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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Over the Shoulder or Into the Trash?



Hello everyone! Thank you once again for giving me the day off yesterday...it was another long one! This is going to be my busiest weekend in a while and I had to prepare for it.

I'm sure we were all given a lesson on superstition when we were children when it came to spilling salt: If you spill it, you have to toss some over your left shoulder to rectify the problem. Where did this come from you ask? Ever seen the painting of the last supper? In that painting, Judas had knocked the salt over with his arm as he moved into posing position. Since Judas is known as the betrayer of Jesus, spilling salt is linked with betrayal, lies, or evil. According to superstition, the only way to fix the situation is to throw salt over your left shoulder, as that is where the "devil" sits and the salt will cause him to go blind instead of allowing him to take over your thoughts with evil ideas. Click here for more fun facts about superstitions.

There are many different types of salt available for consumption. Salt enhances the taste of meats, baked goods, etc. and keeps food fresh. Its health benefits include balancing the pH level of blood, helps maintain the correct amount of bodily fluids, regulates blood pressure, and helps transmit signals from the nerves to the brain. It is the small amount of potassium and magnesium found in unrefined salts that helps balance the fluids in the body and send the nerve signals back and forth to/from the brain. Click here for more about the advantages of salt for the body. Of course, salt is only beneficial when consumed in accordance with the recommended amount per day: 1 teaspoon of table salt. Yes, ONE teaspoon! That's the small "t" on those measuring spoons. That equals out to about 2,300mg of sodium per day. If you are eating processed foods or eating out at restaurants all day, you are definitely eating more than one teaspoon throughout your day!

On to the bad news...I'm sure most of you have heard that too much salt is bad for the heart (which is true, as it increases blood pressure which over time can lead to strokes, heart failure or disease), but did you know that it's also bad for the kidneys? Who knew that one of the main functions of the kidneys is to balance sodium levels in the body? That is why doctors always say to drink enough water in order to help your kidneys flush out the waste (i.e. extra sodium) and to stay away from soda if you have kidney problems. 

Did you also know that consuming too much sodium can lead to weight gain? Although healthy levels of sodium help balance fluid levels in the body, too much of a good thing is nothing but bad news. Extra sodium in the body causes fluid retention, leading to an increased need of potassium and magnesium which helps break down the fluids. Although potassium and magnesium can be found in unrefined salt, there is not enough in each serving alone to balance out the sodium being consumed. Oddly enough, the solution to this problem is to add more fluid to the body through the consumption of water (in order to flush the extra sodium out) and a decrease in sodium intake.

Lastly, salt (other than kosher salt) contains iodine which began being added in 1995 as the World Health Assembly's way of preventing iodine deficiency disease in animals and humans (Click here for the source of this information). The problem is that most people and/or animals get enough iodine from their diets already, and adding iodized salt to the diet as well leads to over consumption of it. Since most iodine is stored in the thyroid gland, over consumption of it can lead to hormone imbalances (causing weight gain and issues with the immune system).

Tips:
When eating out at a restaurant, one must be careful when ordering seasoned foods, as most of these foods are cooked with sodium and then seasoned again with it after. If eating Mexican food, be aware that Latin-American cuisine is notorious for being over-salted. Also, if you are traveling to Europe, keep in mind that Europeans have a taste preference for salty foods rather than sugary foods (When I went to Italy, it literally felt like my tongue was burning for the first few days due to the increased amount of sodium in the food).

So, the next time you reach for that table salt for a bit of added flavor, think about giving your body a break and add some lemon or lime juice, fresh herbs, diced onions, spices, or balsamic vinaigrette instead. Your body will thank you.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Sweet Substitute May Not be so Sweet After All


Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well today!! Can you believe we are already almost half way through this year? Craziness! It's almost time to start looking for Christmas gifts again...sigh...

Anyway, so yesterday we discussed the benefits and disadvantages of sugar and I promised that today we would be discussing sugar substitutions. Some of you may wonder why anyone would want a substitution, but for those with diabetes, high LDL, high blood sugar levels, wanting to eat clean, wanting to reduce plaque on teeth, wanting to lose weight, etc., sugar substitutes seem to provide more leeway than regular sugar. They can be more dangerous for your health, however, if you choose the wrong ones or use too much of them. Let's do a quick breakdown of these sugar substitutes and the ingredients in them, shall we?

First of all, it's important to note that there are organic sugar substitutes and then there are man-made sugar substitutes. Guess which one is better for you? :) I know, I know...organic stuff is more expensive...but like I always say, spend more on your health now and save the money later when you aren't riddled with disease and can enjoy your retirement. :) Besides, I'm going to let you in on some money saving secrets for organic purchases soon.

Moving on...

Man-made sugar substitutes are generally created by chemically combining ingredients. Those ingredients may have already been chemically altered themselves, leading to dangerous outcomes for the consumer. The following information explains four different types of man-made sweeteners and discusses why they are beneficial or detrimental to your health:

Sweet N'Low

Sweet N'Low (otherwise known as saccharin) has been around for over 130 years. It was heavily used during the first World War due to a sugar shortage and now days it is used for a low-calorie substitution to sugar. Sweet N'Low was once considered a contributor to cancer (and was labeled as such on the packaging), however, those labels have been removed recently and the FDA has approved it as a safe sugar substitution...although their definition of safe and mine seem to be very different. I don't feel comfortable putting something known for bladder cancer into my body, no matter how much it would take to actually get to that point (they say it only occurs with high doses of saccharin). Sweet N'low also contains dextrose (a carbohydrate found in broken down corn - similar to corn syrup), cream of tartar (used as a thickening agent in baked goods or cleaning additive to household cleaners...hmmm...interesting - developed through the crystallization process of wine), and calcium silicate (used in concrete, bricks, insulation, an alternative to asbestos, table salt, oh...and the sugar you just added to your coffee...Mmm Mmm good huh?).


