9 “hidden” factors influencing your weight

I get a lot of queries from people who are eating low fat, low carb, low sugar diet and also exercising regularly but still reaching their desired weight goal. This problem is fairly common and can be extremely frustrating.

It is good to understand that there are many factors contributing to your overall health but first we have to find out what is the definition of the “ideal” body weight. 

You will be shocked to know that there is no such thing as ideal body weight. Each one of us has a very unique body shape and composition – trying to change it can be a challenge and very frustrating. 

Having said that, here are some of the “hidden”  factors that could be causing you to hit the weight loss plateau:

 

  • Yo-Yo dieting:  If you have tried various diet pills and been on crash diet plans in the past – I have bad news for you. Studies have shown that yo-yo dieting may cause an immune response in fat tissue that makes fat loss more difficult. If you have been on a series of crash diet programs, your body stores more fat when you begin eating after a period of deprivation so that it has a reserve available if calorie intake decreases again.
    • Solution: Consistency is key here. If you been on crash diet programs, It might take you longer to reach your desired weight goals but the right diet and lifestyle changes will take you to better health.

 

  • Your GUT health: Many researchers believe that your gut microbiota plays a role in processing food and helping to determine how many calories and nutrients your body absorbs. One study found that those who were obese had different gut bacteria than their non-obese twins. Other studies have shown that if the gut bacteria from obese people are put into thin mice, the mice gain weight. 
    • Solution: Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet.  Include probiotic-rich and prebiotic foods in order to modify your gut bacteria.

 

 

  • Toxins: Toxins are everywhere – in the environment, conventional food containing pesticides, self-care and beauty products, the water we drink… They get absorbed in our body and create havoc to the “internal” world. In his book Ultrametabolism, Dr. Mark Hyman explains that 63 scientific studies have explored the link between chemical toxins and obesity. Researchers found that toxins, specifically pesticides and PCBs, interfere with many aspects of metabolism including disrupting hormone levels, blocking thyroid receptors, stressing liver function, and damaging the mitochondria and their ability to burn calories after weight loss. Toxins may also damage hormone signals, affecting our very important hormone leptin– which is responsible for telling your brain that you’re full! 
    • Solution: The very first thing to do is reduce plastic usage in your kitchen that includes containers, water bottles etc. Replace with glass containers. Check cans for BPA free labeling before buying canned goods. Replace non-stick with steel, cast iron or ceramic cookware.  Find chemical-free alternatives for beauty and health care products. Please reach out if you need help finding better options. 
  • Stress: A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University found that stress was linked to a slower metabolism in women. They found that on average, women who reported one or more stressor during the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than the non-stressed women. So even if you aren’t eating more than usual, high levels of stress may cause you to gain weight. 
    • Solution: The very first step is to control/manage the source of your stress. Long term stress can have must deeper impact on your body than just weight gain. Breathing exercises (Pranayam), meditation can be used to manage stress. Adaptogens like Tulsi, Ashwagandha are also very good at calming your body when you are stressed out.

 

  • SleepPeople who consistently get less than six hours of sleep, their fat cells lose their ability to properly use insulin. As their body becomes more resistant to insulin, it will produce more and more in order to function. This eventually lead to insulin resistance. University of Chicago researchers found that within just 4 days of insufficient sleep, your body’s ability to process insulin goes crazy so make sure you get your zzzs if you are trying to get healthy and fit.
    • Solution: Try to have a regular bedtime. Avoid too much stimulation from electronics close to bedtime.  Managing stress can also help with your sleep quality.

 

  • Sunlight: If you are the type of person who prefers staying indoors, the chances are you are deficient in Vitamin D. Studies show that a higher body mass index and body fat percentage are associated with lower blood levels of vitamin D. The good news is this is easily fixable – some evidence shows that increasing vitamin D in the blood can reduce body fat and boost weight loss.
    • Solution: Go out in the sun for at least 20 minutes every day. If that is not feasible, supplementing with a good quality Vitamin D3 can also help.

 

  • Hormonal imbalance: You might be already aware that insulin impacts weight gain but there are other hormones who play a big role in managing body weight. The other big disruptors are thyroid, cortisol and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone). If you have undiagnosed thyroid (hyper or hypoactive thyroid) functioning, there is a chance it is impacting your weight loss efforts. Other issues like PCOS, where a woman may have high testosterone levels and an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels, leads to insulin resistance and ultimately weight gain.
    • Solution: If you believe you are weight gain is because of hormonal imbalance, get your levels checked and work with a healthcare professional to create a plan to rebalance your hormones.

