Jul 022014
 
vegetarian diet, healthy vegetarian diet, vegetarian diet plan

Many people are under the impression that a vegetarian diet is an incomplete diet in terms of nutrition. While it is true that meats are not featured the important nutrients found in meats can also be found in many non-meat food items. Below are some pointers on how to craft a vegetarian diet that is well balanced and healthy.

Iron

Iron is the nutrient commonly associated with red meat. So, since a vegetarian diet does inot include meat, iron must be obtained from other sources. Fortunately, many leafy green vegetables like spinach and collard greens are rich in iron. Tofu and certain beans also have a high iron content.

Adding Dairy to a Vegetarian Diet

When deciding on a vegetarian diet it is your choice whether or not to include both milk and eggs; some do and some don’t. When making your decision, keep in mind that eggs, and milk too, are great sources of very high-quality protein. Vitamin B-12 is a critical nutrient mostly found in meat, fish and dairy products. If you decide against including dairy products and fish in your diet, you may need to take a B-12 supplement to be certain that your body receives a sufficient amount of B-12.

Having said all that, don’t use dairy products with a high-fat content as your main source of protein. The excess fat can lead to undesired weight gain. Instead, use low-fat or skim milk. And don’t forget that there are non-dairy sources of protein, such as nuts, legumes, tofu and beans.

Whole Grains are Crucial

Whole grains will be an important part of any vegetarian diet. They are rich with healthy fiber and many other nutrients as well. Different grains are rich in different vitamins and minerals so including a variety of whole grains in your meals will add a number of different nutrients as well. Don’t make the mistake of confusing whole grains with refined grain products. Highly processed refined grains have had most of their nutrients removed when the outer and inner parts of the grain seed were removed during processing.

Complete Proteins

To be healthy any diet needs to include what are know as “complete” proteins. A complete protein contains proportions of nine essential amino acids. Proteins derived from animals are complete where plant derived proteins may not be. Including as many varieties of beans, nuts, grains, and legumes as you can greatly improves the quality and quantity of important amino acids in your vegetarian diet.

Avoid Processed Food Products

It should go without saying that you really need to avoid highly processed foods loaded with salts and artificial ingredients. Even some of the pre-packaged “vegetarian” meals in the store contain some artificial, man-made ingredients. Stick with fresh foods as much as you can. Simply because a pre-packaged food says that it is vegetarian, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. It can be loaded with empty calories from fats, with excess sodium and ingredients that you cannot even pronounce. These are food choices that you should avoid.

Building a vegetarian diet that is well-balanced and healthy can certainly be done but it does require both knowledge and planning. Most importantly, learning all about the non-meat options and what nutrients are provided by each type of food is your challenge. But once you have done your homework, you will find that you can exclude meat from your diet pretty easily without depriving yourself of proper nutrition.

Smoothies are Key

Adding these nutrients to your now vegetarian diet is going to be much easier with smoothies. A well made smoothie can easily contain the larger part of your daily nutritional requirements by combining many different ingredients in a single glass. Browse through our collection of more than 800 smoothie recipes and you are certain to find some that you are going to enjoy.

Jun 122014
 
antioxidants, free radicals,

By Barry R Parker

Antioxidants (molecules that inhibit oxidation) play a central role in the body. They are, in fact, critical for life. Without them the cells in your body would soon be damaged beyond repair.

A cell can be damaged, or mutated, in several ways. Mutations usually occur when defects are created in DNA, which results in the production of defective or incorrect proteins. Many of these defects are caused by what are called free radicals. Free radicals are associated with oxygen, and since we breathe in oxygen continuously, there’s plenty of it in our bodies at any time. Basically, they are oxygen molecules that are missing an electron and are looking to snatch one from another molecule in a process called oxidation.

Despite the damage they do, free radicals play an important role in nature. An exposed apple decays and dries up, and an iron bar eventually rusts and disappears because of them. So nature uses them to get rid of things that are no longer needed. In the body, however, they can be a disaster. As you might expect, though, the body is programmed to get rid of them. To do this it uses antioxidants; it’s a highly efficient process, but sometimes a few manage to elude the antioxidants, and they can cause considerable damage. Strangely, though, they are helpful in some cases. The immune system, for example, uses them to fight infection.

But how does oxygen lose an electron and become a free radical? There are several ways. Radiation is one; others are cigarette smoke, smog, various chemicals, and they are even generated when you exercise. In addition, large numbers are produced in the “furnaces” within your cells, called mitochondria (they generate the energy that your body needs each day).

The large number of free radicals within mitochondria are, in fact, a serious problem because mitochondria has its own DNA (called mtDNA) which directs everything that goes on within it. And with so many free radicals around, the mtDNA is particularly vulnerable and gets attacked continuously.

