Eat Light & Stay Cool

DSCF7627The temperatures are rising and soon the full heat of summer will be upon us. The summer heat can diminish  your appetite. You may not feel much like eating especially when the heat combines with high humidity, but you still have to eat to maintain your health. Eating light and fresh foods can provide your body with all the minerals, vitamins and other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy without bogging  you down. Fresh fruits and vegetables taste great, won’t weigh heavy in your stomach and you might even lose a little weight too.

Avoid Fatty Foods

During the summer heat  you should eat light meals and limit the size of your portions. Your body creates heat when digesting food and burning calories. You want to get nutrition without making your body work too hard extracting those nutrients. Fats, grease and oils fill you up quickly but can bog you down. Summer is the time when many people grill outdoors. Limit fried foods and avoid too many burgers and processed meats.  Heavy breads, cheeses, pasta and meats can make you feel lethargic. You can make delicious meals on the grill with light fare, such as shrimp, skinless chicken breasts, fish and vegetables.  You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when eating light. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious alone, but you can perk up the flavor of your veggies with your favorite spices. Try some light, grilled lemon-pepper fish or coconut shrimp on your barbecue along with some grilled red, green and yellow peppers.  Stir fry is also a delicious way to enjoy vegetables. Chop fresh peppers, broccoli, snow peas, onions, and cabbage. Stir fry lightly to preserve the crisp and retain nutrients. Top some fresh spaghetti squash with the vegetables for a light dish that will fill you up without bogging you down. Take it easy on the soy sauce as it is loaded with sodium. Choose colorful vegetables and fruit for energy and nutrients including antioxidants. Free radicals are a natural result of cell oxidation, but can lead to cell damage. Antioxidants help to remove free radicals from your cells. Berries, including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are a delicious way to get nutrients and rid your body of free radicals.

Stay Hydrated

Remember to drink plenty of water. Dehydration is dangerous and you are especially susceptible to dehydration during the summer months. Eating fruits, including apples, watermelon, strawberries and fresh peaches are not only rich in nutrients like iron and vitamins including vitamin C, they contain water too. Fresh fruits contain natural sugars that can help boost your energy level too. A delicious way to enjoy a variety of fresh fruits is to make a fruit salad. Slice fresh fruits and mix them together well. You can add a bit of fresh fruit juice, or simply enjoy the fruits in their natural juices. Watermelon is delicious after being chilled in the refrigerator. Keep some slices ready for when you need a boost and a cool, refreshing snack.

 

The 5 Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a dramatic increase in chronic diseases and other health problems worldwide. In fact, WHO projects that by 2020 chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide. Therefore, a greater emphasis has been placed on practicing healthier lifestyle habits, such as choosing more nutritious foods, getting daily exercise, and managing stress. There are lots of healthy food choices available, but these 5 healthiest foods will get you off to a great start on your health journey.

Vegetables:  You probably remember your parents saying, “eat your veggies!” Well, your parents were right. Vegetables contain a plethora оf vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients аnd dietary fibers, whісh offer numerous health benefits. Experts recommend аt lеаѕt five servings оf vegetables every day to keep our immune system strong, so we can have a better chance at keeping illnesses and diseases at bay. All vegetables are excellent for your health. Spinach, for example, is chock full of calcium, vitamin A аnd C, magnesium, riboflavin, and iron, giving your skin and hair a nice, healthy glow. Steamed broccoli is another nutrient-rich veggie that provides lots of potassium, fiber, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc and so much more. Eating plenty of leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, arugula and collard greens, is especially advantageous because they are nutritional powerhouses filled with chlorophyll, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. They are most nutritious when lightly steamed or raw.

Fruits:  Studies have found thаt people whо eat fruits regularly are less likely to develop diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and heart disease. Amоng thе different types оf fruits, thе two healthiest fruits that you should include in your diet аrе berries аnd citrus fruits. Berries, such as raspberries, strawberries аnd blueberries, аrе high іn disease- fighting antioxidants that help to protect our cells from free radical damage. Berries can help improve memory function, too. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits and limes, provide a rich source of vitamin C, fiber, phytochemicals аnd flavonoids. Consumption оf thеѕе fruits may also lower cholesterol, high blood pressure, improve heart health, аnd may prevent thе development оf colon аnd stomach cancer. You don’t have to stick to just berries аnd citrus fruits either. Othеr fruits like red grapes, apples, apricots, plums, and papaya are also very beneficial to your health.

Whоle Grains:  Whоle grains include foods like oatmeal, millet, quinoa, barley and wild rice. Most whole grain foods are abundant in fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium, to name a few. Regular consumption of whole grains can help reduce your risk of colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The dietary fiber in whole grains will also help you feel full faster and longer, as well as help prevent constipation and aid digestion.

