Tag Archives: Diet

The Benefits of Coffee

Stop feeling guilty about your favorite part of every morning — it turns out a daily coffee habit is good for more than just waking up. For one thing, we just made it through the holidays, so enjoy that coffee! Also, research is revealing there’s a lot more to coffee than caffeine content and, in reality, this AM go-to might be a smart solution for maintaining your health.

Enjoy a Cup of Coffee
Coffee’s Health Benefits

Black coffee averages just two calories per cup, and its high antioxidant levels make it one of the best sources for these cancer-fighting “vitamins”. Beyond jump starting your day, each cup contains following benefits for your health.

Good for Your Heart

Looking for an easy way to protect your heart? Coffee might be key. Research from Israel has found that drinking about 16 ounces of coffee per day can lead to an 11 percent lower risk of heart failure. Unfortunately for major addicts, the study didn’t find much benefit to drinking more coffee than this.

Makes You Smarter

Everyone knows that drinking coffee will improve your energy, but there is evidence that the caffeine it contains can actually improve your thinking capabilities, too. When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine gets absorbed into your bloodstream where it travels to your brain and alters its functioning. This caffeine blocks a neurotransmitter called Adenosine, which causes other neurotransmitters like dopamine to fire more instead. Not only does this elevate your mood, but it also improves reaction times, logical reasoning skills, and your attention span, which (temporarily) improves your thinking abilities and productivity.

Coffee Helps You Burn Fat!

The increased energy you feel when you drink coffee does more than affect your brain, it also causes your body to burn more calories. Some studies have found caffeine can boost your metabolic rate by 3 to 11 percent, while others show that caffeine specifically increases your body’s fat-burning capabilities by as much as a 30 percent.

Improve Physical Performance

The caffeine in coffee seems capable of waking up both your brain and your body, according to research. Studies have found that caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which triggers adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone in your body and preps it for physical exertion. In this way, a cup of coffee can improve physical performance by 10 percent or more, and the benefit is most pronounced for endurance sports like running, biking, or swimming. This means that a cup of coffee might be a smart idea before your next major workout.

Coffee Helps Fight Depression

Depression is pervasive, affecting almost five percent of the U.S. population. However, coffee might make a difference in your day-to-day happiness. A study from Harvard found that women who drink four or more cups a day were 20 percent less likely to be depressed, and similar studies found that the same amount of coffee can half the risk of suicide. These benefits are mainly attributed to coffee’s ability to produce mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine.

The research is continuing to POUR in, and coffee has more going for it than just a way to make it through midday fatigue. Drinking black coffee every day can help you lose weight, improve your fitness level, keep you happier and even improve your mental abilities. So, grab your mug and get sipping!

Sugar: Why and How to Cut Back

Although it is a tasty additive to your diet, it is by no means necessary and contains few nutrients. In fact, USDA’s MyPlate guide, which creates dietary recommendations for Americans, considers added sugar to be an empty calorie ingredient. And while a tiny bit in your diet may not negatively impact your health, you should aim to keep the added variety as low as possible. The American Health Association recommends reducing your added-sugar intake to 100-150 calories per day, at most. As a result, it is essential to understand why it can be detrimental to your health and how to consume as little as possible.

sugar

The Downside of The Sweet Stuff

So why are we demonizing the tasty white stuff? It’s hard to imagine that something so sweet can so negatively influence your health. But unfortunately, increased sugar intake has been linked to a wide variety of diseases affecting various parts of your body, from your teeth to your HEART! Furthermore, eating it increases your caloric intake. A single teaspoon full of the simple carbohydrate contains four grams and sixteen calories, a number that adds up quickly. After all, a can of soda likely contains at least ten teaspoons per serving.

To begin, there is a direct relationship between consumption of sweets and dental caries (or cavities): as intake increases, dental cavities increase as well. Luckily, brushing one’s teeth twice a day may help to offshoot the negative impact it has on your teeth. But with so many other health implications, adding it is difficult to justify.

Second, by eating it, you increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. In fact, one study found that individuals who consume the most (over 500 calories a day!) are twice as likely to die compared to individuals who consume the least amount. While it may seem unlikely that you are consuming 500 calories worth of sugar daily, you may not be far off from that number. On average, men and women consume 335 and 230 calories each day, respectively. These numbers are even higher among children and teenagers.

Third, added sugars increase your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. When you consume lots and lots of it, you may become insulin resistant. In simple terms, your body loses the ability to scoop up sugar and use it for energy. Instead, it remains in your blood, leading to symptoms associated with type-2 diabetes. In fact, women who incorporated soda into their diet experienced the greatest weight gain over a four-year period of time. Likewise, regular consumption of at least one sugar-sweetened soft drink each day may increase a woman’s risk of type-2 diabetes by 83%. And men are not immune from the effects of sugar on type-2 diabetes, as similar results have been found across genders and age groups,.

Just as sugar is implicated in type-2 diabetes, it is also a culprit in Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research has determined that insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels are detrimental to the brain and may lead to neurocognitive disabilities, such as disorientation, memory loss, and personality changes. Furthermore, having type-2 diabetes or eating a high in sweets diet may influence your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, some even consider Alzheimer’s to be “type-3 diabetes.”

Finally, many news sources may incorrectly report that sugar directly causes cancer. The relationship is not quite that simple. Although cancer feeds off blood sugar, you will not destine yourself to die from cancer if you drink soda, just as you will not cancer-proof your future by abstaining from it. However, sugar consumption does increase your risk of obesity, as mentioned earlier. And weight gain is often a risk factor for developing certain types of cancers. So while sugar does not necessarily lead to cancer, maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle by eating lots sweets may negatively influence your overall health and make you more susceptible to cancer.

