Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What are Antioxidants?

Eat you fruits and veggies for antioxidants! You have probably heard the buzz about  antioxidants because they fight off those nasty free radicals. Free radical? Antioxidant? What do those words even mean?

Let's start off with the scary part first. A free radical is an atom with one or more unpaired electrons, when they should have 2 as a pair. A free radical is highly reactive because it is unbalanced.  Free radicals are produced when your body breaks down food or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation.

We heard where they come from, but why are they so bad? Free radicals damage a cells DNA, which causes the cell to become mutated. This causes the cell to grow and reproduce abnormally. Free radicals also disrupt or degrade proteins and lipids on membranes of cells. These free radicals can set off a chain reaction that can overwhelm the body's natural defense system. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which can contribute to degenerative diseases  like cancer, arthritis, cataracts, and heart disease.

(Oxidation is a natural process that results in the loss of electrons. An example of oxidation that does not occur in your body is an apple slice turning brown.)

So where do antioxidants come into play? Antioxidants provide the missing electron to complete the pair on a free radical. This increases stability and reduces/eliminates damage. Once antioxidant vitamins are used, they become less reactive free radicals themselves. They must be regenerated in order to keep on functioning.
*** For example, Vitamin C can regenerate Vitamin E.

Antioxidant substances include: Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Carotenoids (B-carotene), Vitamin C, and Glutathione. Flavonoids and polyphenols are also classes of antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in many foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and some meats, poultry, and fish.

So, fight off some free radicals by sending in your antioxidant troops!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Eat Fat!

Low-fat, high-carbohdrate is the big thing today. Eating fat will make you fat, right? Wrong! If you ate all of your allotted calories from fat you wouldn't gain weight! (You may have high cholesterol though).

Did you know that eating a low fat, high sugar diet actually increases lipogenesis (the formation of fat). In times of excess energy, insulin stimulates triglyceride storage. High levels of insulin increases the activity of Acetyl CoA Carboxylase, thus increasing lipogenesis.

Take a look at the back of a package that is "low-fat." Most of the time, the fat is removed and sugar is added in its place. Why? Well, if you take out the fat, it doesn't taste as good. But if you add sugar, it becomes that tasty treat again.

Did you know carbohydrates are not essential, technically? A story for another day. But essentiality is dependent on whether or not your body could make the nutrient for itself. Carbohydrates can be made in the body from non-carb sources. Interesting, since carbohydrates take up a huge portion of the new plate. But again, another story for another day.

So, if you want to use your full-fat creamer, do it! If you want to eat you full-fat chips, do it! Have no fear of the fat!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Starter Tips for Weight Loss

So the big question on everyone's mind is how do I lose weight???

Well, there is no "magic pill" to drop all your fat and keep it off; that is, without dehydrating your body or making your heart work faster, which could lead to a heart attack. But go ahead with your diet pills if you think that it will work. I am sure that they are just so cheap too, right?

What works then?
Here are some simple tips for you diet-goers.

1. Sleep: Your body needs sleep. There have been many studies that show that lack of sleep causes you to eat more food, and unhealthy foods at that. When you don't get enough sleep, your hormone levels are set out of balance. The two hormones are Ghrelin (hormone to tell you to eat) and Leptin (the hormone that tells you to stop eating). So do your body a favor and get those 7-9 hours of sleep a night, or more if you can.

2. Hit the gym: Women, no you will not get huge and bulky, I promise. But if you start taking steroids and pro-body building then I cannot promise what you will look like. Anyway, hit the gym, and use the weights. It takes a work in and out of the gym (aka eating the right things) to build muscle for a woman. The thing about lifting weights is that you burn calories after you leave the gym. Your metabolism speeds up and you burn more calories just sitting around then you normally would have. This does not happen after you run on the treadmill or cycle your life away on the elliptical.

3. Fad Diet: Most of these fad diets will cause you to lose water weight first, which isn't the weight you want to lose. And these are FAD diets, which boils down to "FAKE and Destructive." FAD diets don't teach you how to eat healthy. Companies just make you buy a ton of their expensive products or pay for their "healthy meals." I'm sure your wallet will be happy after a few months.

4. Food: Oh what a funny word. So many are scared of this little word. Don't be! If your doing steps one to three, your already on the right track. I'm not going to go all in depth about nutrition right now, but eat lots of fruits and vegetables, cut back on the sweets, eat lean protein, and lay back on the carbs (aka breads, muffins, bagels, etc). Also, f you are hitting the gym and the weights, don't feel bad about cheating either.

Arble D, Vitaterna M, Turek F. Rhythmic Leptin Is Required for Weight Gain from Circadian Desynchronized Feeding in the Mouse. Plos ONE [serial online]. September 2011;6(9):1-11. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 23, 2012.

Fad diets: look before you leap. Food Insight [serial online]. March 2000;:1. Available from: CINAHL with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 23, 2012.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sweet Disaster

Sugar, oh how so sweet, but so deadly. Yes, I said it, deadly. Ever wonder why you crash in the afternoon? Or maybe wonder why you just don’t have the energy that you used to have? Or just maybe wonder why your doctor told you that you have 4 cavities? A lot of this wondering can be explained by the massive amounts of sugar we consume on a daily basis.
       According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, “children ages 2-19 years old consume 45.6 pounds of sugar per year from soda and fruit drinks.” That boils down to about .12 lbs per day, or 12 teaspoons of added sugar. Each additional serving of soda or juice drink you consume each day increases your chances of becoming overweight by 60% (Harvard School of Public Health). Sugar doesn’t just add to your chances of becoming obese, it also spikes your blood glucose levels, decreases activity level, leads to cavities, and suppresses your immune system.
How does sugar do all these horrible things to your body you ask? As soon as food enters your body, your blood glucose levels increase. The type of food you eat determines how high those levels spike. Slower digesting foods, or foods that contain fiber curb the spike of glucose. Part of this curbing of digestion is due to the fact that fiber cannot be digested in the body. Glucose enters the blood stream quickly and the pancreas must produce insulin to decrease the levels. So what is the big deal with having sugar spikes? For one, it can cause your pancreas to become damaged from over production of insulin, which leads to a lovely problem of diabetes.
Dental cavities, that is always a fun thing to have! What causes cavities you ask? When carbohydrates or sugars are present on your teeth, oral bacteria feed off of them. This, in turn, causes acid to be produced, which dissolves the enamel of your teeth. Sounds a little painful to me. P.S. did you know that people way back when didn't brush their teeth, or have cavities? What no cavities?! 
So, you drank your favorite soda, bacteria sets to work on your teeth, your insulin levels increase, you seemingly have more energy (short-term), your body becomes stressed, and your immune system is depressed. This depression is caused by the sugar and Vitamin C competing for space in your cells. In summary of that point, the more sugar, the less Vitamin C, the less Vitamin C, the less chances your body could fight bacteria and viruses, and wa-la, your sick with a cold!
Sugar in moderation is okay, well what is this moderation anymore? Moderation doesn't exist. Our foods and drinks are pumped so full of added sugars we don't even know the meaning of moderation. My advice, cut your sugar intake in half for a bit and see what happens. Keep cutting it back until the added sugars in your life are non-existent. I'm sure your body will thank you later.