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High Carb – Not Fat – Intake Linked To Greater Early Death Risk: Study

A large Canadian study is challenging conventional wisdom that says a low-fat diet is optimal for cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of premature death.

The McMaster University study of more than 135,000 people in 18 countries found that eating a moderate amount of all types of fat is linked to a reduced risk of early mortality compared to the much-touted low-fat diet — while consuming a high-carbohydrate diet is associated with an increased risk of dying early.

“Contrary to popular belief, increased consumption of dietary fats is associated with a lower risk of death,” said lead author Mahshid Dehghan, a nutrition epidemiologist at the Hamilton university’s Population Health and Research Institute.

“Those with a high-fat intake, about 30 per cent of energy intake, had a 23 per cent lower risk of mortality and an 18 per cent lower risk of stroke, compared to the low-intake group, which had 11 per cent energy from fat,” Dehghan said from Barcelona, where she presented the findings Tuesday to the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

“The association with lower mortality was also seen with all major types of fat, by which I mean saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.”

Saturated fat is found in meat and dairy products, while monounsaturated fat is contained in nuts, avocados, and vegetable and olive oils. Polyunsaturated fat is found in walnuts, sunflower and flax seeds, fish, corn, soybean and safflower oils.

Current global guidelines recommend that 50 to 65 per cent of daily calories come from carbohydrates, and less than 10 per cent from saturated fats. But Dehghan said that advice is mostly based on evidence from studies in North America and Europe.

Cardiovascular disease is a global epidemic, with 80 per cent of the burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries. Diet is a key modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, experts say.

Dehghan said the healthiest diet would be made up of 50 to 55 per cent carbohydrates and 35 per cent total fat, including both saturated and unsaturated types.

“We found no evidence that below 10 per cent of energy from saturated fat is beneficial — and going below seven per cent is even harmful,” she said, adding that a diet containing 10 to 13 per cent of energy from saturated fat was found to be beneficial.

A diet that provides more than 60 per cent of energy from carbohydrates — one common among populations in China and South Asia — was associated with a 28 per cent higher risk of premature death, researchers found.

“The message of our study is moderation as opposed to very low or very high intake in consumption of both fats and carbohydrates.”
“We’re not advocating an extreme diet,” agreed co-author Andrew Mente. “We’re not saying that people should go on a low-carb, very high-fat diet because we didn’t find any benefit with a very low-carb diet either.

“There’s a sweet spot for carbohydrates, which is about 55 per cent of energy intake.”

The PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology) study was published Tuesday in The Lancet. In a linked commentary in the journal, Drs. Christopher Ramsden and Anthony Domenichiello of the U.S. National Institute on Aging called the research “an impressive undertaking that will contribute to public health for years to come.”
“The relationships between diet, cardiovascular disease and death are topics of major public health importance…. Initial PURE findings challenge conventional diet-disease tenets that are largely based on observational associations in European and North American populations, adding to the uncertainty about what constitutes a healthy diet. This uncertainty is likely to prevail until well-designed randomized controlled trials are done.”

Mente, also a nutrition epidemiologist at the Population Health and Research Institute, was lead author of a second analysis from the PURE study presented Tuesday at the cardiology meeting.

That paper — one of three from PURE published in The Lancet — found that eating three to four servings of fruit, vegetables and legumes per day reduces the risk of premature death.

“And consuming higher amounts, pretty much you have the same level of risk,” Mente said from Barcelona. “There’s no added benefit with consuming more than four servings.
“This is important because existing guidelines recommend that people consume at least five servings per day, which is less affordable in the poorer countries because fruits and vegetables — particularly fruits — are more expensive as a proportion of people’s incomes.”

Lower-income Canadians may also be unable to afford the five to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables recommended in the country’s Food Guide.

“So what our study shows is you can achieve maximum benefit through fruits and vegetables and legumes, and it’s also affordable at the same time.”

Mente said the study also showed raw vegetables appear to confer greater health benefits than those that are cooked because of a loss of nutrients from being exposed to heat.

With the federal government in the process of revamping Canada’s Food Guide, the research could be a timely addition to consultations on what Canadians should be eating, Mente suggested.

“We would hope that independent thinkers perhaps reconsider the guidelines and look at our data, and perhaps rather than putting limits on total fat and saturated fat, perhaps we should be putting limits on the amount of carbohydrates that people consume.”

