Health Benefits and Possible Side Effects of the Paleo Diet

”Paleo DietPhoto by Wavebreakmedia – yayimages.com

In our 
previous article, we have talked about premises of the Paleo Diet and the list of foods that are allowed and prohibited in the diet routine. Here, will shed some light on the benefits and side effects associated with this diet.

The purpose of this article is to give you a comprehensive picture of the Paleo Diet in order to make you aware of all the related aspects if you are going to adopt its diet recommendations.  

Benefits of Adopting Paleo Diet Plans

There is a whole range of health benefits associated with the Paleo diet and endorsed by scientific research.

Ensures Health Body Cells and Functions

Foods prescribed in the Paleo diet have a perfect balance of healthy fats which is rare to be seen in other diet plans. Some diet routines increase the ratio while others cut down the consumption of healthy fats.

Let’s take the example of omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential fats and an integral part of intracellular communication, in the formation of hormones regulating blood clotting. They also play important role in the better function of arteries (contraction and relaxation). Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for balancing the homeostasis associated with inflammation.  

The human body is able to produce other fats but it can’t make omega-3 fatty acids on its own. Therefore, one must get them through foods. Seafood, vegetable oils, leafy vegetables and nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and all of them are essential food items of any Paleo diet chart. Getting ample amount of omega-3 fatty acids helps in improving the overall physiological functions to ensure healthy state of the body.

Accelerates Metabolism, Helps in Maintaining Healthy Weight

The Paleo diet increases the metabolic rate of an individual by simply increasing the muscle content of the body. Lean cuts of all red meats, crammed with proteins, are permissible to eat in the Paleo diet, unlike most of the diet plans.

High intake of protein in your daily diet helps in increasing the muscle mass of your body. Muscle cells are very active and therefore needs more energy to function. By adopting any Paleo diet plan, you will naturally replace fat cells with muscle cells which will help you in maintaining your weight in healthy BMI levels.  

Guarantees Healthy Digestive System

Most of the contemporary food items are loaded with processed sugar and fats which overwhelm our stomach and digestive tract because they are not designed to process such dietary items. Excessive use of these foods usually ends up on the onset of ulcers and leaky gut syndrome.

The Paleo diet prohibits all such manmade foods so that your digestive system can function at its best.  

Ensures Sufficient Consumption of Micronutrients

By allowing leafy and non-starchy vegetables and nuts in its menus, the Paleo diet ensures that you are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy functioning of the body.

Side Effects and Criticism of the Paleo Diet

With all its benefits, the Paleo diet is also criticized due to some of its shortcomings and side effects.

Cutting Down the Entire Range of Dairy Products Leads to Osteoporosis

Many nutritionists heavily criticize the Paleo diet because it excludes all the dairy products from the dietary consumption. Low-fat dairy items are necessary to fulfill the body needs of Vitamin D and calcium. Cutting down the dairy products for a long time can result in the development of osteoporosis.  

Renal Damage

Consuming high amount of proteins and very low carbohydrates has detrimental effects on kidneys.

High Levels of Cholesterol

People who are already susceptible to cholesterol problems and heart diseases can face complications with more consumption of red meat even if it’s lean.

Body Fatigue

Low amount of carbohydrates and sugar in the diet can also lead to body fatigue in some individuals, especially during increased physical activity.  

In order to get the maximum benefits out of a Paleo diet plan, it is important to have it devised with moderate consumptions of every food item. Eating excessive red meat in the name of the Paleo diet will surely get you in trouble.

Similarly, you can have a modified Paleo diet plan by including healthy dairy products in it. Finally, it is necessary to consult your physician or any seasoned nutrition before getting on any diet plan.

Gluten-Laden Foods are Not Bad for Everyone

”Picture of gluden-laden bread"
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In this extremely health conscious world of today, consumption of gluten is another topic on which the scientific community seems to be divided. Most of the health experts believe that gluten is only harmful to people with some specific medical condition. On the other hand, few nutritionists believe that it is better to have gluten-free diet even if you are not suffering from any disease.  

According to a survey from market research company NPD, more than 30 percent of US citizens proactively try to avoid gluten-laden meals. This number is a clear indication that today’s society is also divided between the harms and benefits of gluten. As we all know, wheat is the most regularly consumed gluten-laden grain in the world. So it is important to comprehend the gray area associated with the consumption of gluten, but let’s start by properly understanding what gluten actually is.

Gluten: A Grain-based Protein

The term ‘gluten’ refers to the two proteins abundantly found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Glutenin and gliadin are these two proteins classified by the name gluten. Some studies have concluded that gliadin is the culprit behind the most of the adverse health effects associated with gluten. Gluten gets its name due to the glue-like property of wet dough or flour, which consists of a sticky meshwork formed by the two gluten proteins present in the flour.

Is Gluten all Bad?

No, this is not the case at all. There are some medical and physiological conditions where certain individuals become intolerant to gluten consumption. Here, we will discuss these medical conditions.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a type of autoimmune disorder in which the immune system of the body perceives gluten as foreign bodies (invaders actually). Immune systems are naturally designed to attack all such foreign bodies. So, when white blood cells attack the gluten particles, the gut lining of the digestive tract also get collaterally damaged.

According to the statistics gathered through National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, celiac disease affects around 1 percent of the US population. Damage to the lining of the gut can result in anemia, nutrient deficiency and acute digestive problems. Celiac disease is usually heredity in nature. Due to its subtle symptoms, most of the affected people (around 80%) don’t even know that they are suffering from the disease.  

