Categories Diet, Health

Macrobiotic Diet

Macrobiotic Diet

Macrobiotics refers to the science of longevity and health. It is based on the view that each person is largely influenced by their environment and social interactions as well as the geography and climate of the place they live in.

Macrobiotics views illnesses as the body’s attempt to return to a more dynamic and harmonious state with nature. It highly stresses the importance of a healthy diet as one of the major factors that affect a person’s health and well-being.

A macrobiotic diet not only refers to a daily diet, but it also embraces the importance of living with healthy lifestyle habits for the long term.

What Foods Are Included in a Macrobiotic Diet?

A macrobiotic diet prioritizes locally grown foods which are prepared in a natural manner. Undertaking a macrobiotic diet also means taking extra care in the way the foods are being prepared and cooked. There is a strong emphasis on eating foods that are baked, boiled and steamed and using little fried and processed foods.

Whole grains, vegetables, fermented soy, fish, nuts, soups, seeds and fruits are the main composition of a macrobiotic diet. Other natural food products can also be incorporated in the diet.

The composition of a macrobiotic diet can be altered in order to suit an individual’s needs, with consideration of their particular health status.

This allows those with specific conditions, or even dietary requirements or preferences, to fine-tune their diet, whilst still adhering to macrobiotic principles and recommendations.

People who are utilizing a macrobiotic diet are encouraged to condition themselves to eat slowly and chew their food thoroughly.

What Foods Are NOT Included in a Macrobiotic Diet?

Since a macrobiotic diet strongly recommends that foods must be eaten in their most natural state, processed foods should be avoided. Fatty meats, dairy products, sugar, caffeine, refined flour, alcohol, poultry, zucchini and potatoes are some examples of foods that should not be included in the macrobiotic diet.

Macrobiotics aims to achieve balance in every aspect of your life. Therefore, foods which are highly-concentrated and over stimulating should also be eliminated from the daily diet.

Macrobiotic Diet Studies

Some studies reveal that following a macrobiotic diet has helped many people lower their levels of blood pressure and serum lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides). This is why some experts suggest that this kind of diet can also be used as an effective means of preventing the emergence of many cardiovascular diseases.

Many experts also believe that a macrobiotic diet can also serve as a valuable inclusion in a cancer prevention plan. However, the macrobiotic diet remains the subject of controversy as many experts doubt its benefits when practiced by people who have diagnosed malignancies.

On the other hand, many anecdotal reports claim that its therapeutic effects are remarkable to patients who are suffering from advanced cancer diseases. However, to date very few studies have been conducted that would prove or disprove the benefits of a macrobiotic diet.

Further studies are warranted in order to prove the effectiveness of a macrobiotic diet in cancer prevention. Other concerns expressed by some experts include claimed risks of nutritional deficiencies.

However, it is difficult to dismiss the long term health benefits of any diet which is based on the consumption of organic and locally grown foods and the exclusion of highly processed ingredients.

Categories Diet, Health

10 foods that sound healthy but aren’t

1. Sweetened yogurt

The average cup of flavored yogurt has 30 grams of sugar (7.5 teaspoons) — that’s as much as a chocolate bar! Some sugar occurs naturally in the yogurt, but most is added. Instead: Cut the sugar by making your own blend. Start with plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit, one teaspoon of jam or a drizzle of honey.

2. Bran muffins

They sound healthy because of the word bran, right? Reality check: the average donut shop bran muffin has almost 400 calories and a whopping 36 grams (9 teaspoons) of sugar — but only 4 grams of fiber. Instead: Make your own small muffins and freeze them for grab-and-go mornings.

3. Sushi

The fish is great, but when you’re mostly eating white rice and dipping it in soy sauce, you’re getting lots of refined carbohydrates and sodium. Instead: Opt for more fish (sashimi), less white rice (or choose brown rice if it’s an option), and some vegetables on the side. Use soy sauce sparingly, and add flavor with wasabi.

4. Gummy fruit snacks

Any time “fruit juice concentrate” appears on the ingredient list, translate it to mean sugar. Isolating the sugar from fruit to make processed fruit-flavored gummies is not the same as eating nutrient-rich, fiber-filled, fresh fruit. Instead: Opt for fresh fruit or real dried fruit, such as raisins, dates or prunes.

5. Hazelnut-chocolate spread

The health halo is about milk, cocoa and hazelnuts, but the ingredient list tells a different story: sugar and palm oil are the main ingredients, and neither is nutritious. If you compare a hazelnut-chocolate spread to chocolate frosting, you will see the same amounts of sugar and fat. Instead: Stick with peanut or almond butter.

6. Veggie sticks

I don’t mean carrots and celery! I’m talking about those bags of fried or baked snacks — crunchy sticks made from corn flour and potato starch with a dusting of spinach or beet powder for color. Yeah, those don’t count as vegetables. Instead: Try a platter of real vegetable sticks — cucumbers, peppers and carrots.

7. Water with vitamins

Water is essential to life, and so are vitamins. But when the two are combined in a bottle with food coloring and sugar, an unnecessary product is created. Instead: Drink plain water or jazz it up with citrus or mint. You get all the vitamins you need from food, or you can take a multivitamin when indicated (they have no sugar!).