SHERYL UBELACKER     TORONTO    THE CANADIAN PRESS    AUGUST 29, 2017


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Why You May Want to Limit Refined Carbs In Your Diet

93 percent of North Americans eat too many refined grains, while only 7 percent eat enough whole grains in their diets. Refined grains do contain a substantial amount of starchy, or complex, carbohydrates, and they can provide the body with energy needed for exercise and for daily activities of living. However, if you are trying to eat a healthier diet, it is best to limit your intake of these refined foods.

What is a Refined Carbohydrate?

Refined carbohydrates are plant-based foods that have the whole grain extracted during processing. The process of refining a food not only removes the fiber, but it also removes much of the food’s nutritional value, including B-complex vitamins, healthy oils and fat-soluble vitamins. In many cases, food companies will then infuse, or enrich, the product with some of the nutrients that were extracted once the refining process is complete, but this does not always occur. Because refined grains often lack a desirable nutritional profile, the USDA recommends that only half of your daily 6 ounces of grains come from refined products.

Refined Breads

Many of the breads found on grocery store shelves are considered refined carbohydrates. These breads are often made from enriched and bleached flours, and these flours are typically listed as the first or second ingredient on the nutrition label. In addition, the list of ingredients will often include vitamins and minerals that are added during the post-refining, enrichment process. Sourdough, white and plain wheat bread are excellent examples of refined breads, whereas 100 percent whole-wheat or whole-grain breads are not refined.

Refined Rice

Like bread, some forms of rice are considered to be refined grains. White rice and most of the quick-cook rices are refined and, as a result, do not contain an intact grain. They may be enriched to enhance their nutritional profile, but they typically lack the fiber found in the non-refined brown rice. One cup of white rice counts as 2 ounces of refined grains.

Refined Cereals

Many of the sugary, cold cereals found in grocery stores are considered to be refined grains. They are typically made from enriched flour due to the refining of their original wheat, corn or oat grain. Refined cereals typically have 2 or fewer grams of fiber per serving, and one cup of a refined cereal, such as corn flakes, counts as 1 ounce of refined grains.

Refined Pasta

Unlike whole wheat or whole grain pasta, refined pasta lacks much of the fiber and the B-complex vitamins found in the unprocessed version. Like other processed starches, refined pasta may be enriched with nutrients such as folate, thiamin and riboflavin, and some versions of refined pasta may even have omega 3 fatty acids added during processing. Thus, if you prefer the less grainy taste of refined pasta, make sure that it has been fully enriched with the aforementioned nutrients.

Refined Snack Foods

Snack foods are typically made with refined carbs such as bleached flours and sugar in order to increase palatability. These snack foods have little nutritional value and, as a result, provide empty calories in the diet. Cakes, cookies, pie, candy and chips are all examples of refined snack foods, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these foods should not constitute more than 120 to 330 calories per day.

References (5) 

About the Author
Dr. Courtney Winston is a registered/licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator and public health educator. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Winston was recognized in 2012 with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Emerging Leader in Dietetics Award for the state of California.


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Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a major macronutrient and one of your body’s primary sources of energy. Still, there is a constant weight loss buzz that discourages eating them. The key is finding the right carbs — not avoiding them altogether.

You may have heard that eating complex carbs is better than simple carbs. The problem is that nutrition labels don’t tell you if the carbohydrate content is simple or complex. Either way, understanding how these foods are classified and how they work in your body can help ensure you choose the right carbs.

Understanding Carbohydrates

What’s in a Carb?
Carbs are made up of fiber, starch, and sugars.
The American Diabetes Association recommends getting 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
Carbohydrates are an important nutrient found in numerous types of foods. Most of us equate carbs with bread and pasta, but you can also find them in:

  • dairy products
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • grains
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • seeds
  • sugary foods and sweets

Carbohydrates are made up of three components: fiber, starch, and sugar. Fiber and starch are complex carbs, while sugar is a simple carb. Depending on how much of each of these is found in a food determines its nutrient quality.

Simple Carbs = Simplistic Nutrition

Simple carbs are sugars. While some of these occur naturally in milk, most of the simple carbs in the American diet are added to foods. Common simple carbs added to foods include:

  • raw sugar
  • brown sugar
  • corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup
  • glucose, fructose, and sucrose
  • fruit juice concentrate

Simple Carb Foods to Avoid

Try to avoid some of the most common refined sources of simple carbs and look for alternatives to satisfy those sweet cravings:

1. Soda:
Choose water flavored with lemon instead.


2. Baked Treats:


Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit.


