26 Health and Nutrition Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based

26 Health and Nutrition Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to health and nutrition.

People, even qualified experts, often seem to have the exact opposite opinions.

However, despite all the disagreements, there are a few things that are well supported by research.

Here are 27 health and nutrition tips that are actually based on good science.

1. Don’t Drink Sugar Calories

Sugary drinks are the most fattening things you can put into your body.

This is because liquid sugar calories don’t get registered by the brain in the same way as calories from solid foods (1).

For this reason, when you drink soda, you end up eating more total calories (2, 3).

Sugary drinks are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and all sorts of health problems (4, 5, 6, 7).

Keep in mind that fruit juices are almost as bad as soda in this regard. They contain just as much sugar, and the small amounts of antioxidants do NOT negate the harmful effects of the sugar (8).

Eat Your Calories, Don’t Drink Them

Calories that sneak in through beverages are usually forgotten. This is especially true when we are talking about alcoholic or sugary drinks, including fruit juices and soda. These drinks can be found anywhere, tempting you at gas stations, schools, movie theaters, airports, your workplace, even at the gym. The average American drinks 400 calories on a daily basis!

Our bodies are most efficient when drinking water. Plus, you’ll feel much more satisfied and “full” if you eat your calories rather than drink them. “Don’t Drink Your Calories” is an easy and quick mantra to help you make good nutrition choices.

We like this infographic from the University of Utah that shows just how much sugar is in common drinks:

sugar-consumption

Here are some easy alternatives to save calories:

Reduce the size of your coffee, the sweeter added, and use fat-free milk to save calories

Select water with your lunch rather than soda or juice

If you’re an iced tea lover, try sparkling water with lemon slices

Hold the added sugar or flavorings from your smoothie since the fruit is naturally sweet

Dilute your and your children’s fruit juices with water

Swap a small chocolate shake for an 8-ounce carton of chocolate milk

2. Eat Nuts

Despite being high in fat, nuts are incredibly nutritious and healthy.

They are loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and various other nutrients (9).

Studies show that nuts can help you lose weight, and may help fight type 2 diabetes and heart disease (10, 11, 12).

Additionally, about 10-15% of the calories in nuts aren’t even absorbed into the body, and some evidence suggests that they can boost metabolism (13).

In one study, almonds were shown to increase weight loss by 62% compared to complex carbohydrates (14).

3. Avoid Processed Junk Food (Eat Real Food Instead)

All the processed junk foods in the diet are the biggest reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before.

These foods have been engineered to be “hyper-rewarding,” so they trick our brains into eating more than we need, even leading to addiction in some people (15).

They are also low in fiber, protein and micronutrients (empty calories), but high in unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and refined grains.

8 Health Benefits of Nuts

Nuts are a very popular food.

They’re tasty, convenient and can be enjoyed on all kinds of diets.

Despite being high in fat, they also have a number of impressive benefits for your health (and weight).

What Are Nuts?

Nuts are technically considered a fruit. However, unlike most types of fruit, they aren’t sweet and are high in fat.

They contain a hard, inedible outer shell that usually needs to be cracked open to release the fruit inside.

Fortunately, you can buy most nuts from the store “pre-shelled” so that you don’t have to crack them open yourself.

Here is a list of some of the most commonly consumed nuts:

Almonds

Brazil nuts

Cashews

Hazelnuts

Macadamia nuts

Pecans

Pine nuts

Pistachios

Walnuts

Although peanuts are technically legumes like peas and beans, they are often referred to as nuts because they have similar nutrition profiles and characteristics.

Now let’s look at the top 8 health benefits of eating nuts.

1. Nuts Are a Great Source of Many Nutrients

Nuts are highly nutritious. One ounce (28 grams) of mixed nuts contains (1):

Calories: 173

Protein: 5 grams

Fat: 16 grams, including 9 grams of monounsaturated fat

Carbs: 6 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Vitamin E: 12% of the RDI

Magnesium: 16% of the RDI

Phosphorus: 13% of the RDI

Copper: 23% of the RDI

Manganese: 26% of the RDI

Selenium: 56% of the RDI

Some nuts have higher amounts of certain nutrients than others. For instance, just one Brazil nut provides more than 100% of the RDI for selenium (2).

The carb content of nuts is highly variable. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts have less than 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving, while cashews have almost 8 digestible carbs per serving.

That being said, nuts are generally an excellent food to eat on a low-carb diet.

BOTTOM LINE:

Nuts are high in fat, low in carbs and a great source of several nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.

2. Nuts Are Loaded With Antioxidants

Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse.

Antioxidants help control free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced as a normal part of metabolism. Free radical production increases in response to heavy sun exposure, stress, pollution and other causes.

Although free radicals can play a beneficial role in immune response, having too many can lead to cell damage. When your level of free radicals is too high, your body is said to be in a state of oxidative stress, which increases disease risk (3).

The antioxidants in plant foods, including the polyphenols found in nuts, can combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals so they can’t harm your cells.

The ORAC is a test that measures a food’s capacity to fight free radicals. One study found that the ORAC of walnuts was greater than that of fish (4).

Research has shown that the antioxidants in walnuts and almonds can protect the delicate fats in your cells from being damaged by oxidation (5, 6, 7).

In one study, 13 people consumed walnuts, almonds or a control meal on three separate occasions. Both nut meals led to higher polyphenol levels and significantly less oxidative damage compared to the control meal (7).

Another study found that two to eight hours after consuming whole pecans, participants experienced a 26–33% drop in their levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease (8).

However, studies in older people and individuals with metabolic syndrome found that walnuts and cashews didn’t have a big impact on antioxidant capacity, although some other markers did improve (9, 10).

BOTTOM LINE:

Nuts contain antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may protect cells and LDL cholesterol from damage.

3. Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight

Although they’re considered a high-calorie food, research suggests that nuts may actually help you lose weight.

One large study called the PREDIMED study assessed the effects of the Mediterranean diet.

Analysis of data from a subgroup of the study found that those assigned to eat nuts lost an average of 2 inches (5 cm) from their waists, which is significantly more than those assigned to eat olive oil (11).

Almonds have consistently been shown to promote weight loss rather than weight gain in controlled studies. One study found that pistachios may also be helpful for weight loss (12, 13, 14).

In one study of overweight women, those who consumed almonds lost nearly three times as much weight and experienced a significantly greater decrease in waist size compared to the control group (15).

What’s more, even though the calorie counts listed for nuts are quite high, studies have shown that your body doesn’t absorb all of them. This is because a portion of fat stays trapped within the nut’s fibrous wall during digestion (16, 17, 18).

For instance, the nutrition facts on a package of almonds may indicate that a 1-oz (28-gram) serving has 160–170 calories, but your body only absorbs about 129 of those calories (19).

Similarly, recent studies have found that your body absorbs about 21% fewer calories from walnuts and 5% fewer calories from pistachios than had previously been reported (20, 21).

BOTTOM LINE:

Nuts have been shown to help promote weight loss rather than contribute to weight gain. Several studies have found that the body doesn’t absorb all of the calories in nuts.

4. Nuts Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Nuts have impressive effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Pistachios have been shown to lower triglycerides in obese people and diabetics. In one 12-week study, obese people who ate pistachios had triglycerides that were nearly 33% lower than the control group (14, 22).

The cholesterol-lowering power of nuts is believed to be due in part to their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Almonds and hazelnuts appear to reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. One study found that ground, sliced or whole hazelnuts had similar beneficial effects on cholesterol (23, 24, 25, 26).

Another study found that consuming a 1-oz (30-gram) mixture of walnuts, peanuts and pine nuts per day for six weeks significantly lowered all types of cholesterol except HDL in a group of women with metabolic syndrome (27, 28).

Several studies have shown that macadamia nuts lower cholesterol levels. In one, a moderate-fat diet including macadamia nuts reduced cholesterol just as much as a lower-fat diet (29, 30, 31, 32).

BOTTOM LINE:

Nuts may help lower total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while boosting levels of HDL cholesterol.

5. Nuts Are Beneficial for Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

Type 2 diabetes is a common disease that affects hundreds of millions of people.

Having a condition called metabolic syndrome is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, nuts may be one of the best foods for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

First off, they are low in carbs and don’t raise blood sugar levels much. Substituting nuts for higher-carb foods should lead to reduced blood sugar levels.

Studies suggest that eating nuts may also lower oxidative stress, blood pressure and other health markers in people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome (33, 34, 35, 36, 37).

In a 12-week controlled study, people with metabolic syndrome who ate 25 grams of pistachios twice per day experienced a 9% decrease in fasting blood sugar, on average (37).

In addition, compared to the control group, the pistachio group had greater reductions in blood pressure and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to heart disease.

However, the evidence is mixed and not all studies have found a benefit from eating nuts in people with metabolic syndrome (38).

BOTTOM LINE:

Several studies have shown that blood sugar, blood pressure and others health markers improve when nuts are included in diets of people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

6. Nuts Can Help Reduce Inflammation

Nuts have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation is your body’s way of defending itself from injury, as well as bacteria and other potentially harmful pathogens.

However, chronic (long-term) inflammation can cause damage to organs and increase disease risk. Research suggests that eating nuts may reduce inflammation and promote healthy aging (39).

In the large PREDIMED Mediterranean diet study, the participants whose diets were supplemented with nuts experienced a 35% decrease in CRP and a 90% decrease in another marker of inflammation called interleukin 6 (IL-6) (40).

Specific nuts have been found to fight inflammation in healthy people and those with serious diseases. These include pistachios, Brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds (25, 37, 41, 42, 43, 44).

However, one study of almond consumption in healthy adults found that, although a few inflammatory markers decreased, overall there wasn’t much difference between the almond group and the control group (45).

BOTTOM LINE:

Research suggests that nuts may be helpful for reducing inflammation, especially in people with diabetes, kidney disease and other serious health conditions.

7. Nuts Are High in Fiber

Fiber provides many health benefits.

Although your body can’t digest fiber, the bacteria that live in your colon can.

Many types of fiber function as prebiotics or “food” for your healthy gut bacteria.

Your gut bacteria then ferment the fiber and turn it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

These SCFAs have powerful benefits, including improving gut health and reducing your risk of diabetes and obesity (46, 47, 48).

In addition, fiber helps you feel full and reduces the number of calories you absorb from meals. One study suggests that increasing fiber intake from 18 to 36 grams daily might result in up to 130 fewer calories being absorbed (49, 50).

Here are the nuts with the highest fiber content per 1-oz (28-gram) serving:

Almonds: 3.5 grams

Pistachios: 2.9 grams

Hazelnuts: 2.9 grams

Pecans: 2.9 grams

Peanuts: 2.6 grams

Macadamias: 2.4 grams

Brazil nuts: 2.1 grams

BOTTOM LINE:

Many nuts are high in fiber, which can reduce disease risk, help keep you full, decrease calorie absorption and improve gut health.

8. Nuts Can Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Nuts are extremely good for your heart.

Several studies suggest that nuts help lower heart disease and stroke risk because of their benefits for cholesterol levels, LDL particle size, artery function and inflammation (11, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57).

Studies have found that small, dense LDL particles may increase heart disease risk more than larger LDL particles (58, 59).

The PREDIMED study found that the group who consumed nuts had a significant decline in small LDL particles and an increase in large LDL particles. What’s more, their HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels increased (11).

In another study, people with normal or high cholesterol were randomly assigned to consume either olive oil or nuts with a high-fat meal.

People in the nut group had better artery function and lower fasting triglycerides than the olive oil group, regardless of their initial cholesterol levels (51).

BOTTOM LINE:

Nuts may significantly lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s because nuts increase LDL particle size, raise HDL cholesterol, improve artery function and have various other benefits for heart health.

Nuts Are Delicious, Versatile and Widely Available

Nuts are undeniably tasty and satisfying.

They can be enjoyed whole, as nut butters or chopped up and sprinkled on food.

It’s actually quite easy to make your own homemade nut butter using whichever combination of nuts you like.

Nuts can be purchased in grocery stores or online. They are available in a wide variety of options, including salted or unsalted, seasoned or plain, raw or roasted.

In general, it’s healthiest to eat nuts raw or toast them in the oven at a temperature below 350°F (175°C). Dry-roasted nuts are the next-best option, but try to avoid nuts roasted in vegetable and seed oils.

Nuts can be kept at room temperature, which makes them ideal for on-the-go snacks and traveling. However, if you’re going to be storing them for long then a refrigerator or freezer will keep them fresher.

At the end of the day, nuts are a highly nutritious and super tasty food that can fit into almost everyone’s diet.

Eating nuts on a regular basis is a very enjoyable way to improve your health.

You may also like:

The Top 9 Nuts to Eat for Better Health

10 High-Fat Foods That Are Actually Super Healthy

9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Almonds

The 20 Most Weight Loss Friendly Foods on The Planet

4. Don’t Fear Coffee

Coffee has been unfairly demonized. The truth is that it’s actually very healthy.

Coffee is high in antioxidants, and studies show that coffee drinkers live longer, and have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and numerous other diseases (16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21).

5. Eat Fatty Fish

Pretty much everyone agrees that fish is healthy.

This is particularly true of fatty fish, like salmon, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and various other nutrients (22).

Studies show that people who eat the most fish have a lower risk of all sorts of diseases, including heart disease, dementia and depression (23, 24, 25).

Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout are full of omega-3 fatty acids — good fats unlike the bad saturated fat you find in most meats. These fish should be a staple of everyone’s heart-healthy diet.

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Eating Fatty Fish

A lot of studies and health experts are now claiming that fatty fish may be good for your health. Fatty fish may include commonly enjoyed fish such as salmon, tuna, tilapia and mackerel.

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Eating Fatty Fish

HIGHLIGHTS

Fatty fish may be good for your heart and brain health

Fatty fish may include salmon, tuna, tilapia and mackerel

Fatty fish are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids

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A lot of studies and health experts are now claiming that fatty fish may be good for your health. Fatty fish may include commonly enjoyed fish such as salmon, tuna, tilapia and mackerel. These are known to contain fatty acids that protect and promote your overall health. Fatty fish store oil in their tissues and even in their belly. This oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which makes them the healthiest food of the sea.  Omega-3 fatty acids are known to promote heart health and brain health. Here are five amazing benefits of eating fatty fish regularly as reported by various scientific studies.

1. Good for your heart: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that regular consumption of fatty fish lowered triglycerides by 25 to 30 per cent.  Studies have also shown that consumption of fatty fish may help in lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.

2. High in nutrients: Fatty fish is high in important nutrients such as Vitamin D and protein. In fact, they are one of the few natural food sources of Vitamin D which is mostly derived from sun’s exposure.  Not to miss, the Omega-3 fatty acids those are essential for your brain and body to function optimally.

3. Protects your brain: Consumption of fatty fish may protect your brain from age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It is known to slower rates of cognitive decline.  Certain studies have shown that people who eat fish regularly have more grey matter in their brain centers that control emotions and memory.

4. Boosts mood and keeps depression at bay: Omega-3 fatty acids in these kinds of fish are known to boost your mood and keep the risk of depression at bay. Fatty fish have the feel good factor that leaves you happy and satisfied.  Some studies have shown that people who eat fatty fish or consume Omega-3 fatty acids regularly may be less likely to get depressed.

5. Reduces risk of autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune diseases are those where the body starts mistakenly attacking healthy cells and tissues. Omega-3 oils derived from fatty fish are known to reduce the risk of such diseases as diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis but more research is required to validate the same.

It is best to consult a medical practitioner before making changes to your diet; however, moderate consumption of fatty fish may be a part of a healthy diet.

6. Get Enough Sleep

To sleep longer—and better—consider these suggestions:

Set a regular bedtime. Your body craves consistency, plus you’re more likely to get enough sleep if you schedule rest like your other important tasks.

