The Immunity Boosters: Vitamin D and Omega-3

Immunity Boosters

We need to build a strong immune system to stay healthy. We can build immunity from vitamins and minerals through variety of foods and sunlight. The COVID-19 has put the spotlight on the role of nutrition in boosting or strengthening the immune system.

The immune system is made up of different organs, cells, and chemicals that fight infection (microbes), and protects your body from outside invaders, like bacteria, virus, fungi, and toxins. To build a strong immune system include the following foods in your diet, keeping in mind that it is better to avoid supplements.

  • Vitamin C– Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, sprouts, broccoli, papaya, citrus fruits like orange, grapes, lemons, etc.
  • Vitamin E– Spinach & broccoli, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Vitamin A– Carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and squash, contains carotenoids which are converted into vitamin A by the body. They contain antioxidants which fight free radicals, cell damage, and inflammation, and vitamin C which strengthens the immune system.
  • Vitamin D– Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It occurs naturally in foods such as fatty fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, canned tuna, fortified milks, fortified cereal, and some mushrooms.
  • Folic acid– Peas, beans, leafy green vegetables and in some fortified foods.
  • Iron– Dried fruits, raspberries, asparagus, dark leafy vegetables, chicken liver, etc.
  • Selenium– Garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, beef, poultry and grain products.
  • Zinc– Oysters, crab, poultry, baked beans (w/o sugar), yoghurt and chickpeas.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids– Walnuts, flax seeds, fatty fish, etc.

All these are needed to build a healthy immune system, but here, we highlight two critical nutrients that are vital to boost immunity – vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin D – When exposed to sunlight, the body makes vitamin D from cholesterol. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphate, the two minerals in our diet that are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones.

A recent teamusa.org report noted that 28.9% of U.S adults are Vitamin D deficient and another 41.1% are Vitamin D insufficient. This means that approximately two-thirds of U.S population have low levels of Vitamin D. Deficiency or insufficiency of vitamin remains extremely common due to the changes in lifestyle – most indoor workers get too little of sunshine and most people use sunscreen when they go out. Using sunscreen will protect you from skin cancer, but it can block the UV rays needed for vitamin D synthesis.

Your immune system needs Vitamin D to function properly and its deficiency make you more prone to infection and disease. That’s why it’s important to focus on foods that are good sources of vitamin D daily, including fatty fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, canned tuna, fortified milks, fortified cereal, and some mushrooms. As Vitamin D is oil soluble and needs fat to get absorbed properly, make sure you eat some fat too.

Vitamin D promotes immune response, it has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties and is significant for the activation of immune system defences. According to a study mentioned in a healthline.com article, vitamin D supplements decreased the risk of at least one acute respiratory infection (ARI) by 12% in both those who were deficient in vitamin D and those with adequate levels. The review found that vitamin D supplements are more effective against ARI when taken daily or weekly in small doses than when taken in larger, widely spaced doses.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells. It not only prevents disease by reducing inflammation, but also enhances the activity of white blood cells. They are essential fatty acids, means the body cannot make them from other fats. The only way to get a sufficient amount of omega-3 is to consume foods high in omega-3 fats.

The main types of omega-3 fats are:

  • EPA & DHA from fish and algae (which enhance the function of B immune cells)
  • ALA- mainly from plants

Benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Reduced cardiovascular disease
  • Fight inflammation (decrease CRP, IL-6 and TNF-α levels which are all markers of inflammation)
  • Fight autoimmune disease
  • Fight depression and anxiety
  • Improve eye health
  • Reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
  • Improved immune system

According to the teamusa.org report, in the last 60 years, the standard American diet has shifted from being fairly balanced in Omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) and omega-6 (pro-inflammatory), to being very high in Omega-6 and very low in Omega-3 fatty acids. The immune function can suffer and the inflammatory markers can become elevated when this ratio is skewed. Aim to minimize the consumption of omega-6 rich foods such as corn, sunflower, cottonseed and soybean oils, which are also found in many processed/packaged products. Focus on consuming Omega-3 rich foods such as:

  • Fatty fish
  • Pastured eggs
  • Seaweed
  • Algae
  • Walnuts
  • Hempseeds etc

Omega-3 is vital for optimal health. If you don’t eat fatty fish, talk to your physician about taking an Omega-3 supplement.