 

  • Water: According to a study done on mice, increased hydration lead to weight loss mainly through a decrease in feeding, and a loss of fat, through increased lipolysis. It also found out that the reverse is also true – Mild, but chronic, hypohydration is correlated with increased body weight. 
    • Solution: This is a simple issue to fix. DRINK MORE WATER. If you are busy and forget to drink enough water throughout the day – take help from technologies. There are apps where you can set water reminders ( My Water Balance, AquaAlert etc)

 

  • Nutrition deficiencies: The increased availability of low-cost, high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods over the past four decades is a key component to the rise in obesity worldwide. Vitamins and minerals are critical for your body to carry key functions and support metabolism and cellular energy production. Metabolism and insulin signaling require cofactors and vitamins that are essential in the diet. Deficiencies in any of these micronutrients have the potential to impair glucose metabolism and cause insulin resistance and weight gain.
    • Solution: Eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Choose organic whenever possible. Get yourself tested for vitamins and trace minerals deficiencies. Work with a nutritionist that can help you with a diet plan that provides all essential nutrients through diet. 

Some other factors like age (as we age, it gets more difficult to lose weight), genetics can also be contributing to your weight loss woes.

The good news is, understanding the underlying cause can help expedite your efforts and get you over the plateau. With the right diet and lifestyle changes, even the worst weight loss disruptors can be managed. Some of us have to work a bit harder than others but it’s possible for every single one of us!

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23210095

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24719788

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4901052/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3313629/

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Chicago has been bit by a cold bug – merciless cold has crippled the whole city, with temperatures as low as -25F.  We were all instructed to stay inside and stay warm so today was the perfect day to enjoy one of my favorite soups – Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup.

This soup is delicious, hearty and so nutritious.  Red bell pepper has the highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper and contains  phytochemicals and carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, providing the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Tomatoes are also a rich source of antioxidants Tomatoes are also very high in vitamin C, another antioxidant that fights free radicals. Plus addition of ginger and garlic make it therapeutic as they help fight infections and reduce inflammation in the body.

Also, this soup is so easy to make as the oven and the blender does most of the work for you. There is very little stirring the pot or cooking on the stove required.

Here is the recipe for you to try this simple immunity boosting soup:

Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 long celery stalk
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1-2 green chilies
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper  to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 4 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Set the oven to broil
  • Chop all the vegetables ( Red peppers – deseeded, onions, tomatoes, carrots, celery) into medium size chunks
  • Take a baking tray and spread all the vegetables, ginger, garlic, green chilies and sprinkle lightly with olive oil
  • Broil for 15-20 minutes until they are toasted and nice aroma is coming
  • Let it cool for few minutes
  • Add the vegetables and water in a blender and blend for smooth, creamy  consistency
  • Transfer the soup in a pan and add basil, coconut milk, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and tomato paste
  • Cook for 5-10 minutes on low-medium heat until it starts to boil
  • Serve warm

Chronic Constipation: The Scoop on Poop

Did you know in United States alone about 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive diseases and chronic constipation is the leading cause of all digestive issues?

While it may seem harmless problem at first but recent studies have linked chronic constipation to problems like weight gain, hormonal imbalances, low immunity to more serious diseases like cancer.

Dehydration, poor diet, medications, illness, lifestyle and stress are the primary causes of chronic constipation.

If you are one of the people suffering from chronic constipation the good news is that it can be cured naturally. Here are 10 simple strategies to treat this condition without medication:

  • Eat more fiber : I think we have all heard it many times that a diet high in fiber helps add bulk and weight to stools, soften them and stimulate bowel movements. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both are important for maintaining normal bowel movements. Soluble fiber absorbs and binds to toxins so they can be excreted out of the body and also keeps stool soft because it absorbs water. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and also acts like a broom, helping to sweep things out of the intestine. Eating fruits such as figs provides a significant dose of fiber that can help your bowels begin to operate correctly. Dried figs are loaded with fiber — as little as 4 figs can do the magic! Another option is taking Psyllium Husk (Isabagol), which is rich in soluble fiber and some insoluble fiber. In patients with chronic constipation, taking 5 g of psyllium twice daily improved stool consistency and frequency. Other great sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.
  • Drink Water: This is a no-brainer but unfortunately still a lot of people are not drinking enough water in a day. When your body is properly hydrated, less water will be withdrawn from the colon. This will keep your stool soft and easy to pass. Make it a habit to drink 8-10 cups of warm water throughout the day. Please remember to not drink water WITH your meals. 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after the meal is the ideal time to drink water.
  • Add fermented foods to your diet/Probiotics: Improve your gut health to treat constipation at the root. Fermented foods have been a well-established part of the human diet for thousands of years but its benefits have been well researched only recently. Adding fermented foods to your diet have shown to alleviate many gastrointestinal issues, including constipation. Here are some examples of fermented foods – Yogurt (preferably homemade), Kefir, Kimchi, Khamboucha, Sauerkraut, Miso, Dosa, Kanji, some cheeses, pickle (achar). With so many options to pick from, I am sure you can find one that meet your taste preferences. Another option is to supplement with Probiotic over the counter supplements until you find a way to add more fermented foods in your diet.
  • Triphala:  Triphala is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal formula made from the dried fruits of haritaki, bibhitaki, and amalaki. It’s not habit-forming and it doesn’t irritate the bowels, making it a great formula for treating constipation. Triphala tend to be gentler than over-the-counter laxatives, nourish the digestive tract and help produce regular bowel movements. It can help to naturally cleanse the colon.
  • Diet: As you know your diet plays a critical part in your overall health, make sure you are eating more unprocessed foods and avoiding junk carb and sugar laden foods which can trigger constipation. Have more vegetables soups and add soft foods like khichdi and dahi. Some people have adverse effects of eating too many raw vegetables. If that is the case, make sure you lightly cook or steam the veggies before consuming. It is easier for your stomach and digestion.
  • Exercise : Make sure you are moving and not spending your whole day sitting when you are constipated. According to WebMD- Exercise helps constipation by lowering the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. This limits the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool. Hard, dry stools are harder to pass. Plus, aerobic exercise speeds up your breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural squeezing (or contractions) of muscles in your intestines. Intestinal muscles that squeeze better will help move stools out quickly. Find any exercise you like to do and incorporate it in your lifestyle. The benefits you gain will improve your overall health, not just constipation.
  • Good fat/Omega-3s: Are you following a low fat diet or eliminating any food groups completely? Fat is not only needed for our hormones, cell walls but also a key enabler of good digestive. Make sure you are eating healthy fats with all meals which includes Ghee, coconut oil, Avocados, Nuts, Fish etc. Supplementing with high-quality Fish oil which is high in Omega-3 also boosts digestion and relieves constipation.
  • Sleep/ Stress: Your bowel movements can be affected by stress that you experience during the day. Everyone has stress that is unavoidable in their lives, but when it is excessive, it can negatively impact your whole body, including your gut health. Try meditation, relaxation and improve your sleep quality to reduce constipation. Believe it or not your sleep position can also impact your digestive and gastrointestinal health. Sleeping on the left side aids digestion and lets food waste easily move from the large intestine into the lower colon, meaning you’re more likely to have a bowel movement when you wake up.
  • Squatty potty: It is no secret that squatting is the best position for complete elimination. Western toilets do not aid in the bowel movement and can often restrict and put strain on the excretion process. The footstool helps sitters assume a squat-like position while conducting their business. And that position appears to alter an individual’s anatomical angle in a positive way. Squatty potty is footstool for that particular purpose and is available at all major retailers.

Hope some of these work for you but whatever it takes please make curing chronic constipation a priority before it leads to any major illness.

Feel free to comment or reach out if you have any specific questions.

The Magic Elixir: Bone Broth

Bone broth has been part of various ancient cultures for more than thousand years. Recently, it has started to gain the trendy status of a superfood because studies have shown its numerous and extensive health benefits.

What is Bone broth: Bone broth is a simple drink made by slowly simmering animal bones with herbs, vegetables, and spices for more than 10 hours .

Why is it so good for you: Bones and connective tissues are packed with essential amino acids, protein, collagen, gelatin . It is also rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals,  which we usually lack in our diets today. 

Here are the top health benefits of bone broth:

1. Heals your gut : The collagen found in bone broth helps to improve and maintain healthy digestion by ensuring that the stomach lining is healthy. It contains collagen, which nourishes the intestinal lining and reduces inflammation. Plus, it’s easy to digest and is loaded with beneficial protein and minerals.

2. Improves immunity: Amino acids and minerals in bone broth have been shown to boost immunity in humans in various studies.

3. Cleans out toxins: The amino acids in the bone broth aid your liver in removing toxins from your body. In addition, glycine is a building block of glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful detoxifying agents.

4. Good for skin and hair: Bone broth is loaded with the building blocks of collagen, the protein that  is required to make your skin strong and smooth.

