Diets That Won’t Work

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How is it going? All good I am sure.

Let me ask you something. We keep talking about one diet or other when we talk about weight loss. We use a word called “fad diet”. Do you know what the term “fad” means? Can you feel the negative connotations behind the word “fad”?

A fad is something trendy, fast and fashionable but it goes away as quickly. Why do you think a lot of people are very much inclined to follow a “fad diet” when they finally decide to lose weight? And hopefully not just lose it but lose it in a healthy way! If you fall severely sick, you would lose a lot of weight but would it be healthy? Is there even a point in losing weight and doing yourself more harm than good in the process….and getting it all back sooner than later?

I am sure everyone knows the answer but many of us, rather than changing our lifestyle and adopting healthy habits, choose to go easier way by gladly suffering through “fad” diets and useless supplements/products that come with it. Though slightly better than people who want to do nothing about their unhealthy lifestyle!

Today all I want to do is talk about such diets in general and not really get into details of one particular one.

What Is A Fad Diet?

There isn’t any fixed definition of a fad diet. There are so many diets out there – with different approaches, different set of rules, different outcomes! But, they all have a few things in common:

  • a fad diet is the “in” health trend currently
  • it promises a quick fix
  • implies a quick, huge weight loss if you follow it
  • is silent about most of the repercussions or long-term effects
  • but, would warn you against another product or diet
  • is almost always controversial….with experts divided on its pros and cons
  • almost too good to be true but a logic behind it – that sounds very scientific
  • eliminates one or more of the five food groups
  • many a times promotes a certain ‘miracle’ food or way

Some examples of fad diets are – Atkins diets, Keto diet, Paleo diet, South Beach diet, Intermittent Fasting (works if put in use, correctly), Macrobiotic diet, Blood Group diet, Detox diet, Cabbage Soup diet, Bollywood diet and even a Feeding Tube diet! Then there are Raw Food diet, HMR diet, Werewolf diet…it gets even crazier if you want the whole list.

Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

To be honest, most of them DO work. Initially. That’s how they become popular! However, unless there is a medical reason involved, most of the diets don’t work over a long period of time. Why?

  • The no#1 reason is that they mostly are not sustainable. They need a lot of attention and focus hence, over a long period of time they become boring or unsustainable
  • Another reason is that most of the fad diets promote a way that is not natural for our human bodies. Many of them simulate a certain process or reaction in our bodies to work and generally, it’s not the natural way
  • They are nutritionally flawed since most of them eliminate one food group or the other
  • Overdoing on one part of nutrition and focusing on excess of another, can lead to other health complications in long run
  • Diets need to be personalized as per your physical needs and should take care of your lifestyle in consideration. Everybody is different and their needs are different. Just because it worked for someone somewhere, there is no guarantee it would work for you too

Nothing beats the combination of good lifestyle habits, some physical routine and a good balanced diet. There is no easy way. Even if you lose tons of weight on a fad diet initially (which motivates most of us in the beginning)…there never would be any guarantee that it won’t come back (and more of it!) once you stop.

It’s always better to listen to your body and stop looking for a miracle cure or diet. Food can be super-simple and food can be super-complicated, if misused. A healthy, balanced one is the best diet!

Adding a physical routine would boost up your metabolism, would be beneficial for your bones and joint. Would give you the strength. Lifestyle changes would keep you healthy forever and food could be your best friend – fun and caring both! Give it a try!

Join me on Instagram for food/workout ideas and lots of trivia on Health & Nutrition on the link below.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Kidney Stones: Part 1

Hi friends, happy Friday! How was your week that went by?

It was a little unsettling for me as my mom has been diagnosed with kidney stones and she might require a surgery to remove those. The pain and discomfort that she went through, bothers me a lot. As of today, she has visited the doctor, gotten all her tests done as well as has received her medicines but still, it bothers me because I feel that in her case, it could have been prevented to a lot of extent. I still have hope that she passes the stones without a surgery!

My parents eat healthy and stay active physically so thankfully, I rest easy on their health front but this kidney-stone episode tells me that despite being healthy and active, many of us overlook small things that could have saved us a lot of pain/discomfort in long run e.g. most of us don’t take drinking water seriously. In case of older people, the problem of frequent urination keeps them wary of drinking plenty of water.

Kidney stones is probably one of the most painful diseases and one that can be prevented to a lot of extent.

First, what are kidney stones?

Kidney stones (also called nephrolithiasis) are hard deposits of minerals (or salts) that form in the kidneys. These hard formations can affect any part of the urinary tract, be it the bladder, ureters, urethra or the kidneys. Passing these stones is quite painful and they can cause permanent damage if left untreated for long. Some stones are so small and easily pass with urine that we might never know it even happened!

