Once upon a time, the only source of vitamins was from food. Now shelves are filled with all kinds of vitamin supplements, with choices ranging from pills and chewables, to gummies and liquids. While the goal of taking vitamin supplements is to promote health, what you don't know can have the opposite effect.
1. You can Take too much.
While most people know about requirement levels, below which you are a risk of being deficient, there is also an upper tolerable limit to consider. These recommendations are based on scientific studies, to show a range of safety and efficacy for individual vitamins. Taking high doses of individual vitamins changes how the body uses it, and can promote negative side effects impacting multiple body organs, as well as interfere with the absorption of other nutrients.
Bottom Line: Stick with 100% of the RDI (recommended daily intake) for vitamins, unless you have a special medical need and have talked with your doctor.
2. Water soluble and fat soluble vitamins act differently in the body.
All vitamins are not the same, and have a different chemical composition that impacts how the body digests and stores them. Water soluble vitamins (B-vitamins, vitamin C) are not retained by the body over long term. Any excess consumed in foods or supplements is eliminated in urine.
While it's never a good idea to take high doses of any vitamins, water soluble vitamins are less risky because they do not accumulate in the body. You'll have vitamin-rich urine. Fat-soluble vitamins are retained by the body and stored in the liver. Over time, the amounts can accumulate, sometimes resulting in health damaging effects.
Bottom Line: Be mindful of water and fat soluble vitamins and the doses you take. The best bet is a daily multi-vitamin. Talk to your doctor for dosing of additional fat soluble vitamins like vitamin D and E.
3. Everyone doesn't need a daily multi-vitamin.
Recent studies do not support the use of a daily multivitamin supplement to ensure good health. But population data described in the studies do not always apply to an individual. Think of a daily multi-vitamin as "insurance" to meet dietary requirements if your daily eating does not include at least 5 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables along with several servings of whole grains.
The healthiest eaters likely are meeting daily requirements and don't need a supplement. If you're somewhere in between (like most people), you might consider a multi-vitamin several times a week rather than daily. And if you take certain medications or have food restrictions for any reason, talk to your doctor about the best plan for you.
Bottom Line: Vitamin requirements can change with age and dietary status, so be mindful of your overall health status when thinking about adding a multivitamin. Ask you doctor for advice, especially if you take prescription medications.
4. Vitamin supplements do not replace foods.
Food is always the number one place to get your vitamins. And a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains covers the whole spectrum of vitamins. A healthy diet provides your nutritional needs, without adding a supplement. But nutritional support from a multivitamin can help round out nutritional requirements because of "real-life" eating issues - dieting, meal skipping, eating processed foods - that can compromise your vitamin intake.
If you're not a healthy eater, and take a multivitamin daily, you also need to boost your intake of fruits and vegetables. Remember that an orange has much more than vitamin C!
Bottom Line: Vitamins are called "supplements" because they support - but do not replace - real foods.
5. Medications can change your vitamin requirements.
Vitamin needs are based on age, gender, and other factors. Medications can impact certain vitamin needs over time. Whether additional supplements are needed (or need to be limited) vary with medication class. Talk to your doctor for any adjustment in your diet and multivitamin intake.
This is one instance where an individual vitamin supplement can be an important addition.
Bottom Line: Review your medications with your doctor to determine if you need more or less of any particular vitamin.
You might be surprised to learn that before the term "clean eating" became a buzzword, we used to call it simply "healthy eating."
Despite many popular interpretations--from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow to "Eat Clean Live Well" author and chef Terry Walters--it's challenging to find a clean-eating plan that is both rich in nutrients and something you can stick with long term.
The foundation of all clean-eating plans is limiting (or eliminating) all packaged and processed foods. But some recommendations include elimination of red meat, gluten and dairy. Others espouse juicing to 'rest' your digestive tract (nothing could be further from the truth: food is the best workout for your digestive tract).
Before you start any plan, always talk to your doctor before eliminating whole nutrient groups form your diet.
Clean eating is a concept that must be followed regularly, over time, to reap any health benefits. But you don't need to be a perfect eater--no one is! If you stick with these recommendations at least 80 percent of the time-give yourself a little "wiggle room"-you'll feel more satisfied after eating and boost your energy level.
The best--and easiest--clean -eating strategy would be quite familiar to our parents and grandparents. It's a "one-size-fits-all" eating plan supporting a healthy heart, brain, and digestive tract.
Following a clean eating plan is much easier than you might think. It doesn't require a lot of extra time or money to follow these 7 basic tips:
1. Avoid most packaged and processed foods
The first step in clean eating. Read labels to avoid added sugars, salts, and fats. While bagged, boxed, or canned foods can be a convenience-especially for healthy, out of season foods (think canned tomatoes), make the habit of looking for added sugars, salt, and fats. You can always "correct" the flavors if you choose, with your own additions.
2. Choose real foods
Look for foods that you can recognize in their whole, natural state. Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables for optimal nutrient density and freshness. And include frozen fruits and vegetables in the mix (without sauces). You'll save money and enjoy out-of-season produce, like blueberries in winter.
