Fruits vs Fruit Juices – Which is Healthier?

Juicing fruit has become a convenient alternative for some, allowing you to quickly drink the needed daily requirements. Although there are definite benefits to juicing, you are missing out on certain nutritional elements when you don’t consume whole fruits.

Fruit juice can be a serious sugar rush. Should we go easy on the juice?

While fruit juice contains important vitamins and phytonutrients, it also contains sugar – about as much as a soft drink, in fact. This sugar gets absorbed quickly by your body, much like the sugar in soda. As a result, drinking too much juice can lead to obesity and, as shown by a study in the British Medical Journal, to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

But isn’t fruit good for you? 

The problem is that fruit juices lack the fiber that is present in their non-squeezed counterparts. When we’re eating whole fruit, the fiber helps our livers metabolize the sugar.

Fiber’s health benefits include supporting digestion, controlling blood sugar and lowering cholesterol. Fiber also helps you feel full longer, an important advantage of whole fruits, particularly if you’re watching your weight.

But don’t worry – you don’t have to quit drinking juice entirely. Moderation is the key. It’s about portion size. 150ml of fruit juice is perfectly acceptable as one of your five-a-day. You can also dilute the juice with some water to decrease the amount of sugar per glass. And of course, you can always go straight to the source and snack on some fruit!

The Sick Person’s Ultimate Diet to Better Health

When you are sick with a cold, you can often lose your appetite and your sense of taste can also be compromised. However, it is essential at this time for you to eat a balanced and healthy diet. Here are some foods to eat when sick.

Yogurt 

Yogurt is excellent when you have a cold, as it contains probiotics. This also helps to reduce the body’s inflammatory response. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the beneficial bacteria shortened the duration of a cold by two days and made symptoms 34% less severe.

Tea

Drinking tea when you have a cold can be an excellent way to warm your body up from the inside. both green and black tea are rich in antioxidants, including the immune-boosting antioxidant L-theanine. Ideally, you should drink either black or green decaf tea that is considerably hot.

Sweet potato 

Sweet potato can be a rare vegetable, but is excellent for when you have a cold. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, an immune-boosting nutrient that helps the body produce virus-fighting white blood cells and helps keep mucous membranes healthy.

Hot water with lemon and honey

Honey is excellent for helping with a sore or raspy throat and can help you stop coughing. Additionally, lemon helps by providing cold-fighting Vitamin C. Drinking these two with some hot water will help soothe your throat and will eliminate your cold.

Oatmeal with banana & honey

Oats are excellent “sick food” as they contain beta glucans, a kind of fiber that can speed healing and fortify your immune system. Additionally, banana contains potassium which is often lost when you are vomiting or have a fever. As discussed before, the honey helps with a sore or raspy throat.

Coconut water 

Coconut water is hydrating and can replenish electrolytes depleted due to fever or sweating. Additionally, squeezing in some lime juice can add some vitamin C, which can help your immune system.

Garlic

Garlic can provide all sorts of health benefits. It has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries and has demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal effects. It can also stimulate the immune system.

Flax, the Little Seeds Packed With High Energy

Those little glossy brown seeds have ample of goodness packed in them that you probably didn’t know of. Read on to find out how flax seeds packed with health and why should we definitely make a part of our diet!

Flax seeds are listed in the top 10 superfoods in the world!

Flax seeds are rich in dietary fiber, proteins and essential fats Alpha-Linolenic Acid which is converted to EPA and DHA – Omega 3 Fatty Acid.

Is that all? Well, there’s more! They are also rich sources of minerals like calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, potassium, Zinc and, B complex vitamins and vitamin C in trace quantities. Did you know vitamins, especially vitamin C and B complex are natural mood enhancers? I guess the quote holds true then.. ‘It’s the little things that make us smile’

Flax seeds and weight loss!

