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NUTRITION

Help Prevent Muscle Loss with Protein, Even When You Can’t Train

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You may think that if you’re training less, doing less cardio, or even being inactive altogether, you don’t need as much protein in your diet as when you’re going full bore in the gym.

Totally wrong!

Granted, those who train and stay active have great protein demands, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your protein intake if you get injured and can’t train, get tied up with other life obligations and start slacking on your workouts, or are training with less volume or intensity for some other reason (like, say, the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders).

Multiple studies have shown that protein intake is absolutely critical for inactive people to prevent muscle loss. I’ll break down those studies right here, and, I hope, save you some hard-earned muscle.

Prevent Muscle Atrophy with High Protein

A 2013 study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews confirmed the well-known fact that muscle disuse, aka inactivity, leads to atrophy, or muscle loss.[1] The researchers found that “maintaining protein intake during a period of disuse attenuates disuse atrophy.” Basically, keeping protein intake high prevents muscle loss when you’re not training or are training less frequently or less intensely. This is important, because the last thing you want is to lose muscle.

The researchers concluded that supplementing with dietary protein, like protein powder or essential amino acids (like BCAAs), is a good strategy for preserving muscle during periods of inactivity.*

Jim Stoppani drinking a protein shake

That’s in line with what I’ve been saying for years: Whether you’re training hard or hardly training, you should shoot for at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily and even up to 1.5 grams per pound. That’s a hell of a lot of chicken breasts and eggs! You can’t get there with whole foods alone. The most convenient way to do it is to get some of it through protein powder. Plus, my Pro JYM protein contains a perfect blend of whey, casein, and egg to maximize protein synthesis to build and maintain muscle.*

For a more in-depth understanding of the importance of protein powder and how muscle synthesis works, read my article “3 Ways to Grow the Most Muscle with Protein Powder.

As for amino acids, both Pre JYM and Post JYM contain the critical aminos leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Be More Anabolic with Protein and Leucine

A 2014 study looked at older adults and found that dietary protein and amino acid supplementation—at least 30 grams of protein and 3 grams of the branched-chain amino acid leucine per serving—triggered anabolism (muscle building) and muscle maintenance in sedentary individuals.[2] Leucine supplementation was also highlighted in a 2016 study that looked at preserving muscle during disuse.[3]*

The researchers mentioned that creatine and fish-oil-derived omega-3 fatty acids can further help prevent muscle loss during periods of inactivity. Creatine is present in Pre JYM and Post JYM, and my Omega JYM fish oil provides adequate amounts of all the most critical omega-3 fats.

Fish oil supplements

Greater Protein Synthesis in Injured Athletes Through Dietary Protein

The last study, published in 2015, looked at injured athletes.[4] So, we’re not talking about the elderly anymore. These were young people who were highly active and highly trained and got injured and couldn’t train as much as usual, if at all.

“Dietary consumption [of protein] is of critical importance for stimulating muscle protein synthesis rates throughout the day,” the researchers note, concluding that “maintaining or increasing daily protein intake by focusing upon the amount, type, and timing of dietary protein ingestion…can restrict the loss of muscle mass and strength during recovery from injury.”

Yes, during recovery from injury. Or, when you’re not injured but you’re sitting on your ass more and training less!

Jim’s Take-Home Message

By keeping your protein intake high, you’ll lose less muscle during times of inactivity. Get that protein from lean meats (lean steak, chicken breasts), eggs, dairy (for example, cottage cheese), and protein powder. I also recommend taking BCAAs—either through Pre JYM, Post JYM, or a stand-alone BCAA product—when you’re not getting at least 30 grams of protein (including 3 grams of leucine) in a meal, to make sure you’re spiking muscle protein synthesis.*

For more information on taking BCAAs between meals, read my article “The Best Ways to Use BCAAs.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Want unlimited access to all of my programs and an endless supply of content like this? Visit JimStoppani.com and become a member.

References
  1. Wall, B. T., & van Loon L. J. C. (2013). Nutritional strategies to attenuate muscle disuse atrophy. Nutrition Reviews, 71(4), 195-208.
  2. Thalacker-Mercer, A. & Drummond, M. (2014). The importance of dietary protein for muscle health in inactive, hospitalized older adults. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1328(1), 1-9.
  3. Galvan, E., Arentson-Lantz, E., Lamon, S., & Paddon-Jones, D. (2016). Protecting skeletal muscle with protein and amino acid during periods of disuse. Nutrients, 8, 404.
  4. Wall, B. T., Morton, J. P., & van Loon, L. J. C. (2015) Strategies to maintain skeletal muscle mass in the injured athlete: nutritional considerations and exercise mimeticsEuropean Journal of Sport Science, 15(1), 53-62.

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NEWS

Walgreens sees $1.7B net loss, but analysts like its primary care strategy

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On the heels of announcing big plans to invest $1 billion into a network of primary care clinics, Walgreens Boots Alliance posted a $1.7 billion net loss. The company saw declining sales, particularly at its overseas locations, as a result of the pandemic.

Despite the massive loss and the continued uncertainty due to Covid-19, analysts said they liked the company’s long-term strategy of opening primary care locations concurrent with its stores. Yesterday, the company announced its partnership with VillageMD, with plans to open 500 to 700 primary care locations in the next five years.

In a research note, Cowen Managing Director and Senior Research Analyst Charles Rhyee wrote that despite the near-term losses, “…we like where the (long-term) strategy is going.”

“Previously, we had believed WBA’s partnership strategy was more retail oriented with the benefit largely driven by rental income and increased volume from foot traffic. However, the VillageMD partnership deepens WBA back into health care, which we think is a must in the current evolving landscape for health care services,” he added.

Walgreens reported revenues of $34.63 billion, a slight increase from the same quarter in 2019. The company’s $1.7 billion net loss is a significant decrease from its net earnings of $1.03 billion in 2019. The company’s stock tumbled by nearly 8% to $39 at market close on Thursday.

Walgreens chalked up a decline in sales of $700 million to $750 million to the pandemic. As lockdown restrictions led to lower foot traffic in its stores, it saw sales drop. Its pharmacy business also slowed with fewer patients going to the doctor or the hospital.

The company’s U.S. stores actually did fine — even though transactions dropped by about 10%, customers were purchasing more items with each visit. But in the U.K., same-store sales at Boots locations dropped by 48% in the quarter due to strict lockdown conditions. Boots saw online purchases increase considerably, but those sales also came at a higher cost due to shipping and fulfillment.

The company plans to close 48 Boots Opticians stores and a 20% staff reduction in its U.K. support office.

Even with these financial results, Walgreens plans to push forward with its strategy to build out its healthcare services. When asked about its other partnerships with UnitedHealthcare and LabCorp, executives still seemed to have some interest.

Walgreens Co-Chief Operating Officer Alex Gourlay pointed to the company’s work with United to open 14 Medicare services centers at its stores in Las Vegas, and said the company would continue to expand its Partners in Primary Care model with Humana, with three new locations.

“We continue to believe strongly in the neighborhood destination concept,” he said in an earnings call. “We believe we’ll have to have more partners than just one, but at the moment, the partner who really has performed the best for us has been VillageMD and we’re very committed to accelerating in the way we described.”

