When you're expecting, you want to do absolutely everything you can to improve not only your health, but your little one's as well. While diet is vital for providing you and your child with the nutrients you both need, supplements can offer vitamins and minerals you may not get from food to help give you everything you need for healthy development. It's important to keep an eye on the type of supplement you're ingesting, however. Some supplements may not be as safe as they would seem. The following supplements are safe to take during pregnancy, however, it's important to talk with your doctor before ingesting anything:
This acid, a member of the B-vitamin family, can be found in green leafy vegetables, brown rice, breads, margarines and some breakfast cereals. The synthetic form is often more easily absorbed by the body than the natural form, however. According to Dr. Eric Levens, a board-certified reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist in Annandale, Va., folic acid has been shown to decrease the incidence of a specific birth defect by as much as 36 percent. Folic acid also helps to support the rapid growth of both the placenta and fetus. It aids in DNA production as well as cell division and fetal growth.
While this vitamin can come from sunshine, taking a supplement can give a pregnant woman and her child an adequate amount. Exposure to sunlight during pregnancy intensifies pigment changes that cause irregular skin darkening, so it's best to stay protected from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for regulating the amount of phosphate and calcium found in the body – both of which are needed to keep teeth and bones healthy. This vitamin can be found in fatty fish, fish liver oil, fortified milk, eggs and cereal products.
This vitamin, found in fruit and vegetables, protects cells and keeps to keep the immune system healthy – working to fight off infection. It's also essential for tissue repair, wound healing, bone growth and skin health. You and your baby can benefit from vitamin C because it helps make collagen – a protein that's vital to cartilage, bones, skin and tendons. It can also help absorb iron.
Iron can come from red meat, legumes, vegetables and grains. This supplement makes hemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen to other cells. Iron also helps to form myoglobin – a protein that supplies oxygen to the muscles. And just like vitamin C, iron helps to maintain a healthy immune system.
Sleeping the recommended eight hours per night is essential for your health and well-being. Getting the proper amount of sleep can do a number of positive things for your health, including helping to improve memory, boost the immune system, lower stress, spur creativity, sharpen attention and even contribute to a healthier weight.
However, a good night's sleep is often hard to come by. Even if you get into bed at a decent hour, you still may find yourself counting sheep, unable to catch some Zzzs. Approximately 70 million Americans suffer from poor sleep every night. As a quick fix, about one in four Americans take some kind of sleep medication. However, what really helps you to fall asleep quickly is your brain. That means you have to feed it with the right fuel. You need to calm it down rather than stimulate it. About 90 minutes before you doze off, head to the kitchen for a snack that will help relax you and prepare you for a good night's sleep.
Look for foods with natural sedatives like tryptophan, an amino acid that makes up the raw material that the brain uses to build sleep-inducing substances like serotonin and melatonin. It's also important to add some carbs, which stimulate the release of insulin, to this amino acid. What this does is takes the competing amino acids and incorporates them into the muscle, leaving the tryptophan to make its way to the brain and cause you to get sleepy.
Snacks that promote shut eye:
- Whole-grain cereal with milk
- Banana and peanut butter
- A glass of warm milk with honey – warm milk isn't a myth after all! Milk contains tryptophan.
- Nonfat, flavored yogurt topped with 2 tablespoons of low-fat granola
- 3 cups low-fat popcorn, sprinkled only with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
- One slice of whole wheat toast with a small slice of low-fat cheese
- A small bowl of oatmeal
- A rice cake topped with turkey
While all of these will help you to fall asleep and stay asleep, there are also foods that you should avoid. The following snacks will only keep you up at night.
Snacks that interfere with a good night's sleep:
Caffeine: The obvious choices like coffee and soda should be avoided several hours before bedtime. This natural chemical activates your central nervous system and stimulates the brain, causing that jittery feeling. Just to be safe, you should avoid ingesting caffeine about eight hours before bed. Keep in mind that even healthy dark chocolate contains significant amounts of caffeine!
