Food

Use Nature’s Bounty to Fuel Good Health

This week we proud to present another guest blog from MedAlertHelp.Org. They are providing excellent information in helpful, easy-to-read infographics! Follow the link to see the infographic for this post!

It is strange to think of our bodies as finely tuned machines, but that is what they are. They require the right fuel and a fair amount of maintenance to keep them running. Fortunately for us, we live on a planet where the right fuel exists in abundance.

In this post, we will take a closer look at the main vitamins that our bodies need to function optimally. We will go over some interesting facts you have not heard of before.

BASICS

There are two broad classifications of vitamins.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. If you consume too many of those, your body will flush them out. You will notice that your urine is different. Beta carotene, for example, can change the color of your urine to a dark yellow or even light orange. You would have to take large quantities to overdose on it.

The vitamins in this category are:

● Vitamin B1: Is necessary for proper nerve and muscle function and energy production. It will help you recover from a workout. So, make sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts part of your post-workout snack to get your share of B1.

● Vitamin B2: This vitamin powers the muscles. Make sure to get your dose half an hour before a workout. Eggs, salmon, and almonds are all excellent sources.

● Vitamin B3: This vitamin helps clear out bad cholesterol. Without it, the body cannot metabolize fat or glucose. You will feel sluggish and be more prone to so-called lifestyle diseases. Get it from peanuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, or peas.

● Vitamin B5: Feeling stressed out, and you cannot relax? You might be short of vitamin B5. It regulates the adrenal glands. It is also necessary for the formation of new red blood cells and metabolizing fatty acids. Get if from sunflower seeds, mushrooms, eggs, and avocado.

● Vitamin B6: Is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Get it from tuna, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and dried prunes.

● Vitamin B7: Without B7, your body would not be able to metabolize any of the macronutrients. Get it from sweet potato, broccoli, salmon, and eggs.

● Vitamin B9: If you have a weak immune system, and feel fatigued often, you are probably low on B9. Find it in spinach, black-eyed peas, lentils, and asparagus.

● Vitamin B12: B12 helps us metabolize macronutrients and produce new blood cells. You can find it in mackerel, trout, eggs, and tofu.

● Vitamin C: Helps boost immunity and fight infections. Find it in kale, citrus fruits, guavas, and bell peppers. If you feel exhausted and have a weak immune system, or need to recover from a workout, do include more vitamin Bs and vitamin C.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are a different matter altogether. The body will store them in its fatty tissues. If you take more than the body needs, they build up to toxic levels, which can lead to a fatal outcome.

The vitamins in this category are:

● Vitamin A: Is essential for healthy teeth, skin, and skeletal system. Get it from carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, or cod liver oil.

● Vitamin D: Helps boost the immune system and combat fatigue. It is also necessary for healthy bones. Get it from eggs, tofu, mushrooms, and salmon. Your very best source, though, is the sun. Try to get at least 15 minutes of exposure when the sun is at its peak. Expose as much skin as possible and ditch the sunscreen for this session.

● Vitamin E: Is essential for good immunity and regulating cholesterol. Find it in sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ oil.

● Vitamin K: Helps the blood clot and keeps your bones strong. Find it in cooked kale and broccoli or raw spinach.

Do We Need to Take Supplements?

Ideally speaking, no. However, if we want to get the right mix of vitamins, we have to eat a well-rounded diet that includes fresh ingredients. We can chemically recreate the compounds, but if it were that simple, all we would have to do for good health is to pop the right pill.

In reality, the foods that we eat contain hundreds of compounds that work together. We are nowhere near the point of recreating the full nutrient profile of even a simple apple.

Still, if there is no alternative, choosing a high-quality supplement can fill in the gaps. However, always try to get the vitamins you need from food sources first.

As you can see from the list above, some food sources are superfoods in their own right. The lowly sunflower seed, for example, has nutrients that help boost the immune system, fight fatigue, repair muscles, and provide energy. Now that is the kind of supplement we all need.

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.

