8 Habits to Reduce Stress and Aid Digestion

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Depositphotos 14170410 s 2015 - 8 Habits to Reduce Stress and Aid DigestionYou know those mornings you wake up with your stomach in knots? Maybe you had one too many drinks at the party last night or you overindulged in sweets during your afternoon energy-dip at the office. The next day, you wake up with a stomach ache and your mood immediately tanks.

Separate from food-related stomach aches, do you remember that debilitating nausea you experienced when you had your first break up? Or those butterflies when you got back in the game and finally found someone who wasn’t a weirdo? The connection between body and mind is never quite as clear as when we experience firsthand the link between our belly and our emotional state. The good news: there are ways to understand and help improve this connection through mindful eating.

Understanding that “Gut Feeling”

As you see from the examples above, the gut can influence the brain and vice versa.  This feedback loop is called the gut-brain axis (GBA). The GBA is a communication system between the central (brain and spinal cord) and enteric (gastrointestinal) nervous systems. In fact, your gut is often called your second brain because it can control gut behavior independently of the brain. And, just like your brain, the enteric nervous system uses more than 30 different neurotransmitters including 95% of the body’s serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter. In short: happy belly, happy you!

Strengthen Digestion

So, how exactly do we make our bellies happy? Part of the answer has to do with gut bacteria. Improving the healthy microbiota (bacteria) in your body can help strengthen digestion and keep things running smoothly. Another powerful way healthy microbiota can help is by preventing and treating anxiety and depression. When unhealthy bacteria outnumber healthy bacteria in your digestive tract, an imbalance occurs. This imbalance has been linked to conditions including anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome.

If that wasn’t enough to prove the connection between the brain and gut, here is another example: Leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome, also called intestinal permeability, is caused by damage to the intestinal lining. Damage can be caused by food irritants, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, chronic use of NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen) and the big culprit, stress. As a consequence, bacteria and undigested food makes its way into the bloodstream, leading to impaired digestion and absorption of nutrients, stomach upset, discomfort, inflammation and disease.

Fight and Flight, Rest and Digest

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into that “gut feeling” and GBA. Think about that gut instinct you get when you’re in a nerve-racking situation — or that feeling you get when you on are a date with someone who’s not right for you. Emotions are linked to intestinal functions and can help you sense environmental threats.

When under stress, your fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system) kicks in. Chemicals are released into the blood to prepare our bodies to run from or fight a physical danger. The blood flow to the stomach and gut are decreased and enzymes and digestive acids are no longer secreted. This is a good thing when faced with danger, because it gets blood to our major muscles in order to help get us to safety.

These days, though, most of us experience environmental stress more often than stress triggered by real physical danger. Instead of running, we are sitting at our desk scarfing down a comfort food like a bagel or muffin. Our stomachs, which aren’t getting the blood they need, take on the brunt of the stress. As a result, digestion and absorption of nutrients is impaired, leading to stomach upset, discomfort, inflammation and damage.

The parasympathetic nervous system is called the rest and digest system. It controls just that: relaxation and digestion. It conserves energy, slows heart rate, increases digestion and relaxes the stomach muscles so it can do its job properly. This gets activated when we are at rest or completely relaxed. When the parasympathetic system is activated, optimal digestion occurs.

8 Ways to Activate Aid Digestion

When is the last time you actually “relaxed” while eating. Can you remember the last time you sat down to just eat? That means no computer, no television, no email, no cell phone, no magazine and no newspaper. If you can remember that meal, you might also remember that it was the last time you experienced zero digestion issues.

Activating the parasympathetic system  at meal time is easy once you implement some simple habits into your routine. Here are some ways you can optimize digestion today:

  1. Eat in a calm, relaxed setting. Activate the parasympathetic nervous system and facilitate digestion by relaxing while you eat. Step away from your desk, light a candle or try taking three deep breaths before your first bite. This simple step helps your gut prepare for digestion, including increased blood flow and enzymes.
  1. Eat in an unhurried manner. Stop rushing to finish your meal and engage all of your senses (look, smell, texture, taste) to truly taste your food. Eating slowly stimulates digestive enzymes in the mouth and stomach and improves the awareness of satiety. Approach every meal as if it the first time you’ve ever tasted that food before.
  1. Chew your food completely. Put your fork down between bites and take time to chew. This generates saliva that initiates starch digestion in the mouth and signals the stomach to prepare for the entry of food. Scarfing down food can cause your stomach to ache and can increase issues including bad bacteria, fermentation, and putrefaction.
  1. Adopt healthy coping mechanisms

Many of us use food as a coping mechanism to relieve stress or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, or boredom. But after eating, we feel even worse; not only does the original emotional issue still remain, but we also feel guilty for overeating. Check in and refer to the acronym HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) when you are eating for emotional reasons. This increases your ability to respond to stress and decreases tendency to use food for comfort when stressed. Start a food and mood journal and get to know the real reason why you have to have that late night snack.

  1. Eat small, frequent meals. Eat before the stomach is 20% empty and stop before it is 80% full. This will ease the digestive process and keep you feeling energized throughout the day. To do this, make meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner a little smaller and add snacks in between meals. Some great snacks to squeeze between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner include:
  • Unsweetened yogurt with oats and berries
  • Whole grain crackers with peanut butter and fresh fruit
  • Hard boiled egg with celery and hummus

A combination of protein, fat and carbohydrates will help provide your body with the fuel it needs. The fiber from the fresh fruits and vegetables will help keep things moving and feed those healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. As a bonus, eating whole ingredients will help decrease inflammation, helping you to feel less bloated and heavy.

  1. Reduce irritants. Limit irritating foods and drinks including spicy food, coffee, alcohol, and caffeine. Keep a food journal and gain some insight into what is making your stomach upset and contact your physician or dietitian to gain more insight into possible food allergies.
  1. Start your meal with a “bath”. Drink warm water, decaf tea or broth before a meal. This helps your stomach relax and prepare for your upcoming meal. As a bonus, it can help increase satiety. Think of it as a warm bath for your stomach.
  1. Prebiotics and probiotics. Healthy microbiota can help prevent and treat anxiety and depression. Increase prebiotics (banana, garlic, onions, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, acacia gum, chicory root) and probiotics (fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and pickles) in your diet, and limit or avoid the foods that favor the bad bacteria like sugar, alcohol and processed fats.

Get to know — and Love — Your Gut

Keeping track of what you ate is the best way to determine which foods work best for you and don’t cause your guy any distress. Give it a try by logging meals in a meal planner app or by journaling. Log the meal’s ingredients, the time of your meals, your hunger level before the meal, your fullness level after the meal, your mood, and any symptoms for at least one week. This journal could uncover allergies, food intolerances, or digestive issues like bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Always talk to your doctor before trying to diagnose or remedy things on your own.

After journaling for a week, you’ll feel more in tune with your body and make decisions about what’s working and what’s not. It might be as simple as reducing the amount of inflammatory foods you eat (fried foods, sugar, refined grains and oils, artificial additives, alcohol) and increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory foods in your diet (fresh produce such as berries and leafy greens, nuts, fatty fish such as salmon, whole grains, and spices like turmeric, ginger and cinnamon). The easiest way to do this is by thinking about adding more freshness and color to your plate.

Remember the Connection

All that said, maybe food isn’t your problem. The brain and gut are connected. If you are eating right, have no known allergies or intolerances, and are relatively active, stress could be causing your digestive unrest. Do your best to reduce your overall stress level by identifying the source and then making time for relaxation, deep breathing or meditation, people you love and activities you enjoy.

About the Author

Lisa Booth, nutritionist at 8fit, has an integrative approach to wellness and brings a holistic background in dietetics, health education, fitness, and coaching. She has experience working with weight management and disordered eating in the corporate and private practice settings.

Lisa is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has a Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition. She holds a certificate of training in intuitive eating, certificate of coaching and psychotherapy, and is a primary group exercise instructor.

Can a Keto Diet Clog Your Arteries?

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Depositphotos 129509304 s 2015 - Can a Keto Diet Clog Your Arteries?If you are considering going on a Keto Diet, or are already on it, you might have heard the common myth that following it can cause your arteries to clog. You might hear people say this as you explain to them the diet that you are on. It might make you wonder where this myth came from and why people are stuck on it. The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet with moderate protein. It is commonly known that fats can cause your cholesterol levels to skyrocket and therefore clog your arteries.

Clogged arteries can cause heart attack, heart disease, other cardiovascular issues and even death. What you might not know is that research shows that although a Keto diet is high in fat, it can do wonderful things to the body, including increasing healthy cholesterol. Increasing healthy cholesterol can decrease your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Let’s start by discussing what cholesterol is and how it affects the body.

What is Cholesterol?

The cells in your body need cholesterol to survive. It is a molecule called “steroid alcohol” which helps the body build cells. For your body to work properly, cholesterol is a necessary molecule. Many people think cholesterol is bad, but this is not the case. There is both good and bad cholesterol in your body, and as with anything else, too much or too little can cause you harm. Both types of cholesterol are needed in order to maintain good health. HDL is the high-density Lipoprotein or the “good” cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein, which is the “bad” cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL can help to reduce your risk or a heart attack because it helps to get rid of the bad cholesterol for you.

How Does Cholesterol Affect the Body?

HDL travels around the body and gets rid of the “bad” LDL cholesterol. HDL can also help to unclog arteries by clearing out the artery walls. This also means that if your level of HDL is too low, you can also be at a higher risk for heart attack or heart disease. LDL gets stuck on the walls of your arteries, which can cause them to clog, and therefore, your risk of a heart attack is higher.

To find out your cholesterol levels, you can simply have a blood test done. Your doctor can let you know if your levels of each type of cholesterol are too high or too low. As you may or may not know, most of the cholesterol in our bodies, about 75%, is created inside our bodies. The rest of it enters our system through the foods that we eat. Some foods are higher in cholesterol than others. This is why a targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) is important to follow if you are looking to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in your body.

What Foods Do You Eat on a Keto Diet?

When following a ketogenic diet, the idea is to eat foods that are high in fats, low in carbs and have a moderate amount of proteins. You should eat meats such as fish, poultry, and eggs. It is also important to eat a lot of leafy green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli. When it comes to eating dairy, eat cheeses, cream, and butter that are high in fats.

Nuts, seeds, avocados, and berries will make great snacks or additions to any of your meals. Low-carb sweeteners can be used to make food choices more delicious. You should also indulge in other fats such as healthy oils, high-fat salad dressings and other saturated fats. Foods that you should not eat are grains, sugar, fruit, and high carb vegetables like potatoes and yams. Stay away from sugars such as maple syrup and honey.

The Myth: A Keto Diet and Cholesterol

Since a Ketogenic Diet requires you to eat a large amount of saturated fats, this means that your cholesterol levels can increase, which many people immediately think is a terrible thing that can cause your arteries to clog and you to die. While it is commonly assumed that this increase in cholesterol is a bad thing; that is not necessarily the case. The biggest myth surrounding a Ketogenic Diet is that the diet, which is high in fat, will cause your arteries to clog and give you heart disease. There have been many studies done on the subject of eating a high amount of fats, a low amount of carbs and its effects on the body and cholesterol.