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is another very prevalent digestive disorder that affects the colon (AKA large intestine) and people who have it often complain of severe abdominal pains and cramps, diarrhea and gas buildup in the digestive tract. IBS is a chronic disease and it can get aggravated by the consumption of gluten-containing foods; however, sometimes IBS gets confused with Celiac disease. If you have symptoms similar to those mentioned above, it is best to discuss with your doctor, who can run the necessary tests to determine which disease it is, usually by the process of elimination. 

Wheat Allergy

Some people suffer from a rare condition of wheat allergy where their digestive system gets worked up after the consumption of gluten-rich meals.

So there are instances where gluten-containing foods can become a source of trouble for people. To make sure that gluten is not inflicting its detrimental effects on your health, you can have yourself tested for gluten intolerance.  

Blood tests and tissue biopsies are usually conducted to make ascertain that whether one is suffering from celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

However, if you don’t have the condition of gluten intolerance then there is no harm in consuming this composite of proteins. In fact, actively depriving yourself of gluten-containing foods can have some adverse consequences as well.  

According to the research study put forward in this year’s session of American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, making your diet free of gluten can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This research was observational and studied the impact of low-gluten and gluten-free diet on more than 100,000 participants. The same observational study also concludes that people eating a normal amount of gluten are 13 percent less likely to get diabetes.

Gluten Free Breakfast
Gluten-Free Foods

If you are concerned about eating foods that contain gluten, then concentrating on these foods may be a benefit.

Final Verdict

If you have read the whole article then it might have become very easy for you to take the decision regarding gluten. To put it in a more categorical manner, gluten is inherently not harmful to human consumption except in certain medical conditions. Therefore, people who avoid gluten-containing foods for no reason don’t have to do it because it is totally healthy to consume gluten in normal, healthy diets.  

An Impartial Analysis of Red Meat Consumption

From the time immemorial, humans have considered livestock as their premium source of food and it is common knowledge that meat in all its various forms is consumed all around the world.

According to a statistical report published by the National Chicken Council, the average person in the US has feasted on around 107 pounds of red meat in the year 2016. Comparing this amount of consumption from the past years, one finds out that US citizens are eating fewer amounts of meat than what they were eating five years ago. In this decade in the United States alone, the consumption of red meat has been reduced by 10 pounds per capita. 

Vegetarians – Take Note

This reduction in red meat consumption has been chiefly attributed to recent scientific studies which indicated that regular intake of mammalian food is the root cause of many serious diseases and health complications. There is no doubt about the harms of red meat, but completely preventing yourself from consuming it is not advisable either.

In this article, we will have a discussion on red meat so that you can decide what your limit of consumption should be.

What is Red Meat?

All the meat that comes from mammalian livestock (mammals) is considered red meat. Beef, pork, mutton, lamb, veal and goat are the general red meats consumed by the human population. Mammalian meat appears red as compared to the white meat (fish and poultry) due to the large value of myoglobin present in it.

Risks Associated with High Consumption of Red Meat

Several health risks have already been noted by food scientists on the consumption of red meat. It is imperative to know the downsides of eating too much meat in order to lead a healthy life.  

Processed Red Meat Can be Carcinogenic

The first and foremost health risk associated with high intake of mammalian meat is the increased chances of acquiring cancer. According to a report from the World Health Organization, processed red meat might contain traces of carcinogens.  High-temperature treatment of the red meat also results in the production of carcinogenic hydrocarbons. WHO validates these findings with the help of a control test that concluded the daily consumption of processed red meat (beef and pork were the meats that were used in the test) can increase the risk of developing cancer in the colon or rectum by 18%. 

Heart Diseases

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600,000 people die of heart-related diseases in the US. High levels of bad fats or cholesterol in daily diet lead to cardiovascular diseases. Red meats are rich in cholesterol and saturated fat and its high consumption on regular basis can lead to major health problems. High blood pressure in case of different heart-related complications can also result in kidney failure.

Benefits of Red Meat

Even with these serious consequences, the inclusion of red meat in your daily diet in a regulated amount is necessary for the healthy functioning of the body.

Red Meat is Rich in Proteins

Red meat is one of the richest sources of the most sought-after macronutrient (meaning that the body needs large amounts of it) which is  protein and consequently, eating healthy cooked meat as part of your diet can help you maintain strong muscle development.  Protein-rich food is an important building block of the bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Proteins present in red meat are also involved in vital physiological reactions to the body; such as making enzymes and hormones.  Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” 

In addition, mammalian foods contain iron, zinc and B vitamins – essential nutrients that the body needs.

Red Meat Can Cure Anemia

Red meat also contains ample amounts of iron, which can reduce the risk of iron deficiency in an individual. It is worth mentioning that more than one billion people all around the world are suffering from iron deficiency anemia. Red meat contains some other healthy micronutrients as well.

Preparing Meat for Diner
Consumption in moderation is the key!

So, it’s all about moderation, due to the risks and benefits associated with red meat. Even eating some fast food, although not the healthiest choice, especially if you are trying to lose weight, is not out of the question, as long as you don’t overdo it!  And it is also advisable to speak to your medical professional about how much red meat is considered moderation for your particular metabolism, as well moderating the consumption of fast food. 

In the interim, one guideline you can follow is a recommendation from the American Institute of Cancer Research that, in general, an individual should not eat more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat per week.