Post-Workout Nutrition 101

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!

Window of Opportunity

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!

What are My Priorities?

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.

Recipes    

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!

Is Gluten Really The Bad Guy??

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

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.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

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.

Symptoms include:

● 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.

Gluten Intolerance

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.

Should I Cut Out Gluten from My Diet?

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
gluten.

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?

Final Notes

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.

What a Decade of Studies Tells Us About Men’s and Women’s Nutrition

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…

Women

70.2%
Said their top challenge was emotional/stress eating

52%
Eat 3 or more restaurant meals every week

50%
Get less than the minimum 7 hours of sleep per night

18%
The percentage INCREASE among women snacking when not hungry

60.2%
Say daily life demands keep them from exercising consistently

Men

59.9%
Said their top challenge was eating too quickly

69%
Eat 3 or more restaurant meals every week

50%
Get less than the minimum 7 hours of sleep per night

30%
The percentage INCREASE among women snacking when not hungry

61.4%
Say daily life demands keep them from exercising consistently

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.

Need Some Help?

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.

6 Marvelous “Dishes to Pass” this Holiday Season!

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!

Healthier Strawberry Cheesecake

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!

Spinach Dip

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!

No Bake Pumpkin Pie Pudding

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!

Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip

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.

Get this classic Ellipse recipe here!

Healthier Brushetta

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.

3-Layer Mexican Dip

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!

Let’s Get to Know Erythritol: A Low Calorie Sweetener

We’ve talked about sugar and artificial sweeteners. But you might wonder, where do sugar-alcohols like Erythritol (ur-i-thruh-taal) fit in? It does occur naturally in some foods, but most of what you see is manufactured by fermenting wheat or cornstarch. Erythritol often is found with other sugar substitutes like stevia. Other sugar alcohols include xylitol, glycerin, sorbitol, etc.

Zero Calorie?

Erythritol is pretty much zero calorie sweetener at .2 calories per gram (table sugar is 4 calories per gram). This is because your body can not break it down; it doesn’t get metabolized and is excreted through urine within 24 hours. This also makes it a good option for diabetics. Erythritol has been approved by the World Health Organization since 1999.

Even though it is called a “sugar alcohol” it generally comes in a powder or granular form, and as you can see above it can look very much like table sugar!

But Is It Any Good?

Erythritol has 60-80% the sweetness of table sugar. It comes as a powder or granular form. It does not have a bitter aftertaste like some sweeteners and people can generally tolerate erythritol better than other sugar alcohols. You’ll find erythritol in many sugar free foods and snacks like Crystal Light Pure, sugar free candy, protein bars, gum, sugar free fruit spreads, Smart Cakes and muffins, Vitamin Water Zero, etc. It is also found in the brand Truvia sweetener.

Even Dentists Like It!

Dentists like erythritol because not only does it not cause tooth decay like sugar, it helps prevent it and reduce the formation of plaque. Sugar, on the other hand, turns into acid in your mouth when combined with mouth bacteria.

Is It Natural?

As we said before Erythritol can be manufactured by fermenting wheat or cornstarch, but it can also be found naturally in carrots, cherries, mushrooms, and more. Japan has been using erythritol since the early 1990s as a natural sugar substitute. Still, in the end, erythritol might be a good sugar substitute for you, but whole foods should still be the bulk of your diet.

Possible Side Effects

Like most sugar alcohols when used in large amounts, erythritol can cause diarrhea, gas/bloating, and/or an upset stomach. If you choose to use erythritol, as with most things, do so in moderation. At the same time, most people can handle a gram for every kilo of body weight (or .45g per pound). That means at 150 pounds someone could presumably consume more than 13 teaspoons without ill effect. However, if you suffer from IBS, it’s probably better to stay away from sugar alcohols.

5 Incredible Fall Shake Recipes!

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.

PUMPKIN SHAKE
• 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!

Get the full recipe here!

