Calories are energy units found in food. The key word is energy. You cannot go through any day without energy food. Yet too much or too less is just as threatening to your weight, shape, and most importantly health. People who already are having problems with their weight and its associated illnesses ought to know what this means. Unfortunately, tracking and controlling ones food intake is the most challenging part of any weight-loss/gain regimen. A great start is to be aware of the following guidelines:
Know that a healthy or what is considered as a normal diet is determined by tracking ones calorie consumption through regulating your food intake on a day-to-day basis. This should involve both the quantity and quality of the food (including drinks) that you consume every day.
The task of the digestive system is to break carbohydrates into simple sugar molecules that are small enough to enter the bloodstream and provide energy for the body. These sugar molecules are mostly glucose. However, the human body can’t digest fiber and so it passes out of the body.
Fiber acts very much like a sponge. The two types of fiber are soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber soaks up bile acids and cholesterol on its way through the intestines. Although fiber doesn’t absorb vitamins and minerals, it might help the body absorb them more efficiently by slowing down the digestive process. Insoluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through the intestines and makes elimination easier.
Some high fiber foods make you feel fuller, so you they eat less. Fiber, increases pancreatic secretions and helps the beneficial flora in the intestine. It decreases blood lipid levels including LDL levels, the “bad” cholesterol. Fiber also makes bile more soluble.
A good amount of fiber for adults is about 25 to 35 grams a day. Fiber is in nearly all edible plants, yet most Americans don’t get nearly that much. You can get more fiber by choosing an unpeeled medium sized apple, which provides 3.5 grams of fiber. One half of a large, unpeeled pear, 1/4 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of raspberries and 1 cup of strawberries, provide between 3 and 3.1 grams each. One cup of green beans provides 3.2 grams. Other reliable sources of fiber are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and zucchini. Legumes are the best source of fiber. On- half cup of baked beans has 8.8 grams of fiber, while a 1/2 cup of kidney beans has 7.3 grams. Some breakfast cereals are also good in fiber. One third of a cup of All Bran has 8.5 grams.
Getting enough fiber can ward off obesity, gout, kidney stones, and gallstones. Evidence suggests it can also protect against Type II diabetes, although that benefit may only come from the weight control characteristics of fiber. Fiber also protects against cardiac diseases like high blood pressure, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Fiber benefits digestive health preventing constipation, appendicitis, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, as well as tooth decay, pernicious anemia, and skin diseases.
The boy’s cells use simple sugars, or monosaccharides, for energy. When they don’t need this energy immediately, the liver and muscles store the sugars as glycogen, much like plants store starch for energy. Too much sugar stresses the body in those with blood sugar problems such as diabetes or hypoglycemia. Most healthy individuals should not worry about sugar intake except when consumed in extreme volumes. While simple sugars are not harmful to most individuals, complex carbohydrates offer many more health benefits.
You can get the highest quality carbohydrates by basing your diet on fresh, whole fruits, vegetables and grains, which have more fiber than refined grains like white bread and white rice. Avoid refined foods because they are processed in ways that remove most of their fiber and nutrients. Eating foods in their natural state is an effortless way to get more fiber, lose weight and gain energy.
Today we are bombarded by the beneficial claims made by the food industry. Sorting out the good from the bad can be a daunting task, especially when conflicting reports come out every week. Healthful food, high in vitamins, nutrients and beneficial bacteria keep our bodies in peak condition and promote healing when we are sick.
Junk food, highly processed food and chemical-laced food-like substances slow our metabolism down, weaken our immune system and can cause a whole host of other physical and mental issues. Some foods however are healthier than they appear. Foods like coffee, chocolate, fatty-fish and even some fast food options can be part of a healthy diet.