Technically, not all kidney stones are the same. There are four main types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium stones – a majority of the kidney stones are calcium stones in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is made in our body by our liver or absorbed from our diets. Calcium or oxalate levels in blood can also rise from high doses of vitamin D, bypass surgeries, metabolic disorder (e.g. calcium phosphate stone in renal tubular acidosis). Some medications for migraines are also found associated with these stones. However, this isn’t as simple as – ‘avoid calcium to avoid stones’. On the contrary, a lack of calcium can also increase your risk of kidney stones. More on oxalates, their relationship with calcium etc in the next post!
  • Struvite stones – formed as a result of urinary infections, these stones grow fairly large, quickly and often with no/few symptoms
  • Uric acid stones – could be genetic but can also develop in people who tend to lose a lot of fluid due to chronic diarrhea/absorption issues etc, as well as people with high protein diets
  • Cystine stones – due to a rare hereditary disorder called cystinuria, this stone develops due to an amino acid that leaks from the kidneys and gets into the urine

Did you know?

Your weight has a lot to do with the stones in your urine. It might seem unlikely but many researches have proved that being overweight can up the odds significantly!

Symptoms

Generally, intense pain in itself is a symptom. One should immediately see a doctor if:

  • the pain is a sharp-severe pain in the side and back, just below the ribs. My mom mistook this pain as gas-pain and had to suffer for many days before she decided to get some tests done. If she were able to identify the pain earlier, it would have been easier for her
  • the pain spreads to lower abdomen and to the groin area
  • the pain fluctuates or moves around
  • there is a burning sensation while urinating (similar to an UTI)
  • one has fever along with pain/burning which would indicate an infection (just like an UTI)
  • the urine is cloudy and bad-smelling
  • there is blood in urine (i.e. urine is red, pink or brown in colour)
  • there is nausea and vomiting along with pain
  • frequent urination is there and/or one is urinating small amounts frequently
  • one has fever along with pain/burning which would indicate an infection (just like an UTI)

Why do stones happen?

There is no one reason that one can avoid and stay assured of never having a kidney stone. However, taking care of a few things can greatly reduce our risk of having one. Kidney stones may happen primarily reasons such as:

  • Low intake of water – When the urine becomes concentrated, the minerals present in it can crystalize and stick together. Having not enough water everyday can increase the risk greatly
  • Diet – High-protein diets and diets high in salt/sugar may increase the risk to a lot of extent
  • Excess body weight – High BMI individuals and over-weight people are more prone to kidney stones
  • Personal history – Someone who has had a kidney stone in past, is always at a higher risk of having another stone. Same with someone with a family history of kidney stones
  • Medical conditions – Chronic UTIs, Celiac, Crohn’s, hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria etc increases the risk of developing kidney stones
  • Certain supplements/medications – Having high dosages of vitamin C supplements and laxatives, calcium-based antacids etc as well as certain migraine or depression medications can increase the risk significantly

There isn’t a guarantee of never having a kidney stone, for anyone. What we can do is to take necessary precautions and keep our diet and lifestyle in such a way that it is at an optimum level for our body. This way, we do not have to worry about a lot of illnesses or diseases, all separately. A good, well-balanced diet coupled with an active lifestyle can prevent us from most diseases in life.

In the next post, a sequel to today’s part 1, let’s discuss oxalates and a few things/foods that might help us in preventing the kidney stones and God forbid, if we still get a stone formed – how to get rid of it (of course, after the mandatory visit to a medical specialist).

For a lot of stories with life/health/nutrition-hacks, motivation and kinds, join me on Instagram if you haven’t already – on the link below.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

Arsenic In Our Rice

Hi friends, how are you all? Hope all good.

As for me, I feel a little restless for the last few days. The time that we live in today, seems like a very disappointing situation to me especially since I read about arsenic in our rice. I mean, we keep reading about even worse stuff all the time…animal cruelty and exploitation of natural resources etc but there is some feeling of betrayal with the issue of arsenic in rice and say, if you still remember, in salt a few months back when found with high levels of potassium ferrocyanide? Don’t you feel disappointed too?

We humans, in our greed and carelessness over decades, have altered so many natural processes in our bio-environment and that too with huge long-term impacts that direct and indirect effects/consequences  are coming back to haunt us eventually.

Whole life-cycles have turned dangerous for many things…what we thought was a simple nutritious thing like rice, has become a major cause of concern now! Things have become so complicated these days…with genetically modified fruits and vegetables…to waxed produce…to cyanide in food, to lead in noodles…to the supermarket shelves full of refined products…to the various scams of misinformation on the labels, it is no wonder that most of us end up with low immunities and unexplained allergies as well as all kinds of diseases.

At first I thought this ‘arsenic in rice’ issue is just a shocker (plenty of those come, from time to time!) and half-baked information to scare us but the more I read, the more I realize it’s true and scarier in reality. Imagine we Indians start the food for a baby when she/he turns 6 months, with rice-milk kheer/pudding!

What Is Arsenic?

No doubt that Arsenic is a highly toxic trace element. It is naturally present in many forms in air, water and soil but today, the levels are alarmingly increasing beyond ‘safe’ levels due to increasing pollution, mostly through pesticides/herbicides that we spray on our crops. Its various forms can be divided into two categories:

  • Organic Arsenic – combined with carbon, found in plants and animals both
  • Inorganic Arsenic – not combined with carbon but with other elements, inorganic is the more toxic form. It is often found dissolved in water and in soil

Did You Know?

