The holidays are a time for getting together with family and friends to relax, but how many people do you know that actually feel relaxed this time of the year? Not too many! Between holiday parties and shopping, planning gatherings and gifts, everyone knows that this can be the most stressful time of the year. But it doesn’t need to be. There are many ways to bring down your stress level to help your body naturally relax with meditation, deep breathing, eating magnesium-rich foods and getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. Today we’re focusing on the benefits of relaxation by making smart magnesium-rich food choices to keep us stress-free, relaxed and healthy during the craziest time of the year. Many of us don’t realize that the vast array of important jobs magnesium does in our body such as helping us relax, relax our muscles, making and utilizing proteins, sleeping, walking, running, hormone production and much more. Most of all, we need magnesium to covert the foods we eat into energy. When I was going through my decade of chronic illness I was depleted in magnesium, and I never realized that so many other people are unaware that they are also low in magnesium. Now that I am healthy and thriving, I’m sure to eat magnesium-rich foods every day to keep my body feeling amazing. I started to learn about magnesium 30 years ago from my grandmother who raved over it and was sure to eat foods rich in it to help with stress, bodily functions, bowel movements, muscle relaxation and more. Below I’ve listed out a few foods that are great sources of magnesium- be sure to buy these foods in their whole, raw form (not processed, roasted in canola oil, or sold with refined salt, sugar, etc.). Sadly, today’s modern food world has processed and refined many of our food choices, leaving us without the dose of magnesium in our food that our parents had many years ago. When you find yourself stressed, have a cold, or if you are very active, you may find that eating more magnesium-rich foods helps your symptoms and makes you feel better. When I was very low in magnesium, I took Epsom salt baths — since our skin is our biggest organ, this is a great way to get magnesium into your body — and the benefits were amazing after just 30 minutes of soaking in a tub. I’ve also started making my clients homemade recipes that are soaring with magnesium such as hummus with black beans and spinach (both high in magnesium) as well as making homemade nut/seed butters with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and cashews to serve on top of whole grain toast for a magnesium boost. If you’re not a fan of these foods, there are products that contain magnesium such as CALM Magnesium that can be added to your drinks for a dose of magnesium without having to take pills. Of course, check with your doctor before starting any new supplements and products. We need to replenish our supply of magnesium each day; it’s constantly in motion in our cells, tissues and blood. Many people don’t realize we lose magnesium daily by sweating, urinating and as our fingernails and hair grows. Many of my clients have realized they are stressed out this time of the year and are looking for healthy foods to keep them energized and help their bodies to work as efficiently as possible since stress effects everything from headaches, belly aches, bowel movements, insomnia and more. If you want to learn more about magnesium, check out the Natural Magnesium Association. Here are a few foods that are rich in magnesium. You can toss these healthy food choices into salads, soups, whole grain bowls, or just snack on them alone. I often put raw cashews, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds in my bag so that I can snack on them whenever I’m on-the-go and need a little something to eat. It’s amazing how much less stressed you can feel when your magnesium levels are healthy. Magnesium-Rich Food Choices: • Pumpkin seeds • Spinach • Swiss Chard • Black Beans • Sesame Seeds • Quinoa • Cashews Amie Valpone is a celebrity chef based in New York City and editor-in-chief of TheHealthyApple.com. Specializing in simple, gluten-free recipes, Amie has been featured in numerous magazines and on well-known websites, as well as TV. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
I’m guessing the lesson here is that we all need to up our magnesium intake, sleep 8 hrs a night (like that’s gonna happen), and start snacking on some of these seeds.