Alcohol: While it may seem that this substance puts you to sleep, the effects wear off fast, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep.
A big meal: If you're especially hungry right before bed, just stick to a small snack. If you're consuming too many calories, your digestive system may slow down, causing you to be uncomfortable and awake. Bedtime snacks should be no more than 200 calories. Generally, you should avoid high-fat meals.
Spicy foods: While these are delicious, they won't make catching Zzzs any easier. When you ingest this before bed, you may have reflux.
More and more individuals are pursuing a vegetarian diet – a diet that excludes animal protein and instead is replaced with plant-based protein. According to the Vegetarian Times, approximately 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians and an additional 22.8 million follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.
Vegetarianism goes back to the sixth century B.C. in India, Greece and the Greek civilization in southern Italy. This way of life was strongly linked with a desire to not harm animals. Peace toward animals in India is known as ahimsa, and was a common lifestyle among religious people and philosophers. People today choose to be vegetarians for many reasons, among them concern for personal health and the environment, compassion for animals, belief in nonviolence, spiritual reasons and food preferences.
This diet, although free of animal protein, serves many benefits to those who follow this lifestyle. Here are just a few benefits that come from being a vegetarian:
A lower body weight
Those who stick to plant protein are more likely to have a lower body weight than their meat-eating counterparts. In fact, according to a study, those who consume meat will continue to put on more weight over a five-year period than those who switched over to the vegetarian lifestyle.
Lower cholesterol levels
A vegetarian diet can help promote positive heart health. Over 100 million Americans have cholesterol levels that exceed the recommended total and 20 percent of Americans have levels that are considered too high. Products like dairy, meat, butter, cheese, poultry and luncheon meats all contain saturated fat, which can contribute to poor heart health. By eliminating these items from your diet and replacing them with whole grains, your good cholesterol levels may rise.
A better mood
Turns out, embracing a vegetarian lifestyle can make you happier and less stressed. High levels of arachidonic acid, or AA, have been linked to mood-disturbing brain changes. Animal products like meat and fish are higher in AA than plant-based products. Omnivores reported significantly worse moods than vegetarians due to the elevated levels of AA.
Helps the environment
What you put into your body every day has a significant effect on our environment. Switching from a standard American diet to a vegan or vegetarian diet is more effective in the fight against climate change than switching to a hybrid car, according to PETA. More greenhouse-gas emissions are produced in the feeding and raising, production, and transporting of livestock than in crop cultivation.
Yoga has been an important part of life across Eastern cultures for centuries, but in recent years, this holistic exercise has gained popularity here in the U.S. There are lots of reasons to do yoga: Whether you're looking for a new way to work out, trying to find time to relax or have been prescribed yoga as a physical therapy treatment, there are countless benefits to this popular activity.
Most of the health benefits of yoga – improved circulation, weight loss, reduced blood pressure, improved muscle tone and better mental focus – can be attributed to yoga's tendency to reduce stress. If you're looking for a little escape from the worries of everyday life, try these yoga poses in the comfort of your own home:
Balsana (Child's pose)
Child's Post is almost certainly everyone's favorite yoga pose. This resting pose is generally done in between asanas (sun salutations) in order to allow for a moment to refocus breathing and promote relaxation. Even if you aren't going all-out with an entire workout, a few deep breaths in balsana will help you recharge. As a bonus, Yoga Journal has recommended this comfortable pose for boosting immune system health!
To get into balsana, begin in a kneeling position. Sit back until your hips are resting comfortably on top of your ankles. Keeping your back straight, lower your upper body until your forehead is gently resting on the floor. You can either rest your hands at your side or stretch them out over your head.
Ananda Balsana (Happy baby pose)
Are you noticing the child theme? Many of yoga's most relaxing positions are inspired by happy children. Happy baby pose is a great option for those who want to improve their flexibility while relaxing at the same time.
