Woman holding head in pain

Avoid These Migraine Food Triggers

There’s possibly nothing worse than getting a migraine.

Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but still – migraines are truly awful! They make you want to simply curl up in a dark room and not leave until sound and light stop causing you pain.

If you’ve suffered from migraines, you know that there can be all sorts of triggers. And truly, the scope of triggers is quite vast. 

Now, there has been research which connects certain types of food with migraines. That means that you should at least reduce the amount of that food in your diet if you want to reduce the frequency and the intensity of your migraine attacks.

What Are Migraines?

Basically, migraines are extremely painful headaches, which can be accompanied by sensory sensitivity. Symptoms can vary from one person to another and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, and sometimes even longer.

Some common symptoms of migraines include:

  • Headache
  • Disturbed vision
  • Sensitivity to sensory information (i.e. to light, sound, smells)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

However, migraines are usually also preceded and followed by other symptoms, so the impact of a single migraine attack can actually be quite long and debilitating. It can impact your everyday life to a significant extent, especially if you get them often.

Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for migraines currently. They are usually treated with other pain-relieving medication, or, in some cases, with preventive medication taken on a regular basis, which serves to reduce their severity or frequency.

However, there are things you yourself can do to prevent getting migraines. That may not completely eradicate your migraines, but it will certainly help significantly.

Migraine Triggers

Migraines are incredibly complex (they even used to be called complicated migraines). Even though there is plenty of research being done to see what causes them and to improve treatment, it seems that there is a long way to go still.

However, what most experts seem to agree on is that migraines are usually preceded by a specific trigger. The scope of triggers varies from one person to the next. While some triggers cause migraines in some people, they have no effect whatsoever on others, who are also suffering from migraines.

In any case, the scope of triggers is truly astounding. It involves things like hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns, too much food, too little food, too much sleep, too little sleep, too much time in front of the computer, dehydration, and even the weekend.

Yes, even the weekend is a possible migraine trigger.

Many people suffer migraines due to the change in daily routine, which is why they experience a migraine at the weekend, when they should be relaxing.

Now that’s a pickle.

When it comes to food, there have been some studies that link certain types of food with the onset of migraines. However, because of its truly specific nature, scientists have been unable to find a common thread in all people who suffer from migraines.

That is why everyone should check their specific triggers. Here are some of the common food triggers that have been linked with causing migraines, which you might want to avoid. Now, this doesn’t mean you should stop consuming them completely. You simply need to control your cravings, and you’re on the right path.

Red Wine

Pouring red wine into two glasses

We know, we know.

This one hits home! How else are we supposed to (politely) manage all those boring dinners without getting (politely) tipsy on wine?

Well, if you’re a wine aficionado, we simply don’t know what to tell you.

And it’s not the wine’s fault, per se. Sulfites, which are used in red wine as preservatives, are, sadly, on the list of foods that may trigger migraines.

Additionally, alcohol in general is a major trigger. While you drink it, alcohol increases the blood flow to your brain and that, as you may have guessed, is known to trigger migraines.

Also – hangovers are simply the worst.

Dehydration, which is a common side-effect of the good ol’ hangover, can also cause migraines or, at the very least, a headache.

So, it might be a good idea to quit…

…fooling around and simply reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

As they say, moderation is key.

Coffee

Woman holding a cup of espresso

Again, no need to completely quit coffee.

In fact, caffeine aids the absorption of many pain-relieving drugs.

However, if you’re used to several cups of coffee a day, when you don’t get the amount you’re used to, that’s when migraines appear.

Look into your daily consumption of caffeine, since it is not particularly healthy overall to drink too much of it. But, if you’re thinking about reducing the amount of coffee you drink, you have to do it gradually. So, no going cold turkey. Your body will not be happy.

According to most experts, daily intake of caffeine should be no more than 200 milligrams. The bad news is – it’s only one cup of coffee.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate truffles

When it comes to chocolate, many people have also said that it triggers their migraines. However, the jury’s still out on chocolate – some people who suffer from migraine headaches claim that chocolate helps ease their headache.

