52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: The Role of Vitamins B3 and B6 in the Diet

The Vitamin B complex is comprised of 8 B vitamins:

Today, I want to look at B 3 and B 6 and their role in mental health. In a previous post, I talked about how you are what you eat and with the B vitamins, this could not be further from the truth. Both B 3 and B 6 play roles in making sex and stress hormones(B3) and brain development and nervous system health (B6).

Vitamin B3 deficiency has been linked to conditions such as depression and anxiety, but also to issues with fatigue, memory loss, apathy, headaches and disorientation. Going out and buying a bunch of Niacin is not recommended. People sensitive to Niacin will get Niacin flush, a redness and feeling of overheating that is rather uncomfortable. No flush Niacin is available, but it is advisable that you speak to a doctor and a nutritionist regarding a deficiency of Niacin in your diet and overall physical being. B3 can be found naturally in chicken breast, tuna, turkey, salmon, pork, ground beef, peanuts and vegan/vegetarian options of brown rice, avocados, whole wheat (seitan), mushrooms, green peas and potatoes. You can get fortified enriched foods, but I find this unadvisable becasue of the increase in processing and getting further away from the original food it came from.

Vitamin B6 is also linked to depression and confusion. Immune suppression is also a concern with B6 deficiency. Again, as noted above, only a doctor can tell you through a blood test if you are deficient and a nutrtionist can properly prescribe a diet with the proper balance of micronutrients for positive mental health. Sources of B6 can be found in chickpeas, beef liver(also B3), tuna, chicken breast(also B3), potatoes, bananas, tofu and nuts.

You are what you eat. In my practice, medicine is a line of defense when dealing with mental health and you are at the whim of the side effects of medicine, often leaving my clients feeling out of control and most often telling me that they don’t take medication because of side effects. Sometimes, you need medication to help things along. Most times though, a lot can be done with your diet AND physical movement. Adding a healthy diet to your self care routine along with 45 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (1-10 where 10 is hardest, exercise at a level of 5-7) 5 days a week can go a long way in promoting mental health.

There is a lot of speculation right now that that the severity of COVID -19 symptoms are dependent on one’s physical health. As a nation right now, our food system and the choices we have for healthy food are upside down. This is a trend that that has been getting worse actually for the last 100 years with the invention of processed cereals and grains. As mentioned above, fortified does not mean healthy. It does mean healthier, but the best sources are from whole foods which can be found in the outside circle of your grocery store. Some foods like beans, nuts, seeds are better and more conveniently found pre packaged, just stay away from added flavorings, salts and sugars.

This week on the menu:

Paleo Barbecue Chicken Casserole

https://www.realfoodwithjessica.com/2016/10/02/paleo-barbecue-chicken-casserole/

Sweet Potato Sausage Stuffing

https://www.tastingpage.com/cooking/paleo-stuffing-sweet-potato-sausage-grain-free-gluten-free

A fun snack I have been playing with the last week is Healthy Classic Cooking Dough for One:

https://thebigmansworld.com/healthy-classic-cookie-dough-for-one/

My training is moving along. I had a 12 hour 48 minute week last week. The highlight of the week was the shakeout hike I did with my daughter in preparation for our Appalachian Trail section hike in Maryland in May. We did 10 miles on the North Country trail in 4 hours 18 minutes. She crushed the hike and all our equipment worked like it was supposed to. We were going to camp overnight, but the overnight temps were not what I was looking to expose her to on this hike.

On Sunday, I crushed a 43 mile bike ride in the ridges and windfarms of the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area in New York. It was cold and windy with 4,613 feet of elevation. It was a hell of a ride and I definately felt the strongest yet on any climb since.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: COVID SARS 19 and Weigh Gain

The other day, I heard a disturbing statistic that suggested that at the height of our COVID-19 lockdown, some people were gaining .5lbs a week. Lightly called the COVID 19, it is indeed a real problem that some have had to deal with during this pandemic. This week, I would like to address this issue.

