Ingredients to Limit on Food Labels

It is super important to read food labels.  You need to know what is really in the food that you’re eating.  My biggest piece of advice is to try to purchase foods that don’t have a lot of ingredients, maybe less than 10, or no labels at all like fresh produce.  Another tip is to see how many unfamiliar words there are on the label.  Do you really want to eat something you can’t pronounce?  I don’t!!!  At first it may seem overwhelming to buy foods this way.  Remember that moderation is key.  If it is too hard for you to limit all of the items, try cutting back on a few.  We are looking for progress, not perfection.   Little changes do add up.

Here are my top fifteen ingredients you should watch out for on food labels.

  1.  Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG is commonly found in  processed foods, everything from canned goods to potato chips.  When you ingest MSG, it damages nerves by “overexciting” them, as well as harming brain cells and sparking your appetite, causing you to eat more.
  2. Artificial Flavors: Found in a majority of foods today, artificial flavors can have serious negative effects on your health.  These effects include reproductive complications, neurotoxicity and cancer causing tendencies.
  3. High Fructose Corn Syrup: High fructose corn syrup can be found in just about any sweet processed food.  Aside from it being made from genetically modified corn, high fructose corn syrup can cause accelerated weight gain, insulin resistance and even diabetes when consumed in large quantities over a long period of time.
  4. Table Salt:  We are not talking about sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, we are talking about man-made table salt.  Table salt contains over 30 chemicals and is bleached, causing spikes in blood pressure and is detrimental to the liver and kidneys.
  5. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Products:  Low-fat or fat-free products are a sham.  Because there is less fat in the product, manufacturers compensate by adding massive amounts of sugars and artificial sweeteners to give the taste of a full-fat food.
  6. Hydrogenated or Fractionated Oils: These two types of oils are toxic.  Hydrogenated oils, in effect, are used for preserving products.  When you consume the hydrogenated oils however, it is like pouring “plastic sludge” into your blood stream.  Fractionated oil, on the other hand, is the almost solid fat product extracted from oil and has extremely harmful effects on the body.
  7. Artificial Coloring: Artificial coloring has been linked to cancer.  Different colorings, such as Blue 1 and 2, as well as Red 3 and Green 3, are connected to cancers ranging from the thyroid to the bladder.
  8. Soy:  Marketed as a healthy product to consume, soy can have serious effects on health, especially for women.  It can disturb estrogen in women, cause early puberty in girls, and contribute to a reduced sex drive.
  9. Canola Oil:  Aside from being an effective insect repellant, canola oil has no benefit whatsoever to the human body.  It is extracted from plants that have been genetically modified and extensively bred.
  10. Potassium Sorbate:  Potassium sorbate began a revolution in food preservation.  While it will successfully keep food fresh, it is a carcinogen known to cause cell mutation in animals and have “toxic” effects on organs.
  11. Enriched Wheat: You should avoid anything that is labeled “enriched,” but especially enriched wheat.  Enriched wheat has added niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid and iron after they had already been removed while the wheat was being processed.  While these have been added back, the wheat now holds little to none of the nutritional value it started with.
  12. Sugar: Sugar is in almost every single processed food you can buy today.  Such a massive intake of sugar can influence an irregular metabolism, high blood pressure and eventually have a negative impact on the liver.
  13. Sucralose: Normally found in little yellow packets, sodas and protein shakes, sucralose is extremely dangerous.  Also called chlorinated sugar, sucralose contains chlorine, which is prevalent in bleach and disinfectants.  Chlorine does not at all work with your metabolic process and can even damage it if you consume enough.
  14. Aspartame: While aspartame is 200 times sweeter than conventional sugar and only has four calories per gram, it is considered a “multi-level carcinogen.”
  15. Polysorbate 80: Normally found in ice cream and vaccines, polysorbate 80 can have severe negative effects on your health.  Toxicology reports have found that polysorbate 80 weakens the immune system, can cause anaphylactic shock, can cause infertility, bring on premature puberty and even damage parts of female reproductive organs.

