Inadequate consumption of fiber is reported to be one of the biggest public health concerns for the majority of the U.S. population. So a good recommendation during this nutrition month of March is to incorporate more fiber into our diets. However, as consumers, we may not be clear why we really should include more fiber in our diets. It is one thing to say that we need to increase our fiber intake, but the message might be more readily accepted if it was more clearly explained to us what fiber is, what it does and where to find it. With so many misconceptions out there, many people don’t really have a clear understanding about the critical role fiber plays in our bodies.
Evidence has been mounting that it may not be enough to try quick fixes and over the counter aids (alka seltzer, antacids, H2-blockers, laxatives, etc.) to resolve your health issues. It seems this is the norm, plus maybe watching your diet a little, but you may be missing the bigger picture … a healthy gut!
The milk industry, with its star-studded advertisements, tells you to drink milk every day for strong bones. But then you hear things to the contrary – that your body doesn't digest milk well and you’re probably allergic, it’s inflammatory, it contains hormones – the list goes on. Each side is armed with research showing that milk is either good for you or that it isn't, leaving everyone else confused. Let’s make sure you have all the facts.
Extensive research has shown a link between the food you eat and your health. But even still, nutrition receives little, if any, attention in medical practices, due in part to the lack of nutrition education in medical school curricula. Nutrition is considered one of the most important prevention strategies for obesity-related conditions including heart disease, cancer Type 2 diabetes, stroke and hypertension. This is a big issue -- more than a third of American adults are obese, the CDC says.
Antioxidants seem to be a “cure-all” for just about anything and everything. We hear about antioxidant-rich superfoods in the news, and advertisements are dripping with promises for better health. They're known for their ability to fight free radicals, and this is good news. Free radicals make you age faster and deteriorate your health. But does that mean you should load up on anything labeled “antioxidant”? Not necessarily. Here’s why.
Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, according to recent publications. Approximately 5-8 percent of the U.S. population, or 14-22 million people, are affected by these diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are at least 80 known autoimmune-related diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease), thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s), myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus and psoriasis.
People fast for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it’s religious, other times it’s to lose weight or to rid the body of toxins. And there are different types of fasts too. Some people don’t eat or drink anything for a period of time, while others partake in a limited amount of food or drink, like only juice or teas. There’s also intermittent fasting, which is kind of like interval training your diet – you go through intervals of fasting and not fasting, on and off. One common approach to intermittent fasting is following a pattern of eating only during an eight-hour window of the day, and fasting the rest of the day. But is it healthy to go without eating for a period of time? Let’s be proactive and examine the potential benefits and risks.
There are different types of sugars – your table sugar, corn sugars, and then there’s fructose. Fructose is found mostly in fruits and vegetables as well as honey and agave nectar. Fruits and veggies that are high in fructose include apples, grapes, watermelons, asparagus, peas and zucchini. And fruits and veggies that are low in fructose include bananas, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, avocados, green beans and lettuce.
Gluten-free is a booming business. Over half a billion dollars get forked over each year to supermarket clerks and bakers for the coveted “GF” flours, pastas and breads. The point is to prevent agony and malnutrition (celiac disease), mild discomfort (gluten intolerance), weight gain (dieters) or hyperactivity (moms of kids with autism or ADHD).
By now, there should be no dispute that magnesium is an extremely important mineral for optimal health. Every organ in the body, especially the heart, muscles and kidneys, needs magnesium. It is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. Around 50-60 percent of all the magnesium in the body is found in the skeleton, about 27 percent is found in muscle, 6-7 percent is found in other cells, and less than 1 percent is found outside of cells. It is required for healthy teeth and bones, activating enzymes and energy production.
You may notice that your immune system needs a tune-up when you start getting frequent colds or have too many sick days. But you should be proactive even before the first sniffle. Why? Because your immune system has to fight the load of everyday toxins, pollutants, bacteria and viruses, along with the adverse health effects that accompany them, from fatigue to cancer.
Protein powders have become the go-to meal replacement option. According to Euromonitor International, 2013 sales of protein powders were at least $7 billion for sports nutrition powders as well as weight management protein shakes. Conditioned by years of meat-industry proclamations of protein being good for building muscle, yet stymied by the dangers of animal fat in the diet, consumers are turning to powders to get the protein they feel they need. But, potential dangers lurk in certain protein powder supplements.
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