Good Coffee Bad Coffee: A Guide on Coffee Consumption

Coffee Beans
The Good and Bad of Coffee

Is coffee good or bad for human health? The answer depends upon your physical and mental condition and which advantage or disadvantage is of more concern to you. Some people drink coffee as a ‘wake me up’, but there is so much more to this stimulating (pun intended) drink besides caffeine.

The good and bad of coffee has been in debate for years and a highly polarized opinion has been set for this psychoactive drink. People love or they hate coffee. Very few people are out there who are not obsessed with coffee in either way. In the past, people advocate and censure coffee consumption on personal experience and merely made up facts.  

However, in recent few decades, researchers have been trying to find out the good and bad aspects of coffee under the light of scientific studies. In this article, we try to dissect the use of coffee in the same context. It is important to ascertain both the good and bad aspects of coffee drinking, because, as of the latest survey conducted in the beginning of the year, around 44% American consumers stated that they drink two to three cups of coffee per day.

Good Coffee

Let’s find out some of the benefits that can be availed by consuming coffee.

A Catalyst for Weight Loss

According to the scientifically obtained nutritional chart of coffee, coffee is rich in the micronutrients of potassium and magnesium. Ample amount of these minerals in the body regulates blood sugar level by optimizing the function of insulin which also helps in lowering the cravings for starchy and sugary foods. With regulation of insulin and blood glucose levels, there are also reduced chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Reducing the Risk of Developing Cancerous Tumors

According to a research study that analyzed the effects of coffee consumption on more than 40,000 people, drinking coffee on a regular basis can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer and endometrial cancer by 20% and 25% respectively.

Another research study indicates that increased caffeine intake in the form of coffee can reduce the danger of developing squamous cell skin cancer.

Beneficial for the Elderly

Keeping the brain’s neuron’s synapses healthy is a major factor in maintaining effective cognitive performance, as well as maintaining the body’s nervous system. There are conditions one can do to help keep the brain’s neuron’s healthy. Some are natural. Some are voluntary, but all have shown signs of success as per numerous scientific reports.

Then there is another neurodegenerative factor that can affect the brain’s health and that is oxidative stress. A study conducted by Harvard University reports that regular consumption of coffee is linked to the reduced chances of developing Parkinson’s disease by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation of the neurons in the brain. A close relative of cognitive neurodegeneration from Parkinson’s is dementia and more specifically, Alzheimer’s disease. 

Some neurons are more vulnerable to oxidative stress than others and these neurons are usually the first to exhibit cell death during the aging process. Analogous to an apple that turns color when exposed to air, the cells in our body can eventually “rust” as we breathe. This is the process of oxidative stress and is caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage or “oxidize” cells throughout the body and there are many ways to counter the existence of these precarious molecules, mainly through the use of antioxidants, and coffee has been found to have a high level of antioxidants.

Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale, the Lead Scientist in the Laboratory of Neuroscience in Boston has stated: “Coffee is perhaps best known as a source of the stimulant caffeine. However, coffee also contains high levels of polyphenols and consuming phenol-rich foods can have direct effects on the brain and also reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.”Glutathione-3D Illustration

Artists rendition (above) of a redox-active sulfur atom (yellow circle) that provides antioxidant activity, while the red, blue, white and dark grey circles represent oxygen.

Conclusion: Drinking coffee to lower oxidative stress is a major benefit towards cognitive health.

 

Bad coffee

Of course, there is a negative side to the consumption of coffee. Let’s take a look at what the effects are. 

It can result in insomnia and restiveness

An excessive amount of coffee can produce the psychological effects that might lead to agitation and sleep deprivation. Some people are inherently sensitive to the psychoactive substance present in coffee, called caffeine.

Pregnancy complications

According to a research paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, coffee can induce problems for developing fetus in a pregnant mother. Coffee that reaches the fetus through placenta can have adverse effects on the undeveloped metabolism of the unborn child.

Addictive tendencies

According to a research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who regularly consume around 350 milligrams of caffeine exhibit the signs and symptoms associated with drugs notorious for substance abuse. For instance, they possess a never-ending desire for coffee and experience the signs of withdrawals when they try to limit its consumption.

Digestive acidity and ulcers

There are various acids present in coffee beans. With excessive regular consumption, they can increase the acidity in the digestive system and can also damage the internal lining of the stomach and small intestine that leads to the ulcer.

People who are suffering from high cholesterol are advised to consume filtered coffee. Filtered coffee is the one with beans that are free of most of the LDL in it.

What path should be taken?

From the above discussion, one can figure out that the goodness or badness of coffee actually boils down to the degree of its consumption. Consuming coffee in moderation is the way forward. If you are drinking more than 1-4 cups in a day then there is a strong probability that you are drinking good coffee. However, if you finish a cup of coffee every hour then it is more likely that you are consuming the bad one.  

Be mindful of your daily consumption, especially if you are pregnant. But looking at the big picture, it is the opinion of this author that the good coffee outweighs the negative potential of bad coffee.

Still not sure, speak to your nutritionist or medical professional who know you and can advise you more thoroughly than any Internat article can do.

What are free radicals and how to counter them with antioxidants?

Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron
Chemical Illustration of an atom with a missing electron, causing it to become a free radical

Many of us have often heard about the negative effects of free radicals on human health. However, very few of us know what free radicals are and how they work against the human body to inflict harm.

