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Did You Know?

Below are facts on some common things we eat every day that you might not have known. Let’s classify them into the The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

Skim Latte– Packed with protein, and half your calcium need for the day; it’s a “liquid meal in a cup”. Caffeine or what I usually like to choose…half caf…helps give you sbaboost of energy and fires up your metabolism. If you do want to add a little flavor – ask for one pump (vs. the typical 4 pumps). You will save 60 calories and 15 grams of sugar. Be wary of the “skinny” latte– which is made with artificial sweeteners.

Organic Whole Grain Cereals – A cereal such as Uncle Sam’s has only 4 organic ingredients: Whole Wheat Kernels, Whole Flaxseed, Salt and Barley Malt. Weighing in at 190 calories, 5 grams of good fat, 38 carbohydrates (of which, 10 grams are fiber!), less than 1 gram of sugar and 7 grams of protein. What a perfect meal!

Non-Fat Greek Yogurt – One cup of Fage Total 0% Fat Greek yogurt is only 100 calories and 7 grams of sugar (vs. most flavored yogurts with over 22 grams of sugar), 18 grams of protein!, and 20% of your daily calcium requirements.

Pure Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is chock-full of protein, with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Benefits of one serving of peanut butter:

  • 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E
  • 49 mg of bone-building magnesium
  • 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium
  •  0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6
  • Can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions

Choose one with no additives…peanuts only and maybe a little sea salt. Best to eliminate anything that ends in “y”…Skippy, Jiffy, Teddie, Freddy…and be cautious of the term “natural” on a label – it’s a marketing term and doesn’t mean anything. Organic is ideal. If you are allergic, try soy nut butter. Same great protein benefits.

Eggs – Eggs are loaded with high-quality proteins, vitamins, minerals, good fats and various trace nutrients.  A large egg contains:

  • only 77 calories
  • only 5 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of protein
  • all 9 essential amino acids
  • rich in iron, phosphorous, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5 (among others)
  • 113 mg of Choline – a very important nutrient for the brain, among other things. A study revealed that 90% of Americans may not get enough choline in their diet.

The yolks contain most of the nutrients! Omega-3 enriched or pastured (raised on a pasture and grass fed) eggs are much more nutritious than factory-raised chickens. 

Whey Protein – Whey protein is considered a complete protein, contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose content. Additional benefits include:

  • weight loss
  • increased muscle mass (vs. fat)
  • increase in glutathione levels (your body’s main water-based anti-oxidant)
  • decrease in triglycerides and total cholesterol while increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
  • increase in immune system function and power in sports and decreased recovery time and symptoms of over-training

Quinoa – also known as the “SuperGrain”. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids and it contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. It contains:

  • iron
  • lysine (mainly essential for tissue growth and repair)
  • is rich in magnesium
  • high in Riboflavin (B2) (improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells)
  • has a high content of manganese (an antioxidant)

The Bad

Smoothies – depending on the ingredients, can have up to 1,500 calories, 60 grams of fat and 60 grams of sugar. Best to lean toward the natural ingredients – fresh fruit, milk, water, whey protein. 

Granola – has long been viewed since back-in-the-day as a “health food”. There are wonderful properties to granola and trail mix, however, they are often made with butter and oil and have up to 400 calories per cup. Shop for the lighter variations, or make it yourself.

Salad Dressing – Newman’s Own Ceasar Dressing has 150 calories per 2 tbsps. , of which, 144 calories are from fat, and 420 mg of sodium (Ranch is 140 calories, 135 from fat). Even if you choose the “light version”, you start to sacrifice nutrition for artificial ingredients. Try a balsamic glaze with natural spices (garlic, salt, pepper, mint).

Fat-Free Foods – you are better off just eating the real thing, or reduced fat…most fat free foods have a ton of added sugar and high fructose corn syrup – added empty calories which cause you to eat more. Healthy fats are essential to our diet – it’s just important to eat them in moderation.

100 Calorie Packs – convenient packs do not change the nutritional content. Your snack may still be too high in sugar, fat, carbohydrates or sodium, even if you’re eating only 100 calories. And they generally leave you unsatistifed and craving more.

Bagels – most bagels are a dense, bleached, processed flour carbohydrate that usually contain about 500 calories, equivalent to 5 slices of bread. All of those carbs will give you a quick boost than a hard crash. They are typically made with white flour, are very difficult for your body to ingest and have several inflammatory properties. If you choose to eat a bagel, opt for whole wheat or oat bran.

