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This Common Food Doubles Weight Loss

The food signals the body to start burning fat and stop storing it.

Around 3 servings of yoghurt each day can double weight loss, research finds.

People in the study who ate yoghurt lost twice as much body fat as those that did not.

Yoghurt is rich in calcium, which is thought to aid weight loss.

Calcium signals the body to start burning fat and stop storing it.

Dieters taking calcium lost 81 percent more belly fat.

Belly fat is particularly dangerous, with strong links to heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

Professor Michael Zemel, the study’s first author, said:

“Not only did yogurt help the study participants lose more weight–the average weight loss was 13 pounds–they were about twice as effective at maintaining lean muscle mass.
This is a critical issue when dieting — you want to lose fat, not muscle.
Muscle helps burn calories, but it is often compromised during weight loss.”

The study included 34 obese people who were all put on a calorie-restricted diet.

Their diet was restricted by 500 calories each day.

Half of them were given 500mg of calcium per day as a supplement, while the other group were given 1,100mg plus three servings of low-fat yoghurt.

The results showed that those taking the higher dose of calcium lost 22 percent more weight, 61 percent more body fat and 81 percent more belly fat.

Professor Zemel said:

“The moral of the calcium story is to not dump dairy when you’re dieting.
Not only is it critical to keep your calcium levels high so you won’t lose bone density, it will also help you maintain your muscle mass and increase your fat loss.
A diet rich in low fat dairy foods, like yogurt, can help make your weight loss efforts easier.”

About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.


He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do

The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity (Zemel et al., 2005).

source: PsyBlog

What are the best breakfasts for losing weight?

Some people believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that eating breakfast increases weight loss. But is this true? And, if so, which are the best breakfast foods for weight loss?

There is little evidence to support the idea that eating breakfast can increase weight loss. Breakfast is just another meal. That said, eating breakfast can give a person energy for the day. This may reduce the risk of overeating and, in this way, support weight loss efforts.

This article explores the best breakfast foods to eat to aid weight loss. It also discusses breakfast options to suit vegetarian, vegan, and restricted diets. Read on to learn all there is to know about eating breakfast and losing weight.

Breakfast food tips

To get the most out of breakfast, it is best to eat nutrient dense foods. These foods offer more nutritional value per calorie, which may help a person feel fuller longer.

Here are some breakfast food tips that may support weight loss:

Eat fiber-rich foods

People who regularly eat fiber-rich breakfasts may have less visceral fat and inflammation.
People trying to lose weight may benefit from eating fiber-rich foods for breakfast and throughout the day.

A 2015 study found that diets rich in fiber helped people lose more weight and improved symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for diabetes.

Other studies link fiber to better health and more weight loss. For example, a 2012 study found that adolescents who ate more fiber had less visceral fat and less inflammation.

Eat more protein

Eating more protein for breakfast or at any other time of day may support weight loss.

Numerous studies link higher protein diets to more weight loss. A 2014 analysis suggests that protein may help people feel fuller, reducing overeating. People may also burn more calories when they eat protein.

Protein-rich foods are generally rich in other nutrients, allowing a person to get a wide range of nutrients without consuming lots of calories.

Avoid high calorie options

Try to avoid foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Reducing calorie intake at breakfast time and throughout the day may help a person lose weight.

To cut down on calories, avoid adding sugar to breakfast foods. A healthy oatmeal breakfast can become a sugar-laden, high calorie meal when a person adds lots of brown sugar. Select cereals that contain less sugar and avoid pancakes and pastries that contain lots of sugar.

Avoid sugary drinks

Be mindful of the role of drinks in calorie content. A glass of orange juice typically contains more than 100 calories but offers little nutritional value. Opt for eating the whole fruit rather than drinking juices.

Eat whole foods

Eating whole foods instead of processed foods may help a person lose weight. Try replacing white bread, pasta, and bagels with whole grain options.

Whole grain offers more nutritional value and may reduce the risk of some types of heart disease. Because whole grains are rich in fiber, they may support weight loss and reduce constipation.

Should you eat breakfast?

With interest in intermittent fasting increasing, some people are now opting to skip breakfast altogether. But does skipping breakfast support weight loss?

Not eating breakfast may support weight loss because it means a person goes longer without consuming calories, which may lead to a lower total calorie intake throughout the day.

However, skipping breakfast may not support weight loss for everyone. For some people, skipping breakfast leads to overeating at lunchtime. In this way, skipping breakfast may lead to higher overall calorie consumption, undermining weight loss.

Research around breakfast and weight loss is inconclusive. A 2019 BMJ meta-analysis and systematic review suggests that skipping breakfast may support weight loss. Examining 13 trials, researchers found that not eating breakfast offered modest decreases in weight.

However, the study’s authors also note that the data is not strong. Other factors might account for the difference. Scientists need to do more research to fully understand whether avoiding breakfast is an effective weight loss strategy.

Breakfast foods for vegans

Peanut butter on toast is a healthful breakfast choice for vegans trying to lose weight.
As for all people, it is essential for people who follow a vegan diet to consume sufficient protein. Consuming protein helps people to feel full, which may support weight loss.

