Greens Are Good

Eating well is key to a healthy lifestyle. Adding greens to your diet can help you pack some powerhouse nutrients into your meals. Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, chard, bok choy, arugula, and spinach just to name a few, are great greens to introduce to your daily diet. Green vegetables are loaded with protein and contain a ton of micronutrients, including folate, carotenoids, such as lutein and zeazanthin (promoting healthy vision), calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. These leafy greens have the potential of warding off many types of cancers and are very good for your heart health.

Eating a huge salad everyday does not sound like a fun way to get greens into your diet. There are many ways to include these important greens in your meals, without having to endure a large salad every day. Try some of these tips to enjoy the nutrients of green vegetables in your every day.

This is an easy way to include leafy greens into your dishes. Simply lightly steam the green you’re using then puree it with a bit of stock water until it is smooth. Once it is smooth, simply add it to the recipe. At this point, you can also freeze some in ice cube trays to use in recipes down the road. Add the leafy green puree to your soup, chili, pasta sauces, stew or even scrambled eggs.

Another easy way to get a serving of greens into your diet is to drink it. Just toss a few fresh leaves of silverbeet or arugula into your juicer.

Mix in some greens with your fruit smoothie. Adding some leafy greens with the blended fruit will give you the nutrients you need in a delicious morning drink.

Steaming is a great way to get greens from counter to table with little time required. Don’t overcook them or most of the nutrients disappear into the water below. When they are done, top them with a bit of garlicky olive oil and sea salt.

Toss the greens into a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil and some additional spices or ingredients. Saute the greens and add to your dish. If greens are tough, like kale, you may have to steam them a bit before transferring them to the pan.

By using these tips to add greens into your daily routine, you’ll end up flooding your body with the beneficial disease fighting nutrients, sometimes without even knowing you’re eating them.

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Recovery Food

You put so much effort into your workout and making sure you strengthen and tone your muscles correctly to get the results you want. It is just as important to eat the right food post-workout to ensure you are doing right for your body. Eating quality food post-workout is crucial. In order to optimize your results, you need to replace the amino acids and glycogen lost during your workout.

The muscle building process is started by increasing protein synthesis and nitrogen retention and the body requires a quick dose of the right protein and carbohydrates. Protein shakes and chicken and rice just won’t cut it every time. Your body prefers a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods.

Try some of these post-workout foods.

  • Lean chicken meat (white meat). Chicken is rich in protein and helps repair your damaged muscles after a workout.
  • Salmon is an excellent source of protein. Besides stimulating your metabolism, protein is great for filling you up and therefore taking in fewer calories. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fats which helps fight inflammation, regulates insulin levels and can even lower the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
  • Egg Whites. Eggs contain all the essential amino acids which are required for a fast recovery from muscle building workouts. It is important to cook the egg whites so they are not overcooked. Cooking them properly will help to unlock their full amino acid spectrum and allow you to get the most of your food.
  • Beans are a good source of proteins and fiber. Fiber helps to regulate the insulin levels, which is important for muscle growth. The best choices for beans are Kidney and Navy because of their low calories and high proteins.
  • Milk contains proteins of 80% whey and 20% casein. Whey is quickly broken down into amino acids, making milk an excellent drink after work. Casein is digested more slowly, providing the body with a constant supply of smaller amounts of protein over a longer period of time.
  • Lean Beef. Red meats are good bodybuilding foods that are packed with proteins and minerals such as iron and zinc. But they also contain a high level of saturated fats, so eat red meat in moderation.
  • WATER. The human body is made up of 70% water. Water helps to make your muscles look fuller and more toned. Just as important, water helps to transport minerals and nutrients throughout your body, speeding up the muscle-building process.

You can also try this delicious post-workout meal of Protein Pancakes:

Mix four egg whites, ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup of cottage cheese, 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cook on a preheated griddle on medium to low heat until it bubbles like a regular pancake, flip and cook the other side. Top these delicious pancakes with some fresh fruit.
These are loaded with protein and not a lot of carbohydrates which make it a perfect meal to help retain muscle tissue when trying to lean up.

If you eat properly after a good workout, you’ll help your body and muscles benefit from all your hard work.

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Caffeine Does Have Its Benefits

The benefits of caffeine and coffee are more than just helping you stay awake in class or during that boring business meeting. And, you don’t always have to drink something to get the benefits of caffeine. The most obvious health benefit as already noted is that it acts as a stimulant, improving thought processes, wakefulness, focus and condition, especially in sleep-deprived states. This systemic stimulation of the body can also increase metabolism and willingness to carry out activities.

