Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Secret

I was reading Reader's Digest the other day and came across an article titled "Foods That Fight Back Pain". It caught my attention, mostly because back pain is a common complaint among people, young and old. In summary, these are the foods that were recommended: vegetables and fruits, nuts, green tea, salmon, and olive oil. They also recommended eating less vegetable oils, margarine, processed foods and foods made with trans fat.
The next day I came across a different article online about foods that help fight cancer. These foods consisted of: fish, broccoli, tomatoes, grapes, cranberries and tea.
This sort of made me chuckle. The lists were QUITE similar. Why? Because those foods are the ones you should eat every day, whether you have health problems or not! Articles are coming out every day about certain foods we can eat to help stop disease, prevent injury, help us sleep better or just give us a boost. The thing is, the foods are all generally the same: good fats, high in vegetables and fruits, whole grains and avoid processed foods and sugars. It isn't a secret! Eating like that every day leads to a healthy life. There is no guarantee for perfect health and no physical problems. But there will be improvements seen if you make the effort to change your eating habits. Decide today to eat better and to live better!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vitamins and Minerals

Are you ever wondering which vitamins you should be taking? Or why you need to? A lot of times people assume they are getting enough vitamins in what they eat, but unless they are extremely diligent in eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, as well as getting outside, it is hard to get everything. Here is a quick overview of some essential vitamins and why we need them.

*Water-soluble: Vitamins that desolve in water. These vitamins are easily destroyed or washed out during food storage or preparation. It's important we get these every day since they are often washed out of our body.
*Fat-soluble: Vitamins dissolve in fat before they are absorbed in the blood stream to carry out their functions.

B-Vitamin: There are 8 different B Vitamins. Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily absorbed in your body. One of its biggest and most important functions is breaking down the carbohydrates from the food we eat and turning them into sugar glucose. Vitamin B also plays a large role in helping the nervous system to properly function. Vitamin B2 or riboflavin, as it is commonly called, is great for breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats and converting them into the energy our body needs. Vitamin B2 and B3 are both good for giving us healthy looking skin. Vitamin B6 helps to promote healthy red blood cells that help fight disease.
Vitamin C: An essential water-soluble vitamin that has lots of important functions. It acts as an antioxidant and can also protect against heart disease by reducing stiffness of arteries. It is also needed to make collagen which strengthens your body (such as muscles), and also plays a role in healing as an antihistamine.
Calcium: A mineral that is crucial in things like neurotransmission, muscle contraction and heart function. It makes up to 2% of body weight, mostly in the bones. It helps build and maintain bones and teeth.
Magnesium: A mineral that is used by the body to help maintain muscles, nerves and bones. It is also used in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It is needed for making new cells, activating vitamin B, and relaxing muscles. Magnesium is also needed for the production and use of insulin.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes absorption and use of calcium and phosphate for healthy bones. It has been called the "sunshine vitamin" because you can get it from the sun through your skin. Recent research has come out to make us aware that the majority of people aren't getting enough vitamin D, and it could be effecting overall health. It is known to help maintain immune system health and cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that adequate levels of vitamin D can help brain function and decrease effects of depression.
Potassium: An essential mineral that is needed to regulate water balance, levels of acidity and blood pressure. It works with sodium-potassium in the cell to transmit messages and regulate the contraction of muscles.

These are just a few of the many we need. We do get some from what we eat, but if you are getting sick frequently or just always feeling sluggish, investing in a good multi-vitamin could help you in many ways. Always look for information regarding what vitamins are best for you to take, how much and how often, before starting new supplements. Make sure when you do find one to try though, that there isn't unnecessary sugar added.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Whiter the Bread...

From the time I was young, one of my dad's favorite sayings has been "the whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead!" Obviously, I've grown up in a house where we eat wheat bread, and I love it! But here are some things everyone should know about the truth of white bread...

1. Understand how the Rate of Digestion Affects Energy

To understand the nature of sugar in white bread and its affect on health, it helps to know the fundamentals of digestion. In essence, some foods digest faster than others and consequently release sugar more rapidly into the bloodstream. This is called the glycemic index of foods.

The more refined and processed a food is, the higher its glycemic index and the faster sugars present in those foods are absorbed. When the blood sugar level is too high, the body reacts by pumping insulin from the pancreas into the system, which leads to a lower energy level after the initial sugar high. For many people who feel fatigue, this is the cause. Over time, it can overstress the pancreas and lead to Type II diabetes.

