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Defining Processed Foods: History, Health Impact, and Healthy Alternatives Available  

By | Diet Tips\, Eating Healthy, Health Tips | No Comments

Take a closer look at many households around the world and one thing stands out: processed foods seem to be the order of the day! Despite their prominence, numerous studies, however, indicate that these ingredients are unhealthy. Which begs the question: is it time that we abandon processed foods for healthier alternatives instead?  

 

Processed foods have been around for quite some time, and what is surprising is that many of us are not well informed about what they are, where they came from, or even what impact they have on our bodies. Having said that, here is everything you need to know about processed foods:  

 

What are Processed Foods?  

 

By definition, processed foods officially refer to any food which has gone through some form of change before being rendered ready to consume. The list can range from products which have been frozen for extended periods, processed meats, and even otherwise unhealthy processed foods such as nuggets or chips. All these products have been extensively transformed to achieve a particular appearance, texture, or taste.  

 

BMJ Open, an American medical journal, did a study on Western diet composition and what is perhaps the most alarming discovery is not even about how much processed foods we consume, but rather how frequently we are consuming them. Another study in the same journal found that over half of the average daily energy intake of Americans startlingly comes from ultra-processed foods such as sodas and cakes.  

 

What’s more, according to the same study 90% of ‘added sugar intake’ by Americans is also from ultra-foods. 21% of the calories in ultra-processed foods come from sugar, although this number scales down to around 2.4 % when it comes to regular processed foods.  

 

These foods contain ‘hidden sugars’ that are normally disguised as ‘artificial sweeteners,’ and it is these components that lead to various health conditions among them type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even migraines.  

 

What is the Difference Between Processed, Ultra-Processed, and Unprocessed Foods?  

 

The impact of processed food on your overall health depends on the type of processed foods you consume. Essentially, processed foods are not manufactured equally.  

 

Ultra-processed foods refer to foods which have gone through significant processing usually comprising of many ingredients, most of which are not commonly found in a kitchen setting. These foods include many of the products encompassed under ‘bad processed foods,’ a category that includes convenience store foods, frozen meals, cookies, sodas, and chips among many others.  

 

Alternatively, processed foods may be comprised of pre-packaged ingredients like bread, pasta sauce, and salad dressings.  

 

As for unprocessed foods, these are unaltered ingredients usually in a natural state. Veggies, fresh fruit, seeds, and wild-caught fish are among several examples of non-processed foods.  

 

Common Processed Foods You Should Avoid  

 

Here are several processed foods you should avoid to help your efforts of maintaining a healthy body:

Instant noodles  

 

Processed meat   

  

Sugar-sweetened beverages  

  

Potato chips  

  

Refined vegetable oils  

  

Convenience store or fast food meals  

  

Microwave popcorn  

  

French fries  

  

Breakfast cereals   

  

Artificial sweeteners  

  

Candy bars  

  

Flavored yogurt  

  

Margarine  

  

Store-bought cakes, pastries, and cookies  

  

Granola bars  

 

Do Processed Foods have any Side Effects?  

 

Unhealthy processed foods usually boast a low nutrient composition and supply excess fat, calories, sodium, and sugar to the body without providing the necessary nutrients the body needs for healthy growth such as minerals, vitamins, and even antioxidants. Increased consumption of these foods can usually increase your risk of nutritional deficiency and weight gains potentially resulting in conditions such as osteopenia and anemia among others.  

 

The presence of added sugar means that frequent intake of these foods can encourage poor eating habits like overeating and food addiction.  

 

Certain processed food types like processed meats are closely linked to chronic ailments among other adverse health effects. In fact, consuming processed meats on a regular basis can increase the risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, as well as various cancers including stomach cancer and colorectal.  

 

Other possible side effects of processed foods include constipation, bloating, low energy levels, acne, high cholesterol levels, inflammation, cavities, depression, high blood pressure, and chronic pain among others.  

 

Processed Foods vs. Healthy Foods: What is the Difference?  

The simplest method of differentiating between healthy and processed foods is checking a product’s ingredient label.  

 

Usually, unprocessed foods will only have several listed ingredients, all that are healthy seasonings and spices, and whole foods that are easily found in a kitchen. Alternatively, foods that are heavily processed will usually feature numerous ingredients that include preservatives, food additives, and synthetic dyes among others.  

 

Note: The best way to avoid processed foods is to only go for products comprising ingredients not exceeding five. Although not always practical, this method can help you identify minimally processed products.  

 

What’s more, be sure to avoid refined grains like pasta, rice, and white bread, instead, choose whole-grain options. Likewise, refrain from processed meats such as cold cuts, bacon, and salami and choose healthier alternatives such as wild-caught fish, and grass-fed beef instead.  

 

The presence of artificial sweeteners or added sugars is also a significant indicator of processed foods. Take note that numerous processed foods also comprise of added sugars disguised as healthy foods, not to mention sweeteners that boast ‘natural’ names like barley malt and agave nectar.  

 

Steps to Help You QUIT Consuming Processed Foods  

Start with gradual changes.

Although making drastic changes is a somewhat tempting move, you are more likely to adapt to new habits by taking the process one step at a time and seeing it through. Gradual changes will not only assist you in easing into the changes mentally, but they will also ensure that you minimize the occurrence of any unpleasant physical symptoms as a result.  

Create a grocery list when going shopping.  

The road to adopting healthier eating habits is relatively easier if you write down what you plan to buy. Also, to help you avoid the temptation of eating processed foods, go shopping on a full stomach.  

Limit your shopping isles.

Limit the varieties of aisles you shop and focus on only visiting those that feature healthier foods such as the produce section. This way, you can avoid the temptation of purchasing unhealthy processed foods.  

Read the list of ingredients.

As earlier mentioned, you can start by only sticking to products with less than five ingredients. Moreover, if the ingredient list contains a component that you would not usually use in your home, it is best avoided.  

Watch out for any ‘added sugars.’  