3. Cut back on added sugars
All humans are born with a "sweet tooth". And fruit is nature's candy. Fresh or dried, before there was candy, cookies, cake and other vehicles for loads of added sugars, we turned to fruit. Portable, economical, and a treat for your taste buds. And there is a range of sweetness in fruits. Slightly concentrate and boost the sweetness signals.
4. Avoid trans-fats/ Limit saturated fats
Swap out unhealthy, artery-clogging fats from all sources to healthy ones. Processed and packaged foods are the main sources of trans fats, but meat also contains small amounts. Saturated fats are found in fatty meats, full fat dairy, butter, and coconut/palm oils. Use heart-healthy plant-based oils like nuts, olives, and avocado.
5. Cook and eat at home
While not a food-specific recommendation, when you cook at home you know the ingredients and seasonings in every dish. No guesswork or taste-testing for hidden fats, salt, and sugar found in restaurant meals and prepared foods. You can personalize your eating with spices and herbs instead of salt, smaller amounts of healthy fats, and a lot less sugar.
6. Stay hydrated
Our bodies need abundant water for optimal function. And while fruits and vegetables are mostly water and contribute a large portion of daily fluid needs, added fluids are needed daily. While the newest guidelines suggest drinking "when thirsty", most people ignore these signals, or don't really recognize them. Aim for at least 6 glasses of water daily (which also includes non caffeinated drinks, like herbal teas and coffee and seltzer). Spruce up your water with a slice of fruit, or even cucumber and mint.
7. Limit caffeine and alcohol
New science fully documents the health benefits of moderate amounts of caffeine. Caffeine can boost alertness, energy, and mental focus when used modestly. As caffeine intake rises, so do negative side effects including jitteriness, anxiety, stomach upset, and insomnia.
Aim for up to 300 mg daily, which is about 2 large mugs of coffee (typical coffeehouse size of 16-20 ounces), or 4 large mugs of tea.
If you find you're "caffeine-sensitive" with these guidelines, as many people are, cut back to an amount that is symptom-free for you.
And while alcohol can be a health plus, limit you intake to up to one daily serving for women, and two for men. A serving is not the size of your glass. It's
* 5 ounce glass of wine
* 12 ounce beer
* 1.5 ounce of spirits
Never add alcohol as a health booster if it's not already part of your lifestyle.
You've decided to give up diet soda--good idea! Maybe you weren't hitting your weight-loss goals or couldn't stomach that long list of ingredients anymore. Or perhaps you heard one too many times that it's just not good for you.
Whatever the reason, eliminating diet soda from your diet will improve your health from head to toe. Research on diet soda is still in its infancy, but there's enough out there to identify what you can look forward to when you put down the can and cool down with an unsweetened iced tea instead.
MIGRAINES DISAPPEAR AND FOCUS SHARPENS
It turns out the headaches you expected from a diet-soda withdrawal didn't materialize. And now that you've quit the stuff, you probably find yourself thinking clearly for the first time in a while. That's because the chemicals that make up the artificial sweetener aspartame may have altered brain chemicals, nerve signals, and the brain's reward system, which leads to headaches, anxiety, and insomnia, according to a review in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And a 2013 animal study found that rats that drank diet soda had damaged cells and nerve endings in the cerebrum--the part of the brain responsible for motor skills. (If you're still drinking diet soda, here's what's happening in your body right now.)
TASTE BUDS ARE MORE SENSITIVE
It's not your imagination: Without your usual diet soda chaser, you may find that food has more flavor. It has subtlety. It's more enjoyable. That's because the artificial sweeteners in your diet soda overwhelmed your taste buds with an onslaught of sweetness. Aspartame ranks 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Splenda? 600 times. In fact, brain scans show that diet soda alters sweet receptors in the brain and prolongs sugar cravings rather than satisfies them. "We often see patients change snack choices when they give up diet soda," says Heather Bainbridge, R.D., from Columbia University Medical Center Weight Control Center. "Rather than needing sugary treats or something really salty like pretzels and chips, they reach for an apple and a piece of cheese. And when they try diet soda again, they find it intolerably sweet."
Putting down the soda may be the best way to improve your bone strength and reduce your risk of fractures. One 2014 study found that each daily soda increased the chance of hip fracture by 14 percent for postmenopausal women. And another found that older women who drank cola had lower bone mineral density in their hips. The jury is still out on why soda has this effect, but the science pretty clearly suggests that a soda habit weakens your bones.
YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD FOOD CHANGES
Since diet sodas have no calories, people drinking them often feel it's okay to indulge elsewhere, finds Bainbridge. Often, she sees her diet soda-drinking patients make poor food choices, like a burger and fries, a piece of cake, or potato chips because they think they can afford those extra calories. Plus, soda often accompanies unhealthy foods. "Sometimes, those poor choices are built-up habits," she says. "you're conditioned to have soda with chips, fries, or something sweet. When you eliminate the soft drink, you also break the junk food habit."
YOU HANDLE BOOZE BETTER
It's a fact: Diet soda gets you drunk faster. When you mix it with alcohol, your stomach empties out faster than id you used regular soda, causing a drastic increase in blood-alcohol concentrations, according to an Australian study in the American Journal of Medicine. And when you add caffeine, look out. Another study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that bar patrons who mixed drinks with diet colas were intoxicated much more easily and frequently. Your best bet for a mixer? Club soda, which is naturally sugar-and calorie-free.
