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Jan 9

Nutrition and mental health: Is there a link? – Medical News Today

Diet influences numerous aspects of health, including weight, athletic performance, and risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to some research, it may affect mental health, too.

Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression could be one of the top health concerns in the world by 2030.

Therefore, it is not surprising that researchers continue to search for new ways to reduce the impact of mental health conditions, rather than relying on current therapies and medications.

Nutritional psychiatry is an emerging area of research specifically looking at the role of nutrition in the development and treatment of mental health problems.

The two main questions that researchers are asking in relation to the role of nutrition in mental health are, Does diet help prevent mental health conditions? and, Are nutrition interventions helpful in the treatment of these conditions?

Article highlights:

Several observational studies have shown a link between overall diet quality and the risk of depression.

For example, one review of 21 studies from 10 countries found that a healthful dietary pattern characterized by high intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, low fat dairy, and antioxidants, as well as low intakes of animal foods was associated with a reduced risk of depression.

Conversely, a Western-style diet involving a high intake of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets, high fat dairy products, butter, and potatoes, as well as a low intake of fruit and vegetables was linked with a significantly increased risk of depression.

An older review found similar results, with high compliance with a Mediterranean diet being associated with a 32% reduced risk of depression.

More recently, a study looking at adults over the age of 50 years found a link between higher levels of anxiety and diets high in saturated fat and added sugars.

Interestingly, researchers have noted similar findings in kids and teenagers.

For example, a 2019 review of 56 studies found an association between a high intake of healthful foods, such as olive oil, fish, nuts, legumes, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables, and a reduced risk of depression during adolescence.

However, it is important to keep in mind that while observational studies can show an association, they cannot prove cause and effect.

Also, even with randomized controlled trials, there are several limitations when it comes to nutrition research studies, including difficulties with accurately measuring food intake.

Researchers often rely on participants recalling what they have eaten in previous days, weeks, or months, but no ones memory is perfect.

The research into whether dietary interventions can help treat mental health problems is relatively new and still quite limited.

The SMILES trial was one of the first randomized controlled trials to examine the role of diet in the treatment of depression.

Over 12 weeks, 67 individuals with moderate or severe depression received either dietary counseling or social support in addition to their current treatment.

The dietary intervention was similar to a Mediterranean diet, in that it emphasized vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oily fish, extra virgin olive oil, legumes, and raw nuts. It also allowed for moderate amounts of red meat and dairy.

At the end of the study, those in the diet group had significantly greater improvements in depression symptoms. These improvements remained significant even when the scientists accounted for confounding variables, including body mass index (BMI), physical activity, and smoking.

Furthermore, only 8% of individuals in the control group achieved remission, compared with 32% of those in the diet group.

Although these results seem promising, the SMILES study was a small, short-term study. As a result, larger, longer term studies are necessary to apply its findings to a larger population.

Replicating the findings is important because not all research agrees with them. For instance, in a study that recruited 1,025 adults with overweight or obesity and at least mild depressive symptoms, researchers investigated the impact of both a multinutrient supplement and food-related behavioral activation on mental health outcomes.

The scientists found no significant difference in depressive episodes compared with a placebo after 12 months.

In the same year, though, a meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled studies did find that dietary interventions significantly reduced symptoms of depression, but not those of anxiety.

It is, therefore, difficult to draw solid conclusions from the existing body of research, particularly as the type of dietary intervention under investigation has varied greatly among studies.

Overall, more research is needed on the topic of specific dietary patterns and the treatment of mental health conditions. In particular, there is a need for a more standardized definition of a healthful diet, as well as for larger, long-term studies.

In addition to dietary patterns, scientists are interested in the potential effects that individual nutrients in the form of dietary supplements might have on mental health.

Scientists have found links between low levels of certain nutrients such as folate, magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B6, B12, and D and worsening mood, feelings of anxiety, and risk of depression.

However, there is inconclusive evidence on whether consuming extra amounts of these nutrients in supplement form offers further benefits for mental health.

For instance, if someone is deficient in magnesium, for example, taking a magnesium supplement might help improve symptoms. However, if someone is getting adequate amounts of magnesium in their diet, it is unclear whether taking a supplement will provide any benefits.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that play a key role in brain development and cell signaling. An article in Frontiers in Physiology discusses how they reduce levels of inflammation.