Arsenic is naturally present in most food and the water that we drink, all over the world. Some places the levels are low and at some, serious enough. Most seafood also contain the less toxic organic form of arsenic.

In general, arsenic leaves human body in a few days but inorganic arsenic tends to remain even for months, making it a concern.

How Does It All Start With Rice?

Rice is a staple food for Indians as well as many communities, all over the world. Rice is more prone to accumulate arsenic because it grows in water-filled fields, or rather polluted water fields! Rice crops absorb more water in general and the contaminated water as well as the soil (over time) make it worse!

And this arsenic is the more toxic one i.e. inorganic arsenic. This arsenic enters the food-chain through this contaminated water and gets accumulated in the plants and eventually in us humans as well as other animals (read meat).

Not just rice, it also passes on to the widely available rice-based products such as baby food, rice cereals and rice syrups etc.

Where Does This Toxic Arsenic Come From?

Majorly through human activities (not surprisingly!) such as herbicides/pesticides, fertilizers, wood preservatives, coal burning, industrial waste and mining etc. Not just leeching into our crops etc, it also contaminates ground water such as water-wells and irrigation water etc

This inorganic arsenic is highly toxic and frequent exposure to it may cause many fatal diseases such as cancer (lung, skin and bladder mostly), high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes and various neurological disorders. The worst part is that a fetus can get affected before she/he is even born. Even a baby, with so little of body weight is more vulnerable to the levels of arsenic in her/his food.

Small doses can cause headaches, stomach aches, drowsiness, confusion and diarrhea etc.

What Can Be Done?

It is practically impossible to test and certify every bag of rice or a rice product though it needs to be done now. Till then, we need to take things in our own hands:

  • Make sure you eat a varied diet and not just rice all the time. This would decrease your exposure to the arsenic in rice. In fact, eating a balanced and varied diet is always advised, arsenic or no. Amaranth, buckwheat and millet have almost zero arsenic content and barley has very low levels. Quinoa has much lesser than rice. Oats is good choice too
  • Wash the rice in clean, filtered water before cooking. Though this reduces the arsenic contamination by a small percentage only
  • While cooking, make sure you first leave the rice in clean filtered, boiled water for 5 minutes in 6:1 ratio, 6 being water. Throw this water after 5 minutes and cook the rice normally (like we do pasta). This might reduce the arsenic content by around 60%. Though it would reduce nutrition also. You see why I feel betrayed?
  • Some studies suggest that basmati rice has relatively lower arsenic content. In this sense, we Indians are luckier than most!
  • Brown rice has been found to have more arsenic content than white rice as the arsenic gets accumulated in the bran. And we thought brown was better than white because of this bran!!
  • Do know that it doesn’t matter much whether your rice is organic or wild or red, in terms of arsenic contamination as it comes from the soil/water which can retain inorganic arsenic for more than 50 years
  • Veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, kale etc are found to help with better toxin flush-out in our bodies as they contain a compound called sulforaphane
  • Work on your gut-health
  • Some brands already do (hopefully more would start now) publish on their product-labels, their independent testing for arsenic levels
  • Be very careful while choosing rice and rice-products for babies as they have less body weight
  • People who are on gluten-free diets need to be all the more careful if their gluten-free diet is rich in rice

In The End

The only solace in this whole arsenic-rice saga is that arsenic is water soluble and hence leaves our bodies in a few days if our exposure is limited. We can adopt a cooking method which would remove a lot of contamination. Also a varied diet with more grains etc, can reduce our risk.

And very important, as humans let’s work in some way, in our own capacity to keep our planet a little safer by being more vigilant and thoughtful. Hard and inconvenient but there is no easy way, is there?

Hope you found today’s post relevant and useful. Do share around to your friends and family. Join me on Instagram on link below:

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

The Very First Step To Health: BMI

Hi Friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Hope all healthy and happy.

As for me, it has suddenly become a little more hectic (never thought it could become any more hectic but hey, what do we know?) because of my nutrition classes. I swear I have started having serious time-lapses on weekends now. When I am studying, I don’t even realize where the three hours went by and once I finish, it’s like I am three-hours behind everything! I stay disoriented for a long time and it’s not exactly pleasant!

The first thing we learnt in our first class, was how to assess a person’s current health before we start a diet and fitness regime for her/him. The first tools are BMI and body fat content, among a few others. Most of us have at least heard of the term BMI. Today’s post elaborates upon it some more and if you didn’t know about it, here we are.

What Exactly is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a way to measure body fat based on certain factors – such as weight and height.

Though not an absolute indicator of health and fitness, BMI still provides a good insight into it. For a normal adult person, male or female, BMI gives a good enough start to assess the health and risks associated with non-normal BMI ranges.

Why is BMI important?

BMI is a useful indicator and tells us whether we are at risk for many diseases. Once we understand the risk, we can work on our nutrition and lifestyle to lower the risk. We can consider BMI as a “risk-forecast” for our body and health!

