Enjoy Healthy Living By Being A Label Detective!

It’s no secret that we are what we eat. But what has been a well-kept secret by the food processing industry is that there are innumerable ingredients that go into processed food that are causing you to gain weight. Many of them are advertised and promoted to make you believe that they will not only help you lose weight but also that they are healthier.  NOTHING could be farther from the truth.

First Step

The first step to losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is to buy as few packaged food items as possible. The less the food industry gets their hands on it, the better. For example:

  • Boxed Cereal – Alternative: Rolled Oats (yes…good old porridge)
  • Microwave Vegetable Dishes – Alternative: Go to the vegetable aisles and buy fresh (or frozen)
  • Dinner Entrees (Frozen or Micro) Alternative: Steam veggies and Roast Chicken

I know, I know.  The boxed, micro or frozen are much easier and way faster to prepare. But how much time are we talking here, 15 -30 mins of your time for a lifetime of vitality, energy and worry free health!
Every minute you spend preparing good wholesome food for your body, is an investment in how your body will serve you in years to come. It’s that simple

SECOND STEP

Be a label detective! When you are buying any food item, whether it’s for a meal, a snack or a treat, READ THE LABEL. If you can’t understand 50% or more of the words, your body can’t either. Unknown chemicals, preservatives, and artificial colourings are all foreign substances as far as your body is concerned. They will either raise your insulin, increase your appetite, give you cravings or generally just contribute to weight gain.

WHERE TO START…..

Here are two items to start with because learning to read labels can be complex and overwhelming when you start.

FATS

There are only a few really good fats/oils for healthy tissue and organs. Your body needs oil/fat that it recognizes. All the processed fats today are foreign substances to your body’s intelligence system. Olive oil and coconut oil are your very best sources.
Here are the ones to watch out for on labels. 100% NO!

  • Hydrogenated Oil Vegetable Oil
  • Palm Kernel Oil Shortening
  • Trans Fatty Acids Margarine
  • Soybean Oil Corn Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil

SWEETENERS

The same principal applies here as above with fats. Your body does NOT recognize foreign substances. All fructose sweeteners will increase your appetite and cravings. All artificial sweeteners will raise insulin levels and contribute to weight gain. There is NO win here.
Here are the names to watch for on labels. 100% NO!

  • Aspartame Sucrose
  • Sucralose Rice Syrup
  • Nutra Sweet High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Saccarin

Healthy living begins with what you put in your mouth. Be a label detective. Take care of your own health and the health of your family and enjoy the endless benefits of your investment.

Dangers Of Weight Gain With “Light” Food

The number one health issue in North America today is Obesity.  And it’s not just a problem for adults anymore.  Obesity in children is growing at alarming rates.  I could quote you statistics but really, just look around.  You will see the result of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  And yes, it is very sad.

Twenty years ago, artificial sweeteners came on the market.  They were to be the miracle every person was praying for in order to eat and not gain weight.  As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. [Read more...]

The Key Component To Fat Loss

What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? Most commonly, an alcohol binge – yes? Did you know that it also applies to weight loss? Yes I know….hard to believe.

What does sleep have to do with weight loss?

According to a small study conducted at the University of Chicago, sleep is a key component in fat loss and can undermine other efforts to lose weight. What was learned from this study is that without enough sleep the body produces more of the hormone ghrelin. This hormone stimulates hunger and promotes fat retention. Those who got 8.5 hours of sleep lost 3.1lbs of fat compared to those who only got 5.5 hours of sleep and lost 1.3lbs.

The standard, recommended amount of sleep for the average person is 7 hours of restful sleep per night for optimal recovery and repair to hormones. But good sleep isn’t just for hormones. Sleep deprivation is also associated with high insulin levels (this is addressed in the article on Diabetes Dangers).

