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Avoiding Orthorexia: Maintaining Nutritional Balance at College

Contributor: Rita Ekelman, RDN, LDN, MBA, Director of Nutrition Services, Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Rita Ekelman photoEating healthy food is an advisable, even laudable, pursuit in today’s world of fast food dining and the highly touted obesity epidemic.

But, just as most people know that one alcoholic drink may be fine, but ten are too many, behavioral health professionals also recognize that healthy eating when done to an extreme can be very dangerous, even lethal.

Orthorexia Nervosa

The term orthorexia was coined in 1997 by Dr. Steven Bratman, the author of the book Health Food Junkies.

This is defined as an obsession with righteous eating. Although this definition appears relatively benign, this eating disorder is anything but.

Those with orthorexia are dangerously addicted to all things healthy. Their devotion to “clean eating” transcends mere practice and ultimately functions more like a religion.

Preoccupied with Nutrition and “Purity”

They are inordinately preoccupied with the nutritional content of what they eat, avoid all foods they deem to be “unhealthy,” and often spend extreme amounts of time and money in search of the “most pure” foods.

Their passion is not confined to personal food consumption, but is frequently global in nature. If any food item can be even tangentially connected to destruction of wildlife, deforestation of the planet, the polluting of ground water, or any other such unacceptable activity, then that food is demonized.

This pathological obsession permeates all aspects of their lives. They must bring food with them everywhere and often refuse to travel due to the tremendous fear that clean food will not be available.

Healthy Habits Taken to the Extreme

coffee-506761_640As with so many eating disorders, it can begin innocently. An individual may genuinely desire to eat in a healthier fashion in order to take better care of their body. This may start with eliminating white sugar and flour, cutting out processed foods, and ramping up fruit and vegetable intake.

If the pursuit of good nutrition and health stops there, the goal would be achieved. However, when in the grip of orthorexia, the pursuit never ends. Foods are labeled “good” and “bad; very few foods are deemed pure enough for inclusion in the first group.

A Healthy Eating Obsession

Untold hours are spent reading books or medical journals on healthy eating or scouring the internet for the latest research that validates their commitment to clean eating. If a study fails to reinforce their chosen lifestyle, it is eschewed as bad research.

An equal, or an even greater amount of time, is spent dissecting ingredient labels on food products, convinced that deadly toxins, artificial chemicals or non-life-affirming materials lurk somewhere inside, just waiting to be discovered.

The committed orthorexic will unearth these items, then righteously return the food to the store shelf.

The Damage of Orthorexia

berry-197077_640This dedication to disordered eating eventually damages social relationships for a number of reasons. An orthorexic rarely goes to restaurants. Even ordering a salad with no dressing can cause severe anxiety; they do not know where the produce was harvested, if pesticides were involved in growing the lettuce, or if dye was injected into the tomatoes to make them appear more vibrantly red.

How Orthorexia Hurts People Socially

If invited to a dinner party, they will come late, claiming to have already eaten. And the impact on relationships doesn’t end there. They genuinely believe that the way they are conducting their lives is absolutely right; therefore, everyone else, by default, is wrong.

They will spend hours proselytizing to friends, hoping for converts. Outright lectures on the evils of junk food or refined food are not out of the realm of possibility.

The Relationship with Anorexia

Although orthorexia and anorexia are very different disorders, they are similar in certain regards. Anorexia results in weight loss due to the refusal of food, whereas orthorexia leads to diminished weight due to the refusal to consume anything but pure food.

Both conditions are highly restrictive, rigid and defined by complicated rules. Prolonged anorexia or orthorexia can lead to anemia, other glandular disorders, amenorrhea (discontinuation of the menstrual cycle), and death due to malnutrition.

Young women with anorexia are 12 times more likely to die than are other women the same age that don’t have anorexia.

Food Is Synonymous with Fear

beach-387377_640Those with anorexia or orthorexia are completely obsessed with the thought of food and suffer high levels of anxiety when confronted with it; the bottom line is that food is synonymous with fear.

They also often share certain personality traits such as perfectionism and the need to control. If they exercise, they do so fanatically, working out several times a day.

Interestingly, those with these disorders are often very proud of their behaviors, perceiving themselves as better than others because of the intense self-discipline required to live as they do.

The Line Between Health and Obsession

The line between health and obsession is not always clear. Consider the following:

  • Consuming a nutritionally unbalanced diet because of concerns about “food purity.”
  • Preoccupied with how eating impure or unhealthy foods will affect your physical or emotional health.
  • Rigidly avoiding any food you deem to be “unhealthy,” such as those containing fat, preservatives, additives or animal products.
  • Spending three or more hours per day reading about, acquiring or preparing certain kinds of food you believe to be “pure.”
  • Feeling guilty if you eat foods you believe to be “impure.”
  • Being intolerant of other’s food beliefs.
  • Spending an excessive proportion of your income on “pure” foods.

If these behaviors describe you, or someone you know, seeking help from a professional is advised.

This article is found at http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/orthorexia-excessive-exercise/avoiding-orthorexia-maintaining-nutritional-balance-at-college

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Myth or Fact: Cravings

Are food cravings myth or fact? The argument is an old one. The argument that cravings are a myth rests on the belief that it is just a matter of a little will power, and that your giving into food cravings shows weakness that can be easily corrected. On the other side is the argument that cravings are real. Whether cravings are triggered by pregnancy, stress, or just feeling run down and running on empty, the brain may be sending out signals that the body needs certain nutrients.

