This week we have another guest blog that is accompanied by an AWESOME infographic on organic foods! Check it out here!
This week we have another guest blog that is accompanied by an AWESOME infographic on organic foods! Check it out here!
For every person, the quality of the food is of paramount importance, even more so for those who work out regularly. In recent years, there have been many talks about the detrimental effect of conventional food on our wellbeing. Many have begun to wonder whether organic food presents a healthier alternative.
The popularity of packaged organic food has skyrocketed in recent years. Fitness instructors and personal trainers around the world nowadays recommend fitness and healthy diet to anyone who wants to lose weight, get healthy, and see serious results, even if they have never worked out before.
Considering the tremendous benefits of organic food for the environment and our bodies, we think that it is time we learned more about organic products and their positive effect on our health.
Babies are affected the most by poor nutrition. In the early stages of our lives, our immune system is still fragile and susceptible to many diseases. A poor diet can impair the immune system. For this reason, 40% of people opt to buy organic products for their young ones. Unlike conventional food, organic food does not contain any chemicals or additives that can permanently damage your baby’s health.
Most people’s eating habits and food preferences are established early in life. It is vital to encourage a healthy diet in your household to prevent a variety of diet-related diseases. If you have bad eating habits during childhood, the chances are higher that you will have weight problems later on. That means that you may have to work out twice as hard in the gym to get back on track.
According to the Environmental Working Group report, conventional food contains over 2,000 different chemicals. Eating food packed with chemicals, such as additives and pesticides, puts us at risk for developing a range of diseases, including digestive disorders (food intolerance), brain damage, gout, kidney stones, hormone disbalance, inflammation, and even cancer.
On average, organic food is more expensive than non-organic food by $0.24. However, many who choose to consume organic products, purchase them at reasonable prices by buying directly from farmers (i.e CSAs and farmers’ markets). Find and connect with your local farmer’s produce by searching www.localharvest.org.
32% of people think that organic food tastes better than conventional food. Sometimes it may not look as appealing, but it is much more delicious. Conventional food generally does not contain all the necessary nutrients and vitamins necessary for keeping our body healthy.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that clearly shows organic food is healthier than non-organic. Organic products contain more vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. These are all significant food ingredients, and if you work out regularly and try to lead a healthy lifestyle, eating organic products may be the better choice when considering the higher nutritional value of organic food. Higher nutrients = more energy for physical activity.
Ok, we kind of made you look…even though it is true! But that’s not really what this post is ALL about. We want to talk about heart health this week, and rightfully so! It is STILL the leading cause of death here in the United States and has been for almost 100 years!
Within FIVE YEARS of your first heart attack, the mortality rate for men is 36% in 5 years and 47% for women. During heart month, and all year long, love your heart by taking a look at the foods you eat, moving more/being more active, increasing your “good” cholesterol (HDL), reducing your “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and stop smoking if you do!
Trans fats (deep fried foods and baked goods), processed meats, and added sugar and significantly increase our changes for cardiovascular disease. And although not a “food”, limiting alcohol intake will make your heart happier by limiting the weight gain that can accompany it and reduce its effect on blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day and women no more than one according to the American Heart Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Feed your heart some of these heart healthy foods – leafy greens (hey vitamin k!), fatty fish (hello omega-3’s!), berries (hi antioxidants!), beans/legumes (yo resistant starch!), seeds and nuts (thanks healthy fat!) and yes, you were waiting for it…DARK CHOCOLATE (thank you flavonoids, we love you too.)
Moving more is good for the heart. Do you have an exercise tracker? Take a look to see what your average number of steps per day is. See if you can take on a challenge to increase those steps by 1000 per day. As you find success, try to build up to 10,000 or more steps a day. Find a heart-healthy workout right here!
High blood pressure is a controllable factor and one, without intervention, that can lead to heart disease. Stress can lead to a slew of health conditions, but also affect our heart with hypertension. Although the link between stress and heart disease aren’t fully clear yet, we do know stress affects more than just the heart and we DO have clarity in strategies for controlling stress in a healthy way (AKA not with alcohol). A healthy diet, exercising, yoga, meditation, laughing, connecting with a friend and deep breathing are all proven techniques/tips to lower stress. Try to find the strategy that work best for you and IMPLEMENT it! Your heart will thank you.