Due to their anti-inflammatory effects and importance in brain health, scientists have investigated omega-3s for their potential effects on mental health.

While more research is still needed, in 2018 and 2019, reviews of randomized controlled trials found omega-3 supplements to be effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression in adults.

However, as with vitamin and mineral supplements, it remains unclear whether omega-3 supplementation can help improve mood in most individuals or whether it is primarily effective in those with the lowest intake of omega-3s.

Overall, when it comes to taking supplements for mental health, there is still a lot we do not know, including what the optimal doses are for various populations and the long-term safety and effectiveness.

Therefore, experts recommend acquiring the majority of these nutrients through a healthful and varied diet. Anyone who is concerned that they are unable to meet their nutrient needs through diet alone should speak with a doctor to discuss whether supplements may be helpful.

While there is a need for further research, observational studies suggest, overall, that there is a link between what people eat and their mental health. Why nutrition may have this effect is still unknown, though.

There are several theories on how diet may influence mood or the risk of conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Some scientists believe that the inflammatory effects of certain dietary patterns might help explain the relationship between diet and mental health.

Several mental health conditions appear to have links with increased levels of inflammation. The authors of journal articles in Frontiers in Immunology and Current Neuropharmacology discuss this relationship.

For example, diets associated with benefits for mental health tend to be high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthful fats all of which are foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds.

A review of observational studies supports this theory, as diets high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods were associated with a reduced risk of depression.

Still, the exact relationship between diet, inflammation, and alterations in mental health is not well-understood.

Another possible explanation is that diet may affect the bacteria in the gut, which people often refer to as the gut microbiome.

Ongoing research has found a strong link between gut health and brain function. For example, healthy bacteria in the gut produce approximately 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects mood.

Furthermore, early research shows a potential link between a healthy gut microbiome and lower rates of depression.

As diet plays a major role in the health and diversity of the gut microbiome, this theory is a promising explanation for how what we eat may be affecting our mental well-being.

Finally, there is the possibility that diet plays a more indirect role in mental health.

It may be that individuals with healthful diets are more likely to engage in behaviors that are also linked with a reduced risk of mental health conditions, such as engaging in regular physical activity, practicing good sleep habits, and refraining from smoking.

It is important to keep in mind that many factors can influence both eating habits and mental health.

According to, factors that can contribute to mental health conditions include biological factors, such as genetics, life experiences, and family history. Socioeconomic status can also affect mental health, as can access to food and overall diet quality.

Mental health can, in turn, affect eating habits. For example, it is not uncommon to turn to less healthful foods, such as sweets or highly processed snack foods, when feeling angry or upset.

Similarly, many antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can increase appetite and cravings. In both of these situations, struggling with mental health can make adhering to a healthful diet more difficult.

Overall, while diet may be an important factor for mental health, it is important to remember that many other aspects of life can also contribute to mood.

The study of nutrition and how it affects mental health is ongoing.

And while more research is needed, current studies suggest that we may have some influence over our mental health through our food choices.

Still, we need to keep in mind that diet is just one piece of the much more complex topic that is mental health.

As a result, it is important for anyone who is experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms or has general concerns about their mental well-being to work with a trusted healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Nutrition and mental health: Is there a link? - Medical News Today

Jan 9

An Introduction To The Whole30 Diet? – What Is The Whole30 Diet? – Delish

People take the beginning of a new year as a chance to try something new, set some goals, and reevaluate their routines. For some people, that means changing up their eating habits or trying out a new diet to see what sticks. One of the most popular diets is the Whole30, which some people consider a short-term undertaking that may become a way of life. If you're looking to try it out for yourself or you're curious as to what it entails, here's everything you need to know.

For starters, the Whole30 diet is intended to last for at least 30 days (hence the name!), making it approximately a month-long routine of ridding your diet of any possible "trigger foods." These foods include things like added sugar of any kind, alcohol (not even for cooking), grains, legumes, dairy, baked goods, junk food...and it is advised for people to not step on the scale for the duration of the 30 days. Keep in mind that seasoning and sauces with any of the off-limit foods are totally allowed, so you don't have to worry about meals being bland or tasteless. The concept of eliminating "trigger foods" is rooted in the belief that in order to find out what food may not respond well with your body, you must totally rid your diet of them.

