Recent research has shown how vital the bacteria living in our digestive system are to our health. In addition to helping with digestive issues, probiotics have been shown to help with a variety of health issues. For example, researchers have shown that having “good” bacteria in the gut strengthens the immune system. There are even studies suggesting they can lower cholesterol by prohibiting its reabsorption into the blood stream. Taking a probiotic is particularly important as the increasing use of antibiotics for illness and in food products can reduce the natural gut flora.
Here are a few important characteristics to consider when choosing a probiotic:
1. Look for refrigerated probiotics or else they will lose their potency.
2. Try to find one with several billion CFU including the strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which have been studied extensively with many positive results.
Get your gut and immune system in order!
We all know the great benefits of eating fruit like lots of antioxidants to keep you young and fiber to keep you full, but its hard to remember to eat a few servings a day. One way that is great to get your antioxidant boost is with a daily smoothie. Unfortunately, most smoothies or fruit drinks you can buy contain a bunch of added sugar and limited fiber since its removed in the process of making it. And don’t add juices to your smoothies! It just adds sugar without the fiber!
Here is a great smoothie recipe:
1. 1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries – Be careful! Most frozen fruit companies add sugar to their frozen fruit even though its so sweet by itself. Trader Joe’s does not and their fruit is really well priced.
2. 1/2 banana
3. 1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened soy or rice milk – Again be careful – Silk Vanilla and Silk Soy Milk Regular have a bunch of added sugar. You have to look specifically for the unsweetened version.
4. 1 half small fresh lemon squeezed
5. Cinnamon – I add a pinch of cinnamon because it is another potent antioxidant (estimated to be five times more potent than blueberries) that has also been show to alleviate many chronic health issues such as diabetes.
Add more soy milk if not blending well. Blend for about 1 min until smooth. Enjoy your smoothie!
I’m convinced that committing to limiting your intake of refined carbohydrates is one of the best ways to keep weight off in the long run. Refined carbs wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels, causing sudden spikes in blood sugar that leave you feeling tired and hungry after the immediate blood sugar spike wears off. They only contain calories with really no nutrients, no fiber, no vitamins, minerals etc. And further high blood sugar levels can actually damage the body by creating advanced glycation end products, which are implicated in the progression of many age-related diseases. In other words, you’re speeding up your aging process!
So try cutting:
1. Any white bread
2. Crackers/ Chips
4. Most cereals
6. White Rice
The hard part is finding good replacements, especially ones that aren’t what I like to call “fake healthy.”
Whole wheat bread – WOW good whole wheat bread is hard to find!! I have gone through entire supermarkets before and have not been able to find whole wheat bread without a bunch of added sugar. Look on the labels — you’ll be shocked how few don’t have a bunch of added sugar. Trader Joe’s has a bunch of good whole wheat bread. Ezekial 4:9 is another good brand of bread!
Cereal – Again finding cereal without a bunch of added sugar is near impossible. Oatmeal with a pinch of sugar or honey that you add is a good solution. I read all the labels on the back of granola to see how many grams of sugar are added and try not to buy granola with more than 6 grams or so. But I really try to avoid cereal in general as much as possible, especially when I’m trying to lose weight.
See how you feel cutting these carbs tomorrow. You’re probably going to be hungry and have trouble finding food to eat. It will show you how dependent you are on refined carbs. Then you can start looking for other healthy options to replace all these carbs and slowly it becomes habit to avoid them. You won’t even notice when you go a few days without them.
Here are three easy drinks to have tomorrow, which will make you feel 5 pounds skinnier by the end of the day.
1. Water with lemon – Lemon is a natural diuretic, or a substance that increases water loss. Drink a few glasses of water with a quarter or half a small lemon squeezed into them to promote loss of excess water you’re carrying. Especially with many salt laden diets, its easy to retain a lot of water. Plus, lemons provide a nice boost of vitamin C (36% of your daily vitamin C per lemon) and are only 12 calories.
2. Water with Cranberry Juice – Cranberry juice, again is a natural diuretic. It has also been shown to prevent urinary tract infections by clearing bacteria out of the urinary track and is a potent source of antioxidants. Most cranberry juices are sweetened, but I only advocate drinking unsweetened cranberry juice mixed with water. Otherwise, the health benefits are negated by the massive amount of sugar in the juice. Mix 1/4 cup unsweetened cranberry juice with 8 oz water. Drink a glass in the morning and evening.
3. Dandelion Root Tea – Be careful because dandelion root is a strong laxative. Don’t drink more than one cup in a day! But it will leave you feeling de-bloated and lighter by the end of the day. Dandelion has been linked to increases in liver function and the liver is responsible for detoxifying the body.
Theses are great, healthy drinks to keep in your diet on a regular basis too!
We’ve all heard that certain oils and fats are bad for our health. Today toss all the oils in your cupboard that are bad and commit to eating the healthy oils that will clear up your arteries by raising your good, high density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol).
Quick cholesterol lesson: HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol because it removes LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream bringing it to the liver to be removed from the body. LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol because it sticks in the arteries and can clog them. Trans fat and saturated fat increase LDL and lower HDL.
Toss anything right now with trans fat. Look for partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. They are commonly found in margarine, although many brands have reacted to recent health concerns about trans fats and have been replacing them with other oils.
Then try to keep your saturated fat low. Butter is obviously hard to give up especially for baking lovers like me, but it is key to limit your intake. Another potential alternative to butter for baking is coconut oil, which has just as much saturated fat, but recent studies have been showing that the specific saturated fat in coconut oil, lauric acid, may not be so bad for you. The jury is still out so I can’t advocate for coconut oil over butter in cooking.
See this list of oils below that shows saturated fat content:
Olive oil and flaxseed oil are great for you and the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed are a great way to get those in your diet if you’re not a major fish eater.
To sum up, here are your tasks for today:
1. Hunt down and toss out the trans fats in your kitchen!
2. Read over the chart to recognize oils with high saturated fat content.
3. Buy some healthy oils like canola, flaxseed and olive oil to keep your arteries in tip top shape.
Its so hard to get your daily servings of vegetables in, but we all know how important they are. Make an effort today to get at least 5 servings of veggies. Five servings is about 2 and a half cups of vegetables. The fastest way to get this done is to eat a salad with a few cups of a healthy green like arugula, spinach or kale for lunch or dinner. Then eat a side of veggies with your other meal. Then you’ve eaten your 5+ servings, which is so easy to forget on a daily basis.
Either try to order a health salad out or make your own! My two favorite, super easy salad recipes with homemade dressing:
1. Fig Arugula Salad
Dressing: 1 TBSP Honey whisked with 1TBSP Balsamic
4 cups Arugula
8 Dried figs, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine, mix and enjoy!
2. Watermelon Arugala Salad from the Barefoot Contessa
I don’t think it needs nearly that much dressing though. I normally cut the dressing in half!
Soda, juice and any other drinks with sugar add so many calories to your diet, but don’t fill you up at all! Try to drink nothing with calories. Just a small glass of OJ and a soda daily adds about 250 calories to your diet. It only takes 3,500 calories to add a pound of weight! So 14 days of a few sugary drinks and you’ve added a pound of weight!
Some yummy calorie free drinks:
1. Sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime
2. Fresh iced tea with no sugar added (Iced Green Tea Unsweetened from Starbucks is YUMMY)
3. Any hot tea unsweetened
Try it out for a day and see if you miss your sugary drinks