The body on exercise

Even the most lazy person knows that exercise is good for us. If it’s not our doctor telling us to move more it was our PI teacher at school, or our parents telling us to go outside instead of eyeing down the computer all day. Exercise is healthy. It makes it easier to manage our weight and we feel pretty good when we’re done. But do we know what exactly happens in our body when we exercise? And do we really know just how healthy it actually is? For being such a well know concept, I think we yet haven’t given it all the cred it actually deserves.

Different types of exercise

Cardiovascular/Aerobic

The beloved cardio. Some people hate it, some people love it.

Aerobic training, or cardio training is very important to us. If you’re circulating in the fitness community you’ve probably heard that “cardio is over hyped”, “you don’t need cardio to lose fat”, “strength training is all you need!”. They are not wrong, you don’t neeeed cardio to lose fat, but you do need cardio for like a million other things. Well, at least for about 4 really important things.

  • Heart and lung health. Cardio is your hearts favorite lover boy or girl, or nonbinary. We don’t discriminate any genders here. Cardio strengthens your heart and lungs. Why is this important you might ask? A strong heart and lungs increase our endurance, making your body better to absorb and pump around oxygen. If you didn’t know, oxygen is a pretty big deal.
  • Lower blood pressure and diabetes. When your heart becomes stronger it pumps around the blood much easier to lower blood pressure. Cardio is also a great way to burn of excess glucose in the blood, reducing the risk of developing diabetes, or in helping individuals with diabetes.
  • Fat burning. Cardio is not necessary for losing weight(calorie deficit is) but we can’t deny the fact that it does burn calories. Studies show that people who do frequent cardio have lower visceral fat – the dangerous “inner” fat which lays around your organs. Heard of the term “skinny fat”? Visceral fat is the one to blame. Even though both overweight and underweight people can suffer from visceral fat it’s more likely for a skinny person to ignore taking charge of their health since “they don’t look unhealthy”.
  • Mood booster: a bit of a sweat feast never hurt nobody, quite the opposite! Just 35 minutes of cardio three times a week can increase your mood by like, a lot. The optimal cardio recommendation is to get in 180 minutes of cardio every week. A brisk walk is just fine but try to challenge your heart a bit to keep that little guy happy.
Exercise

Strength training

Strength. I feel like we have two teams here. One team who is all about the gains, preaching for weights and weights only. Building muscles, getting in that protein to get that lean physic all the Instagram fitspo models have. Then we have the other team. The ones who are so afraid of lifting weights, afraid to get “too bulky”. The ones who spend hours a week doing cardio.

None of these teams are better than the other, they are staying active in their own way. But, they should definitely learn form each other. And for the cardio obsessed people out there – it’s time to lift up those weights! Strength training has so many benefits beyond achieving a bomb ass physic. As we grow older we lose our lean muscles tissue year by year. The only way to keep our muscles is to use them.

  • Bone health. that strong muscles make strong bones is the typical slogan, but it should be. Weight training doesn’t only increase muscle mass, but it also strengthens our bones reducing the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. For females this is especially important, as we tend to lose bone density as we enter menopause. Not the hottest topic I know, but a very important one.
  • Increase metabolism. Lean muscles require more energy at rest which means that you get to eat more food to maintain your weight. As we build muscle our body starts burning fat more efficiently. This process continues even after you’ve had a good pump at the gym.
  • You don’t need a gym. Most people get the image of a buff bodybuilder throwing bricks in the air when we hear “strength training”. This is thankfully not the only way to build muscle. If you are afraid to lift super heavy right of the bat, I’m glad to inform you that body weight exercise is just as effective. The important thing to think about is resistance. You want to train until or close to failure to really challenge your muscle and break down the tissue.

Flexibility

Yet again we have two types of people. The ones who dedicate a solid 15 minutes to stretching after their workout and the ones who don’t stretch for shit. If you belong to the latter (myself included), it’s about time to add in at least 5 minutes of light stretching.

Daily stretching increase flexibility which reduce injury, muscle soreness and shortness, and improves blood circulation to your muscles. Stretching has also shown to improve vein health (hate, absolutely hate that word) which makes your blood flow easier throughout your cute little body.

Exercise

Balance

Pretty straight forward here. We know what balance is and it’s important to have a good sense of it to understand where you are in space. Kinda loopy and weird way to put it, but you get the point. Balance becomes more important as you grow older as it will minimize the risk of falls and injuries. Let’s be honest, a big part in taking care of yourself is to become that cool (and hot) grandma or grandpa who’s fresh as fudge.