Manufacturers list various sugars with cunning terms in their ingredients, which makes it important that you be on the look-out. Most sugars end with ‘ose’ such as fructose and dextrose. What’s more, they also use names that have a ‘natural’ connotation such as beet sugar, fruit juice, and cane sugar.  

 

Healthier Processed Food Alternatives  

 

Juices and Sodas:  

 

You can replace these products with homemade drinks that not only have a great taste but are also healthy. Examples of such include carrot juice or options form a wide variety of unsweetened tea.  

 

Chips:  

 

Feel free to experiment with homemade chips. You can usually swap out potatoes and use other vegetables and fruits. Try making zucchini chips or spicy kale chips.  

 

Frozen Pizza:  

 

Rather than stocking your freezer with a stash, you can alternatively use a simple dough like cauliflower pizza crust, coconut crust pizza and then pack on your preferred toppings.  

 

Frosting and Cakes:  

 

There are several delicious and healthy recipes you can consume in place of frosting and cakes which can be made using a few components that are found on minimally processed foods. Some of the common alternatives you can switch to include: yogurt parfait, chocolate dipped bananas, or even homemade almond or peanut butter among many other gluten-free recipes available online.  

 

History of Processed Foods:  

 

While many of us believe that processed foods are a recent phenomenon, these products surprisingly date as far back as the prehistoric period. In fact, various common fermentation methods such as drying, curing, and smoking have been in use for many years to extend shelf-life and enhance the flavor of foods.  

 

Technological developments further enhanced food processing during the 19th and 20th centuries as is evidenced from the invention of various techniques such as tinning, pasteurization, and canning, methods that were invented to extend the time food lasts as well as kill any festering bacteria.  

 

The demand for highly efficient and durable food products in the wake of the 20th century further ensured that more practices and methods of preservation developed, among them evaporation and dry freezing which subsequently led to the production of various food products such as noodles, instant soups as well as convenience meals.  

 

Fast track to today and there is a wide array of processed foods which have unfortunately found their way in the Western diet. These products range from cookies, crackers, and fast food. Various studies have also outlined an alarming statistic that a typical American diet comprises up to 58% ultra-processed ingredients.  

 

Precautions  

 

Numerous studies associate diets that have a high content of processed foods with multiple health problems that range from weight gain to chronic illnesses. Nonetheless, processed foods vary in composition. Although its recommended to follow a plant-based diet filled with fruits and veggies, you can include some moderately processed foods with moderation. Some processed foods that can be included in a healthy diet include:  

 

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables  

  

Plain yogurt  

  

Natural nut butters  

  

Various whole grain products 

 

phenofen

A Guide to Vitamin Supplements for Men

By | Diet Tips\, Eating Healthy, Health Tips | No Comments

Vitamin deficiency is not a distinctly third world problem, and even in developed nations, many men are not receiving the best vitamins. Ideally, one should eat a daily diet consisting of plenty of vitamins and organic minerals, but this isn’t always possible. The majority of men tend to have a diet that consists of processed foods that rarely include enough veggies and fruits. According to a recent report by NBC News, 77% of all men suffer from micronutrient malnutrition, specifically magnesium and vitamins D and 2. This glaring statistic explains why there is a prevalence of susceptibility to illnesses among men. 

Micronutrient deficiency among men results in a decreased libido and sexual performance, slow metabolism, lethargy, low muscle strength, bloating, obesity, insomnia, and a horde of cardiovascular conditions. The prevalence of these deficiencies calls for men to take a closer look at their diet and infuse it with vitamins that address their manly problems. 

Essential Vitamins for Men 

Ideally, men wouldn’t need to use multi-vitamin supplements, however, it’s a fast-paced world we live in, which means it’s a tall order to ask most people to keep their fridges stocked with organic produce that can quickly go bad. When shopping for these multi-vitamins go for the organic and fermented options.  

Fermented vitamin supplements are a quick fix for micronutrients deficiency. In the state of fermentation, the vitamins are ‘pre-digested’ which makes them easily absorbed into the bloodstream. When shopping, be sure to check out multivitamins crafted from organic foods such as ginger, saw palmetto, and other vital plants.   

Given the startling stats and the many nutritional problems men are facing, the following is a breakdown of the essential vitamins for men to best nourish their bodies. 

Vitamin D3 

A study documented in the publication Scientific American showed that 75% of all adults in the U.S. suffer from vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D3 is vital for men to maintain bone strength, prevent depression, produce enough testosterone, and in the healthy regulation of both cholesterol and blood pressure. 

Let us further dissect this matter; the internet is flooded with people selling testosterone supplements. The known reasons why men would want to use testosterone supplements is to increase their raw power in physical activities and enhance their libidos. The increasing vitamin D deficiency correlates with the rising numbers of men looking for testosterone supplementation. 

The solution to this lies in maintaining proper Vitamin D3 intake. Not only can it help in increasing libido, but you will also have an active and healthy heart that is protected from attacks and other debilitating conditions. Using Vitamin D3 regularly will set the foundation to have stronger bones and a sharper memory even when old age creeps in. 

Vitamin D3 also helps to reduce inflammation, to maintain a moderate blood pressure level, and control blood cholesterol content. The best thing about this vitamin is that you can get it by spending just 20 minutes in the sun in the early morning or late afternoon. Time outdoors should be considered an added bonus. Endeavor to eat fresh foods like eggs, mushrooms, and dairy products. If you aren’t able to receive adequate Vitamin D3 from both foods and the sun, then you should definitely consider supplementation.  

Antioxidant Vitamins (A, C and E) 

Antioxidants foods include fruits and vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and nuts and seeds. The antioxidants vitamins cannot be made within the body, which is why you need to get them steadily from your diet. Vitamins A, C, and E help in combating free radical damage, a process that speeds up aging, memory loss, cardiovascular diseases, and vision loss.  

Antioxidant vitamins are so crucial, especially as men get older. The vitamins mediate against muscle wasting, tissue loss, and artery damage. They reinvigorate cells and prevent cell mutation, while at the same time working in the skin and sight. Deficiency of these essential vitamins will manifest in the form of nosebleeds, swollen gums, and a generally weakened immune system.  