Equal

Equal's main ingredient is aspartame or acesulfame potassium. Aspartame is created through the chemical combining of three items: phenylalanine (known for decreasing serotonin levels and pooling in certain areas of the brain leading to decreased functioning...this is said to be even more dangerous for children, as their brains are developing quickly and using everything eaten as fuel for that development...if they are ingesting chemicals which decrease the function of the brain, they are essentially eating their own way to slower brain functioning later in life); aspartic acid (known as a toxin which causes neurons in the brain to be over-stimulated until they cease to function leading to chemical imbalances in the brain and the body; methanol (turned into formaldehyde by the body as it is digested...formaldehyde...you know...like the stuff they embalm the dead with? It is known for increasing cancer risks, altering DNA, and causing birth defects according to this web site). Sounds great huh? Did you know the average can of soda or juice containing aspartame actually causes the consumer to ingest more than 4 times the recommended limit per day of it?

Splenda

Splenda is one of the most popular zero-calorie-sweeteners, however, since it is created through combining dextrose, resistant maltodextrin (i.e. starch), and it's main ingredient - sucralose (chlorinated sugar), (all calorie-laden ingredients), it does contain calories. The way that marketing companies get away with selling it as a zero-calorie-sweetener is due to the fact that dextrose, resistant maltodextrin, and sucralose are not able to be broken down by the body, thus, they are considered waste by the brain and the body removes as much of them as it can. Click here to see the dangers of sucralose. (I'll tell you now that the link will inform you of shrunken thyroid issues caused by ingestion of sucralose...I know..I'm an ending spoiler!).

Stevia

Stevia is made by highly refining the stevia plant, which is a bush that originally grew naturally in South America, but now grows wherever it is cultivated. Although it has been approved by the FDA for consumption and labeled with (GRAS, generally recognized as safe), some still consider it dangerous as it is a processed sugar substitute refined in a factory with added flavors and sugar alcohol. Stevioside (stevia extract) has been said to cause an increased risk of cancer, an imbalanced metabolism, lowering sperm count, and lowering the ability to conceive or give birth to babies with healthy weights. Click here for warnings about Stevia/Stevioside. Stevia is still considered by most to be the best man-made sugar substitute (as there has not been enough medical information gathered to prove the risks above as confirmed risks), however, it is important to keep in mind that there are organic alternatives to these sugar alternatives that could be better for you without the added worries.

Click here for an awesome link that goes even more into detail about sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols. OR here.



So, what are some organic sugar substitutions that won't give you the added side effects of the man-made sugar substitutes? Try adding some of these to your homemade baked goods, coffee, tea, etc. next time instead of reaching for that sugar substitute packet:

  • Agave nectar
  • Applesauce
  • Honey
  • Erythritol (a FDA approved sugar alcohol)
  • Sucanat (sugar cane)
  • Pureed fruit
  • Vanilla Almond Milk (unsweetened)
  • Rice Milk
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (organic and 100% natural fruit or cocoa flavors are great in homemade baked goods or even just drizzled on top of frozen yogurt/ice cream)

Click here for the most incredible link to an awesome list of 30 organic sugar substitutions!!! 

As with anything else in the kitchen, all sugar substitutions are best used in moderation. Organic sugar substitutes can contain high amounts of calories (so check the label!) and can have their own side-effects on the body, however, organic food is a better choice than chemically-altered man-made alternatives (a.k.a. junk!!!).

Keep it clean people!

Have a great night (or day...depending on your side of the world!) :)
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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

WAKE UP Without the Sugar Boost!


Hey everybody! I hope you are all doing well! Today is Memorial Day - so Happy Memorial Day everyone! Today would normally be a day consumed with grilling steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs and devouring sugary sweets and side dishes, but since it's raining pouring actually here in Kansas, I doubt much of that will be occurring. This may actually be a good thing concerning our health. :)

Okay, I'm going to put on my best sweet talking voice pun totally intended :), and talk to you about one of the biggest drugs pushed in America (and even the world) today....SUGAR! Yes, I call it a drug - don't you?!? Let's see, it causes cravings and addiction, leads to bad habits/choices, alters the mental state upon consumption or with drawls, leads to poor sleeping habits, leads to diseases brought on by the inner decay of the body (i.e. organs shutting down, chemical imbalance, glucose imbalance - diabetes), and weight gain....sounds like a drug to me.

Did you know that the average American consumes over 150 pounds of sugar a year...that's roughly 3 pounds of sugar PER WEEK!!! WHAT!?!?!?! That's over 14 tablespoons of sugar PER DAY! We are only supposed to be consuming up to 4 tablespoons of sugar per day (and that's natural sugar!). The average sugar intake per year of Americans has increased by 30 pounds since 1970 (and back then it was still crazy high!!!). NOW, tell me why we are so surprised by the obesity rate and high risks of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart problems in this country?! Although this sounds completely directed at Americans, the rest of the world's sugar intake has increased by ridiculous amounts as well (but what else should be expected when pastries are considered breakfast daily and meals consist of high-carb loads with low protein?). Those numbers are just for adults...now think about the children with all those candy and soda machines at school or after school activities (One can of soda contains more than 4 tablespoons of sugar!!!). It used to be thought of as okay (even though it wasn't) to let kids eat tons of sugar because kids are always thought of as more active than adults and the "oh, they'll run it off" phrase was often given as an excuse, but kids now days are much more sedentary with the increase of social media and gaming systems. Everyone is being affected. No excuses...LISTEN UP!