2. Know the Difference
With white bread, the portions of the wheat grain that would slow digestion--the nutritious, fiber-rich bran and germ--are removed in processing, causing the starchy, sugary part to get absorbed most quickly. The much better alternative is 100% whole grain bread, which also contains full portions of native nutrients that are diminished or removed from white bread: calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and Pyridoxine.

3. Read the Label
For years, people eating "wheat bread" were misled into thinking that they were getting something nutritionally superior to white bread. In fact, those breads were processed flour missing the bran and germ but enhanced with brown food coloring. The words "100% whole grain" should appear on the product package. Since 2005, baking companies have begun marketing "white whole wheat" breads, creating some confusion in the marketplace. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed suit with one manufacturer that in fact is using refined white flour in combination with whole grain. "The intent is to confuse consumers, who are denied the nutrition they think they are paying for," says CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner.

4. Other Benefits
In addition to a favorable glycemic factor, whole grain breads, pastas and other baked goods provide benefits to diabetics and anyone interested in generally good health and weight management. The dietary fiber creates a feeling of fullness that is non-caloric, something referred to as energy density. Eating foods with lower density (whole grain foods, as well as fiber-rich fruits and vegetables) digest more slowly so the urge to eat again happens later rather than sooner.

5. Switching can Spell a big Difference
An Australian study found that people who ate the most white bread (average: 17 slices per week) had the highest risk of diabetes. Tellingly, people who still had high sugar consumption via fruit had a lower risk. "Changing bread type may be a more acceptable dietary change than one requiring a whole new eating pattern," researchers wrote in Diabetes Care magazine (November 2004).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Breakfast of Champions!

I actually made this dinner for my family, and it seemed to go over well. I got the recipe for the pancakes from my friends blog which I love to read. Then the rest I pieced together based on things I can eat and are healthy, but still taste good. We had German pancakes, a veggie omelet and a green smoothie. Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?!

German Pancakes:
2 tablespoons butter
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 400*F. Melt butter. Pour half of butter into 9"x13" baking pan. Using your washed hands, spread butter over bottom and sides of pan. This works better than cooking spray. In a separate bowl beat eggs well. Then add four and mix well with. If you don't do this before adding the other ingredients it will not mix well! Add the remaining ingredients including the second half of the butter and mix well. Pour into the greased baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy with honey, fruit, or light syrup! (They pop up on the sides of the pan in the oven, as seen in the picture, and then they will go down.)

 Veggie Omelet:Chop up as many veggies as you want and the amount you would like. I used tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. Add those to a hot buttered pan on the stove and let them cook for a couple minutes. Then add your beaten eggs on top (I used 5). Let it sit until it starts to bubble, then flip it over. The second side always cooks faster. When it's done, put it on a plate and sprinkle with a little cheese. Serve it in slices!
Green Drink:
We have lots of frozen fruit, so I used frozen strawberries in this drink, along with a banana. It is best to use frozen spinach, but we only had fresh, so earlier that day I filled up a gallon bag of spinach and stuck it in the freezer for about 3 hours until it was slightly frozen. When it is time to eat, first blend the frozen spinach with about a 1/2 c. of water. Once that has gone down, add the frozen fruit, and blend again. Then add the banana and a little milk if you'd like, or a bit more water (depending on consistency you'd like). Then serve and enjoy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Healthy Tips and Tricks to Live By

- keep sweet treats and salty snacks out of sight today. They don’t have to be forbidden foods, but occasional foods that will only turn into everyday foods of they are in plain sight!
- brush your teeth after dinner to keep you from eating more
- don’t say anything negative about your physical shape or size today, only think of your positive attributes
- make sure that every serving of food you eat today can fit in the palm of your hand
- Listen to your body: make sure you are actually hungry when you eat, and stop when you are only SATISFIED. If you aren’t sure if you’re hungry, have a big glass of water and then see if you are still hungry
- only eat healthy fats : in fish, nuts, olives, avocados, natural peanut butter
- Take the long way: ditch the escalators, elevators, remote controls, and parking close to stores
- Pick a goal and write three reasons why you want to accomplish it. Post the list somewhere that you will see it every day
- eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day, preferably in a 2 to 3 ratio
- eat six small meals each day instead of three big ones. That way when you are eating, don’t indulge in anything you can find…just tell yourself you can eat again in a couple hours
- eat some black beans today! They are full of protein, fiber and carbohydrates
- don’t ever skip meals! Especially breakfast
- don’t buy the food that tempt you, and don’t make the foods you know you shouldn’t eat or that you will eat too much of
- get at least seven to eight hours of sleep as many nights a week as you can
- when you get sore from working out it means your body is changing, and guess what…the best way to get rid of that soreness is workout again!
- remember that your body does not determine your character

