your heart rate up), you will likely notice your resting heart rate go down over time. This is a sign that oxygen is being delivered more efficiently!
  2. Muscular strength: If your goal is to improve your strength, you’re in luck. That’s one of the easiest aspects of physical fitness to measure and track. There are simple exercises you can perform at home—such as push ups and sit ups—to measure your physical strength and endurance. Or, if you’re a gym goer, you’ll likely notice your strength increasing in the exercises you perform there. This could mean getting an extra rep or two in, or being able to lift more weight in general.
  3. Flexibility: Though it’s often overlooked, flexibility plays a huge role in physical fitness. Your body’s ability to stretch and move without injury is vital for most forms of exercise. And what’s more, increased flexibility can increase your comfort performing daily tasks, whether it’s picking up a toddler or simply making your bed. There are hundreds of ways to measure your flexibility, but one of the most straightforward is the sit-and-reach. Simply sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and lean forward. As you stretch your arms towards your toes, take note of how far down your shin—or past your toes—you can reach.

Fitness and Frustration: Being Patient With Yourself

No matter how you define fitness for yourself, there will be ups and downs on your fitness journey. Some weeks you may stick to your routines better than others. There will almost certainly be times you come short of your goals. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Take these moments as learning opportunities, forgive yourself, and move on. That’s the great thing about fitness: it’s a process. And there’s always tomorrow to start again.

80% of North Americans don’t exercise enough each day, and it’s a growing problem in other continents as well. The recommended amount of exercise is about 20 minutes per day. When you exercise regularly, you may experience these health benefits:

  • Helps in weight management
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Helps the body manage blood sugar levels
  • Supports mental health and mood
  • Strengthens bones and muscles
  • Improves the quality of sleep
  • Increases longevity

For all these reasons and more, many of us try to integrate exercise into our daily lifestyle. But it’s not easy to prioritize your health when life becomes hectic. Maybe it was an injury, a job change, a new baby, or something else that forced your workout routine to take a backseat. We’ve all been there. But if you’re reading this article, then you’ve probably been thinking about the best way to start again.

The good news is that there are many ways to get back in shape.

Workout Motivation Tips

Before you start, it’s important to think about why you fell out of the routine in the first place. Was it a lack of motivation? Were you setting the right goals? These are things you can control, even if your life is busy.

Some people make the mistake of setting the intensity of workouts way too high in the beginning. This can hurt motivation in the long run and make it difficult to maintain consistency. If that sounds like you, consider making your workouts lighter and fun in the beginning. Others might be motivated by more intensity (if it’s applied to the right training techniques) because it may produce results sooner.

Fitness accessories can be a motivating factor also. Rewarding yourself with a new pair of Bluetooth earbuds or gym shoes could make it easier to continue your workout routine when the initial excitement has worn off.

Whatever your needs and goals are, it’s important to design a program that works for you. It’s also a good idea to consult with your primary care physician before starting a new exercise program.

Now let’s take a closer look at a couple different approaches to getting back in shape.

Back to the Basics: Simple Workouts

Easing your way back to your fittest self is the best approach for most people that have been sedentary for a while. Especially if you’re coming off an injury or just had a baby. Or maybe you’re getting back in shape at 50 years old. There are many reasons why a safe, slow-paced return to fitness would be your priority.

Walking around your neighborhood is one of the easiest ways to start moving your body safely. You can walk for 10 minutes or less each day at first, and ultimately shoot for 20–30-minute brisk walks daily.

You can also try to do more active tasks at home throughout the day. This concept has been called High-Intensity Incidental Physical Activity (HIIPA). It includes any daily task that can be done at a high enough intensity to raise the heart and breathing rate.

Taking the stairs, carrying groceries, washing a car, or gardening are just a few examples of HIIPA. If you can find tasks that are above your current activity level, adding them to your routine is an easy way to improve your fitness.

Once you’re moving easier, adding bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, and crunches is a great next step. These can all be done at home without any equipment.

You’ll want to add in some short bursts of cardio too. Jumping jacks and burpees are great options for cardio at home. You can even try linking these different exercises into a back-to-back circuit to get your heart rate up. A circuit workout might look something like this:

  • 15 Squat Jumps – Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees and lower into a squat position. Jump straight up and return to the squat position.
  • 15 Push-ups – Position yourself down on all fours. Then straighten your arms and legs. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, then push yourself back up.
  • 15 Burpees – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lower into a squat position, and then the push up position by kicking your feet back and placing your hands on the ground. Jump up and return to the standing position.
  • 1 min Plank – Get down on all fours. Straighten your arms and legs. Hold the position.
  • 1 min Wall sit – Lower yourself into a squat position with your back against a wall. Hold the position.

Rest about 20 seconds in between each exercise and repeat the circuit 2-3 times.

With daily walking, bodyweight training and short bursts of cardio, you’ll easily hit 20 minutes of exercise a day. But you might want to elevate your workout routine after a few weeks.

Intermediate Training Tips

This would be a good time to start an endurance sport like running. Look up a 5k or 10k race in your city and sign up! You could also sign up for a local soccer club or join a hiking group. There are many ways to switch things up and increase your endurance.

