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A nutritionist’s favorite 4 energy-boosting breakfasts

There’s a reason breakfast is referred to as the most important meal of the day. What you eat for breakfast, not only helps you power through the morning, but can influence the rest of your day. Fueling your body with energy-boosting foods can be quick, easy and more importantly, delicious!  

1. Peanut Butter & Berry Overnight Oats 

Sweet and savory – this simple, but healthy recipe is your new go-to when you’re short on time in the mornings. You can quickly prep this the night before, for lasting energy in the morning. The fiber in oats and fruit helps slow digestion for a steady flow of energy, while helping you stay feeling fuller longer.1 

Ingredients:  

  • ½ Cup Whole Grain Oats 
  • 1/3 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt 
  • 1/3 Cup Mixed Berries 
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Butter 
  • ½ Cup Unsweetened Dairy-Free Milk 
  • Sweetener of Choice 

Directions: 

  1. Using an airtight container or jar, combine oats, yogurt, peanut butter, milk, and sweetener of your choice. Mix until combined well.  
  1. Top with mixed berries and secure with a lid. 
  1. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. 
  1. Enjoy oats warmed or cod! 

Don’t get hung up on these ingredients if they don’t suit your preference! Get creative and use your favorite combination of flavors and feel free to add extra ingredients like chia seeds, flax seeds, protein powder, etc.  

2. High Protein Veggie Scramble 

What better way to start the morning than with a high-protein scramble for breakfast? Protein is one of the most important nutrients your body needs for muscle and tissue repair and growth. Plus, it helps with increasing satiation2, reducing cravings and most importantly, energy. Pair this high-protein scramble with a side of toast or a bagel and stay satisfied until lunch! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Large Egg 
  • 1/3 cup Egg Whites 
  • ½ cup Chopped Veggies of Choice (Onion, Peppers, Broccoli, Spinach, etc.) 
  • 1 tbsp Shredded Cheese 
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once hot, lightly spray with cooking oil.  
  1. Add veggies to the pan and sauté until tender. While veggies cook, whisk egg and egg whites in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.  
  1. Once the veggies are tender, pour in the egg mixture. Cook until eggs are set.  
  1. Top with shredded cheese and enjoy with a side of potatoes or toast.  

3. Green Protein Smoothie 

A green smoothie is always a good idea and this one is high in protein, packed with essential vitamins and minerals and super easy to make. The avocado and nuts add important healthy fats that help slow digestion for steady energy.3  

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder 
  • 1 Cup Spinach 
  • ¼ Medium Avocado 
  • ¼ Green Apple 
  • ½ Medium Banana 
  • 1 cup Dairy-Free Milk or Water 
  • Ice, to preference 

Direction: 

  1. Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. For a thicker consistency, use less milk/water, for a thinner consistency, use more. Enjoy! 

4. Yogurt Parfait  

Perfect fuel for a hectic morning, this yogurt parfait has everything- proteins, carbs and fats, all in perfect balance for long-lasting energy. Make sure to choose a 2% or full-fat greek yogurt to help you stay satisfied.    

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt 
  • ½ Cup Blueberries 
  • 2 tbsp Granola 
  • 1 tsp Honey 

Directions: 

  1. Add half of the yogurt to a bowl or jar and top with half of the blueberries, half of the honey, and half of the granola. Repeat with the remaining half to create parfait layers. Enjoy!

If you’re preparing this recipe the night before, omit the granola and add it on top until you are ready to eat.  

For more energy-helping snacks, read 5 energy healthy snacks to boost energy

About Sonya

Sonya has a bachelor’s degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Diego State University. Before Persona, Sonya worked as a personal nutritionist and health educator where she coached hundreds of clients to empower them with knowledge about their own health status, as well as coach them to create healthy and sustainable lifestyle habits. 

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.    

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.     

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

References:

  1. Hervik, A. K., & Svihus, B. (2019). The role of fiber in energy balance. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2019. 
  2. Morell, P., & Fiszman, S. (2017). Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety. Food Hydrocolloids, 68, 199-210. 
  3. Collier, G., McLean, A., & O’Dea, K. (1984). Effect of co-ingestion of fat on the metabolic responses to slowly and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates. Diabetologia, 26(1), 50–54. 
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6 reasons your energy may be low 

If your energy tank relies on your morning cup of coffee – it might be time to make some changes to your routine. All of us feel tired from time to time, but if you’re constantly muscling through every hour in the day, your low energy can be rooted in your daily habits. Here’s 6 reasons, why your energy may be low. 

1. Sleep Hygiene 

This one’s obvious, but if you’re not getting enough sleep, your body can’t fully rest and recharge – affecting your energy during the day. Snoozing for 8 hours and still not feeling rested when you wake up? The quality of your sleep matters too. If quality shuteye is a repeated struggle, you might be suffering from poor sleep hygiene. 