5. Good for joint health:  When the broth simmers, it pulls gelatin out of the bones.  As we get older, our joints become less flexible. When you drink the broth, your body absorbs all of that gelatin. It strengthens your bones and promotes joint health by providing a cushion-like coating for your joints.

How to make Chicken bone broth at home:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of chicken bones ( I used it from the leftover organic chicken drumsticks)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 handful of cilantro leaves (with stems)
  • 1.5 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 cups water

Steps

  • Add all ingredients in a slow cooker
  • Let it cook for 20-24 hours
  • Strain and use

What if you are vegetarian: If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you can still make this by using different vegetables like zucchini, mushroom, turnip, beetroot and eliminating the bones part.  By making this without bones, you won’t be getting the collagen and gelatin  but you will still be getting high doses of minerals that leads to bone and connective tissue healing and also carry similar anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Fermented vegetables for a healthy gut

Did you know there are more bacteria in our body than cells so can say that we are more bacteria than we are humans! These colony of bacteria living in our gut makes up our microbiome and they govern many of our body’s key functions so they are critical to our overall health. A balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports mood and brain function, produces crucial vitamins and nutrients, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.
So how do we make our microbiome healthy – Eating Fermented foods is the key!
Fermented foods are part of every cuisine across the world. Fermentation was the technique used to preserve foods and drinks long before the refrigeration was availble. During the process of fermentation, bacteria convert sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. The environment for fermentation boosts the growth of healthy bacteria. Even a small portion of fermented foods provides trillions of good beneficial bacteria. As a side benefit, the bacteria in fermented foods produce vitamins (like B vitamins and K) and other important nutrients as they digest the starches and sugars.
The good news is fermentation is a simple process and there is a variety of fermented foods to pick from. Some of the most popular fermented foods from around the world are yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut.
Most of us are already familiar with making yogurt at home but I recently tried fermenting cabbage/carrots (Sauerkraut) and the outcome was amazing. This probiotic rich food not only improves digestion and immunity but also helps lose weight.
Here is a simple recipe for vegetable fermentation.
Cabbage, Carrot and Ginger Sauerkraut
Half medium size cabbage finely shredded
2 medium carrots grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1.5 teaspoons fine-ground sea salt (Do not use a regular iodized table salt)
1 cup brine (1 teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in 1 cup of filtered water)
STEPS 
1. Shred the cabbage and grate ginger and carrots in a food processor. Sprinkle half teaspoon salt over.
2. Start pounding the mixture with a wooden spoon or mix it well with your hands. This will release the juice from the vegetables. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Pack the vegetables into a glass jar tightly to remove as many air pockets as possible. Cover the vegetables with the brine so the vegetables are completely immersed in liquid.
4. Place the outer leaf from the cabbage on top  to cover the mixture. The leaf will make sure the contents stay in place and are submerged. If you have a small weight like cooker whistle or small glass cup, place it on top of the leaf before closing the lid.
I used fermentation lids but you can use any cheesecloth with rubber band to secure.
5.  Leave it at room temperature for the fermentation to happen. Make sure the room temperature is between 67-72 degrees.
6. Let it ferment for week to three weeks depending upon the season. It will be faster in summer than the cold winters. You could tell if it ready when it has a nice crisp, tangy smell to it and no signs of mold or discoloration.
Once ready, put it in the fridge and enjoy your healthy, delicious probiotic right vegetables.
You can use any vegetable for fermentation. My next batch includes beetroot and purple cabbage. Play with it, experiment with different vegetables and discover the unique taste of fermented foods!

Nutrition: Planning is the key

One of my friends just completed an Iron Man!! For those who don’t know what an Iron Man is:

An Ironman is a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

I am still in awe of her achievement but more so of her hard work, dedication and grit that made her succeed this year, after one unsuccessful attempt two years ago.

When I asked her what made the difference this time, her answer was clear and simple – NUTRITION PLANNING.  She said last time she trained hard and was physically ready to triumph the challenge but what she lacked was the nutrition planning for the day of the event.  Unfortunately, she felt a lack of energy halfway through her cycling event and had to leave unfinished and disheartened.

This time she meticulously planned her food not just during training but for the day of the race.  Eating a nutritious, high energy food throughout the race provided her constant supply of energy to finish strong.

The biggest lesson to learn from her experience is in life also we all are so busy running around, preparing for our work, assignments, activities without giving much thought on nutrition, what we are eating, are we getting a balanced mix of nutrients to keep us going for the long run.