De-caffeinate yourself. …

De-stress yourself. …

Exercise. …

Make your bed a sleep haven.

The importance of getting enough quality sleep can not be overstated.

It may be just as important as diet and exercise, if not more.

Poor sleep can drive insulin resistance, throw your appetite hormones out of whack and reduce your physical and mental performance (26, 27, 28, 29).

What’s more, it is one of the strongest individual risk factors for future weight gain and obesity. One study showed that short sleep was linked to 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults (30).

The Basics: Overview

It’s important to get enough sleep. Sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy.

How much sleep do I need?

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. Make changes to your routine if you can’t find enough time to sleep.

Getting enough sleep isn’t only about total hours of sleep. It’s also important to get good quality sleep on a regular schedule so you feel rested when you wake up.

If you often have trouble sleeping – or if you often still feel tired after sleeping – talk with your doctor.

How much sleep do children need?

Kids need even more sleep than adults.

Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

School-aged children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night.

Preschoolers need to sleep between 10 and 13 hours a day (including naps).

Toddlers need to sleep between 11 and 14 hours a day (including naps).

Babies need to sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day (including naps).

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep may seem like a waste of time. You could instead be answering e-mail, doing the dishes, repairing the deck or decking the halls. But research shows that you’re more likely to succeed at your tasks—and enjoy greater well-being—if you get some serious shuteye.

Of course, it’s not easy to sleep when you’re feeling overwhelmed. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they lose sleep because of stress. That’s especially unfortunate because sleepExercisecombats some of the fallout of stress, and poor sleep has been linked to significant problems, including:

greater risk of depression and anxiety

increased risk of heart disease and cancer

impaired memory

reduced immune system functioning

weight gain

greater likelihood of accidents

Are You Getting Enough Rest?

Experts suggest that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Everyone is different, though, and you may need more after a few days of burning the midnight (or 2 a.m.) oil.

To assess your sleep deficit, ask yourself:

Am I often tired?

Am I using caffeine to get through the day?

Do I sleep well?

Do I wake up feeling refreshed?

Do I get drowsy while driving or watching TV?

Tips for Upping Your Sleep

To sleep longer—and better—consider these suggestions:

Set a regular bedtime. Your body craves consistency, plus you’re more likely to get enough sleep if you schedule rest like your other important tasks.

De-caffeinate yourself. Drinking caffeine to stay awake during the day can keep you up at night. Try resisting the coffee and colas starting six to eight hours before bed.

De-stress yourself. Relax by taking a hot bath, meditating or envisioning a soothing scene while lying in bed. Turn off daytime worries by finishing any next-day preparations about an hour before bed.

Exercise. Working out can improve sleep in lots of ways, including by relieving muscle tension. Don’t work out right before bed, though, since exercise may make you more alert. If you like, try gentle upper-body stretches to help transition into sleep.

Make your bed a sleep haven. No paying bills or writing reports in bed. Also, if you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes you can try some soothing music, but if you remain alert experts recommend getting up until you feel more tired.

For additional sleep guidelines, see the National Sleep Foundation’s website. (But no computer right before bedtime!)

More Sleep Aids

If you’re considering sleep medication, you can buy one of several over-the-counter products, which generally can be used safely for a few days. As for prescription medications, the National Sleep Foundation suggests a limit of four weeks—and simultaneously working on one’s sleep habits. Never combine sleep medications with alcohol or other potentially sedating medicines, and be sure to allow at least 8 hours between taking a sleep medication and driving.

If you’re wondering about the hormone melatonin, there is evidence of its usefulness in improving sleep and helping to regulate an off-kilter sleep cycle. Still, some experts urge caution, arguing that more research is needed to determine correct dosing and timing for taking a melatonin supplement.

If you’re having serious sleep problems, see your doctor, especially if you have trouble more than three nights a week for a month. Your doctor can check whether your sleep issues are caused by some underlying health problem, like depression or a thyroid disorder, and can help with a treatment plan or referral to a sleep specialist. Also contact your doctor if you suspect a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, which involves snoring and gaps in breathing, or restless leg syndrome, which causes sudden urges to move your body, or if you are experiencing any unusual nighttime behaviors. It’s also reasonable to see a health care professional if you still feel tired despite getting enough sleep.

If you want help learning to cope better with sleep problems, try to locate a therapist who offers cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. This treatment works by changing sleep-related beliefs and behaviors. You might, for example, rethink your notion that the whole night is ruined if you’re not asleep by 10. A sleep clinic may be able to help you locate such a therapist.

Reviewed by Helene Emsellem, MD, associate clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University Medical Center and author of Snooze or Lose: 10 ‘No-War’ Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits.

7. Take Care of Your Gut Health With Probiotics and Fiber

The bacteria in your gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, are sometimes referred to as the “forgotten organ.”

These gut bugs are incredibly important for all sorts of health-related aspects. A disruption in the gut bacteria is linked to some of the world’s most serious chronic diseases, including obesity (31, 32).

A good way to improve gut health, is to eat probiotic foods (like live yogurt and sauerkraut), take probiotic supplements, and eat plenty of fiber. Fiber functions as fuel for the gut bacteria (33, 34).

Take charge of your gut health: the deal with probiotics and prebiotics

Each of us has a unique microbiome: a specific concentration of microorganisms within our bodies, and our guts have a specific population of microflora (AKA bacteria) which can be both harmful and beneficial to us. We can make sure the balance of good to bad bacteria stays in tact through the foods we eat and the healthy lifestyle practices we keep. One of the ways to do this is to eat foods rich in probiotics.

The study of all of the possible health benefits of the different strains of probiotics is still relatively new, but research suggests that probiotics do a lot to stimulate gut health and overall well-being. They help improve immune function, improve digestion, and prevent infection from harmful bacteria.

Probiotics also can help to prevent diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive problems, as well as some infections, such as vaginal infections and urinary tract infections. It is especially important to take probiotics when you are taking antibiotics, which disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can lead to cramping, indigestion, and bloating.

You can get probiotics through eating fermented foods and cultured foods, such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. There are many different strains of probiotics, with different strains having different health benefits in the body. Since everyone has a unique microbiome and set of health needs, its best to consult with a doctor to find out what supplement and strains are best for you.

While probiotics are important, they aren’t the only cool kid on the block. Don’t forget about prebiotics too!

In essence, prebiotics are a type of soluble fiber, a plant fiber that attaches to cholesterol particles and carries them out of the bloodstream. In the gut, probiotics use prebiotics as fuel. Prebiotics are not digested in the small intestine, but instead reach the colon where they are fermented by the microflora.

Oligosaccharides, a specific type of fiber, are the best known prebiotics. Oligosaccharides include types of fiber such as inulin, oligofructose, and lactulose. Specific foods rich in these types of fiber are jicama, dandelion greens, avocado, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, bananas, oats, apples, and barley.

If you have any questions about how you can incorporate both prebiotic and probiotic foods into your diet, you can ask one of our doctors at any time to figure out which ones are best for you!

8. Drink Some Water, Especially Before Meals

Drink one glass of water 30 minutes before a meal to help digestion. Remember not to drink too soon before or after a meal as the water will dilute the digestive juices. Drink water an hour after the meal to allow the body to absorb the nutrients.

Drinking enough water can have numerous benefits.

One important factor, is that it can help boost the amount of calories you burn.

According to 2 studies, it can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours. This can amount to 96 additional calories burned if you drink 2 liters (67 oz) of water per day (35, 36).

The best time to drink water is half an hour before meals. One study showed that half a liter of water, 30 minutes before each meal, increased weight loss by 44% (37).

3 Reasons Why You Should Drink a Glass of Water Before Each Meal

If you could do one super simple thing that could help you lose weight, improve your skin and feel more energetic, you’d do it, right? And what if I told you it wouldn’t cost you anything either? Awesome, right?

If you could do one super simple thing that could help you lose weight, improve your skin and feel more energetic, you’d do it, right? And what if I told you it wouldn’t cost you anything either? Awesome, right? All you need to do: Drink one glass of water before each meal and sit back to reap these benefits.

Lose Weight: Numerous studies have shown that drinking water before meals can result in consuming less calories at those meals, which can ultimately lead to weight loss. This is probably because the water provides a sense of fullness, so not as much food is needed to reach the point of satiety. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that choosing water as your drink of choice instead of an empty-calorie beverage can save more than 100 calories per glass.

Improve Your Skin: While drinking water before each meal may not be the equivalent of drinking from the fountain of youth, it certainly can help to improve rough, dry skin that is all too common this time of year, which can be worsened by dehydration. You may not feel as thirsty during the cold winter months as you do during the hot summer ones, but drinking water is important no matter what the weather.

Energize Your Day: Research has shown that even slight dehydration can cause a drop in energy levels. It makes sense as water is crucial for nearly every system of your body to function properly. And guess what? If you are thirsty, you are probably already slightly dehydrated. Prevent this from happening by drinking water regularly throughout the day–a glass before each meal is the perfect way to stay on an energy-boosting track.

9. Don’t Overcook or Burn Your Meat

Meat can be a nutritious and healthy part of the diet. It is very high in protein, and contains various important nutrients.

The problems occur when meat is overcooked and burnt. This can lead to the formation of harmful compounds that raise the risk of cancer (38).

So, eat your meat, just don’t overcook or burn it.

Fit Tip of the Week-Don’t Overcook or Burn Your Meat!

OCTOBER 23, 2015

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Meat

Don’t Overcook or Burn Your Meat

Meat can be a nutritious and healthy part of the diet. It is very high in protein, and contains various important nutrients.

The problems occur when meat is overcooked and burnt. This can lead to the formation of harmful compounds that raise the risk of cancer.

Most foods need to be eaten as close to raw as possible if you want to get the maximum amount of nutrients. The “closer to raw” rule doesn’t just apply to vegetables — but to meat and eggs as well.

But the key difference between overcooked veggies and overcooked meats is that over-doing veggies makes them flavorless and nutritionally bereft, while overcooking meat makes it flavorless… and dangerous. The possible carcinogenic effects of overcooking meat and eggs are fairly well documented.

Cooking eggs and meat at high temperatures produces a chemical compound called PhIP, which many believe can cause DNA changes, or can metabolize harmless bodily enzymes into carcinogens — especially those that cause breast cancer.

Now, a new report by researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center claims that regular consumption of well-done, charred meats could boost the risk of pancreatic cancer by a frightening 60 percent.

This new research indicated that overcooking also created heterocyclic amines (H.A.s), which contribute to increased risk of pancreatic cancer, an especially lethal cancer. H.A.s are generated by the high-temperature immolation of amino acids.

The researchers suggested maintaining low heat while grilling, frying or barbecuing in order to cut down on “excess burning or charring of the meat.” Doing so will help cut down on the cancer risk, since the burned portions have the highest HA concentrations.

This is something you should keep in mind before you fire up the backyard barbeque. But by all means, don’t let it stop you from eating meat. You just need to think twice about how long you cook it.

So, eat your meat, just don’t overcook or burn it.

10. Avoid Bright Lights Before Sleep

When we’re exposed to bright lights in the evening, this disrupts production of the sleep hormone melatonin (39, 40).

An interesting “hack” is to use a pair of amber-tinted glasses that block blue light from entering your eyes in the evening.

This allows melatonin to be produced as if it were completely dark, helping you sleep better (41, 42).

Avoid bright lights for better sleep

It’s fair to say that the majority of Americans interact with screens in their lives. As college students, screens are essential for being successful. Every student at Illinois State has used some sort of device with an LED display. Bottom line, we use screens for several hours a day. There has recently been talk about staring at these screens for long periods of time. Have you ever caught yourself in a daze when you looked away from your computer? It’s because staring at the blue light can have negative effects on the body.

A circadian rhythm is a cycle your body goes through as you sleep. Lying in bed, you fall into this rhythm and the deeper you go, the better rest you receive. It’s important to maintain a stable rhythm and to hit all levels of rest in order to stay healthy. It also helps control your eating patterns and thought processes. As the sun sets, your body sends signals preparing you for sleep. You might start to yawn and feel tired, but then you remember you have an assignment due at 5 a.m. You stay up for a while to finish the assignment and afterward you decide to watch Netflix. After a couple of episodes you put your laptop under your bed and try to go to sleep, but you can’t. This is likely a result of too much exposure to blue light.

Melatonin is a chemical secreted in the brain that helps one sleep. It’s produced when the body senses it is dark. It’s obvious to us when it’s dark outside; just looking out the window will give us the answer. But our bodies work differently. What do our eyes stare at while watching Netflix before bed? A brightly lit screen. Consequently, looking at a screen right before sleeping is sending mixed signals to our bodies. The screen acts as “day time” right on your lap, shining straight into your eyes before bed. No matter the level of brightness, a screen can still affect your sleeping patterns. Staring at different colors, however, has different affects on the brain.

Researchers at Harvard have recently conducted a study comparing exposure to different colored lights and how it effects the brain before bed. They found that blue light exposure suppresses melatonin secretion for about twice as long as green light. This suggests that people working at night should be more concerned about how blue light is going to effect their sleep. This directly conflicts with energy efficient light bulbs that are either fluorescent or LED, because these variants produce more blue light. Not much can be changed about the properties of energy efficient bulbs except a coating on the inside that can give them a warmer hue.

What can someone do to avoid these negative aspects of blue light? Use red lights. As goofy as it sounds, red light actually has the least amount of power against a circadian rhythm. Another thing one can do is avoid looking at bright lights for a couple hours before bed. Of course it’s hard for college students to budget their time to fit that criteria, but it’s worth it for a good night’s rest. Another method that can help is using some type of technology that blocks the blue light. Certain businesses sell glasses with blue light filters installed that are perfect for night owls. Alternatively, turn off the blue light on your phone in the setting application if you can. It makes things a little bit more orange, which is really cool, and it helps you sleep. Going outside and getting exposed to as much light as possible during the day can help contrast the amount of light you see before bed.

College students spend a large chunk of time with their eyes on a screen. Keeping a consistent circadian rhythm is key when trying to be healthy. During the day, the brain is not as negatively affected as it is during the night. Blue light is the worst kind of light one can be exposed to before bed. There are plenty of ways to cut out the blue light emitted from LEDs and fluorescent light bulbs that are cheap too. Do not be on your phone or laptop before bed, as that can cause insomnia or fatigue the next day.

11. Take Vitamin D3 If You Don’t Get Much Sun

Back in the day, most people got their vitamin D from the sun.

The problem is that most people don’t get much sun these days. They either live where there is no sun, or they stay inside most of the day or use sunscreen when they go out.

According to data from 2005-2006, about 41.6% of the US population is deficient in this critical vitamin (43).

If adequate sun exposure is not an option for you, then supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to have numerous benefits for health.

This includes improved bone health, increased strength, reduced symptoms of depression and a lower risk of cancer, to name a few. Vitamin D may also help you live longer (44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50).

How to get vitamin D from sunlight

Sunshine and vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. In the UK we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight exposure from around late March/early April to the end of September. Find out how to get enough without risking sun damage.

We need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

A lack of vitamin D, known as vitamin D deficiency, can cause bones to become soft and weak, which can lead to bone deformities.

In children, for example, a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets. In adults, it can lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness.

How do we get vitamin D?

Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we’re outdoors. From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight.

We also get some vitamin D from a small number of foods, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs.

Vitamin D is also added to all infant formula milk, as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives.

The amounts added to these products can vary and may only be added in small amounts. Manufacturers must add vitamin D to infant formula milk by law.

Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.

How long should we spend in the sun?

Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm.

It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements.

This is because there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as your skin colour or how much skin you have exposed.

