Search Term: " Heary "
Here's Why Some Miss Out on the Asparagus Effect
December 26, 2016 02:59 PM
If you have ever eaten a hearty helping of asparagus, you may or may not have noticed that your urine smelled pungent afterwards. A study in the British Medical Journal states that only 40% of people can smell this. This study showed that all the people who could not smell asparagus in urine had the same gene anomaly. Scientists are also hoping to raise awareness of how healthy the vegetable is. This stalky plant is rich in fiber, zinc, iron, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E.
""Outstanding questions on this topic remain; first and foremost perhaps is why a delicacy such as asparagus results in such a strong odor?""
Joan Salge Blake: Can An Apple A Day Keep Your Cardiologist At Bay?
November 14, 2016 02:49 PM
Seems there is some truth to that old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” If that doctor is a cardiologist it seems there just may be truth there. Apples have many components that indeed work to keep your heart healthy and may help lower bad cholesterol. Apples may even help lower high blood pressure and slim your waistline.
"Apples are a low-calorie, rich source of fiber, phytochemicals, and potassium, all of which can keep your heart healthy."
Red Clover Blossom
August 29, 2009 01:51 PM
Red clover is also commonly referred to as wild clover, purple clover, meadow clover, honeysuckle clover, or cow grass. This herb is a member of the pea family. It is commonly found in pastures, lawns, along roadsides, and in meadows. Many consider this herb to be a nuisance and, thus, they try to eliminate it from their lawns. However, this is not easily accomplished due to red clover’s hearty nature.
The use of red clover most likely originated in Europe. There, it was used as an expectorant and a diuretic. Additionally, it was burned as incense to invoke the spirits of the deceased. Some people even wore the leaves of red clover as charms against evil. The red clover was revered by early Christians because they associated its three leaves with the Trinity. The flowers of this plant were dried by the ancient Chinese and then put in pillows to help relax both the body and mind. The Native Americans used red clover as an infusion gargle for sore throats, whooping cough, and asthma. Additionally, they used it on children because it was a milder, safer way to fight debilitating childhood diseases.
This herb has been used for treating cancer, bronchitis, nervous conditions, spasms, and toxins in the body. It is considered by herbalists to be a blood cleanser. Herbalists also recommend this mild herb in formulas when using a cleansing program. Red clover is often mixed with honey and water to make a cough syrup and act as an expectorant. The herb is a mild sedative and is useful for spasmodic conditions, bronchitis, wheezing, and fatigue. Because red clover is mild, it can often be used by children.
Research has determined that red clover contains some antibiotic properties that are beneficial in fighting several kinds of bacteria. Among these types of bacteria is the one that causes tuberculosis. Additionally, red clover has a long history of use in treating cancer. Scientists at the National Cancer Institute have uncovered some anticancer activity in red clover, including daidzein and genistein activity. Even though the findings are preliminary and the use of red clover as a cancer treatment has not yet been validated, research is continuing to show promising results.
Externally, red clover has been used to treat skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, and even vaginal irritation. It can also be applied topically to burns, boils, sores, and ulcers. Red clover has also been documented for use in treating AIDS, syphilis, and leprosy. This herb can be applied externally to help soothe lymphatic swelling and as an eyewash.
In short, the flowers of red clover are used to provide alterative, antibiotic, antispasmodic, blood purifier, nutritive, sedative, stimulant, and vulnerary properties. The primary nutrients found in red clover are calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nickel, selenium, sodium, tin, and vitamins A, C, B-complex, F, and P. Primarily, red clover is extremely beneficial in dealing with acne, AIDS/HIV, athlete’s foot, blood impurities, bronchitis, cancer, eczema, leukemia, liver disorders, nervous disorders, psoriasis, skin disorders, spasms, and the effects of toxins.
Additionally, this herb is very helpful in treating arthritis, asthma, boils, burns, childhood diseases, colds, constipation, coughs, muscle cramps, fatigue, flu, gallbladder, gastric disorders, indigestion, leprosy, lymphatic irritations, rheumatism, sores, syphilis, sore throat, tuberculosis, ulcers, urinary infections, vaginal irritations, whooping cough, and wounds.
For more information on red clover, look for this wonderful herb at your local heath food store. Remember to always look for name brands to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase.