A study conducted at the University of California, San Diego analyzed oral and stool samples and found that people who experience migraines after eating chocolate have higher levels of gut microbes that modify nitrates.

Now, chocolate is full of nitrates.

The bacteria in our gut modifies and then its waste product, nitrites, become nitric oxide in the blood.

Nitric oxide is usually great for many things, including circulation, but it’s not particularly great for people who experience migraines.

So, again, while chocolate itself is not too bad, having too much of it can lead to headaches.

Tyramine

Sliced ham on wooden chopping board

Yeah, we bet you’re thinking you’ve never had tyramine in your life.

But, you have, you definitely have.

Except in other, sneakier (and tastier) forms.

Tyramine can be found in aged foods, as well as fermented foods, such as:

  • Cured meats
  • Aged cheese
  • Smoked fish

Tyramine is also found in some types of beer and even some fruits and veggies.

Food is more likely to have more tyramine if it is stored for long and if it isn’t kept in sufficiently cold environments.

An enzyme in the human body called monoamine oxidase (MAO) actually breaks down monoamines like tyramine. If you do not have enough of it in your system, it’s possible that you’ll get a migraine.

However, because it is such a complex issue, it’s still not completely clear how tyramine exactly triggers migraines.

Now, for some good news. There are actually types of meats and cheese which have higher and lower levels of tyramine. Here are some of them.

Meat/Poultry/Fish

Freshly cooked sausages and tomato dish, still in pan

When it comes to meat, you should avoid processed meat such as sausages, salami, as well as gravy (we know, this one’s hard for us, too). Another thing you should avoid is pickled fish, but we have a feeling not many people are dissatisfied with this one. However, this also includes smoked fish, so that might be a bit more difficult.

On the other hand, there is also meat which doesn’t have that much tyramine, such as fresh meat, fish, and poultry. Also, canned meats or fresh fish are also good for consumption and are not that likely to cause a migraine.

Cheese/Dairy

Freshly grated cheese on chopping board

Unfortunately, some of the best types of cheese are really high in tyramine. These include all sorts of aged cheese, cheddar, blue cheese, Camembert, Swiss cheese, Parmesan, Stilton, and even feta.

This one’s sad as sad can be.

Seriously, how can you have pasta without Parmesan?

But, people with migraines have to cool it with the cheese.

On the other hand, types like cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese and even cream cheese are good. Also, yoghurt, fresh milk and sour cream are low in tyramine, so you can have them whenever you want.

Fruit/Vegetables

Halved citrus fruits on wooden board

If you’re not a fan of sour fruit, then you won’t be too affected by this. Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and pineapple are higher in tyramine.

When it comes to vegetables, you might want to steer clear from beans and sauerkraut. Also, you should avoid fermented food. That doesn’t mean you should completely cut them out. It simply means that you might want to reduce the quantity. Fermented foods are otherwise incredibly healthy and they can have many other health benefits. However, if they trigger your migraines, you might want to cool it on the fermented food.

On the other hand, you can eat most vegetables – fresh, canned or frozen – and it is unlikely that they will cause any migraines.

How to Lower Tyramine in Food

Tyramine actually increases the longer food is held at room temperature. That is why you should store your food in the refrigerator.

When you thaw frozen foods, do it in the refrigerator or, if you have it, a microwave.

Another good tip for lowering tyramine is to cook or eat fresh meat or fish on the day you bought them. Otherwise, it’s best to freeze them.

Also, never ever eat something that has been kept in the fridge for more than a day.

Check Your Triggers

So, if you’re wondering whether food really can be a trigger for migraines, the short answer is – yes.

Your diet alone cannot cause migraines. It’s unlikely that you’ll always get migraines when eating certain food.

However, while there are types of food in general believed to be causing migraines, there is also food that specifically causes your migraine.

The best way to identify your triggers is to write a combined food/migraine diary. If you’re suffering from migraines, you already have a pretty good idea what may trigger yours. Migraines can occur a day after eating triggering food.

You should combine a food diary with a headache diary to see whether some foods cause headaches. Headaches themselves are not too bad. However, combined with other possible triggers, they may cause a full-blown migraine.

