Stress is a condition that makes us jittery, unrefreshed, and unable to sleep at night. Stress also tends to allow us to make poor, unhealthy food choices. However, healthy eating can actually reduce stress, and make you feel so much better. Here are a number of helpful hints for fighting stress, through healthy eating.
Skip The Coffee And Other Caffeinated Drinks
Coffee, caffeinated drinks and beverages can exacerbate your stress levels. While some only provide temporary relief, these affect your body in the long run, because too much sugar and caffeine increases your blood sugar levels, and also heightens your stress levels. Instead of coffee, drink green tea, since green tea contains high levels of antioxidants, and also soothes the senses.
Carry Healthy Snacks At All Times
Replace chips and other unhealthy, sodium-filled snacks with natural snack food items, and go for sunflower seeds, celery sticks and carrot sticks instead. Also bring along with you protein-rich snacks in your bag or car, to reduce fatigue and to help avoid mood swings or anxiety attacks.
Eat Breakfast, And Bring your Lunch To Work
Never go to work or school on an empty stomach. Even if you think you’re not hungry, you’ll need to eat something later on. Eating a healthy breakfast helps to maintain the proper blood sugar levels during the rest of the day. It would also be nice if you bring your lunch to work or school. You’ll actually save a lot of money by bringing your lunch to work, and you’ll also be able to eat healthier food, instead of munch on the usual fried stuff found at the fast food joint or cafeteria.
Eat Lots of Fruits And Vegetables
Eating large amounts of fruits and vegetables can help fight stress. Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants and minerals that help ward off harmful free radical damage, which is believed to increase during stress or panic attacks. Remember to choose brightly-colored fruits and veggies.
Drink More Water
To reduce stress, drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Drinking more fluids helps flush away stress-producing toxins from the body, and also helps to keep you energized. If you drink less water, your body gets thrown out of balance, and you may suffer unexplained weight gain, fluid retention, or loss of thirst, which can exacerbate any stressful situation.
Diet plays a major role in the fight against stress, therefore it’s important that you take everything you eat into consideration. Always make sure that you eat a balanced and healthy diet, and stay away from cholesterol-rich foods and saturated fats, since these tend to block the arteries with plaque. Regular exercise also helps to relieve stress. Exercise actually releases endorphins that elevate the mood, and provides an instant energy boost. Exercise also allows the body, and the mind, to relax and repair itself.
Regular exercise, checking your serving portions and eating right. Healthy eating requires a lot of will power and commitment. However, there are a number of myths that continue to deceive dieters and healthy eating advocates. The key to eating healthy lies in how you check out the food items you buy, as well as on how dedicated are you in making sure that you watch what you eat every day. Here are some food myths that you need to watch out for.
All Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy
When you go to the grocery store, and you see food items labeled as “low fat” or fat-free”, beware of them. Just because they have the “fat-free” sign posted on them doesn’t mean that they’re truly healthy. The truth is that some of these food items actually have the same number of calories as the regular versions, and sometimes sugar is added to replace the flavor lost when fat is removed. By having more sugar, these food items will have empty calories, which may lead to you gaining weight instead. Fats come in different forms, and some of them actually are good for you. The fats that you need to steer clear from are trans fats and saturated fats. Monounsaturated fats and the fat found in olive oil or nuts are good for the heart.
All Fruits Are Created Equal
Not all fruits are created equal. Some of them actually contain lots of calories, which may help to add more weight to you. The healthiest fruits are those that have low sugar and high fiber content. Apples, bananas and grape fruit are one of the nice fruits, because they contain high fiber and are low in fat and calories.
Chocolate Is Bad For Your Health
While some so-called fitness advocates frown on eating chocolate, because they think these make you fat, the truth is that chocolates are good for you. However, you must also know that not all chocolates are created equal. High-quality dark chocolate is one of healthy variants, because it contains high levels of flavonols and antioxidants. Commercial chocolate bars however, such as milk chocolate and white chocolate contain high amounts of fat, sugar, wax and artificial chemicals. To eat healthy chocolates, try making your own unsweetened cocoa with sugar and skim milk instead.
Salads Help You Lose Weight
A large bowl of leafy greens is actually very good for your health. However, the problem starts once you pour in the dressings and other toppings. Some salad offerings include stuff like fried chicken, bacon bits, and thick creamy dressings, which are jam-packed with calories and fats. But if you fill up on the leafy greens alone, the salad mix can be very healthy. A truly healthy salad mix includes a variety of vegetables, mixed greens, beans, almonds, and a light vinegar dressing.