Just because you may not be indulging in sweets every day DOES NOT mean that you are not taking in LOADS of sugar! Almost all processed foods contain sugar...I will repeat that...Almost all processed foods contain sugar!!!!!! Did you get that...it WILL be on the test! The test of life that is... You MUST always check the nutritional labels at the store to know exactly how much sugar you are taking into your body (and even with that...be careful! Check the serving sizes people! Just because you are only holding 1 pack of something in your hand doesn't mean that it only has 1 serving in it...it may contain 30 servings with 12g of sugar PER serving. In other words, if you eat the whole thing, you are eating 360g of sugar in one sitting!!!! AAAH!!!).

*Side note about checking nutritional information on store bought goods: Just because something says it's fat-free does not mean that it actually is and here's why: fat-free labeled items are generally processed with extra sugar added to replace the flavor of the fat that was removed. Extra sugar means extra calories...which leads to what class?!?!? FAT!!! ahahahaha! The cycle continues!). So what's the answer? Check the label...if it says fat free, make sure the sugar content is still low or you are paying extra (for a healthy item) just to get the same thing as the regular item or worse!

Carbohydrates are all sugars, however, the different types of sugars create the three different types of carbs: level one - simple sugar carbs, level two - starch carbs, and level three - fiber carbs. With each level, the number of sugar molecules in the carbs associated with that level number increase (i.e. simple sugars = 1 sugar molecule while fiber = 3 or more sugar molecules). The more sugar molecules there are in one carbohydrate, the longer it takes to break down and the healthier it is for you. Remember our talk about simple vs. complex carbs? See how this ties in?? So...exchange your simple sugars for complex sugars if possible.

Sugar is found in many items that you may not even know about due to the alternative names given to it on nutrition labels. Sugar is labeled in the following ways:

Sugar - Brown, white, cane(duh!)
Dextrose
Lactose
Fructose
Sucrose
Maltose
Glucose
...noticing a pattern here?
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup
Sorghum syrup
Syrup
Molasses
Honey
...another pattern??
Sorbitol
Fruit juice concentrate

So, if you see these words on a nutrition label, BE AWARE...you are eating sugar!

There are clearly benefits and disadvantages to eating the different types of sugars. Too much sugar of any kind will cause high blood sugar levels which has been linked to diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, high LDL, obesity, heart problems, etc. As the body fights to create and distribute enough insulin to battle the high levels of sugar being consumed, the pancreas gets overworked and worn out and the insulin is no longer available in the correct amounts (i.e. diabetes). This doesn't mean stop eating sugar entirely...low-blood sugar is just as dangerous for you! The key is eating sugar in moderation and realizing all of the items that it is in so that you can calculate it properly. Click here for more information on the break down of carbohydrates and the benefits/disadvantages of eating sugar or here.

Of course there are sugar-free products, but these can be just as dangerous. Want to know why? Come back tomorrow and find out!

Have a great day! I hope you learned something! :)

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Protein - A Key Ingredient in Body Composition and Overall Health


Hello everyone! Thank you for letting me take the day off from blogging yesterday. I wasn't feeling the best, but I'm all better now after some extra sleep and a lot of water! :)

So, let's get right to it shall we? We've already discussed two of the three main macronutrients that our bodies need to function properly: carbohydrates and fat. The third macronutrient we will be discussing is protein. The photo above is a computer-generated image of amino acids (Looks like gift wrapping ribbon to me...so I guess that means that every time you ingest protein, your body throws a party! - I like it! :). When the protein in our diet is digested, it is broken down into strands of amino acids (22 key amino acids) and then used to build and/or rebuild the tissue in our organs and muscles. Without protein, our bodies would cease to exist.

Our diets are very important when it comes to maintaining healthy amounts of protein within the body, as there are nine amino acids which can only be obtained through the diet. Protein can be found in lean cuts of red meat, the white meat of poultry, fish, nuts and/or seeds(almonds and/or walnuts are great sources of protein), dairy (Greek yogurt has high protein content and low calories/fat), eggs, legumes, protein powder (whey concentrate - cheapest and lowest rated by most in the health industry, whey protein isolate, brown rice protein, rice protein isolate, spirulina, casein, soy - men should limit their soy intake...I'll get into it later), hydrolysate (considered the best of the best by many), egg protein powder, hemp protein), etc.

Omnivores have it easier when it comes to getting enough protein; however, it's not impossible for vegetarians and/or vegans to get enough protein too. They just have to work a little harder at it. This is due to the fact that protein which comes from animal sources is complete protein: it provides all nine amino acids needed by the body at once. Protein from fruits and vegetables, however, is incomplete protein. It must be consumed with another type of protein-rich food in order for the body to obtain all the amino acids it needs (i.e. black beans and lentils would provide all the amino acids together, but not individually).

Getting enough protein is beneficial to the body for obvious reasons concerning muscle and organ growth/maintenance and it is also helpful in promoting weight loss or gain. Ingesting protein with each meal helps the body feel full faster and keeps the feeling long after the meal is completed. This is why protein snack bars have become so popular (but these can be misleading as many are loaded with sugar, simple carbohydrates, bad fats, and chemicals...read the labels people!!!). Eating enough protein helps the body lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (Still noticing the trend?). Click here for more information on protein.