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:
1. liquid
2. protein
3. veggie
4. fruit
5. fat
6. topper

PN Build Your Own Shake Guide

Get The Skinny on Healthy Fats!

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!

Why You Can’t Eat “Fat-Free”

Essential Vitamins

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.

Healthy Fats keep your lungs working properly

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.

• Healthy Fats for a Strong immune system

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).

• Healthier Body Composition

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.

Tips for Putting it in Action

• Fats: What and how much?

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 and Variety

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

Sugar? Starch? Carb? What’s The Difference!

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”.

Why Do I CARE??

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!

Why Complex Carbohydrates Matter

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!

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs??

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.

Sugar: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It’s not hard to find SUGAR. It’s in a slew of food and drink products and most often can be found in packaged foods with ingredients ending in the letters -ose like glucose, maltose, dextrose, lactose, fructose, sucrose; it’s all sugar.

Is one better than the other? In the end, all sugars have 4 calories per gram. The differences comes down to any notable nutrients/antioxidants and HOW they affect the body/glycemic load. This week we’re looking a little deeper at what makes each type of sugar different.

Sucrose

Common table sugar (as pictured above). Sucrose contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose. We’ll break each of these down further later on. Sucrose tastes sweeter than glucose but not as sweet as fructose.

Glucose

Glucose comes from the Greek word for “sweet” and contains 1 glucose molecule. Glucose syrup is typically made from breaking down the starch in corn or wheat. Glucose syrup isn’t overly sweet and thus is typically used along with other sweeteners and helps extend the shelf life of products like ice cream [from crystalizing]. Glucose can be metabolized throughout our body, unlike fructose that can only be metabolized by the liver.

Fructose

Although FRUIT is high in fructose, it’s difficult to get excessive amounts from fruit, plus fruit is also very high in FIBER which is nature’s way of balancing it out. Eat fruit, skip the fruit juice (which takes out the fiber)!

If you are a label-reader then you surely have seen “High Fructose Corn Syrup” as a common ingredient that seems to pervade nearly every product on the shelf from ketchup to cookies to cereal. This is concerning because not only is a high intake of fructose bad for your waistline, but it can increase your risk of all sorts of diseases from heart disease to diabetes and even some types of cancer. Check out this link below for a DIY tutorial and you can see first-hand the process involved!
http://www.diyhfcs.mayaweinstein.com/

Maltose

Maltose is made of 2 glucose molecules. Maltose can be found in starchy grains, vegetables, and some fruit. When grains are sprouted in water and then dried, the enzymes in the grains release maltose. You can find it in brewing stores since it is an important part of brewing beer and whiskey. Maltose can also be sold as crystals or syrup, for baking or sweetener.

“Malted” cereals use malted grains to create the natural sweetness. The calories in maltose is equivalent to other sugars, but the potential benefit of maltose over other sugars is that it does not contain any fructose, which can be more harmful in large quantities.

Check out this video to see how malt syrup can be made!

Brown Rice Syrup

Similar to maltose, this is made by soaking, fermenting, and boiling down rice. Brown rice syrup contains 45% maltose (2 glucose molecules), 3% glucose (1 glucose molecule), and 52% maltotriose (3 glucose molecules). This actually puts the glycemic index HIGHER than table sugar. ALSO, arsenic is a toxic chemical known to be found in rice. Boiling rice down into a syrup compounds the amount of potential arsenic. Even though scientific research is limited, choosing fewer items with brown rice syrup may be in your best interest.

Molasses

This syrup is boiled down from refined raw cane sugar or sugar beet juice. The crystals from the boiling process are removed, leaving molasses.

FYI: Blackstrap molasses is when the syrup has been boiled a THIRD time. Each boiling of a sugar produces a different type of molasses. Molasses may be seen as slightly better than “table sugar” since it does contains some nutrients and antioxidants, but essentially…sugar is sugar.

Well alright, there was a lot more “Bad” and “Ugly” than there was good, but at least now you are equipped with knowledge of these different types of sugars and can prepare yourself to read those labels and make more educated decisions!