Healthy high protein foods

High protein foods

Protein is an essential element (macro-nutrient) in everyone’s diet.

It is a component of each and every cell, tissue and organ in the body and it is constantly being broken down and replaced.

With that in mind, it is clear that identifying healthy high-protein foods is an essential aspect of maintaining good health. Proteins are certainly not all equal.

How to identify healthy high-protein foods

Complete protein and essential amino acids

When choosing protein foods to incorporate into your daily diet, it is important to make sure that they are natural, complete and balanced, i.e. first class, unprocessed proteins that will provide maximum benefit to, and be easily absorbed by, the body.

A food protein is described as “complete” or first class if it contains all of the essential amino acids.

Amino acids are basically the building blocks of protein, while essential amino acids are those that cannot be synthesised by the body and therefore need to be sourced through the diet. They are “essential” in the sense that they have to be eaten daily for the body to function.

When we talk about a “balanced” source of protein, we mean a protein source that contains all of the essential amino acids in ratios that are most useful to the human body.

Animal protein vs plant-based protein

You also need to consider the source of your protein, i.e. animal protein versus plant-based protein.

Obviously, if you are a vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist or follower of the Living Foods Programme, this won’t be in question. However, if not, these are some of the facts that you might want to take into consideration:

1. There are few perfectly balanced proteins in our food supply, but animal proteins tend to be among the most balanced. Similarly, most animal proteins are complete. Unfortunately, they also tend to include a number of undesirable elements. For example:

  • red meat is widely considered to be carcinogenic
  • meat (especially red meat) and dairy often contain high levels of saturated fat
  • meat and dairy products are at the top of the acid-forming food list (it is thought that for optimal health, and for efficient delivery of balanced nutrients to the cells, the pH of blood should be neutral, or slightly alkaline)
  • animal protein is much harder for the body to digest (depleting digestive enzymes and placing a greater strain on the digestive system)
  • the nutrient-per-calorie ratio of meat is often lower than plant-based protein sources (which tend, for example, to be high in fibre, enzymes, phyto-nutrients, chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals etc).

2. There are a number of plant-based proteins that are both complete and balanced (including, wheatgrass, hemp and quinoa). In addition, non-animal proteins can be balanced by combining different food families. For instance:

  • combining legumes with grains and other plant foods will usually yield a complete and balanced protein
  • rice protein can complement the proteins in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.  

Examples of high-protein, plant-based foods

  • Fruit, vegetables and plants:

Certain vegetables, fruit, seeds and grains contain a surprisingly high level of protein, as well as fibre (not present in animal foods), and tend to have a higher level of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients (such as antioxidants) on a nutrient-per-calorie basis. Examples of high-protein fruit, vegetables and plants include fresh leafy greens, hemp, wheatgrass, spinach, broccoli, dried apricots, prunes, dried figs, rose hips, blackberries and dates.

  • Soy foods:

Soy is one of the best sources of protein because it is a complete protein and is a rich in fibre and Omega 3 fatty acids. Examples of soy foods include soy beans, tempeh, tofu (or bean curd).

  • Legumes:

Examples of high-protein legumes include lentils, kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans. Although legumes are an incomplete protein, as mentioned above, those who choose to follow a plant-based diet can adequately meet their body’s amino acid requirements by eating a variety of plant foods on a daily basis.

  • Seeds, nuts and grains:

Examples of high-protein seeds, nuts and grains include quinoa, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds.

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Benefits of organic food

Discover the benefits of organic foods

When it comes to shaping your daily diet, organic foods have a great deal to offer you. If you are trying to understand the ways in which they can be beneficial, keep reading.

The modern world

Choosing organic food, using organic products and supplementing your diet with organic vitamins, herbs and food supplements is a great way to support the general health and well-being of you and your family in these modern times, in which mankind has unfortunately had a negative impact on the natural environment and the food chain.

Exposure to toxins

We are exposed to more toxic chemicals on a daily basis than ever before and the number keeps increasing. This places a significant burden on the body and, in particular, the liver and other detoxification organs.

It is therefore important that we take action by avoiding as many chemicals as possible (particularly in our diets) and ensure that we are keeping as healthy as possible in order to cope with this toxic world.

Live a life without toxins wherever possible

Globally, the awareness of the environmental harm and potential threat to human and animal health caused by deadly toxins (such as, for example, DDT, dieldrin and other insecticides), along with the excessive use of chemical fertilizers, has boosted the interest in organic farming and produce.

In recent years, health and the environment have become primary concerns for many people across the Western world, and consumers have become far more proactive in taking their health, and the future of the planet, into their own hands. As a result, organic products are now very much in demand, because living an organic lifestyle benefits both of these things.