Take care of your heart! Although it takes some effort to eat well, exercise and keep stress under control, it will also increase the duration of your life! A life that someone else may not have had the chance to have…
22 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant and 75 lives can be saved by ONE donor. We do not always have the luxury of choosing our challenges in life. Some of us may never have a great heart no matter how much we exercise. What would you give for one more day with someone you love that has passed? What would you do for someone you love that is waiting?
Don’t wait until you are in need or someone asks you.
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CONGRATULATIONS! You worked out! If you haven’t, click the “Categories” drop-down list and select “Workouts” and you’ll find some great at-home workouts!
But now it’s time to replenish your energy stores and start repairing/rebuilding your muscles. So let’s get the basics!
There is a “window of opportunity” that you’ll hear varying durations for, but most will agree somewhere between 30-90 minutes post-workout is ideal. This will maximize digestion/absorption of key nutrients to help your body make the most of your workout!
A post workout meal of some carbs and protein will help refill your glycogen stores (from the carbs) and help build muscle (from the protein). Try to get in the habit of approaching your post-workout nutrition as a MEAL – as opposed to a snack. At mealtime we are more likely to make better choices, and avoid “snacky”, high-fat foods that don’t serve out body as well post-workout.
It could be said that your post-workout meal is the most important meal of the day. Your body needs help to replenish its energy stores, increase our muscle quality/size and repair damaged muscle tissue. We want to break down muscle tissue DURING the workout so it rebuilds stronger, but we need to help it recover too.
In the end, although other factors do come into play, calories out still needs match or to exceed calories in to assist in weight maintenance and loss. Make sure your post workout meal matches your goals.
Oatmeal: Are you an early morning fitness fan? Your post workout meal could be oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder, berries, and sliced almonds. Easy peasy!
Tuna and Veggies: Do you work out over the lunch hour and need a fast go-to post workout lunch? Toss a packet of flavored tuna in a cooked steamer bag of vegetables! Have an apple to round out the carbs and replenish the glycogen stores.
Salad: Try salad with chickpeas (the chickpeas have protein and carbs) topped with an oil and vinegar dressing for something quick and light. Or… Have you tried Mason Jar Salads?
Power Shake: In a hurry? Bring a shake with you. Try this Precision Nutrition Tropical Power Shake: Blend 6 ounces of water, scoop of vanilla protein powder, ½ banana, ¼ c pineapple, 1-2 TBSP of flax seed, 1-2 TBSP. unsweetened coconut, ¼ c plain Greek yogurt. Add a fist of fresh spinach and blend until smooth. Add ice as desired.
Salmon and Veggies: Salmon is a “fatty fish” that has the added bonus of omega-3s to help with inflammation and heart health. Serve up your favorite salmon recipe with some veggies and sweet potato for that perfect post workout meal.
Tilapia with Cilantro Lime Quinoa: Although not a source of omega-3s, tilapia will serve up good quality protein too. Try this: cook up some quinoa and toss with corn, lime juice, garlic/onion powder and cilantro. Pan fry tilapia with smoked paprika and serve over the quinoa mixture. Get the full recipe here!
Hi Ellipse Family! This week we have a special guest blog post from MedAlertHelp.org, and they have a fantastic infographic you can find here! https://medalerthelp.org/gluten-free-life-infographic/
When we were children, we all worried about the boogeyman under the bed. As adults, that boogeyman has moved into our kitchens. Today the monster that everyone fears sits in the food aisles of supermarkets—gluten.
If you want to get a roomful of health-conscious people to run off screaming, there is no better way than to pull out food with gluten in it! Over the last few years, gluten has become public enemy number one.
But is that really fair? Is gluten the bad guy? In this post, we will answer that question.
Celiac disease is a serious illness. The body is unable to process gluten in food. The body, in this case, has a strong reaction to even small amounts of gluten. People with this condition have no choice but to avoid it.