If you want to try strength-training for the first time, find a gym and consider working with a certified personal trainer in the beginning. They’ll help you learn the correct form for various exercises. If you do have strength-training experience, remember these tips when starting again:

  • Always warm up with about 5 minutes of aerobic activity
  • Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups are the most important
  • In the first few weeks do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with a weight that feels relatively light, until you’ve perfected your form
  • Limit your workouts to just a few compound exercises in the beginning
  • Use a spotter when performing free-weight exercises

As you gain strength and experience you can add accessory exercises that isolate different muscles. You can also begin increasing the weight that you’re lifting. As you gain strength, you’ll perform less repetitions of heavier weight.

How to Get in Shape Fast

Has anyone ever told you there are no shortcuts to success? That’s not entirely true in fitness. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to get you in shape faster than other training methods.

The basic idea is that you’re “sprinting” or going as fast as you can for a short period of time followed by a period of rest or easy movement. Then you repeat this cycle 4-6 times.

HIIT may sound intimidating, but there’s room for quite a bit of variation in intensity. It can also be done with any kind of aerobic exercise. Running, stair climbing, rowing—you name it.

Let’s say you’re a cyclist training on a spin bike. Your HIIT session could start with 30 seconds of all-out pedaling, followed by slow pedaling for one minute. Repeated 5 times. Incorporating HIIT into your training can seriously improve your fitness in just a few minutes.

Benefits of HIIT:

  • Burns a significant amount of calories
  • Increases metabolic rate
  • Improves oxygen consumption
  • Improves aerobic and anaerobic performance
  • Produces similar benefits as 2x the amount of moderate exercise

While HIIT training is largely focused on aerobic conditioning. There are also ways to use it in weightlifting. Choose compound movements, shorten your rest time, and incorporate some cardio bursts to combine HIIT and strength.

It’s Never Too Late to Get Back in Shape

You gain all sorts of physiological benefits from exercise—that much is clear. But there are also changes on a genetic level. Over 3,000 genes are expressed differently in the muscles of people that exercise compared to sedentary muscles. A study published in PLOS Genetics measured the impact of training on these genetic changes.

The researchers trained one leg of each study participant, using a leg extension machine for three months. The other leg remained untrained. Then the participants took a 9 month break from training. When they resumed training, both legs were trained equally, and final biopsies were taken.

The results showed that the leg that had been trained 9 months earlier looked virtually the same as the newly trained leg.

The authors analyzed the results a couple different ways. It’s clear exercise spurs healthy genetic changes, and you must exercise consistently to sustain those benefits. But they also suggest that sedentary people stand to gain the same benefits from exercise as anyone that’s already been training consistently.

Whether you’ve been out of the gym for six months or ten years, it’s never too late to get back in shape and build consistent healthy habits!

woman athlete drinking water with electrolytes

woman athlete drinking water with electrolytes

Whether you’re an avid cyclist, a recreational jogger, or just someone who exercises from time to time, you’ve probably had someone tell you that you need to replenish your body’s electrolytes. And the conversation probably stopped there. Electrolytes are typically discussed in vague terms. Most active people can tell you that electrolytes are linked to hydration, sweat, and exercise, but can’t dive into the specifics.

That’s where this article comes in. Read on for an in-depth breakdown of what electrolytes are, why your body needs them, and what you can do to ensure your body has enough of them.

What Are Electrolytes?

If you immediately noticed the similarities between the words “electrolyte” and “electricity,” you’re actually on to something. Electrolytes are substances that have a positive or negative electrical charge when they are dissolved in water. (That’s where the prefix “electro” comes from.) The human body is about two-thirds water, so electrolytes can be found in most of your cells.

It’s important to note that the electrolytes in your body are not all the same substance, but rather a variety of substances, such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium. These substances all have either a positive or a negative charge, and you need all of them to maintain a healthy electrolyte level.

Electrolytes can be found in most fluids in your body, including blood and urine, as well as other body tissues. As your body fluid levels change, so do your electrolyte levels. This means that processes such as sweating and urinating naturally deplete your body’s electrolytes—and those electrolytes need to be replaced. But more on that later!

What Do Electrolytes Do for Your Body?

At this point, you probably have one big question: what do electrolytes actually do? And the answer might surprise you. All electrolytes do the same thing—conduct electrical charges. But this simple function plays a part in a wide variety of body processes including muscle contraction, the transmission of nerve signals, balancing fluid levels, and maintaining a natural pH level within the body.*

Naturally, not all electrolytes fulfill the same role. The list below breaks down some of the most common electrolytes found in the body and the processes they help maintain:

  • Calcium: When it comes to muscle function, calcium is a star player. This mineral, which carries a positive charge, helps muscle fibers slide as the muscle contracts. It’s also a building block for your bones and teeth, helps regulate your heartbeat, and send nerve signals.*
  • Magnesium: This electrolyte is a bit of an all-arounder, playing a part in muscle function, DNA and RNA production, and it supports an already healthy immune system.*
  • Sodium: The big thing most people discuss when they talk about sodium is blood pressure. Sodium plays a major role in regulating the amount of fluid in your body which, in turn, impacts your blood pressure. As with many other electrolytes, sodium also plays a role in muscle and nerve function.
  • Potassium: Potassium plays a big part in muscle and heart function. If you have too little, you might experience muscle fatigue, weakness, and even cramps. And, once again, potassium also helps with the transmission of nerve impulses.
  • Chloride: This electrolyte helps your body maintain its pH levels—in other words, it balances acidity and alkalinity. Chloride also plays a part in balancing your body’s electrolyte levels.*
  • Phosphate: Like calcium, phosphate helps your body build—and maintain—strong bones and teeth. It also helps produce the energy that your body puts towards growing and repairing tissue.*
  • Bicarbonate: Through the process of respiration, you breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. But some of the carbon created during that process stays in your body in the form of bicarbonate. This electrolyte helps maintain heart function and balances the pH levels of your blood.*

Maintaining Electrolyte Levels

Most people first hear about electrolytes through product marketing. Between electrolyte drinks and other supplements, there are a lot of products marketed as solutions for maintaining healthy electrolyte levels. But are these supplements necessary? It depends.