Sleep hygiene refers to the habits you do to prep for bed- they can either harm or help your sleep. Are you drinking coffee late at night, scrolling your phone in bed, or eating a large meal before you snooze?  These are a few common habits that can negatively affect your sleep. Take a look at your routine and see if you can incorporate some sleep-promoting habits into your wind down.  

2. Stress 

Stress can influence many different areas of your health, including energy. When you’re struggling with long-term stress, your body releases cortisol – your main stress hormone. If left unmanaged, too much cortisol can exhaust your body, affecting your sleep, mood and energy. Practicing stress-reducing behaviors like regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep or taking supplements can help keep cortisol levels in check. 

3. Technology/ Blue light 

Nowadays, it’s easy to be plugged in 24/7. While there’s nothing wrong with spending some time catching up on trends or unwinding your mind, bouncing from screen to screen all day can meddle with your sleep and energy. The blue light of screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm and natural production of melatonin. To help with energy, limit your tech use, use a blue light filter and try to avoid using these devices 1 to 2 hours before bed.  

4. Hormones 

Besides stress hormones like cortisol, other hormones including estrogen, testosterone, progesterone or thyroid hormones can influence your energy levels.1 If these are out of balance, it can lead to increased feelings of fatigue and tiredness. If you’re concerned an imbalance in hormones may be contributing to low energy, check with your doctor to get your levels checked.  

5. Diet 

This probably isn’t surprising, but your diet might be the reason for low energy. If your meals consist of mainly processed, high sugar foods – you’re going to feel that midday slump or dip in energy. Try adding some whole grains, protein, and healthy fats to your diet. This can help promote long-lasting energy. Eating enough is also important- if you’re not getting enough calories your body is going to struggle to keep up with daily tasks.   

6.  Hydration 

If you don’t love drinking water, you’re not alone. But if you’re not drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated, it can impact your energy levels. Ensuring your body stays well-hydrated helps your body to function at its best to reduce symptoms of fatigue and sluggishness. So how much water do you need? A general rule is: half your body weight in fluid ounces.  

Bottom line: 

All of us struggle with low energy from time to time, but if you’re running low on fuel more than usual, there’s some shifts to your daily routine that might help. Ensure you’re eating well, drinking enough water, getting enough rest, limiting tech use and managing stress levels. If you’ve been addressing the above, but energy is still low, connect with your doctor to help identify where your lack of energy may stem from. 

Read next: 5 healthy snacks to boost your energy

About Authors:

Madison Landis, BSN

Madison is a Functional Nutritionist and member of the Persona Research and Development team. With a degree in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M University, she strives to bring science-backed knowledge to the health and wellness community and those who may be interested in positive life change. She has a passion for identifying the impact stress plays on overall health and empowering individuals to break the cycle of chronic stress. 

Karina Churchill, BSN

Karina is a Nutritionist with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. With a passion for community health and recipe adaptations, she enjoys supporting, motivating and educating people on their health journey.

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.    

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

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8 foods for skin health, according to a nutritionist

If you’ve tried all the different lotions, serums and treatments influencers swear by – you’re not alone. Who doesn’t want glowing, radiant skin? While those can help, your diet also plays an incredibly important role. To nourish your skin from the inside out, here’s 8 foods that we recommend.

1. Strawberries

Sweet but slightly tart, strawberries are a favorite among many – and for good reason. They’re not only delicious, but these small, red triangular berries are rich in vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant to help fend off free radicals, natural substances that damage and age skin when they build up. Plus, vitamin C is essential for collagen production to help maintain skin structure and elasticity. Another benefit? Strawberries are also a good source of folate, which can help speed up cell regeneration and synthesis of new cells according to some research.1

Strawberries are tasty on its own, but can easily be added to smoothies, yogurt or even in a salad.

2. Avocados

Hailed as a superfood for its *many* health benefits, so it’s not surprising that avocados are also great for your skin. They’re a great source of monosaturated fatty acids, which helps moisturize, soothe and promote healthy skin. Avocados are also rich in antioxidants to help fight premature aging and maintain skin elasticity.   

Avocados can be eaten as guacamole, with roasted veggies, in a burrito or on toast with an egg aka the famous avocado toast.

3. Cucumber

One way to help keep your skin hydrated is to eat your water. Cucumbers are 95 percent water, which can help maintain your skin’s natural moisture and hydration. What’s more, cucumbers are loaded with skin-loving vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants like silica, a mineral that involved in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that is vital to your skin’s hydration and elasticity.

Add cucumbers to your favorite salad, sandwich or make cucumber noodles for a cool, refreshing dish.

4. Tomatoes

You’ve probably heard that tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and lycopene – an antioxidant that helps aid your skin’s natural defenses. But they’re also rich in vitamin A, which helps reduce the production of sebum, an oily, waxy substance your body naturally makes. When your body overproduces sebum, it can lead to increased blemishes, pimples and oily skin.

