Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


8 Ways Eating Better Can Improve Your Mental Health

You probably already know that fruits and veggies can make you healthier, but did you know they could also make you happier?

I walked into my apartment to find my roommate sitting on the couch with her head in her hands. She looked as if she had reached a breaking point. “Another tough day at work?” I asked her.

“Not really.” She sighed as she reached for what looked like a day-old carton of fast food fries.

I bit my tongue from reminding her (again) that what you eat actually plays an important role in how you feel mentally. In fact, mental illnesses from depression to schizophrenia have been linked to diet. And if you’re reading this, then I suspect you’re actually ready to hear it—and I’m here for you!

Although French fries and ice cream often make it on the list of grub to dig into when we’re down, true comfort food comes from a healthier crowd. Don’t just take my word for it. Spanish researchers who followed 15,000 young adults over the course of nine years found that those who ate more nuts, fruit, vegetables, and fish had a 30 percent lower incidence of depression than those who gorged on sweets or processed foods. That’s not all. The UK-based Mental Health Foundation reports that fewer than half of patients who suffer from mental health problems eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Contrarily, nearly two-thirds of those free from daily mental health problems eat fresh produce regularly.

Ensuring your diet is full of adequate amounts of healthy nutrients can enhance your mental clarity, provide a more balanced mood, and protect your mind from early mental decline. Discover all the ways that eating better can help improve your mental health—and when you’re finally convinced it’s time to make the change, add these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body on your grocery list to get you started!


Think about all that cash you blow on soda, grabbing takeout at restaurants, picking out a snack every couple of hours, and ordering dessert after every meal. It’s not just food you’ll save money on when you start to eat better. Those who clock in at a healthy weight spend an astounding 42 percent less cash on medical bills and health expenses than their overweight peers, according to a Health Affairs report. Sounds pretty good so far, but get this: you’ll not only be less stressed financially, but a study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences says that financial strain is a strong risk factor for and predictor of worsening mental health. Clear mind, full wallet, can’t lose.


Whether you’re constantly muttering under your breath about coworkers’ minute errors or snapping at drivers during rush hour, you go about life with a short fuse. Rather than looking to poor anger management or mood disorders, look to your rumbling stomach. You could actually be hangry! One of the reasons why you’re always hungry, and thus, always hangry, is perhaps because of an inefficient diet that subsists on empty carbs. This food burns up in your body quickly, which causes your body to crave substance more quickly.

When you deprive yourself of food while your body screams at you to eat, your body goes into a state of distress. The result is low dopamine levels—AKA less control over your emotions and commonly experiencing irritability, anxiety, mental confusion, and slowness in thought. If you choose to fuel up with slow-burning sources of energy like complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats, you’ll start to see your anger subside in no time.


Studies show that a number of nutrients are associated with brain health, and deficiencies of these nutrients have countlessly been linked to depression. It should be no surprise that many of these micronutrients are abundant in “healthy” foods and M.I.A. in junk foods. Some of which include omega-3s (salmon, flax and chia seeds, walnuts), folate (asparagus, chickpeas, lentils), vitamin B12 (tuna, shrimp, milk), choline (egg yolks, broccoli, brussels sprouts), magnesium (spinach, yogurt, black beans), vitamin D (fatty fish, eggs). Always check with your doctor before going off any anti-depressants, but you may want to get blood work done to see if the reason your mood has tanked is because you’re experiencing some nutritional deficiencies.



Whether you’re a recent college grad or just attended your last child’s college graduation, the future can certainly seem daunting at times—and that can cause some serious anxiety. That’s even more so the case if you’re not eating enough carrots. Why? A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that individuals with higher levels of carotenoids (a type of antioxidant) tended to be more optimistic about the future, an indicator of positive health. Unless you’re always ordering sweet potato fries when you eat out, you’re likely missing out on these beneficial antioxidants. On the other hand, a healthy diet easily incorporates many of its top sources: carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and kale.


It might be hard to pronounce, but phthalates (thāl-ates) are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemical toxins you need to know about. Just like BPA, phthalates are used in plastic food and beverage wrappers notorious in fast food places—but those toxins aren’t staying just on the wrappers. A study recently made headlines that connected people who ate fast food with dose-dependent higher levels of phthalate metabolites than infrequent eaters. And that’s bad news for all-day-breakfast lovers since a separate study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that exposure to BPA and phthalates may reduce adults’ vitamin D levels—a vitamin whose low levels in the blood have been connected to mental decline in older adults and chronic migraines in young people. Bottom line: lay off the fast food and not only will the scale tip in your favor, but you may also have more mental clarity!


