As obesity continues to evolve into a growing epidemic, researchers are continuing to try and find new opportunities for rapid weight loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of all Americans are obese, which can lead to serious complications involving cardiovascular health, blood pressure levels and other hazardous health side effects.
Recent studies discuss how bacterial buildup inside our intestines might provide a direct link to diabetes, and fluctuation in our bacterial population could provide a clear connection to being overweight. Intestinal flora, or microorganisms that live within our intestinal lines, was the subject of focus for researchers from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. The collaborators tested 169 obese participants and 123 non-obese subjects to determine whether their intestinal flora could spell out weight loss for them in the future. The researchers said that individuals with minimal bacterial species in their intestines are more likely to develop complications from obesity, specifically regarding abrupt weight gain conditions and chronic inflammation. Essentially, obese or healthy-fitted people with low intestinal flora had higher risks for hazardous side effects than those with rich intestinal flora.
The most important aspect to the examination was that weight gain was found to not officially be a primary diagnosis to some the worst elements of poor intestinal flora intake. Gut bacteria is essential for your body to improve its digestive process and boost immune health. The human gut pertains about 10 times more bacteria than all the cells throughout your body combined, protecting your intestines from infection, improving the lining of your immune system as well as regulating metabolism.
Jeroen Raes, a professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and lead contributor to the study, acknowledged that you don't have to be overweight to experience all the typically related symptoms of diabetes.
"We were able to distinguish between two groups based on their intestinal flora: people with a large richness of bacterial species in their intestines and people with a few less bacterial species," Raes said in a statement. "A species-rich bacterial flora appeared to function differently compared to the poorer variety. It was surprising to see that obese and non-obese people were found in both groups."
Factors for unhealthy gut flora
As further studies are necessary to help understand intestinal flora's relationship with overweight symptoms, there are several factors that can pay into developing unhealthy gut flora. These lifestyle choices can include:
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
- Diets low in fermentable fibers
- Dietary toxins like wheat and industrial seed oils
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
If you are concerned about maintaining a healthy intestinal flora level, there are still plenty of ways to avoid inflammation of intestinal bacteria. Ingesting plenty of fermentable fibers, such as sweet potatoes or yams, can be beneficial, as well as eliminating your use of table salt and sodium intake with your diet. These are just a few of the ways intestinal bacteria can not only help you avoid obesity, but defend your immune system from unwanted illnesses as well.
While some people enjoy their favorite junk foods when coping with stress, there are plenty of healthier food choices available that naturally reduce anxiety. If you can eat nutritiously, receive all the essential antioxidants and minerals your body needs and ease all your mental tension at the same time, wouldn't you want to take advantage of it? Put down the ice cream and throw out the cookie jar, here are five healthy options that can help you eliminate stress:
Salads, sandwiches or all by themselves, the flavor of an avocado is extremely compatible. They are also known to help alleviate stress thanks to their abundance in potassium, a key mineral that helps blood pressure stay low.
Don't take our word for it, trust researchers from the University of Basel in Sweden where doctors discovered all of the brain boosting and mental calming qualities drinking green tea can provide. The colleagues supplied green tea supplements to a number of volunteers, finding that it was able to improve overall cognitive performance. This meant that the brain's connectivity effectiveness was increased, leading to better memory and decreasing the likelihood of psychological trauma.
A huge contributor of protein and omega-3 fatty acids for our bodies, salmon is a great way to relieve your stress. Researchers from Ohio State University have attributed eating 2.5 grams of omega-3, which would be the equivalent of having a 12-ounce salmon fillet, can reduce your stress by upwards of 20 percent. Salmon is an ideal entree option that will pack you with protein while calming down your nerves.
Pretzels tend to get a bad reputation as an unhealthy snack due an abundance of salt, but eating pretzels made from whole-wheat bread has some truly nutritional qualities. Not only can whole-wheat pretzels stimulate some energy in the body, but its carbohydrates work to release a chemical in your brain known as serotonin, which is known to help put you in a good mood and increase motivation.
For a perfect snack that will help reduce your hunger as well as your anxiety, almonds are great. The generous portions of zinc in almonds help to boost your immune system, allowing you to feel terrific all day.