For many of those who work desk jobs, myself included, we have either moved to working from home or in some capacity are still working from our offices. The problem for many who may work from home, we are not moving nearly as much as we were pre pandemic. No trips to water cooler, no need to walk over to the copier, no need to get out of our pajamas really. The Boston Globe on April 9, 2021 pointed to the Gen Z and Millenials struggling the most with weight gain. Millenials were cited to have gained an average of 41 lbs while Gen Z’s gained around and average of 28lbs. “The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” poll, conducted in late February, found that 42 percent of people reported they had become heavier than they intended during the previous year. Those people gained an average of 29 pounds, with 10 percent gaining more than 50“(Boston Globe 2021). In an article from the University of Missouri, they present numbers that roughly corroborate with what the Boston Globe presented, appropriate to this discussion, the University of Missouri reached out to their social media folowers to see what their health habits looked like during COVID-19. They found that 68% were snacking more; 74% were cooking at home more;61% were ordering out less; 54% were exercising less and 54% had gained weight.

So what is going on? We are more stressed, our gyms were closed/ our routines were disrupted and we are not getting enough sleep. The University of Missouri offers this “Working a full-time job while educating your children and caring for (wrangling) other family members at home is stressful — period. You don’t need to feel bad about gaining a few extra pounds or apologize for turning to comfort foods (looking at you, pinot gris) to get by“.

In my practice as a clinician, I am often asking why and while the above seems pretty obvious, we are creature of habit and some who were really relying on their schedules to keep them holding on are falling apart. Over the last year, I have watched incidents of anxiety, depression, suicidality and anti social behaviors skyrocket in presenting sessions. What I have found in the last year that COVID 19 has been a physical health and mental health dumpster fire and we are all the worse for wear.

So what can we do?

In my practice, I always advocate for a client to see four Allied Health Professionals: Therapist, Nutritionist, Personal Trainer/Health Coach and a Doctor/Psyciatrist.

What you can do:

  • Manage stress- If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, turn to therapy. The reality that I see everyday is that noone has anyone to turn to and if the recent statistics are true, 54% don’t have the church or social organization they used to. Subjective observation has shown me that people further are not engaging in Moose, Elks, Masons or other social clubs like in years past.
  • Get sleep and going along with this, get active – losing weight is not just a will power thing, it is real physiological problem that combines genetics, stress and a sedentary lifestyle into a huge problem that messes with sleep, mental health and physical health. Staying active and getting good sleep are two major factors in promoting longevity.
  • Take medicine – It is not as bad you think. I hear it all of the time “I don’t like being on medicine, I don’t like how I feel”. The reality is that you sometimes cannot control your depression or anxiety with will power. Sometimes proper diet and exercise won’t even get you on point. With our pandemic, people are snacking more and probably are not snacking on carrots, greens and other serotonin producing foods. Many are at a point of serious deficiency. I tell my clients that medication is a tool that lengthens the fuse when you at a point of feeling hopeless helpless and worthless. Once the medication is working, you can work with your therapist on cultivating healthier coping skills and begin to work with your nutritionist and Personal trainer on healthier food and physical activity choices. To really know where you are at with your vitamin levels, working with your nutrtionist and your doctor will point you to the right blood tests to look at your hormones and many of your micronutrient levels.

You are in control of you, it is the one thing you can do in this time of uncertainty. I often tell my girls before they go off to school for the day, “Make it a good day or not, the choice is yours”. You only get one life, right now, circumstances suck. The choice is yours, in this instance, we can embrace the suck(not a good thing in this case), or we can look at what we CAN control. Some of the things you can control require a guide, so use professionals when you can. Other things are just choices, going for a walk, keeping a bottle of water within reach, setting a timer for 45 minutes when you are at your desk and getting up for 10 minutes(I have done this for years starting with my Masters program), prepacking healthy foods and snacks. This blog has been all about my food prep for the week so that I can just enjoy my life. THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

Reference:

Pandemic Weight Gain — It’s a Thing. (n.d.). https://Www.Muhealth.Org/Our-Stories/Pandemic-Weight-Gain-Its-Thing. https://www.muhealth.org/our-stories/pandemic-weight-gain-its-thing

The COVID 19 is real: Weight gain has been a problem for many during the pandemic. (2021, April 9). BostonGlobe.Com. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/04/08/nation/covid-19-is-real-weight-gain-has-been-problem-many/

This week’s menu

This week, my oven broke so my menu is a bit of mess, though I am still pulling it together. Sorry, no pics this week, I am a bit crunched for time.

