How To Maintain A Healthy Diet

In today’s day and age it is extremely important that you focus on ways to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle and diet. The first step in this process is simple: don’t get caught up in diet fads. As fads come and go, it is important to guarantee that you’re adding easy components to your diet that will keep you healthy and fit.

Always make sure to keep your diet packed with a variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, fatty fish, and flaxseed). All of these components together can help you stay balanced.

Try to buy food that is grown locally within your community, and to always stay within the means of your lifestyle and budget. The purpose of maintaining a healthy diet is to work within the limits of your current lifestyle. This is the best possible way to ensure the endurance and overall success for the rest of your life.

For more information please check out this link: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/basics/healthy-diets/hlv-20049477

More Nutritional Health...

In today’s day and age it is extremely important that you focus on ways to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle and diet. The first step in this process is simple: don’t get caught up in diet fads. As fads come and go, it is important to guarantee that you’re adding easy components to your diet that will keep you healthy and fit.

Always make sure to keep your diet packed with a variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, fatty fish, and flaxseed). All of these components together can help you stay balanced.

Try to buy food that is grown locally within your community, and to always stay within the means of your lifestyle and budget. The purpose of maintaining a healthy diet is to work within the limits of your current lifestyle. This is the best possible way to ensure the endurance and overall success for the rest of your life.

For more information please check out this link: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/basics/healthy-diets/hlv-20049477

Nutritional tricks to help you stave off stress.

Which comes first: Do our high-stress lives lead us to eat badly, or do our bad eating habits make us more likely to feel stressed out?

The way I see it, the chicken AND the egg both come first, depending on the situation. Stress can lead some people to crave (and overeat) junk food. In other cases, a diet rich in sugar, unhealthy fats, caffeine, etc., can help set up some people to feel more physically stressed.

That means we need to work on both ends of the stick. We should find new ways to deal with the stress in our lives; and we should eat a healthy diet, rich in the nutrients that help keep moods up and stress down.

So before we get down to the nitty-gritty of food and stress, keep these two suggestions in mind:

  • Find new ways to cope with life's stresses. Whenever possible, plug in healthy coping strategies, like journaling; regular exercise; massage; yoga or Pilates classes; or support groups or counseling sessions that help you work through negative thoughts in a productive and healthy way.
  • Find ways to decrease the stress in your life. Get enough sleep, quit smoking, establish a great support system, strive for balance in the different aspects of your life (family, work, personal interests), and find a sense of purpose in your life.
  • Food, Hormones, and Stress

    One key to the link between food and mood is serotonin, which I have fondly nicknamed "the happy hormone." Serotonin is made in the brain from the amino acid tryptophan, with the help of certain B vitamins.

    Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so you might think that foods high in protein would increase levels of tryptophan, but the opposite is true. Tryptophan has to fight with other amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain. Since tryptophan is the weaker of the amino acids, generally only a small amount makes it into the brain when other amino acids are present.

    But here's the catch. When you eat a meal that's almost all carbs, this triggers insulin to clear the other amino acids from your bloodstream. That leaves tryptophan with a smooth passage into the brain. This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain. High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.

    The other main stress/food hormone is cortisol. When you're stressed, your body releases more cortisol into your bloodstream. Cortisol sends appetite-stimulating neurotransmitters into overdrive, while lowering your levels of serotonin. This combination programs your brain to crave carbohydrate-rich foods. And when you eat the carb-rich foods, it boosts serotonin levels, which makes you feel calm again.

    How to De-Stress Your Diet

    But before you rush out for that carb fix, here are six tips to help you give yourself the nutritional edge against stress:

    1. Keep It Balanced

    A balanced, nutrient-rich eating plan is your single best dietary defense against stress. There is more and more scientific evidence suggesting that what we eat contributes to mood, stress level, brain function, and energy level.

    2. Keep Healthy Carbs Handy

    Giving your body the carbs it craves during stress doesn't have to mean filling up with empty calories from sugar and white-flour products. Complex or "whole" carbohydrate foods (like whole grains, fruits, and veggies) give you carbs along with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals galore.

    A study in 1995 (before the current low-carb hysteria) looked at obese women who said they overate carbohydrates when stressed. Researchers assigned the women to either a carb-rich diet or protein-rich diet -- both with 1,350 daily calories -- for seven weeks. Interestingly, more women lost weight on the carbohydrate-rich diet. But perhaps more important, those on the higher-carb diet reported having fewer carbohydrate cravings and more energy.

    3. Omega-3s to the Rescue

    Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish as well as some plant foods, like canola oil and ground flaxseed. Although their uplifting effect on mood hasn't been proven, several studies have suggested a connection. This makes scientific sense because:

  • In areas of the world where more omega-3s are consumed, depression is less common.
  • Depression rates are high among alcoholics and women who have recently given birth. Both groups tend to be deficient in omega-3s.
  • People with depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells compared with others.
  • 4. Cut the Caffeine

    Caffeine is a stimulant. It stimulates the bowels and bladder, and it seems to increase your energy level for the short term. But what goes up must come down, and in people sensitive to caffeine, it can come crashing down.

    Larry Christensen, PhD, a researcher with the University of South Alabama, found in recent studies that when people who are sensitive to caffeine eliminated it from their diets, their moods and energy levels improved significantly.