A meta-analysis completed in 2010, discusses this belief that high levels of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease, and reports that this connection has no validity. The meta-analysis did not find that there was a strong linking between high-fat foods and cholesterol. Another study looked into different diets that are low carb and found that these diets can actually decrease your risk of heart disease. And yet, another study done at Johns Hopkins University found that diets lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat posed no greater health risks to developing heart disease.  

Why Follow a Keto Diet?

A Keto Diet has so many other benefits than just increasing levels of good cholesterol. Not only can it help you to lose weight, but it can also increase your good cholesterol levels, which helps to decrease your bad levels of cholesterol. Eating the many healthy foods on a keto diet plan can make your whole body feel better. When following a keto diet, your body can reach what is called ketosis. When you eat carbs, your glucose levels rise, causing your pancreas to secrete insulin. The insulin then creates glucose within your cells, and that is how your body gets energy. This is what happens when you are eating a diet high in carbs. When you change the amount of carbs you eat, eating a lower amount can help you to reach ketosis, which is a better process for the body.

On a high-fat, low-carb diet, your insulin levels decrease and fatty acids travel to the liver where they are turned into ketones, which give you lots of energy. This process is much better for the body than the first one described and will do less damage to your liver. Following a Keto diet also has other great benefits for the body.

Other Benefits of a Keto Diet

Being on a Keto diet can benefit you in many ways. A keto diet can also help to lower blood sugar in diabetics. The types of foods you will eat on this kind of diet will help you to be able to control your blood sugar more naturally. Some people follow a keto diet because it can increase their mental focus. Ketones are a molecule in the body that can increase energy levels, therefore, increasing your mental ability and focus. This can also help to increase your overall energy as well. The food you eat will help the body to get more energy, which will make you feel more energized and ready to take on the day.

Another benefit is that the foods you eat will make you feel full, so you will not be hungry and overeat. Once your body reaches ketosis, you will feel as though you are full for longer than being on a regular diet. Believe it or not, the keto diet has been around a long time. It has previously been used to treat patients with epilepsy. While on a keto diet, epilepsy patients will be less likely to need medications to reduce seizures.  

So, Is a Keto Diet Safe?

The answer is yes. According to the research mentioned above, a keto diet is more beneficial than harmful to the body. This diet will not cause your arteries to clog. In fact, it will decrease your chances of heart disease because it produces higher amounts of the good HDL cholesterol. The good cholesterol can help to decrease the amount of bad, or LDL cholesterol. The more good cholesterol you have, the better your chances are of avoiding heart disease.

A Ketogenic Diet is perfectly safe and can be even more beneficial to the body than other types of diets because of it is low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein, which seems to be what your body needs. You will know your body has reached ketosis when you feel full, and after 3-4 days of eating foods low in carbs.

Final Words

Now that you know more about cholesterol, the ketogenic diet, and the truth about how it can help your body, you should consider following it to improve the aspects of your life, increase your energy, and reach ketosis. Studies show that following a diet high in fat and low in carbs is beneficial and can help you maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. Food can be a great cure for many ailments if the right ones are eaten. A Keto diet will not clog your arteries as myths suggest. Research has proven this to be incorrect, so go ahead and enjoy your Keto diet.

About the Author

Amanda Maurois is a proud mompreneur, graphic designer, enthusiastic traveler and blogger who loves to write about healthy lifestyle, entrepreneurship, time management and more. She is also a co-founder at HowTonight.com lifestyle magazine.

7 Ways Drinking Water Improves Dental Health

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pexels photo 89525 - 7 Ways Drinking Water Improves Dental HealthYour dental health is important since it not only affects the quality of your smile but, also, your overall health. Besides offering a star smile, a healthy mouth will also allow you to eat well, to breathe well, and to express yourself well, and it ensures fresh breath.

There are many steps you may already take in protecting your dental health, such as brushing your teeth, flossing daily, and having regular check-ups. You may not realize that drinking water is also important for your dental health.

Here are ten reasons why you should be drinking clean water to protect your teeth and gums.

Drinking Water Strengthens Teeth

Drinking water, especially tap water enhanced with fluoride, is recommended by dentists to strengthen teeth. Fluoride has been scientifically proven to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. It does this by strengthening tooth structure and promoting remineralization. Drinking water with fluoride in it is an easy way to take care of your dental health.

In recent years, there has been some debate about the safety of fluoride, but the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association, and the CDC all recommend fluoride. So, you can confidently drink filtered tap water, knowing all the bacteria is eliminated and the remaining fluoride will help to strengthen your teeth.

Drinking Water Cleans Your Mouth

Dentists recommend you brush your teeth multiple times each day. The ideal routine includes brushing in the morning, after each meal, and just before bed.

Drinking water throughout the day can help to keep your teeth clean. At the least, it rinses off food residue and acid left over by some foods. Drinking water also rinses away bacteria and sugars that would otherwise work together to cause cavities. If this residue is not removed from the surface and between your teeth, your cavities will be full of bacteria. Water, therefore, rinses away cavity-causing bacteria.

Additionally, if the water supply contains fluoride,it will also help prevent cavities by strengthening the structure and enamel of your teeth.

We should all eat fruits and vegetables for full-body health; however, some fruits and vegetables leave behind anacidic residue that will damage teeth enamel. In time, you could need costly dental repairs.

In addition to strong tooth enamel, you want white teeth for a picture-perfect smile. Some foods, such as coffee, tea, and juices, will stain tooth enamel and yellow your smile over time. This could result in the desire for costly teeth whitening kits or professional teeth whitening procedures. Water does not stain teeth.

Drinking Water Reduces Dry Mouth

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Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva. Dentists are concerned with dry mouth because saliva helps to prevent tooth decay by washing away leftover food.

If you have ever experienced dry mouth, you know it is an uncomfortable feeling. When our mouth feels dry, we instinctively want to drink and quench our thirst. However, a dry mouth is often an indication that we are not just thirsty, but dehydrated. By drinking plenty of water, you will improve your dental health by staying hydrated and supporting saliva production.

Drinking Water Reduces Bad Breath

If you have ever experienced halitosis or bad breath, you know it can be embarrassing and have a negative impact on your interactions with others. Poor dental health, dirty teeth, built up bacteria, and dry mouth can all contribute to bad breath.

Not surprisingly, our fear of bad breath has created a billion-dollar industry. These products are intended to reduce and eliminate the odor, but they are relatively ineffective in eliminating the problem; they simply cover it up. So, how can you eliminate bad breath?Drinking water throughout the day helps to keep your mouth clean by rinsing away odor-causing bacteria.

Drinking Water Hydrates Your Gums

Your dental health is not just about theteeth. It is also about your gums. Poor gum health can lead to gingivitis and tooth loss, and it impacts your full-body health. Research shows that gum disease is associated with heart disease.

General dental care, such as brushing and flossing, is important to promote gum health, and drinking water will also promote saliva production, which is essential for healthy gums.Water will keep your gums plump and hydrated, which protects the roots of the teeth.

Drinking Water Lowers Your Mouth pH level

Most of us probably do not give much thought to the pH level of our mouths. A neutral pH level in your mouth is 7.0, but acidic foods and beverages can alter that. This can lead to bad bacteria growth and tooth decay.

However, fluoride protects the tooth enamel against the acids that cause tooth decay. More than 90 national and international health professional organizations, including Health Canada, the Canadian Public Health Association,the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Medical Association, the U.S.Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization. All these organizations support the use of fluorides to prevent lower mouth pH levels.

Drinking Water Promotes Full-Body Health

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Drinking juices and sodas can wash down your dinner, but they have a negative impact since they are highly caloric and leave behind unwanted sugar on your teeth. By choosing water to replace empty-calorie drinks, you will promote full-body health.

High consumption of sugary beverages can lead to being overweight or obese. However, water is a healthy, no-calorie option. This means you will be consuming something that will better hydrate you, without adding empty calories and undesired weight gain.

Additionally, by drinking water, you will avoid all the sugar that can damage your teeth. Our bodies need water, and plenty of it, to thrive. It helps our body systems work more efficiently. When your body is properly nourished and generally healthy, your dental health will be better. In contrast, if your body is not functioning well, your dental health will suffer.

Conclusions

Drinking water has many health benefits, and it can help improve your dental health. If you don’t drink enough water now, start taking small steps to make it easier to get your recommended eight glasses each day.

Install tap water filters;your water will taste better, and you will be more inclined to drink it over flavored options. Keep a pitcher of cold filtered water in your fridge, so it will be your go-to drink rather than a Dr. Pepper. Keep a glass of water or reusable water bottle nearby, so you can sip water throughout the day easily.

These steps will increase your water intake and your dental health. In no time, you will be feeling great and showing off a beautiful, healthy smile.

About the Author

Phil is originally from California, where the need for water filtration equipment is vast. After college he dove into the growing problem of clean water both nationally and worldwide. After many years in the industry he found WaterFiltersFAST.com and aligned his knowledge of the industry with theirs to help educate and inform consumers. He is also an avid outdoorsman and tech enthusiast.

The All-in-One Guide to Gut Health and Proper Elimination

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Many of us are unaware of the importance of a healthy digestive tract. All we know is that it is the channel by which our body receives nourishment to keep us going each day. But are we cognizant that many of our practices can adversely affect our digestive system? An unhealthy gut could cause disorders like diabetes, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and much more. Care of our gut should be given its due and steps should be followed to maintain or restore its health. Doing so would eliminate the occurrence of a wide range of diseases.

The gastrointestinal tracts work 24/7 to make us feel happy and healthy. It is responsible for digesting food, allowing nutrients to be absorbed into the body, and eliminating waste. Just imagine what happens if the system breaks down. This will most certainly lead to major health consequences.

The digestive system allows water and nutrients to flow into the body while preventing toxins and antigens to enter. But when the system is distressed, it becomes helpless, allowing dangerous substances to go into the body. Usually, the culprit for the breakdown concerns the foods eaten, and this is where proper nutrition comes in. A healthy diet will make the gut stronger and perform its guardian role. Consequently, this will improve the body’s health and well-being.

The workings of the digestive system

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It has always been a misconception that the process of digestion starts in the stomach or the mouth. Taking the analysis further, the process starts in mind. When an individual is feeling stressed, his body will elevate the production of cortisol and other stress-hormones which will slow down the process of digestion.

The digestive system is one of the most physically involved systems in the body and does take a lot of energy to function. When an individual is subjected to stress, the body goes into a fight or flight mode. This means that the energy produced by the body is focused on survival and the digestion of food is set aside. This is how stress can affect the digestive process. Let us take a detailed look of our digestive process.

Mouth. The initial and physical digestion of food starts in the mouth. Aside from the mastication of food, other processes like the prevention and elimination of bacteria, fungal, and parasitic overgrowth are involved here.  And to optimize this initial stage, one should chew food until the consistency of the liquid, if possible. The physical transformation is not all due to grinding but also on the action of digestive enzymes that the mouth secretes during mastication. Such enzymes are found in saliva and can break down carbohydrates.

