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Adjust Your Eating Habits for Winter and Stay Healthy

Written by Lisa Jillanza

warming cup of soup With winter comes the onset of cold and flu season in addition to other events that can wreak havoc on our immune system. In order to boost our immune systems, we need to make some minor adjustments in our diet and lifestyle to help curb the impact the season has on our body. Try these small adjustments to keep yourself healthy this winter.

Adjustment 1: Get your Essential Fatty Acids

Because essential fatty acids are the key to building super hormones, make sure that you get enough of these fatty acids from nuts, seeds, fish, cold pressed oils and supplements.

According to MSNBC.com fatty fish including salmon, mackerel, herring and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which increase activity of phagocytes — cells that fight flu by eating up bacteria — according to a study by Britain's Institute of Human Nutrition and School of Medicine. They also contain selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines, proteins that help clear viruses. Other research shows that omega-3s increase airflow and protect lungs from colds and respiratory infections. In fact, says Somer, DHA and EPA (the two main forms of omega-3s) benefit the immune system at the most basic level, enabling cell membranes to efficiently absorb nutrients and remove toxins.

proteinAdjustment 2: Eat Enough Protein

Protein is important for your optimal health no matter what season it is. Nutritionists also suggest .75 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of your body weight depending upon your physical activity. But, because our body can only absorb 30 to 35 grams per meal, we need to spread our protein intake throughout the day. Be sure to eat some sort of protein in every meal and in every snack. Getting some of that protein through soy-based products is also recommended by many nutritionists.

Adjustment 3: Choose low GI carbohydrates

GI or glycemic index, is the measure of how fast blood sugar rises after eating. One good example is that white sugar has a glycemic index of 100, where peanuts have a glycemic index of 15. That means that peanuts raise the blood sugar levels at 15% of the rate of white sugar. Fast rising blood sugar means the pancreas produces and sometimes overproduces insulin. These spikes in insulin can weaken the immune system and interferes with the production of super hormones. By choosing low GI carbohydrates, combined with eating the appropriate levels of protein you can better control your insulin.

Adjustment 4: Nutritional supplements are not an option

Instead of boosting their immune system by eating the right foods, exercising and avoiding stress, too many people turn to herbal remedies to prevent colds and the flu. However, these people believe that using herbal remedies, like Echinacea, will stimulate their immune system and often utilize these remedies rather than eating the right foods. Echinacea can and will stimulate the immune system, but if you aren't feeding the immune system with the proper vitamins and nutrients, the effectiveness of the herbal remedy will not be as long-lasting as you expect.

Overall, the best way to adjust your immune system this winter is to avoid too much supplementation, get enough protein and essential fatty acids, and avoid those sugary carbohydrates to make your way through these next couple months illness-free.

 

A Thirst-Quenching Guide to Water: An Essential Element for a Healthy Life

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Water pic As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Water is the driver of nature”. Put simply, water sustains life. So you're already aware that drinking plenty of water is not only good for you but also a vital aspect to achieving the ultimate in health and wellness. But it might be even more important than you realized. By not drinking enough water, you can impair every aspect of your physiology. According to Dr. Howard Flaks on www.naturodoc.com by not drinking enough water, people may incur excess body fat, poor muscle tone and size, decreased digestive efficiency and organ function, increased toxicity in the body, joint and muscle soreness and water retention.

Besides air, water is the element most essential for survival. In fact, a typical human is comprised of between 60 and 70 percent water and brain tissue is said to be comprised of 85% water. It's reported that people can go without food for almost two months, but for only a few days without water. In addition, without water humans would be poisoned to death by their own waste products. As indicated by www.naturodoc.com, when the kidneys remove uric acid and urea, they must be dissolved in water first. If there isn't enough water available, wastes are not removed as effectively and may build up as kidney stones.

Water is also essential for chemical reactions during such body processes as digestion and metabolism due to the fact that it carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells through the blood and helps to cool the body through perspiration. In addition, it helps to lubricate our joints. We even need water to breathe. Our lungs must be moistened by water in order to take in oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide. Studies show that humans lose close to a pint of liquid each day merely by exhaling.

"Proper water intake is a key to weight loss," says Dr. Donald Robertson, medical director of the Southwest Bariatric Nutrition Center in Scottsdale, Arizona on www.naturodoc.com. "If people who are trying to lose weight don't drink enough water, the body can't metabolize the fat adequately. Retaining fluid also keeps weight up."

If you're wondering if you're drinking enough water then just listen to your body. Here are some common symptoms of dehydration:

• Heartburn, stomach ache • Non-infectious recurring or chronic pain • Low back pain • Headache • Mental irritation and depression • Water retention (ironic but true ) • Dry mouth- this is the last outward sign of extreme dehydration.

Moral of the story if you haven't figured it out yet- we need water to survive and thrive. But exactly how much water should we drink to ensure optimum health and wellness?

