How to Make The Right Choices about Carbs?

Carbs are highly controversial these days. The dietary guidelines suggest that we get about half of our calories from carbohydrates. On the other hand, some claim that carbs cause obesity and type 2 diabetes, and that most people should be avoiding them. There are good arguments on both sides, and it appears that carbohydrate requirements depend largely on the individual. Some people do better with a lower carb intake, while others do just fine eating plenty of carbs.

This article takes a detailed look at carbs, their health effects and how you can make the right choices. What Are Carbs?

Carbs, or carbohydrates, are molecules that have carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In nutrition, “carbs” refers to one of the three macronutrients. The other two are protein and fat.

Dietary carbohydrates can be split into three main categories:

    Sugars: Sweet, short-chain carbohydrates found in foods. Examples are glucose, fructose, galactose and sucrose.

    Starches: Long chains of glucose molecules, which eventually get broken down into glucose in the digestive system.

    Fiber: Humans can not digest fiber, although the bacteria in the digestive system can make use of some of them.

The main purpose of carbohydrates in the diet is to provide energy. Most carbs get broken down or transformed into glucose, which can be used as energy. Carbs can also be turned into fat (stored energy) for later use.

Fiber is an exception. It does not provide energy directly, but it does feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. These bacteria can use the fiber to produce fatty acids that some of our cells can use as energy. Sugar alcohols are also classified as carbohydrates. They taste sweet, but usually don’t provide many calories.

There are many different types of carbohydrate-containing foods, and they vary greatly in their health effects. Although carbs are often referred to as “simple” vs “complex,” I personally find “whole” vs “refined” to make more sense. Whole carbs are unprocessed and contain the fiber found naturally in the food, while refined carbs have been processed and had the natural fiber stripped out.

Examples of whole carbs include vegetables, whole fruit, legumes, potatoes and whole grains. These foods are generally healthy. On the other hand, refined carbs include sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, pastries, white bread, white pasta, white rice and others. Numerous studies show that refined carbohydrate consumption is associated with health problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

They tend to cause major spikes in blood sugar levels, which leads to a subsequent crash that can trigger hunger and cravings for more high-carb foods. This is the “blood sugar roller coaster” that many people are familiar with. Refined carbohydrate foods are usually also lacking in essential nutrients. In other words, they are “empty” calories. The added sugars are another story altogether, they are the absolute worst carbohydrates and linked to all sorts of chronic diseases.

However, it makes no sense to demonize all carbohydrate-containing foods because of the health effects of their processed counterparts. Whole food sources of carbohydrates are loaded with nutrients and fiber, and don’t cause the same spikes and dips in blood sugar levels.

Hundreds of studies on high-fiber carbohydrates, including vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains show that eating them is linked to improved metabolic health and a lower risk of disease

Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science

Coffee is actually very healthy.

It is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. The studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases.

Here are the top 13 health benefits of coffee, that have been confirmed in actual human studies.

1. Coffee Can Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter

Coffee can help people feel less tired and increase energy levels . This is because it contains a stimulant called caffeine, which is actually the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. After you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it travels into the brain. In the brain, caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.

When that happens, the amount of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine actually increases, leading to enhanced firing of neurons.

Many controlled trials in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function. This includes memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general cognitive function.

2. Coffee Can Help You Burn FatDid you know that caffeine is found in almost every commercial fat burning supplement?

There’s a good reason for that… caffeine is one of the very few natural substances that have actually been proven to aid fat burning. Several studies show that caffeine can boost the metabolic rate by 3-11% .

Other studies show that caffeine can specifically increase the burning of fat, by as much as 10% in obese individuals and 29% in lean people . However, it is possible that these effects will diminish in long-term coffee drinkers.

3. The Caffeine Can Drastically Improve Physical Performance

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing it to send signals to the fat cells to break down body fat. But caffeine also increases Epinephrine (Adrenaline) levels in the blood. This is the “fight or flight” hormone, designed to make our bodies ready for intense physical exertion. Caffeine makes the fat cells break down body fat, releasing them into the blood as free fatty acids and making them available as fuel. Given these effects, it is not surprising to see that caffeine can improve physical performance by 11-12%, on average.

Because of this, it makes sense to have a strong cup of coffee about a half an hour before you head to the gym.

4. There Are Essential Nutrients in Coffee

Coffee is more than just black water. Many of the nutrients in the coffee beans do make it into the final drink.

A single cup of coffee contains (21):

  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDA.
  • Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA.
  • Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA.

Although this may not seem like a big deal, most people are drinking more than one cup per day. If you drink 3-4, then these amounts quickly add up.

5. Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a gigantic health problem, currently afflicting about 300 million people worldwide. It is characterized by elevated blood sugars in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to secrete insulin. For some reason, coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The studies show that people who drink the most coffee have a 23-50% lower risk of getting this disease, one study showing a reduction as high as 67%.

According to a massive review that looked at data from 18 studies with a total of 457,922 individ uals, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (27).

6. Coffee May Protect You From Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia worldwide.This disease usually affects people over 65 years of age. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s. However, there are several things you can do to prevent the disease from showing up in the first place. This includes the usual suspects like eating healthy and exercising, but drinking coffee may be incredibly effective as well. Several studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease (28, 29).

7. Caffeine May Lower The Risk of Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, right after Alzheimer’s. It is caused by death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. Same as with Alzheimer’s, there is no known cure, which makes it that much more important to focus on prevention. In studies, coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, with a reduction in risk ranging from 32-60% .

In this case, it appears to be the caffeine itself that is causing the effect. People who drink decaf don’t have a lower risk of Parkinson’s.

8. Coffee Appears to Have Protective Effects on The Liver

The liver is an amazing organ that carries out hundreds of important functions in the body.Several common diseases primarily affect the liver, including hepatitis, fatty liver disease and others.

Many of these diseases can lead to a condition called cirrhosis, in which the liver has been largely replaced by scar tissue. It turns out that coffee may protect against cirrhosis. People who drink 4 or more cups per day have up to an 80% lower risk.

9. Coffee Can Fight Depression and Make You Happier

Depression is a serious mental disorder that causes a significantly reduced quality of life. It is incredibly common and about 4.1% of people in the U.S. currently meet the criteria for clinical depression. In a Harvard study published in 2011, women who drank 4 or more cups per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed.

Another study with 208,424 individuals found that those who drank 4 or more cups per day were 53% less likely to commit suicide (39).

10. Coffee Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Some Types of Cancer

Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death and is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells in the body.Coffee appears to be protective against two types of cancer… liver cancer and colorectal cancer. Liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world, while colorectal cancer ranks fourth. Studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 40% lower risk of liver cancer.

One study of 489,706 individuals found that those who drank 4-5 cups of coffee per day had a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer.

11. Coffee Does Not Cause Heart Disease and May Lower The Risk of Stroke

It is often claimed  that caffeine can increase blood pressure.This is true, but the effect is small (3-4 mm/Hg) and usually goes away if you drink coffee regularly. However, the effect may persist in some people, so keep that in mind if you have elevated blood pressure. That being said, the studies do NOT support the myth that coffee raises the risk of heart disease.

In fact, there is some evidence that women who drink coffee have a reduced risk of heart disease. Some studies also show that coffee drinkers have a 20% lower risk of stroke.

12. Coffee May Help You Live Longer

Given that coffee drinkers are less likely to get many disees, it makes sense that coffee could help you live longer. There are actually several observational studies showing that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death. In two very large studies, drinking coffee was associated with a 20% lower risk of death in men and a 26% lower risk of death in women, over a period of 18-24 years.

This effect appears to be particularly strong in type II diabetics. In one study, diabetics who drank coffee had a 30% lower risk of death during a 20 year study period.

13. Coffee is The Biggest Source of Antioxidants in The Western Diet

For people who eat a standard Western diet, coffee may actually be the healthiest aspect of the diet. That’s because coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants. In fact, studies show that most people get more antioxidants from coffee than both fruits and vegetables… combined (55, 56, 57). Coffee is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. Period. It is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. The studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases.

Here are the top 13 health benefits of coffee, that have been confirmed in actual human studies.

 

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

Eating smaller, more healthful portions is a great way to improve your health, but add exercise to the mix and maintaining or losing weight becomes much easier.

You don’t have to train for a marathon or a triathlon to get exercise; many daily activities count. Whether it’s walking the dog, gardening, going for a family bike ride or running on a treadmill at the gym, staying active is the goal. It doesn’t have to include putting on gym clothes or getting sweaty! Even low-impact exercise can have a big impact on your overall health.

Physical activity not only feels good, it helps prevent chronic diseases, improves your mood, increases your energy level and improves your quality of sleep, not to mention helps you manage and maintain your weight.

Walking is a great low-intensity way to achieve the health benefits of physical activity because it is safe and pleasant, making it an easier habit to develop. Because walking is an aerobic, weight-bearing activity, it’s good for your heart and helps prevent osteoporosis by strengthening your bones

How much physical activity is enough?

Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week for basic health benefits; if weight loss is your goal, you may need more. Your 150 minutes can be spread out through the week as you please. You can spend 21 minutes exercising every day, or work out for almost an hour three times per week. Use this guide from the Center for Disease Control on how much physical activity adults need.

Try to incorporate strength-strengthening exercises – like lifting weights, push-ups or yoga – at least two times per week to build and maintain muscles.

Children should get 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity every day to achieve maximum health benefits. Like adults, children can get the benefits by breaking up their 60 minutes, say 30 minutes during recess and 30 minutes after school.

