Healthy Byte: Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Originally Posted HERE

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Why eat anti-inflammatory foods?

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and disease — like when you have swelling and redness around a wound or twisted joint, or fever while your immune system battles an illness. In the short run, inflammation can be helpful. However, chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of conditions, and some evidence indicates lifestyle — including what we eat — may contribute to inflammation. “The role of chronic inflammation in various diseases — obesity, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, certain cancers — is fairly well-accepted in the scientific community,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, an assistant professor of nutrition at Saint Louis University and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Naturally, people are looking towards dietary changes to reduce inflammation and promote overall health and immunity.”

Don’t exclude whole groups of foods — or limit yourself to just a few.

Some fad diets may claim to be anti-inflammatory. But experts say eating patterns with the most science behind them, like the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (the acronym stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension), are your top choices for an anti-inflammatory diet. They include a broad range of proven-healthy foods you probably have been told to eat since you were young, which research indicates are also anti-inflammatory foods. (Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet, based on the Mediterranean diet, with a few added elements like anti-inflammatory green tea, is also OK — but expert panelists convened by U.S. News didn’t rank the diet nearly as highly as the Mediterranean or DASH diets.) Here are some anti-inflammatory foods — as well as some foods that may contribute to inflammation:

Antioxidant-infused fruits and vegetables

Foods generally considered anti-inflammatory have been proven to be healthy — for any number of reasons. Case in point: fruits and veggies. We know from reams of research that they’re good for us, even if it’s still not clear to what extent anti-inflammatory properties may deserve credit. To hedge your bets, choose colorful fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants:

— For flavonols, try broccoli, kale and berries.

— For beta carotene, consider red and orange peppers.

— Get your vitamin C from citrus fruits and winter squash.

The bottom line: It’s hard to go wrong with fruits or veggies, including tomatoes, which are sometimes cut from so-called anti-inflammatory diets despite being rich in antioxidants, and avocados, a great plant-based anti-inflammatory source of fat.

Whole grains

In addition to lots of fruits and vegetables, diets considered to be anti-inflammatory are usually rich in whole grains, such as wheat, oats and quinoa, Linsenmeyer notes. These and other whole grains like brown rice and barley are a great source of fiber, as are fruits and vegetables — especially raspberries, apples, peas and broccoli. The dietary inflammatory index, a review of research on foods that are anti-inflammatory and those that seem to promote inflammation, puts fiber squarely in the first camp.

Beans

Beans are another fiber-rich food firmly in the category of lean proteins. Dietary experts like Tamara Randall, a registered dietitian nutritionist and instructor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, say these should be considered as part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet. Black, kidney, pinto and other beans are a great complement to any diet.

Omega-3-packed fatty fish like salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids not only battle inflammation, they’re also good for brain health. Foods high in omega-3 include fish, nuts (especially walnuts) and plant oils like flaxseed oil. However, the two most beneficial forms of omega-3 — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — come mainly from fish. The best sources for omega-3s are fatty seafoods, which include salmon, albacore tuna and shellfish. Experts generally recommend having fish twice per week, or around 200 to 500 milligrams of EPA or DHA total. Talk with a doctor about whether supplementation is recommended if you don’t eat fish.

Walnuts and other nuts

Another food that’s anti-inflammatory and high in a different form of omega-3 fatty acids (called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) is walnuts. In fact, just a small handful, or one ounce, of English walnuts contains more than 2 1/2 grams of ALA. While nuts in general are a healthful feature of anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet, walnuts lead the pack in omega-3 content. Researchers studying the effects of eating walnuts “have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis,” notes the Arthritis Foundation, adding that studies suggest monounsaturated fats in an almond-rich diet also lower some markers of inflammation, including CRP.

Oils

Featured in the traditional Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a source of healthy fat that’s also anti-inflammatory, Randall notes. Alternatively, a person wishing to eat an anti-inflammatory diet may sparingly use safflower or sunflower oil as well, she suggests. Use oils in moderation, like a tablespoon for cooking or as dressing for a salad. Flaxseed oil, which contains 7 grams of ALA per tablespoon, is another great anti-inflammatory option.