But you should be careful not to burn in the sun, so take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before your skin starts to turn red or burn.

People with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean or south Asian origin, will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin. 

How long it takes for your skin to go red or burn varies from person to person. Cancer Research UK has tips to help you protect your skin in the sun.

Your body can’t make vitamin D if you’re sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D) can’t get through the glass.

The longer you stay in the sun, especially for prolonged periods without sun protection, the greater your risk of skin cancer.

If you plan to be out in the sun for long, cover up with suitable clothing, wrap-around sunglasses, seeking shade and applying at least SPF15 sunscreen.

Winter sunlight

In the UK, sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.

During these months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources (including fortified foods) and supplements.  

Using sunbeds isn’t a recommended way of making vitamin D.

Babies and children

Children aged under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

From March to October in the UK, children should:

cover up with suitable clothing, including wearing a hat and wraparound sunglasses

spend time in the shade (particularly from 11am to 3pm)

wear at least SPF15 sunscreen

To ensure they get enough vitamin D, babies and children aged under 5 years should be given vitamin D supplements even if they do get out in the sun.

Find out about vitamin D supplements for children

Who should take vitamin D supplements?

Some groups of the population are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D.

The Department of Health recommends that these people should take daily vitamin D supplements to make sure they get enough.

These groups are: 

all babies from birth to 1 year old (including breastfed babies and formula-fed babies who have less than 500ml a day of infant formula)

all children aged 1 to 4 years old  

people who aren’t often exposed to the sun (for example, people who are frail or housebound, or are in an institution such as a care home, or if they usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors)

For the rest of the population, everyone over the age of 5 years (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) is advised to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D.

But the majority of people aged 5 years and above will probably get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer (late March/early April to the end of September), so you might choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.

Find out who should take vitamin D supplements and how much to take

You can get vitamin supplements containing vitamin D free of charge if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a child under 4 years of age and qualify for the Healthy Start scheme.

You can also buy single vitamin supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D for babies and young children at most pharmacies and larger supermarkets.

Speak to your pharmacist, GP or health visitor if you’re unsure whether you need to take a vitamin D supplement or don’t know what supplements to take.

Can you have too much vitamin D?

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10μg a day will be enough for most people.

People who take supplements are advised not to take more than 100μg of vitamin D a day, as it could be harmful (100 micrograms is equal to 0.1 milligrams).

This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17.

Children aged 1 to 10 shouldn’t have more than 50μg a day. Babies under 12 months shouldn’t have more than 25μg a day.

Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to take as much vitamin D safely.

If in doubt, you should talk to your doctor. If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.

The amount of vitamin D contained in supplements is sometimes expressed in international units (IU), where 40 IU is equal to 1 microgram (1µg) of vitamin D.

There’s no risk of your body making too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but always remember to cover up or protect your skin before the time it takes you to start turning red or burn.

12. Eat Vegetables and Fruits

Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Vitamins & Minerals. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized. Quick, Natural Snack.

Vegetables and fruits are the “default” health foods, and for good reason.

They are loaded with prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals and all sorts of antioxidants, some of which have potent biological effects.

Studies show that people who eat the most vegetables and fruits live longer, and have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and all sorts of diseases (51, 52).

Fruit and vegetables

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Summary

Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals. They also contain fibre.

There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and many ways to prepare, cook and serve them.

A diet high in fruit and vegetables can help protect you against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Eat five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day for good health.

Most Australians do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.

When buying and serving fruit and vegetables, aim for variety to get the most nutrients and appeal.

On this page: Preparation and cooking of fruit and vegetables

Vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables for good health

Fruit and vegetables and protection against diseases

Types of fruit

Types of vegetables

Legumes

Colours of fruits and vegetables

Selecting fruits and vegetables

Fruit and vegetable serving suggestions for your family’s health

Preparation and cooking of fruit and vegetables

Daily allowances of fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetable

Fruit and vegetables should be an important part of your daily diet. They are naturally good and contain vitamins and minerals that can help to keep you healthy. They can also help protect against some diseases.

Most Australians will benefit from eating more fruit and vegetables as part of a well-balanced, regular diet and a healthy, active lifestyle. There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and many ways to prepare, cook and serve them.

You should eat at least five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day. Choose different colours and varieties.

A serve of vegetables is about one cup of raw salad vegetables or 1/2 cup of cooked.

A serve of fruit is about one medium piece, 2 small pieces of 1 cup canned (no added sugar).

Vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals that are good for your health. These include vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and folic acid. Folic acid may reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a substance that may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

Fruit and vegetables for good health

Fruits and vegetables are low in fat, salt and sugar. They are a good source of dietary fibre. As part of a well-balanced, regular diet and a healthy, active lifestyle, a high intake of fruit and vegetables can help you to:

Reduce obesity and maintain a healthy weight

Lower your cholesterol

Lower your blood pressure.

Fruit and vegetables and protection against diseases

Vegetables and fruit contain phytochemicals, or plant chemicals. These biologically active substances can help to protect you from some diseases. Scientific research shows that if you regularly eat lots of fruit and vegetables, you have a lower risk of:

Type 2 diabetes

Stroke

Heart (cardiovascular) disease – when fruits and vegetables are eaten as food, not taken as supplements

Cancer – some forms of cancer, later in life

High blood pressure (hypertension).

Types of fruit

Fruit is the sweet, fleshy, edible part of a plant. It generally contains seeds. Fruits are usually eaten raw, although some varieties can be cooked. They come in a wide variety of colours, shapes and flavours. Common types of fruits that are readily available include:

Apples and pears

Citrus – oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and limes

Stone fruit – nectarines, apricots, peaches and plums

Tropical and exotic – bananas and mangoes

Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit and passionfruit

Melons – watermelons, rockmelons and honeydew melons

Tomatoes and avocados.

Types of vegetables

Vegetables are available in many varieties and can be classified into biological groups or ‘families’, including:

Leafy green – lettuce, spinach and silverbeet

Cruciferous – cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli

Marrow – pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini

Root – potato, sweet potato and yam

Edible plant stem – celery and asparagus

Allium – onion, garlic and shallot.

Legumes

Legumes or pulses contain nutrients that are especially valuable. Legumes need to be cooked before they are eaten – this improves their nutritional quality, aids digestion and eliminates any harmful toxins. Legumes come in many forms including:

Soy products – tofu (bean curd) and soybeans

Legume flours – chickpea flour (besan), lentil flour and soy flour

Dried beans and peas – haricot beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils

Fresh beans and peas – green peas, green beans, butter beans, broad beans and snow peas.

Colours of fruits and vegetables

You will get the most health benefits and protection against disease if you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australian dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day.

Foods of similar colours generally contain similar protective compounds. Try to eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables every day to get the full range of health benefits. For example:

Red foods – like tomatoes and watermelon. These contain lycopene, which is thought to be important for fighting prostate cancer and heart disease

Green vegetables – like spinach and kale. These contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect against age-related eye disease

Blue and purple foods – like blueberries and eggplant. These contain anthocyanins, which may help protect the body from cancer

White foods – like cauliflower. These contain sulforaphane and may also help protect against some cancers.

Selecting fruits and vegetables

To maximise nutrients and appeal, buy and serve different types of fruit and vegetables. Try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, and choose for freshness and quality. You should:

Eat with the seasons – this is nature’s way of making sure our bodies get a healthy mix of nutrients and plant chemicals

Try something new – try new recipes and buy new fruit or vegetables as part of your weekly shopping

Let colours guide you – get different combinations of nutrients by putting a ‘rainbow’ of colours (green, white, yellow–orange, blue–purple, red) on your plate.

Our ingredients profiles provide more information on fruits and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetable serving suggestions for your family’s health

Vegetables and fruit are a handy snack food and are easily carried to work or school. Include them in everyone’s meals and snacks for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some suggestions include:

Keep snack-size fruit and vegetable portions easily accessible in your fridge.

Keep fresh fruit on the bench or table.

Add fruit and vegetables to your favourite family recipes or as additions to your usual menus.

Use the colour and texture of a variety of fruit and vegetables to add interest to your meals.

Think up new ways to serve fruits and vegetables.

Some simple ways to serve fruits and vegetables include:

fruit and vegetable salads

vegetable or meat-and-vegetable stir-fries

raw fruit and vegetables

vegetable soups

snack pack, stewed or canned fruits or dried fruits.

Limit fruit juice, as it does not contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit. It also contains a lot of sugars. These sugars are not necessarily good for your health, even though they are ‘natural’. Instead, have a drink of water and a serve of fruit.

Preparation and cooking of fruit and vegetables

Vegetables are often cooked, although some kinds are eaten raw. Cooking and processing can damage some nutrients and phytochemicals in plant foods.

Suggestions to get the best out of your fruit and vegetables include:

Eat raw vegetables and fruits if possible.

Try fruit or vegetables pureed into smoothies.

Use a sharp knife to cut fresh fruits to avoid bruising.

Cut off only the inedible parts of vegetables – sometimes the best nutrients are found in the skin, just below the skin or in the leaves.

Use stir-fry, grill, microwave, bake or steam methods with non-stick cookware and mono-unsaturated oils.

Do not overcook, to reduce nutrient loss.

Serve meals with vegetable pestos, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour cream, butter and creamy sauces.

Some nutrients such as carotenoids may actually be increased if food is cooked. For example, tomato has more carotenoids, especially lycopene, when it is cooked – a good reason to prepare fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways.

Once you’ve prepared and cooked your vegetables and fruit, spend some time on presentation. People are more likely to enjoy a meal if it’s full of variety and visually appealing, as well as tasty. Sit at the table to eat and enjoy your food without distractions like television.

Daily allowances of fruit and vegetables

Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients. The Australian dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day. A national nutrition survey conducted by the Australian Government showed that Australians of all ages do not eat enough vegetables and fruit.

Children have a smaller stomach capacity and higher energy needs than adults. They cannot eat the same serving sizes as adults. However, you should encourage your children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. By eating well, your children will have the energy they need to play, concentrate better, learn, sleep better and build stronger teeth and bones. Building good habits in their early years can also provide the protection of a healthy diet throughout their lives.

The Australian dietary guidelines have recommendations on how many vegetables and fruits adults, children and adolescents of different ages require.

13. Make Sure to Eat Enough Protein

Eating enough protein is incredibly important, and many experts believe that the recommended daily intake is too low.

Protein is particularly important for weight loss, and works via several different mechanisms (53).

A high protein intake can boost metabolism significantly, while making you feel so full that you automatically eat fewer calories. It can also cut cravings and reduce the desire for late-night snacking (54, 55, 56, 57).

Eating plenty of protein has also been shown to lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels (58, 59).

Here are 14 easy ways to eat more protein.

Eat Your Protein First. …

Snack on Cheese. …

Replace Cereal with Eggs. …

Top Your Food with Chopped Almonds. …

Choose Greek Yogurt. …

Have a Protein Shake for Breakfast. …

Include a High-Protein Food with Every Meal. …

Pair Peanut Butter with Fruit.

Do you eat enough protein?

Obtain the moderate amount of protein you need from a variety of nutritious foods—not just meat.

To meet your daily protein needs, combine small to medium portions of meat, dairy, and nuts with protein-rich whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.

Protein is essential to good health. You need it to make the bricks and mortar of the body, including muscle, bone, and blood. But how much protein does the average man need in order to stay healthy?

The answer is more complicated than you might think. Most Americans take in about 15% of their calories from protein, which is well within recommended daily requirements. However, some research suggests that higher-protein diets may help you maintain a healthy weight or preserve muscle health with aging.

If you decide to boost your daily protein, also consider its impact on your diet as a whole. “If you are not eating much fish and you want to increase protein intake—yes, eating more fish might improve the overall nutrient profile and would subsequently improve your health,” says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “But I think the evidence is pretty strong against significantly increasing red meat, and certainly processed meat, to get protein.”

How much do you need?

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines state that an adult man should take in a minimum of 10% of his daily calories from protein. (In absolute numbers, that’s equivalent to 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.) The body breaks the protein down into amino acids and—among other things—uses them to build muscle. Any protein left over is available to fuel energy needs. Each gram of protein you eat contains 4 calories.

Guidelines also say that the healthy range for protein extends up to 35% of daily calories. In practice, it can be difficult to consume that much protein every day without resorting to eating a lot of meat and other animal foods or relying on protein supplement products.

Higher-protein diets and health

Higher-protein diets are often promoted as a way to lose weight. “Patients come to me all the time asking if more protein will help them with weight loss,” McManus says. “I tell them the verdict is still out. Some studies support it, some studies don’t.”

Researchers have also been looking into possible muscle health benefits for men. In middle age, men start to lose muscle mass and function. Over time, this raises the risk of frailty and falls. “I think that aging and loss of muscle is something we really need to pay attention to,” McManus says.

But it’s not proven that eating a higher-protein diet helps prevent muscle loss. The value of higher-protein diets for cardio-vascular health also remains inconclusive.

On the other hand, boosting protein to 20% or even 25% of daily calories is unlikely to harm you—assuming your overall diet is still nutrient-rich. Men with chronic kidney disease should check with their doctors before substantially increasing the amount of protein in their diets.

What kind of protein is best?

Despite all the pontificating over protein, it pays to remember that healthy diets are based on healthy foods, and some of those foods should contain protein. It’s easy for men to get the message that “protein” equals “meat,” but there are other foods you can and should eat that contain this key nutrient (see “Protein: Meat and more”). Here are some suggestions to guide your choices:

Choose protein sources low in saturated fat. Also avoid highly processed carbohydrates.

Protein powders and shakes provide amino acids but offer limited nutritional value. Ready-to-drink shakes may also contain added sugar and other caloric sweeteners, so make sure to read the nutrition label.

Unless you are a bodybuilder, you don’t really need an extra boost of protein before a strength training workout. The cur-rent 15% protein intake of the average American male, combined with regular exercise, is sufficient to maintain muscle.

14. Do Some Cardio, or Just Walk More

Regular cardio (at any speed) is part of a healthy lifestyle. But, lap for lap, running burns about 2.5 times more calories than walking. … Still, running isn’t for everyone, and going full-speed might increase injury risk. Adding weights or an incline can help pick up the intensity while maintaining a slower pace.

Doing aerobic exercise (or cardio) is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.

It is particularly effective at reducing belly fat, the harmful type of fat that builds up around your organs. Reduced belly fat should lead to major improvements in metabolic health (60, 61, 62).

Is Walking as Good a Workout as Running?

Walking and running provide similar benefits, but when it comes to shedding pounds, one reigns supreme

Topics: walking,benefits of exercise,greatist,running,fitness tips

 walking-vs-running-better-workout.jpg

There are many reasons why people start running: to stay slim, boost energy, or snag that treadmill next to our longtime gym crush (please follow our gym etiquette tips before making any moves though!). Running can help keep the heart healthy, improve mood, and stave off sickness; plus recent studies have found running is a great way to lose and maintain weight. But research suggests going full speed isn’t the only route to good health.

Now Walk (or Run?) It Out—The Need-to-Know

While walking can provide many of the same health benefits associated with running, recent research suggests running may be the better bet for those looking to shed some pounds. Unsurprisingly, people expend two-and-a-half times more energy running than walking, whether that’s on the track or on the treadmill. So for a 160-lb person, running burns about 800 calories an hour compared to about 300 calories walking. And that equates to a pretty sizeable slice of pizza (who doesn’t love cheat day rewards?).

More interesting, a recent study found that even when runners and walkers expended equal amounts of energy (meaning walkers spent more time exercising and covered greater distances), runners still lost more weight. Not only did the runners begin the study slimmer than the walkers; they also had a better chance of maintaining their BMI and waist circumference.

