Could Your Recent Weight Gain Actually be a Symptom of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease?

0b4ba75f67629d91913ea39aaee60263 - Could Your Recent Weight Gain Actually be a Symptom of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease?

hashimotos thyroid disease symptoms - Could Your Recent Weight Gain Actually be a Symptom of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease?All thyroid disease is not alike. One particular type of thyroid disease is actually an autoimmune condition where your body is attacking itself. This autoimmune thyroid disease, known as Hashimoto’s Disease, occurs when inflammation in the body causes an uncontrolled immune response. This results in the body’s immune system attacking its own healthy tissues. Along with the current obesity epidemic, hypothyroidism seems to be escalating wildly at the same time. Since a low functioning thyroid causes general weight gain, the two are intimately connected. Low thyroid function is not easily detected or diagnosed in its early stages. Hypothyroidism, when left untreated, may contribute to weight gain as well as various other debilitating symptoms, and could lead to serious health problems. It is therefore important for you to recognize the early symptoms since they may indicate the presence of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?

Hashimoto’s disease is a common disorder in which the thyroid gland is attacked by the body’s own immune system. This may lead to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid, under persistent immune attack, is unable to provide enough hormones for the needs of the body. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that control the body’s metabolism, including how fast the body burns calories from food.

What Is an Autoimmune Disease?

Your immune system is your body’s defense against external and internal invaders that can cause harm to the body. Its function is to clearly distinguish between friendly and unfriendly invaders and to eliminate those that are a threat. When autoimmunity occurs, the immune system becomes dysfunctional. Instead of fighting an infection or allergen, your immune system becomes confused and directs a hostile attack on the joints, gut, skin, thyroid, brain and often against the entire body.

Many conventional drugs, when used selectively, are able to help individuals deal with the symptoms, but they are not a long term solution. These drugs should be used as an interim intervention to cool off inflammation while the root cause of the disease is found.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s can often be silent in the beginning stages of the disease, but eventually the following symptoms will become evident:

–              Fatigue and poor stamina

–              Weight gain

–              Lower voice tone

–              Depression

–              Cold or hot feelings

–              Dry skin and hair

–              Constipation and diarrhea

–              Anxiety, fidgetiness, or panic

When the thyroid cells become unable to convert iodine into hormones, a person will slowly develop hypothyroidism and may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

–              Anemia

–              Chest pains

–              Brain fog (sluggish thinking, forgetfulness, lack of a zest for life)

–              Exhaustion

–              Graying hair, hair loss, weak brittle nails

–              Low basal temperature, cold and heat intolerance

–              Headaches, migraines, frequent colds or flu, slow recovery from infections

–              Low libido, infertility, miscarriage, severe PMS

–              Tenderness, muscle cramps, tired aching muscles

–              Sleep disturbances

–              Restless leg syndrome and ankle reflexes

–              Slowed speech

–              Seasonal exacerbation of symptoms (cold or hot weather)

–              Severe weight gain

Less frequent symptoms include excess ear wax and increased blood pressure.

How is Hashimoto’s Disease Treated?

Although there is no cure for Hashimoto’s, medication can be used to regulate hormone levels and restore normal metabolism. Types and strengths will depend on your weight, age, severity of symptoms, other health problems and other medication which may interact with synthetic thyroid hormone medication. A TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test will monitor your thyroid function to determine the dosage. It may take many months for symptoms to subside.

It can also be extremely useful to reduce inflammation in the body. This might mean eliminating gluten or other possible foods or environmental toxins that produce inflammation.

Other treatments include:

–              Improving gut health

–              Acupuncture

–              Lymph massage

–              Contrast hydrotherapy

–              Stress reduction, good sleep, exercise

–              Homeopathy

–              Chiropractic

The Role of Chiropractic in Treating Hashimoto’s Disease

In some cases an imbalance in the spine may lead to thyroid dysfunction or be the cause of a weak immune system. Chiropractic belief is that all cells and tissues are controlled by the nervous system and an imbalance can cause health issues. Therefore many people who suffer from a hypothyroid condition will benefit immensely from receiving chiropractic care to help achieve overall optimal health as chiropractic is all about balancing the interaction between the nervous system and every cell and tissue of the body, including the thyroid.

An imbalance in the nerves that serve the thyroid gland may result in a malfunction. This should be looked at particularly if you are on a nutritious diet, exercising well, controlling stress levels and still having problems with your thyroid. If the nervous system is out of balance, it often results in a weakened immune system, which makes the body more prone to chronic diseases which in turn may trigger autoimmune response dysfunction.

A nervous system that is out of balance can also make a person more susceptible to stress which sometimes causes a leaky gut. The leaky gut can then produce an autoimmune condition such as a thyroid dysfunction.

If you have Hashimoto’s and would like to find the root cause of the condition, it may benefit you to visit a chiropractor as part of your healing program to determine whether an imbalance in the nervous system could help alleviate some of your symptoms.

If you are at all concerned about your symptoms, talk to your medical practitioner first in order to determine whether there are other factors to consider regarding your condition.

In most cases Hashimoto’s can be well managed with medication, lifestyle changes and functional medicine, as well as natural remedies and holistic treatments. A successful outcome will involve: a clinical assessment, a treatment plan that integrates detoxification, improvement in receptor site sensitivity, thyroid gland support, and effective conversion of T4 cells to T3. As each person will react differently, there is no treatment plan that will fit everyone. An individual with Hashimoto’s has to actively take part in the healing process by doing everything possible to calm down inflammation, detoxify the body, eat a nutritious diet and get support from health care professionals as well as family members to restore their health.

5 Bad Foods That Are Actually Good For Your Body

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Bad Foods Image Design 1 - 5 Bad Foods That Are Actually Good For Your BodyYou’ll hear all the time that you should eat certain foods. At one time, fat was the demon of all food groups, and then the focus turned to carbs. Now the focus is on how sugar is making us fat. There are low-sugar, low-carb, low-fat, high-protein, high-fiber, and many other types of diets. It’s often hard to stay on track with the food that you should and shouldn’t be eating, right?

You can decide to follow your own beliefs on food. You’ll do your research, but you still come up with the idea that certain foods are bad for you. The peanut butter and jam aisles are completely avoided, and you walk past the cereals with caution. After all, you don’t want to do your health any damage with your food choices.

What you may not realize is certain foods that come across as being bad are full of goodness for your body. You can do yourself more harm by completely avoiding them! You need to add in food in moderation to make sure you put your health first. Anything you consume should be done in moderation to create a healthy and balanced diet.

Why Do We Struggle with “Bad” and “Good” Food?

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Back in the 70s, your parents and grandparents would have eaten anything they wanted. They had a variety of ingredients at their disposal and would have found creative ways to use them. Meat and two veg was still a focal point, but pastries, pasta, potatoes, and many other foods that are now considered bad for you were eaten.

Then came the research. Scientists learned that eggs were full of cholesterol and that fat clogged up the arteries. After that, researchers learned about the eggs and fats in more detail. They learned that some could be good, and others would be bad. They learned that not every calorie was made the same.

Suddenly finding your way around what to eat became a minefield. Which piece of research did you believe?

It’s still a problem. There are now views that all fat isn’t bad. In fact, some saturated fat can be okay in the diet. It’s all about sugar and refined carbs.

Now you need to delve into the details of the food. Some of those ingredients you gave up can be added back to the diet. They are food for you. Here’s a look at five that you need to add back in, because while they initially seem bad, they are very good for the body.

