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Homemade Yogurt Resolves Irritable Bowel Symptoms

The daily consumption of homemade yogurt can lead to a complete resolution of symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, a prospective study shows.

“We were surprised by the response. We had 189 patients in the study, and 169 had remission within 6 months,” said Manju Girish Chandran, MBBS, from the Mary Breckinridge ARH Hospital in Hyden, Kentucky.

And some of the participants had lived with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome for 9 or 10 years, she reported here at the World Congress of Gastroenterology.

“Our study is based on the fact that there is an internal gut–brain microbiome axis,” Dr Chandran told Medscape Medical News. “If you modulate the intestinal microbiome, you can actually achieve remission in some cases.”

Medication does not adequately treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome for many people, she said. As a result, “they just live with it.”

That is one of the reasons Dr Chandran and her colleagues wanted to assess the potential of homemade yogurt with Lactobacilli to influence the gut microbiome.

Part of a Regular Diet

For their study, the team enrolled 189 consecutive patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome at one of two medical centers in Eastern Kentucky.

Patients were instructed to consume 2 to 3 cups of yogurt every day and record their symptoms in a chart. Their responses were assessed every 2 months for 6 months.

Complete remission — defined as the relief of pre-existing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and one or two normal bowel movements daily — was achieved by 89% of the study participants.

The yogurt is inexpensive and easy to make. First, boil a gallon of milk for 5 minutes and let it cool to lukewarm. Next, mix in 1 cup of Dannon plain yogurt, which is used as a starter and source of Lactobacilli. Place in an oven with the light on overnight (do not turn the oven on), and then refrigerate the next morning. Save 1 cup from each batch to use as a starter for the next batch.

“You can make enough yogurt for 1 week, and it’s pretty cheap,” Dr Chandran pointed out. “And it doesn’t have to be eaten as plain yogurt.” Because it can be mixed with fruit or used in a smoothie, it doesn’t “feel like it’s a medicine; it is part of a regular diet.”

Results Difficult to Interpret

The study design makes the results difficult to interpret, which is disappointing, said William Heizer, MD, a gastroenterologist in private practice in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“At the very least, the consenting patients should have been randomly assigned to either a treatment or control group,” Dr Heizer told Medscape Medical News. Also, “review of the self-reported charts should have been done by individuals blinded to which group the patient was in.”

This was a pilot study, Dr Chandran explained. The next step will be to study the effectiveness of the homemade yogurt in patients with different subtypes of irritable bowel syndrome — constipation or diarrhea — and to randomize some participants to a control group.

Dr Chandran and Dr Heizer have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Damian McNamara      December 07, 2017
 
SOURCE: Medscape, December 07, 2017.
The World Congress of Gastroenterology at the ACG 2017:
Abstract P1152. Presented October 16, 2017.
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Is Yogurt the Secret to Happiness?

Recent research reveals fascinating new connections between gut and brain — and yogurt’s mood-boosting abilities.

Scientists have long known that the brain sends signals to the gut, a process that reveals why stress, for example, can express itself through gastrointestinal symptoms. But it wasn’t until 2013, when researchers at the UCLA uncovered the first evidence that the signal can go the other way as well: from gut to brain.

By studying a group of women who regularly ate yogurt — and with it, the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics — they found that ingested bacteria in food can affect human brain function, effectively altering the way the brain responds to the environment. Specifically, the researchers found that the bacteria in yogurt may help relieve anxiety and stress by reducing activity in the insula, the region of the brain responsible for emotion.

“Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium or because we think it might help our health in other ways,” said Kirsten Tillisch, an associate professor of medicine in the digestive diseases division at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”

The study is just one of many that comprise a growing body of research examining how gut flora, and the fermented foods that contain it, such as yogurt, impacts mood. Since 2008, when the U.S. National Institutes of Health launched the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year initiative to identify and characterize the microorganisms in both healthy and diseased humans, “the profound appreciation for the influence of such organisms has grown rapidly with each passing year,” writes Peter Andrey Smith in a New York Times Magazine article in June.

These helpful bacteria like probiotics do a lot for us, from extracting energy from the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates and increasing the growth of intestinal epithelial cells to synthesizing vitamins and suppressing the growth of pathogens.

