Healthy Foods That Don’t Suck

healthy wraps

You know that you should eat healthier and deep down you really want to, but the idea of giving up all that tasty stuff in place of food that’s about as appealing as a piece of cardboard makes you go “blech”, right? That may be your problem— thinking that you need to give up all of the food you love. It’s no wonder that so many people find it hard to eat healthy when they automatically associate healthy eating with deprivation. It’s time to change that.

Take it One Food at a Time

Making the switch to healthier eating is easy when you tackle it one food at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all! Your snacks are always a good place to start. Instead of hitting the vending machine or reaching for a fist full of M&M’s for a snack, pack some fruit instead. Research presented at the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo showed that American’s are consuming almost 600 calories when they snack, which is the equivalent of eating a full fourth meal every day—a hefty one at that! They also found that a lot of those calories are coming from beverages, so swapping out your pop for water and your mochaccino for a “skinny” version can also make a huge difference.

Eat Healthy, Easy Versions of Your Favorite Foods

The beauty of the internet for those looking to get healthy is the endless amount of recipes for substitutes to your favorite foods. Thankfully there are loads of others out there that love food as much as you do and wanted to find healthier versions of those foods enough to do the legwork and write about it. Take advantage of these do-gooders and what they’re offering and try out recipes that are reasonable facsimiles of your faves but a whole lot healthier. And, make it even easier on yourself but searching for recipes that also contain the words “quick” or “easy” since the easier they are to make, they are more likely that you’ll add them to your repertoire of go-to foods. You can find truly delicious and no-fuss versions of everything from pizza and burgers to the most decadent desserts online.

cooking vegetables frying pan

Change the Way You Cook

You’d be shocked to know just how much extra fat, calories, and even chemicals you take in just by the method you choose for cooking stuff. If you’re using oils and cooking sprays to sauté your foods, then it’s time to try something different, like steaming or roasting. While we do need a certain amount of fat for our bodies to function, you should be getting them from the foods you eat, like nuts and seeds and fatty fishes, like salmon and albacore tuna. Steaming, roasting, and grilling your foods eliminates the need for any kind of oil for cooking. It may not seem like a big deal, but most oils—even the “good ones”—contain well over 100 calories per tablespoon. And if you tend to cook with butter, then it’s not only calories and saturated fat, but high cholesterol you’re taking in too. Skip it entirely or, when it comes to baking, substitute it with applesauce or plain yogurt instead.

Small changes in your diet can have a huge impact on your health and are way easier to start and stick with than a major diet overhaul. Add to that a little effort to eat healthy foods that also taste good and eating healthy will be a breeze.

You can click here to learn more about nutrition and health.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.

References

  • Snacking Constitutes 25 Percent of Calories Consumed in U.S. (June 2011). Institute of Food Technologists. Retrieved on March 26, 2014, from http://www.ift.org/newsroom/news-releases/2011/june/20/snacking-constitutes-25-percent-of-calories-consumed-in-us.aspx
  • Nelson, Jennifer K. R.D., L.D., Zeratsky, Katherine R.D., L.D. Tips for healthy eating. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 26, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/tips-for-healthy-eating/bgp-20056191
  • Nelson, Jennifer K. R.D., L.D. (June 2012). Which spread is better for my heart — butter or margarine?. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 26, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/butter-vs-margarine/faq-20058152

 

Let’s Sound Off About The Effects Of Music On Your Body

Woman Relaxing Listening To Music Wearing Headphones

Since the dawn of time, music has played a vital role in the everyday lives of cultures and communities across the globe. While there are plenty of examples of the importance of music and how it has helped shape the course of humanity, an increasing number of people have posed the question, “how does music affect me?”.

With a seemingly endless number of ways to enjoy our tunes – thanks to advancements in technology – you can now enjoy your favorite songs from anywhere and everywhere. What effects, if any, does sound and audio have on our bodies, our minds and our health? We’ll discuss these potential impacts below, so that you can be well-informed about the issue the next time you fire up your MP3 player.

The History of Sound

Various archaeological studies have suggested that music and the art of dance preceded the concept of language itself. This is important to understand; without spoken language, the role of music in societies would have served as an ulterior form of communication. Some of the functions that song and dance served during this time included the ability to introduce each other and convey emotion without the need for spoken language.

In many cultures throughout the world, the concepts of sound and medicine were tightly intertwined. From the Far East to Native American cultures, the sound and body were considered reliant upon one another for thousands of years. It was only in the 1700s that the concept of health and music therapy began to take on different roles: since then, music has been considered a form of entertainment and medicine began to take a more scientific approach. Did some cultures take the wrong path in separating these two concepts, though?

