Detoxification Steps

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing toxic substances from the body. Diets that claim to effect a full detox in a matter of days have been around for decades, and several different methods exist. While not scientifically proven to remove any toxins from the human body, many people claim feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets, most likely because of avoiding processed foods.

 

Note: This article does not contain information on how to detoxify someone undergoing treatment for alcoholism or substance abuse. Detoxing from alcohol or other hard substances, particularly benzodiazepines, should always be conducted under the supervision of a medical professional.

1. Short-Term Detoxes

  1.   
  2. Do a fruit detox. Fruit detoxes are a great way to fast without starving yourself. Among other health benefits, getting enough fruit can increase your energy levels, help manage your weight, and even reduce the likelihood of stroke.[2][3] You can either detox by eating a variety of different fruits, or by only eating one kind of fruit. For best results, choose a fruit that you enjoy eating so that you don’t feel like you’re suffering. Do not exceed 7 days in a row of a fruit-only diet.
    • Eat citrus fruits. These fruits have the highest detoxifying power, and include oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. [4][5] You can eat them on their own or combine them with other fruits. Again, do not exceed 7 days in a row of a fruit-only diet.
    • Try a grape detox. Grapes contain resveratrol, which can protect against cancer and diabetes, and potentially prevent blood clots.[6] They are also a great source of potassium and Vitamin C. Eat nothing but grapes (whichever kind you like) for 3-5 days.
     
  3. Do a liquid fast. Consume nothing but liquids (water, tea, fruit juice, vegetable juice, and/or protein shakes) for 2-3 days.[7] Liquid diets can help jump-start weight loss by restricting caloric intake, and are believed to cleanse your body of certain toxins, though there is no solid research to back up this claim.[8]

    • Be sure to include fruit and/or vegetable juices in your liquid fast to ensure that your body is getting the proper nourishment.
    • If your goal is to lose weight, then you will have to change your eating habits once the liquid fast is over, or you will simply gain all the weight back.[9]
  4. Eat only fruits and vegetables for 7 days. Fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Be sure to eat a diverse combination of produce to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrients. Use the following guide to determine what to eat during your fast:

    • Get fiber from kidney beans, black beans, apples, soybeans, blueberries, and artichokes.[10]
    • Get potassium from carrots, bananas, lima beans, white potatoes, cooked greens, and sweet potatoes.[11]
    • Get Vitamin C from kiwis, strawberries, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes, oranges, Brussels sprouts, mangoes, and bell peppers.[12]
    • Get folate from cooked spinach, melons, asparagus, oranges, and black eyed peas.[13]
    • Get good fats from avocado, olives, and coconut.[14

Long-Term Detox Practices

  1. Eat organically grown produce and meat. Conventional produce is grown with chemical fertilizers and synthetic insecticides, while organic produce is grown with natural fertilizers and pesticides.[15] Organic meats have far fewer harmful antibiotics, growth hormones, and medications that are fed to animals on conventional farms.[16]

    • Check labels to determine whether or not a food is organic. Organic foods should have a green USDA Certified Organic Seal.[17]
  2.  

    Drink enough water. Getting enough water is essential to your health. Among its other health benefits, water helps maintain your body’s fluid levels, which helps your kidneys flush out the body’s main toxin, blood urea nitrogen.[18]

    • Drink lemon water. Add lemon, orange, or lime juice to your water throughout the day. These fruits contain citric acid, which helps your body cut down fat.[19] Plus, adding flavor to your water can make it a lot easier to get those 8 daily cups in! Brush your teeth in between meals to prevent acid erosion from the lemons.
  3. Cut out alcohol. Research has suggested that alcohol may be linked with the onset of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer in women.[20] Though you don’t have to cut it out entirely, stick to one glass of wine or beer a night, at most.

  4. Avoid added sugars. Consuming excess sugar on a regular basis can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers in the long-run.[21] Read all nutrition labels and beware of added sugars in bread, salad dressings, and sauces.

  5.  

    Limit your exposure to harmful toxins in the air. These include carbon monoxide and asbestos, both of which may be found in homes.