8. Sweetened oatmeal

Oats are a nutritious whole grain, but not when your morning bowl is coated in three teaspoons of sugar. Skip the maple or brown sugar flavor packets. Instead: Make your own plain oatmeal with grated apple, coconut, mashed banana or fresh berries.

9. Granola bars

Often touted for their whole grain goodness, most granola bars are sticky-sweet junk food in disguise. Don’t let a few oats fool you — especially when you also see marshmallows and chocolate chips. Instead: If granola bars are a must-have, choose one with 6 grams of sugar or less per bar, and hopefully some fiber.

10. Pretzels

In the low-fat era, pretzels were the king of snack foods. But now we know that their refined flour and salt are just as detrimental to heart health as fatty foods, so pretzels have been reclassified to junk food. Instead: Crunch on air-popped popcorn.

None of these foods are off-limits, but it’s important to know the honest truth behind what you’re eating. Consider the 80:20 rule: If you eat well 80 per cent of the time, it’s alright to choose some of these indulgent foods 20 per cent of the time.

Categories Advice

Herbs and Vitamins for Healthy Teeth

Herbs and Vitamins for Healthy Teeth

Our modern diet has caused many of us to become deficient in certain minerals and our dental health can become adversely affected. Cavities in children and people of all ages are being linked to nutritional deficiencies.

Most of us take for granted that we are getting enough of the needed minerals in our diet. That assumes that everyone knows the importance of minerals for our health and wellbeing.

Much of our farmed soil has become depleted and the majority of people cannot afford a completely organic diet. Combined with dietary choices based on taste rather than health, it is easy to see how these nutritional deficiencies can occur.

Phytic Acid Locks Up Essential Minerals

Phytic acid is a substance commonly found in most grains, nuts and beans. It has the ability to bind to minerals in your body, just like a magnet. This process removes the minerals before they get a chance to be absorbed and deposited where we need them most.

If your family’s diet consists largely of grains (crackers, cereals, breads, pastas, rice, bagels, cookies, cakes) or bean salad or raw nuts and nut butters, chances are you are getting copious amounts of phytic acid in your diet and not enough minerals for your teeth and bones to grow and remain strong.

In addition to reducing intake of these food types, there are food preparation methods, such as soaking your beans and nuts overnight that can help remove some of the phytic acid before it is consumed.

Supplementation

Keeping the immune system strong with antimicrobials can help fight off decay and prevent infection or abscesses from setting in. Popular antimicrobials include licorice, myrrh, goldenseal and echinacea. Including garlic in your diet wherever possible is beneficial for boosting your immune system and preventing infections.

Calcium

Our dental enamel is approximately 90 percent calcium phosphate.

Calcium Rich Herb Sources

  • Shepard’s Purse, Clivers, Coltsfoot, Horsetail, Toadflax, Mistletoe, Dandelion, Plantain, Pimpernel and Chamomile.

  • Include these in your diet via teas, capsules, tablets or powders.

Calcium Deficiency

The body is always communicating feedback to us. The trick is learning how to listen to the signals. Signs of calcium deficiency include:

  • Rickets, unexplained nervousness, muscle spasms and cramps, joint pains, osteomalacia, cataracts, insomnia and tremors.

Getting enough calcium is important, but the issue of effective uptake of calcium may have more to do with the lack of Magnesium, Vitamin D and K2. This can be obtained from the foods we eat or by supplementation to ensure that the calcium we are digesting is actually getting absorbed correctly. If any of these are lacking the body will pass much of the available calcium from the body before it can be used.

Vitamins A, C and D

If not enough of these vitamins are being absorbed by the body, the teeth will break down and loosen.

Vitamin K2

Naturally found in the fermented Japanese dish of Natto Beans, this supplement has gained much attention recently. It is reported that anyone who is taking Vitamin D or Calcium supplementation should also be taking K2.

It is naturally found in egg yolks and some hard cheeses; however, the amount claimed to be needed in our diet is basically unattainable unless you are frequently consuming the fermented Natto Bean mixture.

K2 helps to deposit minerals such as calcium into the correct places in our bodies, such as the bones and the teeth and remove excess calcium from where we don’t want it deposited, such as between the joints, where it can cause painful inflammation.

Silica

Ever important for bone, teeth, skin and hair care, you can add this mineral to your diet with horsetail tea.

Categories Diet, Weight Loss

Eating Bread Causes Bloating and Other Digestive Problems

Eating Bread Causes Bloating and Other Digestive Problems

Do you or a member of your family experience bloating after eating bread? If you answered yes, then it is possible that you are sensitive to foods made from wheat. It is also quite probable that bread is such a regular part of your diet that you can’t imagine doing without it.

The simple sandwich is a staple for most families. However, if you want the symptoms to stop you have to eliminate the cause. You can either reduce your bread intake or look for other (gluten-free) types of bread.

If symptoms persist you may need to further limit or cease your intake of other wheat-based food also. As most bread is cooked from wheat flour a sensitivity to wheat will result in discomfort. An allergy may produce even harsher symptoms.