Oxidative Stress and Disease

The constant production of large numbers of free radicals in the normal course of metabolism (plus other pressures from the environment, toxins in the air and water) places a heavy burden on our organisms, since they damage all components of our cells, including DNA, protein, cell membranes, and lipids. This produces what is called oxidative stress. And because it causes considerable damage to our cells, and it can cause cell death, it is now thought to be involved in many diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, MS and others.

Oxidative stress also causes the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which is a precursor to plaque formation and heart disease. And it has also been shown to be implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Free Radicals and Aging

Free radicals are also now assumed to be related to the aging process, although there is some controversy about exactly how they are related. A theory referred to as the “free radical theory of aging” was put forward in the 1950′s by Dunham Harman. A few years later it was modified to include several diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and several others. Then in 1972 Harman introduced his “Mitochondrial theory of aging” in which free radicals acting on mitochondrial DNA played a central role in aging. Although there’s no doubt that free radicals play some role in aging, the problem with these theories is that dietary and supplements of antioxidants, which should control the free radicals that are produced, do not appear to extend our life, or even decrease the incidence of disease. The main problem at the present time is that we do not yet fully understand all the details of how free radicals, or even antioxidants, act in the body.

Common Antioxidants

Having a good supply of antioxidants in your body is critical, and there are three ways you can get them: through the food you eat, through supplements, and your body also produces some.

Some of the major antioxidants are:

  • Vitamins C, E and A
  • Selenium
  • Glutathione
  • Alpha lipoic acid

Glutathione is synthesized in your body from amino acids. It is one of the most important cellular antioxidants, and is found in all cells. Alpha lipoic acid is also present in all cells in your body. It is used in the conversion of glucose (blood sugar) into energy. It also helps recycle several antioxidants when they are used up. Selenium is not directly an antioxidant. But it is required to initiate the activity of some antioxidants. It also helps in the production of glutathione.

The Best Sources of Antioxidants

Although you can get antioxidants both from food and supplements, but it is best to get them from food. The best food sources are vegetables and fruit (it’s important to note, however, that processed food contains fewer antioxidants than fresh or uncooked foods). Other types of foods that contain smaller amounts are nuts, whole grains, with even smaller amounts in meat, poultry, fish, eggs and coffee.

Some of the best vegetables are:

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Eggplant

Some of the best fruits are:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Oranges

The Controversy with Supplements

Vitamins C, E and A, along with selenium, grape seed extract, pycnoginol and reversatrol are all well-known antioxidant supplements. But recent studies have shown that there are problems with antioxidants in supplement form. They show that supplements don’t appear to extend life; nor do they appear to be directly helpful in relation to most serious diseases such as cancer. Indeed, if taken in large amounts they may even have adverse effects. This is strange in that fruit and vegetables, which contain large amounts of antioxidants, are particularly good for you and do appear to ward off some diseases. The reason that fruit and vegetables are so much better, according to most scientists, is that they contain large numbers of other excellent nutrients besides antioxidants and they also likely have an effect.

A few antioxidants, however, do appear to be directly helpful. Lipoic acid, for example, seems to protect mitochondria, and studies have shown that it is also helpful in slowing macro degeneracy of the eyes.

Significance of Antioxidants in Relation to Exercise

Large numbers of free radicals are also created when you exercise, and they produce oxidative stress that can last up to 24 hours after the exercise. During the exercise many muscle cells break down and die and must be replaced, and they are usually replaced by larger and more powerful cells. Antioxidants play an important role in this process. But strangely, free radicals are also used for removing dead cells, and if there are too many antioxidants present they can delay recovery.

So the role of antioxidants in relation to exercise is a mixed bag. You don’t want too many, but they are used by the immune system and they also help strengthen the glutathione system which helps decrease oxidative stress.

Barry Parker is a professor emeritus (physics) at Idaho State University who now spends most of his time writing. He is the author of 26 books on science, health writing, and music, and he has written for the Smithsonian, Encyclopedia Britannica, Time-Life Books, the Washington Post, and numerous magazines such as Flyfisherman, Astronomy Magazine, and Sky and Telescope. One of his books is “You Should Write a Book: Writing it With Style and Clarity, Publishing Beautiful Pages, Selling Thousands of Copies,” It is based on a course he taught at ISU for several years, and is available through his website BarryParkerbooks.com. He is also the author of “Feel Great Feel Alive” which is on health, fitness and self-improvement, and he is CEO of Stardust Press. While at ISU he did research on the DNA molecule and on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. His latest book is “Learn from Yesterday, Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.”