One of the major benefits of consuming flax seeds is weight loss! I am sure the word weight loss itself attracted you to read further. Weight loss is a result of multiple parameters, not just one. So, there are some foods that aid in weight loss. Flax seeds are one of them. Majorly, the slimming benefits of flaxseed are due to its low carbohydrates, high fiber content and high omega 3 fatty acid content.

Let’s look into the mechanism of how flaxseeds help in weight loss and giving us good health.

Flax seeds are rich in fiber and 20–40% of the total fiber content is soluble fiber (mucilage gums) and while 60–80% is insoluble fiber (cellulose and lignin).

Now, how exactly does that help?

Soluble fiber helps regulate blood sugar (decreasing risk of diabetes too), cleans the metabolic waste and also promotes digestive health by feeding the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. There is a direct correlation between controlled blood sugar with weight loss because when there is a decrease in sugar levels, fat metabolism gets initiated.

Here’s a trick; when mixed with water, the mucilage gums in flaxseeds become very thick. This, combined with the insoluble fiber content, makes flaxseeds a natural laxative, prevents constipation, and helps in stomach cleansing simultaneously promoting weight loss. Also, Lecithin in flax seeds emulsifies fat and cholesterol preventing its accumulation.

Wow! isn’t that one little thing providing numerous benefits?

This little seed is also fatty! In a good way!

Flax seeds contain the most talked about and healthy omega – 3 fatty acids. may help to reduce inflammation. It thus also helps to reduce water retention in the body.

Rich in the wonder anti-oxidant lignans!

Flax seeds are rich in lignans which have both soluble and insoluble fiber. Lignans help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol, fighting inflammation, slowing down cancer growth and protect against metabolic syndrome by lowering blood levels of lipids and glucose.

Easy to consume!

Roast and ground the flax seeds to benefit from its nutrients. A tsp of ground flax seeds can be taken with any meal – simply sprinkle it on your salads, soups, yogurt, milkshakes or simply gulp the powder down with water. Another way, you can simply chew on the roasted seeds!

Having read up the amazing benefits of these seeds, do make it a part of your daily diet.

5 Gospel Truths About the Demon in Sugar

The history of sugar is indubitably fascinating. We do not know what civilization was the first to extract sugar from sugarcane, but it was India, around 350 AD, that invented the manufacture of crystallized sugar granules. Then Indian sailors carried sugar by various trade routes. Worldwide, throughout the middle ages, sugar was considered a “fine spice” and was very expensive. It is only from 1500 AD onwards that it became sold as a bulk commodity and became much cheaper.  But, now in 2016, sugar is possibly the most controversial food substance – point us toward a more controversial one and we’ll eat our collective hats. It is also, predictably, at its cheapest and most ubiquitous. Did the ancient Indians unwittingly open a Pandora’s box?

The calories people have eaten in sugar has seen accelerated increase through the centuries. For most of the human history consumption of sugar, in refined form, was virtually zero. By 1700 average consumption worldwide was 4 pounds (1.8 kg) per annum. By 1800 it was 18 pounds (8 kg) and by 1900 it was 60 pounds (27 kg). Currently, it stands at 100 pounds (45 kg). These numbers are mostly from the developed world. In India, the number is around 20 kg, still a very large chunk of calories. It amounts to over 200 calories per day. The medically recommended amount is no more than 100 calories. Let’s discuss why medical professionals feel so strongly about the effects of this rapid increase in sugar consumption.

Sugar May Be Addictive

Sugar is not the only food substance that is allegedly addictive, but it is the one that, if guilty, makes the most impact. Scientists aren’t sure if people can become physically dependent on sugar, although some animal studies suggest that such a thing is possible. Scientists observed the same kinds of changes in brain dopamine, in these animals given intermittent access to sugar, as in drug addicts. Also, people with constant sugar cravings do exhibit one symptom of dependence-continued-usage despite knowing of the bad consequences or having to give up certain activities.