Health benefits

Research has indicated that food produced using natural means typically has considerably lower quantities of nitrates and residues of toxic chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides than non-organic foods.

What’s more, recent research* showed that crops grown using organic farming methods are of a much higher nutritional quality than their non-organic counterparts.

If organically-grown produce contains higher levels of nutrients than their non-organic counterparts, the same goes for organic health supplements.

Organic supplements

Organic food supplements are natural products, which are produced from organically grown fruits, vegetables, plant-based foods etc.

They are not processed or synthesized and they have had no chemical compounds (including additives) introduced into their plants at any point – even at the time of harvesting.

Why are organic supplements needed? Is a balanced diet enough?

Given the realities of modern farming methods, manufacturing processes and diminishing soil quality, organic foods are helpful in terms of increasing your daily nutrient intake and keeping your toxic load down. However, sadly, even organic foods tend to require transportation, refrigeration and shelf-time; all factors that have an impact on nutrient content.

Organic supplements can therefore offer peace of mind, when it comes to ensuring that food nutrients are preserved. It is also possible to access a far higher number of ingredients (and therefore nutrients) in powder form, compared to whole food form. For example, organic superfood blends can cram in as many as 42 ingredients – not something you are likely to replicate in a salad!

Provided they are in raw, food form, such supplements can offer a clever way to boost your daily nutrition. And for some people, who are short on time or money, it is as close as they can get to enjoying the benefits of fresh, home-grown produce. These supplements offer excellent value for money, taking into account their ingredients and nutrient to calorie ratio.

*Information on the study sourced from the Soil Association website at https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/why-organic/its-nutritionally-different/
https://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF/crops/documents/BJN%20Baranski%20et%20al%202014.pdf
https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/archive/2015/10/organicvsnon-organicfood/

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Quinoa nutrition

About quinoa

Quinoa is a fantastic example of plant-based protein, which not only offers a viable alternative for meat and other animal products, but also supplies a broad spectrum of other nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals) at the same time.

An annual plant that originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, quinoa was used by the Incas as a staple food. They also believed the crop to be sacred, not least because they recognised its value in supporting the stamina of their warriors.

Although often categorised along with other grains, quinoa is actually only a grain-like crop that is grown primarily for its edible seeds. As a chenopod – a sub-family of the flowering plant family Amaranthaceae – it is closely related to species such as Swiss chard, beets and spinach.

Nutrients in quinoa

Quinoa is highly nutritious, which means that it is now generally thought of as a “superfood” – a natural food with a high nutrient-per-calorie ratio. It is naturally low in fat and calories and contains:

  • an incredibly high level of protein (18%) – more than grains
  • Essential Fatty Acids – “good” fats that are required for a healthy body and mind
  • iron
  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium – a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including those involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin ecretion
  • manganese – a mineral that serves as a co-factor for the superoxide dismutase enzyme (an antioxidant that helps to protect the body against the damage caused by free radicals)
  • tryptophan
  • folate
  • copper
  • riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • beneficial dietary fibre (both soluble and insoluble)
  • and a balanced set of essential amino acids, such as lysine (essential for tissue growth and repair) – making it a complete protein source for humans. By contrast, wheat and rice are low in lysine.  

Gluten

As mentioned above, quinoa is a pseudo-cereal; it is not a grain, as it isn’t a member of the grass family.

It is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Quinoa is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of purines.

Integrating quinoa into your daily diet

If you love carbohydrates, but are trying to stick to a lean and healthy high-protein diet, quinoa is a fantastic alternative! It has the nutty taste of brown rice crossed with oatmeal and has a pleasant fluffy, creamy and crunchy texture.

Although a seed, quinoa can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley – except it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. It is extremely versatile and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

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What am I eating?

Do you eat “clean”?

In this modern age of processed foods, farming on a massive scale and the widespread use of artificial chemicals to enhance everything from taste and appearance to shelf life, you can no longer take it for granted that you know what is in your food just by looking at it.

Unfortunately, food is no longer a simple concept. Can you honestly say you know what you are eating and what is going into your body with every bite?

You might ask yourself, “why is this even important”? Well, the answer is your health. Chemicals, contaminants and pollutants can all contribute to illness and disease, and can even affect processes within your body ranging from weight loss, cognitive function and digestion, to hormonal balance and immunity.

With this in mind, can you afford to ignore the makeup of your meals?

Food additives

A prime example of “hidden” ingredients is food additives. Almost everyone has heard of them, but how many of us actually take the time to find out what they are, which ones appear in our food and how they might affect our health?

Actually more and more of us, particularly as the health benefits of natural living, healthy eating (and, more specifically, an organic diet) become better understood, versus the health risks associated with poor eating habits.

