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Fitness/ Diet

The Truth About These Supposedly “Healthy” Foods

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When we go to a supermarket or a food junction, it is almost impossible to resist grabbing a snack. On a surface level, some common snacks and drinks seem to boast a multitude of health benefits or do not seem inherently unhealthy. However, upon closer analysis, there is more to these foods than meets the eye.

Here is a reference for different dietetic intakes assuming your diet is the standard 2,000 calories per day:

Max Sugar Intake (g) Max Fat Intake (g)
Men 37.5 44-78
Women 25 44-78

Acai Bowls

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

“It has fruit so that means it’s healthy, right?”

For a long time, acai has been proclaimed as a superfood and was deemed to be the secret to weight loss. However, researchers from the NIH have stated that “no independent studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals that substantiate claims that acai supplements alone promote rapid weight loss.”

While acai berries do have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, the ingredients in the acai bowl itself have an extremely high sugar content, ranging from 21-62 grams of sugar. The acai fruit itself is healthy; however, the toppings that contribute to this sugar spike include granola, chocolate chip, and honey.

Most of the acai at health food shops put added sugar into the acai mixture. Despite these drawbacks, it is still possible to enjoy the bowl but a few changes are necessary.

Health Tip: Try to omit those sugary toppings, and as a substitute, add grapes, apples or pears to make the bowl sweeter. Also, if you can find unsweetened acai, you can blend it with a banana to retain that sweet taste. If you are craving a more savory taste, you can mix the acai with greek yogurt or peanut butter, which contain healthy fats.

Boba Milk Tea

Photo by Rosalind Chang on Unsplash

Boba is a common drink that is loved amongst millennials, and at first glance, the drink may not be perceived as unhealthy. However, boba is “boiled and saturated with sugar” and each ball has about 5-14 calories, meaning that “100 extra calories are added to an already calorically dense drink.”

Nutrition wise, boba does not contain any minerals or vitamins, so it is essentially empty calories. The sugar levels are extremely high, as one cup of boba can amount to 50 grams of sugar. Toppings such as jelly and pudding also contribute to high fat and sugar content.

Health Tip: Everyday boba consumption is not recommended; however, you can adjust the sweetness by adding less syrup, dilute the drink with more ice, and ask for less boba.

Protein Bars

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rstinnett/7703353570

The act of digging into a chocolate, gooey protein can seem quite scrumptious. Don’t be fooled though; these protein bars are packed with additives such as high fructose corn syrup and saturated fats. The bar Nutrimo contains 9.99 grams of saturated fat, which is equivalent to the amount of saturated fats in a big mac. Power Bar has around 27 grams of sugar as does two snack packs of Oreos.

Health Tip: A better alternative to these bars are oatmeal or flax seed bars that have natural sugars such as fruit sugar or honey.

Overall, the key is to consume these drinks and snacks in moderation and make adjustments that make the food just as delectable as before, while keeping it healthy.

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Fitness/ Diet

Studies Show That Healthy Food Can Help Combat Depression

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The most common medical solutions to treat depression include antidepressants and SSRIs. However, rather than turning to medication, changing the way you eat can help you combat depression. Research has shown that a nutritious diet not only prevents depression but also treats it once it has started

Epidemiologist Felice Jacka led research that examined whether or not diet plays a role in improving mood. In a group of 67 people with depression, one group was being treated for antidepressants, another group received psychotherapy, and some individuals were treated with both. Half of the individuals were advised by a dietician regarding how to incorporate a healthy diet, while the other half was given social support. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that those that received nutritional counseling showed significantly happier moods compared to those who received social support. 

With other studies showing similar results, we have seen the genesis of nutritional psychiatry. This discipline, pioneered by Jacka, aims to demonstrate the role of diet in mental health and to develop nutrition-based strategies to combat brain disorders. Traditional medical education generally does not consist of a well-rounded insight into nutrition; therefore, fields such as nutritional psychiatry are working on adding another layer to medical curriculum because food can apply to other parts of the body. For example, this research study notes that a bad diet affects our microbiome, which consists of gut bacteria that are housed inside of our intestines. Gut bacteria essentially create molecules that affect the production of serotonin in the brain. 

You might be asking: what foods can I eat? The research points out to a Mediterranean diet composed of “olive oil, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, and seafood.” Ultimately, this diet would increase good gut-bacteria and enhance our inflammatory responses. Here are some nutrients to consider: 

  • DHA: Also known as Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA helps in producing BDNF, which is brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes the formation of new neurons in the brain. It is also the primary omega-3 fats in the brain. 
    • Sources of DHA: Wild salmon, oysters, mussels
  • Vitamin B6: This vitamin is crucial in serotonin production, which influences sleep and mood. Decreased serotonin is linked to depression, and a daily intake of vitamin B6 is recommended. 
    • Sources of Vitamin B6: Sweet potatoes, pistachios, chicken
  • Probiotics: These are crucial to cultivating good gut-bacteria within the microbiome.
    • Sources of Probiotics: Yogurt, kefir, kimchi
  • Prebiotics: It is essential for the gut bacteria to have prebiotics to stay alive. 
    • Sources of Prebiotics: Onions, Garlic, Oats

A proper diet may not completely eliminate medications or therapy. However, “it can act as a supplemental treatment” with no detrimental side effects unlike antidepressants, and in the long run, it acts as a source of prevention for chronic diseases. 

