Time and again nutritionists/dietitians and physicians keep insisting on the advantages of eating fruits and vegetables, but their recommendations vanish at the blink of an eye, once we come across our favorite junk food. Not even a quarter of our population meet the vegetable/fruit intake recommendations. Catch hold of some simple ways to add more produce to your diet:
Our eyes are tricky as they insist us to eat what we see in our kitchen cabinets or dining tables. We buy what we see at the shop. The key to a healthy weight is to stock healthy foods at home while avoiding the purchase of unhealthy foods such as cookies or sodas. So, it all melts down to a single issue-shopping.
Cooking healthy food at home is impossible without the right nutritious ingredients at home. But most of us don’t have the time or patience to go through the Nutrition Facts label of each of the foods that we plan to buy. The best way to approach this problem is to create a shopping list of all -the items needed during the weekend and then purchase only those items in the list.
What do You Shop For?
Don’t go to a warehouse-kind store as much as possible as these shops lure the customers with combo packs and big offers. We end up purchasing too many items resulting in overeating. The guidelines given here may help you choose the right foods and shop responsibly to stay healthy.
Certain foods should not be purchased without reading the food labels. The most misleading words on a food label are “natural” and “pure”.
Sodium is bad for health. Sodium raises your blood pressure levels. Too much sodium in your foods paves way for many other diseases as well. These are some of the often-heard comments on sodium. This list is never ending and could go pages and pages.
Sodium is always under limelight for its adverse action on blood pressure levels, which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death worldwide. Almost one billion people are affected with high blood pressure globally with 32.5% of Indian men and 31.7% of Indian women suffering from hypertension.
What is Sodium & Why is it Needed?
Sodium is a mineral which our body needs to function properly. It helps to maintain fluid levels in the body, aids in the proper functioning of nerves and muscles and for our body to work effectively. But too much of this mineral can result in big problems. Dietary guidelines recommend taking not more than 2.3 grams of sodium every day. When a person crosses this maximum limitation, blood vessels pull water into them, raising the volume of blood flowing through them. High blood pressure can:
The main culprits are not our everyday homemade foods, but the prepared and processed foods available at supermarkets and restaurants. Pizzas, sandwiches, breads, rolls, cold cuts and meats, poultry and soup are primarily to be blamed for very-high sodium levels. The reason is now very clear for the high sodium levels in children too. Several manufacturing companies and hotels have come forward to reduce sodium levels in their food preparations and some of them have already taken initiatives to do so.
On the other hand, certain people working in extreme heat or suffering from a certain illness need to maintain sodium levels higher than the rest of the population. A registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com is the right person to plan a diet altering sodium levels depending on the person’s health condition (2.3 grams for a normal person. 1.5 grams for a person with hypertension and a little more than 2.3 grams in case of people working in extreme heat or suffering from certain illness).
Diabetes can bring ample stress along with it and finding ways to keep your mind and body at peace can contribute to a sense of security. Save yourself before the stress becomes distress with these techniques mentioned here:
Weighing only 1.5 kilograms (approx.), the brain is the root of human intelligence. This walnut-shaped organ works like a computer processing the information received from the body and sending messages back to the body. But it is the emotions and thinking capability that add invaluable worth to this tiny organ making it very different from a computer. Young or old, you need to protect your brain health. It might be to sharpen your intelligence quotient in the case of young people or prevent conditions like dementia in the case of old people. Like the muscles and bones in the body that need exercise to stay fit, your brain needs physical as well as mental workouts to stay in shape.
Numerous studies have linked increased exercise routines with decreased rate of dementia. Living an active life is the best present you can gift yourself and your loved ones. Regular cardiovascular exercise increases heart rate and blood flow to the brain and body. Even yoga or swimming can boost brain functionality.
Save your Heart
Risk factors (obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes) for heart disease and stroke affect brain health too. When you take care to keep these risk factors under control, you can be sure of a safe heart and a safe brain.