Photo credit: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

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FITNESS

Chickpeas: Benefits, Weight Loss, and Healthy Recipes: HealthifyMe Blog

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Chickpeas are the most sought after legume in the world. In fact, they are used in various cuisines including in the Middle East, India, Israel, Spain, and North Africa. This ancient bean has its origins in the Middle East where it was cultivated as early 7,500 years ago. Today, chickpeas have become an essential ingredient in many household kitchens. Also called garbanzo beans and Ceci, chickpeas are small in size. They are usually available in dry form and must be soaked and cooked before consumption. In modern times, chickpeas can be consumed from a can, ground up into a flour, stewed or even pureed.
When cooked, chickpeas have a grainy texture and nutty taste, making them an excellent accompaniment with many other foods. Apart from being very tasty, chickpeas are rich in fibre, minerals, and vitamins. They offer many health benefits like reducing risk factors to diseases, weight management, and improving digestion. Chickpeas are also very high in plant-based protein. This makes them one of the best meat replacement ingredients. Chickpeas are an essential ingredient in vegan and vegetarian diets.

Table of Content

Nutritional Value of Chickpeas

Chickpeas have an extraordinary nutrition profile. In just a single 28 gram serving, there are only 46 calories and only 270 calories in one cup of boiled chickpeas. Nearly 67% of its weight comprises carbs, while the rest of the remaining chickpea consists of protein and fat. Did you know that one cup of chickpeas provides up to 40% of your required amount of daily fibre, as well as 70% of folate and 22% of iron? Chickpeas have a low glycemic index. It means that your body digests this legume slowly, which helps you feel full for long and prevents spikes in blood glucose levels.

Listed below, is the nutritional profile of a 28 gram serving of chickpeas:

  • Calories: 101
  • Carbohydrates: 17 grams
  • Fat: 1.5 grams
  • Fiber: 7.9 grams
  • Protein: 4.8 grams

Benefits of Consuming Chickpeas

There are several health benefits of consuming chickpeas. These are:

1) Reduces blood glucose levels

Reduces blood glucose levels

The American Diabetes Association recommends chickpeas as a source of fibre for people with diabetes. In a 2014 study, it was found that eating 30g of fibre every day could reduce inflammation in individuals living with type 1 diabetes. Ideally, it is recommended that adults consume up to 28.0 grams of fibre a day.
Another 2018 study found that a high fibre diet helped to lower blood sugar levels and minimized the risk of type 2 diabetes. This makes chickpeas an ideal ingredient in a diabetes meal plan.

2) Promotes Bone Health

Chickpeas promotes bone health

Chickpeas contain calcium, iron, and phosphorus; all necessary minerals that promote healthy and strong bone structure. Incorporating chickpeas into your daily diet is an excellent way of preventing osteoporosis.

3) Manages Blood Pressure

Consuming chickpeas on a regular basis can help increase your potassium levels. Potassium helps reduce high blood pressure. In fact, it is recommended that adults should consume 4,700 mg of potassium each day. Chickpeas are naturally high in this mineral and can be easily consumed to meet your daily potassium requirements. A cup of chickpeas (164g), has 474 mg of potassium.
If you’re planning to use canned chickpeas, then pay attention to the sodium level in the ingredient listing. It is always best to cook with dry chickpeas so that you can control and limit the amount of sodium you consume. It is recommended that you keep your sodium level below 2,300 each day to prevent cardiovascular disease.

4) Promotes heart health

Chickpeas promotes heart health

Chickpeas are high in B vitamins, fibre, selenium, iron, and magnesium; ingredients that support heart health. Fibre decreases the risk of developing heart disease because it lowers blood cholesterol levels. In fact, chickpeas have no cholesterol!

5) Helps combat cancer

Cancer is caused  by free radicals. These are toxic substances that accumulate in the body due to poor metabolism. As toxin levels rise, cell damage occurs, causing a variety of health issues, including cancer. Chickpeas contain antioxidants such as beta carotene and selenium. These are vital in removing free radicals. In a single cup of chickpeas, there are 6.1mcg of selenium. The recommended daily requirement of selenium for adults is 55 mcg. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that is capable of protecting the body from developing cancer. When selenium is coupled with fibre, it can help reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer.

6) Reduces cholesterol

In a 2006 study, it was found that participants who consumed chickpeas on a regular basis had low LDL levels (low-density lipoprotein) compared to those who only ate a wheat-based diet. The researchers pointed out that the high fibre content in chickpeas was responsible for reducing bad cholesterol levels.

7) Improves mental health

Improves mental health

In a single cup of chickpeas, there is 69.7mg of choline. This is an essential mineral for the nervous system and brain function. Choline plays a vital role in learning, memory, mood regulation, metabolism, and muscle control. The daily recommended intake of choline for adults is 400 to 550mg of choline. This varies according to gender and whether you’re breastfeeding or pregnant. In addition, the selenium content in chickpeas supports thinking and memory. In fact, a study examining cognitive decline in the elderly found a decreased level of selenium.

8) Promotes regularity and digestion

Chickpeas are an excellent source of fibre. Consuming these on a daily basis helps keep you regular and promote good gut health.

9) Aids weight management

Aids weight management

If you’re trying to lose weight or stay within a healthy weight range, then chickpeas are your ally. The dietary fibre in chickpeas acts as bulking agents. This means you will feel full for a longer period of time. In addition, their high protein content also contributes to reducing your appetite and therefore limiting your caloric intake.

10) Prevents iron deficiency

Iron is an essential mineral in the body. It helps red blood cells carry and deliver oxygen to the entire body. When there is an iron deficiency present in the body, it can cause tiredness and weakness. Some life-threatening health conditions may arise due to low iron levels. Chickpeas are an excellent source of iron. When consumed with vitamin C, your body is able to absorb this mineral better.

Best Ways to Incorporate Chickpeas

You can easily include chickpeas into your diet. Listed below are two popular recipes that use this popular ingredient.

Hummus- Middle Eastern Dip

Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 60 ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 60 ml of tahini
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 30 ml of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 45 ml of water
  • paprika for garnishing

Method:

  • In a mixer or food processor, blend together chickpeas, cumin powder, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Ensure the mixture is smooth and creamy in texture.
  • Slowly and gradually add olive oil. Keep mixing.
  • Depending on the thickness, add as much water as you like and continue to mix. Do not exceed 45 ml of water.
  • Once the ingredients are well-blended, remove into a deep and wide bowl. Garnish the hummus with some paprika and or cumin and olive oil.

Chickpea Salad

Chickpeas salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of boiled chickpeas
  • 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup of Chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup of cubed cucumber
  • 1 cup of boiled chickpeas
  • ½ sliced onion
  • ¼ cup of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Method:

  • Mix all vegetables and the chickpeas together in a deep bowl.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, mix together lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  • Pour over the cut vegetables and garnish with coriander.

Chickpeas and Weight Loss

Chickpeas and weight loss

Chickpeas are a known ingredient in combating excess weight. They are very low in calories compared to the number of nutrients they provide. If you eat low calorie, high fiber foods like chickpeas on a daily basis, you are highly likely to experience weight loss, especially when combined with some exercise. The high fiber and protein content in chickpeas promote weight loss because both the ingredients increase satiety levels.
In a weight-loss study, it was found that those people who consumed chickpeas regularly were 53% more likely to be fit with a lower body mass index. Another meta-analyses study found that consuming chickpeas every day increased weight loss by 25%.

Summary

Chickpeas are an ancient legume that is gaining much importance in modern society. Although they were first cultivated in the Middle East, chickpeas are consumed worldwide. This small bean has a delicious nutty and buttery flavor, making it an excellent ingredient in many cuisines. Chickpeas also play a vital role in promoting health and preventing diseases. Make chickpeas a part of your daily diet and stay fit for life.



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HEALTH

What Is the Best High-Intensity Cardio for Fat Loss?