Don’t Skip All Pasta and Rice

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Let’s start with the carbs. You’ve likely heard of the Atkins and south beach diets. They push people into giving up carbs, in favor of protein and fiber in their diets. The view is that carbs increase the blood sugar levels and affect the metabolism.

There are certainly concerns about some carbs. Refined and processed foods are best left off the menu. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up all carbs. Carbohydrates are essential in the body. They offer the instant energy that the body needs to use. When you’re feeling a slump in energy, carbs can help offer a pick-me-up. If you’ve had a hard workout in the gym, the carbs can help to replenish those levels instantly.

But you want to get the right types of carbs.

Too many people give up rice and pasta, both white and whole wheat. It’s time to stop! You want to add them to your diet.

White rice is extremely healthy. There’s a reason the people of Japan eat it and live if they do. Research shows that those who eat rice are less likely to struggle with obesity.

Isn’t rice high on the glycaemic index scale? Well, yes, but this is only a major problem if you eat rice on its own. How often do you make a bowl of rice just to eat? It’s usually a base or a side dish for other meals. When you bulk your rice with vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and other nutrients, you won’t have the issue of the high GI.

There’s more good news. Rice that you get in the U.S. and most other Western countries are enriched with other nutrients. These nutrients are the ones that are lost during processing, so you end up getting more nutrients than you would if you opted for brown or even wide rice. In fact, brown rice has higher levels of arsenic than its white sister.

As for pasta, there are similar reasons to eat it. Again, it’s one of those that you want to eat with other foods, which certainly isn’t a problem. It’s in the middle on the glycaemic index scale, which means it breaks down slower than initially believed. You’re left feeling fuller for longer, which means you consume fewer calories throughout the day and find it easier to stick to a healthy and balanced diet.

You don’t need a lot of rice or pasta to fill out your meal. Just half a cup of cooked pasta and a cup of cooked rice is enough for your portion sizes. You’ll likely be served more than this in a restaurant, so keep that in mind when ordering a pasta dish. It’s usually the sauces that are worse for you, so look out for tomato-based sauces for the best measure.

Add Eggs to Your Meals

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Eggs were once the food of the devil. People blamed them for health issues like heart disease and blocked arteries, due to the levels of cholesterol within them.

There are two types of cholesterol: good and bad. The bad stuff will block the arteries, causing friction and clogs. However, the good type will layer the arteries in a smooth, protective layer. It helps to keep the blood flowing smoothly. Getting high amounts of good cholesterol will help to get rid of the bad.

But at one point in time, eggs were full of bad cholesterol. In fact, all cholesterol was considered bad. Then that moved to egg whites being safe but the egg yolks to be the part to avoid. Now it’s safe to eat all eggs. In fact, it’s recommended unless you have an egg allergy.

Eggs aren’t just packed with the healthy cholesterol. They’re also full of protein without relying on meat products. This is excellent for vegetarians who struggle to get protein in the body.

Protein is essential for building muscle, tissues, and other parts of the body. Animal forms of protein usually have saturated fats too, whereas eggs don’t. Studies have shown that those who consume eggs for breakfast rather than cold cereal will find it easier to stick to a balanced diet. They’re left feeling full for longer because the protein breaks down much slower in the body.

At the same time, egg yolks have vitamin D. This is a nutrient that many people overlook but is essential for absorbing calcium and building strong bones. If you’re in a country with little sun, you want to get more eggs!

There are many other nutrients, including selenium, choline, and phosphorus. All the nutrients work together to keep the body healthy.

Stock Up on Your Avocados and Other Healthy Fats

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Like carbs, fats have been considered bad for the body. It’s now clear that there are two main types of fats: healthy and unhealthy. These facts are broken down further, but it’s important to remember that the body needs fats.

When you eat fat, it’s passed to the liver. The body can then create ketones, which will help with the energy levels. If you have a low carb diet, you want to consume more fats. They will add more immediate levels of energy to the body rather than the proteins and fibers.

Avocados have been considered bad for a long time. They’re extremely healthy for the body, and not just for the healthy fats. Avocados are packed with multiple vitamins, including C, D, and E, potassium, fiber, and much more. They’re full of antioxidants that keep the health of the cells, include carotenoids to help protect against macular degeneration, and have plenty of monounsaturated fats to protect the health of the heart.

Avocados can be added to your diet in a multitude of ways. You can mash and spread your toast or use avocado oil in your cooking. It’s also possible to blend into a smoothie.

Likewise, add other healthy fats to your diet. Olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil make excellent alternatives to vegetable and corn oils.

Don’t Overlook the Goodness of Nuts

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Have you cut nuts out of your diet? Many people have due to the fat content. They’re considered high in calories and bad for weight loss, but they couldn’t be more opposite. In fact, nuts in a balanced diet can help you stick to a weight loss plan and encourage more weight loss. It’s just a case of in moderation.

Nuts are full of healthy fats, and we’ve already looked at that with the avocados. More than that, they’re full of selenium. This is a nutrient that’s often under-consumed, leaving us struggling with energy levels. We think of low iron as the problem, but it is more likely your selenium. You can get your full day’s recommended amount with just one Brazil nut!

Nuts are also packed with protein. You’ll help to support the growth and strength of muscles and connective tissues. You’ll also help to support your nerve tissue growth.

And we can’t overlook the benefits for the brain. Nuts have anti-inflammatory properties. They will help to improve the cognitive health, pushing off dementia and other age-related diseases.

It’s not just nuts specifically, but nut butter that is also good for you. In moderation, you can control your hunger levels and cravings through some peanut or almond butter. The fats and proteins will make you feel fuller. Some of the butter has a slightly sweet taste, helping to curb your sweet cravings as you trick your body. When you feel fuller, you eat less throughout the day.

Those who eat peanut butter or nuts are almost 25% less likely to be overweight or obese! You only need a serving or two throughout the week, and you’ll reap the benefits.

Stock Up on Your Fruit

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Out of all fruit, bananas have had a bad reputation for years. They’ve been considered high in sugar and bad for dieting. They certainly aren’t! In fact, all fruits, in general, are necessary for the body’s health.

The problem for some people is the natural fruits. There’s a view that they are bad for your sugar levels, but the fiber within the fruit helps to balance this out. When added to a healthy and balanced diet, fruit is one of the best sources of nutrients.

You’ll get all your vitamins, plenty of potassium, numerous antioxidants, and more from every serving of fruit. You can eat them whole or blend them into a smoothie; either way, you gain the benefits. Do make sure you blend the whole fruit. Avoid juicing as this gets rid of the fiber and means you end up with just the natural sugars, and this is bad.

The fiber is something to concentrate on. With enough fiber, you’ll keep your digestive system in full working order. Your body can support the passing of stools and keep your bowel movements regular. You’ll also find you have fewer stomach discomforts throughout the day.

Are You Ready to Add Foods Back to Your Diet?

It’s time to stop listening to the lies. There are certain foods that look bad for you, but they’re exceptionally good. In fact, they’re necessary for your health. Add the five foods above back into your diet for full support. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel on a day to day basis!

10 Bad Foods Which are Actually Good for You

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Bad Foods Image Design 1 1024x562 - 10 Bad Foods Which are Actually Good for YouHow often have you heard that certain foods are bad for you? You know the type. All the food that people say is high in calories or high in fat, which secretly has the nutrition that your body needs. Yes, there are so many, and you may currently believe that your firm favourites at home are really bad for you, when they’re not.

Just what types of foods can you eat and gain some benefits from? Which types of foods will do your body some good, especially if you eat it as part of a healthy diet?

