Sugary drinks are popular during the summer, but experts warn against consuming too many of these beverages
A recent research paper points out how natural and artificial sweeteners impact an individual’s health
For many, summer is the season to spend outdoors. Whether you’re lounging on the beach or enjoying a day at the park with friends, you most likely want to indulge a bit. Delicious cocktails are a signature of summer, but most people forget that these recipes can often include far too many unhealthy elements, like sugar.
A group of nutrition researchers recently agreed that sugar-sweetened beverages play a unique role in chronic health problems (1). Sugar-heavy beverages like soda and juice have been the subject of research for many years now, with nutrition experts linking the consumption of these sugars to unhealthy weight gain (2).
Very few people want to hear that they are putting on weight when the summer arrives, as it tends to be a popular time of year for hyper-focused diet and exercise. This means you need to stay extra mindful when mixing up a few cocktails while on vacation.
Healthier Summer Drink Alternatives
Luckily, there are many healthier drink options to choose from. Cucumber juice can be an excellent base for a refreshing drink, as cucumber is hydrating, packed with useful fibers and naturally low in sugar (3). Toss in some fresh sprigs of mint or a squirt of lime for added flavor.
Watermelon is ubiquitous in the summer, and it might also be a great option for low-calorie drinks. This fruit is high in water content, low in sugar and easily incorporated into an array of seasonal cocktails and mocktails. Experts believe watermelon might even be able to help with weight loss (4), though the science behind this is still being researched.
Stick with low-calorie options like fresh cucumber and watermelon this season and be sure to avoid sugary mixers. While there is nothing wrong with indulging now and again, it can be a slippery slope. If you don’t want to double down on your diet due to an unforeseen sugar overload at the beach, explore alternative options and stay healthy while enjoying the season.
Here’s why you should drink apple cider vinegar, and how to get your daily dose.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Of all the claims made by apple cider vinegar proponents, this one has the most meat to it: One study by researchers at Arizona State University found that the glucose levels of participants were 34 percent lower than the controls when they drank 20 grams of apple cider vinegar mixed with 40 grams of water and one teaspoon of sugar during a meal (1).
A separate study found that patients with diabetes who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed woke with improved fasting glucose levels (2).
It’s not a direct link, but for some of the same reasons apple cider vinegar helps with your blood sugar levels, it can also help with your waistline. Glucose levels were lower after participants in the Arizona State study drank vinegar because it contains acetic acid, which increases insulin sensitivity and can slow the absorption of calories from a meal.
Additionally, lower glucose levels have been linked to feeling more full and, presumably, eating less. To date, however, there isn’t much data linking apple cider vinegar directly to weight loss.
What’s the Best Way to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?
The most basic way you can get your daily fix of apple cider vinegar is by taking it straight up as a shot. But not everyone enjoys that burning sensation in the back of their throats, especially first thing in the morning!
If a shot of ACV is too strong or sour for your taste, you can try diluting it with water, seltzer or tea and sweeten it up with a bit of honey to make it more palatable.
If you’re feeling even more creative, you can incorporate apple cider vinegar into everything from smoothies and detox drinks to cocktails and mocktails.
Here are two ACV drinks you can enjoy equally for their taste and their health benefits:
Spiced Cranberry & Rosemary Mocktail
(Recipe and photo courtesy of Miss Allie’s Kitchen)
Cranberries, lime and rosemary for garnish (optional)
Add the water, cranberries, raw honey, Fire Cider Original and rosemary to a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture out, and place it in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes. Fill a glass with ice and to each, add ½ cup of the spiced cranberry and rosemary syrup and 1 cup of lime seltzer. Mix, garnish with desired toppings and enjoy.
In a mug, add whiskey, lemon juice and turmeric sipping vinegar. Top with hot water and mix well. Add one star anise and serve.
Other Ways to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’re still not keen on drinking apple cider vinegar, there are other ways to consume it. For example, you can work it into a marinade or sauce for a little extra zip.