Hearty Soy - Soy will cater to your cardiovascular well-being...
June 13, 2005 10:19 AM
Hearty Soy by Joyce Dewon Energy Times, January 5, 2004
It's a diet food, it's a health food. Any way you look at it or eat it, soy's combination of benefits and its versatility as a component of a heart-healthy diet have led to a widespread popularity that continues to grow.
No matter what your taste preference, a soy food is available to satisfy your picky palate and cater to your cardiovascular well-being.
Annual sales of soy in the US continue to grow more than 10% a year, edging toward the $4 billion mark. Today, the average American consumes about 10 mg of soy protein a day, even though the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking in at least 25 mg of soy to benefit your heart. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signaled its approval of the soy bandwagon, allowing claims that daily soy can help lower the risk of cardiovascular complications.
As Good as a Drug
Researchers who have investigated how soy can help lower cholesterol and shrink the risk of heart disease have concluded that soy, in a diet with fruits and vegetables, can be as effective as cholesterol-reducing drugs (JAMA 7/22/03).
Researchers at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital compared the cholesterol-lowering power of soy and other vegetarian foods with that of lovastatin, a standard pharmaceutical used to reduce cholesterol.
In the study, scientists fed people a diet that, along with soy, had large amounts of nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and high-fiber foods like oats and barley plus margarine made with plant sterols (natural substances derived from leafy greens and vegetable oils). Researcher David Jenkins, PhD, a nutrition science professor, thinks these foods may be good at dropping cholesterol because human evolution makes us well-adapted for an "ape diet," one high in fiber, vegetable protein, nuts and plant sterols.
According to Dr. Jenkins, "As we age, we tend to get raised cholesterol, which in turn increases our risk of heart disease. This study shows that people now have a dietary alternative to drugs to control their cholesterol, at least initially." Dr. Jenkins also thinks that soy and a vegetarian diet can be used to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Dr. Jenkins' heart-healthy diet, designed to be easily prepared and consumed, includes oat bran bread and cereal, soy drinks, fruit and soy deli slices. For instance, in his study, a typical dinner consisted of tofu baked with eggplant, onions and sweet peppers, pearled barley and vegetables.
Dr. Jenkins adds, "The Food and Drug Administration has approved these cholesterol-lowering foods as having legitimate health claims for heart disease risk reduction. They're also being recommended by the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program as foods that should be incorporated into the diet. And we have now proven that these foods have an almost identical effect on lowering cholesterol as the original cholesterol-reducing drugs."
Dr. Jenkins regrets that health practitioners often give drugs to people with high cholesterol instead of trying to control the problem with soy and other vegetarian foods.
Soy Safety Affirmed
Recently, some doctors have spread the story that soy may increase the risk of cancer because natural chemicals in soy act like estrogens, hormones that may contribute to breast and other cancers. However, research has failed to support this supposition.
As Dr. Jenkins points out, "the concerns have been whether soy estrogen might lead to hormone-dependent breast cancer or abnormal sexual development in children, yet we found no evidence to support this."
In another of Dr. Jenkins' studies, people were put on diets high in soy to see how their estrogen levels were affected. Then, the researchers measured estrogen byproducts in their urine. Since estrogen stimulates breast cancer cells to produce a special protein, the researchers measured the amount of this protein produced by each urine sample to calculate how much estrogen was present.
The total estrogenic activity in the urine of women on soy dropped to lower levels than it had been before they ate soy. "This finding suggests that soy may not have the estrogenic effects that were thought to alleviate menopausal symptoms but it refutes claims about its purported hormone risks," Dr. Jenkins says.
The study also demonstrated that soy can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of oxidized cholesterol, which is thought to stick to coronary artery walls and form dangerous plaques. Dr. Jenkins' other research demonstrates that soy consumption reduces cholesterol in general while also decreasing the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body and maintaining the HDL (good) cholesterol. According to Dr. Jenkins, this confirms that soy should be promoted for its important role in preventing heart disease without fear that it will promote cancer.
In another study in China, researchers compared the dietary habits of more than 350 women with breast cancer to the foods eaten by more than 1,000 women who did not have cancer (Amer Assoc Canc Res Second Annual Intl Conf Fron Can Prev Res 10/27/03, Abst 1274). They found that eating large amounts of soy did not raise the risk of breast cancer.