Easy ways to improve balance is by having a strong lower body. Simple walking or taking the stairs are underrated ways to improve balance. Yoga is another great balance training which also improves your flexibility. Most gyms also have dedicated balance boards or pilates balls. If one thing is for sure it’s that a Pilates ball will make you question everything you know about balance…

The brain on exercise

Oh, our little mushy head lump, our brain. This weird incredible thing which controls our whole existence. Talk about a power trip. We mentioned that exercise boosts our mood, but how?

  • Dopamine kick. Why do we feel so great after a nice pump? It’s all about dopamine, baby! When we exercise we stimulate the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for hormone production. In the case of exercise, our hypothalamus goes cray cray on releasing the feel good hormone dopamine. Exercise is definitely one of the best happy kicks there is.
  • Brain cell growth and brain plasticity. Who knew that while working that junk in your trunk your are also supporting new brain cell growth? So don’t come here and tell me fit people aren’t smart! Exercise has this wonderful effect of pumping oxygen around our body, and this also includes the brain. More oxygen to the brain stimulates new cell growth and brain plasticity – forming new connections and neurons in our brain.
  • Reduce risk of disease and inflammation. As we age there’s unfortunately a higher risk of catching an “age related” disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Exercise might have the effect of battling these diseases as it improves the formation of new brain cells and plasticity. Besides this, exercise helps regulate other underlying factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Sex it up

Now let’s get into the saucy part which everyone loves – sex. Exercise will significantly improve your sex life. Not only does your stamina increase with regular exercise, but as a man you’re less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. And for us females exercise and specifically strength training makes the pelvic floor stronger leading to pretty sweet orgasms. Do I even need to give another reason to sweat it out?!

Exercise and sex

So, by now I hope I haven convinced you even more to why you should put on those training shoes and get a good sweat on. What matters in the long run is what you do consistently. It’s better to walk 10 minutes a day than doing nothing. What’s your reason for training more?

Sources

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/the-4-most-important-types-of-exercise

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/stretching-may-improve-blood-vessel-health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/easy-ways-to-improve-your-balance

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-exercise-affects-your-brain/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00066/full

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886

https://www.google.com/amp/s/qz.com/2018965/how-exercise-protects-the-brain-against-depression-and-anxiety/amp/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312628

https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/articles/gray-matter-vs-white-matter-322973

FODMAPs what are they?

Sometimes you’re so hungry and confused that you need a map to find the food you saved for later. Or sometimes, if you’re being a total bitch to yourself you like to hide snacks all over your house so you won’t eat them, to later frantically hunt them down like a pirate on a treasure hunt. What you’ll use then is a food map, but what we’re about to talk about now is FODMAPs.

Seriously, I can’t be the only one who’ve stumbled across this term on the internet and having my tiny head voice read “food maps”. Lazy reading obviously, but please tell me I’m not the only one? Either way, what is FODMAPs and why are we seeing this word thrown around every health blog as the new superdiet that will save your life while saving the depleting oceans? Okay, that’s no true, and by the way, our depleting oceans are a serious issue. I apologize for making a stupid joke about it. I do love and care deeply for our blue planet. By the way, if you haven’t, check out Blue Planet on Netflix! That shit’s amazing!

But, back to FODMAPs. What are they? What do they do? Should you try it? Read on to get a better understanding of what FODMAPs are.

What are FODMAPs?

The first thing we need to do is to break down this two-faced word. The word itself is a mouthful, so buckle up your seatbelt… FODMAPs stands for, again, get ready for it, Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. I told you it’s not exactly in the category of “baby’s first words”.

Most likely, that long word didn’t make things clear for you at all, so to make it simple, FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols, which for some people cause a bad reaction in the gut.

It goes down in the gut

Once again, some people, have a hard time breaking down these short-chain carbohydrate foods which are high in FODMAPs. High in FODMAPs means that these foods are more likely to cause a bad gut reaction in some individuals. How exactly does it work? In our gut, we have a million bacteria called the microbiome. Probiotics are another trendy health thing, and what they essentially are is healthy gut bacteria. Living, stable, high-income taxpayers who like sports and go clubbing on the weekend. Well some of them might be more into fine arts and crafts, but bottom line, they are a bunch of bacteria living in our gut to make sure we stay healthy.