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 comes in handy for endurance and strength building, equipping men with the energy they need for intense physical activities. These micronutrients also function to prevent heart attacks and dementia, among other health conditions. There is a general deficiency of vitamin B12 among men and women. The problem, however, is not in consumption but absorption. Most men get their daily dose of B12 from foods like poultry, fish, beef, salmon, and eggs, but absorption is hindered because of several factors. 

For starters, medications such as antacids and those used to control blood pressure interfere with the breakdown of vitamin B12 in the body. As men grow old, they develop a condition known as atrophic gastritis: where the stomach cannot produce enough digestive juices, including HCL (hydrochloric acid). HCL acid plays a vital role in disintegrating B12 vitamins from the protein. The US Office of Dietary Supplements estimates that the atrophic gastric condition affects around 30% of all older adults. 

Other factors that slow down the absorption of vitamin B12 include pernicious anemia where your immune system attacks your normal body cells instead of bacteria and viruses. Intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the intestinal walls) and Celiac disease (gluten allergy) can also interfere with vitamin B12 absorption.  

Vitamin K 

This vitamin works to strengthen and maintain bone structure, to help in blood clotting and healing of injuries, and to prevent heart disease: the notorious cause of death among adult men in the US and many other developed nations. Men need to consume enough veggies and fruits or take supplements if they suffer from intestinal disorders that would prevent absorption of Vitamin K. 

You get vitamin K1 by eating green vegetables, and vitamin k2 from dairy products. Ensure your diet contains at least one of these things: cabbage, broccoli, fish, eggs, milk, vegetables, and collard greens. 

Vitamin K1 is found in many green vegetables and vitamin K2 from dairy products. To prevent vitamin K deficiency you need to eat a variety of veggies, including green leafy vegetables, broccoli, collards, and cabbage, plus some wild-caught fish and cage-free eggs too. 

Aside from the vitamins mentioned above, the best diet for men should also contain the following minerals: 

Essential Minerals for Men 

Magnesium 

Magnesium helps to regulate other electrolyte levels in the bloodstream. It is useful for blood pressure regulation, preventing muscle spasms, migraines, and heart disease.   

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle twitching, difficulty going to the bathroom and insomnia. You can get magnesium from leafy greens, algae, beans, nuts, and seeds. Supplementation is necessary to make up for slow absorption and excess urinary loss of magnesium. 

Omega-3 Fish Oils 

You can get these minerals by eating fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, and sardines, in addition to eggs, nuts, and seeds. Omega 3 Fatty Oils are anti-inflammatory, as opposed to the Omega 6 Fatty Acids that are found in many processed foods and vegetable oils. 

Data shows that most men are consuming an alarmingly high amount of Omega 6 Fatty Acids when compared to their Omega 3 Fatty Oils intake. There needs to be a balance between the two if men are to have healthier hearts, proper functioning brains, and active immunity. That means if you cannot eat wild fish at least 3 times a week, then look into an Omega 3 fish oil supplement. 

Potassium 

You are at a higher risk of cardiovascular conditions, like high blood pressure, if your potassium levels are low. High blood pressure is already a common condition among adult men in western countries. But that’s not all; low potassium levels can also slow down your metabolism which will lead to obesity, fatigue, indigestion, and muscle spasms. 

Men who are on medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease run a high risk of potassium deficiency. These drugs interfere with the absorption of the mineral. Additional risk factors include alcoholism, kidney disorders, and intense physical activities-all these are can cause low potassium levels among men. 

A potassium-rich diet includes foods such as avocado, beans, sweet potatoes, salmon, bananas and grass-fed beef. Symptoms of potassium deficiency include diarrhea, dehydration, and fever. 

Risk Factors for Vitamin Deficiencies in Men 

The high rate of vitamin deficiency among men could be as a result of:  

  • Eating processed foods – no time to prepare meals at home 
  • Low economic status – cannot afford the right amount of foods or supplements 
  • Aversion to fresh vegetables and fruits  
  • Following a vegetarian or vegan diet and avoiding animal products 
  •  Food allergies that interfere with the absorption and metabolism of vitamins  
  • Lack of education  
  • Digestive tract disorders 
  • Medications that interfere with the absorption of vitamins 

Have You Considered Vitamin Supplements? 

Chances are you try to include all the variety of vitamin-rich foods in your diet. But to avoid any risk of vitamin deficiency, supplements are necessary. More so if you fall into the category of men listed below: 

  • You rarely eat seafood, meat, and eggs 
  • You have inflammatory bowel diseases, food allergies, or impaired digestive functions 
  • You are taking antacids and antibiotics  

Men need a regular diet that includes vitamins D, B12, A, C, E, and vitamin K. On top of that; the food should be fortified with magnesium, potassium, and Omega 3 fish oils. To ensure you get all of the proper nutrition your body needs then supplements need to be on your radar as a viable option.  

 

nutritionist

How Proper Dieting Can Prevent Chronic Disease  

By | Diet Tips\, Eating Healthy, Health and Fitness, Health Tips, Weight Loss | No Comments

This morning, Dr. Oz paid a visit to the Today Show to discuss a recent critical study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by investigators at the Tufts Friedman School of nutrition. Researchers analyzed the information concerning what Americans consume and what kills them and found a strong correlation between certain foods and the risk of disease. Researchers discovered that 10 dietary factors could be attributed to 45% of the approximately 700,000 deaths from diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. 

The research shows that by just changing our eating habits we can significantly reduce deaths related to such diseases while also reducing the price of health care at the same time. The savings can be a lot since it is estimated that people spend around $80 billion on these conditions annually. 

Deaths from heart disease, diabetes, and stroke aren’t strictly due to consuming too much junk food. A lack of enough healthy and nutritious foods in our diets has also contributed to disease-related deaths. Below is a list of nutrient-rich foods you should add to your meals: 

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are the omega-3 fats present in salmon as well as small fatty fish such as sardines. Research has shown that due to their anti-inflammatory properties people with high levels of these fats in their bodies have a reduced risk of heart disease and better brain health. The ideal daily serving is 250mg. By eating one salmon serving you can receive seven days-worth of healthy fats. 

