Take Your Diet From S.A.D. To Glad!

Is your diet S.A.D.?

If you are a typical American and consume high levels of over-processed simple carbohydrates and refined sugars, then your diet is sad in more ways than one. The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is lacking in essential nutrients and therefore is the largest cause of obesity and death. Unfortunately, so many people fall victim to this way of eating for a reason- its usually cheap and convenient. They don’t call it “fast” food or a “value” mean for nothing! However, taking the easy route in the present is likely to lead to painful, expensive diet related chronic diseases in the not so distant future.

Do yourself a big favor and take your diet from S.A.D. to glad by eating whole, real, non-processed foods. Foods like fruits, veggies, and grains contain high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients, making every calorie worth something useful to your body. I am going to talk about 5 nutrients to add to your diet that will make your body happy and healthy!

1. Potassium is a nutrient that your body literally can’t live without. It keeps your heart beating and is linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Increased consumption of Potassium can shutterstock_208930381also decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease. The recommended daily intake of Potassium is 4700 mg in order to keep your nervous system and muscles functioning properly. Not consuming enough of this nutrient can lead to muscle cramps, constipation, and fatigue. Here are some helpful ideas on how to reach your recommended daily dose:

-One small baked potato with skin = 738 mg

-1 medium banana = 422 mg

-1 cup cooked spinach = 740 mg

-1/2 cup cooked beats = 259 mg

 

2. Calcium helps maintain healthy bones, assists in nerve transmission, and helps our blood clot. While Calcium is the most abundant nutrient in our body, our body doesn’t naturally produce it (meaning we need to get all that we need from our food and supplements.) shutterstock_208382878Not getting at least 1000 mg/day can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Try these snacks for reaching your daily calcium goal:

-1 cup collard greens = 357 mg

-1/4 cup diced Swiss cheese = 261 mg

-1 cup nonfat milk = 293 mg

 

3. Iron is an essential protein building block that is involved in everything from carrying oxygen through the body to building muscles. Women are more likely to suffer from a deficiency, which can cause fatigue, memory loss, muscle loss, and difficulties regulating body temperature. shutterstock_208672210The daily recommended intake of 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men can be a problem for vegans and vegetarians, since meat is higher in protein content. However, meat is not the only way to meet your daily Iron needs.

-10 clams = 2.62 mg

-1/2 cup edamame = 2.25 mg

-1 cup lentils = 3.3 mg

-4 oz beef sirloin steak = 2.4 mg

-1 cup cooked broccoli = 1.5 mg

 

4. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that we can both consume and make ourselves. Our bodies create Vitamin D in the form of a hormone when our bodies are exposed to sunlight. This nutrient is especially important to athletes because it can reduce inflammation/pain, risk of fractures, and increase muscle protein. shutterstock_208969237Even if you’re not an athlete, your body needs and uses Vitamin D to protect your bones, regulate cell growth, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help maintain correct levels of calcium. In order to get your daily recommended dose of 18 mcg, try:

-3 oz light canned tuna in water = 3.8 mcg

-1 cup fortified orange juice = 3.4 mcg

-1 cup fortified milk = 2.9 mcg

CHIA OMEGA + D3 supplement

 

5. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that moves throughout our bodies and helps to promote digestion, prevent constipation, and reduce cholesterol levels. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are important for our health. While insoluble fiber helps move food through the digestive system properly, soluble fiber can help lower glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. Dietary fiber is not found in processes grains like white flour, so an estimated 60% of Americans with S.A.D. diets typically are starving for fiber. shutterstock_209106397It is recommended that women consumer 25 g of fiber per day and that men consume 38 g. Make your sad diet glad:

-1/2 cup black beans = 6.1 g

-1 medium pear = 5.5 g

-1/2 cup fresh raspberries = 4 g

-1 medium baked sweet potato with skin = 3.8 g

How to Avoid Holiday Traffic… In Your Gut

With all of the traveling, eating, drinking, and celebrating that comes with the summer holidays, chances are you’re going to get stuck in more than one kind of traffic jam this weekend. While I can’t offer you any tips about how to stay out of traffic on the highway, I can give you some advice on how to avoid jam-ups in your digestive system. 3flg010USASo, if you prefer to experience fireworks and explosions from afar, not inside your belly, try the following tips for a happy and healthy Fourth of July:

  • Drink lots of water: It is easy to get dehydrated in the summer heat without even realizing it, and dehydration is one of the leading causes of constipation. Your goal should be to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day.