To get the best results, according to the Whole30 website, those who opt in must fully commit for the entire 30 days which means no cheat days and no sneaking bites of any off-limit foods. There is no need to count calories or weigh yourself throughout the duration of the diet because it is thought to be a full body reset rather than a weight-loss program, though many testimonies say healthy weight loss was an inadvertent side effect.

After the 30 days are up, the diet suggests individuals reintroduce foods consciously in order to uncover which ones were causing things like bloating, stomach pain, migraines, moodiness, cravings, and more. The process of reintroduction should take anywhere from 10-to-30 days and should reinstate each food group one at a time while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30 compatible. In between each food group reintroduction, you should give yourself two days of strict Whole30 eating to calm any reactions.

During this part of the diet, you can assess your body and mind and use process of elimination to see which foods may be causing adverse reactions when consumed. From there, the goal is that the 30 days of dieting and the following days of reintroduction will help you recognize what foods you should cut from your diet to keep your body healthy and happy.

You can read the in-depth rules, advice, and testimonies on the Whole30 website and for recipe inspiration, check out our easy Whole30 breakfast ideas and Whole30 dinners.

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Jan 9

Your Media Diet Will Never Be the Same – WIRED

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

If you believe Netflixs numbersand theres no reason why you shouldnt63 million households have watched Shonda Rhimes new sexy Regency drama Bridgerton. Thats a freaking lot of people, more than watched the finale of Friends. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman 1984s debut on HBO Max has reportedly lured new subscribers to the service, and Disney has plans to roll out scads of new Star Wars and Marvel shows in the coming months. Streaming, it seems, rules the media landscapeso much so that it's easy to imagine a day when settling in to watch some TV just means service-surfing between the hot new binge-able show and a series of the latest films, live TV be damned.

But there's one thing our binge-watching habits will never replace: the news.

Perhaps Im biased because, well, I work in the news business, but Wednesday, as Washington, DC, descended into chaos as pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol, I turned on the TV. Not Netflix or Hulu on the TV. Live TV. CBS, MSNBC, CNNI played remote roulette with all of them looking for updates. Yes, Twitter and the internet became fonts of information too, but for 24 hours after the insurrection began, if the TV was on, it was tuned to the news.

A lot of the last year has been this way. WhileCovid-19quarantines have made television one of the more dominant mediums around, theyve also altered the diet of what we watch within that medium. Pre-pandemic, people could watch movies in theaters, TV shows on Netflix, and live events at concert halls, clubs, and stadiums. Now, all of those things are channeled through televisions (or, in some cases, through smartphones, laptops, and other devices). Our definition of what it means to "watch TV" has changed a lot over the last few years, moving from appointment television to on-demand viewing. But there are still parts of old-school, live TV that have stuck around and even gained new life. Sports will always have an audience, but news has become even more vital in the last year. Even as folks have clamored for escapist programming, the news has done well. Broadcast, cable, and pay networks may have had a bruising year, but cable news flourished. No longer just checking the headlines on their phones during a commute or while waiting to meet a friend, people watched the days events on live TV. A lot.

Will it always be this way? Thats harder to tell. One can only hope that one day people won't feel the need to stay glued to their screen for updates on a worldwide pandemic or riots in the streets. As the Covid-19 vaccines roll out, it'll also become easier for people to move away from their TVs and spend time in restaurants and theaters again. But even then, the habits folks have formed over the last year may be hard to change. They'll be used to watching new blockbusters on TV the day they hit theaters, they'll still check in with CNNor a bit of NBC News on Peacockin the midst of their latest Shondaland binge. At least for a while.

Bob Buchi, head of worldwide home entertainment for Paramount Pictures, recently told Variety that while the events of 2020 were an anomaly, his studio had been able to distribute content on other platforms, and all of these optionsincluding traditional theatrical distributionwill continue to coexist in a post-pandemic world. That seems true. But even as Covid-19 vaccines roll out and some new normal is established, its hard not to imagine many peoples media diets wont be forever changed. At the end of last year, the only thing on cable more popular than Rachel Maddow was the NFL. Thats huge. And while cable news may be less engrossing when its not constantly responding to Trumps tweets, its just as likely that the last year has made news junkies of us all.