The best way to ensure you are getting all of the electrolytes you need is by eating a well-balanced diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium and, in the case of leafy greens, calcium. You can also find calcium in dairy products such as milk and cheese. Sodium can come from a variety of sources including pickles, cheese, and smoked or canned meats. Seeds and nuts, on the other hand, are rich in sodium.

As you can see, the various electrolytes can be found across a variety of food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and proteins. If your diet includes appropriate portions of each food group, your electrolyte levels should be in a good place—if you’re not performing high-intensity exercise.

But what if you are an athlete? Or an occasional 5k runner? Or you spend several hours doing yard work in the hot sun?

This is where electrolyte supplements come in. Remember how you can lose electrolytes by sweating? Well, if you are engaging in an activity that causes you to sweat more than normal, you are losing more electrolytes than normal. And your regular diet may not be enough to quickly replenish your electrolyte levels. By drinking an electrolyte beverage or taking another electrolyte supplement, you can get a leg up on recovery and ensure you are keeping your electrolytes at a healthy level.

Just remember: it’s always good to read the nutrition label. Many electrolyte beverages contain a lot of sugar. A little bit of sugar will help your body in the absorption of the electrolytes, but a lot can throw off an otherwise balanced diet.

It’s All About Balance: The Woes of Too Little or Too Many Electrolytes

Unfortunately, it is possible to have too much of some good things. And electrolytes are one of those things.

Remember all of those body processes that electrolytes support? If you have too few of any given electrolyte in your system—a set of conditions denoted by the prefix “hypo”—you run the risk of those processes not functioning correctly. Too little sodium, for instance, is a condition known as hyponatremia, and too little calcium is known as hypocalcemia.

When you have too much of any given electrolyte, it can be similarly detrimental for your health. (These conditions all have the prefix “hyper.”)

With a healthy diet, it is unlikely that you will hit these electrolyte levels. If you do take a supplement, follow the labelled directions. But, as always, it’s best to consult a doctor if you are in doubt.

The Bottom Line

On a day-to-day basis, you don’t necessarily need to be thinking about electrolytes. Focus on eating a variety of foods from the various food groups and try to steer clear of overly processed foods. If you find yourself experiencing unusual symptoms a doctor may recommend blood tests that can help identify electrolyte imbalances.

And if you know that you’re losing a lot of electrolytes via sweat, it’s not a bad idea to sip on an electrolyte drink during or after your exercise.

Fresh vegetables

Fresh vegetables

In today’s world, you can find just about any food in stores year-round. And while there are certainly benefits to the widespread distribution of produce—like being able to make avocado toast on any given Sunday of the year—these food distribution networks have also had other unintended consequences, some good, some bad.

One such consequence is the disappearance of seasonal eating. Throughout the world, many people have access to the same foods throughout the year. This, in turn, means that many people keep their diet consistent regardless of the season. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with this, it does raise another question: should we be adjusting our diets based on the season?

The short answer is yes—and there are a variety of reasons why. But let’s get into the long answer.

Seasonal Nutrition and Sunlight: Why Your Diet Needs More Vitamin D in the Winter

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, your body responds to and interacts with its environment in a number of ways. One example of this is the way your body converts sunlight into vitamin D. The process starts with UVB radiation, which the sun emits constantly. When this UVB radiation hits the skin it is absorbed by a compound known as 7-dehydrocholesterol. UVB converts this compound into previtamin D3, which eventually becomes vitamin D3—a vitamin that can help support healthy bone development, and energy levels.

So what does this process have to do with the seasons? It’s simple: in the winter months, most people get less sun. And this means they are also getting less vitamin D.

Vitamin D isn’t naturally found in high concentrations in most foods, so picking up the slack during winter months requires a little bit of planning. Here’s the good news: many foods are fortified with vitamin D, so you have options. If you’re trying to add a little vitamin D to your diet to make up for lost sunlight, try eating a breakfast of milk and cereal—both of which are often fortified with vitamin D. Just check the label to make sure this is the case!

If you’re a fan of seafood, you’re also in luck. Vitamin D is found naturally in salmon, tuna, swordfish, and sardines.

Additionally, vitamin D supplements are always an option—just include them with your daily multivitamins.

Seasonal Eating and Nutrition

As outlined above, adjusting your diet depending on the season can have a variety of health benefits. But many people adjust their diet seasonally for a different reason: they want to practice seasonal eating. This is exactly what it sounds like—that is, eating fruits and vegetables that are “in season.”

For many, seasonal eating is about the environment. Food that has to travel halfway around the world to get to you has a much greater carbon footprint than food that is grown just down the street. But it turns out there can be health benefits to seasonal eating too!

By eating fruits, vegetables, and other produce that is in season and locally grown, you naturally vary your diet. After all, not too many foods are in season year-round. A varied diet can help you get a good balance of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs to thrive. Additionally, some studies suggest that locally grown produce is more nutrient-rich than its imported counterparts. This is because the longer some produce is stored, the more some antioxidants can break down. This isn’t to say imported produce is inherently bad, just some food for thought.

