"Dr. Hyman, I've been suffering from seasonal allergies for years," writes this week's house call. "Is there anything that I can do to make these go away or am I doomed forever?"
You are definitely not doomed; however, I do know how miserable seasonal allergies can be, especially in the spring and summer.
Conventional medicine treats seasonal allergies with injections and pills, which unfortunately creates side effects and fails to address the root problem. If you don't address the root cause, then the allergies will never go away.
I've seen countless patients arrive complaining about gut issues. Once we fixed their diets and healed their guts, their seasonal allergies also disappeared. When the immune system (60 percent of which is in the gut) is irritated, it reacts to everything—kind of like when you don't get enough sleep everything makes you more irritable.
One patient struggled with allergies, asthma and hives. She almost nearly died twice from anaphylaxis. She arrived in my office on 42 different pills, sprays and inhalers; yet, she still felt awful. These drugs were suppressing and inhibiting her immune function, causing her body to attack everything. None of her doctors had questioned why her immune system was so compromised in the first place. But due to my Functional Medicine approach, that's the first question I asked.
Turned out, she had leaky gut that was triggered by celiac disease, a gluten-related autoimmune disease. Until that point, nobody had actually tested her for this condition. When we eliminated gluten and other dietary allergens, we healed her leaky gut and calmed down her allergies. Thankfully, after six weeks she was able to stop the 42 medications she used daily.
For her and countless other patients, a key strategy involves getting your gut healthy. After all, an unhealthy, inflamed gut can't fight off potential allergens. To do that and eliminate seasonal allergies, I've found these four strategies incredibly helpful:
1. Replace bad with good. An elimination diet becomes the first step for a healthy gut. The simple foundation of Functional Medicine is taking out the bad and putting in the good. Eliminate common toxic triggers like wheat, corn, dairy, soy and alcohol. Eat a whole foods, high-fiber diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory plant chemicals called phytonutrients. Avoid anything that contains sugar or trans fats. Focus on eating healthy fats from extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados and omega-3 fats like those found in small fish (sardines, herring, sable, wild-caught salmon). I provide an easy-to-implement plan in my book Eat Fat, Get Thin.
2. Use powerful gut-healing nutrients—including probiotics, which provide good bacteria to improve digestion and reduce inflammation. Other gut-healing nutrients include glutamine, zinc, curcumin and fish oil. I always recommend a high-quality multivitamin. Quercetin (which has anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties) and nettles can also relieve symptoms from allergies. You can find these and other allergy-relieving supplements in my store.
3. Manage stress. A mind-body disconnect can mean being stressed out, wired and tired and can really damage your gut and worsen seasonal allergies. Practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation every day.
4. Get adequate sleep. Optimal sleep is crucial for gut health and overall health. Research shows inadequate sleep shortens your lifespan and increases inflammation, which can lead to chronic disease. Insufficient sleep can also increase your risk for diabetes through insulin resistance, paving the way for diabesity. Aim for at least eight hours of uninterrupted, deep sleep every night. To help meet that quota, check out my eight simple hacks for a better night's sleep.
Occasionally, I'll have a patient who has tried all these things and still suffers. In those cases, we need to dig a little deeper for other causes such as food additives, pesticides, chemicals and pollution in their environment. You should also check for mold in your home or work—check out this site to learn more.
Also, consider a very important blood test called C-reactive protein, which measures the degree of hidden inflammation in your body. Almost every modern disease is caused by or affected by hidden inflammation, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, dementia, arthritis, autoimmune disease, allergies and digestive disorders.
Chronic inflammation that contributes to seasonal allergies and much more can come from many sources, including:
- A high-sugar, processed-foods diet
- Inflammatory fats like omega 6 fats found in processed vegetable oils and trans fat
- Lack of exercise
- Hidden or chronic infections, such as viruses, bacteria, yeasts or parasites, mold and other environmental allergens
- Toxicity from an overload of environmental toxins
Ultimately, lifestyle choices and how we care for our bodies and souls is not part of our education, values or even our daily planning; yet, these basic skills form the root cause of our happiness and health.
While these principles are disarmingly simple, even the best and brightest people fail to make the connection between how we treat our bodies and how we feel. Most of us never learned how to care for and feed our bodies and souls. A few simple acts implemented into your daily life could change everything, including seasonal allergies.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Helen West
Many people find themselves eating late at night, even when they aren't hungry. Nighttime eating can cause you to eat more calories than you need and lead to weight gain.
Here are 10 things you can do to stop eating late in the evening or at night:
1. Identify the Cause
Some people eat most of their food late in the evening or during the night.
To change this habit, you need to identify the cause of the problem.
Nighttime eating may be the result of overly restricted daytime food intake, leading to ravenous hunger at night. It may also be caused by habit or boredom.
In both, people use food to curb emotions such as sadness, anger or frustration and they often eat even when they are not hungry.
Binge eaters also tend to eat very large amounts of food in one sitting and feel out of control while they are eating (6).
On the other hand, people with nighttime eating syndrome tend to graze throughout the evening and wake up during the night to eat, consuming more than 25 percent of their daily calories at night (7, 8).
Both conditions have been linked to obesity, depression and trouble sleeping.
Bottom Line: Nighttime eating can be caused by boredom, hunger, binge eating disorder and nighttime eating syndrome. Identifying the cause will help you take the right steps to solve the problem.
2. Identify Your Triggers
As well as identifying the overall cause of your overeating, you may find it useful to look for a specific pattern of events that usually sets off your eating behavior.
People reach for food for many reasons. If you're not hungry but nonetheless find yourself eating at night, think about what led up to it.
Often you will find you are using food to meet a need that isn't hunger.
Tracking your eating and exercise habits alongside your feelings will help you identify patterns, enabling you to work on breaking any negative cycles of behavior.
Bottom Line: Monitoring your behavior patterns and identifying what triggers you to eat at night will help you break cycles of emotional eating.
3. Use a Routine
If you're overeating because you aren't eating enough during the day, then getting yourself into a routine can help.
Structured eating and sleeping times will help you spread your food intake over the day so that you're less hungry at night.
Getting good sleep is very important when it comes to managing your food intake and weight.
Lack of sleep and short sleep duration have been linked to higher calorie intakes and poor-quality diets. Over a long period of time, poor sleep can increase your risk of obesity and related diseases (14).
Having set times for eating and sleeping can help you separate the two activities, especially if you are prone to waking in the night to eat.
Bottom Line: Having a routine for meal and sleep times can help you break unhealthy cycles of behavior. This can help if you have no appetite during the day or tend to binge at night.
4. Plan Your Meals
As part of your routine, you may also benefit from using a meal plan.
Having a meal plan can also reduce any anxiety about how much you are eating and help you spread your food throughout the day, keeping hunger at bay.
Bottom Line: Planning your meals and snacks can help manage your food intake and stave off hunger.
5. Seek Emotional Support
If you think you may have nighttime eating syndrome or binge eating disorder, then you may want to seek professional help.
A professional can help you identify your triggers and implement a treatment plan.
Creating an emotional support network will also help you find ways to manage negative emotions, which otherwise might lead you to the fridge (22).
Bottom Line: For some people with eating disorders, seeking professional help and support can be key to overcoming problematic eating at night.
Anxiety and stress are two of the most common reasons why people eat when they aren't hungry. However, using food to curb your emotions is a bad idea.
If you notice that you eat when you are anxious or stressed, try to find another way to let go of negative emotions and relax.
Relaxation techniques you may find useful include breathing exercises, meditation, hot baths, yoga, gentle exercise or stretching.
Bottom Line: Instead of eating, try to deal with stress and anxiety using relaxation techniques, gentle exercise or stretching.
7. Eat Regularly Throughout the Day
Overeating at night has been linked to erratic eating patterns that can often be categorized as disordered eating (26).
Eating at planned intervals throughout the day in line with “normal" eating patterns can help keep your blood sugar stable.
It can also help prevent feelings of ravenous hunger, tiredness, irritability or a perceived lack of food, which can lead to a binge (27).
However, it's important to note that results in this area have been mixed.
Bottom Line: Eating regular meals will prevent you from getting too hungry and will help you manage your cravings and food impulses.
8. Include Protein at Every Meal
Different foods can have different effects on your appetite.
If you eat due to hunger, including protein at every meal may help curb your hunger.
It could also help you feel more satisfied throughout the day, stop you from being preoccupied with food and help prevent snacking at night (36).