Water conservation is an often unacknowledged environmental issue that can impact not just your life but the lives of many other people and animals. It's a matter that truly affects our country, and with the average American using upwards to 100 gallons of water everyday, at least 36 states have projected water shortages within the past year. Everything from protecting ecosystems, conserving energy and saving money can be linked to water conservation, and the best place to start exhibiting concern for preserving the world around you can begin in your own home. The kitchen is a primary location for water waste, and cooking is its main partner in crime. Here are just a few tips to utilize water to the fullest while preparing your next meal at home:
From pasta to poultry to potatoes, practically every food can be cooked through steaming, which is also an excellent way to conserve water in the kitchen. Steaming food preserves a generous amount of water compared to boiling, typically using more than 50 percent less water while still serving as a healthy method of preparing a meal. Steaming is also able to preserve more nutrients than boiling, especially with vegetables because the food is not completely submerged in heated water which tends to evaporate the majority of the nutritional content.
Double it up
Sometimes preparing a full course dinner for the family requires an abundance of pots and pans. Instead of having every food item dedicated to a specific kitchen appliance, cook two foods with one pot instead. If you are boiling pasta, wait until there are only a few minutes left on the timer and add the veggies you are using, which generally only take two to three minutes to cook anyway. You will be amazed at how using this food preparation strategy can gradually reduce the amount of water you use to cook over time.
Reduce your measurements
Typically the directions for cooking food tend to lean on the generous side of measurements when it comes to water portions. The truth is that you don't necessarily always need the amount of water called for on the packaging instructions, and skipping out on a few ounces or cups of water with every entree starts to add up in the long run.
Doing the dishes
People are prone to go overboard when it comes to how much water they use to clean their dishes. First off, continuing to run water while soaping down and scrubbing off food debris is a classic wasting offense. Simply plugging up your sink, making a little bath for your dishes and only use the amount of water you have provided for yourself will easily save gallons every time you have to clean. Also, what is the point of sending a plate or bowl through the dishwasher if you have already rinsed and cleaned it out in the sink? Try to stick to one or the other and odds are you will be doing yourself a favor when it comes to your water bill.
Juicing is essentially an attempt to cut out the middleman when it comes to extracting the nutrients of fruits and vegetables. While some argue in favor of juicing because it helps your body digest nutrients easier than it would processing entire foods, others warn that the processes causes you to miss out on primary health benefits such as dietary fiber intake. While the debate rages on, here are a few reasons why juicing is a great resource for health benefits, and a few ways that you can make up for any lost nutrients and still relish the savory contents of a refreshing glass of juice:
Help your digestive system
The biggest advantage of juicing is how it makes the digestive process much simpler for your body. When extracting all of the juice from fruits and vegetables, you are giving your body a rest from having to expend energy breaking down all the solid contents. Your stomach needs to use a number of different digestive enzymes when you consume foods with different vitamins and minerals, which can result in bloating and indigestion. Juicing typically means you are only consuming a few specific foods at a time, which can relieve stomach discomfort and also speed up the digestive process.
Boost your immune system
Juicing is a great way to treat common illnesses, especially if you are prone to deal with allergy symptoms on a daily basis. Chopping up some carrots and apples and pooling their health resources together will provide you with plenty of vitamin A to flush out unwanted toxins in the body as well as generous amounts of vitamin C to fight against cold and flu components.
Adding to the list of benefits, juicing can be a great way to help cut some calories from your diet and lose weight, but it is important to keep track of everything you are putting into the juicer. A common misconception with juicing is that simply dumping fruit and vegetables into the machine will eliminate the calories the foods possessed originally. As always, moderation is key. Be sure not to overdo your juicing, because three or more beverages can easily start to pack on the pounds due to calorie and sugar levels.
Keep in mind that there is no hard scientific evidence to prove that juicing is healthier than consuming whole fruits and vegetables. The attraction of juicing is due to the body's ability to absorb nutrients more quickly in liquid form. Plus, it's a great way to get creative in the kitchen and come up with new concoctions that taste great and have your body feeling even better. Remember that while juicing is a fast and easy source for nutrients, it is always advised to continue consuming whole fruits and vegetables as well.