As a result, health-conscious individuals who are seeking to minimise their daily exposure to toxins and pollutants take the trouble to educate themselves about the different types of food additives out there. Over the years, there has been quite a bit of controversy about these chemicals and below are some of the “need to know” basics.  

The basics

As their name implies, food additives are substances that manufacturers add to foods for any number of reasons (usually to increase profits). For example, to preserve flavour, keep the food fresher for longer and to enhance taste, texture and appearance.

However, not all food additives are bad, despite the negative connotations with the phrase. Some are actually natural compounds – for example, vinegar used for pickling and salt used to preserve meat. These additives have been used for centuries and are natural methods. Similarly, there is a common misconception that processed foods automatically contain food additives, but this is not always the case. For example, long-life milk is processed, yet it doesn’t actually require added chemicals to prolong its shelf life.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of additives now used are synthetic or man-made and have, to a large extent, come about as a result of the increasing time constraints of modern living and the changing palates of modern consumers. For instance, the average person is looking for a snack that is either highly salted or sweetened. Similarly, in this age of competitive advertising and saturated food markets, the brighter, highly coloured food items are normally the ones that get selected. Food needs to be fun to eat, nice to look at and tasty.

The nature of the modern diet and lifestyle has resulted in fewer and fewer home-grown and natural whole foods, and an increase in the number and type of processed / refined foods. In turn, this has led to an increase in the number of additives used in foods – both natural and synthetic. While we are, thankfully, starting to see a reversal of this trend, it remains important to inform yourself about the ingredients in your food, to help protect the health of you and your family.

If you are unsure whether or not a food product contains additives, check the label. If there are ingredients that sound like a chemistry experiment, they are probably best avoided. It is also important to note that some listed ingredients may contain food additives themselves, without those necessarily being specified. For example, a product may contain margarine, which in turn contains additives, but only “margarine” will be listed as an ingredient on the label.

It is good practice to familiarise yourself with some of the more common food additive names, ready to identify them when out and about shopping. Below we will take a look at some of the most notorious additives – E-numbers.

E-numbers

E-numbers get a lot of media attention but, once again, the reality is a little different to what is often portrayed. The phrase itself conjures up images of “food nasties”, but are they really as bad as we are led to believe? The answer is probably “yes”, but it is worth taking a closer look to get the full picture.

After an additive has been tested and approved for use in foods in Europe, it is given a classification known as an “E-number” (a number with an “E” prefix, e.g. E100), for the purposes of regulation and to inform consumers. In other words, it is simply a systematic way of identifying different food additives. Countries outside Europe use only the number (no ‘E’), whether the additive is approved in Europe or not.

The important (and perhaps surprising) point to bear in mind, is that even natural additives will be labelled with an “E” prefix – so don’t automatically discount a food which otherwise looks healthy. Knowledge is power, so know your E-numbers!

Are food additives safe?

This is a controversial question and one that has not been answered satisfactorily as yet. However, common sense dictates that filling our bodies with synthetic chemicals cannot be as healthy as eating a diet rich in natural whole foods and is likely to be detrimental to health in the long term, for instance by adding to our toxic load.

Since the second half of the 20th century, there has been a significant increase in the use of food additives of varying levels of safety and for the reasons described above. This has necessarily led to the introduction of a wide range of laws worldwide, regulating their use.

The long-term effects on the body of regularly consuming a combination of different food additives are, unfortunately, currently unknown – hence the need for regulation. This is largely due to the fact that most additives are tested in isolation, rather than in combination with other additives. However, what is clear is that some people are sensitive to them and suffer reactions as a result of their consumption. These reactions include:

  • headaches
  • skin irritations (itching, rashes, hives etc)
  • digestive disorders (including diarrhoea and abdominal pains)
  • respiratory problems (like asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis)
  • allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock
  • behavioural changes (such as mood changes, anxiety and hyperactivity).

Research undertaken in 2007 by Britain’s Food Standards Agency and later published by the British medical journal “The Lancet”, provided evidence that a mix of additives commonly found in children’s foods serves to increase the mean level of hyperactivity. Similarly, in 2008, AAP Grand Rounds (the American Academy of Pediatrics) published a study that concluded that a low-additive diet is a valid intervention for children with ADHD.

Bearing all this in mind, it is important to remember that all foods are made up of chemicals, many of which are not always “safer” than those found in food additives. For example, people with food allergies and intolerances are also often sensitive to chemicals found naturally in certain foods, such as dairy, nuts or shellfish. However, it is always a good rule of thumb to opt for natural ingredients over synthetic ones and to adopt an organic lifestyle wherever possible.