To ensure that you’re eating healthy, and losing or maintaining weight at the same time, eat high-fiber veggies, fruits and grains, but never skip breakfast. Instead, you need to stop drinking energy bars and drinks, sodas and alcohol, as well as lessen your intake of fatty junk foods and snacks.
Published: Monday, May 8, 2017, 17:30 [IST] Subscribe to Boldsky Pancreas is an important part of the body. It plays a vital role in keeping the digestion system functioning smooth. Further, the stomach empties the ingested food in the small intestine with the help of the digestive enzymes from the pancreas, as it can neutralize the acid in the stomach
There’s a lot to be said for the humble beet, an easy-to-grow garden vegetable. Whether juiced raw, cooked, pickled or fermented, beets have a wide range of health benefits. The nutrients they contain fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and help you detoxify. Beets have also been shown to lower your risk for heart failure and stroke, and may even help combat cancer.
Recent research also shows beets have powerful benefits for your brain, especially when combined with exercise, courtesy of their high nitrate content. Your body transforms nitrates into nitric oxide, which enhances oxygenation and has a beneficial impact on your circulatory and immune systems.
I include about 1 to 2 ounces of raw beets in my smoothie each day, in addition to taking a fermented beet root powder supplement. However, if you have diabetes or are insulin resistant, carefully monitor how raw beet juice affects your overall health, as 36 percent of each beet is simple sugars.
This high sugar content can also make raw beets and beet juice counterproductive during the initial transitioning phase of a ketogenic diet as you’re trying to get your body to burn fat instead of sugar as its primary fuel. I detail this process in my new book, “Fat for Fuel.” In these instances, fermented beet juice, also known as beet kvass, may be a far preferable option, as virtually all of the sugar is eliminated during the fermentation process.
Beets Give Your Brain a Powerful Boost
In the featured study,1 26 middle-aged men and women diagnosed with high blood pressure were given either beet juice or a placebo to drink three times a week, an hour before exercise, for six weeks.2,3,4 Exercise consisted of a 50-minute walk on a treadmill.
As demonstrated in other studies, the beet juice increased tissue oxygenation and blood flow in the treatment group. It also improved brain neuroplasticity by improving oxygenation of the somatomotor cortex, a brain area that is often affected in the early stages of dementia. As noted by study co-author W. Jack Rejeski, a health and exercise science professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina:5,6
“Nitric oxide is a really powerful molecule. It goes to the areas of the body which are hypoxic, or needing oxygen, and the brain is a heavy feeder of oxygen in your body … [W]hat we showed in this brief training study of hypertensive older adults was that, as compared to exercise alone, adding a beet root juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults.”
As I’ve stated on countless occasions, the researchers note that your diet may indeed be crucial to the maintenance of a healthy brain and functional independence as you get older.
Raw Beets Boost Heart and Cardiovascular Health Too
Raw beets have been shown to have a very potent impact on your cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure by an average of four to five points in just a few hours.7
Some studies have shown a glass of beet juice can lower systolic blood pressure by more than eight points,8 which is far more than some blood pressure medications! This effect is due to the naturally-occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body.9
Nitric oxide is a soluble gas that’s continually produced from the amino acid L-arginine, inside your cells. This gas plays an important role in supporting normal endothelial function and protecting your cells’ powerhouses, the mitochondria. It is also a potent vasodilator.
By relaxing and dilating your blood vessels, nitric oxide improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. In conventional medicine, nitrates are used to treat angina and congestive heart failure, and research shows a glass of beetroot juice has the same effect as prescription nitrates.10
Competitive athletes also use beet juice for its nitric oxide-boosting benefits. Research shows raw beets may boost stamina during exercise by as much as 16 percent,11 an effect again attributed to increased nitric oxide.
In another study,12 nine patients diagnosed with heart failure who experienced loss of muscle strength and reduced ability to exercise were found to benefit from beet juice. The patients were given 140 milliliters (mL) — about two-thirds of a cup — of concentrated beet juice, followed by testing, which found an almost instantaneous increase in their muscle capacity by an average of 13 percent.
There’s one important caveat though: Avoid using mouthwashes or chewing gum, as this actually prevents the nitric oxide conversion from occurring.13 The reason for this is because the nitrate is converted into nitrite in your saliva by friendly bacteria. That nitrite is then converted into nitric oxide in other places in your body.
More About Nitric Oxide
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or sweet air, is a chemical compound with the formula N2O. It is used in surgery and dentistry for its anesthetic and analgesic effects. It is known as “laughing gas” due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it.14 Nitric Oxide15(NO) is a gas that serves as a signaling or messenger molecule in every cell of your body. Hence, it’s involved in a wide variety of physiological and pathological processes.