Music’s Reported Effects on the Brain

There is plenty of modern evidence to suggest that music plays an important role in language development and a healthy emotional state.

Oxford University has reported that music can immensely aid those who suffer from motor disorders, making it possible for those with disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome and Parkinson’s can drastically improve their ability to both understand and speak with the aid of song. Music therapy has also been shown to stimulate neural activity in patients with Alzheimer’s, helping these individuals recall past details and associating long-lost memories with the present.

When we examine cultures in the Far East and in Medieval Europe, the notion of frequency in song has also been a long-standing consideration.

Some people may have heard of the Solfeggio frequencies, which correspond with the more commonly-known concept of “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do”. Buddhist monks have long used these exact frequencies in meditation, while European artisans and musicians believed that the connection between these frequencies and song was of divine origin. One thing is clear: many cultures from around the world have associated powerful connotations with these frequencies without input from or collaboration with one another.

How Does Music Affect My Body?

While the effects of music on brain development and recovery are clear, how does music affect our bodies at-large?

For starters, Harvard University has found that the role of classical music can aid recent victims of heart attacks and surgeries in their recoveries. In addition to this vital benefit, regular sessions with your favorite audio tracks correlate to an increased performance of your immune system, making it a great preventative measure for the common cold and other airborne illnesses.

In addition to these findings, music can help those who suffer from seizures; when Mozart music was played via piano for a trial group of seizure patients, most of them immediately began to suffer from fewer seizures. Forms of music therapy such as this are great, minimally-invasive ways to counter the negative effects that age and disease can have on our bodies.

The Short-term Effects of Music

Music has a tendency to lift our spirits and take us to a different world, and that is perhaps the most valuable short-term effect it provides. Whenever we are feeling down, we can plug in our earphones and enjoy some of our favorite tunes to feel better. The emotional release that music provides can be valuable in plenty of circumstances – those in which we already feel good and those in which we may be a bit down.

The release of endorphins during our favorite music sessions can also increase our motivation to exercise, which obviously can produce beneficial short-term and long-term health outcomes. With a recommended regimen of 30 minutes of exercise per day, music may be the key to fulfilling this oft-ignored mandate. The National Institutes of Health recommends the use of music while exercising to boost performance.

Our short-term memories are also dramatically improved through the use of music. While harsher, more intense forms of music can actually distract us and create false memories in retrospect, classical music and other, more soothing forms of music boost our ability to recall specific details and may even impact our ability to recall these instances over the long-term.

How Does Sound Impact Long-term Health?

Various studies have pointed out that classical music can play an important role in early childhood development, which is why so many people opt to listen to this genre while pregnant or with their newborns.

The effects are even more obvious for those who have learned how to play a musical instrument. One study by Northwestern University reported that those who play a musical instrument for at least four years will enjoy faster response times to speech and sound throughout their entire lives.

What This Means for You

The introduction of music at an early age in life can have a myriad number of positive effects on the human brain and body. Not only will most benefit from a better outlook on life and more enjoyment, but the health-related advantages are also numerous. Those who want to increase their ability to recall details, exercise more, stave off the aging process and be happy in general have a lot to benefit from if they incorporate music into their daily lives. The next time you fire up your MP3 player, remember that there’s a reason you enjoy music: it’s good for you!

How Women Can Lose Weight Faster Than Men – The Secret Hidden In Plain View

One of the biggest problems we face as a society is obesity. It’s extremely easy to eat unhealthy and convenient to grab some fast food rather than spending the time cooking a nutritious meal! You’ll find thousands of products saying to take this or that pill and magically you’ll shed pounds. The surprising truth is the foundation for losing weight and keeping it off is much simpler than some diet pills or supplements, yet no one ever talks about it! A huge reason why the public doesn’t know about this information is that it would make tons of drug companies lose money. A while back an article was written about the cure for cancer that was found in Canada but it isn’t being mass produced because drug companies will not profit. Disgusting but true.

If you are serious about losing weight and have 20 minutes you MUST watch this video that informs you exactly what the secret is to easily lose weight. It has something to do with a hormone called Leptin and luckily for women, is twice as effective in boosting your metabolism than men.

Watch the video by clicking the video image below!

how to lose weight

This is exactly the kind of information that should be readily available to the public and better yet exposed rather than kept a secret! The video above serves to increase your knowledge on Leptin and weight loss. Note that there is a product offer on that website that is proven to be the most effective way for women specifically to keep the pounds off, but if you don’t want to spend any money you can do all the research on what kickstarts Leptin and makes your metabolism continuously burn fat. Look it up and prepare to realize what companies don’t want you to know!

Juicing: Is it Worth the Squeeze?