Nuts:  Anоthеr food having аn important place оn thіѕ list іѕ nuts. Nuts, еѕресіаllу almonds аnd walnuts, provide аn excellent source оf protein and omega-3 fatty acids. According to Mayo Clinic, people who eat nuts can lower their bad cholesterol, or LDL’s, thus improve overall heart health.   Thеу аlѕо possess vitamins B аnd E, monounsaturated fats, calcium, potassium аnd fiber. Try a handful of nuts as a between meal snack to help curb your appetite until the next meal.

Yogurt: Yogurt contains healthy bacteria, called probiotics, which can benefit your health by enhancing your digestive and immune system wellness. Yogurt is also rich in calcium and vitamin D, both essential for bone health. And, according to a study published in the January 2005 issue of the “International Journal of Obesity,” yogurt may speed weight loss because of its fat-burning properties and low-calorie content. Therefore, it’s important to choose low-fat, low-sugar yogurt to reap the health benefits without packing on the pounds. Eating yogurt may also help treat certain intestinal infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea, especially after receiving antibiotic treatment, according to Mayo Clinic.

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8 Foods to Boost Energy

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The saying, “You are what you eat” rings so true for many of us, and who doesn’t want more energy on a daily basis? This article highlights 8 readily available foods to keep energy levels up and spirits high.

WATER

Though technically not a food, water is our number one essential life force! Did you know that at the first moment of thirst, our bodies are already in dehydration mode? Thirst is the body’s signal of a desperate need to hydrate. Water helps to carry nutrients to your cells, and many of us are lacking hydration on a daily basis. At the first sign of sluggishness, drink a large glass of water. Chances are, you’ll perk up! You will always feel best when you are properly hydrated.

FRESH FRUIT

Fruits contain carbohydrates and sugar, both of which turn to glucose and all of which have gotten a bad wrap in recent years. But in proper doses, they are essential for your body to function energetically. Glucose is easily metabolized into quick energy, making fruits a great pre-workout snack. Some great choices include bananas, grapes, apples, citrus fruits and dates.

NUTS

Nuts contain great healthy protein, fats and fiber that help keep you full. They contain an array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, and are high in omega-3s. Nuts also contain magnesium, which helps the body convert nutrients into energy.  A small handful (about ¼ cup) packs a powerful energy punch.

EGGS

There’s a reason why eggs have been a staple breakfast food for centuries. Eggs are full of amino acids such as leucine, which plays an integral role in how muscles use glucose. Eggs also contain B vitamins such as riboflavin, folate, B12 and B6, vitamins all essential for energy production. Because of this, eggs are said to be helpful with endurance training.

Having a proper breakfast also jump-starts your metabolism for the rest of the day, so eat those eggs!

QUINOA

Quinoa is one of “nature’s perfect foods” and boasts itself as one of the most protein rich foods that we can eat. It is a complete protein on its own, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), which helps in the production of energy within our cells. B2 also improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells, and helps cells release energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

DARK LEAFY GREENS

Green leafy vegetables are true nutritional powerhouses and are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that contribute to stable blood sugar levels that in turn help maintain energy levels. Dark leafy greens are also full of iron, which is essential in maintaining red blood cell health throughout the body. Red blood cells are full of oxygen, and iron allows for them to move around at maximum potential. Greater oxygen distribution leads to more alertness and higher concentration capabilities. Popeye was definitely onto something!

KOMBUCHA

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has amazing detoxifying and probiotic properties. These detoxifying effects allow for your body as a system to function to its greatest potential. This means that on a cellular level, things are running smoothly and your body can use its energy sources efficiently. In short, this means more energy for you!

DARK CHOCOLATE

We’re talking the good stuff here. In small amounts, dark chocolate with higher cacao content can have some positive effects on your energy levels. Besides containing a small (and safe) amount of caffeine, it contains vitamins and a stimulant similar to caffeine called theobromine. When choosing a bar, the darker the better. If you can also keep the ingredient list to a minimum, this ensures whole ingredients that are less processed and easier for your body to process and reap the benefits.

 

Fat-Fighting Foods

You’ve probably heard about green tea. Claims about the benefits of green tea range from helping you to sleep to increasing metabolism to helping improve your mood. There is a basis for the metabolism claim — catechins. Catechins is a plant chemical that boosts your metabolism. To enjoy the fat-fighting benefits of green tea, drink several cups of hot tea each day. Replace your regular soda or coffee with cream and sugar with a cup of hot green tea. You will enjoy the benefits of catechins metabolism boost while cutting out extra calories from sodas and coffee additives. Hot peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin, which briefly boosts your metabolism and curbs your appetite. You might eat less when you eat spicy foods.

Grapefruit does not have a magic ingredient despite the fad diet claims from a few years ago. Grapefruit does contain plenty of soluble fiber, which takes longer to digest and may help you feel fuller longer. Raw fruits and vegetables of all kinds help you feel fuller longer and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Raw vegetables and fruits are generally low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with nutrients your body needs. Trade potato chips and other calorie loaded snack foods for a plate of raw vegetables.