This disease is less common than you think. Only 1% of the American population has celiac disease. We will go through the symptoms you might experience in a short while.
For now, though, we must stress—there is no room here for self-diagnosis. If you believe that you have celiac disease, go to your doctor for a proper diagnosis. As you will see, the symptoms listed can be caused by a wide range of ailments. Do not just rely on Dr. Google for this one—see a professional.
● Diarrhea: Expect stools to come out loose and very watery. That naturally happens after eating and is one of the most common symptoms. What distinguishes this diarrhea from other forms is that it is ongoing. So, the occasional bout is not a big deal. If you are
battling diarrhea daily, seek help.
● Bloating: Bloating is another common symptom. Do not take this as a definitive symptom. Gluten can cause bloating in healthy people as well.
● Gas: Again, this is another common symptom. With celiac disease, the body cannot process gluten. As it moves through the digestive tract, it starts to ferment. That, in turn, produces gas.
● Fatigue: Because your body is unable to digest a large portion of the food you are eating, you are bound to feel fatigued. Your body needs to digest the food so it can absorb the right vitamins and minerals and produce energy.
● Weight Loss: By this we mean a sudden drop in weight when you have done nothing to cause it. If that is coupled with the inability to gain weight, see a doctor. That is a sign that something is wrong. It could be celiac disease or even diabetes.
● Anemia: Celiac disease interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, resulting in vitamin deficiencies, particularly iron deficiencies. It is best to see your doctor before taking a supplement. Iron overload can be as dangerous as iron deficiency.
● Constipation: Remember how we said that the disease affects the digestive tract? It is not as common as diarrhea, but constipation may be another warning sign. That is because the disease damages the villi in the digestive tract. It is also possible for the body to absorb more moisture to make up for the lack of nutrients. That leads to a stool that is hard and dry, which further leads to constipation.
● Depression: Depression is another common symptom. It makes sense—if you feel sick for a long time, with no clearly defined cause, it can be frustrating. Another factor is that a diagnosis means no more gluten, and it is easy for people to become disheartened.
● A Rash: This rash is characterized by extremely itchy blisters that typically form on the buttocks, knees, or elbows. Fortunately, it is not a common symptom. However, it is a symptom that usually screams, “celiac disease.” Sufferers with the rash are usually diagnosed faster.
There is a small percentage of the population with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Up to 6% of the global population might have this form of intolerance. The symptoms are similar to those listed above but in a much milder form. Gluten does not make people feel sick, but rather uncomfortable.
This is where we start to cross over into dodgy health advice. We have seen many gurus promoting a gluten-free lifestyle as the way forward. And, after all, why not? Gluten-free is the flavor of the day, and they need to sell their books and products.
What concerns us is that healthy people are cutting out gluten completely. Before we go into the health implications, consider how difficult this is. Wheat is one of the big five to avoid because of
Now, do yourself a favor and check out various items on the shelves at the grocery store. How many contain wheat or flour? Unless the type of flour is specified, it is going to be wheat-based.
You will find it in just about every kind of processed food out there. It is an excellent thickening and bulking agent.
In this day and age, we are all for cutting out processed foods. In fact, if going gluten-free gives you the determination to do that, then it is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, big business has found
a winner in the gluten-free market, and that is where the problem lies.
It is time for another trip to the grocery store. Check out the other ingredients in those gluten-free products. Food manufacturers have to bulk them up and make them taste good. So, what do they add? Sugar and fat.
Now, here is another question. A glass of water with three teaspoons of sugar and a dollop of lard in it is gluten-free. Would you drink it? But, make a biscuit out of it, and you would probably eat it.
Even if you completely avoid processed gluten-free products, you can harm your health by cutting out gluten. If you are not sensitive to it, it provides essential protein and nutrients for your body. Oats, for example, are highly nutritious. How many of us grew up eating Weetabix every morning?
We are concerned when big business gets in on a health fad. Before you buy into the hype, ask yourself: is this person or company trying to sell me something?