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  •   Keep your body moving: Exercise stimulates the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, thus aiding in elimination and detoxification. Try going for a 10 minute walk immediately after finishing a meal to assist the natural flow of digestion.

 

 

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  • Invest in a high-quality probiotic: Look for a non-freeze-dried probiotic that is dairy, gluten, soy, and egg free. shutterstock_193048010

 

 

 

  • Chew your food thoroughly: Rather than swallowing your Fourth of July hot dog or burger whole, take the time to completely chew your food. This will make for an easier digestion process and allow you to enjoy your food in the meantime.

 

 

  • Take a Epson salt bath: After wrapping up the day’s activities, give your body a chance to relax. A warm bath will relax your body (watch out for sunburns!) and the Epson salt will aid in a gentle detoxification. Soak for about 20 minutes.shutterstock_121099396

Happy Fourth of July… To Your Belly!

Freedom. Fireworks. Red, white, and blue. Hot dogs.

These are the first things that come to my mind when  I think about the Fourth of July. While the first three are all good fun, hot dogs can put a damper on your holiday without you even realizing it. In fact, some health experts claim that regularly eating hot dogs can be as harmful to your health as smoking cigarettes! Susan Levin, a nutrition education director, says that “Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps consumers understand the health risk.”hotdogespn

During the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, Americans will eat over 150 million hot dogs, which is enough to stretch from Washington D.C. to California over five times. ESPN will be hosting their annual hot dog eating contest, to see who can stuff the largest amount of hot dogs into their mouths within a certain amount of time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never understood why a hot dog eating contest is featured on a sports channel, the same channel that features the most in shape athletes in the world. But its the Fourth of July, and this is America after all, so I guess ESPN is free to show us people cramming their mouths full of saturated fat, sodium, and preservatives.

Lets look at the ingredients lists of the 4 most popular brands of hot dogs:

1. Oscar Mayer Wieners: Mechanically Separated Turkey, Pork, Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Contains less than 2% of Salt, Flavor, Sodium Lactate, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite

mechanically-separated-chicken-400x400The very first ingredient of “Mechanically Separated” should raise a red flag. In the process of mechanically separating meat, machines scrape the bones 100% clean of meat by passing leftover bones from the initial cutting through a high pressure sieve. This paste goes on to become the main ingredient in the majority of hot dogs.

The Sodium Nitrite listed on the ingredients list is a preservative used to expel bacteria from meat that can cause botulism. However, this chemical can have a carcinogenic side effect and cause cancer in young children and pregnant women. This is also why your hot dog has a pink/red color. Without it, the hot dog would be grey. Much less appetizing if you ask me!

Link for Link: 1 frank has 110 calories, 15% of the daily maximum saturated fat, and 340 mg of sodium (before condiments!)

 

2. Oscar Mayer Selects Angus Hot Dogsshutterstock_179227559Angus Beef, Water, Cultured Corn Sugar, Contains less than 2% of Dextrose, Salt, Cultured Celery Juice, Vinegar, Sodium Phosphates, Cherry Powder, Lemon Juice Solids, Flavor, Extracts of Paprika

While these ingredients appear better, and are for the most part, the “cultured corn sugar” and “celery juice” stand out. Cultured corn syrup is really just another name for high fructose corn syrup, which we know to be an ingredient that is best avoided. The celery juice is included to replace the nitrites, which is a better alternative yet not ideal.