Eating healthy is a “full-time job”. It requires a lot of planning, commitment, and execution. If you are not planning ahead of time, you end up making some wrong food choices.

Here are some of the primary reasons why you should plan your meals:

  • You make healthier choices
  • Improved nutrition
  • Saves time and money
  • Reduces Stress

If you are struggling to eat healthy in order to lose weight or just stay active, reach out to us. We can assist with the weight loss consulting, food substitutes, pantry makeover, and customized meal planning.

We help YOU become your healthiest YOU!

Intermittent Fasting – Key to a healthy body

Fasting has been part of human lifestyle for centuries, mostly for religious and medical purposes.  More recently there are a large number of researches to support the health benefits of fasting which includes improved disease state, reduced oxidative stress and preserved learning and memory functioning.

Here are some of the top benefits of fasting:

  • Promote longevity and reduce aging.
  • Increase autophaghy, which is your body’s way to recycle old and worn cells. It’s linked to many health benefits including reduced risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Increase human growth hormone, which helps increase energy, increase bone density, and increase/retain muscle.
  • Fasting can help you get into a state of ketosis, where you’re running on fat instead of glucose.
  • Reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
  • Fasting can help with weight loss.

Fasting, though, is not for everyone. If you are like me, staying without food for a whole day will make you anxious but there is a better solution – Intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. The good news is that you get the same health benefits as regular fasting without stressing your body too much.

There are many ways to “intermittently fast” but the approach I liked best is the 16:8 rule, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window. The good news is that you will be sleeping for part of your “fasting” 16 hours window so it is not that hard to follow.

There are some rules to follow before you start intermittent fasting

  • Reduce the intake of processed foods
  • Increase raw foods in your diet – fruits, vegetables and nuts
  • Eat balanced meals – Protein, complex carbs, and fats
  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water every day
  • Reduce the amount of sugar, especially processed sugar, from your diet.

Once you believe you are ready to start Intermittent Fasting, start small. Start with 12-hour fasting window and see how your body reacts. Gradually increase it to 16 hours. During fasting window, drink only plain water – no lemon, honey or any other additives. No tea, coffee!

Have a combination of fruit and nuts to break the fast. I usually have banana and walnuts as my first meal. Here are some other good options – Dates/Almonds/Raisins.

It is very important to listen to your body when eating and fasting. Women, especially should not starve and stress their body too much as it impacts the hormonal balance so it is highly recommended to start slow on your fasting. Try incorporating intermittent fasting once or twice a week.

I have experienced many health benefits by incorporating intermittent fasting so I assure you that it is not a fad but a tried and tested recipe to improve health, increase energy and eventually weight loss.

Remember Intermittent Fasting is not a Diet but a Lifestyle change. It is a tool for healthy living.

Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.

<Please consult with your doctor before starting Intermittent Fasting if you have any medical conditions that might get aggravated from prolonged starvation>

 

 

 

Morning Kickstart Smoothie

Smoothie is an integral part of my everyday diet.  My morning starts with the whirl of my favorite blender that results in a drink that I carry around all morning, slowly sipping and enjoying.  Smoothies are your best friend if you are trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet. It is the simplest change you can make to start a healthy lifestyle.

I change my smoothie recipe depending on what is available at hand but this is my go-to recipe for the days I don’t want to experiment.

This smoothie will help kick-start your busy day with a burst of energy!

Ingredients:

2 cups Spinach or Kale

½ cup water, ½ cup ice

1.5 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I get it from my local grocery store)

1 cup pineapple

1 cup blueberries

½ cup beetroot

A slice of ginger

1 tsp flax seeds

Blend the liquid and greens first. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend more until you have no chunks left.

Sip along!!

Note:

  1. If you are using frozen fruits, feel free to omit the ice
  2. You can use any fruit of your choice like mango, banana, kiwi, strawberries etc
  3. You can replace orange juice with coconut water or any other liquid but that will alter the sweetness so adjust the fruits accordingly

Why you should always read the ingredient list!

Don’t let the companies fool you. I got tricked and I am here to warn you!

I get my milk from Oberweis. The company claims that their milk is better than Organic as it is fresh from local farms and lightly pasteurized. They pledge that there are no artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, non-nutritional additives or preservatives ever added to the milk and they treat their cows humanely. I was sold. I started trusting the brand. I subscribed to their milk service, so it is delivered fresh at my doorstep every week.

It’s summertime so I decided to stock my fridge with some ice-cream. Of course, I would go nowhere else but to the company I trust. I added their Mango and Pomegranate ice cream to my order.  This is where I went wrong:

  • I believed that since the milk is of good quality; ALL products from this company would be of great quality.
  • Another factor we consider is price – there is a common misconception that if the price is high, the product is better than its competitors.

