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Food & Nutrition

Increasing Longevity Through Better Nutrition

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In an archipelago southwest of Japan, lies the island of Okinawa, which is home to the healthiest population of centenarians (people over 100 years old) on earth. They suffer fewer instances of cancer, diabetes and heart attacks. Their secrets include a more nutrient based diet and less stressful living.

Okinawan centenarians stay lean by eating fewer calories than they burn off during the day. They maintain a healthy weight. For them, meals are a social event where the focus is on the social interaction and not the food itself. They eat until they are almost full before they get stuffed.

It takes 20 minutes for the body to signal to the brain that is it full. Americans like to eat until they are stuffed. You can use a hunger rating system to monitor your level of satisfaction. During a meal, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 5- (1 is famished and 5 is stuffed.) By just taking the time to think about how you actually feel, you are less likely to overeat.

They eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. They include fish and soy in their diet. They eat more food but fewer calories since the foods they choose have more nutrients, greater bulk and fewer calories per gram. Besides feeling fuller, eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and low in saturated fats from animal proteins have been shown to significantly cut your risk of chronic disease.

They eat locally grown foods, so their food choices are fresher, riper and more flavorful. They are also always changing their dietary intake so the constant changing of nutrients helps build their resistance to chronic illness. They also engage in many physical activities daily. They tend to exercise in the evening to relieve their daily stress and get their bodies ready for rest. They go to bed early and take naps during the day giving their bodies the proper sleep.

A major part of their diet is seafood which provides omega-3 fatty acids. These fats protect the body from heart disease, depression, and Alzheimers because they reduce arterial inflammation. Another stable in their diet is soy which is made up of antioxidant-rich proteins. You can try to get more fish into your diet. Try to get some soy into your diet at least once a week.

Food & Nutrition

How to Make Pesto With Any Kind of Green

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For a long time, I lived under the assumption that you could only make with basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan. If you wanted the famous green sauce but didn’t have one of those ingredients, then you were just straight out of luck.

Also check out: Organic Food For A Better Environment And Health

I’ve since learned that that is very much not the case. What I love about cooking is that it isn’t scientific, like baking. If you make a cake and mismeasure or use baking soda instead of baking powder, you could end up with something inedible. But if you add an extra clove of garlic or a bundle of dandelion greens to your pesto even though the recipe didn’t necessarily call for it, it will usually still be excellent.

In fact, as long as you follow a very basic recipe template (nuts + cheese + greens + oil), a delicious pesto is completely within reach. You can truly use any variant of these ingredients. Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and even peanuts are all fair game in the nut department. As far as cheese goes, it’s entirely up to your preference. Feel like using aged cheddar instead of parm? Then do it! You won’t regret it. And your greens can be anything—they don’t even have to be leafy. Peas, broccoli, and avocado all work wonders in the sauce. Once you’ve assembled these ingredients (plus salt, pepper, and any other flavoring agents you desire), all you have to do is blend everything together. It really is that simple.

Take a potentially delicious chance on your next pasta by giving one of these 13 alternative pesto recipes a shot. They’ll teach you that no matter what ingredients you have on hand, you can always make a yummy pesto sauce in seconds.

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Food & Nutrition

Bulk Up on Fiber Facts and Whole Foods

Fiber is actually not a nutrient and it doesn’t provide the body with energy or calories

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Fiber is actually not a nutrient and it doesn’t provide the body with energy or calories. It’s also not digestible or absorbable by the body, but its health benefits earn it the designation of “phytonutrient.” Fitness professionals know that the “average American” (which includes many of our clients) likely isn’t taking in enough fiber. But what is fiber? What are its benefits? How much is enough? And how can fiber help clients meet health and weight goals? That’s a lot of questions! Here are some simple answers about this complex carbohydrate.

Fiber in a Nutshell—or an Apple Skin

Fiber is what gives plants their shape and structure, and it’s found only in plant foods, not animal-based ones. The shape and structure of fiber is what gives our body, most importantly our gastrointestinal tract, the bulk that provides many benefits. To reap the many benefits of fiber such as maintaining a healthy weight, satiety, glucose control, cholesterol reduction, cancer prevention, and gut health from prebiotics, boost your intake of plants.

America: Falling Short on Fiber

In 2014, the average American intake of fiber was only 16 grams per day. The recommended intake of fiber is 25­­­–38 g per day. That’s a big disparity! Women should aim for 25 g of fiber per day, and men should target 38 g (or 21 g for women and 30 g for men daily for those over the age of 51).

Consuming more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds will increase fiber intake. The growing trend of increased plant-based intake (as in flexitarian diets—an expansion on the practice of Meatless Mondays) will hopefully increase the intake of fiber in the American population.

Whole Foods: The Best “Package” for Fiber

In spite of its many health benefits, fiber is not a cure-all that many seek from products, but it is a healthy focus when trying to improve overall health. In fact, it is one number I recommend paying attention to on the food label. I typically recommend paying more attention to reading the more important ingredients list, eating intuitively and eating more whole foods versus the numbers. When people focus on eating whole food versus looking at numbers, they are naturally more satisfied.

Over the years as refining and processing foods has become more prevalent, fiber has become less available in prepared products. This is even more of a reason to focus on whole, unprocessed foods. Take the apple-versus-applesauce-versus-apple-juice example:

  • 1 medium apple with the peel contains 4.4 g of fiber; while
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce contains 1.4 g of fiber; and
  • 4 ounces of apple juice contains 0 g fiber!