    • Carbon monoxide is a potentially fatal odorless chemical that is produced from furnaces, grills, and car engines.[22] Side-effects include headaches, dizziness, and lethargy.[23] Consider getting a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and keep your home properly ventilated.
    • Homes and buildings should be properly tested for asbestos.
  6. Meditate. Many religions and philosophies advocate fasting as a way of refocusing the mind and developing a sense of peace. While you’re detoxifying your body, try to rid yourself of grudges, anger, sadness and other negative feelings. Use the time you would usually spend eating or preparing food to think about your goals and aspirations. Distill your thoughts in a journal.
  7. 7

    Don’t overdo it: Above all, find a balanced, achievable program that combines daily exercise and changes to a healthy diet, with regular, qualified supervision. Remember you are trying to set the stage for healthy habits – not further stress your body with rapid, extreme and unsustainable change. Try to avoid binging as you come off of detoxing.

       TIPS

  • Detox with a friend. You can support each other through rough patches and applaud successes, as well as sharing recipes and tips.
  • Try to find time for light exercise. Yoga, Pilates, swimming or brisk walking is ideal. Don’t attempt strenuous activities such as running or weight training while fasting.
  • Eat slowly. During a detox, you can stretch out your meals by chewing thoroughly and without hurry. Slow eating also aids digestion.
  • Treat yourself to a massage. Book time with a professional, or use an exfoliating mitt to work on your own skin.
  • Get some rest. You might find that detoxing makes you feel more energetic, or that it increases your lethargy. Either way, it’s important to get sufficient sleep while you’re fasting. Make sure you clock at least 8 hours a night, with afternoon naps added if necessary.

 Warnings

  • Don’t fast to the point of passing out. If you faint or feel strongly that you will, your diet has gone too far. Immediately eat a piece of bread or a cookie to improve your blood sugar, and try to consume an electrolyte-rich sports drink. Lie or sit down, and put your head between your knees if possible. Do not resume the diet.
  • Don’t do a liquid fast for more than 3 days in a row.
  • Some detoxes may cause lethargy in the first day or two, so give yourself time to relax and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Even if you feel great on your fast, don’t continue detoxing for more than 10 to 14 days at most. Long-term fasting or starvation can do irreversible damage to your metabolism.
  • Most medical professionals believe that the liver and kidneys provide adequate detoxification without special diets. Be aware that you might not notice a large difference in your health.
  • Don’t just follow any detox diet you find online. Many of these are unsafe under any circumstances. Always run your plan past your general practitioner or a licensed nutritionist[1].

EditSources and Citations

  1. 1.01.1http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/detox-diets/AN01334
  2. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20040824/citrus-fruit-packs-a-healthy-punch
  3. http://www.webmd.com/stroke/news/20120223/citrus-fruits-may-lower-womens-stroke-risk
  4. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20040824/citrus-fruit-packs-a-healthy-punch
  5. http://www.webmd.com/stroke/news/20120223/citrus-fruits-may-lower-womens-stroke-risk
  6. http://www.elle.com/beauty/health-fitness/the-grape-cure-388026
  7. http://www.webmd.com/balance/natural-liver-detox-diets-liver-cleansing
  8. http://www.webmd.com/diet/liquid-diets
  9. http://www.webmd.com/diet/liquid-diets
  10. http://health.state.ga.us/pdfs/familyhealth/nutrition/self-paced%20lesson%20plan.pdf
  11. http://health.state.ga.us/pdfs/familyhealth/nutrition/self-paced%20lesson%20plan.pdf
  12. http://health.state.ga.us/pdfs/familyhealth/nutrition/self-paced%20lesson%20plan.pdf
  13. http://health.state.ga.us/pdfs/familyhealth/nutrition/self-paced%20lesson%20plan.pdf
  14. http://health.state.ga.us/pdfs/familyhealth/nutrition/self-paced%20lesson%20plan.pdf
  15. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255
  16. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255
  17. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255
  18. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water?page=2
  19. http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/advice/at-home-detoxing-detox-facts
  20. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@healthpromotions/documents/document/acsq-017622.pdf
  21. http://www.self.com/fooddiet/2010/08/the-healthy-way-to-detox-slideshow#slide=1
  22. http://www.cdc.gov/co/
  23. http://www.cdc.gov/co/
11/16/2013 6 Comments | Add Comment
Hydration & Nutrition

Replacement of the body’s water and salt losses is essential to maintain appropriate hydration and a good health status. Replacement of water can be achieved through food and beverages. It is calculated that of the total water consumed, 20-30% typically comes from food and 70-80% from beverages, but this may vary greatly, depending on the diet that an individual chooses.