According to Dr. Flaks the minimum amount of water one should intake is eight to ten eight-ounce glasses a day. Eight to ten 8 oz glasses is equivalent to three to four standard 16 oz bottles of water per day. But you'll need even more if you exercise a lot of live in a hot climate. And overweight people should drink an extra glass for every 25 pounds that they exceed their ideal weight.

The formula that the International Sports Medicine Institute uses is this: 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight if you're not active (that's ten eight-ounce glasses if you weigh 160 pounds), and 2/3 ounce per pound if you're athletic (13 to 14 glasses a day, at the same weight). Simply calculated, drink 50-75% of your body weight in ounces. And intake should be spread throughout the day and evening.

If you're wondering about how this might affect you bladder, then don't worry. You may be constantly running to the bathroom at the onset of appropriate water consumption but after a few weeks, your bladder tends to adjust and urination is less frequent but in larger amounts.

By simply paying attention and drinking more water on a daily basis you will not only be contributing to a healthier life but you could also be on your way to a healthier and leaner body.

 

Tips for a Satisfying and Healthy Thanksgiving Feast

Written by Lisa Jillanza

thanksgiving turkey image Thanksgiving has almost arrived- the season of family, camaraderie, decadence, over-eating and ultimately heartburn and weight gain. My last couple blog posts may help to diagnose and settle an upset stomach that you will inevitably, or at least I will inevitably face. But I also wanted to give you some ideas on how to enjoy the food of the holidays without overindulging and the guilt that often accompanies the Holiday season post-meal.

With all of the rich and heavy choices associated with Thanksgiving dinner, we often find ourselves staggering away from the table in search of an elastic waistband and a couch to pass out on. But it's possible to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal without feeling horribly over-stuffed afterward. By following these tips from eatingwell.com, a combination of reasonable portion sizes (check out my blog dated October 6) and healthier dishes that don't sacrifice flavor, Thanksgiving can be joyful, delicious and healthy!

1. Skip the fat but retain the flavor- Rather than rubbing your bird with butter before roasting in order to keep it juicy. However, if you roast a turkey without overcooking, it won't dry out and there's no need to rub it with butter beforehand. Instead try chopping fresh herbs and garlic mixed with a little olive oil instead. Healthy and tasty!

2. Avoid salt- Conventional turkeys often contain an added salt solution in order to stay moister. But if you're watching your sodium intake, avoid them and avoiding adding extra salt to any dish.

3. Skip the skin- By simply skipping the skin you can save yourself a heap of calories and fat. According to eatingwell.com a 3-ounce portion of light meat without skin has only 132 calories and 3 grams of fat. However, with skin those numbers jump to 168 calories and 6 grams of fat. In addition, dark meat has more calories but also more iron.

4. Try broth- A majority of stuffing recipes call for butter. Rather than calories and fat associated with butter use a bit of chicken broth instead to keep it moist and flavorful.

5. Keep it sweet but hold the sugar- Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and yummy. Rather than loading them up with additional brown sugar and marshmallows just add a touch of maple syrup or honey to accentuate their great flavor.

6. Ban the butter- To make a tasty gravy use the drippings from the roasting pan with the fat skimmed off. This maintains the flavor without the added fat and calories. In addition, forgo adding butter to this or any other part of your meal. Butter majorly bumps up the fat and calories.

By adhering to adequate portion sizes and integrating these few simple ideas into your meal you can easily combat Thanksgiving meal over-indulgence while still enjoying a wonderful meal. Cheers!

A Crash Course on Organic and Natural Foods

Written by Lisa Jillanza

organic food image If your idea of an organic meal consists of dry tofu and a handful of nuts, then think again. It is no longer a world of unconvincing fake meat and alfalfa sprouts. World-class beef, produce, dairy products, even chocolate and coffee are organically made. Shopping and eating organic is not only good for you, it's good for the planet. Below is a crash course on organic and natural foods that may have you eating better before you can say “environmentally-friendly free-range chicken”.

If you haven't noticed the increased quantity and variety of organic foods and organic food stores then it's a safe bet that you need to get out more. This trend may have you wondering if organic foods are healthier or safer. Are they worth the extra money and how do they taste? And what does “free-range”, “grass-fed”, and “fair-trade” even mean?

To meet the organic standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture an organic food is one that is grown without pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, herbicides, antibiotics, bioengineering, hormones, or ionizing radiation. Organic animal products come from animals that are fed 100% organic feed products, receive no antibiotics or growth hormones and have access to the outdoors. In addition, for a product to be labeled organic, it requires inspection and approval from a government-approved certifier to ensure that the farmer followed all the rules necessary to meet the USDA's standards. The certifier also ensures that the farmers use renewable resources that conserve the soil and water. Any company that handles the food in between must be certified organic as well.