Now a new study recently published in the journal Food Research International indicates that there may be other, completely different reasons why yogurt has the power to make us happy, and it has to do with the way expectation impacts mood and possibly even scent.

Conducted by a team of European researchers from Finland, Austria and the Netherlands, the study found that eating vanilla yogurt made people feel happy. Specifically, eating vanilla yogurt resulted in the study’s participants projecting more positive emotions than when they ate other flavors. Additionally, yogurts with less fat gave people a stronger positive emotional response, while yogurts with different fruits did not have much difference in their effect on emotions.

The researchers also found that liking or being familiar with a product had no effect on a person’s emotion. But most tellingly, what did affect mood was how they felt after eating the yogurt compared to what they expected to feel before eating it. In other words, their moods were influenced by their expectation — either being pleasantly surprised or disappointed after eating the food in question.

Yogurt

“We were looking for a valid, quick and not too expensive and time-consuming method to measure the emotions or mood changes evoked by food,” said Jozina Mojet from Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands, lead author of the study. “This sort of implicit method can reveal the complex interactions between the different factors involved in a situation, which, based on his or her memory and expectations, is given meaning by the person under investigation.”

In addition, the strong positive emotional response elicited by eating vanilla yogurt supports earlier evidence that “a subtle vanilla scent in places like hospital waiting rooms can reduce aggression and encourage relationships among patients and between patients and staff,” according to the study’s press release.

To determine the effect of different yogurts on mood, the researchers exposed 24 subjects to a pair of yogurts of the same brand and marketed in the same way, but with different flavors or fat content. They used various analytical methods in the study, including tracking the subjects’ eye movements as they looked at the packaging, reading their faces while they ate the yogurt and a mood-based autobiographical reaction time test.

Notably, the researchers also used a new emotive projection test (EPT), in which study participants were shown photographs of other people and asked to rate them on six positive and six negative traits. “The idea behind the test is that people project their emotions onto their perception of others, so their judgment of others can indicate their own mood,” writes Lucy Goodchild van Hilten, senior marketing communications manager for life sciences at Elsevier, the publisher of Food Research International.

“We were surprised to find that by measuring emotions, we could get information about products independent from whether people like them,” said Jozina Mojet, lead author of the study. “This kind of information could be very valuable to product manufacturers, giving them a glimpse into how we subconsciously respond to a product.”

The study supports the findings of an earlier study by researchers at University College London that lower expectations lead to a greater level of happiness.

“It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower,” said Robb Rutledge, the study’s lead author. “We find that there is some truth to this — lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

‘Our computational model suggests momentary happiness is a state that reflects not how well things are going but instead whether things are going better than expected,” write the study’s authors.

Could eating yogurt and lowering expectations help to combat depression? While more research is needed, these studies suggest the answer is yes. In the meantime, for a quick and easy mood booster that’s also safe and healthy, try some vanilla yogurt. And try not to expect too much out of it.

By Reynard Loki / AlterNet December 15, 2015

Reynard Loki is AlterNet’s environment and food editor. Follow him on Twitter @reynardloki. Email him at reynard@alternet.org.


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8 Tips to Buy Better Yogurt

Michelle Schoffro Cook      May 22, 2015

Despite all of the hype not all yogurt is good for you. Here are 8 tips to help you select the best and healthiest yogurt for you:

1. Look for live cultures. The live cultures in yogurt provide the many beneficial gut health and overall health benefits we attribute to yogurt. So be sure to look for a yogurt that says “live cultures” on the package. It could be in the ingredients list or somewhere else on the package but it needs to be there.

2. Check the sugar content. Some yogurt contains a whopping 26 to 29 grams of sugar for an individual serving of yogurt. That’s more than many soft drinks or doughnuts. Most of the sugars naturally present in milk or milk alternatives should be eliminated during the culturing process since the sugars act as food for the probiotic cultures. If the yogurt contains much sugar that means either a) the manufacturer added sugar to the yogurt after the culturing process; or b) the culturing process didn’t take place and the manufacturer added flavors and thickening agents to the milk instead.

3. Check the serving size. Some brands of yogurt list the amount of nutrients and sugars for a four-ounce serving while others indicate a six- or eight-ounce serving size. That way you can compare the amount of sugar and nutrients based on similar servings.