One study found that eating frequent high-protein meals reduced cravings by 60 percent and cut the desire to eat at night by half (37).
Here is a list of 20 healthy high-protein foods.
Bottom Line: Protein is known to keep you fuller for longer. Including protein at every meal can reduce cravings and nighttime eating.
9. Don't Keep Junk Food in the House
If you are prone to eating high-fat, high-sugar junk food at night, remove it from your house.
If unhealthy snacks aren't within easy reach, you are much less likely to eat them.
Instead, fill your house with healthy food that you enjoy. Then when you have the urge to eat, you won't snack on junk.
Good snack-friendly foods to have available if you get hungry include fruits, berries, plain yogurt and cottage cheese.
These are very filling and probably won't cause you to overeat in the case that you do end up becoming ravenously hungry in the evening.
Bottom Line: Take any unhealthy junk food out of the house. Doing so will stop you from snacking on it throughout the night.
10. Distract Yourself
If you are preoccupied with thoughts of food because you're bored, then find something else you enjoy doing in the evening.
This will help keep your mind occupied.
Finding a new hobby or planning evening activities can help prevent mindless late-night snacking.
Bottom Line: If you are eating out of boredom, then try finding something else you enjoy doing in the evening to keep your mind occupied.
Take Home Message
Nighttime eating has been linked to excess calorie intake, obesity and poor health.
If eating at night is a problem for you, then try the steps above to help you stop.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Terita Heath-Wlaz
Time for a dash of salt on that sheet pan of roasted veggies. What do you reach for? Pink Himalayan crystal salt? Hawaiian red salt? Black lava salt? Or, good old Morton's table salt?
Colorful, exotic sea salts are marketed as minimally-processed, healthful alternatives to refined table salt. But since your individual diet and health influences what you need from salt, it's worth examining the claims and true differences among salts before you choose.
Processing in Sea Salt vs. Table Salt
It's true that sea salt undergoes less processing than table salt; it's produced simply by evaporating water from oceans or salinated lakes. Trace minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium remain in sea salt, altering its texture, flavor and nutritional content in subtle ways.
Table salt, on the other hand, is mined from salt deposits underground. Manufacturers strip the salt of minerals to yield a uniformly white color, grind it to a fine consistency and add an anti-caking agent like calcium silicate. Finally, most table salts contain added iodine to combat iodine deficiency and goiter.
Many consumers gravitate toward sea salt because of its “close-to-nature" status–and its easy to understand why! We know minimal processing benefits our health when it comes to grains, meats and vegetables, so shouldn't the same be true for salt?
There's more to consider.
The promise of trace minerals in sea salt is alluring, but experts with the American Heart Association note that most minerals in sea salt occur plentifully in other foods. If you eat a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, you likely already consume plenty of potassium, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients.
By weight, the amount of sodium in sea salt and table salt is roughly equal. That means if you're trying to keep your sodium intake below the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams per day, use either type of salt in moderation.
Worthy of note: most sodium we ingest doesn't come from the salt we add to food, but from packaged and processed food. The most effective change you can make to reduce sodium intake is to eat fewer processed foods and less restaurant fare.
Dietary iodine added to table salt—but not sea salt—protects the health of your thyroid, which in turn helps regulate your metabolism, heart rate, nervous system and many more functions.
Certain foods supply iodine naturally, including seaweed, fish, yogurt and eggs. If you eat these foods regularly (especially seaweed!), you may be getting the recommended 150 micrograms of iodine your body needs in a day.
If your diet is low in iodine, however (which is common), choosing iodized table salt might act as a good insurance policy for thyroid health.
So, What Should I Choose?
The salt you choose depends on your tastes, nutritional status and diet. If you are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding and you regularly eat iodine-rich foods, you might choose sea salts for their beautiful array of colors, textures and flavors. A little jar of special salt makes a charming gift and if you enjoy eating foods close to their natural state, sea salt can complement your cooking.
But sea salt, unlike table salt, does not supply iodine and its trace minerals probably have little effect on your health. Most importantly, remember that sea salt contains as much sodium as table salt, so whatever you choose, use just a sprinkle!
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By Maggie McCracken
Inverting—positioning your body so that your feet are higher than your heart—holds a number of health benefits. Seniors are especially likely to benefit from inverting, but everyone can enjoy improved circulation, reduced foot and leg swelling, a rush of oxygen to the brain and perhaps even relief from back pain if they include regular inversions in their yoga practice.
By Franziska Spritzler
This article takes a detailed look at the health effects of carbonated water.
What is Carbonated Water?
Carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure.
This produces a bubbly drink that's also known as sparkling water, club soda, soda water, seltzer water and fizzy water.
With the exception of seltzer water, they usually have salt added to improve the taste. Sometimes small amounts of other minerals are included.
Natural sparkling mineral waters, such as Perrier and San Pellegrino, are different.
These waters are captured naturally from a mineral spring and tend to contain minerals and sulfur compounds. These waters are often carbonated as well.
Bottom Line: Carbonated water is created by combining water with carbon dioxide under pressure. Sodium and other minerals are often added.
Carbonated Water is Acidic
Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid that's been shown to stimulate the same nerve receptors in your mouth as mustard.
The pH of carbonated water is 3–4, which means it's slightly acidic.
However, drinking an acidic beverage like carbonated water does not make your body more acidic.
Your kidneys and lungs remove excess carbon dioxide. This keeps your blood at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35–7.45, regardless of what you eat or drink.
Bottom Line: Carbonated water is acidic, but your body maintains a stable, slightly alkaline pH no matter what you consume.
Does it Affect Dental Health?
One of the biggest concerns about sparkling water is its effect on teeth, since the enamel is directly exposed to acid.
There is very little research on this topic, but one study found that sparkling mineral water damaged enamel only slightly more than still water. Furthermore, it was 100 times less damaging than a sugary soft drink (3).
In one study, carbonated beverages showed strong potential to destroy enamel, but only if they contained sugar. In fact, a non-carbonated sweet beverage (Gatorade) was more harmful than a carbonated sugar-free drink (Diet Coke) (4).
In another study, samples of tooth enamel were placed in various beverages for up to 24 hours. The sugar-sweetened carbonated and non-carbonated beverages resulted in significantly greater enamel loss than diet drinks (5).
Another review of several studies found that the combination of sugar and carbonation may lead to severe dental decay (6).
However, plain sparkling water appears to pose little risk to dental health. It's only the sugary types that are harmful (7).
If you're concerned about dental health, try drinking sparkling water with a meal or rinsing your mouth with plain water after drinking it.
Bottom Line: Sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages can erode tooth enamel, but plain carbonated water appears to be relatively harmless.
Does it Affect Digestion?
Carbonated water may benefit digestive health in several ways.
It Can Improve Swallowing Ability
In one study, 16 healthy people were asked to repeatedly swallow different liquids. Carbonated water showed the strongest ability to stimulate the nerves responsible for swallowing function (9).
Another study showed that the combination of cold temperature and carbonation strengthened these beneficial effects (10).
In a study of 72 people who felt a persistent need to clear their throats, drinking ice-cold carbonated water led to improvement in 63 percent of the subjects. Those who had the most frequent and severe symptoms experienced the greatest benefits (11).
It May Increase Feelings of Fullness
Carbonated water may also help you feel full longer than plain water does.
Sparkling water may help food remain in the first part of the stomach for longer, which can trigger a sensation of fullness (12).
In a controlled study of 19 healthy young women, fullness scores were higher after the participants drank 8 oz (250 ml) of soda water, compared to still water (13).
However, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.
It May Help Relieve Constipation
People who experience constipation may find that drinking sparkling water helps relieve their symptoms.
In a two-week study of 40 elderly people who had suffered strokes, average bowel movement frequency nearly doubled in the group that drank carbonated water, compared to the group that drank tap water.
What's more, the participants reported a 58 percent decrease in symptoms (14).
There's also evidence that sparkling water may improve other symptoms of indigestion, including stomach pain.
One controlled study looked at 21 people with chronic digestive issues. After 15 days, those who drank carbonated water had significant improvements in digestive symptoms, constipation and gallbladder emptying (15).
Bottom Line: Carbonated water has benefits for digestion. It may improve swallowing, increase feelings of fullness and reduce constipation.
Does Carbonated Water Affect Bone Health?
Many people believe that carbonated beverages are bad for bones because of their high acid content. However, research suggests the carbonation isn't to blame.