While regular exercise, stress reduction and tranquility in the workplace are three giant factors in regards to healthy aging, nutrition is arguably the most important. What you put into your body impacts both how you feel and how you look. Researchers have stated that eating processed foods or drinking beverages high in sugar will accelerate the signs of aging, from interior and exterior standpoints.
Here are a few commonly consumed foods and beverages that you probably didn't know were bursting with essential vitamins and healthy antioxidants that may help keep you thriving with every turn of the calendar.
The berry family is as nourishing as it is delicious, and the nutritional value is seemingly infinite. Blueberries, raspberries or cranberries, it is hard to go wrong when every berry choice is loaded with a wide abundance of vitamins, flavonoids, polyphenols, probiotics and tons of other key antioxidants. Flavonoids are known to stimulate brain power and offset chances of cognitive decline and blackberries contain the highest level of the berries, while polyphenols abundant in strawberries are renown for their cardiovascular support and anti-inflammatory properties. Many researchers have examined the healthy aging impacts provided thorough consuming berries, including their ability to promote beneficial maturation.
From losing weight to boosting brain function, the effects green tea has on aging are as valuable as they are copious. It was recently reported that researchers from the University of Basel have examined how adding more green tea to your diet can improve your memory, boost overall cognitive performance and effectively connect neurons from the frontal and parietal brain regions. It's also essential for your skin, possessing several antioxidants that help dermis and epidermis cells grow properly leaving you with an illuminating glow the older you become. Green tea is also high in the chemical epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which helps stimulate metabolism and provide immediate relief for sickness.
An ideal entree for anyone looking to cheat the symptoms of aging, a couple servings of fish per week can go a long way for your health. From canned tuna to smoked salmon, fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that can do everything from lower cholesterol to reduce cognitive decline. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone consume fish at least twice a week. In fact, symptoms from a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can include dry skin, poor memory and mood swings.
An underrated snack that needs the nutritional recognition it deserves, nuts are a healthy treat for aging symptoms and an ideal way to satisfy hunger between meals. First off, adding nuts to your diet will help reduce the levels of low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol in your body, while also working to improve the lining of your arteries, accelerating blood circulation. The number of anti-inflammatory properties found in every handful of almonds, hazelnuts or peanuts may help to decrease the likelihood of acne or skin irritation, as well as boosting your vitamin E intake.
Youthful looks are hard to come by the older you get, which is why a steady intake of tomatoes will have your skin looking younger than ever before. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant compound that does wonders for your skin, including protection from UV damage as well as decreasing wrinkles. You can add tomatoes to practically any meal, so there is never an inopportune moment to spark a little vigor into your appearance.
Summer is just around the corner, which means that it is time to start shaping up and trimming down to look your best! The No. 1 way to stay cut and feel great in the heat is by eating right and avoiding unhealthy temptations. While scarfing a ballpark frank, chili cheese fries and a sugary snow cone sound like solid summer snacks at the time, indulging in these unhealthy vices will start to pack on the pounds. So ditch the greasy fried foods, ignore the ice cream truck siren and feel good about your dietary decisions with this nutritional list of five quality treats all under 50 calories to keep you lean and on the go this summer!
Of course there is nothing like firing up the grill and relishing an old fashioned outdoor summer cookout, but eating too many meat kebabs are a quick way to expand that belly. Instead, fix up some fruit skewers as a nutritional snack substitute that is as tasty as it is healthy. Cut up some strawberries, melon and grapes that will provide an eclectic blend of antioxidants that won't spoil your appetite and keep you active. Applying a few slices of each fruit to a kebab stick will come out to well under 50 calories, while providing the perfect amount of energy to avoid that mid-day crash.
While carrots and broccoli get all the attention for their nutritional qualities, cauliflower is an often forgotten bite-size snack that boasts as many vitamins and minerals as any of the other usual vegetables. Just one floret of cauliflower possesses three calories, meaning a couple handfuls worth will leave you feeling great for way below 50 calories. Plus, they are packed with boron, a mineral that can help build muscle and enhance testosterone levels, making it an ideal pre-workout treat. You can also steam cauliflower to preserve its vitamin content while making it more tender and tastier.