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Barry_R_Parker
http://EzineArticles.com/?The-Latest-Information-on-Antioxidants-and-Free-Radicals&id=8551343

 

 

Apr 282014
 
types of sugar, sugars, sugar

According to a lot of the popular media we are all eating way too much of all types of sugar in our diets and it is responsible for a wide range of illnesses including heart disease and diabetes.

 

At first glance, it seems that such claims are accurate. According to a 2009 report by the American Heart Association, between 2001 and 2004 the average American averaged 22 teaspoons of all types of sugar daily, equal to 355 calories. In this same report, the AHA makes very specific recommendations about suggested daily sugar intake broken down by ages, sex, and level of daily activity.

 

But not all types of sugar is created equal. Sugar is a natural substance in any number of foods such as vegetables, fruit, or whole grains and these sugars are not covered in the AHA’s report. The “added sugars” the AHA is targeting, and the type that it seems everyone loves to hate are the refined sugars that show up in already fatty foods like ice cream, doughnuts, and the like.

 

So just how bad is refined sugar?  There is new research being touted by many that claim all types of sugar is “addictive” much like a drug and there is research that points to humans having a very powerful preference for a sweet taste. The origin of this preference is not really known but it may have begun in pre-history to lead the proto humans of the time to sweet fruits as a natural source of calories and energy.

 

Whether this preference for the sweetness of sugar rises to the level of a true addiction is still open to debate.  Some animal studies indicate that it may be a possibility as researchers have noted changes in the animal’s brains when they are given occasional access to sugar.

 

Studies have shown that certain individuals continue to use products containing refined sugar despite their understanding that such behaviors may cause negative results with their health. But, once again, is this evidence of addiction? After all, doing without all types of sugar does not seem to trigger the same withdrawal symptoms associated with more destructive habit forming drugs.

 

The bottom line is that the jury is still undecided on whether a true dependence on sugar can or should be defined as an “addiction” but one thing is clear; For the great majority of us, our diets unquestionably contain way more sugar than is healthy or necessary and we can certainly benefit from a healthier diet.

 

To this end adding smoothies to your daily meal plans will accomplish a lot. First, creating your smoothies out of healthy fruits, vegetables, and other natural ingredients will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth without adding refined sugar. Next, the ingredients themselves (fruits and vegetables) are exactly the ones that we need more of in our diets.  Third, smoothies are ridiculously easy to make, taking no time at all. Fourth, smoothies are perhaps the perfect vehicle for including dietary supplements like Chia seed, Flax, and Whey. These super healthy ingredients virtually disappear into most smoothies with a minimum of fuss and bother.

 

In the end what you put in your body is a very personal decision. The right, healthy, choices will promote good healthy and prolong your life while the wrong, unhealthy, choices will do you harm.

 

 

Dec 162013
 
f and v

If you have been diagnosed with a higher than normal cholesterol level you really don’t have any other option but to take steps to lower it as quickly as possible. By ignoring high cholesterol you are, quite literally, taking your life into your hands by vastly increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. That leaves the question of what is the best way to lower cholesterol?

Depending on how high your cholesterol levels are, it might be necessary to begin taking medication. Or, for less serious cholesterol levels, changes in your diet along with some targeted supplements might do the job. But regardless of how high your cholesterol is, bringing it down will undoubtedly take some changes in your diet and lifestyle.

Here are some common sense steps you can take immediately to being to bring your cholesterol levels under control:

Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Every nutritional study in the last 20 years says that we do not have enough fruits or vegetables in our diets. By adding the recommended 5 servings daily, you will get a lot more fiber and zero cholesterol. Tip: smoothies are a wonderful way to get fruit and veggies in your diet.

Fiber is good for you. In addition to fruits and vegetables, some other foods high in healthy fiber are oatmeal, beans, and whole grains like barley, wheat, and Chia Omega-3 fatty acid. There is now an established body of scientific research proving that omega-3 fatty acids are wonderful at reducing cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are traditionally found in seafood such as salmon. However, many are concerned with seafood contamination or have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle. For these individuals, omega-3 can be found in fish oil capsules or from botanical sources such as Chia seed.

Cut back on Red Meat. The average American’s diet has way too much red meat in it but it is probably not realistic to think that we are all going to forego meat in our diets. But, it will help a lot too chose the leanest cuts and then grill (or broil) them. Broiling and grilling will help reduce the amount of fat in the meat and will still taste great.

Even if you are on cholesterol lowering medication, following these simple steps will help you control your cholesterol and provide a healthier lifestyle at the same time.

Numerous studies have shown that “Salva Hispanica,” better known as “Chia seed“, is an important botanical source of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber both of which are very important in lowering cholesterol levels.  

Not sure where to get started? Spend a few minutes with this video for a couple of absurdly simple Chia recipes.

Best Way To Lower Cholesterol