Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dirty Keyboard, Health Risk?

The next time you decide to eat at your desk, think again - it may be a source of disease-carrying vermin that can cause food poisoning. These germs survive on the breadcrumbs and other food that drop inside of your keyboard while you snack, and then transmit harmful bacteria like E. coli, coliforms and enterobacteria through their droppings. The Royal Society of Chemistry says dirty workspaces are real health hazards. Workers who fail to keep their desk area clean and crumb-free can get sick simply by typing on a pooped-on keyboard and then picking up a sandwich or piece of fruit with their unwashed hands, the researchers warn.

They warned that mice droppings could also fall between the keys as the rodents snoop around.
"You always have to be careful," The New York Daily News quoted Eiesha Earlington, a financial planner who lives in Woodbridge, N.J.
"On some desks you can see the germs and the dirt creates a little fingerprint, and that's just gross," she said.
She added: "It's disgusting. I usually don't like to have anybody else at my desk except for me.
"I'm definitely the one with the worst desk in the office," said Dawn Bruent, 40, a claims adjustor who lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. "I found ants on my desk once.
"I eat at my desk every day and spend about seven hours at my keyboard.
"I haven't cleaned my desk in about eight months.
 "I guess I need to clean it - maybe I will do that tomorrow."


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Health Benefits of Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is a combination of magnesium and sulfates. There are many benefits of Epsom salt baths. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts can relax your muscles, reduce inflammation, minimize pain, fade bruising, aid digestion, relieve stress and tension, and detoxify your body.

    Pain and Inflammation

  1. Epsom salts can ease muscle cramps and pain from inflammation. It can also relieve tired, aching feet and may be used to treat the pain and inflammation of gout. According to the Epsom Salt Council, two cups of Epsom salts should be added to your bath for soaking. One cup of Epsom salts added to a foot bath can be soothing. The water should be as hot as you are able to tolerate. Keep in mind, if you have skin conditions, the water should be warm, not hot, to avoid skin breakdown and further complications.
  2. Stress and Tension Village Naturals Therapy Stress & Tension Mineral Bath Soak 20 oz

  3. Having too much adrenalin in your body due to stress and tension can result in a low magnesium level. Stress can be caused by a deficiency of magnesium in your blood. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts may allow magnesium to be absorbed through the skin; magnesium then attaches to serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone, and helps to relax you. It can also lower your blood pressure, improve your concentration and help you sleep.
  4. Detoxification

  5. Your body can accumulate a residue of medications and impurities from the environment. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts can pull these toxin from the cells of your body through reverse osmosis. This is a process where salt is drawn from your body and the toxins come with it. It can also soothe your nerves by balancing your electrolytes.
  6. Digestion

  7. Sulfates trigger the pancreas to release digestive enzymes as they are needed. While sulfates are not easily obtained through foods, they can absorb very quickly through your skin. Sulfates can aid your nutrient absorption. They are also important for production of mucin proteins, the cells that secrete mucus along your digestive tract.
  8. Other Benefits

  9. According to Natural Home Remedies, Epsom salt can assist in blood circulation, aid in wound healing, remove foot odor, soften your skin and increase your strength and stamina. The Epsom Salt Council adds the benefits of increasing the effectiveness of insulin, lowering blood pressure, improving oxygen use and easing the pain of migraine headaches.
  10. Cautions

  11. The use of Epsom salt baths is not recommended without the consultation of your health care provider. Hypermagnesemia in a condition of excess magnesium that may be fatal. Epsom salts should not be used if you have an allergy to sulfur or if you are pregnant.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cooking without chemicals

Several research studies have found that when plastic comes in contact with certain foods, molecules of the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the food or beverage. Certain characteristics of the food item can make it more likely to pick up plastic molecules:

    * The more liquid a food is, the more it touches the plastic, so the more opportunity it has to pick up plastic molecules.
    * Acid foods, such as tomato sauce, appear to be particularly interactive with plastic.
    * If you heat a food item in a plastic container—even if the container is microwave-safe—the transference of plastic from the container to the food is even more likely.

When molecules of plastic—or more properly, molecules of the chemicals that get added to plastics during manufacturing—get into picture of plastic storage containers our bodies, it's not a good thing. They can cause unwanted effects in the human body; for instance, some of the chemicals mimic estrogen. Estrogen, of course, is a normal, essential human hormone; but having too much of it (or the molecules that mimic estrogen) has been associated with breast cancer and other health problems. In general, chemicals that fool the body into thinking they are estrogen or other hormones are called endocrine disruptors and are best avoided.

So, if plastic food containers are sometimes trouble, what would a better food-storage solution look like? The primary characteristic you want in a container material is inertness—that is, you want a material that holds tightly to its own molecules and does not let them go floating off into the food or drink touching the container. On this score, glass is the best choice, followed closely by porcelain, ceramic, and stainless steel.

Even though plastic food containers are dominant on store shelves, some companies do make storage containers from glass and other preferred materials. Some of them are oven-safe and large enough to cook in; in those cases, you can simply store the leftovers in the same thing you cooked in. Some of the containers are smaller and more appropriately sized for small portions of leftovers and items transported to work or school for lunch.

Some containers have glass lids that fit loosely—fine for storing in the fridge, but not so good for putting leftovers in a lunchbox. Other containers have lids designed to be air- and liquid-tight, making them good for just about any type food storage. Having a good assortment of containers will allow you to choose the right size and style for each food-storage application.

All glass, ceramic, and porcelain containers are microwave-safe, though you should check the manufacturer's specifications before assuming they are safe for use in a regular oven. Plastic lids should be left off even when heating in a microwave. Our experience shows that the heat from the food tends to warp the lid. It's better to microwave the dish covered with a plate or microwave food cover.

Glass storage containers, stainless steel containers, BPA free plastics, Ceramic containers, stainless steel cookware.


Stainless steel cookware is also a good choice. If you cook something in a small or medium pot on the stove and have leftovers, why not just put the lid on, let it cool, and then put the pot right in the fridge? It will mean one less thing to wash, too.

Frozen veggies better for you?

Frozen Veggies are the best way to go!
Canned foods are almost always higher in sodium than their fresh or frozen counterparts. Salt, or sodium chloride, is often used as a preservative as well as a flavor-enhancer. Sodium intake is one factor that is involved in the development of high blood pressure. On average, Americans consume somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 milligrams of sodium each day, much higher than the 2300 milligrams recommended. Rinsing some canned foods can be beneficial. For example, rinsing canned tuna for 3 minutes was shown to reduce sodium content by as much as 80% in one study. The rinsing did not affect the salt content of canned beans, however.

After a December Consumer Reports article, much media coverage has focused on Bisphenol-A (BPA) as a component of the resin lining inside most commercial food cans. BPA has been linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and obesity. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the available data to find if there is an acceptable amount of BPA to be allowed into the packaging of food products, particularly those that are marketed for children.