How to get more physical activity

Incorporate some of these tips into your daily routine and watch your fitness improve!

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Ride an exercise bike while you watch the evening news.
  • Pace while talking on the phone.
  • Walk around the block on your lunch hour or during a break.
  • Make a ritual out of weekend family walks or bike rides.
  • Take dance lessons or an aerobics class.
  • Buy an exercise or yoga DVD (and use it!).
  • Join a fitness club and work with a fitness trainer.

Sticking with physical activity

Any amount of physical activity has health benefits, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t getting 150 minutes of weekly activity immediately. Use our Physical Activity Journal to set a goal and track your progress.

Tips for staying physically active:

  • Choose activities you like to do. You’ll be more likely to stick with something you enjoy. Think about whether you like to be inside or outside, alone or with people and what time of day is best for you.
  • Find a partner — you’re more likely to keep up with your new routine.
  • Congratulate yourself for all the good things you’ve done for your body and get started again as soon as your schedule allows.
  • Vary your routine. You may be less likely to get bored if you try different activities. Walk one day; bicycle the next.
  • Commit to a realistic schedule. You might want to vary the times and locations of your activities, to keep things interesting – unless you’re more comfortable with a set, predictable schedule, which is fine too!
  • Sneak in a few minutes of physical activity whenever you can. Take a 10 minute walk after you eat lunch and before you start back to work.

Are a few nuts more healthy?

Most research is based on total intake of nuts, not on consumption of particular types of nuts, so it isn’t clear whether eating more macadamia nuts, for example, is preferable to eating more almonds. The PREDIMED study (Guasch-Ferré 2013) found that eating a 1-ounce portion of a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts three or more times per week was associated with significantly reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, compared with a control diet. Other research has shown that people who eat nuts have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, gallstones and some cancers (Ros 2010). Nuts have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and inflammation.

All nuts are packed with nutrients. They are rich in protein; healthful unsaturated fatty acids; fiber; minerals like potassium; B vitamins, including folate; vitamin E; and many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals (Ros 2010). They do vary somewhat in nutrient content. Peanuts are especially high in protein. Different nuts have different proportions of polyunsaturated to monounsaturated fatty acids. Pine nuts and walnuts are higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids, while cashews, pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts have a higher proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids. The only nuts really rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid, are walnuts (Feldman 2002), although pecans do contain very small amounts of ALA. Almonds are higher than other nuts in vitamin E and calcium. The form of the nut affects nutrient content as well. Nuts with intact skins have higher levels of antioxidants than those without skins, like blanched almonds or hazelnuts (Ros 2010).

There really is no downside to any nut. Eat a variety of the nuts you like, including walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids. Try toasted hazelnuts and grated dark chocolate with your morning yogurt; add pistachios and dried apricots to your salad at lunch; and finely chop a handful of parsley, a clove of garlic and some toasted walnuts to sprinkle on grilled fish for dinner.

Avocado, lower your cholesterol

Just an avocado a day can significantly lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, a new study shows. Avocados are rich in so-called healthy fats and other nutrients and the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows the creamy fruit can work within weeks to lower cholesterol.

Just like olive oil and nuts, avocados have plaque-busting monounsaturated fatty acids, and the effects seem similar to all the benefits from a Mediterranean diet, the researchers said. And it’s one more piece of evidence in favor of adding good fats to the diet.

“In the past, we used to substitute carbohydrate for saturated fat, and that would result in a low-fat diet,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and distinguished professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University.

“Now we’re seeing that it’s better for people to have good fats in their diet at the expense of saturated fat. And so the current message is to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat, and in so doing, consume a moderate-fat diet, not too much, and also not too little,” Kris-Etherton told NBC News.

Kris-Etherton and colleagues did an intensive study with 45 typical Americans – all overweight or obese, but with healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

It’s tough to test diets in real life, because people eat so many different things, but the team controlled what everyone ate, feeding them carefully calibrated diets. One was a lower-fat diet without avocado, another was a moderate-fat diet without avocado, and the third added one avocado per day to the moderate-fat diet.

The two moderate-fat diets looked a lot like the average American diet, with about a third of calories coming from fat. The lower fat diet provided 24 percent of calories from fat.

Everyone spent five weeks on each diet. No one lost weight, but their low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) levels changed.

“We studied avocados but maybe a lot of other fruits and vegetables have these bioactive components which have additional cholesterol-lowering effects,” Kris-Etherton said. “And certainly there’s an emerging research base showing that some of these bioactive components may affect another lipoprotein particle favorably, like high-density lipoprotein. I think we need to stay tuned for that. “

Americans may not be used to eating avocado but Kris-Etherton says it’s easy to add.

“Consumers can include avocados in their diet in salads. They can include avocados on top of a sandwich, or in a sandwich. They can make guacamole and use vegetables rather than chips as the dip,” she said.

