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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

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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Fitness/ Diet

A Brief Guide to Injury Prevention

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Almost every sports game, whether that is on television or in real life, at least one athlete gets injured. These injuries can range from sprains (injuries from ligaments) to stress (injuries from bones), and they occur when there is overuse, direct impact, or application of force that is greater than how much the body can withstand. Injuries are also quite common in daily exercise routines and can often require long recovery periods with intensive care. Therefore, injury prevention is critical not just to optimize performance but also to maintain proper health. Here are a few simple tips on injury prevention:

  1. Adhere to Proper Form: While often overlooked, proper form can help in lessening impact stress and avoiding injury in the first place. If you are starting to exercise, you should consider learning the appropriate form and technique from a professional. The consequences of not maintaining proper form are misaligned muscles, tendons, and joints that have the potential to cause stairs. By keeping proper form, you are also ensuring that the right part of your body is getting worked.
  2. Purchase the Right Gear: Special attention must be given to shoes, so make sure you get the right ones that suit your exercise needs. For example, walking shoes will be a little stiffer, whereas running shoes are more flexible. Moreover, you need to understand your foot shape to know what kind of support you need for your soles. The type of shoe and insoles will not just minimize any ankle or joint foot damage but will also make your work out a more pleasant experience.
  3. Drink Plenty of Water: Sweating is your body’s way of losing essential fluids, so to replenish those, be sure to drink water before and after your sports training or workout, depending on the duration. Hydration will help prevent muscle cramps and keep sodium and potassium levels high.
  4. Eat Healthier: As seen consistently, it is no secret that Western diets are high in fats and carbs. Eating these foods will make your body gain weight and will prevent you from recovering from an injury. Instead, focus on eating tons of fruits and vegetables, as these foods are essential for recovery and injury prevention. Plant-based diets are filled with Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium, which are optimal for bone recovery and growth.
  5. Know Your Physical Limitations: Understand how much your body can handle. This may mean that you need to start gradually and build up to a more vigorous workout. It is also just as important to cool down, as that gives time for the body to maintain flexibility, composure, and stability. Most importantly, listen to your body when it shows signs of immense physical fatigue.

Although these tips may help in preventive care, it is essential to be mindful of what steps to take in the case of an injury:

Sources:

  1. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Sports-Injury-Prevention-Tip-Sheet.aspx
  2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/sports-injuries
  3. https://strengthrunning.com/2010/05/born-to-run-chris-mcdougall-ultra-runner/
  4. https://www.nfpt.com/blog/importance-proper-form-strength-training
  5. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/how-choose-athletic-shoes#1
  6. https://www.livestrong.com/article/297024-why-is-it-important-to-wear-proper-shoes-while-working-out/
  7. https://www.orthoarizona.org/azbone/blog/hydration-and-injury-prevention
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/10-tips-to-prevent-injuries-when-you-exercise
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3 Reasons Why Morning Exercise May Improve Your Health

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Morning exercise versus evening exercise? This lifestyle factor has been a point of contention for many individuals. Millennials, in particular, tend to exercise at night because traditional 9-5 jobs may not afford the luxuries of waking up early or working out at lunch. Some people, on the other hand, work out in the morning as it gives them a boost of energy to focus and concentrate for the day. Science, for the most part, has shown the effectiveness of exercise during the day. Check out some of these benefits below:

  1. Morning workouts have been proven to give a jumpstart to your day by “kickstarting your metabolism early.” In essence, you burn more calories and fat during the day rather than at night. For example, when you wake up in the morning, studies show that fasting while exercising improves glucose tolerance. In the study, there was a control group, a group that had fasted, and a group that consumed carbohydrates prior to exercising. The results demonstrated that those that were in the control and carbohydrate group had increased body weight, compared to the group that fasted. The group that fasted had higher muscle protein content and burned more fat stores compared to carbohydrate stores.
  2. A 2012 study conducted by Brigham Young University demonstrated that 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise decreases a person’s motivation for food. Researchers studied 35 women and assigned them to view food images, with and without a morning exercise. The women performed these two tasks in a random order. The researchers then found that after working out in the morning, attentional responses to food had decreased.
  3. A study conducted at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, 20 adults did a moderate-intensity level workout at 7 a.m., 1 p.m., or 7 p.m to monitor the participant’s sleep quality. What researchers found in the study was that the participants woke up fewer times in the night when they worked out at 7 in the morning, spending less time in REM sleep, which is considered the lightest phase of sleep.

In short, exercise during the morning helps you burn more fat stores, decreases attentional responses to food, and results in better sleep. Building up an exercise routine in the morning may seem daunting at first, but it is very doable with a little bit of consistency and motivation. This can be done by re-adjusting your sleep schedule by waking up earlier. Ultimately, exercising in the morning not only brings about the aforementioned health benefits but can also set a positive tone for the rest of the day by making you feel productive and energized.

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