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Your Media Diet Will Never Be the Same - WIRED

Jan 9

Best diets to try in 2021 | News | – WSMV Nashville

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Jan 9

The Workout and Diet That Helped This Woman Lose 248 Pounds and Get Swole – Yahoo Lifestyle

From Men's Health

In a new episode of the transformation webseries Brand New Me, mom of two Krista Francis shares the story of her dramatic weight loss journey. "I've been morbidly obese since I was a teenager," she says, adding that she had become dependent on food as a source of "emotional satisfaction."

Krista's weight gain continued into adulthood, and then into motherhood, when she had her daughter Adalie and her son Ezra, who was born with cerebral palsy. "He's had many surgeries over the years, and he needed a mom that was going to be able to take care of him appropriately," she says. The turning point came when Ezra was still a baby, and Krista realized that she couldn't fit through the door while carrying him.

"I felt diminished," she says. "I felt very embarrassed, just disappointed in myself that I had got to that point that not only could I not fully take care of some basic needs, but I couldn't help my son in the moments when he really needed me. That was a very big realisation for me that I needed to change my life."

Over the next three and a half years, Krista changed her diet and committed herself to losing weight and improving her personal health and fitness, so that she could be there for her children. In doing so, she discovered a love of exercise that she never knew she had, and going to the gym and working out have become an integral component in her new lifestyle.

"That is a part of who I am now," she says. "I work out five days a week. If I could work out seven days a week, I would."

She enjoys deadlifting and squats in particular, and now has aspirations to celebrate and showcase her transformation by competing in physique shows.

"My interest in bodybuilding sparked probably after the first year and a half of being in the gym," she says. "I want to be able to show other people that it is possible, that you can go from this to a completely different mental attitude and discipline... There's always an opportunity to be better, and do better, and you're going to fall along the way, and that's OK, but you don't give up. You keep going."

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The Workout and Diet That Helped This Woman Lose 248 Pounds and Get Swole - Yahoo Lifestyle

Jan 9

I Switched From Keto And Intermittent Fasting To A Whole Food Diet To Maintain My 105-Lb. Weight Loss – Women’s Health

My name is Kyla (@thegalaxxygoddess), and I'm 30 years old. I'm from Saskatchewan, Canada, and I work in office administration. After realizing my weight was holding me back, I started following a keto diet and practicing intermittent fasting, and over time, lost 105 pounds.

I started to put on weight fast after moving to a new city and beginning college. I wasn't making balanced decisions with food and gradually started eating worse and worse over the years. I also lived a sedentary life. I indulged in fast food and sugar the most, and I made worse food choices when I was stressed.

At 24, I hit my heaviest weight of 308 pounds. I was starting to feel achy and tired, which wasn't normal for me. But since I put the weight on over time, it wasn't obvious to me that my weight was the reason I wasn't feeling great. I was also starting to have knee pain pretty regularly. That really brought my weight to my attention, and I knew I had to start working on my health and live a less sedentary lifestyle.

Then, while on a vacation in September 2014, I had trouble with the amount of walking we were doing. I had to take breaks as we were sightseeingit was not the way I wanted to live. So I took my first stab at my weight-loss journey and lost 50 pounds in 2015. However, my weight loss didnt stick.

My *real* turning point came this year in July 2020.

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In July 2020 I chose to go the keto and intermittent fasting route after doing a lot of research. For me, this combination worked quite seamlessly.

I never intended on doing keto long-term (I couldn't go without bananas!). However, it helped quell my sugar cravings, which was my main problem. Now I am sugar-free, besides natural sugars from fruit.

I have now adjusted my way of eating from following the keto diet to simply focusing on eating whole foods. This is a better long-term way of eating for me because I don't want to go without certain fruits and healthy grains, but I'm so grateful for keto, as it jump-started my weight loss.

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The eating window I usually stick to is 12 p.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. Food has less of a grasp on me now. It really is just food, not good or bad. I don't obsess over it anymore.

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Breakfast: Fasting (water and coffee only)

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I also added in the Bowflex Treadclimber machine a few times a week. Now I am starting to work in weight training more regularly since I have my nutrition down.

I never got super regimented with a schedule for exercise. But now I am focusing on moving more in my daily life whenever possible and resting when needed.

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I had to keep gaining and losing to really figure out what worked for me. But I do feel that I have figured out the balance I need. I feel truly incredible entering my 30s. I feel more like myself, which has been the biggest gift of weight loss.