For many individuals, the hectic pace of a Western lifestyle, lack of exercise and poor eating habits can lead to sub-optimal health. Often, these same individuals do not receive enough sleep at night. The vast majority of health care providers now recommend that individuals receive 7 hours of sleep. This lack of sleep has been shown in studies to be a major cause of elevation of stress (cortisol) and appetite (ghrelin) hormones, which is thought to lead to a further progression of poor sleep and eating habits.

These poor habits are part of the factors that determine not only weight gain but also cardiovascular fitness, mental alertness, immune health and other important indicators of optimal health and well-being (see specific articles on Heart Disease, Memory, Immunity).

On his first show of the year, Dr. Oz said when it comes to health, what people don’t care enough about is SLEEP. We are all so focused on what we do in our waking hours, we brag about how little sleep we get. According to Dr. Oz on not getting enough sleep “It’s correlated with illness; leads to hypertension, early death, accidents, lots of problems if you’re not sleeping well. The inability to sleep is also a reflection that your inner harmony is not there.”

So you are beginning to understand why a good “beauty sleep” is essential to healthy lives.

Cutting back on sleep may sometimes seem like the only answer to our busy lives. How else are you going to get through your never ending to-do list or make time for a little fun? Seven hours sounds great, but who can afford to spend that much time sleeping? The truth is you can’t afford not to. What you will find, is that with enough sleep, your energy and efficiency level will go up and you will actually get more done!

Only Minutes A Day For A Healthy Body

Contrary to popular belief, improving your health is possible with just a few basic habits that take only minutes a day. Here are 7 simple, fast and effective tips to improve your total wellness.

Dose up on vitamin D3

If you had to pick just one nutrient to take daily it would definitely be vitamin D3 . This powerhouse vitamin can reduce your risk of the flu (especially H1N1), weight gain, bone disease (osteoporosis), diabetes, cancer, heart disease, pain and inflammation, depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder and autoimmune disease. The Canadian Cancer Society recently recommended vitamin D supplementation as a protection against cancer. The recommended daily dose depending on weight is 2,000 to 5,000 IU per day.

Cut the Sugar

Obvious sources of sugar are cookies, candies, pop, cakes, pies, muffins, baked goods, brown sugar and molasses. But my guess is that you will be surprised to realize all of the places that sugar seeps into your diet. Do you think of granola bars, energy drinks, juice, jam, most cereals, flavoured yogurt, ketchup and many other prepared condiments, white pasta, white rice or certain fruit as sources of sugar? You should. All of these foods trigger the release of high amounts of insulin, the only hormone that always instructs the body to store energy as fat. Read labels and limit your intake of these sugary foods to only once or twice a week.

Go to Bed

The body does its most important repair work between the house of 11pm – 2am. So get to bed by 11pm. We have become a society of sleep-deprived individuals at greater risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and depression. Sleep is extremely important! Plan your evening so you can go to bed in time to achieve the recommended 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night .

Protein is Best at Breakfast

Skip toast, muffins, bagels, cereals, scones, oatmeal or danishes at your first meal of the day. The old adage to eat your carbs earlier in the day has set us many of us up for failure when it comes to reducing our overall sugar or carbohydrate intake. Studies show eating these foods not only increases our desire for them later in the day, they also increase appetite overall. Enjoy eggs or a whey protein isolate smoothie for breakfast and you will increase your metabolism and energy and free yourself from your chronic 3pm cookie or muffin habit.

Healthy Oil is a Must

The most commonly consumed polyunsaturated fatty acids in the average North American diet are omega-6 fatty acids. But these fatty acids are directly related to excess insulin and play a significant role in obesity. Sources of omega-6 include meat, eggs, poultry, cereals, breads, baked goods, vegetable oils and margarine. Natural sources of health-promoting omega-3 include oily fish, olive oil and flaxseed oils, soybeans and nuts. Have some every day.