JuicingSo we all know about the latest food fad, or at least the most prominent one right now; people are drinking their produce instead of eating it. For many out there this probably just sounds like throwing a bunch of random fruits and vegetables (don’t forget the kale) into a juicer and hoping that the end result is something remnant of a Keva Juice smoothie. Of course, this is not the case. We are talking about strictly the juices here people, no blending, and no bulk. There are a number of reasons you may be thinking about taking the plunge into liquid meals; maybe you want to jump start or complement a new diet, maybe this is an easier way for you to get your daily intake of vegetables and fruit, or maybe you just like the idea of drinking freshly squeezed juices from your favorite produce. Whatever the reason may be, you should definitely know what you’re getting yourself into.

The question that comes to mind is: is it really worth the effort? You do have to wonder how much your body really benefits from only drinking the nutrients, rather than consuming the whole fruit or vegetable (thus leaving the fiber out, which is what makes you feel full and moves your digestive tract along more smoothly). We will explore that here; we’ll go over what to expect as you start to juice, the effects it has on your body, when you should actually juice, and we’ll give you some good fruits and vegetables to try if you are convinced at the end that the juice indeed is worth the squeeze.

The juicing starting line

So you have your juicer, you have your produce, and your are ready to drink. One of the first things you must absolutely have a good grasp on before shocking your system with juicing is what state your health is currently in. One of the largest concerns here is for those who are at risk for diabetes. This is because real fruit juice causes spikes in blood sugar when consumed. In contrast, when digesting a full piece of fruit that process is slower than when consumed through juicing. This can be avoided too by consuming vegetable juices rather than fruit. However, if you are generally a healthy person, this should not concern you.

Another thing you should be prepared for as you start this are the actual changes that are going to happen to your body as you change your diet. As you start consuming more quality foods through the juicing, your body will start to get rid of the unhealthy tissues in your body and replacing them with new and healthier tissues. Some discomfort can occur during this process. If you have ever done a detox before, you know exactly what we’re in reference to. It’s like a less intense equivalent your body having withdrawals. Your body was used to the unhealthy foods you were once eating, or maybe the coffee you were drinking in the morning, whatever it was you are cutting out. Now that you are removing them your body craves them. As those bad tissues and toxins start to exit your body, it causes irritation, and sometimes light feelings of pain.

So what is happening inside your body?

Well for starters, those light feelings of pain you may be feeling are completely normal, at the start at least. The symptoms can range from a slight headache, weak limbs, and other such aches. You may also be experiencing lethargy; your body is not used to the smaller intake of food just yet, so the breaking down of the energy is done much quicker than it was before. Your body has to balance itself with this new diet.

When you feel these symptoms, keep in mind that it is a temporary sensation. Your body is going through a regeneration process, and it can take a couple weeks or so for your body to be rid of the toxic stuff. Your body is making itself healthier now that you are keeping the bad (or at least a good amount of it) out. Don’t think of this as a detox necessarily, this reaction is happening because you have introduced those healthy foods into your body, and it must adjust.

Juicing woman

When is the best time for me to juice?

Well, many people like to replace their breakfast with juice or maybe as a snack in the middle of the day to get through a hunger pang or get a little bit of energy. Really, the best time to juice are the times your stomach is empty. So sure, breakfast time is rather ideal. It is good to do it on an empty stomach because your stomach is ready to absorb anything you put into it, thus getting those nutrients absorbed into your system much quicker. Starting your day with the juice will provide a decent amount of complex carbohydrates which give you energy; the sugar in the morning is not harmful, when you think about the sugary meal you would have maybe eaten, of the sugar in the coffee you drink, it’s not bad in comparison at all. However, if you want to have juice later on in the day maybe do a green juice, or a mixture between the two (less sugars).

What are some good fruits and vegetables for me to try out?

Well, when you first start juicing, you should start with what you know or what you’re comfortable with, but more importantly, what you actually like to eat. We don’t expect just anyone to start juicing a piece of kale and actually find it to be palatable (because lets be honest, kale isn’t an especially good tasting green, no matter how good it is for you). That being said, one thing you will need to get used to, if you choose to juice your way through your days, is consuming green juices. They are heavy in nutrients and are much better for you than fruits individually.

The good news here is that those greens you may be dreading can taste super good when combined with the right fruit(s). Start with apples, oranges, strawberries, and even carrots. They are easy on your stomach (not very acidic) and mix well with other fruits and veggies. From here is where you can introduce the vegetables and greens that are going to really make the difference in your health.

Maybe start with cucumber or spinach as you begin to introduce the veggies; these are light and really don’t add a whole lot of flavor to the overall result. Then, work your way up to the more intense greens like broccoli, cabbage, and yes, kale.