Sugar May Worsen Cholesterol

Researchers have found a link between sugar and unhealthy levels of blood fats. There’s an association between added sugar intake and what we call dyslipidemia — higher triglycerides and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), people who ate the largest amounts of added sugar had the highest blood triglyceride levels and the lowest HDL (good) cholesterol levels. That study also showed that eating lots of sugar more than tripled the odds of having low HDL cholesterol levels, a strong risk factor for heart disease. In contrast, people who ate the least sugar had the lowest triglyceride levels and highest HDL levels, a protective factor against heart disease.

Sugar (Indirectly and Partly) Causes Diabetes

Eating sugar per se does not cause diabetes. But large, epidemiological research has shown an association between intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and diabetes.

The real culprit may be obesity. t may be because the sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with higher BMIs or associated with overweight and obesity, which we know is a risk factor for diabetes. 

Sugar Is Definitely Bad for Teeth

Sugar is bad for the teeth because it provides easily digestible energy for the bad bacteria in the mouth. Tooth decay is caused by this bacteria that feeds on sugars from food and drinks. That bacteria — called plaque — can stick to your teeth, producing acids that eat through the enamel on your teeth.

Sugar Is Definitely Bad for Skin

When you ingest sugar or high-glycemic foods that rapidly convert to sugar — whether it’s in the form of an apple or a piece of cake — your body breaks down these carbohydrates into glucose, which raises your insulin levels. Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, white bread, and soda, cause your insulin levels to spike, which leads to a burst of inflammation throughout the body.

Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles.

So while it is hard to sift through all the evidence, it is a fact that sugar has strong correlations with a lot of modern health issues. Avoid it completely or be careful with your sugar portions. Either be aware of how much you’re eating.

Feed your cravings

Whether you are a fitness freak or an inactive person, you’d surely have drooled and dreamt about having a chiseled body. Are you also among those who have broken the ‘no junk food’ or ‘a strict diet plan’ resolution every year? Don’t worry, because we are going to talk about ways to shun your inhibitions about carbs today. Did you know that carbs are good for your health? Too good a news to be true, right?

Why?

A study has proved that carbs may actually help us burn fat better- and by carbs we mean resistant starch (RS) carbohydrates, if eaten in right amount. RS starch looks like a starch but acts like a fiber, passing through small intestine to the colon without being digested, whereas normal starches aren’t calorie free because they are digestible. Foods with high digestible starches thus contain high calories. Since, luckily our bodies don’t digest the RS, its caloric value is diminished!

There are four main types of RS:

  1. RS 1 is present in grains like oats, barley and wheat; peas, lentils and black beans.
  2. RS2 is present in certain veggies and fruits, including raw potatoes and green bananas. But, the RS disappears when you cook such foods.
  3. Cooling hot, cooked carbs like potatoes, pasta, or rice produces RS 3, which acts just like RS 1 and RS 2 to lower calorie count.
  4. RS 4, created when food manufacturers take normal starches like wheat, flour and treat them to be more resistant, lowers calories in products considerably.

More Reasons to have Carbs in  right amount:

  • Carbs can help boost your mood
  • Carbs are good for your Heart
  • Carbs help you trim your waistline
  • Carbs help you sharpen your memory

6 carbs to add to your diet to lose weight:

  • Whole- Wheat Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Wheat Berries
  • Popcorn

So, don’t fear the carbs anymore! Feed your cravings with healthy carb-full foods and stay slim! Happy eating! 🙂

Everyday Zen: Eat Mindfully

Food is an ancient and basic need for all living things. It has been a necessity for millions of years of our evolution. But hunger is a relatively new development, and so it is cognitively complex. It is inextricably linked to our emotions, and this is why ‘emotional eating’ is a thing. It is not always the body’s trigger for food; it often masks emotional pangs that we may not be too happy to face. Hunger may be hiding feelings of stress or distress.