  • Breakfast will be my usual eggs and toast or protein oatmeal.
  • Meal 1 will be a chicken anti pasta salad with grilled chicken and anti pasta fixings. I am using a Primal Kitchen Italian dressing that is free from seed oils.
  • Meal 2 will be some meatballs cooked in my Insta Pot.
  • Snacks will be

Cliff Bars – while these are not the best thing, my training schedule has dictated that I eat something with a bit more oomph during the day

Apple Cinnamon No Bake Energy Balls

2 Scoops of Body Tech Apple Cinnamon Cereal Protein Powder

135 g of Oatmeal

1/4 C of honey or Syrup

1 C of PB 2

1-2 servings of chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients into a bowl until well mixed (you may need some water)

Form into desired sized balls

Place in the fridge to firm up( I store them in the freezer)

Mid morning snack has been bullet proof coffee if I have time

What I am training for and my schedule:

Coming up, I have three events that I am training for:

May 1 – 30 mile Gravel Bike ride in Loudonville, Ohio

May 15 – Duathalon in Randolph, NY

June 19 – 50 k in Blue Knob, PA

Schedule(ish)

Wake up at 0500 and eat breakfast and spin for 1 -2 hours

work for 8 -10 hours

Run 5 miles on M, T and W after work

Speed work and lift on Thursday after work.

Fridays are rest(ish) days until June

Bed by 2200

Weekends are 16- 20 mile runs and 40- 60 mile bike rides until after June.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: Gut and Inflamation

This week, I want to talk about the gut’s role in inflamation.

What you eat is what you are. Food can impact systemic inflamation in the body. There are auto immune diseases that can lead chronic inflamation. Gastritis is one such condition where the lining of the stomach becomes inflamced. Gastritis is linked to a bacteria that causes ulcers in the stomach. Pain relievers and excess alcohol can contribute to gastritis.

Other inflamations are or can be normal respsonses to infection or injury. These inflamations can become chronic leading to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, increase risk of diabetes, increased risks of cancers and even mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.

C – reactive protein or CRP is a marker for inflamation in the blood. You can have your doctor test for CRP to look for a variety of medical conditions.

Another area of interest is the gut’s role in the dysfunction we see in the brain. For a while, I have been following the growing trend that links the gut to brain health, specifically with depression and anxiety. Our gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract is very sensitive to emotion. Think about those times you get “butterflies” in you belly or feel nauseous under certain situations. To keep this very lenghty topic, short, I am going to give a very thumbnail sketch of what I have learned in several 6+ hour continuing education sessions on this.

Our modern lifestyle is not kind to our bodies and especially our guts. We are exposed to a variety of environmental toxins that disrupt hormonal functions in bodies. We eat too much sugar and we are regularly over stressed all the time. Stress though is a blanket term for a variety of conditions which can be physiolgical or psychological. Many of the work I do with my clients revolves around managing these factors, managing stress, reducing exposure to toxins and eating better. Other components that can help with inflamation are meditation, which does not have to be sitting on a cushion and thinking about nothing, though it can be this; as already mentioned, cleaning up diet; excercising and according to Kelly Brogran, “strategic supplementation – natural anti- inflammatorieslike polyunsaturated fats (evening primrose oil and fish oil), curcumin(the active compoonent of turmeric), and probiotics to name a few, can help promote a synergy of benefical effects”(https://kellybroganmd.com/from-gut-to-brain-the-inflammation-connection/)

With all of my clients, I promote an integrated medicine approach to health. To get you started on your journey to optimal health, there are three allied health professionals that I recommend to all of my clients, a Psychiatrist, Nutritionist and Therapist. Beyond this, one may also need to see an Endocrinologist for auto immune issues, a weight managment specialist, a Chiropractor, a personal trainer, an OB/GYN a Physical or Occupational Therapist and a even a Neurologist to name a few to help one figure out which component of their body is not working.