This weight-loss journey has honestly been a rebirth for me. It is changing my life in more ways than one, and I am excited just to fully experience my life now since before I know that I was not. I was just existing. I was ruled by my emotions and food. It really does not have to be that way. Now I know that I am in control of my life path more than I realizedand I won't give up on myself.

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I Switched From Keto And Intermittent Fasting To A Whole Food Diet To Maintain My 105-Lb. Weight Loss - Women's Health

Dec 28

Change your diet with change of weather – Hindustan Times

Snuggled inside the blanket or soaking the winter sun with a cuppa hot chai or cappuccino us a must. Those honey smeared peanuts and sesame pattis are also a must-have in this season. But as you gorge onto mouth-watering and addictive delicacies, they not only affecting your weight but also your overall health. Experts list a few tips to follow in winters to keep safe from the pollution, the novel virus and adapt healthy eating:

Jaggery is a winter vitamin shot, with best warming ingredients its loaded with iron and other minerals which fortify the body against the winter chills. It is great for people with high blood pressure and helps in digestion, boosting haemoglobin and cleaning the body from within to breathe easy in this pollution. A small piece of jaggery in any form must be included to the diet in winters.

Intake of vitamin D as we have less exposure to sunlight is very important to keeps the bones strong and prevent dryness of skin. Vitamin D is also known for its effective immune strengthening benefits.

The immune system is constantly overburdened with toxins from fried food in winters thus it is advisable to detoxify the body by keeping a fast once a week or using herbs like cilantro in green smoothies or juices.

Garlic contains compounds that fight germs and helps to boost the immunity. Sulphur present in the garlic boosts the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when it comes in contact with any kind of viruses, which causes common cold and flu.

The active compound curcumin in turmeric fights infection and inflammation by preventing damage caused by free radicals. And to improve the bioavailability of turmeric dont forget to add black pepper which contains a compound called piperine, which when combined with turmeric, increases the absorption of curcumin by upto an astonishing 2000%.

Dry and sweet snacks such as panjeeri prepared during winters in the northern parts of our country is very warming and believed to help relieve body pains and opens up muscles and joints. One can make different versions of this using whole wheat, millets, sattu, or moong dal flour and to this, add ghee, nuts, dry fruits, and spices like cardamom, fennel seeds, saffron, and nutmeg.

Include green leafy and root vegetable like sarson, bathua, methi, palak(spinach), sweet potato, yam, carrots etc as they are packed with vitamins and minerals. Some common vitamins found in these vegetables are beta-carotene that can be converted in the body to vitamin A, B-vitamins, folate and vitamin C. They are also rich in magnesium, potassium and other minerals found in the local soil. When we eat whats in season we are not only helping the local agriculture but we are also eating food when it has its peak nutrient values, leading to overall health.

Winter millets like bajra, ragi and makai as they are good quality starch, high in protein and fibre. Also they are good for maintaining cholesterol levels and energy.

Citrus fruits like lemon, alma, orange and grapefruit are the juiciest and are loaded with vitamin C which help in boosting immunity and keeps the cough and cold away.

Kahwa green tea acts as an immunity drink, which helps to fight the winter by keeping us warm and free from any infection due to its ingredients like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, almonds and bay leaves which are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals.

Good quality pure ghee generates instant heat and energy for the body to help keep the body warm and cleanse the body from inside. Ghee should be used instead of oils to make every day sabzi and roti.

Fresh turmeric root should be consumed in hot water or hot milk before sleeping as it is an Ayurvedic adaptogen and helps to keep the body immune and healthy.

Relax, enjoy and sleep well! Chronic stress, depression due to darkness weakens the immune system so enjoy life and sleep for 6-7 hours a day.

Inputs by Nutritionist Harleen Gulati and Clinical Nutritionist Ridhima Batra

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Change your diet with change of weather - Hindustan Times

Dec 28

2021 New Years resolutions: Heres the lowdown on the most popular diet trends – Atlanta Journal Constitution

What you dont eat is also important, Ahmed said. Large amounts of refined carbohydrates [such as sweets and white bread] can cause blood sugar spikes, which prompt the body to store fat in a different way and can lead to obesity and diabetes.


Youve heard of probiotics and prebiotics but postbiotics are probiotics end products of the fermentation that occurs in the gut. These metabolites are being examined for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, reported. Its possible that they may aid in supporting the immune system, too.

Additionally, studies show that postbiotics could help leaky gut and may aid in preventing Type 2 diabetes.