The lycopene content rises when tomatoes are cooked – so make homemade marinara or roast them to reap all the benefits! Prefer it raw? Toss them in a cold pasta, make a caprese salad or bruschetta!

5. Cold water fatty fish

Adding cold water fatty fish offers a slew of health benefits, including healthy skin. Some sources of fatty fish are salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring. These fish are rich in healthy fats to keep your skin moisturized, supple and smooth. Not just that, but they also contain vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties to prevent free radical damage. And also zinc, which is plays an important role in formation of new skin cells, skin health and promoting a healthy inflammatory response in your skin.2

To net all the benefits, try to eat fish at least twice a week; otherwise, it’s best to add a supplement to your diet.

6. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, offering about 2.5 grams per ounce,3 helping your skin to stay soft and plump. But they’re also rich in selenium, which aids your skin’s natural defenses from environmental factors. Walnuts also boost circulation to encourage the flow of blood and nutrients throughout your body for healthy skin.

Walnuts are great as a salad topping, with roasted veggies or in trail mix.

7. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is never a bad idea. In fact, cocoa is packed with flavanols, antioxidants that not only ward off harmful free radicals, but can also help hydrate your skin and improve circulation. The antioxidants also help promote a healthy inflammatory response, reducing the appearance of blemishes, redness and puffiness.

To reap the benefits that dark chocolate has to offer, be sure to choose chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.

8. Water

While water isn’t exactly food, but it’s imperative for healthy skin. This probably isn’t surprising since every system in your body depends on water to function well. But drinking enough water keeps your skin hydrated and encourages healthy, hydrated skin that appears less wrinkled, dull and dry.

So how much water should you drink? Basic rule of thumb: aim for half your body weight in fluid ounces. If you’re struggling to up your water intake, try carrying a reusable water bottle with you. If plain water isn’t your favorite, you can add fruit (or cucumber) in you water for natural flavors or try decaf teas.

For more antioxidant sources, read 8 foods high in antioxidants

About Gabby

Gabby is a Nutritionist with a master’s degree in strategic communications. She loves using her nutrition-fluency with storytelling to encourage positive change. Before Persona, she worked at a mental health clinic helping clients manage stress, anxiety and other mental health issues through diet.    

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.    

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.      

Sources:

  1. Fernández-Villa D, Jiménez Gómez-Lavín M, Abradelo C, San Román J, Rojo L. Tissue Engineering Therapies Based on Folic Acid and Other Vitamin B Derivatives. Functional Mechanisms and Current Applications in Regenerative Medicine. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(12):4068. Published 2018 Dec 16. doi:10.3390/ijms19124068
  2. Schwartz JR, Marsh RG, Draelos ZD. Zinc and skin health: overview of physiology and pharmacology. Dermatol Surg. 2005;31(7 Pt 2):837-847. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2005.31729
  3. Hayes D, Angove MJ, Tucci J, Dennis C. Walnuts (Juglans regia) Chemical Composition and Research in Human Health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016;56(8):1231-1241. doi:10.1080/10408398.2012.760516
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4 tips for starting off the weekend

Weekends are a great way to recharge, unwind, enjoy a fun activity or just try something new. But they’re also an easy way to fall out of the healthy routine you’ve established throughout the week. If you’re struggling to balance rest and productivity, here’s 4 tips to for a healthy weekend.

1. Get enough sleep

Work hard play hard, right? While maintaining a work-life balance is essential for a list of reasons, but if you’re finding yourself staying out late into the night (…or should we say, early AM) and not getting enough sleep – it can wreak havoc on your week ahead. You might find yourself less productive, fatigued, struggling with brain fog or feeling more stressed. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and let loose on your days off, but just be sure to prioritize sleep so you’re well-rested and refreshed in the morning.

2. Schedule some “you time”

If your weekends are often fully booked: maybe you’re catching up with friends, doing household chores or running errands – it’s easy to forget about leaving some time for some self-care. Whether it’s an hour out of the weekend or a full day, plan out some time to recharge. This might be reading a book, yoga, going to the gym or watching your favorite Netflix show, but schedule some time for yourself. You might be surprised by how productive you feel from this when heading back into the week.

3. Keep your healthy behaviors from the week

If you use the weekend as your cheat days, you’re not alone. It’s easier to follow a routine during the week and do the complete opposite during the weekend. But keeping some healthy habits like getting an appropriate amount of sleep, eating balanced meals and moving your body will help you continue to feel your best throughout the weekend and rejuvenated once Monday comes around. Now – we get there are some weeks that are especially stressful and you just need to relax, sleep in a few extra hours and just do nothing to unwind. And sometimes you need to do just that and listen to your body, but if that’s your weekend norm, it’s probably best to make some shifts to your day-to-day routine. You’ll likely find yourself better rested and more motivated for the week.

4. Plan ahead

If your weekends feel jam-packed, try to plan out your week ahead. We often leave tasks and errands for the weekend, which can leave little time for rest, fun or activities. Instead, finish your small tasks during the week to free up your weekend.  