Herbs and spices

In addition to keeping dishes flavorful, herbs and spices are also considered part of a dynamic anti-inflammatory diet. Linsenmeyer especially recommends turmeric and ginger, which many studies find to be anti-inflammatory. Other herbs and spices recommended for their anti-inflammatory properties include cinnamon, cumin, chili peppers, garlic, clove, rosemary, sage and oregano, she says.

Limit sugar.

A diet that’s high in sugar is more inflammatory, says Joan Salge Blake, a professor of nutrition at Boston University and a U.S. News contributor. Still, Salge Blake, like many dietary experts, cautions against trying to cut things entirely out of the diet. Besides being difficult to sustain and usually unnecessary, extreme dietary changes or restrictions can lead to disordered eating. That said, limiting cakes, cookies and soda — what have become everyday indulgences for many — is key to strike a balance. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugars to about 12 teaspoons (for a 2,000 calorie diet) per day. By comparison, the average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of sugar daily, and many have much more than that.

Limit refined carbohydrates.

Go easy on refined carbs such as white bread and crackers, which may also contribute to inflammation. In addition, sweets like doughnuts and pastries — with refined carbs and lots of refined sugar — are a double whammy if you’re trying to avoid inflammatory foods. If you’re a pasta fan, consider a whole-grain pasta over white, refined pasta. Generally speaking, whole foods are best — and highly processed, carb-heavy foods should be limited.

Avoid processed meat and red meat high in saturated fat.

An added benefit of consuming healthy fats is that you’re crowding out — or limiting — unhealthy ones in your diet that may be inflammatory, such as fatty red meats and processed meat like hot dogs and bacon. “So you’re eating a fish — a source that is very low in saturated fat and may be displacing in your diet a protein source that’s very high in saturated fat,” Salge Blake says. If you’re craving meat, look for lean proteins like poultry or leaner cuts of grass-fed beef, which may also be a good source of omega-3s.

Avoid trans fats.

Due to public health concerns, factory-made trans fats — aka partially hydrogenated oil — are mostly gone from foods today. Still, because of the risk they pose — like raising “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and the role they play in inflammation — it’s still worth double-checking food labels to make sure they don’t sneak into your diet. Trans fats are sometimes still included in processed baked goods and fried foods — essentially fare you’ll want to avoid or limit.

Alcohol in moderation and everything in context

Having a glass of wine with dinner isn’t discouraged with diets like the Mediterranean. But drinking in excess can increase inflammation, Salge Blake says. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines suggest having no more than one drink per day for women and two daily for men.) Ultimately, if you’re trying to reduce inflammation and improve your health through diet and lifestyle, the point is to consider everything you eat and drink. Look at the big picture of your lifestyle. “You can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to have salmon two meals a week, and then I’m going to smoke and take in excess alcohol, be overweight and (not) eat any fruits and vegetables,” Salge Blake stresses. “That’s not going to work.”

What to eat on an anti-inflammatory diet

— Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

— Whole grains.

— Beans.

— Salmon and other fatty fish.

— Walnuts.

— Olive oil and flaxseed oil.

— Herbs and spices, including turmeric and ginger.

Healthy Byte: Gaining Fat or Muscle?

Originally Posted HERE

Most of us have gotten the memo: strength training is a must for women who want to improve their health, feel fit and strong, and lose weight. But lifting weights can be an intimidating thing if you’re new to the game. When they first start strength training regularly, some women say they gain weight or feel themselves getting bigger, which can be a turn-off. If that sounds familiar, don’t go anywhere. We chatted with two experts who will explain exactly why that happens and what you can do to prevent it.

“As you demand more from your muscles with weight training, it develops microscopic tears in your muscle,” Joel Freeman, Beachbody Super Trainer, told POPSUGAR. “Then your muscle [is] going to regrow bigger. So with that, it’s going to be heavier.”

“Even though we know muscle weighs more than fat, we see the number creeping up and you definitely freak out.”