Caffeine is also associated with a decreased risk of developing cancer. In particular, moderate regular coffee consumption appears to help prevent liver, endometrial, and colorectal cancer. Coffee may also aid in the prevention of liver cirrhosis. Along with anesthetics, coffee is some time prescribed to help with pain relief.

Caffeine can also aid in treating certain disorders such as anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.

A little more recently there have been reports of people benefiting from caffeine intake. Approximately three to five cups of coffee per day showed a reduction of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, gout, Parkinson’s disease, and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine taken daily through coffee or powder, can even help improve a person’s memory retention and increase attention span as well. Recent studies have shown a reduction of strokes in middle-aged women and older as well. This study done by Swedish researchers found that women who drank one or more cups of coffee a day were less likely to have a stroke compared to those who did not.

Caffeine is actually a well used ingredient in many skin care products. And coffee can be a great product to actually apply to the skin. Coffee or caffeine when it is applied to the skin operates as an antioxidant, vasoconstrictor and diuretic as well. Coffee works as a great exfoliator to help you get rid of your dead skin. By applying it directly to your skin and rubbing the granules gently, your skin will feel baby soft.

Coffee grinds have three times more antioxidant power that help reduce premature aging signs, hyper pigmentation, skin wrinkles, brown spots on skin and appearance of lines. Coffee is full of antioxidants that act as a vasodilator to heal your skin problems. It was previously believed that drinking too much caffeine will affect your skin by taking all the moisture from your skin because caffeine dehydrates fat cells that result in vacating the potassium and sodium component of the skin cells. But if you take coffee in moderation, those antioxidants will work to fight against free redicals that cause skin cancer. Studies have shown that coffee inhibits the growth of skin cancer cells in the body.

Coffee is also found in many skin care products including body scrubs, lotions, creams and perfumes and is used for its ability to reduce cellulite in the body. Coffee is also used in sunscreen lotion and creams as it contains sunblock effects. The caffeine that is present in the skin care products help also to reduce the redness in your skin. Caffeine tightens and firms the surface of your skin and improves your skin tone and complexion. Coffee improves the micro cellular flow in your body. It frees your skin from different radicals that causes acne, eczema and skin cancer. Coffee is also a known odor neutralizer and can absorb strong odors, like fish.

Coffee can also make your hair look great. It improves your hair and minimizes hair loss. Coffee includes rich antioxidant contents that can repair the damaged hairs and prevent hair breakage. It helps to make hair look smooth and shiny.

As in all cases, too much of something is never a good thing. It is stressed that with moderation, caffeine has many positive effects on our bodies. A safe, healthy intake of caffeine ranges from two to four cups of coffee a day, or 200 to 300 milligrams.

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Add Fiber to Your Balanced Diet

One of the simplest ways to kick start a healthy diet is to increase your dietary fiber. Processed food and fast food are easy and quick but they can wreak havoc on your digestive tract. Not only that but processed foods, which are high in fat and high and calories are linked to obesity and other diseases.

What does fiber do for us? Fiber’s primary role is to promote healthy digestion. Fiber cleanses the digestive tract by speeding up the excretions and toxins from the body. It also helps to prevent waste from sitting in the intestines.

There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber passes through most of the bowel system unchanged and promotes the growth of friendly bacteria. Since this type of fiber is not digested by the body it helps to slow gastric emptying and therefore can help to reduce your food intake because you will feel fuller for longer. Insoluble fibre is found in bran, wholemeal flour, brown rice, whole grain cereal, vegetables, edible peels and nuts and seeds. Soluble fiber helps to reduce the level of cholesterol by binding fats that cause high cholesterol and pushing them through the bowel. This helps to prevent the bad fats from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion which acts like a natural stool softener. Soluble fibres include fruit, vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, oats, barley, oatmeal and potatoes.

In terms of weight loss increasing your dietary fiber can aide in reaching your goals if combined with a balanced healthy diet and exercise. Fiber helps in long term weight loss and your dietary fiber intake should be monitored to ensure you’re meeting the daily recommended dose. Speak with your Doctor or Trainer to find out how much fiber you should be consuming per day. You want to make sure that you’re not consuming too much fiber as well because it can cause a mineral deficiency.

High fiber foods are typically low in calories and are filling so they help to prevent overeating or snacking in between meals. Due to the slowing of digestion with added fibre you can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels which is beneficial to diabetics. Fibre will also help to prevent tiredness, hunger pangs and lack of energy.