Holiday Snacking: Striking the Right Balance

Fall and winter food

As the weather takes a colder turn, your diet may change for another reason: the holidays. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays, there’s plenty of opportunity for snacking. The rhetoric surrounding holiday eating often paints this as a bad thing, but it all depends on how you approach it.

First things first, there’s nothing wrong with snacking. And there’s nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite treats around the holidays. What’s important is that you are mindful of your own nutritional goals.

If you feel like you often replace nutrient-rich foods with salty and sweet holiday snacks, try setting out some veggies with the other snacks. This is a simple option that can help you maintain variety in your diet and provide your body with much needed vitamins and minerals.

As you’re eating, remember to slow down. Snack foods have the tendency to go down faster than our bodies can register them, meaning you won’t actually realize you’re full until several handfuls of popcorn too late (or whatever snack you happen to be eating). By slowing down, you can counteract this tendency and allow yourself to really savor and enjoy the food.

Aligning Seasonal Nutrition with Your Nutritional Goals

There’s no “right” way to approach seasonal eating and seasonal nutrition—it all depends on what your nutritional goals are. If you’re trying to eat a varied diet that includes many fresh fruits and vegetables, you may want to try the wide variety of locally-grown produce available each season in your area.

beautiful skin in the snow

beautiful skin in the snow

For many, winter conjures images of beautiful, frozen landscapes: snow covered trees, icicles, all that good stuff. For others, the associations are less pleasant: cracked skin, chapped lips, and endless applications of moisturizer.

Love it or hate it, winter can wreak havoc on your skin. And the same is true of summer, though its effects on skin are of a different variety.

If you already have a skincare regimen in place, these seasonal changes can be frustrating. Who wants healthy, hydrated skin three seasons a year, only to have dry skin all winter? No one does. Fortunately, most of these seasonal skincare fiascos can be avoided. All it takes is a little foresight and some slight adjustments to your existing skincare routine.

Skincare and the Seasons: How the Weather Affects Your Skin

Your skin is your body’s first line of defense against the elements. And so it’s only natural that your skin changes as the weather shifts. Most of these changes have to do with the amount of moisture in the air.

During the winter, the air is cool and, for the most part, dry. Because the air is less humid than in the summer, your skin dries out much faster. This can lead to chapped and cracked skin, both of which you probably want to avoid altogether. The good news is that these effects can usually be mitigated with a slight adjustment to the moisturizing step of your skincare routine—but more on that later!

The summer typically has the opposite effect on skin. In the warmer months, the air is far more humid than it is during the rest of the year. High humidity can cause your sebaceous glands—which produce the oil on your skin—to overproduce oil. This often results in excessively oily and shiny skin.

Your seasonal skin care needs will also depend on your skin type. If you have oily skin, for example, you may find that the winter doesn’t dry your skin out too much. Summer, on the other hand, might compound and increase your skin’s natural oily tendencies. Similarly, if you have naturally dry skin, it may be perfectly hydrated during the summer, but cracked and dry during the winter.

Knowing your skin and the way it’s affected by the weather is the first step in maintaining healthy skin year-round. The second step is adjusting your skincare regimen accordingly—which we’ll dive into in the next section.

Seasonal Skincare Regimen for Oily Skin

If you have oily type skin, your usual skincare regimen should have you covered three seasons a year. That is, during winter, spring, and fall, you shouldn’t have to stray from your usual cleanser, toner, moisturizer, or SPF protection. It’s the summer weather—heat and humidity—that could throw off your skin’s balance.

As you probably know—either from research or personal experience—oily skin doesn’t do well with heavy cream and lotions. Though they cleanse and moisturize just fine, these types of products tend to exacerbate the oiliness of already oily skin. And so your skincare routine for oily skin probably includes lighter, thinner products: gels, liquid cleansers, etc.

During the summer months, you may have to make some adjustments to the moisturizing and protecting steps of your routine. If you find your skin becoming excessively oily and shiny in the heat of the summer, start by adjusting your moisturizer. Are you using a moisturizing lotion? If so, you might try switching to a gel moisturizer for the summer. Or if you are using a moisturizer and a separate product for SPF protection, consider consolidating the steps and using a moisturizer that also provides sun protection.

Remember, you’re not reinventing the wheel. These adjustments to your skincare routine don’t have to be huge. Give yourself a week to see results and then check back in. If you’re still struggling to control oily skin, make some more adjustments.

Seasonal Skincare Regimen for Dry Skin

If your skin is naturally on the dry side, you likely have what’s known as dry type skin. For most of the year, your skincare routine should stay pretty consistent: a cream cleanser, your toner of choice, a cream or lotion moisturizer, and a layer of moisturizing SPF protection. During the winter, however, you may need to take the moisturizing step of your skincare regimen to another level.

Typically, this means using a heavier cleanser. And in the world of skincare products, heavier means thicker. If you usually use a moisturizing lotion, but find it insufficient during the winter months, try a cream moisturizer.

A facial oil is another approach you can try to help tackle dull and dry skin. It can be applied after your normal moisturizer to help lock in hydration and condition the skin.

More Sun Means More Protection

The final step of a well-rounded skincare routine is applying protection. This comes in the form of products with an SPF—or sun protection factor—rating. Typically, this is sunscreen, but these days many moisturizers and even makeup products provide some sun protection.