Additives to watch out for… 

Some of the additives most likely to cause reactions include:

  • Flavour enhancers: A well-known example is monosodium glutamate (MSG E621). They are commonly found in crisps, instant noodles and microwave and takeaway foods.
  • Aspartame: This is an artificial sweetener, which is made of phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol (a type of alcohol). When broken down in the body, methanol forms formaldehyde, formic acid (found in the venom of ants and bees) and diketopiperazine – all quite nasty substances. Aspartame is found in diet drinks, yoghurts and sugar-free items (like chewing gum).
  • Sulphites: This group of additives is often found in dried fruit, desiccated coconut, cordial and wine. They have been known to trigger asthma attacks in sensitive individuals.
  • Propionates: This type of additive can occur naturally in foods (e.g. certain types of cheese). They are also common in bread. The effects are dose-related and may range from migraines, bed-wetting, nasal congestion and racing heart to memory loss, eczema and stomach ache.
  • Antioxidants: Don’t get confused with the naturally-occurring antioxidants found in whole foods like fruit and vegetables and which are widely used to support good health and immunity. Antioxidants in the context of food additives refer to those that are synthetic chemicals which are added to food, and may therefore have a harmful effect on the body. Examples include Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which are added to prevent fat spoilage. They are commonly found in margarine, biscuits, crisps and muesli bars. They have been linked to health conditions such as insomnia, tiredness, asthma and even learning difficulties.
  • Colours: The most common offenders in this category of additives are tartrazine (E102) and annatto (E160b). Synthetic colourings have been linked to allergic reactions, as well as learning and behavioural problems in children.

Categories of additives

Preservatives, colourings and flavourings are some of the best known additives. However, there are actually a number of other categories, each of which is tailored to a specific purpose. These include:

  • acids
  • acidity regulators
  • anti-caking agents
  • antifoaming agents
  • antioxidants
  • bulking agents
  • colour retention agents
  • emulsifiers
  • flavours
  • flavour enhancers
  • flour treatment agents
  • glazing agents
  • humectants
  • tracer gas
  • stabilizers
  • sweeteners
  • and thickeners

In fact, there are currently over 3000 additives used in food across the world, most of which are synthetic.

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Antibiotics and digestive problems

Effects of antibiotic use on the digestive system

Antibiotic resistance is perhaps the most well-known side effect of long-term use of antibiotics – a type of drug resistance, where a micro-organism can eventually withstand exposure to the antibiotic as a result of over-prescription and reliance.

However, there are actually many other side effects that can result from the long-term application and unnecessary use of antibiotics. Even short-term use (while often essential), can lead to issues.

One of the most significant effects is their impact on the digestive system, and the balance of microflora in the gut (a community of beneficial bacteria).

Can antibiotics cause digestive issues?

The simple answer is, yes they can.

Antibiotics work by either wiping out bacteria (bacteriocidal antibiotics) or by stopping bacteria from growing (bacteriostatic antibiotics).

Undoubtedly, they can be effective in overcoming bacterial infections. However, as mentioned above, the cost associated with such treatment is the risk of unwanted side effects and complications.

One of the main difficulties with antibiotic use is that, while they’re intended to destroy bacterial cells, they cannot be programmed to kill only harmful bacteria (i.e. the pathogen causing the condition). They also destroy friendly bacteria, which is vital to the proper workings of the digestive system.

As a result, antibiotics commonly lead to an imbalance of good and bad bowel flora (dysbiosis), which can in turn lead to symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), bad breath, nausea and upset tummy.

Perhaps, more worryingly, antibiotics can also have a direct and negative impact on the immune system. Good bacteria exist in their millions throughout the body – on the skin, in openings like the oral cavity, nose area and genitals and, arguably most importantly, in the intestines of the digestive system. They undertake essential functions in all of these areas, however their most important role is to protect our bodies against prospective pathogens. The antibiotics are therefore damaging our bodies’ natural ability to defend itself.

Imbalance of intestinal flora and immune function

Healthy intestinal flora is important for numerous functions in the body, including forming stools, sustaining a healthy digestive system and generating important vitamins (such as B vitamins). Yet, they’re most crucial to the ideal functioning of our immune systems.

You may be surprised to learn that the most important part of our immune system is located in the gut. 70% of all antibody-producing cells within the body are situated in what is termed “Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue” or GALT. This represents the biggest group of immune cells in the body.

Imbalances of gut flora can have a number of unpleasant side effects and manifest itself in many ways. For example, fungi (like Candida albicans) and bacteria like pathogenic strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and C difficile tend to make the most of the opportunity presented by the body’s reduced resistance, which means that they are then better able to grow more easily. This is a primary reason why antibiotic courses normally lead to thrush (a yeast infection caused by Candida overgrowth).