BMI, waist circumference (to assess abdominal fat content) and assessment of various risk factors such as smoking and concerns related to obesity…combined together, can give us a fair idea of what’s wrong with our bodies, how we can prevent any further damages as well as their management, even reversal of a few!

Risks of What?

Type 2 diabetes (high blood glucose), blood pressure (hypertension), arthritis, cholesterol issues (high LDL and low HDL), cardiovascular diseases and many other obesity-related diseases as well as certain cancers.

Worldwide, people with BMI equal to or higher than 30 are considered obese and these people need to immediately start working on lifestyle correction including weight loss. Same goes with overweight people (with a BMI of 25 to 29.9). They also need to work on weight management to lead a healthy and active life, free of obesity-related complications.

Did You Know?

For Asians including Indians, the indicators are different as we are more vulnerable genetically, to cardiovascular and obesity-related diseases and disorders.

What Can Be Done?

Even a little weight loss means a lower risk of contracting diseases related to obesity. With a calorie-appropriate diet and some physical fitness activities included in the lifestyle on a regular basis, one can work on lowering BMI and other parameters. Consistency is the keyword here.

The ideal would be to stop ourselves and take a control of our health much earlier. Don’t wait, use the adult calculator-link below and a get an estimated BMI for yourself, right now. If it falls in a normal/healthy range, you can work on keeping it that way. If it falls in any other slab, start immediately on preventing any further damages to your health. Do note that for kids, the calculator is different.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html

Please consider consulting your doctor or dietician in case you get a non-normal BMI read today.

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

The Palm Oil Story

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you doing? I hope a lot better than last month! At least, now all the items in our grocery list are available, online as well as offline. One can happily go back to the brands or types of products one is used to. I am very grateful that the brand of peanut butter I use is again available online. I am also very grateful that I am now able to make my own blend of wholegrain-multigrain atta/flour, once more.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to make rotis from the packaged atta/flour. Once you get used to eating rotis made of your own blend, you simply can’t enjoy them any other way! Same with peanut butter. The store-bought ones just don’t cut it anymore for me. And for good, I say.

Anyways, today’s post isn’t about peanut butter but palm oil. I am sure you have heard already that palm oil is not good to use but hardly a few know why.

What Exactly Is Palm Oil

Among all types of cooking oils that we use, palm oil is probably the one we would never consider using, in our kitchen even if it is the most-used oil commercially.

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fruit of African oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis. These trees are native to Africa however, are now grown extensively in Asia, North America and South America as the oil is much in demand everywhere today. Palm oil greatly contributes to the GDP of the producing countries. Indonesia and Malaysia make up for 85% of global palm oil supply today.

It is extensively used in most commercial food products be it ice-cream, doughnuts, toothpaste, cosmetics or animal feed…even your soap! Around half of the products that we use today have palm oil in them. Why? Because it is extremely versatile and cheap! It can give products higher shelf life. It gives the crispy, crunchy texture to the fried food like your french fries! It has no colour or smell so it is easy to use in food products.

Is Palm Oil Bad For Health?

It has a high saturated fat content which can be harmful for us and is linked to heart diseases. however many studies also say that if you eat a balanced diet (meaning less of junk), the effect is negligible.

Some other studies say that palm oil is rich in tocotrienols which is a form of vitamin-E. These protect our cells and reduce our risk of heart disease as well as cancer.

So, What’s The Verdict?

Palm oil might be okay for our health in moderation. If we consume less junk and processed food, the intake is very low. Which we should anyways and not just for palm oil!

Though one thing is sure. Palm oil is definitely bad for our environment. It is one of the major causes of deforestation around the world, especially the rainforests.

The palm oil tree normally lives for around 30 years but when it grows too tall and it becomes hard collecting fruit from it, it gets chopped down to make way for a new tree. And this chopping down leads to deforestation. This, in turn, leads us to climate changes and loss of habitats to many animal species such as Orangutans! Who said the earth belongs to humans only?

The use of less expensive palm oil is so extensive across industries everywhere that it results into massive destruction of forests and the environmental impact is huge today!

The worst part is that it has become impossible to avoid products that use palm oil. It is everywhere! Imagine my surprise when I noticed that motichoor laddoos that I got from a famous sweet brand, were made in palm oil too! I thought that brand wouldn’t use palm oil at least as every decent sweet brand/shop boasts of using ghee/ in its sweets!

By the way, did you know that ghee-flavoured oils are also freely available in the market today?

Why Not Find Alternative Oils?

Unfortunately, that is not possible commercially. Palm oil is an efficient crop. This means that it produces more palm oil per land than any other oil-crop such as soyabean oil or coconut oil. Thus means that much, much more land would be needed if not for palm oil. This would not address the problem at the core.

What Can We Do?

For starters and to safeguard our planet, we can identify and use products which contain only sustainable palm oil in them. How to identify? WWF has a rating tool for brands that you can easily use. The link is below:

https://palmoilscorecard.panda.org/

We can switch to alternate oils for personal consumption. In processed products that we buy, we can choose products or brands which are RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) certified. Certified palm oil protects the environment and the local communities involved in its production. It is very much possible e.g. in 2016, 75% of UK’s total palm oil import was sustainable.