Believe it or not, but the foods that worsen stress are also the ones that are connected to weight gain. Worst of all, they’re often our go-to snacks when we’re feeling particularly anxious (think: chips and ice cream), which just throws our bodies into an endless cycle of stress. On the other hand, there are numerous options that have been scientifically proven to alter both your brain chemistry and hormones to help your body deal with stress more easily. And you guessed it: they’re all good-for-you foods.


On antidepressants? A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that supplementing your diet with certain nutrients found in healthy foods—omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and vitamin D—can be effective in boosting the positive effects of antidepressant medication.


You may have never thought about how—or if—your diet controls how easily you fall asleep and how well rested you are upon waking. When you eat a poor diet centered on foods that digest quickly and leave you hungry often, you can disrupt your sleep cycle by making yourself hungry in the middle of the night. When you improve your diet and lose weight, you’ll likely be able to put sleeping problems such as sleep apnea to bed. In doing so, you’ll improve your mental health in the meantime.

Countless studies have found that sleeping problems often precede mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and depression. In a widespread study of 1,000 adults, researchers found that those who reported a history of insomnia during an interview were four times as likely to develop major depression by the time of a second interview three years later.

By Olivia Tarantino

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Fun Fact friday


Billions of souls have inhabited Earth, 
but there have only been about 500 original human templates
to choose from throughout human history. 

A sleeping human brain can still understand
 the words being spoken around it.

Lack of sleep can cause weight gain of 2 pounds 
(0.9 kg) in under a week. 

Beauty sleep is real – 
scientists found that faces of well-rested people 
look younger and are more attractive 
than sleep-deprived people.


Cats only meow to communicate with humans 
not other cats.

People see you as 20% more attractive 
than you think you are, according to one study.

Fast food restaurants use yellow, red, and orange 
because those are the colors that stimulate hunger.

When a man see their infant in distress, 
their testosterone levels drop, 
making them more nurturing.

Research has found that everyone is able to sing well 
— it is a learned skill that gets better with practice 
and worse with disuse.

Depression can cause you to dream 
up to 3 to 4 times more than you normally would. 

Socially anxious people can lessen their anxiety 
by performing small acts of kindness, a study found.

Happy Friday  🙂

source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


How Fast Food Messes With Your Hormones

Alexandra Sifferlin @acsifferlin  April 13, 2016     

A new study shows people who eat fast food have higher levels of chemicals in their system

If you want to eat healthy, you’ll need to forgo fast food, which is high in sodium, sugar and grease. A new study supplies even more incentive to do so by finding that fast food is a source of chemicals called phthalates, which have been linked to a list of possible health burdens like hormone disruption and lower sperm count.

The new report, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who ate more fast food also had higher levels of two substances that occur when phthalates—which make plastic more flexible—break down in the body. “The same range of concentrations measured in this [group] overlaps with the range of concentrations that have been measured in some of epidemiological studies that find adverse health effects,” says study author Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Prior studies have shown that diet is a source of exposure for plastics chemicals like phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA), and that processed food may be of particular concern. The new study is the largest to look at exposure from fast food fare specifically.


To reach these findings, Zota and her co-authors looked at data from more than 8,800 people who were part of a survey where they detailed all the food they ate in the last 24 hours and then provided a urine sample. Two specific phthalate byproducts were identified: DEHP and DiNP. People who ate 35% or more of their total calories from fast food in the last 24 hours had around 24% higher levels of DEHP compared to people who didn’t eat fast food, and close to 40% higher levels of DiNP. The team also looked for traces of BPA, but did not observe a pattern.

In general, about a third of all the people in the study had eaten fast food in the prior day. “That’s a lot,” says Zota. “That alone tells you the public health impact of this type of food preparation.” It’s believed that phthalates could leach into food during preparation or packaging. Plastic gloves and conveyer belts could be sources, Zota says, and heat from cooking may also make it easier for chemicals to get into food.

The researchers say they hope the findings provide insight into how chemicals can enter our bodies. More research is needed to fully understand what effects these chemicals may have over time. “Our study helps shed light on one potential way that people can reduce their exposure to these chemicals through their diet, but it also points to a broader problem of widespread chemicals in our food systems that will require many different types of stakeholders to get involved in order to fix it,” Zota says.

source: time.com


Baby Steps

By Deanna Schober

Change is best made in baby steps. As you have probably already learned at some point in your life, change that involves a complete overhaul is really tough to stick to and a pretty sure recipe for failure.

