Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


3 Comments

Boost Your Immune System And Ward Off Viruses With These Foods

Chicken soup helps, sure, but a diet rich in vegetables, fish and even garlic can help lessen the severity of a cold or prevent you from getting sick.

The combination of chicken, homemade broth, veggies (such as carrots, celery and onions) and noodles or rice in chicken soup is immune-boosting and soothing, and the warm broth clears your nasal passages and keeps you hydrated.

Winter doesn’t just bring the blues, it also gifts us with coughs, runny noses and sore throats. It’s not because of the old adage of bundling up or “you’ll catch a cold!” We tend to get more cold and flu viruses during the winter as germs survive longer indoors due to poor ventilation and lack of humidity, and we are stuck indoors for much longer during the frigid months.

There’s a key to rev up our immune system that can make a huge difference: you are what you eat. A healthy diet often prevents colds and flus or reduces their longevity. The antioxidants including vitamins C, A and E found in fruits and vegetables protect our cells and boost our immune system. Supplements can never replace the real thing.

A healthy diet year-round is crucial to keeping well. This means cutting down on inflammatory foods including white flour, white rice, sugar and saturated fats, as inflammation reduces your immune system. Stick to a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein.

Garlic

Allicin, a natural chemical in garlic, fights common viruses. Add it to your cooked foods and salads. Don’t forget to have breath mints on hand!

Broccoli

Raw or lightly steamed broccoli contains vitamins A and C, as well as the compound sulforaphane, which helps ward off viruses. Add it to salads or use for dipping.

Vitamin C

For decades this has been the most popular vitamin for fending off viruses, but a handful of supplements won’t do much once you’re already infected. The best defence is to include a variety of fruits and vegetables daily with vitamin C to keep your immune system strong.

Oranges aren’t your only option — you can get more vitamin C from strawberries, kiwis, pineapple, mango, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, snow peas, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale.

Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are good for the gut. We generally think of this as meaning digestion, but our gut health is actually a key component to many elements of our health, including 70 per cent of our immune system. Studies show that specific foods containing probiotics reduce the occurrence, length and severity of colds. These foods include sauerkraut, kefir, yogourts with live and active cultures, kimchi, kombucha and miso.

Chicken soup

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup when you’re under the weather, but does it actually help to fight off a cold? The combination of chicken, homemade broth, veggies (such as carrots, celery and onions) and noodles or rice is immune-boosting and soothing. The warm broth clears your nasal passages and keeps you hydrated. Mother was right!

Tea

We drink mug after mug of tea when we’re ill as it feels great on a sore throat, but it’s actually doing more to help, depending on the type. Black and green teas contain an amino acid called L-Theanine, which boosts our immune system. Black tea has more of this amino acid than green, but green tea protects the immune system against disease-causing free radicals. Drink up!

Spinach

Spinach is rich in vitamin C and contains several antioxidants, which increases the ability for our immune system to fight infections. Eat it raw or cook it as little as possible to get the most nutrients.

Shellfish and fish

Indulging in fish or shellfish twice weekly may prevent colds and flus. Selenium, a mineral found in oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams, helps white blood cells produce proteins that fight flu viruses. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are loaded with omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation.

Before you end up sidelined on the couch this winter, include a combination of these immune-boosting foods so you can have a healthy 2018.

By ROSE REISMAN    Special to the Star    Thu., Jan. 11, 2018
Rose Reisman is a nutritionist, caterer, speaker, media personality and author of 19 cookbooks. info@rosereisman.com
 


2 Comments

Foods That Can Suppress Appetite, Aid Weight Loss

Whether it’s turning to supplements, juices or new challenging workouts, it seems everyone is looking for the magic weight loss bullet. But sometimes, losing weight may just be a matter of tweaking your diet – and eating foods that work for you, not against you.

Though none of these foods will work magic by themselves, when they are included as part of a healthy weight-loss diet, they may give you an edge in controlling hunger and shedding unwanted pounds.

These satiety-boosting foods will keep you winning at weight loss.