The plentiful health benefits of avocados have been taken advantage of since the days of the ancient Aztec civilizations, and the fruit continues to provide a healthier snack alternative. One ounce of avocado amounts to around 45 calories, and possesses significant quantities of anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as phytosterols, omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoid antioxidants that boost your immune system. Add in the abundance of iron, magnesium and potassium and you have the perfect snack option that is bursting with taste and nutrition.
This summer, ditch the buffalo wings and head straight for the good stuff. Celery is often served as a side dish accompaniment to fattening appetizers and entrees, but eating them solo will satisfy your hunger without costing you calories. Each stick of celery contains only six calories, while its immense presence of phthalides and coumarin work to lower blood pressure and ease muscle tension. If a plain stalk is a tad too dull for your snack preferences, try dipping them in a bowl of nonfat peanut butter or hummus to help add some flavor.
Filled with a vast variety of essential vitamins and minerals, asparagus is a great snack that can stimulate your mind and your metabolism. Asparagus is thriving with folate, an anti-aging antioxidant that helps fight symptoms of cognitive decline in the brain, leaving your body and your mind healthier. One serving of asparagus, while containing only three calories, has zero milligrams of sodium and cholesterol as well as zero grams of fat, helping your stomach feel full without looking it.
It is easy to see how getting the family together for dinner can be put on the back burner. Whether it is soccer practice, guitar lessons or staying late at the office, a sit-down meal with the entire family can be hard to make happen. While work and hobbies are always essential components to the day, finding the time to get everyone together for a home-cooked dinner is a lost art that many families are missing out on. So, if your family enjoys supper scattered around the house or in front of the television, it may be worth making family dinner time a priority.
Bring everyone together
One of the obvious motivations for gathering the family around the dinner table is simply to cherish an opportune moment in the day when everyone is together. Recent surveys have estimated that only 40 percent of families in the U.S eat dinner together around three or fewer times per week, while 10 percent of families never eat supper together. While it's somewhat unreasonable to expect to mesh everyone's schedules together seven nights a week, planning family dinners in advance will help to improve the overall sense of unity, not to mention get everyone caught up with each other's lives. In an era where quickness and technology are held to the highest regard, sometimes sitting down, putting away the phones and sharing a healthy meal and discussion is the greatest virtue a family can have.
Emphasis on nutrition
There's no doubt that constantly being on the go and shuttling the kids from one activity to another may lead to the occasional fast food pit stop. These drive-thru occasions, no matter how infrequent, can add up and truly take a toll on you or your children's health. It is estimated that around 68 percent of American adults today are considered obese, and nearly 20 percent of children ages 6 through 11 are deemed overweight as well. Fast food intake is higher than ever, and is widely considered a major suspect in this national obesity epidemic. When you cook a meal at home, you are the chef and master nutritionist. Toss together a salad with fresh sliced fruit so that your family can reap the rewards of healthy antioxidants and nutrients. The dinner table is also an opportune time and place to enlighten your kids on their nutrition, explaining to them why fruits and vegetables are so essential to their everyday diet.
Balance your budget
Not only can going out to eat be unhealthy, it can also do some damage to your bank account! It has been estimated that upwards to 50 percent of all meals are eaten away from home, and when you really start to think about that, it can add up quick. This is just another reason why sharing a meal at home can benefit your family. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the average cost to feed a family of four is between $146 to $289 per week. When you start to do the math, you will find that spending around $250 per week on groceries for the whole family accounts to $62.50 per person every week, which results in around $250 spent on meals per month for each family member. Now let's say a family of four dines out three times a week. At an average of $10 an entree, the total bill can be anywhere from $40 to $50 per restaurant meal, which comes to about $150 per week spent on eating out, or $600 a month, on top of already purchasing groceries for home. These casual dining routines can take its course financially over time, which is why sticking to a home cooked meal is just another advantage for the entire family.