Stay Connected with the Society
Reading makes you think. Thinking activates your brain. Read a book, magazine or join any course you are interested to pursue. There is no age limit to learn. Education at any stage can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. You can even have a friendly chat with your friends, discuss latest news and review a movie together. Conversations trigger thinking as you are forced to consider what you say or do. Being among people reduces the time you spend in isolation or depression, both of which are associated with lower brain function.
Be a part of an NGO, join a local choir if you love singing or help students after school in their academics if you love teaching. Involve yourself in whatever interests you to stay socially connected and improve brain health.
Play Games & Solve Puzzles
Practice any hobby that interests and challenges you. Chess is a game of brains and playing chess triggers your cognitive abilities. You can even solve a sudoku, a jigsaw puzzle or do something artistic to activate brain cells. There is nothing wrong in winning or losing. What you gain are long-term benefits on your brain health.
Don’t be Depressed
Certain studies reveal that depression is associated with reduced cognitive functionality. Never hesitate to ask help if in case you suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental concerns. Stay away from stress as much as possible.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep has become the least important thing in our lives nowadays. Most adults don’t get the required amount of sleep (6 to 8 hours) every night and suffer from poor brain functionality every now and then. Insufficient sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea can end up in memory-related problems.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eat a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy with restricted intake of added sugars, sodium and unhealthy fats to avoid cognitive decline. Vitamin D is said to be associated with brain health. Get a healthy dose of sunlight and eat vitamin D-rich foods to pump up vitamin D levels in your body. To be completely assured of a healthy diet plan, you can get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com who can plan an individualized diet plan suiting your requirements.
Smoking is associated with increased risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce this risk.
The often-quoted response given for missing out workout sessions is lack of time. Many of us multitask between different things: family, work, health and other things. We set personal goals for each of these things, but mostly fulfill only workplace and family goals while health takes a backseat. To curb thing, we do take an oath every new year or on our birthdays to allocate sufficient time for health, but this fades away in due course of time. Time management is the best way to overcome these failures and help you succeed in your health goals as well.
Be specific about the goal
Losing weight might be the top priority, but there are also other concerns such as increasing muscle mass, changing eating habits or losing belly weight, etc. Target a specific goal and work towards that goal. When you are unsure about the goal, there is no way to succeed in your endeavor. With hard-set goals, you can fulfill the day’s workout requirements even between your hectic work schedules and other things.
Start from reverse and work backward. If your goal is to gain muscle mass, decide how much time you need for this and create a timeline. Do the same for your other goals as well, such as weight loss or even for your office goals.
Question Yourself on the Next Step
Once you are clear about your goal and the time-period for the goal is also decided, start planning on how you are going to achieve your target. For instance, losing weight needs changing eating habits, working out and sleeping right. Next, tackle each of these steps individually. Changing eating habits needs restructuring your kitchen cabinets, changing grocery lists and adopting healthy menu ideas. Physical activity can be walk, working out at the gym or learning exercises that can be done at your home. Sleeping right needs a calm mind and relaxing hours of sleep during the night. You can form a timeline for each of these steps and work individually on each of these goals. This way, you get a clear picture on your requirements and also on your performance. If you are stuck up getting started on your health targets, it is better to meet a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to help you achieve them.
Allocate Timeslots for Each of Your Health Goals
Plan your workouts, trips to the grocery store and even sleeping hours in the same way you plan your doctor’s appointment and stick to it. Workout sessions can be repeated at the same time every day. Tag a friend along who can motivate and support you. For shopping, it is better to create a list in advance to avoid picking things out of temptation. This saves time and extra calories too.
Keep Basics Ready
As you have planned your grocery shopping list, you are aware of your meal plans and it is better to get the basics done a few times a week to save time. Chopping vegetables, getting the tomato puree ready or grinding the required powders in batches saves time and helps you focus on your other things as well.
Use your Saved Time
If cooking is done early, kids are out to play or if you have completed work at office prior end time, make use of this precious time to achieve your goal. You can take a walk at your office, do a few exercise workouts at home or meditate for some time to sleep well at night. Looking at the broader scenario, we might feel that we don’t have much time. But, breaking your goal into smaller ones gives you enough time to complete your tasks.