Adding dietary fiber to your diet is not a fad and it’s not a passing trend in healthy eating. It’s a key part in maintaining a health and balanced diet which can aide in weight loss but also keep you healthy and your body functioning at an optimal level. There are many easy ways to add fiber to your diet but if you’re still unsure on how to make this healthy change then ask your Doctor or training to go through your eating habits and help determine where you can make some changes.

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Heart Smart

Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in many countries. Excess weight and obesity are among the major contributing factors in heart problems. It is extremely important to have a heart smart diet such as one that is low in cholesterol, sodium and trans fats.

A Heart Smart diet works by helping you reduce your consumption of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. These two are replaced with lots of fiber-rich foods that are famous for lowering LDL. Foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and cereals are great for heart smart options. Also, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from food such as olives, fish, avocados, and nuts are great for eating heart smart. Equally important is the low amount of salt to help defend the health against high blood pressure. This diet ensures 50-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-25% of calories from protein, and less than 30% of calories from fat. Out of the fat content, saturated fat makes up less than 10%.

Here’s some tips on eating heart smart:

  1. Eat complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and rice. They fill you up, help increase your fiber intake, and make you less prone to eating sugary desserts and fatty meats. They also do not clog your arteries.
  2. Chicken and turkey skins contain a lot of saturated fat, and should definitely be avoided if you do not want coronary artery disease.
  3. Grill, Broil or Steam your food. Avoid frying your meat.
  4. Eat less egg yolks and organs. Egg yolks are more that 50% fat and have high amounts of cholesterol. Organ meats, like liver, may be rich in iron and protein, but they are extremely high in fat and cholesterol. Limit these items in your diet.
  5. Reduce meat portions and eat more fish. Eat 3-ounce of meat instead of 6-ounce or choose a fish option instead of steak.
  6. Pastries should be only a once in a while treat. They are usually high in saturated fat because they are made with shortening or butter. Choose healthier heart options such as whole grain breads or rolls.

Here’s a delicious heart smart sample meal plan for a day:

Breakfast: cinnamon banana toast, served with 125ml of low-fat yogurt, 1 tbsp of raisins, and 1 chopped apple.
Lunch: roasted beef pita with mango chutney and yogurt, cucumber, mixed salad leaves, and 1 small granola bar of about 21g.
Dinner: grilled fish with lentils and rice, 75g of steamed broccoli, and 1 apple.

Take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you for years to come. It is the starting point to a healthy you.

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Diet and Sleep

Sleep is so important in our health. And what we eat during the day can have a huge impact on our sleep. Food can affect how easily you fall asleep and the quality of the sleep you get. Some foods help your brain to calm down, while others stimulate it. If you have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping well, your food intake may be unwittingly causing problems.

Your food choices can sometimes affect the amount or even the quality of sleep that you get. Also, your food choices can help you achieve a better night’s sleep. We’ve all heard to limit alcohol and caffeine consumption near the end of the day. Good nutrition is important, but the right portion sizes are just as important. You don’t want to overdo it or you’ll also defeat the purpose of trying to get the right amount of sleep.

If you eat too much or eat the wrong thing before bed it can cause acid reflux during the night causing food to rise up in your throat. Acid reflux is irritating and painful and if left untreated will develop into a major health issue. Try a homemade quick relief remedy of an ounce of apple cider vinegar and a few ounces of water. Drink the mixture before bed.

Melatonin is an essential element necessary for promoting sleep. A few walnuts would be a perfect snack before bed because of their melatonin content. Almonds are another source to help you get to sleep because of the magnesium content they have.

Foods containing an amino acid called tryptophan are known to induce sleep. Tryptophan can help make you sleepy, and sleep better through the night. Foods without this may disturb your sleep. Adding carbohydrates with tryptophan-containing protein will help relax your brain. However, a carbohydrate-only snack is likely to stimulate you and make it hard to sleep.

Here are some foods that contain high amounts of tryptophan:

  • Whole grains
  • Hummus
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Dairy
  • Meats, Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Hazelnuts and Peanuts
  • Soy Foods

Lighter meals are better to help you relax. Avoid high-fat meals and large servings because they make your digestive system work too hard and may end up keeping you awake longer.

Try these ideas for dinner options that will help you sleep:

  • Pastas
  • Meat/Poultry with Vegetables
  • Stir-fry Tofu
  • Scrambled Eggs and Cheese
  • Seafood with Cheesy Pasta

When you get enough sleep along with good nutrition habits the two work together to help your body naturally repair itself and prevent health issues. Providing your body with sleep and good nutrition, your energy as well as your quality of life will naturally improve. Eating better and having a healthier lifestyle is one of the ways you can feel better every day and rest better at night.