Now this might seem like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said: the more sun you are getting, the more you need to protect your skin.

If you spend hours on end in the sun during the summer months, ramp up your UV protection. This could mean using a stronger sunscreen (you should be using at least SPF 30) or reapplying more frequently throughout the day. And ideally you should be doing both.

Skincare Changes to Avoid

Adjusting your skincare routine can be scary, even when it’s necessary. Finding the perfect combination of products takes time and consistency—and changes often seem to threaten that delicate balance. So how can you adjust your skincare routine with the seasons without throwing off the balance you’ve worked so hard to maintain?

It’s not as hard as it sounds. You just have to focus on small changes. If you make multiple changes to your current routine, it will be difficult to determine which product is the problem if the new routine doesn’t work for your skin type.

Any new moisturizers or other products that you try, should only be added one at a time. If the individual change to your skincare routine gives you healthy, vibrant skin, it’s a good sign that you’re giving your skin the nutrients and care it needs.

Consistency is Key

If you have a regular skincare routine, you know that consistency is key. The same is true for your seasonal skincare adjustments. Any change you make is only as good as the consistency with which you implement it. Sure, sunscreen one day a week is better than no sunscreen at all, but only just. So buckle down and commit to your changes. If something works, stick with it. If you don’t see the results you want, try something else. And if all else fails, consult a dermatologist.

skincare application

skincare application

Skincare is often approached from an aesthetic standpoint. After all, most people want to feel good about the way they look. And healthy-looking skin is a great place to start.

But skin does so much more than simply dictate the way we look. Skin is the largest organ in—or on—your body. It protects you from bacteria, environmental factors, and the sun’s UV rays. It gets cut and scraped and stands up to the wear-and-tear of daily life. Needless to say, skin plays a pretty important role in your day-to-day health.

Here’s the good news: there are countless skincare products on the market. For those of us new to the skincare world, however, this can be a little intimidating. If you’re looking to start caring for your skin but don’t know where to start, look no further. This crash course in skincare will have you crafting a personalized skincare routine in no time.

The 4 Basic Skin Types

Before selecting products to improve your skin’s appearance, it’s important to know what you’re working with. Everyone’s skin is a little bit different, but it usually falls into one of four general categories: normal, oily, dry, or combination.

  • Normal Skin Type: As the name suggests, the normal skin type is, well, pretty normal. It’s not too dry, not too oily, and doesn’t have many noticeable imperfections. Additionally, normal type skin doesn’t have any particular sensitivities.
  • Oily Skin Type: If your skin is shiny or has a dull sheen to it, there’s a good chance you’ve got oily skin. Other hallmark features of the oily skin type are enlarged pores and blackheads. There’s also a good chance your face will feel slightly oily to the touch.
  • Dry Skin Type: As opposed to oily skin, dry skin has small pores and almost no shine to it. It may feel rough to the touch, have more wrinkles and creases in it, or be slightly less elastic than other skin types.
  • Combination Skin Type: As you read through the skin types above, did more than one seem like it described your skin? If so, you’ve probably got combination skin. This skin type refers to any combination of the skin types listed above. It’s very common to have an oily T-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin), for example, while the rest of your face is normal or even dry.

Once you’ve identified your skin type, it’s time to start thinking about your skincare goals. But more on that in the next section.

Identifying Your Skincare Goals

You wouldn’t take cough syrup to treat a broken foot—it’s not the right tool for the job. Similarly, your skincare products should align with both your skin’s needs and your personal skincare goals. Are you trying to clear reduce the appearance of wrinkles? Or simply keep your skin clean and hydrated? Whatever your end goal is, it will determine how you build your skincare routine.

Finding the right products can be tricky, but most skincare routines should follow the same four basic steps: clean, tone, moisturize, and protect (in that order). Within each of those four steps, there are countless products to choose from. As you select products for your skincare routine, pay attention to the active ingredients in each item you select. Different ingredients will have different effects—and you will want to choose ingredients that have the effect you want.

So what does this look like in practice? If you are creating a skincare routine for dry skin, you will want to choose a cleanser that’s gentle and can clean without removing all the oils on your skin. Similarly, you would want to stick to non-comedogenic products, which are specifically designed to avoid clogging pores. After all, using a pore-clogging skincare product would be a little counterintuitive, wouldn’t it?

How to Build a Skincare Routine: A Step-By-Step Guide

You’ve got the basics down, now let’s put it all together. How do you take all of this information—your skin type, your skincare goals, etc.—and create a personalized skincare routine? Just like anything else in life, take it one step at a time.

Step 1: Cleanse

Cleansing is the process of removing dirt, grime, and other impurities from your skin. Some cleansers are gentler than others, meaning they dry out the skin less and are less likely to cause skin irritation. If you have sensitive or dry skin, you will probably want to stick to a gentle cleanser, such as the Celvive Gentle Milk Cleanser.

A quick rule of thumb for cleansers: if you have dry and sensitive skin, use a cleanser that comes as a lotion or cream; if you have oily skin, use a foaming cleanser. As mentioned above, the active ingredients in cleansers vary from product to product, so be sure to review the active ingredients before purchasing cleanser.

Step 2: Tone

Toning is a loosely defined step in skincare routines. It is sometimes described as the process of “balancing” the skin—that is, giving your skin any nutrients it is missing. Some toners include active ingredients that act as additional cleansers, helping to remove debris and unclog pores. Because the cleansing process can be a bit abrasive for your skin, many toners include botanical ingredients that help soothe the skin.