YOUR FAT STORAGE AND DIABETES RISKS DECREASE
Our hormones may explain the great paradox of why people gain weight when they switch to diet soda. A study in Diabetes Care found that drinking two-thirds of a diet soda before eating primed the pancreas to release a lot of the fat-storing hormone insulin. When the pancreas is overworked from creating insulin to control blood-sugar levels, diabetes rears its ugly head. And a recent study in Japan found that middle-aged men who drank one or more diet sodas daily were much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a seven-year period.
KIDNEY FUNCTION IMPROVES
Now that your body no longer has to make sense of the unpronounceable ingredients in diet soda, your kidneys can get back to clearing toxins, stabilizing blood pressure, and absorbing minerals. One study looked at 11 years of data and found that women who drank two or more servings of diet soda doubled their chances of declining kidney function.
This information can probably be a little overwhelming for the diet soda addict, but making this positive change could possibly save your life. I have family members that drink diet sodas every day. I challenge them to take a step in the right direction and I will too!!!!
Believe it or not, there could be one culprit behind body ailments as varied as skin blemishes, digestive issues, joint pain and even heart disease. The common denominator? Inflammation. It's a problem that can actually spread from one part of your body to another. Case in point: the well-researched connection between gum disease and heart disease. The good news is that one trip to the grocery store can produce a haul of healthy, anti-inflammatory whole foods. Pretty empowering to know that we can temper our body's inflammation simply by reaching for the right snack, right? Here's a shopping list-starter: 10 healing, antioxidant-packed foods.
Cooked tomatoes are even higher in the antioxidant, lycopene, than raw ones, and lycopene is associated with reduced levels of inflammation in several areas of the body including the skin and lungs.
Studies have suggested that isoflavones, which are compounds found in soy, such as edamame, may help to reduce the C-reactive protein levels (and thereby reduce inflammation).
This spice, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, works well on colorful vegetables, which are also loaded with antioxidants.
This tropical fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain, which has been linked to decreasing inflammation particularly in the sinuses and joints. As an added bonus, it's also rich in Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.
Consuming salmon and other cold-water fatty fish at least 2-3 times per week can increase the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in the diet. This is important as studies have shown that eating a high-omega-6 diet and low-omega-3 diet is linked with higher levels of cytokines, which are proteins released by cells that can trigger inflammation.
News alert: these seeds are the highest natural source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been associated with helping to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body.
The fiber in oatmeal and other whole grain foods is associated with reduced levels of C-reactive protein in the blood, which is a marker of inflammation. Interestingly enough, when used topically (think oatmeal bath), it's also anti-inflammatory skin soother.
Tart Cherry Juice
According to researchers at Oregon Health and Science University, tart cherries may have the highest anti-inflammatory properties of any food. Studies have shown that athletes who drank tart cherry juice saw an improved performance while decreasing their use of anti-inflammatory meds. To reap the benefits, make sure that the juice is 100% tart cherry juice and not a blend of some kind, and aim to drink 1 cup per day.
Low-fat yogurt that contains active live cultures is a great source of probiotics, which can help reduce inflammation, specifically in the digestive system
Squeezing too much fruit into your diet may do more harm than good. According to the principles of seasonal eating, our bodies begin to crave cleansing, hydrating foods in the warmer seasons. After months of hearty soups and stews, a diet that prioritizes fresh fruit is a refreshing change, quite literally. And while it's not exactly a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation, you can get too much of a good thing, even when it comes bundled withe fiber and other nutrients, "the fructose in fruit is still sugar, and when we overdo it, that sugar is warmly welcomed into our fat cells," says Carolyn Brown, R.D., a nutritionist at Foodtrainers in New York City. Here's how to keep healthy habit from turning harmful.
1. SCALE BACK ON THE SWEETEST STUFF.
No fruit is off-limits, but bananas and grapes aren't exactly weight-loss weapons, says Brown. Better bets: Asian pears, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, and papaya, all of which have a low glycemic index, a measure of how strongly a food impacts your blood sugar.
2. PASS UP THE SUPERSIZE PRODUCE.
Like chicken breasts and bagels, bananas and apples have doubled in size over the years, says Brown. Shop somewhere that charges by the pound, not the piece, and choose the smallest size available.
3. STOP AT TWO.
"You can drive yourself crazy trying to count grams of naturally-occurring sugar" warns Brown. Instead, limit yourself to two pieces or cups of fruit a day.
4. TAKE SMOOTHIES INTO ACCOUNT.
Even the green kind can contain up to four serving of fruit and 90 grams of sugar. If nutritional information is available choose a smoothie with 30 or fewer grams of sugar and make that your only fruit for the day. If not, pick one made with no more than two varieties of fruit.
5. PAIR WITH PROTEIN.
The fiber in fruit helps regulate your body's absorption of the sugar so your energy levels don't spike and crash, but adding some fat and/or protein slows it down even more. Pair you fruit with nuts, seeds, sliced turkey or jerky.