Sodium Cravings

Pregnant women may crave salty chips and pickles, which are high in sodium, because of increased blood volume and not enough sodium to take up the slack. Anyone who is not pregnant but is sodium deficient might get a pickle or salty food craving too. A persistent craving for salty foods, however, may signal a glandular problem. If you have a persistent salty food cravings you should consult a doctor to see if there is some kind of imbalance that needs attention.

Chocolate on Overdrive

When you crave a chocolate bar, your body may actually be crying out for more magnesium, which is a component of chocolate. Feeling weary after a hard day’s work or stressed out over people who aggravated you may trigger a craving for a chocolate fix. Even if you aren’t crazy about chocolate you might crave sugary foods during pregnancy, your PMS cycle, or any other times when you’re feeling low. There are ways to fight these cravings. You can choose substitutes for the craving that tempts you the most.

Food Substitutes

Nutritionists have two kinds of advice about food cravings. One camp essentially says, “Go with the flow. Want the chocolate bar? Buy it. Want the bag of pretzels? No problem.” Their caveat is to eat just a small portion of whatever you crave. The theory is that once your body is satisfied, your craving will disappear. Opposing camps say the opposite. They think that it’s more difficult to stop after one small bag of cookies or pretzels. Their advice is to substitute other foods for sweet and salty junk foods, so that you will feel satisfied and will take in far fewer calories.

If you’re craving chocolate, try eating spinach, which has the magnesium that your body may be craving. Wanting a snack that is very sweet? Eat a sweet potato or a piece of fruit, and the craving is likely to subside.

Hungering for something salty? Drink plenty of fluids and make sure that you eat three balanced meals a day. Sodium occurs naturally in many foods, so you don’t need to worry, in normal conditions, that you are not getting enough sodium. Assuming that you do not have an underlying medical condition, the craving might occur because you are simply used to chips and other snacks, and you just need to reprogram your diet. Nutritionists say that salty cravings, assuming they are mere habit, do go away on their own when you put a stop to frequent snacking on salty foods.

This article is found at http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/myth-or-fact-cravings.html

 
 

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Foods to Get You Fit and Beautiful

Our guide to beauty foods gives new meaning to “You Are What You Eat.”

This article and pictures found at http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/beauty-foods

 
 

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7 Signs of Inadequate Nutrition

By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Getting adequate nutrition may be trickier for older adults. Because seniors tend to be less active than younger people, they need fewer calories. Yet research shows that older people may need more of certain key nutrients, such as B vitamins and calcium.

Unfortunately, nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition can persist for a long time before they show up in physical signs or symptoms. Still, there are a few indicators you — and your doctor — can watch for.

1. Unexplained Fatigue

Fatigue is a common side effect of iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia, indicated by low levels of red blood cells. Anemia can also show up as abnormal paleness. But remember: Other conditions can cause excessive fatigue, including heart disease, depression, or thyroid disease.

It’s wise to alert your doctor if you feel unusually weak or tired. Your doctor may prescribe supplements if you have anemia.

2. Brittle and Dry Hair

Hair, which is made up mostly of protein, serves as a useful diagnostic marker for nutritional deficiencies.

“When an older person’s hair looks brittle, dry, and sparse, it’s often a sign that their diet is inadequate,” says Kathleen Niedert, RD, director of clinical nutrition and dining services for Western Home Communities in Iowa.

Brittle hair can signal a deficit of essential fatty acids, protein, iron, and other nutrients. Some hair loss is usual with age, of course. But if hair begins to fall out at an unusual rate, nutrient deficiencies may be the cause. Once your doctor identifies the deficiencies, you can treat them with nutrient-rich foods and supplements.

3. Ridged or Spoon-Shaped Nails

Like hair, nails serve as an early warning sign of an inadequate diet. A spoon-shaped nail, in which the nail curves up from the nail bed like a spoon (a condition called koilonychia) can be an indicator of iron-deficiency anemia.

If you have iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend iron pills and iron-rich foods such as liver and shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels.

4. Mouth Problems

Cracking or inflammation at the corners of the mouth (a condition called angular cheilitis) can be a warning sign of either riboflavin (B2) deficiency or iron deficiency. An unusually pale or swollen tongue is a warning sign of iron or B-vitamin deficiency. A condition called burning mouth syndrome, which continues to puzzle researchers, may arise when iron, zinc, or B-vitamin levels fall below the required level.

Again, once you’ve confirmed your specific nutritional deficiencies, they can be treated with nutrient-rich foods and supplements.

5. Diarrhea

Chronic diarrhea can be a sign of malabsorption, which means nutrients are not being fully absorbed by your body. Malabsorption can be triggered by infection, surgery, certain drugs, heavy alcohol use, and digestive disorders such as celiac sprue and Crohn’s disease.

It’s important to consult your doctor if you experience persistent diarrhea.

6. Apathy or Irritability

Unexplained mood changes, especially feeling apathetic or irritable, can be symptoms of a serious medical illness like depression. But they can also be symptoms that your body isn’t getting the energy it needs.

If you have persistent low mood or forgetfulness, it’s important to get checked out by your doctor.