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When you’re trying to burn fat, there’s one form of exercise you’ll start hearing a lot about: high-intensity cardio workouts. We often call these workouts HIIT, aka high-intensity interval training, because it’s a kind of exercise should be done all-out, as hard as you can go, at 80 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate. “The higher the better,” said exercise physiologist Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, Bowflex fitness advisor and author of The Micro Workout Plan.

Most people can’t sustain that intensity for a long period of time, which is why trainers break it up into sections: work intervals and active rest intervals. You go hard then recover, in short bursts of cardio and rest. This structure allows you to work harder and ultimately burn more calories than you would if you were trying to sustain that pace the whole time.

HIIT can be confusing though, because how should you actually do it? Run? Cycle? Bodyweight exercises? You have plenty of options when it comes to high-intensity cardio, and you want to choose the one with maximum fat burn. But first, let’s talk about how HIIT burns so much fat in the first place.

Does High-Intensity Cardio Burn Fat?

“HIIT is extremely effective for fat loss for two main reasons,” Tom told POPSUGAR. For one thing, you burn more fat during interval workouts than during steady-state training; one 2019 review found that people burned nearly 29 percent more fat through HIIT than through moderate-intensity, steady-state workouts.

Then there’s the EPOC effect, aka excess postexercise oxygen consumption. After working out, your body is in an oxygen deficit that it has to work to make up. So even though your workout is over, you’re still consuming oxygen at a higher rate, which requires more energy, which means you’re burning more calories. The EPOC effect kicks in the hardest after HIIT, and while it doesn’t last for hours and doesn’t burn hundreds of calories, it’s still helping you get more bang for your buck.

What’s the Best High-Intensity Cardio For Fat Loss?

Good news: you can use multiple types of high-intensity cardio to burn fat. They’ll all be effective, especially if you’re using the HIIT format of going all out, followed by a rest period. Some examples Tom recommended: running, cycling, rowing, and plyometric bodyweight exercises.

Even more good news? Whatever mode of cardio you choose, Tom advised keeping both the intervals and the overall workout short, because that allows you to go harder during the work sessions. “The harder the work interval, the more calories you will burn both during the workout and potentially afterwards as well,” Tom explained. Lack of time is typically the biggest barrier to exercise, he added, which makes HIIT “the perfect solution.”

How Often Should I Do High-Intensity Cardio to Burn Fat?

High-intensity cardio sessions are hard on your body, so aim to do them on non-consecutive days of the week. This gives you time to recover, which will ultimately help you burn fat: the fresher your body is when you head into a HIIT workout, the more effort you can put in! Tom recommended the following as a weekly workout structure, with a maximum of three HIIT days per week:

  • Monday: HIIT
  • Tuesday: steady-state
  • Wednesday: HIIT
  • Thursday: steady-state
  • Friday: HIIT
  • Saturday: steady-state
  • Sunday: rest day

HIIT might be the biggest fat-burner, but low-intensity steady-state cardio, aka LISS, has its place too. It’s good for your heart, can be done at any fitness level, and is essentially active recovery from your HIIT workouts. “Like everything else in exercise, variation is one of the major keys to success, both physiologically as well as mentally,” Tom said.

If you’re raring to get started, try this HIIT treadmill workout, a 15-minute plyometric bodyweight circuit, or a high-intensity cycling workout that’ll burn fat and keep you from getting bored. Any one of these forms of cardio can help you burn fat. You just have to find one you actually enjoy! If you like the exercise you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick to it, which will ultimately help you burn more fat — and have more fun while you’re at it.



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HEALTH

Nutritional Facts, Weight Loss, Benefits, and Healthy Recipes

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Black tea is a very common type of tea. It is the most oxidized form compared to oolong, green or white tea and these types of tea is derived from shrub ‘Camellia Sinensis’. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. Black tea is popular due to its strong, bold taste, and long shelf life. In ancient times, before tea was considered a beverage, it was used for medicinal purposes and slowly it became popular, not just because of its flavor but for the health benefits it offers. Black tea is considered as a great source of antioxidants that play a crucial role in keeping the body healthy. Black tea and green tea offer somewhat similar benefits, but scientists are explicitly looking at black tea because of its oxidation process. 

With that in mind, let’s look at the nutritional facts, benefits, and health recipes the beverage has to offer. 

Table of Contents

Nutritional Value of Black Tea 

Usually, black tea is served with milk, but consuming it with water is said to be the most beneficial. Since it is the most oxidized of all the tea types, it provides a unique color and flavor that tastes savory to sweet and has amber to dark brown texture. Many people drink black tea for energy, alertness, and for increasing metabolism before workout and  thanks to the caffeine content It also contains antioxidants that can help protect your cells from DNA damage. Studies hint that antioxidants in black tea may help lessen the risk of atherosclerosis, which is clogged arteries, particularly in women.

With that said, let’s put some light into the nutritional value of black tea to better understand its health benefits. 
1 cup black tea contains:

  • Calories – 2.4 
  • Carbohydrates – 0.4 grams
  • Fiber – 0.1 grams
  • Fats – 0.0. Grams
  • Proteins – 0.1 grams

Looking at the above nutrients, black tea is undoubtedly a healthy beverage that incorporates all the essential nutrients and minerals. The best part about black tea is its bold flavors that make for a satisfying drink, which you can enjoy any time of the day. 

Black Tea for Weight Loss

Black tea and weight loss

People have found a new reason to drink black tea – weight loss! A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition stated that black tea works as a prebiotic that aids the digestive process. The flavonoids unique to the black tea help when it comes to shedding those extra pounds, according to health experts. 
The molecules of black tea are larger than the other tea types. This means the black tea molecules spend more time in the small intestine. Scientists believe that the presence of these molecules in the small intestine helps in increasing the population of good bacteria and microorganisms in the gut microbiome. As a result, the liver tissues burn fat deposits more efficiently.  
On the other hand, the reason why black tea is considered a weight loss beverage is that it contains the highest concentration of caffeine among all the tea categories. A cup of black tea contains about 47 milligrams of caffeine. Caffeine is known for boosting energy and increasing metabolic rate. Drinking black tea before your workout may help your body to perform better and shed pounds faster. Caffeine works in a way that it raises the body temperature, also known as ‘thermogenesis.’ When the temperature increases, it triggers reactions in the body that results in improved metabolism of nutrients and vitamins, and ultimately, fat burning. 
If you look at the nutrition table, you will see that the calorie count in black tea is almost negligible. Replacing high calorie beverages and drinks like juice and soda with black tea can help lose weight quickly. Moreover, drinking black tea is a tastier alternative. Since black tea is packed with flavonoids, it can help improve fat distribution and thus, lead to a healthier weight loss.   
Scientists and researchers are still experimenting with the properties of black tea to find more solid evidence regarding weight loss. Nevertheless, you can include black tea in your daily diet and enjoy the overall health benefits it offers. 

Black Tea Health Benefits 

The health benefits of black tea are immense. From a healthy heart to improved digestive health, lowering the chances of diabetes, and more, there is a whole list of health benefits offered by black tea. 

1. Reduces the risk of diabetes

prevent diabetes

According to studies, long-term intake of black tea can help in lowering the fasting blood glucose levels and thereby reducing the rates of type-2 diabetes. Polyphenols like flavonoids are found in abundance in black tea that helps in reducing the glycemic index.  An experiment conducted on older adults showed that those who were drinking black tea for a prolonged period had 70% low chances of experiencing a spike in blood sugar levels. That means they had lesser chances of developing type-2 diabetes.  