Keep in mind that a proper medication for COVID-19 is not yet available. The only way to reduce risks of this infection is to maintain social distancing and follow the recommended hand-washing advice, and boost your immune system by eating the right foods. Experts also recommend wearing a mask when outside,

Ten Foods to Boost and Strengthen Your Immune System

Immune System

The immune system is the body’s defense system that works to protect it against germs, infections and other pathogens. It does an extraordinary job in combating illness and keeping us healthy. Several factors could weaken the immune system, such as a stressful lifestyle, poor sleeping pattern, age, smoking, underlying health conditions, medications, pregnancy and a diet that lacks essential nutrients. Boosting and strengthening the immunity of our body has become more important than ever before in the face of the challenging and complex coronavirus pandemic.

According to Everyday Health, beyond precautions like hand-washing and avoiding people who are ill, a good immune system can fight off COVID-19 and other viruses that you may be exposed to. The World Economic Forum says that as and until a vaccine is available, “our immune systems will need to adapt unaided to COVID-19.”

The body make proteins called antibodies that destroy abnormal cells. To produce these antibodies, you have to follow a diet that provides you with necessary nutrients. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment. Scientists have long recognized that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.”

Here are 10 foods that can help boost the body’s immune system:

  1. Citrus fruits and red bell peppers: These foods are loaded with Vitamin C, which is well-known for its role in supporting the immune system. Vitamin C is also thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. As almost all citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, clementines, tangerines, lemons and limes are high in vitamin C, add any of them into your meal a day. However, while vitamin C might help you recover from a cold quicker, there’s no evidence yet that it’s effective against SARS-CoV-2.
  2. Fatty Fishes: Fishes like salmon, tuna, mackerel boost your immunity because they have Vitamin D, which have a very important role in boosting the body’s immune system. Research shows vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. Increased vitamin D in the blood has been linked to prevention of chronic diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, and cardiovascular disease.
  3. Kale: This leafy vegetable boosts immune system with two critical ingredients – fiber and antioxidants.
  4. Broccoli: One of the healthiest vegetables, broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, E and also has potent antioxidants.
  5. Garlic: A must-have for your health, garlic has immune-boosting properties. It may also slow down hardening of the arteries, and also help lower blood pressure. Add fresh garlic to cooked veggies, soup, or broth.
  6. Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and is believed to offer many health benefits.
  7. Probiotic foods: Up to 80% of your immune system is housed in the gut or belly. Probiotics are fermented foods that contain good bacteria which help in healthy digestion. Wholesome fermented items such as yogurt, sauerkraut and skimmed milk can help maintain heart and brain health and boost the immune system.
  8. Pomegranate: This fruit supports immunity via its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity. The flavonoid antioxidants found in pomegranate have also been shown to combat viruses, and decrease the length of a cold by as much as 40% (www.health.com).
  9. Sunflower seeds: A rich source of vitamin E and an antioxidant, sunflower seeds can make a tasty addition to salads or breakfast bowls. Vitamin E improves immune function by fighting off free radicals which can damage cells.
  10. Sweet potato, carrots, and green leafy vegetables: All these foods have Beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body.

Whatever you eat, make sure that you drink lots of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated is very important to boost your immunity. Besides vitamins and minerals, there are a lot of factors that go into enhancing the immune system. Diet benefits do not happen overnight and take time to build up. So, start today!

Take Your Fitness to The Next Level with Effective Nutrition

Nutrition has a great impact on our overall fitness. Using food as medicine has become a popular theme for improving general health.

Fitness to The Next Level with Effective Nutrition

There are two types of nutrition:

  • General Nutrition

It is the process of obtaining the food necessary for health and growth, i.e. using nutrition to keep you alive and functioning.

  • Optimal Nutrition

Eating the right amounts of nutrients on a proper schedule to achieve the best performance and longest possible lifetime in good health, i.e. using nutrition to maximize health, happiness and wellbeing.