7. Lack of Appetite

With age, appetite often diminishes. Taste buds lose their sensitivity. Because seniors tend to be less active, they require fewer calories. Medications can also dampen appetite.

“Chronic lack of appetite is a serious warning sign that you may be at risk of nutritional deficiencies,” says Nancy Wellman, RD, past president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you find yourself skipping meals because you’re not hungry, talk to your doctor.

Blood tests can indicate if you’re deficient in a number of key nutrients. By assessing your food intake, a registered dietitian can also spot nutritional deficiencies.

“The important thing is to alert your doctor quickly if your appetite changes or you begin skipping meals,” says Wellman. That way, you can head off nutritional problems before they cause serious trouble.

This article found at http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/nutrition-aging-7-signs-inadequate-nutrition

 
 

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Eat Your Way to Better Sleep

Ultimately, to maintain a normal sleep rhythm, one must maintain a normal eating rhythm. Part of the reason for this linking of eating and sleeping is the body’s cortisol rhythm.

Normal Cortisol Rhythm – A Key to Better Sleep
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that are located above the kidneys. Cortisol helps regulate many body functions including activation of thyroid hormone, bone resorption, muscle strength, energy production, resistance to infection and cancer, resistance to auto-immune diseases, and intensity of allergic reactions. Cortisol is a strong determinant in how rejuvenating sleep will be.

Cortisol is produced in a cyclic fashion with the highest levels being released in the morning and the lowest at night. This 24-hour cycle is called the circadian rhythm, and an abnormal circadian rhythm of adrenal hormones can adversely affect multiple critical functions in the body, including energy production and immune surveillance. Any disruption in this rhythm can result in a tendency toward fatigue, easy bruising, infection, osteoporosis, low sex drive, infertility, migraine headaches, adult acne, abdominal bloating, and either low or high blood pressure.
A disruption in the cortisol level during the night will affect the quality of sleep. If the cortisol level is high during the night, an individual will have disrupted rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and will wake up non-refreshed, no matter how many hours of sleep the individual appeared to have.

REM sleep is the stage of sleep during which an individual dreams. It is accompanied by muscle relaxation and an increase in the breathing rate. The intense dreaming that occurs during REM sleep is a result of heightened cerebral activity. The paralysis that occurs simultaneously in the major voluntary muscle groups, including the muscles of the chin and neck, is thought to be a way to keep the body from acting out the dreams that occur during this intensely cerebral stage.
REM-disrupted sleep may be one of the reasons that some individuals can have a full eight hours or more of rest and none-the-less wake up exhausted.
Key to rejuvenating sleep is having a normal level cortisol at night. Key to a normal cortisol level at night is a normal cortisol rhythm during the day and leading up to sleep.

Food Glycemic Index and Cortisol Levels
Cortisol levels are rapidly responsive to our food intake during each day. The glycemic index of a meal affects the cortisol level for approximately the upcoming five hours.
The glycemic index of a food reflects how our blood sugar level is affected by the particular food. Foods containing high sugar and low fiber have a high glycemic index and result in wider fluctuations in insulin levels than foods with a low glycemic index.
High insulin levels have been found to be an underlying culprit in many diseases such as coronary artery disease. (N.B. If you have diabetes and use insulin injections, please do not interpret this statement to mean that you would be well served to cut back inappropriately on your dose. Please discuss interpretation of this information with your physician.)
High glycemic index foods, such as sugar and refined starches, cause cortisol levels to rise. For individuals who start the day with a normal cortisol level, starchy or sugary breakfast food choices can cause the cortisol to overshoot the normal range. The cortisol will likely remain elevated all day – and all night. Intervention with herbs or supplements that lower cortisol can help.
Worse than having a high glycemic meal is having no meal at all. Any time during the day that one does not eat within five hours of the previous meal or snack, the cortisol level tends to rise. A rise above the normal range during the day almost guarantees that the nighttime cortisol will be high and thus disrupt REM sleep.

A single late meal or skipped meal or high glycemic index meal during the day can result in a high cortisol during the early part of the night. A cortisol level higher than it should be during the night results in a disruption of REM sleep and with it non-refreshing sleep.
Low glycemic index foods such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, and most vegetables tend to lower the cortisol level. If one starts with a normal morning cortisol, eating foods from the low glycemic index category every five hours during the day is needed to keep the cortisol on its normal downward track.
Note that the high glycemic index of sugar or starch, including whole grains, requires consumption of nearly an equal weight of animal protein to maintain glycemic balance. Vegetables usually balance themselves in terms of glycemic index, but vegetables are not of sufficiently low glycemic index to balance grains – at least not the grains as they are routinely prepared by most Americans. Note that many cultures about the world have developed a 3-step process of pan-frying, soaking, and steaming rice that lowers the glycemic index of this non-gluten grain.
To prevent the deleterious upward swing of cortisol, one usually does better to balance all sugars and grains, including whole grains, with animal protein. Even given what we know about the various pitfalls of animal protein, it probably remains better to eat animal protein with each meal at which we have sugar, including fruit, and/or grains. If animal protein is not tolerated for medical or religious or social-consciousness reasons, it probably better to remain vegan than to be carbo-vegan.
Has it always been this way? Perhaps not. Many factors have changed in the past century.