Of course, salads are a great vehicle for apple cider vinegar, and a tasty vinaigrette or dressing might make you more likely to eat nutritious leafy greens and veggies. Combining vinegar with oil also helps balance the pH level and prevent tooth enamel erosion from the acetic acid.
If you can’t stand the taste no matter how you prepare it, apple cider vinegar capsules might be your best bet. Keep in mind that the amount of acetic and citric acids in commercially available apple cider vinegar tablets reportedly varies dramatically between samples (3). This means dosage information on apple cider vinegar capsule packages may not be accurate, and taking too much can cause digestion issues.
One of the latest diet trends to explode in the health and wellness space is the ketogenic diet. But if you aren’t quite sure what it is or how it works, we’re here to help. Let’s take a closer look at this diet craze, so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet. It was developed by Dr. Russell Wilder in 1924. It was historically used as a treatment option for patients with epilepsy, but researchers now believe this type of diet can help other neurological conditions.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
One of the main benefits of following a ketogenic diet is weight loss, according to Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health advisor at LuckyVitamin. “When properly adhered to, this type of diet causes the body to break down fatty acids into ketones,” he explains. “When ketone levels in the bloodstream are elevated, individuals enter into a state of ketosis, which often helps shed pounds quickly and consistently.”
The ketogenic diet may also protect against certain diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, by controlling the release of insulin into the body and lowering cholesterol levels.
And while more research still needs to be done, there are plenty of studies that demonstrate ketogenic diets may aid in the treatment of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism and severe migraines.
How Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
Adhering to the ketogenic diet is not as simple as cutting carbs, Dr. Wolf stresses. “There are specific calculations and ratios of fat to protein to carbohydrates that need to be followed in order for the diet to work properly,” he says.
Before starting on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to speak with your health care professional to work on a plan that is right for you.
“The classic version of the ketogenic diet involves a ratio of fats that is three to four times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates,” Dr. Wolf says. “This means that approximately 75 percent of calories would come from fats, 25 percent would come from protein, and only 5 percent would come from carbohydrates.”
A more moderate version of this diet includes a ratio of fats that is two times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates.
Those following a ketogenic diet plan will drastically increase their consumption of fatty foods, Dr. Wolf says. “Popular ketogenic food options include eggs, fatty fishes like salmon, cheese, avocado, olives and olive oil, nuts and nut butters, seeds, ghee, and coconut oil.”
Things to Consider with a Ketogenic Diet
If you are thinking about making the switch to a ketogenic diet, there are some things you should take into consideration. “This type of diet completely cuts out sugars and sweets such as candy, cookies and desserts, so individuals should be ready to give up indulgences if they want to be successful,” Dr. Wolf says.
Additionally, many medical professionals will recommend gradually decreasing your carbohydrate intake and introducing the ketogenic approach over a three- to four-day period, Dr. Wolf says. “This slower transition will help stave off a big loss of energy.” (Keeping hydrated while on a ketogenic diet is very important, and some supplementation with vitamins and minerals may be necessary to help meet nutritional requirements.)
“And while a strict ketogenic diet could be exactly what you need to jump-start weight loss, it may not be the best option for your long-term health and wellness,” Dr. Wolf advises. “Make sure to consult a health care professional to identify a plan designed around your individual needs.”
Coconuts are having a moment in the sun. Fans of the fruit trumpet its virtues, claiming that it’s great for your brain, your body and even your hair. While coconuts aren’t exactly the miracle food may “experts” claim that they are, products made from the fruit can be a nutritious addition to your diet.
A brief, geeky scientific aside: Coconuts contain lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that has been linked to the prevention of “vascular events” (think: heart attack) in patients with advanced coronary troubles, according to a 2016 study review published in the journal Open Heart.
Another bonus: Anything made from coconuts is delicious. If you’ve ever had Thai curry, which is often made with coconut milk, you know this. You also know that if you order this dish out at a restaurant, it can often taste sickly sweet.
That’s because restaurants often use sweetened coconut milk. Make your own coconut curry at home with unsweetened coconut milk and you’ll cut sugar, calories and regret. This recipe is so simple, it’ll even take you less time to make than going out to eat.