At the end of the week, take out your goal list and tick off your targets one by one. This will give you an idea about the following week. Do these goals need any change? Are your workout plans progressive? Is your grocery list leaving you with cravings? Answering these questions gives you clarity and energy to plan again for the upcoming week and get back right on track.
Setting goals, working towards them with diligence and clarity and not stopping until your goals is achieved is the secret mantra to success. Hurdles are practical and there is no way that one can work towards his/her targets smoothly. How you handle these hurdles and come out of it successfully is the main concern.
World Food Day is celebrated every year on October 16th to honor the founding of the United Nations Organization in the year 1945. The theme for 2017 is ‘Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development’. This is one of the days of paramount importance in the UN calendar and different events are organized in over 150 countries worldwide, including India. The events organized revolve around the main theme of hunger, worldwide awareness and actions for those suffering from hunger and the steps necessary to ensure food security and nutrition for people living in this planet.
This day is a great opportunity to showcase our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 to reach our target of Zero Hunger by 2030. The ‘Zero Hunger’ goal discussed elaborately in the website www.firsteatright.com is critical to end food scarcity.
Is there A Need for A Special Day to Focus on One of the Basic Necessities of Life?
While food, water, clothing and shelter are basic necessities of life, many people lack even all of these. Hence, a day to spread awareness on food and its role on leading a healthy life becomes a matter of concern.
Ideally anything that is termed to be edible should be digestible. But our current sedentary lifestyle, food processing and preparation methods makes food unpredictable and our stomach does not react in the same way to every food that we eat. Our body needs continuous energy supply to perform activities and food is the primary source of this energy. While eating certain foods such as fatty mean and certain spices can upset our tummies, there exists certain other foods that can aid in digestion. Given here is a list of foods that not only aid in digestion but also keep harmful bacteria moving through the system.
Nutrients such as probiotics, fiber, fat and water work with foods to keep the body up and running while certain other nutrients such as ginger have more of mythology and folklore than actual scientific evidence behind their effectiveness.
The Friendly Bacteria: Probiotics
Our human gut houses millions of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics belong to the good bacteria category and play a role in all digestive health benefits. It helps to manage IBS, traveler’s diarrhea, bloating and constipation. Yogurt, a common source of probiotic, contains some of these healthy bacteria. Not all yogurt varieties are helpful and you should look for the ‘active and live cultures’ label before purchasing yogurt to serve your purpose. Common ones that aid in digestion include plain, regular or Greek yogurts. Greek yogurts have several other advantages in their kitty and these are available at the website www.firsteatright.com.
Just like the good and bad bacteria in the human gut, eating good and bad fats shows its effects. Cut down on greasy and fried foods such as chips, burgers and French fries that are hard to digest and can cause stomach pain and heartburns. On the contrary, eating balanced portions of healthy fats not only helps in digestion but also is essential for a healthy diet. Good fats such as lean meat, avocados and plant oils (olive, corn, etc.) work with fiber and water to maintain a clean intestinal system and absorb vitamins.
Our body requires fiber to help in digestion and promote the efficiency of probiotics. The specialty of fiber is that, unlike all other foods, fiber is not absorbed by the body but pushed through the body in several forms to maintain a healthy and clean digestive tract. Fiber can be soluble or insoluble and each type serves a different purpose. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and passes through as a gel while insoluble fiber cannot dissolve and helps to push food through the digestive system promoting bowel movement and preventing constipation. Oats, fruits and certain vegetables contain soluble fiber that help lower cholesterol and control diabetes.
Drink plenty of fluids, primarily plain water. Fiber cannot do its job properly without the help of water and can lead to constipation if left without enough water content. A portion of the water consumed is used to move the waste out of the digestive system and the rest goes to the large and small intestines along with other nutrients. Water also helps to soften foods so that the body can absorb the nutrients.