It is never a good habit to swallow big particles of food as the enzymes in the stomach may have a hard time breaking them down, the next organ in the process. Chewing food properly will stimulate the stomach to produce digestive enzymes and acids, preparing it for the further and better digestion of the liquefied food.

Stomach. After the mouth, the stomach comes next. Once the chewed food reaches this organ, they are mixed with digestive acids and enzymes. HCl is a very corrosive substance and surprisingly, can be manufactured in the human body. It comes from bile from the gallbladder and the cells in the stomach walls and together with enzymes, are tasked to break down proteins into amino acids. In this form, such acids will be ready for absorption in the small intestine, the third stage.

There is a very good reason why foods need to be chewed properly, especially proteins. Undigested proteins can cause or lead to more serious illnesses like cancer. It is a logical assumption that the ability to digest our food will depend upon the strength of our stomach acids.

The acids produced by the stomach also protect the body from parasites, fungi, and unwanted bacteria. Some foods like refined sugars and alcohol are absorbed into the blood stream directly through the walls of the stomach. This should serve notice to people on why they are obese or overweight.

Small Intestine. After the stomach, the small intestine. This is where digested foods are absorbed into the bloodstream. On the average, the small intestine is about 25-feet in length, and its section is lined with microvilli. These are numerous minute elongated projections set closely together on a surface, typically increasing its surface area for the absorption of substances. Digestion is continuous in the small intestine. Digestive enzymes from the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are released to assist in the further breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and especially fats.

When digestion is finally completed, the processed foods/nutrients are absorbed and are sent to the liver through the portal vein for filtering. From there, the food is transported to the cells of the body through the bloodstream where it will be finally used by the cell, converting it into energy. Food converted into energy is used to rebuild and repair body tissue.

What is left of the small intestine are the undigested matter and is the bulk of the “poop” which will be discarded in the next stage of the process.

Large intestine. This organ is also referred to as the colon. It is roughly about 6-feet in length and a whooping 3-inches in diameter. Although it is the repository of near-future “poop,” it is still essential for its functions. This organ produces vitamins and for recycling water in the body. Unbelievably, the colon is the residence of trillions of bacteria cells, some are harmful, but most are beneficial.

The causes of gut distress and elimination imbalances

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Often, digestive stress and elimination problems are rooted in the foods we eat. Even healthy foods for some could prove unhealthy for others. Here are some substances in foods that can cause digestive issues:

Casein and other immunoglobulins. These are found in dairy products.

Fructose. These are sugars found in fruits. People who have problems digesting fructose will also experience the same with other types of complex carbohydrates.

Gluten. Also, other similar prolamine proteins. All these are found in grains like barley, rye, and corn.

Lectins. This is a protein. The most irritating type is found in seeds like grains, beans or legumes and nuts.

Some of these compounds can stimulate mast cells to produce histamine, which then mimics a food allergy which causes an increase in intestinal inflammation and permeability. They can also imitate symptoms of respiratory allergies which will cause throat irritations, sneezing, sniffles. For other people, these foods can stimulate the T-cell response of the immune system which will create or worsen autoimmune symptoms such as pain in the joints and skin rashes like eczema.

Some people may not be able to produce the right digestive enzymes to process these compounds, and this usually can cause any of the following disorders: an upset stomach, constipation, bloating, nausea, gas, and diarrhea.

Surprisingly, some of these foods in question can contain substances that can cause some addiction and can create a feeling of “highness.” Your stomach may not be tolerant to casein, but right after drinking a glass of milk, you get a sudden rush of “feeling good.”  But that would be short-lived because, after a while, you get an upset stomach

Taking care of gut health

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It would be beneficial to learn about gut health to be able to do what is right to promote digestive health. Many disorders can be traced to gut issues, and it is therefore imperative to get acquainted with what to do and what not to do, to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Have at least 12 twelve hours between your breakfast and dinner. The lining of the stomach is composed of only one layer of cells which need to be replenished every 72 hours. The stomach involves itself in heavy work during digestion and consequently will sustain damage to its lining.

Leaving the stomach to concentrate on repairs and replenishing for twelve hours from dinner to breakfast will immensely help. But don’t fast for the sake of the stomach as hunger may send the body into shock. This may also overburden the liver.

Keep the body hydrated. Drinking enough water is good for the body. The entire gut is like a water slide in an amusement park which should be kept slippery. Ditto with your guts and you can make this happen by continuously hydrating yourself. Hydrate with water and not with sweet drinks as these would only encourage unbeneficial gut bacteria in the colon.

Also, be wary of the effects of raw foods to the gut because these foods take a lot more energy for the body to break them down. If one has good gut health, having raw foods is fine. If not, this could trigger problems.

Take care of the gut. When someone feels uncomfortable, he would always lay the blame on the gut and come to resent it. It’s best to have an attitude where one believes there is a problem somewhere and find ways to solve it. The gut may be having some issues, and only the person can make it right. With such a mindset, the problem becomes easier to manage.

Make gradual changes. When confronted with a digestive problem and the remedy requires being more careful with food intake. But it’s not recommended that one give up on all the foods that can cause the disorder. It is best to find out what foods are causing problems and staying away from them. Focus on finding them out first, then eliminate them gradually.

Increase fiber, but not just that. Foods with high fiber contents are recommended for those with constipation problems. However, a condition known as slow transit constipation makes matters worse when the fiber is taken to counter constipation. Instead of relief, the fiber solution can lead to more gas, bloat, and pain.

If increasing fiber intake leads to worse scenarios, stop. Try eating fruit-based fiber first as it’s easier to digest compared to other fibres like those found in bran. If it doesn’t work, seek medical advice. Eating regularly should go hand in hand with eating the right foods. Bowel movement is triggered by food consumption. Those who miss meals are more prone to experiencing constipation for the simple reason that their systems aren’t getting that needed stimulus.

Try some liver. Most of us hate liver without knowing its value to gut health. This meat is loaded with vitamin A and vitamin D which are essential in protecting the mucous membrane that lines the gut. To diminish its not-too-pleasant taste, try sneaking liver into hamburgers and other ground-meat recipes.

Also, eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics, re-inoculating the body with good bacteria that thrive in parts of our gut system. Include as often as possible in your meals such side dishes like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and fermented pickles.

Chew food very well. Digestion is a natural process that requires a lot of energy and the improper chewing of food will result in more energy consumption as the food passes from mouth to the intestines. Take your time when eating. Small bites will be easier to liquefy. Chew until the food’s flavor is gone, then swallow before the next bite. Liquefied food, through chewing, puts fewer demands on the stomach when processing it further.

Stay away from processed food. Eating the right foods is a key to gut health. What happens when one consumes foods that contain harmful chemicals, genetically engineered ingredients, additives, and harmful sugars? All these will have a negative impact on those good gut bacteria that inhabit the gut linings. In moderation, such foods are tolerable, but frequent consumption will put your gut health at risk.

Protect the gut lining. A condition is known as “leaky gut” is common to many people with poor digestive health but are unaware of its existence. One afflicted with this will manifest physical holes in the linings of their intestines, and these allow proteins to get into the bloodstream. The immune system of the body will treat them as antigens, and this could only mean trouble. So, eating healthy can help one protect his gut lining.

Healthy elimination

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If you move your bowels once or twice daily, that is healthy elimination. The first movement should occur just after waking up in the morning and to be more precise, before sunrise. The second movement should occur later in the day or just after an afternoon or evening meal. Balanced stools should have the following characteristics:

  • well-formed and have the consistency of ripe bananas
  • maintain their shape after passing out
  • light-brownish in color
  • float when eliminated in a toilet bowl containing water
  • slightly oily
  • not sticky and the anal orifice is easily cleaned
  • only have a mild odor

But do not be frightened if your stool does not conform to all these. Most of us do not, especially with the kind of stresses and routines, we are exposed to every day. Leading fast-paced, eating wrong foods, multi-tasking, eating on the run, and more play significant roles in our digestive and excretory health. And this is precisely the reason why we need to explore venues to maintain health in our body systems and this case, the one that is involved in digestion.

 

Everything You Need to Know About the Health Benefits of Bitter Melon

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Bitter Melon Image Design 1 - Everything You Need to Know About the Health Benefits of Bitter Melon

Not a lot of people know the term “karela” or “Momordica charantia.” These are unfamiliar terms, but they mean the same thing. They are other names for bitter melon, otherwise known as bitter squash or bitter gourd in English. Anyone who has ever tasted bitter melon would understand why it’s named as such. This vegetable is light or dark green and has a rough exterior. The shade of green depends on the region where the bitter vegetable is grown.

Although it isn’t very popular because of its bitter taste, the bitter melon is healthy. It’s rich in essential vitamins as well as beneficial antioxidants. The bitter melon can be consumed in different ways. People pickle it, drink its juice, and even use it in different recipes. No matter how it’s consumed, the bitter melon would be very beneficial to the body.

Nutrition facts

Bitter melon goes by different names all over the world. Some common ones are a bitter gourd, karela, balsam, and bitter apple. This vegetable belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family of plants. Nowadays, this is grown in 2 different varieties, and it’s very popular because of its medicinal and health benefits.

All over the world, there are more than a dozen different species of the bitter melon plant. And they all differ from each other. They differ in texture, taste, size, appearance, and even in their beneficial properties. However, the most common type of bitter melon has a small, round appearance with a distinct and highly tart taste.

Even though the fruit is still immature, it can sometimes be eaten as a vegetable. It’s usually added to different recipes especially in Asia. People consume the bitter melon raw and cooked. It can also be used to make a potent extract which contains a lot of antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

According to studies, there are at least 32 active chemicals found in the bitter melon plant. It has also been found out that the signature flavor comes from a type of alkaloid momordicine. This compound is produced by the plant’s leaves and fruit. While still in its immature form, the bitter melon contains a lot of essential nutrients such as phosphorus, iron, and vitamins A and C.

One of the major attributes of bitter melon is that it contains antioxidants and phytonutrients which are biologically active. It also contains chemical compounds such as saponins, phenolic acids, alkaloids, glycosides, triterpenes, fixed oils, and peptides which are insulin-like. Finally, it also contains certain types of steroids and anti-inflammatory proteins.

Research done on bitter melon have identified distinct flavonoid and phenolic compounds in bitter melon which are responsible for a lot of its anti-cancer and anti-diabetic benefits. These compounds include epicatechin, tannic acid, gentisic acid, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric, and catechin.

These compounds have a lot of benefits to the health. These include regulating appetite, balancing hormones, reducing inflammation, preventing the growth of tumors, preventing obesity, and so much more. Here are the other common health benefits of bitter melon.

Constipation Cure

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Bitter melon contains a lot of fiber. Because of this, it helps ease the process of digestion. The properties in bitter melon help digest the food and throw out waste from the body. That’s why it’s considered as a great cure for constipation. When a person consumes bitter melon, it helps cure indigestion too, aside from constipation.

Diabetes protection

Another health benefit of bitter melon is it helps protect people from diabetes. In fact, drinking bitter melon juice may help people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. For years, this has been part of ancient Indian and Chinese medicine. But only recent studies have proven that it’s more than folklore. In part, type 2 diabetes is because of the cells’ inability to absorb sugar in the blood. And this is because the cells have developed a resistance to insulin.