That difference could possibly be explained by another recent study, which suggests that running regulates our appetite hormones better than walking. After running or walking, participants were invited to a buffet, where walkers consumed about 50 calories more than they had burned and runners ate almost 200 calories fewer than they’d burned. Runners also had higher levels of the hormone peptide YY, which may suppress appetite.

Beyond losing weight, walking may still be super beneficial to our health. Researchers looked at data from the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study and found that people who expended the same amount of calories—regardless of whether they were walking or running—saw pretty much the same health benefits. We’re talking a reduced risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and better cardiovascular health. (Also check out: Greatist’s Complete Running Resources)

But even the most time-efficient athletes might want to think twice before sprinting away all the time. Running puts more stress on the body and increases the risk for injuries like runner’s knee, hamstring strains, and the dreaded shin splits (which plague even the most consistent runners). And of course, some people simply prefer to take things slow.

Walk This Way—Your Action Plan

When running isn’t in the cards, walking with weights might be the next best solution to getting in an energized workout. One study showed walking at a 4 m.p.h speed on the treadmill with hand and ankle weights was comparable to jogging at 5 m.p.h without the extra poundage. (And if anyone looks twice, hand weights are totally in right now, don’t they know?)

No matter which pace feels right, always make sure the body is ready for action. Sixty percent of runners experience an injury serious enough to keep them from being active. So remember that a sweat session may be too strenuous if talking to that workout buddy leaves us gasping for air (AKA the “talk test” FAIL). Listening to the body and completing a proper warm–up and cool down are all ways to prevent injuries, so stay informed and spend more time running on the treadmill (and less time running to the doctor).

Bored with both walking and running? There are about, oh, a bazillion other ways to keep active, from yoga and pilates to weight lifting and mountain biking, and pretty much everything in between. Don’t be afraid to try new activities to stay happy and healthy!

The Takeaway

Regular cardio (at any speed) can help keep the body healthy, not to mention improve mood and energy levels. But, lap for lap, running burns about 2.5 times more calories than walking. Running may also help control appetite, so runners may lose more weight than walkers no matter how far the walkers go. Still, running isn’t for everyone; going full-speed might increase injury risk. Adding hand and ankle weights can help pick up the intensity while maintaining a slower pace.

15. Don’t Smoke or do Drugs, and Only Drink in Moderation

If you’re a tobacco smoker, or abuse drugs, then diet and exercise are the least of your worries. Tackle those problems first.

If you choose to include alcohol in your life, then do so in moderation only, and consider avoiding it completely if you have alcoholic tendencies.

Why is smoking dangerous during pregnancy?

When a woman smokes cigarettes during pregnancy, her fetus is exposed to many harmful chemicals. Nicotine is only one of 4,000 toxic chemicals that can pass from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, so less oxygen and fewer nutrients reach the fetus. Nicotine also damages a fetus’s brain and lungs. This damage is permanent.

How can smoking during pregnancy put my fetus at risk?

Several problems are more likely to occur during pregnancy when a woman smokes. These problems may include preterm birth, which is birth that occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies that are born too early may not be fully developed. They may be smaller than babies born to nonsmokers, and they are more likely to have colic (with uncontrollable crying). These babies are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They also are more likely to develop asthma and obesity in childhood.

If you are smoking when you find out you are pregnant, you should stop. The American Lung Association offers information on how to quit on its website: www.lung.org. You also can contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a national network that can connect you to a counselor in your state.

Why should I avoid secondhand smoke during pregnancy?

Secondhand smoke—other people’s smoke that you inhale—can increase the risk of having a low-birth-weight baby by as much as 20%. Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of SIDS. These babies are more likely to have asthma attacks and ear infections. If you live or work around smokers, take steps to avoid secondhand smoke.

Are e-cigarettes safe to use during pregnancy?

Electronic cigarettes (known as “e-cigarettes”) are used by some people as a substitute for traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain harmful nicotine, plus flavoring and a propellant that may not be safe for a fetus. E-cigarettes are not safe substitutes for cigarettes and should not be used during pregnancy.

Why is drinking alcohol dangerous for my fetus?

Alcohol can interfere with the normal growth of a fetus and cause birth defects. When a woman drinks during pregnancy, her fetus can develop physical, intellectual, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can last a lifetime. The most severe disorder is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS can cause growth problems, intellectual disability, behavioral problems, and abnormal facial features.

Is there an amount of alcohol that is safe to drink during pregnancy?

FAS is most likely to occur in babies born to women who drink heavily throughout pregnancy. But alcohol-related problems can occur with lesser amounts of alcohol use. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant. If it is hard for you to stop drinking, talk with your obstetrician or other health care professional about your drinking habits. Alcoholics Anonymous offers information and local resources on quitting alcohol on its website: www.aa.org.

What is illegal drug use?

Use of substances—including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescription drugs taken for a nonmedical reason—is a widespread problem in the United States. About 1 in 20 women use illegal drugs (often called “street drugs”) during pregnancy.

How can my drug use affect my fetus?

Different drugs may affect the fetus in different ways. Using illegal drugs early in pregnancy can cause birth defects and miscarriage. During the later weeks of pregnancy, illegal drug use can interfere with the growth of the fetus and cause preterm birth and fetal death. If you need help quitting, you can find resources on the website of Narcotics Anonymous: www.na.org.

How can my drug use affect my baby after he or she is born?

Babies born to women who used illegal drugs during pregnancy may need specialized care after birth. These babies have an increased risk of long-term medical and behavioral problems.

Recreational marijuana is legal where I live. Can I use it during pregnancy?

Although it is legal in some states, marijuana should not be used in any form during pregnancy. Marijuana used during pregnancy is associated with attention and behavioral problems in children. Marijuana may increase the risk of stillbirth and the risk that babies will be smaller and weigh less than babies who are not exposed to marijuana before birth.

I use medical marijuana. Can I keep using it during pregnancy?

Some women use medical marijuana with a prescription ordered by a health care professional. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant stop using medical marijuana. You and your health care professional can discuss alternative treatments that will be safe for your fetus.

What are opioids?

Opioids—also called narcotics—are a type of medication that relieves pain. Doctors may prescribe opioids for people who have had surgery, dental work, or an injury. Prescribed opioids include oxycodone, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, and codeine.

Can I take prescription opioids during pregnancy?

If you are prescribed an opioid during pregnancy, you and your obstetrician or other health care professional should discuss the risks and benefits of this treatment. When taken under a doctor’s care, opioids are safe for both you and your fetus. It is important to take the medication only as prescribed.

What is opioid addiction?

Most people who use a prescription opioid have no trouble stopping their use, but some people develop an addiction. Those who become addicted may look for other ways to get the drug when their prescription runs out. They may go from doctor to doctor to have new prescriptions written for them. Some people use the illegal drug market to supply themselves with opioids.

How can opioid addiction affect my fetus?

Misusing opioids during pregnancy can increase the risk of serious complications, including placental abruption, fetal growth problems, preterm birth, and stillbirth.

Why should I seek treatment for opioid addiction?

When you are pregnant and have an opioid addiction, you should not suddenly stop using the drug without medical supervision. Withdrawal, especially when done abruptly, often leads to relapse, which can be harmful for you and your fetus.If you need help with an opioid addiction, you can find resources on the website of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): www.samhsa.gov. SAMHSA also has a 24-hour treatment referral line: 800-662-HELP (4357).

What is the treatment for opioid addiction during pregnancy?

The best treatment for opioid addiction during pregnancy is medication-assisted therapy (MAT). The medications that are given are long-acting opioids. This means that they stay active in the body for a long time. These opioids, called methadone and buprenorphine, reduce cravings but do not cause the pleasant feelings that other opioids cause. In addition to MAT, treatment involves drug counseling.

How will treatment for opioid addiction affect my fetus?

Treatment with either methadone or buprenorphine makes it more likely that the fetus will grow normally and not be born too early. Neither medicine has been found to cause birth defects. Some babies born to women taking opioids, including methadone or buprenorphine taken for treatment of addiction, can have temporary withdrawal symptoms. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Not all babies will go through withdrawal. For those that do, swaddling, breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, and sometimes medications can be used to make babies with NAS feel better. If a baby is treated with medications, the dosage will be decreased over time until withdrawal symptoms have stopped.

Can I take my prescription medication during pregnancy?

Some prescription medications are safe to take during pregnancy. Others are not. Do not stop taking any medication prescribed for you without first talking to your obstetrician or other health care professional. If a medication you are taking is a risk during pregnancy, your obstetrician or other health care professional may adjust the dosage or may recommend switching to a safer drug while you are pregnant.

Can I take over-the-counter medications during pregnancy?

Some medications sold over the counter, including herbal supplements and vitamins, can cause problems during pregnancy. Some pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, may be harmful to a fetus. Check with your obstetrician or other health care professional before taking any over-the-counter drug. He or she can give you advice about medicines that are safe for pregnant women.

Birth Defects: Physical problems that are present at birth.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS): The most severe disorder resulting from heavy alcohol use during pregnancy. It can cause abnormalities in brain development, physical growth, and facial features.

Fetus: The stage of prenatal development that starts 8 weeks after fertilization and lasts until the end of pregnancy.

Miscarriage: Loss of a pregnancy that occurs in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.

Nutrients: Nourishing substances supplied through food, such as vitamins and minerals.

Obstetrician: A physician who specializes in caring for women during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period.

Opioids: Medications that blunt how you perceive pain and your emotional response to it.

Oxygen: A gas that is necessary to sustain life.

Placental Abruption: A condition in which the placenta has begun to separate from the inner wall of the uterus before the baby is born.

Stillbirth: Delivery of a dead baby.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): The unexpected death of an infant in which the cause is unknown.

16. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet.

While you can cook with extra-virgin olive oil, it does have a lower smoke point than many other oils, which means it burns at a lower temperature. Save the pricey good quality stuff for dipping bread, dressing, dips, cold dishes, and use the less expensive stuff for cooking and baking.

It is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and powerful antioxidants that can fight inflammation (63, 64, 65).

Extra virgin olive oil leads to many beneficial effects on heart health, and people who consume olive oil have a much lower risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes (66, 67).

20 Uncommon Ways To Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil

CASEY THALER

Most of us think of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) as something healthy that can be added to meals or drizzled over salads.

And while the monounsaturated fats found EVOO are great for these purposes, there are quite a few more uses for this heart-healthy oil.

Today we will cover 20 uncommon ways you may not have thought of to use EVOO around the house, on your skin and even on doors (seriously!). So read on and find out which of these ways you could try!

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Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a Soothing Bath

While most of us usually think of bubble bath or other natural products, extra virgin olive oil works very well as a soothing bath additive. Add a few tablespoons the next time you are soaking, and feel the difference when you get out! You will be more refreshed and your skin will feel slightly smoother.

As a Face Exfoliator

There are many ways to use EVOO on your skin, but exfoliating might be one of the best ways. After the olive oil, you may want to use salt as well, before you rinse off. Some people also recommend sugar, but this is a personal choice, not a requirement. Your skin will feel shiny and smooth after the dead skin cells have been scraped away. Warning: you may also smell and taste delicious!

Get Smooth Hair with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Once again, there are a multitude of ways to use EVOO on your hair, but one of the best is to eliminate frizzy ends and pat down the crazy “out of control” strands that sometimes occur. Combing just a little bit through your hair will also add a nice shine and coat – making your hair look better too. Win-win!

Shine Your Shoes

Interestingly, that same shine on your hair can be applied to your shoes, as well. Take a little olive oil and use it as shoe polish the next time your loafers are looking run down. Obviously you’ll want to check the type of material you are working with, to make sure olive oil won’t damage or stain your shoes.

Natural Shaving Cream

Olive oil can go just about anywhere on the body, and besides its natural moisturizing properties, it works as a good shaving cream – especially for those with sensitive skin. Again, you’ll get the delicious benefits of the smell of the oil, along with the sleek, smooth skin afterwards. If you’ve never tried this particular method before, I recommend giving it a try, as you may be surprised how nice it is to shave with EVOO, especially when compared with harsh artificial shaving creams.

On Your (Baby’s) Butt

Yes, you read that correctly! Olive oil can be used to help fight diaper rash. Since EVOO is rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants, it helps to combat many different kinds of inflammation and irritation.

Preserving Foods with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

That’s right – you can preserve your foods with extra virgin olive oil! Whether it’s veggies or even your own meats, EVOO works well. And if you are buying some wild-caught tuna, make sure it’s packed in EVOO – water or soy is not ideal.

Silence Squeaky Doors

Do you have an annoying hinge that always squeaks? Guess what may be able to help? That’s right – extra virgin olive oil. Get a paper towel or other oil-absorbing material, and dab a little bit of EVOO on it. Then, rub the top of the hinge and listen, as that annoying squeak is no longer there to bug you!

Rub Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Dry Feet

Make sure you have a fresh pair of socks for this one, and rub some olive oil on your feet right before bed. Any dryness or cracks will be improved, as the moisturizing properties of the EVOO will work wonders!

On Your Lips

The same moisturizing effects that olive oil has on your skin and feet also works wonders for your lips. If you’re anything like me, you may have to carry around a permanent stick of lip balm to keep your mouth from looking like a children’s birthday party clown (especially in the winter). A little dab of olive oil can serve the same purpose – but be careful. You may be much hungrier throughout the day, as a result!

On Acne

Remember the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of EVOO that I mentioned earlier? That’s right – these properties will work in favor of healing your acne, too! Start with small amounts, and make sure your skin responds favorably. If this works for you, you have also just simplified your weekly shopping list, as you will no longer need to buy acne creams, gels, etc.!

Make DIY Soap

If you like to save money, this may be a good use for you! Using a mixture of fat you may have purchased or saved, add an equal amount of olive oil and let sit. Soap made with EVOO may take longer to cure, and this is by no means a comprehensive guide to making soap. So if you are interested in this process, consult a more thorough guide.

Moisturize Cuticles

Did you know that you can even use extra virgin olive oil on your nails? That’s right, extra virgin olive oil works as an effective moisturizer for your cuticles. A simple fix to one of life’s annoying little problems!

Give Someone a Sensual Massage

If you mix extra virgin olive oil with other oils (coconut or jojoba), you can make a nice, healthy massage oil. Of course, you don’t have to limit the massage to others – feel free to give yourself a nice rubdown! The vitamin E in the EVOO will work wonders as an antioxidant, and your skin will be renewed and fresh afterwards.

As a Total-Body Moisturizer

In case you haven’t been paying enough attention, extra virgin olive oil works wonders as a moisturizer all over the body. It even works in the shower! However, this is a very important point to remember, as many people are very sensitive to artificial and harsh ingredients, which are very common in mass-market brands. EVOO is a good, more natural, solution.

On Your Sunburn

In summer, the opportunity and likelihood of incurring sunburn is much greater. EVOO can help with this, too. Oleocanthal is a phenolic compound found in extra virgin olive oil, and it may even help prevent some forms of cancer (though the research is still being done). Another awesome use for the green stuff!

On Paint

We have all likely had the unfortunate event of helping a friend paint their house or apartment, only to notice we now have paint all over our arms and hands! Did you know that extra virgin olive oil can help remove this pesky paint? Dab on your skin, let sit for a few minutes, and then wash off. Say goodbye forever to those awkward turquoise spots on your hands!

Banish Dandruff

Okay, admittedly this one may take getting used to. But for those that suffer from dandruff, a cure is very much sought after. By simply putting a little bit of EVOO in your hair, and letting it sit for 5 minutes, you will cut down on your dandruff drastically.

DIY Makeup Remover

Ditch expensive makeup removers and use EVOO instead. Simply dab some on a cotton ball and wipe away any makeup on your face. It’s a healthier, more natural way to do it and saves you money.