 

Plain water is a significant source of liquid intake in many humans, but many beverages like juices, milk, sparkling drinks, coffee and tea are more than 85% water and are therefore also an important source of water. It has been shown that the variety of sources, colours and flavours of beverages is as important as variety of food in nutrition. Variety stimulates greater levels of consumption of both food and beverages. For example, in a study of fluid intake of runners on a treadmill, it was shown that the availability of a variety of beverages resulted in participants drinking up to 50% more liquids than if only water was available1.

There are many reasons why variety leads to greater consumption and these include the pleasant taste of beverages in comparison to plain water, which is the reason why many people choose to drink other beverages in addition to plain water.

The role that beverages play in providing water in the diet has been recognized by international organizations such as the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI)2 and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)3 and it is of special importance for population groups that are especially vulnerable to dehydration such as children, elderly people and people taking certain medications.

Variety can also contribute towards enhancing micronutrient intake. Many beverages provide important nutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes. Fruit juices can contribute to the five portions of fruit and vegetables that we are recommended to consume each day. Sport drinks contain small amounts of sugar and electrolytes that help to reduce water, mineral and energy imbalance due to physical exertion. Beverages containing caffeine such as coffee, tea and some soft beverages have also been shown to contribute to hydration.

Drinks can be selected for specific purposes – for example caffeinated drinks when tired, sport drinks during and after intense exercise, juices for their vitamins and nutrients, etc. – but it must be remembered that, unlike plain water, beverages often contain calories and therefore they contribute to daily energy intake. It is calculated that popular beverages such as soft drinks contribute around 3% of calories to the average daily diet in Europe4. Nowadays a great variety of no-calorie and low-calorie drinks are available and Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) are available in most countries to help people to make informed choices about the products they buy for themselves and their families.

1. López-Román J, Martínez Gonzálvez A, Luque A, Villegas García JA. Estudio comparativo de diferentes procedimientos de hidratación durante un ejercicio de larga duración. Archivos de Medicina del Deporte 2008; 25(123): 435-441. 2. ILSI Scientific Consensus Statement regarding the Importance of Hydration and Total Water Intake for Health and Disease. J. Am Coll Nutr 2007; 26(S): 529-623. 3. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on Dietary reference values for water. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(3):1459. [48 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1459. Available online:www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1459.htm. 4. UNESDA. Available on line:http://www.unesda.org/facts-figures

Water

Many types of water may be available for drinking: tap water, artesian water, bottled water, mineral water, purified water, spring water. All waters used for drinking are treated to meet legal and quality standards. In most European countries, tap water is palatable and perfectly safe, but this is not true in all parts of the world. Water has many advantages, including availability, cost and the absence of calories, but for many it loses out on taste.

Juices

The name fruit juice is reserved for drinks that are 100% pure fruit juice and contain sugars taken from the fruit, either sucrose, fructose or glucose. Consumption of juices can help children and adults meet the daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption. Juice drinks contain some juice along with added water and either caloric or non-caloric sweeteners. Juices or juice drinks contain a source of energy in the form of sugars, though this is reduced in the case of juice drinks that contain non-caloric sweeteners.

Milk, Ice creams and milkshakes

Milk contains several essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin.

Ice creams and milkshakes can be made with a base of water or milk. Usually they are made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, combined with fruits or other ingredients, and contain flavourings and sugar or sweeteners. These products provide a source of energy as they contain sugars, fat and protein. Reduced fat milk can provide water and essential nutrients and are reduced in calories

Infusions

Infusions are prepared with water and herbs or parts of plants such as flowers or fruits, and can be taken hot or cold. Tea and coffee are the most popular hot drinks in the world and can also be a good source of hydration as they have a very high water content.

Soft drinks

A soft drink is a non-alcoholic beverage, that can be carbonated or not, and that contain flavourings, sweeteners and other ingredients. Beverages like colas, iced tea, lemonade, squash, sparkling water and fruit punch are among the most common types of soft drinks. Soft drinks typically have between 90 to 99% water content.