But no matter what you do, please don’t rub it in your hair.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ jalapeno, minced (optional)
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup unsweetened light coconut milk
1 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 bunch fresh basil, torn
¼ cup unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
1 cup jasmine or basmati rice, cooked
In a nonstick pan over medium heat, add the oil. When it shimmers, add the chicken, plus a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Using the same pan, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger and jalapeno (if using) and stir constantly until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the reserved chicken, chicken stock and green curry paste. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld, about 5 minutes.
Serve the curry with the rice. Top with basil and cashews, to taste.
The Paleo diet is trending up for a very good reason. It’s a diet simply based on cutting out food that is unhealthy and replacing with foods that are essential to our bodies. The principle of the Paleo diet is that we should eliminate foods that are relatively new to humans and go back to eating more natural, raw foods without the added preservatives and unhealthy ingredients. While relatively new to many people, questions and incorrect information about the Paleo diet have come up, preventing some people from giving it a try. So, let’s look at 4 common misconceptions about the Paleo diet.
1. Meat Is All You Eat
The biggest misconception about the Paleo diet is that all you eat is meat. Of course, meat is a significant part of the diet, as part of the approved food groups on the diet plan. But the Paleo diet also includes lots of vegetables, fruits and nuts. The secret of a successful Paleo diet is to balance different food groups to achieve more benefits.
2. No Carbs
Some people believe the Paleo diet contains no carbs, but that is also incorrect. Paleo excludes grains, sugar and other easily available carbs, but it’s not necessarily considered low carb. In fact, the diet recommends a variety of different carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, wild rice and squash.
3. The Fad Diet Talk
“Fad diet” is a term generally used for a type of diet plan that promises quick weight loss through drastic dietary changes. Fad diets are often very unhealthy and almost always unsustainable, as people cannot seem to live eating one or an extremely limited number of food groups. The Paleo diet is not designed for short-term weight loss. It’s simply a diet program for those searching for a long-term healthy lifestyle, based on feeling well by eating more natural, whole foods.
4. Too Expensive
Unfortunately, every single healthy diet will be considered “expensive,” as natural food often costs more than industrialized junk food. But can it be considered too expensive? Processed junk food might be cheaper at first, but ingesting tons of artificial ingredients can end up costing you in the long run. Of course, organic meats, fruits and vegetables are more expensive, but you will live much better and avoid expenses with your health later in life.
Peanut butter sometimes gets a bad rap from consumers who think it will pack on fat and calories. But the truth is that natural peanut butter—made without hydrogenated oils and added sugars—is a beneficial addition to any diet.
What to Look for in Peanut Butter
“Keep in mind that not all peanut butter products are created equal, so make sure to look for natural peanut butter that is lower in sodium and sugar than its traditional counterpart,” recommends Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health advisor at LuckyVitamin. Most natural brands will have 1-2 grams of sugar and anywhere from 40-65 milligrams of sodium.
Let’s look at a few reasons why you should add more peanut butter to your diet.
It’s Super Nutritious
First things first, peanut butter really does pack a punch when it comes to beneficial vitamins and nutrients. “It’s high in magnesium, which builds bone density; potassium, which amps up muscle mass; and vitamin B6, which boosts immune health,” Dr. Wolf says. “And everyone knows that peanut butter is a great source of protein, averaging about 8 grams per serving.”
While you might think the recommended serving size for peanut butter—2 tablespoons—is relatively small, don’t be fooled. “The combination of fiber and the previously mentioned protein helps you feel full longer,” Dr. Wolf says. “So if you’re feeling hungry, eating a spoonful of peanut butter might actually keep you satisfied until your next mealtime.”
It Fights Off Disease
Although peanut butter is high in fat and calorie content, research shows that the popular spread can actually help prevent heart disease and diabetes. “This is because peanut butter is full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—also known as good fats,” Dr. Wolf says. “Like olive oil, eating peanut butter in moderation may actually lead to a healthier lifestyle.”