Switching your beverage of choice to tea is amazingly beneficial. Any type of tea made from Camellia sinensis, whether it is black, green, white or oolong, is good for you. The catechins, a type of antioxidant phytochemicals is the component of tea that makes it so great for you. The antioxidants found in a single cup of tea are equal to those found in one serving of a fruit or vegetable. The best, most well documented benefit of tea drinking is a reduced risk of heart disease. It is possible that consuming three 8-ounce glasses of tea each day can also help to prevent cancer and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Coffee can also be a healthy beverage option. Caffeine not only helps you stay alert, but by stimulating the nervous system, it can help to lower the risk of diabetes, headaches and even cavities. Along with the caffeine, coffee contains the antioxidant known as chlorogenic acid that improves glucose metabolism. Magnesium is also a component of coffee that further reduces the risk of diabetes because of its effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
We have heard for some time that dark chocolate is good for us, though only in small amounts. Only dark chocolate contains the antioxidants like those found in tea, fruits and vegetables. Aside from the benefits gained by consuming the antioxidants, dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help reduce the risk of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity.
Fat has gained a bad reputation. Blamed for ever-increasing obesity rates, heart disease and a myriad of other health issues, we repeatedly hear warnings warned to avoid consuming fatty foods. Two fatty choices have health benefits when consumed in moderation. Avocados are high in monosaturated fat, which can lower overall cholesterol. They contain many other nutrients and antioxidants that bolster a healthy lifestyle. Another fatty health food is cold-water fatty fish. These fish, such as salmon, trout and tuna, contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Maintaining a proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids cannot only lower cholesterol and triglycerides, but also may help to regulate an individual’s moods.
Not all fast food menus are created equal. Most menu items are typically high in fat, low in any real nutritional value and packed with staggering amounts of calories. Making informed choices in the drive-thru can lessen the negative impact on your health.
McDonald’s, the most popular fast-food chain, has several options for the health-conscience consumer. Many dollar menu items are lower in fat and lower in total calories. These include the McChicken, a regular hamburger and a four-piece McNugget with Sweet and Sour Sauce. The best breakfast option at McDonald’s is the egg McMuffin.
Wendy has a few good choices as well. The Jr. Hamburger and the Ultimate Chicken Grill are good choices from their menu. A large Wendy’s Chili not only has fewer calories than most sandwiches on the menu but also fills a significant portion of your daily requirements for folate, iron and fiber. For dessert, try a reduced-fat vanilla cone from McDonald’s or a Junior Frosty from Wendy’s.
Not in the mood for burgers? Kentucky Fried Chicken has several options for a fast healthy lunch. For the main dish, select an Original Recipe drumstick or a Honey BBQ sandwich. Of the side dishes, the best option is coleslaw, which is not only low in calories but is high in vitamins, in vitamin C and high in fiber.
Taco Bell’s Fresco Style menu, including the Crunchy Taco, Grilled Steak Soft Taco and Tostado are all low calorie choices with an additional benefit from the lycopene in the fresh salsa.
Hungry for pizza? Choose Pizza Hut’s Fit’n Delicious pizza for a vegetable-packed option with half the fattening cheese of a regular pizza. The Veggie Lover’s Hand-Tossed Pizza is a close second with plenty of vegetables and a filling crust.
Plenty of foods can bolster your health and enhance the benefits gained by pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Research and meal planning, even if it is for fast food, can help you realize your nutritional goals.
Starch is a long, complex carbohydrate molecule and is abundant in foods like root vegetables, rice and wheat. It’s best utilized by the body after it’s been cooked, which is why starchy foods are seldom eaten raw. Starch is the plant’s form of energy storage, much like fat in humans.
Dietary fiber comes from the parts of otherwise edible plants that humans can’t digest. Other animals like cows and deer can digest fiber in the form of cellulose. Some biologists believe that the human appendix evolved to digest cellulose, but today the appendix is now vestigial and has very little purpose.
Damage can occur in a blood vessel when highly reactive chemical fragments called free-radicals react with the vessel walls. Vitamin E deactivates free-radicals by sacrificing itself to the free-radical. The process of free-radical deactivation by vitamin E requires less energy than the reaction of a free-radical with a lipid (fat) in the artery wall, therefore it is a more probable reaction.