Greek or Icelandic yogurt

Greek and Icelandic yogurt (both strained to remove the liquid whey) are thicker, creamier and richer in protein than their regular yogurt counterparts, making them one of the best snacks for curbing appetite.

It’s the protein that keeps us feeling full. A 5.3-ounce container of plain nonfat Greek yogurt contains 15 grams of protein; the same portion of plain nonfat Icelandic-style skyr yogurt provides 17 grams of protein. By comparison, a regular fat-free plain yogurt contains 7 grams of protein.

Research suggests that protein is even more satiating than fat or carbohydrates. Therefore, it can be a strategic nutrient player in terms of appetite control and weight loss.

In one study, when individuals were given the same number of calories (and the same percentage of carbohydrates), they reported feeling less hungry when the percentage of protein was increased from 15% to 30% of calories. Even more interesting is the fact that when they were allowed to eat as many calories as they wanted on the 30% protein diet, they ended up consuming a total of 441 fewer calories than when they started, and they lost an average of 11 pounds.

Other foods that pack protein include cottage cheese, milk, eggs, fish, lean poultry and meats, peanut butter, lentils and soybeans.

Avocados

You may know that avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy fats. And with 9 calories per gram – more than double the calories per gram of carbohydrates or protein — fat fills us up fast, which can be beneficial in controlling hunger.

Avocados are rich in a fat known as oleic acid, which offers an added benefit in terms of the fruit’s effects on appetite.

Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid also found in high quantities in olive and canola oils. In the body, it is converted into a compound known as OEA (oleoylethanolamide).

Weight loss can be tied to when, not just what, you eat

One recent study found that when individuals consumed high-oleic-acid vegetable oils with their meals, their levels of OEA increased, and this ultimately decreased hunger and reduced calorie intake at the next meal.

“Freshly formed OEA travels to the nerve fibers that lie beneath the gut lining and tells them to send a satiety signal to the brain,” said Daniele Piomelli, professor of anatomy and neurobiology, pharmacology and biological chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, who has studied OEA’s role in appetite reduction.

“OEA reduces appetite and lowers body weight in obese animals and possibly people,” she explained. “But obese people cannot make it, so it has to come from outside.”

Aside from avocados and certain oils, top sources of oleic acid include olives, nuts and seeds. Just be sure to watch portions of these high-fat foods.

Red chili peppers

Capsaicin is the plant compound in red chili peppers that gives them their “hot” sensation. But the burn can work both ways, as these heat-packed peppers can keep calories in check, which is key to weight loss.

Research suggests that capsaicin may help curb hunger. In one small study, when individuals consumed red pepper with their breakfast, they experienced a decrease in appetite before lunch and consumed less protein and fat during lunch. Another study found that adding red pepper to an appetizer significantly reduced the total amount of calories and carbohydrates consumed during lunch and during a snack served hours later.

On the other hand, the beneficial effects may be greatest when one first starts consuming red pepper, as its effects may decrease over time. Another study found that those who don’t consume red pepper regularly experienced a decrease in their desire to eat fatty and salty foods when they do.

How does it work? “Spicy red peppers turn on receptors in our mouths that cause us to feel burn. This gives a ‘kick’ to the system that triggers our bodies’ fight-or-flight response,” said study author Mary-Jon Ludy, associate professor of clinical nutrition at Bowling Green State University Activating the sympathetic nervous system in that way increases satiety and energy expenditure.

Interestingly, when you remove the taste response part (by swallowing the pepper in a capsule, for example), the weight management effects aren’t as big, Ludy explained.

If spicy foods seem a bit intimidating, start slowly. One of the easiest ways to incorporate red chili peppers into your diet is to add red pepper flakes to chicken dishes, pasta, pizza or other foods you may be inclined to overeat.

Barley

Though it’s rich in carbohydrates, barley is another natural appetite suppressant, as the grain contains a unique combination of dietary fibers that make it extra filling.

In one study, individuals ate bread made out of barley kernels for three days at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Researchers found that the participants experienced improved appetite control and a boost in metabolism for up to 14 hours after their last meal, along with a decrease in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Barley can be enjoyed in soup or as a hot cereal for breakfast. You can also use it in place of rice in risottos and pilafs.