It’s time to explore 10 foods that you likely already have in your cupboard—or you buy on a regular basis—that is made to sound very bad. There will be food that the weight loss “experts” are telling you to avoid, but could actually help to boost your weight loss efforts.

Here’s a look at 10 foods that you should consider eating again because they’re not as bad as initially made out to be.

Everything in Moderation, Right?

There’s a common saying that you can have everything in moderation. That means you can have that little bit of chocolate and the odd bit of junk food isn’t going to do too much damage.

There is some truth to this. When the majority of your lifestyle is good, a few bad things aren’t going to be that bad for you. In fact, your body will likely quickly process the bad and think nothing of it. That’s because you’re getting the nutrients and benefits that you need from all the rest of the goods that you eat.

But you need to have that healthy lifestyle. It’s not all about the food you eat. You need to get the right amount of exercise and focus on drinking plenty of fluids.

This also works the opposite way. You can have too much of a bad thing!

So, now that you understand the importance of this, it’s time to focus on the foods that you can get in your diet. Here are 10 that aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be; those that are given a bad reputation.

Peanut Butter is Great for Protein

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When it comes to protein and healthy fats, there is nothing better for you than peanut butter. Wait, but this is banned on the majority of diets, isn’t it? Well, peanut butter gets a seriously bad reputation on two counts: it includes peanut and butter! What can be good about something that contains both of those?

Well, despite some people being allergic to them, peanuts are very good for you. One peanut has so much protein that you don’t need many to get a decent serving of it. And protein is essential to our diets. The protein helps with the development of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and more in the body.

And let’s not forget about the other nutrients in peanuts. You will get plenty of folic acids, magnesium, vitamin E, and antioxidants in your diet from them.

Of course, the butter part does have fat, but it’s not the trans fat that is the worst type of fat for us. There’s also very little sodium and low levels of corn syrup. There is such a thing as healthy fats, which is what you’ll get from most commercial tubs of peanut butter. You could even make your own if you want to guarantee healthy options.

What about peanut-free alternatives? Seed butter does have many of the same health benefits, so it will be worth adding them to your diet.

To back all this up, research has found that those who eat peanut butter do have healthier overall diets. The only thing you need to decide is whether to have crunchy or smooth.

Put the Egg Yolks Back on Your Plate

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So many people are currently opting for egg white dishes as much as possible. This includes when they scramble their eggs or make omelettes. The egg yolk has gained a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol and bad for the heart.

Well, it’s time to put the eggs back on your plate. The yolks aren’t as bad for you as previously been made out. Sure, they are the part with all the cholesterol, but that doesn’t mean bad cholesterol. Quite the contrary, as egg yolks are full of the artery protective good cholesterol.

The HDL cholesterol helps to support the body. It protects the arteries with a smooth layer, helping to ensure the blood flows fully. Your body gets all the oxygenated blood that it needs. It’s the LDL cholesterol that you want to look out for. This is the one that layers the arteries with a friction layer to cause clotting. If you get good levels of HDL cholesterol, it will naturally help to keep your LDL levels down.

On top of that, egg yolks are full of choline, which is an anti-inflammatory. You help to keep the swelling within the body to a minimum, whether it’s around specific organs or stuck in the digestive tract, causing discomfort and other problems. The choline is also important for the neurological functions, which helps to keep your mood positive.

And then you have zeaxanthin and lutein. Both of these antioxidants help to protect against cataracts and macular degeneration disease. You can prevent the diseases from developing, so you get to keep your vision.

You do need to make sure you keep your egg yolk countdown. There’s no need to have more than four yolks a week. The egg whites you can have in larger amounts.

Have a Glass of Wine at the End of the Day

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We hear a lot about alcohol and how it’s bad for us. We’re told only to drink one to two units a day, and never binge drink. Alcohol damages our liver and brain, so why would we even want to consider drinking it?

Well, it turns out that alcohol may not be as bad as we’ve previously made it out to be. In small amounts, it could be good for us. That is if you get the right type of alcohol: mostly wine. Beer can be good in some instances too.

The benefit with the wine is that it is full of antioxidants from the grapes used to create it. It’s nowhere near as good for you as grapes on their own, but you can still benefit from having a glass at the end of your day. The antioxidants help to fight off cancers and boost the health of your heart.

As for beer, you benefit from the lack of fat and cholesterol in the drink. This is something that many other drinks can’t guarantee. You’ll also get some iron, folic acid, calcium, B-vitamins, and so much more. Your brain, organs, and heart are all supported completely just by getting a little bit of beer in your life. Ales are much better for you any lagers, but either way, you’re getting some antioxidants and health benefits.

Drinking some alcohol can also help to reduce the risk of stroke and death. But you should make sure you keep the amount you drink to a minimum: you don’t need more than two units a day and avoid saving them up for one night at the end of the night.

Don’t Cut Out All Bread Right Now

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Bread is commonly made the devil when it comes to weight loss. People assume that it offers no nutritional benefit, and just leads to weight gain. And then there are others who claim that bread causes people to suffer from various digestive problems, including IBS and sluggish systems.

It’s time to stop thinking of bread as the bad food. In small amounts, this could be a great ingredient to add to your diet. If you are gluten intolerant or suffer from celiac disease, you’ll want to avoid any bread made with gluten, but there are other options out there.

Whole grain bread is much better for you than white bread. It’s lower on the glycemic index and offers various nutritional benefits. Whole grain bread have more fibre in them, which helps to get digestive system working properly. You will also feel fuller so you won’t have the urge to eat more calories than your body needs.

Let’s not also forget about the protein that is on some whole grain bread, which helps with the support of your muscles and ligaments. There are some carbohydrates too—the healthier ones that won’t cause the instant sugar rush, so you end up with energy throughout the day.

So, before you opt for cutting bread out of your diet completely, make sure you’re doing it for the right reason. It’s not as bad as many “experts” make it out to be unless you have a reason not to eat gluten-filled bread.

Stop Substituting Your Regular Cow’s Milk

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There are a lot of beliefs that cow’s milk is bad for you. After all, there must be a reason for all the alternatives like soy, coconut, and almond milk. The truth is that the alternatives aren’t true substitutes. You still want to get some cow’s milk in your diet when possible. The only time that you really need to keep it out is if you have a lactose intolerance or allergy.

Calcium is the main benefit of cow’s milk. Sure, you can get calcium from other foods, but you’re mixing calcium and protein together in one when it comes to the milk. Our teeth and bones need plenty of calcium to build in strength. And if you get the beer on a daily basis for your magnesium, you will get the balance between magnesium and calcium to full support the body.

There is so much more protein in cow’s milk compared to the alternative milk. One cup of cows will give you 8g of protein compared to the 1g from the various alternatives.

Oh, and we can’t forget about the vitamin D. This is commonly neglected by the diet but is essential. With the right levels of vitamin D, our bodies find it easier to absorb the likes of calcium and magnesium, which supports our bones so much more.

This doesn’t mean you have to make your whole diet about cow’s milk. There are high amounts of natural sugars in one cup, and some have high amounts of fats. You can opt for almond or coconut milk for most of your day but make sure you get a cup or so of cow’s milk on a daily basis for the other health benefits.

A Little Bit of Coffee isn’t Going to be that Bad

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Coffee has an unfair reputation. It’s the drink that causes people to stay up all night and can lead to miscarriages in early pregnancy. Coffee has also been linked to birth defects and cancers.

Well, the truth is that too much coffee can be bad. But then too much of anything can be bad. In small amounts, coffee is actually good for you. Let’s just start with the mental health benefits.