Gatorade –

  • A single serving of Gatorade contains 14 grams of sugar – a mix of heavily refined sucrose syrups and glucose-fructose (most 20oz bottles are 2.5 servings or 34 grams of sugar)
  • Contains a ton of sodium – an unlikely candidate for any beneficial electrolyte restoration (when the body experiences short periods of exhaustion and fatigue, it does not need mass amounts of sodium)
  • It uses brominated vegetable oil (BVO) to increase fluidity and uniformity (like other sugary drinks). BVO is also used to create lead dissolving additives for gasoline, photographic paper films, fire-extinguishing materials, and agricultural fumigants. More than 100 countries have outlawed the substance altogether.
  • Because of the amount of carbohydrates in Gatorade, over consumption can cause obesity.
  • Ingredients include:  water, sugar, table salt, carbohydrates, electrolytes (110 mg sodium, 30 mg potassium, 93 mg chloride), high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, glucose and fructose.

Sugar Cereal- It is common for nutrition-minded shoppers to pick “healthy choices” such as Honey Nut Cheerios, Raisin Bran and Cascade Granola. Honey Nut Cheerios actually has the equivalent amount of sugar to Fruity Pebbles. And most other cereals have significantly more. In fact, many of these cereals surpass the half-way mark for how much sugar many experts believe we should consume in a day.

The Ugly

Donuts – Sorry to say, a donut is not food. Nutritional info for a Dunkin Donuts Chocolate Glazed Cake Donut: 370 calories, 24 g of fat (11 grams of saturated fat), 390 grams of sodium, 35 carbs, 17 grams of sugar and 3 grams of protein. And this is a common breakfast. Ingredients include:

Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Cellulose Gum, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Flavor, Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Enzyme, Colored with (Turmeric and Annatto Extracts, Beta Carotene)

Frappuccino – A Grande Java Chip Frappuccino have 460 calories, 18g of fat (12 grams of saturated fat), 50 mg of cholesterol (17% of daily value!), 72 grams of carbohydrates, 66 grams of sugar! (no, that is not a typo) and 6 grams of protein. Ingredients in a frappaccino (not including the chips) include:

  • Coffee Frappuccino Syrup: Sugar, Water, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Xanthan Gum (E415), Preservative: Potassium Sorbate (E202), Citric Acid (E330), Caramel Color (E150)

With the light Frappuccino, it may be fewer calories however; you are ingesting even more chemicals:

  • Light Coffee Frappuccino: Water, sugar, Erythritol (E968), Natural Flavors, Salt, Carageenan (E407), Xanthan Gum (E415), Maltodextrin, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate (E202), Citric Acid (E330), Reb A, Color: Caramel (E150d, E150b)

Processed Deli Meats  – most are prepared from chunks or pieces of meat and bonded together with non-meat additives and meat emulsions cooked to coagulate and bind the chunks of meat into a “shaped form” of meat. Often include nitrates, up to 460 mg sodium per serving, carrageenan, meat by-products (read – bones), corn syrup, gelatin and emulsifiers. Your best bet is the real thing – roasted turkey. Make it and slice it for the week. Or visit Batavia. Best turkey sandwich in town.

Soda / Sugar Drinks – 1 can of Classic Coke contains 140 calories, 39 grams of sugar and includes high fructose corn sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, “natural flavors” and caffeine. Snapple is not any better, against popular belief: 1 bottle = 150 calories, 36 grams of sugar.

Chicken Nuggets – There are truly no “healthy” chicken nuggets unless made from scratch – if any, possibly Bell & Evans with simple ingredients of white breast chicken & whole wheat breading. Typical ingredient list for chicken nuggets includes:

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Potassium Lactate, Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Flavorings, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Carrageenan. Dextrose, Calcium Propionate (to Protect Freshness), Guar Gum, Potassium Sorbate (to Protect Freshness)

English Muffins – Perfect example of a processed food. Ingredients in Thomas’ include:

mono and diglycerides, datem, sodium stearolyl lactylate, ethoxylated mono-and diglycerides, dextrose, wheat sour, guar gum, lactic acid, molasses, fumaric acid, azodicarbonamide, , caramel color, acetic acid, sucralose, nonfat milk

Try a brand that is organic or whole wheat with 5 or less ingredients.

Fruit Snacks/Gummies: a recent fruit snack was given to my son in a party bag…it is produced by “Healthy Food Brands” and the ingredient list is as follows:

grape juice concentrate, corn syrup, sugar, modified food starch, apple puree, gelatin, citric acid, sodium citrate, ascorbic acid, natural and artificial flavors, FD&C Red, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Red 3, carnauba wax.

One guess if I let him eat it?

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Your Second Brain

Our bodies contain a second nervous system, separate from our brains, made up of about 500 million neurons that contribute to your physical and mental well-being.stomach_tummy

Meet your stomach. With its vast network of neurons lining the stomach, it is often referred to as the “second brain” in our bodies. This enteric nervous system in our stomach goes far beyond simply  processing the food we eat and giving us “butterflies” when we are anxious. The “brain” in our stomachs, in connection with the brain in our skulls, contributes to our mental state and plays key roles with some diseases in our body.