2. May help in preventing cancer 

Black tea is high in theaflavins, which is an antioxidant that can help destroy abnormal cells in the body. The free radicals present in our body can create major damage by turning the normal body cells into cancerous cells. The antioxidant content in black tea is so high that it keeps the free radicals at bay and plays a significant role in the prevention of significant types of cancers like skin cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and stomach cancer. It is also found that drinking black tea helps in increasing the level of globulin hormones in women during the menstrual cycle. 

3. Helps improve heart functions

Heart health

Numerous studies have shown that drinking black tea lowers the chances of stroke in adults. According to research, people who consume three or more cups of black tea in a day lowers the chances of stroke by 21%. Black tea is rich in theaflavins, flavonols, gallic acid, and flavan-3-ols that restore the coronary artery dysfunction in heart patients. These nutrients also repair the blood vessels and arteries that prevent strokes, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular problems. In conclusion, it can be said that people who consume black tea on a daily basis are less prone to developing cardiovascular conditions. 

4. Helps in relieving stress 

relieves stress

Drinking black tea reduces the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and helps in normalizing it. On the other hand, black tea is rich in an amino acid called I-theanine that promotes relaxation by easing stress. Those who are going through rough times mentally are advised to drink three or more cups of black tea in a day as it helps in speedy recovery from stress. Stress can cause chronic illness like coronary heart disease and other mental disorders if not treated early. Drinking black tea also helps in soothing your mind and allows you to concentrate. 

5. Protects against bad bacteria 

The flavonoids and polyphenols found in black tea have antibacterial properties. According to several studies, consumption of black tea helps in lowering the risk of helicobacter pylori infection, which is a bacterial infection that affects the stomach. Moreover, it also prevents unnecessary sweating, which is also a sign of bacterial infection. Doctors and health professionals say that applying chilled black tea bags to razor bumps, burns, itchiness, and redness can provide deep comfort. 

6. Improves digestive health 

 improves digestion

Black tea contains tannins in high amounts along with other chemicals that have a positive and relaxing effect on digestive health. The anti-inflammatory properties in black tea help in curing digestive problems. They help in combating stomach ulcers, boost the immune system health, and provide a therapeutic effect on the gastric and intestinal illness as well. Black tea aids the growth of good gut bacteria, thereby improving gut health. 

7. Stronger bones

The flavonoids present in the black tea helps in keeping the bones healthy, therefore preventing fractures. Minerals like potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous keep the bones stronger and reduce the chances of developing arthritis and other joint issues. On the other hand, the phytochemicals help in reducing inflammation in the muscles, especially in the joints that allows for easy mobility. 

8. Beneficial for good oral health 

Oral problems like bleeding gums, bad breath, plaque formation, and more can affect both your health and self-esteem. Polyphenols like flavonoids, tannins, and catechins in black tea possess anti-microbial properties that help in keeping your oral health intact. Black tea promotes the production of salivary enzymes, and if consumed regularly, it can lower inflammation, prevent cavities, and stop the growth of bacteria. Doctors recommend drinking a cup or two of unsweetened black tea with water as it helps in destroying and surpassing bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decays. 

How to Make Black Tea  

Making black tea is probably one of the easiest tasks in the kitchen. However, it is all about precision and timing, and if you miss anything, it can alter the taste. But don’t worry! In this section, we are going to teach you how to make tasty, refreshing types of black tea at home, like a pro. 

Lemon Black Tea Recipe

Lemon black tea

Ingredients: 

  • Loose leaf black tea – 2 tablespoons (teabag also works fine) 
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Lemon – optional

Directions: 

  • Take a saucepan, add water, and cook on a medium flame for a couple of minutes 
  • When the water comes to boil, add the loose tea leaves while stirring (make sure you bring the stove to medium heat)
  • Boil the mixture on low flame and let the water infuse all the elements of black tea 
  • Strain the leaves, add lemon juice and and serve hot. 

Iced Black tea recipe

Iced black tea recipe

Ingredients: 

  • Loose leaf black tea – 2 tsp. (teabag also works fine) 
  • Crushed cardamom pods-3 
  • Fresh Mint- 3-4 leaves
  • Rose water – 1 tsp
  • Honey- 1 tbsp

Instructions

  • Brew tea by adding water in a pan, and allow it to cool, then add tea powder, cardamom and let the flavors infuse. (Let it simmer). 
  • Filter the tea, and add honey, rose water, mint leaves and serve cold or hot. 

Side Effects of Black Tea

While black tea is all good for your health, you should know that everything in this world has limitations. If there are pros, there will be cons as well. The same goes for black tea. Here are the potential side effects of black tea that you should know. 

  • Reduced iron absorption 
  • Increased anxiety and restlessness 
  • Poor sleep 
  • Nausea 
  • Heartburn 
  • Pregnancy complications 
  • Caffeine dependence 
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness 

Summary 

Black tea is best when consumed plain. Adding milk, sugar, cream, and syrups will increase the calorie content and possibly reduce its health benefits. Moreover, you should also refrain from ready-to-drink teas and iced teas if you are health conscious. These tea beverages are considered to be less healthy. As mentioned above, black tea has many health benefits from controlling diabetes to reducing the risk of heart disease, and more. However, moderate consumption is advised because of its adverse side effects. Consult your doctor before including black tea in your diet.  



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HEALTH

Intermittent fasting: Methods, Benefits, and Weight Loss: HealthifyMe Blog

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Intermittent fasting or IF is rapidly becoming the most widespread fitness and health trend. Many people are using IF to lead a better lifestyle, improve health, and lose weight. There are several studies that have demonstrated the powerful effects that occur on the brain and body due to intermittent fasting. Some studies have even shown that IF can help you live longer.

The following information is your beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting.

Table of Contents:

What is Intermittent Fasting?

This is an eating pattern that cycles through periods of eating and fasting. The Intermittent Fasting plan doesn’t specify exact foods that you need to eat, but when you ought to eat them. On this plan, a whole food, nutritious eating regimen is recommended. Hence IF is not a conventional diet, but an eating pattern or habit. In this method, fasting occurs for either 16 hours a day or 24 hours, two times per week.
Fasting is not an unfamiliar practice in human evolution. In fact, it is more commonplace than we know. Our ancient hunter and gatherer humans didn’t have refrigerators, year-round foods or supermarkets. Sometimes they couldn’t find food to eat. In response to this scenario, they learned to function without food for lengthy periods of time. In modern society, we see fasting occurring for spiritual or religious reasons. For instance, regular fasting is a common practice in many world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. In fact, when you think about it, periodic fasting is more natural than consuming 3 or more meals every single day.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

There are several ways to perform intermittent fasting. The most popular methods are:

1. 16-8 Method

16/8 intermittent fasting method

This is also called the Leangains protocol. To follow, you will skip breakfast and restrict your eating period to 8 hours. For example, you may eat between 1 to 9 pm but then you will fast for the remaining 16 hours.

2. 5:2 Diet

5:2 intermittent fasting diet

On this method, you normally eat for five days and restrict your calorie intake to 500 to 600 calories on two non-successive days in the week, i.e. Tuesday and Thursday.

3. Eat-Stop-Eat

On this plan, you will fast for 24 hours, either once or twice a week. Then eat regularly on the non-fasting days.

On intermittent fasting, you’re reducing your calorie intake which leads to weight loss. However, it will only work if you’re not overindulging on junk food or compensating by eating more during allowed eating periods. Most people prefer the 16-8 method because it’s more sustainable, simple, and easy to follow. It’s no wonder that it’s also the most popular!