In this informational piece, we will discuss how free radicals affect our health and how we can alleviate their harmful effects with the help of antioxidants.

What are free radicals?

Free radical is the name given to any molecule, atom or ion that possesses an unpaired electron. Electrons, when not paired in their atomic orbits are highly unstable and reactive. To achieve stability, free radicals try to pair their unpaired electron through the process of oxidation.

In oxidation, free radicals try to attract or rather steal electrons from other stable atoms and molecules. If they are successful in this attempt, it sets off an oxidative chain reaction which can affect hundreds of millions of molecules and atoms.

Let’s see how free radicals operate in the environment of the human body.

Reactions of free radicals in our body

When free radicals are formed or enter into our body, they try to get electrons from different molecules, be it proteins, fats, cell membranes or genetic molecules; in other words, they try to steal electrons from the atoms of the nutrients that work to keep us healthy. The removal of an electron from any such molecule within the body changes its basic structure and triggers an oxidative chain reaction. This phenomenon caused by free radicals is also known as the oxidative stress.

What is the free radical theory of aging?

According to the free radical theory of aging, organisms age because their biological cells accumulates oxidative damage of free radicals over time. Even though the debate on the authenticity of this theory is still ongoing,  research studies have agreed on the fact that the oxidative stress can lead to much degeneration. For instance arthritis, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and many other health complications can be caused by the prevalence of free radicals.

According to the free radical theory of aging, if oxidative destruction caused by free radicals can be capped, then it can provide longevity to any living being.

Have we found the fountain of youth?  Most likely not, but have we found a way to keep us healthy to the point that we may live longer? Absolutely.

Sources of Free Radicals

To counter the effects of free radicals, it is imperative to know the sources of free radicals. Either they are produced within the body or we get exposed to them from external sources. Whatever the case, knowing where they come from, holds the key to getting rid of them.

Internal sources of free radicals

  • The human body needs the energy to survive and grow. This energy comes from breaking down the food that we eat into ATP molecules with the help of oxygen. This chemical reaction also produces free radicals as a byproduct.
  • Apart from metabolic byproduct, free radicals are also produced when the body undergoes severe stress levels or inflammation.

External sources of free radicals

There are lots of harmful environmental resources that can expose the human body to free radicals.

  • Industrial pollution (including chemicals and smoke)
  • Radiation
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic Metals
  • Cigarette Smoke

It is practically impossible to get rid of external free radicals altogether since they are all around us, in the air we breathe and in the food and water we consume. The best practice is to try and minimize their levels in your body.

How to do this? Read on for more information.

Antioxidants: Crusaders against free radicals

As the name suggests, antioxidants are substances that inhibit the process of oxidation. Introducing antioxidants in the body means that you can stop the process of oxidative stress triggered by free radicals.

Antioxidants usually stop free radicals from inflicting damage to biological molecules by donating the electron they are looking for.

Like free radicals, some antioxidants are produced within the body, while others can be consumed through dietary products and supplements. Usually, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of some very effective antioxidants.

There are three main antioxidants that are synthesized in different organs of the body and have different reactions.

  • Glutathione
  • Uric acid
  • Ubiquinol

There are several other antioxidants, which although not as vital as the above three, are also necessary for combating the negative effects of free radicals.

  • Lycopene
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Anthocyanins
  • Selenium
  • Polyphenols
  • Curcuminoids

What Foods Contain the Highest Amounts of Antioxidants?

Coffee has been known to contain high levels of antioxidants. As far as food is concerned, you can’t go wrong with any types of fruits and vegetables, but the ones with the highest amounts of antioxidants are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Artichokes
  • Elderberries
  • Kidney beans
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cilantro (Chinese parsley)

Making Sense of it All

In general, you can make sure that your body has access to antioxidants by adjusting your dietary habits around fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods are one of the richest sources of micronutrients and antioxidants, and both of these substances are necessary to rid the body of free radicals.

Bottom Line: Keep free-radicals at bay by consuming foods and drinks rich in antioxidants daily.

 

Why are Whole Grains Preferred Over Refined Ones?

Man Eating Biscut
Maintain a healthier lifestyle by being vigilant as to what are processed foods and what is not.

With a prevalence of obesity in this country, where complications of diabetes and other health ailments occur as a result, people look for ways to control their dietary habits. People are more inclined to now focus on dietary items that are raw and less refined. Among these natural healthy food options, whole grain top the list in terms of popularity. However, many experts suggest that there is still a long way to go.

A worrying statistic indicates that nearly 60% of calorie consumption is from ultra-processed food; that is, extra ingredients that are placed into the food in order to make it taste better and sometimes “to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product,” as per a study by Carlos Augusto Monteiro, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.  These foods contain high amounts of sugars, saturated fat and sodium, which can present such medical dangers as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

Health risks of refined grain

Wheat Grain in a FieldMany of us have become overly reliant on ready-made food items, such as products that are processed with refined wheat, rice and barley. Flour, for example, is crushed into fine powders, which then form the basis for many types of bread and a large variety of processed foods, from cereals, crackers and pizza dough to cookies and cakes.

Apart from having less nutritional value, refined grains also pose significant health risks to the people consuming them on a daily basis.

Following is a list of just some of the health hazards that can be acquired when eating refined products.

Accumulation of abdominal fat leading to heart problems

Refined grain, as the main source of getting nutritional values in your diet, accumulates layers of adipose tissues (fat) around your organs. It results into inflated waste along with complications of heart health.