3. Packaged Cookies:
Bake your own goods using substitutes like applesauce or sweeteners, or look for other mixes that contain more complex carbs. Try our recipe for lemon cardamom cookies, or maybe even our parsnip cookies!


4. Fruit Juice Concentrate:
An easy way to avoid fruit concentrate is to look closely at nutrition labels. Always choose 100 percent fruit juice, or, even easier, make your own at home! Try our recipe for kiwi strawberry juice.


5. Breakfast Cereal:
Breakfast cereals tend to be loaded with simple carbohydrates. If you just can’t kick the habit, check out our rundown of breakfast cereals, from the best to the worst for your health.

carbs

 

The More Complex, the Better

Complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs, because they are higher in fiber and digest more slowly. This also makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. They are also ideal for people with type 2 diabetes because they help manage post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Fiber and starch are the two types of complex carbohydrates. Fiber is especially important because it promotes bowel regularity and helps to control cholesterol. The main sources of dietary fiber include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • beans
  • whole grains

Starch is also found in some of the same foods as fiber. The difference is certain foods are considered more starchy than fibrous, such as potatoes. Other high-starch foods are:

  • whole wheat bread
  • cereal
  • corn
  • oats
  • peas
  • rice

Complex carbohydrates are key to long-term health. They make it easier to maintain your weight, and can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.

Complex Carbs You Should Eat More Of

Be sure to include the following complex carbohydrates as a regular part of your diet:


1. Grains:
Grains are good sources of fiber, as well as potassium, magnesium, and selenium. Choose less processed, whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, and whole-wheat pasta.


2. Fiber-Rich Fruits:
Such as apples, berries, and bananas (avoid canned fruit, as they usually contain added syrup).


3. Fiber-Rich Vegetables:
Eat more of all your veggies, including broccoli, leafy greens, and carrots.


4. Beans:
Aside from fiber, these are good sources of folate, iron, and potassium. 

Choosing the right carbs can take time and practice. With a little bit of research and a keen eye for nutrition labels, you can start making healthier choices that will energize your body and protect it from long-term complications.

Article resources
Carbohydrates. (2012, December 11). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html#Simple%20Carbohydrates
Choose Carbohydrates Wisely. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.csrees.usda.gov/nea/food/pdfs/hhs_facts_carbohydrates.pdf
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, May 2). Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit into a Healthy Diet. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705?pg=1
Types of Carbohydrates. (2014, February 28). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/types-of-carbohydrates.html

Written by Kristeen Cherney

Medically Reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on 30 March 2015

 


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What Milk Shakes Teach Us About Food Addiction

By Alexandra Sifferlin  June 27, 2013

Have you ever craved a piece of chocolate? Or felt the lure of a hot slice of pizza? And been convinced that the force responsible wasn’t your stomach hoping to quell hunger but your brain, desperately seeking to satisfy something more like an addiction? A new study provides the strongest evidence yet that certain foods trigger addictive behavior just as drugs can.

Nicotine is addictive. So are drugs like cocaine and heroin. All can rewire the brain to crave the progressively elusive “high” or satisfaction that these agents produce. The desire is so strong that it overtakes all reason and need to satisfy it becomes an all-consuming mission, at the expense of your physical, emotional and social health.

Some would argue that certain foods hold the same power over people, monkeying with the brain’s normal appetite system and resetting the satisfaction threshold so it’s always just out of reach, meaning you can never eat enough. Others point to the fact that food is essential for survival so it can’t be addictive since satisfying hunger is part of, and isn’t supposed to interfere with, physical and mental health. “The concept of food addiction is very provocative and rightly so,”says Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Unlike drugs of abuse, food is necessary for survival.”

But with obesity rates still at worrisome levels, Ludwig and his colleagues decided to take an objective look at what effect food has on the brain, to see if certain foods do indeed trigger cravings as some abused substances do. Specifically, they focused on the dietary glycemic index, a measure of a food’s ability to raise blood sugar levels, on brain regions associated with cravings in a group of obese men.