This is all for today. And if you think that since palm oil doesn’t directly affects your health much and that you need not bother too much about it, think again! It is destroying our home, brick-by-brick!

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

Is Transformation Your Goal?

Hi friends, happy Friday! How have you all been keeping?

Life has, to a lot of extent, returned to a less panicked state, hasn’t it? Whether it’s due to better survival rate nowadays or to the fact that we are adapting to the new norm of masks, sanitizers and social-distancing, knowing that there is no other way any time soon. Doesn’t mean I am not hopeful of a vaccination this year only. I still am!

And after experiencing this pandemic and seeing how important, more than ever…it is to stay healthy and have good immunity, what better time to start than now?

Also, a big thank you everyone, for your overwhelming response over my last post on Instagram which was me doing one-handed handstand, against the wall. I hope one day, I’ll be able to do that without the wall support 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Today’s post is just a short one! I simply want to stress on the fact that it is very important to stay healthy, have a balanced diet and lead an active life. We all know it already. Much has been said and written already. By me and countless others.

Many of you have recently asked me about my diet chart etc. I wish I could give you one formula but I don’t have one. I have again and again said that one need to combine diet and a basic fitness regime for overall health and strength. Either of this combination alone, would not take you where you want to be.

And weight management is just one factor in the whole health equation. Though it is perfectly alright to start with that motive and any motive is good enough 🙂

Nutrition is a very powerful tool, no doubt. But it isn’t easy! It needs a strong willpower where one could think of food in terms of neither punishment nor entertainment but in terms of nourishment. It is entirely possible to eat what you want but with modifications and moderation.

And if one says that they have done all they could in terms of diets and still reached nowhere, I would still  understand. I have been there.

For starters, it is not the same for everyone. And second, if you reached nowhere, you haven’t done it either right (for you)…or enough! In my case, I did not do it at all! Till I started, I did not know what I was missing out on.

Let’s say you started on a journey which means to take 6 months. You started enthusiastically but stopped after 3 months…would you still reach your destination? Obviously not! You stopped mid-way. You stopped walking!

One thing is for sure, if you gave it 6 months, you would never want to go back! Neither in terms of diet modifications nor in terms of physical fitness. The success, the transformation would keep you coming back for more! It would become a lifelong habit, trust me. Do you remember the golden 21/90 rule? If not, do read this previous post here.

All you need in this journey is to show up…every time you are supposed to. Whether you work on your own or take external assistance, consistency is the key. Even if you make no special efforts, you are sure to move ahead…just by the virtue of showing up. All you need is 1% a day after all!

There is another issue that many of my old friends have come up with and I will write about it in my next post. It is more specific to women than men but all the men who read my blogs, need to read it too 🙂

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

The Confusing Business Of Calories

Hi friends, happy Friday! How are you all?

At my end, it has been pretty hectic lately. No helps still and the house is full of never-ending chores. Everyone in the family (two elders, one Other Half, two little ones and one dog…they all do their bits to help out but at the end of the day, the lady of the house gets the lion’s share of…err, chores, isn’t it?

Anyways, all this keeps me on my toes whole day (now night also, thanks to the latest addition of Kia, the pup. At 5 months, she is now tall enough to pull my hair while I am dreaming at night). I am sure your story is quite similar to mine and a big hug to all of us brave hearts!!

Amidst all the chaos, have you continued your fitness routine or diet plans? Or started any? Tell me if you have!

It does get all very confusing at the end of the day, isn’t it? Especially the term calories! Calories…low calories…zero calories…empty calories…high calorie food…calorie-dense food etc. What are these calories after all? Almost a scary word today especially for weight watchers. Let’s decode calories today!

What Are Calories?

Calories in simple terms, is energy that we need for day to day functioning.

Technically, ‘calorie’ word is the unit of energy that we get from a certain food item. This is how we measure energy. All food items provide us energy – be it sugars, fats, proteins or carbs. The amount of energy or calories each food provides varies. Every single cell in our body needs this energy.

Depending upon the goals and lifestyle, the daily calorie requirement ranges from 1600-2400 calories for adult females and for adult males, 2000-3000. However, men shouldn’t eat less than 1500 calories and women not less than 1200 calories per day – to get all the energy and nutrients required by the body for optimal day-to-day functioning.

Empty Calories

Empty calories come from food which would give us energy for sure but without any significant nutrients. Such foods are what we call as junk food also. Interestingly, one can lose weight on empty calories too, whether it would be healthy or not, is anybody’s guess. A few examples are pizzas, burgers and sugary foods/drinks.

Zero Calories or Low Calories

Products having zero calories such as diet foods and drinks are not necessarily any healthier, if you ask me. Replacing a good balanced meal with a low calorie meal-replacement bar/shake is not a great idea in long run! It just is not sustainable and can easily backfire unless accompanied by a healthy lifestyle change.