Vegan breakfast foods may be a healthful option for anyone wanting to limit meat consumption or add variety to their diet. Also, eating more vegetables increases a person’s fiber and nutrient intake.

Many vegan breakfast options are rich in protein, fiber, and other nutrients. Here are some vegan breakfast foods to try:

  • vegan scramble (using tofu instead of eggs) and kale, broccoli, or spinach
  • peanut or almond butter on whole grain toast
  • oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries and an optional teaspoon of honey
  • whole grain cereal with soy or almond milk
  • avocado toast on whole wheat bread, seasoned with lemon juice and sea salt
  • tofu omelet
  • vegan BLT made from soy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and whole grain buns
  • mixed nuts
  • rolled oats with peanut butter
  • smoothie with avocado, banana, frozen berries, and a teaspoon of honey

Breakfast foods for vegetarians

Vegetarians can choose from a wide variety of delicious breakfast foods. Adding dairy products makes it easy to get plenty of protein to support weight loss.

A 2011 study compared the diet of vegetarians to nonvegetarians. Researchers found that vegetarian diets were more nutritionally dense. This may be because vegetarians eat more fruits and vegetables than meat eaters. The study’s authors also suggest that a vegetarian diet may support weight loss.

Here are some vegetarian breakfast ideas:

  • whole grain cereal with 1% milk
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • plain vanilla yogurt with bananas
  • two slices of white cheddar cheese with a handful of mixed nuts
  • hard boiled egg sprinkled with salt
  • avocado with cottage cheese and hot sauce
  • poached eggs on whole grain toast
  • scrambled eggs with hot sauce instead of cheese or salt

Breakfast foods for meat eaters

While meat is high in many nutrients, it is also a high calorie food due to its fat content. Lean meats and poultry contain less fat and calories than red meats, so choosing these types of meat is a good option for meat eaters hoping to lose weight.

Reducing the amount of meat in each meal and replacing it with nutrient-rich, high fiber vegetables may also help.

The following meals can support healthy weight loss:

  • grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce on whole grain bread
  • Canadian bacon with yogurt or eggs
  • turkey sausage scramble with lots of vegetables

Breakfast for people with dietary restrictions

Having allergies or an underlying health condition need not affect a person’s enjoyment of breakfast. There are plenty of alternatives available.

Here are some breakfast options for people with dietary restrictions:

Food allergies

Many people have food allergies or sensitivities to lactose, nuts, and eggs, which many breakfast foods contain. Fortunately, there are many substitute options available:

  • Lactose intolerance: Lactose free milk and milk substitutes, such as almond milk, can be good options for people with lactose intolerance.
  • Nut allergies: Lentils, chia seeds, and quinoa can be healthful options for people with nut allergies.
  • Egg allergies: People who cannot eat eggs should consider lean meats, nut butter, and nuts instead.
  • Celiac disease

For people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, finding breakfast options that do not contain gluten is essential.

Many food stores sell gluten free versions of common breakfast items, including:

  • bagels
  • pancakes
  • cereals
  • Another gluten free breakfast idea involves serving high protein foods, such as eggs or lean meats, with wilted spinach and cooked tomatoes.

Diabetes
People with diabetes can eat hard boiled eggs for breakfast to manage their blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes must keep their blood sugar levels consistent. Skipping breakfast may not be healthful for people with diabetes, particularly if they take medication for their condition. People who take medication for their diabetes typically need to consume some carbohydrate to manage their blood sugar levels.

Here are some breakfast options for people with diabetes:

  • scrambled eggs with wilted spinach
  • hard boiled eggs
  • a handful of nuts
  • lean meats with spinach or kale

Summary
Breakfast habits can support weight loss but how this works varies from person to person. Eating breakfast may aid weight loss for some people as they stay fuller for longer, which prevents snacking during the day. For others, skipping breakfast supports weight loss because it leads them to consume fewer calories overall.

Losing weight requires a person to burn fewer calories than they eat. To sustain weight loss, a person must stick to a reduced calorie diet and pair this diet with more activity. To make sustainable dietary changes, it is vital that a person finds healthful foods they enjoy eating.

Highly restrictive diets are often difficult to follow. Instead, incorporate a few treats and find nourishing, low calorie foods that taste good. A dietitian or doctor can help a person develop the right meal plan for their needs



Last reviewed Mon 9 September 2019
By Zawn Villines 
Reviewed by Miho Hatanaka, RDN, LD
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Everything You Need to Know About Potassium

Potassium is one of the seven essential macrominerals. The human body requires at least 100 milligrams of potassium daily to support key processes.

A high potassium intake reduces the risk of overall mortality by 20 percent. It also decreases the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, protects against loss of muscle mass, preserves bone mineral density, and reduces the formation of kidney stones.

The primary functions of potassium in the body include regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles.

This MNT Knowledge Center article provides an in-depth look at recommended intake of potassium, its possible health benefits, reliable sources of potassium, the effects of consuming too much or too little potassium, and any potential health risks of consuming potassium.