Sports drinks

Sport drinks are intended to reduce water, mineral and energy imbalance due to physical exertion. These drinks contain small amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) and electrolytes, including sodium and potassium. When exercising for short periods or at low intensities, it may not be necessary to drink anything: water is perfectly adequate in these situations if something is needed. For reasons of variety and taste sports drinks may be preferred in this situation. When the exercise lasts longer than about 30-40 minutes, sports drinks may be better than water. One key benefit of taking sports drinks during an exercise session is that they can help to reduce the sensation of effort. This makes exercise seem easier and this means that the individual will be more likely to enjoy the exercise program and therefore more likely to stick with it.

09/24/2013 5 Comments | Add Comment
Know Your Nutrition & Beverages.

Nutrition & Beverages

Total daily water intake is the sum of water content coming from all types of beverages and foods.

 

Hydration & nutrition

Many people underestimate the water content of food and beverages – below there is a table showing the content of many common foods.

Water content in common foods and beverages

Type of food Water content

Non-alcoholic beverages

Water, tea, coffee, light refreshments, sports drinks, soft drinks, lemonade, vegetable juice 90% to 100%

Milk, fruit juice, juice beverages

 

85% to 90%

 

Alcoholic beverages

Beer and wine 85% to 95%
Distilled 60% to 70%

 

Soup

Consommé, onion, meat and vegetable, vegetables, tomato, mushroom cream, Noodle with chicken, vegetable concentrate, concentrated soups, mushrooms cream (made with milk) 80% to 95%

 

Fruits and vegetables

Strawberry, melon, grapefruit, grape, peach, pear, orange, apple, cucumber, lettuce, celery, tomato, pumpkin, broccoli, onion, carrot 80% to 95%

Banana, potato, corn

70% to 80%

 

Dairy products

Fresh whole milk 87 to 90%
Yoghurt 75% to 85%
Ice creams 60% to 65%
Cheese 40% to 60%

 

Cereals

Rice (boiled) 65% to 70%
Pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, noodles) 75% to 85%*
Bread, cookies 30% to 40%
Breakfast cereals (ready to eat) 2% to 5%

 

Meat, Fish, Eggs

Fish and seafood 65% to 80%
Eggs (scrambled, fried, poached), omelette, egg substitute 65% to 75%
Beef, chicken, lamb, pig, veal 40% to 65%
Cured meat, bacon 15% to 40%
 
Source: Holland B. et al (1991) McCance and Widdowson. The Composition of Foods 5th ed. The Royal Society of Chemistry Cambridge, UK.
*Note that these values are approximations only and values will depend on source of the food, cooking method, etc. For example pasta cooked “al dente” (Italian style) will have a slightly lower water content than shown here* and is between 50 and 60%. There are many good online databases that will give food composition values for a much wider range of foods.
09/24/2013 1 Comments | Add Comment
Why Drink Water?

Hydration

Appropriate hydration of the body is an absolute requirement for health and is essential for life itself. Water sustains the body’s many vital chemical reactions and maintains correct body functions.

 

 

The importance of hydration

human hydration 1 Hydration

Water plays many important roles within the body. Water is the major part of most of the body’s cells (except for fat cells) and it also cushions and lubricates the brain and the joints. It transports nutrients and carries waste away from the body cells. It also helps regulate body temperature by redistributing heat from active tissues to the skin and cooling the body through perspiration.

Water is the main constituent of the human body: it is normally about 60% of body weight in adult males, and is slightly lower, about 50-55%, in females due to their higher proportion of body fat. The muscles and the brain are about 75% water, the blood and the kidneys are about 81%, the liver is about 71%, the bones are about 22% and adipose tissue is about 20%.

Most of the water in the body is found within the cells of the body (about two thirds is in the intracellular space), and the rest is found in the extracellular space, which consists of the spaces between cells (the interstitial space) and the blood plasma.

Total body hydration and the balance between input and output of water are under homeostatic control by mechanisms which modify excretory pathways and stimulate intake (thirst).

The body requires water to survive and function properly. Humans cannot live without drinking for more than a few days – depending on weather, activity levels and other factors – whereas other nutrients may be neglected for weeks or months. Although commonly it is treated rather trivially, no other nutrient is more essential or is needed in such large amounts.

Benefits

Good hydration is essential for health and wellness. Every cell in the human body requires water. Hydration is central to the most basic physiological functions such as regulating blood pressure and body temperature, hydration and digestion.