Similarly, C difficile infections have become prevalent in hospital wards and rest homes over the years. This is because, after antibiotic treatments, C difficile organisms can grow rapidly in the absence of the body’s natural defences. The bacteria produce toxic compounds that inflame and kill the cells that line the large intestine, which can in turn cause intense diarrhoea and internal bleeding. Several other digestive ailments and complaints are also quite typical, such as dysbiosis, toxic bowels and IBS to name just a few.

How to balance your gut bacteria

Research indicates that the damage caused by antibiotics to the gut can last for a far longer period than was previously believed.

In 2013*, Stanford University experts in the USA examined the friendly gut bacteria in 3 healthy adult women both before and after each of 2 cycles on an antibiotic. After the first round, they discovered that the medication affected the level of the women’s friendly bacteria in the gut drastically, perhaps even permanently. After the second cycle half a year later, they discovered that the impact was even greater.

As a result, it is advisable to take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary, i.e. when an infection is bad enough to cause discomfort and distress, or is life threatening or a risk to others. They should never be used as a repeated “quick fix” for small afflictions and lengthy programmes ought to be avoided wherever reasonably practicable.

If antibiotic intake is unavoidable, many individuals find it helpful to supplement their diets with additional friendly bacteria (probiotic supplements), before, during and after the programme of antibiotics is finished. It is believed that this will help to re-populate the digestive tract with the healthy bacteria that the antibiotics have decimated.

* https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2013/09/scientists-show-how-antibiotics-enable-pathogenic-gut-infections.html

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Could I have Candida?

What is Candida albicans?

Candida (also sometimes referred to as a thrush, yeast or fungal infection) is a single cell, plant-like fungi. It starts life as a yeast, which everybody has in their digestive systems and other mucous membranes from birth. It also lives on the skin.

In terms of how it acts in the body, Candida is an overgrowth of yeast (referred to as Candidiasis) that usually starts in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and gradually spreads to other parts of the body. It is a resilient and invasive parasite, which usually attaches itself to the intestinal wall and can (if left untreated) become a permanent resident of the internal organs.

You might be surprised to learn that recorded incidences of Candida overgrowth date back as far as the 1700s. Hippocrates identified the presence of yeast infections as thrush in patients.

What are some of the known causes of Candida?

When all is well, the Candida yeast is kept under control by the healthy flora that we have in our bodies and, more particularly, in our digestive tract (sometimes referred to as “friendly” or “good” bacteria). In this way, it normally co-exists with many other types of bacteria, in a state of balance.

For instance, Candida albicans is part of the normal flora of the mucous membranes of the female genital areas, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, which cause no disease. However, overgrowth of this species may be the cause of infections that could include thrush (oropharyngeal Candidiasis) and vaginal Candidiasis (vulvovaginal candidiasis).

Unfortunately, the modern diet, lifestyle and environment are not always conducive to healthy bacterial growth. We are exposed to an ever-increasing amount of toxins and junk foods on a daily basis, as well as stress in our lifestyles and pollution and chemicals in the air we breathe and the water we drink.

It is thought that overgrowth of yeast tends mainly to occur in those with weakened immune systems or those whose levels of good bacteria have diminished as a result of some external factor (e.g. through stress, disease (such as diabetes), pregnancy and/or the use of antibiotics, birth control pills, steroids or other long-term medication).

When the body’s defences are weakened, it provides fungus with optimum conditions to grow. This allows Candida to enter the bloodstream, travelling through the body to colonise areas such as the urinary tract, vagina, tissue, nails, mouth, skin and other organs.

Once such overgrowth has begun, if not diagnosed and treated appropriately and promptly, it can result in a chronic systemic problem. It is thought that large numbers of yeast germs can weaken the immune system further, thereby perpetuating the problem.

Candida has the ability to produce around 75 toxic substances that can poison the human body. These toxins are believed to contaminate tissue and weaken the immune system, glands, kidneys, bladder, lungs, liver, brain and then the nervous system.

What are some of the symptoms of Candida?

Overgrowth of Candida can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • sugar cravings
  • brain fog
  • allergies
  • blurred vision
  • depression
  • digestive problems
  • joint discomfort
  • muscle pain
  • chronic diarrhoea
  • yeast vaginitis
  • bladder infections
  • menstrual problems
  • and constipation.

A Candida diet

It is widely advocated by natural health practitioners that people suffering from a Candida overgrowth might benefit from eliminating certain foods from their diet, restoring gut health and altering their lifestyle.

Some yeast is always present in the digestive system, but its growth is kept in check by way of the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. This is thought to be assisted by a diet which maintains correct acid/alkaline characteristics.

Therefore, a diet dominated by high sugar intake (which the yeast demands to maintain its presence and growth) and foods containing yeasts or fungi (such as mushrooms, cheese and milk) can lead to a disturbance of this delicate balance.