Now think of something else.
As a child, did you eat oats, wheat, and so on? Did it kill you or make you sick? If you are like most of us, the answer is no.
Our advice is to keep a food diary and monitor your symptoms. Then, if you feel that something is amiss, see your doctor. A health professional will be able to confirm or deny your suspicions.
Until then, chow down on your oatmeal and bread.
DR. NIKOLA DJORDJEVIC, MD
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, is a practicing physician who is the Co-Founder and Project Manager of MedAlertHelp.org, a site dedicated to improving your knowledge about health, nutrition, fitness, aging, retirement, and much more. He leads a remarkable team of medical writers, medical alert reviewers, and experts in the realms of life insurance, retirement, and marketing devoted to saving your time and simplifying the process of finding the perfect solutions for everyone.
Our friends at Precision Nutrition have worked with over 100,000 clients in the past decade. Over the past year, they created a report on the top health nutritional challenges and how to work with them. Here are some things they found…
While there are some slight differences between men and women, it is clear they struggle over many of the same issues. Most people want to not just lose weight, but also be consistent and have changes that last. Let’s look at our challenges and figure out how to work toward our GOALS and snowball good habits.
What is ONE thing you can focus on improving NOW, in January. On trouble with “New Year’s Resolutions” is that you have too long to put it off! Set a GOAL of January 31 st to form it into a regular habit.
Here are some easy-to-handle goals to start with.
1. Drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning before you even eat breakfast.
2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.
3. Get out of bed the FIRST time your alarm goes off.
4. Book your workouts at least 1 week prior and keep your appointment.
5. Eat an extra serving of vegetables every day.
6. Eat more whole foods (fresh fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein) to prevent hunger and reduce over-consumption. If you catch yourself mindlessly eating/snacking, get a change of scenery. Go for a walk, go fill your water, make a phone call, get outside, etc.
7. Cook More! Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or take forever. Learn to make 8-10 basic, yet tasty, healthy meals that you can rotate or rely on.
8. Focus on progress, not perfection. Coming late to a workout is better than not attending at all. Eating right 5 days a week is better than 3 days. We’re all human! If you fail, resolve yourself to try again!
9. Create a bedtime routine that will help you “zone out” and bring stress levels down before bedtime. Try to keep the same bedtime and wake times, even on the weekends, to help solidify your routine. This assists with the circadian rhythm and keep hormone levels balanced, which will ultimately assist with hunger and satiation cues.
The holidays can be a great time with family and traditions, but for many it brings some fear of falling off the fitness and nutrition wagon. Play it safe by bringing a healthy dish to pass that you know is okay to dig into!
Need to bring a dessert? Combine 32oz of plain Greek yogurt with a small box of sugar free cheesecake flavored pudding mix. Slice up 2 pounds of strawberries and layer with pudding/yogurt mixture. Layer in a glass trifle bowl, and toss a couple strawberries on top, for a fancy presentation.healthier strawberry cheesecake! Combine 32oz of plain Greek yogurt with a small box of sugar free cheesecake flavored pudding mix. Slice up 2 pounds of strawberries and layer with pudding/yogurt mixture. Layer in a glass trifle bowl, and toss a couple strawberries on top, for a fancy!
Going with Greek yogurt and/or cottage cheese over mayonnaise or sour cream adds even more protein punch PLUS nutrients from the spinach! Here’s the rundown: Toss cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth. Combine cottage cheese, pressed/drained cooked spinach, water chestnuts, plain Greek yogurt, a package of dry veg soup mix, onions, and lemon. Chill for a few hours and serve with vegetables!
The full recipe can be found on the blog by searching Spinach Dip – or follow this link!
Add some nutrients to your dessert! Did you know pumpkin is actually a fruit? And a nutrient packed one at that! Add some vitamin A and potassium to your next dessert to pass. Whisk 2 cups pumpkin puree, 2 cup milk (almond milk, etc), 1.5 t cinnamon, 1/4 t nutmeg, and 1/4 t ginger. Add 1 package (5.1oz) sugar free vanilla pudding. Chill. Top with crumbled graham cracker crumbs and a few sprays of whipped cream to make it beautiful!