Of course, anyone can develop allergies to almost any food, soy included. If eating soy causes you discomfort, find another source of healthy protein (see box on whey protein above).
Isoflavones, soy's plant estrogens, are believed to create some of the most significant heart-healthy soy benefits. Consequently, researchers urge those concerned about their cardiovascular health to combine a diet high in soy, fruits and vegetables with exercise for the highest level of heart protection. Cheaper than cholesterol drugs, tastier than many other healthy foods and available in so many forms, soy's popularity will certainly continue to explode. Soy burgers, soy drinks and soy just-about-everything will continue to be a big part of our lives.
June 10, 2005 03:52 PM
by Lisa James Energy Times, January 3, 2002
An American suffers a heart attack every 20 seconds. That adds up to 180 heart attacks every hour. Many of these life-threatening events don't have to happen: heart-healthy nutrients, weight control and exercise could ease this epidemic.
More evidence of how to protect your heart piles up every day, amounting to a stack of research thicker than the juiciest, most heart-threatening cheeseburger on a big, fat bun. To protect your heart, you've got to protect your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart and also feed the heart muscle oxygen and nutrients.
Arteries are essentially three-layered tubes: the inner endothelium, a middle muscle layer which allows the artery to widen and contract, and an outer layer that encloses and supports the other two. When the lining, which is normally smooth, is damaged, the resulting rough patch develops plaque from LDL cholesterol, and the artery narrows and hardens.
When LDL cholesterol is oxidized into plaque, the resulting damage attracts large immune cells called macrophages which consume the oxidized LDL and get trapped in the developing plaque. Oxidized LDL is also associated with the death of muscle cells in the artery's middle layer (Circulation 2000; 102:2680). Plaque slows blood flow to the heart and can result in angina, chest pain often brought about by exertion. Heart attacks strike when unstable plaque ruptures, triggering blood clotting that blocks blood flow and may kill sections of the heart muscle as it's cut off from oxygen and nutrients.
Foods, like fatty meats, filled with saturated fat, are believed to start this heart-threatening process. Even by age 15, your arteries may be narrowing.
Antioxidants can help keep your arteries functioning smoothly by counteracting LDL oxidation. Lab research has shown that cells in the lining can be protected by natural vitamin E. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains is an important step in stocking your antioxidant arsenal. But many heart experts recommend supplementation, a strategy that's been shown to bolster the body's defenses (J Nutr Biochem 2001; 12:388-95).
Vitamins C and E: The Dynamic Duo
Antioxidant allies abound, but two of the most important are vitamin C and natural vitamin E. They work particularly well together because C is effective in the fluid that bathes all cells, while E defangs free radicals in the fatty areas, such as cell membranes. And vitamin C actually recharges vitamin E, increasing E's antioxidant effectiveness. Each vitamin provides protective benefits on its own. People with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes who took vitamin E in one study saw drops in cholesterol and glucose and increases in antioxidants, such as superoxide peroxidase, produced by the body itself (Endocr Res 2001; 27:377-86). For its part, vitamin C has prevented free radical damage in individuals who inhale secondhand cigarette smoke and has improved artery lining function in persons with coronary artery disease (Free Radic Biol Med 2000; 28:428-36; Circulation 1999; 99:3234-40). When used together, this vitamin dynamic duo provides powerful protection against both LDL oxidation and high blood pressure (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2000; 20:2087-93; Hypertension 2000; 36:142-6). They also help keep immune cells from sticking to arterial linings (Circ Res 2000; 87:349).
