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How To Become GI Jane

GI Jane“Don’t eat carbs!” That’s what we are told. But why the hype?

It’s the carbs you are eating. There are three basic forms of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. When you eat or drink something with carbs, your body breaks down the sugars and starches into a type of sugar called glucose, which is the main source of energy for cells in your body (fiber passes through your body undigested).

How does your body use this fuel for energy?

In the most simplistic terms:

  • When you ingest carbs – the hormone insulin is released and moves glucose from your blood into your cells to use for energy.
  • If your body takes in too much glucose and releases an abundance of insulin, your body can’t use all of the fuel – and it become stored as fat.

But let’s take this one step further. The carbs you are eating make a difference.

Every carb has something called a GI (glycemic index)

A food’s GI affects how quickly your body digests it and how quickly glucose enters your bloodstream. The source of the carbohydrate is especially important – foods that contain more processed carbohydrates have a greater effect on blood sugar levels than whole foods. Foods made with intact whole grains typically have a lower index. Foods high in fiber, especially soluble fiber, lower the GI index. Fiber slows down the digestion of food and therefore, the release of sugars into the bloodstream. Fiber (and fat) lower the GI of a food.

Examples of foods with low, middle and high GI values include the following:

  • Low GI: Green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and bran breakfast cereals
  • Medium GI: Sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins, oat breakfast cereals, and multigrain, oat bran or rye bread
  • High: White rice, white bread, potatoes, pretzels, popcorn

Here’s a simple guide on the GI for popular foods: http://www.the-gi-diet.org/lowgifoods/

So what do I do with this information?

It’s important to understand how your body uses the fuel from the food you ingest.

The first source of fuel your body uses is carbs (glucose/sugar), then fat, then protein. So if you are taking in an abundance of processed carbs that your body can’t burn, the extra glucose is converted to fat – so you are never using your stored fat for energy, but only building more.

A food’s ranking on the glycemic index doesn’t necessarily indicate whether it’s a good or bad choice. It’s just an additional guide (it is much more complex than what is presented in this blog). It goes back to what we already know: as a general rule:  whole, unprocessed foods are the superior choice.

Another added bonus – the more active you are and the more muscle you build, the less you need to worry about how foods affect your blood sugar. Exercise uses the glucose stored in your muscles. Your body takes glucose out of the bloodstream to your muscles where it’s packed away for future use. This helps reduce blood-glucose levels quickly. More muscle gives you a larger storage area for glucose.

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Soda

say-no-to-soda-bestBelow is a persuasive essay, written by my 11 year old daughter, as an assignment in Language Arts. I thought it worthy of sharing.

Written by Sofia Karrat, 11 years old.

Article writer Kanika Khara said, “Since soda does no benefit to our body other than satiating our taste buds, and in fact causes considerable harm, it is better that we should make healthy choices about our diet.” Only some people agree with that statement saying soda is bad. However, most people think differently. Most people just drink soda and don’t care what’s going into their bodies. In my opinion, I believe soda is not good to drink. I believe we should stop drinking it, too.

First of all, soda can cause deadly diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sugar is one of the main ingredients in soda. That is why we get these sicknesses, because sugar is one of the main reasons causing it. Once sugar is digested, it is turned into fat by the body. If you drink only one coke a day for a year, your body has stored 17 pounds of fat! Just in soda! There are recommended daily sugar amounts for men, women, and children. For men it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams), for women it’s 5 teaspoons (20 grams), and for children it’s 3 teaspoons (12 grams). A can of soda has about 39 grams in sugar, so all people have already had more than their sugar amount for the day! Another ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. It also causes those diseases. High fructose corn syrup is sweeter than normal corn syrup. It is made with artificial sweeteners, and it makes the body store more fat. Soda also has other many bad ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, caramel color, ester gum, Red 40, Yellow 5, and more. These ingredients hurt the body. This drink also dehydrates the body. Dehydration is when your body doesn’t have enough water and fluids as it should. When severe, dehydration can be a life-threatening emergency (but that’s very rare).

Secondly, nobody reads the nutrition labels and ingredients, and it’s one of the problems why America is getting sick. The nutrition label and ingredients are things most people don’t pay attention to. These are where health comes in. Things like sugar, and high fructose corn syrup are in the ingredients. The amounts of helpful and harmful contents are in the nutrition facts. It tells you the amount of everything in grams or milligrams. There are no vitamins, proteins, or fiber in soda. But, there is lots of caffeine. At first, caffeine supplies an instant boost of energy. But, that energy slowly wears off, and you may start experiencing headaches, sleepiness, and fatigue. Another thing that is noticed is the front of the can is “All Natural”. “All Natural” actually doesn’t mean anything. Companies put it on the can to look good. People think it means “All Good” and the ingredients are fresh.