 

References

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2013/03/04/20-ingredients-to-memorize-and-avoid-in-any-food-you-consume/

http://www.skinnymom.com/food-labels-translated-part-1/

The Importance of Leafy Greens in Your Diet

Many people know that eating your leafy greens is important to a balanced diet, but WHY is it so important?

Green vegetables are one of the cornerstones of any healthy diet because they contain so many nutrients that benefit your body in a multitude of ways.  They are the perfect food to keep you full because greens are so high in fiber, which is great for weight loss.

Leafy greens, especially kale and collards, are full of calcium.  The calcium you get from consuming greens can lead to stronger bones, healthier muscle function and better overall blood pressure.

Vitamins E and C, found in many green vegetables, support healthy, glowing  skin and protect it from sun damage as you age.  These nutrients can also decrease risk of cataracts or macular degeneration.

Another essential vitamin prominent in leafy greens is vitamin K.  It prevents multiple age related conditions, as well as cardiovascular disease and kidney calcification.  The good news is that in just one cup of most green vegetables, there is at least your recommended daily value in vitamin K.

Incorporating at least five servings of green vegetables, especially leafy greens, into your diet every day, will support optimal health and vitality.  The age prevention qualities and benefits to your overall health are truly significant and can make an impact on the aging process.

Either raw or prepared, green vegetables can liven any dish with their bright green color and taste great with their soft, sometimes earthy taste and texture.  Expand your horizons and try new leafy greens whenever possible…..your body will thank you!

What is your favorite leafy green vegetable?

 

References

http://www.joybauer.com/food-articles/leafy-green-vegetables/

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/healthy-eating/6-health-benefits-of-leafy-greens/3/

 

My Top 8 Things to Know About Autoimmune Disease

Heart disease.  Cancer.  Diabetes.  These are commonly understood health conditions.  However, unless someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or knows someone who is, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what autoimmune disease is and how it develops.

I have an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and know many people that have various autoimmune diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.  There is a lot of misunderstanding and I want to help clear up as much I can.

To break it down for you, here are my top eight things you should know about autoimmune disease:

  1. First off, what is autoimmune disease?  Autoimmune disease is essentially when your immune system goes into high gear and mistakenly attacks healthy tissue instead of foreign invaders.
  2. Women are more likely to get autoimmune disease than men.  It is estimated that over 12 million people in America are fighting cancer and that 25 million Americans suffer from heart disease.  These diseases can run in families, but females are more susceptible.
  3. Once you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you are far more likely to have a second autoimmune diagnosis within five years.
  4. It is a myth that side effects from autoimmune disease medications will not be noticeable.  Oftentimes, the side effects from these medications are severe, harmful and disrupt everyday life.
  5. By improving your gut and digestive system health, it is possible to reduce or eliminate your autoimmune symptoms.  Because much of your immune system is in your gut, bettering your digestive system can go a long way in offering relief.
  6. Reducing chronic, silent inflammation is imperative when you suffer from an autoimmune disease.  Drugs such as corticosteroids are often prescribed to combat inflammation, but living a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and doing things within your control to limit inflammation can be a significant supportive measure.
  7. Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease can be difficult.  The symptoms of these diseases blend together and can, in many cases, mislead doctors to incorrect diagnoses.  Autoimmune diseases affect everyone differently; meaning two people with the same disease can have very different symptoms.
  8. Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease does not mean you will have a “poor quality of life.”  By taking the correct medications as prescribed by your doctor, adjusting your diet to combat your disease and changing small things in your lifestyle, it is quite possible that you could live a happy, normal life.

Do you have an autoimmune disease?  Do you have any tips to share?

References

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17014/8-myths-facts-about-autoimmune-disease.html

http://www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/blog/2015/7/15/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-autoimmune-disease

 

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters More Than What You Weigh

and 6 tips for helping reduce belly fat

You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you?

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your weight.

I mean, it doesn’t define you.

What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.

Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”?  The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

Yup – that apple!