Coffee is full of caffeine, which is the part of coffee that is supposed to be totally bad for us—and in some ways, it’s made out to be worse than alcohol! The caffeine can actually be good for our mental health in small amounts. It is a stimulant after all. We can get a mood boost, especially if we’re feeling tired or drained.

Flavonoids are also elements that you can thank for some of the benefits. There are also studies that show is helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, along with Parkinson’s disease and Type II diabetes. Some studies have even shown that it helps to improve our performance in sports and tests. During these studies, there haven’t been any negative side effects noticed.

The flavonoids also help with boosting the heart health. Let’s also remember that being a stimulant means that our blood pumps around our system much faster. The organs get more oxygenated blood, giving them the support they all need. We feel like we’re more awake and our heart is working harder than it has before.Remember the heart is a muscle, so it needs to work to remain healthy.

Pop the Cheese on Your Turkey Burger

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Have you ever thought that you’d like a slice of cheese with your burger or wanted to snack on a small block? Maybe you’ve then thought about the fattening side effects of eating cheese. This is another food with an unfairly bad reputation.

The truth is that cheese is full of fats, but some fat is good for us. It’s also worth remember that there are many more nutritious benefits compared to a few negatives.

Protein is in an abundance when it comes to cheese. I don’t need to remind you of all those health benefits when we’ve already discussed why you need to get protein, do I? Of course, not. Let’s concentrate on the other health benefits.

Many of the benefits of cheese are to your oral health. Cheese can help to remove the sugars from your mouth. This is often why it’s eaten with fruit as a dessert. Fruit is full of natural sugars and acid, but the cheese helps to pull all the sugars from your mouth to get them away from the tooth enamel. You’ll find that your risk of tooth decay is lowered.

Food also leads to a lot of acid in the mouth. Cheese helps to balance the pH levels because it is more alkaline. Your mouth becomes neutralised quickly, meaning your gums and teeth aren’t affected as much from erosion.

It is possible to get some low-fat options. You’ll want to check on the extras that are added to low-fat options, as some can add extra sugars to them. This just defeats the purpose of having cheese on a regular basis.

Switch Back to that White Pasta if You Want

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Put your hand up if you gave up white pasta because the weight loss experts said that it was bad for you. There’s this common misconception that white pasta is high on the glycaemic index. The truth is that it sits at around 45-50 for most white pasta types, which is a low amount.

Wait, what does the glycaemic index must do with all this? Well, foods with a high GI are considered bad for us because of the amount of sugar. These foods cause the blood sugar levels to rise, and you end up with more insulin in your body. There is a high risk of developing Type II diabetes.

So, pasta being low on the GI diet is a good thing! It doesn’t cause the insulin release at the level once believed, and you’re not suddenly at a risk of developing Type II diabetes.

However, you will want to keep the amount of pasta to a minimum. You don’t need to eat more than a cup of cooked pasta for one portion. This is about a handful of dried pasta. We tend to eat far too much of it—usually around 2 cups of cooked pasta with each meal.

If you feel like you don’t have enough pasta, add more vegetables to your meal. You’ll soon feel like you have too much.

Brown pasta is still good for you and does tend to be better than white pasta. The brown variety is a high fibre option for the diet, which means your digestive system is fully supported. You’ll eat less of this because you’ll feel fuller much sooner.

You Can Enjoy Oily Fish as Part of Your Diet

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This is a tricky one. If you’ve read the diet books, you’ve likely read that salmon is good for you. But what about the likes of tuna, mackerel and other oily fishes? Too many of them get a bad reputation for some fatty acids in them. Surely eating fat means you’re going to get fat?

This common misconception is being clarified more and more in recent years. The experts have found that not all fats are made up the same. In fact, some fats are good for you and that is especially the case with the fatty acids that come from oily fishes.

Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and similar fishes all have one thing in common: omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for the brain health. They support the cells, so you are at a lower risk of developing the likes of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Eating more omega 3 can also help to support the short-term memory and offer cognitive benefits.

There are worries about the amount of mercury in some of the oily fishes. You shouldn’t eat more than two or three portions of fish a week due to the levels of mercury. Mercury poisoning is a serious problem, especially in pregnant women.

Avocados aren’t the Demons of Vegetables

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When you’re working your way around a grocery store, how often have you come across avocados? They have become favourites for many dieters, which is surprising considering the bad reputation they have. Avocadoes were once considered the demon vegetables because of the high-fat contents.

While there are high levels of fat—and some of them are saturated fats—there are also plenty of healthy benefits. Think of this in the same way as cheese. We focus so much on the one negative that we forget all about the great health benefits from the ingredient.

First of all, some of the fats are healthy. There are good amounts of healthy cholesterol, which will support your heart and artery health, which we’ve already discussed with the eggs.

On top of this fat, you’ve got the high amounts of vitamins including A, C, D, and K. All of these have their own benefits to the overall health. Vitamin A helps with the muscle development; vitamin D aids with the calcium absorption; vitamin C supports your immune system; and vitamin K is great for the clotting.

You also get plenty of fibre and potassium to help with digestive support and energy. Let’s not also forget about antioxidants like lutein to help to support the vision.

If you really don’t want to add avocados to the diet—not everyone likes them—you can always use the oil in your cooking. Avocado oil is also highly beneficial for the skin because of levels of vitamin E. It can help to soothe skin conditions and reduce the flare-ups of the likes of psoriasis and eczema.

It’s Time to Add the Bad Back into Your Diet

The next time someone tells you that the foods are bad for you, make sure you do your own research. A lot of food gets a bad reputation because of statements made in the past. It’s definitely the case that not all food is good for you in large amounts, but in small amounts they can offer excellent health benefits.

It’s time to add some of the bad back into your diet. You can change back to eating white pasta, enjoy your cheese, and also opt for a little bit of alcohol. In moderation, the bad really isn’t as bad as it once seemed after all.

Will Working Out Twice a Day Actually Help You Lose More Weight?

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Is the Body Capable of Working Out Twice a Day?

In a word: yes. The human body is capable of working out twice a day. But the answer is a little more complex than a simple yes or no.

Are you an athlete? Are you looking to ramp up your regular work outs? Or are you just starting a workout regimen to boost your health? Athletes are probably more than used to working out more than once a day, their bodies can take it. If you are looking to ramp up your regular workout routine, make sure you are juxtaposing your workouts as you go. Doing two high intensity workouts on the same day could fatigue your body and you could injure yourself. However, jogging in the morning and going to a yin yoga class in the evening might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Just be safe.

If you are just beginning this whole workout thing, your body is also capable of working out twice a day. Working out twice a day a few days a week might even fit into your schedule better than working out once a day. However, keep in mind that you could definitely injure yourself. So be sure to pair the types of workouts you’d like to do intelligently.

How to Work Out Twice a Day Safely

Structuring your workouts is necessary for twice a day activity. Work out different parts of your body each time, i.e. you don’t want to do legs twice or you could injure yourself. Pair cardio with strength training or stretching for maximum benefits. When you are looking into how much time to spend for each work out, that is up to you. We would recommend splitting one long workout (60-80 minutes) into two workouts (30-40 minutes). Of course, you could even reap benefits from doing two 15 minute work outs.

With this style of working out, we should caution you to be careful of fatigue. Rest days are incredibly important to build muscle and prevent injury. Over exertion can be dangerous. So, be sure to plan for rest days and enjoy them.

Will I Lose More Weight?

The jury is out on that one. On one hand, you get the metabolic-boosting after effects of working out for two hours after each sweat session. Plus, you get to rest in between each session, so you may have more energy to throw at each work out. On the other hand, sustained activity helps to boosts endurance and strength a little more.

