The Great Soda Debate: Regular or Diet – is one really healthier than the other?

You don’t have to be a health nut to know that soda isn’t good for you. But is it really all that bad? Is it ok to just have it once in a while? And if you’re going to have it, is it better to have the regular ol’ sugar-filled version or the zero calorie “diet” kind?

Let’s weigh-in on the facts:

Regular soda

PROS:

  • It doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin) that have gotten a really bad rap lately

 

CONS:

  • The sugar! A 12-ounce can of cola has about 8 teaspoons; almost the daily limit as recommended by the American Heart Association
  • Drinking 1-2 cans a day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%
  • Regular sodas are filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which is linked to obesity, heart disease, and fatty liver disease

Diet soda

PROS:

  • It feeds the craving for something sweet without adding extra calories or carbs, if you’re concerned about this
  • Since it’s sugar-free, diabetics can sip without worrying about the direct hit to their insulin and blood sugar levels

 

CONS:

  • While diet soda may be considered ‘safe’ for diabetics, they are far from nutritious as the artificial sweeteners in diet soda actually cause you to crave more sugar. When we drink it, our body is expecting sugar. Then when it doesn’t get it, it responds with even more cravings – for sugar!
  • Diet soda drinkers tend to gain more weight particularly around their belly. One study said that frequent drinkers of diet soda gained up to three times more belly fat than their non-diet soda drinking counterparts.
  • Diet soda is now being linked with cancer, heart attacks, strokes and neurological disorders.

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Everything You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fats

There’s a lot of talk about healthy fats these days. People are including more fat in their diets and forgetting about the fat-free diet crazes of the past.

You’ve probably heard about omega fats in the mix, but what exactly are they?

What are Omega Fats? Do they all perform the same function in our bodies?

Omegas are a group of fatty acids known as Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. They’re numerically named based on their chemical composition.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFA’s). The body is capable of producing some fatty acids on its own, like Omega-9 – meaning you don’t need to get them from food.

But the fatty acids the body can’t create on its own must be obtained from food, and therefore, are considered essential. Both fats are needed for good health, but most diets contain an abundance of omega-6 and not enough omega-3.

This skewed ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 is considered a cause of chronic inflammation that can lead to scary stuff, like heart attack and stroke.

A 1:1 ratio is ideal for keeping inflammation at bay, but it’s estimated that most people have a ratio closer to 20:1! Wow, right?

Low intake of Omega-3’s means most people are missing out on the major health benefits of this essential fat.

The protective qualities of Omega-3’s include:

  • Improved immune system function
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Decreased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, and depression
  • Improved triglyceride and cholesterol values
  • Critical role in human development – the brain and retina contain lots of omega-3 in the form of DHA

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Red Wine – Is it really good for you, or just health hype?

If you’ve heard that red wine is one of the healthiest of all alcoholic beverages, it’s for good reason.

 Thanks to the antioxidants found in the skins of grapes from which it’s made, red wine has been widely publicized as being “healthful”. The kind of antioxidants found in red wine, like resveratrol, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation and oxidation are considered the root causes of most disease, so consuming antioxidant-rich foods is a key component in disease prevention.

Moderate consumption of red wine has been linked to improved heart health, along with other health benefits, like decreasing the risk of:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • diabetes
  • certain cancers
  • depression

Some of the buzz around red wine’s health benefits comes from its prominent role in the well-studied Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet includes lots of fruit, vegetables, fish, olive oil, and red wine, and is believed to contribute to a long lifespan and low incidences of heart disease and cancer among Mediterranean populations. (more…)

How To Beat Negative Self-talk and Limiting Beliefs

A little self-criticism is a normal shared human mental pattern, and can even be healthy for the most part. But we can also just as easily open the door to that overly vocal “negative nelly” voice in our head.

However, if your negative voice is preventing you from doing what you want or need to do in your life, then it has to get booted back out the door. This kind of mental chatter has no right to set up shop in your mind.

Deeply held negative beliefs, especially when they’re firmly rooted in your unconscious, stress you out, damage relationships and can greatly limit your potential for health and happiness.

If you’re sick of having the same old conversation with negative nelly, then be sure to try some of the ideas I’ve outlined in this article on how you can shift away from this damaging mindset, and finally release yourself of these limiting beliefs.

What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are the little, but persistent voices that convince you that you can’t be or do or have something due to a perceived inadequacy in some area of your life or personality.

Your negative nelly narrative usually goes something like this:

I won’t ever be [this]…

I can’t do [that]…

I don’t have [this]…

I don’t deserve to be/have [this]…

And, one really common one that comes up for many people…

 I am not good enough.

Let’s change up the narrative you may have been having with yourself for a very long time!

Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing limiting beliefs

Your limiting decisions have shaped everything you do, and they have likely prevented you from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged you from trying some things at all.

The good news is that it’s totally possible to permanently change a long-held belief — even the ones that are lifelong.

You only perceive what you believe, so your beliefs shape the very world you live in.

 But, when your limiting beliefs come into question, your whole world can experience a shift for the better. (more…)

4 Easy Ways to Beat Fatigue…Naturally!

In today’s world, we are constantly on the go, a steady state “busy-ness” is the norm, and we’re always running from one responsibility to the next – literally! So, it’s no wonder that physical fatigue is such a common complaint.

The good news is that there are some really simple (and natural) ways to increase your energy so you can keep up with your busy life.