To add a bit of flavor, adding lemon juice to the mix is always a good idea. It is great for taste and it is a superfood that will help detoxify your system and increase the rate of absorption of nutrients. You can also add essential oils and vitamins to your juice to really boost things up.

So, in the end it may sound like a daunting task to actually become a juicer. You not only have to buy a juicer to do it properly (which can be costly in some cases), but there are specific ways of going about it, certain combinations that are better and more nutritious than others, and it altogether is a change in lifestyle. That all aside, it is all for the greater good and benefit of your health right? So, what will it be? To juice, or not to juice?

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Cholesterol: Get to know it; it’s sticking around for a while.

Cholesterol

It is a fairly known fact that cholesterol is something that should be monitored and regulated; that is has a very serious effect on your overall well-being, a high total of it is bad, and all that jazz. But what exactly is cholesterol? What is considered healthy? How do you keep in it check, how do you know it’s actually high, what are some things to avoid or do to insure you actually have a healthy level of it. We’ll talk about those things here briefly, along with the possibility of cholesterol reaching too low of a level.

Cholesterol levels can fall into three ranges; for adults, a normal level usually ranges from 140-200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Any levels that reach above 240 mg/dl are considered high, and as you probably guess any levels dropping below 140 mg/dl are considered low.

But before diving into different levels of cholesterol, and all of the topics that encompass it, let’s cover very quickly what cholesterol even is. It is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in the body and is actually created by the liver. The foods that we eat also contain cholesterol, so as you will see momentarily that affect our levels substantially. Cholesterol is present in just about every nook and cranny of the body, including our brains, nerves, muscles, and yes most importantly—the heart.

Why is high cholesterol a concern?

Ultimately, if you have high levels of cholesterol throughout your body, you are increasing your chances at developing cardiovascular diseases, namely heart disease. While it is not good for the rest of the usual affected areas either, the heart is the most at risk here. The cholesterol will build up on the walls of the arteries that carry blood to and from your heart; if this build up gets to too high of levels, there is less blood being pumped, thus less oxygen flowing through your body. Heart attacks, stroke, and chest pain are also at risk here.  To find out your cholesterol levels, just be sure to visit your doctor and have yourself checked out. No use hiding from something as controllable as cholesterol.

heart fruits

How can I lower my cholesterol levels?

Don’t let a higher level of cholesterol scare you; your body creates it for a purpose and uses it to function properly, it’s just up to you to maintain it. That being said, there are ways to help control that pesky cholesterol, and they really are no brainers.

While such things like genetics, age, and weight are all also factors in what your levels are at naturally, actions you take can battle that. Aeorbic exercise is one of the most helpful things you can do to bring your levels down; aim for about 30-60 minutes of some type of aerobic exercise (running, swimming, biking) on most days out of the week.

Your diet is a huge contributor to the levels in your body. So it should come naturally to you that you should stop eating foods that contain high levels of fat (ice cream, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, etc.). Now you don’t need to cut it out completely, that’s nearly impossible. But start replacing those bad fats with good, healthy fats, especially monounsaturated fats. Think nuts, avocados, and other such foods.

Taking natural supplements is also a great idea, especially if your diet is not giving you sufficient nutrients and vitamins (and don’t beat yourself up over this either, a lot of people don’t get their required daily intake, so supplements are awesome!) Fish oil is an excellent one to consider; it is known to lower triglyceride levels (fatty cells, basically). Garlic is also a good supplement to take, as it is known to reduce over all levels of cholesterol on its own.

Other steps can be taken to fight high cholesterol like quitting smoking, practicing stress reduction techniques, and most importantly educating yourself on what it is you are putting in your body in the first place. Read labels, get to know the food you eat!

happy field girl

My levels are actually considered low, can this be a problem?

Low levels of cholesterol are obviously something you should strive for in terms of your health altogether; many if not almost all doctors have said there is really no huge health concern or chance of complications if your levels are below the normal level. A lot of people who are considered healthy have had extremely low levels, and never had any issues arise because of it.

However, there are always exceptions to the rules. While in general you should not worry about this, do be weary that every now and then something does come up. Your heart will be just fine, but it’s the other areas of your body that may be affected, if at all; the brain, liver, and digestive system have been known to rarely suffer from unusually low levels of cholesterol.

Some doctors have come across cases where depression and anxiety were present in people with very low levels; low levels of cholesterol can hinder the actions of serotonin. You may eventually develop higher risks of stroke; cholesterol actually helps maintain blood flow in the brain. There have also been cases of low baby weight in women who had low levels of cholesterol, and in some cases premature birth.

These are really the main concerns, and as mentioned, they rarely ever occur in conjunction with low levels of cholesterol, so do not worry yourself over it.