Vitamins C and E also seem to prove effective against inflammation that researchers think contributes to heart health. Research in this area continues, but scientists now believe that inflammation from infections with herpes simplex one, the cold sore virus, and Chlamydia pneumoniae, a respiratory tract bug, can foment heart trouble. Inflammation may slow blood flow to the heart and make clots more likely. Among persons with peripheral arterial disease, blockages in arms and legs, not getting enough vitamin C levels may increase inflammation (Circulation 2001; 103:1863). Vitamin E apparently soothes inflammation by decreasing the release of immune chemicals and calming the immune cells involved in atherosclerosis (Diet and Optimum Health Conference, 5/01, Portland OR). Clot Busters Vitamin E also reduces the risk of clots and lowers the chance of a clot sticking in a vessel. It keeps platelets, cells that cause clotting, from becoming too gooey and breaks up fibrin, a clot-forming protein. Garlic (Allium sativa) also discourages inappropriate clotting. Used medicinally since the beginning of recorded time, the Greek physician Dioscorides thought it could clean the arteries. The ancient faith in garlic's circulatory benefits are supported by modern research. Recent studies have found substances in garlic that keep platelets from clumping together and lower cholesterol. In one study, men with high cholesterol who took garlic extract for five months saw their total cholesterol drop an average of 7% and their LDL drop 10% (J Nutr 2001; 131:989S-93S).
Hunting Down Homocysteine
Homocysteine, an amino acid found in the blood, may also be linked to artery problems. Scientists believe that when too much homocysteine accumulates in the bloodstream, arteries stiffen and plaque forms. The causes of this buildup remain murky but it appears that perpetually angry folks have higher homocysteine levels. Estimates vary on how much of a risk factor homocysteine represents; between 10% and 40% of people who suffer heart attacks may have high levels. Excessive homocysteine also seems to be linked to other risk factors, such as insulin resistance, a diabetes precursor (Diabetes Care 2001; 24:1403-10). The good news: the so-called DASH diet-featuring fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts and fish-may reduce homocysteine and drop your heart disease risk by 7% to 9% (Circulation 2000; 102:852-7). More benefits: simple B vitamins can control homocysteine. Folic acid (folate), along with vitamins B6 and B12, may help break it down and render it harmless. Taking these vitamins in supplement form has been shown to reduce homocysteine (Lancet 2000; 355:517-22). What's more, natural vitamin E may be able to restore artery lining function when homocysteine levels are high (Am J Cardiol 2001; 88:285-90). If you really want your ticker to tick stronger and longer, go long on your ready supply of heart healthy nutrients.
The Natural Man
June 10, 2005 03:31 PM
The Natural Man
by Chrystle Fiedler Energy Times, July 14, 2003
Men face significant health challenges as they age. "When men go through andropause in their late 40s (like women go through menopause) and testosterone drops, these hormonal changes are associated with heart attacks, high cholesterol and diabetes," says Jacob E. Teitelbaum, MD, Director of the Annapolis Research Center for Effective Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Therapy in Maryland.
And although cardiovascular disease and cancer account for about two-thirds of men's deaths, says Michael Castleman, author of Blended Medicine (Rodale), men are also plagued by chronic pain (arthritis, especially from old athletic injuries), sexual problems and mental decline.
But men, and the women who love them, need not accept decline as an inevitable sign of aging. A natural man lifestyle makeover can make a difference. "Prostate problems can be significant [for men as they age]," says Jamey Wallace, ND, clinic medical director at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle. "As men get older there can be an enlargement of the prostate that can cause urinary problems, with increased frequency and discomfort. There's a correlation between inactivity and weight gain and perhaps prostate problems as well." Besides lack of exercise, other contributing factors to health problems include a diet loaded with pesticide residues and chemicals, a lack of fiber and an excessive amount of unhealthy fats.
The Stronger Sex?
Women, on average, live five years longer than men. "At every age, American males have poorer health and a higher risk of mortality than females," says David Williams of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The gap in life expectancy between men and women may have both genetic and lifestyle origins. More men smoke than women, and men are twice as likely to be heavy drinkers. A recent study Williams led, published in the American Journal of Public Health, confirms that men's behavior is indeed a contributing factor to longevity or lack thereof. "Men take more risks than women," says Castleman. "Men ride motorcycles, go skydiving and do 'death-defying' things. Sometimes, death wins." A macho attitude can prompt men to practice risky behavior by, say, driving without a seat belt. Men also typically engage in more dangerous occupations like construction or fire fighting.
Get Him to the Health Practitioner
Being macho may also mean men postpone visits to their health practitioners. Women are twice as likely to schedule an annual checkup.
"Men postpone admitting and getting help for problems," says Shoshana Zimmerman, ND, author of My Doctor Says I'm Fine...So Why Do I Feel So Bad? (Blue Dolphin). "They may want to prove they are tough or are preoccupied with their jobs and responsibilities." "Starting in adolescence men feel they can take care of themselves," says Dr. Wallace. Unfortunately, this means that it may take a health crisis like severe pain to prompt a man's visit to a health practitioner. "Men care less about their health, so they don't take care of themselves as well as women do," says Castleman.