“I love guacamole and with my recipe, I’ll use avocados, cilantro, lime juice and garlic… and then sometimes I’ll put salsa in, or red pepper flakes.”

But like anything, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Avocados are definitely not low-calorie food.

 

Is it OK to eat eggs every day?

The cool that won’t leave can be a delay your work and social life, however the issues that come each month, and I mean each month, well, those can be a level out interruption to life.

In the event that you experience the ill effects of premenstrual disorder (PMS) issues and have attempted all cures, you might need to have a go at switching up what’s on your plate. Look at these sustenances, which may help you when it’s that time.

Egg yolks also contain antioxidants that may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, and protect against heart disease, stroke and some cancers. One large egg is also an excellent source of selenium, an antioxidant mineral that fights cell damage caused by free radicals and supports thyroid and immune function and riboflavin, a B vitamin that helps turn carbohydrates into energy, and vitamin D, important for strong bones and teeth.

All good stuff. So is an egg a day OK? A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating one egg a day was not associated with an increase in heart risks. That’s on top of a 2003 study published in the British Medical Journal, which tracked 115,000 adults for 14 years: researchers found eating one egg daily was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

Eggs can also fill you up, and may even help you eat less. In a study published in 2013 in the European Journal of Nutrition, 30 healthy men were randomly assigned to eat one of three breakfasts—eggs on toast, cornflakes with milk and toast or a croissant and orange juice—on three separate occasions, each separated by one week. Subjects felt more full and less hungry and had less desire to eat after the egg breakfast than the other breakfasts. They also ate less at lunch and dinner after having the egg breakfast as opposed to the other breakfasts.

In another study published in 2011 in the International Journal of Food Science Nutrition adults ate three lunches — an omelet, a skinless potato or a chicken sandwich (each had similar calories) — following a standard breakfast. Researchers found that the egg lunch was significantly more satisfying than the potato lunch. They concluded that eggs for lunch could increase satiety more than a carbohydrate meal and might even help reduce between-meal calorie intake.

“Carbs” Are Not The Cause of Obesity

Restricting carbs can often (at least partly) reverse obesity. However, this does not mean that the carbs were what caused the obesity in the first place. This is actually a myth, and there is a ton of evidence against it. While it is true that added sugars and refined carbs are linked to increased obesity, the same is not true of fiber-rich, whole-food sources of carbohydrates.

Humans have been eating carbs for thousands of years, in some form or another. The obesity epidemic started around 1980, and the type 2 diabetes epidemic followed soon after. Blaming new health problems on something that we’ve been eating for a very long time simply doesn’t make sense.

Keep in mind that many populations have remained in excellent health while eating a high-carb diet, such as the Okinawans, Kitavans and Asian rice eaters. What they all had in common was that they ate real, unprocessed foods. However, populations that eat a lot of refined carbohydrates and processed foods tend to be sick and unhealthy.

How to Make The Right Choices

As a general rule, carbohydrates that are in their natural, fiber-rich form are healthy, while those that have been stripped of their fiber are not.

If it’s a whole, single ingredient food, then it’s probably a healthy food for most people, no matter what the carbohydrate content is.

With this in mind, it is possible to categorize most carbs as either “good” or “bad” – but keep in mind that these are just general guidelines.

Things are rarely ever black and white in nutrition.

Good Carbs:

  • Vegetables: all of them. It is best to eat a variety of vegetables every day.
  • Whole fruits: apples, bananas, strawberries, etc.
  • Legumes: lentils, kidney beans, peas, etc.
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
  • Seeds: chia seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  • Whole grains: choose grains that are truly whole, as in pure oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
  • Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.

People who are trying to restrict carbohydrates need to be careful with the whole grains, legumes, tubers and high-sugar fruit.

Bad Carbs:

  • Sugary drinks: Coca cola, Pepsi, Vitaminwater, etc. Sugary drinks are some of the unhealthiest things you can put into your body.
  • Fruit juices: unfortunately, fruit juices may have similar metabolic effects as sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • White bread: these are refined carbohydrates that are low in essential nutrients and bad for metabolic health. This applies to most commercially available breads.
  • Pastries, cookies and cakes: these tend to be very high in sugar and refined wheat.
  • Ice cream: most types of ice cream are very high in sugar, although there are exceptions.
  • Candies and chocolates: If you’re going to eat chocolate, choose quality dark chocolate.
  • French fries and potato chips: Whole potatoes are healthy, but french fries and potato chips are not.

These foods may be fine in moderation for some people, but many will do best by avoiding them as much as possible.

Why diets come up short you: 5 things to think about weight, resolution and your body

“Losing weight is a particularly unfortunate New Year’s resolution because you’re almost guaranteed to need to do it again the next year and the next year and the next year,” said Traci Mann, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, and founder of the school’s Health and Eating Lab. Mann studies people’s behavior around food.