How to Add More Peanut Butter to Your Diet
If you’re looking to add more peanut butter to your diet, here are a few tips:
Spread it on fruit and vegetables. There are tons of fruits and vegetables that go great with a spoonful of peanut butter, so try adding a bit to apple slices, your daily banana, or some celery sticks.
Mix it into a marinade. Although it might not seem like an obvious choice, a peanut-butter-heavy marinade can be the perfect complement to meats such as chicken or steak. This will lock that nutty flavor into more savory dishes and bump up the PB intake.
Make it a breakfast addition. Who says peanut butter is only for PB&J sandwiches at lunchtime? You can jumpstart your day by adding a bit of peanut butter to your oatmeal or your morning smoothie for a nutrient boost.
Fresh juice recipes are delicious and may contain healthy flavoring ingredients. That’s the case of a popular veggie/fruit healthy combo: tomato carrot juice.
Tomato juice provides a ton of phytonutrients, as this “fruit” contains high amounts of beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K and potassium. Known to boost the immune system, tomato juice can also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Carrot juice is well-known as a vitamin A booster, which is essential for healthy eyes. Red-orange colored foods, such as carrots and tomatoes, contain beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A when consumed by the body. Vitamin A deficiency may result in vision loss or night blindness. Plus, carrots are a great source of antioxidants.
Additionally, tomato carrot juice can help with weight loss. When you drink a cup of this healthy juice, you enjoy a drink low in calories and low in fat, while high in vitamins and minerals. One single serving may contain up to 250 percent of daily requirements of vitamin A. Best of all, it is super easy to make.
Grains like quinoa, teff, barley, millet, and brown rice are my jam─they are the base of what I eat. Breakfast might be a little rice pudding with honey and blueberries, or quinoa with apples and cinnamon. Lunch and dinner usually have a cup of whole grain on the side, or incorporated into the main dish. Even though cauliflower rice sounded interesting, it has taken me a long time to try it. I finally did.
I like cruciferous veggies, but I was prepared to be underwhelmed with cauliflower’s ability to hold up to ultra-versatile rice. (I like my rice.)
I set out to make a Colombian-inspired recipe. I have a friend from South America who told me about a dish like this one, and it has sat in the back of my mind for years. The way he told it to me, it sounded like a good everyday type of thing that you could have alongside a heavy protein or add the protein right into it another day. You could put a sauce over it, or even enjoy it alone as a snack.
Colombian-Inspired Cauliflower Rice
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1/2 regular to large cauliflower, broken into florets
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2/3 Cup broth (could be vegetable, chicken, or bone broth.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Trim away the stem and leaves from a head of cauliflower and slice in half.
Break up the half of cauliflower into florets and reserve the other half for another use.
Place the florets into a blender and pulse until crumbled. (About 10 seconds if using a high-powered blender.)
Place the oil into a pan over medium heat.
Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a minute.
Add the crumbled cauliflower, parsley, broth, salt, and pepper.
Cook until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are cooked through. Approximately 7 minutes.
I figured this idea was simple enough to test a vegetable’s ability to hold up to a time-tested grain. My cauliflower seemed big, so I sliced it in two to start. If you have a whole family to feed, or love leftovers, you could easily double the recipe and use the entire head.
The blender could probably chop up the half intact, but I didn’t want to potentially have a broken blade or something, so I broke it up into florets.
The first thing I was surprised about was how crazy fast the florets crumbled into rice-sized bits in the blender. It was fairly instant.
Like, six seconds of holding the pulse button and florets turned into grainy bits. A hand blender would definitely take a bit more time but probably do the job.
The second surprise was also about speed. I only sautéed a clove of chopped garlic in olive oil for less than a minute, added the rest of the ingredients, and literally, it was done in under 10 minutes. I didn’t have to continuously stir either.
I like bland food with subtle flavors. If you like spices, it would probably work nicely with a bit more herb, like tarragon, or a little jalapeño.