Supplements can also offer much needed support. For instance, to alkalise the body, remedy disbiosis (by helping to increase numbers of good bacteria) and to elimiate parasites and other pathogens. High-strength, multi-strain probiotics, anti-fungals, digestive enzymes and plant-based powders are all possible additions to support a Candida diet.

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Exercise health benefits

Why is exercise important?

Regular exercise is important for everybody, not just those who are looking to lose weight.

Our bodies operate best when they are engaged in regular activity. Conversely, health issues tend to crop up with your lifestyle is largely sedentary. The body craves movement and exertion, and it actually needs these things in order to function properly, to avoid muscle wastage and weakening, and to promote strength, vitality and longevity.

As obesity rates continue to rise, and we are seeing a growing older population, a lifestyle that includes regular exercise is a necessity. Ideally, this should be introduced at an early age for maximum benefit.

The bottom line is is to avoid inactivity for long periods; even some exercise is better than none at all. In other words, exercise is the key to good health and it can help to prevent a number of preventable health problems.

How can exercise support health?

Although exercise clearly helps to improve the appearance of the body (for example through weight loss and toning), it is also has countless other benefits for health.

Resistance training is often seen as being only for men or gym fanatics. However, exercise can take many forms and doesn’t necessarily have to involve the gym. For example, there is yoga, walking, running, cycling, boxing and countless others.

The important point to bear in mind is that exercise (any exercise) has a number of health benefits, which can contribute to the longevity and quality of life.

In particular, it is beneficial for:

  • detoxification
  • healthy digestion
  • heart health
  • weight loss (including a healthy metabolism).

Exercise is also important for muscle and bone health, and has a key role to play in maintaining a robust immune system by, for example, stimulating the lymphatic system. It is widely believed that the lymphatic system is the body’s first line of defense against disease. Exercise also improves circulation, helping to bring new fuel and energy to every cell.

In considered so important by governments that, in both the USA and Europe, there are a number of national initiatives that call for physical activity and exercise to be standard elements of both disease prevention and medical treatment for all ages.

How does exercise promote weight loss?

One of the most common mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight (and likewise one of the biggest reasons for failure) is focussing all their efforts on changing their diet, without thinking about the essential role of increased levels of physical activity.

Ultimately, your weight is dependant on the balance between the number of calories consumed each day and the number of calories burned. The main way in which exercise can assist with weight loss is through the burning of additional calories. Both aerobic and weight bearing exercise can achieve this.

Dieting alone is not going to be enough to ensure you reach your ideal weight in a healthy way, especially for the long-term. In fact, a 2006 study (Weiss et al) undertaken by Saint Louis University compared the effects of exercise combined with dieting, versus diet alone in losing fat. Although both sets of participants lost weight, only those undertaking exercise maintained their strength and muscle mass and increased aerobic capacity. Those who dieted only, lost muscle mass, strength and aerobic capacity.

Research consistently shows that regular exercise, combined with a balanced diet, is the most efficient and healthy way to manage your weight. In particular, exercise can affect our metabolism – when we exercise and eat healthily, the metabolism has a tendency to speed up and burn off excess calories and fat that it would not otherwise do, during periods of inactivity.

Getting the most out of exercising

If you are new to regular exercise, it’s important to take it slow and, if necessary, consult your doctor, a personal trainer or other qualified health practitioner before implementing radical changes to your diet or starting a new exercise regime.

Similarly, there are a number of health supplements that can support healthy weight management, athletic performance and nutrient intake. Increasing your levels of exercise should be viewed as part of a wider initiative to improve your health, including improving your diet to ensure that your body is getting all the “fuel” it needs to operate optimally.

For example, slimmers often find that protein powders and meal shakes can be helpful, because not only can they provide a low calorie source of nutrients, but the high protein content is vital for maintaining and increasing muscle and bone mass, supporting energy levels, for tissue and cell repair, for keeping the immune system strong and for preventing fatigue. And if you can find a shake that is fortified with nutrients, all the better.

A number of studies have suggested that a high-protein diet combined with exercise can support the weight management process, enhance fat loss, boost metabolism, improve muscle tone and improve blood fat levels.

As protein can assist in the repair and growth of muscle, this tends to mean that more calories are burned each day. Higher-protein diets may also help people to gain better control over their appetites and calorie intake, help them to regulate their blood sugar levels and reduce cravings. When your heart beats faster and you breathe more rapidly, it helps to lower your blood sugar level (which is why exercise is even more important if you have diabetes).

Similarly, ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake is an important part of any weight management programme, to ensure that you are losing weight healthily. For instance, antioxidants (such as vitamin C) are important in preventing damage by free radicals, which can be released during detoxification processes.

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Start losing weight

Get started with your weight loss programme today!