In the body, the absorption of sugar occurs when the protein, kinase, is activated. Bitter melon helps actives the kinases in the cells. Because of this, the cells can absorb sugar better, therefore keeping diabetes under control.

Also, bitter melon contains special compounds like insulin which help lower the body’s blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that the vegetable reduces blood sugar levels by heightening the metabolism of glucose.

Hair benefits

Here’s a surprising benefit of bitter melon – it’s also good for the hair! It’s a great remedy for the hair, and people use it to treat hair problems and enhance longevity. Here are some hair benefits of bitter melon:

  • Some people use bitter melon juice to give their hair a natural shine.
  • It can also be used to treat dandruff which is a common problem for a lot of people. Using this vegetable on the hair for at least a month will show significant improvements in the condition.
  • Another condition it can help is split Use some raw juice from the vegetable on split ends and comb the hair gently.
  • A person suffering from scalp dryness and itchiness can also benefit from bitter melon. But this time, it’s more effective to rub a piece of the vegetable on the scalp in a circular movement to ease the dryness and itchiness.
  • Bitter melon can also be used to help reduce hair loss naturally.
  • People with rough and tangled hair can also use bitter melon to their advantage. Simple soak the hair in the juice for about 15 minutes and rinse with water.
  • The juice of the vegetable can also be used to treat the premature graying of a person’s hair.
  • Finally, it can also be used to treat oily hair. Aside from reducing the amount of oily food in the diet, application of bitter melon juice can lessen excess oils in the scalp and hair.

Kidney stone

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Anyone who has ever suffered from kidney stones knows that it’s a very painful medical condition. Fortunately, bitter melon can help rid the body of kidney stones naturally. The vegetable has components which help break down kidney stones. It also helps lower the amount of acid in the body which contributes to the production of kidney stones.

Liver booster

Bitter melon is an excellent liver booster. It aids in digestive processes, enhances the function of the gallbladder, and even reduces the body’s fluid retention. People who drink bitter melon juice can avoid hepatitis, constipation, and even cirrhosis of the liver. It would be especially beneficial if a person drinks a glass of the vegetable juice at least once in a day.

Bitter melon juice can help detoxify the liver. It contains hepatic qualities which help the liver filter the impurities in the body. Because of this, the liver can effectively rid the body of toxins and impurities which may have negative effects on the health.

Lower cholesterol levels

The healthy vegetable can also help lower cholesterol levels in the body. When this happens, it may significantly reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart diseases. The great thing about bitter melon is that it’s a completely natural remedy to help prevent dangerous health risks.

Skin benefits

Aside from the hair, bitter melon is also extremely beneficial for the skin. It can be used to treat blood disorders, fungal diseases, and other conditions which may affect a person’s skin. Bitter melon also has anti-aging properties which appeal to a lot of people.

The appearance of a person’s skin is hugely dependent on what he eats. Because of this, people who want to have healthy skin must always eat healthy food. Bitter melon naturally purifies the blood, and so it manifests some of its good effects on the skin. Here are some benefits one can enjoy from consuming bitter melon:

  • It can help prevent skin problems from occurring. This will help keep the skin glowing and blemish-free. Because of the blood-purifying properties, it can also help prevent acne.
  • Bitter melon can also be used to treat skin infections and diseases. These include psoriasis, eczema, and other fungal infections.
  • The vegetable also contains vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant. It, therefore, helps fight and eliminate free-radicals which are harmful to the body. It also helps prevent wrinkles from appearing, hence, slowing the aging process down.

Weight loss

As we’ve discussed, bitter melon contains antioxidants, and these are very useful when it comes to flushing out toxins from the body. The antioxidant components also help improve metabolism and the digestive system. Therefore, it can also help promote weight loss.

Two important factors which help in weight loss are the filling components as well as calorie control. The filling component of bitter melon is water, which is a great hunger suppressant. While the calorie control component comes from the fact that it’s a low-calorie vegetable. So, anyone who’s looking for a filling type of food that promotes weight loss can start consuming bitter melon. And since there are many ways to eat this vegetable, there are a lot of options!

Boosts immune system

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Another helpful benefit of bitter melon is it helps boost the immune system. By far, this is one of the most important benefits of the vegetable. When the body’s immune system is strong, it will help protect the body from different illnesses. Even if the person catches a cold, if his immune system is strong, he’ll be able to overcome the illness a lot faster.

Research has shown that bitter melon contains antiviral and antibacterial agents. These agents can lower the risk of developing different kinds of infections and viruses, even HIV. In fact, in recent studies, the extract of bitter melon has been successfully utilized against ulcers.

Also, other studies have identified that bitter melon also has anthelmintic agents. This is a type of anti-parasitic compound which can help eliminate parasitic worms and other parasites found within the body. Such agents work by killing the parasites internally without damaging the host’s body. Therefore, a healthy immune system is crucial.

Since bitter melon aids in boosting the immune system, people who are susceptible to illnesses, diseases, and infections should consider consuming it. As a bonus, bitter melon is also an excellent remedy for indigestion and acid reflux.

Increase protection against cancer

According to studies, bitter melon juice contains elements which can eliminate pancreatic cancer cells. And tumor growth was also significantly reduced. And the best part is, that drinking the juice would cause no harmful side effects. By contrast, traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation have detrimental effects on a person’s body. They leave the person feeling tired, nauseous, and weak. And they also cause hair loss in people who get the treatments.

Aside from pancreatic cancer, some research has also shown that bitter melon can help prevent other types of cancer. These include melanoma, skin tumors, lymphoid leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, and others. The research also established that the vegetable is very effective because of its anti-tumor, anti-mutagen, and anti-cancer characteristics. Right now, though, more research is needed as the results are inconsistent. However, whenever tests are done, the results are always promising.

The extract of bitter melon promotes detoxification, increases metal chelating, inhibits the production of free radicals, and prevents the peroxidation of lipids. It helps hinder the elements and processes which contribute to tumor growth and mutation of cells. That’s why a lot of people believe that bitter melon is extremely healthy and should be studied more to discover the clinical applications it can be used for in the future.

Enhances eye health

Finally, bitter melon can also enhance a person’s eye health. The vegetable contains a lot of vitamin A. It contains enough of the vitamin to give you about a third of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Several studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between eye health and vitamin A.

Specifically, if a person consumes the appropriate amount of vitamin A, it can help slow down macular degeneration. Thus, it will reduce the likelihood of developing vision problems as one age. Bitter melon can also help improve a person’s night vision. Vitamin A is also essential for the optimal function of the cornea as well as the conjunctival membranes. So, the more bitter melon a person eats, the healthier his eyes may become!

Selection, storage, and preparation of bitter melon

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In different markets and grocery stores, fresh pods of bitter melon are readily available all year round. When a person buys bitter melon, he should look for ones which have a fresh, dark-green appearance. They shouldn’t have any blemishes or cuts on the surface either. It’s better to select the young and tender fruit-pods. The immature bitter melons have the least bitter taste. This is because the astringent level of the pods increases as they mature.

When it comes to storing bitter melon, the best way to do it is to place the vegetable in a zip pouch or an airtight container. Then place it in the refrigerator’s vegetable compartment. Doing this would keep the bitter melon fresh for up to 7 days.

When preparing bitter melon, wash it thoroughly first. One can use the fresh pods and the leaves of the vegetable for cooking. To lessen the bitter flavor, people usually marinate the vegetable in water with a bit of salt then drying it under the sunlight. Then one can start using the vegetable in different recipes. It’s versatile, healthy, and easy to prepare so why not start cooking?

 

7 Cost-effective Ways to Better Nutrition

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You know you need to eat well to live well. Experts tell you to get your five a day and cut down on the processed foods you eat. There are others that tell you to eat more organic foods, and others that will say to you all sugar is bad.

One of the most significant issues with better nutrition is the cost. While you know processed and packaged foods are not great for your overall health, they tend to be better financially. They are certainly cheaper to buy and usually last longer. Eating well just is not always cost-effective.

Well, that was the past. There are cost-effective ways to better nutrition. We have seven ways that you can save money and make your healthy food last much longer.

Start with a Good Plan and Grocery List

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Better nutrition starts with your meal plan. There’s no point going into the grocery store without a plan of attack. After all, you would not go into a basketball game without a game plan, would you?

Planning your meals will help you cut down on the things you buy. You run through all the ingredients you need for any recipes that you plan to make. Look at the items you already have in the home to avoid doubling up on any ingredients unnecessarily.

The meal plan is also an excellent way to remain on a diet, follow your current weight loss plan, and ensure you get all the essential nutrients in your diet. You can run through all the macro and micronutrients you are going to need for a healthy diet.

Make a list of all you need. This is not a list of what you want, but a list of the foods you need to create all the meals on your meal plan.

Take this list with you to your grocery store. Follow it to the letter as much as possible. Of course, if the store is out of an item, you will need to replace it with something else. Find the next closest thing that is not processed. If you cannot find anything, consider whether it can just be left out of the recipe without changing the taste.

While shopping for your foods on the list, look around the shelves. Don’t just opt for the one at eye-level. This is where most of the expensive items are put; the ones that will give the stores a better profit margin. You want the cheapest options, usually higher up or lower down, making them harder to reach so they are less likely bought.

Never go to the grocery store while you are hungry. Even with a list, this will lead to you buying off it. You pick up quick meals to make because you feel like you need them. Your cravings kick in more, making you feel like you need the sugar rush. Your shopping trip ends up more expensive and less cost-useful for your nutritional benefits.

Cook from Scratch and Make Larger Portions

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It is time to look at the way you cook. If you regularly eat out, you will want to curb it. Once every couple of week or once a month is not too bad, but if you eat out at least once a week, you are wasting money. On top of that, you are wasting the nutrients in your home.

Make it a habit of cooking inside the home. This is all part of that meal plan. You are planning for home cooked meals daily.

However, that does not mean you have to cook every day. Some people will make all their meals at the weekend. They are all meals that are easily frozen, so you can just pull them out and reheat when it comes to eating them. You can also make more substantial portions so that you can store the extra for another night. Consider leftover night once a week for a quick meal.

One of the best ways to make your grocery shop more cost-effective is to have a potluck night. Use up all the vegetables you have in the house; the ones that are about to go off. You can enjoy them and not feel like you have wasted your money on the nutrients. You will be surprised at what you can make. Just put the ingredients in cooking apps, and they will bring up delicious recipe ideas.

Don’t Buy the Branded Foods

Avoid the branded foods when you walk into a store. While they can sound more nutritious, they usually are not. Moreover, they are certainly not more cost-effective.

You are paying extra for the brand. The no-name options are just as good. You will barely taste a difference, especially when everything is thrown into a meal together.

At the same time, make sure you read the ingredients list. Just because something has a brand name does not make it better for you. There are chances that there are added salt, sugars, and other ingredients in the hope that it tastes better. The no-name options are more natural, helping them remain more nutritious and far more cost-effective.

Of course, this can work the other way around. Make sure the ingredients on the no-name options are better for you!

Most of the time, the non-branded food will be towards the bottom of the aisle sections. They are away from the eye level, so you do not instantly see them to buy them. Don’ be afraid to look at all the options within the area.