Step 3: Moisturize

Just like staying hydrated is an important part of staying healthy, keeping your skin hydrated is an important aspect of skin care. And the best way to keep your skin hydrated is by including a good moisturizer in your daily skincare routine.

The most effective skin moisturizers tend to use plant-based oils to hydrate the skin. Different skin types do best with different types of moisturizers. If your skin is oily, you should use gel moisturizer. These tend to be mostly water-based, as opposed to oil-based. If you have dry or combination skin, opt for a moisturizer that comes as a lotion or cream.

Step 4: Protect

When it comes to skin damage, one culprit is usually responsible: the sun’s UV rays. Even on cloudy days, your skin is exposed to UV rays that can dry it out and damage it. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: sunscreen or other SPF rated products.

Most experts recommend wearing a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF daily. This will help keep your skin protected throughout the day, reduce visible wrinkling, and help keep in moisture. (For your nightly skincare routine, you can skip the SPF.)

Consistency is Key

Like most health-related processes, skin care requires consistency. You can’t slap some cleanser and lotion on your face one night and expect to see immediate results—it takes time. As you build your skincare routine, be sure to implement it daily. If you aren’t seeing the results you want, give it a couple of weeks. (There is an exception: if a product irritates your skin, don’t hesitate to swap it for something else.)

Once you have practiced your skincare routine consistently for two to three weeks, evaluate the results. If you aren’t seeing progress towards your goals, it might be time to re-evaluate the products you are using. And remember, be gentle with yourself. If you miss a day, there is always tomorrow to start again!

eating bugs

eating bugs

If eating bugs makes your skin crawl, you might be in the minority.

With more than 1,900 species of edible insects on Earth, bugs are a regular item on the dinner menu. Two billion people regularly munch on insects. Entomophagy (the practice of eating bugs) is common in Africa, Asia, and South America. Insects are even considered local delicacies in tropical paradises.

So reprogram your taste buds because insects are actually quite nutritious—and even delicious. Bon appétit!

Eating Bugs is Part of Our Human History

Humans have been eating bugs for ten thousand years. Entomophagy (the practice of eating bugs) was first done by hunter-gatherers to survive when resources were low. They learned which bugs were edible by observing animals. This helped them steer clear of poisonous insects and spiders. Bugs quickly became a regular source of nourishment—one that has persisted to this day.

At first glance, insects do not seem to make a great meal. But when compared to other protein sources, those tiny bugs offer more than meets the eye. Grasshoppers are more densely packed with protein than beef. And they differ from beef in two other categories: fiber and fat. Per ounce, grasshoppers have less fat and more fiber.

Grasshoppers are not the only insects worth mentioning. There are several other bugs on dining tables throughout the world.

People Eat Insects All Over the World

South America and Africa

Beetles are a favorite snack of people living in the Amazon basin and parts of Africa. They are richer in protein than other insects. Beetles are also great at turning cellulose (plant sugars) into digestible fats.


Ants are tiny but they have a lot to offer your body. Aboriginal peoples in Australia eat honeypot ants as a sweet treat, because these ants’ bellies are chock-full of a nectar-like substance. In Colombia, a type of leaf-cutter ant is toasted and eaten as a snack.


Red ants are often cooked or added to salads in Thailand. One-hundred grams of red ants provide more protein than 100 grams of egg (about two boiled)—approximately 14 grams for ants to 12 grams for eggs. Ants are low in calories and carbs, so they’re a real bargain for the calorie-conscious.

Latin America, Asia, and Africa

Crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts are the most commonly eaten insects. This could be because they are easy to find and catch. Many people say that roasted crickets taste nutty. These bugs pick up the flavor of whatever they are cooked with and are popular in stir-fries and curries.

Bees are already sources of a crowd favorite—honey. But bees themselves are eaten, too. The indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Mexico eat bees when they are still young. The egg, larval, or pupal bee brood taste like peanuts or almonds. Watch out for adult bees. They can sting.

South Africa

Stinkbugs are hidden treasures of insect cuisine. Consumed in Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa. They are said to add an apple flavor to your cooking and are a rich source of iodine.

Food of the Future: Insects Are a Sustainable Protein Source

The current world population is seven and a half billion. To feed their growing populations, many world leaders are looking for sustainable sources of protein. Eating bugs provides a solution.

Insects made headlines in recent years because raising them is cheap to grow and easy on the environment. Crickets for example, take up very little space, reproduce quickly, and can sustain themselves with composting scraps and a little bit of water. Many call bugs “eco protein” because of their efficiency in converting plants to protein.

This makes insect farming more efficient than raising cattle.

Bugs require less water than livestock and take up less space. One-hundred pounds of cattle feed is required to produce 10 pounds of beef. But the same amount of feed yields 45 pounds of cricket.

Fans of “eco protein” are also excited about eating bugs as a method of pest control. Harvesting insects may be a more environmentally conscious solution to controlling the pests that destroy crops. That’s why insect cuisine is gaining traction as an alternative to pesticides.

Protein—Bugs or No Bugs—is Essential for Your Health

Whether you eat bugs, beef, chicken, fish or vegetable sources, quality protein in your diet is a must. Protein is essential to physical fitness. Most people understand that protein builds muscle, but it does much more than that. Your connective tissues are rich in protein. Hair, antibodies, blood, and enzymes all require protein to function properly.