Fast facts on potassium

  • Adults should be consuming 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day. However, fewer than two percent of people in the U.S. consume enough potassium.
  • Potassium supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength.
  • Beet greens, white beans, soy beans, and lima beans are the foods highest in potassium.
  • Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, and constipation. It can escalate to paralysis, respiratory failure, and painful gut obstructions.
  • Hyperkalemia means that there is too much potassium in the blood, and this can also impact health.
  • Potassium is available in supplements, but dietary sources are most healthful.

Recommended intake

Potassium is a crucial nutrient, and a very small percent of people in the U.S. consume enough.
The Adequate Intake recommendation for potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg) per day for adults. Most adults do not meet this recommendation.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) also reported that less than two percent of people in the U.S. meet the daily 4,700-mg potassium requirement. Women consume less potassium than men on average.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend an intake of 3,510 mg per day and agree that most of the global population is not meeting this recommendation.

Potassium supplements are available. However, it is best to obtain any vitamin or mineral through food. It is not individual vitamins or minerals that make certain foods important for healthful living, but the combined efforts of a range of nutrients.

Benefits

Potassium carries proven health benefits.

It is an electrolyte that counteracts the effects of sodium, helping to maintain consistent blood pressure. Potassium is also important for maintaining the balance of acids and bases in the body. Bases are alkalis that have not yet dissolved in water.

Blood pressure and cardiovascular health

Low potassium intake has repeatedly been linked with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, but ensuring a good intake of potassium may be just as important.

An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium is crucial to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In one study, those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49 percent lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed about 1,000 mg per day.

Bone and muscle maintenance

Potassium-rich foods maintain an alkaline environment in the body, unlike in acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is triggered by a diet full of acidifying foods like meat, dairy products, and processed cereal grains. Acidosis is a common outcome of the typically acidic Western diet.

Acidosis can cause nitrogen excretion, loss in bone mineral density, and muscle wasting. A diet high in potassium can help preserve muscle mass in older people, as well as during conditions that tend to lead to muscle wasting, such as diabetic ketosis. However, a sufficient potassium intake can help prevent this.

One study found that participants that took in 5,266 milligrams of potassium per day maintained an average of 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than those with a potassium intake 50 percent lower. Some studies also show an increase in bone density with high potassium intake.

Foods high in potassium

White beans are among the most potassium-rich foods, as are many other types of bean.
Potassium is found in many whole, unprocessed foods.

Some of the best sources of potassium are fresh leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. Processing greatly reduces the amount of dietary potassium. A diet high in processed foods is probably low in potassium.

Many processed foods are also high in sodium. As sodium consumption rises, increased potassium is needed to cancel out the effect of sodium on blood pressure.

Here is a table showing the nutritional benefit provided by one cup of the most potassium-rich foods.

Food type (1 cup)                     Amount of potassium provided in milligrams (mg)
Cooked, boiled, or drained beet greens, without salt 1,309
Canned white beans 1,189
Cooked, boiled, or drained soy beans, without salt 970
Cooked, boiled, or drained lima beans, without salt 969
Baked sweet potato 950
Sliced avocado 708
Cooked, boiled, or drained mushrooms, without salt 555
Sliced banana 537
Red, ripe, raw tomatoes 427
Raw cantaloupe melon 417

A good way to reduce the harmful effects of high-sodium meals is to eat a high-potassium fruit or vegetable with each meal.

There are many more sources of potassium outside of this list. Be sure to check the potassium content of any preferred foods using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database.

Deficiency

Potassium deficiency can cause a range of symptoms and health problems. It is also known as hypokalemia.

A normal potassium level is defined as between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Hypokalemia is diagnosed when potassium levels fall below 3.5 mmol/L. Mild potassium deficiency will generally not present with symptoms. A potassium level lower than 2.5 mmol/L is considered extremely deficient, and symptoms will become more severe as levels reduce.

Symptoms of low potassium levels include:

  • malaise and fatigue
  • weakness and muscle pain all over the body
  • constipation

Extremely low potassium levels can cause:

  • severe muscle weakness and paralysis
  • respiratory failure
  • painful obstructions in the gut
  • tingling, crawling, numb, or itchy sensations main felt in the hands, feet, legs, or arms
  • intermittent muscle spasms

Low potassium can be diagnosed using simple blood tests and treated by alterations to the diet, including supplements. Having regular medicals and health screenings will also help a person track their potassium levels and avoid any potential shortfalls.

Risks

Potassium can also cause health problems when a person consumes more than the 4,700 mg recommended Adequate Intake.

Individuals with good kidney function can efficiently rid the body of excess amounts of potassium in the urine. This process normally has no adverse side effects.

There have been a small number of reports that potassium toxicity is associated with an extremely high intake of potassium supplements. No food-related potassium toxicity has ever been reported.