Optimal nutrition can reduce the risks of developing diseases and disorders like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It helps to reduce fat mass and gain muscle mass. It also helps to improve joint health and support growth and development as well as cognitive functions like focus, and quick decision-making skills. It also improves the exercise capacity, and reduces the risk of injury. Importantly, the quality of sleep can be improved.

The Principles of Optimal Nutrition

  • Eating Schedule

It is not that the schedule you follow, it is the consistency you maintain that is important, i.e. whatever schedule you choose, make it consistent. Pick a routine you know you can follow on a day-to-day basis.

  • Key Nutrients

The key nutrients to include in your meals are:

  1. Proteins
    They are the building blocks of our body (muscle, bones, organs, tissue, brain) and can also serve as a fuel source.
    Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues.
    Increases muscle mass and strength.
    Increases fat burning and boosts metabolism.
    It keeps the body healthy and strong, and supports growth and development.
  2. Carbohydrates
    Carbohydrates provide energy for daily tasks and exercise, and are the primary fuel source for your brain’s high energy demands. The body breaks down or converts most of the carbohydrates into the sugar glucose (which is the main energy source), and it is absorbed in the bloodstream, and with the help of insulin it travels into the cells of the body where it can be used for energy. Carbohydrates provide soluble and insoluble fibers that support gut health and cardiovascular health, and also help in digestion by providing our intestine with nutrients for the good bacteria.
  3. Healthy Fat
    Healthy fat supports joint health and it has anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces the risk of arthritis and other chronic joint issues, enhances cognitive function and thereby keeps the brain healthy. It enables the body to absorb essential vitamins (A, D, E, K).
  4. Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
    Vitamins and minerals support every vital function in the body. They keep the immune system strong and healthy, keep diseases away, heal wounds and repair cellular damage. Antioxidants help to reduce inflammation which is the leading cause of many diseases. Powerful antioxidants in leafy greens and vegetables remove harmful chemicals and thereby help to detoxify the body. Antioxidants protect your cells from free radicals, which may play a role in cancer, heart disease and other diseases. It also prevents a chemical process called oxidation which damages cells and can lead to the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s. Include all the key nutrients in every meal. It helps to improve health, performance and day to day functioning.
  • Food Selection
Protein Carbohydrates Fat
Lean Meats, Dairy & Plant Proteins Grains Fruits &Vegetables Nuts, Seeds &Oils
Eggs Oats Apple Almonds
Fish/Seafood Barley Oranges Flax Seed
Beef Quinoa Pineapple Olive oil
Cheese Wheat Berries Avocado
Beans Wheat Sweet Almond Butter
Pork Pasta Potatoes Sunflower seed
Milk Brown Rice Squash
Yoghurt Corn
Tofu Carrots
Lentils Pumpkin

These Protein, Carb and Fat food sources will provide the vitamins and minerals needed for the body. The foods that contain antioxidants include cranberries, red grapes, peaches, cherries, orange, mango, watermelon, onions, garlic, carrots, spinach, eggplant etc. When building out a meal, getting something from each one of these categories ensures that by the end of the day you will achieve the nutrient targets.

  • Hydration

The human body is 75% water. Small changes in hydration can impact the body. Proper hydration is one of the most important aspects of healthy physical activity.

Hydration is important

  • To regulate the body temperature
  • To keep joints lubricated
  • To prevent infections
  • To keep organs functioning properly
  • To improve sleep quality

Dehydration can cause

  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Reduced athletic performance
  • Joint and Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • To know your daily requirement of fluid source, you divide your weight in pounds by 2. For instance, if you are 150 pounds you should consume 75 oz of calorie-free fluid every single day.

    • Best fluid sources
      • Water
      • Coffee/tea (no sugar/cream)
      • Lemon water
      • Unsweetened iced tea

     
    Foods You Should Avoid to Stay Healthy

    • Sweetened breakfast cereals
    • White bread
    • Fired, grilled or broiled food
    • Pastries, cookies
    • French fries and potato chips
    • Sugary drinks
    • Processed meats
    • Diet soda
    • Be consistent in your diet. Choose the proper foods and consume the right portion size. Make sure that you are hydrated throughout the day.

General Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

General Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is a balanced diet that provides important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep the body and mind strong and healthy. Eating healthy protects against malnutrition and minimizes risks of various diseases and health complications. However, increased production and consumption of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in dietary patterns. People nowadays consume more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars and salt/sodium, and do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Unhealthy eating patterns along with lack of physical activity health are the reasons for many serious diseases. Unhealthy lifestyles are a major global health risk and switching to a healthy diet is more important than ever.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), healthy dietary practices should start early in life, that is, with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and improves cognitive development and may also provide longer term health benefits such as reducing the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer later in life.

Eating the right amount of calories to balance the energy you consume with the energy you use is the key to healthy and balanced diet. A balanced diet means eating foods from the five major groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy. A healthy diet also includes a wider range of options that includes legumes, seeds and nuts, fish and even plant oils. It is recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules) and women have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).

Here are the general guidelines for healthy eating:

  • The most important rule of healthy eating is not skipping any meal, especially breakfast. Skipping breakfast lowers your metabolic rate.
  • Eat more raw foods such as salads, fruits and vegetable juices. This will also make meal preparation more easy and simple.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables (3 or more servings a day).
  • Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Reduce or eliminate refined or processed carbohydrates; instead, eat whole grains, high-fiber breads and cereals.
  • Try to use variety of foods in the menu because no single food has all the nutrients.
  • Avoid eating an unhealthy snack when hungry by keeping healthy snacks handy.
  • Consume low-fat milk and low-fat dairy products.
  • If you eat meat, avoid red meat and consume white meat.
  • Reduce intake of saturated fats and trans-fats as much as possible.
  • Use vegetable oils such as olive or canola oil instead of solid fats.
  • Reduce daily intake of salt or sodium to less than 1,500 mg. per day if you are older than 50, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
  • Restrict or eliminate sodas and other sugar-added drinks that are high in calories and contain few or no nutrients.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar from your diet.
  • Carry a homemade lunch to work and limit the consumption of junk foods.
  • Read and understand the nutrition facts on food labels.
  • Stop eating when you feel full.

A balanced diet is one that provides around 60-70% of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12% from proteins and 20-25% of total calories from fat. Medical News Today notes, “Dietary guidelines change over time, as scientists discover new information about nutrition. Current recommendations suggest that a person’s plate should contain primarily vegetables and fruits, some lean protein, some dairy, and soluble fiber.”

Vitamins and Minerals Essential for Athletes

Vitamins and Minerals Essential for Athletes

Essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals contribute to our overall well-being. However, due to their high activity levels, athletes need more nutrients than less-active or sedentary people. To build an athletic body and keep their energy levels high to beat fatigue and ensure the best performance, athletes need to follow a balanced diet that includes specific vitamins and minerals. These essential nutrients are crucial for a variety of activities in the body such as turning food into energy and keeping bones healthy.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, while some research suggests high activity levels in athletes may increase their vitamin needs, there are no official guidelines for vitamin recommendations specific to athletes at this time. For instance, as athletes lose more electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and sodium through sweating, they would need more of them. Similarly, they would experience wear and tear due to intense activity which may increase the need for antioxidants such as vitamin E that to protect the muscle cells from oxidative damage. A deficiency of these nutrients can likely will take a toll on an athlete’r performance.

Here are the top seven nutrients essential for athletes:

  1. Vitamin D: Athletic activity puts a lot of pressure on the bones and joints. Vitamin D is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones. While sunlight is the best natural source of Vitamin D, there are foods rich in Vitamin D like egg yolks, tuna, salmon, soy milk, cheese and so on. If your body isn’t getting enough of Vit D, discuss taking vitamin D supplements with your doctor.
  2. Omega 3: Omega-3 fatty acids allow the maximal amount of oxygen-rich blood to reach your working muscles (health.clevelandclinic.org). However, as these essential fats is not produced by our bodies, we must obtain them through diet. The best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish (mackerel, salmon, herring and so on), chia seeds, flaxseed, and also dietary supplements such as fish oil.
  3. Magnesium: This major mineral controls neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal functioning. If you lack magnesium, it can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue, injury and eveb affect your mental well-being. To get the magnesium you need, eat bananas, figs, avocado and raspberries, nuts and seeds, legumes, seafood and vegetables like peas, broccoli, brussels, sprouts, and green leafy vegetables.
  4. Vitamin E: Though Vitamin E has no role in improving overall athletic performance, it is an important antioxidant to prevent oxidative cellular damage. Vitamin E helps promote a healthy immune system, thereby reducing the risk of picking up viruses from public spaces. It increases your anaerobic threshold and eases muscle cramps. Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, and vegetable oils, such as sunflower, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils.
  5. Vitamin C: This immune-boosting vitamin is essential for athletes training outdoors as it prevents airborne viruses and common colds. Food sources of Vit C include citrus fruits and strawberries, and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and capsicum among others.
  6. Potassium: An important electrolyte, potassium is an important mineral in your blood, urine, and bodily fluids. It contains an electric charge which helps your cells communicate with each other and gives you the ability to taste, see, smell, touch, and hear. Nearly 70% of the potassium in your body is found in bodily fluids like plasma, blood, and sweat, while the rest is stored in your bones. Sweating heavily during intense exercise can lead to loss of potassium. Low potassium levels can cause muscle cramping and cardiovascular issues along with reducing your energy and endurance. Consume potassium-rich foods such as bananas, citrus fruits, melons, leafy greens, broccoli, fish, meats, milk, sweet potatoes, legumes (lime, kidney beans) each day.
  7. Iron: One of the major functions of iron is to carry oxygen to the cells in your body, which makes it essential for athletic performance. However, exercise may cause some iron loss or decreased absorption. In fact, iron deficiency is a common problem for athletes and runners, especially in female athletes, endurance athletes and vegetarian athletes Not having enough iron in the body will cause fatigue and impact physical performance. The need for iron may be 30% greater in those who engage in regular intense exercise. Good food sources of iron include clams, turkey breast, fortified breakfast cereals, beef, beans, spinach, and oats.

Make sure that you include these best vitamins and minerals in your diet or as supplements. Along with them include vitamin A, B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, creatine, zinc, sodium and selenium too. A registered dietitian or nutritionist who is specialized in sports nutrition can provide you with an individualized nutrition plan that meets your vitamin and mineral needs.

Post-Workout Nutrition: 12 Muscle Recovery Foods to Snack On

Many people put a lot of effort into their workouts to achieve their goal of building muscle as they lose weight. However, intense workouts could lead to post-exercise soreness. Proper attention to post-workout meals can prevent muscle soreness, improve immune system functioning, and build glycogen stores, which are all key building blocks in preparing for future workouts.

Post-Workout Nutrition

Consuming the right nutrients after you exercise is just as important as what you eat before. Certain muscle recovery foods boast specific nutrient profiles which lessen next-day soreness. One expert recommends aiming for a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, since protein is best absorbed with a “carbohydrate co-transporter” (www.health.com). In addition helping to rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores, getting the right nutrients after exercise can stimulate growth of new muscle. Here are 12 muscle recovery food options that can boost strength, speed post-workout recovery, and get you back to the gym faster:

  1. Berries: Blueberries and raspberries have higher antioxidant content than other members of the berry family. They can help your muscles repair themselves after workouts, reduce inflammation, and prevent free radical damage to the cells.
  2. Eggs: Eggs are rich in protein and an essential building block for muscles. Including eggs in your post-workout nutrition can fight inflammation and support healthy muscle development. Eggs are an important source of leucine which is associated with muscle recovery.
  3. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is quick and easy to prepare. It provides a complex carbohydrate source, which will help replenish exhausted muscles and work along with the protein to aid in muscle growth and recovery.
  4. Watermelon: This juicy fruit has energetic amino acids, l-citrulline, which can calm painful, tender muscles. Moreover, the natural sugars present in watermelon will also supply protein content into the muscles and refill their low glycogen stores. This high water content fruit also helps prevent dehydration and muscle-cramping.
  5. Bananas: Loaded with both carbohydrates and potassium – two muscle-friendly post-workout nutrients – bananas replenish carbohydrates burned for fuel during exercise, along with potassium, an electrolyte lost in sweat.
  6. Spinach: Along with other cruciferous vegetables, spinach is rich in Vitamins A B, and C. This nutrient packed muscle recovery food helps stave off inflammation. This antioxidant super food fights free radicals in your body, helps you quickly rebound from strenuous exercise, and also reduces risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease.
  7. Chia seeds: Chia seeds have all nine essential amino acids, making this food a great option for muscle recovery after strenuous exercise.
  8. Green tea: A rich source of antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea helps regulate oxidative damage that occurs during training as well as due to lifestyle reasons. According to Health, a study found that men who supplemented with 500mg of green tea extract reduced markers of muscle damage caused by exercise.
  9. Taro Root: This starchy root vegetable is a great source of carbohydrates and fiber. Experts recommend pairing it with a protein to make it an ideal post-workout meal. This recovery meal can provide the raw materials you need to heal from the wear-and-tear that exercise puts on the body, and make you strong and fit.
  10. Meat and Fish: Workouts can lead to muscle tearing that can be restored only with proper protein. Meat and fish, especially beef, chicken, and fish, are packed with protein. But keep in mind that meat and fish have higher fat content which means higher calories, which could work against you if you are trying to lose weight.
  11. Cottage Cheese: With two different kinds of protein, casein and whey, cottage cheese is packed with live cultures (good bacteria) that help break down and absorb nutrients. The whey protein helps in replenishing muscles speedily after training while the case in protein is a slow-acting one that makes cottage cheese a perfect snack.
  12. Turmeric: A powerful food recognized for its injury and wound healing properties, turmeric is called the “golden spice”. Curcumin, an active ingredient found in turmeric, can reduce the pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness and improve recovery of muscular performance.

7 Healthy Foods to Keep At Your Desk

Healthy Foods to Keep At Your DeskSpending long hours at the workplace means less time eating healthy meals and more time trying to find unhealthy snacks to satisfy your hunger. Unhealthy snacks are high in calories and make us pile on the pounds. The key to breaking this habit is to stock healthy items to snack on at your desk.

The first and foremost step towards healthy eating is to make sure you eat full meals. This will help you stay healthy. If you can’t get a full meal, munch on healthy snacks that provide energy in the middle of the day and prevent tiredness and fatigue. Eating small and nutritious snacks every 2-3 hours is also a great way to avoid overeating at meal time. The key benefits of healthy snacking at the workplace are:

  • More focus and productivity during the workday
  • Increased energy levels and less bloating
  • Less sick days from work
  • Reduced risk of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease

Here are some simple and healthy snack ideas for your desk:

  • Nuts: Being a perfect food to beat hunger pangs, plain nuts deliver a great combination of protein, fat and dietary fiber. This snack boosts energy levels, protects the heart, and improves brain health. Healthy options include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, cashew nuts and macadamia nuts. Roast a variety of these nuts and keep them in a handy jar on your desktop. However, as they calorie-dense, take care to snack on nuts in moderation.
  • Fruits and Dried fruits: You can either keep fresh fruits or dried fruits at your desk. Fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges, peaches, grapes, and any other fruit do not require peeling and cutting. A single serving of any of these fruits is high on fiber and vitamins.You can also keep dried fruits at your desk. A good source of energy, vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants, dried fruit is a great alternative to sugar-rich foods. Healthy options include dates, raisins, dried apricots and prunes.
  • Protein bars: Protein-packed bars supply energy boosting protein that keeps you active through the day. They are available in different flavors.
  • Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt fills up the stomach with good bacteria and stocks up high on protein, probiotics, calcium and magnesium. Sodium content is much lower than normal yogurt.
  • Popcorn: Munching popcorn, especially air-popped, is a great snackable option. Popcorn is a whole grain and a great source of fiber, which helps to fill your palate. An air-popped 100-calorie bag of popcorn or three cups of air-popped popcorn can satisfy your hunger in a much healthier way than salty chips.
  • Roasted chickpeas: Replace your unhealthy store-bought chips with roasted chickpeas. Power-packed with dietary fiber and plant protein, chickpeas are a crunchy, low-fat and low GI (glycemic index) snack option. You can store them in an airtight container in your office drawer for almost a week.
  • Dark chocolate: Rich in antioxidants, eating dark chocolate in moderation helps keep you fresh and energized. The magnesium present in it act as a natural stress-reliever, as it lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone and induces a feeling of relaxation. Treat yourself to good quality dark chocolate that has 98% cocoa content and the least milk and sugar.