Then, the next step is to reduce the food that you’ve noticed has that effect on you. If you really like something, you don’t need to completely cut it out. But, it would be valuable for your overall health if you were to reduce it significantly.

There Are Beneficial Foods Too

Now that we’ve listed all the bad food, it’s time for a look on the other side. It has been proven that certain food is “pain-safe,” that is, it does not trigger any conditions.

Including, you might have guessed it – migraines.

Also, they are overall beneficial in reducing the frequency of your migraines and alleviating pain. The food and drinks that actually cannot trigger your migraines include:

  • Rice (especially brown)
  • Almost all vegetables
  • Fruit (which was not listed above)
  • Green tea, ginger tea
  • Fish
  • Chicken

Making ginger tea

There has even been research to show that a plant-based diet can really benefit people who suffer from migraines. So, if you want to get rid of migraines, you know what to do!

(No, you don’t have to go vegan. Simply adjust your diet a bit and you’ll see an improvement in time.)

Home Remedies for Migraines

There are ways to also naturally reduce the intensity of migraines once you get them. While they may not completely cure your migraines, these are known for helping with the symptoms. There are also cures to treat headaches, and they also might alleviate your pain.

Here is what you should do when you get a migraine:

  • Lie in a dark, quiet room. Due to sensory sensitivity, which can worsen your headache, it is recommended that you simply lie down in a room in which the blinds are drawn shut. If you live in a noisy part of the city, use earplugs to make sure the noise doesn’t bother you.

Woman sleeping soundly in bed

  • Cool your head down. Experts believe that cooling the head reduces the blood flow to the brain, which might lower the pain you’re feeling. When you get a migraine, you should put an ice pack on your forehead or neck. Or, if that’s too cold for you, use a washcloth that has been put under cold water and drained. The only problem is that you will have to rinse it often because it can heat up quite fast.
Young woman enjoying spaghetti in Italy

Maintaining A Healthy Diet On Vacation

Italy is a beautiful country, and you want to take in all the sites and visit the museums, but you have to admit, when it comes to the attractions, food is probably at the top of your list. You’ve heard about the midday Italian soprano; the heaping mounds of spaghetti, the Sicilian pizzas, the succulent meals and tangy cheeses, the rich sauces mopped up with huge hunks of garlic bread, the decadent tiramisu cakes, the thick espresso; you’re already imagining the pictures you’re going to post on Instagram. What you’re not looking forward to is getting back into your skinny jeans when you get home. Here are a few ways of enjoying your vacation without blowing your diet.

Resist the Urge
A study led by Linda H. Clemens of the Consumer Science and Education Department found that women splurge when they eat out and eat normal amounts of other meals during the day. This means they end up taking in many more calories and fat than they need. Clemens advises women to stop thinking of eating out as a special treat which gives us a license to overindulge. She explains, “Many of us grew up thinking of eating out as an event that didn’t happen too often.” However, these days, eating out is much more common. Clemens and other researchers found out that the more women ate out, the higher their total calories, fat, and sodium levels were.

Researchers speculate that there are three main factors contributing to this caloric overabundance from restaurant meals;

  • We choose higher fat and higher calorie menu selections.
  •  Restaurants serve large portions.
  •  We eat all of it.

Melanie Polk, RD, recommends exercising portion control. She says, “Some Americans are now ordering half sized portions, sharing entrees, taking home leftovers, and ordering appetizers as meals,” she says.

Order Meals Your Way
Another thing customers can do to lower their calorie and fat intake while dining out is asking restaurants to customize menu items. According to a National Restaurant Association report, this is happening at 80% of restaurants with meals averaging $25 per person or over and 70% of restaurants with meals averaging under $25 per person. Customer are interesting items prepared in ways other than those that are listed on the menu, are requesting a range of portion sizes, and many are asking to have food “doggy bagged.”

Everything in Moderation
You don’t have to deprive yourself of food, just try to keep it in moderation. Try to sample foods, rather than feast on them.

Walk
While eating is a big part of the vacation, so is walking. Get in some sightseeing, take a stroll after dinner, swim in the hotel pool, or wake up for an early morning hike to burn some of those mealtime calories.