Since we’ve covered the benefits of EVOO on acne, and its exfoliating properties, it’s important to realize that EVOO can also be used on a regular basis as a simple face mask. Though I am writing this from a male perspective with no experience in face masks, the vitamin E and antioxidant qualities which are so wonderful inside our body, will work very well on the outside of your body as well. That is because skin is actually the largest organ in your body!

17. Minimize Your Intake of Added Sugars

Use these simple tips to reduce sugar in your diet:

Remove sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses from the table — out of sight, out of mind!

Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, pancakes, coffee or tea. …

Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages.

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.

Small amounts are fine, but when people eat large amounts, it can wreak havoc on metabolic health.

A high intake of added sugar is linked to numerous diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many forms of cancer (69, 70, 71, 72, 73).

How to Reduce Added Sugar in Your Diet

Sugar lumps piled up together

If you want to decrease your risk for heart disease, it may be important for you to reduce the added sugar in your diet. As you know about sugar and heart disease, while sugars are not harmful to the body, our bodies don’t need sugars to function properly. Added sugars — sugars that are not found naturally in foods — contribute additional calories with zero nutrients to food.

Depending on the foods you choose and the amount of physical activity you do each day, you may have calories left over for “extras” that can be used on treats like solid fats, added sugars and alcohol. These are discretionary calories, or calories to be spent at your discretion after you have met your daily calorie need.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance.

Finding added sugars in food

The first step to reducing added sugars in your diet is finding them. Unfortunately, you can’t tell easily by looking at the nutrition facts panel of a food if it contains added sugars. The line for “sugars” includes both added and natural sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are found in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose). Any product that contains milk (such as yogurt, milk or cream) or fruit (fresh, dried) contains some natural sugars.

Reading the ingredient list on a processed food’s label can tell you if the product contains added sugars, just not the exact amount if the product also contains natural sugars.

Names for added sugars on labels include:

Brown sugar

Corn sweetener

Corn syrup

Fruit juice concentrates

High-fructose corn syrup

Honey

Invert sugar

Malt sugar

Molasses

Raw sugar

Sugar

Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)

Syrup

Furthermore, some products include terms related to sugars. Here are some common terms and their meanings:

Sugar-Free: Less than 0.5 g of sugar per serving.

Reduced Sugar or Less Sugar: At least 25 percent less sugars per serving compared to a standard serving size of the traditional variety.

No Added Sugars or Without Added Sugars: No sugars or sugar-containing ingredient such as juice or dry fruit is added during processing.

Low Sugar: Not defined or allowed as a claim on food labels.

Although you can’t isolate the calories per serving from added sugars with the information on a nutrition label, it may be helpful to calculate the calories per serving from total sugars (added sugars and naturally occurring sugars). To do this, multiply the grams of sugar by 4 (there are 4 calories per 1 gram of sugar). For example, a product containing 15 g of sugar has 60 calories from sugar per serving.

Keep in mind that if the product has no fruit or milk products in the ingredients, all of the sugars in the food are from added sugars. If the product contains fruit or milk products, the total sugar per serving listed on the label will include added and naturally occurring sugars.

Tips for getting less added sugar

Use these simple tips to reduce sugar in your diet:

Remove sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses from the table — out of sight, out of mind!

Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, pancakes, coffee or tea. Try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half and wean down from there, or consider using an artificial sweetener.

Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages.

Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice. Avoid fruit canned in syrup, especially heavy syrup.

Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, add fresh fruit (try bananas, cherries or strawberries) or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or apricots).

When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar called for in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Often you won’t notice the difference.

Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange or lemon.

Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.

Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in recipes (use equal amounts).

Try zero-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose or saccharin in moderation.

18. Don’t Eat a Lot of Refined Carbohydrates

Not all carbs are created equal.

Refined carbs have been highly processed, and have had all the fiber removed from them. They are low in nutrients (empty calories), and can be extremely harmful.

Studies show that refined carbohydrates are linked to overeating and numerous metabolic diseases (74, 75, 76, 77, 78).

Why Refined Carbs Are Bad For You

Not all carbs are the same.

Many whole foods that are high in carbs are incredibly healthy and nutritious.

On the other hand, refined or simple carbs have had most of the nutrients and fiber removed.

Eating refined carbs is linked to drastically increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Almost every nutrition expert agrees that refined carbs should be limited.

However, they are still the main source of dietary carbs in many countries.

This article explains what refined carbs are, and why they are bad for your health.

What Are Refined Carbs?

Refined carbs are also known as simple carbs or processed carbs.

There are two main types:

Sugars: Refined and processed sugars, such as sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup and agave syrup.

Refined grains: These are grains that have had the fibrous and nutritious parts removed. The biggest source is white flour made from refined wheat.

Refined carbs have been stripped of almost all fiber, vitamins and minerals. For this reason, they can be considered as “empty” calories.

They are also digested quickly, and have a high glycemic index. This means that they lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.

Eating foods high on the glycemic index has been linked to overeating and increased risk of many diseases (1, 2).

Sadly, sugars and refined grains are a very large part of the total carbohydrate intake in many countries (3, 4, 5).

The main dietary sources of refined carbs are white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, breakfast cereals and added sugars.

They are also added to all sorts of processed foods.

BOTTOM LINE:

Refined carbs include mostly sugars and processed grains. They are empty calories and lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Refined Grains Are Much Lower in Fiber and Micronutrients

Whole grains are very high in dietary fiber (6).

They consist of three main parts (7, 8):

Bran: The hard outer layer, containing fiber, minerals and antioxidants.

Germ: The nutrient-rich core, containing carbs, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds.

Endosperm: The middle layer, containing mostly carbs and small amounts of protein.

The bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of whole grains.

They contain high amounts of many nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and selenium.

During the refining process, the bran and germ are removed, along with all the nutrients they contain .

This leaves almost no fiber, vitamins or minerals in the refined grains. The only thing left is rapidly digested starch with small amounts of protein.

That being said, some producers enrich their products with synthetic vitamins to make up for some of the loss in nutrients.

Whether or not synthetic vitamins are as good as natural vitamins has long been debated. However, most people will agree that getting your nutrients from whole foods is always the best choice (10).

Diets high in refined carbs also tend to be low in fiber. Low-fiber diets have been linked with an increased risk of diseases like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and various digestive problems.

BOTTOM LINE:

When grains are refined, almost all the fiber, vitamins and minerals are removed from them. Some producers enrich their products with synthetic vitamins after processing.

Refined Carbs Can Drive Overeating and Increase the Risk of Obesity

A large portion of the population is overweight or obese. Eating too many refined carbs may be one of the main culprits (14, 15).

Because they are low in fiber and digested quickly, eating refined carbs can cause major swings in blood sugar levels. This can contribute to overeating (16).

This is because foods high on the glycemic index promote short-term fullness, lasting about one hour. On the other hand, foods that are low on the glycemic index promote a sustained feeling of fullness, which lasts about two to three hours (2, 17).

Blood sugar levels drop about an hour or two after eating a meal high in refined carbs. This promotes hunger and stimulates parts of the brain associated with reward and craving (18).

These signals make you crave more food, and are known to cause overeating (16).

Long-term studies have also shown that eating refined carbs is linked with increased belly fat over the course of five years (19, 20).

Furthermore, refined carbs may cause inflammation in the body. Several experts have speculated that this may be one of the primary dietary causes of leptin resistance and obesity (21, 22).

BOTTOM LINE:

Refined carbs cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, and only make you feel full for a short time. This is followed by a drop in blood sugar, hunger and cravings.

Refined Carbs May Increase the Risk of Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes

Heart disease is incredibly common, and currently the world’s biggest killer.

Type 2 diabetes is another very common disease, affecting about 300 million people worldwide.

People with type 2 diabetes have a high risk of developing heart disease (23, 24, 25).

Studies show that a high consumption of refined carbs is linked with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. These are some of the main symptoms of type 2 diabetes (14, 26, 27).

Refined carbs also increase blood triglyceride levels. This is a risk factor for both heart disease and type 2 diabetes (28, 29, 30, 31).

One study in Chinese adults showed that over 85% of the total carbohydrate intake came from refined carbs, mainly white rice and refined wheat products (32).

The study also showed that people who ate the most refined carbs were two to three times more likely to get heart disease, compared to those who ate the least.

BOTTOM LINE:

Refined carbs may increase blood triglycerides, blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance. All of these are major risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Not All Carbs Are Bad

Eating a lot of refined carbs can have many negative health effects. However, not all carbs are bad.

Some carbohydrate-rich, whole foods are extremely healthy. These are great sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and various beneficial plant compounds.

Healthy carb-rich foods include vegetables, fruit, legumes, root vegetables and whole grains, such as oats and barley.

Unless you are following a carb-restricted diet, there is absolutely NO reason to avoid these foods just because they contain carbs.

Here is a list of 12 high-carb foods that are incredibly healthy.

BOTTOM LINE:

Whole foods that contain carbs tend to be incredibly healthy. These include vegetables, fruits, legumes, root vegetables and whole grains.

For optimal health (and weight), try to get the majority of your carbs from whole, single ingredient foods.

If a food comes with a long list of ingredients, it is probably not a healthy carb source.

19. Don’t Fear Saturated Fat

The “war” on saturated fat was a mistake.

It is true that saturated fat raises cholesterol, but it also raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and changes the LDL from small to large, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease (79, 80, 81, 82).

New studies that included hundreds of thousands of people have shown that there is no link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease (83, 84).

Saturated Fat: Good or Bad?

We’ve been told that saturated fat is unhealthy.

It is claimed to raise cholesterol levels and give us heart attacks.

However… many recent studies suggest that the true picture is more complicated than that.

This article takes a detailed look at saturated fat and whether it is good or bad for your health.

What Is Saturated Fat?

“Fats” are macronutrients.

That is, nutrients that we consume in large amounts and give us energy.

Each fat molecule is made of one glycerol molecule and three fatty acids… which can be either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

What this “saturation” stuff has to do with, is the number of Fdouble bonds in the molecule.

Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds, monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond and polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more double bonds.

This picture here shows the difference:

Photo Source.

Another way to phrase this, is that saturated fatty acids have all their carbon (C) atoms fully “saturated” with hydrogen (H) atoms.

Foods that are high in saturated fat include fatty meats, lard, full-fat dairy products like butter and cream, coconuts, coconut oil, palm oil and dark chocolate.

Actually, “fats” contain a combination of different fatty acids. No fat is pure saturated fat, or pure mono- or polyunsaturated.

Even foods like beef also contain a significant amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fats (1).

Fats that are mostly saturated (like butter) tend to be solid at room temperature, while fats that are mostly unsaturated (like olive oil) are liquid at room temperature.

Like other fats, saturated fat contains 9 calories per gram.

BOTTOM LINE:

Saturated “fats” are fats that contain a high proportion of saturated fatty acids, which contain no double bonds. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

Why Do People Think That It Is Harmful?

Back in the 20th century, there was a major epidemic of heart disease running rampant in America.

It used to be a rare disease, but very quickly it skyrocketed and became the number one cause of death… which it still is (2).

Researchers learned that eating saturated fat seemed to increase levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

This was an important finding at the time, because they also knew that having high cholesterol was linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

This led to the following assumption being made:

If saturated fat raises cholesterol (A causes B) and cholesterol causes heart disease (B causes C), then this must mean that saturated fat causes heart disease (A causes C).

However, at the time, this was not based on any experimental evidence in humans.

This hypothesis (called the “diet-heart hypothesis”) was based on assumptions, observational data and animal studies (3).

The diet-heart hypothesis then turned into public policy in 1977, before it was ever proven to be true (4).

Even though we now have plenty of experimental data in humans showing these initial assumptions to be wrong, people are still being told to avoid saturated fat in order to reduce heart disease risk.

BOTTOM LINE:

Saturated fats have been assumed to cause heart disease by raising cholesterol in the blood. However, no experimental evidence has ever directly linked saturated fat to heart disease.

Saturated Fat Can Raise LDL (The “Bad”) Cholesterol, But Also HDL (The “Good”) Cholesterol

It’s important to realize that the word “cholesterol” is often used inaccurately.

HDL and LDL, the “good” and “bad” cholesterols, aren’t actually cholesterol… they are proteins that carry cholesterol around, known as lipoproteins.

LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein and HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein. All “cholesterol” is identical.

At first, scientists only measured “Total” cholesterol, which includes cholesterol within both LDL and HDL. Later they learned that while LDL was linked to increased risk, HDL was linked to reduced risk (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

“Total” cholesterol is actually a highly flawed marker because it also includes HDL. So having a high HDL (protective) actually contributes to a high “Total” cholesterol.

Because saturated fat raised LDL levels, it seemed logical to assume that this would increase the risk of heart disease. But scientists mostly ignored the fact that saturated fat also raises HDL.

All that being said, new research has shown that LDL isn’t necessarily “bad” because there are different subtypes of LDL (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16):

Small, dense LDL: These are small lipoproteins that can penetrate the arterial wall easily, which drives heart disease.

Large LDL: These lipoproteins are large and fluffy and don’t easily penetrate the arteries.

The small, dense particles are also much more susceptible to becoming oxidized, which is a crucial step in the heart disease process (17, 18, 19).

People with mostly small LDL particles have three times greater risk of heart disease, compared to those with mostly large LDL particles (20).

So… if we want to reduce our risk of heart disease, we want to have mostly large LDL particles and as little of the small ones as possible.

Here’s an interesting bit of information that is often ignored by “mainstream” nutritionists… eating saturated fat changes the LDL particles from small, dense to Large ( 21, 22, 23).

What this implies is that even though saturated fat can mildly raise LDL, they are changing the LDL to a benign subtype that is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Even the effects of saturated fat on LDL aren’t as dramatic as you may think. Although they increase LDL in the short-term, plenty of long-term observational studies find no link between saturated fat consumption and LDL levels (24, 25, 26).

It also seems to depend on the “chain length” of the fatty acid. For example, palmitic acid (16 carbons) may raise LDL, while stearic acid (18 carbons) does not (27).

Now scientists have realized that it’s not just about the LDL concentration or the size of the particles, but the number of LDL particles (called LDL-p) floating in the bloodstream.

Low-carb diets, which tend to be high in saturated fat, can lower LDL-p, while low-fat diets can have an adverse effect and raise LDL-p (28, 29, 30, 31).

BOTTOM LINE:

Saturated fats raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and change LDL from small, dense (bad) to Large LDL, which is mostly benign. Overall, saturated fats do not harm the blood lipid profile like previously believed.

Does Saturated Fat Cause Heart Disease?

The supposedly harmful effects of saturated fat are the cornerstone of modern dietary guidelines.

Because of that, this topic has received enormous amounts of funding.

However… despite decades of research and billions of dollars spent, scientists still haven’t been able to demonstrate a clear link.

Several recent review studies that combined data from multiple other studies, found that there really is no link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.

This includes a review of 21 studies with a total of 347,747 participants, published in 2010. Their conclusion: there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease (32).

Another review published in 2014 looked at data from 76 studies (both observational studies and controlled trials) with a total of 643,226 participants. They found no link between saturated fat and heart disease (33).

We also have a systematic review from the Cochrane collaboration, which combines data from numerous randomized controlled trials.

According to their review, published in 2011, reducing saturated fat has no effect on death or death from heart disease (34).

However, they found that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats reduced the risk of cardiac events (but not death) by 14%.

This does not imply that saturated fats are “bad,” just that certain types of unsaturated fats (mostly Omega-3s) are protective, while saturated fats are neutral.

So… the biggest and best studies on saturated fat and heart disease show that there is no direct link. It was a myth all along.