High Calories/Calorie Dense Foods  

This include foods that are high on calories in a relatively smaller portion such as butter or sugary sweets. Interestingly, some very healthy foods are very high in calories as well e.g. quinoa (yes, the superfood quinoa), avocados, dried fruits, olive oil etc

Similarly, low calorie foods have low amount of calories relative to the portion size such as many fruits and leafy greens.

How Many Calories Per Day?

The answer to this question would differ from person to person. It depends upon that person’s activity level and resting metabolic rate.

It is important to consume sufficient calories even if one is trying to lose weight. The calories consumed should be balanced out by calories spent.

Under-eating, over a period of time lowers our resting metabolic rate which in turn, affects our capacity to burn calories. So, if you crash-diet or starve yourself in the name of dieting, know that it is going to be rendered ineffective soon enough.

I have found an easy calculator online which should help you to with your daily calorie requirement. The credit goes to the website for it:

https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

So, What Kinds Of Calories Should We Consume?

That’s a very important detail and the turning point for you if you have specific goals such as muscle-building, fat loss, weight loss etc. Ideally, 45-65% of calories should come from carbs, 20-25% from fat and 10-35% from protein. Of course, it also depends upon your lifestyle, medical history and goals. Kids need more energy coming from fat as they are growing.

Do you want to know a few easy ways to reduce your calorie consumption? Do let me know.

In The End

It is crucial that we change our lifestyle in such a way that the focus is on staying healthy- physically and mentally. This is the only way to enjoy the process and keep it sustainable in the long run. This enables us to have fun while staying active and healthy. World-cruise at 60, anyone?

Also, it is important to consult a nutritionist or your doctor if you plan to make a big dietary change/switch or go on any low-calorie diets.

Hope you found today’s post informative and it cleared away a few doubts. To join me on Instagram for more tips/tricks on health & nutrition, follow the link below. Your support means a lot to me 🙂

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace

All About Probiotics

Hi friends, happy Friday!

For a long while, all days were so similar but now I have again started loving the weekends. Why? Because of start of online-schooling. The precious extra hours of  morning sleep is what makes the weekends special, again!

In my last post on sabja/basil seeds, I wrote that pectin found in them is a prebiotic and some of you messaged me telling I made a spelling mistake there. I sometimes do make a spelling mistake or other, especially on the more hectic days…but this time, it was not a mistake. What I meant was prebiotic indeed! But I do realize that I owe a big thank you to all those of you who read my blogs so closely 🙂

Most of us are probably already aware of the term “probiotic”, thanks to advertisements by  many yogurt brands and fermented milk-based health drinks. The term isn’t very old but has become very popular recently.

Before we come to understanding the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, let’s understand probiotics first.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms i.e. the bacteria that are found naturally in our body (mainly intestine) and help our body in breaking down the food. Also called gut-bacteria, friendly/healthy bacteria or gut-flora, these bacteria are mostly divided into two families: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Our body generally takes care of our gut-health on its own. However gut-flora can be disbalanced due to bad diet, infections, medications, hygiene habits etc. It becomes even more important to re-build a healthy balance in such cases.

Did You Know?

Our intestines contain 100 billion bacteria (of 1000 various kinds) and some of these are unique to each one of us, quite like our fingerprints!

Benefits

  • Probiotics helps in maintaining the healthy balance of friendly bacteria in our digestive system
  • Not just physical health, some researches have shown that probiotic foods can improve some mental health disorders too such as depression, stress and anxiety etc. How? By producting serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. Wow!
  • Boosts immune system and this reduce the severity or frequency of cold and certain allergies
  • Prevents and even treats diarrhea
  • Toxic removal from our bodies
  • Better metabolism

Natural Sources Of Probiotics

There are many reasons why newborns are advised to be breastfed and probiotics are one of the main reasons! Breast milk is naturally rich in probiotics and sometimes, formula milk is fortified by the probiotics to get it closer to breastmilk.

Apart from occurring naturally in our bodies, certain foods such as yogurts (with live strains), tempeh (fermented soyabean), miso (Japanese seasoning with soyabeans as main ingredient), kefir (fermented milk drink), kimchi (fermented spicy Korean dish with cabbage or other veggies), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), pickles (or gherkins, are cucumbers pickled in salt and water), kombucha (fermented black/green tea drink) and certain cheeses etc are rich sources of probiotics.

On desi front – curd, regular yogurt, buttermilk, idli, dosa, kanji, achhar, dhokla etc though are not true probiotics as not standardized, provide many similar benefits.

And no, wine and beer, though fermented cannot be considered probiotics!

Probiotic Supplements

According to the official definition of probiotics by WHO, any strain or product can be classified as a probiotic only if it contains a stipulated amount of live microorganisms which are resistant to gastric juices etc to reach the target area successfully in our body and be of any actual benefit.

Probiotics are also sold as powder/liquid supplements such as Yakult as well as capsules or tablets. Some good quality multivitamins also include probiotics in their composition. Remember, not every yoghurt can be sold as a probiotic unless it clearly mentions the live culture it contains!

I have even been prescribed a urinary tract probiotic as a part of my UTI treatment once. And I am sure most of us have used, Enterogermina, Novogermina and the kinds, at one point or other…especially for our kids. Have you?