Overall, there are experts who love the idea because it turns workouts into manageable “bite sized” moments throughout your day. There are other experts who dislike it because they fear that someone new to being active will get overwhelmed and burnt out too quickly. We would counsel that if you are interested in working out twice a day, why not give it a shot? If you don’t like it, you could always go back to once a day. Just keep moving!

Image Credit:


Doctors Discover Woman’s “Cancer” Is Actually Tattoo Ink

1d5f58ad23026c6ce1b00e07c91e6647 - Doctors Discover Woman's “Cancer" Is Actually Tattoo Ink

Australian doctors mistook 15-year-old tattoo pigment for cancer in a case recently reported on in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This comes shortly after a paper published in the British Medical Journal, which describes the case of a British man whose “tumor” was actually a PlayMobil piece.

The incident started when a 30-year-old woman visited doctors concerned about some small lumps that had appeared on her underarms two weeks earlier. The medics soon diagnosed her with lymphoma – a type of cancer that develops in the lymphocytes (infection-fighting cells found in the immune system) and causes the lymph nodes to swell.    

A full-body scan showed additional enlarged lymph nodes in the chest, some of which had developed close to the roots of her lungs. But when the doctors examined one of these inflamed lymph nodes using a microscope, they realized it wasn’t cancer. It turned out black tattoo pigment was the cause of the swelling.

Cancer is by far the most common reason for lymph nodes to enlarge, but infection can also cause inflammation. In this particular case, the lymph nodes had swollen because of a reaction to the old tattoo ink.

“Ninety-nine times out of 100, (this) will be lymphoma,” Dr Christian Bryant explained, reports CNN. Bryant, a hematologist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, treated the patient.

content 1507032737 tattoo hands - Doctors Discover Woman's “Cancer" Is Actually Tattoo Ink
Almost half (47 percent) of millennials have one or more tattoos, according to The Harris Poll (2015). Pixabay

The woman had two tattoos: one on her back, completed 15 years ago, and a smaller, more recent one on her shoulder. Both were done using black ink.

Doctors suspect the swelling occurred because immune cells in the skin ingested the tattoo pigment. They would have been unable to digest it properly, however, as the particles are too large. Years later, the pigment traveled from the skin to the lymph nodes. 

Still, what triggered the reaction 15 years after she got her first tattoo is unclear. 

A Free Online Health and Wellness Newsletter You Can Actually Use

1dd385a79ccd061c23d108ef46018d57 - A Free Online Health and Wellness Newsletter You Can Actually Use

online health and wellness newsletters - A Free Online Health and Wellness Newsletter You Can Actually Use

An Online Health and Wellness Newsletter Can Help Employees Take the First Step Toward Better Health

Helping employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors is at the core of every wellness program. To have healthy behaviors employees must first start with education and awareness. A good online help in wellness newsletter can give employees the start they need. For employers, the challenge is to find a wellness newsletter that has accurate, evidenced based help in wellness articles that are written by trusted authorities.

The World Wide Web makes all health and wellness information available to everyone. The information on the web comes from a wide array of sources that ranges from peer-reviewed science on one end to complete fabrications filled with lies and outright deceptions on the other end.  It’s wonderful to have such easy access to so much information but it’s difficult to identify information that is accurate and trusted from information that is not.

Employees who have access to an accurate health and wellness newsletter have a better chance of living healthy lifestyles that will prevent chronic diseases and improve quality of life. By itself, a wellness newsletter will have little effect on employee health.

But when it is combined with a comprehensive wellness program a good online health and wellness newsletter can be a nice addition to any wellness program. Give employees accurate, helpful information at the right time and they will be more likely to improve health behaviors.

A Good Online Health and Wellness Newsletter is Hard to Create and Costly to Buy

Health and wellness newsletters can be used to share healthy living tips, news, and wellness ideas. For wellness programs that have the luxury of having both the staff and resources to create their own wellness newsletters they still face the challenge of finding good content. There is a constant flow of press releases, news, and health and science discoveries which make it difficult to keep up.

This is complicated by the difficult task of finding content that is produced by trusted authorities. Some wellness programs can purchase choose to work with a wellness newsletter vendor that can create and print custom newsletters but these can cost up to $12 per person per year. And now that everybody has a mobile device printed materials are pretty much a thing of the past.

Today, good online help and wellness newsletter should be delivered to any web enabled device, especially mobile devices. In the next decade just about everybody will be using their mobile devices for just about all communication needs.

Here Is Your FREE Online Health and Wellness Newsletter- Wellness News You Can Use

To create the Wellness News You Can Use newsletter, WellSteps hired a dedicated employee to search for and post the most current and accurate health and wellness information. Here is the direct link to the Wellness News You Can Use online newsletter. It is updated daily with the most accurate, interesting, attractive, and user-friendly content we can find on the web. We keep the content fresh and up-to-date.

This wellness newsletter only uses the most reliable sources of content: including the New York Times, medical journals, the Cleveland and Mayo clinics, universities, and other trusted sources.

Best of all, there are NO ads on this page. The Wellness News You Can Use is ad free.  However, once you click on an article you’ll be taken to a content partner and you’ll probably see some ads.  That’s the way the web works these days.

The Wellness News You Can Use online newsletter is just getting started. New articles are being added daily and a video library is coming soon. All the articles are searchable and you can browse major topics like fitness, nutrition, and health. The value of this online newsletter is the effort that goes into finding and posting health and wellness articles that come from trusted sources. With so much misinformation out there, you now have a single location where you and your employees can get trusted health information on a variety of wellness topics.

Submit your ideas: If you have other articles or sources of reliable health and wellness content we’d love to hear about it. You can email your ideas to me at


wellness newsletter - A Free Online Health and Wellness Newsletter You Can Actually Use

What’s the Catch?

The mission of WellSteps is to improve public health. Worksites do this best with worksite wellness programs. Over the years we’ve created lots of free tools and resources to help wellness programs improve.  The Wellness News You Can Use free newsletter is just one more of our free tools. We get to provide great wellness news and articles to those who are looking for good content and we get to show the world that WellSteps is one of the nation’s best wellness programs.

How to Use the FREE Wellness News You Can Use Newsletter

Here is the direct link. You can check it out for yourself:

  1. Add this link to your company’s wellness page.  It’s constantly updated so you’ll always have access to a fresh and interesting wellness newsletter.
  2. Share the link with your employees and ask them to bookmark it.

Your employees are going to spend time browsing the web so you might as well give them some outstanding, FREE, health promoting content.


Love 2.0, Actually, Is All Around

By Lisa Finkelstein, Ph.D., guest contributor

Hugh Grant’s character in the movie “Love Actually” may have been on to something when he observed that love, actually, is all around us — and if we broaden our definition of love to Barbara Frederickson’s concept of “Love 2.0” in her book of that name, he may have been even more accurate than we thought. Everywhere might even include professional conferences.

Not long ago, I was invited to present an IGNITE talk (for those of you unfamiliar with the IGNITE concept, check it out here: at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The theme for all of the talks was “connections.” How we presenters interpreted that theme was up to us. 

Having recently read Frederickson’s book with my “pleasure reading” hat on, I decided to revisit it with my academic eye to see if it could help me take a fresh look at connections, especially the connections we make at conferences. As it turned out, I found more than a little inspiration from this book. This blog entry reflects what I learned and presented in my IGNITE talk.

Our typical notion of love is one that we use to describe romantic partners, close family ties, or even those friendships that are more like family. This type of love focuses on strong bonds, trust, and support. Hopefully it deepens over time and is enduring. It’s also likely limited to a short list of people in our lives.