High Cortisol Caused by Non-Sprouted Grains
For example, our grains have been hybridized to contain about half the protein that they contained in 1900. In addition, our failure to sprout our grains in the preparation of the flour used for our commercial breadstuffs has added to the disruption in our cortisol rhythm.
Non-sprouted grains result in an inflammatory-response in the gut that causes the secretion of excess cortisol into the intestinal tract. This hormonal drain of cortisol in the gut deprives other parts of the body of their fair share of cortisol. While allergy and inflammation manifest themselves elsewhere in the body, the gut is a set-up for intestinal dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora), lowered immune protection (due to lowered secretory IgA levels), and metabolic reactivity to foods.

Sprouting removes much of the toxic peptides that are found on the hull of grains. Feed children sprouted grains to avoid or delay gluten- and gliadin-intolerance. Individuals with gluten-intolerance are advised to avoid gluten grains. Note that the incidence of gluten intolerance is especially high for those with Celtic, Nordic, or German background. However, travel and inter-marriage has led to the dispersion of this gene to virtually every land. In addition, with the introduction of genetically-modified grains into our food supply, the incidence of grain intolerance has risen in populations from all backgrounds.

The Fallacy of Carbohydrate Loading
Individuals who have been violating these eating guidelines may have depleted their liver glycogen stores. These individuals may find themselves hypoglycemic in fewer than five hours. It usually requires about three months of consistently eating glycemically-balanced meals at regular intervals in order to replenish the glycogen stores.
Glycogen from the liver is necessary to provide energy to allow the brain to continue to function during the night and during periods of skipped meals during the day. Brain cells are injured when glycogen is not available.
A fallacy that led to serious health problems for many athletes in recent decades was the belief that foods high in sugar and starch helped to promote glycogen storage. Carbohydrate-loading leads many athletes to develop profound fatigue and other conditions related to glycogen depletion. It now appears that a balanced intake of protein with non-gluten grains and non-fructose carbohydrates would have been a wiser choice.

Cancer and an Elevated Midnight Cortisol
In addition to disrupted REM sleep, an elevated nighttime cortisol suppresses the immune system and with it our resistance to infection and cancer. Researchers have reported that an elevated secretory midnight cortisol is correlated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Individuals who take measures to correct their cortisol rhythm find a better response to the regimens they use not only for recovering from infection but from malignancies as well.

Sex Hormone Balance and Cortisol
Also keep in mind that the body corrects abnormal cortisol levels by “stealing” from the sex hormones. The biochemists call this “pregnenelone steal,” because pregnenelone is the precursor of BOTH cortisol and the sex hormones. Thus, abnormal cortisol by its nature causes derangements in the sex hormone balance.
Imbalances of sex hormones lead to lowered sex drive, balding, prostate enlargement, urinary hesitancy and dribbling, nighttime urination, PMS, uterine fibroids, heavy menstrual flow, and breast tenderness. It is much easier to correct the sex hormone imbalances if the cortisol rhythm is normal. If one fails to correct the cortisol rhythm, long-lasting correction of sex hormone imbalances is unlikely.

It is also important to note that hormone imbalances can rarely be corrected safely simply by taking more of the hormone that is determined to be low. It is imperative that an effort be made to determine why the level is low and to address the primary imbalance whenever possible.
It is almost always necessary to correct dietary indiscretions in order to safely replace and balance hormones. Much of what one reads about the hazards of taking hormones such as progesterone or estrogen is associated with problems from the diet.
Diet modification can not only reduce the risks associated with the use of sex hormones, but also the proper diet can often reduce or eliminate the need for sex hormone replacement at all.

Actions to Take If I Do Not Start With a Normal Cortisol Rhythm
So far, this discussion has assumed a normal circadian rhythm of cortisol and the recommendations were for maintaining the normal rhythm.
If the rhythm starts out with disruption, then the first measure would be to correct the basic rhythm. A physician familiar with management of cortisol circadian rhythm can assist you.
The circadian rhythm of cortisol can be disrupted from birth. Contributing factors can include viral infections, birth canal trauma, an abnormal maternal rhythm, and irregular eating patterns. Any cause of disruption of the signals from the hypothalamus and pituitary to the adrenal can contribute to an abnormal cortisol rhythm.
Measures to reverse patterns caused by such diverse factors can include homeopathy, acupuncture, manual therapy such as cranio-sacral or Bowen (a neurostructural technique), herbs, and diet.

Pain as a Major Cause of Cortisol Imbalance
Pain, even a simple headache, can elevate cortisol. Pain and the elevated cortisol both contribute to sleep disruption. Dietary measures alone are seldom adequate to overcome the disruption of cortisol caused by pain. Pain management and correction of the underlying causes are primary in these instances.
A single skipped or late meal or a high starch or sugar load is enough to throw off the cortisol rhythm for the upcoming night and makes it less likely that the next day will start with a normal cortisol rhythm.

Emotions as a Contributor to Aging Hormone Levels
Emotions that arise out of feeling threatened or feeling any sense of lack are associated with the release of specific stress hormones, most notably cortisol. Fear, frustration, anger, and sadness increase cortisol and reduce sex hormones.

