When the Stomach’s A Rumblin’

Hey there healthy hotties! So, I’m doing a nutrition support group on the side and find that the biggest struggle for most of my team is the rumblin’ tummies when trying to change our diet for the better. Here are a couple pointers for warding off the munchies:
1. Make sure you space out your meals. Try to work your eating schedule into an every-two-hours sort of thing. For example, Breakfast 8:00, Snack 10:00, Lunch 12:00… That should help keep your metabolism going as well as warding off hunger.
2. Drink lots of water. Not only will water fill you up, but it’s 0 calories too. Studies have also shown that thirst from slight dehydration can be mistaken for hunger. Chug away- it’ll only do you some good. If you’re not a water fan, try jazzin’ it up with some cucumbers or lemon or mint.
3. If you really want food, grab some veggies. Your ‘hunger’ doesn’t care whether it’s satisfied with a giant stalk of celery(fiber that fills you!) or a giant plate of brownies(fat that fluffs you!). Pick the healthier one and you won’t regret it.
4. If you’re hungry late in the evening, you can try the above things too, but often late-night snacking is due to habit, stress, boredom, or fatigue. If you are going to eat, follow #3, because any calories you consume, you won’t be working off like you would mid-day. Distract yourself- do things that will keep your mind off the fridge.

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The Benefits of Water

                Everyone knows that drinking water is good for you. Sure, it’s a great zero-calorie thirst quencher, but this free beverage can do much more for your health than hydrate. Here are ten surprising benefits of water.

  1. Skin: Water, good ol’ H2O (O standing for oxygen, my friends), hydrates your body and brings oxygen to all of your organs. This includes your biggest organ, your skin. Water naturally plumps skin. This means firming fine lines and wrinkles, hydrating dullness, and even helping to conceal cellulite. Overall, your complexion will improve greatly, guaranteed.  
  2. Weight: Just because it plumps your skin, doesn’t mean it makes you plump. In fact, it’s quite the contraire m’dear. If you’re not drinking enough water, your body actually starts retaining water as a survival mechanism. This, in turn, leads to bloating. To eliminate fluid retention, drink more water, not less. And FYI, there’s a reason Gatorade is advertised for athletes. It contains a high amount of sodium, helping you hold on to fluid in your body when you’re expelling so much through sweat. Gatorade is not meant to be a tasty replacement for water, it’s meant to keep water in your body. Also, water in between meals helps to suppress appetite and fill you up. Plus it’s 0 calories!
  3. Muscles: As mentioned before, water brings oxygen to all of your organs. This means your muscles, too. The more oxygen you bring to your muscles, the longer and harder you can work them. Up the water, up the endurance. You get the idea.
  4. Energy: It has been medically proven that just a 5% drop in body fluids will cause a 25% to 30% loss of energy in the average person.
  5. Mood: Many studies have shown that drinking water improves mood and eases stress. A bottle for your blues?
  6. Brain: Brain tissue is 85% water. With dehydration, the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen. This is why when we have a headache, sometimes just drinking water will help alleviate it. It could just be a symptom of slight dehydration. Heading in for an exam? Don’t forget your water bottle to keep that oxygen going to your brain.
  7. Breakouts: Hot lemon water is said to reduce bacteria internally, lessening breakouts. Hot steam (water in gas form, if you were unaware) helps open your pores, and a splash of cold water helps to close them.
  8. Toxins: Water flushes toxins out of your system and carries nutrients to your cells. Your kidneys rid your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is enough. If you don’t drink enough water, you’re at higher risk of developing kidney stones. And toxins staying in your system can lead to illnesses and diseases like cancer. When you’re well hydrated, your urine is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine is darker and concentrated because your body is trying to hold on to as much liquid as it can.
  9. Constipation: Adequate hydration keeps the gastrointestinal tract working the way it should. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration, resulting in constipation.
  10. Joint Health: Water lubricates our joints. Cartilage holds a lot of water, which serves as a lubricant during the movement of the joint. If the cartilage is dehydrated, the abrasion can cause damage, resulting in joint deterioration and increased pain. Rheumatoid joint pain and back pain is often alleviated or decreased with a little bit of hydration.

I noticed several of my nutritionist coworkers bringing giant jugs of ice water to work every day…so I followed suit; and boy am I glad I did. Not only does it help energize me for the work day, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in my skin. Caffeinated beverages as well as alcoholic beverages act as diuretics and increase fluid loss, so they actually make you lose more water. For every glass of coffee or alcohol you have, try to have a glass of water too. Ever wonder why the feeling of a hangover often includes a headache…? Your body might be full of liquid, but not the right kind. A heavy night of drinking, followed by a morning of excessive coffee is the worst thing you can do. Your body is in a state of dehydration, not just tiredness. I’ll drink to that! Water, that is.