Get Him to Take the Long View
"Health problems are a result of decades of poor diet and not enough exercise," says Dr. Wallace.
Dr. Teitelbaum, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic (Avery/Penguin) says, as a rule of thumb, "Things that make you feel good are generally good for you." But there is a difference between a craving, say for sugar, and what makes you feel good. The difference is how you feel an hour after you've eaten something. Sugar may make you feel fatigued; a high-protein diet may make you feel energized. "If you have low energy, that's the time to add eggs and meat. Others need to be vegans. It's really individualized. Listen to your body."
Zinc is an important nutrient for men's health, particularly for the prostate, and can be found in pumpkin seeds. "Sprinkling a small handful on salads on a daily basis or bringing a small bag to the office and nibbling on those can be a helpful adjunct," says Dr. Wallace. Don't overdo zinc supplementation because high levels can lowers HDL-the good cholesterol-levels. If you do use supplements, follow package directions.
By eating different whole foods, you get optimal daily doses of vitamin A (in the form of mixed carotenoids); flavonoids; B vitamins; vitamins C, D, E and K; and important minerals like calcium, boron, manganese and magnesium, the single most critical nutrient. "It's also the one most Americans are deficient in," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "It promotes heart health, improves mental function and mood, helps you relax and sleep better." When sleep is elusive, herbs that can help include wild lettuce, Jamaican dogwood, hops, passionflower and valerian.
For many men, an enlarged prostate is part of aging. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) may reduce the frequent urge to urinate that can result.
"After age 40, men's levels of testosterone decline, while levels of other hormones, notably prolactin, increase," says Castleman. "This results in an elevation of the male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone, which is responsible for the overgrowth of prostate tissue that is characteristic of benign prostate enlargement. Many studies have shown that saw palmetto shrinks enlarged prostates and relieves symptoms." It takes about six weeks to work. (Since urinary difficulties can signal several health problems, it's important to consult a trained practitioner first.)
Give Him a Multivitamin
Add a good multivitamin with essential nutrients from a natural food store, says Dr. Wallace. "You'll find vitamins there with bioavailability. You can take something but it may be in a form that you can't assimilate. You need a multivitamin that your body can actually use."
Powdered vitamin formulas can be a good choice, says Dr. Teitelbaum, since they don't have binders or fillers. "You can just put it into a glass of say orange juice or mix it into a smoothie."
In addition, omega-3 oil offers antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory action, says Dr. Zimmerman: "Especially on the arteries, which protects against plaque buildup."
Get Him Eating Better and Exercising
To help your spouse or significant other improve his health and vitality, start by setting a good example both in nutrition and activity.
"Eat a whole-food diet yourself, include foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains like quinoa, teff and kamut (find them at your local natural food store) full of fiber and B vitamins, instead of refined bread and pasta," says Dr. Wallace. "Choose foods you both like. Go to a natural food store and look through whole food cookbooks, find recipes that use ingredients that you know your spouse likes and try those."
"Spend your time in the produce section, have salads and fruit salads in the fridge at all times, and serve them at all meals," says Castleman.
Make gradual, healthy substitutions, steps you both can live with. For example, replace one meat lunch and dinner a week with a vegetarian alternative, says Castleman. "Make a big pot of hearty bean and vegetable soup a week, and just keep it in the fridge for an easy heat-and-eat meal." You can also broil fish instead of frying it. Use olive or canola oil when cooking.
To get your four to five servings of vegetables each day, eat a five-color salad. "You'll get a variety of nutrients so the body can select what it needs from the different vegetables," says Dr. Wallace.
"Serve more vegetables, at least two with dinner and add fruit into your man's (and your own) diet," says Dr. Zimmerman. "Eating three each of protein, vegetables and fruits per day goes a very long way to improving health." So does drinking plenty of water, eight to ten glasses a day.
