Posts Tagged ‘health’

‘Tis The Season…To Get Sick

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Sure, you’re eating right and exercising daily and you feel great. You’re the healthiest you’ve ever been…until you come down with the cold or flu. Here’s how to deal.

The Best Foods to Eat

1.) Eggs are very high in zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for your immune defenses. Plus, they’re much more pleasant tasting than taking a zinc supplement. In addition they pack a nice protein punch, which is necessary for building antibodies and general immune function.

2.) Fermented foods. Foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and natural sauerkraut are rich in probiotics. Probiotics promote good bacteria in the gut, which can help fight the bad bacteria that makes you sick.

3.) Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which the body needs to make Vitamin A. It’s also high in Vitamin C. Both of these are key in boosting your immune system.

4.) Chicken soup. It may be cliche, but it’s for good reason. Chicken soup helps to fight the inflammation that occurs with the common cold as well as aiding the nasal cavity in keeping infections from entering the body. Chicken soup also usually contains onions and garlic, both of which have antiviral properties. But more on that later. Finally, as previously mentioned, protein is key in developing antibodies. So slurp away!

5.) Fatty fish. Salmon and other fatty cold-water fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also a great source of Vitamin D and deficiencies of Vitamin D have been linked to frequent sickness. Finally, they have heaps of protein.

6.) Nuts. Like fish, nuts are also a good source of omega-3s. In addition, different types of nuts are rich in different vitamins and minerals. Almonds are high in Vitamin E, cashews are high in zinc, brazil nuts are high in selenium, and pistachios are high in vitamin B6.

7.) Tea. Like chicken soup, it’s very soothing when you’re feeling sick. But it also packs important health benefits. In addition to their powerful antioxidants, one study suggests that most teas contain chemicals that prime the body for fighting bacteria and fungi that could make you sick. But avoid the heavy chai teas from Starbucks (they’re too high in sugar) and go for a plain green or herbal tea when you’re feeling less than optimal.

8.) Beef. Believe it or not, beef is an immunity powerhouse. Like eggs, it has high amounts of zinc and protein.

9.) Turmeric.This spice, found in curry dishes, contains curcumin which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for supporting the immune system. Studies are even beginning to advocate its importance in treating immune disorders.

10.) Water. It sounds self-explanatory, but I keep running into more and more people who “don’t like water.” Too bad. You should be drinking a lot of it all the time, but your body needs it even more when you start feeling ill. Fight dehydration and gulp away.

The Low-FODMAP Dilemma

So many of the foods that promote good immune functioning are no-no’s on the low FODMAP diet and may aggravate digestive issues. BUT I highly recommend eating them anyway when you feel sickness coming on. Of course, speak to your doctor first, but I’d personally prefer a day or two of stomach pain to a week or two of illness. In addition, when your immune system is compromised you’re more susceptible to further complications. These foods are great for fighting illness:

  • Garlic is a powerful immune system aid. It’s known for its antioxidants and is argued to be just as potent as some antibiotics.
  • Onions also contains antioxidants with antiviral properties. This makes them such an important component of chicken soup for fighting the cold.
  • Mushrooms help in white blood cell formation and general immune health.

What to Avoid

1.) Sugar. Instead of drinking orange juice, eat oranges. Sure the juice has vitamin C, but it’s at the cost of a much higher concentration of sugar, which may lead to inflammation and further weaken the immune system.

2.) Exercising. Your body needs rest. Sure you might be worried about your progress if you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight. But adequate rest is necessary so you can get back to the gym with full energy.

3.) Eating too little. Starving a fever is actually not the way to go. When you’re sick, your body needs even more calories to function normally because your metabolism speeds up. You need to give it adequate nutrition in order to get better.

What are your go-to remedies when sickness strikes?

Disclaimer: This is not intended to replace medical advice.

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5 Reasons You Should Watch ‘Hungry For Change’

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Image via ‘Hungry For Change’

Hungry For Change is a powerful documentary that you can now watch on Netflix. It talks about the food industry, the diet industry, and the rising obesity epidemic. I think almost everyone would benefit from watching it. Even if you’re familiar with the concepts/facts, they’re presented in a very inspiring way. I will say that it’s definitely not perfect. I didn’t like how some of it was very anti-meat/pro-juicing and some of their claims seemed a little less scientific than others. However, it was still a great and eye-opening film that I highly recommend. Here are some of my favorite points made throughout the movie.