In addition, release of digestive enzymes does not occur during a sense of flight or fight. Food will sit in the stomach and decay rather than digest when one eats while feeling stressed.
To determine whether it is safe to divert energy from the fight-or-fight system to the digestive system, the body effectively is asked, “Do I have enough of everything?” Those of us who have adequate food, clothing, and shelter sometimes fail to respond in the affirmative to the questions, “Do I have enough time? Do I have enough respect?” Satisfaction with our blessings is key to proper digestion.


Herbal Measures to Lower an Abnormally High Cortisol

Measures to help correct an overshoot in cortisol can include herbs such as de-glycerinized licorice (DGL) or phosphorylated serine or phosphatidyl serine. Phosphorylated serine taken at 6 p.m. can help bring a high cortisol down to normal by bedtime. In some individuals, the action occurs in as little as one hour and these individuals may need to take the phosphorylated serine later in the evening.

Herbal Measures to Raise the Cortisol Level
Note that whole licorice root extract (Glycyrrhiza glabra) does the opposite of DGL. Whole licorice root extract tends to raise the cortisol level. It is helpful for individuals with morning fatigue due to low cortisol. A cup of licorice tea in the morning can help overcome the lack of appetite experienced by those with low cortisol levels.

Adaptogenic Herbs to Balance the Hormones
Among other herbs that affect cortisol are included various adaptogens such as ashwaganda, Rhodiola rosea (Arctic root or golden root), Reishi, wild Chinese and American ginseng, cordyceps, Siberian ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosus), Dong quai, and black cohosh.
The mechanism by which adaptogenic herbs achieve their stress protection activity has been well-researched around the world. Adaptogens act by restoring hypothalamic and peripheral receptor sensitivity to the effects of cortisol and other adrenal hormones.
Siberian ginseng stimulates the adrenal gland. Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis) contains precursors to progesterone and testosterone. Rhodiola can help improve erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in men. Rhodiola activates fat breakdown and mobilizes fat from adipose tissue.
Rose hips and Hawthorne berries contain high levels of Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. The adrenal gland is one of the highest utilizers of Vitamin C in the body.
Adaptogens allow the body to respond to stress with lower amounts of cortisol than may otherwise be needed. Adaptogens help the adrenals recover more quickly.

Steps to Take for a Normal Balanced Cortisol Rhythm:

  1. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
  2. Eat breakfast by 7 a.m.
  3. Eat low glycemic index meals every five hours while awake.
  4. If you eat gluten grains, use sprouted whole grains.
  5. Avoid sugar and excess starch.
  6. Maintain erect posture and avoid prolonged periods of sitting or flexion posture such as fetal position during the night. (See “How to Age Rapidly – or Not,” in my “Doctor’s Corner,” for NOHA NEWS, Winter 2002.)
  7. Control pain.
  8. Manage emotional stress. Following the first seven guidelines allows us to respond with more stamina and less stress to the challenges of daily life.
  9. Confer with a health practitioner familiar with hormone function and therapies that help correct cortisol rhythm.
  10. Meditate daily. Know that each of us prays without ceasing. Discover anew that every thought and every word is a prayer. Keep in touch with the True Source of health and healing.

Conclusion
Establishing and maintaining a normal circadian rhythm of cortisol is a worthwhile health priority.

Normal cortisol rhythms would go a long way toward tipping the balance away from chronic infections, cancer, fatigue, and obesity. It will even help with easy bruising and stretch marks. Quite importantly, achieving a normal cortisol rhythm may change dragging out of bed in the morning to bouncing out of bed.

A relentlessly positive attitude will do more for your health than any fretting and fuming — even about diet. Smiles to you!

This article and picture found at http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/eat-your-way-better-sleep

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Nutrition – women’s extra needs

Women need greater amounts of certain nutrients than men, particularly iron and calcium. Menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and menopause are times of increased nutritional demand. Deficiencies can occur if the diet is inadequate over a long period of time.
Women’s nutritional needs change during menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. A woman’s reproductive life means that her nutritional needs differ greatly from those of a man.

With the popularity of crash dieting in Australia, nutritional deficiencies are common, especially among young women. Good nutrition means eating a wide variety of foods every day, which isn’t possible on a restrictive diet.

Nutrition and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

The interplay of hormones throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle affects her body and state of mind. Energy intakes are generally higher in the premenstrual phase and some women also have food cravings as their period approaches.

Eating high-protein foods every few hours can often temper or stop food cravings. This should not be done at the expense of other food groups, especially carbohydrates, which should form the basis of the diet.

Fluid retention is common in the days leading up to a woman’s period because certain hormones encourage the body to hold salt (sodium). The more sodium the body holds, the more fluid is retained in the tissues.

Other common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) include moodiness, tiredness and constipation. Taking B-group vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, may help, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Light to moderate exercise, such as a 30-minute brisk walk each day, has also been shown to noticeably reduce symptoms of PMS.

Iron and anaemia

Iron is a mineral that works with other substances to create haemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen in the blood. Women and men metabolise iron from food at roughly the same rate. However, while men need around 8 mg of iron in their daily diet, women need up to 18 mg (or 27 mg if pregnant).

Women need more iron than men to make up for the amount of iron they lose in their menstrual period. Around 1 mg of iron is lost for every day of bleeding.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in women. Insufficient iron can lead to anaemia. Common symptoms of anaemia include tiredness and breathlessness. Iron is especially important during pregnancy.

Sources of iron

Good dietary iron sources include:
Red meat, chicken and fish
Fortified cereals
Legumes and nuts
Leafy green vegetables.

