Going vegan can be an excellent choice because it makes you more conscious about the things you're eating. Here are some of the biggest health benefits of choosing to eat a vegan diet:
- A healthy vegan diet is typically rich in whole grains and legumes. These foods have a low glycemic index and are high in fiber, meaning they are digested slowly and thus keep blood sugar steady. This can help reduce cholesterol and, in turn, improve one's heart health.
- Vegans do not eat red meat (or any meat, of course), which the World Cancer Research Fund announced in a 2007 report is good for colon health.
- Vegans often have – but not always – less processed foods in their diets. Several studies have affirmed the unhealthy attributes of processed foods.
- Adherents to a vegan diet avoid all animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy and gelatin-based products. Thus, they are likely to eat less saturated fats and are more likely to have a lower cholesterol, meaning a vegan diet can boost your heart health and potentially help with weight issues.
- Vegan diets are often very high in fiber – beans, lentils, whole grains and various vegetables all pack in plenty of fiber, which is good for the body's digestive system.
Aside from the various health benefits that vegans acquire from their diets, veganism also has several more benefits for individuals and society as a whole:
- You'll save money, as grains, beans, soy and similar foods are fairly inexpensive compared to animal proteins.
- You'll do your part to reduce pollution and environmental deterioration because factory farms take more energy and resources to produce animal meats and runoff can pollute local water sources.
- You'll be contributing to animal wellbeing.
While there are clearly several individual and societal benefits to eating a vegan diet, making this change can require a lot of work at first. It takes time to plan meals that meet all of our bodies' important nutritional requirements, and restricting your food sources means you'll have to get creative. Many vegans choose to supplement their diets with a nutritional shake to make sure they are getting adequate amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D and Omega-3s, nutrients that are available in a vegan diet but not always in large enough amounts to meet the bodies' needs.
When talking about what a vegan can eat (answer: a lot of things), it's probably better to first talk about what they can't – or choose not to – eat. Without getting into the various moral or health reasons that people choose to eat vegan, here's some basic information on what vegans do and do not eat to help you if you're debating whether to meatless or not:
What vegans avoid
Basically, vegans do not eat any animal products, including products derived from animals. Most obviously, this means that vegans avoid eating beef, chicken, pork, fish and everything in between, as well as dairy products and eggs. However, many other foods contain animal products, though we often don't realize it. Here are some other items that people who are vegan often attempt to avoid and why:
- Honey: Bees are living things and they make it.
- White sugar: PETA asserts that it is made with bone char.
- Marshmallows and gummy bears: These sweets are made with gelatin that is derived from animals.
- Breads and baked goods made with butter, eggs, white sugar or whey – a dairy product.
- Beer: Believe it or not, some beers are filtered using egg whites, seashells or gelatin from fish bladders.
- Salad dressing: Many dressings use lecithin, a product from animals, to keep vinegar and oil from separating in the dressing.
- Additionally, many vegans avoid other animal products, including leather, wool, cosmetics and certain types of soap.
Though vegan diets are often low in cholesterol and fat and high in nutrients, it's good to keep in mind that not all certified vegan products, like certain junk foods, are healthy for you. Here is an idea of what vegans often eat to get important nutrients:
- Protein: lentils, peas, chickpeas, soy milk, almond milk, nuts and nut butter, whole grains, tofu
- Calcium: dark green vegetables, soy milk and orange juice fortified with calcium, tofu made with calcium sulfate
- Iron: dark green leafy vegetables, black and kidney beans, bulghur wheat, lentils, beet greens, black-eyed peas
- Vitamin B12: nutritional yeast
- Zinc: legumes, nuts and grains
- Vitamin D: fortified rice milk and soy milk
Though vegans are able to find some good sources for important nutrients, it takes a lot of time and effort to plan a well-rounded meal. Many vegans make sure they get enough B12 and calcium – two important ingredients that are often lacking in their diet – by finding a supplementary method like the VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake, which is gluten, dairy and soy-free and provides 20 grams of non-GMO protein per serving.
As you age, you may find that your joints don't quite work like they used to when you were young. And even those at a young age experience joint problems, whether from improper training technique, overuse, falls or even sudden directional changes. In fact, in the USA alone, an estimated 50 million adults have less than optimal joint health. Tennis players tend to have elbow joint issues, while weightlifters commonly experience poor shoulder joint health. But no matter your age or fitness level, there are ways you can protect your joints so that you can have both comfortable and effective workouts.
Take a joint supplement
Before you hop on that treadmill or head on over to the gym, be sure to take a joint supplement like Naturade FlexAid Ultra Joint Formula. This is an easy way to promote joint comfort during workouts and even boost flexibility and mobility and support a healthy inflammation response.