Let’s face it, no one is at their ideal weight all the time and more often than not, you could stand to lose a few pounds rather than putting some on. Luckily, this blog post will help out anyone who wishes to get started on a successful weight loss journey.

It will give you a good idea of what you need to do, so that your weight loss goals will be met and your efforts will be long-lasting.

Everyone at one point or another has made the decision to lose weight, but oftentimes the goals we set for ourselves are not met. Many people fail on their quest for a slimmer body for a variety of reasons. There are countless ways you weight loss programme could lose momentum, leaving you short of reaching your goals.

Before you can start on a successful weight loss campaign, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions.

1. What caused me to gain the weight?
Understand what it is that you did to put on the extra weight. Honestly assessing your lifestyle, activity levels and eating habits is imperative if you are serious about losing weight, because this will allow you to see what changes need to be made.

2. Am I ready, willing and able to make a change?
Losing weight sounds a lot easier than it is and if you aren’t fully committed to achieving your goals, you are setting yourself up for failure. Make sure that you are going to put in the time, effort and dedication needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is also important to ensure that you are physically able to tackle a weight loss programme (have you consulted your doctor?) and have the appropriate tools and resources at your disposal. For example, do you have a meal plan? Do you have an exercise plan? By preparing and informing yourself in advance, you will give yourself the best chance of success. It will also be more likely to lead to wholesale lifestyle change, rather than short-term efforts which then revert back to bad habits.

Once you have examined your current exercise and eating habits, and have made a conscious decision to commit to slimming down and getting healthy, you are ready to begin making changes to your life that will enable you to lose weight and keep it off!

Whether with the help of a personal trainer, dietitian or nutritionist, or through your own research, make notes of the nutrients you need to incorporate into your diet, as well as those items that need to be reduced or eliminated altogether. This is going to be different for each individual, so just make sure that you are incorporating a diet that you can tolerate or you will just end up giving up. Be strong, but also be realistic. And take it slowly. Drastic changes tend to be overwhelming, particularly where bad habits are ingrained.

You should also make exercise a real priority in your life. When hectic schedules reign and budgets are tight, gym sessions are often the first thing we are willing to cut out of lives. However, if going to the gym is really not an option, don’t make excuses – there are many other options out there to keep active that don’t cost the Earth. For instance, running outdoors, following YouTube exercise videos at home and even incorporating a greater level of activity into daily events (such as climbing the stairs, instead of taking the lift). Making time to workout, and building this into your weekly routine, is an extremely important part of living healthily, losing weight and keeping it off for the long-term. No matter what type of activity you wish to do, just make sure you do it. Making dietary changes alone is not enough.

Lastly, try to find a friend or family member who is willing to go on a weight loss journey with you. It is always easier to lose weight and get fit when you have a buddy who is struggling along with you. Together, you will be able to motivate each other to keep going when one or both of you needs a little encouragement.

Nothing in this blog is particularly new in terms of information for the average person, but you’d be surprised how many people start their weight loss programme without first taking these basic steps. Ensure that your efforts will pay off by using the tips given above to prepare yourself, and you are sure to lose that weight and keep it off!

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Natural versus man-made food

Organic nutrients

Natural, organic nutrients – from, for example, fruit, vegetables and leafy greens – help to nourish the body, support natural detoxification and high energy levels and also help to naturally cleanse internal organs and alkalise the blood pH.

Organic forms of these nutritious foods means:

  • no toxic chemicals
  • no GMOs
  • a higher level of nutrients.

This principle extends also to the vitamins and other supplements you might choose to introduce into your daily diet.

Natural or man-made?

The number of milligrams you take of a certain vitamin or mineral on a daily basis is only part of the health equation. The most important factor is how many milligrams your body actually absorbs and uses.

If you buy synthetic or “man-made” health supplements, you could be wasting your money. As they are not natural, the body can’t always work out how to treat them, which means that often they are not fully absorbed. Only organic whole foods, balanced by nature, can provide your body with the nutrients and energy needed to achieve optimum health.

Even healthy people will not be able to fully digest, absorb and use most man-made vitamin and mineral pills. So imagine how little use they will be if you are ill or suffer from digestive system problems – virtually zero. They will pass through your body unabsorbed and be flushed down the toilet after a few hours.

In contrast, natural food state supplement enable the body to utilise the nutrients properly. Only natural whole foods can provide the vital elements and energy that are needed to assist our bodies to reach and maintain optimum health levels. Look after your health the natural way!

Healthy diet and nutrient intake

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all ensure our daily vitamin, mineral and general nutrient requirements were met by diet alone? Unfortunately, in today’s modern and fast-paced world most people consume a diet high in:

  • sugar
  • saturated fat
  • refined carbohydrates
  • nutrient-deficient processed foods
  • caffeine
  • alcohol. 