Besides providing a good example by eating healthy foods, a woman can do the same thing with exercise. "If a woman wants to start walking she can invite her husband to go along. Thirty minutes of walking every day can be very helpful," says Dr. Wallace. Walking, like sex, keeps the pelvic area active and improves prostate health by stimulating blood flow. Remember, in both diet and exercise, nagging doesn't work-while setting an example and trying to be inclusive, and not demanding, often makes a big difference for better health.
Neptune Krill Oil (NKO) - for Healthy Heart, Joints, and other Body systems
June 03, 2005 05:43 PM
Essential fatty acids are enormously important to your health. They are the building blocks for phospholipids, and phospholipids are the building blocks for your cell membranes – the protective layer and gatekeeper of your cells. A good essential fatty acid balance provides building blocks for healthy cells, but an imbalance can lead to critical health concerns. Source Naturals introduces NKO™ Neptune Krill Oil, the first product featuring phospholipids specially integrated with omega-3 essential fatty acids for building healthy cell membranes. It also includes antioxidant protection. In human studies, NKO supplementation supported healthy joints, the heart, lipid and blood sugar levels, energy production, athletic performance and liver function, and eased women’s PMS symptoms.
Support Your Protective Cell Membranes
Source Naturals brings you the science of natural NKO™ Neptune Krill Oil, the only product to boast significant healthinducing potencies from three different important nutritional categories: omega- 3 fatty acids, phospholipids and antioxidants. These three nutrients work together to support healthy cell membranes, joints, the heart and many other body systems. And NKO eases PMS symptoms for women.
Multiple Benefits of Krill
NKO™ Neptune Krill Oil has many benefits. Unlike fish oil products, NKO doesn’t contain dangerous levels of mercury or lead, doesn’t go rancid quickly and has a clean, fresh taste. Made from hearty krill, shrimp-like crustaceans that thrive in the harsh Antarctic waters, it is the only product to contain phospholipids specially integrated with omega-3 essential fatty acids. This unique structure provides important cell membrane building blocks in the ratios used by the body and may be far better utilized than stand-alone phospholipid or omega- 3 products. The result: stronger cell membranes that function better to maintain your health. The desirable composition of NKO, high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, also provides a healthy balance. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids, such as from processed foods, enable your cell membranes to initiate over-production of certain prostaglandins that can lead to cellular irritation, heart system imbalances and other concerns. But omega-3 fatty acids can reverse that trend. Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA (docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids) compete with arachidonic acid for building blocks, such as the COX-2 enzyme, and can instead lead to balanced levels of the many different types of prostaglandins. The result: cellular comfort, heart health and many other healthy body systems. NKO also contains natural antioxidants, which are cell membrane protectors. Each serving contains 100 IU of vitamin A and a very high level, 1.5 mg, of astaxanthin, an immune-supporting carotenoid, which can be used to guard your cell membranes from free radical damage. And NKO 100% pure krill oil is manufactured by Neptune Technologies & Bioresources Inc. in adherence to all environmental harvesting standards. Source Naturals is pleased to partner with your local health food store to bring you NKO™ Neptune Krill Oil. Try this unique, potent and comprehensive product for your better health today.
Improve Your Diet and Stop Being S.A.D.
May 27, 2005 09:24 AM
Improve Your Diet and Stop Being S.A.D.
The Standard American Diet (or S.A.D.) is exactly that ? sad! Sadly lacking in essential nutrients and sadly loaded with an excess of the wrong things, like fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar. How can we improve our diets and truly nourish our bodies?
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Why are fruits and vegetables so important? Not only are they high in vitamins and minerals, but they also contain bioflavonoids?naturally occurring plant constituents that act as antioxidants and support the integrity of our connective tissue. And fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, so crucial in maintaining our digestive tract health.
What fruits and vegetables don't contain is just as important as what they do contain: fruits and vegetables are free of cholesterol, additives and preservatives, contain no added sugar or salt, and are low in fat?nature's perfect foods. All you have to do is look at the bright, crisp colors?the vibrant greens, yellows, oranges, reds and purples?to know how good fruits and vegetables are for you.
Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains, like oats, brown rice and barley, help us meet important nutritional goals. They are low in fat and high in fiber, and, because the germ of the grain has not been lost in the milling process, they are higher in essential fatty acids, vitamin E and B vitamins compared to processed grain products like white bread or pasta. And they're delicious! Have a bowl of hot oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts for breakfast?or make a hearty barley-vegetable stew for dinner. Your body will thank you!