Here are five lessons from her lab:

1. Diets are futile.

Mann advises against going on strict calorie-restricting diets because they don’t work in the long run.

“You’re going through a lot of unpleasantness for a very short-term solution. That’s reason enough not to diet,” she said. “I discourage people to forbid themselves from eating specific foods or categories of foods because all that happens when you do that is you want it more.” It’s fine to lower your intake of fat or carbs, but don’t banish them from your meals completely, she recommended.

2. Focus on your health, not weight.

You can be healthy without dieting — no matter what you weigh. Her three main recommendations are:

Get regular exercise: It will improve your health before you see any change in your weight. “And you might never see any change in your weight,” she noted.

Engage in basic sensible eating: She doesn’t mean dieting, but eating in moderation: you can have candy, but not very much. The most important thing is to eat enough vegetables.

Do something to reduce stress: Yoga, meditation, a brisk walk — whatever works for you.

3. Realize willpower doesn’t work.

Many people blame themselves when they can’t stick to a diet, calling themselves weak or unable to exercise self-control.

But for most of us, willpower is very easy to disrupt and not strong enough to work over and over again, Mann said. If you only needed to use it once or twice a day, willpower would matter. But you need to use it dozens of times a day for it to be effective.

Think of the simple act of a coworker bringing donuts to the office: You have to decline when they’re offered, then stay away from the pastry box on the table, avert your glace each time you walk by and so on. Multiply that by all the food decisions you make in a day.

“It’s practically constant and there are too many foods to resist and you have to resist them too often,” Mann said.

4. Realize willpower gets harder to use when you need it most.

“When you’re dieting and restricting how much food you’re eating, your body notices that. And your body doesn’t care that you want thinner thighs; your body wants to make sure you don’t starve to death,” Mann said.

When not enough calories are coming in, your body makes three key changes, she noted:

• You’ll suddenly be very focused on food. You won’t be able to get your mind off it and will crave it more, making it harder to resist.

• Your hormone levels will change, leaving you more likely to feel hungry, and less likely to feel full.

• Changes in your metabolism mean you’ll stop losing weight. “Your body has done something really clever: it’s figured out a way to survive on fewer calories because it’s going to try to keep you alive longer. The result of that is more calories are left over to store as fat,” she noted.

5. Recognize your body has a biologically set weight range.

Your body is set to keep you in a range of weight and unless you’re in it, your body thinks something is wrong, Mann said. If you’re a natural size 8, it will be very hard to maintain a size 4.

There’s no scientific formula to figure out your ideal range, but it’s generally the weight you keep coming back to if you’re not on a strict diet, but also not overeating.

Mann’s advice: Aim for the lower end of that range. You can be perfectly healthy there.

“The problem is, for a lot of people that lower end within their set range is still a heavier weight than they daydream about,” she said.

It’s possible to live below your weight range, but it’s going to be a constant fight to stay there. Your body will want to kick you back up into your natural size.

“People cannot just weigh anything they want, for the most part,” Mann said. “We need to try to adjust our goals to more reasonable ones.”

 

6 Simple ways to get healthy

It’s all about the small moves you make that reap huge health benefits down the road.

1. Say good morning with lemon water

Lemon water is easy to prepare and has a couple of health benefits. It’s as simple as waking up and squeezing some lemon into a tall glass of water. The mixture helps improve your immunity because of the vitamin C and encourages digestion. Many people feel tired because they are dehydrated, so this is an easy way to make you drink more water. But remember, lemon has citric acid, which can erode tooth enamel. Try drinking lemon water with a straw and rinse your mouth afterwards to avoid the citric acid effects.

Lautenbach recommends drinking water to the point you are hydrated and encourages her patients to carry a water bottle with them. The best test to see if you are hydrated is to check your urine. If it’s light in color, you’re in good shape.

2. Do a refrigerator makeover

When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to grab a quick and easy snack, which often isn’t the healthiest. Try putting the healthier foods front and center in your fridge, keeping the indulgent foods out of sight, and doing some prep work. The technical term for this is “choice architecture.” Instead of keeping the fresh fruits and veggies in the crisper, put them in clear containers at eye-level — those will grab your attention when you open the door. It’s also helpful to do a weekly inventory check. Throw out those takeout containers, because they may fuel your eating habits.

Seres advises putting the chocolate syrup in the back of the fridge. When you’re standing in front of the refrigerator, you’re already caught up in your urges to eat. Make it easier to choose something healthy by having it at eye-level and ready to grab.

3. Try ‘deskercises’

Avoid being a couch potato! Or rather, a work potato. There are waves of research that report having a more sedentary lifestyle puts you at increased risk of negative health effects compared to living a more active routine. Just because you’re spending 9 to 5 at the office doesn’t mean sabotaging your health. Get moving, no matter how briefly. Also, stop stress and channel your mood with these simple “deskercises:”

Chair squats: To work out those glutes, stand about 6 inches in front of your chair and lower yourself down until your butt hits the edge, then pop back up. Repeat.