 This helps to explain why muscle has a greater density than fat, so if you compare the same volume of muscle and fat, muscle would likely weigh more because it takes up less space than an equal mass of fat. If you went from doing zero weightlifting to doing a few sessions a week, the scale will show an increase in weight, because even though your body is becoming leaner, you’re putting on extra muscle where fat used to be. “Even though we know muscle [is denser] than fat, we see the number creeping up and you definitely freak out,” Joel said. “Even my wife deals with it, and she’s been in fitness her whole life. She’s a former gymnast and lifts heavy. Acording to her BMI, she’s borderline overweight, but she is anything but — it’s muscle!”

Don’t let this discourage you! It’s all part of the process. As you build up all that muscle, you’re also revving up your metabolism, which will help you burn more fat in the long run.

“If you’re getting too big, it has nothing to do with your training in the gym. It’s what you eat.”

Magnus Lygdback, a celebrity trainer who has worked with Alicia Vikander, Gal Gadot, and Katy Perry, also chimed in on this topic. “If you’re getting too big, it has nothing to do with your training in the gym,” he told POPSUGAR. “It’s what you eat.”

It’s that simple. If you feel like your body is getting bigger, rather than leaner, as you’re lifting weights, Magnus insists this has nothing to do with your workouts. It’s all about your diet. Easier said than done, we know, because the bottom line is, you get hungrier when you do more strength training.

“It is really easy to be hungry,” Joel confirmed. “That’s how your body reacts when you’re strength training, so it really comes down to making sure that your macros are measured out. Today it’s so easy to measure your macros using apps.”

He recommends following the very simple formula of eating 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs, and 30 percent healthy fats. This should keep everything balanced and help prevent any extreme weight gain.

“It is really easy to be hungry. That’s how your body reacts when you’re strength training.”

 “Food is a big part of life, and it should be enjoyed,” Magnus told POPSUGAR. “I hate the ‘cheat day.’ Seventeen out of 20 meals should be on point, and you should enjoy life three out of 20. So it’s up to you when you want to do those three meals out of 20, but that’s my philosophy.” And it seemed to work for Alicia, because she looks lean AF in the trailer for Tomb Raider.
To sum it all up, if you feel like you’re not getting leaner from strength training, don’t panic. You will inevitably see a little weight gain on the scale, but eventually you will start slimming down. And if you don’t, look closely at what you’re eating, because it’s so easy to overeat when you’re lifting weights. But sticking to your personal macros and following Magnus’s 17/20 rule will certainly get you to where you want to be.

 

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: Make Nice with Food

healthy foods and a tape measureTake a mindful approach to healthy eating | iStock.com

Maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, and eating right is sometimes an uphill battle. So, it’s often tempting to take the easy way out, succumbing to microwaveable meals and fast food fare. But ending your war against food is possible, and in taking a more mindful approach what goes into your body, and how, you may discover a healthier way to shed pounds.


The Cheat Sheet: What are healthier alternatives to overeating?

Dr. Susan Albers: Mindful eating is key to ending overeating. It squashes emotional eating and helps you to eat just what you need — not more. Basically, being mindful means having more control over your actions, particularly around food.

CS: How can a person combat overeating if they’ve struggled with it their whole life?

SA: First, you have to rewire your mindset to stop dieting. This is often easier said than done because it’s so ingrained in our culture. A dieting mindset gets you into either or situations — either I’m on a diet or I’m off. Mindful eating isn’t so black and white, which helps people sidestep the sense of failure or giving up. It’s also losing the guilt and starving.

Dr. Susan Albers holding an apple

CS: If someone is a stress eater, how can they overcome the temptation to eat, and instead use other ways to deal with stress?

SA: Think about the 2 Rs — reboot and relax. Basically, when we are stressed, we are looking for a way to unwind. Studies show that food only comforts us for about three minute, and then the positive feelings fade. Relaxation techniques help you to relax and unwind. This includes things that I’ve included in my book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, like self-massage, yoga techniques, aromatherapy, etc.