4. Avoid any yogurt that says it has been “heat treated” after the culturing process or during the packaging process. The beneficial probiotics that proliferate during the yogurt-making process are heat-sensitive.   If they are heated during packaging or at another stage of the manufacturing process it is unlikely you will reap any of the health benefits of eating the yogurt. This type of product is better left at the store.

Yogurt

5. Avoid yogurt with fillers. Making yogurt takes two ingredients: a type of milk (or milk alternative) and live cultures. The cultures do the rest of the work to transform the milk into yogurt. If the yogurt you purchase contains more ingredients than just milk and live cultures it probably contains harmful ingredients like sugar, colors, fillers, or other less-than-healthy substances and is best avoided.

6. Go Greek. When it comes to yogurt varieties Greek or plain yogurt are preferable. That’s because most of these varieties contain fewer ingredients like colors, fillers, or sweeteners.

7. Dairy-free yogurt alternatives can also make excellent choices. In my research I found that dairy-free yogurt varieties often contained a greater diversity of probiotic strains than dairy yogurt. That doesn’t mean all dairy-free yogurt is better than cow’s milk yogurt, but it does mean that if you’re vegan or just avoiding milk products you can still reap the health benefits of yogurt.

8. If you’re choosing cow’s milk yogurt, choose organic as much as possible. Cow’s milk frequently contains antibiotic or other medication residues as well as the genetically-modified hormone known as rBST. BST is a hormone known as bovine somatotropin; rBST is a genetically-modified version of the hormone developed by Monsanto using genetically-engineered E. coli bacteria and is probably not something you want in your body.

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules since there are many manufacturing and processing variables that determine the quality of the yogurt you choose but the above guidelines will help you pick the best one for your buck.

For more information check out The Probiotic Promise: Simple Steps to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out (DaCapo, 2015, Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM).


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Probiotics Primer

By Nora Simmons

Probiotic, prebiotic; good bugs, bad bugs. Every time we turn around, another study champions the benefits of these gut-friendly supplements. But what are they? What do they do? Why should we take them? We asked Angelica S. Vrablic, PhD, a leading expert in nutrition research and a probiotic guru, to give us the lowdown. Here’s what we learned:

1. Probiotics are non-pathogenic (not capable of causing harm) bacteria that naturally live in our gut.

2. Probiotics help keep our intestines healthy and our digestive and urinary tracts running smoothly. These immunity boosters keep infection-causing bacteria (think salmonella and ulcer-inducing H. pylori) from thriving in our intestinal tracts by crowding them out and producing proteins that kill them.

3. The body doesn’t make probiotics on its own; we have to supply them, either by eating fermented food or taking supplements. Back in the good ol’ days, when Grandma pickled her garden-grown cucumbers, fermented the cabbage patch into sauerkraut, and cultured her own yogurt, our diets supplied all the healthy flora we needed. But now almost all fermented foods (even those found in natural grocery stores) contain added sugars and have undergone pasteurization, which kills the good bacteria along with the bad. “If you can find unpasteurized fermented foods (kimchi, pickles, and sauerkraut), buy pasteurized yogurt to which the probiotics have been added back, and eat plenty of prebiotics, you don’t need to supplement,” says Vrablic. But if you’re like most of us—and be honest—you need to supplement.


4. And you should. Every day. Especially after you’ve taken antibiotics. “Antibiotics kill bacteria, and because probiotics are bacterial cultures, they can’t survive. Your gut will desperately need to recolonize its healthy flora,” says Vrablic. “But wait until you finish your antibiotics before starting your probiotic supplements.” As long as you’re not on antibiotics currently, you can take probiotics at any time of the day, with or without food. And they’re totally safe; even a first-time probiotic user can confidently take the recommended dose every day.

5. So what is a prebiotic? Simply put, a prebiotic is food—a complex carb (fiber)—for your probiotic bacteria. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus feed on the lactose from milk; they then produce lactic acid and thus yogurt. Common prebiotics include inulin (carb from chicory), pectin fiber (from citrus fruit), and almonds. Many probiotic supplements will contain a prebiotic formula too.