    Don't know if you are one of the caffeine-sensitive people? Try avoiding caffeine for a few weeks and see if there's a difference in the way you feel. It can be hard to go cold turkey, so taper off your intake a cup at a time until you're down to none.

    5. Don't Be a Breakfast-Skipper

    When people eat breakfast, they tend to have more consistent moods and are less likely to suffer food cravings later in the day.

    6. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

    This will provide your body with a consistent supply of energy throughout the day and help you avoid feeling tired or overly hungry.

    7. Don't Expect Alcohol to Help

    Alcohol is not a healthy or effective way to relax or relieve stress. Though many people believe the opposite is true, alcohol is actually a depressant. And overdrinking only adds to the stress in your life.

    By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
    WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

    SOURCES: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 1995, Supplement, Vol. 95, Number 9. Reproduction Nutrition Development, May-June 2004, Family Practice News, Aug. 1, 2004.

    Original Article: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55897

 

American Diet Trends

 

                  When you first make the decision to lose weight, a few words come to mind: exercise and diet. There have been many diet trends all over the world, but America can take the cake (no pun intended) on some of the more interesting and beneficial diet trends. Here are six of the most popular:

 

  1. Choosing water over other sugary drinks
  2. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables
  3. Decreasing trans-fat in your diet
  4. NO fast food
  5. Eating a lot of nuts
  6. Consumer fewer calories

 

Many of these "diet hacks" have worked for Americans, helping them improve their lifestyle. The ultimate trick to maintaining a diet is finding one that works continuously for you. If anything, try some of the trends listed and see if there is something that you can stick with.

 

For more information on this topic, read this article http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/30/health/gallery/american-diet-trends/index.html

 

To many of my friends, buying organic is more than a supermarket choice. It’s a badge of good parenting. They proclaim “I buy only organic” with the same flush of pride they assume when announcing their child has made the honor roll. As I guiltily follow their lead, I can’t help but wonder whether organic foods have as much of an impact on my family’s health as they do on my wallet.

Health experts and consumers have long debated whether organic foods are more nutritious—and safer—than conventional foods. “This is a controversy that’s been going on for a long time,” says Dr. Michelle Hauser, a certified chef, nutrition educator, and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

A study released this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine tried to get to the core of this food-fueled debate, but it ultimately may do little to end the controversy. While the study finds that organics do have some safety advantages over conventional foods, nutritionally speaking they have little extra to offer.

The organic rationale

People who buy organic usually cite these reasons for their decision:

  • They’re safer. Fruits and vegetables labeled as organic are generally grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Livestock raised under organic practices aren’t fed antibiotics or growth hormones.
  • They’re kinder to the environment. Organic farming practices are designed to be more sustainable, emphasizing conservation and reducing pollutants.
  • They’re healthier. A few studies have suggested organic foods might be higher in nutrients than their traditional counterparts.

Of these three reasons, the health claims for organic foods have been the most tenuous. To investigate these claims, researchers at Stanford University evaluated nearly 250 studies comparing the nutrients in organic vs. traditional foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, poultry, meat, and eggs), and the health outcomes of eating these foods.

The researchers discovered very little difference in nutritional content, aside from slightly higher phosphorous levels in many organic foods, and a higher omega-3 fatty acid content in organic milk and chicken.

Organic produce did have the slight edge in food safety, with 30% lower pesticide residues than conventional foods. In general, pesticide levels in both organic and non-organic foods were within allowable safety limits. It’s still not clear, though, just what that means to consumers’ health. “Just because these foods aren’t going over what they call an ‘acceptable limit’ doesn’t mean they’re safe for everyone,” Dr. Hauser says. There haven’t been enough studies evaluating pesticide exposure to confirm the health effects, particularly in children and pregnant women, she adds.

Organic chicken and pork were also about a third less likely to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventionally raised chicken and pork. However, the bacteria that cause food poisoning were equally present in both types of foods.

Should you buy organic?

That’s a decision only you can make based on your family’s needs and wants, and your budget. If you’re buying organic solely for better nutrition, based on this review there’s no evidence you’re gaining any real advantages. But if you’re concerned about pesticides and you can afford organics, it might be worth it to buy them.

For many people, cost is the deciding factor. Organic foods are more expensive—and often significantly more so—than non-organic. A visit to my local supermarket revealed a huge price difference between a half-gallon of non-organic 1% milk ($3.25) and organic milk ($4.59). The same was true for just about every food I compared, from chicken stock ($2.59 vs. $3.59) to nectarines ($1.99 per pound vs. $3.99).

The Annals study won’t lay the “organic is better” argument to rest. However, it should at least relieve some of the guilt many of us feel whenever we steer our shopping cart around the organic produce case.

Organic alternatives

You can still buy organic without overspending by being choosier about the types of organic products you buy. Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases its “Dirty Dozen”—a list of 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest contamination levels. These foods might be worth buying organic, while the “Clean 15″—which are lowest in pesticides—might not justify the extra cost.

Purchasing food raised in farms in your area is another alternative to going organic. It ensures you’re getting the freshest foods at the peak of season. If your neighborhood supermarket doesn’t carry local produce, talk to the manager.

You may also be able to reduce your pesticide exposure from conventional fruits and vegetables by washing them with a mixture of water and mild dishwashing detergent before eating, and by peeling off the outer skin.

By: Stephanie Watson, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Orginal Article: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/organic-food-no-more-nutritious-than-conventionally-grown-food-201209055264