Since ages, ginger has been used worldwide to aid in digestion and settle the stomach. Till date, no research study has been able to pinpoint a certain element or reason for ginger’s healing properties. But numerous tests that have been conducted to test the efficiency of ginger on nausea and gas have given positive results. People who participated in this test commented that they had decreased gastric trouble-causing symptoms.
Food is the reflection of our health. Our human digestive system is complex and makes maximum effort to operate smoothly. The beauty here is that, foods that aid in digestion are the same ones that are needed for a healthy diet. Eat a healthy mix of all good foods and maintain a well-balanced diet to promote body functioning to the maximum potential.
Humans need energy for any activity and we get this required energy from three macronutrients- fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Protein is critical for cell turnover, antibody production and to maintain fluid balance in the body. Just because protein is used to build and rebuild muscles, young athletes and many others are carried away by wild imaginations that protein is all that is enough to build muscles. Individuals often assume, “a little is good, so a little more must be better.” But in reality, excess protein intake is stored as fat reserves and leads to weight gain.
Protein requirements vary depending on various factors such as age, health status and even stress:
Is There a Need for Supplements?
In general, an average man or woman consumes more than the required quantity of protein. Even athletes can fulfill protein requirements with healthful diet plans nullifying the need for any supplements. Get the complete list of everyday foods rich in protein from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Energy Provided for Longer Hours
Every nutrient takes different time periods for digestion and our body takes longer time to digest proteins, helping to burn calories. Theoretically, when an individual consumes more proteins, they feel full for longer time periods. This satisfaction helps in weight-management techniques as individuals consume less food later.
Balance Multiple Nutrients
One nutrient cannot satisfy all requirements of our body. Although protein helps in different functions and is required in different quantities by different individuals, an individuals’ health is dependent on many other factors such as lack of sleep, stress, insufficient healthy foods and lack of exercise. A proper balance of all these factors promotes good health in an individual
‘Detox’ and ‘cleanse’ are the latest trend in nutrition. While everyone is using either of these words, no one is aware of the exact meaning of them.
Detoxification Process in our Body
The process of detoxification is done continuously by our body using the core nutrients from the diet we consume. Unwanted molecules or “toxins” are removed from the body. These molecules fall under two categories namely: molecules formed inside the body as a byproduct of metabolism (endotoxins) and those brought into the body by actions such as eating, drinking and breathing or absorbed through the skin (exotoxins).
Lactic acid, urea and waste products formed by microbes in the gut fall under the category of endotoxins while environmental toxins, pollutants, pesticides, mercury in seafood, lead from car exhaust and air pollution, chemicals in tobacco smoke, dioxin in feminine care products, phthalates from plastic and parabens from lotions and cosmetics are included under the category of exotoxins.
Medications are metabolized and excreted and this can also be called as detoxification. Toxins are hazardous to human health and must be expelled out of the body in the form of urine, feces, respiration or sweat. The ability to detoxify depends on an individual and is influenced by factors such as the environment, diet, lifestyle, health status and genetic factors. These factors suggest that certain individuals need more detoxification support than others. But when the amount of toxins present in an individual’s body exceeds his/her capacity to excrete, the toxins accumulate in fat cells, soft tissues or bone and affect the individual’s health. This is where the use of practices that support the body’s detoxification capability come into picture.
The core principle of any detox program is to remove processed foods and allergic/sensitive foods (dairy, eggs, gluten, peanuts and red meat) from an individual’s eating pattern and include more of organically grown vegetables, fruit, whole gluten-free grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein in the diet plan. Some other detoxification programs recommend fasting to get rid of the unwanted waste in our body. But this process is quite risky as it may only suppress the detoxification pathways in the body and hence, is opposed by many dietitians/nutritionists.