This week’s menu features a south of the border theme:

Beef Barbacoa with Cauliflower tortillas and a Chorizo and Cauliflower rice skillet.

https://www.thechunkychef.com/ultimate-instant-pot-beef-barbacoa/

Chorizo and Pepper Cauliflower Rice

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating- Week 13- It is Not as Easy as Calorie in/Calorie Out

I am guilty. I have said this too often to clients knowing full well that it is much more complicated than this. In the American Council of Exercise(ACE)’s March 2021 issue of Certified, Daniel Green visits this conventional wisdom and shows how much more complicated weight loss is. This will be a critique of Green’s article.

For many years, many, myself included have engaged in reductionist logic regarding weight loss. As I have gotten older and more educated, I have come to realize that there are many factors as to why a person is over fat and how some of these factors are out of that person’s control. As a mental health clinician, I also understand how unmitigated and untreated mental illness can also lead to obesity and other deterrants to optimal health. I am often fond of saying, much to my wife’s chagrin that depression is a progressive disease. Isolation then sedentary living, stress eating are not usually the first signs of a depressive episdode, but will eventually show themselves as the depression worsens. As one disengages from the world and maybe anxiety sets in, thinking errors around how the person percieves the world will cause one to get deeper into the throes of depression.

With this understanding of depression, let’s look at the classic tome, eat less and move more. “”The problem with the balance sheet approach to weight loss,” says Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, ACE’s president and chief science officer, “is that every person’s response is going to be different.” Two individuals of the same sex, weight and age can follow the same dietary pattern and physical-activity program and see very different results due to hormonal, metabolic and genetic differences“(Green, 2021). Add to the equation, mental health concerns and daily stressors and you can see how complicated this can get. Also pointed out by Green and I would completly agree that the calories in/calories out narrative places the blame on the person trying to manage their weight.

Challenging the narrative, I try and move the client away from this narrative and help them think critically about their relationship with food, realistically about their mental health, mindfully about genetic factors and compassionately and gracefully about body image. Following thsi approach, I find that I am in allignment with ACE’s Mover Method (https://www.acefitness.org/about-ace/ace-mover-method/).

Green offers the heading in his article entitled “Accepting That Which We Cannot Change”. This is a big part of my philosophy, controlling the controllables. Green offers “While they may not be able to alter their genetics or childhood experiences with physical activity and nutrition, they can change how they respond to these things. This becomes particularly important as people age and their body no longer responds to diet and exercise as it once did“(Green, 2021). As a dad in his mid 40’s at this point, it is really interesting to see how much my body does not respond to diet and exercise as it once did. Especially exercise. I have been a long distant athlete since my late 20’s, running my first 50k in 30’s and back then, it was not uncommon to run straight through 7 days a week and within 3 days of completing a 50 k. Now adays though, I need a day or a couple of days to recover. Nutrition has been my nemesis for the last 5 years. Genetically, I come from short, often overweight people, prone to diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressures. I have watched even as I have dialed in my diet over the last 10 years, the biomarkers can be questionable. As you get older, energy levels falter, somedays now, it feels like falling off a cliff rather than a little stumble. “Wait, I can’t do 2 a day trainings ranging 4 hours in one day like I used to?” This has been an adjustment the last two years, especially as a person with ADHD.