6. You can find formulas that specifically target different digestive issues: Lactobacillus acidophilus for gassy stomachs and lactose intolerance; bifidobacteria for intestinal problems and deeper digestive issues; or Lactobacillus rhamnosus for general gut and immune support. But Vrablic recommends finding a good all-around daily supplement that includes several strains so that you cover all your bases.

7. When you choose a supplement, remember: Any probiotic you take should contain at least 1 billion to 5 billion colony-forming units (CFUs). Probiotics come in liquid form (most concentrated), capsules, or chewable wafers (popular with kids). Many need to be refrigerated, but you can also find freeze-dried varieties that are stable at room temperature.


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20 Pain Killers in your Kitchen

A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO TAKING MEDICATION
20 Painkillers in Your Kitchen

Make muscle pain a memory with ginger

When Danish researchers asked achy people to jazz up their diets with ginger, it eased muscle and joint pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 63 percent of them within two months. Experts credit ginger’s potent compounds called gingerols, which prevent the production of pain-triggering hormones. The study-recommended dose: Add at least 1 teaspoon of dried ginger or 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger to meals daily.

Cure a toothache with cloves

Got a toothache and can’t get to the dentist? Gently chewing on a clove can ease tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers. Experts point to a natural compound in cloves called eugenol, a powerful, natural anesthetic. Bonus: Sprinkling a ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves on meals daily may also protect your ticker. Scientists say this simple action helps stabilize blood sugar, plus dampen production of artery-clogging cholesterol in as little as three weeks.

Heal heartburn with cider vinegar

Sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water before every meal, and experts say you could shut down painful bouts of heartburn in as little as 24 hours. “Cider vinegar is rich in malic and tartaric acids, powerful digestive aids that speed the breakdown of fats and proteins so your stomach can empty quickly, before food washes up into the esophagus, triggering heartburn pain,” explains Joseph Brasco, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Center for Colon and Digestive Diseases in Huntsville, AL.


Erase earaches with garlic

Painful ear infections drive millions of Americans to doctors’ offices every year. To cure one fast, just place two drops of warm garlic oil into your aching ear twice daily for five days. This simple treatment can clear up ear infections faster than prescription meds, say experts at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Scientists say garlic’s active ingredients (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) are naturally toxic to dozens of different pain-causing bacteria. To whip up your own garlic oil gently simmer three cloves of crushed garlic in a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil for two minutes, strain, then refrigerate for up to two weeks, suggests Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., co-author of the book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. For an optimal experience, warm this mix slightly before using so the liquid will feel soothing in your ear canal.


Chase away joint and headache pain with cherries

Latest studies show that at least one in four women is struggling with arthritis, gout or chronic headaches. If you’re one of them, a daily bowl of cherries could ease your ache, without the stomach upset so often triggered by today’s painkillers, say researchers at East Lansing ’s Michigan State University . Their research reveals that anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their brilliant red color, are anti-inflammatories 10 times stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin. “Anthocyanins help shut down the powerful enzymes that kick-start tissue inflammation, so they can prevent, as well as treat, many different kinds of pain,” explains Muraleedharan Nair, Ph.D., professor of food science at Michigan State University . His advice: Enjoy 20 cherries (fresh, frozen or dried) daily, then continue until your pain disappears.


Fight tummy troubles with fish
Indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases…if your belly always seems to be in an uproar, try munching 18 ounces of fish weekly to ease your misery. Repeated studies show that the fatty acids in fish, called EPA and DHA, can significantly reduce intestinal inflammation, cramping and belly pain and, in some cases, provide as much relief as corticosteroids and other prescription meds. “EPA and DHA are powerful, natural, side effect-free anti-inflammatories, that can dramatically improve the function of the entire gastrointestinal tract,” explains biological chemist Barry Sears, Ph.D., president of the Inflammation Research Foundation in Marblehead , MA . For best results, look for oily fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, trout and herring.


Prevent PMS with yogurt
Up to 80 percent of women will struggle with premenstrual syndrome and its uncomfortable symptoms, report Yale researchers. The reason: Their nervous systems are sensitive to the ups and downs in estrogen and progesterone that occur naturally every month. But snacking on 2 cups of yogurt a day can slash these symptoms by 48 percent, say researchers at New York ’s Columbia University . “Yogurt is rich in calcium, a mineral that naturally calms the nervous system, preventing painful symptoms even when hormones are in flux,” explains Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a professor of gynecology at Yale University .