Is Intermittent Fasting Good for the Body?

To determine the answer to this question, let’s examine what occurs at the cellular and hormonal levels when you fast intermittently. Many things happen at the molecular and cellular level when you fast. For instance, your body begins to adjust its hormone levels so that it can make all stored body fat more easily accessible. Then your cells initiate vital repair processes and alter gene expression.

Here are a few changes that are occurring while you’re fasting:

  • The levels of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) skyrocket; sometimes increasing as much as 5 times. This benefits muscle gain, and fat loss.
  • Your insulin sensitivity will improve. By fasting, your insulin levels will drop significantly, which helps make stored body fat easy to access.
  • When you fast, your cells trigger cellular repair. Autophagy is an example of cell repair. In this process, old cells are removed and digested, including dysfunctional proteins that have accumulated inside.
  • Intermittent fasting contributes to changes in gene expression which promotes longevity and protection against many diseases.

These changes that occur at the cell, hormone, and gene expression levels all contribute to the many health benefits of this fasting method.

Does Intermittent Fasting help in Losing Weight?

Intermittent fasting aids weight loss

Most people attempt intermittent fasting because of the weight loss that occurs when you follow this plan. By eating fewer meals, intermittent fasting leads to a reduction in caloric intake. This directly affects hormone and insulin levels which aid weight loss. In addition, fasting also helps trigger the release of norepinephrine; a fat-burning hormone. Even if you fast for a short period, your metabolic rate jumps up by 3.6 to 14%. By eating fewer calories, and burning more calories, you’re effectively changing the calorie equation and promoting weight loss.

Many studies have demonstrated that intermittent fasting is an effective weight-loss tool. According to a 2014 study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, intermittent fasting caused up to 8% of weight loss over a 24 week period. This is a notable amount of weight loss compared to other methods. This same study found that people following intermittent fasting were able to lose up to 7% of waist and belly fat, which is a known contributor to diseases. The participants in this study were losing approximately 0.55 pounds each week.

It is also important to exercise along with IF, this has been proven to help with fat loss and muscle gain. So in a nutshell, intermittent fasting can and will help you lose weight provided you don’t compensate by over-eating during the allowable periods. In addition to weight loss, there are significant benefits to metabolic health and in the prevention of chronic diseases.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of intermittent fasting have been demonstrated in both human and animal studies. There are powerful positive effects in weight control and brain and body health as well. In addition, did you know that intermittent fasting can also help you live a longer life?

Listed below, are just handful of health benefits from intermittent fasting:

1. Insulin Resistance

Low insulin levels

Intermittent Fasting reduces insulin resistance and helps lower blood sugar levels by up to 6%. Fasting insulin levels are reduced by up to 31%. This provides significant protection from type 2 diabetes.

2. Anti-Aging

In a study that examined rats and fasting, those that fasted lived nearly 83% longer than those rats that didn’t fast. Clearly, fasting helped extend the lifespan of those rats.

3. Brain Health

When you fast, BDNF hormones increase in the brain. This promotes the growth of new neurons and also provides protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Heart Health

Fasting helps reduce LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, and blood triglycerides; all risk factors that contribute to heart disease.

5. Inflammation

Studies have shown that fasting contributes to a reduction in inflammation markers which are key causes of several chronic diseases.

6. Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting aids weight loss

Perhaps the most noticeable benefit of all, on intermittent fasting you will lose belly fat and visceral fat.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan

To ensure that you get the most health benefits from intermittent fasting, it’s vital that you consume nutritious foods and beverages during the eating periods. Consuming nutrient-dense whole foods will help you benefit the most from this health regimen.

Although there is not a diet plan per se, incorporate the following during your eating periods:

Fruits: All fruits are good options especially oranges, apples, pears, peaches, bananas, and berries.

Vegetables: You may consume all the vegetables. Opt for many green, leafy options as well as broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, tomato, etc.

Whole Grains: Avoid all products containing refined wheat. Opt for grains such as buckwheat, barley, quinoa, oats, rice, etc.

Healthy Fats: Skip all saturated fats. Choose oils made from coconut, olive, avocado, mustard, peanut, sesame, etc.

Protein: Choose lean protein options (without fat) such as poultry, meat, eggs, seeds, nuts, legumes, lentils, etc.

During the fasting period, you may consume calorie-free drinks such as unsweetened tea (green tea), coffee (no sugar), and water. These will help you stay hydrated. Avoid binging on junk food or over-eating during eating periods as this will prevent you from experiencing the positive effect of this health regimen.

Other Do’s and Don’ts of Intermittent Fasting

say no to processed and junk food

Intermittent fasting is a safe and sustainable way to lose weight, improve health, and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Although this method is safe to follow for most adults, it is advisable that you speak to your general practitioner before attempting intermittent fasting. This is especially important if you have underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, eating disorders, low blood pressure, etc. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or are trying to have a baby. If you experience adverse effects while fasting or have concerns about this regimen, then do consult with your doctor. As stated earlier, to experience the maximum benefits of this health plan, you must avoid eating junk food and overcompensating on food during the eating periods.

Summary

Intermittent fasting is quickly becoming a health and lifestyle trend all around the world. Although there are many types of intermittent fasting, the 16-8 method is the most popular. It enables you to consume whole foods during an 8-hour period and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. You can consume non-caloric beverages such as water, green tea, and coffee without sugar during the fasting period. intermittent fasting has many proven health benefits such as weight loss, disease prevention, reduction in inflammation, improved blood sugar levels and brain function. More importantly, it can increase both the quality and longevity of your life.



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7 Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds and How it Aids in Weight Loss:

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India being one of the largest exporters of fennel seeds/saunf (as it is popularly known), uses it voraciously due to all the benefits it provides. People from diverse cultures prefer consuming fennel seeds owing to its various medicinal properties. For instance, Indian families often consume fennel seeds after having their meal for healthier and faster digestion.
Fennel seeds are often interlinked to ‘longevity’ and are known for offering a wide range of nutritional properties that aid in improving the well being of a human body. Moreover, fennel seeds offer a concentrated source of different minerals that are vital for the regulation of blood pressure as well as for the retention of water inside our body. 

Table of Contents

What are Fennel Seeds?

Fennel seeds have a crunchy texture on the outside with a mildly sweet flavor. It is also widely used as a mouth freshener. Fennel seeds closely resemble anise seeds in terms of appearance, and are extracted from fennel plants. They contain multiple nutrients like Vitamin K, Vitamin E, manganese, copper, zinc, and phosphorus, and is a good source of Vitamin C. One serving of fennel seeds contains 1% of the RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake) for Vitamin C, which acts as a dynamic antioxidant for your body, protecting your skin from any damages caused by the sun, smoke, or pollution.

Nutritional Facts of Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are usually consumed in the quantity of one tablespoon per serving, and the nutrition value it provides can be found below:

Nutrients Nutritional Value (per tablespoon – 6g)
Calories 19.8
Fiber 2.3 grams
Carbohydrates 3 grams
Protein 0.9 grams
Fat 0.6 grams
Cholesterol 0 grams

Let’s take a further look at some other details about fennel seeds, and understand how the seeds can help us in maintaining our diet and meeting the goals we have set for ourselves. 

Benefits of fennel seeds

Fennel seeds contain powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients that makes them a highly nutritious source with many health benefits, which are as follows:

1. Regulates blood pressure

regulates blood pressure

The Journal of Food Science published a study which showed that chewing fennel seeds helps in increasing the level of nitrite in saliva. Nitrite is a natural element that keeps a check on the blood pressure levels. In addition to this, fennel seeds are also rich in potassium which helps in controlling the blood pressure and heart rate. 