And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”.  The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is.  It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.

Are you apple or pear shaped?

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape.  You can do it right now.

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category.  Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

For men the number is 40”.

Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool.  There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases.  Waist circumference is just one of them.

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

6 tips for helping reduce belly fat:

  • Eat more fiber. Fiber helps you feel full.    Some examples of high-fiber foods are lentils, brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
  • Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer.  It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
  • Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
  • Move more. Get some aerobic exercise.  Lift some weights.  Walk and take the stairs.  It all adds up.
  • Stress less. Seriously!  Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-abdominal-fat-and-risk

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/visceral-fat-location

http://www.drsharma.ca/inspiring-my-interest-in-visceral-fat

Why You Should Ditch Sugar Today!

And The Top 10 Sugar Laden Foods

Everyone knows that too much sugar is unhealthy and that moderation is key, but why should you ditch sugar completely?  Here are my top eight reasons to eliminate sugar from your diet today!

  1. Too Much Sugar Can Lead to Diabetes:  Sugar has been proven to play a large factor in the development of type II diabetes.  Even people seen as “skinny” are at risk of becoming pre-diabetic if they over consume sugar.  The best way to avoid this is by significantly reducing your consumption of sugar.
  2. Sugar Messes With Your Head:  Consuming large amounts of sugar can cause major hormonal issues.  Because the added sugar manipulates your hunger hormone receptors into not receiving the message that you have eaten, you will never feel quite full, explaining why you may feel hungry when you eat a diet high in sugar.
  3. Sugar Can Accelerate the Progression of Cancer:  Because sugar is essential for malignant cells to grow, sugar can “feed cancer.”  Need I say more?
  4. Sugar Makes You Fat (Obviously):  If you consume a large amount of sugar every day, you may notice fat accumulating in places you have not noticed before.  Because sugar signals your body to store fat instead of burn fat, your body will immediately begin to hold fat in places that make it extremely hard to work off.
  5. Sugar is Genetically Modified:  More than 50 percent of sugar in the United States comes from genetically modified crops.  To avoid this genetically modified sugar, seek out sugar or products labeled as 100 percent organic.
  6.  Sugar is Addictive:  Consuming too much sugar can lead to the “shut down” of your neurotransmitters that signal the release of dopamine.  This causes you to eat more and more sugar until the neurotransmitters are triggered.
  7. Sugar Clogs Your Arteries:  Yep, you read that right.  Over time, eating too much sugar will ravage your endothelium.  The endothelium is a layer of cells that protect your red blood cells.  Once the endothelium is damaged, red blood cells will have a significantly harder time getting oxygen to parts of your body, causing clogged arteries.
  8. Sugar Can Kill Your Sex Drive:  Because sugar plays a massive part in clogging your arteries and restricting blood flow, when the time comes, you may not be able to perform.  Taking in too much sugar during the day can result in erectile dysfunction in men and sexual arousal disorder in women.

Here are 10 sugar-laden foods you may not have known are so high in sugar: 

Canned or Packaged Fruit:  You may think eating foods like packaged mandarin oranges or applesauce may be good sources of fruit, but you would be misguided.  A small package of Mott’s applesauce can contain up to 23 grams of sugar.

Muffins:  Muffins are constantly thought of as being extremely carb and calorie dense, but they are also dangerously high in sugar.  One Weight Watchers blueberry muffin can have up to 22 grams of sugar.

Granola Bars:  Just one Quaker oatmeal bar can contain up to 19 grams of sugar.  Marketed as a healthy snack, these bars are not as healthy as they seem and use sugar for better taste.

Breakfast Cereal:  Even the so-called “healthy” breakfast cereals contain a large amount of sugar.  In a 3/4 cup of Special K cereal, there is up to 11 grams of sugar.

Bottled Spaghetti Sauce:  Many wouldn’t think spaghetti sauce has a large amount of sugar, but a half cup of Prego’s mushroom spaghetti sauce contains 11 grams of sugar and carries little nutritional value.