A twist on that classic 7-layer dip adds a healthy flare with plain Greek yogurt, hummus, veggies, and healthy fats!
First, create your yogurt mixture: yogurt, garlic, dill, lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Then, in an 8×8 dish, layer hummus, yogurt mixture, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, feta and olives. Serve with whole grain pita chips, celery, or cut fresh veggies.
Try a healthier twist on bruschetta! Start by using toasted Ezekial Bread, cut in half, as your base.
Combine 2 cups chopped tomatoes, 1 T fresh chopped basil (or use fresh you may have frozen in cubes from the summer!), 2 tsp olive oil and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (tons of great ones at local olive oil shops!), and 1 clove minced garlic. Top your toast with the mixture and top with some mozzarella.
TIPS: Have extra time? Let your tomato mixture marinate in the fridge for a couple hours. Need more protein? Add cooked, cubed chicken, to your tomato mixture.
Layer 1: Mashed black beans with seasoning and Greek yogurt
Layer 2: Avocado mixed with yogurt and seasoning
Layer 3: Round it out with salsa!
Protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs ready to serve with vegetables or chips. Find the full recipe on the blog by searching 3-Layer Mexican Dip – or follow this link!
Whether it be for a meal/snack on the go, to get that protein in, or to satisfy a sweet tooth, shakes have become a HUGE part of the nutrition world. With Fall here, we’ve got some stellar shake recipes that are sure to leave you feeling satisfied! What is more “fall” than apples, squash, and cookies!
October is Pumpkin season! Try this nutritionally complete pumpkin shake loaded with vitamin A and other nutrients from your pumpkin puree.
• 1 frozen banana
• 2/3 c pumpkin puree
• ½ c plain Greek yogurt
• 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
• ½ c milk (unsweetened almond, etc)
• 1 TBSP maple syrup
• ½ tsp vanilla
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice and ice to thickness desired.
Not only does pumpkin puree work well for shakes, but butternut squash does too!
VEGAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SHAKE (for 2!)
• Roast a butternut squash in cubes
• Blend 1.25 C roasted squash
• 1.5 C unsweetened almond milk
• 3-4 pitted medjool dates
• 1 T chia seeds
• 1-2 t cinnamon to taste
• 1.5 t vanilla extract
• ½ t ginger
• a sprinkle of ground cloves and ice to desired thickness.
TIP: Not ready to roast a whole squash for a shake? You can buy frozen squash cubes in the frozen vegetables area of your supermarket or simply substitute canned squash puree!
Have your bushel of apples from apple picking? Craving the great taste of apple pie?
APPLE PIE SHAKE
• 1 apple
• ¼ plain Greek yogurt
• ½ tsp vanilla
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
• ice to taste
Maybe fall conjures images of cookies baking in the oven more than apples and squash. Have no fear, we have your shake needs covered!
OATMEAL COOKIE SHAKE
• ¼ c old fashioned oats
• 1 frozen banana
• 1 c unsweetened almond milk
• 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
• 1/2 TBSP honey
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp vanilla
• 1/8 tsp ground ginger
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp salt
This shake from our friends at Precision Nutrition offers a complete meal replacement option since it includes your protein, vegetable, carb, and fat!
APPLE AND GREAT GRAINS SHAKE
• 6 oz water or unsweetened almond milk
• 1 scoop Vanilla Bio-Whey protein powder
• 1/2 apple or 1 small apple cored and sliced into wedges
• 6-8 raw almonds
• 1/2 cup uncooked oats
• 1 fist of spinach
• ice and cinnamon as desired
TIP: Blend all ingredients (except spinach, cinnamon, and ice) for 1 minute. Add spinach and blend until smooth. Add ice and cinnamon to desired consistency.
Want to make your own shake, but not sure where to start?