“Prior research has shown the tasty high calorie foods can trigger the pleasure center of the brain. That supports the idea of food addiction, but the significance of those studies has been challenged because they typically compare grossly different foods like cheesecake versus boiled vegetables,” says Ludwig. “Yes, certain foods are tasty and enjoyable, but is that so different from a audiophile listening to beautiful music?”

Ludwig took MRI scans of the brains of 12 obese men after they consumed two milk shakes. Both had the same amount of calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates and tasted equally sweet. However, one milk shake had a much higher glycemic index from the carbohydrates compared to the other.


After the men consumed the milk shake with the higher glycemic index, their blood sugar levels surged as expected, then crashed a few hours later, leaving them feeling hungry. But with the brain scans, Ludwig was able to show that these  shakes activated the nucleus accumbens, which is also triggered by addictive drugs and behaviors like gambling. Previous work also hinted at a connection between food and dependence; a 2012 study found that obese people lose their sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that is released by fat cells in the body and regulates feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin may also play a role in substance addictions by modifying the body’s reward responses to things like alcohol or cocaine.

“These results suggest that highly processed carbohydrates trigger food cravings for many hours after consumption independent of calories or tastiness, and that limiting these foods could help people avoid over-eating,” says Ludwig. When the glycemic index drops, the nucleus accumbens may signal for more, in order to produce another surge, similar to the way that addictive drugs prompt cravings, he says.

But does that mean that food is addictive? One key difference between food and drug addictions involves the body’s ability to signal that it is “full,” or had enough. With drugs, there is less of a biological threshold. But the common brain patterns activated by food and addictive drugs suggests that each may inform the other. As TIME’s Maia Szalavitz reported:

Basically, regulation of food intake is more complex than drug use. That may help explain why there have been so many failures of anti-obesity drugs. But the similarities between hunger for food and for drugs suggest that if we do develop a drug that fights obesity, it may also help treat other addictions — and vice versa.

While the is-food-addictive debate shows no signs of ending, the label itself may not be that important. What matters most is finding ways to adapt our brains and behavior to the modern environment, one that contains intensely attractive food and drugs — along with highly politicized arguments about how to regulate them.

Understanding how some elements of eating may be driven by the same processes behind addictive behaviors could help to explain over-eating, for one. “By definition overweight and obese people habitually over-eat. They are eating more calories than they need,” explains Ludwig. “That raises this fundamental question, why do overweight people continue to overeat when they know intellectually that reducing calorie intake would be healthier and they’ve tried, often many times, to do so? Is it simply lack of willpower or could there be aspects of food that are driving overeating at a biological level?”

If there are biological factors at work, there may be ways to intervene to make dieting, and weight loss, easier. Eating fewer foods with high glycemic loads like white bread, for example, may keep surges of blood sugar to a minimum, which in turn could modulate the activity of the brain’s reward system and lessen cravings. Ludwig says that more research is needed to better understand the complex way that the brain sees food; even if food isn’t addictive in exactly the same way that drugs of abuse are, exposing the connections between eating and satisfaction could lead to more effective ways of managing, or even avoiding, the lure of our favorite foods.

The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

source: Time


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Holiday Hangover Help: What to Do When You’ve Had Too Much

November 27, 2012 | By Michele Foley, FitSugar


No one ever wants to drink too much, but sometimes festivities happen. Keep this guide handy for preventing and dealing with the horrible hangover.
Preventing a hangover
Know this: if you’re going to go out and toss back more than a few drinks, you’re going to pay the price; the body isn’t designed to binge on bad stuff and feel great the next day. But before you even get to the worst-case scenario, there are a few things that can help you prevent a hangover altogether—or at least make it a bit more manageable.
Don’t drink, or at least drink less. Instead of giving yourself unlimited access to the champagne bar, limit yourself to one or two cocktails. Drink slowly, and as a rule, don’t consume more than one drink per hour, which helps give the body time to metabolize the alcohol. Also, one drink does not mean a Long Island Tea. We’re talking a beer, a glass of wine, or roughly one ounce of hard liquor.
Drink water, and lots of it. Since alcohol dehydrates the body, begin and end your night of drinking with plenty of water, and for every alcoholic beverage you consume, match it with another glass of water. An easy trick is to alternate between a cocktail and a glass—or two!—of water while you are out for the night.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Having food in your stomach helps dilute the concentration of alcohol in your belly. Fill up on good-for-you foods with an emphasis on complex carbs.
Be choosy with what you drink. Whenever possible, stay away from sugary and carbonated drinks, since they speed up the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, and opt for choices that have a low alcohol content, like sake, soju, or low-cal vodka. Drink clear liquors over colored ones: darker alcohol like bourbon or red wine contain more congeners, a substance that help contribute to hangovers.

