Tag Archives: healthy-living

Magnesium just as important as calcium for a child’s bone health

7 Oct

Editor’s note: This podcast and story originally ran on UF’s Health in a Heartbeat. Click to hear the podcast.

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By: Rebecca Burton

We’ve all heard that milk does the body good, especially for growing children who need the calcium to build strong bones. But a new study shows that Popeye may have had the right idea with his spinach habit.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that foods high in magnesium, such as spinach, may be just as important for bone density in children as calcium. Previously, magnesium was found to be a key nutrient for adult bone health, but the results from this study showed that magnesium is just as important as calcium in a child’s diet as well.

So what should parents be sure to pack in their child’s lunchbox to make sure they are getting enough magnesium? In general, the National Institutes of Health says that green vegetables are a good source. The center of the chlorophyll molecule, which gives veggies their green color, contains magnesium. Nuts, seeds and whole grains are also a good idea. However, processed or refined white grains are low in magnesium, so be sure to distinguish between the two when trying to pick out trail mix or granola bars. Kid-friendly foods that contain magnesium also include peanut butter, chocolate pudding, chocolate milk and yogurt.

But, greater bone density is not the only benefit of this nutrient. Magnesium also helps maintain normal nerve and muscle functions and keeps the immune system healthy. A magnesium deficiency could cause fatigue and weakness. Researchers say it’s important to make sure your children are getting all of their required nutrients by keeping meals balanced. For example, try substituting their sugar-packed cereals with whole grain varieties. That is just one of the many ways to make sure they’re getting both calcium and magnesium.

 

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The Skinny on Good Fats and Bad Fats: How both will affect your health

25 Jun
Meg is epicurious and has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition blogger in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg is epicurious and has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition blogger in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg Khan-Karen is a guest blogger for Layman’s Terms Media. Periodically she will post thoughtful articles about leading a healthy lifestyle on a budget. Check out her Facebook page Daily Fit Dish by MegKKFit  for nutritious recipes at a reasonable price. Also follow her on Twitter.

By: Meg Khan-Karen, Nutrition blogger

Diet trends come in waves. One decade we see the rejection of carbohydrates, and we shun animal products the next. Some of you reading this right now may remember the low fat craze of the 90’s–it was then that fat got a bad rep. The reputation has stuck so much that “fat” is now considered an insult.

Well, I’m here to tell you that fat is not bad for you. In fact, it’s necessary for our health and our well-being!

Let’s start with the basics. We often refer to fat molecules as “triglycerides” because a fat molecule consists of a glycerol “backbone” with three fatty acid chains attached. The fatty acid chains that makes up this fat molecule can either be saturated (meaning it is fully surrounded by hydrogen atoms) or it can be unsaturated meaning there are double bonds between the carbons and it is not fully surrounded by hydrogen atoms.

Here’s an example of the structural difference between a saturated fatty acid and an unsaturated fatty acid:

Credit: faculty.clintoncc.suny.edu

Credit: faculty.clintoncc.suny.edu

 Your body needs these fats to function on a daily basis. Not only do we acquire fat in our diet from plant and animal sources but we also make our own. The importance of fat in the body includes different functions including aiding in vitamin A,D, E, and K, the fat soluble vitamins.

Fats also aid in maintaining healthy metabolism, building strong hair, nails and smooth skin and cushioning our organs.  And, of course fats act as a readily available source of energy –whether you’re going for a long run or pushing through your daily routine. Continue reading

For the love of flow: I owe my followers a hoop video

29 May

With all of the nonsense (but truthful) stuff I write about hula hooping, I decided it was necessary to give my followers a sample of what I’m talking about, in case you only think hula hoops are for your waist, or for 5-year-olds. I’ve been at it about 2 years now and still need a lot of improvement. But if you like what you see and are feeling inspired, grab a hoop and start spinning.

Also refer back to my post on flow, to see the mental benefits of this activity.

And, click the link below to see the video (for some reason I had trouble embedding this).

Another note: this video does not reflect my editing skills as it was thrown together at odd hours of the night. Enjoy!

Poolside spinnin’

 

 

When did eating become so confusing? Tips to simplify your diet

22 May
Meg is epicurious and has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition blogger in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg is an epicure who has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition blogger in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg Khan-Karen is a guest blogger for Layman’s Terms Media. Periodically she will post thoughtful articles about leading a healthy lifestyle on a budget. Check out her Facebook page Daily Fit Dish by MegKKFit  for nutritious recipes at a reasonable price. 

By: Meg Khan-Karen, Nutrition blogger

Eat Real Food: The Road to a Healthier You

There are hundreds of diets that are said to make you healthier than you have ever been, rejuvenate your body, avoid certain cancers, help you fit in your high school jeans and the list goes on. From the Atkins diet to the current “juicing” craze, we are fed heaps of “truths” about certain diets that are usually based on a tiny kernel of truth and a whole lot of anecdotal “evidence.”

So how do we know what nutrition advice to subscribe to and what will be most beneficial for our bodies?