Juicing—a popular trend—actually eliminates the fiber from the vegetables and fruits because juicers extract the fiber-filled pulp. And it’s not just fruits that contain more fiber when they’re not processed: The same holds true for soybeans versus tofu. A 1/2 cup serving of soybeans contains 5 g of fiber, whereas 1/2 cup of tofu only has 1 g of fiber.

It is recommended to receive your fiber intake from whole foods over fiber supplements or fortified foods. The foods that contain fiber also contain many other nutrients that a supplement may not contain. Research also shows that a fiber supplement may not have the same power of increasing satiety or managing blood sugar and cholesterol as the whole food does. Fiber-fortified foods may also cause more gastrointestinal issues.

There is not a box, powder or cleanse that you can purchase that will do for you what eating whole food can. Save your money on products and put it into real food. It’s the most beneficial way to reap the produce’s full nutrient and phytonutrient benefits.

Two Types of Fiber, Many Rewards

There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are beneficial and provide different perks. All plant foods contain a combination of both insoluble and soluble, but some have a higher amount of one over the other. Take the apple/applesauce/juice example again: The skin of the apple is a source of insoluble fiber, and the inside flesh contains soluble. The juice contains neither. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not. Fiber’s solubility is what determines its benefits.

Insoluble fiber is cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Although insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, it does retain water and helps waste and toxins to move through our system more rapidly. Increasing plant intake usually allows us to feel better and have more energy as it helps the body naturally detoxify. Let your intestines, kidney, liver, and spleen work!

Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as cauliflower, green beans, and the skin of fruits. It helps with colon and breast cancer prevention, regularity and constipation prevention and diverticulosis. The indigestible parts of the plants are also prebiotics for our gut health to feed the probiotics.

Soluble fiber like glucan, psyllium, gum and pectin become gummy substances when water is added—for example, when chia seeds are put in liquid to make chia pudding. This gummy quality allows it to bind to cholesterol, helping the body excrete it. This is also how soluble fiber helps slow the rate at which blood glucose rises—it slows the absorption of the glucose into the bloodstream.

Foods such as oats, beans, apples, carrots and flax are sources of soluble fiber, and they help to promote satiety, a healthy weight, cholesterol reduction and blood glucose control.

Encouraging Clients to Boost Fiber Intake

Many people begin an exercise program for weight loss, then find that they have increased hunger. This is due to increased energy expenditure. One way to help keep hunger in check is increasing fiber intake. Not only does fiber contain zero calories, but the foods that are high fiber are also lower in calories and fat than many other foods.

Caution not to go overboard as there is too much of a good thing. Too much fiber may cause constipation and decrease nutrient absorption. Increase fiber intake gradually and also increase water intake to prevent constipation.

Tip: Fiber is not recommended right before a workout as it may increase gastrointestinal upset. Focus on adequate fiber intake in the meals and snacks post exercise or training.

Easy Ways to Fiber Up

A great place to start with increasing fiber intake is by using the plate method, which includes filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit at each meal. The plate method is a more realistic way to track portions for a healthy weight than measuring cups or counting calories. Another method is to aim for the recommended 5 servings (or more) of vegetables and fruits per day. Tips to add more fiber:

  • Choose whole grains with 3–5 g fiber per serving. Look for whole grain breads, brown rice and oats, and consume the whole intact grain versus milled.
  • Enjoy a vegetable or fruit serving with each meal or snack.
  • Add beans to soups, stews, pastas, omelets, salads and casseroles.
  • Have oatmeal versus dry cereal at breakfast, and toss in some whole fruit chunks or berries.
  • For sandwiches, add bulk (no pun intended) with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, peppers and other garden favorites. If you’re not a vegetable eater, getting them on your sandwich makes them easier to consume.
  • Prefer a grain at snack time? Try popcorn versus crackers.

A Quick Guide to Fiber Counts

Here’s a reference that will give you and your clients a good idea of how much fiber is in some popular foods.

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Food & Nutrition

Organic Food For A Better Environment And Health

Organic food is produced by farmers to emphasize renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water

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You must have heard about organic food, haven’t you? What do you know about it? Imagine if your spinach, broccoli, carrots, celery, apples, oranges, pears, and other fruits and vegetables on your table do not contain chemical substances. A healthier body will be yours ever.

Also: Why Am I Gaining Weight When I Eat Healthily?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic food is produced by farmers to emphasize renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. This food is produced and processed without using any synthetic ingredients or chemical substances which can disrupt the balance of nature.

Do you know what that means? Yes, organic food production is better for our environment.
Meanwhile, organic meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products are produced by not using growth hormones and antibiotics. Wow, that’s supposed to be healthy and safe for your body. Consuming organic food is indeed an investment to a healthier life in the future. Making it a daily menu for the family is a healthful idea as well.

What is the standard of organic food?
The USDA has established a set of national standard that “organic” labeled food must meet. One of them is the farm condition, whether it follows the rules necessary to meet the USDA organic standards. For instance, there must be no prohibited substance for 3 years on land. Certification to the companies that process or handle the organic food before it reaches local supermarkets or restaurants is also required.

How to tell if certain food is organic? See a label on the food package or watch for signs in the supermarket. Costly, yet healthy. Unfortunately, you may find that organic food is rather more expensive from non-organic one. One of the reasons is organic food needs more farmers to handle the production as they weed, for example carrots and onions, by hand.

So it’s clear than consuming organic food is not simply about eating. Again, it is a future asset. Not only is it beneficial for our environment but also for our health, our family’s health.

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