You’ve probably heard the common recommendation to drink eight full glasses of water a day. The recommendation seems to change constantly. And of course your recommended water intake will increase if you’re an avid exerciser, breastfeeding mom, or live in a hotter climate. I say just keep drinking instead of keeping track of how much you drink. It’s not likely you’ll over-hydrate yourself. If water is a little too boring and bland for you, try adding some mint, lemon slices, or cucumber to a pitcher of water.  

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Glued to the Tube?

The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day. For a 65-year old, that’s nine straight years glued to the tube. That’s a whole lot of telly!  HowellMainFour.com says it best- “They are spending all these hours watching a manipulated version of reality instead of living their own”.

What happened to the days of spending your free time on board games with the family, going outdoors with friends, or simply eating meals at the dining room table? It’s a shocker today to go into an American home that doesn’t have a television set; almost 100% of American households have at least one, and almost two-thirds spend their mealtime watching it. TV watching is not a good habit to make.  Not only does pushing the ‘on’ button suddenly cause a distraction from any type of near-future activity, but it can also have lasting effects on your health.

The first two years of a child’s life is considered a critical time for brain development. Many studies link excessive TV viewing at this age with later attention problems. Electronic media can distract from exploring, playing, and interacting with others.

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a large survey of almost 12,000 Australian adults, found that for every hour of television viewed by a person over the age of 25, their lifespan is reduced by 22 minutes. In comparison, smoking one cigarette is said to reduce life expectancy by about 11 minutes.

There is an abundant amount of evidence out there that links the sedentary habit of tv watching to obesity as well as evidence that proves that simply cutting back on even a little bit of tv time has been helpful in weight control.

If that’s not incentive for the big guy on the couch, let’s at least do it for the little guys. A Harvard study released in February of this year found that men who watch 20 or more hours of television a week had a 44 percent reduction in sperm than those who did not clock any television time. It was also found that men who work out at least fifteen hours per week have 73 percent higher sperm counts than those who logged less than 5 hours a week.

There’s no harm in restricticting your telly time to two hours a day…literally. Studies have shown that even those who watch two straight hours of television have significantly lower risks associated with it than those who watched four straight hours. In an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers combined data from eight different studies and found that for every additional two hours spent glued to the tube, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 20% and the risk of heart disease increases by 15%. According to an American Journal of Public Health study, an adult who watches three hours of TV a day is far more likely to be obese than an adult who watches less than one hour. The Nurses’ Health Study, following more than 50,000 middle-age women for six years, found that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and a 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. “The most striking feature of prolonged sitting is the absence of skeletal muscle contractions, particularly in the very large muscles of the lower limbs,” says David W. Dunstan, a professor at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia. “When muscles don’t contract, they require less fuel, and the surplus, in the form of blood sugar, accumulates in the bloodstream, contributing to diabetes risk and other health concerns”.

So, go ahead and watch your favorite show, but keep in mind that a half-hour show can easily turn into a five-hour boob tube session.  If you refuse to nix it all together, try spending commercial time doing jumping jacks or push-ups.

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Fiber and Exercise

Fiber does all sorts of good things for the body, from preventing disease by cleaning out the GI tract to filling us up faster. But in relation to exercise, there is a better method to take when consuming fiber.

Let’s start off by defining fiber. Fiber is the polysaccharide found in plants that is not digested or absorbed in the small intestine. Overall, the daily intake of fiber should be between 25-35g for adults. However, the daily intake of fiber in the United States is about half that amount. Most nutrition experts agree that consuming too much fiber can result in discomfort and a great change in digestion, but overall is beneficial and rarely has adverse effects.

Before we get in to how fiber and exercise work together, it is important to know the two different kinds of fiber that do very different things. There is insoluble fiber and soluble fiber, referring to its solubility in water. Insoluble fiber stays relatively unchanged when coming in contact with fluids. Soluble fiber will dissolve or enlarge in water. This type of fiber binds to fat and cholesterol in the intestinal tract and delays transit time through the stomach and intestines. It is soluble fiber that helps promote satiety to help you feel full longer. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not readily dissolve in water, making it easier to pass through the GI tract intact and quickly, increase in volume and weight as it goes through. This helps to stimulate sliding-like contractions in the colon, helping to alleviate constipation.