And although those loved ones drive us bananas sometimes, they may actually be doing us a lot of good. Accumulating research provides evidence for an increase in longevity for those of us with more and complex social ties.

Indeed, we all know that doing healthy things such as getting a flu shot, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly will extend out lifespans. But many of us aren’t aware that evidence suggests that developing a web of social ties might be just as or more important for extending our lives as these other healthy behaviors (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010).

So what if you aren’t lucky enough to have a lot of close friends, a romantic partner, or a semi-functional family? If you are willing to stretch your definition of love, or as Frederickson suggests, upgrade it to Love 2.0, you may be in luck. Because it turns out that this sort of love is abundant and available to all of us on a daily basis.

Love 2.0 is defined by Frederickson as “a micro-moment of shared positive resonance.” It is comprised of three components: (a) a shared positive emotion among two or more people, (b) a synchronizing of their biochemistry and behavior, and  (c) an awareness of signs of mutual care – even if just for a brief moment.

When we make an upgrade to Love 2.0, we go from our cultural definition of love to our body’s understanding of love. And, as it turns out, our bodies can’t really tell the difference between these micro-moments of positivity that we share with our soul mates and those we share with some guy on the elevator. When we stack up these moments (or, in other words, when we “become lovers”), we open ourselves up to many gifts cognitively, emotionally, and physiologically. 

Cognitively, Frederickson describes brain-imaging research that shows heightened activity in the brain regions indicating increased perceptual breadth when we are experiencing positive emotions that mirror those achieved in moments of Love 2.0 (Schmitz, De Rosa, & Anderson, 2009). In other words, we may notice more going on around us in our environment. Additionally, these moments of Love 2.0 can breed wisdom, in part from having more encounters with others whose perspectives we can bring to the table when needed.

Emotionally, in addition to the pure good feeling that Love 2.0 produces, the new perspectives gained can help us build resilience to handle life’s inevitable stressors (Algoe & Frederickson, 2011).

Physiologically, Frederickson explains that these encounters boost oxytocin (a hormone that is associated with bonding and attachment) and may help us strengthen vagal tone (which helps relax our heart rate); these are indicators of improved physical health.

Seems like all around, “lovers” win.

But what does this have to do with networking at conferences? 

Well, although these micro-moments of shared positive connections have the potential to happen any time we encounter another person, they are indeed more likely to occur when we are in an environment where positivity and excitement is readily sparked among those present, and when we feel a sense of belonging and shared identity with those around us. For many professionals, the annual conference is where we feel really excited, alive, and as if we have “found our people.” 

We have been taught to network at conferences in order to promote ourselves and our work. We discover that we can meet new collaborators and get helpful critique of the work we present. 

Despite these potential benefits, not all of us enjoy networking, and some people downright dread it. Perhaps it seems fake; perhaps it drains your energy. But what if we thought of these conferences as a fertile ground for experiencing these brief moments of positive connection? 

If we are truly open and willing to engage fully in an exchange – by looking someone in the eye, giving a true smile, really leaning in and listening to what they are saying – we could not only gain the traditional benefits of networking but also gain some real health benefits as well. 

I find conferences are chock-full of opportunities for these moments – poster sessions, walks to symposia, coffee breaks, cocktail hours, etc.  But, a note of warning: If you walk around with your eyes glued to your smartphone, this is all very unlikely to happen. 

So remember what Barbara (and Hugh) said, and pick up your head.

Lisa Finkelstein is a professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University and a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. She is in the Social – Industrial/Organizational Area at NIU and teaches courses in social psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, training and development, and individual assessment in organizations. Her research interests include aging and work, mentoring relationships, stigma in the workplace, and humor at work.


Algoe, S. B., & Frederickson, B. L.  (2011).  Emotional fitness and the movement of affective science from lab to field.  American Psychologist, 66, 35-42.

Frederickson, B. L. (2013).  Love 2.0.  New York, NY:  Hudson Street Press.

Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B.  (2010).  Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review.  PLoS medicine, 7, e1000216.

How to Teach Yourself to Actually Like Vegetables

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Veggies - How to Teach Yourself to Actually Like Vegetables

Source: morgueFile

The best thing about vegetables is that we’re supposed to eat more of them. Veggies are so high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that they play a major role in keeping us healthy. And they’re so low in calories that we can eat our fill.

The catch? If you were raised on a typical American diet, you may not have developed a fondness for this food group while growing up. Choking down vegetables you loathe because they’re healthy is no fun. But it’s not too late to cultivate a taste for Brussels sprouts and carrots. Here’s how four experts recommend training yourself to enjoy eating veggies.

Make Nutritious Delicious

When people claim to hate vegetables, often what they really mean is that they detest bland, mushy veggies. “Many of us grew up in homes where vegetables were prepared in the most unappetizing ways,” says Kristen Martinez, M.Ed., Ed.S., LMHCA, cofounder and counselor at Pacific NorthWell in Seattle. “Boiling and over-steaming were common methods of preparation for many vegetables, including notoriously hated ones such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.” Explore different cooking methods, such as roasting, baking, sautéing and grilling.

Get creative with seasonings. “Adding herbs (such as cilantro, basil or parsley), spices and lemon or lime juice to a salad can amplify the flavor,” says Lauren Graf, M.S., RD, clinical dietitian for the Montefiore Einstein Cardiac Wellness Program in New York. “For grilled vegetables, try creating a simple marinade of herbs (such as garlic, parsley or basil), salt, pepper and a little olive oil.”

Feed Your Other Senses

Entice your other senses as well. “We eat with our eyes first,” says Graf. “Spend a couple of extra minutes making your plate look nice and appetizing.” That’s readily done with vegetables, which come in a spectrum of vibrant hues, including dark green, red, orange, yellow and purple. Mixing colors helps maximize not only your plate’s eye appeal, but also your nutrient intake.

A crunchy sound and crispy texture can also contribute to a vegetable’s allure — another argument for well-prepared fresh veggies rather than soggy boiled or canned ones. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, your mind may associate crispness with freshness and desirability.

Branch Out Gradually

Even if you’re a self-proclaimed vegetable hater, there are probably one or two veggies you can abide. Use those few vegetables as a starting point for gradually expanding your taste preferences, says Mindy Haar, Ph.D., RD, CDN, director of clinical nutrition at the New York Institute of Technology School of Health Professions. One way to branch out is by trying new varieties of a vegetable you already like. For example, let’s say you’re okay with ordinary orange carrots. Haar suggests checking out yellow, purple and red carrots, which are increasingly available.

Another way to switch things up is by trying new cooking methods for familiar favorites. Let’s say you enjoy the satisfying crunch of raw carrot sticks. For a change of pace, you could try roasted carrots instead. “The roasting process causes caramelization of the starches within the vegetables, making them taste sweeter,” Haar says. “In addition, roasting may make some phytonutrients more bioavailable.” Once you’ve sampled roasted carrots and found them tasty, it’s an easy next step to add a few turnips, parsnips or sweet potatoes to the roasting pan.

Rename Your Veggies

We acknowledge the difference between French fries and baked potatoes. Why shouldn’t we do the same with non-starchy vegetables? Take Brussels sprouts, for instance. “When you roast halved Brussels sprouts with salt, pepper, a generous drizzle of olive oil and maybe some balsamic vinegar at the end, they taste nothing like the notorious Brussels sprouts of childhood,” says Martinez. “It’s easier to think of them as different vegetables entirely.”