Fresh and frozen foods are the recommended forms in order to gain the most nutritional benefit with the least side effects. However, canned foods can be healthful as well, particularly if they create a tendency to include more fruits and vegetables to the dinner plate. Be sure to look for BPA free cans, and rinse foods before eating to reduce sodium.

Steam veggies for max health benefits

Vegetables are cooked to enhance taste without paying attention to the loss or retention of nutrients. Vegetables are the major sources of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants. Some nutrients are found specifically in some particular vegetables and cannot be supplemented by other foods. The essentials nutrients of vegetables may get lost by faulty cooking habits like frying. The nutrients either evaporate with water or are burnt by overheating, thereby depleting the nutritional content of vegetables.
Preparation may not be the most exciting aspect of cooking vegetables, but learning the correct techniques can make a big difference not only in the appearance of the food or the final results, but also in efficiency. Good technique can keep a beginning cook from getting frustrated and help an experienced cook more thoroughly enjoy time spent in the kitchen.
There is a right way of cooking vegetables to help in keeping the nutritional value of the vegetables intact which in turn provides maximum benefit to your mind and body. Given below are such helpful cooking tips:
Start with vegetables that are fresh and preferably in season. When you start out with vegetables at their nutritional and flavorful peak, you will find that little needs to be done to showcase their flavor.
 Try to eat your vegetables as close to their natural state as possible. But if they require cooking, then try not to overcook them. Overcooking can easily destroy the important nutrients in the vegtables, in addition to making them bland and soggy.
 Do not peel your vegetables whenever possible. The nutrients in vegetables and fruits are mainly concentrated just below the skin, so it is better to eat vegetables and fruits unpeeled so that you do not loose any fibers or essential nutrients. You can scrub vegetables and remove any blemishes, but do not peel.
 Wash vegetables thoroughly in clean water under a tap before cutting or chopping to minimize nutrient loss. This will preserve vitamins because if you cut and then wash, there are 90% chances that you are washing away the vitamins too. Also, you will be able to wash the vegetables properly before cutting. If you cut first then it may not be possible to reach to every chopped pieces where invisible sand or soil remains.
 Cut vegetables just before eating or cooking to retain the most amount of vitamins especially Vitamin C. The Vitamin C content of vegetables is lost at a fast rate once the vegetables have been cut or bruised. Larger the exposed area, more the loss. If you are not going to immediately use the vegetables, then cut them in larger pieces and store them in an airtight container in a refrigerator.
Steaming vegetables is always a good choice. It is fast, preserves nutrients, and it works best for fresh vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach (palak) and roots like beets, peas and beans. If you don't have a steaming basket, you can fill a pot with mixed vegetables and add about one and a half inches of unsalted water and cover. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Check often to make sure that the water doesn't evaporate. If it gets too low, just add a little more water. Don't forget to keep the remaining broth for soup or pour it in a nice mug and enjoy the warm flavorful broth.
 Frying food is one of the worst ways to cook. Frying vegetables is very harmful to your health as they absorb huge amounts of fats thus becoming high in calories too and produces cancer-causing chemicals. Grilling foods that contain fat is less damaging than frying because of the less you don't have to add much fat to your food.
For extra antioxidant benefits as well as more variety in flavoring, try tossing with a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh herbs. It is important to use fresh herbs for this. Dried herbs are better used when you are cooking for a long time. Using fresh herbs makes a fresh tasting dish, still allowing the natural flavor of the vegetables to come through. Herbs like oregano, Coriander, Peppermint etc go brilliantly with vegetables.
Vegetables contain vitamin C, vitamin B and foliates, all of which dissolve in water when cooked. This makes the water in which the vegetables are cooked very valuable to your health. So, don't throw away the water used to cook the vegetables, drink it or use it in soups or sauces.
It is ideal to lightly steam vegetables instead of boiling, sauteing, or roasting. The one exception to the rule would be the red tomato. Cooking actually increases its level of lycopene, an antioxidant thought to help prevent certain types of cancer, heart disease, and vision loss.
Properly cooked vegetables should be tender yet firm and crisp. They should neither be hard and tough nor soft and soggy. This not only helps in providing proper taste but also provides proper nutrition to the body.
Now that you know how to prepare and cook vegetables to give yourself maximum health benefits, why not prepare some steamed vegetables at your next meal? They'll taste delicious and pack a powerful punch against cancer!

How to stop craving sugar

When you eat sugary foods, you may find that you have a quick boost of energy that quickly disappears and leaves you craving more sweets. Too much sugar in the diet can increase your daily caloric intake and pack on the pounds. Sugary foods can leave you with a good feeling and usually taste yummy, which makes it hard to stop craving them. However, strong willpower can help you reduce the amount of sweets you eat.
Step 1
Eat small meals throughout the day. Never skip a meal; aim to eat four to five smaller meals throughout the day. If you allow yourself to go hungry, you may crave something sugary to satisfy your appetite.
Step 2
Consume foods that are naturally sweet. Replace desserts with naturally sweet foods like apples, oranges, grapes and cherries.
Step 3
Add healthy carbohydrates to your diet. Low-carb diets may have you craving sugar. Choose healthy carbs that are not refined. Some examples are sweet potatoes, carrots, brown rice, buckwheat and whole grain bread.
Step 4
Brush your teeth when you feel a sugar craving coming on. The flavor in the toothpaste will not mix well with the sweet taste of the snack you are craving. Using mouthwash can also help combat sugar cravings.
Step 5
Keep sweets out of the house. If you don't have easy access to sugary snacks, it will be easier to control your cravings. Keep your house stocked with fruits and cut up vegetables to eat when you feel hungry.
Step 6
Get enough sleep. You may crave sugar when you are stressed or tired. Try to get eight hours of sleep a night and keep stress at bay by participating in relaxation techniques, like deep breathing and yoga.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

U.S. county bans toys with kids' meals

The California county that encompasses the Silicon Valley is banning the use of toys as incentives to purchase fast food meals for kids.
Santa Clara County has introduced a local ordinance stating that toys can only be offered if meals meet national nutritional criteria for children.
That would mean no McDonald's Happy Meals — if there were a McDonald’s restaurant in the area affected by the new law, that is.
However, the ordinance applies only to unincorporated areas and about 150 restaurants, none of them McDonald's.
Still, the fast food retailer has been quick to weigh in.
"McDonald's is disappointed with the council's decision, even though it does not impact any of our restaurants in Santa Clara County," McDonald's vice-president of corporate media relations said in an email to CBC News.
The deputy medical officer for Santa Clara County says the ordinance is not aimed at McDonald's.
"This is not directed at Happy Meals," Dr. Sara Cody said in an interview with CBC News, "What this is about is it's breaking the link between an incentive and a food that's not healthy for a kid. So, it's really an effort to support parents in offering healthier choices to their kids."
Santa Clara County has not escaped the epidemic of obesity sweeping North American children. One in four county youth are either overweight or obese.
"Childhood obesity is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and this new ordinance gives parents another tool for making healthy choices for their children," said county supervisor Ken Yeager, who pushed forward the proposal.
"This ordinance simply levels the playing field by taking away the incentive to choose fatty, sugary foods over healthier options."
Cody says the problem with offering kids toys is pester power.
"If they want that toy, they’re going to pester you for it, and they're going to wear you down," Cody said.
County officials hope to get other jurisdictions talking about the issue and perhaps passing similar laws.
"One of the goals that I think we've accomplished is to get the conversation started," said Dr. Cody.
It's not a conversation McDonald's wants to have.
"Concerning this particular ordinance, parents tell us they want to have the right to make their own decisions," Riker wrote in his email. "Our customers are smart, and they will continue to make choices that are right for them."
Source: CBC.CA

Monday, April 26, 2010

What is BPA? Should I be concerned about it?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers and in resin linings for cans. Research has shown that BPA can leach into food from these containers and cans. Because BPA appears to cause health problems in animal studies, some scientists are concerned about the risk BPA poses to humans.
Originally the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said BPA was safe. Since then, however, the FDA has acknowledged concerns about the potential effects of BPA on the brain and the prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children. The FDA is conducting additional research. In the meantime, if you're concerned about potential risk, you can take simple steps to reduce your and your family's exposure to BPA:
  • Choose glass or BPA-free plastic baby bottles.
  • Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids.
  • Avoid plastic containers with the No. 7 recycling label — they're made with BPA.
  • Don't microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Instead, use glass containers designed for microwaving.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods — many cans are lined with a BPA-containing resin.

Top 10 food for flat abs

Foods that will help you get that six pack abs
1. Almonds
These delicious and versatile nuts contain filling protein and fiber, not to mention vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. They're also a good source of magnesium, a mineral your body must have in order to produce energy, build and maintain muscle tissue, and regulate blood sugar. "A stable blood-sugar level helps prevent cravings that can lead to overeating and weight gain," says David Katz, MD, a professor at the Yale University School of Medicine. But what makes almonds most interesting is their ability to block calories. Research indicates that the composition of their cell walls may help reduce the absorption of all of their fat, making them an extra-lean nut.
Try for: An ounce a day (about 23 almonds), with approximately 160 calories. An empty Altoids tin will hold your daily dose perfectly.
2. Eggs
You won't find a more perfect protein source. Eggs are highly respected by dietitians because of their balance of essential amino acids (protein building blocks used by your body to manufacture everything from muscle fibers to brain chemicals). We like them because they keep our hands out of the cookie jar. Researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that when people ate eggs in the morning, they felt less hungry throughout the day than when breakfast consisted of complex carbohydrates like bagels. "The protein and fat in the egg may be contributing to the feeling of satiety," says lead researcher Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD.
Try for: One egg a day, unless you have high blood cholesterol, in which case you should check with your doctor first. (One egg packs about 213 milligrams of cholesterol.)
3. Soy
Soybeans are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein. Plus, they're incredibly versatile. Snack on dry-roasted soybeans, toss shelled edamame into soups, and slip a spoonful of silken tofu into your morning smoothie. Liquid soy also makes a good meal replacement: A study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that overweight subjects who drank a soy milk based meal replacement lost more weight than those who consumed a traditional dairy-based diet drink.
Try for: Twenty-five grams of whole (not isolated) soy protein daily. A half cup of steamed edamame contains about 130 calories and 11 grams of protein. Four ounces of tofu (94 calories) contain 10 grams. Choose whole soy foods over products packed with "isolated soy protein" -- the latter may not provide all the benefits of whole soybeans.
4. Apples
A 2003 study in the journal Nutrition found that overweight women who consumed three apples or pears a day for three months lost more weight than their counterparts who were fed a similar diet with oat cookies instead of fruits. "A large apple has five grams of fiber, but it's also nearly 85 percent water, which helps you feel full," explains Elisa Zied, RD, author of So What Can I Eat?! (Wiley, 2006). Apples also contain quercetin, a compound shown to help fight certain cancers, reduce cholesterol damage, and promote healthy lungs.
Try for: An apple (or two) a day. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the Red Delicious, Cortland, and Northern Spy varieties had the highest antioxidant activity.
5. Berries
Most are loaded with fiber, every dieter's best friend. The more fiber you eat -- experts say that it's best to get between 25 and 35 grams every day -- the fewer calories you absorb from all the other stuff you put in your mouth. That's because fiber traps food particles and shuttles them out of your system before they're fully digested. Berries (and other fruits) are also high in antioxidants, which not only help protect you from chronic diseases like cancer but may also help you get more results from your workouts. "Antioxidants help improve blood flow, which can help muscles contract more efficiently," says Dr. Katz.
Try for: At least half a cup daily, or about 30 calories' worth. Don't limit yourself to the usual suspects, like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. If you can find them, add boysenberries, gooseberries, and black currants to the mix for excitement.
6. Leafy Greens
Their cancer-preventing carotenoids won't help shrink your waistline, but their low calorie count definitely will. One cup of spinach contains only about 40 calories, while a cup of broccoli has 55 calories and satisfies 20 percent of your day's fiber requirement. Most leafy greens are also a good source of calcium, an essential ingredient for muscle contraction. In other words, they help fuel your workouts.
Try for: Three servings daily. Keep a bag of prewashed baby spinach in your fridge and toss a handful into soups, salads, pasta dishes, stir-fries, and sandwiches. When you get sick of spinach, reach for a bunch of arugula, broccoli rabe, or broccolini, a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale.
7. Yogurt
People who get their calcium from yogurt rather than from other sources may lose more weight around their midsection, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity. The probiotic bacteria in most yogurts help keep your digestive system healthy, which translates into a lower incidence of gas, bloating, and constipation, which can keep your tummy looking flat.
Try for: One to three cups a day of low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Choose unsweetened yogurt that contains live active cultures. Add a handful of fresh chopped fruit for flavor and extra fiber.
8. Veggie Soup
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that people who ate broth-based (or low-fat cream-based) soups two times a day were more successful in losing weight than those who ate the same amount of calories in snack food. Soup eaters also maintained, on average, a total weight loss of 16 pounds after one year. "Plus, it's a simple way to get your vegetables," says Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of Power Eating (Human Kinetics, 2001).
Try for: At least one cup of low-calorie, low-sodium vegetable soup every day.
9. Salmon
Seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These uber-healthy fats may help promote fat burning by making your metabolism more efficient, according to Kleiner. An Australian study showed that overweight people who ate fish daily improved their glucose-insulin response. Translated, this means that seafood may help slow digestion and prevent cravings. If that doesn't hook you, consider this: Seafood is an excellent source of abs-friendly protein.
Try for: Two four-ounce servings per week. Wild salmon, though pricey, contains more omega-3 fatty acids than farm-raised. (If it doesn't say wild, it's farm-raised.) If seafood's not your thing, you can get your omega-3's from flaxseed (grind and sprinkle on your cereal) or walnuts.
10. Quinoa
Never heard of it? Pronounced KEEN-wah, this whole grain contains 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein per half cup. Cook it as you would any other grain (although some brands require rinsing). Quinoa's nutty flavor and crunchy-yet-chewy texture are like a cross between whole-wheat couscous and short-grain brown rice.
Try for: At least one half-cup serving (a third of your whole-grain requirements) per day. Try substituting AltiPlano Gold brand instant quinoa hot cereal (160 to 210 calories per packet), in Chai Almond and Spiced Apple Raisin, for oatmeal. Look for it in health-food stores.