Seeds and Nuts 

Nuts have fatty acids which are mostly unsaturated and healthy for your body. They also contain complex carbohydrates such as fiber, as well as proteins and other important nutrients. A recent study suggests that nuts may be essential for weight loss because that can help you feel full for longer. Researchers have discovered an inverse link between eating nuts and gaining weight over time. The Journal of the American Medical Association paper proposes that the optimum number of nuts in your diet is approximately five 1 oz servings each week. 

Plant Oils

Oils sourced from corn oils and soybeans contain polyunsaturated fats. You should replace simple sugars and animal fats with these fats. Dr. Oz is a major proponent of olive oil, which has mostly mono-saturated fats as well as other phytochemicals such as flavanols, though this was not evaluated in this particular study. The senior author of the Journal of the American Medical Association paper, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, who also happens to be the Tufts Friedman School of nutrition Dean, said that while we normally call these vegetable oils there are actually almost no literal vegetable oils. Almost every healthful oil is derived from nuts, fruits, or seeds: extracts from bioactive-rich foods which give rise to life.  

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits & vegetables have a lot of fiber (unless they are juiced), phytonutrients, and prebiotics. The people who have lived to be oldest all ate plant-based meals, meaning that most of their diet was centered around fruits and veggies. According to this study, you need to be consuming approximately 14 oz of vegetables daily. This is approximately four servings of vegetables, which is equal to 2 cups of veggies prepared cooked or 4 cups of veggies prepared raw. You should also eat about three servings of fruit each day, which is equivalent to 3 cups of fresh fruit and 1 ½ cups of dried fruit.  

Healthy Meal

Whole Grains

Whole grains include foods like whole wheat bread, wheat pasta, and faro. They contain more nutrients than refined white grains and flours which are broken down at a much slower rate by the body so you don’t get a massive rush of blood sugar. The study states the ideal amount of whole grains is approximately 4.5 oz daily. For reference, one piece of whole wheat bread is about 1 oz, and one pasta serving is 2 oz. Be sure to read about the ingredients on the label of whole grain meals carefully since packaging can at times be misleading, and make sure you look for 100% whole grains while at the grocery store for a great source of nutrition. 

There are many amazing healthy foods we should be eating more of, though there are also some we need to cut back on if we want to decrease the number of deaths associated with diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The following are foods you should be trying to cut out of your diet: 

Reduce Your Salt Intake  

Sodium is linked to elevated blood pressure and heart conditions. Fast food and junk food contain lots of salt making them the most likely culprit for how so many people consume too much sodium. Avoiding these foods can be helpful. If you’re used to consuming foods with lots of salt, it won’t be easy to quit, but there are many online resources available to help you manage your sodium intake. According to the research, the optimal amount of sodium is 2000mg every day, which is approximately one teaspoon of salt.  

Reduce Sugary Drinks 

These drinks include sports drinks, juices, and sodas. In this study, it is said that the optimum sugar intake is zero. These are empty sugar calories. The ideal drink to nourish your body is water. You can try drinking sparkling water if you think plain water is too boring. Tea and coffee can also serve as good sugar-free alternatives, just keep an eye on the ingredients to be sure they don’t have any added sugar and be wary of caffeine.  

Forgo Processed Meats & Unprocessed Red Meats  

Unprocessed red meats are not of extreme concern, in fact, according to this study, the least number of deaths were linked to unprocessed red meats, though moderation is always key so don’t consume too much. The ideal amount is said to be one 3 oz serving each week. Processed meats, on the other hand, have lots of salt, nitrates and other components that can put your health at risk. According to the World Health Organization, they increase the chances of having these conditions. Moreover, they elevate the risk of dying from a heart condition, diabetes, or stroke. The study says the optimum amount of processed meat is zero.  

Try leading a healthier life by following this guide. It will reduce the chances of you suffering from a chronic illness that can prove to be both painful and expensive. You can also save money because these diseases are very expensive to treat. Improve your quality of life by making healthy and nutritious dietary choices.

Maintain Your Summer Body

Best Tips to Maintain Your Summer Body Over the Holidays 

By | Diet Tips\, Eating Healthy, Health and Fitness, Health Tips | No Comments

There’s nothing quite like Fall. With the bright sun shining down on Fall foliage, this is the best weather for all sorts of fun, parties, holidays, and drinking. Nonetheless, while these activities afford every reason to get loose, it makes it quite challenging to maintain the fit Summer body you spent all year working so hard for. It is essential to ensure that all the festivities are not detrimental to your health.  

Although it is not an easy feat, you can take good care of yourself and still have fun during the Holiday Season. By adopting a few habits to keep your body healthy, fit, and happy, it is possible to have a fit body even during the Holiday season. How? 

Check out these seven tips:  

Proper Dieting  

Eating right is an integral part of building and maintaining a fit body.  Your Fall diet should comprise plenty of vegetables and fruits. In fact, looking at Harvard’s Public Health School, your everyday meals should contain about nine daily servings of vegetables and fruits or 2 ½ cups of vegetable and 2 cups of fruit. Using this as a guideline, you should be aware that this is a minimum estimation, and that you can take in as many vegetables and fruits as you please.  healthy eating

Additionally, you need to pursue eating the proper amounts of good carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Usually, brown rice, quinoa, rye, barley, and whole wheat are among the right (healthy) carbohydrates. Conversely, bad carbohydrates can be found in processed foods such as French fries as well as refined (white) bread. The necessary amount of consumption depends on various factors including weight, height, level of activity, and age among others.  

Generally, the best idea is to refrain from fast foods as they contain added sugar and trans fats. For burger lovers, you can pick up turkey dogs and turkey burgers as alternatives to typical hotdogs and hamburgers.  