Food gives us nourishment and pleasure, but we also develop an (unhealthy) emotional dependence on it. Many people have an adversarial relationship with food. Mindful eating, an outcrop of the Buddhist tradition of mindfulness, is a tool to address this relationship. It helps untangle the complexity of emotional eating by observing our eating habits and helps us in consciously rebuilding them to make eating a source of wholesome pleasure and nourishment again. An increasing body of research backs this.

Mindful eating draws on the principles of general mindfulness like presence in the current moment and openness to experience and then tailors them to suit the goal. So if you practice mindfulness generally during the day, the specificity of mindful eating should come easily and naturally to you. If are new to the practise of mindfulness, the following principles could be a great place to bring mindfulness into your life.

Observe

Observe your mind and body. Hunger, as mentioned earlier, is a complex trigger. It is not always purely physical. Since food makes us feel better in the short term, we train our minds to trigger hunger pangs when we encounter anything that causes discomfort or distress. This conditioning often fools us into mistaking thirst for hunger. Visual cues (passing a bakery on the way home, for instance) also often trick us into thinking we are hungry when we actually are not. Mindful eating requires us to really question these triggers and try to understand the source.

One difference between real and masquerading hunger is that the former is gradual. Real hunger builds up gradually. A craving masquerading as hunger is an instantaneous feeling. Give your craving 5 minutes, maybe drink a glass of water, and get busy with something else; chances are that it will disappear. Playing the waiting game is a key principle of mindful eating, and teaches you a lot about your body and mind.

Make Room for Focus

A mindful meal is a focussed meal. It is the opposite of the loud and hurried meals we are used to. When we eat mindfully we observe our minds and our bodies. In addition, we focus on the food itself. Focus is not easy to achieve in a world full of distractions. We have to consciously make room for it.

Make it easier for yourself to focus. Sit at a table. Shut off any distractions like TV, phones, laptops. Even reading is not recommended. This is a time for reflection. If you have a company, request them for silence. Of course, it would be easier to focus if you were in the quiet of your home. But with practice, you will be able to eat mindfully almost anywhere. Also, make time. 5 minutes stolen from between meetings may not be very conducive to mindfulness.

Contemplate

A lot of attention these days goes into what we eat, but not how we eat. Mindful eating addresses that and makes eating an enjoyable and a meditative process.

Dwell on the food: the texture, the taste, the smells, the sounds. Get all your senses engaged. You can further deepen the experience by taking smaller bites. Chew longer: some studies suggest that one ought to chew for 20 seconds or longer. Savour the food.

Stop before you are completely full. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to register fullness. If you were mindful during the meal, you should be able to stop. Fullness that we generally are used to is not necessary to feel well-nourished and happy.

Finally, Be Kind

The mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says to be mindful is to “practise moment to moment non-judgemental awareness.” Mindfulness is easy to understand, but not simple to practise. You may not take immediately to the focus it demands. Remember to give yourself the time and the emotional encouragement needed to reach your goals. Do it consistently and you will see that your appreciation for food (and for your mind-body nexus) has gone up.

5 Ingredients to Tingle Sleep Hormones

What you eat determines how you well you sleep! That’s right, food is not only responsible for your weight but also for time period and quality of sleep you get every night. Bet you didn’t know that.

Well, don’t get stressed over this lack of information because there is some good news in store. Here’s a super healthy list of food stuff and drinks that will catalyze the production of melatonin ( the sleep-inducing hormone) in your body.

Including these foods and drinks in your daily diet should keep your sleep cycle sorted. Let’s see what these food items are and how they help you doze off into a sweet slumber.

1) Fish

Fish is rich is B6, an important factor that helps produce melatonin and serotonin. Salmon, halibut, and tuna produce the highest amount of B6, hence are exactly what you need for a good night’s rest. You can eat it a few times a week. Just make sure you balance out the rest of the days with other food items.

2) Chamomile Tea

Just the thought of a warm liquid makes your eyelids feel heavy. Well experts say that drinking a hot beverage has more of a psychological effect than a physical one. They believe that we connect chamomile tea directly to our childhood days when we drank warm milk before going to bed. A warm cup of chamomile tea relaxes your nerves and acts as a mild sedative.