Habits are best changed one at a time. Try mastering one new habit every 2-3 weeks, then when it becomes a routine, you can start on the next one. Here are ten suggestions on where to start:

1. Avoid Fast Food

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know -”Fast food is bad for you”. But that’s an abstract concept, “bad for you” – do you know why it is? You may hear all about how high in calories fast food is, but what you may not know is how it is also full of MSG, horrible cancer-causing chemicals, and trans fats.

Many fast food places even use the same chemicals to preserve their food that you can find in your COSMETICS and TOILETRIES, like shampoo and mascara [4]. Just get rid of this stuff, it is killing you slowly. If you need to, you can make a goal to reduce your fast food meals by one per week and work up to eliminating it forever.

Here are 10 dangerous food additives you should avoid.

2. Replace Other Drinks With Water

Sodas and diet sodas are also full of chemicals that are known to cause cancer and increase the risk of lifestyle related illness like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Fruit juices and other sugary drinks are just empty calories. You can improve your health greatly by slowly decreasing the amount of these drinks each week and replacing them with water and teas (unsweetened).

Not only will you be lowering your calorie intake, but you’ll be limiting your body’s exposure to toxins and chemicals. Water will flush toxins from your body, decrease your appetite, give you better skin, and aid your body in just about all of its necessary functions.

3. Start Moving

Even if it’s just a walk around the block, find a physical activity that you enjoy and start by making a goal to do it three times a week. The key here is that you enjoy it and can see yourself doing it more often.

If you have trouble coming up with a physical activity that you might like, try thinking back to your childhood – did you love riding your bike? Did you play soccer or baseball? Did you just enjoy roaming the neighborhood?

Give it another shot, chances are that your childhood attachments to the activity will make you feel good while you’re doing it, and you’ll want to do it again. Add more activity until you work up to being active in some form at least 5 day per week.

Find out how to make exercise your playtime.

4. Eat Veggies

Ask my mom – I didn’t eat veggies until I was a grown woman. I still have to force myself to eat a few of them, like broccoli. But nothing is more important to your overall health than the vitamins and nutrients found in vegetables. They help your body function in endless ways, and can even reduce your risk of cancer by activating cancer-fighting enzymes.

With the right cooking method, herbs and spices, or even in a smoothie, you can make veggies taste really delicious. To transition into eating more vegetables, try replacing an unhealthy side dish that you normally eat with veggies at one meal per day, and slowly increase until you’re getting 4-5 servings per day.

Here are 20 magical ways to sneak in more veggies.

5. Start Becoming Accountable

A mental shift needs to happen when you start to take control of your health, and part of that is becoming accountable to yourself. This can be through keeping a food journal, wearing a calorie-tracking armband, using a calorie counting and exercise application on your phone or computer, or even wearing a pedometer to count your steps.

Keeping track of what you eat and how much you move will be a very eye-opening experience. Studies show that most adults overestimate the amount of healthy food they are eating and underestimate the rest of it…not because they are trying to be dishonest necessarily, they just don’t have an accurate idea of what they are eating unless they actually record it and measure it out [7].

6. Cut Out the White Stuff

One of the best and easiest things you can do for your health is to cut out the white stuff – white flours, pastas, cereals, and sugars. These items are highly processed and fill you up with a large amount of calories for almost zero nutritional value. They also cause an insulin surge, which over time can reduce your insulin sensitivity and increase your risk for diabetes. Try replacing these items with whole grain, nutrient dense foods instead.

7. Read Nutrition Labels

Another eye-opener is to start taking a look at the nutrition labels of the foods you are eating. Pay careful attention to serving size, as many labels can get tricky in that area – you might actually be eating two or more servings instead of one.

Read the ingredients list too, and beware of trans fats (also called hydrogenated oils), artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin to name a few), artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, bleached flours, and anything else that you don’t instantly recognize as food.

8. Do a Little Research

You might try watching documentaries about food and nutrition (I recommend Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives). You can also read books, ask a fitness expert or trainer, or just start here at Coach Calorie by downloading the free e-book and read just about everything you need to know.

9. Eat Fruit Instead of Sugar

When the craving for something sweet strikes, try replacing your normal sugary snacks with a piece of fruit instead. Fruit has natural sugars in it, but it also has vitamins and nutrients that are important to our health, and way less calories than a snack. I successfully kicked my own nighttime sugar addiction by replacing it slowly with apples and a tablespoon of peanut butter.