2. Great for skin problems

fennel seeds cures acne

Regular consumption of fennel seeds provide minerals such as selenium, calcium, and zinc. These minerals are crucial for balancing hormones while maintaining the oxygen balance in your bloodstream. These minerals impart a cooling and soothing effect on the skin, providing it with a healthy glow. Fennel seeds also offer various ayurvedic properties that help in treating other skin ailments like rashes and dryness. Applying a paste of fennel seeds is highly beneficial for the skin as the aforementioned minerals are absorbed by the skin, and keeps it moist, clean, and healthy.

3. Purifies Blood

The vital fiber and essential oils in fennel seeds are considered highly useful for flushing out sludge and toxins from our bodies, thereby, helping in cleansing the blood which further helps in optimum absorption of nutrients in the body. The polyphenol antioxidants in fennel seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties that help in fighting various bacteria and viruses, keeping you safe from various diseases.

4. Helps in improving eyesight

Fennel seeds helps improve eyesight

Adding a couple tablespoons of fennel seeds to your diet regularly can help in enhancing your vision. They contain a high amount of vitamin A, an essential component for excellent vision. In ancient times, extracts from fennel seeds were used for treating people who were affected with glaucoma.

5. Reduces water retention and suppress appetite

Drinking fennel tea regularly helps in flushing out excess fluids from your body. Fennel tea works like a diuretic. Moreover, it also helps in reducing the chances of urinary tract diseases and removing toxins from the kidney. It also includes diaphoretic properties that help in stimulating perspiration.
One more advantage of drinking fennel tea is that it helps in suppressing appetite. Consuming one cup of fennel tea, releases essential oils which helps in suppressing hunger.   Fennel tea is suggested by many dietitians before meals to suppress the calorie intake for weight loss.

6. Vital for Bloating, IBS, Indigestion, and Constipation

Fennel seeds can act as a vital source for curing constipation, bloating, and indigestion as they contain essential oils like anethole, fenchone, and estragole that contributes to the anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. These elements help significantly in breaking down the food in the body, and keeps your digestive system functioning smoothly. People who suffer from IBS would highly benefit from the fennel seed extracts. The oils help in kick-starting digestion by promoting the working as well as the production of gastric juices and enzymes, keeping your digestive tract healthy.

7. Reduces risk of cancer

The seeds contain powerful, free radical scavenging properties. Due to the presence of antioxidants, fennel seeds help in neutralizing free radicals that are responsible for developing cancer. Hence, it helps in beating the oxidative stress along with protecting the body from different cancers of the breasts, stomach, and skin. It offers a chemo modulatory effect on the patient. 

Fennel seeds and weight loss

fennel seeds and weight loss

Fennel seeds are often considered as an essential food item to include in diets for losing weight. Consuming it regularly along with an active and healthy lifestyle helps in losing extra pounds. Weight loss is just one of the various advantages of adding fennel seeds to your everyday diet. These tiny seeds have a ton of powerful nutrients that keep a human body healthy. Here are some ways by which fennel helps in reducing the few extra pounds in your body.
Fennel seeds are very rich in dietary fibers, which slow down the digestion process. This means that after consuming one serving of fennel seeds, you won’t get hungry anytime soon, which can avoid  overeating. Additionally, with the presence of antioxidants, fennel seeds help in improving the body’s absorption power for vitamins and minerals. Another advantage of the antioxidants is that they help in breaking down the fats and carbs in the body, helping you in avoid gaining extra pounds.
Fennel seeds also have diuretic properties which will help you in flushing out the toxins and other harmful liquids from your body. A much more preferred alternative to fennel seeds tea is a fennel seeds drink called the Variyali Sherbet. This tangy drink is a common drink in India, and is usually consumed in the summers to keep the body hydrated and cool. Not only does Variyali Sherbet help in weight loss, but it also helps in detoxifying the body, getting rid of acidity and reducing stress. This can be attributed to an endless list of antioxidants present in fennel seeds like zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene, chlorine, manganese, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and more that are known for protecting the body against oxidative stress and improving the metabolic rate of a human body.

Here’s the recipe to make one glass of Variyali Sherbet:

Ingredients required:

  • 1 cup of fennel seeds
  • 2 cups of water (500ml)
  • 1.5  cups of rock sugar
  • 5 soaked cardamom
  • Black salt
  • Ice cubes

Instructions:

  • Grind fennel seeds and cardamom into a fine powder in a food processor or mixer  grinder.
  • Now soak the fennel and cardamom powder for nearly 8 hours in 2 cups of water. 
  • Next, the rock sugar needs to be grinded into a fine powder.
  • Strain the soaked fennel and cardamom powder liquid into a container
  • Add a pinch of black salt in the container
  • Add the powdered sugar and stir for 30 seconds
  • Serve in a glass with ice cubes

Nutritional value of a normal glass (240 ml) of Variyali Sherbet:

Nutrients Nutritional Value
Carbohydrates 2.9g
Proteins 2.9g
Fibers 7.3g
Magnesium 15 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.041 mg
Iron 0.64 mg
Vitamin C 10.4 mg
Calcium 43 mg
Vitamin A 838 IU
Sodium 45 mg
Potassium 360 mg

Summary

In India, fennel seeds are quite popular among people as the seeds can miraculously treat an endless list of digestive ailments that include colic in infants, intestinal gas, heartburn, and more. You can even use the seeds as a mouth freshener after you have a hearty meal. Hence, we can see that fennel seeds offer a wide range of benefits that makes it very popular among people.
So, the next time you’re thinking of incorporating a food item into your diet with multiple health benefits, you should consider fennel seeds as they would fit in perfectly with your long term or short term health goals. 



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HEALTH

Carb and Weight Loss Myths Debunked by Dietitians

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Keto and low-carb diets aren’t going away anytime soon. People definitely find weight-loss success, but registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, author of The Anti-Inflammatory Kitchen Cookbook warns that restricting your diet in general, and cutting out carbs specifically, can not only cause binge eating, but as soon as you start eating carbs again, you’ll regain the weight. Don’t fear carbs! If you’re trying to lose weight, understanding these carb myths can actually help you lose weight.



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Nutritional Facts, Benefits, Weight Loss, and Side Effects

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Today, aloe vera is primarily known to treat sunburn, but did you know that the gel inside of the aloe vera plant can be used for different health ailments? Aloe vera gel can be used directly from the plant, it can be consumed in the form of a juice, or it can be applied topically to the skin.

Table of Contents

What Is Aloe Vera?

Aloe vera, most commonly known as Aloe barbadensis is a succulent native to tropical regions, and has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. It thrives in a dry climate and has become a popular household plant because of its low maintenance and care. 
Aloe vera gel is the clear, thick, gooey substance that can be harvested from the aloe plant when the leaves are cut. The gel can then be used topically over burns or as a moisturizer. It can also be blended into smoothies or mixed into juices or elixirs for digestion and other internal health benefits.  

Nutritional Value Of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a very potent, medicinal plant. It has a whole array of uses for health and wellness and it’s all because of its extensive nutritional profile. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin C is essential for processes such as the formation of iron, immune system support, and maintenance of bones and teeth. Aloe vera contains a good amount of vitamin C (9.1 g for every 1 cup of aloe vera juice). 
Aloe vera also contains essential vitamins like vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin E, vitamin B12, folic acid (vitamin B) and choline. The plant also contains minerals, calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc. 