A large observational study of more than 2,500 people found that cola was the only beverage associated with significantly lower bone mineral density. Carbonated water appeared to have no effect on bone health (16).
Unlike carbonated water and clear soda, cola drinks contain a lot of phosphorus.
The researchers proposed that the cola drinkers may have been consuming too much phosphorus and not enough calcium. This is a potential risk factor for bone loss.
In another study, teen girls who consumed carbonated drinks were found to have lower bone mineral density. This was attributed to those beverages replacing milk in their diet, resulting in inadequate calcium intake (17).
In a controlled study of 18 postmenopausal women, drinking 1 liter (34 ounces) of sodium-rich sparkling water for 8 weeks led to better calcium retention and no negative effects on bone health, compared to drinking plain mineral water (18).
Animal research suggests carbonated water may even improve bone health.
Supplementing the diets of hens with carbonated water for six weeks led to increased leg bone strength, compared to tap water (19).
Bottom Line: Drinking carbonated cola drinks may harm bone health, but plain sparkling water appears to have a neutral or positive effect.
Does it Affect Heart Health?
There's very limited research on how carbonated water affects heart health, but the existing evidence is positive.
In the same group of 18 postmenopausal women from the bone health study, the researchers measured indicators of heart health.
What's more, they also had an increase in HDL (the “good") cholesterol (20).
Additionally, the estimated risk of developing heart disease within 10 years was 35 percent lower for those drinking the carbonated water, compared to the control water.
However, since this was only one small study, a lot more research needs to be done before drawing conclusions.
Bottom Line: Carbonated water may have beneficial effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar. However, this needs to be studied a lot more.
So is Carbonated Water Actually Bad For You?
There is currently no evidence that carbonated or sparkling water is bad for you.
It is not really that harmful for dental health and seems to have no effect on bone health.
Interestingly, a carbonated drink may even enhance digestion by improving swallowing ability and reducing constipation.
It's also a calorie-free beverage that causes a pleasurable bubbly sensation. Many people prefer it over still water.
There's no reason to give up this beverage if you enjoy it. In fact, it may actually improve your overall health.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Ann Pietrangelo
“If everyone was a healthy weight we could close half the hospitals and get rid of half the doctors," according to Philip Caravella, M.D., F.A.A.F.P. The family physician says obesity and being overweight are the leading causes of serious medical problems.
“The huge costs of medical care and medical insurance could be dramatically reduced if people understood the importance of fitness and normal weight," he said.
So, is It the Diet or is It the Sedentary Lifestyle?
Caravella believes a nutritionally sound diet and exercise are both important for maintaining a healthy weight, but not enough credit is given to exercise.
“Experts focus on diet as the main cause of obesity when it isn't," Caravella said in an interview. He's been studying the cause and effect of obesity for 20 years.
“Nutrition incorporates the building blocks," he explained. “Exercise is the tool to build your body into the fine, precision machine it can be. They are entirely different from each other, yet critical to each other just as cement and steel are the requisites of a well-engineered building. Exercise gives you strength and power. A sound diet provides the building blocks. One without the other will result in a deficient, inadequate body that is full of compromises, weaknesses and potential problems as time goes on. Good exercise yields strength and minimizes the effects of a diet that sometimes is too rich in sugars, carbohydrates and fats and is nutritionally deficient in vitamins and minerals."
Why is Weight Control So Important?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, obesity is often a contributing factor in:
- fertility problems
- sleep apnea and other breathing disorders
- high triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol
- high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke
- type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome
- some types of cancer
When it comes to the nutrition part of the equation, Caravella's advice is simple and will come as no surprise to regular Care2 readers. Our diets should consist of foods that exist in nature. “We've gotten way away from that in modern times because of processed foods, cakes, cookies, etc. We should focus on what lives and grows out in nature, not what our modern diet has morphed into."
He believes that focus on natural foods should start with infants. “Breastfeeding lowers the incidence of obesity and leads to a healthier life all around. We need to change nutrition from the get go. We should give them foods that are natural. If you don't introduce babies to processed foods, they'll have no interest in them."
Exercise is Good for Your State of Mind, Too
In addition to warding off serious health problems, exercise helps increase endurance, promotes good balance and keeps you flexible—all of which help get you through the day at your best.
“Exercise improves general well-being, one's intellect, their sense of purpose, their emotional goodness and dispositions, their sleep patterns and especially their ability to interact with others," according to Caravella. “Fit men and women will have an easier chance of attracting a significant other. People who exercise often will have less anxiety and depression. If they feel great about themselves, they will also feel excellent around others. With good form comes great personal achievement."
What is a Healthy Weight and How Do You Get Started?
To determine your healthy weight goal, you need to evaluate your body mass index (BMI). Dr. Caravella explains how to go about that in his book, Weight No Longer: The Prescription for Amazing Fitness & Living.
If you haven't been exercising regularly, he recommends consulting with your doctor first. Your general health, medications and pre-existing medical problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure must be considered before you start a regular exercise program. If you're going to do it, you want to do it right.
Do you happen to be one of those rare people who never exercises but still manages to maintain a good weight? Well, don't be too quick to pat yourself on the back and call it a day. You still need to exercise to prevent health problems, keep your bones and muscles healthy and boost your emotional well-being.
“All who exercise—regardless of their weight—will enjoy a longer, healthier life; diminishing their chances of developing dementia and arthritic conditions later down the line," said Caravella.
“Exercise fine-tunes our bodies. It prepares us for the unexpected while giving us the ability to participate in nearly any activity that most would find to be enjoyable. Life is worth living when your body is worth having."
I couldn't agree more. We've only got one body to get us through this life and it's worth keeping it in good shape. And once you get used to regular exercise, it's actually hard not to exercise.
If you need a little inspiration, Caravella put it quite succinctly: “We all make compromises. Exercise must never be one of them."
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By Lauren Bowen
Ahhhh, coffee … Java, go juice, liquid energy or rocket fuel. Whatever you choose to call it, coffee is America's go-to drink of choice. In fact, Americans drink an average of 3.1 cups of coffee each day. That's $40 billion spent by the U.S. alone on coffee each year.
The Good News
The good news? Some recent scientific studies suggest that consumption of caffeinated coffee in moderation may help to reduce some risks of diseases such as onset type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver cancer, Parkinson's and event gallstones.
The Not-So-Good News
However, not every aspect of regular coffee consumption is positive. Coffee has a tendency to carry with it a laundry list of unwanted extras (heavy creams, processed sugar, flavored syrups of all sorts) and is highly addictive, often forcing regular coffee drinkers into a habit that is difficult to break. No one likes those caffeine withdrawals …
Coffee also has a tendency to do a number on our mood. The “don't talk to me until I've had my coffee" trope isn't an overstatement.
Maybe you're thinking, “Coffee is my fuel. Without it I'm a zombie!" or “I'm always more productive when I have a little coffee kick" or possibly, “It just tastes good. There's nothing like a mocha frappuccino on a hot day."
Those are all fair statements. Many of us lead incredibly busy lives; we're always on our toes, working hard and running on coffee to make things happen at home and at work.
But what if there was another way?
Part of holistic health is understanding that life requires balance: that we keep ourselves free from restraints that hold us back or habits that keep us tied down when we don't want to be.
If you feel like you're ready to try some other options, check out the healthier coffee alternatives below.
1. Green Tea: Green tea is one of those drinks that is super-packed with nutrients, antioxidants and digestive benefits. It's just the right sort of drink to give you a boost without the unwanted coffee jitters.
2. Yerba Mate: For those who can't get their wheels turning without a cup of caffeine, yerba mate is a great choice. Made from the naturally caffeinated leaves from the South American holly tree, it's known for its “pump up" abilities. Bonus: Tastes great hot or cold.
3. Pomegranate Juice: Not kidding; this juice is full of energy boosters and antioxidants. Tastes great on its own or mixed with others.
4. Shizandra Tea: If you've never tried shizandra, you're in for a treat. Considered an easy swap for your daily java fix, shizandra is a berry tea that comes from East Asia. It also has some incredible health benefits: shizandra balances blood sugar, takes care of your liver and may even increase your memory.
5. Wheatgrass Juice: There's a reason wheatgrass makes its way into smoothies of all sorts. It's packed with a laundry list of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that aid digestion and boosts energy.
Well, there you have it. You're all set. No go on your non-coffee-addicted way.