What’s more, you can also try grilling shrimp and salmon as opposed to bratwursts.  Grilled peppers, salad or onion, and zucchini are also grilled vegetable alternatives to potato chips and French fries. Finally, for your dessert, you can always go for fruit salads which make excellent alternatives to cake and ice cream.  

Proper dieting is more often than not misunderstood. This is why it calls for awareness and discipline. Contrary to popular opinions, proper dieting does not restrict you from consuming potato chips, or hamburgers or cookies. It means that you consume healthy foods on a regular basis while understanding you can treat yourself every once in a while.  

By strictly following a proper diet, it will only be a matter of time before you notice how much better it feels to eat clean and healthy. In fact, don’t be surprised to see yourself shunning processed foods such as hot dogs.  

Keep it Light 

Don’t make yourself upset over the holidays by starving yourself. Eat until you are full! When you feel hungry, go ahead and eat. However, monitor how much you are eating, but don’t overdo it. Usually, after eating to a certain point, we start to feel full and satisfied. It is this point which we should strive to not go beyond.  

Try taking several small meals throughout the day. You can start out by eating a heavy breakfast and then consuming smaller quantities throughout the day. This way of eating is excellent, especially if your goal is to lose some pounds or get yourself more toned. However, even with the smaller portions in place, you should remember ONLY to eat the right and healthy foods. Proper dieting and keeping it light go simultaneously.  

Stay Hydrated  

Water is essential to our health, hence the need to drink an adequate amount. The significance of staying hydrated cannot be understated. The American Heart Association underpins the importance of staying hydrated to maintain good health. According to the association, staying hydrated allows the heart to efficiently pump blood through your blood vessels and down to the muscles. This, in turn, ensures your muscles work effectively. More importantly, enough water is essential for the proper functioning of your heart.  

The adequate amount of water varies depending on many different factors. One way you can determine if your body gets enough water is to assess your urine. Typically, if you are drinking enough water, your urine will assume a light color. Conversely, the darker it is, the lesser amount of water you are taking. Additionally, you can also look at how constantly you visit the washrooms to evaluate if you indeed take enough water. And while this is not to push you to drown yourself, the idea is to ensure your body remains appropriately hydrated.  

Staying out in the sun for some time can lead to dehydration. However, you can counter these effects by taking in a lot of water. What’s more, it is also a practice you should adopt if your itinerary includes drinking alcohol or other liquids which result in dehydration. Ultimately, you need to have an adequate water supply in your body during the Fall, notwithstanding what your activity is.  

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise 

Our bodies are not meant to remain sedentary. As such, stay active by exercising. Even in the Fall months, there are numerous ways that you can exercise effectively. Whether you choose to walk, to run, or hike, there are multiple forms of exercise that suit the Fall weather.  However, only do such if you have no health restrictions.  

Remarkably, Fall presents the ideal time to take your exercise routines seriously. Why? Exercising needs perfect weather conditions and it can usually get challenging to follow an exercise routine during frigid winters and scorching summers since they have otherwise unfavorable and cold weather conditions.   

Exercise is not only about strength training and cardio. In fact, you can play skate at your local park, swim in an indoor pool, or even take some long walks along a trail. Take full advantage of the crisp Fall weather and give your body the best treatment.  

Finally, set up a goal. What type of body are you looking to achieve? Is your objective to lose excess body fat or it to remain more active and fit?  Align your exercise routine to suit your personal needs.  

Work on Your Core  

Every stable and strong house is centered on a firm foundation. Similarly, your body remains stable and strong by courtesy of your core.  Whatever your ideal body goal, whether it is to get a six pack or get stronger; your activities should always take your core into consideration as it is the section that holds everything together. Your body is only as healthy as your core is strong as.  

In your usual exercise routine, incorporate a few exercises that work on your core and do them 3-4 times a week. And just like your regular routine, it does not need to be extreme.  Treat your core with as much importance as your overall body shape and health.  

There is much more to a strong core than just getting a toned body. Mayo Clinic outlines that with strong core muscles, you can engage in any physical activity. Generally, weak (core) muscles result in muscle injury, lower back pain, as well as poor posture.  

Building a strong core is essential since it helps your body remain healthy. And luckily, it is suitable for any age group.  

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake 

Nothing beats the delight of drinking with friends and family you may have not seen all year to celebrate the holidays. However, take alcohol in moderation. While it can be tough to take lesser amounts of alcohol, especially during the holidays, it is nonetheless for your good.  Work on limiting how much alcohol you consume as well as keeping track of what you drink.  

If you are looking to get or maintain a fit body, then limiting the amount of beer you take is a definite MUST. While beer is, of course, a refreshing drink, it still contains numerous empty calories that can be dangerous to your body. Also, go slow with liquors such as rum and whiskey because they usually include added sugar (and in large amounts). Alternatively, you can go for light liquors like vodka and gin if part of your Holiday excitement is frequent drinking through the season.  

Get Adequate Rest 

Lastly, our bodies need rest. As such, it is essential that we afford them ample rest.  Although staying up all night partying sounds like quite an adventure, it is, however, necessary to ensure that we get plenty of sleep.  Similarly, this applies to exercises too. Don’t go so hard and incessantly. It is vital for the body to recuperate and of course strengthen, hence it is necessary to make downtime for rest. Manage your time such that all your activities, including exercising, having a good time, as well as relaxing fit within your program.  This way, you can not only have as much fun as you expect, but you also maintain your body all year long.  

nutrient rich foods

4 Types of Vitamins Every Woman Should Take 

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When it comes to proper nutrition, there is no single route to ensuring your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs to flourish. This is especially true when it comes to women because their dietary needs are slightly different. Over 30 % of all women in the US suffer from a nutritional deficiency despite having healthy diets consisting of nutrient-dense meals. Even more worrying, an estimated 75 % of all women depend on supplemental vitamins to stave off these deficiencies. A lack of commonplace vitamins such as K, E, A, D, C, and B is plaguing US women, and the threats these deficiencies pose to their health and wellbeing is significant.  