If vitamin E is not present to protect the artery walls, the free-radical reaction produces an irritation or active site that starts the atherosclerosis process. Through a combination of electronic-charge attraction and further chemical reactions, cholesterol and calcium are attached to the inside layers of the artery walls.
When the active site exists, it draws cholesterol by electronic-charge attraction, removing the cholesterol as it is naturally produced within the artery for lubrication to prevent damage to the blood cells as they rush through. It is unlikely that the cholesterol in the bloodstream can be held in place sufficiently long by the electronic charge to draw the large cholesterol molecules through the inner surface of the artery wall to the active site. However, it is possible for some cholesterol to filter through the inner layer at a slow rate. Free-radicals are harmful and very reactive. They can attack the heart muscle to accelerate myocardial infarction.
Besides the old theory held by most physicians that consuming cholesterol causes heart disease, there are several other theories; we haven’t conclusively proved any of them. Two or three others are equally as plausible but waht we observe best fits facts concerning the atherosclerotic process itself and the effect of diet.
The danger of polyunsaturated fats began to be noticed when Dr. Fred Kummerow and his colleagues from the University of Illinois reported their studies at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology meeting of nutritionists and related sciences. Newspapers carried the story under such titles as “Margarine Found Health Hazard.” Too bad the story didn’t make the front sections. The findings showed that a fat present in margarine may present a greater health risk than cholesterol-rich foods such as beef fat, butterfat, and powdered eggs.
The studies involved feeding different types of diets to different groups of swine for eight months. The researchers concluded that a hydrogenated fat, which contains margarine-base stock designed to make the product more stable (“trans” fatty acids) was more atherogenic (causing atherosclerosis) than the cholesterol materials mentioned. The degree of atherosclerosis was determined by autopsies on the experimental animals.
Swine were used in the tests because the aorta and heart of a pig weigh about the same as those of a human, and pigs are close to humans in their response to cholesterol. The experiments were repeated several times with identical results. The greatest degree of hardening of the arteries was in the pigs fed margarine-base stock with their diet. The group fed sugar with their diet was next. The group fed butter had almost negligible damage, and the least disease was found in the groups fed egg yolk or egg whites with their standard diet.
Today, the sale of organic foods is a billion-dollar industry that continues to grow exponentially. However, you may be confused about what the facts are regarding the supposed added health benefits of foods labeled as organic. The truth may surprise you.
First, to understand what the supposed health benefits of organic foods are, you should understand what the term “organic food” means. Organic foods are fruits, grains, and vegetables that are grown and cultivated in certain ways that support human health and the environment. However, the term can also refer to other farm products such as meats, eggs, and dairy products produced differently than those from non-organic farms.
Organic foods are grown, cultivated, and harvested with the intention of cutting down on things like chemicals and other synthetic man-made products introduced during the farming process. One common example is the kinds of fertilizers organic farmers use to grow crops. Under conventional farming methods, chemical fertilizers add nutrients to the soil. Organic farmers use fertilizers or natural origin, such as compost and manure.
Another significant difference between organic and conventional farmers is how they choose to fight pests. A non-organic farmer may use chemical insecticides to stop harmful insects from eating crops. An organic farmer will use different means to achieve the same end, for example, introducing a different kind of bug or animal into his or her fields. The bug or animal may kill the insects that would have eaten the plants. Alternatively, the farmer may set traps for bugs that do not involve chemicals. He or she may also do things to disrupt the insects’ mating cycles to weaken the next generation of insects that would attack the crops.
Organic growers do not use chemicals to deal with weeds. Instead of the chemical herbicides that most non-organic farmers now use, an organic farmer will use other means to keep the weeds from interfering with his or her harvest. For example, the farmer may remove the weeds by hand. He or she may also use mulch to keep weeds away. Rotating the crops grown is also another way to keep the soil healthy and weed free.