Iron absorption can be impaired by very high-fibre diets, alcohol, the tannic acid in tea and concentrated sources of calcium (for example, calcium supplements).

Vitamins, minerals and pregnancy

Eating healthily during pregnancy is important to meet the nutritional needs of the developing baby and for the mother’s own wellbeing. However, this doesn’t mean ‘eating for two’ – it is the quality of the diet that is important, not the quantity of food eaten.

Eating a variety of foods from each of the key food groups is generally enough to meet both mother and baby’s requirements. Special attention should be given to calcium, folic acid (folate), iron, zinc. Iodine and vitamin C.
Calcium

Although a developing baby needs a lot of calcium, physiological changes during pregnancy help to protect the mother’s bones, so there is no need for extra dietary calcium during pregnancy. However, it is important to include at least two to three serves of dairy products or equivalent high-calcium foods every day.

Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurt and fish with edible bones (for example, salmon and sardines).

Folic acid (folate)

Extra folic acid is needed for the development and growth of new cells. Research suggests that insufficient folic acid at the time of conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects in the unborn baby.

Folate is present in a variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as legumes, nuts, yeast extracts such as Vegemite, and fortified foods such as bread and some breakfast cereals.

Iron

Iron requirements increase significantly during pregnancy as maternal blood volume increases and the baby’s blood system is developing. Iron deficiency in pregnant women increases the risk of having a preterm or low birth weight baby, which can have a negative impact on the short and long-term health of the baby.

The best source of iron is red meat, with smaller amounts in chicken and fish. Iron is also present in plant foods such as legumes, nuts, wholegrain breads and cereals, and green leafy vegetables, but it is not absorbed as well from these foods.

Eating foods rich in Vitamin C alongside iron-rich foods can improve iron absorption. Iron supplements are frequently prescribed for pregnant women if they are unable to meet their requirements through food alone.

Zinc

This nutrient is needed to maintain the health of cells. Taking iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of zinc, so women taking iron supplements should continue to eat iron-rich foods, which are also a good source of zinc.

Iodine

Iodine is needed for normal mental development of the baby, but it can be difficult to get enough from food. Ways of increasing iodine intake include using iodised salt, eating fish and seafood weekly (see your health professional for advice about safe types and amounts of fish), or using a multivitamin supplement that contains iodine and is safe for pregnancy.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for normal gum, tooth, bone and body tissue formation. One of the best sources of Vitamin C is oranges, but it is also found in other fruits, particularly papaya and strawberries, and a variety of vegetables, including red capsicum and broccoli.

Nutrition during breastfeeding

A healthy diet is important during breastfeeding because the mother must provide for her own nutrient requirements, as well as for the production of breastmilk. Particular attention needs to be paid to protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and fluids.

The best advice is to eat a variety of foods from each of the key food groups each day. The amount of extra food will vary according to appetite needs and weight loss. Aim to lose weight gradually until you have reached your pre-pregnant weight.

Women who were anaemic during pregnancy should pay special attention to iron-rich foods as they will need to replace their iron stores. It may be necessary to continue taking iron supplements – be advised by your doctor.

Calcium and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disorder characterised by thinning of the bones until they are weak and easily fracture or break. Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men, particularly after menopause, because oestrogen levels are reduced.

Many factors are involved in the development of osteoporosis, including:

Low calcium intake during the growing years increases susceptibility to osteoporosis later in life. Bone strength in later life depends on the development of bones earlier in life. Adequate calcium intake during youth is essential to achieve peak bone mass
Salt, caffeine and alcohol intake may interfere with the balance of calcium in the body by affecting the absorption of calcium and increasing the amount lost in the urine. Moderate alcohol intake (one to two standard drinks per day) and moderate tea, coffee and caffeine-containing drinks (no more than six cups per day) are recommended. Avoid adding salt at the table and in cooking
Exercise, or the lack of it, can affect the development of osteoporosis
Maintaining a low body weight (body mass index (BMI) less than 18) has been associated with the development of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D increases calcium absorption and is required for normal bone metabolism. The main source of vitamin D for most people is sunshine.

Women who have very low levels of sunlight exposure or have naturally very dark skin are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Those affected may include women who cover most of their body when outdoors, shift workers, those who are unable to regularly get out of their house or women in residential care. Women who have certain medical conditions or are on some medications may also be affected.

It is important to balance the need to maintain adequate vitamin D levels with the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure. A sensible balance of sun protection and exposure can ensure that women are not at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Good dietary sources of vitamin D are margarine, eggs and oily fish (such as mackerel and sardines).

Good sources of calcium include dairy foods, calcium-fortified soymilk and fish with edible bones. For women who can’t eat these foods, calcium supplements may be desirable.

Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens have been linked to a range of health benefits, especially for women. They are natural substances found in certain plant foods including:
Whole grains, including cracked wheat and barley
Flaxseed (linseed)
Sesame seeds
Nuts, including almonds
Legumes, especially soy and chickpeas
Alfalfa sprouts
Herb teas, especially sage and aniseed
Extra virgin olive oil.

Phytoestrogens are natural oestrogen-like substances. Oestrogen is a hormone that is necessary for optimal health.