Too late! What to eat once a hangover hits
If the old adage everything in moderation was tossed out the window, next-day food choices can be your saving grace. Even if a greasy breakfast sandwich is the only thing you’re craving, make sure to eat; food helps break down the alcohol in your system.
Once you’ve eaten, ward off a headache with some OTC ibuprofen (avoid pain relievers containing acetaminophen, like Tylenol, because they may cause liver damage), and don’t skip that cup of coffee; aside from being a little pick-me-up, it’s been shown to help ward off a hangover-induced headache. If you had a few drinks too many and are suffering from specific symptoms, here’s which foods to reach for.
Dehydration. You need to hydrate. Your throat and mouth are dry due to dehydration, which is caused by the diuretic properties of alcohol. Dehydration also affects your muscles, making them feel weak. Drink plenty of water, and replace lost electrolytes with a low-sugar electrolyte-replacement drink or coconut water.
Upset stomach. Excessive alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach, causing nausea, digestive issues, or, in really bad cases, vomiting. Start with some Alka Seltzer, and eat bland and easily digested foods like bananas, saltine crackers, or broth.
Irritability and fatigue. Because the liver gets backed up trying to metabolize the alcohol, you might be experiencing low blood sugar, which can result in you feeling irritable and moody. While most any food can help spike up sugar levels in the body, in small studies, fructose has been shown to speed up the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. Give yourself a tall glass of orange juice after a night of drinking, or press your hangover away with this fresh juice recipe.
The best exercise remedies
Before you hit up that hour-long indoor cycling class, you may want to think twice. On its own, exercise is not an effective cure against a hangover, said Ruth C. Engs, RN, Ed.D., a professor at Indiana University who has done extensive research on the effects of drinking. While the endorphin rush can counteract the pain (albeit momentarily), the dehydration that comes along with an intense exercise session can worsen symptoms. Take into account how bad you’re feeling, and if you can’t bear to miss a workout, then opt for a light cardio session or restorative yoga class. But what your body probably needs right now is rest.
Alcohol does a number on sleep patterns; the pituitary gland becomes confused and releases the wrong amount of hormones that regulate sleep; the central nervous system also becomes overexcited, causing sensitivity to light, sound, and touch. All of the above means you do not get a good night of quality sleep. If your hangover is really bad, don’t feel guilty for taking the day off to relax and get some shut-eye.
FitSugar is a lifestyle website for women focusing on fitness and weight loss tips, 
healthy cooking, celebrity fitness, and workout routines for all levels. Read more at fitsugar.com.


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Benefits Of Couscous

What Is Couscous?

Couscous (pronounced Koose-Koose) is considered a pasta which is made of small granules of semolina flour, and is traditional in North African cuisine. It is also available made from whole-wheat flour, which slightly increases the fiber and boosts nutritional value. It is a culinary ingredient used as a substitution for rice or quinoa, it is very versatile, and it’s preparation requires little more than the addition of hot water and fluffing with a fork, then served as a side dish or in recipes, taking on the flavor of whatever you cook it with.  Ways to serve Couscous include adding it to soups, mixing it with sauteed vegetables, and as a breakfast cereal.

Nutritional Properties Of Couscous

The good news doesn’t stop there, as a 1 cup serving of couscous provides only 176 calories, or 8% of a standard 2,000 calorie diet. This would be far fewer calories than a cup of rice or quinoa, which provide 205 and 254 calories per cup.

A 1 cup of couscous adds 6g of protein to your day, or 12% of the daily intake recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. Other grains typically provide a lower levels of this macro-nutrient, which is needed for muscle building after exercise, and sustaining energy. A perfect fit for today’s health–conscious eaters.

 

couscous

 

Carbohydrates make up the majority of the calories in whole-wheat couscous, totaling 38g per 1 cup serving. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 130g of carbohydrates per day for optimal energy levels.

Whole-grain couscous contains more fat than white flour couscous, but the totals are still quite small. A 1-cup serving of the whole wheat variety contains only 1g.