To cement the distinction in your mind, Martinez suggests giving the dish an appealing new name. Then tell yourself that you’ve never had this delightful-sounding dish before, and try to approach it with an open mind. Belgian blossoms, anyone?

Rewrite Your Food Story

Sometimes, memories and feelings from childhood get in the way of accepting new foods as an adult. Gennifer Morley, M.A., LPCC, director of North Boulder Counseling in Boulder, Colorado, recommends this approach to confronting and overcoming childhood food hang-ups:

  1. Picture how vegetables were served in your home growing up. Who would cook them and how? Who would eat them? What would happen at mealtimes?
  2. Talk about vegetables out loud, but when no one else is around. “Keep talking freely — even just babbling on — and listen to what you’re saying,” Morley advises. “You may hear some really childish words, such as ‘yucky,’ coming from your mouth.” Accessing your childhood feelings may remind you of why you find veggies unappealing today.
  3. Revise the story you tell yourself about eating vegetables. “For example, let’s say that, in your home as a child, you only had canned veggies drenched in butter,” Morley says. “There is likely a very loyal kid inside of you who sees that as loving and nurturing. You could tell yourself: ‘That was so yummy and loving of Mom (or Dad or whoever) to make it for me. I should be sure to have it sometimes as a treat. And those same veggies are also good when I eat them raw or cooked another way. What yummy recipe do I want to try?’”

Talk Back to Stereotypes

Of course, more recent associations also affect your openness to a new food. To overcome this source of resistance, Morley recommends asking yourself these questions: What kinds of people eat vegetables today? What do they talk about, think and feel? How am I like or unlike these people?

“This will open your mind to current-day associations, which you can then examine for truth,” Morley says. For example, if you’re a guy who believes that eating “rabbit food” is unmanly, you could ask yourself: What defines manhood? Does eating vegetables really have anything to do with it?

Try, Try Again

Don’t expect to totally transform yourself from a veggie hater to a veggie lover overnight. Like any lifelong dietary change, this one is best achieved through slow but steady progress. “Repeated exposure to vegetables can increase your taste for them,” says Graf. “Over time, it’s definitely possible to retrain your palate to like vegetables.”

Linda Wasmer Andrews is a health writer with a master’s degree in psychology. She loves veggies and cookies in equal measure, but she’s trying to tip the balance in favor of the former. Follow Linda on Facebook and Twitter. Read more from her blog:
Kitchen Therapy: Cooking Up Mental Well-Being
Does Eating Your Carrots Make You More Creative?
Four Brain Benefits From the Farmers’ Market

Standing Desks Don’t Actually Burn More Calories

90465da6645b53a823e4e4c9ee607e0b - Standing Desks Don't Actually Burn More Calories

By Katherine Schreiber

Office workers just can’t seem to win when it comes to circumventing the consequences of being bound to a desk day in and day out.

For a while there, we all thought that standing desks were the antidote to weight gain and brain fry derived from too much time spent in a chair: A small-scale study published in the December 2013 edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that workers who stood at their desks after eating lunch were better able to regulate their blood sugar levels than workers who came back from a meal and immediately sat back down. A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggested that standing rather than sitting in front of a computer all day boosted workers’ energy levels and senses of wellbeing. Another study published in the same journal earlier this year found that standup desks in classrooms improved students’ abilities to focus. And a 2016 paper appearing in the January edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine estimated that employees with access to sit-stand desks burn up to 87 calories more a day than their seated colleagues1.  

Popular media outlets took these stats and ran with them. Case in point: a 2013 article by LifeHacker touting the overblown headline “Standing on Weekdays Burns Calories Like Running 10 Marathons a Year.”

Not so fast.

As Gretchen Reynolds reports in a recent New York Times PhysEd Column, forcing yourself to stand up at work may not offer as many benefits as previously thought. Especially not in the way of increased energy expenditure (aka: calories burnt):

Summarizing an experiment featured in this month’s Journal of Physical Activity and Health that tested whether standing goads our metabolisms to speed up more than sitting, Reynolds writes:

While standing for 15 minutes, the volunteers burned about 2 additional calories compared to when they sat down It didn’t matter whether they stood up and then sat down or sat down and then stood up. The total caloric expenditure was about the same and was not sizable.

In fact, remaining on your feet for too long comes with its own consequences. As Alan Hedge​, a professor in the Department of Design and Environment Analysis at Cornell University, told US News & World Report in 2015, “too much [standing] can compress the spine and lead to lower back problems over time. It can also boost your risk for carotid arteries, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and other cardiovascular problems since the heart has to work against gravity to keep blood flowing up from your toes.”

Your better bet, Hedge (and others) have suggested, is to shift between sitting and standing at multiple points throughout the day.

Better yet: fidget. No matter which position (standing or seated) you find yourself assuming (or forced to assume). A 2000 analysis of 17 women and 7 men carried out by researchers James A. Levine, Sara J. Schleusner, and Michael D. Jensen found that folks who spent more minutes of their days engaged in so-called “non-exercise related activities” — from tapping their feet or swinging their legs in a chair to taking a few extra trips to the water cooler or playing with a pet — burned more calories each hour than those who remained stock still when standing or sitting during any particular task. As the researchers reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

Fidgeting-like activities increased energy expenditure in each subject compared with the relevant motionless state. The energy expenditure of fidgeting-like activities while seated was 2.6 ± 1.5 kJ/min greater (P < 0.0001) than the energy expenditure while sitting motionless. Activities tended to be consistent between subjects and included hand and foot tapping and arm and leg swinging. Most subjects did not move their trunks noticeably; 8 read magazines and 3 performed hair-grooming gestures and computer work.

Fidgeting-like activities while standing increased (P < 0.0001) energy expenditure by 4.2 ± 1.9 kJ/min compared with standing motionless. The self-selected fidgeting-like activities varied greatly between volunteers. Some ambled around the 6-m2 laboratory; others emulated answering telephones, changing a video, or folding sheets; and one subject pretended to be interacting with a pet normally present in her home.

This isn’t to disavow the confirmed upsides of standing throughout the day. (Recall from the aforementioned studies touting the benefits of standing desks that blood sugar regulation, energy levels, focus, and overall mood may get a noticeable boost from renouncing our chairs for a significant length of time.) But it is a reminder to be wary of supposed panaceas and to recall that engaging in a variety of activities is more advantageous to our bodies than locking ourselves into one posture or movement for too long a time.

As a (somewhat obvious) example: Subjects in the study covered by Reynolds whose caloric burn did not increase significantly in response to standing versus sitting were much better served (in the way of energy expenditure) by breaking up long stretches of immobility with brief, 15 minute walks. As Reynolds reports:

When the volunteers walked for 15 minutes, even at a fairly easy pace, they burned about three times as many calories as when they sat or stood. If they walked for an hour, the researchers calculated, they would incinerate about 130 more calories than if they stayed in their chairs or stood up at their desks, an added energy expenditure that might be sufficient, they write, to help people avoid creeping, yearly weight gain. 

Of course, it’s equally important to keep in mind here that health isn’t solely predicated on how many calories you expend on a minute to minute basis. Nor is it made or broken by the mere act of sitting. Yes, being chained to a chair all day isn’t good for your body. But neither is fretting over the prospect of sedentary behavior shortening your life. Provided you take a few breaks during your day at work to stretch your legs, change environments, and get your blood moving, your time spent sitting — or standing — isn’t likely to kill you. 

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[1] Since the full-text isn’t accessible without database access, I’m excerpting from the study authors’ conclusory remarks: “Based on these estimates and the present observances, employees with sit–stand desks likely expended an additional 29–87 kcal/workday.”