In The End

Before you start a probiotic supplement of any sort, make sure you are not allergic to the particular strain found in it. If someone is lactose-intolerant, a dairy-free probiotic is an obvious choice.

In general, probiotic supplements are considered safe. People on antibiotic medication can benefit from probiotics a lot as the antibiotics are prone to destroy the balance of gut-flora by killing healthy bacteria along with the bad ones.

If you have any pre-existing medical issues or any immunity-related condition, do check with your doctor/nutritionist, before you choose your probiotic.

Do join me on Instagram for more such info, tips and daily motivation on

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Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace

Want 40% More Happiness In Life?

Hi Friends, Happy Friday!!

While fine-tuning blog-post today, I heard the breaking news and it actually made not just my day but actually delivered my x-mas gift early. Yes, the ‘justice’ in Telangana rape case has been delivered! I don’t care whys and hows, to be honest. There was nothing left to be proven and I am happy. Hope other victims get justice quick and while still alive!

I started writing this post last Wednesday morning actually, hoping to finish it on time, for Friday. However, the entire last week I felt so down and let down ☹. I wanted to say something strong, write something even stronger but just couldn’t! Everything has been said, time and again…these incidents keep happening and the news is full of horrible statistics and as a parent myself, the pain brings tears to my eyes every time I think of these.

I think a quick trial and death penalty is the only solution now, even for juvenile, cold-blooded murderers. Hope the law gets passed soon! Till then, a sad and teary goodbye to all the little children, young lives and even older citizens who weren’t allowed a dignified death. And their family-members who would always be having nightmares, left with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Sometimes, I do wish that ghosts are real…like in movies. Tortured souls would come back and haunt the preparators and take revenge. Guess that would solve the problem too!

The whole week, I needed something that would put me back in a positive state of mind and my chosen weapon was always an intensive workout at gym. Yes, that is how I recharge myself and along with a fit and active body, my reward is also a peaceful, positive mind. And Hopeful!

Think I am exaggerating?

Did You Know?

The depression/anxiety statistics worldwide are staggering! 300 million people worldwide is a shocking figure for an illness that we don’t even speak much of.  India being on top on this list, followed by China and USA.

(*source – WHO report)

Being a very complex illness, there are many contributing factors for bad mental health. These vary from menopause, abuse, certain medications, death or loss, genetics, a life-changing event to many other personal problems.

Today’s post isn’t about depression though. That’s another topic for another day. However, all the researchers and healthcare professionals agree on one thing. Regular exercise plays a very, very important role in combating this illness. In preventing, in managing and in recovering.

Exercise improves and supports mental health as it reduces anxiety, depression etc and elevates negative moods. By a whooping 40%!! This means that people who exercise have 40% better mental health than people who don’t exercise.

We all strive for happiness in life, one way or the other, don’t we all? We do everything for it and we always hope for more happiness and positivity in our lives. How about getting 40% more happiness in bonus now? On top of everything!

There is a cross-sectional study done in US with a huge database was analyzed (sample size – 1.2bn individuals). It’s an interesting and widely acclaimed researched. If you want to read  more of it, read it here:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326910400_Association_between_physical_exercise_and_mental_health_in_12_million_individuals_in_the_USA_between_2011_and_2015_a_cross-sectional_study

How?

  • Other than providing numerous health benefits, exercising makes you feel happier as it stimulates our brain to release powerful chemicals like endorphins and serotonin in our body and these hormones in turn, improve our moods making us feel good
  • Exercise stimulates hippocampus (a part in our brain that is associated with memory and learning), encouraging new cell growth. Hippocampus shrinkage is directly associated with all sorts of mental illnesses including depression, Alzheimer’s, insomnia, alcohol addiction and chronic stress – to name a few
  • Exercise improves our physical appearance and boosts our self-confidence
  • Exercising also helps you socially. It takes us out in the world, reducing any feeling of loneliness and providing us with opportunities for social interactions
  • Regular exercise reduces our stress levels
  • Regular exercise helps with better sleep
  • Regular exercise improves and preserves memory
  • Exercise forces oxygen in our body and fresh blood into our brain, boosting clear thoughts and better co-ordination, even better nerve connections inside our brain!

How Much Should I Exercise for My Mental Health?

30-60 minutes of medium to high intensity workouts, 3-5 times a week is optimum. More if you want. Nothing less.

Which Exercises Are Best For Achieving Mental Fitness?

Some activities have a higher impact on our mental health! Anything that shoots up your heart rate works. Team sports, running, brisk-walking, swimming, tennis, strength-conditioning at gym, aerobics, biking…choose your poison.

In addition to it, Yoga is another tool that would help you achieve a holistic sense of relaxation while helping with the balance and flexibility. However, don’t forget to combine it with some heart-pumping fitness regime for complete benefits.

In this post here, I have already detailed how exercising helps us physically. Now, we know it helps us in preserving and supporting our mental health as well. What more do you want before you start on your fitness journey?