Health Benefits Of Couscous

Including couscous in your diet provides several health benefits.  A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 43 mcg of selenium, or 61% of the 70 mcg daily value. This is a trace mineral that the body needs in small quantities, acting as an antioxidant and protecting healthy cells from the mutating effects of toxins that change the DNA and structural composition, leading to disease and premature aging

The potassium in couscous provides important functions, such as regulating blood pressure and the heartbeat. Potassium helps control fluid balance, an important factor in blood pressure regulation. It also assists with muscle contractions, and because the heart is a muscle, it requires potassium to prevent arrythmias, or irregularities of the heartbeat. A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 91mg of potassium, or 39% of the 3,500 mg the FDA recommends to get daily. 


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Benefits Of Couscous

What Is Couscous?

Couscous (pronounced Koose-Koose) is considered a pasta which is made of small granules of semolina flour, and is traditional in North African cuisine. It is also available made from whole-wheat flour, which slightly increases the fiber and boosts nutritional value. It is a culinary ingredient used as a substitution for rice or quinoa, it is very versatile, and it’s preparation requires little more than the addition of hot water and fluffing with a fork, then served as a side dish or in recipes, taking on the flavor of whatever you cook it with.  Ways to serve Couscous include adding it to soups, mixing it with sauteed vegetables, and as a breakfast cereal.

Nutritional Properties Of Couscous

The good news doesn’t stop there, as a 1 cup serving of couscous provides only 176 calories, or 8% of a standard 2,000 calorie diet. This would be far fewer calories than a cup of rice or quinoa, which provide 205 and 254 calories per cup.

A 1 cup of couscous adds 6g of protein to your day, or 12% of the daily intake recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. Other grains typically provide a lower levels of this macro-nutrient, which is needed for muscle building after exercise, and sustaining energy. A perfect fit for today’s health–conscious eaters.


Carbohydrates make up the majority of the calories in whole-wheat couscous, totaling 38g per 1 cup serving. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 130g of carbohydrates per day for optimal energy levels.

Whole-grain couscous contains more fat than white flour couscous, but the totals are still quite small. A 1-cup serving of the whole wheat variety contains only 1g.

Health Benefits Of Couscous

Including couscous in your diet provides several health benefits.  A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 43 mcg of selenium, or 61% of the 70 mcg daily value. This is a trace mineral that the body needs in small quantities, acting as an antioxidant and protecting healthy cells from the mutating effects of toxins that change the DNA and structural composition, leading to disease and premature aging.

The potassium in couscous provides important functions, such as regulating blood pressure and the heartbeat. Potassium helps control fluid balance, an important factor in blood pressure regulation. It also assists with muscle contractions, and because the heart is a muscle, it requires potassium to prevent arrythmias, or irregularities of the heartbeat. A 1 cup serving of couscous provides 91mg of potassium, or 39% of the 3,500 mg the FDA recommends to get daily.


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Top 5 habits of highly healthy people

By Dr. Joey Shulman, DC, RNCP

Making minor, yet meaningful changes to your lifestyle can help you become a significantly healthier and happier person. Our health expert shares five tips on sleep, nutrition and fitness to help you achieve these goals.

“Why does she look and feel so good? I think I want what she’s having!” If you find yourself thinking like this it might be time to adopt some new habits


After working in health care for over a decade and working one on one with thousands of clients, it has become clear that there are certain habits that are absolute game changers when it comes to your health. 

Implementing the following habits will quickly make a huge impact on your health – both physically and mentally.
 
1. Wake up early
If you wake up late and feel rushed in the morning, the rest of your day tends to continue in a similar hurried and stressful fashion. In order to set the proper tone for your day and to carve out some precious time just for yourself, try waking up a half-hour earlier than you normally do to walk, stretch, meditate or write in a journal

By doing so you will lower your stress levels and begin your day in a clear and calm fashion. To make life even easier, pack your bags and lunch (and the bags and lunch of your kids) the night before and lay out your clothes for the next day.
 
2. Do not eat refined carbohydrates or sugar
There is no way around it: Eating too much refined flour and sugar in the forms of cereal, bread, cookies, granola bars and muffins results in a dramatic energy plunge and food fog. To make matters worse, refined flour and sugar also tend to trigger the over-secretion of the hormone insulin, which leads to excess fat storage in the abdominal region and intense sugar cravings.
 