1.) Food kills more people than drugs

This is pretty shocking to write out. But it makes sense if you think about it. Food and obesity-related diseases are one of the most common causes of death in America.

2.) 90-95% of people who go on a diet will gain it back plus some

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t diet. It’s destined to fail for so many reasons. I’d rather just live a healthy lifestyle always. The documentary cites a study performed by UCLA that found this statistic through a meta-analysis of 31 long-term studies.

3.) To lose weight, add food instead of taking it away

This seems counterintuitive, but hear them out. Most diets operate on the basis of eliminating certain foods and often even entire food groups (like the failed low-fat movement of the 80s and 90s). Hungry For Change suggests the novel idea of adding healthy foods instead of restricting yourself. When you restrict yourself, you’re going to want food even more than you did before. But if you eat enough fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, you’re going to be too full (and if you cook them right, satisfied!) to have much of the bad stuff. Plus, you won’t even be thinking about it.

4.) It’s not about willpower. Sugar is an addiction

I think this one is pretty powerful since so many struggle with binge-eating. The first part of the documentary really focused on how bad our society’s dependence on sugar is and how highly addictive (even comparing it to heroin) it can be. And it’s not just the obvious sugar from sweet treats. All processed food is filled with addictive chemicals. But if you can cut those processed foods out and eat real food, you’ll get to the point where you won’t crave the bad stuff anymore (I sure did!)

5.) We’re “overfed, yet starving to death”

This is so simple, but it really drives the point home. We’re always going to be “hungry” if we keep eating these processed foods without nutrients. Throughout most of history, people ate fairly low-calorie diets with a high percentage of nutrients. Now society lives on a high-calorie diet that’s near devoid of nutrients.

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Health and Fitness News You Missed This Week

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I read a ton of fitness/nutrition news every week so I figured why not share it all in one place? I don’t always agree with the findings and health research results are never black and white. Nonetheless, it’s always a fun read and you may just learn something new!

How much sugar is too much?

The FDA has declared a recommended cap of 50 grams of sugar a day for adults. In addition, they have plans to make nutrition labels start differentiating between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar. While I’m not a fan of processed foods in general, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Walking vs Running

A new study found that walking could actually be more beneficial for weight loss and weight maintenance than running. More proof that it’s simply not necessary to force yourself to be a running person.

“Skinny Fat” may be more deadly than obesity

The term “skinny fat” resurfaces and this time it’s deadly. Another study confirms that carrying weight around your midsection is dangerous for your health. This study also suggests that it could even be more dangerous for a skinny person with a fat stomach than a generally obese person.

Is working out harder really better?

Is our obsession with bootcamp and military style workouts healthy? Maybe not. While I don’t personally see anything wrong with it, this article makes a good point that you shouldn’t have to force yourself to do a workout you hate. You should find a workout you enjoy.

Do stronger legs mean a stronger brain?

A new study confirms previous findings that exercise works more than just your muscles. It can also improve brain health! Exercise your body and exercise your mind.

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Fitness Positivity: We ALL Work Hard

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It’s time for a bit of a rant, but I think it’s something that doesn’t get said enough.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I share how proud I am of myself and my progress and someone responds with, “But…you were always skinny.” Or if I’m showing someone my “before” photo and they say “But…you still weren’t fat.” I’m definitely not bragging in either situation and I don’t bring it up often. But sometimes I just want to share my excitement and get some support! How come it’s okay for a formerly overweight girl to post a before photo and get hundreds of comments of encouragement, but someone’s progress is smaller it goes unrecognized? I know that I should be proud of my own accomplishments and not need that recognition. And that’s all fine and good because I do this for myself. But sometimes, it would be nice! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

This brings me to another related pet peeve. And I think that all women who focus on fitness and nutrition probably get this. When I’m out and refuse to get dessert or eat something unhealthy, without fail, at least one person will make a comment. They’ll ask “Why do you need to diet? You’re so thin” or they might even go as far as to hint towards an eating disorder. First of all, I don’t diet, and I don’t think anyone should. I just try to eat healthy. And I do still indulge at least once a week. But if I were to indulge everytime someone said “It’s just one night,” I wouldn’t be so thin and I definitely wouldn’t be healthy.