Some of the most remarkable benefits of hydration are listed below:

  • Brain
    Adequate hydration is important for proper functioning of the brain. When we are well hydrated, brain cells are better supplied with fresh, oxygen-laden blood, and the brain remains alert. Mild dehydration, a 1% to 2% loss in body weight, can impair the ability to concentrate. Loss of more than 2% body weight due to dehydration can affect the brain’s processing abilities and impair short-term memory.

 

  • Cells
    Hydration in the body is important for transporting carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients and oxygen to the cells. The cells then produce energy for the body to function. Furthermore, hydration facilitates disposal of the waste products of metabolism, enabling the right cellular chemical function.

 

  • Digestive Tract
    Hydration plays an important role in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients from the digestive tract. Water is required to dissolve nutrients so that they may be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the cells. Insufficient hydration will slow the digestive process and chronic poor hydration can lead to constipation.

 

  • Heart
    Fluids are important for healthy heart function and the correct regulation of water balance is essential to keep blood pressure within the healthy range. Dehydration decreases cardiac output which may lead to increases in heart rate and a fall in blood pressure. The circulatory system delivers a constant supply of oxygen to the brain, muscles and to all other tissues.

 

  • Kidneys
    An adequate water intake is essential to keep the kidneys working well, helping them to remove waste products and excess nutrients mainly via urine. The kidneys regulate the body’s water levels by increasing or decreasing the flow of urine. The kidneys also work to control normal levels of sodium and other electrolytes. A well-hydrated healthy person’s kidneys filter approximately 180 litres of water each day: clearly most of this has to be reabsorbed to prevent excessive losses from the body.

 

  • Muscles and Joints
    Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints; it helps cushion joints and keeps muscles working properly. Muscles and joints, in addition to the bones, are necessary for us to stand, sit, move and carry out all daily activities. Approximately 70 to 75 percent of the muscle is made up of water. Maintaining the right water balance is essential for optimum muscle function.

 

  • Skin
    The skin constitutes a defence against pathogenic agents and contributes to preventing the development of infectious and allergic processes. Some people believe that good hydration helps to moisten body tissues and preserve the skin’s elasticity, softness and colouring though this has not been researched adequately.

 

  • Temperature
    The body water has an important role as a thermoregulator, regulating the overall body temperature by helping dissipate heat. If the body becomes too hot, water is lost through sweat and the evaporation of this sweat from the skin surface removes heat from the body. Sweating is the most effective way that the body prevents itself from overheating.
09/24/2013 4 Comments | Add Comment
11 foods that lower cholesterol

If your diet gave you high cholesterol, it can lower it, too.

It’s easy to eat your way to an alarmingly high cholesterol level. The reverse is true, too — changing what you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream.

Doing this requires a two-pronged strategy: Add foods that lower LDL, the harmful cholesterol-carrying particle that contributes to artery-clogging atherosclerosis. At the same time, cut back on foods that boost LDL. Without that step, you are engaging in a holding action instead of a steady — and tasty — victory.

In with the good

Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.

Oats. An easy first step to improving your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.)

Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.

Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take awhile for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.

Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.

Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.

Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.

Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.

Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.

Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.

Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.

Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber.

Out with the bad

Harmful LDL creeps upward and protective HDL drifts downward largely because of diet and other lifestyle choices. Genes play a role, too — some people are genetically programmed to respond more readily to what they eat — but genes aren’t something you can change. Here are four things you can:

Saturated fats. The saturated fats found in red meat, milk and other dairy foods, and coconut and palm oils directly boost LDL. So one way to lower your LDL is to cut back on saturated fat. Try substituting extra-lean ground beef for regular; low-fat or skim milk for whole milk; olive oil or a vegetable-oil margarine for butter; baked fish or chicken for fried.

Trans fats. Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid. Trans fats boost LDL as much as saturated fats do. They also lower protective HDL, rev up inflammation, and increase the tendency for blood clots to form inside blood vessels. The Institute of Medicine recommends getting no more than two grams of trans fats a day; less is even better. Although trans fats were once ubiquitous in prepared foods, many companies now use trans-free alternatives. Some restaurants and fast-food chains have yet to make the switch.

Weight and exercise. Being overweight and not exercising affect fats circulating in the bloodstream. Excess weight boosts harmful LDL, while inactivity depresses protective HDL. Losing weight if needed and exercising more reverse these trends.

Putting it all together

When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods that fight high cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.