Get off the blood sugar roller coaster

One of the simplest ways we can boost our energy is to stabilize blood sugar. When we don’t eat enough food throughout the day or when we eat foods that are higher in sugar, our energy levels bottom out.

You can balance your blood sugar, and boost your energy naturally by:

  • Eating every 3-4 hours gives your body the nutrients and fuel it needs to keep your blood sugar – and energy levels steady.
  • Consuming foods that are low on the glycemic index (think fruits and veggies, whole grains) instead of the higher sugar white breads and pastas.
  • Eating protein with every meal to slow down the release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream. Protein is broken down and released slower so you’re less likely to have a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash.

You like to move it, move it!

When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is exercise. However, as hard as it can be to get your butt off the couch, it’s one of the best things you can do to fight fatigue.

And, it turns out that you don’t even have to commit to a long workout!

A California State University study concluded that even a brisk 10-minute walk can increase your energy for up to 2 hours.

So, when you feel that afternoon slump coming on, skip the coffee and lace up your running shoes instead. (more…)

Foods and Nutrients to Help Your Thyroid

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that releases hormones. Thyroid hormones help your body regulate a few things – not a big deal – just the metabolism of ALL cells. And this is critical for maintaining a healthy body weight and having the energy to live your life.

(Yes, your thyroid IS a big deal!)

It’s estimated that at least 3.7% of US adults have an under-active thyroid.

When you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, it’s called hypothyroidism. This can result in the slowing down of your metabolism and cause difficulty losing weight; and even weight gain. Some of the other symptoms can include fatigue, forgetfulness, dry hair and skin, constipation, muscle cramping, and feeling cold.

An under-active thyroid can be diagnosed from a blood test from your health professional.

How does the thyroid become under-active?

There are many reasons why your thyroid may become under-active. The most common is autoimmunity, where the immune cells attack other cells in the body. In this case, the cells of the thyroid gland.

It can also be the result of low levels of iodine, which is an essential mineral. Combining that with high levels of goitrogens (food substances that inhibit iodine from getting into thyroid) and you can be at risk for an iodine deficiency. (more…)

Pros and Cons of Elimination Diets

Our digestive system is a huge portal into our bodies. Lots of things can get in there that aren’t always good for us. And because the system is so complex (knowing which tiny molecules to absorb, and which keep out), lots can go wrong. And that’s one reason why 70% of our immune system lives in and around our digestive system.

This makes food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances a huge contribution to an array of symptoms all over our bodies. Things like autoimmune issues, inflammation, weight gain, and even our moods can be affected by what we eat. If you have digestive issues or any other unexplained symptoms, you may consider trying an elimination diet.

An elimination diet is one where you strategically eliminate certain foods to see if you react to them. It can help immensely when trying to figure out if a particular food is causing symptoms because you’re sensitive to it.

You generally start out by eliminating the most common food allergens for a few weeks. Then you slowly add them back one at a time and note any symptoms (better or worse).

Let’s go over the pros and cons of this diet. (more…)

What You Need To Know About Grapefruit, If You Take Medications

Grapefruit is good for you!

It’s a vitamin C-rich citrus fruit that’s low in sugar and contains vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. It has a low glycemic index and does not spike your blood sugar when you eat it. The pink and red varieties also contain lycopene.

It’s definitely a nutritious health-promoting food.

It even had a whole weight-loss diet created around it – the “grapefruit diet!” Research has proven that grapefruit doesn’t have any magical weight loss properties, so don’t eat it just to lose weight.

BUT…

There is something you need to know about grapefruit if you take medications.

Grapefruit-Medication Interaction

Grapefruit enhances the effects of many medications – over 85 at last count; this is sometimes called the “grapefruit effect.” Taking grapefruit (or its juice) along with certain medications – even a day apart – can increase the risk of side effects. Who knew, right?!

For example, when taken with certain blood pressure lowering medications it lowers blood pressure too much. This causes lightheadedness and other symptoms. Another example is when taken with certain birth control pills, women have a higher risk of blood clots. Definitely something to take seriously. (more…)

What Makes Broccoli and Kale Superfoods?

Broccoli and kale are often touted to be “superfoods.” And, yes, they really are amazingly healthy for you.

If you’re wondering what exactly is in these green powerhouses that makes them so “super,” I’ve dived into the research to give you some nerdy reasons to make these a staple in your diet. So get ready to get your geek on.

To start, they’re both considered cruciferous vegetables related to each other in the Brassica family. This family of super plants also includes cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.

These superfoods have a ton of nutrition, and other health-promoting compounds, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to cook too!

Super nutrition

Broccoli and kale are full of nutrition: vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. They’re both considered to be nutrient dense which is a measure of nutrients per calorie – and these both have a lot!

100 grams of broccoli (about 1 cup, chopped) contains:

  • 34 calories
  • 8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 6.6 g carbohydrates, and 2.6 g fiber
  • Good source of B vitamins (when eaten raw)
  • >100% of your daily vitamin C
  • Almost 100% of your vitamin K
  • Good source of manganese
  • Traces of all the other vitamins and minerals

One cup of loosely packed kale contains:

  • 8 calories
  • 7 g protein, 0.2 g fat (including omega-3), 1.4 g carbohydrates, and 0.6 g fiber
  • Contains pre-vitamin A (beta-carotene)
  • Several B vitamins, including B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate (B9)
  • Rich in vitamins C and K
  • Lots of minerals including manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, sulfur, copper, phosphorus, and calcium

As you can see, these two contain a lot of nutrients. (more…)