Start off slow
Never jump into a workout at a super high intensity level. Doing too much too soon can make your body more prone to poor joint health. It's not just your lungs and heart that need time to gradually get used to the workout - your joints do as well. If you're planning on getting in an intense workout, start off slow and let your body warm up to give your muscles, circulatory system, ligaments and cartilage time to adapt.
Switch it up
You may have the same routine every day, seven days a week: come home from work, run on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then lift weights for 15 minutes. While this is an effective workout, switching up your workout regimen can protect your body from less than optimal joint health. The same exercises work the exact same muscles and joints, wearing them down day after day. Overusing the same parts of the body can also lead to unnecessary injury. Try different cardio workouts, whether that's biking, dancing, boxing or hopping on the elliptical, to prevent poor health.
Remember to rest
Resting is just as important as exercising. This gives your joints and muscles a chance to recover and be ready for your next workout. If you're pushing yourself too hard and not giving your body the chance to rest, an overuse of joints may lead to injury or less than optimal joint health.
Wear the right shoes
What type of exercise are you doing? Is it basketball? Running? Boxing? Whatever your preferences are, there is a shoe for each type of workout. Athletic shoes are specifically designed for specific purposes. Running shoes will provide you with motion control and proper cushioning, while basketball shoes may give you more ankle support. Visit your local shoe store, where they can size you and help you pick out the right shoes that meet your exercise needs.
Maintain proper posture
Whether you're on a bike or going for a run through your neighborhood, it's important to maintain proper technique. By not having great posture or not using certain equipment in the right way, you could potentially be putting unnecessary strain on your body. Pay attention to your body when you're exercising to make sure you're exercising properly.
Whipping yourself into shape requires you to eat right and do a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training. But you don't always have time to get to the gym in order to use the weight training equipment. The good news is, using your own bodyweight, you can take your workout virtually anywhere. If you're at home, all you need is your living room floor for a great workout that will help you shed the pounds fast, boost your immune system and promote anti-aging. Here are some bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere:
Tuck jumps: Stand with your knees slightly bent and jump up in the air as high as you can while lifting your knees toward your chest. Arms should be extended straight out. Be sure to land with your knees slightly bent. Not only is this a great cardio exercise, but the act of bringing your knees toward your chest works those abs!
Plyometric pushup: Get into traditional pushup position on a well-padded surface. Hands should be directly below the shoulders with no arch in the back. Lower down to the ground, then push up hard enough to come off the floor for a second. Once your hands touch the ground again, go immediately into the next repetition. For an extra challenge, see if you can clap your hands while you're in the air!
Plank: This exercise is really great for your lower abs. Get into a pushup position with forearms, rather than your hands, on the floor. Then, keeping your back straight and core tight, hold the position for about 30 to 60 seconds.
Bodyweight lunge: Starting with your feet together, step one leg forward and slowly lower the body until your front knee is bent at about 90 degrees. Be sure not to let the knee go past the toe. Then push yourself back up to starting position as quickly as you can. After you're done with repetitions for that leg, switch to the other.
Mountain climber: Start on your hands and knees in the pushup position. Then bring your left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keep your hands on the ground and switch legs quickly, as if you're climbing a mountain. You should feel it in your core and your legs.
Burpees: Get yourself into a squatting position with your hands on the floor. Next, kick both of your feet back at the same time, jumping into a pushup position. Complete one pushup then return to the squatted position as fast as you can. Repeat this exercise for multiple repetitions.
Looking at nutrition labels, you may always see protein, but you may not have a good idea of the role that it actually plays in food as well as in your body. There are plenty of reasons out there that may convince you to start paying attention to how much protein you're consuming. According to the Institute of Medicine, adults should get a minimum of .8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day – that adds up to about 58 grams for a 160-pound adults. The amount your body needs truly depends on factors like sex, age, height and weight. Here are just some amazing things that protein can do for your body:
Maintain a healthier weight
Exercise and staying away from fatty foods can only do so much when it comes to maintaining a desirable body weight. Protein is really what helps to keep your weight down. In fact, starting off the day with a protein-packed breakfast like eggs, lean beef or a smoothie can help you keep the weight off. Many are under the assumption that consuming foods high in protein will only lead to too many calories consumed, causing the body fat to increase. But when eating the best sources of protein, like lean fish, meat, dairy and beans, you'll feel fuller longer and be less likely to overeat later. Protein takes longer to leave your stomach, which causes the fullness. The moment you consume protein, your body gets to work on digesting, metabolizing and using the protein, which means you burn more calories processing them.