Both the assumptions failed when we received the ice cream. I was shocked, when my son who was getting ready to enjoy this treat asked– Mom, How are you letting me eat this ice cream when it contains a lot of the ingredients you don’t allow us to have?

He was right – High Fructose Corn Syrup, Carrageenan, Yellow #5, Yellow#6 all of these were staring back at me from the ingredient list. I felt cheated and tricked!

I trusted the brand, I trusted their products so failed to do my part in validating the ingredients before ordering.

My advice to you is to read the ingredients of the products you buy – EVERY SINGLE TIME. Don’t believe in what is published on the front of the package, turn it around and read the ingredient list. You will be surprised to learn that there are so many artificial, synthetic ingredients “hidden” in the packaged foods you eat.

Your health is in your own hands – Stay healthy, Stay armed!

Live without Pain and Inflammation

We all have experienced pain in our bodies at some point. Pain usually appears when there is inflammation. Inflammation is an important part of the body’s immune response. It is the way our bodies heal itself. Without inflammation, infections would never heal. Inflammation becomes a problem when it is chronic.

Imagine the inflammation as our body’s personal army to protect against invaders or injury. Their job is to fight the battle (against infections and germs) and come back to base. When the soldiers lose the signal on when to stop fighting, it leads to chronic inflammation. Chronic Inflammation is when the body stays in the inflamed state even after the “threat” is gone”. Most common cause of chronic inflammation is the food we eat and environmental toxins we are exposed to. Our body’s immune system doesn’t recognize this “stuff,” so it tries to get rid of it by fighting it.

Recent research from well-known sources such as the Harvard School of Public Health has found that many illnesses are directly related to inflammation in the body including heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and stomach or intestinal problems. When there is inflammation, there is a pain. Did you know Anti-inflammatory medicines are most widely taken medicine in the US?

If you believe that you are suffering from chronic inflammation – here are three easy steps you can take to reduce pain and inflammation:

  1. Practice “Clean” eating: Try adding more natural, raw food in your diet. Buy organic whenever possible. The best way to reduce inflammation is to just eat real foods. They are foods that bypass tinkering by a food chemist and are eaten very close to the way they grew on the farm. Slowly eliminate/reduce processed and packaged foods from your diet. A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
  1. Follow the 4-S diet: The easiest way to remember the key anti-inflammatory foods that will help keep you young and active is the Four S’s. Salads, Smoothies Spices, and Seafood.

Salads and Smoothies are natural anti-inflammatories because they are from plants. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables gives them their rich color and make them anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants are natural medicines. The National Cancer Society says we should eat 9 – 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Spices contain high levels of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients. Ginger and Turmeric which are heavily used in Indian cooking are one of the best spices to reduce pain and inflammation. Ginger inhibits production of the free radical that causes inflammation and pain. Turmeric’s benefits are largely because of curcumin, a potent antioxidant that dramatically reduces inflammation. The bioavailability of curcumin is highly improved if taken with black pepper so make sure to spice up your food with turmeric, ginger and black pepper.

Seafood, especially cold water fish, contains omega 3 oils which are the most helpful anti-inflammatory nutrients you can eat. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often are triggered by chronic inflammation. If you cannot eat fish for any reason, consider taking a good quality fish oil supplement to get the benefits of Omega-3.

  1. Exercise: What type of exercise should you do? The BEST exercise is the one you will do! You do it because you enjoy it!

There are lots of fun ways to move.  You can take up a new sport such as ballroom dancing or hiking or just do walking, yoga, running..whatever you enjoy doing!! Besides movement being good for your muscles, it’s good for your mind.  New movements actually build new cerebral pathways.

Make sure you incorporate these three components into your exercise routine:

Strength training:  At one time it was believed that losing muscle was a natural part of aging, but studies now show that older people can maintain muscle with the same amount of strength training as younger folks.

Endurance. Endurance exercises increase your breathing and heart rate and include exercises like walking, swimming, and dancing.

Flexibility: Flexibility exercises like stretching, yoga, and Pilates, loosen and lengthen our muscles.  As we age, muscles not only become weaker, they become tighter and shorter.  Orthopedists have found that people who have increased flexibility are less likely to suffer from arthritis and joint problems.  

By following these simple guidelines and slowly making lifestyle changes, you can definitely reduce chronic inflammation and lead a healthy, pain-free life.