Unfortunately, the governments and “mainstream” health organizations seem reluctant to change their minds and continue to promote the old low-fat dogma.

For more, read this review of 5 recent studies on saturated fat and health.

BOTTOM LINE:

The link between saturated fat and heart disease has been studied intensely for decades, but the biggest and best studies show that there is no statistically significant association.

Does a Diet Low in Saturated Fat Have Any Health Benefits, or Help You Live Longer?

Several massive studies have been conducted on the low-fat diet.

This is the diet recommended by the USDA and mainstream health organizations all over the world.

The main purpose of this diet, is to reduce the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol.

This diet also recommends increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains… along with reduced consumption of sugar.

The Women’s Health Initiative was the biggest nutrition study in history. It was a randomized controlled trial with 46,835 women, who were instructed to eat a low-fat diet.

After 7.5-8 years, there was only 0.4 kg (1 pound) difference in weight and there was zero difference in heart disease, cancer or death (35, 36, 37, 38).

Other massive studies have confirmed this… the low-fat diet provides no benefit for heart disease or the risk of death (39, 40).

Several studies that replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated vegetable oils showed that more people in the vegetable oil groups ended up dying (41, 42).

It is interesting to see that since the low-fat guidelines came out, the prevalence of obesity has skyrocketed (43):

This graph shows that the obesity epidemic started full-force at the same time the low-fat advice was peaking. The type 2 diabetes epidemic followed soon after.

Of course, this graph alone doesn’t prove anything (correlation does not equal causation), but it does make sense that replacing traditional foods like butter and meat with processed low-fat foods high in sugar had something to do with it.

It’s also interesting when looking at the literature, that in almost every single study comparing the “expert approved” low-fat diet to other diets (including paleo, vegan, low-carb and Mediterranean), it loses (44, 45, 46, 47).

BOTTOM LINE:

Studies on the low-fat diet do not show a reduced risk of heart disease or death and some studies show that replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils increases the risk.

People With Certain Medical Conditions May Want to Minimize Saturated Fat

The results of most studies are based on averages.

The studies clearly show that, on average, saturated fat does not raise the risk of heart disease.

However, within those averages, there is room for individual variability.

Perhaps most individuals see no effect… while others experience decreased risk and yet others experience an increased risk.

That being said, there are definitely some people who may want to minimize saturated fat in the diet.

This includes individuals with a genetic disorder called Familial Hypercholesterolemia, as well as people who have a gene variant called ApoE4 (48).

With time, the science of genetics will most surely discover more ways in which diet affects our individual risk for disease.

BOTTOM LINE:

Some people may want to minimize saturated fat intake, including people with Familial Hypercholesterolemia or a gene called ApoE4.

Saturated Fat is Excellent for Cooking and Foods That Are High in it Tend to be Healthy and Nutritious

Saturated fat has some important beneficial aspects that are rarely mentioned.

For example, saturated fats are excellent for cooking. Because they have no double bonds, they are highly resistant to heat-induced damage (49).

Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, easily oxidize when they’re heated (50).

For this reason, coconut oil, lard and butter are all excellent choices for cooking, especially for high-heat cooking methods like frying.

Foods that are naturally high in saturated fat also tend to be healthy and nutritious, as long as you’re eating quality unprocessed foods.

These include naturally fed/raised meats, dairy products from grass-fed cows, dark chocolate and coconuts.

BOTTOM LINE:

Saturated fats are excellent cooking fats and foods that are high in saturated fat tend to be both healthy and nutritious.

The “Bad” Fats You Should Avoid Like The Plague

There are many different types of fat.

Some of them are good for us, others neutral, yet others are clearly harmful.

The evidence points to saturated and monounsaturated fats being perfectly safe and maybe even downright healthy.

However… the situation is a bit more complicated with polyunsaturated fats.

When it comes to those, we have both Omega-3s and Omega-6s.

We need to get these two types of fatty acids in a certain balance, but most people are eating way too many Omega-6 fatty acids these days (51).

It is a good idea to eat plenty of Omega-3s (such as from fatty fish), but most people would do best by reducing their Omega-6 consumption (52).

The best way to do that is to avoid seed- and vegetable oils like soybean and corn oils, as well as the processed foods that contain them.

Another class of fats, artificial trans fats, is also very harmful.

Trans fats are made by exposing polyunsaturated vegetable oils to a chemical process that involves high heat, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst.

Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, belly fat accumulation and drastically raise the risk of heart disease (53, 54, 55, 56).

So eat your saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and Omega-3s… but avoid trans fats and processed vegetable oils like the plague.

BOTTOM LINE:

The truly harmful fats are artificial trans fats and processed vegetable oils high in Omega-6 fatty acids.

Blaming New Health Problems on Old Foods Doesn’t Make Sense

The health authorities have spent an immense amount of resources studying the link between saturated fat and heart disease.

Despite thousands of scientists, decades of work and billions of dollars spent, this hypothesis still hasn’t been supported by any good evidence.

The saturated fat myth wasn’t proven in the past, isn’t proven today and never will be proven… because it’s just flat out wrong.

Not only is this myth NOT supported by scientific evidence, it is easily refuted with some plain common sense…

Humans and pre-humans have been eating saturated fat for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years, but the heart disease epidemic started a hundred years ago.

Blaming new health problems on old foods just doesn’t make sense.

20. Lift Heavy Things

Lifting weights is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your body and improve your body composition.

It also leads to massive improvements in metabolic health, including improved insulin sensitivity (85, 86).

The best approach is to go to a gym and lift weights, but doing body weight exercises can be just as effective.

Heavy Lifting Tips to Save Your Back

Lift less. If you think an object you need to carry is going to be too heavy, it probably is. …

Proper Exercise. Exercising regularly can drastically help with exercises while performing heavy lifting at home. …

Widen your stance. Make sure your legs are shoulder-width apart when lifting objects.

21. Avoid Artificial Trans Fats

Artificial trans fats are harmful, man-made fats that are strongly linked to inflammation and heart disease (87, 88, 89, 90).

It is best to avoid them like the plague.

13 trans fat foods to remove from your diet!

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 17 January 2018.

Tagged: fats, healthy cooking, healthy eating, oil, trans fat

13 trans fat foods to remove from your diet!

Trans fats are a nutrition no-no. Yet they’re in demand for many and varied quality reasons. For instance, they make food taste crisp and crunchy, they are more stable so food lasts longer on the shelves, and they cost less.

However, they’re a hazard for your heart and are now thought to be a trigger for inflammation and metabolic syndrome. So where are they and how do you avoid them? Here are my top 13 worst offenders to steer clear of.

Many food manufacturers and fast-food chains have removed or reduced trans fat content.

The Monitoring Round Table run by the Australian government has worked in partnership with food companies and fast food operators to get trans fats out of the food supply.

It produced two reports in 2007 and in 2009 with good improvements.

These fats still lurk in many foods. They’re the industrial trans fatty acids. The more junk food and deep-fried rubbish you eat, the more you’ll consume. So avoid these and you’ll avoid most trans fats – along with a heap of salt, added sugar and refined starches.

How are trans fats formed?

There are two ways in which trans fats are created:

Naturally: They are made by bacteria that live in the forestomach (or rumen) of cattle, sheep, goats and deer. This means that they occur naturally in meats such as beef, lamb, goat and venison, as well as dairy products that come from these animals such as milk, cheese, butter and cream. There’s little evidence against these but it’s good to know they exist.

Industrially: They are formed when fats and oils are hydrogenated or deodorised. During hydrogenation, liquid vegetable oils are hydrogenated (hydrogen is bubbled through them in the presence of a catalyst) to transform them into solid and semi-solid fats. This process changes the molecular structure of the fatty acids which results in a portion – from 30 to 60 per cent – changing to the trans form. Trans fats are the chemical opposite of the usual cis form – see here for more.

Where do you find trans fats?

For centuries, human beings have been consuming them in small amounts from butter, milk, beef and lamb. So the consumption of trans fats is not new. Think everything from a glass of milk to a pot of dripping under the sink. The good news is that there is no evidence that the natural forms of trans fat is dangerous. However, the manufactured forms of trans fats are a different story.

iStock SPOONFAT154894856Way back in the 1970s, animal fats such as butter, pork lard and beef tallow were accused of contributing to heart disease and cancer, thanks to their saturated fat content. To address this health scare, manufacturers then switched to vegetable oils which were perceived as healthy because they contained little saturated fats. However, manufacturers had to find a way to make them solid to help with texture, spreadability, crispness and shelf life. If you want potato fries without tallow or a Danish pastry without butter or baker’s fat, you’ve got to somehow solidify the oil! Hydrogenation of fats made this possible.

Most animal fats like butter naturally contain around 3 per cent of their total fat as trans fat. If you compare this to a hydrogenated commercial shortening which is used in baking, you will be alarmed to find that the shortening contains a high 30 per cent as trans. That’s 10 times more than that naturally occurring in animal fats – and that’s why health professionals are worried about trans fats.

My top 13 worst food for trans fats

Manufactured foods that you and I would call “junk foods” are the foods most likely to contain high levels of trans fats. So eat less of these (listed below) and you’ll automatically reduce your intake:

Dripping and tallow from lamb or beef

Movie popcorn – Popcorn in itself is a healthy snack and sports a serving of whole grains to boot. But when you pour on the buttery toppings, there’s no telling what you’re really adding. Movie popcorn is the worst as it’s coated in solid coconut fat. Just the smell of it when you enter a shopping mall should warn you.

Blended vegetable oil – Doesn’t matter whether it’s mono- or polyunsaturated, this cheap supermarket oil has trans fats produced during the refining and heating stages.

Solid cooking margarines (shortening) e.g. Fairy, Frymaster, Crisco

Fried salty snack foods such as potato crisps and corn chips

Crackers, biscuits and cookies

Doughnuts, particularly iced

Baked meaty goods such as sausage rolls and meat pies (it’s in the pastry)

Any deep-fried fast food items such as French fries, chips, wedges, battered fish and nuggets. These foods have been deep-fried in partially hydrogenated oils unless they tell you otherwise (sometimes they advertise they cook in cottonseed oil).

Frozen foods such as spring rolls, crumbed chicken and fish fingers

Pastries and pies like Danish pastries, croissants, snails and apple pies

Packet cake mixes

Non-dairy coffee whiteners – For coffee lovers, non-dairy creamers can become an integral part of your morning. Over time, however, they can also add a considerable amount of trans fat to your diet. To determine whether your non-dairy creamer contains trans fat, simply check the ingredient listing for “partially hydrogenated oils.” Nestlé  who make the market leader Coffee Mate now declare that they’ve removed partially hydrogenated oils from the ingredients. Read more about it here.

Are trans fats on the label?

At present, manufacturers are required to list ONLY the total fat and saturated fat – not the trans fat. But if a claim is made such as ‘No trans fat’ or ‘No cholesterol’, then the amount of trans fat has to be listed on the nutrition information panel at the back. Almost all margarines say this.

Companies are allowed to round down and put “0 grams” on the Nutrition Panel if their product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

5 easy steps to avoid trans fats

To reduce your consumption of trans fats follow these handy hints:

Where possible, use oils such as olive and sunflower oils, instead of margarine and butter. For instance when baking a cake, look for a recipe that works well using oil instead of solid fats – banana or carrot cake work well.

Choose a soft spread over a hard margarine (cooking margarine) or butter. Most spreads today are made with less than 1 per cent trans fat.

Avoid buying commercial cakes, slices, biscuits, muffins, quiches and pies. Instead bake these at home using soft margarine or occasionally unsalted butter.iStock 510105433 2

Avoid bought pastry, including shortcrust and puff.

Avoid deep-fried fast food unless you know a low-trans oil has been used (McDonalds has switched to a low trans canola-based oil which is a good step). In any case, these foods are not healthy take-aways and you shouldn’t eat them regularly.

Roundtable on Health Government initiative.

WHO released a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply. WHO estimates that every year, trans fat intake leads to  more than 500,000 deaths of people from heart disease. May 2018.

22. Use Plenty of Herbs and Spices

There are many incredibly healthy herbs and spices out there.

For example, ginger and turmeric both have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, leading to various health benefits (91, 92, 93, 94).

You should make an effort to include as many different herbs and spices as you can. Many of them can have powerful beneficial effects on your health.

Guide to Fresh Herbs

These top 10 herbs will add flavor to your favorite dishes.

Image Source, www.imagesource.com

Basil

A close relative to mint, basil has a floral anise- and clove-like flavor and aroma. There are two main types of basil: Sweet, or Genoese, basil and Asian basils. In Western cuisine, basil is most often associated with Mediterranean foods like pesto and tomato sauce. Sweet basil pairs naturally with tomatoes, but it can be used with almost every type of meat or seafood. Asian basil has a more distinct anise flavor and is often used in soups, stews, stir fries and curry pastes.

Fresh Mozzarella with Red and Yellow Tomatoes and Basil Vinaigrette

Pesto

Soupe au Pistou

Parsley

One of the most common and versatile herbs used in Western cooking, parsley has a light peppery flavor that complements other seasonings. It’s most often used in sauces, salads and sprinkled over dishes at the end of cooking for a flash of green and a fresh taste. Flat-leaf or Italian parsley has the best texture and flavor for cooking. Curly parsley is best used only as a garnish.

Grilled Artichokes with Parsley and Garlic

Pommes Frites with Parsley Butter

Cilantro

Cilantro, also called coriander, has a flavor that some people find “soapy,” but it’s still one of the world’s most popular spices. Many people are addicted to its bright refreshing flavor, and it’s a staple of Latin and Asian cooking. The sweet stems and leaves are usually eaten raw, added after a dish has been cooked. The roots are used to make Thai curry pastes.

Cilantro Grilled Chicken Breast

Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto Pizza

Spicy Chicken Coconut Curry

Mint

Although more commonly associated with sweet treats, mint lends its cooling, peppery bite to plenty of savory dishes, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa. Fresh mint is perfect for summer-fresh salads, to liven up a sauce and or to brew fragrant teas. The cooling flavor is also used to temper spicy curries.

Lamb Kabob with Mint Pesto

Mint Julep

Watermelon with Sweet Balsamic Syrup and Fresh Mint

Rosemary

A tough, woody herb with a pungent flavor, rosemary’s spiky leaves can be used fresh or dried for long cooking in soups, meats, stews or sauces. Because the flavor is strong, it’s best to add rosemary sparingly at first and more if needed. Fresh rosemary can be stored for about a week in the fridge either in a plastic bag or stems down in a glass of water with a plastic bag around the top.

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Roasted Pears, and Black Pepper Polenta

Roasted Red Snapper with Rosemary

Thyme

One of the most popular herbs in American and European cooking, thyme can be paired with nearly any kind of meat, poultry, fish, or vegetable. To use fresh thyme, peel off as many of the leaves as you can from the woody stem by running your fingers along the stem. Particularly with younger thyme, some of the main stem or little offshoot stems will be pliable and come off with the leaves, which is fine. Thyme keeps for at least a week in the fridge, wrapped in a damp paper towel and stored in a plastic bag.

Provencal Roasted Chicken with Honey and Thyme

Red Potatoes and Thyme

Sage

Most people use dried sage once a year for their Thanksgiving stuffing, but there are many other delicious uses for this herb, particularly in dishes with pork, beans, potatoes, cheese, or in the classic sage and brown butter sauce. The flavor can be somewhat overwhelming — particularly with dried sage — so start off with a small amount and build on that. Fresh sage can add nuance and complexity to a dishes.

White Beans with Pancetta and Sage

Chives

Chives add a flavor similar to onion without the bite. Plus, their slender tube-like appearance looks great as a garnish either snipped and sprinkled or laid elegantly across a plate. Add these delicate herbs at the very end to maximize their color and flavor. Purple chive blossoms are more pungent than the stems and can be a beautiful addition to a salad.

