Andrew Merle
Certified Nutritionist who writes about living well. Subscribe to my email list at
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It’s August and the pandemic is still having a significant impact on everyday households. While most people’s occupations have changed in one way or another, many people have lost their jobs altogether. If you fall in the latter category, chances are you are struggling to make ends meet.

Figuring out how to keep yourself and/or your family afloat financially is essential as you look for employment. Fortunately, there are some practical ways to adjust your finances and boost your income while you are between jobs. Here are a few examples:

Rework Your Finances

The first thing to consider is how you can adjust your budget to help soften the blow of job loss. Take a close look at your budget for the last three months, and identify all of your discretionary expenses. Many of these expenses can be cut, including gym memberships, streaming services, and gaming apps. Look at it this way: You won’t have to live without these comforts forever. The more willing you are to cut expenses now, the faster you will be able to regain financial stability. …

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Photo by Anton on Unsplash

Low-carb diets are all the rage these days.

Keto, Paleo, Primal, Atkins, LCHF, or anything else you want to call it. They are all close low-carb cousins.

But here’s the thing: the longest-lived people in the world don’t eat a low-carb diet.

In the Blue Zones — the places around the world where people live the longest — they actually eat a HIGH-carb diet.

That’s right, carbs are the predominant macronutrient among the world’s centenarians. To be exact, about 65% of their food intake comes from carbs, 20% from fat, and only 15% from protein.

But we’re not talking about simple refined carbs. …

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Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

It can be tempting to believe you will become an overnight success.

That if you have a goal and wish for it hard enough, it will miraculously come true one day.

Or maybe you are waiting for inspiration to strike and — once that happens — you’ll be lifted to greatness from motivation alone.

But the reality is success doesn’t work this way.

Having a goal is not sufficient to actually achieve it. And motivation fades all too quickly.

The real secret to success is committing to the process. Every. Single. Day.

“Success is the product of daily habits — not once-in-a-lifetime transformations,” according to James Clear, New York Times bestselling author of Atomic Habits. …

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Anecdotally, many of us have experienced the performance-enhancing benefits of caffeine.

My morning runs or workouts certainly seem easier after I’ve had a cup or two of coffee. But is it the placebo effect or does caffeine actually improve exercise performance?

A recent comprehensive report analyzed 21 published meta-analyses to answer this very question.

The systematic review looked at the effects of caffeine on aerobic endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, power, jumping performance, and exercise speed.

The conclusion — after looking at all of the data — is that “caffeine ingestion improves exercise performance in a broad range of exercise tasks.” …

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Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

You might be surprised to know that the order in which you consume foods can have an impact on your health and body weight goals.

Specifically, it is recommended to prioritize protein first, followed by fibrous vegetables, and save your carbs for last.

This method of eating has been proven to reduce post-meal hunger, which means you are less likely to snack shortly after your meal. Saving your carbs for last has been shown to help maintain satiety more effectively than eating carbs first or eating all meal components together.

The reason this works is because protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so you start to fill up your stomach by eating protein first. Vegetables come next because they are high in fiber — absorbing water and expanding in your stomach — further helping to achieve a sense of fullness. Carbs come at the end to take whatever remains of your hunger. …

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Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

You didn’t misread that title.

The only misleading part is that it should really finish with “11 years younger.”

That’s right — consuming a big salad every day is associated with the brain being 11 years younger.

That is according to a study of 960 people ages 58–99 who completed food questionnaires and had multiple cognitive assessments over about 5 years.

The findings held true even after adjusting for age, sex, education, participation in cognitive activities, physical activities, smoking, alcohol consumption, and other lifestyle factors.

Specifically, the people who consumed the most green leafy vegetables daily — a median amount of just 1.3 servings per day — were able to slow their cognitive decline by the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age. …

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Most of us have heard we should be logging 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy and fit.

That guidance originated decades ago with a marketing campaign in Japan designed to promote a pedometer.

The 10,000 number has since caught on around the world and is often the default daily goal setting in smartphone apps and fitness trackers.

But the original basis for the number was not scientifically determined.

Now more recent research has given us a better understanding of the relationship between daily steps and overall health. …

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Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash

We all know that exercise is good for us.

Just 30 minutes of daily exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of dying early.

But it turns out some sports add more years to your life than others.

People who play racket sports such as tennis outlive those who participate in other sports.

Numerous studies validate this fact.

For example, a recent study of Danish adults found that people who frequently play tennis or other racket sports not only live longer than sedentary people, but they also out-live people who do other healthy activities such as running, swimming, and cycling. …

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Food is a hot topic these days.

As a result of the current pandemic, most people have less disposable income to spend on food, and fresh food is not as readily available. Lines outside of the supermarket — and bare shelves inside — are a part of the “new normal.”

Many people are turning to grocery delivery services for food, but often have to wait at least several days before their order arrives.

For all of these reasons, it can be tempting to stock up on cheap packaged food to last you for the weeks and months ahead. …

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Photo by Christopher Harris on Unsplash

We are living in unusual times right now, with most of us working from home and thrown off from our normal routines. Stress and anxiety levels are high as the world deals with the current health crisis, with constant reminders every time we turn on the TV.

With our world turned upside down, it is easy to lose a sense of control and feel powerless over the situation. …

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Many people are turning to health and fitness as a way to cope with what’s going on in the world.

And for good reason — this is a great time to re-commit to exercise, nutrition, and stress reduction. If you are looking for some extra motivation in this area, here are 5 excellent health and wellness books to read during your added downtime at home:

The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People by Dan Buettner

This is the definitive guide to how the longest-lived people in the world eat and live. …

A practical guide to time-restricted eating

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Photo: erdikocak/Getty Images

The latest science around fasting is catching a lot of attention. Studies show time-restricted eating (TRE) increases lifespan and decreases the incidence of major diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

TRE means consuming all your calories — whether from food or drink — within a specific time frame each day, called the eating window.

It turns out you can greatly impact your health just by limiting your daily eating window. …

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There really are some superfoods out there.

Certain foods have the tremendous ability to power and heal your body, and should be consumed regularly for optimal health.

The below 5 foods all produce numerous health benefits, including improved brain function, reduced inflammation in the body, and lower levels of anxiety and stress.

These are benefits that will improve the lives of just about everyone. Especially when you consider anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, inflammation is linked with nearly every major disease, and Alzheimer’s is on the rise throughout the world.

1. Green Leafy Vegetables

Leafy greens are the king of the vegetable kingdom. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but low in calories. Some of the nutrients naturally found in leafy greens include vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, nitrates, lutein, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium. These nutrients help support healthy immune function, eye health, gut health, brain health, increased blood flow, reduced blood pressure, and can even help you prevent cancer. So load up on kale, collard greens, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, cabbage, and other leafy greens. Aim for a variety of leafy greens to reap the maximum amount of health benefits. …

Why ‘hormesis’ is key to your health and longevity

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Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

It turns out Nietzsche was right.

This quote gets at the concept of hormesis — although with hormesis you see benefits well before approaching death!

Hormesis is when something damaging or toxic in excess is actually highly beneficial in smaller doses.

The phenomenon of hormesis dates back to 1884 when German pharmacologist Hugo Schulz observed that the growth of yeast could be stimulated by small doses of poisons. …

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Credit: Blue Zones

“If you want to live to a healthy 100, eat like healthy people who’ve lived to 100.” — Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones

Buettner has spent the last 15 years studying the healthiest and longest-lived people in the world. He’s traveled extensively to the blue zones of Ikaria, Greeca; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Costa Rica, observing and interviewing countless centenarians (and supercentenarians!) in search of the magic formula for longevity.

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Credit: Blue Zones

Buettner and his team of researchers discovered 9 common denominators among the longest-lived people in these blue zones, ranging from their level of physical activity and social connection, to their sense of belonging and purpose. …

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Photo by Jeremy Ricketts on Unsplash

We all want to feel and perform our best on a daily basis.

Exercise is arguably the most important thing we can do for cognitive functioning, but the food we eat plays a key role in brain performance as well.

Certain foods have been shown to boost brain power and should be consumed regularly for optimal mental functioning.

Here are the top 10 foods for brain health to include in your diet:

1. Green leafy vegetables

Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, broccoli) are packed with brain-healthy nutrients including vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene.

2. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish — salmon, mackeral, anchovies, sardines, herring — are loaded with brain-boosting Omega-3s. You should aim to eat fish 2–3 times per week. …

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Photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash

I never go into a big day without running first thing in the morning.

There is no doubt that running in the morning makes me better at work throughout the day — I think more clearly and overall have a more optimistic outlook on work and life.

Knowing I’ll be sharper all day is exactly the motivation I need to get out of bed at 6am when sometimes my body is screaming for more sleep. The overall health and fitness benefits are nice bonuses, but it’s really the mental benefits that keep me running each morning, day after day.

Morning is also the time when nothing else gets in the way. When I used to put off working out until later in the day, something would inevitably pop up — being buried in work, an unexpected meeting, last-minute requests, a co-worker’s birthday celebration, or just general laziness and fatigue. But nobody is looking for me at 6am (helped by the fact that I don’t check my phone before lacing up and heading out)! …

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

If you are anxious by nature, you should know about the role diet plays in either exacerbating or reducing anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. And while there are numerous therapies and medications to help treat anxiety, diet is one of the most important factors to manage anxiety and feel calmer.

There are some basic dietary principles to follow to lessen anxiety, many of which overlap with eating a sensible and healthy diet in general. Specifically:

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Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

Inflammation is linked with nearly every major disease, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death in the world.

We would therefore be smart to keep inflammation in check. But the Standard American Diet (SAD) — full of refined sugars and carbs, unhealthy oils, and processed food —promotes the excessive inflammation we’re trying to avoid.

It is hard to stay away from the toxic food that is all around us, but our health depends on it. This article is intended as a guide to the foods you should avoid — and more importantly to the great foods you can eat — to reduce inflammation in the body. …

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Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash

I am always looking for ways to maximize health and longevity.

There isn’t anything I can do about my genes, but research shows that only 20% of how long we live is dictated by genes, whereas the other 80% is dictated by lifestyle.

Therefore I am most interested in the lifestyle habits that lead to a long and healthy life.

Fortunately, one of the world’s leading longevity experts recently revealed his findings after 25 years of research on aging.

David Sinclair, PhD, is one of the world’s most renowned scientists, best known for discovering why we age and how to reverse it. Dr. Sinclair is a Professor of Genetics and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, and he has been named by Time magazine as “One of the 100 most influential people in the world” and among the “Top 50 People in Healthcare.” …

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Credit: Dr. Valter Longo

Advice from my interview with Dr. Valter Longo

Dr. Valter Longo is arguably the world’s top longevity expert.

He has spent over 25 years conducting research on aging, nutrition, and disease all around the world. Dr. Longo is the Director of the Longevity Institute at USC in Los Angeles and the Director of the Longevity and Cancer Program at the IFOM Institute of Molecular Oncology in Milan, Italy.

Last year he summarized his research in the international bestseller The Longevity Diet, which explores the science behind stem cell activation and regeneration to slow aging and optimize health.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Longo about what we can all do to maximize healthy longevity. …

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Photo by Megan Hodges on Unsplash

I aspire to live an incredibly long, happy, and healthy life.

That is why I follow the principles outlined in the The Blue Zones Solution book, which reveals the eating and living habits of the world’s longest-lived people.

For over a decade, Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner (along with the National Geographic Society and a team of researchers) studied the 5 locations around the globe that have the highest concentrations of 100-year-olds, as well as exceptionally low rates of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart problems.

In the book, Buettner lays out the specifics for each of these Blue Zones locations, analyzes the trends, and then prescribes a plan for people looking achieve the same level of health and longevity. …

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Photo by Daniel Vogel on Unsplash

I love wine.

One of my favorite things is to unwind at the end of a long day with a glass of good wine.

But I don’t love the negative effects of wine. I experience lower-quality sleep after just a glass or two. And I am concerned about the possible long-term health consequences, especially since alcohol is a known neurotoxin.

I lead a very healthy lifestyle overall, but it is hard to determine the right approach to alcohol. Certain studies show moderate drinking has health benefits, while other reports say no amount of alcohol is safe.

Ultimately, since wine is one of the great joys in my life, I want to continue enjoying it while finding the healthiest type possible. …

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Credit: Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen is one of the most accomplished athletes in the world.

Sports have been a constant in her life from an early age. Gwen began swimming competitively at just 8 years old, and then became a high school standout in both swimming and track in her hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Gwen went on to excel in track & field, cross country, and swimming at the University of Wisconsin-Madison — earning All-America honors in running, and qualifying for four straight Big Ten Swimming Championships.

After graduating college in 2009 — and flirting with a career as a tax accountant — Triathlon became an obvious fit. In Gwen’s first competitive triathlon in 2010, she finished as the 2nd amateur (8th overall), and followed that performance with a 2nd place finish in her next event. …

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Credit: CNN

Expert Insights from Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has experienced all sides of the global health system.

As a practicing neurosurgeon, Dr. Gupta has been a member of the western medicine system for over 25 years.

He is also the Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN, and since 2001 has covered the most important health stories in the United States and around the world.

Dr. Gupta has also long been in search of the secrets to living life to the fullest. …

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