The important thing before working out is to fuel up for the energy needed for the activity. Insoluble fiber from whole wheat sources helps give us the healthy carbohydrates our body needs, as well as the energy it needs. This fiber will also help alleviate digestive discomfort and bloat. Soluble fiber is better to take post workout, being that it slows the release of glucose into the system and helps prevent fat storage. When you are consuming soluble fiber post workout, be sure to get it in your diet within an hour of exercising. But when you just finished an extensive workout, a full, hearty meal may not be the best choice. Fiber-rich snacks would be a better grab within that first hour. A medium size apple with peanut butter or some flax and fruit oatmeal will help give you a few grams of soluble fiber along with protein.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, bran, nuts, soy, and vegetables. Opt for sources of whole grain instead of refined flour.
Soluble fiber is found in most fruits, beans, flax, and oats.  What’s important is that you spread your fiber intake out throughout the day instead of trying to get most of it in one meal. For example, you could shoot for roughly 8 grams at every meal and easily get a few grams in with every snack.

 

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Seasonal allergies and natural remedies

Ahhh summer’s finally here…sun is shinin, flowers are bloomin, grills are cookin, and noses are runnin. If you’re like the millions of other allergy sufferers out there, seasonal allergens can put quite the damper on your warm weather. Ready or not, they’re coming. And if you’re like me, meds are the last resort to recovery. Medication can temporarily ease your symptoms, but you eventually pay the price by taking them; figuratively and literally. Instead of helping your immune system build up a tolerance to the allergen, your body instead builds up a resistance to the medication. This means you’ll need larger and larger doses, until eventually your body isn’t even affected by the meds.

The definition of an allergic reaction is “an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance that is not normally harmful. [Allergens] all contain protein antigens that stimulate an antibody response. Histamine and other chemicals are released into the system, causing an inflammatory reaction.” Some people respond to these antigens and some lucky individuals don’t. For those of you noisy noses, we’ve got some at home cures.

You’ll be amazed by some of these natural allergy remedies that are just as good as the unnatural ones that come in a paper box.

Apple Cider Vinegar

What does this magic drink NOT do? From helping with weight loss to claims of killing cancer cells, it’s no surprise apple cider vinegar is known to help fight allergies. It’s said to help reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system. Just be careful, it is acidic and can be rough on your stomach if taken in excess. Add just a teaspoon to eight ounces of water. A little goes a long way. If you simply can’t stand the bitterness, sometimes a little bit of honey helps it to go down better.

Hair Products

Beauty really is pain in this case. Pollen is a sticky little sucker and hair spray, gel, and other hair products attract it. If you must use these products, just be sure to wash your hair before you hit the pillow at night so you don’t transfer the allergen to your pillowcase and bed sheets. Your hair may be an allergy issue, but don’t forget about your four legged friend’s either. Perhaps it’s not your pooch you’re allergic to. If you get sniffly around certain dogs just during the warm seasons, it may not be an allergy to animals, but rather the pollen and other allergens they’re carrying on their fur. Make sure to wipe Fido down when he comes into the house, and especially if he’s sharing the bed with you at night.

Summer hats and sunglasses outside wouldn’t hurt either. Aside from being fashionable and protection from harmful rays, these will help keep the allergens out of your hair and eyes.

Lemon Peel

Citrus Peels (lemon, lime, and orange skins) are natural antihistamines and an anti-inflammatory. It provides allergy relief within minutes and the Vitamin C is an extra boost for your immune system.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint helps to clear up congestion, reduce inflammation, and even prevent infection with antibacterial properties. Plus, your breath gets to smell like Christmas in the middle of July. Echinacea can also be a great go-to drink during allergy season due to its immunity enhancing properties.

Spicy Foods

Speaking of appealing breath, spicy foods like wasabi, curry, hot peppers, and tabasco can help to fight off stuffy symptoms too. When your nose and eyes water after a spicy meal, there’s an actual chemical reaction going on. Capsaicin, an element found in these foods, helps your membranes to produce more mucus, causing natural drainage so those allergens can better find their way out.

Quercetin

A plant-derived compound called quercetin helps to stabilize mast cells, preventing them from releasing histamine. This element is known to contain anti-allergen, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-viral properties. It helps to clear your system of free radicals as well, which can cause cell damage as well as impair your immunity. Certain foods contain high amounts of quercetin, such as citrus fruits, apples, parsley, onions, lettuce, broccoli, and tomatoes.  It’s recommended to consume about 1,ooo mg a day to ward off allergies.

Hopefully in trying some of these natural cures, your allergy symptoms will lessen if not completely go away. Summertime will finally be spent for the things that make it so great, like water slides and barbecues instead of watery eyes and tissues. You couldn’t notice pollen if it hit you straight in the nose.

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In a Gym Jam?

