February is Heart Health Month and it's time to get smart about your longevity and heart health! Magnesium is one of the super important minerals we should stay on top of. 60% of Americans don't get enough magnesium--and that impacts lots of health factors like your bone health and muscle recovery from hiking or exercise. And of course, your heart is a muscle, so anything that helps support healthy muscles is important for your heart health!
The question is HOW do I get enough magnesium from my diet? Leafy greens are the top of the list: spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, collard greens, sea vegetables, and the current popular kid-- kale. You can check the full list of food sources on this resource. However, if you're a busy person and don't eat at home for every meal OR you're getting muscle cramps/tightness from exercising, you will want to keep a high quality, highly absorbable magnesium supplement handy, for when you can feel the muscles not recover fast enough for your next tennis match or marathon training session. I love epsom salts baths but sometimes I don't want to wait until I get home for a bath, and honestly, I don't know how much magnesium I'm actually absorbing from the bath. Food sources are preferred as a baseline, but be aware that we're not sure how much of the nutrients are in your batch of veggies. As Dr. Al Sears says: "You can get more magnesium by eating nuts, seeds, dairy products and dark green, leafy vegetables. But modern farming practices have depleted much of the mineral content in our soil, so there’s not much magnesium in vegetables any more."
Here's a tip about kale. Some people think kale is a little bitter, and when I sautee kale with garlic and a little splash of white wine, it helps tenderize and sweeten the leaves. Kale chips have been quite the rage lately, but I find that store-bought ones have a lot of extra flavoring I'm not fond of. Baking your own requires a little trial and error, so be careful not to burn your leaves. I'm pleased to report that I've found a wonderful bacon-flavor without the badness of bacon through using a hickory flavored sea salt I found at the farmer's market. Contrary to popular discussion, a little bit of salt on home-cooking isn't bad for your heart health. It's the restaurant and fast-food overkill of salt usage that is what we should cut out. The more you cook and eat your own food that is less processed, the easier it is to be good to your heart health. And if you can use supplements appropriately to provide a higher level of nutrition, even better!
So as we're dealing with the stressors of life, not getting enough sleep, and not getting enough good eats, you know you're at risk of the cold and flu. Easy ways to support a healthy immune system is to integrate the healthy stuff into your cooking or teas. For example, get your garlic in your veggie sautees or even as a pesto. Fresh ginger with lemon and raw honey has helped singers and performers keep their throat in good health.
However you might be drinking good herbal teas and eating great healthy food, it's just not easy to get enough B-complex vitamins in your body for optimizing your immune system. I like to take a holistic approach -- with my herbal teas and foods in addition to a happy biochemistry of vitamins and minerals.
Especially for vegans and vegetarians, to get a steady amount of B-complex vitamins every day is not easy. Some people stop by healthy food stores or doctors offices to get a B-12 shot to get an energy boost, but I recommend something that is more sustainable and supported by the body on a daily basis. This Activated B-complex has impressed many people, including athletes improving their speed or focus. Athletes use up a lot of energy and need to replenish their energy. Anyone who is working around sick people will definitely want to tank up on this B-complex which has the whole family of B-vitamins instead of just B-12, and better for long-term optimal health goals.
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