Just because something has been good for you so far, doesn’t mean it always will be. Every few months, double check ingredients to see if any formulas have changed.

Opt for Frozen Vegetables and Fruits More Often

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You do not have to buy fresh to gain the nutritional benefits. Frozen vegetables and fruits are still packed with goodness. They are also far more cost-effective than the fresh produce in the store, especially when you are looking for something out of season.

Most bags of frozen fruit or veggies will last a few weeks. You can sometimes get a few months use out of the bag, depending on the amount you use throughout the week.

Frozen fruits are excellent for smoothies. There’s no need to stock up on the ice since the frozen fruits are already extra cold. They can also work well with porridge. Put them at the bottom with the hot porridge oats over the top and enjoy on a morning. The heat of the porridge will help to defrost the fruits.

As for frozen vegetables, you can cook them for your Sunday roasts, add them to stews, and even throw them into casseroles and stir-fries.

Since the bags last longer, you will buy fewer fruits and vegetables. You will also see less go to waste, helping to keep the long-term costs down.

Opt for In-Season Produce

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Of course, not everything tastes excellent frozen. There is something about fresh produce, especially when it is in-season. In-season fruits and vegetables taste amazing. They are juicy, bright, and full of nutrients that will keep your bodies healthy throughout the day.

In-season produce is also cheaper to buy fresh. The stores find it easier to ship to them, and the manufacturers find it easier to grow. There’s no need to go through various customs, creating more time between picking and selling.

Work out which produce is in-season throughout the year. Tomatoes are good for the summer, squash is an excellent fall or winter vegetable, while potatoes can grow well throughout the year. Buy extra during these times of year and store the excess in the freezer. You make your frozen vegetable and fruit selection, making sure the money you spent is effective and worthwhile.

Want to keep the costs down further? Consider growing your produce. This is something you can do even if you are in an apartment. Your balcony may be the perfect place for growing your herbs! You will get a variety of nutrients through them without spending extra money in the store, just for them to end up going off before you have had a chance to use them up!

If you have a garden, you can grow your onions, tomatoes, carrots, and much more. You will be surprised at what works well; just work with the seasons at hand.

One of the best things about homegrown produce is the taste. You will pick it when it is ripe and get to eat it right away. This will give you more nutrients and more delicious fruits and vegetables throughout the year. You can always store the excess in the freezer.

Don’t Buy Just Because of Offers

Stores will routinely put on offers. That is great, except the offers are not for your benefit. The offers are always put on for the grocery stores’ benefits. So, you need to think ahead and use coupons and sales wisely.

If you were not going to buy ingredients that you have coupons for, consider whether you need them. They may be ingredients that you regularly use but just don’t need that week. If they are not going to go off right away or you have a way of preserving them stock up while they are on sale or you have coupons for them.

However, if they will go off or you are only buying them on the off-chance, leave them be. The sales will come up again in the future, and you get to save money that week by not getting them at all. You have made a more cost-effective decision.

Cut out on the junk that you buy too. Most of the sales and coupons will be on processed or junk food. Avoid the aisles, and the coupons and the foods will not be as tempting as they usually are.

When you do see sales and coupons for your cupboard staples, buy them in bulk. Things like baked beans, frozen fruits, and vegetables, fresh cuts of meat can all work out beneficial for you if you buy in bulk. You can either store them for weeks in the cupboard or stock them in the freezer and not need to buy them until the next time they are on sale.

Change Your Protein Purchases

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We all know that meat is one of the best sources of protein. However, it is not the only source. There are many others, and some are even entirely proteins.

Meat is certainly one of the most expensive purchases you will make in the store. It is also sometimes one of the least cost-effective unless you act as soon as you buy. You could split up your bulk purchases and freeze right away, helping to make your bulk packs last longer. However, there are other options in case you want them in the fridge for immediate use.

Opt for cheaper cuts of meat instead. These tend to be fattier or have more skin, but you can act to remove them. Cut off the fats before cooking, remove the skin, and even try different cooking methods. Tougher cuts of meat taste juice and tender when done in the slow cooker. You can bulk make a dish for the rest of the week.

Alternative just replace the meat. Opt for legumes, tofu, eggs, and even canned fish. You will find they have less saturated fats. Some will even have minimal fats entirely. They have the protein and in many cases the fiber that your body needs.

Most of these meat alternatives will also last longer. You can store them in the cupboard for months without stocking up again, making them by far the most cost-effective purchase you could make.

It is Time to Be More Cost-effective but Healthy

Keeping the costs of your grocery shop down does not mean you have to eat processed foods. There are plenty of ways to make your healthy food last. You can save money in the long term. The seven tips above are some of the most popular, and will certainly help you stick to a long-term healthy diet.

7 Health Principals to Help Teenagers Lose Weight

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Obesity is a growing concern in the Western world. More children and teenagers are suffering from being overweight and it’s leading to a range of health problems. Some turn to eating disorders, while others yo-yo diet constantly. Being overweight and obese doesn’t just affect the physical health, but the mental health and self-esteem.

Encourage your teenager to lose weight is important. You can help them eat healthier and reduce their calorie intakes while boosting their fitness levels. But how do you help teenagers that think the world is against them? How can you give them a boost when their hormones are spiking, and they have no idea how to do it all?

Sometimes it’s all about looking at the health principals. These are the seven you’ll want to focus on to help teenagers lose weight.

Focus on an Adequate Number of Calories

There’s no point in telling teenagers to reduce the number of calories they eat. Many will take it too far and eat far less than their bodies need to survive. Others just don’t understand how many is too many. While they reduce their calorie intake, they don’t reduce it enough for their metabolism.

Wanting your teenagers to eat enough is essential. So, let them know about the minimum number of calories their bodies are going to need. On average, the body needs at least 1,200 calories just to survive daily. This doesn’t include the calories needed if they are active and do a lot of exercises! This is an adult too.

Of course, this is on average. Your teen isn’t likely to have the average body. The number of calories your child’s body will burn depends on age, gender, and weight. Children are still growing, so their metabolisms are much higher.

Don’t drop anything less than 13 calories for each pound in weight. This will offer the support for growing, as well as the daily tasks. So, a child that weights 200lbs will need around 2,600 calories. That’s lot more than the recommended 2,000 calories to maintain a healthy weight and the 1,200 calories that experts say is the bare minimum.

If your teenager does exercise, the number of calories may need to increase a little. This will depend on whether your doctor is worried about the weight loss.

Don’t Focus on Quick Weight Loss Results

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Too many people want to lose weight and lose it right now. It’s understandable considering the amount of focus is put on weight and looks. But this isn’t something you want to encourage your teenager. To help teenagers lose weight healthily, put the focus on a healthy and slow weight loss.

Don’t encourage losing any more than 2lbs a week. This is already a lot, especially for teenagers. Losing more than 2lbs a week consistently means they are going to impact their health negatively. They aren’t getting the calories mentioned above. They can impact their growth and build while losing more water and muscle instead of just fat.

And that’s not all! Fast weight losses are bad for the metabolism. If you encourage too much, the metabolism will go into a starvation mode. It slows down believing that you don’t need to burn as many calories to survive. The limited calories your teenager once ate will cause weight maintenance or gain. This can lead to reducing the calories further and affecting the health negatively even more.

It’s a never-ending cycle. The metabolic rate is one of the hardest things to speed up again. In fact, your teenager is likely to struggle with a slow metabolism for the rest of their life, no matter what they do.

Losing weight quickly is also detrimental to the energy levels. Remember your teenager needs a specific number of calories to get through the day. The body is doing so much to help your teenager grow and develop. By reducing the calories and losing a lot of weight in a short space of time, you cause a dip in the energy levels. Teenagers are more likely to suffer dips in cognitive function and that can affect their school work.

The mental health is also going to take a dip, as losing weight is tiring and hard. Putting the pressure on to lose a lot of weight in a short space of time can seem impossible and teenagers are less likely to stick with the diet. When they know they can lose a little each week and remain healthy, their determination is supported.

Focus on a Healthy Diet

Losing weight isn’t just about reducing calories. There should be a focus on getting the right types of foods in the diet. This means focusing on food groups that will help to support the growing body of the teenager. Some of this will be the same as for you, it’s just the amounts that differ!

Teenagers need to get the right vitamins and minerals. Calcium, vitamin D, iron, and folic acid are all extremely important. They help with the development and strength of the bones, boosting the oxygenated blood flow, improve the cognitive development and improve hormonal balance within the body.

Your teenager will get up to a lot throughout the day. Having strong bones and muscles is essential. The imbalance in hormones can make it much harder for the body to absorb all the nutrients the body needs. That’s why you need to encourage more through the diet and even through health supplements.

With a healthy diet, your teenager will find it much easier to enjoy food and lose weight. The healthiest foods are among those with the lowest calories!

Don’t forget about the fat content in foods. Your teenager needs fat, which means whole fat milk and yogurts are good for them. Don’t push them onto a low-fat diet just yet—studies show that low-fat foods aren’t necessarily the best for helping to reduce weight anyway as they contain more sugars.

Low-carb diets are not good for teenagers. There is absolutely no need for teenagers to cut out all carbs from their diet. In fact, they need carbs for energy! The best option is both health and balance in the foods they eat.

Discourage Refined Sugar from the Diet

While low-carb diets and low-fat diets aren’t necessarily, look out for diets that encourage low refined sugar intakes. Sugar is the biggest reason for health problems and obesity in the Western world.

Your teenager likely has a high sugar diet without you really considering it. They drink fruit juice, enjoy candy bars now and then, drink soda and eat cookies and cakes. Even if you limit the intake to once a day, the sugars are affecting your teen’s overall health. In fact, they’re affecting your overall health.

There’s no need to get any sugar other than natural sugars. And you want to get these natural sugars with other food groups, especially starches and fiber. That means fruit juice is a no-no, especially daily. Keep it as a one-off now and then.

You’ll know that sugars cause the blood’s glucose levels to spike. You may have heard that the glucose levels lead to insulin spikes and eventually lead to Type II diabetes. This is a growing concern in children and teenagers, as more sugars are introduced to the diet at a young age. Refined sugars are just full of empty calories. The foods offer no nutritional benefits, and that includes fruit juices! All the vitamins and fibers have been removed from the juice so you’re just drinking sugary water.

When you get more sugar, your metabolism takes a hit. You increase the chance of various health problems, including metabolic syndrome and heart disease. The sugars can also affect the hormones, making the teenage years worse. And of course, the sugars are high in calories, making weight loss harder.

By discouraging refined sugars and empty calories, you can increase the weight loss efforts. Not all sugars have to be banned but opt for natural ones through whole fruits, milk, and even a small amount of dark chocolate. The small sugar intake will help to boost weight loss efforts, improve the health, and minimize the sugar cravings daily.

Encourage More Exercise the Right Way

Boost activity levels in your teenager for healthy weight loss. This isn’t just about increasing speed or the number of repetitions that are done in an exercise, but about doing the exercises correctly. 13-15-year-olds don’t need to worry about the number of bodyweight exercises they do but should focus more on performing the exercises properly and well. This will help to develop the muscles to build on that in their later teenage years.