Carr L, Swift M, Ferrer A, Benzo R. Cross-sectional Examination of Long-term Access to Sit–Stand Desks in a Professional Office Setting. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2016;50(1):96-100.

What Does Body Positivity Actually Mean?

f96b08b01aa105ba0fa492a4f15f8ace - What Does Body Positivity Actually Mean?

The body positivity movement has gained some serious steam over the past decade. According to a recent report by the American Psychological Association, American women’s (and men’s) dissatisfaction with the skin they’re in began to decline in the early 2000s, following an unfortunate peak in the 1990s. 

Popular media outlets and many marketing campaigns have adapted to this trend — though not necessarily, as many have pointed out, for the better. In 2012, Seventeen Magazine agreed to stop airbrushing models. In 2015, Women’s Health vowed to ban “drop two sizes” and “bikini body” from its cover titles. Sports Illustrated featured plus-sized model Ashley Graham in one of three separate cover images for their annual Swimsuit edition in 2016. And last month Miss Teen USA ditched their swimsuit competition “as part of a commitment to ‘evolve in ways that celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty for years to come.’” All the while, Dove, Aerie, and Victoria’s Secret (among other well-known product and clothing companies) have attempted to incorporate what appears to be body positivity into their advertising efforts.

But what, exactly, does it mean to be body positive? And does trying to market the concept miss — if not distort — the point? I spoke with Mallorie Dunn, founder of the body positive fashion line SmartGlamour; Kaila Prins, body positive wellness coach and burlesque teacherand Connie Sobczak, co-founder of and author of Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!) to clarify some common misconceptions about body positivity and better understand its intent. With help of the statisticians behind the post-secret style app Whisper, I also wrangled some data on how we understand and enact the idea in our everyday lives. 

Read on for a primer on where things stand with body positive and what (still) needs to be ironed out.

How do you define body positivity?

Mallorie Dunn: To me, body positivity means accepting the body you have as well as the changes in shape, size, and ability it may undergo due to nature, age, or your own personal choices throughout your lifetime. It’s the understanding that your worth and what’s going on with you physically are two separate entities — that no matter what’s happening inside, outside, or to your body, you’re still just as worthwhile as the person next to you.

Kaila Prins: I like to think that body positivity’s intention is really body acceptance. The idea that you can live comfortably in your body, as it is right now, or work on treating it right through nourishment and joyful movement and self care without punishing yourself for looking the way you do.

[According to the data crunchers at Whisper, 35.1% define body positivity as “being okay with flaws;” 29.3% define it as “loving yourself;” 21.1% define it as “being confident;” and 14.5% of users define it as “appreciating your body.”] 

How does someone become body positive?

Connie Sobczak: To be body positive, it is important to assume responsibility for figuring out what your body needs. In many ways, this feels harder than having an external “expert” voice tell you what to eat and how to move. But playing with the word “responsibility” makes it much less intimidating: response ability simply becomes the ability to respond to the stimuli present. In this case it is the ability to respond to sensations of hunger or fullness and the need for movement or rest. Honor the life and circumstances that make it difficult at times to take care of yourself the way you would like and simply do the best you can in the moment. Be willing to trust your ability to know what feels good for your unique body. Learn from trial and error, and be kind to yourself when you make mistakes.

Another approach to being body positive is to examine the messages you’ve received —and continue to receive — throughout your life about health, weight, food, and exercise. You’ll want to pay attention not only to what you’ve been told by the media and medical professionals, but also by your family, friends, and culture. Once you clearly identify the messages, you can begin to think critically about which ones work for you. If particular information is intriguing, try it out to see how it makes you feel. If you adopt a behavior that leads to better physical and/or mental health, and — most importantly — it is something you can sustain over the long term, keep it in your toolkit. From this same observant position, you can also identify the messages that trigger guilt or shame. If the information doesn’t make you feel better or it is a behavior you can’t maintain over time, discard it and return to what you know to be right for you.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore what your doctor or other health practitioners tell you. But what you don’t want to do is follow the advice of an “expert” blindly, especially if they tell you it’s imperative that you lose weight to improve your health and suggest going on a diet. Perhaps your condition will improve by increasing physical activity or making dietary and other life changes. But it’s up to you to listen to the signals from within to help with these kinds of decisions.

[Per Whisper, 45.5% of users say “encouraging each other” is the best way to promote body positivity;” while 29.2% advocate for shining more attention on “models who aren’t perfect” and 25.3% think “the media should embrace all sizes.” 

Whisper users also shared their own ways of enacting body positivity. The most popular was “wearing great clothes” (40.29%), followed by “telling yourself you’re awesome” (25.83%), “healthy eating & fitness” (18.14%), and “inspiring others” (16%).]

What are some issues you see with the body positivity movement — or body positivity — in general?

Kaila Prins: Sometimes body positivity can come off as more of a candy-coated movement to help us all ‘feel beautiful’ and love ourselves all the time, which I think is really tough to ask of a person.

Shame masked as pride, or its pursuit, is not body positivity. Many popular weight loss and fitness companies run so-called “body positive” campaigns whose surface message is: you should feel good about being in your body. But the subtext is, you can’t feel good in your body as it is — loving yourself and being body positive is about “creating a body you love” instead of starting from a place of love and acceptance and not needing to change your body. The idea behind their messaging is that you should be able to love yourself, and since you can’t do it the way you look now, we can give you a body that you CAN love. 

Essentially, as soon as “body positivity” becomes a marketing tool, it stops being about body positivity but about brand and share of voice. 

Mallorie Dunn: Some people misappropriate body positivity when they leave out of its definition people who are disabled, people who are very large in size, people of color, gender queer people, or people who may seem too small to take part in it. Whenever you’re erasing one group you’re missing the point. Many large retailers, for instance, promote a very narrow image of body positivity as a bunch of light-skinned women who are “small plus” and shaped like an hour glass — this is often referred to “acceptable fat.”

What are the most common misconceptions about body positivity?

Mallorie Dunn: One major misconception about body positivity is that it involves feeling incredible in your skin every moment of every day. But body positivity isn’t about forcing yourself to feel beautiful and wonderful 24/7. You don’t have to adore every aspect of your appearance to be body positive; you just have to divorce that appearance (and your feelings about it) from how you evaluate your worth as a person: You’re not a worse human on a day that you happen to feel ugly or insecure. You don’t deserve any less because you don’t fit into a particular size. What you look like should not have any bearing on your decision to be kind to, and love, yourself and others.

Another misconception is the assumption that championing body positivity equates to telling people to be unhealthy or to stop taking care of themselves. On the one hand, that’s NOT what it’s doing; it’s telling you to be okay with yourself — there’s ample research that if you hate yourself you’re not going to take care of yourself; studies show you have to care about yourself in order to take charge of your health and wellbeing. On the other hand, other peoples’ health is nobody’s business but their own. If someone is being unhealthy in a way you deem inappropriate, that’s not your concern; it’s their body – it’s called autonomy. This misunderstanding stems from a deeper societal issue of fatphobia — and people’s inability to own their discomfort with and prejudice against those who are larger in size.

Kaila Prins:  A common misconception is that body positivity is about “letting yourself go,” or sitting on the couch eating junk food all day and not caring. That is an enormous (and nonsensical) leap from trying not to hate yourself or making the effort to stop forcing yourself to fit into an impossible cultural standard. The idea that a body is “let go” simply because it’s not being weight-suppressed and beaten into submission and creamed and botoxed and tightened and toned is semantically wrong. 

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