Always keep always a bottle of water near you and drink lot of water. Sometimes, hunger could just be your body telling you are dehydrated.

Celebrate Whole Grains Month in September

Celebrate Whole Grains Month in September
Each year, September is observed as Whole Grains Month by Whole Grains Council (WGC) to celebrate the goodness of whole grains. Though WGC recommends whole grains all the year round, the month of September is specifically dedicated to encouraging companies and consumers to pay attention to the health benefits of whole grains. WGC features a different whole grain on its website every month. September is being also celebrated as the 20th anniversary of National Rice Month.

This year, WGC embarks on “Whole Grains: the World Tour!” to take grain enthusiasts on a culinary excursion, exploring the traditions, flavors, and ingredients of the four beloved regions of the world – the Mediterranean, Asia, Latin America, and the African diaspora.

Whole grains have always played a vital role in the lives of humans. Unlike refined grains which lose valuable nutrients in the refining process, whole grains offer a “complete package” of health benefits such as lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

All whole grain kernels contain three parts -bran, germ, and endosperm-in the original proportions.

  • The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer that supplies B vitamins, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
  • The germ is rich in healthy fats, vitamin E, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. It is the core of the seed where growth occurs.
  • The endosperm is the interior layer that holds carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of some B vitamins and minerals.

Wheat, brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, whole-wheat couscous, sorghum, rye are some of the whole grains to include in your daily diet. The United States Dietary Guidelines recommend 3 full servings, or 3 ounces, of whole grains a day for adults and two servings for children.

To add more whole grains to your diet and boost the dietary fiber content of your meals, change your cooking style to include more whole grains. Here are some tips to help:

  • Switch from white flour to whole wheat flour in your regular recipes
  • Eat oatmeal for breakfast as it has a powerful effect in lowering total cholesterol
  • Replace one third of the flour in a recipe with quick oats or old-fashioned oats
  • Try brown or wild rice instead of white rice, or whole-grain pasta
  • Use whole-grain bread
  • Add half a cup of cooked bulgur, wild rice, or barley to bread stuffi
  • Munch on popcorn instead of chips and pretzels
  • Add half a cup of cooked wheat or rye berries, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum or barley to your favorite home-made soup
  • Use whole corn meal for corn cakes, corn breads and corn muffins
  • For quick crunch, put a handful of rolled oats in your yogurt

Remember to soak whole grains overnight to speed up the cooking process.

Get in Shape with a Summer Nutrition Plan

It’s summer and time for a glass of cold fruit juice or ice cream instead of hot soup! The shift from winter foods to summer foods is an interesting aspect of the season. For many people, summer vacations mean family outings and picnics that are heavy on food. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your diet. Developing and following a healthy nutrition plan this summer will shape up your diet and body so that you have more energy for summer activities and can also survive the sweltering heat.

Get in Shape with a Summer Nutrition Plan

Fuel your summer diet with nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. There’s also an abundance of fresh, delicious and healthy summer fruit and vegetables this amazing time of the year. Here are important summer time nutrition tips to stay healthy and get in shape:

  • Snack on Summer Fruit: Summer fruits are full of nutrition and natural sweetness. Fruit provides nutrients vital for health, such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Focus on whole fresh fruits instead of juice because the sugar naturally found in fruit does not count as added sugar. Instead of overloaded sweet desserts, snack on healthy natural produce whenever you want.

    Summer fruits include apples, avocados, bananas, lemons, plums, peaches, strawberries, watermelons and so on. These summer fruits are also low in calories.
  • Eat plenty of veggies: Include summer fresh vegetables such as greens, green beans, squash, peppers, and snap peas in your diet. These foods support good health with their vitamins (ranging from Vit A to Vit K), minerals, and anti-inflammatory capabilities.