Lastly, there is a big difference in regard to what is done to and with the animals that are raised in a farm that eventually find their way to your grocery store in the form of meat, eggs, or dairy products. Many non-organic farmers feed and inject their livestock with certain things to either improve the final product or quicken its development. For example, growth hormones may be given to cows or chickens to cause them to grow larger muscles. This can result in bigger portions of meat after butchering. They may also be injected with medications to prevent the livestock from contracting diseases. Organic farmers, however, use different methods to reach the same ends. For example, they will allow their livestock to graze and move around outdoors. This can allow animals to grow muscle more naturally. If the animals spend more time outdoors, they will not spread disease as much as animals confined to small pens indoors. Many people also believe this is a much more humane way to treat livestock.
The benefits of these farming methods are obvious. Certainly, they are more environmentally friendly in certain ways and more humane to livestock. However, in the end, the thing that matters most to many shoppers is the product purchased in the grocery store. Organic foods often come with a very high price tag compared to non-organic foods. These premium prices are doubtless the fuel in the explosion of farmers entering the organic foods industry. However, are the health benefits of organic foods over non-organic foods big enough that it offsets the difference in price?
The work place can be a huge challenge to good eating habits. You’ve resolved to reduce sugar intake, reduce caffeine and not to have heavy, pasta-based lunches. But then, you’re up late, and feel you must have emergency coffee, it’s your friend’s birthday at work and your co-workers bring in a sheet cake the size of the table. And then it’s only right to take your friend out to lunch. In one fell swoop, all three of your resolutions have dematerialized.
These exceptional days do happen. But keep in mind the fact that your work hours are the bulk of most people’s waking, functional day. The interesting thing about eating healthy is that good food is so nurturing, the body begins to crave these healthy options. Getting started is the hard part.
Start your day off with something you like that has no refined sugar. Fruit is always a good option – a banana, half a cantaloupe, some strawberries. Fresh fruit is full of fiber and antioxidants as well as other healthy goodies that will get you ready for the day. Many of the world’s healthiest people have vegetables for breakfast. One of the best possible breakfasts is a nice, hot sweet potato or yam. Anything you can do at home to combat workplace diet mistakes is helpful.
Give yourself some love and spend a bit of time preparing a delicious lunch the night before. Put together the makings for a nice, big salad that you can throw together at work. Be sure to include treats such as tasty nuts, which are great for protein. If you include pasta in your lunch, you can limit it to the appropriate amount for mid-day, for example, ½ cup. Making the lunch after dinner the night before is perfect timing, because you’re not ravenous like you will be at lunchtime. Include an apple or nectarine. If there’s something in the lunch that you look forward to, it helps make the entire workday run more smoothly. In addition, when you make your lunch, you ensure that all the ingredients are clean and fresh. And the other big bonus? You’ll save tons of money.
A good night’s sleep contributes considerably to alertness as well as helping to control mood and hunger. Going to sleep close to the same time on work nights several hours after eating will soon prove to have amazing results.
When going grocery shopping, avoid junk food aisles. Stick with real food. If it’s not in the cupboard at home, it can’t get into your lunch. Some suggest shopping only the outside aisles where you will find fresh produce, meats, dairy and brains. The middle aisles are crammed with primarily processed foods.
Most people drink plenty of fluids, but how much of it is water? Water is a calorie-free beverage. For some, it can quell hunger. And, again, it offers that special bonus of saving money. Assuming you have filtered drinking water at work, it’s free. If you’re drinking enough water, you will likely drink less coffee and sodas. It’s win-win all around!
Always have a snack that’s healthy that you’ve fallen in love with. Maybe it’s little carrots or an exotic fruit you felt you couldn’t afford, but with all the money now saved from lunches, unhealthy snacks and lattes, you can indulge in the expensive fruit. Whatever it is you choose, make it as close to nature as possible.
When you go to lunch, GO to lunch. Don’t eat at your dreary desk. Go outside, or find a place where you enjoy the scenery, the solitude or the company. Eat mindfully, enjoying all the self-care you’ve put into your lunch.