Make Better Choices
Make healthful choices when you find something that appeals to you. Don’t deprive yourself and then resent it. Swap out small things, that you don’t mind sacrificing, such as condiments, sauces, and dressings. Choose Dijon mustard rather than mayonnaise, or marinara instead of white sauce.

How did you do on your vacation calorie count this year? Let us know how you made better choices and came home at the same weight you were when you left.

Small jar of flax seeds on grey stone table

Health Benefits Of Flaxseed

Flaxseed. It’s health benefits have been known for ages. In fact Charlemagne was so confident in its powers that he passed laws all members of his court to incorporate it into their daily diet. So where has it been for the past thirteen centuries? Why did we not all grow up eating this wonder food? Apparently, flaxseed was first used in North America to make textiles, so when cotton came along, it was bye bye flaxseed, until some nutritionists rediscovered the seeds, phenomenal health properties, and now its back on the market in everything from oatmeal to crackers, to frozen waffles. So what are the fax on flax? Here are some of flaxseeds many health benefits.

Major Components of Flaxseed
Although it may be tiresome to go through all of the many health components found in the flax see, here are the main three:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids: These are the “good fats’ you’ve been hearing about. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 1.8 grams of the heart healthy plant omega-3s.
  •  Lignans: Lignans have antioxidants, and contain estrogen. Flaxsees has 75 to 800 times the lignans found in other plant foods.
  •  Fiber: Flaxseed has both insoluble and soluble fiber types.

Health Benefits

Cancer
Recent studies suggest that flaxseed may help to prevent colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. Animal studies have shown the ALA, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flax seed, inhibits the growth and development of tumors. Other studies suggest that exposure to lignans may help increase survival rates among breast cancer patients. Lignans ability to protect against cancer is thought to be due to its ability to block enzymes involved in hormone metabolism and interfere with the onset and growth.

Cardiovascular Disease
Research finds that the plant omega-3s can benefit the cardiovascular system by normalizing the heartbeat and through anti- inflammation action. Kelley Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Seed Council of Canada, says that flaxseed can have significant effects on lowering blood pressure and studies suggest that flaxseed rich diets can help to prevent hardening of the arteries. Daily consumption of flaxseed has also been linked to to decrease in LDL or “bad cholesterol in menopausal women.

Diabetes
Preliminary research shows that the daily consumption of the lignans in flaxseed may improve blood sugar, as measured in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Inflammation
The ALA and lignans in flaxseed may be effective in reducing inflammation associated with deceases such as asthma and Parkinson’s by blocking the release of pro inflammatory agents. The reduction of inflammation associated with the buildup of plaque in arteries may be another way that flaxseed is beneficial in the prevention of strokes and heart attacks.

Hot Flashes
According to a 2007 study of menopausal women, 4 tablespoons per day of ground flaxseed cut occurrence of hot flashes in half, and the intensity of the incidences dropped by 57%.

Where has flaxseed been all of your life? Tell us how flax seed is contributing to your diet and what you think its been doing for you.

Young woman holding bottle of olive oil

The Oils Of Longevity

You may have heard people saying they can’t live without their morning coffee, but we usually don’t take them literally. Just when you thought your caffeinated cup had reached the limit in positive attributes, there comes proof that having a cup of coffee each day may be just what you need to keep having more days to have more cups of coffee! And while you’re at it, you may want to pop some fish oil pills too; they apparently have similar effect.

Recent studies show that both coffee and fish oil contain properties which can actually promote longevity. Not convinced? Here’s a look at some of the latest research on drinking coffee and taking fish oil capsules and why it may just be the latest recipe for long life.

What Are Telomeres?
You may have heard of these little caps at the end of our DNA. Telomeres control our lifespan by determining how many times our cells divide and stay alive. As we get older, environmental stressors take their toll, and these telomeres get shorter, meaning our lives do as well. Therefore, keeping them long is key to longevity. The latest way to do that is by drinking your morning coffee with a side of fish oil.

Fish Oil and Longevity
A study in the 2016 issue of Nutrients looked at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil on tele mere length in a controlled trial. Experts attribute the increase in length to a reduction of oxidative stress.