Tame chronic pain with turmeric

Studies show turmeric, a popular East Indian spice, is actually three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen, plus it can help relieve chronic pain for 50 percent of people struggling with arthritis and even fibromyalgia, according to Cornell researchers. That’s because turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, naturally shuts down cyclooxygenase 2, an enzyme that churns out a stream of pain-producing hormones, explains nutrition researcher Julian Whitaker, M.D. and author of the book, Reversing Diabetes. The study-recommended dose: Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of this spice daily onto any rice, poultry, meat or vegetable dish.


End endometrial pain with oats

The ticket to soothing endometriosis pain could be a daily bowl of oatmeal. Endometriosis occurs when little bits of the uterine lining detach and grow outside of the uterus. Experts say these migrating cells can turn menstruation into a misery, causing so much inflammation that they trigger severe cramping during your period, plus a heavy ache that drags on all month long. Fortunately, scientists say opting for a diet rich in oats can help reduce endometrial pain for up to 60 percent of women within six months. That’s because oats don’t contain gluten, a trouble-making protein that triggers inflammation in many women, making endometriosis difficult to bear, explains Peter Green, M.D., professor of medicine at Colombia University .


Soothe foot pain with salt

Experts say at least six million Americans develop painful ingrown toenails each year. But regularly soaking ingrown nails in warm salt water baths can cure these painful infections within four days, say scientists at California ’s Stanford University . The salt in the mix naturally nixes inflammation, plus it’s anti-bacterial, so it quickly destroys the germs that cause swelling and pain. Just mix 1 teaspoon of salt into each cup of water, heat to the warmest temperature that you can comfortably stand, and then soak the affected foot area for 20 minutes twice daily, until your infection subsides.


Prevent digestive upsets with pineapple

Got gas? One cup of fresh pineapple daily can cut painful bloating within 72 hours, say researchers at California ’s Stanford University . That’s because pineapple is natually packed with proteolytic enzymes, digestive aids that help speed the breakdown of pain-causing proteins in the stomach and small intestine, say USDA researchers.


Relax painful muscles with peppermint

Suffering from tight, sore muscles? Stubborn knots can hang around for months if they aren’t properly treated, says naturopath Mark Stengler, N.D., author of the book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. His advice: Three times each week, soak in a warm tub scented with 10 drops of peppermint oil. The warm water will relax your muscles, while the peppermint oil will naturally soothe your nerves — a combo that can ease muscle cramping 25 percent more effectively than over-the-counter painkillers, and cut the frequency of future flare-ups in half, says Stengler.


Give your back some TLC with grapes

Got an achy back? Grapes could be the ticket to a speedy recovery. Recent studies at Ohio State University suggest eating a heaping cup of grapes daily can relax tight blood vessels, significantly improving blood flow to damaged back tissues (and often within three hours of enjoying the first bowl). That’s great news because your back’s vertebrae and shock-absorbing discs are completely dependent on nearby blood vessels to bring them healing nutrients and oxygen, so improving blood flow is essential for healing damaged back tissue, says Stengler.


Wash away pain injuries with water

Whether it’s your feet, your knees or your shoulders that are throbbing, experts at New York ’s Manhattan College , say you could kick-start your recovery in one week just by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Why? Experts say water dilutes, and then helps flush out, histamine, a pain-triggering compound produced by injured tissues. “Plus water is a key building block of the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones, your joints’ lubricating fluid, and the soft discs in your spine,” adds Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D., author of the book, The Good Mood Diet. “And when these tissues are well-hydrated, they can move and glide over each other without causing pain.” One caveat: Be sure to measure your drinking glasses to find out how large they really are before you start sipping, she says. Today’s juice glasses often hold more than 12 ounces, which means five servings could be enough to meet your daily goal.


Heal sinus problems with horseradish

Latest studies show sinusitis is the nation’s number one chronic health problem. And this condition doesn’t just spur congestion and facial pain, it also makes sufferers six times more likely to feel achy all-over. Horseradish to the rescue! According to German researchers, this eye-watering condiment naturally revs up blood flow to the sinus cavities, helping to open and drain clogged sinuses and heal sinus infections more quickly than decongestant sprays do. The study-recommended dose: One teaspoon twice daily (either on its own, or used as a sandwich or meat topping) until symptoms clear.