Common Sugar Aliases

Hopefully we have made the point that sweets can negatively impact your health in a multitude of ways. Despite your best efforts to cut down on sugar in your body, it is exceedingly common that the ingredient may still be lurking in your food. A quick search online yielded over twenty different phrases you may find on your food label that indicate sugar has been added to your food. Before buying your groceries, read the label carefully to search for these ingredients:

Agave syrup. Anhydrous dextrose. Brown sugar. Cane crystals. Confectioner’s/ powdered. Corn syrup. Corn syrup solids. Dextrose. Evaporated cane juice. Fructose. Fruit juice concentrates. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Honey. Invert sugar. Malt syrup. Maltose. Maple syrup. Molasses. Nectar. Raw sugar. Sucrose. White granulated sugar. Anything ending in -OSE.

The Search for Hidden Sugar

To an extent, cutting back on sugar is an easy process that you can easily implement in your home by making some simple changes. First and foremost, skip the soda purchases. One large study concluded that sweetened beverages were the biggest contributor to added sugar in the American diet. Instead, choose water or unsweetened iced tea. You can further cut back on sugars by avoiding cereals as they are typically high in them, and avoiding sweetened products. Also, opt to not add the sweet stuff to your coffee and make a habit of reading the nutritional labels.

Unfortunately, sugar is found in your everyday food purchases; you don’t have to walk down the candy aisle to find food items chock-full of it. Some surprisingly common sources include breads, tomato sauces, and salad dressings. In addition, low-fat and low-calorie products are especially likely to be brimming with the added variety. Manufacturers commonly add relatively large quantities to make up from the loss of taste due to fat removal. For example, peanut butter is especially subject to this phenomenon. Whereas natural peanut butter contains approximately one gram of sugar per serving, low-fat peanut butter contains over three times as much.

While you may think that you are eating healthy by choosing low-fat, low-calorie products, the full-fat version may actually be healthier.

The bottom line is to keep your added sweets intake as low as possible. While this may be a difficult task to accomplish, start by skipping the obvious sources it. From there, begin the search for secret sources and instead choose naturally sugar-free alternatives. Doing so can decrease your risk of diseases and drastically improve your quality of life.

Thanksgiving, The Holiday That KEEPS On Giving

5 Tips to avoiding that “holiday bulge”.

Oh boy, my favorite holiday is right around the corner. When was the last time you heard someone talk about that AMAZING holiday body they have been working on? Let’s just say that a holiday body is NOT the same as a bikini body.

As much as I LOOOOOVE Thanksgiving, it usually isn’t known for how well it makes us feel or even how it shrinks our waistline. In fact, it is probably one of the worst holidays when it comes to our health.

For those of us who TRY to make healthy eating choices, the holidays do not do us any favors. It is really hard to be social, visit with family, AND make healthy food choices. Unfortunately, that is the state of our society.

With that being said, let me move on to my first tip. It is a big one and it is also a very simple one.

1. Drink Water

Drink two full glasses of water FIRST THING when you wake up on that day when you know that there may be some “questionable” food choices (in fact, I do this every day). This does a lot for your health and isn’t THAT hard. Oh and trust me, I have heard it all about why you “can’t” do it.

“I am not thirsty.”

“I am full.”

“I will puke.”

“I just can’t do it.”

Yes, I know it isn’t the most exciting or enjoyable thing to do FIRST THING when you wake up. I had the very same thoughts the first time I did this, but it can be done. If you can only manage one glass of water, then do that, but two is ideal. This will not only help your body detox in the morning, but it will help you stay hydrated when you do eat those salty traditional foods. It will also fill you up and may suppress some of your hunger. Many times our body will satisfy dehydration with the feeling of being hungry. I recommend that most people increase their water intake and the guideline that I typically start with is to recommend that you drink half of your body weight in ounces per day. Again, this is a starting point and I will alter this depending on your individual case.

2. Eat it all.

Wait, did I just say that? Yep. Go ahead and enjoy your Thanksgiving by eating anything you want.

Now here is the catch, you can do this ONLY if you commit that it is just for ONE day. Let’s be honest here. You did not get your current body composition (all the muscle, fat, and bones) from ONE day of eating. It took many days of eating great food and exercise to give you that beach body, or many days of eating bad food to give you your “winter coat”.

WARNING: If you normally eat healthy, then eating bad food for one day will result in you feeling AWFUL. If you have done this, then you know what I am talking about and you likely will not make that terrible decision again.

Eat Better, Feel Better

3. Eat THIS, not that.

Start off with meat and veggies. By starting with protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates, your body will likely not crave the high simple carbohydrate foods like mashed potatoes, bread and stuffing. I won’t lie to you here, I have a bread problem. If bread is the first thing in front of me, then it is going to be a bad day. Thankfully I have learned that I have a bread problem and now I do my best to avoid it until after I have filled my belly. This makes eating a lot of it almost impossible and saves me from a LOT of simple carbohydrates.

4. Game Time!

I love football season! As much as I love it, I try to find time before I sit down on the couch for the day to get out and play some catch or two hand touch football outside. I know, I know, it is cold. All I ask is that you get some exercise before you eat that holiday meal. Be creative and burn some calories. You will be a big hit amongst the children in your family if you play some type of game. My only requirement is… to have FUN.

5. Bring Your Own Dish.

I am not saying that you need to replace the menu this Thanksgiving, but I am suggesting that you bring something that is more…”friendly” to your health. Although there are many options out there, I have selected a few good sources for replacing an item.  I would probably start with dessert if you want to only bring ONE thing. Check out the sites below!

Great Thanksgiving Recipes

Yummy Paleo Options

Dessert Alternatives

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