My final reason for why to not drink soda is that one of the reasons people are drinking soda is because of celebrities advertising them. My mom is a health nut. There was a movie that came out, Fed Up, that my mom found out about right away. At first, I didn’t want to watch it. But, when I found out about why Americans are getting deadly sicknesses and diseases, I was glad I watched it. Sugar is why America is getting problems in health, such as diabetes, and it’s not ok for celebrities to make people want it more in soda. Celebrities such as Beyonce shouldn’t allow soda companies to put her on the can. Then kids get influenced by the ads, want to be like a celebrity, and drink soda. But people think,”Well, what’s the big deal? Everyone drinks it anyway.” It’s not a small problem, because some people don’t already drink soda so they start and get addicted to it. Also, people will just start increasing the amount they drink if celebrities advertise soda. I drink seltzer (which is just plain sparkling water), and it is a really good alternative if you drink soda.

My belief is that America should stop drinking so much soda. Soda can cause deadly diseases, nobody reads the labels, and celebrities are advertising it just to make people want it more. I don’t want to risk hurting my body for something that tastes good.

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Fat is Good.

Fat is Good

Our society has made us afraid of eating fat. It really took ground with the boom of the “fat-free” industry in the 80’s. The truth is, the right fats help promote health and well-being. It’s about choosing which fats to ingest. The mix of fats that you eat, rather than the total amount in your diet, is what matters most. The key is to eat more good fats and less bad fats.

Here’s the lowdown:

Fats contribute to the amount of cholesterol in your body. Very simply,Good-Fats-Vs-Bad-Fats

HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol found in your blood.

LDL cholesterol is the “bad” kind.

  • Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, while increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Polyunsaturated fats lower triglycerides and fight inflammation.
  • Saturated fats may raise your blood cholesterol if you eat too much.
  • Trans fats are the worst types of fat. They raise your bad LDL cholesterol and lower the good HDL cholesterol.

Good Fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are good for you. They lower cholesterol, protect your heart, reduce the risk of disease and support overall health. Omega-3 fats are in this category and are essential to physical and emotional health. They are highly concentrated in the brain and research indicates they play a vital role in cognitive function (memory, problem-solving abilities, etc.) as well as elevating your mood, fighting fatigue and controlling your weight.

 Examples of Good Fats Include:

  • Monounsaturated (the best kind!): Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, avocados, olives, nuts (almonds, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews), peanut butter
  • Polyunsaturated: Soybean oil, safflower oil, walnuts, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, flax seed, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), tofu

Bad fats: Saturated fats have fallen into this category – however, saturated fats are ok if they are eaten in moderation. Coconut oil is a perfect example. The health benefits of coconut oil are immense, as discussed in previous posts.

Bad fats raise our cholesterol and put our bodies at risk of certain diseases. Trans fats should be completely avoided. Trans fats (hydrogenated oils) are the worst kind of fats and are used in the manufacturing of food to help it stay fresh longer.

  • A trans fat is a normal fat molecule that has been twisted and deformed during a process called hydrogenation. During this process, liquid vegetable oil is heated and combined with hydrogen gas.
  • No amount of trans fats is healthy. Trans fats contribute to major health problems, from heart disease to cancer.

Examples of Saturated Fats That Should Be Eaten in Moderation

High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork), chicken with the skin, whole-fat dairy products (milk & cream), butter, cheese, ice cream, palm & coconut oil

Examples of Bad Trans Fats (the worst kind!):

Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough, packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips), stick margarine, semi-solid vegetable shortening, most pre-mixed products (cake mix, pancake mix, and chocolate drink mix), vegetable shortening, fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish), candy bars

**Trick: How to tell a good fat vs. a bad fat: Trans fats and saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of olive or sunflower oil).

And no… fat-free foods are not healthier. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.

General Guidelines For Choosing Healthy Fats

  • Try to eliminate trans fats and limit fast food
  • Limit saturated fats by cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods and replacing them with low fat varieties (ie. use olive oil instead of butter, low-fat cheese vs. full fat, skim or 1% milk vs. whole milk)
  • Eat omega-3 fats every day. Good sources include fish, walnuts, ground flax seeds, flax-seed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil.
  • Keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)

Lastly, enjoy eating fat. It is good for your health.

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