Beat bladder infections with blueberries

Eating 1 cup of blueberries daily, whether you opt for them fresh, frozen or in juice form, can cut your risk of a urinary tract infection (UTIs) by 60 percent, according to researchers at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. That’s because blueberries are loaded with tannins, plant compounds that wrap around problem-causing bacteria in the bladder, so they can’t get a toehold and create an infection, explains Amy Howell, Ph.D. a scientist at Rutgers University .


Heal mouth sores with honey

Dab painful canker and cold sores with unpasteurized honey four times daily until these skin woes disappear, and they’ll heal 43 percent faster than if you use a prescription cream, say researchers at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center in the United Arab Emirates . Raw honey’s natural enzymes zap inflammation, destroy invading viruses and speed the healing of damaged tissues, say the study authors.


Fight breast pain with flax

In one recent study, adding 3 tablespoons of ground flax to their daily diet eased breast soreness for one in three women within 12 weeks. Scientists credit flax’s phytoestrogens, natural plant compounds that prevent the estrogen spikes that can trigger breast pain. More good news: You don’t have to be a master baker to sneak this healthy seed into your diet. Just sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce or add it to smoothies and veggie dips.


Cure migraines with coffee

Prone to migraines? Try muscling-up your painkiller with a coffee chaser. Whatever over-the-counter pain med you prefer, researchers at the National Headache Foundation say washing it down with a strong 12- ounce cup of coffee will boost the effectiveness of your medication by 40 percent or more. Experts say caffeine stimulates the stomach lining to absorb painkillers more quickly and more effectively.


Tame leg cramps with tomato juice

At least one in five people regularly struggle with leg cramps. The culprit? Potassium deficiencies, which occur when this mineral is flushed out by diuretics, caffeinated beverages or heavy perspiration during exercise. But sip 10 ounces of potassium-rich tomato juice daily and you’ll not only speed your recovery, you’ll reduce your risk of painful cramp flare-ups in as little as 10 days, say UCLA researchers.


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7 foods that fight fat

By Maridel Reyes, Health.com
October 12, 2012 

(Health.com) – Get excited: You can burn calories and combat fat by eating yummy food.
“If you choose the right picks, studies show you can torch up to 300 extra calories a day,” says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of “The Hunger Fix.”

Whole, unrefined foods are your heroes. Your metabolism has to work harder to break them down than processed ones, so you’re zapping more calories — and storing less as fat. These recipes double up (even triple up) on foods with serious metabolism-boosting power. Take that, dastardly fat!

Salmon
What a catch! Research suggests the omega-3s in salmon and other fatty fish help build muscle — and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Omega-3s may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels (scientists have yet to confirm how).

Go for: Two 3-oz servings of fatty fish per week.

Yogurt
Calcium-rich foods have slimming superpowers. Get too little of this mineral and your body’s more likely to pack away calories as fat, according to a review of studies.

With up to 50% more calcium per ounce than milk, yogurt is a potent source. Better yet, its probiotics may help keep belly fat under control.

Go for: At least two servings a day.

Avocado
For a speedy metabolism, you need to keep inflammation in check and blood vessels clear and supple. Avocado’s unique combo of essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants helps you do just that. Plus, one avocado’s 14 grams of fiber kicks up your calorie burn.

Go for: One to two daily servings of foods high in healthy fats.

Beans
High in resistant starch and fiber, beans force your system to use extra energy (as in calories) to break them down.

Research from the University of Colorado suggests that if you choose foods high in resistant starch — it’s also found in whole grains and not-quite-ripe bananas — you can increase your calorie-burning power by up to 24% over the course of the day.

Go for: One serving of a resistant-starch food per meal.

Chili peppers
Feel the burn? It’s more than mere sensation: chilies’ heat signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.

Go for: Chilies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones — habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers — are too fiery for many people.)

Green tea
This packs caffeine and antioxidants called catechins, a dynamic duo believed to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning. Studies suggest that drinking green tea can help you drop pounds and trim your waist.

Go for: Several cups a day (keeping in mind how caffeine affects you).