Dietary protein is often misunderstood—with many not understanding the current recommendations and guidelines.

Current dietary recommendations say you should get 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories from protein. There are lots of ways to do that. Animal meat is a good source, but so are Greek yogurt, milk, beans, cheese, nuts, and eggs.

And you can consider insects in that list of protein sources, if you are brave enough to try eating bugs.

Are There Cons to Eating Bugs?

Every big change has pros and cons. There are great reasons for eating insects, but let’s touch on a few downsides to consider before adding bugs to your diet.

It’s important to note that all the “cons” listed here only present a very small risk, no greater than the risks associated with the foods we already consume. Experts agree that the benefits of eating bugs significantly outweigh the risks.

Food Allergies

While insects have been consumed for centuries, modern science knows very little about how they affect our bodies.

One study found that insects have the potential to trigger the same kind of allergic reaction that shellfish (like shrimp and lobster) do.

Insects and shellfish are both classified as arthropods, which means they have an exoskeleton. This similarity in anatomy and physiology could be related to the possibility of allergens.

If you know you have a shellfish allergy, you may want to pass on the roasted grasshoppers.


Insects should always be raised in a clean environment. If the farm isn’t hygienic, there is a chance for a small amount of spore-bearing bacteria, or a parasite to find its way in.

Regulating the conditions in which bugs are farmed would likely be enough to eliminate this risk entirely.


There is very little research on pesticide use in insect farming. One study found very low levels of certain harmful chemicals in raised bugs. However, these levels were no greater than what we find in our animal-based foods already.


Ants, bees, and many other insects produce toxins as a defense mechanism for predators. These toxins can be dangerous to humans if consumed. Some can even kill you.

You should have some knowledge of which insects are safe to eat. This risk is much higher with eating insects in the wild as opposed to bugs raised by an insect farmer.

How To Start Eating Insects

If you’re sold on the benefits of eating bugs, you’re probably wondering how to get started. The retail market for insects is small, so you’ll likely be purchasing them online.

One of the least shocking ways to start is with cricket flour. This can be purchased ready-to-use and added to baked goods, salads, soups, and smoothies.

You can also order dried and prepared crickets. But remember that these bug snacks are akin to eating beef jerky. The texture and consistency are nothing like an actual steak.

The tastiest way to start eating insects is to order them live, directly from an insect farm.

Freeze your live bugs for 2-10 hours. Wash them well. Then prep and cook them like you would any regular meat. You can sauté them with garlic or vegetables, or bread them with flour and fry them in oil or add them to pasta. There are plenty of recipes online for inspiration.

Grow Your Own Bugs

Once you order some bugs, you’ll probably realize that they’re just as delicious as a lot of other foods! The most environmentally and financially sustainable way to incorporate bugs into your diet is to raise your own bugs at home.

Crickets, mealworms, and waxworms are some of the most available bugs and require as little as two square feet of space. The size of a plastic bin. You can purchase a pre-built hive, or download a plan and build your own habitat.

Eat a Bug, They’re Good for You

If you’re looking to spice up your diet, look no further than the bugs outside. Eating bugs is perfectly safe—as long as you get the right ones—and it’s an excellent source of protein. Your body needs protein to keep you healthy and active.

But if you’re nervous about trying a bug with your next meal, consider the positive environmental effects associated with bug farming. And you won’t be alone. Join the billions of people who make insect protein a regular part of a healthy diet.

dieting app

dieting app

When you hear the word “innovation,” your mind probably jumps to technology. After all, technology has come a long way in the past 30 years—not to mention the entire 2 million years of human existence. But here at USANA, as we approach our 30th anniversary as a company, we’re thinking about a different type of innovation: nutritional innovation.

Three decades is a milestone that calls for reflection. The field of nutrition has come a long way in the past 30 years, and USANA has been there the whole way. With that in mind, we’re looking back at the top innovations in nutrition and wellness of the last 30 years. Read on for a crash course on the best nutritional research, products, and technological advances in recent history! (The following list is in no particular order.)

  1. Food Fortification

There are two types of nutrients that the body needs: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—all of which the body needs in relatively high quantities. Micronutrients—vitamins and minerals—are needed in smaller quantities.

Vitamins and minerals help with a variety of vital body functions but, unfortunately, many people do not consume the necessary amount. To help combat vitamin and mineral deficiencies among the general population, scientists developed the process of food fortification. The idea behind fortification is pretty simple: because people aren’t getting enough micronutrients, scientists developed ways to add micronutrients to foods. It is an especially common practice with staple foods, such as grains and dairy products.

Food fortification isn’t a new process—it’s been common practice in many countries since the 1920s. So why does it make our list of recent nutrition innovations? The answer is simple: food fortification is still a relatively new process in many developing countries. In 1970, for instance, only 20% of households around the world consumed iodized salt. By 2008 that number rose to 70%.

  1. Microbiome Research

New research is constantly shaping the way scientists understand the human body. And recently, some scientists have turned their attention to the gut. Or, more specifically, to the microbiome—the trillions of microorganisms that live in the small and large intestines.

Your microbiome plays a crucial role in helping your body process toxic food compounds, process and produce micronutrients, and break down complex carbohydrates. In short, the microbiome helps protect the body and digest food—both of which are vital to your health.*

So where does nutrition come in? Of the trillions of microorganisms that make up your microbiome, each play a different role. When everything is working smoothly—when your microbiome is “balanced”—these various microorganisms coexist without causing any problems. Recent studies have shown that a variety of factors can affect this balance. One such factor is diet.