As detoxification is a tricky process that includes different methods, it may pose health hazards to some people (for example, individuals with multiple maladies, those under multiple medications and pregnant or breast-feeding women). So, it is critical to work with a well-versed health professional/dietitian who can understand your body profile and chalk out a detoxification program that is safe and effective for your health profile. To work with such integrative and functional nutritionists/dietitians, visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Steps to Promote our Body’s Natural Detox Process
Detoxification plan need not be an exacting one. Use some of these tips given below for detoxification purpose:
We always have zillion reasons to refrain from healthy food and regular exercise. For instance, if you always look back at the person trying to catch you in a game of running and catching, you will surely lose pace and get caught. Likewise, if you look only at the “cant’s” to avoid exercise, you are sure to fail. Energy flows where your attention goes. Giving attention to obstacles involved in exercising allows for a negative energy flow and prevents any energy flow to the spirit of physical activity.
There are endless reasons you give yourself to avoid exercise/getting in shape/eating healthy. You lose your chance of seeing what you can do when you focus on the cant’s. Very busy people sometimes find time to squeeze in 30-minute exercise sessions which is not done by not-so-busy people because of their mindset. It all depends on the perspective every person has towards life’s challenges and goals. If we want to do something, we are sure to find reasons and time to accomplish it.
Let’s look at a list of common “cant’s” people lamely give to avoid following a healthy lifestyle and practical tactics to overcome it:
I can’t exercise because…
“….my life is just upside down and I need to set right things.”
Life is full of surprises and you would always feel stressed. Once you begin to accept crazy things as your normal day-to-day events, you can go ahead with doing what you want, even if it is only going to be for a few minutes in a day.
“…. I’m not in town for a couple of weeks.”
Staying at a hotel with gym can help you do your workout. Walking is the simplest exercise form and all you need for this is the right mindset and road/park to walk.
“…. I’ve sprained my ankle.”
You can work on your upper-body parts or do simple exercise movements on your lower body parts such that it does not disturb your sprained ankle. If you suffer from any major illness or pain, it is better to get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to plan customized meal plans and exercise routines to suit your body type.
“…. it’s just not my cup of tea.”
Even rearing children is not every person’s cup of tea. But almost all of us do it because we set our minds so. If you believe that it is worth the effort, you would automatically find energy to do so.
“…it’s the holiday season and my house would be packed with guests.”
Holiday plans are decided beforehand and it is no surprise that you may have visitors during the holiday season. Guests would not get angry or feel bored without your presence for some 60 minutes or so.
I can’t eat healthy food because…
“…my family members don’t like healthy food.”
Your health should not be at stake just because your husband, wife or children don’t like salads or fruits. Start eating nutritious foods and your family members are sure to follow suit and help you in your venture to good health.
“…I simply hate fruits/vegetables/water.”
Humans started their life eating raw fruits/vegetables and human nature is to never hate things that help them to sustain life. Try to figure out at least one single fruit/vegetable that you like/don’t dislike and start eating it. The main point is to keep trying repeatedly. We often have the tendency to quit after trying once. We try smoking or drinking alcohol and hate it initially, but we keep trying again and again until we start liking it because we want to. Why can’t we apply the same logic to healthy foods too?
“…I love to snack on junk foods.”
Eating a candy, French fries, donut or ice cream is not a sin. Eating healthy doesn’t mean staying totally away from these things. Our body needs all nutrients in balanced proportions. Eating these junk foods continuously can erode our health.
“…I don’t know to cook.”
Just learn it. When you are so eager to learn new things at office to please your boss, why not please your own body by learning healthy things to cook and eat? Watch a few online videos and try simple dishes. You may add more salt or cook with less taste initially. But, you can cook as per your wish with less oil, more health and goodness.
Opportunities are everywhere. If they don’t come knocking at your door, you just need to go in search of them. They can also be within an obstacle if we look at them with our eyes wide open. Next time you start your list of cant’s, try changing one of the “cant’s” into “can” and work on it. Even if it is a minute change, it is still a positive change in the right direction. Changing all your “cant’s” into “can’s“ is sure to happen over time and you can benefit from good health.
Every year, certain foods are hyped and they don’t long withstand the publicity created. We have seen it in the case of fat-free cakes, sugar-free cookies, cabbage soup diet, master cleanse diet and so on. Individuals following these diets consumed minimal calories and put on even more weight after finishing the diet plan. Please avoid such foods as they are not worth the effort or money spent. But there are three foods that have lived up to the hype created around them.