So, you’re saying cholesterol is not the worst thing and is here to stay?

That’s right! Cholesterol is absolutely necessary in order for your body to function properly. But, as with most things in our lives, we just need to be sure to maintain a healthy balance of it in order for it to do its job appropriately. So that of course means living in moderation and taking actions to keep yourself healthy. More than just your cholesterol is going to benefit from that!

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Blood Pressure: Is it too high, too low? What you should know.

highbloodpressure

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls as it flows through the body. It is something that is ever changing and can be forced up or down for a whole variety of reasons. It is a very reciprocal relationship between good health and having a healthy blood pressure level, one that depends greatly on your lifestyle, but can still be greatly affected by genetics and existing medical issues.

When you read your blood pressure, it has a top number (systolic: measures amount of pressure on arteries and vessels while heart is beating), and a bottom number (diastolic: pressure that is exerted on the walls of various arteries around the body between heart beats, or when the heart is relaxed).

Before diving into things, however, let it be known that a ‘normal’ blood pressure is should usually be somewhere around less than 120 over 80, or 120/80. There can be slight variations and still be considered healthy, but this is a more ideal pressure reading to have.

We will take a brief look at what may cause your blood pressure to drop or rise, how you can pin point the symptoms for either, and what potential consequences are. We will also succinctly discuss what it is you can do when you have either high or low blood pressure, to help alleviate and even get rid of those symptoms you may experience.

High Blood Pressure

Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure ultimately means that there is a high amount of tension within the vessels, making it much harder for the heart to pump blood through them. This would not necessarily mean you have emotional tension or stress, but they are both things that can contribute to a rise in blood pressure.

Other things that will contribute to heightened blood pressure include: smoking, being overweight or obese, lack of exercise, high intake of sodium, high intake of alcohol, and older age. As mentioned before, genetics and existing disease or disorders (especially those having to do with kidneys or thyroids) are big contributors to hypertension.

Some people have claimed experiencing nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping, or facial blushing as symptoms of hypertension; others have claimed headaches, nosebleeds, and blood spots in the eyes. Most of these symptoms are inconclusive, and many people will not actually experience symptoms. What is absolutely necessary is having your blood pressure checked at the least somewhat regularly by your doctor. That is the only sure way to know where your levels are at.

If you do have high blood pressure, eating healthier and involving yourself in physical activity are immediate ways to start lowering it. Not only will your blood pressure go down, but other areas of your health are going to improve as well. If you are a smoker, the obvious and really, only option there is to stop smoking. This will drastically improve your health, especially your blood pressure.

If you do not address and start to alter your life style to lower your blood pressure, you will run risks of developing heart disease, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries, eye damage, and stroke. The quicker you make efforts to normalize your pressure, the lesser chance you’ll run into any complications down the road.

blood-pressure-facts

Low Blood Pressure

Referred to as hypotension, low blood pressure is a harder issue to diagnose, because for many the point at which blood pressure could be too low varies from person to person.  In reality, the lower your blood pressure reads, the better, as long as no troubling health symptoms are present. People have had blood pressure as low as 85/55, and have experienced no health complications, so really it is definitely just something you need to pay attention to; too low of pressure could cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.

Some things to be weary of if they are occurring are: dizziness or lightheadedness, fainting, dehydration (which can cause low blood pressure), lack of concentration, blurred vision, nausea, cold and clammy skin, shallow breathing, fatigue, and even depression.  A lot of these symptoms can be symptoms of so many other ailments, even just the common cold. So if they persist you should definitely have yourself checked out.

Hypotension can also be a symptom itself of underlying problems; heart problems, endocrine problems, severe infection, allergic reaction, or nutritional deficiencies could be the actual issue you’re facing, and a drop in blood pressure could be telling you something. Alcoholism can also cause a severe drop in blood pressure; it was listed above in relation to hypertension, which with it being related to both, it should just be clear that alcohol should be consumed in total moderation.

Having too low of blood pressure as mentioned is not necessarily going to be a complete health issue; it is also very avoidable if you’re sure to take care of yourself. Be sure to drink plenty of water, eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get checked by your doctor. Low blood pressure is a much easier thing to deal with, if it gets too low. In many cases however, it won’t, so don’t worry too much about it. This complication mostly occurs with elderly people, who are possibly going to have a higher chance of the above mentioned health issues.

When it comes down to it…

Unless you have unfortunately inherited a tendency to have high blood pressure, or have developed a disease or disorder that would bring it on, the ball is completely in your court in terms of what your blood pressure levels are at. As we have seen, too low of blood pressure is very rare, and high blood pressure can be brought down through very easy means. It is not only avoidable, but very controllable.