Well, nutritionists and doctors have been supporting one simple doctrine for years. Though, in spite of the public’s hunt for what they believe is the secret key to being healthy and fit. We search far and wide for that special pill, the magic juice, the newest antidote to help us on our healthy journey, only to come full circle to what we have been taught from day one:  practice moderation and eat a variety of wholesome foods. Balance is the real key to living a healthy lifestyle.

Starting in childhood, we are bombarded with processed foods lining the aisles of our warehouse-sized grocery stores and clever marketing schemes aimed at specific groups. It’s no surprise we are confused about what to eat. According to Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., an independent research firm, the weight loss industry had revenues of $60.9 billion in 2010.1

So, we would rather purchase a bottle of fat burners than get some exercise each day. We seek out products promoted with empty promises of weight loss and a smaller waist line rather than make healthier choices in the market place and in our daily lives. We are fooling ourselves into thinking this is a way of getting healthy.

When did we become so confused about something so natural as eating food to become healthier? We no longer visit farmer’s markets and roadside stands with the fresh produce, let alone tend our own gardens with the freshest fruits and vegetables possible. Instead, we flock to processed products with mile-long ingredient lists making the product no longer identifiable as a real, wholesome food.

We are told that to lose weight we have to stay away from carbohydrates. To prevent cancer, we must juice every vegetable known to man and pop Vitamin C like its our job. And let us not forget, we must NEVER consume animal products ever again because our tens of thousand year old ancestors were nomads who rarely ate animal products and they never had health issues. Is this sounding a little familiar and hopefully very absurd? Continue reading

Feeling full: Three nutrition tips to keep you powering through your day

18 Apr
Meg is epicurious and has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition blogger in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg is an epicure who has a strong passion for cooking healthy meals on a budget. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from a young age with exposure to cuisine from various cultures. Originally from New York, she moved to Tallahassee, Florida to receive a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics at the Florida State University. Upon graduating, She took one step further to become a nutrition blogger in the dietetics field. She is currently a graduate student studying Clinical Nutrition at the Florida State University with the intent of becoming a Registered Dietitian post-grad. She believes that food has a unique ability to bond people from around the world, to create new relationships, and to cement old friendships. She aims to share her nutrition knowledge with others and to encourage healthy lifestyles through fitness and nutrition.

Meg Khan-Karen is a guest blogger for Layman’s Terms Media. Periodically she will post thoughtful articles about leading a healthy lifestyle on a budget. Check out her Facebook page Daily Fit Dish by MegKKFit  for nutritious recipes at a reasonable price. By: Meg Khan-Karen, Nutrition blogger

We’ve all been there — busy and tired:  running around, flitting from here to there, running errands and wishing there were more hours in the day. Maybe you are the student who speed walks across campus to get from class to class. Maybe you are the mother of two toddlers who is constantly straightening up the house and feeding all of the hungry mouths but your own.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to finish our tasks each day, let alone consume our meals. It is not a secret that many Americans turn to fast food or quick meal options when they are on the go. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, from 2007 to 2012 adults consumed an average of 11.3% of calories from fast food. While the amount of adults consuming fast food has decreased from 12.8% in the survey from 2003 to 2006, it still represents a significant portion of the US population.2  It is clear the American people are continuing to turn to fast food options rather than preparing wholesome, nutritious meals to keep them full and satisfied throughout the day.

It seems to have been drilled into our brains that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and this is for a good reason. One 2013 study from the University of Missouri’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology showed that eating a high protein breakfast versus skipping breakfast led to beneficial changes in  “appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals that control food intake regulation.”3 This could lead to a jumpstart in metabolism and energy throughout the day, not to mention a longer feeling of satiety.

But what components should comprise all of your daily meals in order to ensure that you keep this energy up? Well, here are my three nutrition tips to keep you powering through your busy day:

  1. 1. Load up on Fiber

By now, we’ve probably all heard that fiber keeps us full. ” This is one of the most important components in maintaining satiety and keeping your body healthy. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), “high fiber diets provide bulk, are more satiating, and have been linked to lower body weights.”1 A high fiber diet has not only the potential to decrease your waistline, but studies have also shown a marked decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease, a decrease in blood cholesterol, as well as a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. By adding fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, you can be sure that you are lowering your risk of diseases while offsetting those pesky hunger pangs. Grab a banana or some carrots to snack on during your trek to class, sprinkle some wholesome beans onto your salad, or consider switching to a whole grain bread instead of white bread for that added dose of fiber.

2. Stay lean with protein

Lean proteins such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts provide amino acids as the building blocks for the body, as well as crucial vitamins and minerals to aid in growth and cell repair .These proteins also keep our metabolism moving as we are constantly rebuilding our muscles and tissues, like skin. Grabbing a nonfat plain Greek yogurt with nuts and fresh berries or a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread is a great way to ensure the addition of lean protein into your diet.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Healthy Fats

Fats in our diet can lead to soft skin, better absorption of Vitamins A,D,E and K, more energy and a greater feeling of fullness throughout the day. However, there are two groups of fat that often get lumped into one group of overall ‘bad fats’- saturated and unsaturated fats.  While dietary cholesterol was once thought to increase blood cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease, studies have now found this is not so. Saturated fats as well as the now infamous “trans fat” are the true culprits behind increased blood cholesterol levels and blood lipids, an increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Limiting these fats in your diet will be beneficial for your health in more ways than one.  Compared with saturated fats, unsaturated fats like Omega-3 have been shown to be beneficial for your heart as well as your cholesterol and general health. In terms of satiety, a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that unsaturated fats increased satiety while saturated fats did not.4 Thus, incorporating healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats will not only keep you full but lead to heart health as well. Try snacking on a handful of almonds, replacing mayonnaise with avocado on your sandwich, or dressing your salad with olive oil and vinegar to keep you full throughout your day.