Planning the perfect dinner
Establishing specific days during the week is a perfect way to start organizing your family's meals and help everyone stay on the same page. If there is an evening that no one has any scheduled activities, designate it as family pasta night and create your own tradition. Sundays are generally the perfect occasion for such, plus you can spend the day cooking together – why not try your hand a homemade pasta. Make a few rules for the dinner table as well, such as no phones or television so everyone's attention is geared toward enjoying the company and food. Remember, a closer dinner table can be a big step toward a tighter family, so try to squeeze some time in for exclusive dining experiences.
When it comes to evaluating the amount of sodium needed for a healthy diet, there are plenty of qualities to consider. It is important to remember that the body needs sodium, specifically for controlling blood pressure and volume while also helping our muscles and nerves work together properly. However, the biggest concern with sodium is that because it is commonly found in a variety of regularly consumed food we tend to ingest too much of it, which can lead to a variety of potential health hazards.
According to the American Heart Association, 9 out of 10 Americans are consuming too much sodium on a daily basis. The average recommendation for sodium is estimated at 1,500 milligrams or less, while it is projected that the average American is eating more than 3,400 milligrams. This consistent excess of the element is one of the main attributes to the statistic that 77.9 million American Adults have high blood pressure, and cutting your sodium intake levels in half can also help lower cholesterol. The abundance of this element is a health risk that continues to negatively impact the overall quality of life for people all around the world.
There are a few subtle and obvious indicators that you are potentially ingesting too much sodium on a day-to-day basis. Besides high blood pressure, these symptoms also include:
- Frequently feeling thirsty
- Sensations of bloating or feeling uncomfortable within the stomach
- Decrease in bone strength and/or density
The biggest reason you are loading your body with sodium is due to ingesting too much salt in your diet. Here are a few commonly used foods that secretly are packed with high levels of sodium and could also be the main component to your dietary abundance of sodium:
Cold cut meat sandwiches
Sandwiches are generally the quickest and simplest recipe to create when it comes to packing a lunch, but they can also be filled with the most sodium. By adding approximately 2 ounces of cold cut meats, which roughly translates into six thin slices, you are already receiving half of your daily sodium needs. Now tack on the fact that a slice of bread generally has around 120 milligrams of sodium, a slice of cheese can possess well over 300 milligrams plus any other condiments required for a tasty sandwich and you will be pushing closer and closer to your full-on daily recommendation. Always look for low-sodium options when it comes to sandwich ingredients, and use all of them sparingly.
Nothing may warm up the soul like a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup, but many people are unaware that canned soups are packed with salt preservatives to help boost their taste. While these products are often advertised as providing great sources of vitamins and minerals, they also can contain upwards of 600 milligrams of sodium or higher per can. Like most food items, checking the labels to see whether they are promoting a sticker claiming to be low-sodium is the best way to know the contents of the element.
Cereals are another food item that you need to keep an eye out for their labels. While the levels of sodium between all different types of brands fluctuates, some popular choices can easily contain up to 250 or more milligrams of sodium per serving. To put that into further perspective, a serving of cereal is generally a ½ cup, which often needs to be multiplied to effectively determine the correct amount of sodium in your bowl. Always look at the nutrition facts and you will find that there are plenty of low-sodium options for breakfast cereal.
There are an estimated 15 million people living in the U.S. with a food allergy, according to Food Allergy Research and Education, which is a number that has continued to rise over the past several years. Children are at the root of the problem, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that food allergies with children has risen more than 50 percent since 1997. While most people are aware of what foods can spawn allergic symptoms, some people are still left in the dark, which is why recognizing the most common forms of food allergies is essential in preventing potential severe reactions in the future.
While anyone can potentially become allergic to just about any food, there are only eight foods that account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions in the U.S. Here is the breakdown of those foods:
- Tree nuts
A peanut allergy is typically the most common form of food sensitivity, and symptoms can range from minor skin reactions or digestive problems to severe constriction of airways or loss of consciousness. Peanut allergies are also the greatest cause of food-induced anaphylaxis, which can be a serious medical emergency that can potentially require adrenaline injections.