Development of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the condition in which artery walls get thickened. Thick arteries can result into hypertension and in worse conditions culminates into heart attacks. It has been found out that consumption of refined grains for a long time can lead to this ailment. 

Diabetic conditions

Due to its lack of fiber, minerals and other micronutrients, refined grains can make the human body more vulnerable in acquiring diabetes, especially in people with a genetic history of the disease.

How Do We Know Which Foods are Ultra-Processed?

Boxes_of_cereal_in_a_supermarket
The decision to buy non-processed foods can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for
Whole Grain Stamp
Foods with the whole grain stamp label on its packaging indicate that the bran, germ and endosperm are still present in the grain.

Read the label. If it says the food contains artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, there is not much doubt they are processed with ingredients that can be harmful to your health.

Conversely, foods that still contain the bran, germ and endosperm, and subsequently, the nutrients that accompany them will have a label on its packaging indicating that the food within contains whole grains.

Those foods that have been processed organically will have a clear label indicating this.

What are whole grains?

Simply put, whole grains are natural grains present in their untreated form. They are edible plant seeds usually known as the term ‘kernel’. The grain kernel consists of three distinctive edible parts that are enclosed in a shell, a natural protection for grains from excessive sunlight, insects and crop diseases.  Let’s break down the three individual parts of whole grains to understand the nutrients within them.

Bran

Bran is the outermost layer of kernel consisting of many layers.
Nutritional Benefit: It is full of fibers, vitamins B and vital antioxidants.

Germ

Germ is the nucleus of the kernel and acts as the plant’s embryo.  Nutritional Benefit: Germ of the whole grain is loaded with proteins, healthy fats and micronutrients in the form of minerals and vitamins.

Endosperm

Endosperm is the area of kernel surrounding the germ. It provides the plant’s energy through its abundance of nutrients.
Nutritional Benefit: Endosperm contains almost all of the carbohydrates of the kernel, with a portion of proteins and some micronutrients.

Whole grain is more nutritious because the germ and bran, which is part of the kernel are not destroyed and excluded in the process refinement. To get yourself more acquainted with the usefulness of whole grains, the following are some of its advantages:

Improved digestion

We all know that how much of our adult population is bugged with digestive issues. The rich fiber content present in whole grains improves the bowel movement which means you don’t have to rely on laxatives. The presence of lactic acid in whole grains helps the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine. Presence of good bacteria in the intestine helps in rapid nutrient absorptions and strengthened immune system.

Instills the feeling of satiation

Whole grains are famous to keep your appetite low with their satiating effect. It takes longer for the digestive system to digest whole grains which means your brain will not signal you for untimely eating. This innate quality of whole grain can help people who are striving to lose weight.  

Blood sugar regulator

Whole grain helps in controlling the spiked up levels of blood sugar. With its low glycemic index as compared to refined grains, less glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, helping in maintaining the blood glucose levels.

Whole grains are also proved to be beneficial in reducing the inflammation within in the body. Medical sciences tell us that inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases. Antioxidants present in whole grains can also reduce the risk of different types of cancers. In general, increasing the quantity of whole grain in our daily diet can ensure a healthy lifestyle.

A Perfect Breakfast for Nutritional Health

To begin, let’s start with of two slices of 100% whole wheat toast. This bread is loaded with bran, germ and endosperm. The bran provides B vitamins, as well as iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and antioxidants, which keeps unwanted free radicals at bay. They destroy your body’s healthy cells, so free radicals are substances that your body can definitely do without.  As  free radicals increase in your system, you increase the risk of acquiring a variety of different diseases, including cancer. In short, antioxidants fight these free radicals to keep your body healthy. In general, we can say that they are a great and needed requirement in keeping your immune system strong.

For a spread, let’s not add butter, margarine or cream cheese. Instead, how about some dark chocolate hummus! Yes, dark chocolate hummus. It is said that middle-eastern food contains some of the healthiest foods and hummus is one of the best middle-eastern foods you can consume.

Can’t Go Wrong with Hummus

Chic Peas
Chic Peas contain nutrients that help in keeping your bones, muscles, skin and heart healthy.

Hummus is made up of chickpeas, which is rich in many nutrients; such as, iron, which keeps your blood healthy. If you don’t have enough of this nutrient, then your body won’t be able to create the healthy red blood cells it needs. Folate decreases the risk of birth defects and helps to reduce depression. Phosphorus keeps your bones strong and improves digestion.

Chickpeas also contain B vitamins, together, they are known as the Vitamin B Complex, which allows us to stay energized, promotes healthy skin and helps avoid memory loss. Then there is protein, an ingredient that most of us are familiar with. It’s called a macronutrient – a requirement that our body stores a large amount of it. Protein also assists in maintaining strong bones and builds muscle. It is also a building block for our skin and blood. Hummus also contains fiber, a super nutrient for your digestive system and helps to lower cholesterol levels.

Dark Chocolate – A Chocolate Lover’s Health Dream!

Add dark chocolate as a bread spread (you can get hummus dark chocolate at a variety of supermarket chain stores). The seeds from the cocoa tree are extremely rich in antioxidants. Dark chocolate, called the antioxidant super food is also beneficial for blood pressure, the heart and helps towards cancer prevention. And believe it or not, dark chocolate is actually good for your oral health!