As we get older, our bodies need more protein on a daily basis, with men typically needing more protein than women. Men over the age of 18 with normal diets need to consume around 55-60 grams of protein per day. Women over the age of 18 with normal diets need to consume around 45-50 grams of protein per day. 

If you are trying to lose or gain weight, the basic rule in the health industry is to eat the amount of protein which matches the weight you want to be, with a maximum protein intake of 35% of your daily caloric intake. It is especially beneficial to consume protein within 30 minutes - 2 hours after a workout. Recent studies have proven that those who ingest protein immediately after a workout increase their muscle mass and drop body fat percentages faster than those who don't. Click here to learn more about consuming protein after a workout.

Eating too much protein is dangerous - don't over-do it. Extra protein is considered fat by the body and is stored as such, so always eat it in moderation just like everything else. Click here for more information about proper daily protein intake and here.

Have a great day!!! See you tomorrow!


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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Reasons Why


Greetings everyone! Who is excited to learn the lesson of the day today?! :) Well put your thinking caps on because this one is a doozy...

So, who can tell me what we learned about yesterday? Anyone? Bueller? :) Car....bo....

Yes! Carbohydrates! Can anyone tell me what group carbohydrates fall into? Mac...ro..

Yes again! Macronutrients! The macronutrients group consists of carbs, proteins, and??? (Warning: It's about to get graphic people!).

FAT! That's right! I said it! I said the "F" word on my blog! The horrible "F" word that everyone is afraid to even mention in simple conversation or think of when standing in front of that mirror at the retail store during swimsuit season. (Side note: Do NOT under any circumstances go to Google and type in fat under the image tab....my eyes will never be the same! I mean it! DON'T! Just accept the safe image of good vs. bad door choices above and move on!).

On that note, moving on...

So we know that fat can be bad for us, but what about good fat? Oh you didn't know?!? Yes, there are good fats too and our bodies need them to survive...but how do we know what's what? Isn't fat linked with obesity?

Okay, let's break it down:

Fact: In order for the body to become overweight, one needs to overindulge in all macronutrients (among other things) while maintaining a low level of physical fitness....not just fat! Fat is higher in calories than other macronutrients (containing 9 calories p/gram compared to carbs containing 4 calories p/gram), causing the need for moderation to be higher for it specifically, but it is not a complete enemy.

Still lost? Okay, let's talk about the different types of fat listed on nutritional labels so that we can get a better understanding of all this:

Fats can initially be broken down into two groups: saturated (the bad fats) and unsaturated (the good fats).

Bad Fats:

Saturated fat is linked to many diseases such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (noticing a theme in these diseases during each blog post?).  Animal products and man-made solidified vegetable oils contain saturated fats and, according to the American Heart Association, should only make up 7% of one's daily fat intake at most! Trans fats fall under the saturated fat category as well. They can be found in natural products from animals (which aren't as bad...but are still bad for you overall) and man-made products (liquid oils turned into solids through processing - i.e. partially hydrogenated oil). Trans fats are currently the most dangerous type of fat and should be limited at all costs, as they contribute to high LDL and low HDL (I'll explain these later) - leading to heart disease if not caught in time. Trans fats are typically found in baked goods, fried foods, and packaged/processed snacks.

Good Fats:

Unsaturated fats are linked to lowering the chances of getting heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, and reducing LDL. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats fall under this category. These types of fats are good for (and required by) the body as long as they are eaten in moderation.  Sources of these types of fats include avocados, unsalted nuts (other than peanuts), unsalted seeds, fish oils (Omega-3s), olives, liquid vegetable oils, flaxseed, etc. These fats contain vitamins that are scarce throughout most diets and, due to that fact, you should eat one portion of unsaturated fats a day or 10% of your caloric intake.

Although these are good, fat is fat! Keep in mind that fat is high in calories! For instance, one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil is around 120 calories!!! Just watching cooks on the FNC makes me cringe as I see them pour half the bottle of EVOO into the pan before "searing" (basically pan-frying) fish. :( They quickly turn a healthy meal into a meal FULL of fat and then have the audacity to call it good for you on the menu! (This is why you have to be careful at restaurants too! Do you think that just because the fish is labeled as "low calories" on the menu that it actually is in reality? Who knows how much EVOO or butter...or worse...margarine...they are cooking that fish in back in the kitchen). All information in this article was based off the WebMD web page linked here.

So, hopefully you now have a basic understanding of good vs. bad fats and can make healthier choices at the grocery store or the Farmer's Market. Remember, not all fats are bad, BUT all fats should be eaten in moderation! I know this was a long post, but it was necessary. :) Thanks for sticking it out with me! (If you did the google search mentioned earlier...shame on you! ;-)

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Carbohydrates: Comparing Both Sides of the Equation


Hello again everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful day! My day is getting a bit hectic, but at least I can say that I am blessed with have something to do, right? :)

Over the past few days, I've had to type this sentence on many of my blog posts "(this is the good kind...we'll get into this in a later blog)." Well, this is that later blog.

Today is the day we do a brief overview of simple and complex carbohydrates! Yay! I know you are thrilled!

So...first we have to define it: what is a carbohydrate? Do we even know? We hear about carbs. all the time, but do we actually really know what they are or are we just being sheeple? (ahahaha...I love that word! :)

To put it simply without going into the chemistry of all of it, carbohydrates are the fuel for our daily activities. They provide us with the energy to carry out tasks like exercising, running to the store for healthy snacks, or relaxing during a yoga session. A carbohydrate (a compound derived from food and then turned into glucose) is a macronutrient (a nutrient that the body uses A LOT! - fat, protein, and carbs). The body cannot function properly without carbohydrates because the glucose is necessary for healthy brain and muscle functioning. Click here for more information and the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates.