Wheat Allergy

If you are allergic to wheat you may experience itching, rashes, wheezing and your tongue and lips swelling within minutes of eating wheat bread. You must consult your doctor right away if you experience symptoms this severe.

Wheat Sensitivity

If you are sensitive to wheat you may experience bloating, stomach cramps, or diarrhea hours after eating wheat food products. In milder cases you may experience abdominal discomfort, especially after consuming a large serving.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease occurs is an extreme form of gluten intolerance. This is a condition in which an individual’s intestine becomes damaged by a protein in the gluten. While affected, the intestines are unable to perform their proper function of nutrient absorption and excretion. If you suspect yourself to be gluten intolerant, consult a doctor and expect to undergo blood testing for an accurate diagnosis.

Avoiding wheat-based foods

Many people who are either sensitive or allergic to wheat products have made the choice to abstain from wheat-based foods and have found relief from their symptoms. Cases of wheat sensitivity are increasingly common especially as bread has now become part of a staple diet of many people and cultures.

What should you do if you are suffering from bloating and other stomach problems after eating food products that contain wheat? If your symptoms of wheat allergy persist for a longer period of time, or if blood is observed in your stool then you should seek medical help right away.

Any other serious symptoms such as vomiting and severe stomach cramps should also be referred to a doctor. If your symptoms are mild or if you are suffering from a bloated stomach, you can try an elimination diet. You can do this by avoiding foods made from wheat for at least a month.

If your symptoms cease, then wheat is almost certainly the culprit. Resume eating wheat products in small quantities to check if your symptoms recur. Do not start on bread immediately. Try pasta first for a couple of days before you choose to eat wheat bread again.

Monitor the after-effects of any food containing wheat. Do not overload your system. If you have a wheat sensitivity rather than an allergy you may be able to continue to eat wheat products in moderation. If this is the case, overloading your digestive system with wheat foods will cause any discomforting symptoms to return.

Aside from bread, other foods that can contain wheat include cereals, doughnuts, beer, soy sauce, biscuits, pastries and cakes. Make a point of reading food labels. If you choose to go on a wheat-free diet, alternatives are quinoa, buckwheat pasta, porridge, cornflakes and rice cereals. Some people who are sensitive to wheat may find the FODMAP diet helpful. This diet allows people to cut out fermentable foods that may lead to bloating and diarrhea.

Categories Health, Weight Loss

Juice Fasting for Weight Loss

Juice Fasting for Weight Loss

Traditionally juice diets have been used for detoxification purposes. The principles behind this are straightforward and do make sense, but are only designed for a short period of 2-3 days maximum (often called a juice fast).

By only consuming fresh juices for a period of time you naturally abstain from fats, processed carbohydrates and refined sugars as well as substances like coffee and alcohol.

As a result, this is extremely beneficial for cleansing the liver and kidneys and their related systems, including the whole digestive tract. It is believed too that by giving the digestive system a ‘rest’ from fiber; digestion is easier, and nutrients are able to be absorbed more efficiently.

Recently many bold claims have been made about prolonged juice fasting, such as disease fighting, free radical destroying, fat burning and pain alleviating results. However, many of these claims are as yet to be supported by any reliable research.

Juice Fasting is Not a Long-term Solution to Weight Loss

Juice fasting exclusively as a weight loss measure is a short-term solution for a long term problem that can in some situations result in unwanted complications.

The term ‘juicing’ pretty much means drinking your food, primarily fruits, vegetables and herbs. Incorporated into a healthy diet juicing is a great way to boost energy levels and consume extra nutrients – a popular favorite is beetroot, celery, carrot, apple, ginger and mint; perfect for a morning ‘pick me up’.

Weight will certainly be lost when ‘juicing’ however it is not guaranteed that any actual fat will be burnt. Instead you even risk losing muscle mass due to the absence of protein in the diet. You also run the risk of slowing your metabolism, meaning when you resume a normal diet, less energy will be burnt and potentially more fat will be stored immediately following the ‘juice fasting’ period.

These problems may be combatted by consuming juice more frequently (every 2-3 hours) and balancing your juices by adding protein, either in the form of powder supplements or natural sources such as almond milk or Greek yogurt.

High-carb and High-calorie

Juices can also be surprisingly calorie dense, especially when predominantly fruit. This is due to their high carbohydrate content. The actual process of juicing fruit and vegetables can also remove some of their natural benefits; of particular concern is the absence of fiber. Once the physical bulk, largely fiber, is removed, the remaining sugars form a much larger percentage of what remains.

If viewed as a short-term revitalizing and cleansing fast, juicing can be an extremely positive part of a healthy lifestyle, especially when combined with a balanced diet and regular physical exercise. As a long-term weight loss solution, however, it is a fad diet that cannot and should not be sustained for long periods.

Initial dramatic weight loss may indeed occur, however little will be done for long-term weight maintenance.

If you do decide to try a juice fast you should consult your healthcare professional first and discuss any individual potential risks. Juicing is not recommended for people suffering diabetes and heart disease nor is it suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Always include a wide selection of fruits and vegetables, washed thoroughly before use and where possible choose organic produce to eliminate concentrated consumption of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers (particularly in leafy greens).

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