10. Have an Open Mind

Another mental shift that needs to take place is to open your mind to new possibilities. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do this or you won’t try that or you’re not capable of something. When I think back to all the things I thought I couldn’t eat or exercises I would never be able to do, I laugh because I have smashed through all of those self-invented barriers I set up for myself.

Try some new foods. You are bound to find something that is good for you that you enjoy. Try a new exercise, work each week to get better at it, and before you know it you’ll be doing things you never dreamt you could do.

Again, it is important to not rush out and try changing all of these things at once! Remember, long term success is best achieved through small changes, a little at a time. 

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That Chemical Subway Ditched? McDonald’s, Wendy’s Use it Too

By Katie Little

This week, Subway found out customers don’t like eating a chemical found in yoga mats, shoe rubber and synthetic leather.

After one blogger’s petition against azodicarbonamide generated widespread uproar, the sandwich chain announced plans to remove the ingredient from its bread but did not say when. Currently, its 9-grain wheat, Italian white and sourdough breads contain it.

The move has at least one other major chain pondering its own products containing the chemical, but its use at other restaurant chains is fairly widespread.

Although the product is approved for use in the U.S. as a dough conditioner and flour bleaching agent up to a certain limit, Europe and Australia have banned it as a food additive, writes Vani Hari, who drafted the petition and runs the site FoodBabe.com. Hari noted that her site’s traffic has doubled since she began the petition. To date, it’s drawn more than 75,000 signatures.

According to restaurant websites, here is a list of some products that contain it as an ingredient:

  •     McDonald’s: regular bun, bakery style bun, bagel and English muffin, Big Mac bun and sesame seed bun.
  •     Burger King: specialty buns, artisan-style bun, sesame seed bun, croissant, English muffin, home-style Caesar croutons and French toast sticks.
  •     Wendy’s: bagel, premium toasted bun, sandwich bun and panini bread
  •     Arby’s: croissant, French toast sticks, harvest wheat bun, honey wheat bread, marble rye bread, mini bun, onion bread and sesame seed bun
  •     Jack in the Box: bakery style bun, jumbo bun, croissant, grilled sourdough bread and regular bun
  •     Chick-fil-A: chargrilled chicken sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, and chargrilled chicken club sandwich

Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Jack in the Box did not respond to multiple attempts for comment.

    “Case reports and epidemiological studies in humans have produced abundant evidence that azodicarbonamide can induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers.”


Following Subway’s announcement, McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb told CNBC: “Azodicarbonamide is commonly used throughout the baked goods industry, and this includes some of the bread goods on our menu.” She noted the ingredient is recognized as safe and approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the chain would continue to serve “the great tasting, quality food they expect from McDonald’s. This ingredient, like all the ingredients we use, is available to consumers on our website.”

In an email to CNBC, Dunkin’ Donuts said, “There are trace amounts of azodicarbonamide, a common ingredient approved as safe by the Food and Drug Administration, in three Dunkin’ Donuts bakery items, including the Danish, Croissant and Texas Toast. All of our products comply with federal, state and local food safety standards and regulations. We are evaluating the use of the ingredient as a dough conditioner in our products and currently discussing the matter with our suppliers.”

Following Hari’s petition, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest lobbied for the USDA to consider barring it. It noted that when the chemical is baked in bread, it produces the carcinogen urethane and “leads to slightly increased levels of urethane in bread that pose a small risk to humans” when azodicarbonamide is used at its maximum limit.

Evidence also suggests the product is harmful in its more industrial form. Britain’s Health and Safety Executive lists it as a substance that can cause occupational asthma.

Meanwhile, a World Health Organization report states: “Case reports and epidemiological studies in humans have produced abundant evidence that azodicarbonamide can induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers. Adverse effects on other systems have not been studied.”

At Starbucks, a shift is already underway from the ingredient as part of its transition to La Boulange Bakery products. Currently, the company’s butter croissants and chocolate croissants contain azodicarbonamide.

“Our new La Boulange Bakery goods do not contain the ingredients. Our goal is to transition all the stores to La Boulange. We’re about halfway through that transition,” Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills said in a phone interview.

Still, there are no plans to ax the ingredient from stores that have yet to switch.

“We’re so close to the transition—so, no, we won’t be changing the recipe for the current croissants,” Mills said.

First published February 7th 2014
source: www.nbcnews.com