Book press: To tone those triceps, grab the heaviest book you can find around the office. With your elbows overhead, hold the book behind your head. Slowly lower the book down by your neck and then extend your arms up. Remember to keep elbows close to your ears. Repeat.

Lautenbach suggests performing these exercises if you’ve been sitting for more than an hour. She also offers another option: walking meetings. Grab your colleagues and walk on a pre-mapped route outside. Make sure to put phones away. Walking boosts your blood flow, which leads to better thinking, so you’ll get more out of your meetings with a light workout.

4. Boost brain power with chocolate

Sounds too good to be true, right? Research shows you can increase your alertness by eating dark chocolate. That’s thanks to flavanols, which are key components in dark chocolates. They work in dilating blood vessels, which allows more oxygen and blood to reach important parts of the brain. You also feel happier and more content. Flavanols are also found naturally in tea leaves and in certain fruits and vegetables, but the amounts vary.

Lautenbach recommends consuming dark chocolate squares that are unsweetened, since they have fewer calories and a more concentrated dose of flavanol. Don’t reach for the milk chocolate candies and stick to a modest consumption of high-calorie chocolates, the darker the better for the benefits.

5. Treat yourself with a massage

Let go of 2016 stress and treat yourself. The healing touch actually has some scientific backing. According to Mayo Clinic, studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate it’s an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s even used in physical therapy.

According to Lautenbach, massages reduce headaches and other pains since we carry a lot of stress in our neck and shoulders. They don’t need to last an hour to reap the benefits — 10-15 minutes works well. But they are not for everyone; if it feels painful or uncomfortable steer clear.

6. Buddy up

Find a health or fitness buddy, a friend, colleague or spouse who holds you accountable to agreed workouts and meals. You see this system in weight loss programs all the time where you build a sense of community. You and your health buddy can motivate each other while staying on track to a healthier lifestyle. Sharing your goals with others makes you want to achieve them.

Seres loves the idea of having a fitness buddy. From his personal experience and seeing how boring exercise can be, having a buddy should make a big difference. This encourages people and breaks up the boredom. Making it a social event hopefully motivates people to keep doing more of it.

 

Is Millet as Nutritious as Quinoa?

Millet is an “ancient grain” that is increasing in popularity owing to its nutty flavor, chewy texture and good nutrition. While quinoa is very familiar to Americans and seen everywhere from trendy bowls in fast-casual restaurants, to pancakes made by home cooks, millet is just being discovered. Actually, most of us do know millet, at least by sight. It is the small, round, yellow grain found in your backyard bird seed.

Not just nutritious for birds, millet is a good source of fiber for humans, and like other whole grains, it contains respectable amounts of folate, iron and potassium. It has 5.5 grams of protein per serving (1/4 cup dry millet), which is comparable to the 6 grams per serving in quinoa (USDA 2016). Quinoa is known for being high in the amino acid lysine, which most grains are rather low in, making its protein more complete. That difference is because quinoa isn’t technically a grain, but the seed of a plant related to chard and spinach. Millet is a staple grain around the world, including in India, many West African countries and China, and it can be found in dishes from porridge to bread to beer (Saldivar 2016).

Pearl millet is the most commonly available variety, but millet does come in a range of colors and sizes. Like other grains, it can be cooked using a ratio of 1 part grain to 2 parts water. Bring 2 cups water or broth to a boil, add 1 cup pearl millet, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest, covered, for 5 more minutes. Quinoa needs less cooking time: about 12 minutes and 5 minutes off heat. You can use millet in all kinds of delicious ways, just like quinoa; for example, as a base for plant-based burgers, in grain salads, in pilafs or as a hot breakfast cereal.

Cup of tea may improve your health

Regardless of what the season, tea can be a great refreshment since it can be served frosted or hot.

Be that as it may, its advantages go a long ways past refreshment. There is a lot of research demonstrating that drinking tea can really enhance your wellbeing.

In any event, it’s a tasty method for getting enough liquid into your body every day. On top of that, studies have demonstrated teas can help secure your teeth and your heart, and in addition conceivably notwithstanding fighting off growth.

Which type of tea you drink can make a difference. All non-herbal teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The amount of time the leaves are processed determines whether you end up with a green, black or oolong tea.

Here are the top 10 health benefits of tea:

1. Tea contains antioxidants

Antioxidants work to prevent the body’s version of rust and thus help to keep us young and protect us from damage from pollution.

2. Tea has less caffeine than coffee

Herbal blends have no caffeine, while traditional teas have less than 50 percent of what typically is found in coffee. That means you can consume it without those pesky effects on your nervous system, says Leslie Bonci, nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice.

3. Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

“There’s a lot of literature out there on tea and heart health,” says Anna Ardine, clinical nutrition manager at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “This is a health effect for which there is the strongest evidence.”