As long as you take care of yourself and insure you are leading a healthier life, your blood pressure will be of small concern to you.

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The Myriad Adverse Effects Of Fast Food

fast food

What is fast food? There are various definitions of fast food and different names given to it as well. Technically, any food that can be quickly prepared, cooked and served can be regarded as fast food. However, time is not the only determining factor. Had that been the case then your fruit juice back home, which takes only a few minutes to make provided your blender or grinder is setup, would have been fast food as well.

What Is Fast Food, Actually?

Fast food is any food that has been cooked quickly but also whose ingredients or all the food items going into the recipe have been precooked, prepared and stored for a while prior to the actual cooking. Another piece of detail that has become significantly relevant in today’s context is the processed and ready to cook foods.

When any food is not cooked in its traditional way, it falls under the definition of what is fast food. For instance, take the example of soup. If you make soup the traditional way by cooking the broth, boiling the vegetables or chicken and any other ingredient that you want, use salts and everything else from your kitchen, then it is not fast food. However, if you were to buy a ready to cook soup, bring it home and add the mix to water and get your soup, without doing anything else, then it is fast food.

Fast food typically applies to what you get at restaurants and takeaways where the foods are prepared long before they are cooked, the foods are processed heavily and they are mostly fried or quickly cooked in high heat ovens. Burgers, pizzas, fish and chips, sandwiches (unless using all fresh ingredients which are completely unprocessed) and even sushi and pasta are fast foods.

fast food top

Effects Of Fast Foods

Fast foods are not good for us. There can be no debate on that. Doctors, dietitians, nutritionists and scientists from every nook and corner of the world have reiterated time and again, published numerous studies and results of researches that fast foods are one of the worst curses of the modern world. If there is something that you should quit right today, then it has to be fast foods.

There are numerous effects of fast foods. First, fast foods lead to obesity. In the US and most developed countries, obesity has become the greatest health challenge today. Everywhere you look and anyone you meet, you are more likely to meet an obese child or adult and rarely would you get to see a man or woman with a healthy body, one who is fit and agile. From the perspective of obesity and fitness, you would not be able to lose belly fat if you keep eating fast foods. Fast foods do nothing positive to your energy level. Fast foods cannot be classified as healthy eating. Thus, if you want to fight obesity or weight gain, if you intend to lose weight and enjoy optimum energy level and if you wish to indulge in healthy eating then you have to quit fast foods. Obesity is one of the unavoidable fast food effects.

What Else?

Among the other effects of fast foods, a significant one is its impacts on health of the heart. Most junk or fast foods increase the cholesterol and glucose levels in our blood. Higher cholesterol is not good for your heart. Higher blood sugar levels will cause diabetes. There are millions of people living with diabetes in the US which is one of the direct effects of fast foods. Fast foods increase the blood pressure which again directly impacts your heart. If you want to avoid cardiac problems then apart from exercising, you should avoid fast foods.

Fast foods interfere with everything that is natural in our body. It hinders the natural biological growth of a child. They do not have any nutrition that the body desires. Instead, they are rich in toxins. Artificial flavors, chemicals, colors and all types of synthesized ingredients have very little nutrition to offer. They would only harm your health, in the short term and in the long term.

Once in a while indulging in fast foods can be acceptable but making it a part of your daily or even weekly diet is against the very principles of healthy eating. You would not only fail to lose belly fat if you eat fast foods, you would also fail to live a healthy life.

The effects of fast foods are not noticeable instantly. They feel good to taste and are also filling on most occasions. It is only after months of gorging on them that you would notice the first mild effects of fast foods. Most people do not pay heed to such minor fast food effects and soon enough they become a health concern.

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Sugar In Food – A Surprising Amount In Everything!

sugar in drinks

Almost everything has some form of sugar and we as a society seem to never get enough, but are there some consumable items that might shock you to be worse than others?

First off, let’s bring to light what sugar can do to your body. This sweet substance can bring on a slew of health problems, a few of which are major issues common among those who like to overindulge. The big two would be diabetes and obesity. In truth sugar can definitely make things seem to taste drastically better but there is a toll for it in the long term.

Obesity is rapidly becoming more common among the populace. From a young age children are exposed to sugar as this holy treat full of goodness. I’m sure most people at the time were thinking, “I wish I could eat [insert disgustingly high sugar content item here] for the rest of my life!”. You used to get extremely excited whenever your parents or someone asked if you want a treat or to go down to the store because you know you’re about to leap onto a cloud full of angelic awesomeness. Then you grow a bit older and maybe you started getting a bad case of acne. From there it can just snowball into a mound of unwanted effects or conditions. Everyone is different but no one is invincible to the effects of sugar.

The problem is that instead of treating sugar like, well a “treat”; We instead ingest it all day everyday like it’s common place and normal to do so. Dr. Robert Lustig, author of the book Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar claims that 75% – 80% of all obesity stems from insulin which is created from sugar intake. In a previous blog post on Why You Shouldn’t Neglect H2O I wrote about how a consistent diet of soft drinks is absolutely awful for you. Your body can handle some sugar spurts but when it is routinely consumed that’s a completely different story.

sugar in food

20 Common Foods With High Sugar Levels

Now some of these are surprising and some are not. Something to keep in mind is that even when you think you are eating something “healthy” it very well might be packed with extra sugar. It’s smart to check the nutrition facts or even the ingredients on the back of the packaging yourself. You might be surprised to see some things like dried fruits and sugar listed as the first ingredient instead of fruit!

  1. Sugar/Sweeteners (Stop or loosen up on adding this to everything!)
  2. Soft drinks
  3. Dried fruit (look for unsweetened instead)
  4. Flavoured yogurt
  5. Cereal
  6. Flavoured Oatmeal
  7. Spaghetti
  8. Fruit juice
  9. Sweetened Iced Tea
  10. Sports Drinks
  11. Salad Dressing
  12. Ketchup (along with many other sauces)
  13. Low Fat/Fat Free Sweets
  14. Energy Bars
  15. Granola
  16. Fruit Smoothies
  17. Frozen TV Dinners
  18. Canned Baked Beans
  19. Jam/Jelly/Spreads
  20. Apple Sauce

Sugar Is a Drug

Drugs alter your mind, are addictive and usually toxic. So is sugar! Imagine if a food company laced your meals with morphine so that you’d buy more? The public would go nuts. So they use sugar to get people hooked.

Most of the items commonly consumed that are clearly treats also don’t offer any nutritional value. This is a massive concern especially when it comes to kids. The worst thing you can do is have your kids hooked early. It’s extremely easy to eat sugary foods and gain weight but it’s quite the opposite trying to lose the sugar and weight.

Sugar

13 Side Effects Of Sugar Intake

  1. Obesity
  2. Diabetes
  3. Heart failure/disease
  4. Cancer
  5. High blood pressure
  6. Restrain the immune system
  7. Poor memory
  8. Acne
  9. Tooth decay
  10. Learning disorders
  11. Depression
  12. Headaches and migraines
  13. Yeast infection

So What You’re Saying Is?

Reduce, limit or avoid as much sugar as possible. A lot of foods even thought to be healthy already have sugars. Fruits in particular are a huge source of sugar. Teach the world that sugar is a treat and not an everyday pleasure. Check out the nutrition facts and ingredients on the back of consumables to make sure sugar isn’t the first and highest rated item. Oh and do yourself a favour and replace most your beverage choices with water!

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Drink More Water! Benefits and Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Consuming H2O

glass of waterThe Most Overlooked Liquid

People simply do not get enough water in their diet. The majority of us will trade water for any other kind of beverage packed with unnecessary additives and sapping the health qualities of water on it’s own.

Water takes up around 60 percent of our body weight . This liquid contributes nutrients needed for cells, flushes toxins  out of vital organs and creates the perfect atmosphere for tissues in the throat, ear and nose. Every system inside your body relies on water. So what do you want your body running on? It’s funny to joke around and say “Yeah, my body runs on coffee”, but it’s an entirely different thing when your body is literally fueled by it!

Now it’s true that all liquids are comprised of some amount of water, but the problem is some beverages actually work against waters original capabilities. More on that later!

Does it matter if I lack water?

One of the most common conditions that people incur is dehydration due to a lack of water. Even a minor level of dehydration can leave you feeling sapped of energy since you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out it’s normal functions.

14 things water helps with:

  1. Digestion
  2. Weight loss
  3. Kidney health
  4. Headaches
  5. Replaces potential food so you feel full and don’t overeat
  6. Younger and healthier looking skin
  7. Relieves fatigue
  8. Preventing sickness
  9. Exercise productivity
  10. Reduces risk of cancer
  11. Work productivity
  12. Improves mood
  13. Preventing cramps and sprains
  14. Helps with regular bowel movements

Consuming an appropriate amount of water will aid your heart in pumping blood and deliver essential nutrients to your cells more efficiently. It also helps to transport oxygen in your blood.

Boosting your muscles and preventing cramps is also a helpful trait of water. This can be a fairly significant property if you find yourself always feeling tired while working out. You should be chugging back a couple cups of H2O around two hours before you exercise. Water will reduce fatigue during exercise and and activities  in addition to helping you keep more alert and awake. If you tend to work often and for long hours this can be one of the single best things you can do to keep in check.

different drinks in convenience store

Water vs. Other Liquids

Some companies try to sell the idea that their drink product can be better than water. This is not the case! There’s a major difference between drinking water and drinking something that contains water. Some positive effects of water on it’s own are masked because of added ingredients.

Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea and pop are frequently chosen before water. Although it may taste better, the water contained in these beverages does not help the body as effectively as just drinking water on it’s own could. These processed liquids stimulate the adrenal glands in the body and act as diuretics. High amounts of phosphorus are found in soft drinks which could result with calcium depletion in your bones.

Even a lot of fruit juices that we associate with being healthy can have harmful effects on the body. Pop and fruit juices can stimulate the pancreas due to their high sugar content. Blood glucose is converted by your body to energy through a hormone called insulin. Eating too much sugar in one sitting isn’t too big of an issue as your pancreas can handle the extra insulin. However, if you frequently eat too much sugar, your pancreas may “age” faster than the rest of your body. Ultimately, this can result in pancreatic failure or diabetes. An average can of pop contains over 9 teaspoons of sugar, not to mention a decent load of calories. These particular beverages can therefore cause some undesired effects.

Some people like to consume sports drinks especially after an intense workout. Now this can be useful however they contain syrup and among several other ingredients that aren’t beneficial to your body in the long run.

There are a fair amount of people who don’t like drinking water because of the lack of flavour. Although it’s highly recommended to drink this precious liquid on it’s own, here are a few healthy ways to improve the taste of water if you really must:

  • Add some fresh lemon, orange slices, lime or mint to your water
  • Put a handful of frozen berries into your water bottle. As the day passes on the frozen berries will help keep the water chilly and infuse the fruit flavour.
  • Make natural herbal iced teas without adding sugar to use in place of plain water.
  •  Fruits on their own can be up to 90% water content so one of these suckers can boost your fluid intake on it’s own

dry cracking skin dehydrated

Lack of water?

Thirsty? You may already be dehydrated!

When your thirst mechanism kicks in, your body is signalling that you are already dehydrated. When exercising you ideally want to be drinking water before, during and after the exercise. This ensures that you don’t reach the stage where you feel thirsty.

Pitting edema is when a section of your body (usually a limb) is so swollen that when you press your finger down on their skin, the finger print hole stays for several minutes. It is an additional symptom that occurs with dehydration in some of the elderly and needs to be checked every so often if they are on prescriptions that might reduce this.

Signs and symptoms for dehydration in adults and teenagers:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Dry lips
  • Nausea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dry eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lack of sweat
  • Dark urine (orange/yellow coloured and an especially strong odor)
  • Inability to urinate

Dehydration signs and symptoms in children and infants include:

  • Crying without tears
  • Over three hours without a wet diaper
  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • General fatigue
  • Irritability
  • High fever
  • Sunken eyes cheeks or abdomen
  • Pitting edema

glasses of water filled

How much water is needed per day?

You have probably heard  that you should be drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. This isn’t necessarily accurate but is at least an easy thing to remember and to have as a base amount. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids per day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of fluids per day.

Every day you lose water from breathing, perspiring, urinating and bowel movements. For your body to function properly it’s important to replenish this water supply. If you spend time in hot or dry weather, exercise or consume a significant amount of caffeinated drinks you may need more water!

Can you drink too much water?

Realistically you can take in too much of any liquid or solid than your body can physically handle.

It’s pretty rare but there’s a condition called water intoxication. Drinking too much water will dilute the electrolytes in your body which can affect your heart. There’s even been athletes getting heart attacks because they consumed too much water, but it’s extremely uncommon. Don’t worry, your body won’t get over hydrated drinking 15 cups of water a day. You’d have to be drinking a ridiculous amount of water to reach that level of extreme.

Wrap Up

On average, people aren’t getting enough liquids in their body and even less are primarily consuming pure water on it’s own. This is a critical and essential asset to your health. Keep your body running on the cleanest liquid fuel around and it will do wonders. Don’t forget most fruits primarily consist of water so you can never go wrong with indulging in them!

Hope you liked this post! Please feel free to like, share, tweet and comment. If you want to discuss your favorite interests and make money while doing it then click here.

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Coffee Vs. Tea Infographic

I stumbled upon a great fact sheet on coffee and tea. I thought it would be appropriate to post since we covered two previous articles on both Tea and Caffiene. This poster summarizes parts of the info we have already listed plus some fun facts that we did not mention. Hope you enjoy it and learn something!

coffee tea benefits

Hope you liked this post! Please feel free to like, share, tweet and comment. If you want to discuss your favorite interests and make money while doing it then click here.

I write about anything and everything that crosses my path and end up making money from it. Check out this video to find out how. Click here to watch the video.

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