Bottled Tea:  Black tea or green tea, a common alternative to sweet tea, is viewed as a healthy, tasty drink helpful with weight loss.  In fact, just 16 ounces of SoBe green tea contains a whopping 50 grams of sugar.  It is always best to drink unsweetened teas.

Frozen Breakfast Foods:  While frozen breakfast foods are not often seen as healthy because of their lack of nutritional value, they are also very high in sugar.  Just one Jimmy Dean Breakfast Entrée can contain up to 21 grams of sugar.

Condiments:  An after thought nutritionally, condiments that go on sandwiches and burgers alike carry shocking amounts of sugar.  Just one tablespoon of ketchup has four grams of sugar.  When people use a large amount of ketchup, they do not realize that it is possibly the most sugar dense part of the meal.

Yogurt:  Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, has been marketed as a healthy breakfast alternative or snack.  In reality, you need to be weary of what yogurt you eat.  A single cup of low-fat fruit yogurt can contain up to 47 grams of sugar.  Plain yogurt with added berries, and stevia to sweeten if you need it, is your best bet.

Protein Bars:  Many people use protein bars as meal replacements or as post workout supplements, but they often contain a staggering amount of added sugar.  Many protein bars contain approximately 30 grams of added sugar.

Use these tips to eliminate the hidden sugar in your diet today!

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/18-surprising-foods-high-in-sugar/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-2982540/The-surprising-foods-high-levels-sugar-revealed.html

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/sugar-shockers-foods-surprisingly-high-in-sugar#5

http://thefittutor.com/sugar-body/

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/sugar-health-effects/slide/8

Why Celebrate Celiac Awareness Month?

Learn about Celiac disease and gluten

celiac awarenessMany of my followers know that I am gluten free due to a food sensitivity.  I was tested for Celiac disease but it came back negative – I had also given up a lot of gluten at that time which can affect the test results.  Regardless, I know people who have Celiac disease as well as those who are sensitive to gluten and feel that more people need to be aware of this disease and related conditions.

Celiac disease basics

  • Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten
  • It starts as an immune response in your small intestine
  • It progresses to inflammation of small intestine’s lining and absorption
  • There is no cure.  A gluten free diet can help symptoms

What is gluten?

  • the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley
  • acts like a glue to hold foods together
  • can be found in a variety of foods including bread, baked goods, pasta, and cereal

Celiac disease is something that more people need to be aware of due to the health implications and due to the misinformation about the disease.  There is a lot of misinformation that I won’t repeat.   I explain to others why I don’t eat gluten all the time…that it causes me more than a stomachache, that it causes actual inflammation in my body and makes me feel awful.  While I do not have Celiac disease I can empathize with those that do because I know what I have gone through and understand why they can’t eat what others can eat.  It is not an easy life to live.   I  pray that future advances in healthcare can help those that have the disease and that more support will be available for those with Celiac disease as well as their families.

If you have Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, you may want to check out my gluten free recipe board on Pinterest.   There are over 500 recipes.  A few of my favorites are Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini Blender Muffins, and Homemade Gluten Free protein bars.  Please share your recipes with me too.   I try to make a new recipe every week or 2.

BeyondCeliac has a wealth of information about Celiac disease for those who wish to learn more.

Health & happiness,

Kim

 

 

 

 

 

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

may health monthMay is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.  During the month of May, I challenge all adults to get 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Did you know that regular physical activity increases your chances of living a longer, healthier life?  It also reduces your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and some types of cancer.  Yet many don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults:

  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, swimming, and raking leaves.
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities – like lifting weights or using exercise bands – at least 2 days a week.

Physical activity is for everyone.  No matter what shape you are in, you can find activities that work for you.  Together, we can rise to the challenge and get more active during the month of May!

On Tuesdays in the month of May I will be posting some tips and suggestions for getting active.  Stop by and share with your friends and family.  You can also check out my workout board on Pinterest.  There are tons of different exercise ideas there!

Health & happiness,

Kim