Rebooting your mindset can be a little more challenging. The book includes ways of turning around negative thinking, which keeps you stuck. Being able to remain positive, see the silver lining, and rebound makes food less tempting. We eat to escape feelings. Mindfulness helps you cope with them as they are until they pass — and they will pass.

CS: How can people be more mindful about the food they’re putting into their bodies?

SA: If you don’t know where to start, start with what I call the 5 Ss of Mindful Eating. Sit down, slowly chew, savor each bite, simplify your environment by putting treats out of sight, and smile between bites so you have a moment to check in to ask yourself if you are truly satisfied. These all change how vs. what you eat. So many plans focus on the what to eat. We need to learn the how.

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CS: How realistic is it to begin a healthier diet?

SA: You don’t have to change anything. Just slip more mindfulness into what you are already doing. This is often a simple mind shift that takes no more than a second. Make every choice a conscious choice instead of mindlessly eating out of habit or what I call the JBITS syndrome — just because it is there. Connect to all the actions around eating from picking up your fork to feeling your back against the chair to savoring the texture of each bite.

CS: How can a person’s daily routine be affected, positively or negatively, by their eating habits?

SA: Some habits and routines are positive. You just do it without any emotion or thought. For example, when you brush your teeth there is no emotional struggle or question. You just do it. Routine eating habits can take out some of the emotion, difficulty, and taxing nature of making a decision. In other words, you just eat the banana like you do every afternoon without any emotional struggle. Habit is negative when you do it without thought or connection to the experience. Sitting on the couch and mindlessly eating chips each night takes out the enjoyment of the experience and can get you in a deep rut.


There you go, just one more reason to drop the diet mindset and start thinking about mindful eating. So, yes, you can totally still have those potato chips. Just make sure you enjoy every bite knowing you can have them again instead of feeling like you need to plow through the entire bag. You’ll be healthier, and happier, for it.

 

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig

Healthy Byte: ‘Starvation Mode’ the Myth

close-up on a man's stomach as he rubs itCould this man be experiencing starvation mode? | iStock.com

If you eat healthy, count every calorie, keep track of your nutrients, and work out day in and day out, then you’re probably expecting your body to get lean and strong in no time. So, if you find yourself hitting a weight-loss plateau without cheating on your diet or slacking on your exercise routine, you may assume you’ve hit starvation mode. This phenomenon, according to Livestrong, affects anyone who eats below their recommended daily caloric intake and makes weight loss nearly impossible. But is there any truth to this claim? It’s time to dispel myth from reality.

This is what starvation mode in dieting is said to be — a complete halt in weight loss when you’ve gone too far with your extreme dieting. Here’s the truth: While your body will have a response to cutting calories, it won’t be strong enough to completely prevent you from losing weight.

healthy foods and a tape measure

Healthy fresh produce for weight loss | iStock.com

In truth, The Washington Post explains metabolism will slow when you’re cutting calories. This is your body’s natural response to a significant change in your diet and your routine, but this doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, this slowing of your metabolic rate doesn’t even happen within the first six to eight months of extreme dieting, which is when most people find that they hit their first plateau and look toward starvation mode as a reason. It takes years and years of severe calorie restriction for your metabolism to completely offset a reduction in calories.

The idea that you won’t lose weight when your caloric intake is too restricted is completely dispelled when looking at The Minnesota Starvation Experiment outlined by the American Psychological Association. In World War II, men were worked to physical extremes and were given less than 1,600 calories to eat a day, resulting in extreme hunger, gaunt bodies, and malnutrition. They were rehabilitated back to full health by being fed a proper number calories, but nowhere in this study did they find the men stopped losing weight because they were eating too little. In fact, all of the participants lost about 25% of their body weight.

If you’re at the point in your diet where you’re unable to lose weight further, A Workout Routine suggests this may be because your body simply isn’t burning as many calories as it did when you weighed more. When your body weight decreases, you burn fewer calories in general, meaning the diet that worked for you when you were 50 pounds heavier may not be working so well for you anymore.