Start by lying on your back with your eyes fixed above you. Keeping your knees bent, bring your legs up so that the bottoms of your feet are parallel to the ceiling. Grab the insides of your feet with your hands, keeping your arms on the inside of your legs. Use your hands to pull your feet towards you, breathing deeply.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing dog pose)
You know that cute little stretch your dog does after he wakes up from a nap? Our canine companions sure can teach us a thing or two about happiness! Take a breather and improve your immune system health with downward-facing dog.
It's easiest to get into downward-facing dog directly from balsana. Stretch your hands out in front of your head and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Push back, lifting your body off of the floor until your legs and arms are as straight as possible. If you're working to improve your flexibility, create a constant tension with your arms and legs as you push your head toward your knees.
With these and all other yoga poses, the most important tool for relaxation is your own breath. Focus on your breathing pattern, and dismiss all thoughts that come into your brain without judgment.
With beach season dangerously close, everyone is looking to tone and tighten. But it's going to take more than cutting back on the sweets and going for a run every once in awhile to achieve the results you're looking for.
Men and women tone their muscles differently because, typically, women tend to have more fat cells than men do in their thighs, hips and bottoms. Conversely, men's stomachs are more likely than women's to accumulate fat cells.
Body fat comes from the total number of fat cells in your body and the size of these cells. The human body has about 30 billion fat cells, but they are often not evenly distributed. When people lose weight, those fat cells simply become skinnier.
One of the best ways to start depleting those fat cells is by adding some strength training into your exercise routine and getting more protein into your diet, whether it's through protein powders or meal replacement shakes. By building muscle, you'll be burning more calories and be getting closer to that dream body of yours. As a general rule for both men and women, it's important to start off with an intensity you're comfortable with.
For your arms…
Tricep dips: Using your own body weight, use a chair or a bench to hold yourself up with your elbows locked. Lower yourself slowly down until your elbows are bent and reach a 90-degree angle. Keep your head straight as you press up to the starting position.
Chin ups: This exercise really works your biceps. Find a sturdy bar and hang onto it with your palms facing toward you and let yourself hang. Pull yourself up and reach your chin over the bar.
For your core…
Bicycles: Laying on your back, make sure your lower back is pressed to the ground. Place your hands behind your ears, lift your feet off of the floor and elevate your knees above your hips. Complete the exercise by touching your right elbow to your left knee, followed by your left elbow to your right knee. The exercise should be a continuous movement.
Vertical leg crunch: Lay on your back with your lower back pressed to the ground. Place your hands behind your ears, making sure your elbows are straight out to the side and not in view. Extend and lift your legs straight up over the hips with a slight bend in the knees. Keeping your eyes focused on the ceiling, lift your torso toward your knees and slowly release down.
For your legs…
Squats: This exercise tones your thighs. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bending your knees, lower your rear end toward the ground. As your knees near a 90-degree angle, exhale and push yourself back up to the starting position. Make sure your knees never go over your feet as you complete the exercise.
Leg lifts: You can easily compete this exercise right in your own home. Lay on your right side on a mat and rest your elbow on the ground. Kick your right leg up toward the sky and slowly lower it down to the starting position. Once you've completed the appropriate amount of reps, switch sides.
We've all experienced that feeling when 10:30 rolls around and it's just a little bit too early to take a lunch, but your stomach is arguing otherwise. It's time for a snack. Sure, those donuts your coworker brought in look great, but when your job entails sitting in a chair for eight hours with little movement, sugary and salty foods may not be the source of energy you're looking for. By chowing down on the right foods and following these few tips, you can start snacking healthier at work right away:
Keep the healthy snacks visible at your desk
If a sugary pastry is right in front of you on the conference table but your healthy snack is tucked away in your bag, you're more likely to go for the calorie-packed pastry.
Prepare them beforehand
If your snack allows, prepare it the night before you go into work. This way, you won't be turned off by the fact that you have to leave your desk to go make yourself food. If it's already right there and ready to eat, you're more likely to snack on it.