Peanuts are different than tree nuts, in the general sense that peanuts do not grow on trees as do almonds, cashews and walnuts. However, it is important to note that an estimated 25 to 40 percent of people allergic to peanuts are also prone to hypersensitivity with tree nuts. If you are allergic to one or the other, it is advised to generally stay away from nuts as a whole.
Milk is the most reported allergy among infants and children, and an estimated 2.5 percent of children aged three years and younger are allergic to milk. The reason why children are prone to milk allergies is due to the high levels of antibodies that are prevalent in cow's milk, but most children are actually capable to grow out of the allergy the older they become. Blood testing is available from doctors to determine whether or not a child can ward off their milk allergy.
Fish and shellfish
Fish and shellfish allergies tend to lead to the most severe types of reactions among all food allergies. These types of allergens are generally not discovered until you become an adult, in which 40 percent of fish allergies and 60 percent of shellfish allergies are found out as a grown-up. Allergies to fish and shellfish are not the same family of fish, so you can consume one while being allergic to the other.
Take control of food allergies
Food allergies are essentially the result of a specific ingredient in a food triggering a hazardous response in your immune system, prompting a wide variety of potential side effects. Practically all food allergies are discovered simply through trying new foods the older you get, and can be extremely unpredictable. Once you're aware of your food allergy, reading the ingredients on labels is the most important thing you can do when it comes to preventing reactions.
Food labels are required to list when something has a particular ingredient that could prompt allergies. For instance, with wheat allergies, a label will list ingredients with wheat in them in parenthesis, such as flour (wheat). It is also crucial to know your symptoms as well, and always have the appropriate medication handy in the rare instance something you eat unknowingly has the allergen.
Although its tendencies, symptoms and origins are generally undisclosed, iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world according to the World Health Organization. A deficiency in iron is also linked to a condition known as anaemia, which is when the body does not produce enough red blood cells to provide sufficient amounts of oxygen to body tissues. Developing iron deficiency is generally the result of a recent loss in blood or not receiving enough iron in your diet. These are serious health hazards, and being aware of potential side effects of iron deficiency are crucial in terms of increasing the likelihood of prevention. Here are a few indicators that could possibly be a signal that you are iron deficient:
Feeling tired is generally the biggest sign that you are not receiving enough iron for your body. This is due to not enough oxygen being provided to your muscles, because your red blood cells do not have sufficient levels of iron. If you are frequently finding yourself yawning and nodding off at various hours of the day despite getting an adequate amount of sleep the night before, iron deficiency could be the primary culprit.
Decreased attention span
Another common symptom of iron deficiency is experiencing a lack of focus. Whether at work, school or socializing with friends, low iron levels can trigger an alteration of your neurotransmitters, which are synapses between your brain cells that can impact everything from your reaction time, apathetic emotions, to your attention span. Getting more iron in your body can help assist your ability to concentrate.
If you have noticed that your skin is extremely lacking in tan, increasing your time spent laying out in the sun might not be the cure to your problem. When iron levels are low and fewer amounts of oxygen are being provided throughout your body, your skin pigmentation might be one of the first alterations you will notice. Put some color back into your complexion by upping the ante on your iron intake.
Shortness of breath
If you have only gone half way through your typical morning jog and you are already feeling gassed, a depletion in iron might be the primary suspect to point the blame. Another usual side effect of iron deficiency is how your endurance becomes affected, which can produce series of coughing or wheezing fits, especially while exercising.
Confused because you feel like you spent the last 24 hours practicing extreme weightlifting? A lack of oxygen being supplied to your muscles will definitely lead to your arms and legs feeling extremely overwhelmed. Take back control over your body and find out what you can do to receive the iron you need to keep on going strong.
Great sources of iron
If you are concerned that you might be at risk for iron deficiency, schedule a blood screening test with your doctor today. A few foods to help provide your body with the iron it needs include:
- Cashews, almonds and peanuts
- Whole grains, bran and fortified cereals
- Liver or beef tenderloin
Another terrific source of iron adding two scoops of Naturade Soy-Free Veg to your favorite beverage. Gulping down eight ounces of this soy free protein powder will give your body 40 percent of its daily recommendation for iron.