There is a link between oestrogen levels and the development of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. At present, there is no evidence that increasing the intake of phytoestrogen will prevent heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

Where to get help
Your doctor
An Accredited Practising Dietitian
Community health centre

Things to remember
Low intakes of dietary iron and calcium are common in women.
Menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause are times of increased nutritional demand.
Good nutrition means eating a wide variety of foods every day.

Vitamin B6 can help ease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Large quantities of foods like tea, alcohol, caffeine and salt can interfere with the absorption and excretion of important minerals.

This article found at
http://m.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/mskpages/Nutrition_womens_extra_needs?open

 
 

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Daily Inspirational Sip

Daily Inspirational Sip

27 Health and Nutrition Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to health and nutrition.

People, even qualified experts, often seem to have the exact opposite opinions.

However, despite all the disagreements, there are a few things that are well supported by research.

Here are 27 health and nutrition tips that are actually based on good science.

1. Don’t Drink Sugar Calories

Sugary drinks are the most fattening things you can put into your body.

This is because liquid sugar calories don’t get registered by the brain in the same way as calories from solid foods (1).

For this reason, when you drink soda, you end up eating more total calories (2, 3).

Sugary drinks are strongly associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and all sorts of health problems (4, 5, 6, 7).

Keep in mind that fruit juices are almost as bad as soda in this regard. They contain just as much sugar, and the small amounts of antioxidants do NOT negate the harmful effects of the sugar (8).

2. Eat Nuts

Despite being high in fat, nuts are incredibly nutritious and healthy.

They are loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and various other nutrients (9).

Studies show that nuts can help you lose weight, and may help fight type 2 diabetes and heart disease (10, 11, 12).

Additionally, about 10-15% of the calories in nuts aren’t even absorbed into the body, and some evidence suggests that they can boost metabolism (13).

In one study, almonds were shown to increase weight loss by 62% compared to complex carbohydrates (14).

3. Avoid Processed Junk Food (Eat Real Food Instead)

All the processed junk foods in the diet are the biggest reason the world is fatter and sicker than ever before.

These foods have been engineered to be “hyper-rewarding,” so they trick our brains into eating more than we need, even leading to addiction in some people (15).

They are also low in fiber, protein and micronutrients (empty calories), but high in unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and refined grains.

4. Don’t Fear Coffee

Coffee has been unfairly demonized. The truth is that it’s actually very healthy.

Coffee is high in antioxidants, and studies show that coffee drinkers live longer, and have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and numerous other diseases (16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21).

5. Eat Fatty Fish

Pretty much everyone agrees that fish is healthy.

This is particularly true of fatty fish, like salmon, which is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and various other nutrients (22).

Studies show that people who eat the most fish have a lower risk of all sorts of diseases, including heart disease, dementia and depression (23, 24, 25).

6. Get Enough Sleep

The importance of getting enough quality sleep can not be overstated.

It may be just as important as diet and exercise, if not more.

Poor sleep can drive insulin resistance, throw your appetite hormones out of whack and reduce your physical and mental performance (26, 27, 28, 29).

What’s more, it is one of the strongest individual risk factors for future weight gain and obesity. One study showed that short sleep was linked to 89% increased risk of obesity in children, and 55% in adults (30).

7. Take Care of Your Gut Health With Probiotics and Fiber

The bacteria in your gut, collectively called the gut microbiota, are sometimes referred to as the “forgotten organ.”

These gut bugs are incredibly important for all sorts of health-related aspects. A disruption in the gut bacteria is linked to some of the world’s most serious chronic diseases, including obesity (31, 32).

A good way to improve gut health, is to eat probiotic foods (like live yogurt and sauerkraut), take probiotic supplements, and eat plenty of fiber. Fiber functions as fuel for the gut bacteria (33, 34).

8. Drink Some Water, Especially Before Meals

Drinking enough water can have numerous benefits.

One important factor, is that it can help boost the amount of calories you burn.

According to 2 studies, it can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours. This can amount to 96 additional calories burned if you drink 2 liters (67 oz) of water per day (35, 36).

The best time to drink water is half an hour before meals. One study showed that half a liter of water, 30 minutes before each meal, increased weight loss by 44% (37).

9. Don’t Overcook or Burn Your Meat

Meat can be a nutritious and healthy part of the diet. It is very high in protein, and contains various important nutrients.

The problems occur when meat is overcooked and burnt. This can lead to the formation of harmful compounds that raise the risk of cancer (38).

So, eat your meat, just don’t overcook or burn it.

10. Avoid Bright Lights Before Sleep

When we’re exposed to bright lights in the evening, this disrupts production of the sleep hormone melatonin (39, 40).

An interesting “hack” is to use a pair of amber-tinted glasses that block blue light from entering your eyes in the evening.

This allows melatonin to be produced as if it were completely dark, helping you sleep better (41, 42).

11. Take Vitamin D3 if You Don’t Get Much Sun

Back in the day, most people got their vitamin D from the sun.

The problem is that most people don’t get much sun these days. They either live where there is no sun, or they stay inside most of the day or use sunscreen when they go out.

According to data from 2005-2006, about 41.6% of the US population is deficient in this critical vitamin (43).

If adequate sun exposure is not an option for you, then supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to have numerous benefits for health.

This includes improved bone health, increased strength, reduced symptoms of depression and a lower risk of cancer, to name a few. Vitamin D may also help you live longer (44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50).