The key to understanding how carbohydrates affect your diet is to understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. All carbohydrates are essentially sugars (after the body converts the compound). Simple carbohydrates contain less sugars than complex carbohydrates, and therefore, are easier to break down and burn through faster. This is why eating simple carbohydrates leaves you feeling very hungry after a short amount of time. Complex carbohydrates are actually made up from simple carbohydrates, but the amount is greater, thus, the amount of time to break them down takes longer and provides a steadier source of energy. For this reason, simple carbohydrates have been labeled as "bad," while complex carbohydrates have been labeled as "good."

It is important to point out here that not all simple carbohydrates are bad for you. Fruits are part of the simple carbohydrate family, but they are good for you as long as they are eaten in moderation. This is why it is best to eat your fruits in the morning (as they only take about 30 minutes to break down, but give you a good boost of energy to get the day started). Honey and dairy are also part of the simple carbs. group, but they are still very good for the body in moderation.

Simple carbohydrates are typically found in the following foods and should be eaten in very small quantities if necessary at all:

  • White breads, white pastas, white rice
  • Processed foods with added sugar
  • Crackers, potato chips
  • Baked goods
  • Sodas
  • Candies
  • Most fruit juices
  • White sugar
The best types of simple carbohydrates are completely natural, such as fruit, honey, or dairy as stated earlier.

Complex carbohydrates are typically found in the following foods and should be eaten with most meals throughout the day to provide a "full" feeling, give the body the nutrients it needs, and stabilize blood sugar:

  • Whole grain breads, pastas, brown rice
  • Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, corn
  • Certain tropical fruits such as kiwis, bananas, apricots, grapefruits, and plums, pears, prunes, dates, apples, strawberries
  • Beans (legumes)
Click here for even more information on simple and complex carbohydrates!

Eating the right type of carbs on a daily basis will help lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It will also help you manage your weight in a healthy way.

Enjoy the rest of your day and I'll see you back here tomorrow!

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Life Source Neglected



Hello everyone! Today we are on day seven of our "Eat the Rainbow" Challenge! How is everyone feeling? If you completed the challenge, congratulations!!! If you keep it up every week, your body will be thanking you and so will your doctor. ;-)

It's easy to make excuses not to do the "Eat the Rainbow" Challenge: "fruits and vegetables are too expensive," "healthy food doesn't taste good," "I take vitamins to get the nutrients my body needs." Well, think of it this way, eating healthy is the simplest way to give your body what it needs and, once you remove the junk from your diet, you will actually be saving money! :) Plus, would you rather eat junk now and have thousands of dollars of medical bills later from type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. brought on by a poor diet, or would it be a better idea overall to spend a little extra at the grocery store now and live a healthy life? Hopefully you choose the latter!

Good news for the day: Farmer's Markets are officially opening across the U.S. Today is the first Wednesday that most FM's are open, since there is now enough produce coming out of the fields to sell it two days a week!! I love Farmer's Markets! Where else can you buy a month's worth of groceries for $20.00? Plus, many FM's even have spices, grains, eggs, and "clean" meats for sale now! Just last week, I bought five live herbs at the FM and they are now sitting in brightly colored pots along my window sill...making a pretty decorative addition to my living room. :) So, get out and help support your local Farmer's Market today if you can and relish in the idea of having fresh fruits and veggies (among other bonus items) for the rest of the month!

Moving on...

Today's challenge was to drink at least 64 oz. of water. Some of you may still be working on that challenge and I applaud you for giving it all you've got! Why is drinking water so difficult for most people, you might ask? Well, it's one of those things you have to do without feeling a need for it. Most people don't remember to drink water because they don't feel their bodies longing for it the way they do with food. A surprising fact is: 1/4 of the time that you feel hungry, your body is actually thirsty. Yes, your body is able to make you feel thirsty by drying out your mouth, but by that time, you are already somewhat dehydrated. There is no signal for your body to say "hey, I'm getting thirsty over here," like there is for hunger. That's why it's your responsibility to ensure that your body is getting enough water. Of course, water intake usually spikes in the summer with the heat baking our skin and reminding us, but you have to remember to drink it during the cool times too (like when you are sitting inside in the safe zone - a.k.a. air conditioning).

Why is drinking water, rather than juice, Gatorade, soda, alcohol, etc., so important? Let me give you just a few reasons out of many. Water:

*This picture was originally shown on the www.globalhearingcenter.com website in 2013.
  • Since the brain is comprised of 90% water, it should be obvious that it is necessary to replenish the water level in our bodies on a daily basis, however, most don't. This is why doctors often tell patients with headaches or migraines to increase their water intake. As a person becomes dehydrated, the water level in their brain drops, and muscle cramps ensue, thus, leading to headaches and/or migraines. In other words, headaches and/or migraines are a symptom of dehydration. It's your bodies way of telling you "HEY, I NEED WATER!"
  • Blood consists of a high level of water as well - over 80%, while muscles contain over 70%, and bones consist of over 20%. If you begin to feel cramping in any area, your body is crying out for assistance! Give it water before it gets to that point and you won't have to deal with the pain! :)Click here for more information about symptoms of dehydration

Need more reasons to drink water?? How about these benefits:

  • Remember the last time you looked in the mirror and started noticing little wrinkles or cellulite building up around your eyes, mouth, neck, hamstrings, buttocks, etc.? Did you wish for an easy trick to make it all less noticeable? Guess what?!? I have the solution! You don't need expensive creams or injections...the answer is: DRINK MORE WATER! Water keeps skin looking young because it keeps the skin hydrated. You can slap on as much lotion as you want, but if you don't take care of the inside of the skin, the outside will continue to be dry and wrinkles will continue to appear. (It should be noted that drinking water will not make a difference when it comes to stopping acne...This rumor was most likely started by people saying "you have acne, drop the soda and drink water." The water won't clear up the acne. It's simply a tool to use to help you avoid the sugar-and-chemical-laden soda which can cause acne. (Don't believe me, do a little research on Dr. Oz's twin study concerning drinking water).
  • Need a solution to help you lose weight? I've got that too! DRINK WATER!!! Water keeps you feeling full when you start getting the munchies and helps you prevent snacking in-between meals. (Of course, little snacks between meals aren't horrible as long as they are healthy and moderate snacks...but let's face it, the vending machine is right around the corner and there is nothing healthy about it!).
  • Trying to build muscle or tone up?? DRINK WATER! By replenishing the water in your blood cells, they are able to move throughout your body longer without depleting and making you feel tired. This enables you to work out longer and build stronger, leaner muscles! :)
  • Joint Pain? DRINK WATER! Just like spraying some WD-40 on squeaky hinges, our "hinges" need lubrication as well, and water is that lubrication! The more you drink, the better those joints will feel!
  • Feeling sluggish? DRINK WATER! Drinking water can help you feel energized and increase the brain's ability to function quickly and properly.  I recently heard on the radio that drinking at least 16oz. of water as soon as you wake up has been linked to increasing the metabolism as well...giving you another boost of energy! :)

Water is soooo important! Click here to find out more about the benefits of drinking water. Keep a glass of water at your desk or in your car to remind yourself to drink it all day long. It's one of the best things you could do for your body! Remember to drink extra on hot days and/or after exercising or getting a massage!!!

Whew! That was a LONG post but SUPER important!

I hope you have a great day!

See you tomorrow!!! :)

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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Better Together Than Apart


Hello world! I hope everyone is doing well today!

Yesterday I gave you the challenge to eat at least one cup of beans and/or whole grains. I hope you all met this challenge because, if you did, I'm about to tell you all the ways you helped your body out today!! :) Here we go....

So, did you know that beans and whole grains both struggle with the fact that neither one of them is a complete protein source? (Not saying there is a bean sitting in a therapist's office somewhere trying to cope with it's lacking abilities, just saying it needs a little help from it's buddy - whole grain). So, from this point forward, just think of Mr. Bean (the food, not the actor) and Mr. Whole Grain as best friends. :)

Yes, it's okay to eat beans and whole grains separate, but you won't be doing your body nearly as much good unless you eat them together. They are like soul mates...one completes the other. <3 Aww! In other words, their proteins are complementary, and when eaten together, all of the super important amino acids that our bodies need are provided at one time rather than only getting half at one sitting. Whole grains contain high levels of the amino acid methionine, while beans contain high levels of the amino acid lysine. Both amino acids mentioned here are essential to our bodies and can only be obtained through our diets, so it just makes more since to eat them together! :)

Beans and whole grains provide a multitude of other benefits as well, to include:

  • Fiber - great for the digestive tract; leaves you feeling less hungry after eating smaller meals; balances blood sugar levels

  • Iron - used to create red blood cells

  • Complex Carbs - (these are the good kind of carbs that should be eaten in moderation...I'll be going into these in a later blog)

  • Several other vitamins (i.e. niacin, B vitamins, riboflavin, etc.)

  • Low in fat

  •  Linked to preventing (or lowering the risk of) diabetes (type 2), cancer, and heart disease
Click here for more information on the benefits of whole grains and beans or here or here!

I'm just full of links tonight! :) I hope you enjoyed this brief lesson on the benefits of eating beans and whole grains! I love learning and sharing something new every day about food and fitness and I hope all of you are enjoying this blog as much as I am!!

Tomorrow's challenge is more about what we drink  rather than what we eat:

It's time for the final challenge of "eating our way through the rainbow:" You're in the clear! Clear stage of color that is....Drink Water!!! (drink at least 64 oz....in other words 8 (8 oz) bottles :)

This is one of THE most important challenges yet!!! Come back tomorrow and find out all of the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of drinking enough water! :)
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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Orange You Glad You Read This Post?



Yes, that blog post title really did just happen. I'm kicking it old school folks. :) Okay, forgive me.

I happen to love the color orange. It's not my favorite color...but it's right up there! It just makes me feel happy when I look at it, and dark oranges actually give me a calm feeling. At first it was difficult to think of orange colored fruits and vegetables...besides the obvious "orange," but after I really started thinking about it, I couldn't stop naming them.

Do you love orange colored fruits and veggies?? If so, you will be pleased to find out that orange fruits and veggies are known for extending lifespans. (So to be immortal, I just have to eat oranges every day?!?!?) Running to kitchen...for oranges...oh and blueberries...and spinach!!! :)

Orange fruits and vegetables contain high levels of alpha-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Alpha-carotene enjoys it's daily ride through the blood stream, lowering the risks of heart disease and cancer (especially prostate cancer) along the way.  Yes, other fruits and vegetables help lower the risks as well for those diseases, but according to a study completed by the American Medical Association, people who have high levels of alpha-carotene in their bloodstream tend to either prevent the diseases all together or survive through them with much less suffering. Click here to find out more about the study.

Orange fruits and vegetables are most beneficial due to high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is what gives the fruits and veggies their bright orange color! It is also the key to keeping good eye-sight, keeping skin safe from the sun, and slowing down aging of the brain (immature men and women shouldn't eat orange fruits and veggies I'm guessing??).