An additional study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity seems to support these findings. The study included 106 individuals with an average age of 51 who were considered relatively healthy, divided into three groups. One group received 2.5 grams of long chain omega-3’s per day, a second received 1.25 grams a day, and one received placebo pills that had proportion of fatty acids similar to those found in an average American diet. After four months, results showed a significant increase in telomere length and a decrease in oxidative stress among those who received the omega-3 supplements.

The two main types of long chain omega-3 fats are most often found in fish such as sardines, herring, salmon, and mackerel. Alpha-linolenic acid is a short chain omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in flaxseeds and walnuts.

Coffee and Longevity
Coffee is already a well known source of antioxidants which makes it a life lengthening beverage. Scientists ar the Journal of Nutrition used data from the Nurse’s Health Study form 1976 to explain the link between coffee drinking and telomere length in 4780 female nurses, and found a direct correlations. Of the nurses, those who drank 2 cups of coffee daily had a 29% higher chance of having an average telomere lengthen while the odds were 36% higher in those who drank 3 cups.

However experts are quick to point out that while coffee may be very beneficial to your health, caffeine may not. Although researchers from the University of Scranton say coffee is America’s number one antioxidant source, they are also quick to remind us that regular and decaf have the same antioxidant levels, and too much caffeine can cause unwanted side effects. Try to keep caffeine consumption at a moderate 300-400mg daily, about 3 to 4 cups of coffee to keep away anxiety and depression.

What do you think? Is fish oil and coffee the new Breakfast of Champions? Let us know!

Woman holding a basket of fresh fruits

Your Diet May Help Regulate Your Mood

Normally, eating when stressed is ill advised. The term usually brings to mind the image of someone who has just had some shocking news running frantically to their freezer in search of the curative pint of ice cream. He/she gorges greedily, only to awaken the next day not only to find their troubles still very much present, but an additional five pounds added to their body weight.

However, what if you learned that eating actually can relieve stress? You just need to make sure that when you open that freezer, you reach for the frozen grapes instead of the vanilla swirl.

The Anti-Stress Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
You may know that fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but did you know that they might also help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study examined diet of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and up, only to reveal that those who had 3-4 servings of fruits and begins a day had 12% less psychological stress than those who had just one. Those who got five to seven servings had an even bigger reduction in stress, showing a 14% reduction as compared to the single serving percentage.

Ladies Only?
However, the researchers found that in a study based on a 10 question comparative survey focusing on anxiety and depression between the years of 2006 -2008 and 2010, males subjects did not show the same results. Says study co-author and University of Sidney PhD student, Binh Nguyen, “We found the fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables.” The questionnaire revealed that women who consumed 5 to 7 portions of vegetables and fruits experienced a 23% reaction in stress levels in comparison to ladies who only ate 0-1 portion. Two portions produced a reduction in stress of 16%.

Happy woman

More Work To Be Done
While you may not want to wait to start consuming more fruits and veggies, the authors of the studies do stipulate that there is more work to be done before any definite conclusions can be reached. They state that while the intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the stress levels in middle-aged and older adults, the link between the diet and psychological distress requires further investigation.

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
But while we wait for the final verdict, keep eating those veggies and fruits. The mental health charity “Mind” says, “Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients-several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.”

As for choosing the best fruits and veggies: tomatoes, bananas and mushrooms top the list for their high potassium levels which are “essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain. they also advise keeping fruits and veggies raw for the highest number of nutrients.

What do you think? Do fruits and veggies make you feel a little less stressed? Let us know the results of your private research.

Smiling woman standing on weighing scale

Unusual Things That May Help You Lose Weight

We’ve all seen the ads: “Lose Weight Without Dieting,” “Exercise-Free Ways to Melt the Fat,” etc. Most of us just file these away under the ‘too good to be true’ category, along with the “Make Money By Sealing Envelopes” ads. However, every once in a while, something comes along that defies expectations. Something that is too good and true, like coffee and dark chocolate being healthy for you.

Ready to add to the list? Here are a few things that you might want to include.