Hyperkalemia

Consuming too much potassium can be harmful to people whose kidneys are not fully functional. Excessive potassium consumption can lead to hyperkalemia, in which the kidneys cannot remove enough potassium from the body. This can be dangerous if the condition escalates quickly.

Potassium levels between 5.1 and 6.0 mmol/L are considered high and warrant monitoring and management. Levels higher than 6.0 mmol/L are dangerous.

Hyperkalemia will mostly be either symptomless or present very few symptoms. However, when symptoms do present, they are similar to those that occur in hypokalemia.

Severe or sudden hyperkalemia can cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pain. At this stage, hyperkalemia can become a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Reducing potassium intake

Hyperkalemia is treated by reducing the intake of potassium.

Potassium and sodium are part of a constant balancing act within the body. Maintaining this balance is vital to the smooth function of bodily systems.

If hyperkalemia is suspected, it is best to avoid high-potassium foods, such as the ones listed above. Salt substitutes, herbal remedies, or supplements should also not be consumed. These can all boost potassium levels rather than balance them.

High potassium levels have been linked to two cases of cardiac arrest. If the kidneys are unable to remove excess potassium from the blood, the effects of potassium on the heart could be fatal.

Takeaway

Potassium is vital to bodily function but does not hold the answers to healthful living on its own. Overall eating patterns and dietary balance are most important in bolstering health and keeping disease at bay.

Wed 10 January 2018 
By Megan Ware RDN LD
Reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD
yogurt

 

10 Foods Higher in Potassium Than a Banana

Surprise! Bananas deliver less than 10 percent of our daily dose of the mineral potassium, which protects against stroke and heart disease. Here’s how to get the rest.

Butternut squash

This sweet root vegetable tops bananas in the rankings of foods high in potassium, delivering 582 milligrams of the essential mineral in one cup, compared to 420 milligrams in a banana. According to the U.S. RDA, adults should aim to get 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.

Edamame

Soybeans are one of the top foods with potassium, packing in 676 mg per cup. Edamame beans are also one of the world’s best sources of plant-based protein because they contain all the essential micronutrients our bodies need to build muscle. Edamame are delicious roasted with a sprinkle of salt.

White and sweet potatoes

Fresh organic potato stand out among many large background potatoes in the market. Close-up potatoes texture.

A sweet potato contains 438 mg of potassium, while its cousin, the white potato, delivers a whopping 950 mg. Both types of tubers also come with high levels of vitamin A. People often confuse yams and sweet potatoes; for potassium, you’ll want to stick with sweet potatoes.

Swiss chard

Get 961 mg of potassium by cooking up a single cup of Swiss chard. Not only is it one of the foods high in potassium, but the leafy green is also packed with iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Foods with potassium aren’t the only ones you should be adding to your diet.

Beet greens

Another one of the foods high in potassium? Chop and roast just one cup of beet greens for a 655-mg dose. As a bonus, you’ll also get folate, manganese, and copper, not to mention dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6.

Tomato sauce

Not many people think of tomato sauce as one of the foods high in potassium, but topping your pizza, pasta, or vegetables with one cup of the stuff will get you 905 mg of the nutrient. Make sure to pick the perfect pasta shape to go with your tomato sauce.

Black beans

When you’re looking for foods high in potassium, black beans are a top choice, delivering a hefty 681 mg. This legume is also a great source of vegetarian protein and dietary fiber, plus a long list of other health boosters, including antioxidants, iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.

White beans

Surprisingly, white beans are the best source of potassium you can get. Just one cup contains an impressive 1,190 mg of potassium, which is about one-fourth of the daily recommended amount. Similar to black beans, they also contain protein, fiber, and a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals.

Watermelon

Two slices of watermelon contain a whopping 640 mg of potassium. Plus, its star ingredient is lycopene, a plant pigment that has been known to reduce the risk of some cancers.

Yogurt

Yogurt is a great source of calcium and delivers 380 mg of potassium per eight-ounce cup. Bring it over the banana threshold by adding one ounce of hazelnuts, which have 211 mg of potassium.

Morgan Cutolo
source: www.rd.com
Originally Published on Reader’s Digest


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Top 10 Immune-Boosting Foods

Keeping your immune system strong and healthy
is one of the essential keys to great health.
Fortunately, doing so is easier than you think.

The immune system is a complex system of organs, cells and proteins that work together to help protect us against foreign invaders, including: viruses, bacteria, fungi and other foreign substances we may come into contact with. We rarely give it a second thought until we’re burning up with a fever or fighting some form of serious infection.

There are many ways to keep your immune system strong and healthy, including:

  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting sufficient sleep
  • Reducing stress as much as possible
  • Washing hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Thoroughly cooking any meat, fish, or poultry in your diet
  • Eating a diet rich in immune-boosting fruits and vegetables

BEST IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOODS

Most fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods, boost the immune system, but some are better at it than others. Some of the best immune-boosting foods include:

Beets

Rich in the immune-boosting mineral, zinc, beets along with their leafy greens, are a great addition to your diet. Beets are also a rich source of prebiotics, the foods eaten by probiotics, or beneficial microbes, in your intestines. By eating more beets you’ll feed the healthy bacteria and other beneficial microbes that give your gut and immune health a boost. Add them to fresh juice, grate and add to salads and sandwiches, or roast and enjoy on their own.