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1.American   Dietetic Association. (2008). Position of the American Dietetic Association:   Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Journal   of the American Dietetic Association ,   108, 1716-1731.

2. Fryar CD,   E. R. (n.d.). NCHS data brief, no   114. (M. N. Hyattsville, Producer) Retrieved from Caloric Intake from Fast   Foods Among Adults: United States, 2007-2010:   http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db114.htm

3. Leidy, H.,   Ortinau, L., Douglas, S., & Hoertel, H. (2013). Beneficial effects of a   higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals   controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese,   “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 97 (4), 677-688.

4. Maljaars,   J., Romeyn, E. A., Haddeman, E., Peters, H. P., & Masclee, A. A. (2009).   Effect of fat saturation on satiety, hormone release, and food intake. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition   , 89 (4), 1019-1024.


Want a better attention span? Time to hit the gym

12 Apr
This image shows qne of the participants in the University of Granada study -- part of the high-level physical activity group. (Credit: University of Grenada)

This image shows qne of the participants in the University of Granada study — part of the high-level physical activity group. (Credit: University of Granada)

My morning run is just as important as my daily cup of coffee– without it I feel lethargic, inattentive and scatterbrained– and a new study may explain why.

Researchers from the University of Granada conducted an experiment consisting of 28 males between the ages of 17 and 29 and found that men who exercise regularly and are considered to be fit individuals, performed better cognitively compared to those who led a sedentary lifestyle.

The groups were divided into two. The first group consisted of men who showed a low level of physical fitness–by the American College of Sports Medicine standards. The other group included 11 members of the Andalusian Cycling Federation, along with three students of the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Activities of the University of Granada. Needless to say, the second group of men were considered to be physically fit.

After conducting a series of three tasks (a psychomotor vigilance task, a temporal orienting task, and a duration discrimination task) the results of the experiment showed that the men in the second group had a better sustained attention span, meaning they could focus on one task for a longer period of time, compared to the first group. The physically-fit men also had faster overall reaction times to external stimuli.

“It is important therefore to highlight that both the physiological and behavioral results obtained through our study suggest that the main benefit resulting from the good physical condition of the cyclists who participated in the study, appeared to be associated with the processes implicated by sustained attention,” Antonio Luque-Casado, the main author of the study, said.

Luque-Casado warned that this study is preliminary and further research will have to be done to confirm the results.

(I just hope the next study will incorporate women as well.)

But, just from personal experience I think these researchers are on the right track: perhaps we’re only scratching the surface of cognitive benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Reference:

Luque-Casado A, Zabala M, Morales E, Mateo-March M, Sanabria D (2013) Cognitive Performance and Heart Rate Variability: The Influence of Fitness Level. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56935. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056935

Study shows ‘organic’ label can create a ‘health halo effect’

2 Apr

photo (1)Being cynical journalist, a poor-and-starving graduate student as well as a self-proclaimed environmentalist, I have gone back and forth on whether or not I believe that the word ‘organic’ has been condensed down to a  mere marketing tactic. A March 17 article by Slate , criticizing the suburbia-praised chain Whole Foods, has increased my skepticism.

A study by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers found that food items simply carrying the organic label were evaluated as having a more satisfying taste and containing lower calories than the same food item without the organic label.

To conduct the study, the researchers recruited 115 people from a shopping center in Ithaca, New York. The consumers, after answering a questionaire about their environmental and shopping habits, were asked to evauluate three pairs of products: one pair of yogurts, one pair of chips and one pair of cookies. Each pair consisted of one of the items being labeled as organic, and one without. The food items were exaclty identical, except for the way they were labeled.

In addition to rating the organically-labeled items as tastier and better for the waistline, consumers also reported that they were willing to pay up to 23.4 percent more for them. Of course, this ‘health halo effect’ as the researchers dubbed the phenomenon, was more likely to affect consumers who already were more inclined to purchase organic foods.

So–the answer to my question–is the term ‘organic’ merely a marketing scheme?

While I do not know that there is a right or wrong answer to this, I do believe that some companies truly do back their labels and are committed to creating pure organic foods, while others may just be trying to attract the environmentally-conscious consumers who typically earn higher incomes and are more willing to spend more on these products.

Now excuse me while I contemplate this thought by eating a “100 percent natural” Nature Valley granola bar.

Note: the “buy one get one free” label at Publix got my attention before the “100 percent natural” label.

Thoughts?