Check out this guide on how to build your own complete shake with 6 easy steps:
Plain and simple, our bodies need dietary fat. Did you know your BRAIN is made up of nearly 60% fat? A diet too low in fat robs your brain of the materials it needs to function properly. It’s not just the essential fatty acids and omega 3’s either (fats found in food like salmon, avocados and nuts) but also some of the saturated fats which we have been told for years to avoid, including natural animal fats!
Vitamins such as A, D, E and K are not water soluble and require fat to get transported and absorbed by the body. These vitamins are crucial for brain health and many of our vital organs.
Our lungs are coated with a substance composed almost entirely of saturated fat. Premature babies who are lacking this substance are given something called “surfactant” to keep their lungs functioning properly. Without enough saturated fat, our lungs can be compromised. Some studies are now looking at the link between the low consumption of saturated fat and Asthma as a result of the breakdown of this fatty layer.
Saturated fats such as those found in butter and coconut oil play key roles in immune health. Loss of too much saturated fatty acids in white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A great source of saturated fat is from animal fats like grass fed dairy and butter or fatty fish like salmon (wild is generally a better choice).
One benefit of eating healthy fats is better body composition! This refers to your % of fat-weight versus % of lean-weight. Eating healthy fats help you lose body fat by improving metabolism, balancing hormones (hormones that help you feel full longer) and eliminating constant cravings.
You should include healthy fats at each meal, but there is no need to pull out a measuring spoon every time you eat…a portion size of healthy fats is the size of your thumb! Nuts and seeds are a great source of fats. Certain oils are also excellent sources, like extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil.
PRO TIP: Have you tried using avocado oil spray? A great option to get the healthy fat in without overdoing it!
Balance your diet with a variety of fat types (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated) from high quality foods like: seeds, nuts, seafood, coconut, avocado, olives. Avoid the processed foods that contain the unhealthy fats like “Hydrogenated” fats or Trans Fats
Last week we talked about forms of sugar (words ending -ose) and how they are different or alike. In many cases the sugars broke down to, in at least part, glucose. Glucose is used by your muscles to perform work. Sugars are SIMPLE carbohydrates. COMPLEX carbohydrates are what we call “starches”.
GLYCOGEN! Glycogen is why you care.
Glycogen is one of TWO forms of energy storage in the body:
1. Glycogen stored in muscle and the liver.
2. Triglycerides (i.e. FAT) stored in adipose tissue.
So, let’s get to the point…Your body can store 1-day’s worth of glycogen. The trick is, your body will use your “one day” stores of glycogen BEFORE relying on the stored energy in your fat cells. Meaning, you MUST exercise off your daily stores before you can mobilize the energy stored in the fat cells. Keep your energy/food intake in check!
All forms of sugar, and starch, break down into glucose. Starch is a COMPLEX CARB (i.e. 3-10 sugars linked in a long COMPLEX chain) vs sugar being a SIMPLE CARB.
Starch/complex carbs break down slower than simple carbs/sugar. Since complex carbs break down slower, we stay “full” longer. Complex carb examples include peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Stick with complex carbs in your diet vs simple carbs for overall health!
Starch come in the forms of digestible and resistant starch. Digestible starch is quickly turned into fat if we don’t use it right away. Resistant starch doesn’t get digested in the small intestine like digestible starch, instead many types ferment in the large intestine and act like fiber! Resistant starches are not broken down into glucose in the stomach, so they have a lower calorie content, also improve insulin sensitivity/lower our blood sugar levels and keep us full longer (thanks to the slow digestion). Although there are various types of resistant starch, some examples are grains, seeds, legumes, potatoes and unrefined rice.
WAIT: White rice is “refined”, which means it’s been processed, and the fiber has been broken down making it a SIMPLE carb. Brown rice however is a whole grain – fiber intact – so it is a complex carb. Purchase whole grain rice!
Why are the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs” floating out there? GOOD carbs can be considered those that not only contain energy/glucose (i.e. refined sugar) but also vitamins and minerals (i.e. vegetables – more bang for your your calorie-buck).
EXERCISE improves how our body moves sugar/glucose into our muscles, eventually causing you to require much less insulin than someone who is physically inactive.