According to kidshealth.org in order for foods to be labeled “organic” they can be:

100% organic: They're completely organic or made of all organic ingredients. Organic: They're at least 95% organic. Made with organic ingredients: The food contains at least 70% organic ingredients but can't have the organic seal on its package

In contrast, natural foods are minimally processed but don't have to adhere to the same meticulous standards that organic foods do. Natural foods normally have no artificial ingredients or preservatives and the meat and poultry is also minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients.

The USDA does not officially claim that organic foods are safer or more nutritious than those that are not considered organic. According to WebMD a large scale study conducted by the Consumers Union found that organically grown crops consistently had about one-third as many pesticide residues as conventionally grown crops. Organic foods are also far less likely to contain residues of more than one pesticide. However, experts agree that the best way to safeguard yourself from harmful pesticides is by thoroughly rinsing all fruits and vegetables regardless of if they are organic or not.

Besides lack of harmful pesticides there is another nutritional certainty of eating organic food and that is its freshness. If you want to get the most from your food, eat it while it's fresh. Nutrients such a vitamin C oxidize over time so the longer your food sits in the refrigerator or the longer it takes to ship to you, the less nutritional benefit it has. Organic farms tend to be smaller operations and sell their products closer to the point of harvest which results in fresher and more flavorable foods.

Regardless of proven nutritional value or health benefits more and more people are becoming fans of organic foods and are buying more and more of it. Sales have risen more than 20% every year in the past decade and the Food Marketing Institute says that more than half of Americans buy organic food at least once a month.

It's easy to find a well-rounded selection of organic products. Grocery stores offer organic produce, juices, cereals, baby food, dairy products, and more. In addition, many stores are 100% organic or natural. Oftentimes these stores are more expensive than your run of the mill grocery but it's up to the individual to decide if it's worth the extra money to ensure organic and natural food.

 

Carbohydrate Health in an Unsalted Nutshell

Written by Lisa Jillanza

It seems lately that carbs have been designated the dieters ultimate enemy- they're not to be trusted and avoided at all times. So are carbs really that bad or are they just getting a bad rap? Achieving overall carbohydrate health is essential toward a balanced diet and total wellness. 2 carb image In actuality not all carbs are as terrible as they've been touted. There are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. Fortunately for us, it's easy to achieve carbohydrate health and separate the good from the bad. As consumers we are able to reap health benefits associated with good carbs by choosing high-fiber carbs such as whole grains and vegetables and avoiding refined and processed carbs such as white bread and white rice.

To assume that all carbs are bad is unreasonable. Carbohydrates are needed fuel for our bodies. In a National Academies Institute of Medicine report from 2002, it recommends that in order for adults to meet the body's daily nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease that they should get 45%-65% of their calories from carbohydrates. The same study also recommends that people focus on getting more good carbs with fiber into their diet.

According to WebMD we can reap health benefits of good carbs by choosing to consume carbohydrates full of fiber. Carbs that are naturally high in fiber slow down the absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same meal, including carbohydrates. This slowing prevents peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels, which reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes. Certain types of fiber found in oats, beans, and some fruits help to lower blood cholesterol and fiber also helps people feel fuller. This in turn, helps moderate the amount of food you eat. There is also evidence to suggest that a high fiber diet may also help to prevent colon cancer and promote weight control. In addition, studies show an increased risk for heart disease with low-fiber diets.

“Another important point about fiber-rich foods is that they tend to be loaded with phytochemicals that appear to have anticancer functions,” says Nagi Kumar, PhD and director of clinical nutrition at the Moffitt Cancer Center at the University of South Florida.

"Pertaining to cancer, we've found 65 or so non-nutrients and nutrients that have action against cancer," she says. "We've seen soy, lycopene, bicarbanol, to name just a few of these, have significant effect against various cancers."

Along with these benefits and its role in weight maintenance, fiber helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, appendicitis, and diverticulosis.

The easiest way to include fiber and all of its health benefits in your diet is to eat plant foods. Plants such as fruits and veggies are quality carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber. Besides fiber, plant foods also deliver vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals along with grams of carbohydrate, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Overall, a carb can't be considered “good” without considering its fiber content.

Here are a few fiber recommendations from WebMD: Men aged 50 or younger should get 38 grams of fiber a day. Women aged 50 or younger should get 25 grams of fiber a day. Because we need fewer calories and food as we get older, men over aged 50 should get 30 grams of fiber a day. Women over aged 50 should get 21 grams of fiber a day.

Getting some fiber into almost every meal takes a little effort. Here are three tips: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will get you to about 10 or more grams of fiber, depending on your choices. Include some beans and bean products in your diet. A half-cup of cooked beans will add from 4 to 8 grams of fiber to your day. Switch to whole grains every single possible way (buns, rolls, bread, tortillas, pasta, crackers, etc).

In a nutshell, carbohydrate health revolves around consuming plenty of high fiber carbohydrates and steering clear of bad carbs that strip away such beneficial fiber.