Grilled Pepper Crusted T-Bone Steaks with Worcestershire-Chive Butter

Homemade Potato Chips with Bleu Cheese and Chives

Shrimp and Chive Ravioli with Grape Tomato Sauce

Dill

The feathery leaves, or fronds, of the dill plant add a pleasant anise-like flavor to seafood, soups, salads and sauces. Its subtle taste makes an excellent compliment to foods with delicate flavors like fish and shellfish, and it is commonly used in cuisine across Europe and the Middle East. Fresh dill should have a strong scent and keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Grilled Shrimp with Lemon-Dill Butter and Orzo Salad

Roasted Potatoes with Dill

Salmon Cakes

Oregano

Oregano, a pungent herb primarily found in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, is one of the few herbs that dries well, so it is easier to find dried oregano than fresh. Dried oregano can be substituted for fresh, but use half as much dried oregano as you would fresh since the flavor is more concentrated. Oregano can also be used as a substitute for its close cousin, marjoram.

Greek Salad with Oregano Marinated Chicken

Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

Stuffed Foccacia with Roasted Eggplant and Oregano

23. Take Care of Your Relationships

Communicate. For me, communication is the sine quo non for taking care of myself and the relationship.

Emotional awareness. Understanding emotions is the second way to take care of yourself in a relationship. …

Physical well-being. Do you look after your physical health? …

Social networks. …

Time for yourself.

Social relationships are incredibly important. Not only for your mental wellbeing, but your physical health as well.

Studies show that people who are close with friends and family are healthier and live much longer than those who are not.

Take Care of Your RelationshipsHABIBA JESSICA TRAN LPC, NCC

Simple Steps to Take Care of Your Relationships

The old phrase TLC or Tender Love and Care is used quite often. But in our daily lives, as a life skill, how much do we put it into practice? Take the scenario below:

It is 10:00 PM on Sunday evening. Kate is exhausted and frustrated. “I try so hard” she says to her husband Vince, who is already in bed, ready to sleep. “Honey, you have to relax. The kids are fine” he says. “Relax?” she says, “Do you not realize what happened? Nathan was so angry with me that he threw his bike down in the middle of the street and kicked it. I am not doing a good job as a mom”. She said in a sad voice. “Well, you did come down a little bit too hard on him with his maneuvering the bike” he said. “He was refusing to try, I felt like he needed a little pushing. You don’t understand; Your mind was elsewhere. You could have helped me out you know. Kids are not bushes; They don’t grow on their own. They have feelings and need emotional care taking”. She said as her sad voice was turning into an almost angry voice. “Yes, I do understand. How can you say that? I work all these hours, so we can have a better life.” He responded. Then he followed by saying “Honey, I am tired, and I need to go to sleep. I don’t want to get into anything right now”. This is when she really got angry and blew. “You are tired? You? You were watching T.V. while I was cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry all morning. Then after the bike ride, you took a nice 1 hour nap, while I was mulling over what happened on the bike ride! I did everything you asked me to do today. You sent me out to air the bikes, walk the dog, make a salad, and I did. If you needed more help, you could have just asked. I have to ask for everything, don’t I?  You can’t use your own judgment, can you? God forbid, you put yourself out a little on weekends”. 

Turning his back while he lays in the bed, he says “I am going to sleep, good night, I love you”. She gets up from the bed, grabs her pillow and leaves the room. “I can’t believe you can just sleep like that when you know I am upset like this”.

Scenario Synopsis

What just happened here? Is Vince a total Jerk? Is Kate a drama queen and a demanding wife? No. They are both very nice people. We know because we have met them in couple’s counseling. They are madly in love and have a happy marriage most of the time. Well, this is an example of the difference between how men and women feel loved and appreciated. Kate felt disappointed at what happened earlier in the day with the children. When she turned to Vince, she was looking at him to take care of her emotionally; maybe giving her reassurance that she is a good mom. That the kids know she loves them, that she does so much and that Nathan will not remember that she yelled at him. It’s not that what Vince said has no validity, but rather that Kate needed something different at that point in time. 

As Kate was talking to Nathan, although late in the day, she was probing him to help her calm down. She was asking without words that she needs his emotional support. He, on the other hand, was thinking that she was attacking him and suggesting he was not doing enough. Hence he responded with a defensive response and explained his work hours etc. Why did their evaluation of the situation lead to unfavorable outcomes?

Difference between caring for vs. taking care of our loved ones

Caring for a loved one, could be expressed through acts of kindness such as washing the car, making food, watering the lawn, doing the dishes, and other “acts of kindness”. Making money, and financially supporting the other, falls under this category as well. 

Taking care of our loved ones is not necessarily actions, but rather an introspective and emotionally intelligent thought process and showing acceptance. Being in the moment, respecting their time, privacy, limitations, and feelings. 

Difference between caring for and taking care of our loved ones

What happens between couples, and more so in marriages because expectations for marriages are higher than other forms of relationships especially when there are children involved, the couple resorts back to their ego-centric self. This is the part of the self that is “me focused”, fragile and judgmental. This part of the self, especially under times of stress, where one could be super critical of oneself,  can be self-serving, self-punishing and confused. It can be harsh, unrealistic, unkind, and/or controlling. 

In my practice, I always invite my couples to look for the hidden clues. Clues could be in words, body language, or time spent. In the example above, all three clues were marked by Kate. Two word clues set forth by Kate were “I try so hard” and “you don’t understand”. Also, through the time spent by Vince, and witnessing what had taken place, he was clued into the fact that Kate could be feeling guilty. Although on the surface, it may seem Kate was attacking Vince when she said “you don’t understand”, she was actually asking him to understand her plight. He instead, responded by offering a solution “You just need to relax” which could come across as preaching if not patronizing.  

What would have been better would be for him to reach out, hold her hand, or give her a hug and say, something in the lines of “you do try hard sweetheart” or “honey, you are not supposed to be perfect” or “sweetie, please don’t be so hard on yourself, you are great”. 

On the other hand, what could have Kate done, instead of trying to console in her husband at what he was suggesting was the wrong time? It is quite obvious that both of these individuals “Care for” one another. But did they “take care of” one another. Kate could have respected Vince’s boundaries. She could have trusted the fact that he was not coming from a place of not caring, but rather a place of safety. Vince could have possibly done a quick assessment of his emotional inventory and realized that he was too tired to listen and therefore, in avoiding conflict, in case he said the wrong thing, he took the path of least resistance and said “I need to get to sleep”. This is, of course, not knowing or realizing that he had the option discussed above, which didn’t take too much time at all.

Steps for taking care

Always take an emotional inventory of where you are and where the other person is before beginning a Dialogue

Set a goal and imagine a vision for what you are looking for in starting the dialogue

Communicate what that goal is to your partner clearly

Wait and see if there is a commonality in goals without expectations

Accept rather than force a solution

In final, let’s do a replay of what could have transpired between Kate and Vince. If Kate had clearly practiced step 3 rather than assume that Vince could read the cues, she could have probably received the support she was hoping for. On the other hand, if Vince would have practiced step 1, he could have likely noticed that what Kate was looking for was not an assessment of what had happened, but rather a reassurance. 

Relationships are hard business

Many assume that Love means being a know it all. That is not love; It’s fortune telling. Love takes patience, and understanding, and humility and practice of all of the above. Distinguishing between Caring for and Taking care of our loved ones, helps us stay grounded, and humble at times where we naturally gravitate toward being egocentric and setting ourselves up for high expectations and false automatic negative thoughts. It’s not Tender Love. It’s not Tender Care. It’s Tender Love and Care. We need to take care of our own needs first, and then be a spokesperson for communicating them clearly to our partners, or significant others and allow them to feel safe in doing the same. 

24. Track Your Food Intake Every Now and Then

The only way to know exactly what you are eating, is to weigh your foods and use a nutrition tracker like My Fit nesspal or Cron-o-meter.

This is important to know how many calories you are eating. It is also essential to make sure that you’re getting in enough protein, fiber and micronutrients.

Studies show that people who track their food intake in one way or another tend to be more successful at losing weight and sticking to a healthy diet (98).

Basically, anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to help you succeed.

I personally track everything I eat for a few days in a row, every few months. Then I know exactly where to make adjustments in order to get closer to my goals.

Pancreatic Polypeptide Reduces Appetite and Food Intake in Humans

Pancreatic polypeptide (PP) is a gut hormone released from the pancreas in response to ingestion of food. Plasma PP has been shown to be reduced in conditions associated with increased food intake and elevated in anorexia nervosa. In addition peripheral administration of PP has been shown to decrease food intake in rodents. These findings suggest that PP may act as a circulating factor that regulates food intake. Therefore we investigated the effect of intravenous infusion of PP (10 pmol/kg/min) on appetite and food intake in a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study in ten healthy volunteers. Infusion of PP reduced appetite and decreased the energy intake at a buffet lunch two hours post-infusion by 21.8 ± 5.7% (P < 0.01). More importantly the inhibition of food intake was sustained, such that energy intake, as assessed by food diaries, was significantly reduced both the evening of the study and the following morning. Overall PP infusion reduced cumulative 24-hour energy intake by 25.3 ± 5.8%. In conclusion our data demonstrates that PP causes a sustained decrease in both appetite and food intake.

25. If You Have Excess Belly Fat, Get Rid of it

Not all body fat is equal.

It is mostly the fat in your abdominal cavity, the belly fat, that causes problems. This fat builds up around the organs, and is strongly linked to metabolic disease (99, 100).

For this reason, your waist size may be a much stronger marker for your health than the number on the scale.

Cutting carbs, eating more protein, and eating plenty of fiber are all excellent ways to get rid of belly fat.

6 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat, Based on Science

Belly fat is not just a problem because it can look bad.

In fact, having lots of fat in the abdominal area is strongly linked to diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease (1).

For this reason, losing belly fat has massive benefits for your health and can help you live longer.

Belly fat is usually estimated by measuring the circumference around your waist. This can easily be done at home with a simple tape measure.

Anything above 40 inches (102 cm) in men and 35 inches (88 cm) in women is known as abdominal obesity.

If you have a lot of excess fat around your waistline, then you should take some steps to get rid of it even if you’re not very heavy overall.

Fortunately, there are a few proven strategies that have been shown to target the fat in the belly area more than other areas of the body.

Here are 6 evidence-based ways to lose belly fat.

1. Don’t eat sugar and avoid sugar-sweetened drinks

Added sugar is very unhealthy.

Studies show that it has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health (2).

Sugar is half glucose, half fructose, and fructose can only be metabolized by the liver in significant amounts (3).

When you eat a lot of added sugar, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and is forced to turn it into fat (4).

Numerous studies have shown that excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose, can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly and liver (5).

Some believe that this is the primary mechanism behind sugar’s harmful effects on health. It increases belly fat and liver fat, which leads to insulin resistance and a host of metabolic problems (6).

Liquid sugar is even worse in this regard. Liquid calories don’t get “registered” by the brain in the same way as solid calories, so when you drink sugar-sweetened beverages, you end up eating more total calories (7, 8).

Studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity in children, for each daily serving (9).

Make a decision to minimize the amount of sugar in your diet, and consider completely eliminating sugary drinks.

This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary sodas, fruit juices and various high-sugar sports drinks.

Keep in mind that none of this applies to whole fruit, which are extremely healthy and have plenty of fiber that mitigates the negative effects of fructose.

The amount of fructose you get from fruit is negligible compared to what you get from a diet high in refined sugar.

If you want to cut back on refined sugar, then you must start reading labels. Even foods marketed as health foods can contain huge amounts of sugar.

SUMMARY

Excess sugar consumption may be the primary driver of excess fat in the belly and liver. This is particularly true of sugary beverages like soft drinks.

2. Eating more protein is a great long-term strategy to reduce belly fat

Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to losing weight.

It has been shown to reduce cravings by 60%, boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day and help you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day (10, 11, 12, 13).

If weight loss is your goal, then adding protein is perhaps the single most effective change you can make to your diet.

Not only will it help you lose, it also helps you avoid re-gaining weight if you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts (14).

There is also some evidence that protein is particularly effective against belly fat.

One study showed that the amount and quality of protein consumed was inversely related to fat in the belly. That is, people who ate more and better protein had much less belly fat (15).

Another study showed that protein was linked to significantly reduced risk of belly fat gain over a period of 5 years (16).

This study also showed that refined carbs and oils were linked to increased amounts of belly fat, but fruits and vegetables linked to reduced amounts.

Many of the studies showing protein to be effective had protein at 25-30% of calories. That’s what you should aim for.

So make an effort to increase your intake of high-protein foods such as whole eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, meat and dairy products. These are the best protein sources in the diet.

If you struggle with getting enough protein in your diet, then a quality protein supplement (like whey protein) is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then check out this article on how to increase your protein intake.

Bonus tip: Consider cooking your foods in coconut oil. Some studies have shown that 30 mL (about 2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day reduces belly fat slightly (17, 18).

SUMMARY

Eating plenty of protein can boost your metabolism and reduce hunger levels, making it a very effective way to lose weight. Several studies suggest that protein is particularly effective against belly fat accumulation.

3. Cut carbs from your diet

Carb restriction is a very effective way to lose fat.

This is supported by numerous studies. When people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight (19).

Over 20 randomized controlled trials have now shown that low-carb diets lead to 2-3 times more weight loss than low-fat diets (20, 21, 22).

This is true even when the low-carb groups are allowed to eat as much as they want, while the low-fat groups are calorie restricted and hungry.

Low-carb diets also lead to quick reductions in water weight, which gives people near instant results. A difference on the scale is often seen within 1-2 days.

There are also studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, showing that low-carb diets specifically target the fat in the belly, and around the organs and liver (23, 24).

What this means is that a particularly high proportion of the fat lost on a low-carb diet is the dangerous and disease promoting abdominal fat.

Just avoiding the refined carbs (sugar, candy, white bread, etc) should be sufficient, especially if you keep your protein intake high.

However, if you need to lose weight fast, then consider dropping your carbs down to 50 grams per day. This will put your body into ketosis, killing your appetite and making your body start burning primarily fats for fuel.

Of course, low-carb diets have many other health benefits besides just weight loss. They can have life-saving effects in type 2 diabetics, for example (25).

SUMMARY

Studies have shown that cutting carbs is particularly effective at getting rid of the fat in the belly area, around the organs and in the liver.

4. Eat foods rich in fiber, especially viscous fiber

Dietary fiber is mostly indigestible plant matter.

It is often claimed that eating plenty of fiber can help with weight loss.

This is true, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all fiber is created equal.

It seems to be mostly the soluble and viscous fibers that have an effect on your weight (26).

These are fibers that bind water and form a thick gel that “sits” in the gut.

This gel can dramatically slow the movement of food through your digestive system, and slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients. The end result is a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite (27).

One review study found that an additional 14 grams of fiber per day were linked to a 10% decrease in calorie intake and weight loss of 4.5 lbs (2 kg) over 4 months (28).

In one 5-year study, eating 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity (29).

What this implies, is that soluble fiber may be particularly effective at reducing the harmful belly fat.

The best way to get more fiber is to eat a lot of plant foods like vegetables and fruit. Legumes are also a good source, as well as some cereals like whole oats.

Then you could also try taking a fiber supplement like glucomannan. This is one of the most viscous dietary fibers in existence, and has been shown to cause weight loss in several studies (30, 31).

SUMMARY

There is some evidence that soluble dietary fiber can lead to reduced amounts of belly fat. This should cause major improvements in metabolic health and reduced risk of several diseases.

5. Exercise is very effective at reducing belly fat

Exercise is important for various reasons.