The Population Report Bureau published a report that revealed the stark reality of the matter. Nutritional deficiencies have particularly ghastly effects on women as it compromises their ability to bear children and reduces their overall immunity. Supporting evidence shows that post-menopausal women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis when their vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, and calcium reserves are low. This same group of women stands a greater chance of losing their ability to see if they lack vitamin A and C. 

nutrient rich foods

The more women are opting for dietary supplements to stay healthy, the harder it’s becoming to know which supplements to pick. Diet experts recommend fermented supplements over synthetic ones because the former is more readily absorbed by the digestive system. For an additional nutritional boost, some vitamins come combined with ingredients comprising of superfoods such as chia seeds, camu camu, spirulina, and apple cider vinegar. 

1. Vitamin K

Part of the reason why vitamin K is so important is that it aids functions in three vital parts of the body: the bones, the blood, and the heart. Vitamin K strengthens bones and is a crucial component in the blood-clotting process. However, it plays its most significant role by preventing heart disease. Research-backed findings show that people with a vitamin K deficiency are at a higher risk of suffering cardiovascular illnesses including heart attacks and arrhythmia. 

Vitamin K exists in two variations, each of which come from different sources. Vitamin K1 is present in green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli, but it is also present in eggs fish and cabbage. Vitamin K2, conversely, is most commonly present in dairy products like milk, cheese, and ghee. 

Taking antibiotic medication for a prolonged period of time can reduce vitamin K levels critically, and so can cholesterol-cutting drugs and intestinal illnesses like IBS. Vitamin K is best obtained from its natural sources.  

2. Antioxidants

Free radicals can wreak havoc to our cells, and this damage usually becomes apparent in the form of wrinkled or damaged skin. Free radical damage, however, extends deeper than the cells of the skin and is known to cause cellular degeneration even in the cells of vital body organs through a process we know as aging. It is for this reason that it is extra important to give your body enough antioxidant vitamins, specifically vitamin C, A, and E. 

The National Eye Institute emphasizes the importance of each of these vitamins especially in preventing the macular degeneration that comes about as we age. Women are at a high risk of developing eyesight issues such as cataracts without the help of these vitamins. 

In addition to fighting the main causes of aging, each of the three vitamins come with their own set of benefits. Vitamin C, for instance, consolidates the immune system against flu infections, protects your skin by reducing free-radical damage on your skin cells, enhances your vision, and counteracts the effects of UV rays on your skin. Vitamin A and E are known as antioxidants as well and they also improve vision. More importantly, antioxidant vitamins prevent cellular mutations that give rise to cancerous cells. 

3. Vitamin D

While we can still get vitamin D from foods such as mushrooms, eggs, and a select few dairy products, the best source of this essential vitamin is still the sun. The risk of suffering from vitamin D deficiencies is higher these days because we spend almost all our time indoors. Estimates show that well over 70% of the adult population in the US could be lacking this vitamin due to limited sun exposure and constant use of sun-blocking creams. 

In addition to aiding bone development, vitamin D is needed by the brain to regulate moods and prevent hormonal imbalances. The best source of vitamin D is the sun, so it is important to bask for at least 15 minutes a day to get your daily dose of vitamin D. While sunscreen is helpful when blocking harmful sun rays, it can hinder your body’s ability to form vitamin D.  

4. Vitamin B and Folate

B vitamins such as B12 and folate aid in general functions such as maintaining cognitive health and reducing body fatigue. However, when it comes to body processes, these vitamins are invaluable components that are necessary for a number of important bodily functions. 

B vitamins are heavily involved in various cellular processes. In addition to that, they are important in the formation of red blood cells and play a part in converting the food we consume into energy. Folate, or folic acid when it’s made synthetically, is essential during pregnancy. Developing fetuses need folate for brain and spinal cord development, so it is crucial in preventing birth defects. A folate deficiency can result in serious birth complications and post-partum birth defects that may affect the baby their entire life. 

The best sources of vitamin B are animal products like eggs, dairy, and fish. This poses a problem for women who are vegetarians as the best alternative would be a dietary supplement. Nevertheless, consistently taking your supplements is enough to ensure you have sufficient vitamin B and folate levels, which are especially crucial if you’re expectant. Folate can be obtained from spinach, citrus fruits, beans, and melon fruits. 

Synthetic folate (folic acid) is not as rich in nutrients as fermented folate. Be wary of vitamins with the synthetic version of the vitamin and instead, try to go for supplements with fermented folate. You’ll find that these are much safer to consume. 

In Conclusion: 

  • Though it is possible to get your nutrition entirely from the food you eat, you are at risk of developing one of many nutritional deficiencies because some vitamins cannot be obtained properly without supplementation. 
  • Fermented supplements are often the best choice since they are more readily absorbable by the digestive system. While synthetic vitamins still have their benefits, women who opt for fermented supplements find that they tend to be more nutritious. 
  • Women are especially susceptible to some nutrient deficiencies due to the nutritional requirements of their bodies. For example, vitamin B is important because it aids in pregnancy, fetus development, and childbirth, thus expectant women are more likely to need it in larger quantities than usual. 
  • Post-menopausal women stand a greater risk of developing problems like osteoporosis and loss of vision if they do not keep their nutrients intake in check. 
  • Supplements are available in their natural fermented state, but can also be mixed with superfood ingredients for additional nutrition. Whether you opt for these types of supplements or not is entirely a matter of personal preference.

How Mindfulness can Help with Diet and Weight Loss

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While there is a lot of information about the best food to eat, there is very scarce information that teaches us how to take a mindful approach when consuming food. Although we are all taught the food pyramid, which consists of four groups of food including dairy, fat, fruits, and proteins, we are not taught how to eat. Yes, we are taught what to eat and what not to eat; however, we don’t have any lessons on how to eat in a typical day. This has led to a systematic increase in weight and ultimately to today’s obesity epidemic.   

Mindful eating is not taught in any school or university, so applying it to our daily lives is something that many of us may struggle with. For this reason, a lot of people have many misconceptions about food and the role it plays in our health. This has led to many people using food as a substance for pleasure rather than nourishment. In this article, we are going to discuss mindful eating habits and their benefits.   