Start with more aerobic exercise than bodyweight and strength training. Teenagers burn more calories daily than adults, so need around 60 minutes of exercise daily. This can be hard to fit in, which is why there is a focus on schools keeping physical education in their curriculums; it’s often the only way children get the exercise into their day.

Don’t focus on the calories burned when exercising or on the intensity put in. Focus on the amount of quality exercise they do. Find something they enjoy doing regularly, whether it’s a team sport or just going for a run on their own.

Consider all the health benefits of exercise. Focus more on the feeling after a workout and the way they feel good. You can even lead by example and get out there with your teen.

If your teenager hasn’t exercised in a long time, jumping straight into an extensive routine can be dangerous. Encourage improving the activity a little at a time. Start one week by walking to school one day a week and then increase that by a day each week. Soon enough your teen will forget that they were ever dropped off at school!

By focusing on form and slow increases, your teen will develop the muscles in the right way. The joints and tissues are protected, helping to decrease the chance of injuries. This will help to protect the mental health, as teens are likely to view exercise as the enemy.

Look More at Good Body Image

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Being overweight is hard in high school. Other teenagers are mean, and they will pick up on the slightest thing. Having a good body image is essential, especially when it comes to tackling the weight outside of school.

As teens try to lose weight, there is the risk that they will give into eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, and even binge eating are all major problems for teenagers and they can go months without being diagnosed at first. Some aren’t diagnosed for a long time. This isn’t a case of “getting over it” and changing the way they eat. Eating disorders are a mental health issue and require a lot of work on all sides for sufferers to change the way they view food and calories.

The best thing you can do is encourage a healthy body image right away. Girls and boys can suffer from self-esteem and confidence issues. They can body develop poor body images, looking at the way they believe they should look through magazines and on TV. Spend time discussing the images in magazines and how they’re airbrushed. It’s also worth talking to teens about how models and celebrities look after their bodies.

Encourage your teen to be the best version of themselves that they can be. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be thin. However, focus on health and avoid comparing against others too much.

Find a Good Support Network

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When it comes to teenage health, have a support network is essential. This is especially beneficial when it comes to healthy weight loss. Your teen is not the only one struggle to lose weight daily and enjoy school because of their weight. It’s important to find groups, whether in person or online.

The support groups don’t need to have the exact goals in mind. While some teenagers will be more interested in being fitter, others want to lose weight or just improve their body image. All three can work together, as they tend to all involve similar methods to ditch the obesity.

Peer support is important, but it’s also worth getting support from those in positions of authority. Your teen will need to know guidance counselors, doctors, and sometimes therapists are on the side. They need to know you’re there to support them or that other family members are available. This can mean simply asking how the healthy eating plan or exercise is going. Feeling like you’re acknowledging their hard work will help them continue for themselves; they feel good about it and want to continue that feeling.

Losing weight as a teenager isn’t about cutting calories. You want to focus on the health principals. This will help to support physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s possible to avoid eating disorders and low confidence levels while boosting the number of nutrients your teenager gets daily. You’re setting your teenager up for success in the future.

Everything You Need to Know About Magnesium Supplements

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Magnesium Image Design 1 - Everything You Need to Know About Magnesium Supplements

You know about the mineral magnesium, but possibly overlook the benefits of it. Most of us suffer from a deficiency in the mineral because we forget about it when it comes to food. It can be difficult to get enough through food alone, which means reaching for magnesium supplements is a consideration by many.

Before you reach for the supplements, make sure you know all you can about them. Getting magnesium naturally is the best way of getting the nutrient in your body. Here’s a look at everything you need to know about magnesium supplements.

Why Are So Many People Deficient in Magnesium?

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Did you know around 80% of adults have a magnesium deficiency? The severity of the deficiency ranges from mind to serious. Those with deficiencies in magnesium can have deficiencies in other nutrients, including vitamins B1 and K and potassium.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some minerals can prevent the absorption of magnesium into the body. Calcium can cause the body to act negatively. This is especially a problem if you take too much calcium daily.

Women with a magnesium deficiency can also have worse PMS symptoms or be more likely to suffer from pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. There is also more risk of weakened immune systems, osteoporosis, mood swings, liver and kidney damage, high blood pressure, and many other health problems.

But why is a magnesium deficiency so bad?

One of the biggest issues is a chance in the lifestyle. More of us reach for processed foods, rather than healthier and organic alternatives. We eat food that is full of empty calories, instead of focusing on a balanced diet that is full of magnesium-high foods. There are various reasons for this, with cost often stated as one of the main reasons. Processed foods tend to be cheaper because they are made in larger amounts to keep up with demand.

Soil depletion is also a problem. The foods that used to be high in the mineral no longer have as much, as the soil doesn’t have it. The use of antibiotics can also lead to low magnesium levels. The body can’t absorb as much from the food that we eat.

And our bodies get rid of magnesium daily. It’s excreted through the urine and its used for normal bodily functions, including hormone production and heart rate control. So, if you don’t replenish it daily, you can end up losing more than you gain.

With all this in mind, opting for magnesium supplements can help you increase the amount you get. The supplements have a controlled amount of the nutrient, making sure you get enough daily. It doesn’t solve the absorption rate problem, but you put more in your diet to increase the chances of absorbing the amount that you need.

How Much Magnesium Does Your Body Need?

Remember that your body will get some magnesium from food. It is possible to take too much of a nutrient, leading to other health problems. Before you even think about using magnesium supplements, make sure you know just how much you need daily.

Children under a year old will usually get enough magnesium through the breast milk or formula. After the first year, you will likely move onto solid food. It’s worth considering child supplements when moving off formula or breast milk, as there is a chance that children won’t get as much as they need. Talk to your doctor or health visitor about the types of supplements that are best for children.

When it comes to the adult years, women need 360mg of magnesium a day in their teenage years and then 310mg between 19 and 30. The amount increases to 320mg after 31 years of age.

Pregnant women will need to get between 350mg and 360mg per day to support the development of the baby. When breastfeeding, get between 310mg and 320mg regardless of age. The baby will take the nutrients from you.

Make Sure You Get Other Important Nutrients

It’s not just about getting enough magnesium. Even if you get 320mg per day, there’s a chance that your body doesn’t absorb all the mineral. This is linked to the other vitamins and minerals that you get. If you don’t get enough vitamin K, your body can find it hard to absorb enough magnesium. High levels of calcium or not enough vitamin D can also lead to problems absorbing magnesium.

If you are going to take supplements, make sure you get enough of other nutrients. Multivitamins are usually advised because you’ll get a mixture of all the nutrients your body needs. It’s also worth focusing on a healthy diet, rather than opting for supplements for everything.

There’s nothing wrong with topping up with supplements, but don’t rely on just the supplements to get your daily amount. This could lead to other health problems.

The Different Types of Supplements for Magnesium

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There are natural and synthetic supplements available in stores. You can also get magnesium through some over-the-counter medications like laxatives and antacids. It’s important to look at anything you eat or take daily to keep the amount gained within the healthy ranges.

The various types of supplements will absorb differently within the body. Those that are dissolved in liquids tend to absorb much easier within the gut. Most of the hard work has already been carried out. Studies also show that magnesium in chloride, chelate, or citrate forms are also easier to absorb than those with sulfate or oxide forms.

Magnesium chelate is one of the most preferred and easier to find. It’s found in most of foods naturally, too, which makes it the most powerful. When bound with amino acids, the muscles get more of the nutrient and it can be used to replenish energy stores better.

When you get it through laxatives, you will usually get magnesium citrate. This is when it’s combined with citric acid, whether natural or synthetic. It is safe for the body to digest and can help to relieve constipation and other digestive problems. Not all this form is found in laxatives. It can also be found naturally in citric fruits. When eaten in large amounts, they can create the laxative effect.

You can apply magnesium to the skin through chloride oil. Magnesium oil is also something added to food, especially for professional athletes or given as a supplement for those with some digestive disorders. It can help to dull pain in the muscles, reduce skin irritations, and improve the normal absorption of the mineral.

If you need something that is highly absorbable, magnesium glycinate is something to consider. It’s one that isn’t linked to laxatives, which helps to avoid wasted magnesium through the stools. Doctors will often consider this form when dealing with patients with severe magnesium deficiencies. However, you will likely not be kept on the form for too long, if your doctor believes it’s safer to move onto other forms.

Magnesium threonate is also considered for those with severe deficiencies since it is also easily absorbed. The downside is that this isn’t a form easily available. More studies and research are also needed to make sure it’s safe for all and for any downsides noted.

You can also get magnesium in numerous natural forms. Epsom salts are considered for many, as the magnesium can be absorbed directly through the skin and treat skin conditions. The salts aren’t the type of salts we consider in the way of drying out the skin. They’re mineral salts, packed with various other health benefits.

Yes, It Is Possible to Overdose

Taking too many magnesium supplements is possible. The amounts for a healthy female have already been mentioned. Taking too many supplements can lead to diarrhea in most people. Magnesium helps to keep the bowel movements in order by softening the stools. It’s possible to soften the stools too much.

There are also risks for those with heart and kidney problems. In fact, if you do have either of these problems, you should speak to your doctor before considering magnesium supplements. The nutrient affects the kidneys directly and taken too much can lower blood pressure considerably and disrupt the level of electrolytes in the body.

If you currently take drugs to help manage diabetes, blood thinners, and diuretics, you will want to consider against magnesium supplements for now. Talk to your doctor about mixing the medications together, as magnesium supplements can affect the way your other medications work.

Take Your Supplements with Food

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Some people experience discomfort when taking magnesium supplements without food. It’s best to get a balance whenever taking any type of supplement. When taken with food, the digestive system is working naturally to break down all the nutrients in the food, so it’s easier to absorb all the magnesium from the supplements.

Taking with food will also make it easier to take the mineral with other nutrients. It’s easier to increase your vitamins D and K intake naturally. Watch out for taking magnesium with calcium. Too much calcium can lead to absorption problems.

You’ll also want to make sure you take with water. As mentioned, dissolving the nutrient can help to improve the absorption rate within the body. This is because the nutrient has already started to break down. Anything in liquid form is easier for the body to absorb. Drinking with some sea salt mixed with the water is even better. Sea salt naturally has magnesium, improving the amount of the mineral that you get into the body.

You may want to time taking your supplements properly, too. While you want to take them with food, opt for them with the last meal of the day. Magnesium can improve the chances of sleeping, as a magnesium deficiency is linked to insomnia and restless leg syndrome. You can find you relax better with the supplements at the end of the night, improving your overall hormonal balance and sleep benefits.

If you still struggle with sleep when taking the supplements, make sure you talk to your doctor. This could be a sign of another health problem.

There’s Still More Research Needed

While research has proven positive in many aspects of taking the supplement, it’s not conclusive yet. There is inefficient research in how magnesium supplements can help some parts of the health. More research is also needed into the downsides of taking the supplements, especially the prolonged use effects.

Before you start taking magnesium supplements, make sure you talk to your doctor. This is regardless of another health problem or not. Your doctor will need to know about all the supplements and medications you take. This will help with a diagnosis in the future and help them know symptoms and signs to look out for. You can also discuss the individual types of supplements to make sure you get the best options for your overall health.