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For consumers who want to avoid bisphenol A, Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created the first easily, searchable database of nearly 16,000 processed food and drinks packaged in materials that may contain this hormone-disrupting chemical, better known as BPA. The list was compiled from a little-known food industry inventory and is now available at EWG's Food Scores database.
BPA acts like estrogen in the body and is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children in critical stages of development. Independent scientific studies link it to cancer, infertility, diabetes, obesity and brain, nerve and heart disorders and it's just been listed by California as a chemical known to cause reproductive problems.
“No other industry in the world is more adept at marketing products to its customers than food and beverage companies—except apparently when it comes to informing them about the possible presence of a toxic chemical linked to hormone disruption and cancer," EWG President Ken Cook said.
“So we decided to give them a little help in making their own data accessible. Our new database shines a light on just how pervasive BPA is in our food system and will help Americans navigate the supermarket armed with more information."
Most concern about BPA has focused on its use in polycarbonate plastic bottles and canned food linings. But the voluminous list of products brought to light by EWG shows that Americans are exposed to BPA in food packaging far more widely than previously known. The array of products from 926 brands includes:
- The lids of glass jars for baby food, pickles, jelly, salsa and other condiments;
- Aerosol cans for whipped toppings and non-stick sprays;
- Bottles and tins of cooking oil;
- Aluminum beverage cans, metal coffee cans and even beer kegs.
Food packaging is the largest source of exposure to BPA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found it in the urine of more than 90 percent of Americans sampled. In 2009, tests commissioned by EWG were the first to find BPA in the umbilical cords of nine of 10 infants sampled.
California officials added the hormone disrupting chemical to the Proposition 65 list, which requires warnings on products or store shelves with listed chemicals. The state allowed instead for generic warning signs at checkout registers that don't name specific products.
Food companies set up a website with a list of products, but made little effort to publicize it. The website is a chaotic jumble—incomplete, inconsistent, poorly organized and not searchable.
EWG downloaded files from the industry website, which were in a variety of non-compatible formats, then extracted the brand names, product descriptions and barcodes. The data was then matched against information in Food Scores and the matches were hand-reviewed to ensure accuracy.
Despite the mounting evidence of BPA's health risks at very low doses, federal regulation is lagging. EWG urges regulators and lawmakers at the state and federal levels to regulators, federal and state lawmakers to look at the evidence and reassess BPA's use in the U.S. food supply.
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By Kerri-Ann Jennings
You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral and it's very important for health. It makes up much of your bones and teeth and plays a role in cardiovascular health, muscle function and nerve signaling.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most adults. It is also recommended that women over 50 and everyone over 70 get 1,200 mg per day, while children aged 4-18 are advised to get 1,300 mg.
However, a large percentage of the population does not get enough calcium from the diet (1).
The main foods rich in calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. However, many non-dairy sources are also high in this mineral. These include seafood, leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, tofu and various foods that are fortified with calcium.
Here are 15 foods that are rich in calcium, many of which are non-dairy:
Seeds are tiny nutritional powerhouses. Some of them are high in calcium, including poppy, sesame, celery and chia seeds.
For instance, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of poppy seeds has 126 mg or 13 percent of the RDI (2).
Sesame seeds have 9 percent of the RDI for calcium in 1 tablespoon. They also have other minerals, including copper, iron and manganese (4).
Bottom Line: Several kinds of seeds are good sources of calcium. For instance, 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds has 13 percent of the RDI.
As an added bonus, the calcium in dairy products is more easily absorbed by your body than when it comes from plant sources.
Dairy may have additional health benefits as well. A recent study suggests dairy may lower the risk of heart disease (8).
Another study found that eating cheese daily was linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which raises your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes (9).
However, remember that full-fat cheese is also high in fat and calories. Most cheeses also have a lot of sodium, which some people are sensitive to.
Bottom Line: Parmesan cheese delivers 33 percent of the RDI of calcium. While high in fat and calories, cheese may actually lower your risk of heart disease.
Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium.
Many types of yogurt are also rich in live probiotic bacteria, which have various health benefits.
One cup (245 grams) of plain yogurt contains 30 percent of the RDI. It also contains vitamin B2, phosphorous, potassium and vitamin B12 (10).
Low-fat yogurt may be even higher in calcium, with 45 percent of the RDI in one cup (11).
One study linked eating yogurt to better overall diet quality and improved metabolic health. Participants who ate yogurt had lower risks of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (13).
Bottom Line: Yogurt is one of the best sources of calcium, providing 30 percent of the RDI in one cup. It's also a good source of protein and other nutrients.
4. Sardines and Canned Salmon
Sardines and canned salmon are loaded with calcium, thanks to their edible bones.
While seafood can contain mercury, smaller fish such as sardines have low levels. Not only that, both sardines and salmon have high levels of selenium, a mineral that can prevent and reverse mercury toxicity (18).
Bottom Line: Sardines and canned salmon are super healthy choices. A can of sardines gives you 35 percent of the RDI for calcium.
5. Beans and Lentils
Some varieties also have decent amounts of calcium.
However, winged beans top the chart. A single cup of cooked wing beans has 244 mg or 24 percent of the RDI (19).
White beans are also a good source, with a cup of cooked white beans providing 13 percent of the RDI. Other varieties of beans and lentils have less, ranging from around 4–6 percent of the RDI per cup (20, 21, 22).
Interestingly, beans are credited with being one of the reasons that plant-rich diets are so healthy. Research suggests that beans may help lower LDL (the “bad") cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (23).
Bottom Line: Beans are highly nutritious and one cup of cooked wing beans delivers 24 percent of the RDI for calcium.
Almonds also provide 3 grams of fiber per ounce, as well as healthy fats and protein. They are an excellent source of magnesium, manganese and vitamin E.
Bottom Line: Almonds are high in nutrients like healthy fats, protein, magnesium and others. One ounce or 22 nuts, delivers 8 percent of the RDI for calcium.
7. Whey Protein
Whey protein is found in milk and has been extensively studied for its health benefits.
It's an excellent protein source and full of quickly digested amino acids (26).
Whey is also exceptionally rich in calcium. A 1-ounce (28-gram) scoop of whey protein powder isolate contains 200 mg or 20 percent of the RDI (27).
Bottom Line: Whey protein is an exceptionally healthy protein source. A scoop of whey protein powder has 20 percent of the RDI for calcium.
8. Some Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens are incredibly healthy and some of them are high in calcium.
For instance, one cup of cooked collard greens has 266 mg—a quarter of the amount you need in a day (28).
Note that some varieties are high in oxalates. These are naturally occurring compounds that bind to calcium, making some of it unavailable to your body.
Spinach is one of them. So although it has a lot of calcium, it's less available than the calcium in low-oxalate greens, such as kale and collard greens.
Bottom Line: Some dark, leafy greens are rich in calcium. One cup of cooked collard greens contain 25 percent of your daily needs.
Rhubarb has a lot of fiber, vitamin K, calcium and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
Like spinach, rhubarb is high in oxalates, so much of the calcium is not absorbed. One study found that only a quarter of it was absorbed from rhubarb (30).
On the other hand, the calcium numbers for rhubarb are quite high. So even if you're only absorbing a quarter of it, that's still 87 mg per cup of cooked rhubarb (31).
Bottom Line: Rhubarb has lots of fiber, vitamin K and other nutrients. The calcium may not be fully absorbed, but the numbers are still high.
10. Fortified Foods
Another way to obtain calcium is through fortified foods.
Some types of cereal can deliver up to 1,000 mg (100 percent of the RDI) per serving and that's before adding milk.
However, keep in mind that your body can't absorb all that calcium at once and it's best to spread your intake throughout the day (32).
Flour and cornmeal may also be fortified with calcium. This is why some breads, tortillas and crackers contain high amounts of it.
Bottom Line: Grain-based foods may be fortified with calcium. Read the label to find out how much is contained in fortified foods.
Amaranth is a pseudocereal that is super nutritious.
It's a good source of folate and very high in certain minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and iron.
A cup of cooked amaranth grain delivers 116 mg of calcium or 12 percent of the RDI (33).
Amaranth leaves contain even more, at 28 percent of the RDI per cooked cup. The leaves also have very high amounts of vitamins A and C (34).
Bottom Line: The seeds and leaves of amaranth are very nutritious. A cup of cooked amaranth grain provides 12 percent of the RDI of calcium.
12. Edamame and Tofu
Edamame are soybeans in the pod.
One cup of edamame has 10 percent of the RDI of calcium. It's also a good source of protein and delivers all your daily folate in a single serving (35).