Beets Addition

If all these healthy nutrients and antioxidants are not enough to put on your bread, how about adding some beet and roasted garlic dip to your hummus sandwich?  Beets supply vitamin C, fiber and potassium to your body and garlic is a great addition for your overall health. Just to name a few benefits, garlic is considered a heart healthy food as it helps to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And garlic also contains antioxidants.

Whole wheat bread with dark chocolate hummus, beets and garlic! Now this is what I call a healthy sandwich and it is not even the main course!

An Egg Omelet a Day!

Egg Yolk with Egg White on sandwich
The common egg contains many nutrients

Now, to the entree of breakfast health. Do you like omelets? Most omelets contain some amount of eggs as one of their major ingredients, so let’s delve into the benefits of eating eggs. In a nutshell, eggs increase the good cholesterol (HDL), they reduce the risk of type 2 Diabetes, reduces blood pressure and helps to maintain good eye health, but the bulk of the nutrition is in the egg whites, which contain protein, sodiumcalciummagnesiumphosphorus and potassium. Consumption of potassium is very good for the heart and blood pressure, as well as helps relieve anxiety.

Let’s not stop with just an egg omelet. How about one rich in healthy vegetables; such as spinach? Spinach contains generous amounts of antioxidants. It also contains vitamins A, another freeradical fighter, but spinach also plays an important role in the maintenance of the heart, lungs and kidneys. Spinach has vitamin B2 and vitamin C, rich in antioxidants and helps to strengthen the immune system, but most importantly, it also contains vitamin C, which is a super nutrient for bone health. The vitamin K* in spinach contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.

Add an assortment of mushrooms, which decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Kale – A Super Veggie

SJM Graphicstock 111117 Kale
baby kale salad leaves

Saving the best breakfast ingredient for last – kale (and doesn’t only have to be for breakfast). A super veggie that contains a huge amount of vitamin A, which maintains healthy vision, neurological functionality, healthy skin and a ton of antioxidants. Kalea also contains vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium and magnesium. We have already spoken about the benefits of vitamin C. Vitamin B6 helps maintain a healthy nervous system. Manganese supports bone health and helps prevent Osteoporosis. Calcium, also a great bone benefactor and studies have shown that most people do not get enough of. Copper is a brain stimulant and helps cure Arthritis. Magnesium assists in the prevention of migraine headaches and is also an anxiety reducer.

Now let’s discuss vitamin K. Studies have shown that this nutrient helps brain functions, bone health, assists in the reduction of blood pressure and is excellent in preventing blood clotting. Don’t leave your home without it!

Add some potatoes and a little bit of tasty melted cheese. Most cheeses contain an assortment of nutrients; such as calcium. Cheeses also contain protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12.

To wash it down, gobble down some 100% fresh squeezed orange juice. I like it with pulp. When the pulp is there, you know you are getting it fresh squeezed. You will benefit from high levels of vitamin C.

* Those who are taking blood thinners or other medications might want to consult with a doctor prior to consuming foods that contain vitamin K.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Blueberries over plate of cottage cheese
Fruits such as blueberries are great antioxidant foods

A side dish of your favorite fruits is highly recommended. How about some blueberries, which supports the skin, heart, fights cancer and provides more antioxidants to your body; strawberries, another cancer fighter, supports the eyes and regulates blood pressure; grapes, the fiber and potassium support your heart; and cantaloupe, which contains potassium, vitamins B1, B3, B6, and folate, as well as vitamin K, magnesium, and fiber. Place it over cottage cheese for a healthy antioxidant super fruit combination. Yummy.

Coffee – The Most Misunderstood Drink for Your Health

HotcCoffee on a plate
Yes, coffee can keep you awake – and that’s a good thing, but coffee also protects against diseases.

Your breakfast would not be complete without brewing a nice hot cup of coffee. Yes, coffee, one of the most misunderstood drinks when it comes to the subject of health.

Just for starters, coffee can help reduce the potential of acquiring dementia and subsequently, Alzheimer’s Disease. It also protects against Parkinson’s Disease – the second most common neurodegenerative disease and its caffeine inducer also assists in strengthening the liver. Coffee is a benefactor in lowering the risk of Type II Diabetes. If that’s not enough to get your blood warming for coffee, it helps to burn fat and increases energy levels, due to the caffeine. Some of coffee’s nutrients are Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin (B3).

But coffee is not without some downfalls; however, we believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

While your heart and bones are loving every minute of your nutritious breakfast, there is one more healthy liquid that you should drink besides juice and coffee. And that is the most natural ingredient your body will ever need. H20, otherwise, known as water! Drink an abundance of water, not just at breakfast time, but throughout the day. You can’t go wrong with water and you can’t go without it!

Whether you are cooking breakfast in your own kitchen or going to the local diner or restaurant, be sure to order these antioxidant fighters of diseases and have peace of mind that the vitamins and nutrients in a complete breakfast like this will be the start of a great day!

Risks of Excessive Consumption of Refined Sugar

Refined sugar is the bad constituent of our daily diet. This is a fact, established by numerous studies. Scientists have extensively researched on the matter and found out that processed sugar is linked to rapid aging, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and even some strains of cancer. Regardless of its adverse effects for health, sugar has been an important part of many dishes and meals all around the globe.  

Due to its widespread use, health experts are divided into two groups regarding the consumption of sugar. Some of them are calling to cut the amount of recommended sugar intake while few are of the opinion that excluding sugar completely out of diet is necessary to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  

What is Refined/Processed Sugar?