In sum, this was a great article and I encourage you to hop over to the ACE website and read it in full.

https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/certified/march-2021/7804/rethinking-the-concept-of-calories-in-vs-calories-out/

Reference:

Green, D. (2021). Certified™: March 2021 – Rethinking the concept of calories in vs. calories out. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/certified/march-2021/7804/rethinking-the-concept-of-calories-in-vs-calories-out/

This week’s menu features

Peruvian grilled chicken, rice and quinoa blend and steamed broccoli:

Keto Chicken Cheese Bake(https://www.afamilyfeast.com/keto-chicken-cheese-bake/):

Breakfasts are going to be my usual for the next few weeks, oatmeal, eggs and toast, muesli and random cereal mixed in.

52 Weeks of Healthy Eating: Week 12- Sun’s out Gun’s Out

This week, I would like to move away from diet for a moment and celebrate that it was warm this week, well, warmer. Soon however, it will be really warm and we will all be shedding our sweaters and sweatpants for t shirts and tank tops. It’s time to get our guns out. In order to get our guns out though, we may have to do some work getting them ready. This week, I am going to give you 5 exercises you can do to tone your arms for the coming spring and summer season.

Keeping your arms healthy is not just for showing them off while going shirtless or wearing a bikini. Addressing functional health, healthy shoulders and arms allow for fluid, functional movement such as getting dishes off a high shelf, lifting a box from a counter to a shelf above your head or picking up a load of laundry and carrying it up a flight of stairs. Weaknesses in the shoulders will limit full external rotation and range of motion. If you have had trauma to your shoulders such as a rotator cuff injury, it is important that if you have any impingments, you see a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor along side and before you begin any exercise program.

The other piece of getting your gun’s out is taking care of your skin. Our long dry northern winters are deceptively dry. When I go running on a cold winter day, I often find that I am more dehydrated and my skin is more chapped as if I had gone running on hot, windy day in July. Using lotions, drinking plenty of water and seeing your doctor to address any issues with eczema, rashes or acne will help your skin be ready for summer vibrance.

Exercises- try these excercises, start with 3 sets of 5 (3×5) and then work your way up to 5 sets of 5 (5×5) and if you really want to get advanced, go to 3 sets of 10, increasing weight up to 5 pounds each set.

Push up (for beginners or those with weak or compromised shoulders, it is okay to do these from your knees and it is okay if you can’t get your elbows 90 degrees)

The correct way to do a pushup - CNET

Push-up capacity linked with lower incidence of future cardiovascular disease events among men | News | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Plank – start with 15 seconds, then work your way up, a good goal is 2 minutes

Plank Variations: 5 Exercises for Your Core - SilverSneakers

Shoulder Press

What is the correct form for a shoulder press? - Quora

Standing Dumbbell Curl

Dumbbell Curls: One Of The Best Basics For Better Biceps

Seated single dumbbell tricep extension

Pin on Arm Exercises

This week’s meals

I am going full bro this week and going for some grilled sirloin burgers and a rice quioa mix. I may cook up some chicken later in the week. This is a classic lifter meal. Ask any body builder how to make gains, they will point you to protein and rice. I am not trying to make gains, just want something simple in my life this week.

Meal 2 this week will be a Kung Pao Chicken dish that is fairly Whole30/Paleo

https://dinnerthendessert.com/ground-kung-pao-chicken-1-pan/

Breakfast will be my usual, oatmeal or eggs and toast.

Snacks will be something new, an anabolic popcorn and protein fluff along will my usual nuts and bars.

https://thebigmansworld.com/easy-cinnamon-bun-popcorn/

protein fluff is super easy and makes a lot for not a lot of calories:

1 scoop of any flavor protein powder(30g)

8 ounces of almond milk

1 cup of frozen mixed berries, strawberries or blueberries(these fruits are important as they are low on the glycemic index and won’t spike the blood sugar, which is what makes this a perfect snack)

1 t of xantham gum

1-2 T of Truvia artificial sweetner or 1 -2 T of Walden Farms Sugar Free syrup

Throw all of this in a blender and blend until the machine stops sounding angry (1 -2 mins)