Hot Baths For Weight Loss

The Study
There’ve been some interesting things happening lately at Loughborough University. According to research done by Dr Steven Faulkner, hot baths can have health benefits similar to exercise and can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In a study involving 14 people, Dr Faulkner and his team investigated the effects of “passive heating” on blood sugar levels and number of calories burned. Participants soaked in an hour-long 40-degree bath before heading out for an hour of cycling. Each of the two tests was designed to raise core body temperature by one degree so that they amount of calories burned during each session could be measured.

Woman in the bath

The Results
Although more calories were burned during the cycling, results showed that the hot bath consumed as many calories as would be consumed during a thirty-minute walk. “The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised, “said Faulkner.

The doctor also explained that exercise prevents inflammation which can boost the immune system and fight disease. “This suggests that repeated passive heating may contribute to reducing chronic inflammation, which is often present with long-term diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.”

Turn Down The Heat
Another one for the “too good to be true” file? How about turning down the heat to lose weight. According to a recent trial published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, when we’re exposed to cooler temperature, our white fat converts to a darker color and we begin to burn calories. A British study from 2012 suggests that lowering the temp as little as two to four degree may be enough to activate fat loss.

Woman

Acupuncture
Acupuncture may also be a way to losing weight without exercising. A study published in Acupuncture in Medicine suggests that by targeting five points on the ear linked to digestion and hunger, acupuncturists can help overweight people to begin losing weight. Licensed acupuncturist Daniel Hsu, suggests the stress reduction of acupuncture may be responsible for the reduction of stress-related eating.

What do you think? Still a sceptic? A willing volunteer? Let us know. And tell us some other things belong on the “Good and True” list.

Trail mix in a bowl

Pump Up the Fiber In Your Diet

Fiber is necessary for a person’s well being. It increases the immune system in the gut, keeps the digestive lining healthy, supports the good probiotic bacteria, and absorbs excess cholesterol, fat, and toxins from our bodies. Here are some ways of increasing the fiber in your diet.

Cereal
Eating whole grain, unsweetened cereal with 4 grams of fiber is the ideal, but some studies show that just any old cereal might do the trick. According to research done by the University of California, cereal eaters eat less fat and more fiber than those who make other breakfast choices.

Two Apples A Day
Keep two doctors away? Apples are a source of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that digests slowly and helps to keep you full. One study showed that just 5 grams of the stuff left people feeling satisfied for four hours.

yogurt parfait

Yogurt Parfait
Here’s a great breakfast idea that’s packed with fiber. Mix one small container of yogurt with 1/3 cup all-bran cereal, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 5 diced strawberries. Not only will you get a delicious breakfast, you’ll also get 12.2 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily allowance.

Carrots and Broccoli in Low -Fat Ranch
Each cup of veggies will give you five grams of fiber. Snack on this three times a week.

Oatmeal
If a bowl of the stuff is not your style, you can use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs on your meatballs and meatloaf, sprinkle it on your ice cream, or bake it into cookies and muffins.

Trail mix
Mix raisins, peanuts, chocolate-covered soy nuts, and high fiber cereal for a great munchie mix. One handful makes for great high fiber between- meals snack.

whole grain crackers

Whole Grain Crackers
A little cracker can go a long way. One whole wheat cracker has 1/2 gram of fiber; do the math and that translates to 5 grams in ten crackers. Next time your looking for something to spread your peanut butter on, look for some whole grain crackers instead of bread.

Kidney Beans and Chickpeas
Lisa Andrews, RD, and nutritionist at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, says that you can get an additional 5 grams of fiber by adding a quarter cup of chickpeas and kidney beans to your next salad.

Switch From White to a Brown Foods
Rice is a great example. You can also switch regular pasta to whole wheat along with your corn burritos, white bread and cous cous. Working these into your diet gradually can increase your daily fiber intake by an easy ten grams without making a radical change to your diet.

What are you doing to pump up the fiber in your diet? Let us know!

Woman snacking

The Science Behind Your Snack Attacks

When you get a snack attack, most probably the only science you’re thinking about is how you can most efficiently get a bag of chips into your stomach. However, when it comes to cravings, there really is a good amount of science behind them, and it doesn’t just concern the rate of food traveling to your tummy. The fact is, certain foods, especially those high in sugar, salt, and fat, trigger a release of dopamine, which means they are hitting the pleasure center in your brain at the same time they are hitting the hunger center in your belly and the reaction is an unfailing, “Give me more!” Here are some of the most addictive foods and how they work their magic.