The United Nations had declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses (dry beans, lentils, chickpeas and beans). What more reason do we want to give paramount importance to these foods? Packed with protein, flavour and nutrients, pulses are healthy and affordable. They can grow in any kind of environment, benefit the soil in which they grow and can grow even in the most water-scarce areas as they are water-efficient.
The main reasons for pulses to win the food of the year include:
Although, Indians have been using turmeric in their food preparations for more than 4,500 years, this yellow anti-inflammatory spice has become a food buzzword in other cultures sometime recently. Chefs all over the world don’t hesitate to use this bitter spice in their signature curry and stew preparations. Even food producers and packaging people never fail to include turmeric as a key ingredient in snacks like puffed rice, chips, turmeric lattes and teas. Nutritionists/dietitians couldn’t ask for more and people are whole-heartedly using turmeric in meals for its array of benefits and flavour.
Curcumin, the key ingredient in turmeric, is considered to have healing properties, slows cell damage that occurs automatically as a person ages and controls inflammation which plays a key role in diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Turmeric is also said to relieve joint pain caused due to rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis and also helps to ease digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease. Even at home, people are advised to include turmeric milk or consume turmeric in any form to alleviate stomach-related problems. One easy way to consume turmeric is to make your own turmeric latte by mixing nut milk (almond milk) with juiced turmeric root.
A favourite in Japan, this sea vegetable is no longer restricted to sushi or miso soup but has been included to flavour various foods and is a healthy snack replacement for chips. Key reasons to include seaweed in your meals include:
Diabetes can be controlled or prevented with regular, moderate exercise. While Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, type 1 diabetes can be controlled. But what about more intense physical activity such as endurance sports (marathons or triathlons)? Improve body mass index and blood glucose levels and decrease occurrence of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) with a combination of physical exercise and good nutritious foods while participating in endurance sports.
Gather all the Essentials
Diabetes occupies extreme priority in the case of sports persons. Consult with a diabetes doctor regarding an insulin pump, continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and pre-training medical testing. Also set a safe blood glucose range for training and competing. After getting all the pre-requisites from your doctor, meet a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in sports and diabetes care.
Take care to stay away from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) before, during and after endurance training. For blood sugar levels between 70 and 100 mg/dl before exercise, you can snack on foods that contain 15 grams of carbohydrates. If the exercise duration exceeds 60 minutes, additional carbs might be required to maintain blood sugar levels in a safe range. Make sure of the following facts before starting any endurance sport:
All meals and snacks planned should revolve around your blood glucose targets and depending on the response levels, food adjustments should be made. Carbs should be incorporated in meals throughout the day along with sufficient lean protein and healthy fat. Along with this, certain patients may require insulin doses, which should be done only under the supervision of a physician.
Eat a carbohydrate snack exactly 30 minutes after exercising to prevent hypoglycemia but this does not guarantee low blood sugar levels as these can happen even hours after exercising. Consume a balanced meal after two hours of exercise and keep checking your blood sugar levels constantly.
Every diabetic individual needs a different fueling strategy when it comes to endurance sports. The right person to help you develop a customized meal plan according to your sports activity would be none other than an RDN. So, get in touch with RDNs specializing in sports nutrition at www.firsteatright.com immediately.
Thousands of food items are introduced every year and we are baffled by the choices that are added continuously. We are piled up with contrasting information on health and nutrition every time that it has become a strenuous task to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy foods. Listed here are the top five supposedly called ‘healthy’ foods that are not good for our body and should definitely be avoided in the case of people who want to lose weight.
We often hear recommendations on eating the whole fruit instead of the juice form. Whole fruits are loaded with fiber and help you stay full for longer time periods. When we squeeze the fruit to make juice, the pulp and the peel get removed and more than half the fiber content is lost. The fruit juices you get outside are much more worse as they are loaded with sugar which adds calories but never fill your tummy. Enjoy the crunchy and fresh whole fruits to reap their complete benefits.