Blueberries

Blueberries don’t just taste amazing, they are packed with nutrients known as flavonoids that give them their gorgeous color and delicious taste. Research in the journal Advances in Nutrition shows that flavonoids boost the immune system. Eat fresh blueberries on their own or atop salads or added to smoothies. Frozen blueberries that have been slightly thawed taste like blueberry sorbet and make a delicious dessert.

Blueberries

 

Citrus Fruits

Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruit are excellent sources of immune-boosting vitamin C, making them excellent choices to include in your daily diet. Juice them or add them to salads or salad dressings, or in the case of grapefruit and oranges, eat them on their own as a quick snack.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil contain plentiful amounts of the essential fatty acids known as Omega 3s that give your immune system a boost and help to keep it functioning well on a regular basis. Add flaxseeds or oil to your smoothie or top previously-cooked vegetables with a splash of flax oil and sea salt.

Garlic

Rich in immune-boosting allicin, garlic helps to stave off colds and flu by giving our immune system a boost. Cooking reduces the potency of garlic but both cooked and raw garlic are still worth eating on a daily basis. Add some garlic to your soups, stews, chili and, of course, combined with chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and a touch of salt for a delicious hummus.

Kefir

A beverage similar to yogurt but thinner, kefir comes from the Turkish word “keif” which means “good feeling” probably because let’s face it: we feel better when we’re not sick. Kefir offers immune-boosting health benefits due to its many different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Make sure the one you choose contains “live cultures.”

Kimchi

The national dish of Korea, kimchi is a spicy condiment that has been found in research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food to offer immune-boosting benefits.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain plentiful amounts of the immune-boosting fats known as Omega 3s, along with the essential immune health mineral, zinc, making them an excellent choice to include in your diet. Throw them on top of your salads, grind them and add them to flour for baking, or snack on them as is.

Walnuts

Raw, unsalted walnuts are rich sources of immune-boosting Omega 3 fatty acids. If you don’t like the taste of walnuts, I urge you to try ones that are raw, unsalted and kept in the refrigerator section of your health food store since they are typically fresher than the ones found in packages in the center aisles of the grocery store. The bitter taste most people attribute to walnuts is actually a sign they have gone rancid. Fresh walnuts have a buttery and delicious taste.

Yogurt

Yogurt and vegan yogurt contain beneficial bacteria that boost your gut health, which in turn, boost your immune system health. Make sure the yogurt you select contains “live cultures.”

 

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook            August 1, 2018

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.  Follow her on Twitter.

source: www.care2.com


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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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8 Foods That Fight Colds

If someone asked you which foods were good for helping fight a cold, you would probably think of things like oranges, because they are known to contain vitamin C. You might also suggest chicken soup, since this is one of the most well-known home remedies of all time. Scientific research has proven that there are benefits from eating chicken soup, but there are many other foods you can eat that will help you battle a cold. Here is a sample.

#1 Oysters

Most people know that oysters have a reputation as somewhat of an aphrodisiac, but they probably do not know that they can also help your body fight a cold. Oysters are rich in zinc, and zinc is a mineral that helps fights colds as researchers discovered when they tested the effectiveness of zinc lozenges. They found that people whole took zinc lozenges experienced cold systems for a shorter amount of time.

#2 Garlic

We all know that eating lots of garlic comes with a risk of offending some people around you due to the strong odor it can leave on your breath. When you are suffering with a cold, you may consider this a risk well worth taking, however. One of the key ingredients in garlic is called allicin, and it has proven itself as a potent antioxidant, and antioxidants help the immune system fight illness.

#3 Yogurt and kefir

Just about everyone is familiar with yogurt, but have you heard of kefir? Where taste is concerned, kefir might be described as liquid yogurt. It has a lot in common with yogurt, and that includes loads of beneficial bacteria. These tiny microbes are actually helpful to our health, and many of them take up residence in the digestive tract and help fight off bad bacteria. Both yogurt and kefir can help fortify your own private army of beneficial bacteria that will help destroy unfriendly bacteria, and help boost your immune system, making it better able to fight off a cold.

#4 Red peppers

Vitamin C often comes to mind when we think of the best way to fight off a cold, but we are probably inclined to think about things like oranges and other citrus fruits when someone mentions vitamin C. Red peppers should not be left out in the cold, however, since they are loaded with vitamin C. Just a single red pepper averages about 150 milligrams of vitamin C, which is twice the recommended daily allowance for women. Many experts believe even more vitamin C should be used to treat a cold – as much as 500 or even 1000 milligrams a day.

#5 Mushrooms

Another food you may not even consider when thinking of foods that help fight colds are mushrooms. Granted, not everyone loves these earthy-tasting fungi, but for those who cannot get enough, getting a cold means it could be time to pig out on mushrooms. The many varieties of mushrooms that are edible differ quite a bit when it comes to their nutrient content, but most of them contain antioxidants that will help give your immune system a bit more strength to kill of a cold.

#6 Sunflower seeds

These tasty seeds are popular as a snack, and are often salted and sold in individual packages in retail stores. It’s the antioxidant power of the vitamin E in sunflower seeds that makes then useful in the battle against colds. They are probably a bit healthier if you get them unsalted, especially if you suffer from high blood pressure.

#7 Brazil nuts

While we’re talking about nuts, we may as well take a little time to mention Brazil nuts. These crunchy treats not only help you fight colds, they can also help your body kill off other viruses like the flu. A medical research study from 2001 found that mice infected with a flu virus suffered from more severe inflammation if they did not have enough selenium in their system. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, and don’t need to be eaten in great quantities to get their benefit. Just one Brazil nut contains more than the daily recommended amount of selenium.

#8 Tea

This is something that may naturally come to mind to help ease the symptoms of the common cold. Not only does it tend to make you feel better to sip hot tea when you are feeling sick, it has real cold-fighting benefits as well. Virtually all tea contains compounds called catechins which are powerful antioxidants that are effective in the fight against illness. A study conducted in Japan in 2011 found that people who took catechin supplements for five months lowered their chances of catching the flu by 75 percent! That sounds like it might be better than a flu shot!

source: thrutcher.com


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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


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10 Ways You Can Increase Dopamine Levels In The Brain Without Medication

January 20, 2016 by Stephan Gardner

“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional response, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.” – Psychology Today

There are a lot of articles on the internet about dopamine and how it affects your mood, behavior, energy, and focus. What’s not commonly spoken about, however, is how dopamine is affected by your perception. Discussed more rarely still is the reason why your dopamine levels may be low. Below are 10 ways to increase your dopamine levels, courtesy of Power of Positivity, as well as my own observations regarding the underlying issues which may have led to each situation, and how to tackle them.

1. Don’t Get Addicted

“Many people get addicted to something because it gives them some kind of instant gratification – drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, shopping, and other addictive behaviors actually have the opposite effect on dopamine levels in the long-term. In essence, when we get overly addicted to something, the ‘reward circuitry’ of our brain kicks into overdrive and we crave the ‘quick hit.’ This is not a sustainable solution for dopamine production, which can and should be done naturally.”

What’s missing here is the fact that addiction is quite often a result of low dopamine, meaning addiction is more of an attempt to fix an already existing problem. In essence, “the underpinning of your addictive personality is a lack of fulfillment from within, with a resulting urge to achieve fulfillment through substances, objects, or events that relieve the inevitable pain – for a while.” (source)

“When we receive a reward of any kind, dopamine is released in our brains. Over time, this stimulus and release of dopamine can lead to learning. Researchers have recently found that how quickly and permanently we learn things relates directly to how much dopamine we have available in our brains. As we get rewarded over and over again for something, we learn that we should keep doing whatever that is very deeply, and it’s hard to unlearn those kinds of behaviours.” (source)

What this means is that low-dopamine is a response to a lifestyle which doesn’t offer much in terms of reward to the person living it. It may be a response to the environment you’re living in, the clothes you’re wearing, the tight budget you’re working within, the relationship choices you’ve made or have been made for you, or a result of trauma where there was no perceived reward. It’s very easy to understand how dopamine levels may appear low when we consider all the potentials leading to less-rewarding lifestyles and life-experiences.

What’s necessary then is less of a ‘don’t get addicted’ approach and more of an ‘increase the rewards in your life’ style of applied advice. Fact is, you’ll constantly feel less fulfilled through low dopamine when you’re not (or are unable to) fill your day with things that inspire and reward you. Meaning, the most effective protection against addiction and greatest advantage to high-dopamine levels is a defense against low-rewarding activities and an offence working towards rewarding actions, activities, and ultimately, a lifestyle of fulfillment and achievement.

Also, because addiction is most often rooted in past traumatic experiences, where emotions create a fight or flight response that becomes rooted in your core emotions, it’s vitally important to seek proper and effective help in dissolving past trauma. Doing so can only help you perceive more rewarding experiences in your life, rather than filtering experiences through a ‘traumatized’ awareness.

2. Checklist Small Tasks

“Dopamine increases when we are organized and finish tasks – regardless if the task is small or large. So, don’t allow your brain to worry about things that need to be done. Instead, write these tasks down and then check them off one at a time. It’s been shown that it’s more satisfying to the brain’s dopamine levels when we physically check something off of our to-do list. Also, write down and check stuff off regardless if you can mentally remember the tasks.”

In reading the book Principles of Self-Management, I came across a brilliantly well-researched understanding of motivation when it comes to tasks. In short, if a task is greater than 25% of a change in a person’s routine, the person will be overwhelmed with feeling incapable of achieving it. This leads them to self-defeat and self-sabotage to avoid accomplishing the task. On the other side, if a task is less than 10% different than a person’s normal routine, they don’t do it because it won’t have enough meaning for them to do so. As such, it’s wise to make sure you write down goals and tasks that are in between this 10% to 25% range of new behaviors and actions, otherwise, you just won’t do it.