Highly healthy people treat white refined sugar as a “toxin” and save it as a very occasional treat. Instead of white sugar, opt for naturally sweet foods, such as berries, apples, unsweetened applesauce and mangos, to make morning parfaits and smoothies or frozen deserts. And remember to consume whole grains rather than refined flours.



3. Get active three to five times per week
Highly healthy people keep moving. In order to keep your body mass index in a healthy zone, your heart healthy and your stress levels down, it is important to engage in cardiovascular and weight-bearing activities three to five times per week. 

Pick something you love – or try something new! – such as yoga or Pilates, personal training or brisk walking.
 
4. Drink two litres of water daily
If you are feeling fatigued or bloated simply add more water to your daily regimen. Highly healthy people hydrate! 

Whether you opt for water or herbal tea, it is critical that you take in two litres or more of hydrating fluids every day. 

For an extra health boost, add freshly squeezed lemon or lime to your water to take advantage of their natural astringent effects.
 
5. Make time for bliss and joy
Let’s face it – life can get so busy and cluttered that we often forget to make time for play and joy. Highly healthy people understand the importance of taking a break and engaging in activities that allow them to follow their bliss. Whether that means going for a massage, spending time with friends or taking an art class, be sure to find something that makes you lose track of time and enjoy life. 
 
Commit to implementing these five tips for seven days straight and you’re sure to notice a huge difference in your overall sense of physical and mental wellness.
 
Joey Shulman is the author of The Metabolism-Boosting Diet (HarperCollins, 2012) and The Last 15 (Wiley, 2007). She is also the founder of The Shulman Weight Loss Clinic. For more information, please visit drjoey.com or shulmanweightloss.com.


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How Food Affects Your Moods

Can your diet help put you in a good mood (or a bad one)?
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Expert Column
Can your diet really help put you in a good mood? And can what you choose to eat or drink encourage bad moods or mild depression?
While certain diets or foods may not ease depression (or put you instantly in a better mood), they may help as part of an overall treatment plan. There’s more and more research indicating that, in some ways, diet may influence mood. We don’t have the whole story yet, but there are some interesting clues.
Basically the science of food’s affect on mood is based on this: Dietary changes can bring about changes in our brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behavior.
How Can You Use Food to Boost Mood?
So how should you change your diet if you want to try to improve your mood? You’ll find eight suggestions below. Try to incorporate as many as possible, because regardless of their effects on mood, most of these changes offer other health benefits as well.
1. Don’t Banish Carbs — Just Choose ‘Smart’ Ones
The connection between carbohydrates and mood is all about tryptophan, a nonessential amino acid. As more tryptophan enters the brain, more serotonin is synthesized in the brain, and mood tends to improve. Serotonin, known as a mood regulator, is made naturally in the brain from tryptophan with some help from the B vitamins. Foods thought to increase serotonin levels in the brain include fish and vitamin D.
Here’s the catch, though: While tryptophan is found in almost all protein-rich foods, other amino acids are better at passing from the bloodstream into the brain. So you can actually boost your tryptophan levels by eating more carbohydrates; they seem to help eliminate the competition for tryptophan, so more of it can enter the brain. But it’s important to make smart carbohydrate choices like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which also contribute important nutrients and fiber.
So what happens when you follow a very low carbohydrate diet? According to researchers from Arizona State University, a very low carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet was found to enhance fatigue and reduce the desire to exercise in overweight adults after just two weeks.
2. Get More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In recent years, researchers have noted that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts) may help protect against depression. This makes sense physiologically, since omega-3s appear to affect neurotransmitter pathways in the brain. Past studies have suggested there may be abnormal metabolism of omega-3s in depression, although some more recent studies have suggested there may not be a strong association between omega-3s and depression. Still, there are other health benefits to eating fish a few times a week, so it’s worth a try. Shoot for two to three servings of fish per week.
3. Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Eating breakfast regularly leads to improved mood, according to some researchers — along with better memory, more energy throughout the day, and feelings of calmness. It stands to reason that skipping breakfast would do the opposite, leading to fatigue and anxiety. And what makes up a good breakfast? Lots of fiber and nutrients, some lean protein, good fats, and whole-grain carbohydrates.
4. Keep Exercising and Lose Weight (Slowly)
After looking at data from 4,641 women ages 40-65, researchers from the Center for Health Studies in Seattle found a strong link between depression and obesity, lower physical activity levels, and a higher calorie intake. Even without obesity as a factor, depression was associated with lower amounts of moderate or vigorous physical activity. In many of these women, I would suspect that depression feeds the obesity and vice versa.
Some researchers advise that, in overweight women, slow weight loss can improve mood. Fad dieting isn’t the answer, because cutting too far back on calories and carbohydrates can lead to irritability. And if you’re following a low-fat diet, be sure to include plenty of foods rich in omega-3s (like fish, ground flaxseed, higher omega-3 eggs, walnuts, and canola oil.)
5. Move to a Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a balanced, healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and fish — all of which are important sources of nutrients linked to preventing depression.
A recent Spanish study, using data from 4,211 men and 5,459 women, showed that rates of depression tended to increase in men (especially smokers) as folate intake decreased. The same occurred for women (especially among those who smoked or were physically active) but with another B-vitamin: B12. This isn’t the first study to discover an association between these two vitamins and depression.