The condition of our stomachs will directly correlate to brain function. Your gut produces more hormones than any other part of your body, including 95% of the body’s serotonin. When your gut isn’t functioning properly, you could experience emotional distress. Up to 90% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also suffer from mental-health issues. This relationship between the two brains may also cause other diseases, like osteoporosis, since the gut regulates bone mass.

So, what you put in your stomach can directly affect your mental and physical functionality.

When our stomach does not function properly, it indicates an imbalance. Cutting-edge research is investigating how the stomach controls the body’s immune response and function. At least 70% of our immune system is a function of the gut, which is responsible for expelling and killing foreign invaders. Trillions of microscopic bacteria fill our stomach (called the intestinal microbiome) and are essential to life as they help the body extract nutrients from food, regulate tissue development and kill off germs.

If we aren’t feeding our stomachs with the right nutrients, these vital bacteria are not able to do their job. It is believed that our modern diet of processed foods is disrupting the function of the microbiome in our stomachs, therefore our stomach function. In addition, excess amounts of stress, alcohol and antibiotic medications destroy these beneficial bacteria.

There are ways to recoup the healthy balance in your stomach. This includes swapping junk foods for natural, healthy foods, getting outside, exercising to relieve stress and adding probiotics to your diet to balance the healthy bacteria in your gut.

From a personal perspective, my son was getting sick every month, to the day. We thought he had an immunity problem. After a lot of blood work and many doctors’ appointments, nothing was found. I decided to put him on Florastor Kids probiotic to see if it was an issue with the balance of the bacteria in his stomach and it literally fixed him. He has not been sick since. I am a believer in probiotics.

Future research will continue to help us discover the connection between the two brains and the impact it has on our health. For now, it is important to feed your stomach (and hence, your mind) with healthy, natural foods as often as possible and keep a high activity level to maintain a natural balance in your body.

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Sleep: A Picture Says a Thousand Words

Thank you, Huffington Post, for publishing this remarkable article on the effects of sleep deprivation. The results will shock you. 

Sleep has such an impact on your well-being and overall health. Even if you take care of yourself in every other aspect, losing sleep can reverse all the good you are doing. I have to admit, sleeping is not one of my strong points. Something I need to personally work on, and will, after reading this article. The article can be viewed directly on their site: http://huff.to/1krWOKn

If you don’t snooze, you lose. Skimping on sleep can wreak havoc from head to toe. In fact, one study published last year showed that just one week of sleeping fewer than six hours a night resulted in changes to more than 700 genes. That’s alarming news, considering nearly half of Americans don’t bank the recommended seven or more hours of shut-eye a night, according to a recent survey. Read on for the nightmare-inducing truth about what could be happening to your body when you don’t get enough sleep, starting the very first night. huff post

After one night you’re…

hungrier and apt to eat more. Studies have linked short-term sleep deprivation with a propensity to load up on bigger portionsa preference for high-calorie, high-carb foods and a greater likelihood of choosing unhealthy foods while grocery shopping.

more likely to have an accident. Getting six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night triples your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsydriving.org. Plus, just one bad night’s sleep can affect a driver’s eye-steering coordination, according to research from Manchester Metropolitan University. And sleep deprivation can just make you generally more clumsy, whether you’re behind the wheel or not, reports Prevention.

not looking your best — or your most approachable. Beauty sleep is legit. A small study published last year in the journal SLEEP found that sleep deprived study participants were rated as less attractive and sadder, HuffPost reported at the time. A different study from the Medical Institutet Karolinska in Stockholm, Sweden found that exhausted people are also judged to be less approachable. And the problem only gets worse over time: Researchers have linked chronic sleep deprivation with skin aging.

more likely to catch a cold. Proper rest is one of the building blocks of a healthy immune system. In fact, one Carnegie Mellon University study found that sleeping fewer than seven hours a night was associated with a tripled risk of coming down with a cold. What’s more, the Mayo Clinic explains:

During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.

losing brain tissue. A small, recent study of 15 men, published in the journal SLEEP, found that just one night of sleep deprivation was linked with signs of brain tissue loss, measured by blood levels of two brain molecules that usually increase after brain damage.

more likely to get emotional. One 2007 study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Medical School used functioning Magnetic Resonance Imaging to show that after sleep deprivation, the brain’s emotional centers were more more than 60 percent more reactive. “It’s almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses,” senior author Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, said in a statement. “Emotionally, you’re not on a level playing field.”

less focused and having memory problems. Being exhausted zaps your focus, and can render you more forgetful (no wonder you keep misplacing your cell phone after a bad night between the sheets). On top of that, sleep is thought to be involved in the process of memory consolidation, according to Harvard, which means shortchanging it can make it more difficult to learn and retain new things.

After a while your risks increase for stroke, obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, sperm count decrease and death. Read the full article on Huffington Post and find out how.

Another great article on sleep can be found here.

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