However, this 10-25% range is simply a guide for tasks that are not directly linked to our highest values. In reality, if you can link a task to your highest values and see clearly how it will help you accomplish what’s truly most important to you, you’ll do it. If you can’t see how it will help fulfill your highest values, you’ll procrastinate, hesitate, and get frustrated in the attempt to do it. By linking a task to your highest values, you’ll both increase the chances of you doing it and also increase the reward you will feel when you accomplish it, a result of producing more dopamine in the brain.

3. Create Something

“For us writers, painters, sculptors, poets, singers, dancers, and other artists, we can identify with this. When we’re in creative mode, we can become hyper-focused. As a result, we can enter a state called flow. Dopamine is the brain chemical that allows us to achieve this state. The lesson is this: take up a hobby or activity in which you actually create something tangible. Try something like arts, crafts, auto repair, drawing, photography, or something else that sounds interesting.”

Sparking your creative drive is an effective way to increase your potential for feeling great, achieving goals and inspiring yourself through your accomplishments. However, it can also be a distraction from a feel-bad lifestyle, if it’s not maintained with a purpose in mind. Whenever you’re working on a project, creative or not, that truly inspires you, you’ll activate your ‘flow state,’ where time and space seem to stand still. So how to you determine what it is that truly inspires you?

The most important goal in revealing your most authentic creative energy is to remove the creative energies of other people from your life. So many of us look up to the creations of others, whether works of art or music, and their works or talents take up time and space in our own minds. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it can influence your own beliefs about what you can create. If you compare yourself to others and minimize yourself, you’ll repress your own creative ability. This can affect your dopamine levels, because if you can’t see your own creations as rewarding to you, as much as someone else’s, you’ll feel inferior and incapable.

One very effective way of neutralizing the influence other people have on your mind is to literally look at the negatives or downsides of their accomplishment. This isn’t to practice being a critic, but it can enable you to de-infatuate with their creative powers, helping you to stop minimizing your own. Once you recognize that your creative endeavors can exist on the level of those you admire, through practice (just like they did), you’ll increase your ability to see your own creations as meaningful and rewarding.

happy-chemicals-dopamine-serotonin-endorphin-oxytocin

 4. Exercise

“Same ‘ole, same ‘ole, we know. We’ve discussed repeatedly the importance and benefits of physical exercise, and we’re just going to add to this list again. So, not only does exercise help us relieve stress, achieve better physical health and make us more productive; it boosts our dopamine levels. More specifically, exercise increases multiple neurotransmitters – serotonin and endorphins, besides dopamine, receive a boost. Here’s something else cool: the exercise needn’t not be arduous. Simply taking a stroll or climbing some stairs will achieve a good dopamine jolt.”

Exercise is important, but it can also become a crutch or an addiction if it’s not something being integrated into your daily life. Many people go to the gym to work out, yet don’t live a life that requires the body they’re building. Another thing is actually placing a value on exercise itself. Many people buy the gym memberships, yet never use them. So what’s the easiest way to make exercise a part of your life?

There’s a branch of exercise called ‘functional training’ in which exercises are tailored to help you with your daily tasks. This is much more helpful than just ‘workouts,’ because if you can train your body into a state where your daily tasks are not taxing on your energy, you’ll breeze through the day and have more energy at the end of it. Staying in a high energy state instead of being brought down by your daily tasks will help you be more inspired during your day and innately feel more inspired to exercise.

5. Get a Streak Going

“As with creating a checklist, getting a streak going is a great way to increase dopamine levels. For the purpose of this article, a streak is a visual reminder of how many days in a row you’ve achieved something.

Get a calendar specifically for this purpose: write down whatever goal you have and the days of the week or month when they are scheduled. For example, if you work out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, mark these days on the calendar for the month. As you finish a workout, mark it off on the calendar. Keep a streak going, and you’ll keep the dopamine coming.”

While the ‘streak’ is a useful tool for celebrating accomplishments, it unfortunately has a downside—routine. Doing something enough times becomes a routine, especially if the action isn’t continuously fulfilling to your highest values. To counter this, try adapting the ‘goal’ or ‘action’ in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. By continuously finding ways to improve the performance of the behavior, over time, you can look back at how many times you’ve done it, but also how much better you’ve become at it. This way, your performance becomes a competition with yourself, which increases your potential for feeling rewarded as you master a skill.

6. Increase Tyrosine

“Of the chemicals that make up dopamine, none are more important than tyrosine. In fact, tyrosine is considered the building block of dopamine. Therefore, it is important that you get enough of this protein. There’s a large list of foods that increase Tyrosine, including: Almonds, Avocados, Bananas, Beef, Chicken, Chocolate, Coffee, Eggs, Green Tea, Watermelon, Yogurt.”

Food is a reward, not a chore. This is the difference between living to eat and eating to live. While it’s important to utilize foods to your advantage, it’s just as important to recognize that the brain is its own best pharmacy. Few foods actually make it past the blood-brain barrier and this actually includes Tyrosine.