Cheese
Besides being high in fat and cholesterol, cheeses also contain a high level of casomorphin, which binds to the feel-good receptors in the brain. According to Neal Barnard, MD, mice aren’t the only ones susceptible to the lure of a good cheddar. “Casmorphins attach to neurotransmitter in our brain and release dopamine, feel-good chemicals that often lead us to wanting more.” Apparently, Americans are getting cheesier as time goes on. The doctor notes that the average American consumes 30 pounds more cheese per year than he or she did 100 years ago.

Woman eating chips

Carbs
It’s the quick glucose release of carbohydrates like potato chips and pretzels which keep our hands going back to the bag to reach for another. Celina Jean, nutritionist, says, ” Simple carbohydrates are seen as an addictive because they cause a quick glucose release, and this quickly increases a person’s energy. The energy will quickly be used up, and the then you’ll be forced to eat more simple carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar raised.”

Sugary Drinks
Not only do sweet sodas, lemonades, and iced tea provide us with empty calories, a 12 ounce can of the stuff can contain up to 35 grams of sugar. Sodas also trigger dopamine release. That, along with the caffeine jolt can provide a quite a hit of energy. Ashvini Mashru, registered dietician warns, “Once you’re hooked on caffeine, you can suffer symptoms of withdrawal if you try to stop, including sluggishness, headaches, and emotional distress.

French fries

French Fries
Crisp, hot, and salty, french fries have all the classic ingredients of addictive food. Mashru tells us that the fat content in the fries sends signals to our gut and brain telling us to eat more. He says, “Those little potato sticks are also a comfort food. Therefore, every time you go through a line in a restaurant and see them on the menu, you may find the urge to order them as a side to your entree irresistible.”

Chocolate
Chocolate gives you kick because it binds to the same pleasure centers in your brain as drugs and alcohol. A study conducted by Drexel University found chocolate often provides a nice “mouth feel” which triggers the production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Dan Defigio, author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies, explains, “Over time, our brains start looking for that dopamine hit, and every time we eat chocolate, it reinforces that wiring.”

What foods are you addicted to? Tell us your shocking stories of how your battles with food addictions. We want to know!

Sad woman with cup of tea

Causes of Adult Malnutrition

Malnutrition. It is defined as an excess or deficiency in intake of nutrients It refers to both the overweight and the underweight and, for the first time in centuries, the numbers are getting close. While feeding the hungry has always been always a priority, it is increasingly becoming the case that hunger is merely being traded for obesity, with one form of malnutrition simply being replaced by another, resulting in heart disease, cancer, chronic illness and shorter life expectancies. Ironically, at time when out nation has the most potential to eliminate the epidemic, it has boosted to record levels. Here are some of the most common causes of adult malnutrition.

Poor Diet
One of the leading causes of malnutrition is a poor diet. When an individual does not eat enough food, or if the food they do eat does not provide them with the nutrients required for good health, malnutrition may occur. Improper diet my be cause by several factors, including dysphagia, which is a difficulty swallowing due to an illness.

Sad woman

Mental Health Disorders
Poor mental health is often linked to a malnutrition. Depression may interfere with healthy eating habits and patients with eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, may also suffer from malnutrition.

Limited Mobility
Individuals who have a hard time getting around may become victims of malnutrition because of difficulty getting out to go shopping or simply finding food preparation difficult.

Digestive disorders
Despite eating properly, certain people have health conditions which prevent their bodies from absorbing the nutrients necessary for good health. Examples include individuals with ulcerative colitis of Crohn’s Disease.
Patients with Celiac disease have genetic disorders that make them gluten intolerant. This results in an increased risk of damage to the lining of their intestines. This condition also results in poor food absorption.