The truth about red meat

Does eating red meat increase the risk of dying from heart disease or cancer?
It’s a question that keeps coming up, fueled by research and high-profile campaigns by advocacy groups on both sides of the debate.
WebMD asked the experts, looking for answers about disease risk, health benefits, and what role red meat should play in the diet.
Here’s what they had to say.
1. Does eating red meat increase the risk of cancer and heart disease?
A: For heart disease, the answer is pretty clear. Some red meats are high in saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease.
When it comes to cancer, the answer is not so clear. Many researchers say they do raise the risk, especially for colorectal cancer.
A recent National Institutes of Health-AARP study of more than a half-million older Americans concluded that people who ate the most red meat and processed meat over a 10-year-period were likely to die sooner than those who ate smaller amounts. Those who ate about 4 ounces of red meat a day were more likely to die of cancer or heart disease than those who ate the least, about a half-ounce a day. Epidemiologists classified the increased risk as “modest” in the study.
The meat industry contends there is no link between red meat, processed meats, and cancer, and says that lean red meat fits into a heart-healthy diet. A meat industry spokeswoman criticized the design of the NIH-AARP study, saying that studies that rely on participants to recall what foods they eat cannot prove cause and effect. “Many of these suggestions could be nothing more than statistical noise,” says Janet Riley, a senior vice president of the American Meat Institute, a trade group.
But many studies have found similar links. Another one that followed more than 72,000 women for 18 years found that those who ate a Western-style diet high in red and processed meats, desserts, refined grains, and French fries had an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and death from other causes.
“The association between consumption of red and processed meats and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, is very consistent,” says Marji McCullough, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society.
After a systemic review of scientific studies, an expert panel of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded in 2007 that “red or processed meats are convincing or probable sources of some cancers.” Their report says evidence is convincing for a link between red meat, processed meat, and colorectal cancer, and limited but suggestive for links to lung, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers.
2. If eating red meat does increase the risk of cancer, what’s the cause?
A: That’s not clear, but there are several areas that researchers are studying, including:
  • Saturated fat, which has been linked to cancers of the colon and breast as well as to heart disease.
  • Carcinogens formed when meat is cooked.
  • Heme iron, the type of iron found in meat, may produce compounds that  can damage cells, leading to cancer.
3. Are there nutritional benefits from eating red meat?
A: Red meat is high in iron, something many teenage girls and women in their childbearing years are lacking. The heme iron in red meat is easily absorbed by the body. Red meat also supplies vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly.
Red meat provides protein, which helps build bones and muscles.
“Calorie for calorie, beef is one of the most nutrient-rich foods,” says Shalene McNeil, PhD, executive director of nutrition research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “One 3-ounce serving of lean beef contributes only 180 calories, but you get 10 essential nutrients.” cholesterol
4. Is pork a red meat or a white meat?
A: It’s a red meat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The amount of myoglobin, a protein in meat that holds oxygen in the muscle, determines the color of meat. Pork is considered a red meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish.
5. How much red meat should I eat?
A: Opinions differ here, too. Most of the nutritionists that WebMD contacted suggested focusing on sensible portion sizes and lean red meat cuts, for those who choose to eat it.
Ask yourself these questions, recommends Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, professor of nutrition at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
  • Are you taking in more calories than you’re burning off?
  • Is red meat crowding out foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains?
“People don’t need to give up red meat,” says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, a nutrition professor at Georgia State University. “They need to make better selections in the type of meat they eat and the portions.”
Government guidelines in MyPyramid suggest 5 to 6 1/2 ounces daily of protein from a variety of sources, including lean meats, nuts, and seafood. So if you’re planning on eating a burger for dinner, it should be a 3-ounce hamburger patty, about the size of a standard McDonald’s burger.
The American Institute for Cancer Research, a nonprofit that focuses on cancer prevention through diet and physical activity, advises no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat a week. The group recommends avoiding all processed meats, such as sausage, deli meats, ham, bacon, hot dogs, and sausages, citing research that shows an increased risk of colon cancer.
6. What are some of the leanest cuts of red meat?
A: For the best red meat cuts, look for those with “loin” in the name: Sirloin tip steak, top sirloin, pork tenderloin, lamb loin chops.
  • Beef: Also look for round steaks and roasts, such as eye round and bottom round; chuck shoulder steaks; filet mignon; flank steak; and arm roasts. Choose ground beef labeled at least 95% lean. Frozen burger patties may contain as much as 50% fat; check the nutrition facts box. Some grilling favorites are high in fat: hot dogs, rib eyes, flat iron steaks, and some parts of the brisket (the flat half is considered lean).
  • Pork: Lean cuts include loin roasts, loin chops, and bone-in rib chops.
7. What are the criteria for a lean cut of red meat?
A: Meats can be labeled as lean if a 3-ounce serving contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol.
If you’re buying beef, check the U.S. Department of Agriculture grading, too. Beef labeled “prime” is the top grade but is also highest in fat, with marbling, tiny bits of fat within the muscle, adding flavor and tenderness. Most supermarkets sell beef that is graded as “choice” or “select.” For the leanest red meat, look for a select grade.
8. Is grass-fed beef a leaner red meat choice than grain-fed?
A: Grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed, which makes it lower in total fat and saturated fat. Grass-fed beef also contains more omega-3 fatty acids. But the total amount of omega-3s in both types of beef is relatively small, says Shalene McNeil of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Fish, vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds are better sources of omega-3s.
9. Can grilling red meat cause cancer?
A: High-temperature cooking of any muscle meat, including red meat, poultry, and fish, can generate compounds in food that may increase cancer risk. They’re called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
10. How can you reduce potential cancer-causing compounds when grilling?
A: Several steps help prevent these compounds from forming or reduce your exposure to them.
  • Choose lean red meat cuts when grilling to reduce the chance of flare-ups or heavy smoke, which can leave carcinogens on the meat.
  • If grilling, cook over medium heat or indirect heat, rather than over high heat, which can cause flare-ups and overcook or char meat. Limit frying and broiling, which also subject meat to high temperatures.
  • Don’t overcook meat. Well-done meat contains more of the cancer-causing compounds. But make sure that meat is cooked to a safe internal temperature to kill bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses. For steaks, cook to 145 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit; for burgers, cook to 160 degrees.
  • Marinate. Marinades may reduce the formation of HCAs. Choose one without sugar, which can cause flare-ups and char the meat’s surface.
  • Turn meat frequently. Use tongs or a spatula rather than a fork to avoid releasing juices that can drip and cause flare-ups. Do not press burgers with a spatula to release juices.
  • Don’t grill as much meat. Instead of a steak, try a kabob that mixes meat, fruit and vegetables. Plant-based foods have not been linked to HCAs.
  • Trim fat from meat before cooking, and remove any charred pieces before eating.
  • Consider partially cooking meats and fish in the oven or microwave before finishing on the grill.