Since these bacteria are actually living things they need to eat, and unlike us, they can’t be picky with what they get. What you eat, is what they eat. That’s where we have prebiotics, which are foods that feed the probiotic bacteria with healthy nutrients. Fruit, vegetables, fiber, fermented foods are all part of the prebiotic family. But, even some of these healthy foods can in some people cause a bad reaction to our microbiome. This is where FODMAPs come in.

What happens is that these carbohydrates don’t break down properly in the large intestine. The gut bacteria just don’t know how to break it down on the dance floor together with these short-chain carb guys, they get out of sync and the whole party is ruined. Essentially, what happens is that the bacteria produce excess gas due to the bioproducts of the fermentation process. And, don’t we all know what happens when we have an overproduction of gas in our system..? We get bloated, experience discomforts, or serious digestive issues.

Foods high and low in FODMAPs

It’s hard to point out exactly which foods have the highest amount of FODMAPs. Since everyone reacts differently to different foods, and the quantity of the food we eat can have an impact on our guts as well, we can’t say exactly which foods to avoid.

What some research has shown is that there are some common foods which can cause these symptoms, and they are apples, pears, broccoli, cabbage, watermelon, cereals, pasta, milk, and bread. You can find more complete lists here. But, remember that these are just a general list. Some of the high FODMAP foods will work fine in some people while some of the low FODMAPs might not.

Is it healthy?

I have to make it clear that you shouldn’t jump on this “diet” before you’ve actually been to a nutritionist or dietitian who specifically told you to try the low FODMAP diet. Since there’s a lot of restrictions on this diet it’s important to understand that you can get nutrient deficient if you just “try it out” with no actual reason behind it.

The low FODMAP diet is also meant to be a temporary diet, not a lifestyle change! The main reason people with gut problems get on this diet is to slowly introduce these foods back into their diet again so their gut bacteria learn how to break them down properly.

Then again, we all process foods differently. Just because you read that your favorite Instagram influencer is on the low FODMAP diet and is feeling super duper amazing, doesn’t mean that it’s a magical cure and will make you feel amazing too. When we read about these new diets, superfoods, and miracle juices on social media and on the internet, we have to put our professor glasses on and think about the sources. How reliable is this source? Is this an actual nutritionist/health coach giving this advice? Can they back up what they’re saying with proper research? Do I have digestive issues?

There is no one miracle diet, just as there’s no one size fits all. Of course, we have foods that are more nutrient-dense than others, but that doesn’t mean that they are healthy for everyone. That’s why allergies exist for example. If you do feel like you could be suffering from these digestive issues, book an appointment with a nutritionist or dietitian and see if the low FODMAP diet is actually something for you. Don’t just do it because Kim Kardashian might have mentioned it in the caption on her latest Instagram post.

 

 

 Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fodmaps-101#definition

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5390324/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24150797

https://www.medicinenet.com/low_fodmap_diet_list_of_foods_to_eat_and_avoid/article.htm

Go bra less

No matter if you’re an hombre or a chica, nobody ever got hurt by freeing the nipple and letting the ladies loose. By ladies and nipples I mean boobs, if that wasn’t clear enough.

I think all females remember the story about how they got their first bra. Mine was awkwardly asking my mom about it when we were out shopping. I remember that I had prepped the whole day to lay out the question. It was a nerve wracking mission, but I managed to throw out the question as we were passing the lingerie section at H&M. Having an Indian mother, topics like bras, periods and sex didn’t come up at the dinner table that often (never), so I was pretty nervous. A few awkward try-ons later and I was walking home with a bunch of Snoopy bras, feeling very accomplished with myself and my tiny, barely A-cups. Was Snoopy on teenage bras a trend even outside of Sweden? That little sneaky dog was literally bouncing around on every young boob out here.

Going from literally dreaming about my first bra to avoiding wearing one as much as I possibly can. The action of taking off your bra as soon as you get home, is something all females can relate to. It’s a very freeing feeling. Guys, you should try it just to experience the sensation of being able to breath again. Wearing a bra isn’t only uncomfortable, but being stuck in between those straps for hours a day come with health complications. That’s nothing Victoria’s Secret flaunts about.

The lymphatic system

The lymphatic system. What is this weird word and why are you changing the topic from boobs you might ask? Well, boobs, or specifically bras can have a negative impact on this important function. So let’s talk about this mysterious system with a flashy name.