That approach has been tested by Dr. David Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and his colleagues. In a series of studies, their largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowered LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The portfolio included margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds. These were added to a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants.

Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.

Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health. That’s a portfolio worth protecting.

Source:Harvard Health

 

08/08/2013 8 Comments | Add Comment
HEALTH BENEFITS OF TOMATOES
Whether you love sliced beef tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, or tomato sauce on your linguine pasta – eating tomatoes regularly is good for your heath, as well as your palate.
Here we look at the different health benefits of tomatoes.
                                       
                                
                                       Getty – tomatoes
                                       tomatoes contains Antioxidant- Lycopene

Incredible fruit?

Tomatoes are native to South America, but they have been grown and enjoyed in Europe for hundreds of years.

Recently, they have been linked to all kinds of health benefits.

One US study found that eating tomatoes regularly could reduce the risk of men getting prostate cancer.

The glossy red fruits (which actually come in all kinds of colours, including yellow and deep purple) are packed full of vitamins – including vitamins A, C and E.

They also contain flavonoids (natural anti-inflammatories), potassium and other mineral salts.

Tomatoes contain a high volume of water, and they’re refreshing in salads on hot days. They’re low in calories too, with around 14 kilocalories per 100g – approximately one and a half classic tomatoes, or five to six cherry tomatoes.

Lycopene

Getty – tomatoes

Lycopene may help to ward against prostate cancer.

Much of the interest in tomatoes has been due to the antioxidant lycopene – which helps to mop up damaging free radicals in the body that can harm our cells.

In fact, people living in the West get 85 per cent of this nutrient from tomatoes.

Lycopene may help to ward against:

  • prostate cancer
  • breast cancer
  • stomach cancer
  • age-related macular degeneration.

And it could boost the skins ability to protect itself against UV rays.

Some studies have suggested lycopene may play a role in reducing bad cholesterol.

Lycopene is even one of the main ingredients in new ‘beauty pills’. A study carried out by the dermatology department at Charite University, in Berlin, discovered a link between lycopene based supplements and smoother, less-wrinkled skin.

Tomatoes should be eaten whole to get the full healthy effect.

‘The important thing to remember is that you need the whole of the tomato to get its goodness,’ says Dr Thomas Stuttaford, an expert in prostate cancer and vice-president of Prostate UK.

‘Lycopene is best when combined with other bioflavonoids in tomatoes, which make the lycopene much more effective,’ he says.

Sian Porter, a dietician at the British Dietetic Association, adds, ‘It’s important to remember that lycopene has to be taken as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

‘It’s not a magic bullet, so you can’t drink, smoke and eat saturated fats and say it’s OK because I’m eating tomatoes.

‘It’s best to eat tomatoes as part of a Mediterranean diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables,’ she says.

Preferred tomatoes?

Ripe, red tomatoes are likely to contain more lycopene than paler, watery ones.

This is because it’s the lycopene that gives them their colour.

Gerry Hayman, spokesperson for the British Tomato Growers’ Association, has investigated the lycopene content in different varieties.

‘Slow-ripening, imported types of tomatoes tend to have lower levels of lycopene,’ says Gerry Hayman.

‘They have been bred for long-life, and this interferes with the ripening process,’ he says.

‘The important thing is to enjoy tomatoes – especially when you’re trying to encourage children to eat them.

‘Small tomatoes – such as baby plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and the piccolo type – tend to be sweeter. Ferrari, cocktail tomatoes and Jack Hawkins tomatoes are also good for lycopene,’ he says.

Cook your tomatoes to boost the healthy effect

Getty – tomatoes

Lycopene is found in the cell walls of the tomato. By cooking it, more lycopene is fully released.

Cooked or heat processed tomatoes contain more lycopene, because cooking helps to release lycopene from the tomato cells.

Lycopene is fat soluble, so it helps to cook it in oil, such as olive oil.

‘Eating tomato ketchup and pizza topping counts towards lycopene intake,’ says Sian Porter.

‘Of course that has to be weighed against additives, such as sugar and salt – and it might be better to consume tomato purée,’ she says.

Since cooking reduces vitamin C, however, the British Tomato Growers’ Association suggest eating a range of fresh and cooked tomatoes.

Tomato based sauces can be eaten as a soup, added to pasta, stews, bolognese, tomato-based curries, used as a pizza topping or made into a spicy sauce to top falafels or meatballs.