Enzymes

The plant is considered to be unique as it contains a number of beneficial enzymes that help break down sugars and fats. These enzymes, among others, include aliiase, amylase and lipase, which are vital enzymes in the digestion of starches and fats. 

Fatty acids

Aloe vera gel contains fatty acids from the steroid group – cholesterol, campesterol, β-sitosterol and lupeol. These fatty acids are responsible for the anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic properties of this supplement. Aloe vera gel is a very therapeutic plant with an array of unique properties that can alleviate, treat and even cure many health issues and ailments. Given below are a few more benefits that the plant provides us with –

Benefits of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is extremely hydrating and contains important vitamins and minerals, enzymes and fatty acids for optimal body function. Here are important benefits of using aloe vera: 

1. Treating Constipation

Aloe vera treats constipation

Constipation is not only uncomfortable, but it can have adverse effects on intestinal and digestive health. Aloe vera gel can be used as a natural laxative and help move bulk along the digestive tract. 
The latex or the part of the plant in between the skin and gel contains anthraquinones, which is a compound that is responsible for the laxative effect. If you are taking aloe vera gel for constipation, be sure to start with a small amount (8 oz or around 200ml juice) in order to allow your system to get used to the laxative effects. 

2. Staying Hydrated

Hydration is very important for overall health. Aloe vera juice is a great alternative to sugary drinks and fruit juices that can negatively affect your health. Aloe vera juice is low in sugar and calories and can thus be consumed directly or mixed with other juices and smoothies. 

3. Blood Sugar Regulation

regulates blood sugar levels
Keto Diet helps reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Aloe vera has been proven to have “some” beneficial effects in improving conditions such as prediabetes and diabetes type 2. A study has shown that when subjects ingested aloe vera in liquid and powder form, it helped improve the regulation of blood sugar levels.

4. Prevents Stomach Ulcers

One of the biggest therapeutic benefits of aloe vera is through the treatment of digestive ailments. Stomach ulcers are painful sores in the stomach lining. They are usually easily healed, but can become severe if left untreated. Aloe vera gel is an anti-inflammatory substance which means it’s especially beneficial in treating internal lesions such as ulcers. It has been proven that aloe vera gel, if consumed on a regular basis, helps to heal the lining of the stomach and to reduce stomach ulcers. 

5. Reduces Dental Plaque

Preventing plaque build up is key to preventing cavities and dental issues like gingivitis and abscessed teeth. Streptococcus mutans and Candidas albicans are the main cause of plaque in the mouth. The antibacterial compounds in aloe vera target these two strains of bacteria and yeast. In a study, Aloe vera juice was been compared to a standard ingredient in medical grade mouthwash, chlorhexidine. In fact, aloe juice was proven to be just as effective as mouthwash in reducing plaque.

6. Improves Skin Health

Aloe vera improves skin health

Aloe vera gel is a water-based moisturizer that can have many positive effects on the skin. Collagen is an important protein that provides structure and elasticity to the skin. A study showed that when applied topically, aloe vera gel can actually increase collagen production of the skin. Aloe vera has also been known to improve skin conditions such as erythema (redness of the skin), and has some evidence of improving psoriasis. 

7. Helps Treat Canker Sores

Canker sore or mouth ulcers are small, often painful bumps that can form under your lip or at the base of the gums. The antibacterial effect of aloe vera can effectively reduce the size of mouth ulcers. A study showed that aloe vera was proven to be a better treatment than over-the-counter corticosteroids. 

8. Relieves Acid Reflux

Acid reflux can arise when stomach acid flows back up the esophagus.  Acid reflux symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest, bloating, nausea and cough. Aloe vera juice is known to have a soothing effect for those with acid reflux symptoms. 
Moreover, the bad bacteria in the gut (H. pylori, candida and SIBO) can produce gas that can cause bloating and discomfort in the abdomen. This bad bacteria also can also cause the opening of the esophagus to weaken and acid to rise. The antibacterial properties of aloe vera kills the bacteria associated with acid reflux and improves digestion so the system can come back into balance. 

Forms of Aloe Vera

The aloe vera leaf comprises three parts: the skin, the latex and the gel. The latex is a thin layer of yellow gel between the skin and gel of the aloe leaf. The latex contains the compounds that are responsible for laxative effects. Aloe Vera is harvested from the inner fillet of an aloe vera plant. Many people harvest their own aloe vera and use the gel, mix into water, juice it or blend into smoothies. The skin is completely edible and many people include it in salads or as a vegetable to dip into hummus. The gel is edible as well and contains the most therapeutic benefits. When filleting the aloe gel, you want to avoid the latex as consuming too much of it can cause serious side effects. 
Here are some different forms you can consume aloe vera in:

1. Juice

aloe vera juice

Aloe vera juice is sold in most health food stores. Be sure to choose juice that is all natural and organic and does not contain sugar or other preservatives. 

2. Softgels

Aloe vera softgels are also available at most health food stores. This is a good option if you are a busy individual and want something easy and on the go. Be sure to choose a natural, organic brand.

3. Gel

aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel for consumption, is sold in store in the form of aloe vera leaves. You can buy them in most natural grocery stores. Simply cut the leaf, split open and scoop out the gel filet, avoiding the latex part. 

Side Effects of Aloe Vera

Even though aloe vera is considered safe enough for consumption, it’s not 100% safe for these reasons:

  • Long term consumption of the latex of aloe vera has been known to cause effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort, kidney issues, muscle weakness and arrhythmia.
  • Consuming aloe vera gel containing latex while pregnant is not safe and if consumed over a long period, can be fatal. 
  • Those with IBS, or other digestive disorders should exercise caution when consuming aloe vera gel with latex as it could worsen the condition. 
  • The aloe vera gel itself may not be safe for those taking certain prescription medication and may cause interactions. 
  • Do not eat aloe vera topical gel as it contains other substances that can be toxic. 
  • In general, aloe vera gel, without latex is safe to eat. If you are unsure whether or not you can consume aloe vera gel, consult your doctor.  

Aloe Vera and Weight Loss

aloe vera aids weight loss

An unhealthy gut is not helpful for those who want to lose weight. Aloe vera can be used as a digestive aid to assist in healthy digestion, metabolism, and excretion. The laxative properties of aloe vera ensures thorough digestion and reduces water retention. Aloe vera can help with both metabolic processes. The B-vitamins and enzymes in aloe vera make it excellent at burning fat. When actively losing weight, your body naturally goes into detox mode. Aloe vera contains a complex carbohydrate called acemannan which helps in the detoxifying process. That, combined with its laxative properties, is a great reason to consume aloe vera juice while detoxing. 

Summary

Whether you apply it topically or consume it via juice, softgels or the gel itself, aloe vera has a unique profile of nutritional benefits that can treat various health issues. Aloe vera contains enzymes and fatty acids that help with the metabolic and digestive processes in the body. The plant is especially effective for relieving constipation and any digestive upsets. 
Aloe vera can also be used to support weight loss through its detoxifying, laxative and metabolic effects. It is considered safe to eat, however, when making your own gel from the aloe leaves, you should be caution to not consume too much of the latex (the part in between the gel and the skin). The skin can be eaten and the gel can be blended into a smoothie, mixed into water or juice or eaten as is.



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6 Yoga Mudras for Weight Loss

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Yoga has been practiced for centuries in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. Yoga has become a symbol of peace, wellness, and mindfulness today, finding new fans every day across the globe. Yoga originated from Yogis, who used their mind, body, and breath to discover certain postures and positions that could help the body remain healthy. Yogis also discovered yoga mudras to be incredibly effective and began to incorporate them in all yoga practices.