Bottom Line: Tofu and edamame are both rich in calcium. Just half a cup of tofu prepared with calcium has 86 percent of the RDI.
13. Fortified Drinks
Even if you don't drink milk, you can still get calcium from fortified non-dairy beverages.
A cup of fortified soy milk has 30 percent of the RDI.
Its 7 grams of protein make it the non-dairy milk that's most nutritionally similar to cow's milk (37).
Other kinds of nut- and seed-based milks may be fortified with even higher levels.
However, fortification isn't just for non-dairy milks. Orange juice can also be fortified, providing as much as 50 percent of the RDI per cup (38).
Bottom Line: Non-dairy milks and orange juice can be fortified with calcium. A cup of fortified orange juice can have 50 percent of the RDI.
Dried figs are rich in antioxidants and fiber.
Moreover, figs also provide decent amounts of potassium and vitamin K.
Bottom Line: Dried figs contain more calcium than other dried fruits. A single ounce has 5 percent of your daily needs for this mineral.
Milk is one of the best and cheapest calcium sources.
Additionally, milk is a good source of protein, vitamin A and vitamin D.
Goat's milk is another excellent source of calcium, providing 327 mg per cup (42).
Bottom Line: Milk is a great source of well-absorbed calcium. A cup of milk provides between 27 percent and 35 percent of the RDI.
Take Home Message
Calcium is an important mineral that you may not be getting enough of.
While dairy products tend to be the highest in it, there are plenty of other good sources—many of which are plant-based.
You can easily meet your calcium needs by eating from this diverse list of foods.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they're packed full of valuable nutrients. Eating only a small amount of them can provide you with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, magnesium and zinc.
Because of this, pumpkin seeds have been associated with several health benefits. These include improved heart health, prostate health and protection against certain cancers.
What's more, these seeds can be easily incorporated into your diet.
Here are the top 11 health benefits of pumpkin seeds that are supported by science:
1. Full of Valuable Nutrients
Pumpkin seeds are the edible seeds of a pumpkin. They are also known as “pepita"—a Mexican Spanish term.
Unlike the hard white seeds from a carving pumpkin, most pumpkin seeds bought from the supermarket do not have a shell.
These shell-free seeds are flat and oval in shape and have a green color.
This is what whole (white) and shell-free (green) pumpkin seeds look like:
There are roughly 151 calories in an ounce (28 grams) of shell-free pumpkin seeds, mainly from fat and protein.
In addition, a 1-oz (28-gram) serving contains (1):
- Fiber: 1.7 grams.
- Carbs: 5 grams.
- Protein: 7 grams.
- Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s).
- Vitamin K: 18 percent of the RDI.
- Phosphorous: 33 percent of the RDI.
- Manganese: 42 percent of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 37 percent of the RDI.
- Iron: 23 percent of the RDI.
- Zinc: 14 percent of the RDI.
- Copper: 19 percent of the RDI.
They also contain lots of antioxidants and a decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folate.
Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium and many other nutrients. An ounce (28 grams) contains about 151 calories.
2. High in Antioxidants
It is thought that the high levels of antioxidants in pumpkins seeds are partly responsible for their positive effects on health.
In one study, inflammation was reduced when rats with arthritis were given pumpkin seed oil. Rats given an anti-inflammatory drug experienced negative side effects, whereas rats given pumpkin seed oil had no side effects (8).
Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are full of antioxidants that may help protect against disease and reduce inflammation.
3. Linked to a Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers
Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with lower levels of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers (5).
Bottom Line: Some evidence suggests that pumpkin seeds may help to prevent certain cancers.
4. Improve Prostate and Bladder Health
Pumpkin seeds may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition where the prostate gland enlarges and can cause problems with urination.
Several studies in humans found that eating these seeds reduced symptoms that are associated with BPH (13).
A study of over 1,400 men looked at the effects of consuming pumpkin seeds on BPH. After one year, men receiving them reported reduced symptoms and a better quality of life (14).
There is also research to suggest that taking pumpkin seeds or their products as supplements can help treat symptoms of an overactive bladder.
One study found that taking a supplement of 10 grams of pumpkin seed extract daily improved urinary function in 45 men and women with overactive bladders (15).
Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds may reduce symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder.
5. Very High in Magnesium
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium. This is important, since magnesium deficiency is common in many Western countries.
In the US, around 79 percent of adults had a magnesium intake below the recommended daily amount (16).
Magnesium is necessary for more than 600 chemical reactions in the body. Adequate levels of magnesium are important for:
- Controlling blood pressure (17).
- Reducing heart disease risk (18).
- Forming and maintaining healthy bones (19).
Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium. Healthy magnesium levels are important for your blood pressure, heart health, bone health and blood sugar levels.
6. May Improve Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids, all of which may help keep your heart healthy (22).
Animal studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil can help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
A study involving 35 postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure by 7 percent and increased the “good" HDL cholesterol by 16 percent over a 12-week period (25).
Other studies suggest that it may be the nitric oxide enzymes contained in pumpkin seed oil that are responsible for its positive effects on heart health (26).
Nitric oxide helps expand blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of plaque growth in the arteries.
Bottom Line: Nutrients in pumpkin seeds may help keep your heart healthy by reducing blood pressure and increasing good cholesterol.
7. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
This is especially important for people with diabetes, who may struggle to control their blood sugar levels.
Several studies have found that supplementing the diet with pumpkin juice or seed powder reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (28).
The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes.
An observational study involving over 127,000 men and women found that diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 33 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and a 34 percent lower risk in women (29).
More research is needed to confirm this beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.
Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds may help reduce blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. However, more research is needed.
8. Very High in Fiber
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fiber. Whole seeds provide 5.2 grams of fiber in a single 1-oz (28-gram) serving.
However, pumpkin kernels with the shell removed contain 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce. These are the green pumpkin seeds available in most supermarkets.
A diet high in fiber can promote good digestive health.
Bottom Line: Whole pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of fiber. Diets high in fiber are associated with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
9. May Improve Sperm Quality
Low zinc levels are associated with reduced sperm quality and an increased risk of infertility in men (31).
Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they may help improve sperm quality.
Evidence from one study in mice suggests they may also help protect human sperm from damage caused by chemotherapy and autoimmune diseases (32).
Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can contribute to healthy testosterone levels and improve overall health.
Together, all these factors may benefit fertility levels and reproductive function, especially in men.
Bottom Line: The high zinc content of pumpkin seeds may help improve sperm quality and fertility in men.
10. May Help Improve Sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, you may want to eat some pumpkin seeds before bed. They're a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep.
However, you would need to eat around 7 oz (200 grams) of pumpkin seeds to get the necessary 1 gram of tryptophan.
The zinc in these seeds can also help convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is then changed into melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels have also been associated with better sleep (34).
Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan, zinc and magnesium, all of which help promote good sleep.
11. Easy to Add to Your Diet
If you'd like to experience the benefits of pumpkin seeds, they're easy to incorporate into your diet.
In many countries, they're a popular snack that can be eaten either raw or roasted, salted or unsalted.
As well as eating them alone, you can add them to smoothies or to Greek yogurt and fruit.
You could incorporate them into meals by sprinkling them into salads, soups or cereals. Some people use pumpkin seeds in baking, as an ingredient for sweet or savory bread and cakes.
However, as with many seeds and nuts, they contain phytic acid, which can reduce the bioavailability of some nutrients you eat.
If you eat seeds and nuts regularly, you may want to soak or sprout them to reduce the phytic acid content. Roasting them may also help.
Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds can be easily incorporated into the diet as a snack or as an additional ingredient in meals or baking.
Do Pumpkin Seeds Have Any Other Benefits?
The rich nutrient content of pumpkin seeds means they may provide many other health benefits, such as improved energy, mood and immune function.
Eating them can help solve dietary deficiencies and may protect against various health problems.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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Lucky for us, avocados are grown year-round, so there’s never a time when we can’t get our hands on a luscious, ripe one. What better way to celebrate this random factoid than to offer a list of insanely gorgeous avocado toast recipes.
Here are some ideas that raise avocado toast to an art form:
Gluten Free Vegan Pantry knows what’s up with avocado toast. This super-simple recipe, which includes only three toppings, is guaranteed to rock your morning or post-workout snack time.
A photo posted by Savanna Mehrad (@glutenfreeveganpantry) on
With layers of marinated tempeh and kimchi, this offering from Gratitude & Greens is more like a meal than a snack.