Fresh tomatoes can be added to salads, sandwiches or as garnishes to a main meal.

‘Tasty Tomatoes Recipes

Basic tomato sauce

  1. Start by lightly frying onion and garlic.
  2. Add tomatoes (fresh or tinned), tomato purée, oregano and basil and season.
  3. Cook on a gentle heat until the sauce is deep red and sticks to the back of a spoon.

This can be stored, and often tastes better the next day.

Use as a base for other dishes, such as bolognese, or add chilli for a spicy arrabiata sauce.

For a delicious bruschetta

  1. Chop up ripe, flavoursome fresh tomatoes with garlic, fresh herbs and season.
  2. Brush sliced ciabatta or French bread with olive oil, and toast in the oven.
  3. Top with the tomatoes when done.

Further information

The Tomato Zone website has suggestions for educating children about tomatoes.

06/15/2013 2 Comments | Add Comment
QUICK TIPS ON HOW TO EAT YOUR VEGETABLES

Most people should aim for at least nine servings (at least 4½ cups) of vegetables and fruits a day, and potatoes don’t count. Go for a variety of kinds and colors of produce, to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Best bets? Dark leafy greens, cooked tomatoes, and anything that’s a rich yellow, orange, or red color.

1. Keep fruit where you can see it. That way you’ll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter or in the front of the fridge.

2. Get some every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables at each meal. Serving up salads, stir fry, or other vegetable-rich fare makes it easier to reach this goal. Bonus points if you can get some fruits and vegetables at snack time, too.

3. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to a healthy diet. Get out of a rut and try some new fruits and vegetables.

4. Bag the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbs. Read the “Carbohydrates” section of The Nutrition Source to learn how to add good carbs to your diet. Or try one of these delicious whole grains recipes as an alternative to potatoes.

5. Make it a meal. Try some new healthy recipes where vegetables take center stage, such as Mollie Katzen’s asparagus with warm tarragon-pecan vinaigrette, or Nina Simonds’ spicy broccolini with red pepper.

06/11/2013 7 Comments | Add Comment
VEGETABLES AND IT’S HEALTH BENEFITS

It’s hard to argue with the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits: Lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; lower risk of eye and digestive problems; and a mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check.

Eating vegetables provides health benefits — people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.

  • Health Benefitsgrocery bags filled with fruits and vegetables

    • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
    • Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
    • Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
    • Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
    • Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
  • Nutrientsalmonds, lentils, and eggs

    • Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, or cholesterol.)
    • Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
    • Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
    • Dietary fiber from vegetables, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
    • Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
    • Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
    • Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.



    SOURCE: http://www.choosemyplate.gov

06/11/2013 2 Comments | Add Comment
Health Henefits of Eating Apples

 

Many of us forget that sometimes, the simplest answers are the best. Better health could be as easy as reaching for the fruit bowl for some apples next time you need a snack

 

15 health benefits of eating apples

 

What makes apples so great?

 In 2004, USDA scientists investigated over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size.Two apples—Red Delicious and Granny Smith—ranked 12th and 13th respectivelyAntioxidantsare disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe these compounds help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. Apples are also full of a fibre called pectin—a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fibre. Pectin is classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits.

1. Get whiter, healthier teeth

 An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

2. Avoid Alzheimer’s

 A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

3. Protect against Parkinson’s

 Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fibre foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

4. Curb all sorts of cancers

 Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

5. Decrease your risk of diabetes

women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fibre, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

6. Reduce cholesterol

 The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates intolower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

7. Get a healthier heart

 An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

8. Prevent gallstones

 Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

9. Beat diarrhea and constipation

 Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

10. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome

 Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fibre in your diet.

11. Avert hemorrhoids

 Hemorrhoids are a swollen vein in the anal canal and while not life threatening, these veins can be very painful. They are caused by too much pressure in the pelvic and rectal areas. Part and parcel with controlling constipation, fibre can prevent you from straining too much when going to the bathroom and thereby help alleviate hemorrhoids.

12. Control your weight

 Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre.Foods high in fibre will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

13. Detoxify your liver

 We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

 

14. Boost your immune system

  Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found thatquercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you’re stressed out.

15. Prevent cataracts

Though past studies have been divided on the issue, recent long-term studies suggest that people who have a diet rich in fruits that contain antioxidants—like apples—are 10 to 15 per cent less likely to develop cataracts.