Processed sugar is usually extracted from sugar cane. Sugar canes are rich in sucrose, which is a combination of two primary carbohydrates, namely glucose and fructose. Raw sugar cane syrup was boiled, cooled and solidified in the form of sugar crystals. This refined and processed crystalline sugar is used as an added ingredient in numerous foods and drinks.

Natural Sugars are not that Harmful

Glucose, lactose and fructose are considered natural sugars because they are found in fruits and certain vegetables. They are considered more suitable to consume than the processed crystalline sugar.

Modern Dietary Lifestyle is Crammed With Added Sugar

Sugar has earned bad reputation due to its excessive use in popular contemporary foods and drinks. Soft drinks, chocolates, baked desserts and many other dietary items contain tons of sugar. It is a wide known fact that a glass of fizzy drink have up to 7 tablespoon of processed sugar and a standard-size chocolate bar contains around 6 tablespoon of added sugar. Both of these items are equally popular in every age group and demographic all around the world.  

Grave Health Risks of Excessive Sugar Consumption

There are two major health concerns that have their roots in the excessive use of refined sugar.

Cardiovascular Diseases

There is a study published in the health journal which concluded that added sugar probable make your body more prone to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases than dietary sodium found in table salt. It has been measured that consuming 24-ounce of fizzy drink can increase blood pressure and heart rate up to 15/9 mm Hg and 9 bpm respectively.

It is worth mentioning that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of premature deaths in the developed world. According to the statistics provided by CDC, hypertension is one of the primary contributing causes of more than 360000 deaths in the US.

Obesity

Obesity itself is a basis of many life threatening diseases. Nearly one-third of American population is facing the problem of obesity and ingesting too much sugar is the one of the reasons. According to a published study, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is causing weight gain in children and adults alike.

Sugar Consumption has Transformed Into Sugar Addiction

According to one study, the consumption of diets, with rich content of sugar, showed signs of craving and withdrawals in rats when their sugar intake was reduced. Conclusion of this research highlights the fact that sugar works in the same manner as drugs in reward pathways of mammals’ nervous system.

Statistics from CDC points towards the alarming situation of excessive use of sugar in the US. Refined sugar is 13% of total daily calorie intake of American adults. Cutting the entire consumption of sugar is neither advisable nor possible. However, reducing it to the possible minimum levels and replacing the refined sugar with natural options can prove to be good for healthier life. Following are some of the organic substitutes for refined sugar that you can add in your daily diet.

Honey

Raw, unprocessed honey is best to use for its sweetness, antioxidants and nutrients. Honey can be added in tea instead of sugar and coffees. There are many dessert recipes that can be made with honey and without using processed sugar.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut has many health benefits. Its water and milk has been used for years due to their healthy properties. Coconut is also used to made sugars with low glycemic index and high mineral content. It can also used instead of refined sugar in the making of different desserts.  

Foods to Improve your Daily Diet for Better Hair Health

Photo of Hair and Brush
Eating the right foods can be very helpful in maintaining good hair

Many of us take our hair for granted when it comes to improving its health. Virtually all of us have seen commercials advertising shampoos and conditioners, which can make a difference, but there are many other ways to ensure great health of your hair. Since  there are around 150,000 hair follicles on the human scalp and you should treat them as part of the body for better care.

A healthy diet is one sure way to keep your hair in good standing. According to dermatology experts, having a protein and iron enriched diet can provide your hair with the necessary boosts for healthy growth. In this article, we will discuss some different food items that should be included in your diet for better hair health. Making these foods a permanent part of your diet routine can also prevent non-inherited baldness and premature graying.

Red Meat (Lean)

According to researches, iron deficiency can lead to hair loss and eventually to baldness. Some examples are: top sirloin, top loin roast and pork tenderloin. Notice how the names of meats that are lean have an ‘oin’ associated with their name. Choose these cuts in order to get the leaner options. You may also consider bottom round steaks, which is the “round”, rear leg of the cow.  Treating iron and protein deficiency with the consumption of this type of meat in your daily diet will help your hair to regrow.

Almond Butter

Almond butter is full of different beneficial macro and micro nutrients. Proteins, good fats and vitamin E are the main constituents of almond butter. Studies have proven that Vitamin E gives hair a sheen look and boosts volume.

Eggs

Adding eggs in your daily diet is the most economical way of getting an adequate amount of biotin. Biotin is a vitamin B derivative that assists hair growth and boosts scalp health. A deficiency of biotin can cause brittleness of hair, which ultimately leads to hair loss.

Green Veggies

It is well known that vegetables are high in nutrients for many parts of your body and there are many different green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and broccoli that will help your hair as well. These vegetables are full of vitamin A and C, which help in producing sebum from sebaceous glands on the scalp. This acts as a natural hair conditioner, so keep it going with the veggies. Nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is full of proteins and vitamin B5, and both have proven health benefits for hair. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, improves blood flow to the scalp which is necessary for better hair growth.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are filled with beta-carotene which is then converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is a natural protector against dry skin and hair. Dry skin condition is a major cause of dandruff. Apart from carrots, kale and squashes, sweet potatoes also contain beta-carotene. If you want to provide your hair with a natural sheen, add these organic food items into your diet.

Lentils   

Lentils are packed with iron, zinc, protein, biotin and folic acid. Folic acid provides strength to red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for providing hair and skin with oxygen, which improves their health.