Love hitting the gym for that burst of energy? Having a vast selection of equipment to use in order to get just the workout you need? Waiting in line for a chance to run just fifteen minutes on the treadmill next to the guy who is drenched in that always pleasant body odor? Paying for 24-hour access when you always come at 5:00 in the afternoon?
Maybe it’s time for a different type of gym experience. Boutique gyms may be a better fit than the typical local gym for some. Boutique gyms are more like a studio, smaller and individualized, in order to give a more personal experience. When walking through the doors, expect them to give you a pleasant welcome using your name without having to look at the computer screen first. They are usually for a specific workout, like yoga or kickboxing, instead of a general whatever-you’re-feeling workout. Often there are other perks inside as well, like a spa or juice bar. Boutique gyms generally are by appointment or have set times for classes, making it easier to say no to the inviting couch and yes to the running shoes. And since it is more one-on-one, it may give you that push to tough through that last five minutes.
But before you go sprinting to your nearest boutique gym, consider some of these disadvantages. Boutique gyms may charge more for their use than a commercial gym since they usually have a fraction of the amount of members. If you like the freedom of choice with your workouts, boutique gyms could be too restricting. You won’t be able to go from treadmill, to weights, to basketball court, to indoor pool. If your only time to hit the gym is at two o’clock in the morning, boutique gyms have set times for appointments and classes. And mostly, if you want to hide away from the gym for a week or two, you won’t be the only one who knows.
Big box gyms and boutique gyms both have their pros and cons. It’s just a matter of personal preference when picking out the one that’s right for you.

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Milk vs. Milk

With so many alternatives to milk out there, what are the differences and which ones are the healthiest?

Soymilk, made from water and soybeans, has almost as much protein as regular cow’s milk. However, there have been studies done claiming that excessive soy intake may be linked to digestive issues and reproductive disorders. With 60 calories, 1.5g fat, 6g protein, and 0mg cholesterol, soymilk is the most heart healthy option.

Although more difficult to digest for the 13 percent of Americans with lactose intolerance, regular cow’s milk is the highest in calcium, protein, and potassium. Skim milk, the low-fat version, has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. Normally consisting of rather high amounts of added hormones and antibiotics, there are organic brands that are produced from grass-fed cows only. Skim cow’s milk contains 83 calories, .2g fat (8g in whole milk), 8g protein, and 5mg cholesterol.

Almond milk, perhaps the sweetest tasting of all the milks, holds 60 calories, 2.5g fat, 1g protein, and 0mg cholesterol. Also lactose-free, being that it’s made from almonds, it has a high amount of the skin friendly antioxidant, vitamin E (+cancer fighting). With its rich, nutty flavor, it is a great complement to your morning coffee or cereal. Almond milk is less starchy than soymilk, therefore may be more advantageous for dieters. Both contain your brain boosting omegas and metabolism moving B-vitamins. Soymilk has much higher amounts of protein to build strong muscle, but also generally contains more sugar than almond milk.

~Rice milk contains the highest amount of calories (120 and 2.5 from fat) and about twice as many carbs as skim milk. Coconut milk, one of the newest milk crazes contains 5g of fat, all being from unhealthy saturated fat, so drink in moderation.

All in all, it comes down to personal preference. All “milks” will have different benefits; it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for. Just be sure to stick with the ‘light’ versions.

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Crank Up The Iron

Iron deficiency anemia, the most common type of anemia, can result in symptoms such as fatigue, non-food cravings, impaired growth, cold intolerance, and a greater risk to infection. Many things can cause iron deficiency anemia, including pregnancy, excessive blood loss, disease, and in most cases, one’s diet. Pregnant women and children need the highest amounts of iron in their diets since they are in a state of rapid growth and development. In America, where meat is rather abundant in the diet, iron deficiency anemia only affects about nine percent of adults. Heme iron, which is found in meat, is more bioavailable to the body. Nonheme iron, found in foods such as spinach, is not absorbed by the body as easily.
Here are some ways to help give your body that extra push for absorption:
– When taking vitamins with iron, be sure to take it with meals. Beside the fact that iron can aggravate an empty stomach, food will help your body to absorb the nutrient better.
– Ditch the milk and grab the OJ at mealtime instead. Vitamin D competes with iron for absorption in the body. However, vitamin C enhances iron absorption.
– Don’t take iron pills with coffee or tea. Coffee decreases absorption by 35% and tea decreases absorption by 60%. It’s recommended to wait an hour after taking an iron supplement to consume these beverages.

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Wine…The incredible cure-all?

There is much hype lately about wine and its health benefits. 1-2 glasses of wine a day doing your body more good than harm? It may sound appealing, but new research from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health says otherwise. Those with a BMI of 27.5 or higher (the majority of Americans), increased their risk of heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and stroke by having even a glass.  However, the benefits still hold for those with a BMI under 27.

“You can’t just focus on research that promotes something appealing- like indulging

in wine- and run with it.” “You can however, consider the findings an extra incentive

to stay fit.”- Elizabeth Somer, R.D.

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