What is Mindfulness? Religion or Practice?   

Mindfulness is something that is often associated with meditation and religion. Other people may just consider it a weird way of thinking. However, Mindfulness is not weird thinking or a form of religion. Rather, mindfulness is a state of active and open attentiveness to your environment and the present moment. This is a practice in which you observe your thoughts without any judgment.   

Additionally, this practice ensures that life doesn’t rush past you. It’s human nature to keep our mind so preoccupied with the past and plans for the future that we often neglect to live in the moment.   

How Mindful Eating Reduces Obesity   

According to the latest statistics, Adult obesity in the US is over 35 percent in 5 states, 25 percent in 46 states, and 30 percent in 25 states. As reported in the US National library of medicine, about 300,000 deaths annually are caused by obesity. These alarming statistics are certainly good reason for concern.    

When we become mindful of the food we eat, we will adopt healthier habits, which will prevent unnecessary weight gain. Various studies have been conducted on obesity and mindful eating. The best thing about these studies is that they have shown positive results for participants looking to lose weight.   

Mindful eating it the practice of eating mindfully. This means that you need to be fully aware of what you are experiencing. Are you able to differentiate between the physical cues telling you that you are hungry, or just experiencing a craving? Differentiating the two will help you eat your food when it is necessary, and not just for pleasure.   

When thinking of these physical cues, you should pay attention to things such as how full you feel when consuming food. When you are practicing mindful eating, you know when to stop, which goes a long way in weight management.   

 How Mindfulness Makes You Healthier  

According to Harvard health records, mindful eating brings about many positive changes to patients suffering from weight complications, anxiety, stress, and depression. Additionally, research shows that using mindfulness-based stressed reduction therapy can help in the reduction of the cognitive processes that underlie the aforementioned clinical issues.   

Practicing mindfulness can put you back in touch with your body, improve your capacity to treat yourself and others with patience and compassion, boost productivity, and reduce stress.   

How to Start Eating Mindfully  

Would you love to begin eating mindfully, but don’t know where to start? If your answer is yes, you’ve already completed half the battle. Starting this process means that you are ready to embrace change. You will not receive the desired results if you approach mindful eating as an obligation. Having a strong support system will increase your chance of success. It’s always easier to reach our goals when we have someone else to hold us accountable and encourage us along the way. Below are some tips to help you get started.   

Start Slow and Make Gradual Changes  

When beginning mindful eating you should start doing this with one meal per day. After this, you can gradually increase it to two meals daily and then three meals when you have refined the habit.   

1.  Eat in Silence   

Turning off any noise that may distract you while eating will ensure that you are maintaining mindfulness without any distractions. You will also grow to appreciate your time and the effort spent preparing the meal that you are eating.   

2.  Avoid Eating Fast  

Consuming your food slowly will give your body time to communicate with the brain. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes for your brain to tell your body that it is full.   

3. Chew your Food Slowly  

While this might sound silly, eating your food fast will not only mean that your food is not well-chewed but also you will not actually have time to appreciate its flavor. Improper chewing can lead to various complications in food digestion such as gas, bloating, and indigestion. Being mindful when eating allows you to chew your food well and gives your stomach an easier time.   

4. Turn the Senses On  

Embrace your sense of taste by trying to identify all the ingredients and spices that are in your food. This will actually help you enjoy your meal more.   

5. Be Thankful  

As stated earlier, being mindful is related to appreciation. By adopting a grateful attitude, you can remember how the food you’re eating will sustain your well-being.  

What to do when your Family and Friends don’t Understand your Mindfulness   

Most often when we make a sudden lifestyle change your friends and family might have a hard time understanding you. Change is not welcomed by many, for this reason when changing the dynamic of something as socially vital as mealtime, some of your family members might not take it very well. However, finding a supportive social environment will make this transition smoother. Below are some of the tips that can help your family understand the need for a change.    

1. Help them Understand why you are Making the Changes  

The first thing to do is to let your family and friends understand why you decided to make the change. You can also communicate with them what type of support you need from them and why this is important for you.   

2. Assist them in Understanding the Importance of Mindfulness  

Take it upon yourself to teach your family and friends the importance of mindful and mindfulness eating. By letting them understand the benefits and positivity associated with your decision, some of them might even join you.   

3. Educate and Spread Awareness  

Don’t assume that just because your family and friends may not join you on the journey of mindfulness that they will not want to learn what mindful eating is. By sharing your experience, they can accept that this has become part of your life and while ensuring they still feel involved.   

4. Avoid Being Pushy and Respect their Views  

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions. For this reason, don’t expect that everyone will embrace mindful eating. While it would be great if everyone appreciates and starts practicing mindful eating, you should still respect their perspectives and views.    

5. Start Doing things that Relate to Mindfulness as a Group   

Experience is the best teacher. By demonstrating something that relates to mindfulness you can not only help others learn but improve your own understanding in the process     

Conclusion   

Mindful eating is a great practice that can help transform various aspects of our lives. By practicing mindful eating regularly, we can minimize unhealthy eating habits that lead to obesity and illnesses related to being overweight. Mindful eating is also the only pathway to conscious living. Being conscious of your eating habits will ultimately help you adopt healthy eating habits, which is great for your overall wellbeing.

Health Foods That You Should Always Avoid

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Deceptive advertisements in the health industry are becoming increasingly pervasive. For many years, companies have produced what they call “health” food items that are often ineffective or borderline dangerous. The incessant flow of trends and industry buzzwords like “diet,” “organic,” and “sugar-free” can make it confusing when trying to improve your lifestyle. This means that a good number of people who want to eat better are actually incorporating foods in their everyday meals that they should not be consuming. Below we will go over a comprehensive overview of health foods that you should eliminate from your diet.