3) Fruits

Fruits are refreshing and contain a high melatonin content, thus helping you fall asleep faster. It also reduces the number of times you wake up in the middle of the night and assures a good night’s sleep. If you are someone who likes cherries, then tart cherry juice and whole tart cherries are for you. You can also take bites of bananas, pineapples, and oranges. Eating two kiwis before bed helps cure insomnia. Now that you are clear about fruits that help you sleep better, make sure you eat them at regular intervals throughout the day.

4) Hummus

Hummus is a delicious way to make yourself fall asleep. The mouth watering flavor is just one reason you should add this to your diet, the more important reason is the tryptophan content of Hummus. You see tryptophan is an amino acid that has a calming effect on your body. It helps reduce anxiety and catalyzes the sleeping process. Now you actually have a valid reason to gorge on this delectable Lebanese dish.

5) Green Leafy Vegetables

Yup! I know eating leafy vegetables is never fun, but I am sure my next statement is going to give a rational reason, in fact, it will motivate you to hog on green veggies. You see green vegetables are loaded with calcium. But what has that got to do with sleep? Well, everything. Calcium aids your brain in developing tryptophan that in turn helps manufacture melatonin. Now you know! So no more making excuses to avoid biting on some greens.

6) Whole Grains

Whole grains are another food item we hesitate to add to our diets. So let me help you change that. Whole grains are rich in magnesium which calms your nerves and induces sleep. Whole grains are not only rich sources of protein but also of magnesium. So before you completely rule out eating whole grains, remember that you are also harming your sleep cycle.

Who thought you would have to eat healthy to sleep tight. Well, it is a fact and all you can do to make sure you sleep well is add the above drinks and food items to your grocery list. So the next time you go shopping you know exactly what will help you calm your nerves and help you fall asleep easily.

Brain Busters and Brain Boosters – You Are What You Eat

Consuming what is today labeled as brain-smart food is an essential part of the equation when it comes to living well at any age, stage of life. A healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish is paramount in order to prevent memory loss, cognitive disease, and mood disorders.  Through the revolutionary science of nutrigenomics – how nutrition affects gene expression and health – we can gain insights into the kinds of food we should eat and avoid.

Brain-Busting Food

  • White flour –It lacks healthful nutrients and causes chronic inflammation and sugar spikes.
  • Mild-to-moderate alcohol consumption – Consumption of red wine has been known to be heart healthy. But alcohol dependency leads to the loss of serotonin – the “happiness” hormone – and triggers impaired memory, cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression.
  • Refined Sugar It may provide an energy jolt, but it’s only temporary. Unhealthy sugars promote inflammation and disrupt the brain’s ability to convert glucose into energy, to regulate the hunger-satiety hormones, and to release dopamine (feel-good chemical).
  • Fast-food consumption –  Fast food has been linked to depression, irritability, and cognitive deficits. These foods also perpetuate the unhealthy cycle of craving more high-calorie food.
  • High consumption of saturated and trans fats – It is linked to memory deficits. A study found that a high consumption of trans fat led to brain shrinkage that has similarities to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain-Boosting Food

  • Walnuts – They have a convoluted surface that resembles the contour of the human brain. Packed with the antioxidant vitamin E – walnuts prevent against brain cell damage and lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Avocados– Avocados with their creamy, buttery texture, are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin C and E that bolster brain health and increase blood flow to the brain.
  • Curcumin– It is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound found in the Indian spice turmeric, has been shown to minimize the formation of plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Cruciferous vegetables – Vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli are also packed with vitamin E and folate. Folate is thought to reduce the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that damages brain cells.
  • Eggs – They are loaded with choline, a precursor to an important brain chemical called acetylcholine that maintains memory and promotes healthy brain activity.
  • Berries – Berries like acai, blueberries, black raspberries, and strawberries contain potent antioxidants that thwart cognitive decline.
  • Dark chocolate –It contains polyphenolic substances that decrease inflammation and improve blood flow to the brain. Eat a few squares daily to bolster antioxidant effects that improve memory.