Your doctor will also be able to check for a magnesium deficiency. This can be tested through the blood to determine if it’s really magnesium you need. There are many minerals that cause similar side effects and symptoms.

The best way to get magnesium is naturally, but some of the natural sources are failing. Soil, antibacterial use, and financial restraints are making it hard to get the right levels of the nutrient into your body. If you have increased the natural forms of magnesium and are still struggling with a deficiency, consider the use of supplements.

Do You Need Magnesium Supplements?

Now it’s time to look at your diet and lifestyle. Could a magnesium deficiency be your problem? Do you need to start taking magnesium supplements? Don’t instantly jump to the idea of medication. There are natural forms and your doctor will also help offer advice. If you do decide to take magnesium supplements, use the above guide to get the right type to improve your health and the absorption rate within your body.

7 Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Weekend Parties

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Non Alcoholic Drinks Image Design 1 - 7 Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Weekend Parties

Who said that not drinking alcohol had to be boring? There are so many ways to have fun without the toxins in your body. Whether you just want one clean weekend, or you are looking at making alcohol-free living a permanent part of your life, you do not have to worry about what your friends will think.

At no point will you need to miss out on parties or look like the bore. Non-alcoholic drinks can even seem like the real deal. The best part is they taste better since you do not have the dehydrating effect from the alcohol. The next morning you will feel fresh and ready for action, unlike all your friends who drank the alcoholic versions.

However, just how do you make fun non-alcoholic drinks for your weekend parties? Here are seven that you will want to try out immediately.

Start with the Pink Punch Recipe

recipe 1 - 7 Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Weekend Parties

The first on the list is a delicious pink punch. You will get the taste of summer in a bowl. Make everything beforehand, except for adding the ginger ale. This is best added just before you all enjoy this delicious alcohol-free drink.

Make sure all the juices are chilled. You will be able to avoid adding too much ice, which just ends up diluting your drink.

Ingredients:

  • 2tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups of cold water
  • 2 bottles of cranberry and raspberry juice
  • 1 can of pineapple juice
  • 1 can of pink lemonade, frozen but thawed
  • 1lt of ginger ale

Method:

  • Place the water and sugar in a punch bowl and combine until the sugar dissolves
  • Add all the juices, except the ginger ale, and mix to combine everything
  • Add the ginger ale, stirring gently to avoid losing too much fizz

Serve as soon as the ginger ale has been added. Decorate the glasses of punch with some lemon slices and add a little-crushed ice into the mix. You can also add an ice mold to the top if you want to go out of your way to impress.

This is a refreshing mocktail that your friends will want time and time again. Expect a few requests for summer at your house. It is something even your kids will enjoy in the house.

Make Your Own Non-Alcoholic Long Island Ice Tea

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Long Island Ice Tea is a popular cocktail in bars. What if you could get the taste of it without the alcohol? Enjoying your night with this mocktail is possible. It is the perfect option for large families and when kids want to enjoy something that looks like a grown-up drink.

This is not just going to be a mocktail for weekend parties. You will want a batch of this in the fridge throughout the summer for a refreshing and cooling drink.

Ingredients:

  • 7.5 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of instant tea
  • 5 envelopes of lemonade soft drink mix
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • Cold water

Preparing the tea

  • Dissolve the team mix in a cup of warm water, making enough for 1 and 2/3 cups
  • Place the mixture into a gallon container and fill up to the gallon mark with the cold water
  • Place in the fridge, covered, until you are ready to use t

Method:

  • Mix the sugar with the lemonade and tea in a large bowl
  • Store in five batches in airtight containers for up to six months

You will need to plan to make sure you can enjoy this delicious tea. It is well worth the wait when you have it. Think of it like making your alcohol, which takes months to ferment! The difference is you will have a tasty, non-alcoholic, punch to enjoy.

Enjoy a Cranberry Kiss

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How about something tarts for your weekend parties. The cranberry juice in this will help to give you a slight kick, while the orange juice will add the sweetness to the mixture. This will not take too long to make, and you can easily make extra to ensure you have enough for your weekend party.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of cranberry juice
  • 1 ½ cups of orange juice
  • 3 cups of ginger ale
  • Ice cubes

Method:

  • Combine the two fruit juices in a pitcher
  • Add the ginger ale
  • Serve everything over ice

Like with the first recipe, you want to add the ginger ale just before you serve. It is best when it is all drank fresh. You will get around 14 servings from this one recipe, so consider adding more! Your friends will want to know your non-alcoholic secrets.

Create a Delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb Punch

recipe 4 - 7 Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Weekend Parties

Rhubarb is delicious in a pie or crumble, but that is not the only way you can enjoy it. The next time you stock up on it, make sure you get the rest of the ingredients for this delicious mixture. It is a taste of summer and fall in one and is perfect for weekend parties throughout the year.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of rhubarb, fresh or frozen, chopped
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 ½ cups of sugar
  • 2tbsp strawberry flavored gelatin powder
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 2 cups of pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 6 cups of ginger ale, chilled

Method:

  • Using a Dutch oven, add the rhubarb to water and bring it to the boil
  • Reduce the heat and simmer the rhubarb while uncovered for 10 minutes
  • Drain off the liquid, reserving it for later
  • In a large bowl, add the sugar and gelatin to the boiling water
  • Add the two fruit juices, stirring to combine
  • Add the rhubarb liquid, stirring to combine
  • Place in the fridge to chill and then add the ginger ale

Make sure you add the ginger ale just before you serve again. Left too long and the ginger ale will go flat.

If you are going to use frozen rhubarb, let it completely thaw before the use.  Do not press out the liquid, but do place in a colander to let the excess liquid drip away.

You can use the rhubarb for a pie or crumble later if you want. This is a delicious and simple way to add dessert to your party.

Create a Dr. Pepper and Cherry Punch

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You do not just have to use ginger ale for your punches. While it makes an excellent base, other sodas also work. You can also mix the ginger ale with other sodas to create a sweet and delicious punch.

One of the things about Dr. Pepper is that you mask the idea of no alcohol entirely. Those who are not too certain about having fun without the toxins will not even know the difference. Encourage them to try it before they even know the truth. You will soon have them roped in.

Ingredients:

  • 2lts of Dr. Pepper
  • 1 bottle of cherry juice
  • 1lt of ginger ale
  • 1 jar of undrained maraschino cherries
  • 1 cup of pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Crushed ice

Method:

  • Combine the soda, juice, and ginger ale in a bowl
  • Add the cherries and mix thoroughly
  • Add the ice to the punch bowl to fill it and then sprinkle the arils over the top

You can serve these directly in glasses if you would like. However, a punch bowl is great for parties to make it easier for people to grab more as and when they need to. They will go back for more!

Recreate Sangria with a Non-Alcoholic Twist

recipe 6 - 7 Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Weekend Parties

When it comes to Mexican night, you want to make sure you have Sangria on tap. However, is there a way to make it non-alcoholic? Of course, there is! This is a recipe to die for.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of passion fruit juice
  • 8 cups of ginger ale
  • 1 kiwi, chopped
  • 1 orange, chopped
  • 1 star fruit, chopped
  • 1 lime, chopped
  • ½ cup of cranberries

Method:

  • Fill your pitcher with ice and then add the juice and ginger ale
  • Add the fruit pieces
  • Store everything in the fridge until you are ready to serve to keep it chilled

If you want to skip the ginger ale (and the calories it brings), you can opt for sparkling water instead. One of the benefits of sparkling water is the mixture of flavors you can get. Look out for lemon, lime, or just plain sparkling water for best results.

Make a Refreshing Limeade Mocktail

recipe 7 - 7 Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Weekend Parties

Limeade is one of the best summer creations in the world. It is refreshing and tasty, leaving you feeling ready for another day. Rather than getting the store-bought limeade, why not make your own? This mocktail will give you a rainbow in a glass. It uses real fruit, giving it a colorful, delicious look.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • 1 cup of kiwi, diced
  • 1 cup of pineapple, diced
  • 1 cup of mango, diced
  • 1 cup of strawberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup of limeade concentrate, thawed4 cups of lemon-lime soda

Method:

  • Place all the fruit into a pitcher in layers
  • Drizzle the limeade concentrate over the top and add the soda

You can replace the lemon-lime soda with some ginger ale or sparkling water if you would like. You will get a slightly different taste, but all will be just as refreshing. Try out sparkling waters with complimentary tastes to the fruits. Strawberry, lime, or lemon flavored waters are often the best options. However, do be aware of the added sugar that the flavors have.

Do not forget to make this for the kids during the summer months. It is perfect for a kid’s outdoor party since it is packed with nutrients and delicious liquids. Most of the kids will want to pick out the fruits without even thinking about how they are healthy for them. They just know the combination tastes good.

Why Would You Want a Non-Alcoholic Party?

There will be many questioning the need for these recipes. Well, there are many reasons to need non-alcoholic drinks. The first is for all the designated drivers. They will be fed up with just drinking cola or another soft drink at the bar. They will want to feel like they are enjoying an alcohol-fuelled night like their passengers.

Then there are those who want to look after their health. Alcohol damages the liver when drank in excess. Experts believe it is harmful in pregnancies and it does not mix well with medications. However, you do not want to miss out on a weekend party because you have opted for a night without drinking. These mocktails give you the chance to feel like you are still part of the fun; that you are still part of the group.

Of course, there will be others at the party wanting to avoid alcohol. Alternatively, they may have decided that they have drunk enough, and it is time to opt for non-alcoholic drinks. They may not want friends to know or may want something more thirst quenching than soda. The drinks that are full of fruit are an excellent way to offer something for them.

Moreover, finally, you have options for the kids and family parties. You can throw those Saturday and Sunday afternoon BBQs in the middle of the summer without worrying about having something tasty for the younger members.

Nobody Will Ever Know!

The tastes of all the mocktails above will mask the fact that you do not have alcohol in there. If you are looking for a way to trick people into not drinking a lot of alcohol, this is the way to do it. Of course, you could just be honest. Everyone will enjoy the drinks and realize they can have a world of fun without the need for alcohol.

Make a few bowls of the punches for your weekend parties. You can have something that all will enjoy, whether they want thirst-quenching limeade or prefer something with a taste of Long Island. Most of the mocktails will be ready in minutes, so you can quickly make more if you need to in the kitchen. You will likely find everyone chooses them over the beers and ciders he or she have brought.

7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

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Weight Gain Image Design 1 - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holiday seasons are just around the corner. This is the time everyone on a diet or attempting to even consider losing weight panics. It is a perfectly normal response. The holidays are the time for people to gather together, eat, and drink everything in sight.

Plus, you just must look at how unhealthy Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners can be. They are full of fattening sides, sugar-filled desserts, and bubbly alcohol. Is it really that surprising that we have this worry that we are going to pile on the pounds? Is it that surprising that most people will wait until the New Year to lose weight?

It is time to avoid the weight gain. You can do it without sacrificing the fun in the holidays. Allowances can be made for certain days of the year. The rest of the time, you can stick to a healthy eating plan and avoid the excess pounds in a short space of time. Here are seven smart tips that will let you avoid the holiday weight gain but still have fun the whole time.