Vitamin A can also be found in orange fruits and veggies. As we learned earlier, vitamin A is very important to the immune system, and guess what?!? It's also great for helping out our night vision! Yay for this overachieving vitamin! Vitamin A, along with antioxidants, prevents damage to tissues within the eyes caused by free radicals. Since free radicals are known to elevate the risk for getting diabetes, Vitamin A and antioxidants also play key roles in preventing that disease along with heart disease and cancer. Click here for more info....AND here. :)

There are so many tasty orange fruits and vegetables! Sometimes it's all in how you cook them (or don't cook them) that really brings out the flavor. Try a butternut squash soup on a cold day or an orange and walnut salad to cool off on a hot day OR make yourself a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice...OR some sugar-free carrot cake!!! I could go on and on and on...One of my favorite orange vegetables is the mini-orange bell pepper. They come in the bag with the mini-yellow and red bell peppers. They all taste basically the same, but BOY do they add pretty color to fajitas or on top of some broiled tilapia...OR just stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon!!
LOVE them!


Did you eat your orange fruits and veggies today??

Tomorrow's challenge: (Day 6 - Eat the color brown)

Yes, brown. :) I know you are probably thinking, what the heck kind of fruit or vegetable is brown, right? Potatoes are brown on the outside but the inside is more pale or tan and it's more of a starch than anything else...so, what am I talking about??? Well, it's important to eat your grains and beans too!! (If you want to get adventurous, jicama counts in this group too :).

So, eat one cup of grains or beans tomorrow and check back in to find out why they are so good for you!


We are almost finished with this challenge, but I'm so excited for what's in store for this blog! Thank you for reading!

Have a great day!!!

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 *Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Casting Call: Looking for the Next Popeye


Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well! We are almost finished with our 7 day "Eat the Rainbow" challenge. :) Hooray! (Of course, this is something you should continue to do for..ev...er! Trust me, it's not as hard as it sounds.

So, why was Popeye's character known for eating spinach instead of iceberg lettuce or kiwis? As it turns out, the darker the greens, the more nutritionally beneficial they are for you! (Note: eating spinach alone won't help you bulk up (or get massive forearms with tiny biceps/triceps ;-), but it will help provide your body with powerful nutrients so that you can have the energy and good health to get to the gym (Add more spinach to diet...hitting the gym hard these days to get ready for competition!). It should be noted that light green fruits and veggies are great for you too...they just come in second to dark green. :)

Here are some exciting facts about eating greens:
  • As strange as it sounds, dark greens are full of calcium! Surprised? This is actually very exciting information since so many people now days are developing an intolerance to dairy products, which are more widely known for their calcium advantages. So - good news is: if dairy is out, then spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, collards, turnip greens, etc. are in!!! Hooray for choices! :)
  • Green fruits and veggies, especially dark greens, are full of fiber, which as most of us know is important to the digestive tract. Fiber helps move things right along and without it, you'll end up in A LOT of pain. So, if you don't like to eat grains (most notable for providing fiber), then chomp down on some pears, kiwis, cucumbers, leeks, spinach, kale, broccoli, etc. :)
  • As with all the other fruits and veggies, green fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants! Green apples, kale, cucumbers, zucchini, pickles, broccoli, and spinach, are specifically notable for being loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants are very beneficial when it comes to preventing diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. within our bodies.
  • Contain Vitamin A, which is required by the body to be able to break down nutrients. As calcium is a nutrient, you are really taking care of two problems at once by eating dark greens. Nothing like having your cake and eating it too! Why is it that so many phrases have something to do with junk food?
  • Contain Vitamin C, which (as stated yesterday) is extremely important for building up a strong immune system.
  • They help you lose weight! Since fruits and veggies are typically low in calories (while still filling) you can eat a good amount of them (ex. 1 cup) and feel full without the unnecessary calories from bread, pasta, etc. that you may normally resort to for that full feeling.

I really cannot stress how important green fruits and vegetables are for your system! Think about all the benefits you are providing to your body by eating your fruits and veggies each day! Give yourself a pat on the back and keep up the good work!

Ever wanted to know how many fruits and veggies you, specifically, should be eating? Check out this calculator to find out!

Challenge for tomorrow:
Orange fruits and/or vegetables! (Eat at least one cup!)

Need help figuring out how many fruits or veggies make one cup? Click here to find out!

Comment requests: Which color of fruits/veggies is hardest for you to eat and why? Is it a flavor issue? A texture issue? Do you know how to cook them in all the different ways...steamed, sauteed, baked, roasted, microwaved, boiled, blanched, etc.?

*More information on green fruits and vegetables can be found and verified at: http://www.naturalnews.com/033208_leafy_greens_nutrition.html

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Need a Healthy Restaurant Option?


Craving a delicious sandwich but worried about the carbs and fat?

Click the link to learn about the newest healthy option available at Jimmy John's and find out more about why the fast-food restaurant is one of my top choices for making quick and healthy food decisions on-the-go.

*Jimmy John's is not a sponsor for this blog
**Photo was acquired from the Jimmy John's web page

Click here to learn about this healthy restaurant option...

A Bright Addition to Your Health


I did it! I posted at the regularly scheduled time today! Yippee! Now let's see how long I can keep this up. :)

Moving onto the facts...

Just look at those fruits and veggies! Aren't they beautiful?!? Don't they just make you feel instantly happier?! Well, that is because the color yellow is an immediate mood booster for the mind. :) So, the next time you are feeling down, look to yellow fruits and veggies to provide you with an instant pick-me-up.