Start your morning off with a protein-packed smoothie. Add in your favorite fresh fruits and a few scoops of Naturade Total Soy for plenty of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals that your body needs to keep going throughout the day. You could also add this protein powder to virtually any food, such as burgers, potatoes or muffins.
Promote heart health
Meatless sources of protein like nuts, legumes and soy foods have all been shown to lower cholesterol levels because of their combination of fiber and heart-healthy phytochemicals. Naturade Total Soy is a great source of protein that has been shown to reduce cholesterol in over 40 clinical studies. With a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, you may reduce your risk for poor heart health. When choosing protein, opt for low-fat options like lean meats, skim milk or other foods with high levels of protein.
Whether you're an athlete looking to bulk up or simply wish to look a bit more toned, protein is what's going to help you reach your goals. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are used by the body to build new muscle. If you don't consume enough protein in your diet, your muscles can repair and continue to build and your body will begin to break down the muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn and the less fat you'll see on your body. After an intense workout, grab a meal replacement shake to help your muscles to grow.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in bodily function. It helps to promote strong bones and regulates the immune system. There are two types of vitamin D: D2 and D3. Research suggests that the latter may be better at raising levels of vitamin D in the blood. Studies show that getting a proper amount of vitamin D may help to promote healthy blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, approximately two out of three U.S. adults have blood pressure within the normal and the slightly elevated ranges.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, individuals with low levels of vitamin D seem to have a higher risk of developing poor blood pressure health than those with higher levels of vitamin D.
During the winter months, it can be hard to soak in vitamin D from the sun, due to the amount of time spent indoors. However, there are a few ways to get a healthy amount of vitamin D in your diet, even if you're stuck inside.
A dietary supplement
Naturade BP Health may help maintain blood pressure levels that are within the normal range. Normal blood pressure is characterized as having a systolic reading that is less than 120 and a diastolic reading that is less than 80. With this supplement, you will be getting a healthy dose of vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol.
Vitamin D-rich foods
There are plenty of foods that contain a healthy amount of vitamin D. Here are a few delicious options to choose from:
Fatty fish: Specific types of fish, like salmon, mackerel, light canned tuna, herring and sardines, contain about 165 to 445 IUs of vitamin D. Keep in mind that canned fish in oil contains more vitamin D than canned fish in water. When it comes to salmon, there are plenty of tasty ways to cook it, whether you sear, grill, broil or bake it.
Eggs: Before you turn away the yolk of the egg for just the egg white, think again. One egg yolk has about 20 IU, which is about 6 percent of your daily value of Vitamin D. Whip up some scrambled eggs in the morning or hard boil them and stick them on your sandwich or in a salad.
Swiss cheese: This dairy treat may be filled with holes, but it is also filled with about 12 IU of vitamin D, which is 4 percent of your daily value. This type of cheese also contains less sodium than a highly processed variety like American.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon, tuna and halibut as well as nuts, plants and oils, play a crucial role in keeping the body healthy. Many may turn to fish oil to promote a healthy weight and a strong heart, but studies are showing that this fatty acid aids in decreasing joint pain.
According to research from the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 fatty acids reduce stiffness in the joints by diminishing inflammation. New Zealand green lipped mussel - a source of omega-3 fatty acids - has been reported to reduce joint stiffness and pain, increase grip strength and improve walking pace in people with poor joint health.
In a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 250 people with poor joint health were given doses of fish oil. Those in the study reported significant improvement in overall joint pain.
However, promoting healthy joints isn't all that these fatty acids can do. They have been shown to lower cholesterol, foster healthy blood pressure, keep a healthy heart and may even ward off depression. With natural wear and tear on joints, it's essential that you get the proper amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Here are some of the best ways to fill up on omega-3s:
If you struggle to get enough omega-3's in your diet, one of the easiest ways to up your intake is by taking a joint supplement like Naturade FlexAid Joint Formula. It contains 400 mg of omega-3 fish oil to support heart health and help to promote a proper inflammatory response. With an all-natural blend of two traditional plants with antioxidant properties, you may see reduced stiffness and improved mobility within as little as five days.
Fish is another great source of omega-3s and both EPA and DHA – two main types of omega-3s that should be included in your diet. Here are some popular seafood options and their total content of fatty acids:
- Salmon: 1,200 – 2,400 mg
- Bluefin tuna: 1,700 mg
- Crab: 200 – 500 mg
- Trout: 1,000 – 1,100 mg
- Lobster: 200 mg
- Cod: 200 mg
- Shrimp: 100 mg
Kidney, pinto and mungo beans are packed with omega-3s. Load your taco or burrito up with these, add them to a salad, into an omelet or make a bean dip!