    Brighten your plate with vegetables that are red, orange, or dark green as they are full of vitamins and minerals. Try acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, or collard greens, all of which taste great and are good for you too.Eat a fresh vegetable salad with a delicious dip like beetroot hummus or spicy guacamole.
  • Cut down extras from your diet: While eating for summer energy, reduce or cut down on the extras that may weigh you down, like too much added sugar and alcohol. Maintain a balanced diet with whole foods like vegetables, fruits, plant-based or lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Indulge in healthy, cool snacks: Create some cool snacks – freeze berries, grapes, sliced bananas and sliced kiwi. These snacks not only cool you down, but are also nutritional and healthy. You can make ice cubes with fresh herbs and use it in your water or tea.
  • Too much of barbeque is a big “NO”: Summers is known for partying, beaches and barbeque. But don’t overdo BBQs as too much of it is not healthy. Include vegetables and fruits in BBQs and eat in moderation.
  • Avoid overdoing: The key to healthy dieting is eating in moderation and knowing when you’re full. Fill your plate with healthy stuff such as fruit and fresh, green salads.

In addition to following these nutritional tips, remember that hygiene is the key to a healthy body. You are prone to get bacterial infections from the utensils in restaurants and even at home. Make sure that whatever you eat or drink is clean and prepared hygienically.

Nutrition Tips to Ease Common Summertime Woes

Nutrition Tips to Ease Common Summertime Woes
Good nutrition is crucial to weight management and maintaining good health, but do you know that a healthy diet can also soothe certain summertime woes? Sunlight, in moderation, offers several health benefits such as production of vitamin D in the body, which in turn supports bone health, enhances immunity, regulates blood pressure, and promotes well being. However, over-exposure to the sunlight can cause dry skin and hair, eye damage, and other ailments.

Slathering on sunscreen might block the UV rays, but you should know that a nutritious diet is also a critical element in your sun-protection routine. Adding the right foods to add to your daily diet can prevent or ease the following common summertime woes:

  • Muscle cramps: Outdoor exercises or too many games in summer can result in overexertion, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. This can cause muscle cramps. Drink plenty of water and restock electrolytes with sports drinks that contain sodium, calcium, and potassium. Include potassium-rich foods such bananas, raisins, potatoes, and spinach, in your diet.
  • Dry or irritated skin: In summer, our skin tends to be less supple because we sweat more. Moreover, even as you enjoy the sea and swimming pools, you should know that the salt and chlorine in water can have a drying effect which can dry out and damage your skin. Sunburns and bug bites also sabotage healthy skin.
  • Eating nutritious foods that are rich in antioxidants, Vit C, and protein such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, lean meats, beans, nuts, and seeds can heal damaged skin. Drinking lots of water can prevent dehydration and help keep skin dryness at bay. Consume calcium-rich low-fat dairy products like skimmed milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese is important to replace calcium loss though sweating.
  • Parched hair: Overexposure to the sun rays, chlorine water in swimming pools, and humidity can wreak havoc on your hair, causing limp hair, hair fall, dry or rough hair and sunburn on scalps. A healthy diet with proper ingredients that stimulate healthy hair growth is important. For shiny and lustrous hair and healthy skin, make sure that your diet supplies vital vitamins and nutrients such as keratin, vitamin B-5, calcium, zinc and vitamin B-8.
  • Yeast infections: Many women find summer as the most common season for yeast infections. Sitting around in a wet bathing suit provides a perfect environment for yeast overgrowth. An ideal way to ward off yeast infections is consuming more probiotics. Avoid sugary foods because yeast thrives off sugar, especially processed and simple sugars, as well as grains and other glutinous foods. Those who suffer from frequent yeast infections should also avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and starchy vegetables as well as meat and dairy products.
  • Asthma attacks: Summertime can be a dangerous time for kids and adults with asthma. Smog and air pollution, high pollen levels and increased mold growth due to high humidity can cause asthma attacks.

According to Mayo Clinic, there’s no diet that can eliminate asthma symptoms, avoiding allergic foods, avoiding sulfates (triggers asthma). However, eating fresh fruit and vegetables (that contain a good source of antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E) and consuming Vitamin D-rich items such as milk, eggs and fish such as salmon, can help.