Why is oatmeal healthy for you?

  1. Over 40 studies show that eating oatmeal may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. According to Quaker, all it takes is 3/4 cup of oatmeal each day to help lower cholesterol. The soluble fiber in oats helps remove LDL or "bad" cholesterol, while maintaining the good cholesterol that your body needs. In January 1997, the Food and Drug Administration announced that oatmeal could carry a label claiming it may reduce the risk of heart disease when combined with a low-fat diet.

  2. The soluble fiber in oatmeal absorbs a considerable amount of water which significantly slows down your digestive process. This result is that you'll feel full longer, i.e. oatmeal can help you control your weight.

  3. You probably already have oats in your kitchen. It's estimated that eighty percent of U.S. households currently have oats in their cupboards.

  4. New research suggests that eating oatmeal may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association already recommends that people with diabetes eat grains like oats. The soluble fiber in these foods help to control blood glucose levels.

  5. With the exception of certain flavored varieties, the oats found in your grocery store are 100% natural. If you look at the ingredients on a canister of rolled oats, you will usually see only one ingredient... rolled oats.

  6. According to recent studies, a diet that includes oatmeal may help reduce high blood pressure. The reduction is linked to the increase in soluble fiber provided by oatmeal. Oats contain more soluble fiber than whole wheat, rice or corn.

  7. Oatmeal contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and is a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and iron.

  8. The fiber and other nutrients found in oatmeal may actually reduce the risk for certain cancers.

  9. Oatmeal is quick and convenient. Every type of oatmeal can be prepared in a microwave oven. Even when cooked on the stovetop, both old-fashioned and quick oats can usually be made in less than 10 minutes. And what about instant oatmeal… a hot breakfast in under a minute... incredible!

  10. Oatmeal can be absolutely delicious! Whether instant, cooked on the stove or baked in the oven, the combination of flavors you can fit into a serving of oatmeal is limited only by the imagination. Visit Mr Breakfast's Oatmeal Collection to see just 60 of the ways you can start to enjoy oatmeal today!

Fish oil and your heart

Recent reports on the health benefits of fish oil sound almost too good to be true. The omega-3 fatty acids that it contains have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes and slow the formation of plaques in the arteries, and they may also lower blood pressure. Accordingly, the American Heart Association now recommends that healthy people eat fatty fish at least twice a week (individuals with heart disease should consume 1,000 milligrams of omega-3s per day and may want to discuss capsule supplements with their doctors). The latest studies go even further, demonstrating that the benefits of omega-3s extend beyond the heart and exploring exactly how these fatty acids do their good work in our bodies.
Research conducted at the University of Barcelona showed that obese mice living on a diet enriched with omega-3s displayed improved sensitivity to insulin. If the finding holds true for humans, this insulin response could translate to a reduced risk of diabetes. Other scientists are garnering evidence for the anecdotal claims that fish oils improve cognitive functioning. Last fall an American and Canadian team reported on three studies in which infants were randomly fed standard or high-omega-3 formulas; those who consumed the latter performed better on a problem-solving test. An independent, large-scale study in Sweden found that teenage males who eat fish weekly have intelligence scores 7 percent higher than do those who eat fish less often. Consuming fish more than once per week correlated with intelligence scores that were 12 percent higher than those of infrequent fish eaters.
Meanwhile, an international team has tracked how one of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), carries out its protective functions. The scientists determined that the body converts DHA to a compound called resolvin D2, which prevents neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) from sticking to the walls of blood vessels and initiating an inflammation response. In mice with sepsis, resolvin D2 reduced the widespread swelling that usually accompanies the condition without impairing the immune system’s ability to fight the underlying infection. A similar mechanism may be behind fish oil’s cardiovascular benefits, since inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. “Resolvin D2 is an excellent prototype for a new anti-inflammatory drug,” says pharmacologist Mauro Perretti of Queen Mary University of London, one of the study’s authors. A Massachusetts-based company, Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals, is already conducting clinical trials of resolvins for the treatment of inflammatory problems, including asthma and dry eyes.

How much salt is too much?

You've been trying to eat less sodium — just a pinch of table salt on your baked potato and a dash to your scrambled eggs.
But a pinch and a dash can quickly add up to unhealthy levels of sodium, especially when many foods already contain more than enough sodium. About 11 percent of the sodium in the average U.S. diet comes from adding salt or other sodium-containing condiments to foods while cooking or eating. But the majority of the sodium — 77 percent — comes from eating prepared or processed foods that contain the mineral. So even though you may limit the amount of salt you add to food, the food itself may already be high in sodium.
Are you getting too much? Here's where sodium sneaks into your diet and ways you can shake the habit.

Sodium: Essential in small amounts

Your body needs some sodium to function properly. Sodium:
  • Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body
  • Helps transmit nerve impulses
  • Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles
Your kidneys regulate the amount of sodium kept in your body. When sodium levels are low, your kidneys conserve sodium. When levels are high, they excrete the excess amount in urine.
If your kidneys can't eliminate enough sodium, the sodium starts to accumulate in your blood. Because sodium attracts and holds water, your blood volume increases. Increased blood volume, in turn, makes your heart work harder to move more blood through your blood vessels, increasing pressure in your arteries. Certain diseases such as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can lead to an inability to regulate sodium.
Some people are more sensitive to the effects of sodium than are others. People who are sodium sensitive retain sodium more easily, leading to excess fluid retention and increased blood pressure. If you're in that group, extra sodium in your diet increases your chance of developing high blood pressure, a condition that can lead to cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

How much sodium do you need?

Various organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, have published recommendations on daily sodium limits. Most recommend not exceeding the range of 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day for healthy adults. Keep in mind that the lower your sodium, the more beneficial effect on blood pressure.
If you are older than 50, are black or have a health condition such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, you may be more sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of sodium. As a result, aim for a sodium limit at the low end of the range recommended for healthy adults. Talk to your doctor about the sodium limit that's best for you.

Three main sources of sodium

The average U.S. diet has three main sources of sodium:  
  • Processed and prepared foods. Most sodium in a person's diet comes from eating processed and prepared foods, such as canned vegetables, soups, luncheon meats and frozen foods. Food manufacturers use salt or other sodium-containing compounds to preserve food and to improve the taste and texture of food.
  • Sodium-containing condiments. One teaspoon (5 milliliters) of table salt has 2,325 mg of sodium, and 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of soy sauce has about 900 to 1,000 mg of sodium. Adding these or other sodium-laden condiments to your meals — either while cooking or at the table — raises the sodium count of food.
  • Natural sources of sodium. Sodium naturally occurs in some foods, such as meat, poultry, dairy products and vegetables. For example, 1 cup (237 milliliters) of low-fat milk has about 107 mg of sodium.