The third surprise was the biggest. I paired my new dish with a salad just like I would have if it were an actual whole grain. I wasn’t expecting to feel full or satisfied. I mean, cauliflower is a vegetable, so essentially I was just adding a hot salad on the side of a cold one, right? OK, yeah, I felt a little lighter than usual, but not hungry. Cauliflower rice kind of won me over. My skepticism dissolved. I liked it a lot.
Since I had the other half of cauliflower to use, I did a fried rice dish. You know what happened with that don’t you? I liked it even better. This idea had way more flavor and was just as fast. The fried rice idea is another super speedy dish to make, and the best part is, it’s a one-pan complete meal.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1/2 large cauliflower, pulsed into grain-sized bits
1/4 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/4 cup petit frozen peas (just because they are sweeter; use any peas or green beans)
8-9 small leaves of Chinese cabbage, chopped
1-2 eggs, whisked or 1/4-1/2 block of tofu
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or sesame oil for a more authentic flavor)
Tamari (soy sauce) to taste
Black pepper to taste
Heat a pan over medium heat and add the oil.
Sauté the onion for one minute and then add the carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage pieces. Depending on your pan, you may need to turn the heat to low. Cook for 2-5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook for a few minutes more, for everything to cook through and incorporate the flavors.
The cleanup on both dishes might be enough reason to repeat these recipes again and again. Actual grains can be sticky and require scrubbing to get the pans clean. Nothing stuck here. Even that blender with bits wedged in under the blade came clean in less than two minutes. I’ll definitely be buying more cauliflower.
You might think trying to kick coffee—or at least drinking less coffee—is a tougher task than scaling Everest. After all, coffee isn’t just a drink that gives many of us a much-needed morning boost. It’s also a genuine cultural moment, whether you’re sipping some coffee in a Middle Eastern cafe, enjoying an espresso in Italy, or grabbing a tall double-caf soy nonfat latte on any corner in any American city.
“Besides the fact that it tastes and smells good, coffee plays an important social role in our lives,” says Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University. “There’s a lot going on besides the caffeine that makes people want to drink it. If you’re meeting with someone after 5 p.m., it’s usually for drinks, but before that, it’s coffee. It’s how we do business, relax, socialize.”
But it’s easy to become enamored of caffeine and its ability to jolt us awake and get us through the day with the energy needed to accomplish often superhuman amounts of work. While a dependence on caffeine can be problematic (e.g., sleep problems, headaches), coffee has been proven to benefit your health in several notable ways.
“There are some healthy things about coffee—polyphenols, antioxidants that can be quite good for you,” Salge Blake says. “It’s been shown that moderate consumers of coffee could lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and Parkinson’s, among other diseases.”
So perhaps the instinct to give up coffee completely isn’t quite right. Instead, you may want to consider how to give up caffeine. It’s fairly straightforward, even if it’s not always easy. Follow these three steps to quit caffeine without quitting coffee altogether.
Cycle off the Caffeine Slowly
When decaffeinated coffee hit the scene about a century ago, it was a dreadful concoction, Salge Blake says. Today, it’s as good as its “regular” counterpart, and decaf carries with it many of the same health-boosting properties as caffeinated coffee.
The best way to switch from regular to decaf coffee is to cycle off the caffeine gradually. “Start with 75 percent caffeinated and 25 percent decaf, and stick with that for a week,” Salge Blake recommends. “This will prevent you from developing headaches and some of the other physical and mental side effects that occur when people quit abruptly.”
After the first week, Salge Blake says you can reduce your caffeine intake further with a 50-50 caf-decaf mix. The next week, move to 25 percent caffeinated, 75 percent decaf. Your body should then be ready for you to quit caffeine completely. (Just make sure you don’t disrupt this plan by drinking other caffeinated beverages, like soda or certain teas, during this period.)
Feed Your Brain
So you’re off caffeine, but you’re struggling to get going in the morning. Remember the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It’s true.
“Good food does the same thing to your brain that caffeine does,” Salge Blake says. “If you get up in the morning and don’t eat breakfast—or if you spend the morning eating junk—you’re going to reach for something caffeinated by noon.”