Fish and Exercise – the Perfect Couple

When Professor Peter Howe and his colleagues at the University of South Australia studied the effects of diet and exercise on the body, they found that fish oil supplements and exercise made a powerful fat-loss combination. During the study, overweight to obese adults with metabolic syndrome and a greater risk of heart disease took omega-3 fish oil daily in combination with moderate exercise three times a week for 12 weeks. Body fat stores, particularly ab fat, were significantly reduced in the fish-oil-plus-exercise group, but not in those who used fish oil or exercise alone.

NO AND NEVER

Always say no to and never consume any of these three health robbers: hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup.

4 Nutrition Habits That Distrupt Your Sleep

The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your day, including mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight.

While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, not getting enough sleep has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond simple drowsiness.

Beyond Drowsiness – the Negative Effects of not getting Enough Sleep

  • Lack of motivation
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Weight gain
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems

So, now you know what lack of sleep can do. But what exactly is keeping you awake?
When, how and what you eat has the potential to either help or hinder the quality of your sleep. If you have problems falling asleep, staying asleep or wake feeling un-refreshed in the morning, check if one or more of your current nutrition habits could be disrupting your sleep:

  1. Drinking coffee after lunch: Don’t drink coffee past two o’clock because different people metabolize caffeine at different rates. Enjoying your coffee early in the day will reduce the impact it may have on your sleep. (please note: soft drinks, teas and chocolate are also caffeine sources.) And just because you’ve always drank 4 cups a day, things change with age. Our ability to excrete caffeine decreases as we age.
  2. Eating too close to bedtime: Your digestive system requires a lot of energy to do its job. Fatty foods take a lot of work and spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn. Late-night meals and snacks prevent your body from slowing down in preparation for sleep. And it plays havoc with your weight as well – double whammy.
  3. Skipping meals: Not eating causes blood sugar imbalance, which creates stress and raises cortisol. This results in having difficulty falling asleep or frequent waking throughout the night, especially between 2 and 4 am. Blood sugar stability is what your body needs to fall asleep and stay asleep. Eat within an hour of rising, every 3 to 4 hours during the day, and stop eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  4. Drinking alcohol: Many people think a drink before bed helps them sleep. What it does is help you fall asleep faster, but then it reduces your sleep quality by waking you up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning.

What can you eat if you are really hungry but don’t want to interfere with your sleep?
Remember the old remedy of a warm glass of milk if you can’t get to sleep? The trick is Calcium. This mineral calms the nervous system. So any snack that incorporates calcium is a good choice. A few other choices would be a banana, granola with milk or yogurt, or a small turkey or peanut butter sandwich.
For an activity that requires so little effort….it provides so many benefits!

10 Ways To Avoid Feeling Bloated

Pants not fitting properly? Or they fit until you eat lunch or dinner? Suffering from fatigue and headaches? Let’s assume you have tried every diet you can find on the internet – low carb, low fat, high protein, high fibre; but the bloating continues. The answer may be the often overlooked protein called gluten.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in certain grains including rye, kamut, wheat and barley. Oats and oat products also normally contain gluten. Today, up to 15 percent of people, or one in seven, is considered gluten sensitive or intolerant. Most people don’t even realize how bad they are feeling, until they start feeling better. When they remove problem foods from their diet, seemingly miraculous things start to happen – energy increases, moods lift, concentration is sharper, joint pain eases and quite often headaches or sinus congestion clears up.
Celiac disease is a very severe allergic reaction to gluten. The gluten causes malabsorption which results in inability to absorb nutrients to the more severe weight loss, anemia, and vitamin deficiencies.
Luckily, removing gluten gives the digestive system a rest and allows it to heal. Symptoms can disappear in a matter of a few days.

How do you know if you are gluten intolerant?