Choose Smart Snacks the Majority of the Time

Choose Smart Snacks the Majority of the Time - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

One of the biggest issues with the holiday season is the snacking. Companies push all types of festive theme treats and snacks. We see chocolate boxes created in a larger size purely for “sharing,” when they know that we’ll just end up eating everything ourselves. There is the focus on grazing throughout the day, but people forget about all the extra calories they end up consuming.

While there is no need to completely avoid snacking, it is worth being smarter about it. Do not just graze for the sake of it. Chances are that you are not snacking because you are hungry, but because you are bored.

Before you even think about grabbing a candy bar or the slices of Christmas treats, consider whether you are hungry. Is it time for a meal? If so, do not snack and make yourself a healthy meal instead. Could it be just a craving because of boredom or because you are thirsty? Try grabbing a glass of water first and then see if you are still hungry.

Find something else to do to avoid the boredom eating. Do not give the feelings, whether happy or sad. By cutting down on the snacking, you will reduce the calories you consume to help keep them within a manageable range.

But you do not just want to ban all snacks, do you? Of course not! Snacking is a part of the festive season; at least it seems that way. When you do snack, think about the type of snacks you are eating. Focus on healthier alternatives to the sugar-laden sweets, chocolates, and cookies. Opt for more filling snacks like nuts and seeds, fruit segments and vegetable sticks. The smarter snacks will help to fill you up while adding more nutrients to your body.

Also become more mindful of your snacking. Do not just pour a bowl of nuts and eat them until they are gone. You will only need a handful of nuts to fill you up as a snack. Pull that out of the packet and store the rest for later. Avoid snacking when watching the TV as you are more likely to eat more than you really need to!

Keep an Eye on Your Portion Sizes

Did you know it is not quite the type of food that we eat that causes holiday weight gain? It is the amount of food we consume. This includes both unhealthy and healthy food! You can snack on all the fruits and vegetables you want, but you will eventually consume too many. The extra calories will be stored, just like they are when you consume too many snack foods!

Our portion sizes are continually growing. Plate sizes have increased by at least 3 inches in the last few decades. Psychologically we feel like we need to fill the plate, or we are not eating enough. This then leads to overeating and consuming far more calories than our bodies need.

It is time to take a step back and really consider your portion sizes. There are high chances you are serving way more than you should and your body would be satisfied with a little less. Start by changing the size of your plate. Opting for a slightly smaller one will help you fill the plate with less food, so you still get that psychological feeling that you are eating plenty.

Practice mindful eating whenever you eat a meal during the holiday season. When you have eaten half of the food on the plate, put the cutlery down and listen to your body. Does it really need more food? Give yourself time to consider whether you are still hungry or if you are satisfied. If you are still hungry, eat half of the food left on the plate and repeat.

There is nothing wrong with not eating everything on the plate. As you learn more about the amount of food your body needs, you will be able to reduce the amount of food you cook so you do not waste it all!

Reduce the distractions when you do eat. Many people in the holiday seasons will sit around the TV while they eat a meal. The movie or TV show is taking up their attention, rather than focusing on the amount of food they eat. It is possible to eat too fast and cause problems for your digestion. You also end up eating more than you need without realizing.

What about seconds? There are high chances that you do not actually need to eat them. Just because the food is there does not mean it has to be used. Opt for storing the food in the fridge or freezer instead. You can reheat most dishes you make, offering easy and quick meals towards the end of the festive season.

Keep Your Stress Levels to a Minimum

Keep Your Stress Levels to a Minimum - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are full of stress. You want to get the dinner just right. You need to brace the shops with all the other Christmas shoppers. It is a struggle to get everything done that you need, especially when work puts on extra pressure to wrap up for the year. Stress is considered a normal part of the holiday season but that does not have to be the case.

The stress is causing your weight gain for a variety of reasons. When you are stressed, you will increase the amount of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. The immune system’s inflammatory response can be kicked started, causing a dip in the metabolism and pain. As the metabolism slows, your body burns fewer calories, but you do not counter that by eating less food.

At the same time, those who are stressed are more likely to eat more. You have likely heard of the term “stress eater.” People gain pounds within moments because of their eating decisions when stressed. You are more likely to consume junk food to help feel good when stressed. This does not actually work. All you do is increase the negative hormones further, so you create a difficult cycle.

Handling your stress in a different way is important. Try to make healthier choices when it comes to snacking. Opt for yoga and meditation to help manage your stress levels.

The main aim should be to reduce your stress. This will not just help avoid weight gain, but you can also improve your health. Stress raises the blood pressure and causes many other health problems. Learn how to manage how stressed you feel in situations that you cannot control, such as deep breathing and exercise. You will be surprised at the difference in the way you feel!

Opt for More Protein and Fiber in Your Meals

Having a balanced diet is important, especially during the holidays. Most of festive food is high in carbs. Sure, you get protein from the turkey, but think about the refined carbs in the cookies and cakes. Consider the carbs in potatoes and stuffing. We are surrounded by carbohydrates and we know they are not the healthiest way to get our energy.

While getting some carbs is important, we cannot overlook the fact that some metabolize in the blood and cause major health problems. They also lead to weight gain. We are not filled as well as we would be with other food groups, so we end up snacking more.

It is time to get more protein and fiber in your festive diets. Both are excellent for breaking down into the body slower, helping you burn calories over the course of a day without the physical need to snack. When you feel full, you are not going to feel like you are missing out on the festive fun.

Protein is especially beneficial for weight loss because it helps to build more muscle. The metabolism needs to work harder when there is more muscle, so you end up burning more calories throughout the day. You do not just need to eat meat for protein. You can get excellent sources through quinoa, soy, and other similar plant-based foods.

Fiber will help to improve the digestive system. The festive season can cause trouble for this part of the body. We tend to forget about the fiber count in foods, so we can be left constipated and bloated. When we eat more fiber, our bodies push the waste out better and help improve the absorption of nutrients in our meals. Not only do we feel full and reduce our weight gain, but our immune system is further supported. You can get more fiber by eating more fruits and vegetables during the day. Nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes are also excellent sources.

Do not forget about the healthy fats. Fat is not the major culprit in weight gain that it is always been made out to be. The fat does not turn into fat in your body. It is a crucial component in a healthy body. Of course, you want unsaturated fats rather than saturated to protect your heart and arteries.

When you get more fat in your diet, you will support the health of the liver. This helps to boost the metabolism, especially if you have a lower carb diet. Fats will also help you feel fuller, so you do not consume as many calories through the day. Your diet only needs to be around 10% fat. There are more calories in a gram of fat than the other macronutrients, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Savor Your Desserts and Alcohol

Savor Your Desserts and Alcohol - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

If fat is not the reason for weight gain, what is? Well, the sugar industry will not admit it, but it is sugar (especially refined sugar) that causes the weight gain issue. When we eat sugar, our whole body is affected. The metabolism must store the calories from other sources while its deals with the sugars in the bloodstream. You end up with sugar crashes, which leads to more sugar cravings. Sugar is more addictive than heroin!

So, does that mean you need to avoid all desserts? Not at all! What it means is you need to choose your desserts a little better. While Christmas cake, ice cream, and cookies may be popular, there is no need to consume them with every meal. You can get dessert in a much healthier way.

Look out for sugar-free dessert recipes. Find ways to use natural flavorings to create that sweet taste without affecting your health. You may be surprised to find that the desserts are not just better for you, but leave you feeling more satisfied after eating them. They do not cause the crash later that leaves you craving more of the delicious food.

When you do eat dessert, savor each bite. It is tempting to demolish it in one sitting, just to go back for seconds. Before you know it, the bowl of ice cream is gone, and you are stocking up on more sugar. Be more mindful of each bite you take, so you give your body chance to feel full and satisfied. You will consume fewer calories, so you do not gain as much weight over the holiday season.

Likewise, reduce the number of liquid calories you drink. This is not just actually about alcohol, but alcohol is one of the biggest problems. We tend to drink more over the Christmas period and it is no surprise that drinks driving increases during this time of year.

Alcohol is full of empty calories. Even wine and beer are not going to be favorable to your waistline. Our bodies do not recognize the calories in drink form, so end up pushing you to consume more. The sweet taste of most drinks will also encourage more drinking. Not only are you putting your liver at risk, but also your weight. A glass of wine with dinner is fine, but keep the excessive drinking to a least.

And watch out for sodas, sweetened drinks, and similar beverages. They are also packed with empty calories. They offer no nutritional benefits but will be packed with calories and chemicals that can make it harder for your body to absorb necessary minerals for a strong and healthy body. Have a drink now and then, but do not make it a regular thing.

 Get in More Exercise

The last thing you want to think about is exercise over the holiday period, but it could be one of the best things you do. This does not mean you have to push for your gym to open on Christmas Day. Nor do you need to create a training plan that will help you get buff in the New Year. You just want to get a little more active to burn a few extra calories.

Exercise is a wonderful way to boost happy hormones and reduce the stress levels. This will help to curb the snacking and emotional eating, so you can focus on healthier snacks and meals. The exercise will also help to burn more calories throughout the day, helping to create a calorie deficit so you lose weight.

At the same time, you build muscle. Muscles will burn more calories, helping to further that calorie deficit. You will also feel better mentally. It is not just the stress hormones that a removed, but the other negative hormones. It is easier to bypass the winter or Christmas blues and find more enjoyment, reducing the snacking and cravings.

Exercise will also give you something to do. You curb the boredom to curb the snacking.

Get the whole family involved. Go out for snowball fights, enjoy a walk in the park, or build a snow sculpture. You will be surprised at the workout you get. And yes, even shoveling the drive will count!

Plan and Stick to It

Plan and Stick to It - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Finally, it is all about a plan. Create a plan to handle the Christmas period and you will find it much easier to work with. Weight gain will be the last thing on your mind because you are taking active steps to boost your metabolism, reduce calorie intake, and still enjoy the time.

The tips above will help you create this plan of attack. You can set out recipes for the holiday season, both on the day and around the big day. Plan out the snacks you will buy and make. Try to avoid the calorie-filled, sugar-filled snacks and opt for something healthier for the whole family. You are supporting the overall health and not just the waistline.

Of course, now you need to stick to it! This is often the hardest part, especially when one day goes wrong. Do not worry if you do not stick to the healthy eating plan for the day. One difficult day does not mean the whole holiday season is a write-off. Get straight back to the plan the next day and work your way through it without the guilt.

Planning will help to manage the stress. You know what you need to do and when. It is easier to manage the gift buying, recipe making, and dinner preparation when you have a plan of attack to follow.

Make This Holiday Season Successful for Your Weight

There is no need to give in to the idea that the holiday season is a time to gain weight. For many people it is, and it may have been something that happened to you in the past. However, with a few changes, everyone can either keep or lose weight throughout the festive periods. It does not matter whether you are a meat eater or vegan. There are recipes that will help to keep you feel full, bring in the festive cheer, and reduce the excess calories you consume.

Try this year to create your festive plan. This is not just about the meals you will make, but the way you will tackle every element of the season. Keep the stress to a least, opt for healthier and smarter food choices, and listen to your body. You will find the season far more enjoyable than you ever thought possible!