Researchers wonder whether poor nutrient intake may lead to depression, or whether depression leads people to eat a poor diet. Folate is found in Mediterranean diet staples like legumes, nuts, many fruits, and particularly dark green vegetables. B-12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal products, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.

6. Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D increases levels of serotonin in the brain but researchers are unsure of the individual differences that determine how much vitamin D is ideal (based on where you live, time of year, skin type, level of sun exposure). Researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who were suffering from depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder, tended to improve as their vitamin D levels in the body increased over the normal course of a year. Try to get about 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day from food if possible.
7. Select Selenium-Rich Foods
Selenium supplementation of 200 micrograms a day for seven weeks improved mild and moderate depression in 16 elderly participants, according to a small study from Texas Tech University. Previous studies have also reported an association between low selenium intakes and poorer moods.
More studies are needed, but it can’t hurt to make sure you’re eating foods that help you meet the Dietary Reference Intake for selenium (55 micrograms a day). It’s possible to ingest toxic doses of selenium, but this is unlikely if you’re getting it from foods rather than supplements.
Foods rich in selenium are foods we should be eating anyway such as:
  • Seafood (oysters, clams, sardines, crab, saltwater fish and freshwater fish)
  • Nuts and seeds (particularly Brazil nuts)
  • Lean meat (lean pork and beef, skinless chicken and turkey)
  • Whole grains (whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Beans/legumes
  • Low-fat dairy products
8. Don’t Overdo Caffeine
In people with sensitivity, caffeine may exacerbate depression. (And if caffeine keeps you awake at night, this could certainly affect your mood the next day.) Those at risk could try limiting or eliminating caffeine for a month or so to see if it improves mood.
Published February 29, 2008.

SOURCES: Maes, M. Psychiatry Research, March 22, 1999; vol 85: pp 275-291. Appleton, K.M. Journal of Affective Disorders, Dec. 2007; vol 104: pp 217-223. Medical Journal of Australia, Nov. 6, 2000; 173 Suppl: S104-5. White A.M. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 2007; vol 107: pp 1792-1796. Sanchez-Villegas, A. Public Health Nutrition, 2006; vol 9: pp 1104-9. Simon, G.E. General Hospital Psychiatry, Jan-Feb 2008; vol 30: pp 32-9. Weiss, C.J. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, August 2005; vol 105: p 26.
source: medicinenet.com   WebMD


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5 Foods That Help You Sleep

By , Caring.com senior editor

Should you let yourself have that midnight snack if you’re having trouble sleeping and you think hunger might be part of the problem? Here are five foods that can actually help you drift off:
1. Cherries. Fresh and dried cherries are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin, the chemical that controls the body’s internal clock to regulate sleep. Researchers who tested tart cherries and found high levels of melatonin recommend eating them an hour before bedtime or before a trip when you want to sleep on the plane.
2. Bananas. Potassium and magnesium are natural muscle relaxants, and bananas are a good source of both. They also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP in turn is converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and melatonin.
3. Toast. Carbohydrate-rich foods trigger insulin production, which induces sleep by speeding up the release of tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals that relax you and send you to sleep.
4. Oatmeal. Like toast, a bowl of oatmeal triggers a rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin production and the release of sleep-inducing brain chemicals. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which many people take as a sleep aid.
5. Warm milk. Like bananas, milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which turns to 5-HTP and releases relaxing serotonin. It’s also high in calcium, which promotes sleep.
source: Caring.com