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Nothing White Diet

For a time I have been fascinated by the diets people decide to go on. I think it can be ironic how people aren't willing to just take a few things out of their diet and be more active, but they are willing to totally cut out carbs, get injections, or only eat Special K products. I understand people are just trying to find what works, but I can promise you that what DOES work for EVERYONE is moderation and a little more activity in their lives. For some it needs to be more extreme for them to get their desired outcome. All that means, though, is a little more time in the gym and a little less time in the kitchen. 
While browsing livestrong.com I found this diet that they recommend. I think of all the diets I have learned about, this one seems the best. So, if you are the type that really needs a DIET to live by, and not just a LIFESTYLE, then you might want to give this one a try! (even though this diet should turn into a lifestyle!)

As you might expect, the nothing white diet prohibits white foods--but not all of them. White foods tend to be refined and higher in sugar, and higher in white flour with the nutrients and fiber stripped away through processing. The diet is described in detail in the 2007 book "No White Diet" by Paul Array. It does not require portion sizing, calorie counting or an exercise program. Food choices in a nothing white diet may be relatively easy to make, as noted in "No White Foods Diet" in Nov. 23, 2009, issue of "International Business Times."
In the nothing white diet, you'll avoid all white plant-based foods, as these are usually high in sugar or starch, explains the "No White Foods Diet" article. The main culprits are foods containing white sugar or white flour. Other foods to avoid include potatoes, white beans, white pasta and white rice. The only animal products you should limit are butter and cheddar cheese, which are white until the manufacturer adds food coloring.
You're allowed to consume some white foods on the nothing white diet. You may eat eggs, including the egg whites, as well as milk, white meat chicken and white fish. Two white vegetables are acceptable--cauliflower and parsnips, according to "No White Foods Diet."
Colorful Foods
A wide variety of other foods is available for you to enjoy on this diet. Eat whole grains, such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-grain bread. All colorful vegetables and all types of fruit are allowed. Meat and seafood also are acceptable.
The nothing white diet has several advantages, as noted by DietsInReview.com. It does not have a complicated set of rules, does not require equipment and does not eliminate carbohydrates or all animal products. It is not difficult to follow when eating at a restaurant. In addition, unlike many weight loss diets, the nothing white diet is a healthy way of eating. White foods typically have the highest glycemic index, which tends to make people retain weight, particularly around the midsection. These foods also can eventually lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
The nothing white diet does not address portion control, a major problem with this diet, as noted by the "No White Foods Diet" article. For instance, the diet would allow several servings of whole-wheat pasta along with a large steak for a very high-calorie meal. In addition, some people may have a hard time giving up nearly all white foods for a long time. 
Also, no diet is as successful as it could be if it were paired with an adequate amount of exercise. So remember that when gauging your results.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/228807-the-nothing-white-diet/#ixzz0yNK0DeIQ

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brain Power

School has started, so we are all looking for a little more brain power. How often do you walk into a room and then realize you have forgotten why you walking in there in the first place? We could all use help memorizing, remembering and thinking more clearly. Here are some things you can do to help trigger more brain neurons, which will help your brain grow stronger in the long run.
1. Volunteer!
Stimulates: The prefrontal cortex, which analyzes, plans, and problem-solves
2. Work out
Stimulates: The hippocampus, which forms memories
3. Learn a skill
Stimulates: The intraparietal sulcus, which directs hand-eye coordination
4. Keep the weight off
As the number on the scale creeps upward, it's hard to imagine that anything's getting smaller, but extra pounds can actually shrink your brain.
5. Wiggle your eyes
Can't remember where you stashed your glasses? Try looking from side to side. Rapid horizontal eye movements cause the brain's two hemispheres to interact with each other more efficiently
6. Take a snooze
Here's why: New facts enter your brain like e-mails arriving in your in-box. And as your in-box can overflow over the course of a day, so can your brain. During sleep, your brain shuffles recently received data into storage, creating space for fresh info.
7. Eat brain foods—rich in B12, antioxidants, or essential fatty acid
Tomatoes, blueberries, salmon, kale, bananas, apples
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