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Meatless Mondays – Is It Worth a Try?

You may have started to hear a new trend out there called Meatless Monday. There may be some validation to this new initiative. In 2003 Meatless Monday was restarted as a public health awareness program, and by 2009 has been gaining popularity with celebrities campaigning and supporting it. Meatless Monday is part of the Healthy Monday initiative. Healthy Monday encourages people to make healthier decisions at the start of every week.

It was started to be beneficial for the health of the planet, as well as the health of humans. It is about healthy, sustainable eating. It’s about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s about doing what we can to slow down global warming and build a better future and planet. But on the other side of the coin, technology has become so much better in making food production greener. The beef industry’s carbon footprint has dropped 16% from 1977 to 2007. Its may not be that bad on the environment after all.

Eating too much meat is not good for our health. Reducing meat consumption (especially red, grilled and processed meats) can drastically reduce incidences of various cancers such as colon and prostate cancer. But, meat does have its many benefits as well. Meat contains very high amounts of protein, good for replenishing the body, upping the immune system, and building bones and lean muscle mass. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A and Iron. Meatless Monday is maybe a day to help you think about healthier eating.

There are many arguments that state going meatless is good for the environment and good for your health. But there are many arguments that state the opposite that eating meat is sustainable and offers many things that are good for your health. Be careful what you read, there are always two sides to the story. Make the decision for yourself, but do the research. On the bright side, eating more vegetables is never a bad thing.

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Good Morning

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. But it is true. In order to get the day off right, you need to kick start your body with energy. Studies have suggested that breakfast is perhaps the single most important meal of the day as everything else that follows builds on it. You’ve just gone approximately 8 hours without a meal. Breakfast provides the body with the energy to get going in the mornings. With the right ingredients, breakfast can help you achieve your health needs for the day. Yet, it is always the meal that is overlooked and ignored due to the morning rush to get out the door and to work or school.

Having a balanced breakfast that consists of 500 calories is a must. This will ensure that your body is satisfied enough to start your day and replenish what is lost during sleep. It should also include sufficient protein to nourish and build your muscles. Carbohydrates must also be enough to provide you energy to get you to lunch.

Having a cereal as part of your breakfast is a beneficial choice. The cereals available today are a lot healthier than those years ago. They contain added whole grains, calcium and vitamin D. They are intentionally made to have reduced sugar as well as lower amounts of calories. Electing to eat a good cereal in the morning allows you to consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber. As a result, improving your nutrient content in your body.

A high protein breakfast is also important for giving you energy and helping with weight loss. Extra protein at breakfast will help you feel fuller, longer preventing mindless snacking before lunch. This is because high protein foods take you longer to digest. The stomach empties more slowly and you will feel fuller longer and get hungrier later. Eating protein at breakfast will also reduce food cravings.

Here are some good breakfast ideas for a rushed morning:

  • Peanut butter and a banana
  • Almond butter and an apple
  • Low sugar protein bar
  • Protein smoothie with fruit and yogurt
  • Hardboiled egg and an orange
  • Greek yogurt, no sugar added
  • Turkey bacon and a pear

Breakfast can be seen to be related to your mood for the day. In studies, it was shown that breakfast eaters were more sociable, more alert, happier, better memory and cognitive function when comparison to those who remain hungry in the mornings. Studies of children who ate breakfast daily showed that these kids performed better at school, had better grades and had less tardiness and absenteeism from school.

If you begin your day with a nourishing and satisfying breakfast, you will be less likely to eat between meals and, in particular, to be drawn to high calorie, high sugar foods for energy. Breakfast is not only for those aiming to lose weight, it is vital for good health in general. In fact, eating breakfast is critical in preventing heart disease, avoiding obesity, and staving off diabetes.

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Calorie Cutter

Cutting your calorie intake daily will help you lose the extra weight you may be carrying around. In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories in a day through your activities than you consumed that day. If you’ve tried to accomplish this, you know it can be difficult. Dramatic changes to your diet may seem unreasonable, undoable and unfathomable. Simple every day choices, that really don’t change the menu too much can seem almost effortless but can make a big enough difference. Cutting 50 calories a day can equal a ½ a pound a month. Or try 100 calories a day to lose a full pound each month. That may not seem like much, but when you add exercise to that, it can make a huge difference in weight loss.