That, in turn, can disrupt you throughout the rest of the day and into the night, causing you to repeat this cycle of bad eating and exhaustion the next day.
Break the cycle with some high-quality carbohydrates, Salge Blake suggests. “That’s what your brain loves the most—grains, fruits and veggies.” Start your day with healthy foods and snacks and keep feeding your body this way, especially if you start to drag.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
For all the brain food you eat over the course of a day, jumpstarting your morning really begins the night before.
“Sleep hygiene is the idea that we’re setting ourselves up for consistent, high-quality sleep every night,” Salge Blake says. “Not many people do it. They think they can’t afford it because their waking lives demand more time, but they’ll find their productivity improve if they give their bodies and minds the sleep they need.”
Eight hours of sleep is the mark you should shoot for every night. Start going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, and say “goodnight” to your electronics about an hour before you plan to hit the hay. The blue light emitted by smartphones and other digital devices is a major sleep quality disruptor. If you plan to use your phone as an alarm, put it in a drawer near the bed.
There is nothing quite like heading to the gym for a workout. Engaging with your muscles and testing your limits can be an absolutely fantastic way to transform your body and feel good about your choices. Seeing success with your routine is all about focusing on each aspect of the process. You might have a good idea about which workouts are most appropriate for your goals but you also may not have spent much time thinking over other aspects like recovery.
The recovery portion of your workout is absolutely essential if you want to see lasting results from your workout. Though the recovery period is always somewhat important, it can become even more crucial when you decide to amp-up or enhance your routine. In order to be ready for whatever these new attempts bring your way, you might want a bit of advice on how to best find a recovery process that works for your needs.
Before You Begin
What you eat before you hit the gym is definitely going to have influence over what your recovery period looks like. You are most likely going to hear a lot of varying opinions on what you should be munching on before a workout. Some people claim you should avoid eating altogether and others are big proponents of loading up on carbs and proteins. What you are attempting to work out will change what you should be eating.
Lean proteins are always your best bet when eating close to a workout. These proteins are going to be present in your body for several hours after you ingest them and can be used to your advantage during and after the exercise routine. A number of health specialists also believe in the power of BCAAs and what these vitamins can offer the body during and after a workout. Many specialists in the world of fitness rave about BCAAs and how these products can lower fatigue and reduce soreness while a person is engaging in intense physical activity.
Chocolate is Key
Do you want an excuse to eat a bit more chocolate each day? Most people do but refrain from this because of how sugary most chocolates can be. While you will definitely regret eating a couple of candy bars after your workout, you can still incorporate chocolate into your recovery period for some impressive results. A glass of chocolate milk after a workout has been shown to assist in muscle recovery due to the protein found in the milk.
The chocolate itself is also said to assist the body with speeding along the recovery process. Carbs found in chocolate syrups and sauces aid the muscles with recovery by helping them to be ready for action in a shorter amount of time. When you want to sweeten the process of exercising while also improving the way you feel, a glass of this delicious drink can be a great fit.
Tart and Sweet
Have you ever had such an intense workout that you are still feeling it pretty seriously the next day? This is commonplace for many people who are just starting to increase their workouts. Though part of the process, the pain felt after a workout can often deter many people from pushing themselves as hard as they might like. Instead of giving up the moment you feel too sore to get out of bed, you can drink a glass of cherry juice. Though not as sweet as chocolate milk, pure cherry juice has been shown to reduce swelling in the muscles and make the experiences far less painful.
When you hit the gym, you probably have some very specific goals in your mind. If you want to reach those goals and develop the body of your dreams, you are going to need to take time to learn about each stage of the fitness process. Discover the best recovery techniques for what you are hoping to accomplish and in no time you are going to feel ready to take on lots more!
When you want to get on a healthier path in life, focusing on what you eat can be a wonderful place to begin. Even though you probably spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat and how to best prepare it for your health, specific food groups tend to contain more negative elements than others. The choice to go vegan, for example, is usually made when a person no longer wishes to consume animal meat or byproducts. Whether you’re making this change for your health or for a moral reason, it can be useful to take a look at what benefits come with the decision.
