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iStock_000008783353XSmallHave you realized how many pills may you take daily without notice? After your workout you feel your muscles burn and automatically reach out for acetaminophen. At breakfast, you may take a multi vitamin with some “added benefit claim.” And maybe at night an Ambien pill is your best friend for a good night sleep.

Surely, drugs and supplements have a place in a healthy life, but sometimes the easiest move—popping a pill—is not the healthiest choice for the long term.

Although you can get these pills over the counter, this does not make them safer than some prescription drugs—supplements are not FDA approved, which leaves the consumer unprotected. Instead of looking in a bottle for health benefits, check out the supermarket aisle.

More studies show how when some foods are paired together they may provide similar benefits as some drugs, but with the advantage of supplying other healthy nutrients that pills do not. Here is how you can combine certain foods (and thus specific vitamins and nutrients) to improve your overall health and well being.

Easy Two

1)     Eggs (protein) + Sweet potato (vitamin A & C) = Look younger

In a study where more than 4,000 middle-aged women were assed the relationship between aging and skin aging, those who had less protein, potassium, vitamin C, and Vitamin A in their diet, had a more wrinkled appearance, says Martina M. Cartwright, Ph.D., R.D., adjunct faculty member at University of Arizona, in the IDEA Fitness Journal.

2)     Bell peppers (vitamin C) + Chicken (vitamin B12) = Decrease stress

In periods of chronic stress, vitamin C can be depleted because of an overworked adrenal gland. Likewise, the B-complex vitamins, particularly B12, are needed by the nervous system to relieve stress, according to Nutrition Almanac.

3)     Chocolate (arginine) + Peanuts (Folate) = Fertility

The amino-acid arginine plays an important role to relax the blood vessels, thus improving blood flow. Studies show than men with lower sperm counts and motility improved their numbers after taking arginine. Also, research from the University of California showed healthy men with high levels of folate in their diets had a significantly lower risk of sperm with chromosomal abnormalities. Peanuts are a great folate source and also contain over 30 other essential nutrients. They are high in arginine as well.

4)     Almonds (tryptophan) + Apricots or Dates (magnesium)  = Better sleep

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that acts as a precursor of serotonin – the calm chemical – and can be converted to melatonin (the sleeping hormone regulator), which promotes relaxation. Magnesium, is a stress beater and necessary for metabolic function, heart beat regulation, and to help maintain normal muscle/nerve function.

5)     Whey protein  + Skim milk  (calcium) + Dark Chocolate (arginine) = Lose weight

Studies show that whey protein improves body composition by decreasing body fat and hunger compared to other protein food types, such as soy and casein. Dairy, has whey protein and calcium, and this combo my improve body fat ratio. And in a recent study, chocolate lovers showed a lower body mass index than non-chocolate eaters.

6)     Ginger + Extra Virgin Olive Oil = Reduce pain and inflammation

Gingerols are the anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger, which inhibit the formation of pro-inflammatory substances cytokines, Likewise, Extra-virgin oil may act as natural anti-inflammatory like some pain relief drugs. The chemical oleocanthal in olive oil reduces one of the enzymes that promote inflammation.

7)     Chia seeds (omega 3-fatty acids)  + Oats (fiber) = Improve heart health

Diets high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants have shown to decrease inflammation, which is linked to a higher risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Viscous fibers like found in oats increase bile acid losses, which are linked to lower triglycerides—a type of fat found in vegetable oils and animal food. Low levels help increase weight loss and lower your risk of heart disease, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition.

8)     Popcorn (fiber) + Pistachios (protein) = Best energy snack

A 100 percent whole grain carbohydrate will give you the energy pick-me-up that will last for a while, according to Erin Palinski, RD, CDE, CPT, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. One of the best options is plain popcorn, a 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. Popcorn has more polyphones (antioxidants substances) than fruits and vegetables, making it the ideal snack. Research published in the Journal Neuron shows protein, not sugar, activates the cells that keep you awake and helps to burn calories. To increase your energy and your attention span, pair whole grains with protein. In particular, good sources of the amino-acid tyrosine, which increases the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter critical for brain alertness. A 25g portion of pistachios can provide 70mg of tyrosine.

 

 

 

 

 

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