NEW POST - KIMCHI AVOCADO TEMPEH TOAST I don't know what your favourite avocado toast toppings are, but this is my favourite. Slightly zesty avocado topped with spicy vegan kimchi (no fish sauce!) and salty-sweet tempeh... this kimchi avocado toast might be a surprisingly delicious combination, but it's THE avo-toast to rule them all. SERIOUSLY. I kid you not. I've been making this for ages and shared the recipe because I think it'd be too unfair to keep it all to myself😉 Get the recipe on the blog, link in profile💛 #gratitudeandgreens
A photo posted by genevieve yam - toronto (@gratitudeandgreens) on
🌱NEW🌱 Recipes are up on the blog and 🎥 YouTube channel! Click on the link in my bio ➡️ to watch! 👀 I make so many crazy, decadent, junk-foody #recipes that I often forget about the simple and uber yummy ones! I make #Avocado Toasts every single day for breakfast!!! I don't know why I didn't share these simple snacks with you earlier! 🍴🍅 💭Let me know with a comment what recipes you want to see next! Thanks for giving it a thumbs up 👍and subscribing!!!! ❤️ #vegan #veganfood #whatveganseat #vegetarianfood #foodie #vegetarian #avocadotoast #vegansofig #vegansofinstagram #foodiegram #foodpics #easypeasy #yummy #YouTube #youtuber #subscribe #theedgyveg #edgyveg #veggies #veg #veganfoodporn #veganfoodshare #foodporn
A photo posted by The Edgy Veg (@edgyveg) on
Happy Healthy Life uses turmeric, paprika and maple syrup to flavor the chickpeas. The site’s goal is “to bring you guys recipes that you will actually make. Not just gawk at.” We appreciate this practical approach.
A photo posted by Kathy / HealthyHappyLife (@kathypatalsky) on
A photo posted by Margaret Helthaler (@veggieprimer) on
Vegan Wave is a Los Angeles–based vegan foodie who knows how to make a simple yet breathtaking avocado toast.
A photo posted by LA-based vegan food junkie🌱🍴🌇🌊 (@veganwave) on
No one could deny a mélange of avocado, coconut mayonnaise, sliced radishes and mint or basil. Thanks to Blissful Basil, you won’t have to.
A photo posted by Vegan Richa (@veganricha) on
Chef Chloe Coscarelli has taken Manhattan and Los Angeles by storm with her fast-casual vegan restaurants named “by CHLOE.” They serve this fantastic toast, but if you don’t live in either of those cities, you can check out the recipe here.
A photo posted by Chloe Coscarelli (@chefchloe) on
Blissful Basil knows that baby portobellos are both cute and delicious. Bonus points for adding a punch of plant-based protein to your toast!
A photo posted by Jeanine Donofrio (@loveandlemons) on
If you haven’t tried strawberries and avocados together, Hummusapien is giving you a chance. A drizzle of maple syrup makes this toast divine.
Simple Vegan Blog explains that salmorejo is a “typical Spanish cold soup” similar to gazpacho. This one is made with tomatoes, garlic, bread, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt. Slather all that onto toast and add avocado slices to transport your taste buds.
Spanish salmorejo and avocado toast ★ Tosta de salmorejo y aguacate #vegan #dairyfree #love #plantbased #cleaneats #food #lifestyle #vegetarian #foodie #instafood #instavegan #healthylifestyle #eatclean #healthy #govegan #goveg #vegansofig #delicious #whatveganseat #recipe #vegansofinstagram #foodporn #veganshare #yummy #minimaleats #vegano #vegana #danzadefogones
A photo posted by Iosune Robles (@simpleveganblog) on
14. Avocado Toast with Arugula, Chili Flakes, Red Onion and Salsa
Sheer Nutrition brings us this simple, tasty recipe, because tangy arugula and mellow avocado go so well together.
Good morning! Realised that I haven't had avo toast for ages so obviously had to indulge this morning 🙊 I spiced it up by adding rocket, chilli flakes and the onion and lime salsa from last night's chilli 😋 #breakfast #breakfasttime #toast #avocadotoast #avocadolove #eatwell #food #foodie #foodgasm #foodporn #instafood #instafoodie #vegan #whatveganseat #crueltyfree #veganfoodshare #vegansofinstagram #vegansofig #poweredbyplants #feedfeedvegan #gloobyfood #igfood #igfoodie #nutritious #delicious #nutrition
A photo posted by Kellie, CertHE (@sheernutrition) on
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Pregnancy is a beautiful and special time when you create a new life.
During this time, your calorie and nutrient requirements increase to support the baby's growth and development.
It's extremely important to eat nutritious, high-quality foods and avoid foods that may harm your baby.
Here is a detailed guide about what to eat during pregnancy.
How Much Should You Eat?
During pregnancy, gaining weight is normal. In fact, it's the best sign that your baby is growing.
Naturally, this means that you'll need to eat a little more than usual. However, eating for two doesn't mean doubling your portions.
During pregnancy your body becomes more efficient at absorbing nutrients from your food, so you don't actually need any extra calories during the first three months (1).
That said, you do need to eat approximately 340 extra calories per day in the second trimester and an extra 450 calories in the third to support your baby's growth (1).
However, stay mindful of your food choices. It's also important not to overeat, since eating too many calories can be just as harmful as not eating enough.
Overeating during pregnancy increases your baby's obesity risk later in life. Excess calories also make you gain more weight than necessary. This can increase your risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy, termed gestational diabetes (2, 3).
High blood sugar levels during pregnancy can even increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defects and brain development problems.
Excess weight gain also makes it more difficult for you to return to a healthy weight once your baby is born. Extra weight can also make it more challenging to give birth to healthy babies in future pregnancies (6, 7, 8).
Bottom Line: Eating a little more during the second and third trimesters is necessary to help your baby grow. However, you should avoid overeating since this can pose several risks to the health of both you and your baby.
Eat Extra Protein
Protein is an essential nutrient for pregnancy. It is necessary for the proper development of the baby's organs and tissues, as well as the placenta.
Protein is also used to build and maintain many of your own tissues, including muscles (9).
During pregnancy, your need for protein increases by about 25 grams per day, per baby, particularly during the second half of pregnancy. This means that mothers carrying twins should aim to eat an extra 50 grams of protein each day (9).
Failing to meet this recommendation can cause problems.
Protein from your muscles will be used to feed the baby, which can leave you feeling weaker. Not eating enough protein can also delay your baby's growth (9).
Vegetarians and vegans should pay particular attention to varying their protein sources to ensure they get all the essential amino acids they need.
Bottom Line: Extra protein is necessary to support your baby's growth, especially during the second half of pregnancy. An extra 25 grams per day, per baby, is usually sufficient.
Eat Enough Carbs and Fiber
Carbs are a source of calories for your body and the main source of energy for your baby.
This is why your daily carb needs are slightly increased during pregnancy (10).
Make sure you eat enough carbs by including carb-rich foods with your meals.
However, skip the bakery aisle and opt for nutritious whole foods instead.
Make sure to get enough fiber by eating plenty of vegetables and getting your carbs from healthy, whole foods.
Bottom Line: Carbs help provide energy for your baby to grow. Make sure you include whole foods that are rich in healthy carbs and fiber.
Eat Good Fats
Fat is essential for a growing baby because it helps with brain and eye development.
It also makes it easier for your body to produce sufficient quantities of sex hormones and absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Omega-3 fats, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), seem particularly beneficial for the baby's brain development. They may also reduce the risk of premature births and may prevent postpartum depression (12, 13).
Small amounts of DHA can be made in your body from the essential fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends pregnant women aim for 1.4 grams of ALA per day (14).
You can meet this recommendation by consuming about 1.5 tablespoons (22 ml) of walnut oil, 1.5 tablespoons (22 ml) of ground flaxseeds, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of chia seeds, seven walnut halves or 2/3 of a cup (158 ml) of soy nuts per day.
To be on the safe side, pregnant women should consider adding at least 200 mg of DHA to their diets each day, especially during the third trimester. You can easily get this amount by consuming 5 oz (150 g) of fatty fish per week.
Vegetarians and vegans should consider adding a daily DHA supplement made from algae oil.
Bottom Line: Eating enough omega-3 fats, especially DHA, is important during pregnancy. It supports the baby's brain and eye development, while reducing the risk of miscarriage and postpartum depression.