The lymphatic system works together with our circulatory system, and its main functions is to remove toxins, fight infections and transport and supply fat and nutrients to our body. The system is built up of lymph nodes, which pushes around a liquid called lymph. This liquid contains white blood cells which removes any toxins or infections it might encounter. I know, these words sounds like characters of an Elf show, but they are indeed real things.

Wearing tight clothes such as bras, skinny jeans, or even high heels makes it harder for the lymph to pass smoothly through our body. This can lead to water retention, swelling, and in severe cases terrible pain and cancers. Have you ever noticed marks on your body after taking of your bra or skinny jeans? That’s the result of your lymph not being able to pass through your body as efficiently.

How to maintain a healthy lymphatic system

Since clothes are mandatory to wear in society, how can we make sure we keep our lymphatic system healthy? Because if I’m being honest, skinny jeans are my dearest piece of clothing. Bras on the other hand, I could live without.

Switch up your outfits

Sure, I do love my skinny jeans but I’m also a huge fan of loose fitting dress pants. Make sure you wear loose fitting clothing once in a while, and changing into sweats as soon as you get home is a habit the lymphatic system fully supports. Avoid wearing bras as often as possible, push-up bras – totally ditch them! Fashion is changing, we like boobs a la naturale! If you happen to be a female blessed with the boobs of a goddess, not wearing a bra can be uncomfortable. Wear sports bras or loose fitting bustiers instead.

Stay hydrated

As expected, water is showing off yet again. Can we ever go wrong with drinking a lot of water? Probably not! Staying properly hydrated helps our lymphatic system with smooth transportation of the lymph. Getting enough water doesn’t mean that you have to inhale a gallon of water every other second. Eating a lot of plant foods which naturally contains a lot of water will help you a long the way. Cucumbers, zucchini, red bell peppers, melons, berries, lettuce and greens. Basically, make sure to eat a big salad with your lunch. You’re getting nutrients and a free hydration session!

Get your nutrients

Just like water, getting proper nutrition will always be a good thing. Weather it’s to help your lymphatic system or to just feel great, nutrients will always be triumphing bad boys. Since the lymphatic system helps us in passing nutrients through our body it’s pretty important that we give it the right nutrients to flush around. Leafy greens, cranberries, nuts, seeds, and citrus. Fragrant spices such as garlic, ginger and turmeric. Avoid processed foods and a high amount of saturated fats. There’s actually a vein that goes from your intestine straight up to your heart, transporting whatever fat it picks up in the intestine. Think about that the next time you’re eating a highly processed greasy burger…

Get bouncing

Bounce, flounce, jump all around (I know, this can be brutal if you ditched the bra). Okay, you may not need to jump, but move your body. Exercise or take simple walks regularly. Sitting around all day with minimal movement forces the lymphatic system to work harder to push through the lymph and nutrients, and this is where blockage can occur. When you travel on an airplane for example. Ever noticed that you kinda swell up a little? Especially around your feet and ankles? Airplane hack 101, get off your ass and walk around. If you have no shame and don’t give a shit about what people think of you, you can even squeeze in a few squats in the aisle.

Lymphatic massage / drainage

Massages are an every day luxury we should treat ourselves to more often. A lymphatic massage on the other hand… not as pleasurable, but extremely beneficial! What a lymphatic massage, or lymphatic drainage does it, just as the name itself implies, drains our body from excessive fluids which have caused blockage in certain areas of our bodies.

A lymphatic massage can be done  by yourself, or with the help of a professional. If you’ve had any of you lymph nodes removed, tonsils for examples, a drainage is to recommend since you’re now missing a lymph node to do the flushing job for you. But even if you have all your nodes in tact, it doesn’t hurt to help the lymphatic system a little bit. A fast way to get the same results of a lymphatic massage at home, is to dry brush your skin as a part of your shower routine. Simple wellness from the comfort of your home!

To sum this up I want to encourage stripping, staying healthy, dry brushing and force Victoria’s Secret out of business, even though they’re already doing pretty fine in that area… (oh snaaap, I went there!!).

Our bodies are amazing, and there’s a ton of functions that we don’t pay that close attention to or might not even know about. The circulatory and respiratory system are systems well known, but the lymphatic system? Not the most popular guy. By taking him out of the shadows we can understand our body better, making it easier for us to incorporate small actions into our lives, like dry brushing and skipping the bra, to feel better. And if I have to say one thing that is good about lingerie, it’s the fact that it usually doesn’t stay on for to long…