Be a savvy shopper: Find the sodium

Taste alone may not tell you which foods are high in sodium. For example, you may not think a bagel tastes salty, but a 4-inch (10-centimeter) oat-bran bagel has 451 mg of sodium.
So how do you identify foods high in sodium? The best way to determine sodium content is to read food labels. The Nutrition Facts label tells you how much sodium is in each serving. It also lists whether salt or sodium-containing compounds are ingredients. Examples of these compounds include:
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium nitrate or nitrite

How to cut sodium

You may or may not be particularly sensitive to the effects of sodium. And because there's no way to know who might develop high blood pressure as a result of a high-sodium diet, choose and prepare foods with less sodium.
You can cut sodium several ways:
  • Eat more fresh foods and fewer processed foods. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium. Also, fresh meat is lower in sodium than luncheon meat, bacon, hot dogs, sausage and ham are. Buy fresh and frozen poultry or meat that hasn't been injected with a sodium-containing solution. Look on the label or ask your butcher.
  • Opt for low-sodium products. If you do buy processed foods, select those that have reduced sodium.
  • Remove salt from recipes whenever possible. You can leave out the salt in many recipes, including casseroles, stews and other main dishes. Baked goods are an exception. Leaving out the salt could affect the quality as well as the taste of the food.
  • Limit your use of sodium-laden condiments. Salad dressings, sauces, dips, ketchup, mustard and relish all contain sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices and other flavorings to enhance foods. Learn how to use fresh or dried herbs, spices, zest from citrus fruit, and fruit juices to jazz up your meals.
  • Use salt substitutes wisely. Some salt substitutes or light salts contain a mixture of table salt (sodium chloride) and other compounds. To achieve that familiar salty taste, you may use too much of the substitute and actually not use less sodium. In addition, many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride. Though dietary potassium can lessen some of the harm of excess sodium, too much supplemental potassium can be harmful if you have kidney problems or if you're taking medications for congestive heart failure or high blood pressure that cause potassium retention.
Your taste for salt is acquired, so it's reversible. To unlearn this salty savoring, decrease your use of salt gradually and your taste buds will adjust. Most people find that after a few weeks of cutting salt, they no longer miss it. Start by using no more than 1/4 teaspoon (1 milliliter) of added salt daily, and then gradually reduce to no salt add-ons. As you use less salt, your preference for it lessens, allowing you to enjoy the taste of food itself.

Healthy fats? Truth or fact?

For over thirty years, fat in our diet has been considered the culprit in obesity, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Unfortunately, the resulting “low fat” foods and diets haven’t resulted in most people controlling their weight or becoming healthier. In fact, the opposite is true.
It’s the type of fat that matters in addition to how much you consume. Reducing your intake of some types of fats reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, but other types of fats are absolutely essential to our health and well-being.
Sifting through all the conflicting information on fats can leave you with even more questions. What do you need to know about polyunsaturated fat, omega 3 fatty acids and other terms in the language of fats? Learn to incorporate the good fats into your diet while reducing your consumption of the bad fats.

Myths and facts about fats and oils

Myth: Eating a low-fat diet is the best way to curb obesity.

  • The obesity rates for Americans have doubled in the last 20 years, coinciding with the advent of the low-fat revolution.
  • In the 1960s, Americans ate 45% of their calories from fat – and only 13% of us were obese. Now, while most of us get only about 33% of our calories from fat, 34% of us qualify as obese!

Myth: Low–fat diets are essential to help you lose weight

  • Ironically, cutting fat out of our diets seems to have the opposite effect: while Americans have been eating less fat, we’ve been getting fatter. In place of fats, many people turn to foods full of easily digested carbohydrates, or to fat-free products that replace healthful fats with sugar and high-calorie, refined carbohydrates.
  • You need to cut calories to lose weight - fats are more filling, and curbing hunger can stop you from indulging in additional calories.
  • The 2006 Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial showed that women on low-fat diets didn't lose any more weight than women who followed their usual diets. 

Healthy fats are essential to good health

The human body uses fatty acids to do everything from building cell membranes to performing key functions in the brain, eyes, and lungs. The functions of fats include:
  • Brain – Fats compose 60% of the brain and are essential to brain function, including learning abilities, memory retention and moods. Fats are especially important for pregnant women, since they are integral to fetal brain development.
  • Cells – Fatty acids help your cells stay moveable and flexible, as well as being responsible for building cell membranes.
  • Heart – 60% of our heart’s energy comes from burning fats. Specific fats are also used to help keep the heart beating in a regular rhythm.
  • Nerves – Fats compose the material that insulates and protects the nerves, isolating electrical impulses and speeding their transmission.
  • Lungs – Lung surfactant, which requires a high concentration of saturated fats, enables the lungs to work and keeps them from collapsing.
  • Eyes – Fats are essential to eye function.
  • Digestion – Fats in a meal slow down the digestion process so the body has more time to absorb nutrients. Fats help provide a constant level of energy and also keep the body satiated for longer periods of time. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) can only be absorbed if fat is present.
  • Organs – Fats cushion and protect your internal organs.
  • Immune System –Some fats ease inflammation, helping your metabolism and immune system stay healthy and functioning.

"Faces" in the fat families

To understand good and bad fats, you need to know the names of the players and some information about them.

Monounsaturated fats

  • Are liquid at room temperature and turn cloudy when kept in refrigerator.
  • Primary sources are plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil. Other good sources are avocados; nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans; and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds.
  • People following traditional Mediterranean diets, which are very high in foods containing monounsaturated fats like olive oil, tend to have lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated fats

  • Are liquid at room temperatures as well as at cold temperatures
  • Primary sources are sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and also foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish.
  • This fat family includes the Omega-3 group of fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and your body can’t make. In addtion, Omega-3 fats are found in very few foods.

Saturated fat

  • Are usually solid at room temperature and have a high melting point
  • Primary sources are animal products including red meat and whole milk dairy products. Other sources are tropical vegetable oils such as coconut oil, palm oil and foods made with these oils. Poultry and fish contain saturated fat, but less than red meat.
  • Saturated fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
  • It is unnecessary to eat saturated fat sources since our bodies can produce all the saturated fat that we need when we consume enough of the good fats.

Trans Fats

  • Trans fats are created by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas, a process called hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenating vegetable oils makes them more stable and less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturers – and very bad for you.
  • Primary sources of trans fat are vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
  • Trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol that increases your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), as well as lowering HDL, or good cholesterol.