If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to a vegan lifestyle and need just a teensy bit more encouragement, then now is the time to learn all about the benefits. Changing your eating habits can take time and patience but dedicating your time to the effort has a way of yielding some useful results for your future.
1.) Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Each year, more than a million people are diagnosed with a form of diabetes. While genetics and other factors are involved, more often than not it is a person’s diet that encourages the development of this condition. Studies published in recent years have linked specific fats found in animal products to type 2 diabetes. According to these reports, those who were less likely to include animal fats in their meals were also far less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. These same studies also suggest vegans have a higher sensitivity to insulin.
Plant-based proteins are fantastic substitutes for animal fats. The nutrients found in non-meat options like tofu and seitan have been shown to help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. Additional research in this area also suggests those living with diabetes are able to positively alter how much medication they require on a daily basis by making the switch to a plant-based diet.
2.) Strengthen the Heart
While diabetes can be a serious concern for many, it pales in comparison to stats released about cardiovascular disease. Each year, more people die around the world from heart-related conditions than anything else. These numbers can be frightening and countless people across the globe have begun initiatives to keep their hearts happy and healthy. A great way to achieve this goal is by considering a vegan diet. Switching to a diet comprised mainly of plants and grains has been shown to greatly reduce a person’s chance to developing high blood pressure.
Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels can help to decrease the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke, or other debilitating cardiovascular condition. For your heart to truly reap the benefits of going vegan, you want to focus on ingesting the right plants. Add hearty helpings of asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and any kind of leafy green to your daily routine and you are likely to provide your body with the nutrients it requires to keep the heart strong.
3.) Kidney Troubles
Switching to plant-based proteins can also help your kidneys. Though meat or animal byproducts are not directly linked to failing kidneys, there are a number of studies suggesting plant proteins can help to strengthen these organs. Nutrients like potassium are primarily found in plants like beets, bananas, spinach leaves, and chard. Potassium is incredibly helpful for detoxing the kidneys and keeping them functioning at their best. Unfortunately, many people who primarily eat meat do not focus enough on ingesting plants containing the right nutrients.
If you want to go vegan, then you need to make sure you do it in a sensible way. Dropping meat and cheese from your daily routine without replacing the nutritional intake can be a very dangerous choice. Before you make any drastic shifts in your diet, be sure to sit down and look over what nutrients your body needs to obtain through fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains.
4.) Potential Cancer Prevention
Those who eat vegan might also be less likely to develop certain cancers. Though cancer can develop from a number of different conditions, a lack of proper plant-based nutrients can be a huge factor. According to specific studies, those who ingest a healthy dose of fruits and veggies each day are far less likely to develop certain types of cancer than those who do not eat produce regularly. Increasing the level of soy in your diet while decreasing how many animal proteins you eat can also help to lower the odds of developing breast cancer.
Switching to a vegan diet requires a little bit of thought. Though it can be healthier, you also want to make sure you are giving your body the correct daily nutrients. Do a bit more research on your own and see if this shift is the right call to make for a healthier future.
Article written by Joe Palinsky
Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.
Welcome to the latest nature-given health drink: birch water. The latest “hot item” in health food stores, birch water is still a stranger to a many consumers. Let’s do a quick overview on this amazing natural drink.
What is “Birch Water”?
Popular in the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as well as the Scandinavian countries, birch water is a mildly sweet beverage can be considered an electrolyte as this thin syrup-like beverage offers lots of benefits to your health. Birch water nutrients include vitamin C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, sodium, zinc, and iron. Its smooth, silky sap that tastes similar to maple syrup, though much lighter, has been drunk as a health tonic for hundreds for years for medicinal purposes as well as a nutritional supplement, thanks to its detoxifying, anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties.
How is it made?
Just like making maple syrup, the trees are tapped in the spring after all the frost is gone. A simple process is performed to extract the tree’s liquid. A hole is drilled with an upward angle approximately three feet from the base of the tree. The sap will begin to flow out almost immediately and is normally collected in a container or large bottle, creating fresh birch water.