Not only do yellow fruits and veggies benefit your mind and your outlook on the moment, they also provide plenty of health benefits for the rest of your body. How's that for killing two birds with one stone? :) Such a horrible expression if you think about it!

Yellow fruits and veggies are awesome immune boosters! They are packed full of antioxidants and vitamin C! Vitamin C is known for it's health benefits when it comes to the immune system, but many don't know that it is also a very beneficial nutrient for the eyes, heart, digestive system, teeth, skin, muscles, and bones. Yellow fruits and veggies also contain bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids (Vitamin P) work with Vitamin C to promote health and strength within the body.

When you think about the fact that you can eat a chopped yellow bell pepper with your fish at lunch, spritz your salad with lemon juice at dinner, and/or enjoy a banana smoothie post-workout AND it all helps strengthen your body while reducing the risks of cancer and/or heart problems...yellow fruits and veggies become more fascinating and delicious with each bite!

So, what yellow fruits and/or veggies are you snacking on today to take advantage of all these benefits?  Please share in the comment section below.

Tomorrow's challenge: EAT YOUR GREENS! (at least one cup!)

*All information can be verified on the webMD website

"Purple in the Morning, and Blue in the Afternoon"

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Oh boy...it's almost midnight here and I'm just posting...keep forgiving me please. I've spent the last six hours baking and decorating a cake for a customer. Most people really don't understand what goes into making a cake from scratch. At least it's over now and I can focus on all of you and this blog! :)

Okay, so...everyone ate their blue and/or purple fruits/vegetables today right?! Of course you did! ;)

*Side note, purple carrots?? Interesting! I wonder what a purple carrot cake would taste like?....ugh! cake on the brain!!!

Moving on. :)

There are many benefits to eating blue/purple fruits and/or vegetables!

The latest NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) results for blue/purple fruits and/or vegetables list a multitude of health benefits which can be obtained through eating delicious blue and/or purple fruits and vegetables. Many of the nutritional benefits available, in these fruits and vegetables specifically, are not available in most other fruits and/or veggies and that is why it's very important to ensure that you are getting your daily dose boom! just used the blog page title :) of them through your regular diet plan.

By eating blue and/or purple fruits and veggies, you can lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Fun fact: Did you know that people who regularly eat blue and/or purple fruits and veggies have smaller waists than others who don't eat them regularly? Running to fridge to devour blueberries!

Did you know that blueberries contain more antioxidants than any other fruit in the world! They are also ridiculously low in calories (and make a great add-on to just about anything ranging from smoothies to salads to ice cream). 

So let me give you a quick run down of all the awesome health benefits that blue and/or purple fruits and veggies have been linked to:


  • Obviously, they are all GREAT sources of nutrients!
  • Act as a natural anti-inflammatory
  • Support urinary tract health
  • Support vision as we age...I always thought that was supposed to be carrots...maybe that's where purple carrots come into play
  • Support our mental ability to make and remember memories
  • Contain TONS! of fiber
  • Benefit the digestive tract
  • Support our connective tissues and collagen (eat these to keep looking young! Running to fridge for MORE blueberries!)
  • Support the body as it recovers from illness or injury
  • Contain potassium (yes, everyone associates potassium with bananas but these fruits and veggies contain it too!)
  • Considered as an approach to preventing breast cancer.

So...if you didn't eat your blue/purple fruits and/or veggies today...you better get on it now so you can reap the benefits!!! Don't miss out people!

Challenge for tomorrow:

Yellow fruits/veggies (eat at least one cup of them!)

Feel free to comment below and tell us how you've been doing during this weekly challenge!  
      

Thursday, May 16, 2013

If You're Seeing Red....You're.....Alive and Well!


Hey everyone! I'm sorry my posts keep getting later and later each day. The last few days have been pretty busy, both mentally and physically! As a matter of fact, I've been up 37 hours straight as of right now! Note to self: talk about proper sleep cycles in the next challenge and follow it yourself! Oh well! A little overtime is worth it right?!

So...welcome to day one of the challenge! I hope you all got your red fruit and/or veggie in today!

So...why are red fruits and vegetables good for you in particular?

Well, do you slightly remember my previous blog's mention of phytochemicals? Hard to forget something that exciting right!? If you clicked the link for phytochemicals in that blog, then you know that plants are the only natural origins which produce phytochemicals (natural chemicals which help the body fight against diseases and are linked to good health overall). Two phytochemicals which can produce red hues are lycopene and anthocyanins.

Lycopene, found in red fruits and veggies such as tomatoes, red bell peppers, watermelons, ruby red and pink grapefruits, etc., helps to decrease the risk of getting cancer according to the National Cancer Institute.

Anthocyanins, found in red fruits and veggies such as beets, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, red cabbage, apples, cherries, kidney beans, red onions, and red beans, Mmmm...red beans and rice!!! are known as antioxidants basically the body's little superheros, which have been linked to lowering/controlling high blood pressure and helping the circulatory system (which has also been linked to preventing diabetes in some cases.)

According to Dr. DiSogra, Director of NCIs 5 A Day for Better Health Program, a minimum of seven servings of fruit/veggies per day are required for women and at least nine servings are required for men in order to keep the body running under the most nutritionally sound conditions.

So...did you eat your red fruits and/or veggies today? If so, please share what you ate in the comment section! I love new recipes and I'd be delighted to learn how you prepared your red fruits/veggies for the day!

Challenge for Friday (Day Two of Seven):

  Blue/purple fruits and/or vegetables (eat at least one full cup! :)

Have an awesome night!