How to lose fat

 Want to get your body in shape for summer? Follow these simple steps and you'll be on your way to losing that extra weight fast!
1: Eat Smaller Dinners. Cut down on the size of your dinner and try to "eat clean". That is, eat at least 50% fruit and vegetables, then a fist-size portion of unrefined, complex carbs (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc), and some low fat protein about the size of your palm. If you're hungry, snack on fruits or other healthy, low calorie snacks. Large dinners tend to hurt a fat loss process because most people aren't very active after dinner. This is the basis for advice along the lines of "don't eat anything within N hours before going to bed". The claim that your entire dinner is stored as fat isn't entirely true (the process is more complicated than that) but the fact you don't move after dinner is enough to hurt your cause. You can offset this by eating a larger lunch or snacking healthily before dinner. Fresh fruits or vegetables are excellent choices for curbing appetite not to mention other health benefits. A handful of nuts might do the same. Drink a large glass of water before sitting at the table.
2:  Eat More Fiber. Most people don't get enough fiber. The recommended amount is actually not that much if you eat a healthy diet. "Fiber foods" include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. Other options are fiber supplements.
3: Eat Breakfast. Many people skip breakfast because they don't have time for it. Keep this in mind: You don't have time to skip breakfast, it's simply too valuable to skip. The fact that skipping breakfast messes up your concentration and other mental functions is beyond the scope of this article. The harm of skipping breakfast from a weight loss perspective is it makes you eat a huge lunch since your body hasn't had anything in the past 12 (or more) hours. When you eat a huge lunch you get that after meal drowsiness so now you're both unproductive and inactive. Cereals don't take much time to prepare and consume, and most of them are very healthy nowadays. If you are extremely pressed for time, consider grabbing a box of breakfast bars or a smoothie and throwing one in your bag when you leave for work or school. Some breakfast bars out there are also excellent sources of fiber. Your breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, lunch the second, and dinner the smallest.
4: Lift Weights. The more muscle your body has, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. However recent research has shown this effect is not as great as previously thought. Resistance training is still very important to limit the amount of muscle mass lost whilst reducing your calorie intake. Many people are afraid of getting huge due to weight lifting but the fact is you won't! Many huge body-builders out there have been body-building for years to get huge. Since you want your abs to show, you should be eating fewer calories than you burn, and your body can't build a large amount of muscle without excess calories, so you shouldn't have to worry about this potential problem at all. If you just do cardiovascular exercises (running, playing basketball, football, etc.) without lifting weights then you will lose the muscle mass, you will also feel weak and it will take longer to lose that fat. So, to get rid of that fat quickly lift weights combined with cardiovascular exercises. Running, biking, swimming, stair climbing, jumping rope, tennis, volleyball, dancing, squash or any other activity that gets you moving and keeps you moving is a great way to burn fat. However, a cardiovascular workout should be performed for at least 20 to 30 minutes to burn fat. Prior to this your body will simply run on its stored energy, which results in minimal fat loss. Cardiovascular training should always be done after your weight lifting workout. While lifting weights, you use stored, (carbohydrate) energy, thus, by performing cardiovascular exercises after weight training your body will have less stored energy to use and go straight into the fat storage for its energy use. Some think the best way to shed fat fast is to do cardiovascular exercises right when you wake up. The theory is that your body will search for energy to use, and when it finds nothing in your stomach, it will go directly to your fat reserves for energy. Others say that the first thing you should do in the morning is eat, to get your metabolism going earlier.
5:  Keep Metabolism Steady. Eating one small meal every three hours that you are awake will not speed up your metabolism, rather, it will keep it going. Your metabolism goes and slows with your food intake and eating something small every three hours will keep that metabolism burning calories and will help you lose weight. Every meal should include lean protein, so that your body won't need to break down your muscles for fuel, which would shrink your abs as well as slow down your metabolism.
6:  Drink More Water Every Day. Many places suggest 8 cups (2L) of water a day. It also depends on your weight (1L/20kg would be good, more if it's hot or you're ill). It sounds like an absurd amount of water, but actually, you can drink tea without sugar to make up some of the quota. In fact tea, especially green tea, will rev up your "metabolism" (actually cause a temporary increase in calories burned).
For fat loss purposes, it is important to remind yourself that thirst is a much weaker stimulus than hunger. If you consistently feel hungry after meals, don't immediately think that you need to eat more. You may simply be thirsty!
Needless to say there are many benefits of water. The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water depending on body size.
7:  Avoid "white" foods (white rice, pasta,white bread, white flour, refined sugar) - these foods cause insulin spikes and trigger increased storage of dietary fat storage and slow down burning of body fat. Also avoid high sodium foods as "salt" will enable you to hold more water. Replacing pasta with whole wheat pasta, white rice with brown rice, and white bread with whole wheat bread are good substitutes.

How to get that ripped six pack set of abs quick

This the fastest way to get a six pack set of abs.
1: To build really great abs it's important to first understand what abs do. Their full name is 'rectus abdominis'. The 'rectus' bit, is Latin for 'straight, proper, upright'. Contrary to popular opinion, the abs primary job is not to curl you up into a ball, but they work together with the back muscles to maintain correct posture and stabilize the spine. Therefore training your abs without training your back will create an imbalance in the musculature that supports your spine. These muscles are not just for show! So the best exercises for abs are ones that force your entire core to go into overdrive to support your spine. Some exercises that do this are squats and deadlifts. These exercises will train your entire core to work together to do what it is designed to do. At the same time they will also train a lot of other muscles (eg glutes and quads), and this promotes even more rapid fat loss as the body recovers.