Are potatoes healthy?

“Test subjects experienced higher satiety and less hunger and willingness to eat,” said study author Anne Nilsson, an associate professor in the Food for Health Science Centre at Lund University in Sweden.

According to Nilsson, when the fibers in barley – specifically betaglucans and arabinoxylans – reach the gut, they are metabolized by gut bacteria, and this increases levels of hormones that regulate appetite.

potatoes

Soup

When soup is eaten as appetizer, it can decrease hunger, increase fullness and reduce the total calories consumed for the entire meal.

In one study, participants got four soups with the same ingredients in different forms: separate broth and vegetables, chunky vegetable soup, chunky-pureed vegetable soup and pureed vegetable soup.
Researchers found that varying the form of soup did not significantly affect satiety or food intake: As long as soup was eaten before an entrée of cheese tortellini, individuals consumed 20% fewer calories for their entire lunch compared with when skipping soup.

What’s so special about soup? Thanks to its high water content, it’s got low energy (calorie) density. That means you can fill up on a big portion and feel full without consuming the heavy calorie load that typically comes with large portion sizes.

The new secret to losing weight? Water

“Binding water into foods slows down gastric emptying, which means your stomach stays fuller for longer,” said study co-author Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University and author of the “Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.”

And as an ingredient, few that are more waistline-friendly than water. “The most effective way to reduce calories is to bulk up food with water. You get lots of volume without calories,” Rolls said.
Still, the total amount of calories in soup counts. A lobster bisque may sound delicious, but the calories add up quickly, so a smaller portion may be necessary to keep calories in check.

“If you’re filling up with soup first, you don’t want it to have many calories,” Rolls said. “A soup that is less than 150 calories works well.” Chicken vegetable, red lentil or chilled cucumber soup are all good choices.

Here’s more soup for thought: Research has suggested that eating soup as a snack can help keep hunger at bay. “If you choose soup rather than energy-dense snack foods like chips and crackers, you’ll do better with your weight management,” Rolls said. “Aim for 100 calories if you are just a little hungry or 200 calories if you have a big case of the munchies.”

Vegetable salad

Similar to soup, eating a salad before a meal has been associated with increased satiety and decreased calorie intake.

One study showed that when the first course of a meal is a large portion of a low-calorie salad – with iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, fat-free dressing and light mozzarella cheese – people are more satiated and eat fewer calories for the entire meal compared with when skipping the salad.

Is sushi healthy?

Specifically, when individuals ate three cups of salad before having their pasta, they ate 12%, or 107, fewer calories for the entire meal compared with when they skipped the salad.

Another study found that eating a low-calorie salad with a meal also helps reduce the amount of calories consumed – though people ate more vegetables when the salad was consumed before the meal.

Salads promote satiety because vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers have a high water content. Plus, you’re getting a healthy dose of fiber, which contributes to fullness. And though it may sound counterintuitive, fat-free dressing is not necessarily the best choice, as fat is necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

“A salad should be primarily vegetables. … You can use regular salad dressing, but don’t have it swimming in it,” Rolls said.

To keep your salad calories in check, Rolls suggests avoiding fatty meats and instead sprinkling some nuts along with some beans to boost protein and fiber. You can also try topping your salad with popcorn in place of oily croutons.

Spinach

Spinach is a source of thylakoids, the chlorophyll-bearing parts of green leaves. But aside from their role in photosynthesis, research suggests that thylakoids may be helpful in reducing the amount of food we eat.

One study found that when individuals consumed a high-fat meal with the addition of thylakoids, their levels of the satiety hormone CCK increased, along with levels of leptin, the hormone that signals you to “stop” eating. They also experienced a decrease in levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite.

Fill your plate with superfoods

Another study found similar results when thylakoids were added to carbohydrate-rich meals.”They suppress the urge for sweets and the urge for snacking,” said study author Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, professor of appetite control at Lund University in Sweden.

Erlanson-Albertsson’s research has also shown that consuming thylakoid-rich spinach extract contributes to weight loss. “For those who got thylakoids, it was much easier to abstain from snacking, and they therefore lost more body weight,” she said.

The amount of thylakoids used in the study corresponds to 100 grams of spinach, or about three cups of raw spinach. For a more concentrated source of spinach, include the leafy green as smoothie ingredient, or puree it to make a blended spinach soup.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is rich in two natural appetite suppressants: omega-3 fats and fiber. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed has 3 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of healthful fat; one tablespoon of ground flaxseed has 2 grams of fiber and about 4 grams of beneficial fat.

Fiber from flaxseed can keep us satisfied and full without contributing any calories. One study found that when individuals consumed flaxseed fiber as part of a drink or as a tablet after an overnight fast, it significantly suppressed appetite and reduced calorie intake during lunch.

Fiber offers a “bulking” effect, which contributes to its effects on satiety. This may help explain why high fiber intakes are associated with lower body weights. Additionally, the fat in flaxseed can help slow the rise in blood sugar when flax is consumed with carbohydrate-rich foods. Unlike the hunger and irritability that can follow rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes, steady blood sugar levels can have beneficial effects on appetite.

For a fast way to include flax in your diet, try adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your morning cereal or smoothie, or sprinkle it on top of yogurt. You can also use ground flaxseed to replace some of the flour in waffle or pancake mixes.

Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and health journalist.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN     Fri July 21, 2017
 
source: www.cnn.com


15 Comments

Top 12 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Diana Herrington    May 3, 2015

Inflammation is an important immune system function. But, when out of control, it can cause serious damage. Inflammation has been linked to major diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and signs of aging. (To learn more about inflammation, read Inflammation: The Slow Silent Killer.)

There’s good news: many foods are naturally anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants found in foods protect your cells from the effects of free radicals and can help reduce an overabundance of inflammation in your body.

12 Natural Anti-Inflammatory Foods

1. Beets, with their wonderful red color, are a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Beets can boost your energy and lower your blood pressure. A single serving of 500 ml. beetroot juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure by 10.4/8 mm. Beets are high in nitrates; this study showed that a serving of beetroot juice boosted athletic performance by 1-3 percent.

2. Blueberries have been found to reduce inflammation in many studies on animals; there are yet to be more studies done on humans. Studies do indicate that blueberries are good for brain health. It is best to eat organic berries since pesticides on berries are hard to wash away due to their size.

3. Broccoli is loaded with detoxifying antioxidants. Broccoli is a particularly rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, both anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. Broccoli even has a significant amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which is a well known anti-inflammatory.

4. Flaxseed oil has a balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  The omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. Research studies show lignans can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. It was also found that lignans may play an important role in increasing breast cancer survival. Three studies following thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer were published at PubMed Central®.

Tea

5. Green Tea contains many  anti-inflammatory flavonoids.  A 2002 study found the most abundant catechin of green tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) to be a potent anti-inflammatory compound with therapeutic potential. The antioxidant properties of green tea are so effective that studies have shown a 22 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, a 48 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer and an amazing 57 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

6. Garlic can help reduce inflammation. At Washington State University they found garlic to be 100 times more effective than two antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium — one of the causes of intestinal illness.

7. Ginger: Ginger helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Ginger tea is a great addition to any diet. A study published in the National Library of Medicine compared ginger extract to common pain killers and found ginger to be very effective in reducing pain.

8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil helps fight inflammation.

Olive oil is full of polyphenols which protect the heart and blood vessels from inflammation.

9. Onions contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant that can help your body fight inflammation.

Onions stimulate the respiratory tract and help expelling sputum (phlegm). The onion is also a proven antioxidant and may be helpful in treating certain cancers. To learn more about the supporting research done on onions, read: Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research.

10. Seaweed contains a complex carbohydrate called fucoidan that studies have shown to reduce inflammation. Seaweeds contain 14 times more calcium by weight than milk. Kelp, kombu, wakame and arame are good sources of seaweed.

11. Spinach is one of the highest nutrient-dense foods. It contains a unique mixture of phytonutrients, is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components which help protect against cellular damage.

12. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to be more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway at the molecular level.