It causes arteries and bronchioles to expand, allows brain cells to communicate with each other, and causes immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer cells. Low levels of nitric oxide production are important in protecting an organ such as the liver from ischemic damage.
On the average, you lose 10 percent of your body’s ability to make nitric oxide for every decade of life. Nitric oxide is synthesized by nitric oxide synthase (NOS). There are three isoforms of the NOS enzyme:
Endothelial (eNOS): a calcium-dependent signaling molecule that produces low levels of gas as a cell signaling molecule
Neuronal (nNOS): a calcium-dependent signaling molecule that produces low levels of gas as a cell signaling molecule
Inducible (immune system) (iNOS): calcium independent; produces large amounts of gas which can be cytotoxic
Another problem is the presence of fluoride. When fluoride is present, it converts nitric oxide into the toxic and destructive nitric acid. As noted in “Pharmacology for Anesthetists 3,”16 “Nitric oxide will react with fluorine, chlorine and bromine to form the XNO species, known as the nitrosyl halides, such as nitrosyl chloride. Nitrosyl iodide can also form but is an extremely short-lived species.”
One way to increase nitric oxide production is to do a series of calisthenic exercises. There are many that can be used, but I typically do a modified version of one developed by Dr. Zach Bush, whom I recently interviewed. I did a short video to illustrate the workout. It takes about three to four minutes and is typically done three times a day and every day, but must be at least two hours between sessions.
Other Health Promoting Properties of Beets
The phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color also have powerful anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water. Beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers.17
Raw beets also help boost immune function thanks to high vitamin C, fiber, potassium and manganese, while the betalin pigments and sulfur-containing amino acids in beets support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process. Traditionally, beets have been valued for their ability to purify your blood and liver.
High in the B vitamin folate, beets may also lower your stroke risk and are an excellent food for pregnant women. Folate is essential for many bodily processes, and lack of folate during pregnancy raises the risk of birth defects. The blood-cleansing properties of beet kvass may also help alleviate morning sickness.
Considerations When Buying and Preparing Beets
Whether you’re juicing your beets, eating them raw or fermenting them, I strongly recommend buying organic beets, or growing your own from heirloom beet seeds. While table beets are not genetically engineered (GE), they’re frequently grown in close proximity to sugar beets, most of which are GE, so there’s the potential for contamination via cross-pollination.
Besides the beetroots, beet greens are also very nutritious, and are a great source of fiber — 17 percent of your daily requirements in just one cup. Beet greens also contain vitamins B6 and K, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and valuable antioxidants. You can juice or sauté them, or simply add them to your salad.
Beetroots tend to have a foul-tasting skin, so you may want to peel your beets before using them. One exception is when you’re making beet kvass. In this case, it’s better to leave the peel on, as beneficial microbes benefit and thrive from it. Hence you get better fermentation if you leave the skin on.
Fermenting Your Beets Makes Them Even Healthier
Fermenting your beets gives you all the health-boosting benefits of raw beets — and then some. Not only do you get beneficial bacteria and enzymes, but the fermentation process also makes all of the nutrients in beets more bioavailable. Aside from pickled beets,18 other fermented beet products include beet-infused sauerkraut19 or kvass,20,21,22 the latter of which can be drunk straight or added to soups, sauces and vinaigrettes.
Traditionally, beet kvass has been used to boost immune function, cleanse blood, combat fatigue and treat kidney stones, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems. Recent animal research confirms the gastrointestinal benefits of lactofermented beetroot juice, showing it helps improve gut microbiota and metabolic activity.23
By supplying beneficial bacteria, beet kvass can also have a very beneficial impact on diabetes and many other health problems, particularly those rooted in gut dysfunction.
Because of its detoxifying properties, avoid drinking too much when first starting out. Doing so could result in an overload of released toxins, producing bloating, constipation and/or cold or flu-like symptoms. As a general recommendation, start out with 1 ounce per day, gradually increasing the amount to an 8-ounce glass per day. If you’re highly toxic, you may need to start out with as little as a tablespoon.
Add Some Beets to Your Diet Today
Beets truly are a great ally in your quest for good health, thanks to their ability to increase nitric oxide. Fermenting them will give you the added benefit of beneficial bacteria, and most health problems today are in one way or another related to or aggravated by poor gut health. So, go ahead and add some beets to your diet. There are many ways to enjoy them, be it raw, cooked or fermented. Here are but a few suggestions: