Nutrition, Diet And Exercise

Whether you are trying to lose weight or live an active healthy life style, nutrition and exercise are vital to your health. We have become as a whole in the western culture, a couch potato, slow moving, over weight and flaccid society. Of course there will always be that smaller percentage of people who get it right and remain fit and healthy. But those that do, make a conscious effort at it with diet and exercise. Well done if you are in that category!

Part of the problem is that because we as humans have it ingrained in us to constantly change things, we are the only creatures that invent food. No other animal or insect does this and they don’t have the diseases humans do unless we have poisoned their environment. We have so much in the way of processed food that have little nutrient value, that we pack on the pounds and become slower moving.

In the wild, animals that eat the raw greens, grasses fruits and berries are very healthy animals. The meat-eating animals consume the healthy plant-eating animals and remain virtually disease free. Our farms on the other hand, need to mass-produce cattle and chickens so we give them hormones and phosphates and the like and we consume them. That is by the way, some experts now think younger girls are developing much earlier than they used to because of the hormones in meat and dairy products. We can however, luckily eat raw organic fruits and vegetables and we should do so on a daily basis.

Another culprit is our need to once again, change our environment. We have more machines that do things for us now and it won’t stop there. This is both good and bad. The good is a higher rate of production for the products we need, bad because we are slowing down physically. In as little as ten years ago we could go out on a Sunday morning and see someone pushing his or her lawn mower. (And I mean pushing). Now a days, you’ll see more of sit down mowers or power mowers that literally pull you along with it. Our fore fathers were much more active and they ate nutrient rich foods. And they could eat a lot of it without getting fat because of how much energy they spent from hard physical labor.

Is all lost for us in this day and age? Absolutely not!!! We are perfectly capable of reversing this trend, but it does require a) your dedication and b) follow through. This can be done no matter what your weight and activity level.

Make your first step the decision to become healthy and fit. Once you have firmly made that decision you are on your way. Now take the time to evaluate your lifestyle and really look at it. Be honest with yourself about your eating habits and activity level.

Changing your diet to eating healthy whole foods is a good way to start. It’ll not only help you lose weight and help you feel better, but it will enhance your quality of life. You’ll have more energy and life just feels better when you are healthy.

There are many popular diets out there. The Zone, the Blood Type Diet, Atkins, the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers and the list goes on. They all have had their share of successes so it is hard sometimes to know what to do. I can only say, do your homework. You will find the right one that works for you and you will be more likely to stick to it.

If you want to do it on your own you can be just as successful if you know some basic rules.

1) Portion control. Cutting down to smaller portions can help tremendously. A great
way to eat less food at one sitting is to drink a glass of water before you eat and then drink more water with your meal. Water takes up a lot of space in your stomach so you will feel full faster and water won’t give you any extra calories. Awesome!

2) Water, water, water. Drink lots of clean pure water. Your body needs it and more than you think. Most North Americans are in a state of semi dehydration. Water flushes out toxins, gets your bowels moving. (Did you know that the amount of pain you feel from injury or minor aches and pains are directly proportional to how dehydrated you are? An interesting tid bit)

3) Eat raw fruits and vegetables as much as you can especially dark greens. Cooked veggies lose some of their nutrients so eating a salad every day would benefit you.

Optimising Nutrition On A Vegetarian Diet

While a vegetarian diet is among the healthiest ways to eat, certain nutrients can be lacking on a diet that contains no animal products at all. In particular, many people are concerned that vegans may not get enough protein, calcium and iron from plant-based foods. This is because most people think of eating dairy products for calcium and meats for iron and protein. But it is possible to consume adequate amounts of these nutrients on vegetarian diet. It just takes bit of effort and knowledge about plant-based sources the nutrients.

Iron is an important mineral because it plays a vital role in transporting oxygen through the bloodstream. People who do not have adequate iron intake can suffer from iron deficiency anemia, a condition characterized by extreme fatigue and weakness. Adult men and post-menopausal women need about 10 mg of iron per day, while women of child-bearing age need about 15 mg per day. There are two types of iron – heme iron (from meat) and non-heme iron (from plant sources). Though non-heme iron is generally not as easily absorbed as heme iron, the incidence of iron deficiency anemia is no higher in vegans than in the general population. Dried beans and dark leafy green vegetables can provide adequate amounts of dietary iron if consumed on a regular basis. To boost absorption of iron, iron-rich plant foods should be consumed with vitamin C supplements or foods rich in vitamin C. Since vegans diets tend to be high in vitamin C naturally, iron consumption is really not as much of a problem for most vegans as might be expected. In fact, some foods, like broccoli and bok choy, are high in both iron and vitamin C. These foods are often eaten with other iron and vitamin C-rich foods, such as beans and tomato sauce.

Another important nutrient for vegetarians to consider is calcium. Adults need about 1000 mg of calcium per day. Most people think of dairy products when they think of calcium, which important for strong bones and teeth. But vegans can get plenty of calcium from dark greens, tofu processed with calcium sulfate, and other foods or from calcium supplements. Soymilk and rice milk are often fortified with calcium as well. Other good sources of calcium for vegans include blackstrap molasses, fortified orange juice, tahini and almonds. It is important to note that a compound known as oxalic acid, found in vegetables like spinach, rhubarb, chard, and beet greens, can bind with calcium and prevent it from being well absorbed. Therefore, greens like broccoli and collards are better sources of calcium for vegans.

Though there is much concern about vegetarians getting enough protein, the need for protein is often overrated. The average diet contains far more protein needed for health. In fact, excess protein can damage the kidneys and contribute to the development of osteoporosis. The recommended daily allowance of protein is 8/10ths of a gram for every kilogram of body weight or about 10-15% of total calories. Foods like soy, rice and beans, and nuts and nut butters can provide adequate amounts of protein for vegans. In contrast, animal foods are so high in protein that non-vegetarians can easily exceed the upper limit recommended for protein intake, which is 4.5 grams of protein per 100 calories of food.

Protein is comprised of amino acids, which are often called protein building blocks. The body needs nine different amino acids from foods. Because the body cannot make these nine amino acids, they are known as essential amino acids. Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are considered “complete protein” foods. Non-vegan vegetarians can easily get all nine amino acids from eggs and dairy products. For vegans, soy protein, which is a complete protein, is often considered the best source. The nine essential amino acids can also be obtained by combining whole grain rice and beans. Other vegan sources of high quality protein include the grain quinoa and spinach. Eating a variety of legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds daily ensures that vegans consume all of the protein they need.

More tips on how vegetarians can maximize consumption of key nutrients as well as more detailed information about the amounts of calcium,

Nutrition: The Super Foods That Keep You Healthy

Get ready to experience a volume of information of the healthiest foods in the world. Here is a list of the top ten super foods that most health experts agree on. You should tell everyone you know about these foods and enjoy them at your next meal. From fruits and vegetables, to whole grains, nuts, beans and legumes, this power-packed nutritional inventory will take you into the best years of your life and beyond.

Fruits

1. Cantaloupe

Only a quarter of cantaloupe provides almost all the vitamin A needed in one day. Since the beta-carotene in a cantaloupe converts to vitamin A, you get both nutrients at once. These vision-strengthening nutrients may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts. Like an orange, cantaloupe is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps our immune system. It is also is a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, niacin, and potassium, which helps maintain good blood sugar levels and metabolism. This pale orange power fruit may help reduce our risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

2. Blueberries

These mildly sweet (and sometimes tangy) berries offer a high capacity to destroy free radicals that can cause cancer. Low in calories, they offer antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, which enhance the effects of vitamin C. These antioxidants may help prevent cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer.

Vegetables

3: Tomatoes

Tomatoes help us fight against heart disease and cancers such as colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and cancer of the pancreas. Tomatoes are also good sources of vitamin C, A, and K. In a 2004 study, it was found that tomato juice alone can help reduce blood clotting.

Fresh, organic tomatoes deliver three times as much of the cancer-fighting carotenoid lycopene. Even organic ketchup is better for you than regular ketchup! Look for tomato pastes and sauces that contain the whole tomato (including peels) because you will absorb 75% more lycopene and almost two times the amount of beta-carotene.

4: Sweet Potatoes

As an excellent source of vitamin A, C, and manganese, sweet potatoes are also a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. Those who are smokers or prone to second- hand smoke may benefit greatly from this root vegetable that helps protect us against emphysema.

For a unique dessert, cube a cooked sweet potato and slice a banana. Then lightly pour maple syrup over the top and add a dash or two of cinnamon. Add chopped walnuts for an even healthier kick.

5: Spinach and Kale

A cancer-fighter and cardio-helper, spinach and kale top the list as far as green leafy vegetables are concerned. Much like broccoli, they provide an excellent source of vitamin A and C. Kale is a surprisingly good source of calcium at 25% per cup, boiled. Vitamin K is abundantly found in spinach as well, with almost 200% of the Daily Value available, to help reduce bone loss.

Whole Grains

6: Whole Grain Bread, Pasta and Brown Rice

Whether it’s bread or pasta, the first thing to check for when purchasing whole grain bread and pasta is to make sure it is 100% whole grain. Remember to check the list of ingredients on the package. For example, look for the exact phrase “whole wheat flour” as one of the first ingredients listed in whole wheat bread. If it’s not listed as such, then it’s not whole grain. Wheat bran is a cancer-fighting grain that also helps us regulate our bowel movements.

Brown rice is also a better choice than refined grain (white rice) for the same reason as choosing whole wheat bread. Whole wheat flour or brown rice that turns into white flour or white rice actually destroys between 50-90% of vitamin B3, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids we need. Even when processed white flour or white rice is “enriched,” it is not in the same form as the original unprocessed kind. In fact, 11 nutrients are actually lost and are not replaced during the “enrichment” process!

Nuts

7: Walnuts

These nuts are packed with omega-3 fats, which is one of the “good” fats. A quarter cup of walnuts would take care of about 90% of the omega-3s needed in one day. Walnuts provide many health benefits including cardiovascular protection, better cognitive function, anti-inflammatory advantages relating to asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis. They can even help against cancer and also support the immune system.

Beans and Legumes

8: Black Beans and Lentils

While black beans are a good source of fiber that can lower cholesterol, so are lentils. The high fiber content in both black beans and lentils helps to maintain blood sugar levels. Also a fat-free, high quality protein with additional minerals and B-vitamins, black beans and lentils fill you up and don’t expand your waistline.

A complete, one-stop source of using a variety of beans and lentils comes easy when you can find a bag of 15-bean mix (includes black beans, lentils, navy, pinto, red, kidney, etc.) at the grocery store. Consider making a delicious soup with the addition of tomatoes, onions, garlic and your favorite spices with this bean mixture.

Dairy

9: Skim Milk and Yogurt

Skim milk (or low-fat) helps to promote strong bones, offering an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. These nutrients help protect colon cells from cancer-causing chemicals, bone loss, migraine headaches, premenstrual symptoms, and childhood obesity. Recent studies also show that overweight adults lose weight, especially around the midsection, when consuming low-fat dairy such as skim milk and yogurt.

Yogurt also includes the essential nutrients such as phosphorous and vitamin B2, vitamin B12, vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, and protein. Yogurt’s live bacterial cultures also provide a wealth of health benefits that may help us live longer and strengthen our immune system.

Seafood

10: Salmon

Salmon is high in protein, low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fats (the essential fatty acids that are also found in those walnuts mentioned earlier). Salmon is a heart-healthy food and is recommended to eat at least twice a week. When choosing salmon, it’s best to stay away from farm raised and select wild instead. Research studies show that farmed salmon may cause cancer because it may carry high levels of carcinogenic chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Other

Green Tea and “Power” Water

Although not food per say, the health benefits of these beverages are worthy of mentioning.

Green tea has beneficial phytonutrients and lower levels of caffeine than all other teas. The more research studying green tea, the more health benefits are found. A cancer fighter as well, green tea has antioxidant effects that lower risks of bacterial or viral infections to cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, periodontal disease, and osteoporosis.

Water packed with vitamins and/or naturally sweetened fruit are also the newest trend. Some offer a full day’s supply of vitamin C while others promise no artificial sweeteners with a full, fruity taste.

As you can see, the top ten super foods are worth every bite (or sip). Now that you know which foods can help save your life, what’s more important than investing in your health?