Yoga mudras are basically simple hand gestures that activate the flow of energy within the body. Mudras are also often used in classical dance forms, as a means to convey the story or articulate emotions. Mudras in yoga are known to provide healing powers to the body in order to alleviate physiological and emotional ailments. Using the correct yoga mudras is also known to help people lose excess weight and remain fit.

Yoga Mudra for Weight Loss

Yoga has traditionally been practiced as a way to keep the body and mind healthy. The breathing techniques taught by yoga helps to improve concentration and mindfulness. While yoga has evolved through the years, it remains true to Ayurveda at its core. Yoga considers the five elements, namely – ‘Jal’ (Water), ‘Prithvi’ (Earth), ‘Akash’ (Space), ‘Vayu’ (Air), and ‘Agni’ (Fire), to be the core focus points in our body. Any imbalance caused by these elements results in illnesses or poor health in general. Yoga mudras help to restore the balance between these elements and prepare the body to fight against any future illnesses.  
Here are some of the most effective yoga mudras that have been practiced and passed on from generations. These mudras are known to assist in healing chronic diseases as well as improve the overall mental health of a person. These mudras are known to boost the weight loss process and help a person achieve good health and fitness –

1. Surya-Agni mudra

The Surya Mudra or the Agni Mudra, as it is known traditionally, represents the fire element. Performing this mudra activates the fire energy in the body, and allows you to restore the fire balance. Doing the mudras allow the fingers to form connections and facilitate the flow of energy in the body. 
In the weight loss process, several people find difficulty in reducing fat due to poor digestive health. The fire element present in the Surya mudra is known to improve digestion by boosting the metabolism in the body. Regular practice can significantly aid in fat loss.
You can perform the Surya mudra at the comfort of your own home. First, sit upright with the back straight. Move the ring finger towards the palm of the hand and join it with the thumb. Place your hands on your thighs and knees and remain seated in this position. In the meantime, you can perform breathing techniques or meditation. The Surya mudra is to be performed for 45 minutes each day, and with 15-minute intervals between each time. The Surya mudra yields more benefits when practiced early in the day. 

2. Kapha-Nashak Mudra

The three temperaments of the body are known as Vayu, Kapha, and Pitta. The Kapha and Pitta elements represent fire and earth, respectively, whereas Vayu represents air. The Pitta element in the body represents fire and is known to speed up the metabolism in the body. The Kapha element represents earth, too much of which could indicate excess weight in the body. The Kapha-Nashak mudra aims to remove the excess of the Kapha element from the body and restore the balance amongst all other elements. The Kapha-Nashak mudra improves the functioning of the digestive system by boosting metabolic activity through the generation of fire.  
To perform the Kapha-Nashak mudra, you will need to sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Bend the ring finger and the little finger towards the palm, and join them with the thumb. Exert pressure as long as it is comfortable for you and remain in this position. You will need to practice this mudra for 30-45 minutes every day, with repetitions of 15 minutes to feel the complete benefits of the mudra.

3. Linga Mudra

The Linga mudra is also often known as Lord Shiva’s mudra. Yoga is intertwined in Hindu and Buddhist religions in an immense manner, with many believing that the Gods practiced yoga and meditation. The Linga mudra is an effective mudra that works to channelize inner conflicts. The Linga mudra symbolizes the victory of positivity over negativity. Practicing this mudra awakens the fire in the body, which in turn produces energy that can revitalize the organs. The digestive system is activated, and energy flows through it in order to balance out any gut issues. Linga mudra helps in weight loss by improving the body’s metabolism. The heat generated with this mudra obstructs the growth of a toxic substance called ‘Ama,’ which is known to accumulate fat in the body. 
To perform the Linga mudra, you will need to first sit in a comfortable position with the legs crossed. Keep your eyes closed to improve concentration and avoid distractions. Next, interlock the fingers of both hands, with the palms pressed against each other. Remember to keep the Left  thumbs upright. It is advisable to practice this mudra for 20-30 minutes each day. Increasing the pressure against the palms helps to generate more heat, thereby strengthening the effect of this mudra.

4. Vaayan Mudra

The Vaayan mudra is the mudra that is closely associated with the element of air. The body is required to energize itself with air properties that help in improving the nervous system in the body. When practiced correctly, Vaayan mudra is known to help people become more self-aware and practice a higher range of consciousness. With the mind on board, it becomes easier to control weight and cut down on fat effectively.  
In order to perform the Vaayan mudra, you will need to be seated on the floor in a secured and ventilated space. Keep the spine erect and eyes closed to begin the process. You will need to bend your index finger and middle finger towards the palm and join them with the thumb. Apply slight pressure and hold this position. Practice this position for 15-20 minutes on a daily basis to feel the positive effects of the Vaayan mudra.

5. Gyan Mudra

The Gyan mudra, as the Sanskrit name suggests, is also known as the mudra of knowledge. The Gyan mudra is meant to be practiced alongside other yoga positions and breathing exercises. The Gyan mudra is known to improve the concentration of the mind and allows the bodily and mental functions to flow better. The Gyan mudra is also known to help people suffering from irregular sleep, and facilitate a natural and healthy sleep cycle in the body. Lack of sleep is often considered to be a large cause of weight gain. The Gyan mudra looks after the rest needed by the body, allowing you to boost metabolism and shed off the excess weight. During the process of practicing yoga mudras, it is important to keep a positive frame of mind in order to reap the maximum benefits of these age-old traditions.  
To practice the Gyan mudra, you will be required to sit on the floor, preferably with your legs crossed. Keep the back straight and eyes closed. Next, touch the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb while keeping the other fingers outstretched. Place your palms on the knees and remain seated in this position for 30 minutes in order to avail of the benefits of this mudra.

6. Prana Mudra

prana mudra

The word ‘Prana’ means ‘life.’ The Prana mudra essentially means the ‘mudra of life’. This mudra holds superiority as it is believed to represent life itself. The Prana mudra helps the individual to activate energy in the body and allow the organs to function efficiently. With regular practice of the Prana mudra, the root chakras become activated, which allows energy to flow throughout the body without any hassles. Prana mudra, when performed with Pranayama yields the best results. 
To perform the Prana mudra, sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Keep the back straight and eyes closed in order to improve concentration. The mudra is supposed to be performed with both hands. Join the tip of the thumb to the tips of the ring finger and little finger, and repeat with the other hand. Hold the position for 20-25 minutes to feel the effect of the Prana mudra. 

In addition to performing these mudras, there are a few other lifestyle changes that are to be made to activate the effects of these mudras and aid the weight loss process. Here are a few tips that can be followed –

  • Remember to follow a nutritious, balanced diet. Try to eat home-cooked meals as much as possible.
  • Avoid excess consumption of sugary drinks and juices.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle and try to remain on your feet for a major portion of the day.
  • Exercise regularly to facilitate the fat burning process. Introduce variations in the daily workout regimen to keep the mind and body interested.
  • Try to find a yoga group or even opt to practice yoga in the comfort of your home. Yoga helps to strengthen the body and also helps relieve stress and negativity. 
  • Just like the mind and body, the breath needs to be monitored as well. Incorporate a few breathing exercises along with the mudras to improve the breathing process.
  • Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out the toxins.

Summary

Practicing these mudras and following the above-mentioned lifestyle tips can go a long way in keeping the body and mind healthy, and also helping you reach your weight loss goals.



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