Link for Link: 1 frank has 170 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat ( twice as much as the first option)

 

3. Applegate Natural Uncured Beef & Pork Hot Dogs:Beef, Pork, Water, Contains less than 2% of the following: Sea Salt, Paprika, Spices, Garlic, Onion, Celery Powder. Gluten & Casein free. “Beef & pork never administered antibiotics or animal by-products. Beef never administered added growth hormones. Vegetarian grain fed.”

This list of ingredients is much easier to understand. However, the word “Natural” in the name should be read with discretion. The USDA sets an unclear definition for “natural” only limiting it to being “minimally processed.” So far, this is the better quality hot dog out of the bunch.

Link for Link: 1 frank has 70 calories and only 2.5 grams of saturated fat

 

4. Yves Veggie DogsWater, Isolated Soy Protein, Vital Wheat Gluten, Natural Flavors, Salt, Wheat Starch, Evaporated Cane Juice Powder, Spices, Carrageenan, Vitamins & Minerals, Beet Powder, Paprika

Link for Link: 1 frank has 50 calories, barely any fat, but a high sodium count of 400 mg

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Hot Tips for Hot Dogs:

  • Make hot dogs an every now and then food and not a staple in your home
  • Choose based on the quality of meat
  • Look out for the presence of preservatives such as nitrites
  • Pay attention to the sodium count

 

If these facts encouraged you to try an alternative tasty treat this Fourth of July, check out these ideas:

1. Chicken Dogs: Marinate chicken tenders in light Italian dressing for 2 hours or overnight. Grill them until done and serve on whole wheat buns topped with honey mustard. Each one has less than 1/4 of the fat content of hot dogs, none of the saturated fat, and less than half the sodium!

2. Meatless Dogs: Go meatless! Top a hot dog bun with 1/4 cup of coleslaw and 1/2 cup baked beans for a sweet and savory combination that actually provides more protein than a traditional dog, as well as fiber!

3. Chicken or Turkey Sausage: More protein and meat than a traditional hot dog (3 ounces vs 1.5 ounces) and the fat content is lower too! Top it with grilled fruit for a zingy taste (try grilled pineapple salsa).

4. Seafood Dog: Make a shrimp roll instead! Peel and devein shrimp and toss into a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Grill until done and let it cool. Remove tails and mix with some nonfat plain Greek yogurt (about 1/4 cup of yogurt per 2 pounds of shrimp), a splash of lemon juice, chopped celery, and chopped chives. Serve with crisp lettuce on a hot dog bun. Fat content is well under half that of a traditional hot dog!

 

Not So(da) Fast

What’s a better cure for an afternoon crash or a more satisfying beverage on a  hot day than a refreshing, cold soft drink? Well actually, a whole lot of things. Before you pop the top on that Coke, Pepsi, or other soda, make sure you know the potentially harmful side effects of that fizzy drink. 

To put it simply, soda is nothing more than sugar water, and is devoid of any nutritional value. Not only are sodas lacking in any health benefits, but several studies have shown that they can actually cause detrimental effects on your health from head to toe (literally.) Let’s move from top to bottom of the body and take a look at what chugging that bubbly beverage is doing to your body.

 

1. Brain: shutterstock_189386849

An ingredient called Brominated Vegetable Oil is added to most sodas to prevent the flavoring from separating from the drink. Sounds safe, right? I mean, at least it has the word “vegetable” in it. However, BVO is also used as a chemical in flame retardants in plastics. “Chemical,” “flame-retardant,” “plastic”…. not things that you want going into your body. In fact, BVO has been known to cause memory loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large quantities. Once it is consumed, BVO builds up in body fat, possibly causing behavioral problems, infertility, and lesions on the heart muscles over time.