For more tips on self-care, read Why you time is more important than you think

About Angie

Angie is Persona’s Director of Research and Development. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, passionate about helping others live wholesome, fulfilling and healthy lives. At Persona, she enjoys researching emerging science and developing propriety supplement blends.  

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.     

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

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5 benefits of eating seasonally

Ever notice that you crave watermelon during summer? Or how oranges and kiwis taste better during winter? Eating seasonally involves eating fruits and vegetables during their growing season – making them fresher and offering a slew of benefits. Here’s 5 reasons why you should start eating seasonally.

1. It adds variation to your diet

You’ve probably heard it before: eat a variety of fruits and vegetables for all the different benefits they offer. Even for the most health-conscious, obtaining all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs can be a challenge through diet alone.

But a well-balanced diet with a lot of variety can definitely help. Each plant has its own nutrient profile – some richer in vitamin C, some in fiber and others in iron, so a varied diet can help get important nutrients to keep you healthy. Eating seasonally not only encourages you to adjust your diet with the changing weather, but it also ensures you’re getting the max amount of nutrients the fruit and vegetable has to offer.

2. It’s fresher, tastier and more nutritious

If you’re eating seasonally, you’re getting fruits and vegetables when they’re most ripe, meaning they’re the most nutritious at that time and the most tasty. You might have noticed some popular plant foods are offered all year long. But ever notice that it just doesn’t taste as good as when it’s in season?

Here’s the thing: to keep up with the demand, popular fruits and vegetables are often harvested all year round with the use of ripening agents. This not only affects their nutritional value, but impacts taste as well. Or maybe your favorite fruit is being imported from across the world, because it’s in season there, but not where you live. Since transport times are long, companies will often disrupt their ripening process by adding preservatives, using coloring to enhance its appearance, and in some cases use edible film or wax to extend the shelf life.  

In short: when you’re eating these foods when they’re in season, it’s going to taste the best.

3. It’s good for your wallet

With all that time, effort and resources required to harvest produce in their off-peak season, you can imagine the added costs that come with it. Locally grown produce is usually more affordable as it’s easier for farmers to harvest them. Which also means it’s harvested more often during that time and in larger amounts – driving costs down.

4. It supports the local economy

When you shop locally or at the farmer’s market – you’re prioritizing small businesses and local farmers, which helps circle money back into your local community. Shopping from local farms not only helps maintain jobs within your area, but also gives you the opportunity to get to know your neighbors, eat fresher and healthier!

5. It’s kinder to our home

Eating seasonally isn’t just beneficial for your health, but it’s also beneficial to the environment. Transporting truckloads of produce takes its toll on the environment. Think about: fuel emissions, refrigeration requirements, increased use of packing materials, water consumption, and the effect of pesticides and toxins on the environment. But when you’re eating seasonally, you’re getting fruits and vegetables from farms that are nearby, making it better for the environment.

To learn about antioxidant benefits in fruits and vegetables, read 8 foods high in antioxidants

About Gina

Gina is a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition from London. She believes nutrition is all about choosing to respect yourself & your body by making smart yet enjoyable choices everyday. 

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.    

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.     

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

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The benefits of Persona’s Nutritionist by Appointment

Let’s be honest: making changes to your diet and lifestyle can be hard. Whether you’re just starting to focus on your health or thinking about updating your vitamin routine, Persona’s Nutritionists are available to help. Persona offers more than just vitamins; it provides personal support by offering Certified Nutritionists who can work with you one-on-one.

What is Nutritionist by Appointment?

Nutritionist by Appointment (NBA) is a complimentary service Persona offers to prospective and current customers. You’re able to book an appointment at a time and date that works best to fit your busy schedule. The best part? You choose what to discuss. You can ask questions about Persona vitamins, further customize your daily packs, review challenges or areas of concern, discuss Drug-Nutrient Interactions (DNIs), ask about meal prepping and much more!

What to expect

Put simply: it’s relaxed, supportive and without judgement. Persona’s Nutritionists are professionals with experience in healthcare, coaching, counseling and customer service who genuinely want to assist and help you. And the process is quick and easy too. When you book an appointment, you’re assigned a Certified Nutritionist who reviews your account and profile and reaches out at the time you booked. And depending on your reason for making the appointment, you’ll be given the option to confidently ask and discuss topics pertaining to your general health and wellness.

Appointments typically last around 20 minutes, but really, you’re in control. You can make it as short as you need or even book a second, third or fourth appointment if needed!

Benefits of working with a Nutritionist

There’s a long list of benefits from working with a Nutritionist – if you’re on Persona’s vitamin program, you’re able to further customize your packs, address additional health concerns, adjust for budget or the number of capsules in your pack. What’s more, Persona’s Nutritionists are real people to provide accountability, encouragement and be a source of knowledge and resource for you. This NBA service is not only free and convenient but working with a Nutritionist can also help with improving lifestyle and nutrition behaviors according to research.1

Where to Start?