In fact, a study published earlier this year that combined data from a host of earlier reports found a nearly 20 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 35 percent reduced risk of stroke among those who drank one to three cups of green tea a day. Those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 32 percent reduction in the risk of having a heart attack and lower levels of LDL cholesterol.

4. Tea may help with weight loss

Research on this isn’t as strong, Ardine says, adding that studies that have shown an effect have depended on consumption of large amounts of tea, often in pill form.

6. Tea may keep your smile bright

“Japanese researchers have found that tea can decrease tooth loss,” Ardine says. “It changes the pH in your mouth when you drink it and that may be what prevents cavities.” Beyond that, tea, unlike many other beverages does not appear to erode tooth enamel, Bonci says.

5. Tea may help protect your bones

Data from recent animal studies has shown that green tea may prevent bone loss.

7. Tea may boost the immune system

Studies have shown tea can tune up immune cells so they reach their targets quicker.

8. Tea may help battle cancer

Studies on this are currently mixed, which means more research is needed, Bonci says. But, in the meantime, “if you’ve got a strong family history of cancer and you want to do anything you can, you might increase your tea consumption,” she adds.

9. Herbal tea may soothe the digestive system

“Herbal teas, in particular chamomile, can be good for people with irritable bowel syndrome because it is an antispasmodic,” Bonci says. “And ginger teas can calm nausea.”

10. Tea — unadulterated, that is — is calorie free

“It’s a great no-calorie alternative to water,” Bonci says. “It provides so many options for flavor and versatility. You can have it hot or cold. And you don’t have to put anything in it, though you might want to add a cinnamon stick or some ginger. That means you’re able to hydrate with something other than water alone.”

 

Coffee and Your Health

Not too long ago, coffee drinking was considered a bad habit and many people avoided it for health reasons. But now, as with chocolate and wine, the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that we have to remind readers that moderation is still a good idea.

Coffee, the world’s most popular beverage after water and tea, used to be blamed for everything from high blood pressure and high cholesterol (and thus heart disease) to pancreatic cancer, fibrocystic breasts and bone loss. But early research linking coffee or caffeine to health problems has almost always been refuted by better studies. In recent years, most research has suggested that coffee actually has health benefits.

How can coffee be healthful?

Like all plant foods, coffee beans contain many naturally occurring chemicals—more than 1,000 have been identified so far, many formed during the roasting process. Some are potentially harmful for coffee drinkers, while others are potentially healthful, according to lab studies. Many of the beneficial substances are polyphenols that are antioxidants; these contribute to the bitter and acidic taste of the beverage. In fact, coffee is the No.1 source of antioxidants in the U.S. and many other countries, largely because we drink so much of it.

For most people, coffee means caffeine, which is one of the most studied substances in food. Caffeine is a natural pesticide that helps protect coffee plants from predators. Brewed coffee typically contains anywhere from 60 to 120 milligrams of caffeine in six ounces. Caffeine is a mild psychoactive substance that stimulates the central nervous system. Thus, it improves reaction time, mental acuity, alertness and mood; wards off drowsiness; and helps people wake up and feel better in the morning. So it’s no surprise that a recent Australian study of long-distance truck drivers, published in BMJ, found that caffeine greatly reduced the risk of crashes.

What’s more, caffeine is classified as an “ergogenic aid” because it can improve some aspects of athletic performance. It also enhances the analgesic effect of pain relievers, which is why it’s in some over-the-counter formulations.

Coffee’s potential health benefits

Every month or two another study on coffee comes out. Most research has focused on regular coffee, but some has included decaf. Here’s a sampling of recent findings:

Diabetes. Research, including two large studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012 and 2013, has fairly consistently linked long-term coffee consumption (regular or decaf) to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Some of coffee’s polyphenols may enhance insulin sensitivity and slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Most studies on people who already have diabetes have not found a benefit from coffee, however.

Heart disease. Compounds in coffee have positive and negative effects on coronary risk. Overall, coffee does not affect the risk of heart attacks (or strokes), according to a large German study last year as well as previous research. One way coffee may be good for the heart is by reducing the risk of diabetes. One way it can be bad is if it is unfiltered and raises blood cholesterol.

Blood pressure and stroke. There has long been a concern about caffeine’s effect on blood pressure. However, a 2011 review of studies concluded that it’s okay for people with controlled hypertension to drink caffeinated coffee. The studies on the acute effects found that in people with hypertension who had abstained from caffeine for 9 to 48 hours, two cups of coffee raised blood pressure (7 points, on average) for up to three hours. But in studies lasting two weeks, daily coffee intake did not increase blood pressure, probably because tolerance to caffeine develops in about a week. And longer observational studies in the review found no link between habitual coffee consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Even better news, a Swedish analysis published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2011 found that moderate coffee consumption was associated with a modest reduction in stroke risk. Other studies have also shown this.