It is among the best things you can do if you want to live a long, healthy life and avoid disease.

Listing all of the amazing health benefits of exercise is beyond the scope of this article, but exercise does appear to be effective at reducing belly fat.

However, keep in mind that I’m not talking about abdominal exercises here. Spot reduction (losing fat in one spot) is not possible, and doing endless amounts of ab exercises will not make you lose fat from the belly.

In one study, 6 weeks of training just the abdominal muscles had no measurable effect on waist circumference or the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity (32).

That being said, other types of exercise can be very effective.

Aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming, etc) has been shown to cause major reductions in belly fat in numerous studies (33, 34).

Another study found that exercise completely prevented people from re-gaining abdominal fat after weight loss, implying that exercise is particularly important during weight maintenance (35).

Exercise also leads to reduced inflammation, lower blood sugar levels and improvements in all the other metabolic abnormalities that are associated with excess abdominal fat (36).

SUMMARY

Exercise can be very effective if you are trying to lose belly fat. Exercise also has a number of other health benefits and can help you live a longer life.

6. Track your foods and figure out exactly what and how much you are eating

What you eat is important. Pretty much everyone knows this.

However, most people actually don’t have a clue what they are really eating.

People think they’re eating “high protein,” “low-carb” or something else, but tend to drastically over- or underestimate.

I think that for anyone who truly wants to optimize their diet, tracking things for a while is absolutely essential.

It doesn’t mean you need to weigh and measure everything for the rest of your life, but doing it every now and then for a few days in a row can help you realize where you need to make changes.

If you want to boost your protein intake to 25-30% of calories, as recommended above, just eating more protein rich foods won’t be enough. You need to actually measure and fine tune in order to reach that goal.

Check out these articles here for a calorie calculator and a list of free online tools and apps to track what you are eating.

I personally do this every few months. I weigh and measure everything I eat to see what my current diet looks like.

Then I know exactly where to make adjustments in order to get closer to my goals.

26. Don’t go on a “Diet”

Diets are notoriously ineffective, and rarely work well in the long term.

In fact, “dieting” is one of the strongest predictors for future weight gain (105).

Instead of going on a diet, try adopting a healthier lifestyle. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it.

Weight loss should follow as a natural side effect of better food choices and improved metabolic health.

3 Reasons You Should Never Go on a Diet

Research shows a surprising percentage of us simply can’t keep it off long-term.

Diet culture is everywhere. From the Paleo fanatics to the clean-eating enthusiasts and Weight Watchers evangelists, thousands exalt the benefits of various diet plans. I use the word “diet” in this context to refer to any set of restrictive food rules (barring true medical and ethical concerns). If you are feeling guilt and shame about your food choices, it is likely that you are approaching the experience of eating from a “diet mentality.”

The word “diet” often has a negative connotation, so many people prefer to say they are making a “lifestyle change.” But if your lifestyle change entails rigid food rules that invoke guilt when broken, you are probably on a diet, even if in disguise. And the truth is, the diet industry wants us to “fail” so that we will continue to purchase their products. When you jump on the latest fad bandwagon, you support a multi-billion dollar industry that profits by convincing us we are inherently flawed.

Here, then, are 3 reasons you shouldn’t go on another diet:

1. Diets do not help you maintain weight loss long-term.

The idea that people fail at diets because of a lack of willpower is a myth perpetuated by the diet industry. Powerful biological factors essentially ensure that your attempt at dieting will fail. Researcher Traci Mann, who has studied dieting for more than 20 years, found that there are metabolic, hormonal, and neurological changes that contribute to “diet failure.”

According to Mann, “When you are dieting, you actually become more likely to notice food. . . But you don’t just notice it—it actually begins to look more appetizing and tempting.” Mann also stated that as you begin to lose weight, “the hormones that make you feel hungry increase” and “the hormones that help you feel full, or the level of those rather, decreases.”

Lastly, she explains, when you diet, “Your metabolism slows down. Your body uses calories in the most efficient way possible. . . When your body finds a way to run itself on fewer calories there tends to be more left over, and those get stored as fat.”

Thus, it is no surprise that studies show that 95 percent of people will “fail” at diets. Most people can lose weight in the short-term; however, over time the majority will regain the weight they lost—and potentially gain even more. Working to suppress your weight below your natural body weight is an ultimately a fruitless effort—in fact, it’s an utter waste of time.

Even if you are among the 5 percent of people who can maintain a suppressed weight long-term, think about what you may be giving up in order to achieve this: What good does it do to have an “ideal body” if you are sacrificing eating out, socializing with friends, and your interests outside of calorie-counting and obsessive exercise.

2. Weight loss is not the key to increased happiness.

As stated above, diets do not work if your aim is maintaining weight loss in the long-term. However, I have a problem with the very idea of weight loss as a goal, because tying your happiness to something external is a recipe for discontent.

As clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior says: “It’s not the external achievement of some goal that’s going to make us happy. You think that will automatically change your life in some meaningful way, but it could be that your life pretty much remains the same.”

For argument’s sake, let’s say that you had your “ideal body” and were supremely happy with your appearance. The reality of life remains that our bodies will change as we age, so, ultimately, putting all of your worth and value into your appearance is akin to boarding a sinking ship.

Additionally, people want to be thin because of the meaning they assign to it. There is a pervasive, unspoken societal belief that we can control our world, relationships, and self-esteem through our weight. It makes sense that in a world full of uncertainty, people would desire to focus on something tangible they falsely believe they can control.

However, weight set-point theory holds that your body will work to maintain its set-point weight range through powerful biological and psychological mechanisms. Further, we cannot control our external environment through our attempts at manipulating our weight. What if instead of trying to manipulate or control your weight, you focused on loving and accepting your body exactly as it is now?

Counting calories, obsessing about your body fat, and reading diet books is likely taking time away from more meaningful pursuits. Think about all of the other passions you could explore if you gave up the goal of weight loss. What if you poured all that time, money, and energy into something that could actually make a difference in the world?

3. Losing weight will not make you healthier.

You can be considered overweight and be healthy. You can also be considered thin and be unhealthy. A person’s weight is simply not a good barometer of their overall health. According to an article in The Nutrition Journal by Dr. Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, “Most epidemiological studies find that people who are overweight or moderately obese live at least as long as normal weight people, and often longer.”

Shifting your goal from weight loss to adopting more healthful habits is one way you can work to improve your health. As Bacon and Aphramor wrote, “As indicated by research conducted by one of the authors and many other investigators, most health indicators can be improved through changing health behaviors, regardless of whether weight is lost.”

We all want to believe there is some magic solution that will help us to discover true health and happiness. But the reality is that restrictive food rules and weight loss is not the answer to what we seek.

I challenge you to really think about what is behind your desire to lose weight, because the truth is, you can find love, feel great about yourself, and make a difference in this world at any size.

Lisa Turner, a food writer and nutrition consultant, summed it up best:

“Losing weight is not your life’s work, and counting calories is not the call of your soul. You surely are destined for something much greater, much bigger, than shedding 20 pounds or tallying calories. What would happen if, instead of worrying about what you had for breakfast, you focused instead on becoming exquisitely comfortable with who you are as a person?”

27. Eat Eggs, and Don’t Throw Away The Yolk

Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re often referred to as “nature’s multivitamin.”

It is a myth that eggs are bad for you because of the cholesterol. Studies show that they have no effect on blood cholesterol in the majority of people (106).

Additionally, a massive review study that included 263,938 individuals found that egg consumption had no association with the risk of heart disease (107).

What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and the yolk is where almost all of the nutrients are found.

Telling people to throw away the yolk is among the worst pieces of advice in the history of nutrition.

Don’t Throw Away That Egg Yolk!

Once upon a time, the egg yolk was the premiere boogeyman of the nutritional world. No more! Here’s what you need to know about using yolks to get yoked.

 Don’t Throw Away That Egg Yolk!

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People around the world prepare eggs in countless ways. Scrambled and fried are just the start. But nothing cooked them more than the barrage of attacks laid out by the health industry throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. And the most villainized part of the egg, of course, was the yolk.

But after years of abuse, the future is looking sunny-side up for that little yellow orb. Recent research has shed further light on the health benefits of whole eggs and cast plenty of doubt on the biggest arguments against the yolk. Let’s crack open the discussion!

Science’s 180 On Saturated Fat

For years, the media and health-governing bodies issued warnings to avoid saturated fat at all costs because it was thought to be a major player in increasing one’s risk for cardiovascular disease. Eggs, which happen to contain saturated fat in the yolk, were a primary target. “Only eat eggs twice per week” and “never have more than two eggs a day” were common guidelines.

So what changed? For starters, we know more about saturated fat than we once did. There are various types of saturated fats, in fact, not all of which impact cardiovascular disease risk in the same way.[1,2] Some forms, such as stearic acid, haven’t been shown to negatively impact cholesterol levels, and are largely converted to monounsaturated fat in the liver.1 It just so happens that stearic acid makes up a significant portion of an egg yolk’s total saturated fat content, and is present in even higher levels in free-range chicken eggs.[3]

Don’t skip the yolks out of fear of what they might do to your health decades down the road.

In either case, one large egg contains less than 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of saturated fat, and the last time I checked, that’s not even close to the biggest source around.[4] But let’s look more closely at saturated fat in general. The reason saturated fat got such a bad rap was because of its supposed effect on cholesterol. Chronically elevated cholesterol, in combination with other cardiovascular disease risks, such as a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, poor dietary choices, and high blood pressure, has been linked to various forms of heart disease.

Eggs contain plenty of dietary cholesterol—that much is clear. But is that enough to raise cholesterol levels? Some studies indicate that it is, to a certain degree. However, this is no longer thought to be a problem for healthy, active, nonobese, nondiabetic populations. Some research even suggests that genetics is a bigger determinant in cholesterol levels compared to dietary intake.[5]

In fact, cholesterol is important—in the right amounts—for the avid gym-goer looking to improve his or her performance and physique. Why? Cholesterol is a precursor for testosterone, which, as we all know, has a profound impact on supporting and facilitating gains.

In addition to being a protein powerhouse, eggs are jam-packed with a range of crucial nutrients. However, by throwing out the yolk, you’re losing out on numerous valuable nutrients.

The real question, of course, is how all the saturated fats in foods like yolks potentially contribute to disease, right? A 2015 systematic review published in the British Medical Journal looked squarely at this association, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes.[2] Researchers concluded that “saturated fats are not associated with all-cause mortality, CVD, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, or type 2 diabetes.” Dozens of other studies have backed this up.

The takeaway: Don’t skip the yolks out of fear of what they might do to your health decades down the road.

All About Eggs

As long as the fitness industry has been around, eggs have been considered a go-to protein source. In the 1960s and 1970s, larger-than-life characters like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa went the extra mile and guzzled them raw.

Fear of foodborne illness eventually knocked out that practice, but in terms of protein quality and amino-acid availability, eggs remain the gold standard to which other food-based protein sources are compared.[6]

In addition to being a protein powerhouse, eggs are jam-packed with a range of crucial nutrients. However, by throwing out the yolk, you’re losing out on numerous valuable nutrients. Let’s take a look at the differences between the egg white and the yolk.

Egg White

It’s basically water, protein, and a couple of nutrients in small amounts.

Egg Yolk

It’s got triple the calories of the white, almost as much protein, and a wide range of nutrients including:

Choline: Choline is an essential vitamin-like nutrient that plays a number of important roles within the body, including the production of the crucial neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Choline is also a major player in lipid metabolism and helps to increase neurotransmitter production.[7] It just so happens that eggs are one of the best sources of choline.

Vitamin D: This fat-soluble vitamin offers far too many health-supporting and muscle-building benefits to list here. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find in food sources without enrichment.[8] For this reason—and because we don’t get enough time in the sun—deficiencies are rampant, which can have serious health implications, particularly on the immune system. Egg yolks won’t solve the problem on their own, but they’re an important part of a multifaceted approach.

Additional fat-soluble vitamins: Egg yolks are also a solid source of vitamins A, E, and K, all of which require adequate dietary fat for absorption. You’ve no doubt heard that taking your daily multivitamin with a meal is a great way to optimize absorption. Yolks are like a multivitamin all on their own—or a great way to make sure yours is working.

If building muscle is your goal, including the yolks is a no-brainer. Whole eggs are rich in leucine, have a rock-solid amino-acid profile, and are about as affordable a superfood as you could ever hope to find. As for those extra calories, well, you’ll need them if you want to add muscle.

Yolks And Weight Loss

Whether whole eggs can help you lose weight is a question I’ve heard many times. The answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no.” To be clear, the deciding factor in your weight-loss journey is whether or not you’re eating a variety of nutritious foods while in a caloric deficit.

There is a case for whole eggs, though. Consuming more fat has been shown to help keep dieters feeling full longer than a diet low in fat, while also optimizing their hormonal profile. Going very low-fat, we now know, is a bad idea for multiple reasons, and can leave you feeling awful.

Don’t cut yolks out on account of their fat. As for their extra calories, well, if you’re skeptical, you can always opt for a half-half mixture of whites and whole eggs.

So don’t cut yolks out on account of their fat. As for their extra calories, well, if you’re skeptical, you can always opt for a half-half mixture of whites and whole eggs.

But here’s what will always be in favor of eggs: They’re just easy. Making a fast, egg-based breakfast in the morning is simple, satisfying, and can be matched to just about any palate.

My advice? Don’t be chicken about eggs, so long as they fit your macros. The biggest choice now is how you want ’em made.

Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. The British Journal of Medicine, 351. doi: 10.1136/bmj.h3978.

Fatty acid composition of certified organic, conventional and omega-3 eggs. Food Chemistry, 116(4), 911-914.

The nature of the association between diet and serum lipids in the community: A twin study. Health Psychology, 20(5), 341.

Egg Nutrition Council. (2014). Position Statement for Healthcare Professionals: Eggs and Protein.

Present Knowledge in Nutrition. John Wiley and Sons.

Vitamin D and Athletic Performance: The Potential Role of Muscle. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 2(4), 211-219.

Importance of Vitamin D & Vitamin B12

Importance of Vitamin D & Vitamin B12

Your daily intake of delicious foods might not be enough for a healthy life. Your health largely depends on the consumption of right amount of vitamins. You can be protected from a plethora of disorders by the intake of foods rich in vitamin B12 and D. Here’s why you need vitamin B12 and D:

Prevention: Vitamin B12 prevents us from certain cancers, including cancers in prostate glands, lungs, breast and colon. It also provides protection against heart diseases. Vitamin B12 also helps in prevention against Alzheimer’s disease. Intake of vitamin D reduces the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, heart disease and flu.

Booster of happiness and health: It has been found that vitamin B12 boosts up your energy levels to a great extent. There are health drinks enriched with Vitamins to provide energy to your tired body. But it is best to have foods rich in vitamin B12 and other vitamins.

Forget depression: Vitamin D and B12 are known to benefit your health by keeping away depression. Therefore, it is very important to keep a check on the vitamins level of your body.

Helps protein metabolism: One of the primary functions of vitamin B12 is to boost protein metabolism in your body. If you are suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency, you will suffer from improper protein metabolism. However, the symptoms may get noticed after several years.

Protect your bones: It is the most essential function of vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote the growth of bones. Deficiency of vitamin D can lead to bone related diseases like rickets.

Help your brain: Vitamin B12 is good for the overall health of the human brain. It can prevent you from developing dementia in old age or brain shrinkage.

Good for digestive system: Vitamin B12 helps in the smooth functioning of digestive system. It provides protection against constipation.

Beauty matters: Vitamin B12 and D are known for their contribution towards gifting you a healthy skin, shiny hairs and beautiful and strong nails. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Dietitian/Nutritionist.