Farmed Fish

Farmed fish, including Atlantic salmon or farmed Tilapia, are often touted as great healthy foods. However, you should avoid these fish at all costs. A study at the University of New York indicated that farmed salmon contained 11 times more dioxin than wild caught salmon. It can take several years for your body to flush out dioxin, allowing it to wreak havoc on your health. Dioxin is an environmental pollutant that can cause cancer, immune system dysfunction, and even organ damage. It was also recently discovered that the omega-3 fatty acid levels in farmed-raised salmon are declining fast. There are also concerns regarding the contamination of man farmed fish. The amount of organic pollutants tends to be very high in farmed fish. These fish are treated with dangerous pesticides, and their production is detrimental to the natural ecosystems surrounding the farms. Fish does contain significant health benefits, just always opt for the wild-caught options.

Fruit Juice

It is a general misconception that any food item with the word fruit in it is automatically good for you. The truth is that fruit juice is just as unhealthy as soda if consumed in large amounts since it often contains just as much sugar and calories. An 8-ounce glass of fruit juice is the equivalent of eating four oranges. Additionally, fruit juice is devoid of very important fiber contained in whole fruits. The actual ‘fruit’ contained in fruit juice is about 5 to 10 percent. There is simply no substitute for consuming fruits in their entirety. Fruit juices also have high levels of fructose; about 46 grams per liter according to a 2014 study.

Fruit Bowl

To put this all into perspective, soda contains 50 grams of fructose per liter. The human body cannot handle these fructose levels for energy production. The fructose will be processed in your liver where it will be converted into fat.

Seitan

Seitan is a popular health food, especially among vegetarians. On the surface, it seems like an ideal replacement for meat. However, two specific properties of seitan make it particularly bad for you. First, seitan consists almost entirely of wheat gluten, meaning it can increase the risk of gluten intolerance and gluten allergies. Secondly, it has a very high sodium content. A half cup of seitan can contain up to 580 milligrams of sodium. This is definitely a food to avoid. The recommended alternative for seitan is tempeh.

Unfermented Soy Products

Soy products have been touted as health foods for many years, but there is nothing healthy about unfermented soy products. This includes soy milk, edamame, and soy protein. Fermented soy is a highly recommended dietary option. In the US, most soy is genetically modified in order to withstand compounds found in specific weed killers. One of these chemical compounds is glyphosate. US soy contains dangerously high levels of glyphosate, which is detrimental to human health and can cause cell death. Long-term consumption of soy protein is linked to a number of health problems. These include asthma, hay fever, breast cancer, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, and urinary bladder cancer.

Margarine

The misconception that margarine is a healthier dietary option than butter has persisted for decades. The idea arose from the notion that the lower saturated fat content of margarine makes it healthier. Research has consistently shown that it is actually the opposite. Margarine initially contained Tran’s fats. Tran’s fats are a major contributory factor in cardiovascular disease including thousands of heart attacks each year. These types of fat also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Most margarine produced today do not contain Tran’s fats. Instead, they have been replaced with high processed industrial fats that are nearly as dangerous for your overall health. Butter and grass-fed ghee are better options for a spread.

Vegetable Oils

Most vegetable oils find their way into the category of ‘healthy fats’. Unfortunately, there are some vegetable oils that you should not be consuming, such as canola oil. Many vegetable oils are sourced from genetically modified crops and are partially hydrogenated. Aside from being highly inflammatory, vegetable oils have been linked to several diseases and conditions. These include cancer, diabetes, liver ailments, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, birth defects, impeded growth, high cholesterol levels, tendon ailments, immune system disorders, skin ailments, obesity, bone problems, low birth weight, and sexual dysfunction. Given this long list of risks, you should make the switch to pure unpasteurized coconut oil. It is the much healthier cooking alternative.

Artificial Sweeteners

When sugar replaced fats as the worst dietary enemy, most people looked towards artificial sweeteners including sucralose, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, stevia, and acesulfame as new viable options. Due to their low glycemic index, they are recommended for diabetics. However, recent research has revealed that artificial sweeteners interfere with flora in the digestive system and may actually contribute to causing diabetes. In addition, these sugar alternatives have been linked to allergies, brain tumors, breast cancer, bladder cancer, weight gain, seizures, high blood pressure, leukemia, and headaches.

Garcinia Cambogia

With obesity rates on the rise all over the world, overweight individuals are always on the lookout for foods that supposedly aid in weight management. Unfortunately, some of these so-called “superfoods” come with unforeseen side effects even if they are effective. One of these foods is Garcinia Cambogia, a pumpkin shaped fruit whose extract is often used in weight loss supplements. It does help you lose weight quickly, but it has also been linked to liver failure. If you are trying to lose weight, avoid this weight loss food and opt for better risk-free weight management methods.

Fad Coffee Drinks

Coffee actually has considerable health benefits to offer. It can increase your energy levels, help you burn fat, and lower your risk of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It also has protective effects on your liver, helping guard against liver cirrhosis. However, you will not be able to reap these health benefits if your coffee contains certain added ingredients. Excess sugar is a staple in today’s popular lattes, usually coming in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. A typical latte contains up to 50 grams of sugar. These sugar levels wreak havoc on your liver and can cause fatty liver disease. Carrageenan is also found in most coffee drinks. This ingredient causes problems in the digestive system. Always go for traditional unsweetened black coffee.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is among the top health foods in the US market. However, a brief look at this food items reveals that it has no health benefits to offer, and is, in fact, detrimental to human health. Of all commercial sweeteners out there, agave nectar contains the highest amounts of fructose. High fructose levels in the body are very taxing on the liver. They cause your body to go into a fat storage mode, which is counterproductive to those of you trying to maintain a healthy weight.

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar replacements, like sugar-free baked goods and sugar-free chewing gum, contain sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, and isomalt. These products are marketed as healthy alternatives to their sugar-laden counterparts, but you should avoid them altogether. The ingredients are called natural but really, they are just processed foods. Some ingredients are derivatives of genetically modified corn and other crops. Sugar alcohols have been linked to several health conditions including rashes, allergic reactions, IBS, headaches, and digestive disorders.

Overall, it is essential to stay informed on the actual ingredients contained in the food items you purchase. Be a label watcher and always opt for food products that are unprocessed, organic, and grass-fed.

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