The easiest way is to do a 14-day elimination diet removing all of the most common food allergy producing foods (all grains, dairy, citrus, peanuts, sugar and soy). Don’t worry, there are lots of gluten-free grains you can eat – rice, wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, quinoa).
After your body has had a 14-day gluten-free rest, you re-introduce the foods one by one. Pay close attention to any physical or mental symptoms that show up. The common symptoms of gluten intolerance are: gas, bloating, constipation, fatigue immediately after eating, waking up tired the next day, or just a general decline in energy, irritability, headaches, circles under the eyes.

Here are some additional tips to help prevent bloating:

  1. Try to identify and avoid the foods that affect you the most. Some of the worst offenders for many people include beans, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, artichokes, asparagus, pears, apples, peaches, prunes, sugar-free candies and chewing gum, whole-wheat bread, bran cereals or muffins, beer, sodas and other carbonated beverages, milk, cream, ice cream and ice milk.
  2. Try cutting back on fried and fatty foods. Fat delays stomach emptying and can increase the sensation of fullness.
  3. Temporarily cut back on high-fibre foods. Add them back gradually over weeks.
  4. Reduce your use of dairy products. Try using low-lactose dairy foods, such as yogurt, instead of milk.
  5. Try smaller meals. Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of two or three larger ones.
  6. Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly and don’t gulp. If you have a hard time slowing down, put down your fork between each bite.
  7. Avoid chewing gum and eating hard candies. These activities can cause you to swallow more air.
  8. Don’t eat when you’re anxious, upset or on the run. Try to make meals relaxed occasions. Eating when you’re stressed can interfere with digestion.
  9. Try a digestive enzyme to help the digestive process – Papaya is a safe, effective and pleasant chewable after a meal.
  10. Sip on a cup of Peppermint tea. Peppermint oil contains menthol which has an antispasmodic effect on the muscle in your digestive tract.

Get Serious About These 3 Things To Live A Healthy Life

  1. Eating – every single thing you put in your mouth either contributes or takes away from a healthy body. Food is the foundation of growing, replacing and maintaining your bones, your muscles, your organs, your hormones, your skin, your mental clarity.
  2. Moving – it isn’t just a cliché: Move it or lose it. Your body was designed for use, everyday. Movement or lack of movement affects your bones, your muscles, your organs, your hormones, your skin, your mental clarity.
  3. Sleeping – 7 hours sleep every night is not an old wives tale. Your body has to have good quality sleep in order to repair, recover and refresh. Without your essential beauty sleep, your bones, your muscles, your organs, your hormones, your skin, your mental clarity is being compromised.

On a day-to-day basis, you may not notice any difference in your health. Then you wake up one day and something in your body is telling you there is a problem. Pain, dysfunction, disease – these are the only ways your body has of communicating with you. Let’s take sleeping. A few weeks or months or even a few years of interrupted, low quality, lack of sleep may only show up on the outside as bags under the eyes. 10-20 years later, let’s call it “the slow drip”, and you wake up with a weight problem, depression, weak muscles, memory loss. Yes…not getting enough quality sleep, over time, can show up as any one of these problems.
If you are serious about your health, then you have to develop these 5 Healthy-Lives Skills:

  1. Learn – everything you can on taking care of yourself, your body. It has to last a long time.
  2. Listen – your body talks to you, every day. Start tuning in.
  3. Commit – to a picture of you 20-30 years from now. That is your goal.
  4. Discipline – nothing in life happens without action. Just do the work.
  5. Respect – your body. It is doing an amazing job. It’s your job to give it what it needs.

How many times do you hear, after a heart attack or stroke, “I guess I better START taking better care of myself”. It’s never too late to start, but why not start today, before disease or dysfunction sets in; before there is irreparable damage. Living Healthy-Lives is an investment. It pays off big time down the road. Which picture do you want in your future:

  1. Dependent on walkers, pills, machines, others to lift you and help you get through your day.
  2. Independent with a body that allows you to get out of bed, walk or run through your day, smile and help those less fortunate.

This is the whole premise of Healthy-Lives. It’s about creating daily habits, daily investments in your future well-being. A penny a day is all it takes.