Increase Your Fiber Consumption
Fiber exercises our digestive tract?toning and strengthening the muscle that surrounds our intestines just the way lifting weights tightens and tones our skeletal muscles. Low-fiber diets increase our risk for a variety of bowel problems, from constipation and hemorrhoids to diverticulosis and diverticulitis to colon cancer. Increasing fiber in the diet is good for the digestive tract, helps regulate blood sugar and may also help reduce cholesterol levels.
What are the best dietary sources of fiber? All plant foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) contain fiber. And all animal products (meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products) contain zero fiber?that's right, none!
Eat Healthy Fats and Oils
Fats and oils have gotten a bad rap. Somehow the idea has been promoted that all fats are bad and we should eat as little fat as possible. The truth is that fat is an essential part of our diet, and dietary fats are used for many important functions in the body, from energy production to cell membrane maintenance to nerve conduction. While much of the focus has been on the amount of fat we should eat, the type of fats we eat is at least as important.
High-quality fats are rare in the standard American diet. Most of the fats and oils we eat have been damaged by exposure to heat or light during processing or cooking. This damage destroys essential nutrients and creates free radicals, chemically unstable molecules that can wreak havoc in the body. For this reason, fried foods and highly processed fats like margarine and shortening are best avoided. Health concerns have been raised about margarine, as it contains trans fatty acids?a configuration of fatty acids not found in nature.
And our ratio of fat consumption is skewed. Most Americans consume too many saturated fats and not enough polyunsaturated oils. How do you tell which fats are saturated and which are not? Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (think butter, lard and coconut oil). Polyunsaturated oils are liquid at room temperature (like corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil). In addition to polyunsaturated oils, olive oil, a monounsaturated oil, is also a heart-healthy choice and one of the best oils to use.
Reduce Your Consumption of Animal Products
While animal products (meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products) contain many valuable nutrients, as a nation, we tend to overdo it. A diet high in animal products is a diet high in cholesterol, and is strongly linked to the number-one killer in the industrialized nations: cardiovascular disease, which includes high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
How do you know which foods contain a lot of cholesterol without having to read labels? All animal products contain cholesterol. All plant foods (grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and nuts and seeds) contain zero cholesterol. It's that simple. Eating a predominantly vegetarian diet is one way to maintain your cardiovascular health.
Avoid Stimulants?Like Caffeine
Most people think caffeine "gives" them energy. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Caffeine in fact robs the body of energy?by withdrawing from your energy 'savings account' now, leaving you less reserves to draw upon later. The pick-me-up feeling artificial stimulants provide is inevitably followed by an energy crash.
Reduce Your Caloric Intake
About a quarter of the U.S. population is now considered to be obese, and the numbers are rising. Our children are increasingly overweight, from a steady diet of junk food and TV-watching. As a nation, we are overfed and undernourished?our diets are too high in "empty" calories and too low in essential nutrients.
Being overweight significantly increases the risk for a variety of cancers, including colon, prostate, breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer. Animal studies have shown that the only consistent way to extend the life spans of laboratory animals is to put them on a lower calorie diet. Thinner rats live longer?and we suspect the same is true for humans.
Are you too serious about your diet? Do you miss out on social opportunities because you are too busy counting calories or grams of fat? Lighten up! To paraphrase one poet, "?Tis better to eat steak and beer with cheer than sprouts and bread with dread!" Don't allow your dietary restrictions to rule you or limit your social life.
Eating out is possible, even on a restricted diet. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate your requests. It's just a matter of learning how to order the healthiest meal possible. Good options include poached fish with lemon, salads with vinaigrette dressing, and plain baked potatoes. Get in the habit of ordering sauces on the side and avoid filling up on empty calories, like white bread rolls.
Take Time To Savor Each Meal
We often make the mistake of eating hurriedly, standing at the sink wolfing something?anything!?down so we can move on to the next activity in our busy lives. But digestion actually functions better when we take the time to slow down. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for enhancing circulation to the digestive organs and promoting the flow of digestive juices. There is only one catch?we must be relaxed for our parasympathetic nervous system to predominate. So, take a deep breath and relax, there's plenty of time!