It’s easy as one, two, three! Book your complimentary appointment and pair with a Certified Nutritionist today!

About Sonya

Sonya has a bachelor’s degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Diego State University. Before Persona, Sonya worked as a personal nutritionist and health educator where she coached hundreds of clients to empower them with knowledge about their own health status, as well as coach them to create healthy and sustainable lifestyle habits. 

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

References:

  1. Kennel, Julie. “Health and Wellness Coaching Improves Weight and Nutrition Behaviors.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 9 Aug. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367877/.
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A nutritionist’s favorite winter superfoods 

The cold, dark and dreary days of winter often have us summoning our favorite comfort foods for a much-needed pick-me-up. But what if we powered up our plates with tasty, seasonal foods that are also rich in nutrients? We’re sharing our 5 favorite winter superfoods to help you beat the winter funk.  

#1. Acorn Squash 

Tis’ the season to show your immune system a little love and the acorn squash is up for the task. Slice open this drab green gourd to unveil a nutty, bright orange center that’s loaded with good-for-you nutrients.  

Acorn squash is a great source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and fiber to support digestion, your immune response and keep your ticker ticking! Plus, it’s rich in antioxidants to neutralize cells from free radicals – compounds that can damage cells when they build up.  

Best way to eat it 

This superfood can be roasted and eaten as a side, pureed into a delicious winter soup, or topped with honey or brown sugar for a little bit of a sweet treat. The possibilities are truly endless for this small but mighty squash. 

#2. Pomegranate  

Why don’t we wear white after Labor Day? Because pomegranate season is in full swing. Although those bursting ruby seeds can get a little bit messy, it’s worth the cleanup! Also known as the miracle fruit, pomegranates are rich in polyphenols – compounds potent in antioxidants that have been linked to healthy weight, blood sugar levels, and heart health.1  

Best way to eat it 

Try these delicious, sweet treats on their own, tossed into a salad or even as a refreshing juice. 

#3. Beets 

This superfood favorite is packed with many health-benefiting compounds, specifically betanin and naturally occurring nitrates. Betalains helps reduce oxidative stress and nitrates support healthy cholesterol, cellular health and even athletic performance according to some research.2  

Best way to eat it 

This earthy, root vegetable is the perfect addition to salads, a warm pairing to ricotta and honey, or deliciously roasted as a standalone side. 

#4 Grapefruit 

Our favorite zesty fruit is a true superfood, and at its prime during the winter months. It’s rich in flavonoids- naturally occurring compounds that have health benefits. Thanks to their unique profile of flavonoids, grapefruits are thought to have neuroprotective effects, meaning they’re good for your brain.3 

Best way to eat it 

Ditch the grapefruit spoon. Slice up some grapefruit, orange slices and fennel and then drizzle with some avocado dressing for creamy, citrusy perfection.    

#5 Parsnips 

All hail our favorite pasty vegetable- the parsnip. Surprisingly, they contain more than twice the fiber of their popular, orange cousin: carrots. Fiber is essential for gut health and since a healthy gut has been linked to mood- parsnips might be the perfect winter pick-me-up.  

Best way to eat it 

Boil them up and then whip them in the blender with some cream, salt and pepper.  

For more fiber-rich superfoods, read 10 foods high in fiber

About Madison 

Madison is a Functional Nutritionist and member of the Persona Research and Development team. With a degree in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M University, she strives to bring science-backed knowledge to the health and wellness community and those who may be interested in positive life change. She has a passion for identifying the impact stress plays on overall health and empowering individuals to break the cycle of chronic stress.  

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.     

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.        

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.        

References:

  1. Fahmy H, Hegazi N, El-Shamy S, Farag MA. Pomegranate juice as a functional food: a comprehensive review of its polyphenols, therapeutic merits, and recent patents. Food Funct. 2020;11(7):5768-5781.   
  2. Olsson H, Al-Saadi J, Oehler D, Pergolizzi J Jr, Magnusson P. Physiological Effects of Beetroot in Athletes and Patients. Cureus. 2019;11(12):e6355. Published 2019 Dec 11. doi:10.7759/cureus.6355 
  3. Cancalon, P. F. (2013). Orange and grapefruit bioactive compounds, health benefits and other attributes. Bioactives in Fruit, 101-124. 
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8 foods high in antioxidants

Antioxidant rich foods? In this economy? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with 7 budget friendly foods that also happen to be great sources of antioxidants- everyone’s favorite healthy compound.  

What are antioxidants?  

Antioxidants are substances that help keep your cells healthy by fighting free radicals – molecules that damage cells when their numbers get too high. 

While antioxidants occur naturally in your body, they can also be found in certain foods- mainly fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Diets rich in antioxidants have been linked to lower risk of disease. 

Where can antioxidants be found?  