The lack of nutrients in the average diet is also often exacerbated by the use of prescription drugs, smoking, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, high stress levels and high levels of environmental pollution – the end result is toxic build-up, nutritional deficiency over time and inevitably the body becomes unable to cope.

Once nutritional deficiencies begin to take their toll, the body begins to break down (become ill). Symptoms can be exhibited through many different conditions.

Why you need to replenish your body’s nutrients daily

A lack of nutrients means that your body cannot repair itself fully or efficiently. Over time, this lack of nutrition can cause a host of problems, such as low energy levels, poor memory, irritability, a weak immune system and susceptibility to colds and flu – and these are just the mild issues.

The ability to recover and the speed of recovery following an illness or injury is reduced in nutritionally depleted bodies. We have to eat foods, not only for the calories, but more importantly for the nutrients found within them. This is why so-called “fast foods” and “junk foods” (non-organic processed foods) are basically useless to the body – even though they are high in calories, they provide us with very little by way of of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential oils, antioxidants etc).

The end result of continually eating high-calorie and nutritionally-devoid foods is therefore often obesity, low energy levels and poor health. In contrast, if you feed your body’s cells with nutritionally potent foods (such as superfoods) you will not only feel good, but will also look great and support your long-term health and vitality.

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Meal shakes and protein powders

Shakes – can they help with weight loss?

Tricky meal planning

Meal planning, as part of a slimming or ongoing weight management programme, which ensures that you are receiving optimal nutrition and a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients every day, can be difficult for a number of reasons:

  • you may be limited to a certain number of calories per day, making it problematic to eat high amounts of even fruits and vegetables
  • you may not be entirely clear on what nutrients you need, in which quantities and/or where to find them
  • you may not have the time to plan and prepare all meals in advance, particularly if you are eating up to 6 times a day
  • you may not have the budget to purchase the required amounts of fresh, organic produce every day, needed for optimum nutrient intake
  • you may not have the time to, for example, prepare fresh juices every day, which can help with the digestion of large quantities of fresh, raw produce and can be a good source of nutrients
  • you may have a medical condition, digestive complaint, food allergy or intolerance, which means that your choice of foods is limited
  • you may be a vegetarian or vegan, making it more difficult to eat a high protein diet which can support weight loss.

Making life easier

If one or more of the above applies to you, don’t worry! There are ways to ensure that you still get the nutrients you need to secure healthy weight loss for the long-term.

High quality meal shakes and protein powders can be an invaluable slimming tool because, not only are they quick and easy to prepare and drink, if you pick the right product they are also packed with nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre) and are naturally low in fat.

They provide a convenient and reliable way for you to access high levels of nutrients every day, without having to worry about the calories.

Organic superfood shakes (or “green shakes”), for example, allow you to take in nutrient-dense, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables in quantities that would otherwise be unrealistic on a daily basis.

Vegan-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free light meal shakes can provide a healthy breakfast or snack on the go, even for those people with specific dietary requirements. These types of healthy snacks can help to keep you fuller for longer, staving off cravings and bingeing.

Protein shakes, made from complete, natural and balanced plant-based protein sources (such as hemp, pea or rice) can make it far easier to implement a high-protein diet that supports slimming, because you do not have the high fat content of meat and other animal products.

The convenience offered by these daily food supplements means that there is no longer any excuse to skip meals. It couldn’t be easier for you to meet your optimal nutrient intake on a daily basis, while still sticking to your healthy weight management programme.

Ensuring your weight loss success

When it comes to healthy slimming, finding the best approach can be often be daunting and can sometimes lead to “information overload”. There are so many, often conflicting, information resources on weight loss and the weight management process.

But slimming needn’t be complicated – there are some basic rules that you need to follow. However, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health practitioner before changing your diet, implementing a new exercise regime or taking health supplements.

Firstly, knowledge is power.

Losing weight in a healthy way and for the long-term involves you taking proactive steps to better understand:

  • your own body and how it works
  • how your body reacts to what you put in it
  • the ways in which existing medical conditions and/or allergies or intolerances can affect the weight management process
  • your metabolism
  • your daily nutritional requirements
  • how health supplements, including meal shakes and protein powders, can support the slimming process.

Nobody is going to lose weight for you and nobody knows your body and how it feels and works better than you. While the above may sound daunting, it really isn’t. The more information you have, the better placed you will be to achieve your health and weight goals. The fact that you have the power to make the desired changes yourself should be empowering!

Take it slowly – you won’t learn everything you need to know in one week. Start by finding a product you like, carry out additional research on the ingredients yourself through reliable online resources. It can also be useful to use high quality meal plans in the early stages, to guide you while you are still learning about how to eat a balanced diet.

Here’s to your long-term weight loss success.

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