While we know that Popeye loved this stuff, you may not be as enthusiastic about eating it – and that's okay! Luckily for you, there are some sneaky ways to get some spinach into your diet. Add a handful of the stuff to any fruit smoothie – the neutral flavors of the spinach will be overtaken by the dynamic and sweet flavors of the fruit. Replace half of your salad with spinach by mixing it in with the lettuce. Spinach also goes great on top of pizza – add some leaves to the sauce for some extra nutrition.
The king of low-carb vegetables, this superfood not only contains a healthy amount of omega-3s, but it is packed with calcium, vitamin C, folates, iron, fiber and potassium. If you're not a fan of eating it plain, this stuff is easy to incorporate into stir-fry, salads, omelets and more.
As men age, it's natural for testosterone levels to begin to decline. This decrease in testosterone not only has an effect on the sex drive, but it could lead to depressed mood as well as difficulties with concentration and memory. Testosterone is an important hormone in the body because it's responsible for inducing and maintaining male sex characteristics like sex drive and muscle health. Here are a few natural ways to give your testosterone levels a boost and enjoy all of the effects that come with it:
Increase zinc in your diet
Zinc is especially important for testosterone production, and eating the right foods is the best way to get it. Good sources of zinc include foods like shellfish, prawns, oysters, roasted pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate.
Take a daily supplement
Naturade Vitali-T-Aid Energy is a testosterone booster and may help to boost sex drive, performance and energy. This natural testosterone supplement was shown in two double-blind, placebo controlled, human clinical studies, along with exercise, to be both a safe and effective way to increase levels of testosterone in the body over an eight week period.
Being overweight may be having a negative effect on testosterone levels. According to Peak Fitness, overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels to begin with. In order to shed the pounds, start setting little goals for yourself. Swap out processed and refined foods for things like whole fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Watch the amount of calories that you're drinking throughout the day as well. Fancy coffee drinks like sugar-filled lattes and frappucinos can contain as many calories as an entire lunch.
Incorporating strength training into your routine may also be necessary in order to increase testosterone levels. Start off slow and build up to heavier weights as you go.
Get more vitamin D
Vitamin D increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. Getting enough vitamin D is often a problem for many during the winter months when they don't see the sun very often. If you can't get outdoors to soak up this valuable vitamin, you could opt to take a supplement or fill up on foods like fish, oysters, caviar, fortified dairy products, eggs and mushrooms.
Fill up on the right foods
There are certain foods that may help to increase the production of testosterone in the body. Some of these foods include pineapples, apples, alfalfa sprouts, red peppers, tomatoes and eggs.
The hormone cortisol is released when you're stressed out, which actually blocks the effects of testosterone. So if you're looking for a boost of the male hormone, find the best way to de-stress, whether that's taking a hot shower, relaxing on the couch watching TV or reading a book.
According to the American Heart Association, individuals must adhere to these seven factors in order to keep a healthy heart: be physically active, maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, have healthy cholesterol levels, keep a healthy blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and steer clear of smoking. Adhering to these factors may help you to maintain better overall health and keep your heart in good shape.
Take care of your teeth
Many don't immediately associate clean teeth with a healthy heart. However, there may be a link between heart health and less than optimal tooth health. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, one out of every two adults aged 30 and over has poor tooth health, which is associated with decreased cardiovascular health. To keep clean teeth and gums, floss and brush regularly and make sure that you're scheduling dentist appointments at least twice a year for regular check-ups.
Enjoy dark chocolate in moderation
Snacking on this sweet treat may actually have cardiovascular benefits. One square of dark chocolate a day may be good for your blood pressure and promote a healthy heart. Just be sure to indulge in moderation and stick to chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.
Manage your stress
Stress is often unavoidable in everyday life, but it can be managed. Find an activity that relaxes you, whether it's taking a hot shower, being with family and friends, or watching TV. Stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking and overeating, all of which have a negative impact on the heart.
Catch enough z's
Getting an adequate amount of sleep can have positive effects on your health. Lack of sleep raises levels of a hormone called cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and causes plaques to break apart and travel to the heart. Getting enough sleep may also help to lower cholesterol by lowering LDL levels. For a better night's sleep, try limiting your food and beverage intake before bed. When you eat, your metabolism increases slightly, which can increase your energy levels and make it a bit harder to fall asleep. It may also help to create an environment that prepares you for sleep. Elements like relaxing music, soft lighting and comfortable bedding may make all the difference.
Exercise produces a wide array of health benefits, with a stronger heart being just one of them. Try to incorporate at least thirty minutes of exercise into your daily routine. Finding something that is enjoyable to you will make make physical activity more pleasant, so stick to exercises that you enjoy.