Intermittent Fasting

Prevention reported that this diet trend, which focuses on cycling between patterns of fasting and eating, is one of the best ones to use to lose weight in 2021.

Registered dietitian Meridan Zerner of Dallas, Texas Cooper Clinic told the publication that theres some evidence that intermittent fasting can increase your metabolism rate.


Kale was all the rage around five years ago, but next year, its fresh kelp that will take the glory. The seaweed is filled with minerals including calcium, and offers B vitamins in each serving, reported. WebMD reported it could aid in diabetes control and help with thyroid health and prevent anemia.

Carnivore Diet

People who follow this diet are required to eat mostly meat as well as fat and some eggs. Despite its growing popularity, its not recommended by all experts.

This is not a healthy or sustainable diet, and there are healthier ways to lose weight, Amy Gorin, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of New York Citys Amy Gorin Nutrition told Everyday Health.

Keto Diet

A popular way to drop weight fast, this diet, which involves consuming lots of calories from fat and drastically reducing carbs, doesnt have substantive research behind it to support its safety and effectiveness in the long term.

Some negative side effects of a long-term ketogenic diet have been suggested, including increased risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis, and increased blood levels of uric acid (a risk factor for gout), a diet review from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health noted. Possible nutrient deficiencies may arise if a variety of recommended foods on the ketogenic diet are not included.

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2021 New Years resolutions: Heres the lowdown on the most popular diet trends - Atlanta Journal Constitution

Dec 28

Resolutions: Small, steady change to lifestyle is better than dieting, expert says – The Augusta Chronicle

Tom Corwin|Augusta Chronicle

Usually when Lizzie Keen is seeing patients at Doctors Hospital of Augusta, their chronic conditions have already worsened and the registered dietitian is trying to help themget things under control. For those who will be making a New Year's resolution to lose weight and get healthier, however, she thinks small and steady change is better.

Vowing to lose weight in the new year is always a top resolution people make: 65% of men in a survey of those ages 30-65 were making a resolution to lose weight next year, according to the telehealth company Vault Health.

For many it is more of an ongoing resolution.The number of adults age 20 and older who are following a special diet in the U.S. increased from 14.3% in 2007-08 to 17.4% in 2017-18, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Those rates increase with age, with those age 20-39 reporting 13.3% on a special diet compared with 19.3% for those 60 and older, according to a recent report from the center.

The biggest mistake people make, however, is in thinking of it as a diet, Keen said.

"Probably the first mistake people make is saying, 'I am going to go on a diet' vs. 'I am going to make some healthy lifestyle changes to manage my chronic disease,'"she said. "Saying you are on a diet constitutes restriction."

A better word is moderation. Too often people are focused on rapid weight loss when the goal should be no more than two pounds a week, Keen said.

"More than that, it is unhealthy and it can be attributed to fluid loss, which is not good because obviously you want to stay hydrated," she said. "Also the faster you lose weight, the sooner you plateau. Then people might not be seeing results as quickly, get frustrated and go to more drastic measures, which arenot sustainable in the long run."

As a better way to set goals, Keen offers the acronym SMART:Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound or Timely.

"If you can set your goals up that way, it just overall makes it more sustainable," she said. "If you create small goals, they are a lot easier to meet, you are a lot more likely to keep yourself accountable and they are a lot more likely to turn into lifestyle changes versus just a temporary diet. If you make too many changes at once, it can be overwhelming, it can be unmanageable, and difficult to adhere to."

Also, think about other areas that will help promote better health, such as exercise, getting an adequate amount of sleep, stress management and hydration, Keen said. Often when one area is out of balance, it can throw the others off as well, she said.

"If you dont get enough sleep, you tend to overeat," Keen said. "If you dont get enough sleep, you tend to be more stressed. If you are more stressed, you tend not to sleep as well" and then it becomes a vicious cycle.

Also, think about stretching more, she said.

"Alot of of people dont think about that, but that plays into exercise," Keen said. "Just daily stretching can provide you with a lot of benefits."

That could be particularly true this year, she said.

"A lot of people are working from home now, sitting in a chair for a majority of the day, not getting up and walking around as much as they might in a work setting," Keen said. "(Stretching) is a great way to relieve joint pain, get the body moving, get a little bit of exercise into your sedentary workday, and it just makes you feel better all over."

Ultimately,it might be better to start off with one healthy change, stickwith that for a month until it becomes a habit,thenadd a new goal for the next month, she said.

"Think tortoise, not hare," Keen said. "Slow and steady is going to win the race when it comes to lifestyle choices."

Resolutions: Small, steady change to lifestyle is better than dieting, expert says - The Augusta Chronicle

Dec 28

Fast after 50: Nutrition and Recovery – VeloNews

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One of the most important components of recovery is nutrition. Over the past 20 years of my life, between ages 50 and 70, Ive made some significant changes to my diet. Until I was 50, though, I ate much the same diet during and after college. As I look back, Im appalled by all of the junk food in my daily dietcookies, potato chips, pastries, soft drinks, and more. The list is almost endless. I suppose I was just being a typical young American male. Yet despite the poor average quality of my diet, I still managed to train and race well. Could I have been a better athlete? Possibly, although there is something about being young that allows us to get away with a lot of dietary mistakes. Ive watched my son, Dirk, go through the same process as a road cyclist. Now that hes in his mid-40s, he is beginning to make adjustments to his diet in order to perform better after 30 years of top-level racing. Hes fixing his diet at a younger age than I did, and hell probably benefit from the change sooner than I did, too.

While what you eat is important to recovery, whatever foods and eating patterns you find work well for you shouldnt be compromised as you get older as long as you are getting good results. If you are seeing a decline in performance, though, you should look at your diet. A diet based largely on junk food will catch up with you at some point in the aging process. Its not a matter of if but rather when.

I expect youve already discovered that food quality has something to do with your recovery and performance. By age 50 its generally becoming apparent to most. Only a few, truly unique aging athletes can continue eating lots of junk food and still perform at a high level well into their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Most certainly cannot.

But simply eliminating junk food isnt the full story. If one source of energy is eliminated, some other source must take its place. So what should you eat more of after cutting out the junk? And of nearly equal importance, when should you eat it? If you havent discovered what foods and eating patterns work best for your recovery and training, then you may get some ideas in this section.

The two most common diets chosen by endurance athletes are high-carbohydrate and high-fat diets. By high I mean a chronic (daily) diet in which at least half of ones calories come from either carbs or fat. High-protein diets are rare, but protein plays an important and unique role in the recovery of senior athletes, so well examine that macronutrient in a separate section.

Our purpose is not to take your chronic diet in a new direction but rather to better understand how you can eat to speed recovery. Well do that by examining the types of foods you can choose at various times in order to produce the fastest and most complete recovery for you given the normal diet that you already eat. Were thinking only in terms of eating for recovery from exercise.

As mentioned, the chronic diets we are considering are those made up primarily of either carbohydrate or fat. For most athletes, a high-fat diet is hard to comprehend because it doesnt follow the normal set of nutritional rules for exercise and recovery. For example, the primary rule that most athletes accept at face value is that fuel must be frequently ingested during long exercise and in the hours afterward in order to produce movement and physical recovery. Another rule is that the tank must be topped off before starting to exercise. But the high-fat diet doesnt follow these rules. How can that be?

The starting point for understanding the high-fat diet is that the body has different sources of fuel that it can call on to produce energy. The two most common sources are carbohydrate and fat. (Protein is also a potential fuel source but is used in comparatively minute amounts.) Without going into all of the physiology behind the fueling of exercise, well condense the explanation to say that when eating the typical high-carb diet, the body relies heavily on glucose, a sugar, for fuel. Even when the tank is full, glucose is quite limited in the athletes body; depending on body size, high-carb athletes store around 1,500 to 2,000 calories of glucose in their bodies (most of it in the muscles). Thats enough to last perhaps 2 to 3 hours at a duration-specific, high-intensity effort. So fuel must be ingested before starting exercise in order to top off the limited levels. More fuel must be taken in during exercise to keep the muscles functioning, and carbohydrate also needs to be replaced soon after exercise to restock the depleted tank. These are the rules that most endurance athletes are used to following.

When fat is the primary macronutrient in the daily diet, however, ketones, not glucose, are the primary energy source. Ketones are produced by the liver from fat. For the athlete on a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet, there is little in the way of glucose available; ketone production increases, and the athlete is said to be in a state of ketosis (not to be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a serious medical condition sometimes experienced by type 1 diabetics). The skeletal muscles along with the heart, brain, and other vital organs function normally on ketones once the body adapts, which can take a few weeks.

