Archive for the ‘Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency’ Category

Why you should care about Carotenoids

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Why you should care about Carotenoids

Carotenoids are substances in fruits and vegetables that give them their bright colors. They are prevalent in many orange colored vegetables. Typically, more carotenoids are in foods that have a darker pigment. Carotenoids act as antioxidants which prevent damage to our cells. It is easy to add antioxidants, especially carotenoids to your diet from the following produce:

  1. carrots
  2. sweet potatoes
  3. pumpkin
  4. cantaloupe
  5. apricot
  6. papaya
  7. red and orange peppers
  8. tomatoes
  9. beets

It has been found that women with the most carotenoids in their blood are less likely to develop breast cancer than those with lower levels.  Lycopene is the best carotenoid to protect against breast cancer. Tomato products are loaded with lycopene.

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So, besides the red and orange colored fruits and veggies in your diet, you can add tomato sauce, salsa, fresh tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit. Carotenoids are fat-soluble, it is important to add a little healthy fat to your diet.  An example of healthy fat is adding olive oil to your salad or vegetables or saute some garlic in olive oil before simmering tomatoes in the sauce. This will allow the body to absorb the nutrients and providing the benefit of lowering the risks of cancer. You can order your own lab tests to measure carotenoids with a simple blood test for Vitamin A


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Are Food Labels Tricking You?

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Are Food Labels Tricking You?

There are a plethora of options at the grocery stores that make claims like “No Artificial Colors”, that increase the want for the product because they are seen as the “healthier” option, however, this may not always be the case. The food manufacturers choose the wording on their products’ packages very carefully to increase the desirability of their products as long as it fits in the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration.

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Often times the claims that are made on food labels are not what the consumer thinks they are getting. For example, a product could say it is low in sodium, but according to the FDA, it just means it has 140 mg or less per serving. Another example would be when the words ‘simple’, ‘natural’ or ‘free from’ are plastered on food packaging, it is not verified by the FDA. In this case, be sure to check the fine print to see what the company’s definition is for the terms they have on their food packaging. Unfortunately, it is up to the consumers to figure out if a product is healthy or not. You have to read the nutrition label on each package in order to tell if the product is actually a healthy option or not. When reading a nutrition label, pay close attention to sodium, type of fat, sugar and whole grains.


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How to Improve Sleep Hygiene

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How to Improve Sleep Hygiene

Getting enough quality sleep is such an important aspect of good physical health. It is the time where your body heals and repairs itself. Sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Your ability to function during the day depends on the amount and quality of sleep you are getting. The following are steps you can take to better your sleep hygiene:
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  • Set up a healthy and realistic sleeping schedule
  • Stop eating 2 hours before bedtime
  • Don’t drink fluids after your last meal, this will decrease the chances you’ll have to wake up to use the bathroom
  • Reduce the amount of blue light you get an hour before you go to bed. Bluelight comes from computer, television, and phone screens, and this type of light arouses the brain.
  • Avoid napping throughout the day. If you do take a nap, make sure it is before 3 pm, so that you are tired by the time it’s time to go to bed.
  • Ensure your room is a tranquil space for you, especially your bed
  • Establish a nighttime routine
  • Set up relaxation techniques you practice before going to sleep
  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine, especially close to the time you go to sleep

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Your Morning Routine Can Help Increase your Productivity throughout the Day

The start of your day can be a crucial part of your productivity for the rest of your day. Setting up a good morning routine can set the rest of your day up for success, even if you are not a morning person. In fact, it can even help you become a morning person! Having a good morning makes you feel accomplished and will motivate you to complete the next task of your day, and so forth. It will help maximize your energy and keep a positive mindset. It is important to be consistent in order for you to start seeing benefits, it takes about 21 days to create a habit. The following are some steps you may want to include in your morning routine:

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  1. Wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Practicing this will establish a sleeping schedule and prevent procrastination throughout your day.
  2. Open your blinds, getting natural light first thing in the morning will reinforce your circadian rhythm; it will help you wake up.
  3. Drink 16 ounces of water. Doing this on an empty stomach will kickstart your metabolism, flush out your toxins, and it hydrates you.
  4. Start meditating. It has been shown that meditation helps reduce anxiety, improves concentration, and helps set a positive tone for the rest of your day.
  5. Write morning pages for 15 minutes. You essentially just write whatever comes to mind for 15 minutes straight, this helps to clear your head of all unnecessary and unproductive thoughts.
  6. Complete a workout. This will help you release endorphins and feel accomplished after you have finished. You also don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day, so it’s one thing you can cross off your to-do list.
  7. Avoid using your phone in the morning, this puts you in a reactive state instead of a proactive one.

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What is H. Pylori Infection

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What is H. Pylori Infection

Helicobacter Pylori is a bacteria that causes an infection in the stomach and is one of the main causes of peptic ulcers, and gastritis, which could lead to stomach cancer. The bacteria break down the inner protective coating of the stomach, and this may cause inflammation. About 30 to 40 percent of people in the U.S. have H. Pylori, and often people don’t realize because the bacteria usually do not cause symptoms. Peptic ulcers can be caused by the bacteria, and burning pain in your stomach particularly when on an empty stomach.

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The burning sensation can last from minutes to several days.  Peptic ulcers can also cause bloating, nausea, and weight loss. Your primary care physician may conduct a stool, blood, or breath test for H. Pylori if you present symptoms of an ulcer. Treatment includes antibiotics and acid-reducing medication, and after treatment, you will have to go see your physician to take another H. Pylori test to ensure the infection is gone. Scientists are not sure the cause of H. Pylori, but they think it may be spread through unclean water or food. There is also no vaccine to prevent this bacteria, so you should eat food that is prepared properly, drink water from a safe source, and wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating.


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Can Green Tea and Coffee Help your Heart Health?

Green tea contains compounds called catechins that help regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow through an anti-inflammatory response. Similarly, coffee has caffeine and quinides compounds that affect our health positively although through a different mechanism. It is important to note that tea and coffee as good dietary practices do not include those drinks that are laden with fat and sugar. There has been an increase in both tea and coffee consumption, but those extra large lattes and teas can contain high amounts of fat and sugar when cream, milk, and sugar are included.

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The US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion states that a 6-ounce cup of black coffee contains just 7 calories and adding some half & half and you’ll get 46 calories. If you flavor a liquid nondairy creamer, that will set you back 48 calories. Adding a teaspoon of sugar will add about 23 calories. Regular coffee, without the heavy cream & sugar, has been linked to a range of benefits that reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes and to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease. Be cautioned: drinking coffee and tea is not cause and effect as there may be other lifestyle habits amongst java and tea drinkers that lead to reduced risk of disease. So, if you are someone who enjoys a cup ‘o joe or has some tea every morning, there’s no need to stop.  If you don’t, maybe enlist a friend for some tea, that is, after you do your exercise and eat your healthy meal.


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Why do Women have Testosterone?

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Why do Women have Testosterone?

All healthy women produce testosterone.  As a woman ages, testosterone levels can lower and can have symptoms such as depression, loss of muscle strength, and lack of sexual desire.  If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you may be diagnosed with the Female Androgen Insufficiency syndrome. Female Androgen Insufficiency syndrome is most common for menopausal women or those that had early menopause due to having their ovaries removed.  The most common treatment is estrogen replacement to postmenopausal women and those who have had their ovaries removed may find that this often causes and worsens this syndrome.

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Another important hormone that can produce Female Androgen Deficiency is DHEA-S.  You can order your own lab tests to check your hormone levels – there are inexpensive lab tests for DHEA-S, testosterone and other important hormones that regulate the body.  If you have any of the symptoms such as muscle weakness, osteoporosis, pain during intercourse or lack of libido, look at your testosterone and DHEA-S hormone levels and have your physician determine the best protocol.