Colon cancer. An analysis from the large NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study last year found that people who drank at least four cups of coffee (regular or decaf) a day were 15 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than nondrinkers. Previous studies have been inconsistent; different coffee types and methods of preparation may have different effects on cancer risk.

Prostate cancer. A British study published in the Nutrition Journallast year found a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer in coffee drinkers, though the overall risk for prostate cancer was not affected. That confirms the conclusions of a large 2011 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which found that men who regularly consumed the most coffee (including decaf) had a 60 percent lower risk of advanced or lethal prostate cancer than nondrinkers. Even drinking one to three cups per day was linked to a 30 percent lower risk. This potential benefit is “biologically plausible,” according to the Harvard researchers, since coffee improves blood sugar control, has antiinflammatory and antioxidant effects and affects sex hormone levels, all of which play a role in prostate cancer progression.

Endometrial cancer. In 2011 two large studies of women linked coffee to a decreased risk of endometrial cancer. This was especially true of obese women, who are at increased risk for the disease.

Parkinson’s disease. Many observational studies have suggested that coffee helps protect against Parkinson’s, according to a review paper in Experimental Neurobiology last year. It noted that caffeine appears to have neuroprotective effects, though this may depend on a genetic variable involved in caffeine metabolism.

Depression. Women who drank two to three cups of regular coffee a day over a 10-year period were 15 percent less likely to develop depression than those who drank little or no coffee, according to a 2011 analysis from the Nurses’ Health Study. The authors theorized that coffee can positively affect serotonin and other brain chemicals.

Cognitive decline. In a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2011, older women (but not men) who drank coffee had a reduced rate of cognitive decline over an eight-year period. Another paper in the same journal last year linked higher levels of caffeine in the blood to reduced progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia in people over 65.

Liver disease. Several recent studies suggest that regular coffee may protect against the development or progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Life expectancy. People who drank at least two cups of coffee (regular or decaf) a day were 10 to 15 percent less likely to die over a 14-year period than nondrinkers, according to a large study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012. Smoking and other factors that influence health and longevity were taken into account. Reductions were seen in deaths from diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, strokes, infections and accidents.

Foods to help you deal with menstrual cramps

The cool that won’t leave can be a delay your work and social life, however the issues that come each month, and I mean each month, well, those can be a level out interruption to life.

In the event that you experience the ill effects of premenstrual disorder (PMS) issues and have attempted all cures, you might need to have a go at switching up what’s on your plate. Look at these sustenances, which may help you when it’s that time.

1. Pineapple

I know most of us like to imagine a bottle of sunscreen, a juicy novel and the ocean when we think about pineapple. But if you’ve been suffering from PMS cramps, you just may want to add this to your non-vacation diet, too.

This tropical fruit is high in the mineral manganese. One study showed a diet rich in manganese can help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with PMS. Its antioxidant properties also help to reduce acute inflammation, which could be the cause of that dull cramping feeling in your belly. The enzyme bromelain found in this fruit has been shown to reduce pain and aid in muscle relaxation, perhaps meaning less cramping for you.

Simply slice and snack on this juicy yellow fruit, or mix it up with sliced cucumbers, a sprinkle of lime and fresh mint for a refreshing salad.

2. Pumpkin seeds

These crunchy little guys aren’t just for Halloween. The powerful seeds are loaded with the mineral magnesium. When compared to a placebo, magnesium (plus vitamin B6) was effective in significantly reducing PMS symptoms.

These tasty seeds also contain zinc, which science links to helping prevent and treat painful menses-induced cramps. Enjoy these little pepitas as a simple snack or make them a healthy addition to your favorite morning muffin batter or yogurt.

3. Collard greens

Got greens? Yep, greens give you calcium, too. Don’t ignore them. You can get about a quarter of your daily calcium needs from just one cup of these sauteed collard greens! Calcium has been shown to reduce menstrual stress caused by muscle contractions.

Another study showed increased calcium intake could reduce PMS symptoms up to 50 percent. Strong bones and less PMS? What a combo! Use a large leaf as a wrap for your turkey, hummus and cheese sandwich or sautée a few cups to top a chickpea flatbread.

4. Salmon

Many people just love the taste of salmon and others just love packing in the omega 3s, those essential fatty acids that act as anti-inflammatory agents. A study comparing the intake of ibuprofen and fish oil showed that the subjects who took fish oil experienced a greater reduction in pain from menstrual cramps.

Load up on a natural sources of fish oil like salmon by adding sliced smoked salmon to your salad at lunch or make this super simple parchment baked salmon recipe for dinner.

5. Eggs

Sure, they’re packed with protein, affordable and yummy, but they may have a secret superpower. They’re a great and easy source of vitamin D, B6, and E, all nutrients which have been shown to aid in fighting your painful PMS symptoms.