Since even the skinniest athlete has plenty of stored body fat, the source of energy is unlikely to run out during endurance events lasting even several hours. So in-race refueling is not an issue, as it is when eating a high-carb diet. For example, many ultramarathon runners follow a high-fat diet and take in little or no fuel during events of 50 kilometers (31 miles) or more.

Recovery is also simple on a high-fat diet. Normal meals and snacks, made up primarily of fat, are eaten after workouts with no need to consume extra fat. Theres also no need for loading before a long race.

You cant mix the two dietsits either a high-carb or a high-fat diet if you are to perform well. The body preferentially depends on either fat or sugar for fueling your aerobic exercise based on which it receives the most of on a daily basis. Eat a lot of carbohydrate, and the body burns a lot of sugar. Eat mostly fat, and the body is fueled mostly with fat. You also must follow the standard rules for recovery on your chosen diet. Eating a high-fat diet but recovering with lots of sugar is counterproductive, and recovering with fat on a high-carb diet wont cut it, either. Lets look into the role of protein in recovery and its implications for the senior athlete.

While the number of studies on the topics of food, recovery, and aging is small, all of those studies seem to indicate that older athletes need more protein, especially during recovery, than younger athletes do. There is evidence to suggest that we dont synthesizemeaning process in order to rebuild tissuesprotein as well as we get older, especially for the restructuring of the slow-twitch endurance muscles. The older athlete, therefore, needs more protein to ensure that there is enough to help with the rebuilding that takes place during sleep. It also appears that on the days of strength training and intervals, eating some protein about 30 minutes before going to bed helps to stimulate muscle building, at least in young athletes. This dovetails very nicely with what you read earlier regarding the University of North Dakota study on macronutrient choices late in the day to improve sleep. But bear in mind that a large late-evening snack may conflict with falling asleep, as we saw earlier.

Since simply eating more total calories in order to take in additional protein isnt a good way to increase this food type, it implies that there is a reduced need for either carbohydrate or fat with aging.

Protein has other benefits for the aging athlete when it comes to recovery. A 2014 review of the scientific literature related to protein intake and exercise by Stuart Phillips of McMaster University in Canada showed that when and how much protein you take in after a workout, especially a strength-building session such as lifting weights, has a lot to do with how beneficial the workout is for the muscles. To build or even just to maintain muscle mass, the rate of muscle protein synthesis must be greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown as it happens during and after a strength workout. Fortunately, strength training stimulates muscle protein synthesis. But without adequate dietary protein to support this rebuilding process, the body is forced to cannibalize itself by taking protein from lightly used muscles to rebuild the highly stressed muscles. This suggests the need to take in protein after workouts to meet the bodys needs.

And it just so happens that eating protein also increases the rate of muscle rebuilding, especially if its eaten immediately after exercise. The benefit decreases the longer you wait. So I recommend that after a strength workout or any session that is highly stressful to the muscles, such as aerobic-capacity or lactate-threshold intervals, you eat some protein within 30 minutes of finishing. How much?

In reviewing the research on how much protein should be eaten, Dr. Phillips found that older athletes need a lot. While a young athlete benefits from eating 20 to 25 grams (about 80 to 100 calories) of protein after a workout, older athletes may need 40 grams (about 160 calories) to achieve the same level of muscle protein synthesis.37 Consuming 160 calories from protein is equivalent to eating about six boiled eggs (with 6.29 g of protein per egg) after a workout. Thats a lot of eggs. It may be less difficult to get your protein by also including protein powder in your postworkout recovery drink. In that case Id recommend using egg- or whey-based protein powder.

There are several amino acids in foods that together make up what we call protein. The individual amino acid that has been shown to be the most beneficial for muscle rebuilding during recovery is leucine, which has many good sources including whole eggs, egg whites, egg protein powder, and whey protein. Egg protein powder, however, can be quite expensive. Besides eggs, other common foods relatively high in leucine are most all dairy products, all animal products, dried figs, pasta, spinach, buttermilk, most nuts, most seeds, coconut milk and cream, avocado, most beans, corn, peas, spirulina, and succotash. These are good food choices for your postworkout recovery snack and the next meal after a hard workout to boost protein and leucine intake and muscle rebuilding.

Adapted fromFast After 50by Joe Friel, with permission of VeloPress.

Fast After 50

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