Note: If your doctor prescribes male hormones, you should not take them longer than a few months and your doctor should discuss all the potential side effects with you.


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How to Read Food Labels

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How to Read Food Labels

Living a healthy lifestyle can be a bit overwhelming due to all the choices that are available. When shopping for food, it is important to read the food label in order to determine what product is the healthiest option. Compare products and labels. Food labels provide nutrition facts such as calories, number of servings, and macronutrients. The first thing to look for in a food label is the serving size because the nutrition facts provided are specific to the serving size. Often people don’t see any weight loss progress because they don’t read the serving size, so they are actually eating more than they thought.

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Next, you should look at the carbohydrates, specifically at the fiber. You should opt for foods with at least 3 or 4 grams of fiber per serving such as legumes, beans, whole grain breads, and fruits. You should also check the fat, low saturated fat in particular. Some great options include fish, poultry, whole grains, and reduced-fat dairy products. Under fats, you will also find the trans fat content. Trans fat increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol, and decreases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is the “good” cholesterol. Lastly, you will notice that the daily percentage value is listed, and this is important because it will tell you how much of each nutrient you have consumed, and how much you have left. The daily percentage value is based on a consumption of 2000 calories a day.


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How Stress is Affecting your Overall Health

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How Stress is Affecting your Overall Health

You may be living a fast-paced life which could mean you are under constant stress. The effects of chronic stress can be detrimental to your overall health. Some symptoms of chronic stress include anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, and irritability. The following are possible effects of stress on different systems in your body:

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  • Immune system: Chronic stress means you are releasing stress hormones constantly and this can weaken the immune system and decrease your body’s response to viruses and bacteria. A weakened immune system also means the recovery period of an illness or injury is longer.
  • Digestive system: The liver creates extra glucose when under constant stress, which could increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. It can also cause an increase in stomach acid and this can increase the chances of getting an ulcer or for existing ulcers to act up.
  • Cardiovascular system: The heart pumps blood faster when under stress, thus raising blood pressure and increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
  • Muscular system: Muscles tense up when under stress, however, if the stress does not subside, the muscles will not relax. Tense muscles can cause headache, and body ache, and in the long run, this can lead to a reduction in exercise.
  • Central nervous and endocrine systems: The central nervous system is responsible for your flight or fight response which is activated under stress. The hypothalamus sends signals to the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase heart rate and send a rush of blood to your heart, muscles, and other important organs. Chronic stress can also cause eating disorders, social withdrawal, and alcohol/drug abuse.

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How to practice flexible dieting

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How to practice flexible dieting

With the start of a new year, you may have a few health goals you’d like to reach this year. Many people resort to trying all sorts of fad diets because they think it’ll help them reach their goals, but often times they will just gain the weight back after they complete these fad diets. It is important to understand that living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment, which is why fad diets don’t work. Some have a misconception that living a healthy lifestyle means that you can never indulge in any of your favorite foods. The idea of eating super clean 100% of the time and restricting yourself from enjoying any of your favorite foods is actually not healthy and, in the long run not very sustainable. Restricting yourself can actually lead you to overindulge later.

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For example, if you’re craving a cookie and eat a rice cake instead, you might end up eating 10 cookies later when you could’ve just satisfied your craving from the beginning by eating a cookie or two. Flexible dieting is tracking the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats)  you consume in order to attain your goal body composition. There are many apps and websites you can use to help you determine how much of each macro you should be consuming daily to reach your specific goal, and it might take some trial and error since everyone’s body is different. Once you figure out the right amount of macronutrients for you, you should opt for 80-85% of your diet come from nutritious whole foods, however, you may also include your favorite treats and foods into your diet. After a while, tracking your macros will start to seem easier and maybe even become more intuitive for you. Benefits of following a flexible diet are that it is both effective, sustainable, and you can tailor it to reach your specific goals


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