From vitamins, to proteins, to polyphenols- a lot of different compounds can be considered antioxidants which can be a bit overwhelming to think about. To simplify it- many antioxidants contribute to the bright color of certain foods- like the blue color of berries or the redness of a tomato, so “eating the rainbow” is a good rule of thumb. You can also start with the 7 foods on this list:   

1. Red Kidney Beans  

Beans (or legumes) in general are a great source of fiber and an antioxidant called anthocyanins but if you want the most bang for your buck- try red kidney beans. They’re known for containing the highest amount of anthocyanins. No matter your bean of choice, eating these powerful legumes a few times a week has been linked to lower rates of heart disease. Beans, beans they’re good for your heart… 

2. Sweet potato  

Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin A and their high fiber content is an added healthy bonus. No need to limit yourself to just sweet potatoes- dark blue, purple, and red varieties are also chock full of beneficial compounds. Our favorite way to prepare a sweet potato? Baked and topped with crispy chickpeas and a tangy yogurt sauce.   

3. Oats 

Starchy beige foods typically aren’t associated with antioxidants, but oats contain vitamin E and other phenolic compounds (plant based compounds with health benefits). Consider this your excuse to try Tik Toks trending baked oats or toss some in your smoothie for a nutrient boost.  

4. Coffee 

Coffee gets a bad rap since most of us are using it in place of a good night sleep. But before you head into a coffee drinking shame spiral know this: coffee is a rich source of antioxidants and drinking 3-4 cups per day has been linked to lower risk of certain diseases. Another reason to be smug about your mug? Coffee contains even more antioxidants than green tea. Though the exact concentration of antioxidants will vary depending on the type of coffee bean, roasting, and brewing techniques.  

5. Sunflower seeds  

Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and selenium- two nutrients that function like antioxidants in your body. As far as seeds and nuts go, they’re relatively inexpensive and are great for tossing on salads, yogurt or even oatmeal.   

6. Okra  

Okra pods are popular in southern cooking and are responsible for the bright green pops in any classic gumbo dish. They’re also rich in vitamins A and C and polyphenols and flavonoids (beneficial compounds found in plants). Thanks to their potent blend of antioxidants, these powerful plants might even have anti-fatigue effects, according to small animal studies.  

7. Canned tomatoes 

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene- an antioxidant that’s associated with reducing the risk of certain diseases like heart disease. And good news- the lycopene from processed tomatoes is more readily absorbed than lycopene from fresh tomatoes. That means you can save some money by buying canned instead of heirlooms. Pro tip: enjoy your tomatoes with olive oil for even better absorption.  

8. Mint Leaves 

Herbs aren’t just good for flavoring your food- they can also have health benefits. The main antioxidant in mint is called rosmarinic acid. Scientists think it might be particularly useful for maintaining the health of your skin, joints, and brain. Mint can be expensive when you buy it at the grocery store but mint is incredibly easy to grow in most areas- just put it in a pot!. Try adding mint to freshen up a salad or a rice dish. 

To learn more about antioxidants, read How antioxidants can support your workout

About Allie

Allie has a master’s in nutrition science from Framingham State University. She has worked as a Health Educator and Personal Trainer, and has a passion for helping people lead happier, healthier lives.     

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.    

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.     

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

Sources:

  1. Neela S, Fanta SW. Review on nutritional composition of orange-fleshed sweet potato and its role in management of vitamin A deficiency. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(6):1920-1945. Published 2019 May 17. doi:10.1002/fsn3.1063 
  2. Rasane P, Jha A, Sabikhi L, Kumar A, Unnikrishnan VS. Nutritional advantages of oats and opportunities for its processing as value added foods – a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2015;52(2):662-675. doi:10.1007/s13197-013-1072-1 
  3. Poole, R., Kennedy, O. J., Roderick, P., Fallowfield, J. A., Hayes, P. C., & Parkes, J. (2017). Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. bmj, 359. 
  4. Xia F, Zhong Y, Li M, et al. Antioxidant and Anti-Fatigue Constituents of Okra. Nutrients. 2015;7(10):8846-8858. Published 2015 Oct 26. doi:10.3390/nu7105435 
  5. Hitl, M., Kladar, N., Gavarić, N., & Božin, B. (2021). Rosmarinic acid–human pharmacokinetics and health benefits. Planta medica, 87(04), 273-282. 
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5 signs you need more vitamin D 

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the US, but the signs of low intake aren’t always obvious. If you’re noticing changes in your body or increased discomfort, chat with your doctor. It may be a sign that you’re lacking some important nutrients, like vitamin D. 

Here’s 5 signs that you may need to up your vitamin D intake. 

What is vitamin D? 

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it’s absorbed in your bloodstream and can be stored in your tissues. It plays a role in many different processes in your body, including maintaining healthy bones, immunity, mood and even sexual wellness. It’s nicknamed the sunshine vitamin, because your body can produce it on its own when your skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays. And while your body is able to make vitamin D – exposure to the sun isn’t always a useful source.  

Who gets vitamin D deficiency?  

Living in the northern latitude, having a darker skin tone, wearing UV-blocking SPF and age can all make it hard to get vitamin D from the sun.  Given all these risk factors, it makes sense that  42% of U.S. adults are deficient in this key vitamin. If you’re worried you might be low, here’s some symptoms to look out for: 

5 signs your vitamin D might be low 

1. Bone weakness 

This probably isn’t surprising, as vitamin D’s role in bone health is well-known. Not only does the sunshine vitamin play a major role in bone development (vital for calcium absorption), but also in preserving bone health. Symptoms of achy bones, especially in your lower back might be a sign that you’re not getting enough vitamin D in your diet.2 Of course this doesn’t apply if you’ve slipped while walking or lifted heavy objects, but if you’re having trouble pinpointing why it’s happening – it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor and get your levels checked.   

2. Sore muscles 

The root cause of sore muscles or weakness can be linked to many different reasons: stretching incorrectly, intense exercise or even not working out enough. But if none of these reasons add up, those aching muscles could also be a sign your low in Vitamin D.  Scientists believe vitamin D plays a part in your body’s pain signaling pathway, though more research is needed. Your body has nerve cells called nociceptors that recognize pain – and scientists think vitamin D plays a role in how these cells communicate with each other. What does that mean?  Low vitamin D levels can trigger symptoms of muscle soreness and weakness.  

3. Fatigue and poor sleep 

Experiencing fatigue and poor sleep every now and then is just a natural part of life. But if you’re facing unexplained tiredness, it might be related to inadequate levels of vitamin D, according to a study.  

Not just that, but it can be affecting your sleep too. And while quality shuteye can be disrupted because of stress or from scrolling a little too long on TikTok (hey, no judgement!), but if sleep has been a nightly struggle for some time now, it could be related to low vitamin D (especially during the winter months). A small study linked low levels of vitamin D to poorer sleep quality, waking up more frequently and delayed bedtimes.  

4. Impaired Immune Function 

When we start feeling the sniffles coming on, we often reach for supplements such as vitamin C or zinc. And while these do play an important role in your immune response – we can’t overlook vitamin D. Your immune cells need vitamin D to function properly. Researchers are still figuring exactly how vitamin D helps those immune cells but if you’re someone who’s levels aren’t quite up to par – you may have a harder time fighting and recovering from colds or infections.5  

5. Decreased Libido 

A decrease in sex drive can happen for many reasons, usually reasons that we’re aware of or can be easily identified. Anything from excessive stress, fatigue or changes in health can all have an impact. But if you’re noticing a decrease in libido, a vitamin D deficiency could also be the culprit. Low Vitamin D levels may influence sex hormones, causing less sexual desire according to a small study.  

Sources of vitamin D 

  • Salmon 
  • Cod liver oil 
  • Tuna  
  • Milk 
  • Eggs 
  • Fortified orange juice 
  • Fortified cereal 

Takeaway 

Vitamin D is undoubtedly crucial for many functions in your body, but as important as it is, it’s also a nutrient many of us struggle to get enough of. And while the signs and symptoms of low D aren’t always obvious, if you’re noticing any unexplainable changes, it’s best to check with your doctor to ensure your levels are within a health range. If they’re not- adding a supplement to your routine might help.   

Learn more about vitamins, read 4 important B vitamins for brain health

About Natalie

Natalie is a nutritionist with a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of North Florida. Natalie believes that proper nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated and is determined to help others reach their health goals. 

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.    

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.     

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.       

References:

  1. Office of Dietary Supplements – Fact Sheet for Health Professionals: Vitamin D. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2023, from Vitamin D – Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov) 
  2. Sizar O, Khare S, Goyal A, et al. Vitamin D Deficiency. [Updated 2022 Jul 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532266/ 
  3. Rejnmark L. Effects of vitamin d on muscle function and performance: a review of evidence from randomized controlled trials. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2011 Jan;2(1):25-37. doi: 10.1177/2040622310381934. PMID: 23251739; PMCID: PMC3513873. 
  4. Nowak A, Boesch L, Andres E, Battegay E, Hornemann T, Schmid C, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Suter PM, Krayenbuehl PA. Effect of vitamin D3 on self-perceived fatigue: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Dec;95(52):e5353. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000005353. Erratum in: Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Jan 20;96(3):e6038. PMID: 28033244; PMCID: PMC5207540. 
  5. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011 Aug;59(6):881-6. doi: 10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755. PMID: 21527855; PMCID: PMC3166406. 
  6. Zhao D, Ouyang P, de Boer IH, Lutsey PL, Farag YM, Guallar E, Siscovick DS, Post WS, Kalyani RR, Billups KL, Michos ED. Serum vitamin D and sex hormones levels in men and women: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Maturitas. 2017 Feb;96:95-102. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.11.017. Epub 2016 Nov 29. PMID: 28041602; PMCID: PMC5218632. 
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Aging and self-care: 5 tips from an RD

Time is our most precious commodity; we can’t speed it up, slow it down, or get it back. Similarly, aging is a biological process we couldn’t fast forward as a teenager and can’t pause in our senior years. But what we can do is take care of ourselves to live our best and help our body to age healthy! Here’s 5 tips for aging and self-care.

#1 Supplement with Collagen

Collagen is the main structural component of your connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and bones. Put simply: it’s the tape that holds you together – but with age, your natural collagen production slows, which can dwindle the health of your bones, joints and even skin. Adding a daily supplement can help this natural aging process, aiding your body to stay healthy and comfortable.1 Collagen can be taken as capsules or powders that’s easily mixed into warm liquids, blended in smoothies, or added to salad dressings or soups!

#2 Vitamin D is your friend

Vitamin D is best known for its role in the metabolism of calcium and phosphorous to assist the formation and maintenance of normal bones. But surprisingly, over 50 genes are actually regulated by Vitamin D, most of which are unrelated to mineral metabolism.2 And emerging research shows Vitamin D also plays a prominent role in your immune system, helping your body to fight infections and harmful pathogens that can make you sick.3

What’s interesting is that you’re able to naturally synthesize Vitamin D from the sunshine. But several factors such as skin color, use of sunscreen, UV strength, the time of day, season and geographic location can affect how much you get from the sun. So, if you regularly wear SPF, live in a cloudy area or during the winter months – taking a supplement can help ensure your vitamin D levels are within a healthy range.

#3 Eat your prunes

When you think of prunes, what comes to mind? Probably: “oh that’s good for constipation.” While it’s true that prunes are good for your gut, but they also support your bone health as well. Prunes are rich in phenolic acid, flavonoids and carotenoids – these are compounds that are beneficial to your bone health because they help to support the production of new bone cells and breakdown of old bone cells.4   Think of this as an exfoliant for your bones – exfoliation helps remove old dull skin, to make room for new skin.

In a similar way, the compounds within prunes help shed old bone cells so new ones can grow! It’s best to eat about 10 prunes per day to support bone health. While this might seem like a lot, but eating a couple alongside your meals is a great way to get a boost of extra nutrients throughout your day.

#4 Walk after each meal of the day

It’s not surprising that exercise offers a host of benefits. It helps relieve stress, improves sleeps, promotes healthy joints, muscles, digestion and heart health. In fact, simply just walking for 15 minutes after eating your meals can significantly improve your heart health according to research.5,6

If that feels like a lot, try starting off slow by just walking after dinner… once you’ve nailed that and want to up your exercise, you can walk after lunch too! Don’t like walking alone? Walk with a friend or start a neighborhood walking club with your friends. Or you can also multi-task and call friends or families during your walks.

#5 Eat your Protein

Protein isn’t just vital for the people who want to gain muscle – protein is essential for maintaining our muscles! With age, you naturally lose muscle mass so it’s incredibly important to replenish stores and consume a protein-rich diet. High protein foods include: chicken, beef, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy, or plant-based sources such as beans or legumes!

Not only does protein support your muscles and bones, but animal protein also contains Vitamin B12, an essential vitamin. B12 provides your internal cells with energy and is needed for red blood cell production. But with age, your body isn’t able to absorb B12 as effectively, it’s important to keep up your protein intake or add a supplement to your diet.

Takeaway:

While there’s nothing that we can do to stop ourselves from aging, there are several steps we can take to help us stay healthy and age with grace! This involves taking care of yourself by fueling your body with adequate nutrition and moving your body regularly with exercise.

For brain health tips, read 5 tips to keep your brain healthy

About Hayley   

Hayley is a Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Florida State University and a Master of Science in Dietetics from the University of Rhode Island. Hayley is dedicated to empowering individuals to achieve their nutritional goals through evidence-based practices.  

Interested in supplements, but not sure where to start? Reach out to one of our experts, or take our free nutrition assessment, to learn exactly what nutrients would work best for your diet and lifestyle. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.      

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.     

References:

  1. Lugo JP, Saiyed ZM, Lane NE. Collagen Supplementation. 2016 Jan 29;15:14.
  2. Omdahl JL, Morris HA, May BK. Vitamin D Expression. 2002;22:139-66.
  3. Saul L, Mair I, Ivens A, Brown P, Samuel K, Campbell JDM, Soong DY, Kamenjarin N, Mellanby RJ. Vitamin D Expression. 2019 Mar 28;10:600
  4. Wallace TC. Prunes and Bone Health. 2017 Apr 19;9(4):401
  5. Reynolds AN, Mann JI, Williams S, Venn BJ. Postprandial Walking. 2016 Dec;59(12):2572-2578.
  6. Homer AR, Fenemor SP, Perry TL, Rehrer NJ, Cameron CM, Skeaff CM, Peddie MC. Regular Activity Breaks. 2017 Sep-Oct;11(5):1268-1279.e1.
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