There are a number of dietary factors that can influence the variety of organisms in your microbiome. If you’ve heard about prebiotics and probiotics, this is what they’re all about. Probiotic foods and supplements contain live bacteria (the good kind!) that help replenish and maintain balance in your microbiome.*

  1. Macro- and Micronutrient Tracking

As mentioned above, your body requires both macronutrients and micronutrents—and it needs specific quantities of each. (This is why there are percent daily values (DVs) listed on nutrition labels.) Here’s the problem: your body is unique and so are its nutritional needs. Sure, there are baseline levels of nutrients that everyone should be consuming, but beyond that, your required nutrient consumption will depend on your body, your activity levels, and your health and wellness goals for yourself.

Here’s the good news: thanks to a wide variety of fitness and nutrition apps, tracking your macro- and micronutrient consumption is easier than ever. Whether your goal is to build muscle, shed a few pounds, or simply maintain your current level of health, these apps can help you set goals, track a variety of data points related to your nutrition, and identify dietary changes that will help you meet your goals.

These apps—which are often used in coordination with wristbands that monitor heart rate—are a perfect example of the way technological advances and innovations can intersect with the field of nutrition.

  1. Allergen Awareness

Food allergies and sensitivities are far more widespread than previously acknowledged. This has caused a boom in allergy-safe products. Whether you’re lactose intolerant, allergic to gluten, or have a tree nut allergy, there are more and more products hitting the shelves each year that are safe for your consumption. Here at USANA, we jumped on this early, providing a wide variety of allergy-safe products from the get-go.

  1. Vitamin D Dosage

When it comes to healthy bones, your body relies heavily on two micronutrients: vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, but it does a whole lot more, from supporting a healthy immune system to promoting proper muscle function. Needless to say, it’s an important part of your diet. And for years, scientists and dieticians underestimated just how much vitamin D your body needs each day.*

Many sources recommended between 600 and 800 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily, but these levels may not be enough to prevent vitamin D deficiency. When you’re not getting enough vitamin D, you may not be feeling your best. Vitamin D helps with maintaining energy levels and supporting mood.*

At USANA, we reformulated USANA CellSentials and our vitamin D supplement to contain higher levels of vitamin D before anyone else made the switch. This level of vitamin D intake daily can help your body maintain proper levels of vitamin D, even when you aren’t spending lots of time out in the sun.

  1. Widespread Adoption of Traditional Chinese Medicine

In recent years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) has experienced growing popularity in the United States and Europe. This alternative framework for approaching health and wellness focuses on keeping the body balanced and includes a variety of practices such as acupuncture, forms of massage, and cupping. There is also a dietary aspect to this medicinal framework.

These practices and others have been adopted by some health practitioners in the United States and integrated with Western medicine. This isn’t an innovation per se, as TCM has existed for centuries, but it is being used in innovative ways alongside other medical frameworks.

  1. Upcycling Grape Seeds

Grape seeds

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of waste in the food industry. Naturally, people are always looking for ways to reduce that waste—or ways to put waste products to good use. That’s exactly what USANA did with grape seeds.

The story starts with polyphenols, a category of micronutrients found in plants. Polyphenol consumption is associated with a number of health benefits—so naturally, people want to maximize their polyphenol consumption. Many supplements sourced their polyphenols from maritime pine bark, which is a limited resource. Here at USANA, our scientists found that grape seeds contained similar levels of polyphenols, as well as additional polyphenols not found in pine bark. And that’s not even the best part. Grape seeds are typically a form of food waste—by sourcing polyphenols from those seeds, USANA is cutting down on that waste.

  1. Higher Protein Consumption

Most people—especially gym-goers—are familiar with the benefits of eating protein-rich foods. Protein is good for your brain and helps your body build and repair muscle tissue. The amount of protein typically recommended for daily consumption is between 0.8 and 0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

That being said, recent studies suggest that there are certain advantages to consuming more protein per day—especially for individuals looking to shed a few pounds. High-protein diets (that is, diets that include more protein than the previously recommended amount) have been shown to help with weight management and promote the synthesis of lean muscle mass.

  1. Meat Substitutes

As most long-time vegetarians can attest, meat substitutes—plant-based products that simulate the flavor and texture of meat—have been around for a long time. For years, however, these products were not very meat-like nor nutritious. Recent products have changed the game entirely.

Nowadays, vegetarians, vegans, and those simply avoiding red meat, have a variety of meat-substitutes available at most grocery stores. These recently developed nutritional products contain similar levels of protein to ground beef, but less fat and cholesterol. What’s more, the flavor and texture is closer to real meat than ever before.

  1. Glycemic Index

When you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels rise. This isn’t necessarily a problem—carbs are an essential nutrient, after all—but it is something to keep in mind. And, as it turns out, some foods raise your blood sugar more than others. Enter the concept of glycemic index. This is essentially just a way of measuring the amount of carbohydrates in a food and the rate at which they raise your blood sugar levels, and assigning that food a numerical value accordingly.

So foods that range from 1-55 on the glycemic index (GI) are considered low-glycemic. Foods in the 56-69 range are moderately glycemic and anything above that is considered high-glycemic.

Using the glycemic index as a guide, some people follow what is known as a GI diet. This diet focuses exclusively on the GI value of foods. At USANA, we take glycemic index into account while developing food products, working to ensure that our products are low-glycemic.