Source: 

  1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-food-that-helps-battle-depression-1522678367
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43504125

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Fitness/ Diet

How to Exercise for Your Age

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Keeping fit at any age can certainly be a challenge. The idea of running a marathon at 50 may seem impossible, especially after you experience a few performance injuries and recovery time starts to increase. Regular exercise has a positive impact on your health, and it is important to focus on enjoying the right type of exercise for your age group. This means choosing an activity that delivers impacts without the risk of injury. Here is a simple guide on how to do the right exercise for your age:

Adolescence and Childhood:

Exercise can help you to control body weight, maximize coordination, improve self-confidence and deliver a healthy sleep pattern in childhood and adolescence. Making sure that kids regularly get outside and develop varied skills by playing different sports is a great way to help them develop exercise habits. If you fall in this age group, you can do this by joining an intramural sports team to increase physical fitness.

Through Your 20s:

In your mid-20s, you will experience some of the fastest reaction times in the sense that your body can pump oxygen to the muscles at a quick rate. The “maximum rate at which the body can pump oxygen to the muscles” is called VO2 max. Your VO2 max continues to drop after your mid-20s by 1% each year and your reaction time also slows by 1% each year. During this time of your life, it is a good idea to introduce a regular exercise routine. You can try varying your physical activity by trying hiking, swimming, or whatever form of exercise fits with your busy schedule.

Throughout Your 30s:

Exercise can be more difficult the slot in here, often times because many people have a family or career to take care of. What is important is working in the time you need to stay healthy with a busy work schedule. Even taking the time to climb stairs and get away from your desk is important. Diversifying your exercise program was short and intense training like high intensity interval training, spin class or boot camp can be a great way to get a lot of exercise in efficiently.

Through Your 40s:

In your 40s, your metabolisms changes and most people start to put weight on in their 40s. Exercising with resistance training or weight training can be an excellent way to counteract some of the accumulation of fat. In addition, trying out a kettle bell weight training program can be a great way to change your metabolism.

Through Your 50s and 60s:

Chronic conditions start to pop up  in your 50s, and this is when you may face a greater risk for type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Completing strength training once a week to maintain muscle mass and doing weight-bearing walking can help you get exercise without straining your body.

Through Your 70s and Beyond:

Exercise in your 70s is important for maintaining strength and preventing a fall. Going for regular walks, working on your flexibility, and doing very minor strength training with the help of a personal trainer physiotherapist can help you maintain your independence. Fitness and strength decline rapidly in the event of sickness or a time when you are bed bound. Therefore, keeping sustainable exercise is a part of your lifestyle is one of the greatest ways that you can experience ongoing health benefits.

Source:

  1. http://theconversation.com/keeping-fit-how-to-do-the-right-exercise-for-your-age-108851

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Fitness/ Diet

What You Need to Know About Activated Charcoal

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Activated charcoal has taken the modern-day food industry abuzz not just for its mystery and intrigue but also for its health benefits. Did you know it is found in the most ubiquitous foods such as ice cream, donuts, and coffee? Although activated charcoal is starting to become popular, it was widely utilized as a popular product in natural healing around the world. It was used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for generations, and there are recorded uses of activated charcoal that date back to 1550 BC.

What Does Activated Charcoal Look Like and How is it Made?

In terms of its looks, activated charcoal usually comes in the form of black powder. It is usually produced by burning a substance without oxygen that builds a deep char. The substances can include anything from bamboo to coconut shell charcoal. When synthesized in the lab, the char is heated to a high temperature and exposed to various gases to activate the charcoal.  This leads to a porous end product that is safe for consumption.  Once the activated charcoal has been activated, it can bind to a substance and eventually gets absorbed. Activated charcoal is tasteless, odorless and completely non-toxic.

What are Some of Its Health Benefits?

  • Removing Poison and Toxins: Activated charcoal is considered one of the most effective G.I. tract decontaminants on the market. It can quickly absorb 50-60% of unwanted elements that are found in the intestines and the stomach; in fact, these absorption effects can last for up to 2 hours. The positive effects of activated charcoal can continue to last up to two hours after it’s ingested. Many emergency rooms regularly use activated charcoal for handling certain types of poison. Charcoal can bind to and remove substances even after they enter the bloodstream.
  • Oral health: Activated charcoal can be particularly powerful at removing materials from the digestive system and your teeth. It doesn’t directly neutralize toxins, but it can bind to them and quickly remove harmful substances from your mouth. Activated charcoal can quickly remove stains from the teeth and whiten teeth in just a few uses.
  • Skincare: Activated charcoal also has many uses in beauty products. It’s commonly found in many facial scrubs and it’s widely effective at removing chemicals, dirt, and bacteria that can often build up along your skin. Regularly treating your skin with activated charcoal can be an excellent anti-aging solution. It will regularly remove toxins that can make you age faster.
  • Regulating Cholesterol Levels: Activated charcoal can work to remove bad cholesterol and increase the incidence of good cholesterol just as you would receive from any prescription medication.
  • Reduces Bloating: It can be extremely beneficial in removing gas caused by byproducts in food items. Taking 500 mg of activated charcoal can help to reduce bloating and gas regularly after a meal that contains these items.

Is Activated Charcoal Safe?

Activated charcoal is non-toxic; however, if you have any health risks, you should consult your primary care physician before internal use.

Sources:

  1. https://wellnessmama.com/247/activated-charcoal/
  2. https://www.homeremediesnaturalcures.com/2018/11/25/activated-charcoal-can-be-used-to-remove-years-of-toxins-poisons-and-mold-buildup-in-your-body/

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