Barley

Barley is a good source of Vitamin E. This vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the skin and scalp from the damaging effects of UV light. The sun damage on the scalp can lead to thinning of hair, and if not treated on time, can also lead to baldness. Making barley part of your dietary routine can provide you with sufficient amounts of vitamin E.

Fish

Physiological inflammations are not good for the human health due to many reasons and hair shedding is one of them. Therefore, adding foods in your diet that are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients can help you maintain the health of your hair. Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. They are anti-inflammatory and help you to restore hair health.

Salmon’s efficient insulin processing mechanism will also prevent balding and hair loss by reducing the insulin resistance in the body.

Guava

Taking sufficient amounts of vitamin C in your daily diet can prevent thinning hair. A research conducted in this domain noted that taking oral supplements of vitamin C encouraged significant hair growth in women who were suffering from the issue of thinning hair. Instead of taking extra supplements, you can consume sufficient amounts of vitamin C by adding guavas in your daily diet.  

Oysters

Oysters make great meals. Increase their servings in your meals since they are considered to be a rich source of zinc. Zinc is an important mineral nutrient that ensures healthy skin, nails and hair. Consuming diets rich in zinc help hair growth and reduce hair loss.

 

Why One Should Adopt Organic Eating Practices

Organic CarrotsIn the past few centuries, starting with the Industrial Revolutions, automation has found its way into just every type of lifestyle. In contrast to the earlier way of living, We have now accepted routines that can be unhealthy and dangerous for us personally and also for our planet. Included in this narrative is the making of our food. From vegetables to chicken to meat, automation and processed foods are commonplace. But there is an alternative. This post discusses eating organic food and why you should adopt to these practices.

What are organic foods?

Organic eating is the revival of dietary practices that don’t contain any tinge of industrial synthesis. Quite simply, it is food processed naturally. The purpose of adopting an organic routine is to provide us with a more healthy alternative and a better environment for us to live in. 

Properties of an organic food

For any food to be organic, there are several requirements that should be fulfilled:

  • It is necessary for organic crops to be grown without the use of any artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Even sewer sludge which is a byproduct of sewage treatment can’t be used to facilitate the growth of organic crops.
  • Any crop or livestock that is genetically modified with the help of biotechnology can’t be considered organic.
  • Crops and livestock treated with growth hormones to get rapid yields can’t be used to make organic food items.
  • Preserving and protecting crops from invasive pests through food irradiation also exclude them from the list of organic foods.
  • Using synthetic and artificial flavors and additives also make foods items ‘inorganic’.

Health benefits of organic food

There are several scientifically tested benefits of organic food items. Not the least of which are healthier for our bodies. But obtaining these natureal food items comes with a price (pun intended); that is, they are about 30% more expensive then the processed foods we are so used to purchasing. Enter the common expression – You get what you pay for!

Let’s take a closer look to see how beneficial organic eating is and then you can make the decision as to whether they are worth the price!

Organic foods are more enriched with micronutrients

Studies have confirmed that organic food contains more micronutrients and antioxidants. It has been estimated that organic food can have up to 60% increased oxidant levels. Since organic foods don’t rely on synthetic external sources of protection, i.e., pesticide sprays and food irradiation. Therefore, they produce chemicals for protection on their own. Majority of these produced chemicals are antioxidants.

Antioxidants are molecules that alleviate the effects of free radicals and prevent cell damage in the human body. Getting the sufficient supply of antioxidants in your daily diet through organic food items helps you to obtain a disease-free healthy life.

Organic foods also contain more micronutrients than regular dietary items. If you are consuming organic items in your diet then you will not need extra supplements of minerals and vitamins.

Organic foods don’t have high levels of nitrate

Regular crops and foods contain high level of nitrates because they are grown with the assistance of synthetic fertilizers. Organic vegetables and fruits, on the other hand, are grown with the help of natural fertilizers which means nitrate content in these products is low.  

High level of nitrates in food is linked to cause different cancers. It also causes newborn problem called methemoglobinemia which affects body’s ability to carry oxygen.

Organic foods contain good fats

More than 50 research studies conclude that organic meat contain more of omega-3 fatty acids and contain less saturated fats than regular meat. Saturated fats are considered bad and associated with various cardiovascular problems. While omega-3 fatty acids belongs to the family of polyunsaturated fat which is considered as good fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are studied for several health benefits including:

  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Reducing risk of cancers
  • Helps in alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Prevents asthma in children and young adults

Organic milk and dietary products are also reported to have more omega-3 fatty acids.

There is another reason to prefer organic meat over regular meat. Regular livestock are injected with antibiotics for fast growth. Consuming the meat containing excessive amount of antibiotics causes our immune system to go weak.  

Apart from its health benefits, let’s look into some miscellaneous benefits of organic foods.

Organic foods taste better

It is a widespread perception that organic fruits and vegetables taste better than the regular ones. Since most of these fruits and vegetables are sold fresh without adding any preservative. It helps them to carry their natural taste and texture.

Organic practices ensure a better environment

Producing organic fruits, vegetables and livestock exclude all those practices that are harmful for our ecosystem. With organic eating, you are not only ensuring the optimal level of your own health, but you are contributing to secure a healthier ecosystem.

There are ways to determine if foods are prepossessed, also called refined or not and that is by simply reading the labels. For organic foods, they are usually and proudly displayed on the packaging.