Posted in Blog, Medical Mondays, Medicine

What Are Superfoods?

Let’s talk superfoods! Superfoods have emerged as a very trendy topic in the past few years as more evidence surfaces supporting their health benefits. The amount of food designated ‘superfood’ status recently has made me skeptical, wondering if the term was merely a marketing tactic (which I’m sure it is, to some extent). As more health foods enter the market, it requires us to be diligent consumers and do our research, begging the question “What exactly is a superfood?”

Superfoods are high in micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, amino acids, and antioxidants, and have been linked to prevent certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. I am most interested in superfoods’ antioxidant capabilities and I will tell you why.

Our body is constantly undergoing cellular reactions, such as respiration to give one example, that create molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable, highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to our cells. Antioxidants have been shown to offset the harmful effects of free radicals. When free radicals outweigh the amount of antioxidants in our bodies, it leads to oxidative stress, making it important for our bodies to maintain a healthy balance of antioxidants to free radicals to combat disease.

Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in many chronic health conditions such as inflammatory diseases, ischemic diseases, certain cancers, and the process of aging. To put it simply, more antioxidants in our diet equals less oxidative stress and therefore a decreased risk for many chronic diseases.

It should be noted that some synthetic sources of antioxidants have been shown to have adverse effects on the human body, thereby making it important to incorporate antioxidants into our diet through food. Although it might seem like incorporating superfoods into your diet would be costly (and yes, it can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be), many fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants. I am personally an advocate of trying to eat mostly plant-based foods because I find them to be less processed, making me feel better physically and mentally, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, anything with no added sugar, etc. I typically will buy whatever fruit and veggies are on sale in a given week to keep my grocery bill reasonable.

Below you can find the sources I used to create this article and do your own research! I would recommend doing your own research and/or consulting a nutritionist or physician before making any major changes to your diet.

  1. Proestos, Charalampos. “Superfoods: Recent Data on their Role in the Prevention of Diseases.” Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science. Vol 6 (3) 2018, pages 576-593.
  2. Park, Jin Hwa; Lee, Yun Lin; Kim, Yeon Ho; Yoon, Ki Sun. “Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities of Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) Seeds Cultivated in Korea.” Preventative Nutrition and Food Science. Vol 22 (3) 2017, pages 195-202.
  3. Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A., Chandra, N. “Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health.” Pharmacognosy Review. Vol 4(8) 2010, pages 118-126.
  4. “Superfoods 101: What Are Superfoods?” Your Super. https://yoursuper.com/pages/what-are-superfoods Accessed 24 May 2020.
Posted in Blog, Fitness, Workouts

Leg & Glute Workout for Runners

Up until the start of the pandemic, I was training for the Boston Marathon! Well, kind of. Only a few days into the new year, I suffered a partial tear of my inner quad that put me out of commission for nearly two months. After attending weekly physical therapy sessions to strengthen my inner quad, I came out of my injury with greater insight into strength training. Believe it or not, running is not all about running! In order to be an efficient runner and prevent injury, it is important to strengthen, stretch, and rest your muscles.

While building leg strength may seem obvious for runners, it is completely underrated but equally important to have strong glutes in order to prevent running injuries. Our glutes work to stabilize our pelvis, as well as propel us forward to maintain a powerful stride. I have compiled several different exercises that will challenge your legs and glutes while also engaging your core, as many of them are one-legged. This workout leaves me sore for days, time and time again, so proceed at your own pace!

First superset, repeat 3x:
-Split squat with stool (10x each leg)
-Stool glute bridges (20x)
-Stool step up to reverse lunge (10x each leg)
-Single leg deadlift (10x each leg)
You can complete these exercises with bodyweight, or add whatever weight you feel comfortable with. For all of these exercises, I filled a backpack with textbooks- I wore it on my back for split squats & lunges and used it as a pseudo-dumbbell for the other two exercises.

Second superset, repeat 3x:
-Sumo squat with opposite knee to elbow (20x)
-Reverse high plank single leg glute bridge (20x)
-Curtsy lunge into reverse lunge (8x each leg)
-Lateral lunge (10x each leg)

If you are having trouble figuring out what any of these exercises are, I made a video of this workout on the @running.inscrubs Instagram page. Let me know if you give this workout a try!