Use spices in your foods to boost flavor without added calories. Cinnamon helps to curb your appetite and may stabilize your blood sugar. Stir some cinnamon into coffee, tea, yogurt and milk drinks.

Stay Hydrated With Fruits & Vegetables

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When the summer heat soars into the scorching range, it is critical that you keep your body hydrated. Drinking water will keep your body hydrated so that you can reduce your risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Sports drinks can be a good choice to keep you hydrated, too. Many sports drinks contain minerals and salts that replenish the minerals and salts lost when you sweat. Sports drinks can help restore electrolyte balance as well. However, did you know that some fruits and vegetables may actually hydrate your body better than drinking a glass of water? Some fruits and vegetables can be as much as 90 percent or more water. Add some extra fruits and vegetables to your diet during hot weather to help you stay hydrated. You will also benefit from the extra vitamins and minerals. One study by the University of Aberdeen Medical School found that some fruits and vegetables hydrate the body twice as well as water or even sports drinks. 

Cantaloupe, strawberries and peaches are high in water content but also contain potassium that is essential to heart health. Potassium helps to regulate the heartbeat. When you sweat, you lose valuable potassium that can only be replaced by eating potassium-rich foods or taking a supplement. Pineapples and cherries contain melatonin and other micronutrients that help to reduce inflammation in the body. They are high in water content too. Watermelon, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and kiwi are all high in vitamin C. Cucumbers are 96 percent water but also contain minerals and vitamins, including calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Celery also contains all these minerals plus phosphorus, zinc and iron, which are essential to bone and blood health. 

The next time you exercise outdoors, pack plenty of bottles of water and take along a container of fresh fruits and vegetables to help hydrate your body. 

Have Trouble Sleeping? Try One Of These Foods

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It is not uncommon to experience trouble falling asleep or staying asleep a few nights each week. Many people have problems with sleep. Stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and anxiety can contribute to difficulty sleeping. Diet is a major factor to help you achieve a restful sleep. Some foods should be avoided in the late afternoon and evening, such as sugary foods and caffeine. Other foods can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Add some sleep-enhancing foods to your daily diet to improve your sleep and wake feeling rested and energized. 
The value of whole grains cannot be over-emphasized. Whole grain foods, such as brown rice, wheat, quinoa and oats, are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. Whole grains also contain an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan helps to increase the levels of seratonin in the brain, which produces a feeling of well-being and calm. Tryptophan also stimulates the brain to release melatonin, which is a sleep hormone. Including whole grains in your evening meal can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, because whole grains are digested slowly. Fruits also contain tryptophan. Bananas and mangoes are especial rich in tryptophan. Instead of cake or pie for dessert after dinner, have a delicious bowl of fruit salad or a banana. 
Caffeine-free herbal teas that contain mint, lavender and chamomile can help calm your mind and relax your body before bedtime. Herbal teas also calm your digestive system. Enjoy the flavor and calming effects of herbal tea in a relaxing, low-light environment, like your favorite chair. The smell and taste of the tea can have a calming effect on your mind and help you relax, so you can fall asleep faster.

Too Much Salt In Your Diet?

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Sodium, or salt, is an essential nutrient. Your body needs a small amount of salt to maintain fluid balance and help transmit electrical signals through the nerves. Salt is also necessary for proper muscle function. Some table salt also contains trace amounts of iodine which is necessary for a healthy thyroid gland. Salt is added to processed food as a preservative. The growth of yeast, mold and bacteria are inhibited by the addition of sodium chloride (salt) to processed food during preparation. Many people add salt to their food during or after cooking to enhance flavor. People who eat some processed foods, such as canned soups or frozen meals, may be getting too much salt if they add more before eating. The USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends about 1/4 teaspoon of salt daily for healthy adults and children, or less than 2,300 milligrams per day.
People with hypertension, high blood pressure, kidney problems and those who want to cut down on their salt intake can take some steps to eat a healthy diet without additional salt. Eat more fresh foods, like whole grains, fish, lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Avoid canned and frozen processed foods or choose processed foods labeled “low” or “reduced” sodium. Foods labeled “no salt added” are also good choices to help reduce salt in your diet. Condiments, including mustard, ketchup and salad dressings, are usually high in sodium. Use condiments sparingly or use low-sodium alternatives. 
Avoid adding salt to your food before you eat it. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to enhance the flavor of foods. You can omit salt from most recipes when cooking. You can also reduce salt in your diet when eating at a restaurant by ordering from the heart-healthy menu or choosing low-sodium options. Request sodium-free or low-sodium salad dressings and sauces for your food. 

For more information about sodium in your diet, see:
Mayo Clinic, Sodium: How to Tame Your Salt Habit Now