Get Enough Iron and Vitamin B12
Iron is a mineral that your body needs to carry oxygen to its cells, including the cells of your growing baby.
Vitamin B12 is also needed to produce red blood cells and is important for the growth and function of the nervous system.
During pregnancy, your blood volume increases, which increases the amount of iron and vitamin B12 you need to consume each day.
A diet poor in these nutrients can make you extra tired and more likely to catch infections. It also increases the risk that your baby is born prematurely, with birth defects or with a low birth weight (19).
Meat, eggs, fish and seafood all contain good amounts of both of these nutrients.
You can also find iron in legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Certain vegetables also contain good amounts, particularly spinach, asparagus, snow peas, beet greens, kale and green peas.
It's important to note that iron from plant foods is not easily absorbed by the human body. Improve this absorption by avoiding tea or coffee with meals and make sure to eat iron-rich plant foods together with foods high in vitamin C (22).
Therefore, vegetarians and vegans should either add a daily supplement to their diet or make sure to consume a sufficient amount of foods enriched with B12. Examples include some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast or plant-based milks (26, 27).
Bottom Line: Getting enough iron and vitamin B12 each day is important to sustain your energy levels and health. It is also necessary for the normal growth and development of your baby.
Get Enough Folate
Folate is a vitamin necessary for cell growth, nervous system development and DNA production (28).
It's also important for the formation of the red blood cells used to transport oxygen to cells.
This vitamin is sometimes better recognized by its synthetic name, folic acid. Folic acid is the form commonly used in supplements.
Foods rich in folate include legumes, dark leafy vegetables and wheat germ. In North America and some parts of Europe, white flour is also enriched with folic acid.
Due to the high risk of birth defects, women who don't get enough folate from foods alone should strongly consider taking a supplement that provides 0.6 mg per day.
Bottom Line: Getting at least 0.6 mg of folate or folic acid each day will help prevent anemia and decrease the risk of birth defects.
Get Plenty of Choline
Choline is an essential nutrient for many processes in the body, including your baby's brain development (31).
Bottom Line: Eating enough foods rich in choline is essential for the development of your baby's brain.
Consume Enough Calcium and Vitamin D
In addition, calcium plays important roles in blood clotting and muscle and nerve function.
The recommended intakes of calcium and vitamin D do not increase during pregnancy, but it's essential you consume enough.
Aim to consume 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IU (15 mcg) of vitamin D each day. This is especially important during the third trimester, which is the period with the greatest bone and teeth growth (35).
If you fall short of these recommendations, your baby may take calcium from your bones. This can increase your risk of developing a bone disease later in life.
In order to get enough calcium, consume calcium-rich foods such as dairy products and calcium-enriched plant milks and orange juice.
Other good sources include calcium-set tofu, legumes and dark leafy vegetables.
Too little vitamin D can increase your risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also increase your chances of giving birth to a low-weight baby (39).
Consider eating vitamin D-rich foods or taking a supplement if you live in a place where sun exposure is limited. Also consider a supplement if you have dark skin or rarely get sun without using sunscreen.
Bottom Line: Calcium and vitamin D are nutrients essential for the development of your baby's bones and teeth. Getting enough may also lower your risk of bone disease, cancer, diabetes and depression.
Foods to Eat
In order meet the nutrition recommendations above, aim to include as many of the following foods in your diet as possible:
- Fruits and vegetables: These are great sources of fiber, which helps prevent constipation. They're also high in vitamin C, which increases iron absorption from foods.
- Spinach, wheat germ and beans: These foods are particularly high in folate, which supports the normal development of your baby's nervous system.
- Meat, fish, eggs, nuts and beans: These provide protein and iron. Meat and fish are also good sources of vitamin B12, while eggs and peanuts are great sources of choline.
- Dairy or calcium-enriched dairy alternatives: Milk, cheese, calcium-set tofu or calcium-enriched orange juice or plant milks are all great sources of calcium.
- Salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and soy nuts: These foods contain omega-3s. Salmon is rich in DHA, which is good for your baby's brain development.
Additionally, make sure to base most of your diet on whole, unprocessed foods. Here is a list of 50 healthy foods to consider.
Bottom Line: Consuming the nutrient-rich foods above will contribute to your health and the healthy development of your child.
Foods to Avoid
Pregnant women are at higher risk of food poisoning, especially from bacteria and parasites such as Listeria, Salmonella and Toxoplasma.
Below are foods you should avoid or consume very rarely during pregnancy.
Soft Cheeses, Deli Meats and Unpasteurized Foods
Avoid soft cheeses, deli meats and unpasteurized dairy products or juices because they can contain several types of bacteria.
Pasteurization is the most effective way to kill these bacteria. So whenever possible, pick foods and drinks that have been pasteurized (43).
Raw or Undercooked Meat, Fish and Seafood
Sometimes, the bacteria can be passed to the unborn baby without causing symptoms for the mother. One example is Listeria, sometimes found in raw fish (51).
Therefore, make sure all meat and fish is cooked properly (55).
Raw Eggs and Sprouts
The danger with Salmonella is that it sometimes causes cramps in the uterus which can lead to premature birth or stillbirth (59).
The surface of unwashed fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated with bacteria and parasites (62).
Toxoplasma is a particularly dangerous parasite that can be found on the surface of fruits and vegetables. Infants infected with this parasite can be born with serious eye or brain damage or may develop blindness or intellectual disabilities later in life (63).
You can reduce your risk of infection by thoroughly washing, peeling or cooking all fruits and vegetables (64).
Mercury is a very toxic element that can be found in polluted water.
Predatory fish that live in polluted oceans can easily accumulate high amounts of mercury.
This is why consuming fish such as shark, swordfish, mackerel, marlin and tuna should be limited during pregnancy.
Organ meats and meat from organs like liver can be high in retinol, an animal form of vitamin A. Too much retinol can harm your unborn baby.
Organ meat and its related food products also contain very high levels of copper, which can result in birth defects and liver toxicity (69).
Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine is easily absorbed by you and passes very quickly to your baby.
Babies exposed to too much caffeine during pregnancy are at higher risk of poor growth. They're also more likely to develop chronic diseases in adulthood, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (73, 74, 75).
Since it's difficult to estimate the lowest safe level of intake, the best approach is for pregnant women to avoid alcohol completely.
Low-Calorie Diet Items and Junk Food
To support your baby's growth, your body needs more calories and nutrients.
However, low-calorie “diet" foods lack the extra calories you need.
On the other hand, junk foods may provide too many calories and encourage overeating. This can lead to excess weight gain, which increases the likelihood of birth complications (3).
Finally, both low-calorie diet foods and junk foods lack the nutrients your body needs to support the normal development of your baby.
Certain Herbal Teas
Certain herbal teas should be avoided during pregnancy because they can stimulate uterine contractions and bleeding, increasing the risk of miscarriage (83).
Bottom Line: Pregnant women should be cautious with unpasteurized foods, uncooked meat, raw eggs, unwashed produce, high-mercury fish, organ meat, caffeine, alcohol, junk food and certain herbal teas.
Drink Enough Fluids
Proper hydration is essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Drinking enough water prevents constipation and helps dissolve waste products so they can be more easily flushed through the kidneys.
The recommended fluid intake from beverages during pregnancy is estimated at 10 cups (2.3 liters) per day (87).
To see if you're drinking enough, check the color of your urine. A light color, closer to the color of lemonade than apple juice, is a good sign that you're drinking enough.
Bottom Line: Drinking enough fluids during pregnancy helps prevent premature contractions and decreases constipation, swelling and fatigue.
What About Supplements?
A prenatal multivitamin can be an easy way to supplement your diet during pregnancy.
That being said, most of your nutrients should come from whole foods, with the multivitamin only filling in the gaps.
If you do opt for a multivitamin, make sure to pick one designed specifically for pregnancy, since the nutrient levels will be better adapted to your needs.
Additionally, some health professionals recommend taking a supplement up to three months before conception, especially if your diet is low in folate.
Bottom Line: Prenatal supplements can help you meet your nutrient needs. However, they are not a replacement for a nutritious diet.
Take Home Message
What you eat during pregnancy has a direct and lasting impact on the health and development of your baby.
Since you need more calories and more nutrients, it's important to eat nourishing foods that help you meet your daily requirements.
It's equally important to pay attention to food hygiene, preparing meals in a way that reduces the risk of bacterial and parasite contamination.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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A good night's sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Here are 17 evidence-based tips to sleep better at night:
1. Increase Bright Light Exposure During The Day
In patients with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83 percent (19).