Know the difference between "snack" and "treat"
Although we may want that chocolate bar or cookie to be a snack, it's probably considered more of a treat. Ask yourself if you're just eating it because it's there or because you're actually hungry and are trying to help bridge one meal to the next. Snacks offer nutrition, while treats only offer calories.
No mindless eating
Eating while working can lead to overeating. It's similar to when you're sitting on the couch with a bag of chips and all of a sudden they're gone. Instead, only bring small amounts of food to your desk so you don't eat more than you bargained for.
The best snacks to enjoy at work:
There's no easier way to snack with a smoothie or a shake. But stay away those beverages packed with calories and even more sugar. Instead, make your own right at work! These personal blender bottles can be great for whipping one up right in the office. Pack up fresh fruit of your choice along with ice and water and mix in a few scoops of Naturade Total Soy. This protein powder won't only add great taste to your smoothie, it's packed with all of the protein, vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain a healthy weight.
Apples and honey with nut butter
You'll need crispbread, a whole apple, the nut butter of your choice (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.), honey and cinnamon. Smear whichever butter you chose over the crispbread, thinly slice the apples on top and drizzle it all with a bit of honey and cinnamon for a snack all of your coworkers are sure to be jealous of.
This creamy treat is delicious by itself, but when you add in your favorite fresh fruit and choice of granola, it's even better. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, fiber, calcium and probiotics, which are good for your digestive system.
We're not talking about the movie theater style popcorn here, unfortunately. However, this airy snack made in a pot over the stove with a touch of olive oil and seasoning can actually be a healthy snack. This stuff won't leave you too full for lunch, either.
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.
Whether it's your favorite cereal, scrambled eggs or a fruity smoothie, taking the time in the morning to chow down is essential. Many individuals may be under the impression that skipping this morning meal will help them to lose weight because they're consuming fewer calories: Research shows about 18 percent of Americans older than age two regularly skip breakfast. However, breakfast can be your ally in maintaining a healthy weight along with many other benefits. This meal sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you haven't jumped on the breakfast bandwagon, here are a few reasons you may want to reconsider:
Sparks your metabolism
You likely haven't eaten for about eight hours when you get up in the morning. Your body responds to this by decreasing your metabolic rate – the speed at which the body burns calories. When you do chow down in the morning, your metabolism essentially wakes up and starts burning those calories at a faster rate, helping you to maintain a healthier body weight.
Helps you stay alert
If you have a long day at school or work ahead of you, you're definitely going to want to make time for breakfast in the morning. Skipping breakfast can have a negative effect on the way students perform in the classroom and on problem-solving tests and may make you less alert at the office. When you don't give your body calories to turn into energy, you may feel sluggish later. Consuming fiber in the morning is especially essential to staying alert because adequate fiber prevents spikes in blood sugar that can affect how awake you feel. Stick to whole grains and fruits.
Crucial for losing weight
According to an expert panel at the Institute of Food Technologists conference, those who don't eat breakfast consume 40 percent more sweets, 55 percent more soft drinks, 45 percent fewer vegetables and 30 percent less fruit than those who do. Overall, those who skip out on their morning breakfast tend to weigh more than their counterparts. If you include protein in your diet, like adding a protein powder to a meal replacement shake or smoothie in the morning, it seems to have even more of an effect on weight loss. Add a few scoops of Naturade Total Soy to your favorite shake or smoothie recipe in the morning to help yourself love breakfast again. A high-protein breakfast helps you to stay full and avoid overeating later on in the day.
Making the transition to a vegetarian diet takes the right attitude and the know-how to live healthy without consuming any animal protein. Research has shown that plant-based and vegetarian diets are associated with better health, but in order to receive these health benefits, you have to know how to go about becoming a vegetarian and following a meal plan that is both delicious and right for your body. Here are some of the most common pitfalls to which first-time vegetarians often fall prey:
Not eating enough calories
Just because a vegetarian diet requires that you avoid animal protein doesn't mean that you have to cut out a large amount of calories. The right amount of calories are appropriate for giving your body the fuel it needs to get through the day. If you don't have enough energy from calories, your metabolism could slow and you could experience low blood sugar.