What are the Health Benefits?
Birch water is loaded with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and amino acids and is known to provide a variety of health benefits. Research suggests that this nutritious beverage can help regulate cholesterol levels, promote clearer and brighter skin, support liver health, reduce joint pain, support weight-loss, and reduce cavities.
Collagen has been a top-selling product for skin health for many years but did you know that this powerful supplement offers many other health benefits? Let’s look at 4 ways collagen can improve your health.
1. Joint Health
Collagen is a major component in forming your body’s tendons, ligaments, muscles and cartilage. As you age, your body is less able to manufacture a sufficient amount of collagen and supplements can help maintain your body’s repair process. Collagen contains the amino acids glycine and proline, which help repair tissue, lessen inflammation, and provide relief from joint pain. Collagen products are used for treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.
2. Weight Loss
Collagen supplements can help in weight loss. A great source of protein, collagen provides 18 grams of protein per 2 scoops. Studies have shown that collagen peptides consumed at breakfast are 40% more satiating than other proteins such as whey or soy, and may lead to a 20% reduction of food intake at lunch.
Collagen supplements can help improve digestion by repairing the mucous lining. Collagen soothes and heals the digestive tract and helps break down the protein and fat from foods, making them easier for the body to digest.
4. Athletic Performance
As mentioned above, the amino acids glycine and proline help repair tissue and lessen inflammation. Consequently, supplementation with collagen peptides shortens recovery after exercise and helps with sports related injuries on muscle, tendons, and ligaments.
It’s not an easy task but if you like to take on a challenge, here’s a great one: becoming a morning workout person.
Many people simply cannot exercise in the early hours of the day for different reasons. Some people need a slow start. Some people only start functioning after a cup of coffee or tea. Some people simply don’t have the energy to work out in the morning hours. Plus, the majority of people can’t seem to fit a workout into their busy schedules. Work, school, kids—everything else seems to take up our morning time, but there’s a way to make it happen!
You can wake up earlier, get your workout done and then start your day as you normally would.
Waking up an hour earlier than your usual time may be sufficient, but as we know, this is easier said than done and takes some habit-forming skills. Of course, going to bed earlier is necessary to become a morning person as you still need to sleep enough hours and wake up rested. Making this a habit may actually bring a lot of health benefits for you.
Eating properly is essential. You may choose to eat a light breakfast or a nutritional bar before your workout and then complement with a healthy breakfast once your activity is done. You can also eat a full healthy breakfast and then workout, of course, this option may only work you have enough time in the morning. In both cases, eating well and exercising in the morning hours are two important factors that can help regulate your eating habits, and in some cases, making you less hungry for the rest of day.
Since waking up early and starting a new habit are two, not-so-easy things to do, you can start slowly, exercising just 10-15 minutes, two or three times a week. Once your mind and your body are used to the new workout time, bump up to 20-30 minutes and more frequently if you wish. This way, it may be easier for you to get that great feeling after getting your exercise done in the morning hours without feeling tired during the day.
Remember that it may take time and you may feel like quitting but don’t give up. Once you have established yourself as a morning workout person, you will feel energized every day.
Still getting that morning brain fog, no matter how much coffee you slug? You might need an AM nutrition boost when caffeine alone isn’t cutting it. This smoothie is packed with raspberries, blueberries and acai berries rich in antioxidants that support memory. Walnuts and almonds contain omega-3 fatty acids for improved learning. Bananas that help regulate mood and support cognitive function and raw honey reduces inflammation.
I recommend using Spiru-Tein as your protein source for this recipe because it contains Spirulina, a strong antioxidant packed with energy-boosting nutrients. I always notice improved focus when I start my day with a dose of spirulina!
Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth! Garnish with mint and chia seeds or drink as-is. For some added brain power and energy, I add Maca root powder to my smoothie and top with hemp seeds!
Give this recipe a try and let us know how it turns out below!