Here are 10 simple ways to cut calories:

  1. Invest in some good quality cooking utensils to help reduce the amount of fat needed in cooking. Try heavy non-stick frying pans and heavy baking tray.
  2. Throw away any high fat items and replace them with healthier low calorie options.
  3. Use cooking oil spray instead of pouring oil in the pan when frying or browning foods.
  4. Skip the butter. Use low calorie peanut butter or jam on toast or a light mayonnaise on your sandwiches instead.
  5. Grill, steam, bake or poach. Eliminate the frying as much as possible.
  6. Add natural seasonings to your foods. Try herbs, spices, citrus juices, vinegar and low calories sauces like Worcester and Soy.
  7. Make sure you have plenty of variety in your diet so that you don’t become bored and give into unhealthy cravings.
  8. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. If you feel hungry when you shop, you are more likely to give into temptation and buy something that is high in fat and calories to satisfy your immediate cravings.
  9. Eat smaller portions of high-fat foods (meats, cheeses) and larger portions of vegetables, salad, fruit and very low-fat protein foods (yogurt, skim milk).
  10. Stop drinking soda and juice. Choose water instead. Water is a great to help you feel full longer and helps curb your cravings.

Remember that slow and steady is the way to lose weight and keep it off. Using these simple calorie cutting ideas does not require you to drastically change your lifestyle. With healthy substitutions and cutting out a few things from our diet, we can make some big changes on our waist line. Talk to your dietician or personal trainer, they can get you on the right track as well and offer some other helpful suggestions. Get cutting!

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Going Alkaline

When foods are eaten and digested, they produce either an acidifying or alkalizing effect within the body. When more alkaline foods are consumed, the body can become slightly alkaline instead of acid. Ideally, the blood pH level should be between 7.35 and 7.45. Foods such as citrus fruits, soy products, raw fruits and vegetables, wild rice, almonds, and natural sweeteners (i.e. Stevia) are all good alkaline food choices.

It is believed that there are many benefits to shifting your eating patterns from acid to alkaline. When the body is kept slightly alkaline, it is less susceptible to disease. It is easier to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight level on an alkaline diet. Most people experience an increase in their energy level, as well as a lessening of anxiety and irritability once they begin eating more alkaline foods. Mucous production is decreased and nasal congestion is reduced, making it easier to breath. Allergies are frequently alleviated as a result of an alkaline diet. The body is also less susceptible to illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. Most of the people surveyed found they just feel better, when an increased sense of health and well-being, once they make a conscious effort to adhere to an alkaline diet.

Alkaline diets require one to follow a lifestyle completely opposite to the high protein low carb diets. The high protein diets may leave a person fatigued and tired and likely the weight will return as soon as the diet stops. With alkaline diets, this is not the case. The diets can be incorporated into a person’s way of life and within days the results start to show. An alkaline diet requires you to eat about 80% alkalizing foods so as to maintain the alkaline pH of the body to 7.4. High protein diets tend to make the pH of the body acidic as opposed to its natural alkaline tilt. It is thought that when the body pH becomes acidic it can attract illnesses and deplete your energy. An acidic pH also results in rapid degeneration of the cells in the human body. An alkaline state allows various body functions to be carried out smoothly and the immune system of the body stays strong. This type of diet is good for those people suffering from chronic diseases like arthritis, migraines, sinusitis and osteoporosis.

Alkaline diets constitute mostly of fruits and vegetables. Consuming a diet of approximately 70-80% of green vegetables and sweet fruits is the key to an alkaline diet. Lemons, melons, almonds, honey, olive oil are also high on the list of top alkaline foods. Meats and fats should be avoided. All foods that are acidifying like coffee, alcohol, meats and even certain vegetables like cooked spinach should not form more than 20% of your diet.

Try these alkaline rich foods:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnips
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Bok Choi
  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Red Beets
  • Carrots
  • Lima Beans
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Egg Plant
  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Parsnips
  • Onions
  • Unripe bananas
  • Sour cherries
  • Fresh Coconut
  • Figs
  • Fresh Lemon and Lime

In order for an alkaline diet to work, you must condition yourself to adhere to the diet program. Like anything, you want to avoid unhealthy food and drinks. Make a list of alkaline foods versus acid foods and eat the 80% – 20% rule. Since an alkaline diet means avoiding alcohol and any other foods with high acidity, it also means that you will decrease the risk of developing diseases associated with unhealthy diet like diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Talk to your trainer to help you develop the best diet for you!

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