 

06/03/2013 11 Comments | Add Comment
Health Benefits of Avocados

Avocados, or also calledalligator pears, are a fruit that belongs to the Lauraceae, a flowering plants family which also includes camphor, cinnamon and bay laurel. These fruits are believed to be originated in Mexico, where the name of “avocado” is derived from Aztech or Nahuatl word ‘ahuacatl‘, meaning ‘testicle‘, a reference to the shape of the fruit.

The avocados are very popular in vegetarian cuisine, as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a filling for several kinds of sushi, including California rolls. It is also popular in chicken dishes and as a spread on toast, served with salt and pepper.

In some countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Brazil, avocados are frequently used for milkshakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. The dessert drink is made with milk, sugar and crushed ice. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added.

avocado milkshake with chocolate syrup

Apart from that, avocados are also considered as one of the healthiest foods in the planet because they contain in excess of 25 essential nutrients, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosporus, magnesium, and potassium. Avocados also contain fiber, protein, and several beneficial phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterolglutathione and lutein, which may protect against various disease and illness.

Moreover, the avocado is one of the high calorie fruit that you could be eating. This is due to its larger amounts of fat content, approximately 20 times the average of other fruits. Although Avocado is high in fat content, but it is mostly the monounsaturated fat which is a healthy fat variety.

Here are 15 health benefits of avocados:

  1. Maintain a healthy heart
    Avocado contains vitamin B6 and folic acid, which help regulate homocysteine levels. High level of homocysteine is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Avocado also contains vitamin E, glutathione, and monounsaturated fat, which help in maintaining a healthy heart.
  2. Lower cholesterol levels
    Avocados are rich in a compound called beta-sitosterol which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, patients with mild hypercholesterolemia who included avocados in their diet for 7 days had 17 percent decrease in total blood cholesterol levels, a 22 percent decrease in both LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, and a 11 percent increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
  3. Control blood pressure
    Avocados are also a great source of potassium, which helps in controlling blood pressure levels.
  4. Anti-Inflammatory properties
    Phytonutrient compound found in avocados, such as polyphenols and flavonoids have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, thereby reducing the risk of inflammatory and degenerative disorders.
  5. Promote eye health
    Avocado is an excellent source of carotenoid lutein, which known to help protect against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
  6. Regulate the blood sugar levels
    The monounsaturated (good) fats in avocados can reverse insulin resistance which help toregulate blood sugar levels. Avocados also contain soluble fiber which keep a steady blood sugar levels.
  7. Prevent birth defects
    Avocados are rich in folate, a B vitamin commonly known as folic acid. One cup of avocado provides about 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. The high amount of folate in avocado is essential in the prevention of birth defects, such as neural tube defect and spina bifida.
  8. Reduce strokes risk
    The high levels of folate in avocados may also protect against stroke. A study has shown that individuals who ate a diet rich in folate had a lower risk of stroke than those who did not
  9. Protect against cancer
    Many studies have shown that avocado can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. The oleic acid in avocado is also effective in preventing breast cancer.
  10. Fight free radicals
    Avocados contain glutathione, a powerful antioxidants that helps fight free radicals in the body.
  11. Anti-aging properties
    Being rich in antioxidants, avocado is beneficial in preventing aging symptoms. Theglutathione in avocado may boosts immune systems, slows aging process, and encourages a healthy nervous system.
  12. Cure bad breath
    Avocados are one of the best natural mouth wash and bad breath remedies. It is cleanses intestine which is the real cause of coated tongue and bad breath.
  13. Increase nutrient absorption
    Avocado intake is linked with an increased nutrient absorption. A study suggests that, when participants ate salad included avocados, they absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes beta carotene and lycopene) than those who did not include avocados.
  14. Skin Care
    The avocado oil is added in many cosmetics because of its ability to nourish the skin and make your skin glow. It also aids in treating psoriasis, a skin disease that causes skin redness and irritation.
  15. Weight gain
    The avocado has 200 calories for 100 grams. Typically, fruits has approximately 60-80 calories for 100 grams. Due to the high amounts of calories, avocado is a best diet for people who want to gain weight. Avocado is a healthy source of calories, unlike many other calorie-dense foods that may contain excess saturated fats and sugar.
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