And this goes both ways. There are plenty of people who work their asses off and don’t see results. Generally, this means they may not be doing something right (i.e.: too much cardio and not enough strength training), but other times it can be due to a medical condition that drastically slows metabolism. Either way, seeing someone who is overweight does not mean that they’re lazy! They could be working out every day while some thin girls don’t work out at all. You just never know!

Basically, don’t judge anyone else’s progress. Support everyone. Keep it positive.

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Beat Bloating: All About FODMAPs

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Get ready, this is going to be a very long and heavy post. For most of my life I’ve suffered from horrible bloating and stomach pain. Those were my primary symptoms and none of my doctors could figure out what was wrong or how to treat it. When I started really focusing on fitness and nutrition, it was so frustrating to have a bloated belly that hid all of the progress I had made! So I went for a lot of testing before my gastroenterologist suggested I try the Low-FODMAP Diet. Now, it definitely hasn’t “cured” me and I still have pretty bad bloating from time to time. But it’s a LOT better than it was before so if you have any type of digestive issues, talk to your doctor about giving it a go.

The Low-FODMAP Diet is One of the first scientifically based diets for IBS and other digestive issues. It can even potentially help those with stomach problems resulting from stress! It was developed by researchers at Monash University and they regularly perform new scientific studies and update their findings on what foods are and aren’t acceptable on the Low-FODMAP diet. Furthermore, a new study found that it can have long-lasting positive effects.

So what are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs: Fermentable, Oliogosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monsaccharides, Polyols

That’s just for those who are curious. I’m not going to get into the details of what that means from a scientific standpoint or how they can affect you, but you can read more about it here and here.

Most Common Triggers

See the full LONG list here, but these are some of the foods that many people have problems with:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Certain vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, artichokes, corn)
  • Certain fruits (apples, pears, peaches, watermelon)
  • Legumes
  • Gluten (most non-Celiac’s who have problems with gluten actually just have problems with FODMAPs)
  • Lactose
  • Sorbitol and artificial sugars (these are pretty deadly and should be avoided even if you don’t have digestive issues. Just eat real sugar!)

How does the Low-FODMAP Diet work?

Ideally, you spend 6-8 weeks on the elimination part of the diet, where you don’t eat any foods on the FODMAP list. This is followed by a reintroduction phase, where you reincorporate foods into your diet for 1-2 weeks at a time, one by one to see which foods may be safe for you personally. This is important because you may otherwise end up with nutrient deficiencies (which is also why it’s ideal to only go on this diet with the help from your doctor or a certified dietician.)

Is it hard?

At first, it was pretty difficult for me. I used to eat much more processed food than I do now. I also used to go out to eat more frequently, which is problematic since FODMAPs (especially onions and garlic) are hidden in almost every dish.

But as I’ve become more used to it, it’s become near second nature for me. Of course, there are still times I have to look up whether something is low-FODMAP or not, but for the most part I have it covered. I cook almost all of my food. When I do go out to eat, I usually have sushi. My favorite. If someone else picks the restaurant I usually stick with salad (with olive oil as dressing), or grilled chicken/fish with no sauce. Breakfast is pretty easy because I can just order an omelette, but I always have to double check that they don’t add onions or garlic (I’ve been burned before!)

It also gets a lot easier once you start reintroducing foods. Personally, I’ve found that I can tolerate small amounts of gluten and lactose quite well. So if I want to have a piece of milk chocolate, for instance, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve also found that I could add back avocadoes without a problem (thank God!) and small amounts of honey work well for me too.

What can I eat?

Here is the full list of Low-FODMAP foods (under the FODMAP list).

I was happily surprised to find that I can still have most cheeses since hard cheeses are so low in lactose. All meats are allowed so you only have to worry about what seasonings you use. And if you miss the taste of garlic in your home-cooked dishes, garlic-infused oil is actually okay because the fructans are water soluble.

Disclaimer:

This post is meant to be an informative introduction to FODMAPs. It is by no means exhaustive nor a scientific explanation. For more information, see a doctor or dietician. I also highly recommend reading as much as you possibly can on the subject.

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