You're going to have to find the adequate amount of calories from foods besides meat, like nuts, seeds, dried fruit and cheese – all of which are filled with calories that won't weigh you down later. Top off your salad with nuts of your choice or bring some dried fruit to work to snack on in between meetings.
Skipping out on protein
Much of the protein in a diet can come from animal meat. However, there are plenty of other ways to get the amount of protein that your body needs. Protein is vital to the body and helps you to maintain a healthy weight. The recommended protein intake per day is about 50 to 175 grams, depending on your sex, height and and body weight. Without this protein, you could experience low energy, loss of muscle, a weakened immune system and poor vision. Meet your protein needs by whipping up a shake or a smoothie using Naturade Pea Protein. This protein powder is free of soy, dairy, gluten and cholesterol and is derived from yellow peas that are easy to digest and hypoallergenic.
Other sources of protein could include beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, tofu, hemp, eggs, Greek yogurt and avocados.
Minerals like zinc, calcium and iron are essential to keeping high blood pressure levels at bay, maintaining healthy joints and keeping up your energy levels. Look for breakfast cereals that are rich in iron and snack on veggies containing the mineral, like soybeans, potatoes, beets and artichokes. A glass of orange juice in the morning will help to absorb the iron from plant foods.
Whether you're trying to gain muscle or lose weight, along the way you may have discovered that there are various types of protein out there. Whey protein and pea protein are two that are quite common. However, the difference between the two is crucial. Let's take a look at each type of protein and what it does for the body:
Whey protein is one of the two major groups of proteins found in milk. Only 20 percent of milk's protein is whey. The rest is casein, which is the protein that triggers most milk allergies. This is why whey protein would be a way for people with allergies to get dairy protein into their diets. It's typically sold in powder form, as either whey protein isolate or whey protein concentrate and is a popular supplement for athletes and fitness fanatics.
Whey protein essentially helps your cells to grow, replace and repair themselves. The body naturally produces proteins on its own, however, other amino acids must come from dairy protein. Whey protein provides all nine amino acids and is easy to digest. Most whey protein is low-fat or fat-free, and the amount of protein you need varies based on body type and nutritional needs.
What is it best used for?
The uses for whey protein can vary greatly. Whey protein is commonly used among athletes for improving muscle strength and body composition. One of the reasons that whey protein stands above all others when it comes to bulking up is due to one ingredient: Leucine. Leucine is an amino acid that must be obtained through foods and plays a significant role in the maintenance and repair of muscles. According to the Journal of Nutrition, leucine can stimulate muscle protein synthesis – which is the process by which individual cells build specific proteins.
How do I get it in my diet?
Protein powders are an easy and delicious way of getting more whey protein into your diet. Naturade 100% Whey comes in both chocolate and vanilla flavors and is a great way to finish off your workout to build muscle. This protein powder is an excellent source of bodybuilding branch chain amino acids and active peptides, or protein fractions.
Pea protein is a natural plant-based protein that is derived from yellow peas, also known as split peas. This protein is highly soluble and easy to digest. This is a perfect protein for vegetarians and vegans who can't get their protein from animal products. It has the ability to supply the nine essential amino acids that cannot be naturally produced by the human body.
What is it best used for?
Pea protein can be used for a variety of reasons including muscle growth, weight loss, and for those who are vegetarians or vegans and are looking for a way to get more protein into their diets. Scoop some pea protein powder into a post-workout smoothie to build muscle, use it as a meal replacement if you're looking for some extra protein or are wanting to shed those pounds.
How do I get it in my diet?
Pea protein powder can be incorporated into your diet through a tasty shake. Naturade Pea Protein is a great-tasting shake that is all-natural and contains no animal by-products, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners or colors. You can use it for a meal replacement or a post-workout smoothie.