12. Eat Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits are the “default” health foods, and for good reason.

They are loaded with prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals and all sorts of antioxidants, some of which have potent biological effects.

Studies show that people who eat the most vegetables and fruits live longer, and have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and all sorts of diseases (51, 52).

13. Make Sure to Eat Enough Protein

Eating enough protein is incredibly important, and many experts believe that the recommended daily intake is too low.

Protein is particularly important for weight loss, and works via several different mechanisms (53).

A high protein intake can boost metabolism significantly, while making you feel so full that you automatically eat fewer calories. It can also cut cravings and reduce the desire for late-night snacking (54, 55, 56, 57).

Eating plenty of protein has also been shown to lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels (58, 59).

14. Do Some Cardio, or Just Walk More

Doing aerobic exercise (or cardio) is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.

It is particularly effective at reducing belly fat, the harmful type of fat that builds up around your organs. Reduced belly fat should lead to major improvements in metabolic health (60, 61, 62).

15. Don’t Smoke or do Drugs, and Only Drink in Moderation

If you’re a tobacco smoker, or abuse drugs, then diet and exercise are the least of your worries. Tackle those problems first.

If you choose to include alcohol in your life, then do so in moderation only, and consider avoiding it completely if you have alcoholic tendencies.

16. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet.

It is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and powerful antioxidants that can fight inflammation (63, 64, 65).

Extra virgin olive oil leads to many beneficial effects on heart health, and people who eat olive oil have a much lower risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes (66, 67).

17. Minimize Your Intake of Added Sugars

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.

Small amounts are fine, but when people eat large amounts, it can wreak havoc on metabolic health (68).

A high intake of added sugar is linked to numerous diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many forms of cancer (69, 70, 71, 72, 73).

18. Don’t Eat a Lot of Refined Carbohydrates

Not all carbs are created equal.

Refined carbs have been highly processed, and have had all the fiber removed from them. They are low in nutrients (empty calories), and can be extremely harmful.

Studies show that refined carbohydrates are linked to overeating and numerous metabolic diseases (74, 75, 76, 77, 78).

19. Don’t Fear Saturated Fat

The “war” on saturated fat was a mistake.

It is true that saturated fat raises cholesterol, but it also raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and changes the LDL from small to large, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease (79, 80, 81, 82).

New studies that included hundreds of thousands of people have shown that there is no link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease (83, 84).

20. Lift Heavy Things

Lifting weights is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your body and improve your body composition.

It also leads to massive improvements in metabolic health, including improved insulin sensitivity (85, 86).

The best approach is to go to a gym and lift weights, but doing body weight exercises can be just as effective.

21. Avoid Artificial Trans Fats

Artificial trans fats are harmful, man-made fats that are strongly linked to inflammation and heart disease (87, 88, 89, 90).

It is best to avoid them like the plague.

22. Use Plenty of Herbs and Spices

There are many incredibly healthy herbs and spices out there.

For example, ginger and turmeric both have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, leading to various health benefits (91, 92, 93, 94).

You should make an effort to include as many different herbs and spices as you can. Many of them can have powerful beneficial effects on your health.

23. Take Care of Your Relationships

Social relationships are incredibly important. Not only for your mental wellbeing, but your physical health as well.

Studies show that people who are close with friends and family are healthier and live much longer than those who are not (95, 96, 97).

24. Track Your Food Intake Every Now and Then

The only way to know exactly what you are eating, is to weigh your foods and use a nutrition tracker like MyFitnesspal or Cron-o-meter.

This is important to know how many calories you are eating. It is also essential to make sure that you’re getting in enough protein, fiber and micronutrients.

Studies show that people who track their food intake in one way or another tend to be more successful at losing weight and sticking to a healthy diet (98).

Basically, anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to help you succeed.

I personally track everything I eat for a few days in a row, every few months. Then I know exactly where to make adjustments in order to get closer to my goals.

25. If You Have Excess Belly Fat, Get Rid of it

Not all body fat is equal.

It is mostly the fat in your abdominal cavity, the belly fat, that causes problems. This fat builds up around the organs, and is strongly linked to metabolic disease (99, 100).

For this reason, your waist size may be a much stronger marker for your health than the number on the scale.

Cutting carbs, eating more protein, and eating plenty of fiber are all excellent ways to get rid of belly fat (101, 102, 103, 104).

26. Don’t go on a “Diet”

Diets are notoriously ineffective, and rarely work well in the long term.

In fact, “dieting” is one of the strongest predictors for future weight gain (105).

Instead of going on a diet, try adopting a healthier lifestyle. Focus on nourishing your body, instead of depriving it.

Weight loss should follow as a natural side effect of better food choices and improved metabolic health.

27. Eat Eggs, and Don’t Throw Away The Yolk

Whole eggs are so nutritious that they’re often referred to as “nature’s multivitamin.”

It is a myth that eggs are bad for you because of the cholesterol. Studies show that they have no effect on blood cholesterol in the majority of people (106).

Additionally, a massive review study that included 263,938 individuals found that egg consumption had no association with the risk of heart disease (107).

What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and the yolk is where almost all of the nutrients are found.

Telling people to throw away the yolk is among the worst pieces of advice in the history of nutrition.

This article can be found at
http://authoritynutrition.com/27-health-and-nutrition-tips/

 
 

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