Basically, granola is a grain with added sugar and fat. Most manufacturers prepare granola bars by adding plenty of refined grains, sweeteners and fats to make it tasty, thereby negating any positive health benefits it may have. Make your own homemade granola bars using whole grains to make them fiber-rich and filled with flavor. Never ever let a granola bar in the supermarket tempt you. By picking one, you are eating one of the most calorie-rich snacks.
Although your veggie chip bags show attractive pictures of colorful vegetables, these are, in reality, French fries in disguise. Most of the vegetable chips are different versions of potato starch. Although, potatoes are vegetables, deep frying and adding salt to them negates their nutritional value. For real veggie chips, chop your favorite vegetables, sprinkle them with olive oil, add salt and finally bake them for authenticity.
Multi grain breads are mostly made from refined flour and not whole grains. Check the packet for words such as ‘unbleached enriched wheat flour’ or ‘bleached’ that indicate the presence of refined grains. Only buy the ones that list whole grains as their first ingredient. Get the knack of reading the Nutrition Facts Label from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Yogurts are actually good for health, but only the plain and unsweetened ones. Not all yogurts are equal but are packed with added sugar. Fruit and flavored yogurt contain ample sugar and are never recommended. If they had contained real fruits, these would be rich in fiber and considered healthy. Prepare your favorite fruit yogurt by adding real fruit to real yogurt to add some nutrients into your body.
Nutrition is everything. Healthy bodies are active bodies and cooperate in every possible way to make your workout sessions worth every drop of sweat expelled. All of us are concerned about the foods that can be taken before a workout. But, the foods that should not be taken before a workout should be of equal concern too. No food is dangerous or unhealthy. It all depends on the timing and quantity. While the right foods in the right quantity can ‘up’ your workout quotient, the wrong foods at the wrong time can decrease performance.
Any healthy eating plan is not complete without the key nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. Registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com plan diets that provide an individual with the adequate number of calories and macronutrients depending on the client’s lifestyle, training intensity and duration. Any pre-workout food should be carb-rich with small amounts of proteins and fats. Such foods provide the individual with sustained energy all through the workout session. While it may sound simple, it is not so easy to follow as foods are deceptive. Foods that may seem to be healthy and good for the body can react negatively when consumed before a workout. An RDN is the right person to guide the individuals on the foods that should be completely avoided before a workout session.
Some of the top-most foods that ought to be avoided before a workout include:
Potatoes maybe a good source of energy, but don’t try to grab a packet of French fries before you hit the gym. While deep-fried snacks can slow you down, even healthy fats such as almonds and avocados can make you feel sluggish. Exercising after eating such foods can make your session tiresome. Fats take longer time to convert into energy and tend to reside in the stomach when compared to carbs. This is the reason for your sluggishness and lethargy. Although good fats are an essential part of an effective diet plan, trying to consume them just before a workout is a bad idea as they don’t provide you with instant energy.
Vegetables and fruits are great for health, but not just before a workout. Eating a bowl of colorful veggies might sound like a good idea, which actually is not. Lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and other high-fiber vegetables can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort during the workout. Even many fruits and whole grains prove to be difficult for digestion before a workout. Easily digestible fruits such as bananas or whole-wheat toast and crackers are favorable pre-workout snacks that provide the body with the essential carbohydrates to rev up energy.
Gulping down sports drinks and juices might sound to be fashionable and an easy source of energy. But this energy is short-lived and dies away even before the workout is half completed. These on-the-go snacks such as smoothies, energy bars or shakes, even those prepared at home, are high in sugars and must be completely avoided. It is essential to check the Nutrition Facts label to avoid such high-sugar options that can increase/decrease the energy levels rapidly.