Woman drinking

Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a long-term disease that can result in gastritis or pancreatic damage. These conditions interfere with the body’s digestion and prevent the body from absorbing vitamins and producing hormones necessary for the regulation of metabolism. In addition, the calories supplied by the alcohol may reduce food cravings, and result in the person’s lack of desire for food. Consequently, the person’s meager diet may not supply him or her with essential nutrients.

Food Shortages
Poor and developing nations often suffer food shortages due to lack of agricultural technology, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and advanced methods of irrigation.

Food Prices and Distribution
Shockingly, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 80% of malnourished children live in nations that actually produce a surplus of food. In these cases, economist blame high food prices and problems with distribution of food to the needy.

Lack of Breastfeeding
Certain experts believe that much of the world’s malnutrition in children and infants is due to lack of breastfeeding. Some women are of the belief that bottle feeding is better, while other mothers, usually in the developing countries, abandon breastfeeding because their babies do not latch on properly, or the mothers find breastfeeding to be painful and uncomfortable.

Do you have any ideas for combatting malnutrition? Let us know how you believe this worldwide epidemic can be addressed. We’d love to start the conversation.

Flat lay of healthy food

Popular Health Food Myths

Eating pop rocks with soda can make you explode. This is perhaps the most popular and most bizarre food myths of all time. Although some may argue that the two together may be a lethal combination, it is not because of its likelihood to cause human combustion. While the fate of Mikey of Life Cereal fame may be unknown, it is safe to say he did not suffer death by Poprock. With the rate at which information about food changes , it is often hard to determine which facts from fiction. Here are some of the most commonly believed food myths that may seem all too easy to believe.

Low Fat Food is Better for You
Look at food labels to determine what kinds of fats are in foods before reaching for the low fat version. Seattle based dietitian Andy Bellatti says, “A good intake of healthful fats is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Prioritize mono saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Many low fat diets are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates which are increasingly becoming linked to increased heart disease.” Low fat food are often low in good fats, which are necessary to cholesterol management and absorption of nutrients and also contain high levels of sugar and sodium to compensate for the blandness of the taste quality.

Dairy Is Best For Healthy Bones
According to Bellatti, too many people confuse dairy with calcium. “Dairy contains calcium, but so do dark-leafy greens. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, just like all milk alternatives. Additionally, bone health goes beyond calcium and vitamin D.” Vitamin K is important for bone health and leafy green have it while dairy products do not. Magnesium, also absent from dairy, is important for bone health as well.

Assorted dairy

If you’re concerned about the health of your bones, you’re best bet is to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet and, as the Harvard School of Public Health points out, “milk isn’t the only, or even best source of calcium.” Collard greens, kale and bok choy may be considerably better sources of both calcium and vitamin D.

Drink 8 Glasses of Water per Day
Boston based nutritionist Alannah DiBona says there is no given rule for how much water a person needs in a day. “Water’s been touted as the cure for all sins, and in some ways, it’s true – proper hydration is necessary for just about anything body and mind-related. However sixty- four ounces per day isn’t always going to be the right number for you.” Instead, try to determine your water intake by dividing your body weight in half and trying to drink that number in ounces of water daily.

Dibona also urges us to “Remember that water is available to you through all liquids, fruits, vegetables, and that the mark of proper hydration is a very light yellow-colored urine.”

Eating Eggs Raises Cholesterol
According to DiBona, “More often than not, a person diagnosed with high cholesterol will go out of his or her way to avoid eggs, which is really unnecessary. The body’s cholesterol levels are influenced by certain saturated and trans fats; eggs contain very little saturated fat and absolutely no trans fat. Depriving yourself of an egg means foregoing 13 naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and a really delicious breakfast item.”

Poached egg

High Sodium Foods Taste Salty
While there is no doubt that management of salt and sodium intake are important, especially for those with diabetes and hypertension, you should know that salty taste is not necessarily characteristic of high sodium foods. Belatti explains, “While surface salt is noticeable, stealth sodium, added during processing, is harder to taste. This is why many people don’t realize that a Dunkin’ Donuts corn muffin contains as much sodium, as 9 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.” He stresses the importance of looking up nutrition information to check the sodium content of foods at your favorite restaurants and eateries.

What other food myths do you want to debunk? Let us know!