“Tyrosine is one of the 22 key amino acids that are used for building proteins around the body. In addition to this, however, it also raises the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, namely dopamine and norepinephrine. These are famous for being ‘feel good’ chemicals that can help boost mood and elevate concentration, making tyrosine a popular nootropic. However, tyrosine is completely incapable of passing the BBB. This way, no matter how much of it you were to take, you’d feel almost no effects.” (source)

The truth is, tyrosine must be bonded with another molecule to make it past the blood-brain barrier, so tyrosine in itself isn’t capable of making significant impacts on the brain. However, through natural digestion and regulating healthy bodily function, it can assist the brain in having to work less on fixing an unhealthy system, which in turn can help increase the potential for dopamine and dopamine related good feelings.

7. Listen to Music

“Do you ever wonder why music makes you happy? I mean, we can be in the dumps one moment but once we put on our favorite jam, we’re swaying and shaking away…feeling pretty good about ourselves too! The reason for this is that listening to music increases dopamine levels. In fact, scientists say that listening to music has the same effect as eating our favorite foods or watching our favorite T.V. show. So, when you’re feeling down, throw on some of your favorite tunes and jam out!”

Listening to music can increase dopamine levels temporarily, but what we’re really looking for is a lasting fulfillment feeling so you can make your daily life enjoyable and productive for your goals. Also, popular music these days is often manufactured in such a way as to prey on your brain’s chemical dependency, making much of music a form of substance addiction.

However, music has been a part of human history since as far as we can see, so its influence on our brain is greatly appreciated. In fact, one of the greatest cultural appreciations throughout history has been music. So, listen to music, but just make sure it’s not the only source of dopamine in your life.

 8. Meditate

“As with exercise, we are discovering more and more benefits to meditation. We are again adding to the list. As we discussed, the human brain is susceptible to a variety of addictions. One other addictive habit that we have is overthinking. In fact, some Buddhists have a phrase for this addiction: ‘monkey mind.’

Overthinking is not merely a distracting habit, it’s also a genuine compulsion that leaves us in a perplexing state, while also having a negative effect on our spiritual development. However, scientists are finally catching up to what Buddhists have known for thousands of years: meditation and mindfulness are essential to a healthy mind.”

Meditation can be a highly effective form of dopamine increase if done properly, as it can weed out the mental influences which may be causing your chemistry to be less than desired. With the intent of reaching a state of self-fulfillment, meditation clears out the mental clutter and replaces it with presence and fulfillment for just being alive. This is a state available to every human and can help assist our daily lives by increasing our awareness of what feels good for us and what we don’t resonate with.

9. Take Supplements

“While there are some great ways to increase dopamine levels, sometimes we’re facing a time crunch. Fortunately, there are natural supplements on the market that have been shown to increase dopamine levels. Here are a few:

  • Acetyl-l-tyrosine: Another building block of dopamine. A healthy dose of this makes it easier for the brain to produce dopamine.
  • Curcumin: An active ingredient that’s also common in curry spices and turmeric.
  • Ginkgo Biloba: A tremendously popular wonder supplement that’s also believed to boost dopamine levels and keep it circulating in the brain longer.
  • L-theanine: Increases multiple neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine. Green tea is a terrific source for this.” (source)

While supplements can impact our dopamine response, they should by no means replace your own inner potential for fulfillment. That responsibility lies with you and you alone. However, with respect to inner wisdom, without knowing what feeling amazing actually feels like, it’s difficult to strive for it as a goal. Supplements can help us get there so we can have a reference point for what our potential can be. The trick is to facilitate change in our lives, enough so that the need for supplementation to feel good is lower than the feel goods we actually experience in our life.

10. Toxic Cleansing

“As miraculous as our bodies are, we do accumulate toxins and bacteria that is bad for us. Endotoxins are the kind that can cause our immune systems to get out of whack, and it also constrains the production of dopamine. Here are a couple tips for helping cleanse the gut of endotoxins: eat fermented food, get enough sleep, and resist the urge to indulge in fatty or sugary foods.”

Whenever you’re not fulfilled in your life, you run the risk of over-indulging in sugary and sweet foods in an attempt to temporarily fulfill yourself. However, if you find fulfillment through the challenge and support of your day, you’re more likely to eat for the tasks you’re doing instead of eating just to feel good.

How you eat and how fulfilled you are, are directly correlated. If you’re actively enjoying the challenges of your life, you’re more likely to consume foods that serve your highest interests and health, because you see a reason to eat well. Controlling how you eat is less important than finding fulfillment in what you do.

So the next time you find yourself craving that candy bar, ask yourself if there isn’t something else you could eat that could help you find fulfillment. Also, notice what you are doing at the time you’re craving sugar and ask yourself if it’s really something you need to do, or can you delegate it to someone else so you can get back to things that inspire you. By focusing on what inspires and fulfills you, you’ll find yourself actively seeking to better your health without having to really focus on it.