Choose the Best
Eat simple yet energy-rich snacks such as:
The attractive red color found in tomatoes or guavas are the magical work of a chemical called ‘lycopene.’ A naturally occurring red carotenoid pigment, lycopene is found in watermelons, pink grapefruits, pink guavas, papayas and apricots being present specifically higher in tomatoes and tomato products. It can also be present in foods that don’t have the red coloring in them, for instance, asparagus and parsley.
Lycopene has been studied extensively for more than 70 years with thousands of articles published in renowned journals till date.
What is the Need for Lycopene?
Individuals consume lycopene to prevent heart disease, hardening of the arteries and several types of cancers. Some others also use lycopene to treat cataracts and asthma.
While the effects of this chemical have been studies with respect to numerous diseases, there is insufficient and inconclusive evidences to support the effectiveness of lycopene in these diseases. Lycopene has been found to be possibly ineffective for bladder cancer and diabetes. Insufficient evidences to rate effectiveness in other diseases include:
Heart disease: Certain research works show that women with increased lycopene levels in their blood are at a decreased risk of heart disease. Other researches prove no direct link between lycopene and heart disease in women.
Cancer: Although early research and certain evidences support that higher levels of lycopene are associated with lower risks of cancers such as breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and kidney cancer, the effect of lycopene on these diseases is inconsistent. We are unable to arrive at a conclusion certainly as many other researches negate the effectiveness of lycopene on cancer.
High Cholesterol: While early research showed that taking specific lycopene supplements daily for 6 months lowered total cholesterol and LDL levels while increasing HDL levels, other evidences don’t support the same.
High Blood Pressure: Early evidence proved that taking lycopene products daily for 8 weeks lowered blood pressure in people with high BP. But certain other evidence does not support this fact.
Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection: Women with increased lycopene levels in blood recover faster from cancer-associated HPV infection than other women.
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis): Certain evidence shows that higher levels of lycopene are associated with lower risk of hardening of the arteries. Early evidence also supports the lowered risk of heart disease due to thickening of the arteries with high levels of lycopene. But, there appears to be no link between lycopene levels and stroke risk.
Lycopene is also not said to lower the risk of certain other diseases such as cataracts, gingivitis, brain tumor, menopausal problems, pelvic pain, high blood pressure during pregnancy and sunburn. Further research and evidence are needed to confirm the effectiveness of lycopene in curing these diseases.
Is Lycopene Compatible for Everyone?
Lycopene can be assumed to be safe when taken in quantities commonly found in foods. But lycopene supplements are considered to be usually unsafe as they can lead to premature births and low-birth-weight babies. Individuals with prostate cancer are recommended to avoid consuming lycopene as research suggests that it can worsen the illness.
Although the appropriate dose of lycopene depends on a person’s age, usage and other health conditions, there is no scientific evidence suggesting the appropriate dosage. Although a natural product, it is safe to consume it in average quantities to avoid side effects. Consult your physician before you start taking lycopene or its supplements.
A healthy diet plan with physical activity can help reduce the risk of many diseases. You can get in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to plan customized diets suiting your medical condition for speedy recovery or control of the disease.
Certain sports need adding weight while certain other sports such as rowing and wrestling demand the athlete to reduce a few kilograms to be competition-ready. Weight loss in very short time durations is not healthy and is never recommended for young athletes.
Few athletes believe in increased performance with weight loss, but rapid or very fast weight loss actually decreases the performance. Extreme exercising hours or dieting uses the stored muscle fuel and there is no energy left out in the athlete when it is time for the competition. Extreme dieting also leaves you with insufficient levels of certain nutrients such as carbohydrates. Fasting too makes you dehydrated with loss of strength and stamina.
Short-cut ways of losing weight such as wearing a rubber suit, sweating it out at the sauna or taking diuretics can lead to dehydration. Dehydration, along with weight loss, has a negative effect on the performance of the athlete. Studies prove that an athlete weighing 68 kilograms who loses 1.4 kilograms through sweat experiences cramping, early fatigue and blunted athletic performance.
Eat Right to Manage Weight
Ensure to stay at a healthy weight all the time to make weight cutoffs. Embark on these tips to stay ready for competition at any point of time.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.