2:  Do crunches-Lie on the floor (with or without a mat) your arms in front of your chest. Bend your knees up as far as they go. Do not place both hands behind your head. Placing both hands behind your head can cause lower back problems in the long run as it places unnecessary stress on that part of your body from pulling on your head and neck. Another alternative is to cross your arms in front of your chest and lightly place your finger tips behind your ears, without pulling on your neck. Now raise your shoulders (upper torso) towards your knees, using strictly your abdominal muscles. It is very important not to lift your entire back off the floor, as this can cause back strain, and the extended movement does not help you develop six pack abs any faster. The most important part of the crunch is the initial flexing of your abs as you lift your shoulders off the floor. As soon as you begin lifting off the floor exhale through your mouth, ending with a gasp once your shoulders are off the floor. Then pause for a second once you are at the top of the crunch and exhale the last bit of air from your diaphragm while flexing your abs. The proper breathing and flexing make all the difference. Now lower back down slowly and controlled while inhaling through your nose, just until your shoulder blades touch the ground. Do not let your head touch the ground and repeat.
3: Situps Lie on the floor, feet on the floor, knees up and fingers placed behind your ears or hands crossed on your chest. Sit all the way up, lifting your lower back off the floor along with your shoulder blades. Lower yourself down. Repeat. Once this becomes relatively easy for you (i.e. you can do a quite a bit with ease) start adding more challenges. Find an incline bench or do these with an exercise ball. Once you "graduate" from that, do weighted sit ups. Hold a weight on your chest while you do these. As these become easier, hold heavier and heavier weights.
4: Do Bicycle Crunches. Lift your feet off the ground while doing the sit ups by alternating each leg in the air. Bicycling, pretending to pedal while sitting up. Alternating knee touches. If your hands are behind your head, bring your left knee up to touch your right elbow and then your right knee to the left elbow.
5: Do Leg Lifts. Lie on the floor, legs straight out, hands at your sides. Lift your legs straight up (not bending your knees at all) until they're at a 90 degree angle (or close). Lower your legs and repeat without letting your legs touch the floor. For more challenge there is equipment at most gyms that will allow you to raise yourself up using your arms as support and dangle your legs. You can perform leg lifts there too. If you're using this piece of equipment, you can make it easier by just raising your knees to your chest. It's more difficult to raise your legs to a horizontal position with your legs straight. This helps firm up the lower abdomen. If you're truly a monster, try doing leg lifts with a medicine ball hanging from your feet. Or hang from a pull up bar and raise your legs in front of you all the way up to the bar.
6: Do Jackknife Sit Ups. Lie down flat on the floor. Place your hands on the ground to your sides for balance; you can pick them up as you get used to the movement. Simultaneously raise your knees and torso so that your knees and face meet on an imaginary line extending from your pelvis to the ceiling. You should be able to kiss your knees at the top of the motion. Your legs will naturally fold bringing your feet towards your hips, much like a jackknife. Lie back down (i.e. "spread out") and repeat. Place a weight between your feet when you think you can handle it.
7: Static Hold and Side Statics. Put your body into the push-up position but with your elbows on the floor, and your whole body flat. This position is known as the static hold position and it trains your core (including your abs) to hold the body in place which is the real purpose of your abs. Hold this position for as long as possible. Beginners should be aiming to start off with at least 45 seconds, while seasoned ab workers are known to achieve over 5 minute static holds. To perform the side static hold, roll onto one side of your body and lift into the same position as before, but this time only one arm will be on the ground with the other arm pointed straight up the air and your non weight bearing leg resting on your bottom leg. Once again, hold this for as long as possible.
8: Train Your Oblique Muscles. It's not as important to work on your oblique muscles at first, but eventually you'll want to start working these too. These are the muscles to either side of your stomach. There are multiple ways to do this and anything that includes twisting your torso against a resistance counts. There are twisting machines at gyms, you can twist while you do sit-ups, you can do side bends, you can twist side to side with a medicine ball in hand, etc. Be aware though, that many beginners tend to have weak obliques compared to their abs (it simply isn't used as much in daily life) so go easy on the sides at first.

Do the Scientific Best Abs Exercise. Researchers at the San Diego State University, found that there are certain abs exercises that triggers most muscular activity. The winner was the "bicycle maneuver":
  • Lie on the floor; make sure your lower back is pressed on the ground.
  • Take your hands behind your ears. Then bring up your knees at a 45 degree angle.
  • Start doing a bicycle pedaling motion. Touch your elbow with the opposite knee (right elbow with left knee and so on, alternating)
  • Breathe in a relaxed and even manner throughout the exercise.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What is Eating Clean?

Eating Clean is treating your body right.

It is eating the way nature intended. You eat the foods our bodies evolved to function best on, and that makes you feel – and look – fantastic. When you Eat Clean you eat more often. You will eat lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. These practices keep your blood-sugar levels stable and keep you satisfied. The best part is that if you need to lose weight it will happen almost without you having to try. And yes, you can have a treat now and again.
Best of all, Eating Clean keeps you feeling great and full of energy. In fact, you can forget all about the days when “dieting” meant feelings of hunger, lethargy or deprivation.
Eating Clean is not a fad; it’s a way of life. When you Eat Clean your body will react by losing weight if you need to lose, maintaining a healthy weight if that’s where you are, and even gaining weight if you are too skinny. But regardless of whether you want to lose, maintain or gain, you will feel better than you ever have before.
Never worry about counting calories again. You will never have to diet. Eating Clean will keep you lean and healthy for the rest of your long life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Negative Calorie Diet

Today I'm derailing this old wives tale the only way you can disprove anything. With scientific facts.

Almost everyone who watches the news or has a social circle at all has heard about these so called "negative calorie" foods. The concept propelling this deranged notion is that certain foods burn more calories in the act of digesting than the calories they contain. (e.g. if you were to eat a small helping of green beans that contained 30 calories but took 50 calories to digest, congrats because you just lost 20 calories.) This is an awesome idea. Mainly because if it were true you would only need to sit down in front of your T.V. and eat a bunch of food to become fit and skinny. But before you throw out all of your workout videos and exercise equipment I have some bad news. This diet if absolutely bogus. There is no such thing as a negative calorie food. Water has zero calories, diet soda has zero calories, and there are artificial sweeteners that have zero calories, but unfortunately food has calories.

Every lie is approximately half true. So lets separate the truth that lives within the fallacy.

Digesting, absorbing, and transporting the food you eat only accounts for ten percent of the calories used in a day. This means if you eat 2,000 calories your body will burn somewhere around 200 calories that day from digesting the foods. Here's where the line between truth and fiction get close when speaking about negative calorie diets. If you start eating what they are calling negative calorie foods like; asparagus, broccoli, spinach, cucumber, etc...nothing will change if you keep eating high calorie foods along with them, although these are foods that are substantially lower in calories. By replacing higher calorie foods like McDonald's with fruits and vegetables you are knocking down one of the doors that will lead to fit body. Keep in mind it is vitally important to eat healthy fats from sources like olive oil, nuts, fish, and lean animal fats are even okay in moderation. These fats contain essential nutrients that are key to a healthy functioning human being. Limit your intake of high amounts of saturated fats, simple carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup, sugary foods, and salt. Diets that are high in these three things often have unhealthy cardiovascular systems, are at a higher risk of developing certain types of diabetes and high blood pressure. This doesn't mean don't eat any of them. It means limit your intake. Don't eat steak, french fries, and a milk shake to wash it down with seven days a week. You're not going to get healthy this way.

Exercise is key.

Since there are no such things as magic vegetables that burn tons of calories for you it's extremely important that you take measures to boost your bodies natural calorie burning system. The metabolism. Exercise 30 minutes everyday. You don't have to jog like Rocky Balboa to get into shape. Start by walking 10 minutes at a time, three times a day.

Persistence is your golden ticket to a fit body.

Cut back on the sugar, ridiculas amounts of saturated fats, (mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats are much healthier for you), simple carbohydrates, and high fructose corn syrup (it's in soda pop, I recommend quitting the habit of soda altogether, drink water instead). Follow the preceding advice and you won't need any diet plans, books, videos, or other nonsense. Three simple rules will be the chisle that sculps your new body.
1. Replace junk food snacks like chips, candy bars, donuts etc, with healthy snacks like vegetables and fruits. By replace I mean stop eating the junk foods. Not eat them with the fruits and vegetables. Healthier Foods.
2. Be conscious of what your intake of fats, sugars, and simple carbohydrates actually are. A book I recommend looking at is Fueling up with the right foods helps you stay energized.
3. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Get out of the house. Go for a walk, play catch with the kids, your dog, your neighbors kids, your neighbors dog. The point is, get out and go do something. Follow these simple steps and not only will your body be healthier you'll notice an enormous change in your mood as well.
Good Luck