In addition to this possibly harmful chemical, sodas also contain copious amounts of sugar. A single can of soda is equal to 10 teaspoons of sugar, which causes blood pressure to sky-rocket and an insulin response to be produced. I encourage you to measure out 10 teaspoons of table sugar and imagine swallowing it within the same amount of time that it takes you to drink a can of soda. Chances are, it won’t be too appetizing. Too much sugar in the diet can decrease the production of brain chemicals (good chemicals) that help us learn, store memories, and process insulin.

 

2. Teeth:

shutterstock_189145892The effects of sugar on teeth are so prevalent, that dentists have a name for people who drink too much soda: “Mountain Dew Mouth.” Excessive sugar levels can cause cavities, plaque build-up, and gum disease, and the high levels of acid in soda corrode teeth almost as badly as drinking battery acid. Teeth aren’t the only bones affected by drinking colas. Likely due to phosphoric acid and caffeine, drinking sodas has also been linked to osteoporosis and bone density loss. Make no bones about it, sodas are potentially bad for your… bones.

 

 

3. Heart, Kidneys, and Lungs

All sodas contain phosphates (phosphoric acids,) a weak acid that gives cola its tangy flavor. While the phosphates boost profit margins for the soda companies by shutterstock_189589853lengthening the shelf-life of soft drinks, they can lead to heart and kidney problems, muscle loss, osteoporosis, and, according to one study, trigger accelerated aging. In a study conducted in 2010, the FASEB Journal found that the excessive phosphate levels in sodas caused lab rats to die 5 weeks earlier than rats who had normal phosphate levels. Increased levels of phosphoric acid have also been linked to kidney stones and other renal problems. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that diet sodas are any better… their consumption leads to DOUBLE the risk of kidney stones.

Sodas have even been linked to increased risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, and the more soda you drink, the more likely you are to develop asthma or COPD. These effects could be the result of a number of things, including the GMO’s found in the corn syrup used to make sodas.

 

4. Fat

When you think of the word “fat” most people picture a big gut. However, when it comes to sodas, we are talking about a lot more fat than just a bulge over your belt. In a study conducted by Danish researchers, people who drank one soda everyday for 6 months saw a 132-142% increase in liver fat, a 117-221% increase in skeletal fat, and a 30% increase in  both triglyceride blood fats and other organ fats. These types of fat build-ups are serious and an lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes. shutterstock_189843827

Now for your “classic fat”: Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center monitored 475 adults for 10 years and found that those that drank diet (yeah right!) soda had a 70% increase in waist circumference over the 10-year study compared with those who didn’t drink any soda. More than 2 diet sodas a day led to a 500% waist expansion. Yes, you read that right, five-hundred-percent! For some reason, when I drink a soda, I tell myself that I am saving calories by consuming a soft drink rather than a snack. Wrong! The single biggest source of calories for Americans are sodas, more so than Big-Macs, chocolate cake, or any other scrumptious high-calorie snack you can imagine. Drinking just one soft drink a day is the equivalent of 39 pounds of sugar in one year. If you wouldn’t consume that much raw sugar, why would you consume it when combined with other harmful ingredients?shutterstock_189972770

 

Tips For Quitting

Unfortunately, there are no “electronic sodas” or soft-drink patches to help you kick the habit. I have tried many times to quit cold-turkey, only to give into my craving within a few days. If this article doesn’t provide enough motivation for you to totally forgo soft drinks, here are some tips to help you cut back.

  • Don’t buy sodas at the grocery store. Its much easier to skip out on soda when you don’t have any in stock at your house. Even if you order one when you go out to eat, at least you aren’t mindlessly downing cans of them at home.
  • Drink sodas from glass bottles. Nearly all aluminum cans are lined with an epoxy resin (BPA), which is used to keep the acids in the soda from reacting with the metal. BPA is known to interfere with hormones and has been linked to everything from infertility, diabetes, obesity, and some forms of reproductive cancers. Try to stay away from plastic bottles as well, as they are not environment-friendly.
  • Try to only drink clear sodas, like Sprite and 7-UP. The artificial caramel coloring used to make colas contains two contaminants (2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole) which have been found to cause cancer in animals. In fact, just 16 micrograms a day of 4-methylimidazole is enough to pose a cancer threat, and each can of regular and diet sodas contain 200 micrograms!
  • If good ole H2O is just too plain for you to sip on all day, try mixing in a pack of Oxylent with your water bottle. This award-winning multivitamin supplement-drink contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and CoQ10. This yummy, naturally energizing drink mix contains no sugar, zero calories, and is 100% GMO free. Trust me, it even tastes better than a soft drink,and is available in many flavors.

 

It takes guts ® to quit drinking sodas!

Trending: MCT Oil

Last week, we talked about the Coconut Water trend and how it is a better alternative to sugary sports drinks or sodas. Chances are, you’ve also heard of Coconut Oil and its benefits for your teeth, hair, and skin. However, if Coconut Oil is the Quarterback of the “Health Trends Team”, MCT Oil is the Olympic gold medalist. Dr. Frank Lipman, an internationally recognized expert in the field of integrative medicine, explores the wonders of MCT oil in the following article.

 

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What Is MCT Oil? 
  MCT oil is derived from coconut and palm oil; its moniker stands for “medium-chain triglycerides,” which are naturally occurring fatty acids. They’re easily digested, rapidly used as energy, and metabolized quickly in the liver without being stored as fat. Unsurprisingly, MCT oil has been found to support fat-burning as well as weight management. Athletes commonly use it to enhance body composition (burning fat while building more muscle). 

This super-oil has also been shown to improve cognitive function, because it increases the body’s production of ketones, which are used as fuel for the brain. Plus, along with fat-burning and brain power, MCT Oil can boost the immune system and help fight bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.

 

MCT Oil Versus Coconut Oil: What’s The Difference? 
  MCT oil is derived from coconut (and palm) oil. Coconut oil contains about 60% medium-chain fatty acids, while these make up 100% of MCT oil. The latter is like a very concentrated version of the former — about six times stronger, but without the coconut flavor (MCT is virtually tasteless).

How Do You Use It? 
  Perhaps the most popular way to consume MCT oil is in Bulletproof Coffee — some people call it “rocket fuel” because it can give you so much sustained energy. To make it, blend one tablespoon of MCT oil and one tablespoon of grass-fed butter into your cup of Joe. You can also use MCT oil in your morning smoothie for a supercharged breakfast, or in sauces and salad dressings when you need a neutral-tasting oil. You can even cook with it (at temperatures below 320 degrees Fahrenheit, mind you)

How Much Should I Use? 
Start with one teaspoon and work your way up to a tablespoon. Too much MCT at once has been known to cause some digestive distress. If this occurs, take a few probioticsfb

Trending: Dry Brushing

Maybe you’re not as unfortunate, but the sight of my legs in a spring dress after a long, cold winter is a ghastly sight. As the weather heats up (or does for a day and then goes back to being freezing,) the thought of exposing my pale, bumpy, dry legs and arms gives me a mild panic attack. However, the ancient Greeks, a culture obsessed with beauty, may have just figured out a solution for this common (I hope) problem. drybrush2

If you’ve opened up any health or beauty magazine within the past year, you have most likely come across an article about “Dry Brushing.” Long story short, dry brushing is an invigorating exfoliation method that uses natural bristles to promote circulation and smooth the skin’s surface by sloughing off dead skin cells. Before it became a trend, many naturopathic doctors and aestheticians offered dry brushing as a service to help with bloating, since massaging the lymph nodes helps the body shed excess water and toxins. Like many other services that were previously only offered at a spa, you can now perform this service yourself in the comfort of your own home.

drybrush3 Your skin is your biggest organ, as well as your only visible one, so you want to make sure it is in tip top shape. Different people recommend different frequencies, but since dry brushing is said to help eliminate cellulite, I do it as much as possible, which is usually twice a day. “Hail damaged” thighs are the result of a combination of fat and connective tissue (and unfortunately, genetics.) By dry brushing the skin in long sweeps, starting at the ankles and moving upwards towards the heart, stagnant toxins that break down connective tissue (and lead to cellulite) are removed. However, cellulite is not the main reason you should be dry-brushing your skin. Here are some other reasons to give dry-brushing a try:

  • Buffs away dead skin
  • Boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage
  • Rids your body of toxins
  • Effectively opens up the pores on your skin
  • Promotes tighter skin, cell renewal, and blood flow
  • Aids in digestion and kidney function
  • Gives you a glowing, smooth complexion

While you shouldn’t get your hopes up too high and expect dry brushing to completely get your legs ready for warmer climates, its benefits are not something to ignore. Make sure you get a brush with natural, not synthetic bristles and that you’re not applying so much pressure that it hurts.

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Trending: Coconut Water

 This week, I am going to be talking about the latest trends in the Natural Products and Wellness industries. Over the past year, several trends have come and gone for natural products consumers, as the experts seem to be constantly changing their minds on what is really good for you and what is a hoax. Today we look at Coconut Water, which has come to be known as “Mother Nature’s sports drink.” Because it is low in calories, high in potassium, naturally fat (and cholesterol free), and thoroughly hydrating, the rising demand for coconut water has turned it into the latest health craze. Marketers and athlete endorsers promote the product as being able to help several conditions, from hangovers, to cancer, to kidney stones.
The following article is from Fooducate, a convenient health-tracking app you can download on your mobile device.
The Truth About Coconut Water

Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside the hollow center of a young, green coconut. It is not to be confused with coconut milk or cream, a liquid puree of the coconut meat. Coconut water is extracted from coconuts when the proportion of water to meat is highest.

The drink is very popular in central and south America, the Pacific Islands, and other tropical regions. Fresh coconut water is served directly from the fruit by cracking a small hole on top for a straw.

Coconut water has caught on strongly in the US, and is viewed by many as a viable alternative to sports drinks. An 8 fluid ounce serving of coconut water has only 45 calories, mostly from 2.5 teaspoons of naturally occurring sugar. A big benefit is the high potassium content – 500mg (equivalent to the potassium in a banana). Americans are deficient in potassium intake.

Various brands of coconut water tout themselves as all-natural energy drinks. They list health benefits such as electrolyte replenishment, alkaline balance, kidney cleansing, and more. Whether all these health benefits are true or not, coconut water beats Gatorade and other sports drinks because it has less ingredients, less chemicals (colorings), and less sugar.

However, water trumps them both. Unless you are working out for more than an hour, water and and a banana will do you just as good as any coconut water drink. And for less money too.

Bottom Line
Water trumps all for hydration. If you want a somewhat exotic sweet treat, try coconut water.

Supermarket tips
When buying coconut water, choose a product that lists only coconut water as its ingredient. Avoid products with added juices or flavors as they will add more sugars and calories to your beverage.
In conclusion, when you are craving a sweet drink and water just isn’t doing the job for you, grab a coconut water instead of a sports drink or a soda. Here are 5 additional reasons from MindBodyGreen to try out the latest health trend, Coconut Water:
Coconut Water
1. It prevents dehydration.
Coconut water helps maintain the body’s fluid levels and its potassium content helps maintain water pressure within cells and blood. In developing countries where clean water is scarce, coconut water can be life-saving and save people suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, or cholera.
2. It fuels your brain and muscles.
Due to its electrolyte content, coconut water improves nervous system function and nerve transmission. It also helps prevent muscle spasms and cramps.
3. It fights aging.
Coconut water contains a compound called cytokinin, which protects cells from aging and cancer.
4. It aids digestion.
Improves digestion and metabolism through bioactive enzymes. It can also aid the absorption of food
5. It supports immune function.
Its Lauric acid content is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It boosts the immune system in fighting infection whilst helping to eradicate intestinal worms and candida.