Benefits of Carrots – The Crunchy Superfood

Carrot comes from the Greek word ‘karoton’. The beta-carotene that is found in carrots was actually named for the carrot itself. Carrot, a root vegetable, is easily and abundantly available all through the year, especially during winters. It is rich in Vitamin A and is known as a superfood as it provides a host of powerful health benefits like good eyesight, beautiful skin, cancer prevention, and anti-aging. Here’s how you can get the maximum from this amazing vegetable.

Magic of Carrots

  • Improve vision: Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the liver. Vitamin A is transformed in the retina to rhodopsin, a purple pigment necessary for night vision. Beta-carotene has also been proved to protect against macular degeneration and senile cataracts.
  • Cancer Prevention: Studies have shown carrots reduce the risk of lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Researchers have discovered falcarinol and falcarindiol in the vegetable, which they feel cause the anticancer properties. Falcarinol is a natural pesticide produced by the carrot that protects its roots from fungal diseases. Carrots are one of the only common sources of this compound.
  • Slows Aging: The high level of beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant to cell damage done to the body through regular metabolism.  It helps slow down the aging of cells.
  • Healthy skin: Carrots are rich in Vitamin A and antioxidants that protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin A prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, and uneven skin tone.
  • Help prevent infection: Carrots are known by herbalists to prevent infection. They can be used on cuts – shredded raw or boiled and mashed.
  • Promote healthier skin (from the outside): Carrots are used as an inexpensive and very convenient facial mask.  Just mix grated carrot with a bit of honey.
  • Prevent heart disease: Studies show that diets high in carotenoids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.  Carrots have not only beta-carotene but also alpha-carotene and lutein. The regular consumption of carrots also reduces cholesterol levels because the soluble fibers in carrots bind with bile acids.
  • Cleanse the body: Vitamin A assists the liver in flushing out the toxins from the body. It reduces the bile and fat in the liver. The fibers present in carrots help clean out the colon and helps in waste movement.
  • Teeth & gums: It’s all in the crunch! Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste.  Carrots stimulate gums and  trigger a lot of saliva, which being alkaline, balances out the acid-forming, cavity-forming bacteria.  The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.
  • Prevent stroke: In a Harvard University study, people who ate more than six carrots a week are less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate only one carrot a month or less.

How to eat Carrots

The nutrition in carrots are tightly encased in protein sacs that have to be broken by heat (cooking) or mechanical action (grinding, juicing, proper chewing). Cooking the carrots in fat or oil, or pureeing or juicing them increases the availability of carotenoids by 600 percent. Fats help the absorption of carotenoids into the blood by 1000 percent as carotenoids are fat-soluble.

Wash carrots thoroughly before use. Trim both ends; gently scrape off the outer skin and smaller hairy roots. The younger roots have a crispy, pleasant taste with rich flavor. Raw carrots are naturally sweet and juicy; however, boiling them in water for few minutes enhances the bioavailability of nutrients.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Fresh carrots can be enjoyed as they are, or can be used raw in vegetable as well as fruit salads.
  • Its slices easily blend with other common root vegetables like radish, turnips or with greens/tomato in mixed salads.
  • Carrot juice is a refreshing drink, enjoyed either alone or with fruit/vegetable juice.
  • Carrots mix well with vegetables like green beans, peas in variety of recipes either stewed, in curry, stir-fries, etc.
  • Delicious sweet dish, “gaajar ka halwa,” is prepared using grated carrot, almonds, cashews, butter, sugar, and milk.
  • The root is also used in the preparation of cakes, tart, pudding, soups, borscht, etc.
  • They are also used in the preparation of healthy baby-foods.