Also, there are many other causes and therapies that help a lot in improving mental health or brain health, if needed. A healthy diet contributes too. Like in the case of any other physical illness, do consult a professional for complete review.

Take the first step towards health today. Not tomorrow, not Monday, not January!

Love, Hugs and Health

Being Ageless: Part 2

Hi Everyone! How’s it going? All good at my end. A BIG thank you to all of you for making my Sugar SeriesPart 1, 2 & 3 a success by sharing it around and also, giving the Part 1: What has Age Got To Do With Anything, a big thumps up!

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Happiness is a state of mind. Agelessness is happiness combined with an active and healthy body!

We all know that being happy in whatever we do and where ever we are, is very important. However, this Happiness to be wholesome and holistic, our mind needs to be equally supported by a healthy and active body…there is no happiness greater than a happy mind, in a healthy body!!

Living life to its fullest or queen/king-sized only happens if both your mind and body support the cause. When you look good and feel good, you feel confident and in turn, happier and more positive, in general.

This is my belief. Do you agree?

When I say ageless, I don’t mean just looking young – it also means feeling young. Feeling and looking young – both need to exist together and they would. Read on:

Keep your Brain Young

Not just doing an activity but actively learning something, keeps you young mentally.

There are tons of researches done that have clearly proven that our brain-health is maintained by reading and participating in brain-stimulating activities.

  • First and foremost, exercise daily. Yes, you read it right, even to maintain brain health, exercise daily for at least 30-45 minutes
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid high-sugar diet
  • Quit smoking. If you have to drink, moderate alcohol. Absolutely no narcotics!
  • Keep the company that makes you feel positive. That pushes you to be your best without being competitive. That appreciates your commitments
  • Start learning something new. Learning has no age limits. You like guitar or Harmonica or Piano? Always wanted to learn Spanish? Or belly-dancing or Kathak or Salsa? A martial art? Pottery? Singing? Baking? Bar-tending? Choose your poison!
  • Join a class where you get a chance to meet more people
  • Go out just with friends…have some ‘me’ time
  • Read your favorite book or play some music on your speakers that makes you dance
  • Solve a Sudoku puzzle daily. Or a crossword daily? Or few word-cookies?
  • Sleep well

Did you Know?

Researches prove that a healthy mix of healthy habits prevent memory loss and other brain-changes that come with time, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Keep your Body Young

One simple way to do this is to get some functional training done, once every week, the blood rushing to your face and the oxygen rushing into your lungs, would keep you looking younger than any facial in the world would. You will sweat, pant and have a red face surely, your heart rate would spike up BUT you would feel as if you can take on anything in this world…and win! Weight-management and strength are added bonus, to name a few!

If you want to look and feel ageless, some form of fitness regime is non-negotiable. Any fitness regime that would make you pant and spike up your heart rate, would do. Don’t have time…alright but remember you live only once, where would you take all this time (and money) once you are old and ridden with multiple health complications and no energy left. Stop and think!

This fitness regime is the foundation of staying young. Rest everything you do, need to be an add-on. Nothing would work if you do not follow this basic principle unless you are blessed with miracle-genes. I wish I was!!

Having said the most important part first, a few more things that would help:

  • Keep hydrated, drink at least 3 litres of water. Read about Hydration here
  • Take multivitamins daily for 11 months a year, this would take care of Vitamins like C, E, D, B12 among others as well as essential minerals
  • Get your blood test done, once every year at least and see which areas need work
  • No smoking and no alcohol is best
  • Reduce your sugar intake, eat healthy
  • Try probiotics and antioxidants
  • Re-evaluate your daily intake of protein
  • Prevent falls – Read post on Strength Training here
  • Before starting any supplements, please consult your doctor or nutritionist especially if have a health concern

Look Young

Once you took care of your fitness regime and diet, consider these:

  • Re-evaluate your wardrobe. Remove all the ill-fitting styles, clothes and accessories
  • Have a haircut if you want (or need). Get some layers, maybe?
  • Colour your hair if you want
  • How about a day in a Spa getting a nice pedi, mani, facial etc?
  • Invest in some basic but good-quality work-out wear. Read post here
  • Throw away all your expired personal care products and get some new ones. Get good brands/products
  • Invest in a good sunscreen, a fine scrub, a good night-serum and a good lip-balm at the least. Do a bit of research and choose wisely. Read post on parabens & sulfates here
  • See if you want to include an anti-aging product from a good brand. These are generally expensive so, do your research
  • Make a simple skincare regime of your own depending on your skin type – Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize and Exfoliate. I exfoliate twice a week and use a vitamin C serum daily instead of a moisturizer as I have oily skin. Boroline in the night takes care of my lips 😊

Last and not the least, give it some time. Be consistent. It won’t happen overnight, it might take longer to see any impact but trust me, soon…very soon it would happen! All the best to you, on this journey of being wise, healthy, graceful and ageless!!

Do you have any secrets what worked for you, a face-mask, a product, a grandma’s recipe maybe? Do share but only if you have experienced it first hand, on your own 😊

Till next Friday

Love, Hugs and Health