Coffee
You use it to wake up — and your metabolism will, too.

The caffeine in one cup of joe temporarily perks up your metabolism by as much as 15 percent. Caffeine also helps mobilize the forces that burn stored fat.

Go for: One to two cups a day, especially before exercise.

source: CNN


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10 great calcium-rich foods

Boost your bone health with these tasty foods
By Cary Galloway

According to the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, there are 1.4 million Canadians who suffer from osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease that leaves bones fragile and susceptible to fractures. You may know that calcium is a big factor in prevention, but how much do you really need and which foods deliver sufficient calcium to keep your bones healthy and strong?

Women between the ages of 19-50 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and women over 50 should be striving for 1,500 mg, according to The Osteoporosis Society of Canada. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually fairly easy to reach your recommended daily intake if you choose the right foods. We’ve all been told that milk is the best source of calcium and, according to Health Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, adults should consume 2-4 servings of dairy per day, but if you’re intolerant to dairy products or simply want to get calcium from other sources, read on:

10 great calcium sources

1. Sardines
My dad’s favourite snack has always been a sardine sandwich and, as a kid, I would turn my nose up and think he was crazy. But Dad was on the right track because 3-1/2 oz. of sardines provide the body with 370 mg of calcium. That’s more than one cup of milk. Sardines should be eaten with their soft bones because the bones hold up to 50 per cent of the calcium of the fish.

2. Yogurt
Not only does yogurt provide you with beneficial bacterial cultures, which keep your immune system strong and your digestive tract healthy, it also provides a whopping 300 mg of calcium per 3/4 cup serving.

3. Salmon
Salmon has been praised for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s also a powerhouse when it comes to calcium. 3 oz. of salmon (with bones) delivers 180 mg of calcium and is a delicious alternative to chicken or meat for those nice summer barbeques.

4. Blackstrap molasses
There’s something comforting about some warm gingerbread with a nice cup of tea. It’s also comforting to know that the molasses that’s gone into the recipe contains 170 mg of calcium per serving. 


5. Amaranth
Amaranth is one of the newest grains to hit health-food shelves, even though it’s been around for a while. You will see it in various cereals and crackers, but it’s even more delicious and nutritious when it’s made fresh at home. A 1/2 cup provides the body with 150 mg of calcium, and it’s a great alternative to pasta or rice when used as a side dish.

6. Tofu
Tofu is a great alternative to chicken or beef in stir-fries, and is delicious when marinated in your favourite flavours. 3-1/2 oz. of tofu contains 125 mg of calcium and it’s also packed with isoflavones, which bring an abundance of health benefits your way.

7. Beans
Beans are good any time of year, whether in soup, a refreshing salad, comforting chili or on their own and they’re a great way to add fibre, protein and calcium to your diet. Whether you choose white beans, navy beans, chickpeas or another favourite, you’ll obtain anywhere from 60-100 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving.

8. Almonds
Whether eaten alone, thrown in a salad or used as a crust on chicken or fish, almonds are one of the tastiest ways to reach your recommended daily intake of calcium. A handful (1/4 cup) of almonds contains 95 mg of calcium and are also a great source of fibre, protein and monounsaturated fats.

9. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds bring so much flavour to any dish, especially when they’re roasted. They add a nice finish to any plate and are a fast and easy way to get some extra calcium. One tablespoon contains 90 mg of calcium, so next time you’re about to indulge in your favourite dinner, sprinkle a tablespoon or two on top.

10. Turnip greens
Here’s another great reason to add greens to your plate. Boiled turnip greens contain 95 mg of calcium per 1/2 cup serving, and okra, bok choy and broccoli follow with 35 to 50 mg per serving. Steam, roast or simply toss them into your next stir-fry and your bones will thank you.

It’s also important to remember that regular consumption of red meat; salt, caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats and carbonated soft drinks reduce or inhibit calcium absorption. Everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb, but if you follow this list, you’re on the right path to getting your daily dose of calcium.

Cary Galloway is a registered nutritional consulting practitioner (RNCP) and a certified nutritional practitioner. She has been working in the health field since 2001 when she obtained a degree in kinesiology and health promotion from Acadia University. Cary uses her knowledge in health, wellness and nutrition to provide guidance to individuals who want to improve their health.