So, try to include more of carrots this winter in your diet and feel their benefits and healing properties.  Remember, overconsumption of Vitamin A can be toxic to human but is unlikely to be achieved through diet alone (most vitamin overconsumption occurs by supplementation). Overconsumption of carotene may cause a slight orange tinge in skin color but it is not harmful to health.

Nutrition your way to a stress-free life

What’s better than starting your week with a blog post on STRESS!! With the upcoming holidays and life, sometimes it feels like stress can get the better of us! But have no fear, there are foods you can eat and behavioral changes that can really help you stress less.

Traffic, fight with your spouse, over committing, under-preparing, money, children and the list can go on and on. There are so many reasons and circumstances that put our body and mind in a state of stress. Our bodies were made to experience some types of stress – for instance encountering a bear in the woods – we have an innate response to physical triggers that send a waterfall of hormones and body systems into effect.

The problem is our bodies still react, in many ways, the same way to traffic as they do to a bear in the woods. Blood pressure increase, increased heart rate, release of stress hormones (good and bad), it even has an effect on our immunity. For a short period of time this is usually not a huge deal, the problem is that we tend to dwell on stressors and in turn can cause increased and long-term stress on our bodies.  This not only has short-term effects but can also have negative long term affects. Here are some helpful ways to aid in decreasing acute and chronic stress.

Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Eat a balanced diet: Eat plenty of whole grains such as oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, barley, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and many more. Focus on lean sources of protein: poultry, eggs, beans and legumes, lean cuts of beef (anything with “loin” in the name is a lean cut), low fat/non-fat dairy (including non-fat Greek yogurt). Fruits and veggies!! Anything! Try to eat at least 5 servings a day and if you’re already there? Aim for more! Challenge yourself to eat 1 more fruit and/or veggie every day.
  • Aim for 5-6 small meals per day or 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. This will help keep your cortisol levels (a major stress hormone) down; will keep your blood sugar steady and your metabolism going.  Try to eat every 3-4 hours.
  • Focus on Fruits and vegetables: They have tons of stress-fighting vitamins and minerals and help fill you up with very few calories – Helping to keep weight stable and stress down. Done! Try to get in at least 1 fruit or vegetable at each meal or snack.
  • Move more! Exercise is so important for overall health.  If you aren’t exercising now – don’t stress – start somewhere!  Take a 20-minute walk after dinner, try a Zumba class, ride your bike, play with your kids; start there and work your way up.  If you already exercise, add an extra day, add an extra 10 minutes or increase your workout intensity.  Exercise helps improve your mood by releasing good feeling hormones (like serotonin), aids with weight control, helps reduce cancer, heart disease, and many chronic illnesses – the list goes on and on.  Exercise!
  • Take 15-20 minutes every day just for YOU! Read a book, chat with a friend, spend some time with God, read the bible, sit and space out, anything that relaxes you!

What to eat for stress-relief:

  • Salmon: It is high in omega 3 and B vitamins and has been shown to boost serotonin levels as well as suppress the production of anxious hormones. Other great sources of omega 3’s: tuna, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds, and omega 3 enriched eggs.
  • Whole grains: They help produce serotonin and help fight anxieties negative effects. They are full of fiber which aids in digestion and keeps hunger at bay. Try oatmeal, barley, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and 100% whole wheat bread.
  • Walnuts (and other nuts too): Nuts help lower blood pressure and decrease stress on the heart. Just be careful with portion size – 1 serving = 1 oz. or about the size of your palm. Try to eat ~1-2 servings per day.
  • Oranges: And other foods high in vitamin C aid in lowering stress hormones and help with increasing immunity! Other foods high in vitamin C are strawberries, kiwi, peppers (all colors), broccoli and green leafy veggies like spinach and kale.
  • Spinach:  It is high in both magnesium and calcium (and a ton of other nutrients) which help our bodies react to stress more efficiently. Try it on pizza, in egg scrambles or throw it into your salad or smoothies (you can’t taste it!).