A similar study in the elderly found 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80 percent (20).
To date, most of the research is in patients with severe sleep issues. However, even if you have average sleep, daily light exposure will most likely help improve it.
You can achieve this by getting daily sunlight exposure or, if this is not practical, invest in an artificial bright light device or bulbs.
2. Reduce Blue Light Exposure in the Evening
Again, this is due to its impact on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep (23, 24).
Blue light is the worst in this regard, which is emitted in large amounts from electronic devices like smartphones and computers.
There are several popular methods you can use to reduce nighttime blue light exposure. These include:
- Download an app such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer.
- Install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone. These are available for iPhones and Android phones.
- Stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed.
Read more here: How Blocking Blue Light at Night Can Transform Your Sleep.
Bottom Line: Blue light tricks your body into thinking it's daytime. There are several ways you can reduce blue light exposure in the evening.
3. Don't Consume Caffeine Late in the Day
However, when consumed late in the day, the stimulation of your nervous system may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.
In one study, consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality (34).
Caffeine can stay elevated in the blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you are caffeine sensitive or have trouble sleeping (31, 35).
If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, then stick with decaffeinated coffee.
Bottom Line: Caffeine can significantly worsen sleep quality, especially if large amounts are consumed in the late afternoon or evening.
4. Reduce Irregular or Long Daytime Naps
While short “power naps" have been proven beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep.
In one study, participants actually ended up being more sleepy during the day after taking daytime naps (37).
Another study found that while napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function, longer naps can negatively affect health and sleep quality (38).
However, some studies have shown that those who are used to taking regular daytime naps did not suffer from poor quality or disrupted sleep at night.
Bottom Line: The effects of daytime naps depend on the individual. If you have trouble sleeping at night, stop napping or shorten your naps.
5. Try to Sleep and Wake at Consistent Times
Your body's circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset.
Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid in sleep quality in the long-term (42).
One study found those who had irregular sleeping patterns and went to bed late on the weekends reported poor sleep (43).
If you struggle with sleep, try to get in a habit of waking up and going to bed at a similar time each day and night. After several weeks, you may not even need an alarm.
Bottom Line: Try to get into a regular sleep/wake cycle, especially on the weekends. If possible, try to wake up naturally at a similar time every day.
6. Take a Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that signals your brain when it's time to relax and head to bed (46).
A melatonin supplement is an extremely popular aid to fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality.
In one study, 2 mg of melatonin before bed improved sleep quality and energy the next day and helped people fall asleep faster. Another study found half the participants fell asleep faster and had a 15 percent improvement in sleep quality (48, 49).
Additionally, no withdrawal effects were reported in either of the above studies.
Melatonin is also useful when traveling and adjusting to a new timezone, as it helps your body's circadian rhythm return to normal (50).
In some countries, you need a prescription for melatonin. In others, melatonin is widely available in stores or online. Take around 1–5 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed.
Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance and then increase it slowly as needed. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it is advised that you check with a medical professional before use.
Bottom Line: A melatonin supplement is an easy way to improve sleep quality and fall asleep faster. Take 1–5 mg, 30–60 minutes before heading to bed.
7. Consider These Other Supplements
Several supplements can induce relaxation and help you sleep, including:
- Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with many benefits, it can aid in sleep, relaxation and stress reduction. Take 250 mg, 30–60 minutes before bed (51, 52).
- Glycine: A few studies have found that 3 grams of the amino acid glycine can improve sleep quality (53, 54, 55).
- Valerian root: This root is backed by several studies that show it can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed (56, 57, 58).
- Magnesium: Responsible for more than 600 reactions within the body, studies show magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality (59, 60, 61).
- L-Theanine: An amino acid, l-theanine can improve relaxation and sleep. Take 100–200 mg before heading to bed (62, 63, 64).
- Lavender: A powerful plant-based supplement with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary-like effect to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg containing 25–46 percent linalool (65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71).
Make sure to only try these supplements out one at a time. Of course, they are not a magic bullet for fixing sleep issues, but they can be useful when combined with some of the other tips in this article.
Bottom Line: Several supplements can help with relaxation and sleep quality. These can work well when combined with other strategies.
8. Don't Drink Alcohol
Drinking a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones.
Bottom Line: Avoid drinking alcohol before bed, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
9. Optimize Your Bedroom Environment
Many people believe that the bedroom environment and its setup are key factors in getting a good night's sleep.
This can include aspects such as temperature, noise, furniture choice and arrangement, external lights and more (79).
One study investigating the bedroom environment of women found that around 50 percent of participants noticed improved sleep quality when reductions in noise and lighting were introduced (83).
To optimize your bedroom environment, try to minimize external noise, light and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place.
Bottom Line: Try to optimize your bedroom environment by eliminating external light and noise and making it a generally relaxing environment.
10. Set Your Bedroom Temperature
Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly impact sleep quality.
As you may have experienced during the summer or when on vacation, it can be very hard to get a good night's sleep when it's too warm.
One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality even more than external noise (79).
Around 70 F or 20 C, seems to be a comfortable temperature for most people, although it always depends on your preferences and what you're used to.
Bottom Line: Test different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you. Around 70 F/20 C seems comfortable for most people.
11. Don't Eat Late in the Evening
That being said, a high-carb meal eaten a few hours before bedtime may help you fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality.
This is likely due to its effect on the hormone tryptophan, which can make you feel tired (95).
Bottom Line: Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, eating carbs a few hours before bed may help.
12. Relax and Clear Your Mind in the Evening
Many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax.
In one study, a relaxing massage improved sleep quality in ill patients (102).
There are many strategies you could try, including listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, deep breathing and visualization.
Test different methods and find what works best for you.
Bottom Line: Relaxation techniques before bed can be useful and have even been used to treat insomnia.
13. Take a Relaxing Bath or Shower
A relaxing bath or shower is another popular way to sleep better.
In one study, a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped participants get greater amounts of deep sleep (104).
Bottom Line: A warm bath, shower or foot bath before bed can help you relax and improve your sleep quality.
14. Rule Out a Sleep Disorder
An underlying health condition may be the cause of your sleep problems.
This condition may be more common that you think. One review found that 24 percent of men and 9 percent of women had sleep apnea (110).
If you've always struggled with sleep, it may be wise to speak to a doctor about it.
Bottom Line: There are many common conditions that can cause poor sleep, including sleep apnea. See a doctor if poor sleep is a consistent problem in your life.
15. Get a Comfortable Bed, Mattress and Pillow
Some people wonder why they always sleep better in a hotel.
One study looked at the benefits of a new mattress for 28 days. They found it reduced back pain by 57 percent, shoulder pain by 60 percent, back stiffness by 59 percent and improved sleep quality by 60 percent (115).
It is recommended that you upgrade your bedding at least every 5–8 years.
If you haven't replaced your mattress or bedding for several years, this can be a very quick (although possibly expensive) fix (116).
Bottom Line: Research shows that your bed, mattress and pillow can greatly impact sleep quality and joint or back pain. Try to buy a high-quality mattress and bedding every 5–8 years.
16. Exercise Regularly, But Not Before Bed
Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health.
One study in the elderly found that exercise nearly halved the amount of time it took to fall asleep and helped them sleep 41 minutes longer at night (125).
In insomnia patients with severe issues, exercise provided more benefits than most drugs. Exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55 percent, total night awake time by 30 percent, anxiety by 15 percent and increased total sleep time by 18 percent (127).
Although daily exercise is key for a good night's sleep, performing it too late in the day may also cause problems falling asleep for some people.
This is due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine or adrenaline. However, some studies show no detrimental effects, so it clearly depends on the individual (128, 129, 130).
Bottom Line: Regular exercise during daylight hours is one of the best ways to ensure a good night's sleep.
17. Don't Drink Any Liquids Before Bed
Drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms, though some people are more sensitive than others.
Although hydration is vitally important, it is wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening.
Try not to drink any fluids 1–2 hours before going to bed.
You should also make sure to use the bathroom right before going to bed, which may decrease your chances of waking in the night.
Bottom Line: Reduce fluid intake in the late evening and try to use the bathroom right before bed.
Take Home Message
Sleep plays a key role in your health.
One large review found that insufficient sleep increases obesity risk by 89 percent in children and 55 percent in adults (133).
If you are interested in optimal health and well-being, then you should make sleep a top priority in your life.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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